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My Take: The danger of calling behavior ‘biblical’
The author argues that there are many meanings of the adjective 'biblical.'
November 17th, 2012
10:00 PM ET

My Take: The danger of calling behavior ‘biblical’

Editor's Note: Rachel Held Evans is a popular blogger from Dayton, Tennessee, and author of “A Year of Biblical Womanhood.”

By Rachel Held Evans, Special to CNN

On "The Daily Show" recently, Jon Stewart grilled Mike Huckabee about a TV ad in which Huckabee urged voters to support “biblical values” at the voting box.

When Huckabee said that he supported the “biblical model of marriage,” Stewart shot back that “the biblical model of marriage is polygamy.”

And there’s a big problem, Stewart went on, with reducing “biblical values” to one or two social issues such as abortion and gay marriage, while ignoring issues such as poverty and immigration reform.

It may come as some surprise that as an evangelical Christian, I cheered Stewart on from my living room couch.

As someone who loves the Bible and believes it to be the inspired word of God, I hate seeing it reduced to an adjective like Huckabee did. I hate seeing my sacred text flattened out, edited down and used as a prop to support a select few political positions and platforms.

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And yet evangelicals have grown so accustomed to talking about the Bible this way that we hardly realize we’re doing it anymore. We talk about “biblical families,” “biblical marriage,” “biblical economics,” “biblical politics,” “biblical values,” “biblical stewardship,” “biblical voting,” “biblical manhood,” “biblical womanhood,” even “biblical dating” to create the impression that the Bible has just one thing to say on each of these topics - that it offers a single prescriptive formula for how people of faith ought to respond to them.

But the Bible is not a position paper. The Bible is an ancient collection of letters, laws, poetry, proverbs, histories, prophecies, philosophy and stories spanning multiple genres and assembled over thousands of years in cultures very different from our own.

When we turn the Bible into an adjective and stick it in front of another loaded word, we tend to ignore or downplay the parts of the Bible that don’t quite fit our preferences and presuppositions. In an attempt to simplify, we force the Bible’s cacophony of voices into a single tone and turn a complicated, beautiful, and diverse holy text into a list of bullet points we can put in a manifesto or creed. More often than not, we end up more committed to what we want the Bible to say than what it actually says.

Nowhere is this more evident than in conversations surrounding “biblical womanhood.”

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Growing up in the Bible Belt, I received a lot of mixed messages about the appropriate roles of women in the home, the church and society, each punctuated with the claim that this or that lifestyle represented true “biblical womanhood.”

In my faith community, popular women pastors such as Joyce Meyer were considered unbiblical for preaching from the pulpit in violation of the apostle Paul's restriction in 1 Timothy 2:12 ("I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent"), while Amish women were considered legalistic for covering their heads in compliance with his instructions in 1 Corinthians 11:5 ("Every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head").

Pastors told wives to submit to their husbands as the apostle Peter instructed in 1 Peter 3:1, but rarely told them to avoid wearing nice jewelry as the apostle instructs them just one sentence later in 1 Peter 3:3. Despite the fact that being single was praised by both Jesus and Paul, I learned early on that marriage and motherhood were my highest callings, and that Proverbs 31 required I keep a home as tidy as June Cleaver's.

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This didn’t really trouble me until adulthood, when I found myself in a childless egalitarian marriage with a blossoming career and an interest in church leadership and biblical studies. As I wrestled with what it meant to be a woman of faith, I realized that, despite insistent claims that we don’t “pick and choose” from the Bible, any claim to a “biblical” lifestyle requires some serious selectivity.

After all, technically speaking, it is “biblical” for a woman to be sold by her father to pay off debt, “biblical” for a woman to be required to marry her rapist, “biblical” for her to be one of many wives.

So why are some Bible passages lifted out and declared “biblical,” while others are explained away or simply ignored? Does the Bible really present a single prescriptive lifestyle for all women?

These were the questions that inspired me to take a page from A.J. Jacobs, author of "The Year of Living Biblically", and try true biblical womanhood on for size—literally, no “picking and choosing."

This meant, among other things, growing out my hair, making my own clothes, covering my head whenever I prayed, abstaining from gossip, remaining silent in church (unless I was “prophesying,” of course), calling my husband "master,” even camping out in my front yard during my period to observe the Levitical purity laws that rendered me unclean.

During my yearlong experiment, I interviewed a variety of women practicing biblical womanhood in different ways — an Orthodox Jew, an Amish housewife, even a polygamist family - and I combed through every commentary I could find, reexamining the stories of biblical women such as Deborah, Ruth, Hagar, Tamar, Mary Magdalene, Priscilla and Junia.

My goal was to playfully challenge this idea that the Bible prescribes a single lifestyle for how to be a woman of faith, and in so doing, playfully challenge our overuse of the term “biblical.” I did this not out of disdain for Scripture, but out of love for it, out of respect for the fact that interpreting and applying the Bible is a messy, imperfect and - at times - frustrating process that requires humility and grace as we wrestle the text together.

The fact of the matter is, we all pick and choose. We’re all selective in our interpretation and application of the biblical text. The better question to ask one another is why we pick and choose the way that we do, why we emphasis some passages and not others. This, I believe, will elevate the conversation so that we’re using the Bible, not as a blunt weapon, but as a starting point for dialogue.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Rachel Held Evans.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Bible • Christianity • Opinion

soundoff (4,657 Responses)
  1. ddrew78

    Growing up in Europe, I have to say that Christians in the U.S. are nuts. I remember going to church, sometimes sitting next to the mayor, and learning about God. But, faith stayed in church and at home. People don't try to push their values on everyone else. The most important thing is that you're a good person, which includes not judging others.

    Can someone please explain to me why politicians use the bible so much in the U.S, where there is an actual 'separation of church and state'? Don't these people realize that it was included in the bible not to keep the Government out of the Church, but to keep the Church out of Government?

    November 18, 2012 at 8:59 am |
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini, D.D. (h.c.) ©™

      @ ddrew78:
      Why?
      I think that you know, but I'll say it: Europeans, as a whole, are much more evolved than we are in the USA.

      November 18, 2012 at 9:05 am |
    • kendrick1

      Are you saying that all of the legislation that has been passed and implemented that which is listed below should be nullified?

      “Everything that has been done for the aged, the sick, the weak in body and in mind, the
      animal, the child, the woman has been done under the inspiration of Christianity.”
      William Barclay

      November 18, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
  2. Colin

    I would consider the Bible a little bit more persuasive if it said anything that showed greater wisdom, intelligence or knoweldge than that of the times in which it was written. For e.g., if it said "there are four great continents yet to be discovered, one of which is covered in ice." or "energy and mass are of one." Even a simple admonition, "treat open wounds with heavy spirits" would have saved lives.

    But it doesn't. Every word in it, from "In the begining" to "Amen" is totally consistent with the mythology of the times and region. It is SO obvious to any thinking person that the Jews made god in their image and not visa-versa.

    November 18, 2012 at 8:59 am |
    • Graystone

      That is your problem. You're doing too much "thinking". And your thinking is of the devil. Try getting your info from a true sent preacher...

      November 18, 2012 at 10:40 am |
    • kendrick1

      You wouldn't have believed the wisdom of the continents, and the wounds wisdom any more than you believe anything else in the Bible!

      November 18, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
  3. Charlie from Nebraska

    As a pastor I would like to comment on how the author clearly misunderstandings basic biblical interpretation of the scripture. Number one, you always must ask yourself, "what did the original author intend to say to the original audience in the original context?" and secondly "what is the timeless message that can apply to any generation how do I apply this timeless message to my context today?" If you start with that premise, then you'll see that what Paul was addressing wasn't against women of all ages wearing jewelry or braiding their hair, he was saying, "don't dress in a provacative way when you meet up for church," because in that day the pagan priestesses dressed that way and this was a stumbling block for people who had come out of that practice. This would be synonymous to asking teenage girls and women not to wear jeans that show their butt crack because it's obvious distracting. That is just one example of the many items the author either conciously left out to make her point or failed to research for her article.

    November 18, 2012 at 8:59 am |
    • Colin

      Pastor, what is your explanation for the stories in the bible that we now know could not possible be true, such as Adam and Eve, Noah's flood, a talking donkey, a man living inside a whale, people living to be hundreds of years old, non existent cities being destroyed, etc.

      November 18, 2012 at 9:01 am |
    • Kristina N.

      Yes. You have summed up the entire problem of people interpreting the bible literally. I also find it helpful to adhere more closely to any phrase that begins with "The Lord says" and ignore the crud that comes from the mouth of a misogynistic apostle who was still himself in the process of learning. Hint, Jesus picked Paul knowing full well he wasn't perfect and certainly didn't become so the day Jesus died on the cross. Paul had a long way to go on his journey to God... a very long way. I believe Paul was addressing women regarding dressing provocatively, but today's butt crack may very well be a woman's bloomers of 100 years ago, or a little display of face in certain Islamic cultures, and quite frankly, I grow weary of men debating dress customs that don't apply to them. They have as much business doing that as telling me the appropriate type of tampon to use. Please let them debate their own fashions for change.

      This may be called cherry picking by others, but since it is my faith and not theirs, this is my journey to God. They can worry about their own journey. I'm working hard enough on my own as I, too, have a long way to go to be too concerned with what others may think.

      November 18, 2012 at 9:19 am |
    • Graystone

      Colin… Before you ask the pastor such a stupid question, please provide is with your proof and evidence that the things you mentioned are NOT true. Were you alive back then? Did you witness those things or was there in person to be able to say it didn't happen? If that is not the case, then where are you getting your info from? We'd certainly like to know…

      November 18, 2012 at 10:38 am |
  4. AGeek

    My god can beat up your god. Because I say so. "God is real!" ::points to book:: Ok, then Spiderman is real! ::points to graphic novel::

    Believe (or don't) as you wish, but don't try to convince someone else you're right. You've got nothing but self-referential evidence, which holds as much water as a sieve. What you're doing is screaming "my critical thinking skills are completely faulty and I should not be trusted with anything more than a potato."

    November 18, 2012 at 8:58 am |
  5. T-Roy

    How can people live 80% of the life using logic and deductive reasoning, and then suddenly throw that all away and spend the other 20% believing in a magic man in the sky, creationism, dinosaurs living side by side with humans, delusion, suspension of the laws of physics, nature, gravity, etc..

    November 18, 2012 at 8:57 am |
    • AGeek

      Absolutely mind-boggling, isn't it? It's like a physicist explaining all the nuanced detail of subatomic particles, then grabbing a coffee and declaring an undying belief that unicorns exist. Damn near makes my brain ache.

      November 18, 2012 at 9:00 am |
    • Be honest

      Believers have the most difficult time at near death. They struggle with hell or the mere fact of 'is there really a god'. They need to face reality and simply live a good and caring life, treat others as you wish to be treated (this is not a jesus thing, but a human realization. Many silly people believe that jesus came up with that.)

      In the end, there is peace without the confusion.

      November 18, 2012 at 9:01 am |
    • SCOTTA.

      WELL T ROY IF GOD DOESNT EXIST YOU DONT EXIST SO STOP TALKING YOU FIGMENT OF OUR IMAGINATION!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YOU WILL BELIEVE GOD IS REAL WHEN YOU STAND BEFORE HIM IN JUDGMENT.

      November 18, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • GetRealBeLearnSpiritualTruth

      Be Honest. What a joke your handle is. Let's talk the real subject matter why most atheists hate God. Oh, that's right. The minute we talk about the lust of life, our comments are blocked. Blocked while having no wording that would generate a block.

      November 18, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
    • Handle Wrangler

      GetRealBeLearnSpiritualTruth

      What the hale is ^^ that ^^ doozy of a handle supposed to mean???

      It seems as if your carnal lust has fried your brain.

      November 18, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
    • Handle Wrangler

      * no wonder you stuck with that simpleton one for so long!

      November 18, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
  6. Peter Bishop

    What a joke..another slanted anti-Bible tirade based on a single cultural subject. Who said that Joyce Meyer's represents anything other than a snake oil saleswoman? This writer professes some level of intelligence and then proves the opposite. ANY text can be taken out of context to support a point. She pulls some of the more arcane passages from the old testament to support her thesis.

    November 18, 2012 at 8:55 am |
    • El Flaco

      No two Christians agree on the meaning of any verse in the Bible.

      November 18, 2012 at 8:57 am |
    • hal 9001

      You assertions are correct El Flaco.

      November 18, 2012 at 8:59 am |
  7. Henry

    Are you sure you are not an atheist?

    November 18, 2012 at 8:54 am |
    • Be honest

      why should that matter?

      November 18, 2012 at 8:55 am |
    • carol

      someone is trying to offer an olive branch of compassion here and you accuse her of being a criminal!? maybe youre the atheist...

      November 18, 2012 at 8:58 am |
  8. Be honest

    Good comes from good people. not religions. Religions steal the good works of others and claim it as their own.

    November 18, 2012 at 8:54 am |
    • GetRealBeLearnSpiritualTruth

      Be Honest. People wouldn't know how to be good if God didn't light the way.

      November 18, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
  9. Religions are dangerous

    The best thing to do is simply through the entire book away or at least put it on the shelf with the rest of the fiction.

    November 18, 2012 at 8:54 am |
    • Religions are dangerous

      I meant throw.

      November 18, 2012 at 8:54 am |
    • v

      you mean throw? LOL 😉

      November 18, 2012 at 8:55 am |
    • T

      Really CNN (Pravda)? A hit piece on the Bible?

      November 18, 2012 at 9:00 am |
    • GetRealBeLearnSpiritualTruth

      Religions are dangerous, do you or do you not know the difference between Jesus' truth and religion? Or, do you just group it together. If so, you have so maturing to do.

      November 18, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
    • GetRealBeLearnSpiritualTruth

      For all the typo freaks that have nothing better to do. That was suppose to be some, not so.

      November 18, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
  10. In Reason I Trust

    Rachel sounds awfully close to figuring out this whole "word of god" nonsense is as real as Santa Claus.

    Take the next step, free your mind.

    November 18, 2012 at 8:53 am |
    • GetRealBeLearnSpiritualTruth

      It's a shame that you can't see the depth of Jesus' truth. It must be really boring in your shallow world.

      November 18, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
  11. Ponchos raincoat

    Religion poisons everything. Hitchens quote but a fact for everyone.

    November 18, 2012 at 8:52 am |
    • GetRealBeLearnSpiritualTruth

      Hurrah, quoting the ego of man. Not.

      November 18, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
  12. a dose of reality

    Top Ten Signs You're a Christian
    10 – You vigorously deny the existence of thousands of gods claimed by other religions, but feel outraged when someone denies the existence of yours.
    9 – You feel insulted and "dehumanized" when scientists say that people evolved from other life forms, but you have no problem with the Biblical claim that we were created from dirt.
    8 – You laugh at polytheists, but you have no problem believing in a Triune God.
    7 – Your face turns purple when you hear of the "atrocities" attributed to Allah, but you don't even flinch when hearing about how God/Jehovah slaughtered all the babies of Egypt in "Exodus" and ordered the elimination of entire ethnic groups in "Joshua" including women, children, and trees!
    6 – You laugh at Hindu beliefs that deify humans, and Greek claims about gods sleeping with women, but you have no problem believing that the Holy Spirit impregnated Mary, who then gave birth to a man-god who got killed, came back to life and then ascended into the sky.
    5 – You are willing to spend your life looking for little loopholes in the scientifically established age of Earth (few billion years), but you find nothing wrong with believing dates recorded by Bronze Age tribesmen sitting in their tents and guessing that Earth is a few generations old.
    4 – You believe that the entire population of this planet with the exception of those who share your beliefs – though excluding those in all rival sects – will spend Eternity in an infinite Hell of Suffering. And yet consider your religion the most "tolerant" and "loving."
    3 – While modern science, history, geology, biology, and physics have failed to convince you otherwise, some idiot rolling around on the floor speaking in "tongues" may be all the evidence you need to "prove" Christianity.
    2 – You define 0.01% as a "high success rate" when it comes to answered prayers. You consider that to be evidence that prayer works. And you think that the remaining 99.99% FAILURE was simply the will of God.
    1 – You actually know a lot less than many atheists and agnostics do about the Bible, Christianity, and church history – but still call yourself a Christian.

    ReplyReply AllMove...mls

    November 18, 2012 at 8:52 am |
    • John

      “The greatness of Christianity... lies in the religious fanaticism and intolerance with which, fanatically convinced of its own right, it intolerantly imposes its will against all others,” but then no religion is excluded from Hitler's accurate portrayal of religion.

      November 18, 2012 at 10:11 am |
    • GetRealBeLearnSpiritualTruth

      If you understood Jesus' teachings, you'd agree that his truth is all.. Since you haven't a clue to what you write, I pray that some day you learn his spiritual truth.

      November 18, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • ThirstHasNoCurfew

      a dose of reality, I'm a Christian, but don't really agree with anything you wrote:

      10 – Don't know that I've ever been outraged over this. Why should someone who doesn't believe in God agree with those that do? When people deny God, they deserve love and and prayer. And more than likely, a better example of what a Christian should be.

      9 – Definitely haven't felt this at all. I place no limitations on how God handled his creation. I agree that Christians at large have difficulty with this concept, though.

      8 – This is another I haven't done and wouldn't. I absolutely believe that God put a desire to relate to something greater than ourselves. His intention was that relationship would be with Him. His creation is amazing, though, and understandably people can settle for worshipping the creation without taking the next step to connect with the Creator.

      7 – Definitely an issue with the Church, but one shared by all religions, truthfully. Religion itself is dangerous, because it's a human-facilitated way of reaching out to God. Even the nation of Israel in the Bible often mistook the religious practices ordained by God to be worship of God. Christians, Muslims, people of all beliefs often make the same mistake. That's why a personal relationship with God is the most important thing, and corporate worship, while important, should be secondary to that.

      6 – Again, not laughing at the belief, for the reasons I've stated above.

      5 – Again, don't hold this belief. In fact, I don't know a single Christian who believes the Earth is only 4,000 years or so old.

      4 – The Truth of the Bible is that God is righteous. He cannot abide sin. As individuals rebel against God, He separates us from His presence, as He cannot allow sin in His presence. Christ lived, died and resurrected to offer us a way to relate to God directly, without an intervening priesthood, sacraments or acts of worship. It's above my pay-grade to judge another person's ultimate destination, to do so would be awfully prideful. The Bible states that Christ is the "way, the Truth and the Light" and that "no one comes to God except by Him (Christ)". That's the standard I live by, and I share with others.

      3 – Christianity cannot be proven, period. If it could be, there would be no faith requirement. Science exists to study God's creation, and it is a sad, disappointing fact that many Christians do reject science, when we should embrace it to learn as much of what God has done for us as we possibly can. I find the theories and discoveries of all branches of science fascinating and applaud the scientific method and the responsible results it produces. I've never found science to diminish the Truth of God, only to enrich my understanding of it.

      2 – Applying a success rate to prayer misses the point. Prayer is one very important facet of a personal relationship with God. Determining the validity of prayer by how often I get what I want is short-sighted and misunderstood, absolutely no offense intended. Prayer should overwhelmingly be about learning about God, sharing with God your life (He knows already, but the act of sharing, whether through confession, praise or simply relating is important), and being open to His response. Prayer restricted to requests for help falls far short of what it should be about.

      1 – This may or may not be true. I know and have a few atheists that knew quite a bit about the Bible, but most I've encountered, whether friends or acquaintances or people I talk with in passing, know quite a bit about very specific parts of the Bible, but hardly anything outside the niche areas they've chosen to pick apart Christianity with. I've known many Christians that have a general understanding of the Bible, but no in-depth knowledge or ability to find a Scripture to back up a belief they hold.

      More important than the responses above is this: Christians are human beings. They are failed creatures that struggle, fall, lie, cheat, steal, hurt, insult, and make fools of themselves. Christians are not Christ, though we are called to be His presence on Earth. The majority of the time we fail.

      Leaders in churches are no different, though they are absolutely called to be. There's no doubt that the majority of the people on national news channels or cable TV who call themselves Christians and speak for the church make me ill with both what they say and how they say it. I don't see the heart of God in their actions or hear it in their words.

      I also believe that those people have been seduced by the power that leadership in the Christian church has given them. People with that heart do the same thing in all religion (exploit believers to gain power, money and prestige unto themselves). That's a human thing, not a Christian thing, although Christianity is not immune.

      I hope that anyone who has read this who shares your belief might know that it does not encapsulate Christianity or Christians. If you know people who believe these things, then they are in need of love and counsel from their brothers and sisters in the Church.

      November 19, 2012 at 10:59 am |
    • Pete

      Curfew, most of the Christians I have met would say you are not a "real" Christian.

      November 19, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
  13. J

    Will CNN ever post articles that are critical of Islam as they have with articles that are of Christianity?

    November 18, 2012 at 8:52 am |
    • Aubrey Jensen

      THANK YOU! It seems like everytime I pull up their website, there is always a main page article challenging the faith and precepts of Christianity, and, quite frankly, I AM TIRED OF IT!!!!!

      November 18, 2012 at 8:58 am |
    • El Flaco

      I think CNN should publish such articles. Islam is even stupider than Christianity.

      November 18, 2012 at 8:58 am |
    • Martin Not Luther

      This blog isn't critical of Christianity, it is critical of hypocritical Christians, so there is no wonder why you are offened. She was clearly referring to people like you.

      This is a blog by a bible-believing Christian Critical of her own religon. Why does that threaten you?

      And yes, CNN has published blogs by Muslims critical of other people of their own faith.

      November 18, 2012 at 9:03 am |
    • David S

      I don't read this as critical of Christianity. Simply as a healthy discussion of the Bible as it is used and understood by different Christians. Discussion is not necessarily criticism. Besides, critical thinking is an essential life skill and should not be threatening in and of itself.

      November 18, 2012 at 10:16 am |
    • GetRealBeLearnSpiritualTruth

      David S, it comes down to 2 sides. Those in the world that can leave carnal lust behind to learn Jesus' spiritual truth, and those that refuse there is another view to life and stay living, thinking, believing carnally.

      November 18, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
  14. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    November 18, 2012 at 8:51 am |
    • AGeek

      It certainly changes my opinion of your level of intelligence.

      November 18, 2012 at 8:54 am |
    • ThinkerInTheSun

      Prayer changes things? Then why don't you get out there and change things with your prayer? I do not see this happening.

      November 18, 2012 at 8:58 am |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things", but your assertions regarding atheism and prayer are unfounded. Using my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE), the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent truths is: "TOTAL FAIL".

      I see that you repeat these unfounded statements with high frequency. Perhaps the following book can help you:

      I'm Told I Have Dementia: What You Can Do... Who You Can Turn to...

      November 18, 2012 at 8:58 am |
    • Jill

      So does random probability of events. I choose math.

      November 18, 2012 at 9:00 am |
    • GetRealBeLearnSpiritualTruth

      ThinkerInTheSun, the reason you don't see God working on most of our prayers is because he's long suffering, hoping none of his children perish.

      November 18, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
  15. Rob

    An unfortunate case of a professing Christian woman not understanding her own Book.

    November 18, 2012 at 8:50 am |
    • Martin Not Luther

      She hit it spot on. Obviously you are offended because you're one of those hyposcritical, bible-illiterate Christians she is talking about.

      November 18, 2012 at 9:04 am |
    • Carol

      Exactly! The point at which she mentioned Joyce Meyer as a popular woman evangelist, I was suspect. Anyone who actually studies the Bible with submission to the Holy Spirit's leading knows Joyce Meyer is s false teacher.

      November 18, 2012 at 9:05 am |
    • ricardo1968

      Do what you're told! Not what you 'read'.

      November 18, 2012 at 9:21 am |
    • David S

      It sounds like she understands the Bible better than most professed Christians. Not all Christians have the same viewpoint on the Bible and it certainly isn't singularly clear on many modern issues, even if you believe that it represents the unchanged words of God.

      November 18, 2012 at 10:21 am |
    • GetRealBeLearnSpiritualTruth

      Rob, it comes down to maturity. The more mature the Christian, the more an individual comprehends Jesus' spiritual truth.

      November 18, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
  16. Mennoknight

    First off, this is one of the best articles on CNN Belief Blog in a long time.

    But the Bible is not a position paper. The Bible is an ancient collection of letters, laws, poetry, proverbs, histories, prophecies, philosophy and stories spanning multiple genres and assembled over thousands of years in cultures very different from our own.
    My answer: YES! But remember we are not the first to struggle with this exact issue. I am a Mennonite. 500 years ago the Anabaptist movement started with asking the question, if this is so, what do we use to lead our Christian day to day lives?
    The conclusion was the New Testament. The New Testament is our guild line to Christian living. The Old Testament is the background to how we got to here, the Acts Church. We are still part of the Acts church.
    We live in "Acts 29"

    November 18, 2012 at 8:49 am |
    • Luci H

      Amen

      November 18, 2012 at 9:05 am |
    • GetRealBeLearnSpiritualTruth

      Mennoknight, wrong.

      November 18, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
  17. Chris

    The Catholic Church is the only real answer here. Authority is the issue. Protestants have over 2000 denominations, all a result of disagreements about "picking and choosing". Jesus said to the first church, "Upon this rock (Peter) I will build my Church...I am with you until the end of the age". He never said the bible was the authority.

    November 18, 2012 at 8:48 am |
    • Aaron

      I love when people say their faith is the right one only and to follow it. But Catholic religion is the only one I know where I hear someone one say, oh I'm catholic but Im not practicing right now. Really? What does that mean? I want to follow God and be saved but you know, at the moment I not going to do that and I don't want to, maybe later I will. Boy to statue of mary a human, A priest forgives you and not God... Great.. I 'm glad they have read and followed the Bible so well..

      November 18, 2012 at 9:03 am |
    • Martin Not Luther

      Sure, Catholicism is the answer, if you're a member of NAMBLA.

      November 18, 2012 at 9:05 am |
    • Carol

      Jesus said He would build His church upon Peter's foundational declaration that "Jesus is the Christ", not that Peter is its foundation. As a former Catholic, this is another one of the Catholic's church's misinterpretation of Scriptue.

      November 18, 2012 at 9:08 am |
    • GetRealBeLearnSpiritualTruth

      Chris. Wrong. Jesus never taught the gentiles. Neither did 11 of the Apostles. Paul is the Apostles for the gentiles and Jesus' spiritual truth didn't come about until he was crucified. It's in scriptures.

      November 18, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
  18. ElmerGantry

    Earlier,
    _________________________________________________________________
    ElmerGantry
    Matthew 5:17
    Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.

    November 18, 2012 at 8:31 am | Report abuse |

    Raz Mor
    Elmer, you are right. To fulfill. But fulfill what? Do you know what will be fulfill when he said that?

    November 18, 2012 at 8:33 am | Report abuse |
    _______________________________________________________________

    Okay Raz Mor

    @Raz Mor,

    You are the bible "expert"! Please enlighten everyone.

    November 18, 2012 at 8:46 am |
  19. Deist

    The Bible is a nice "storybook" at best, which served a purpose for the very limited, as a "do it yourself" behavior guide. The words used, however, were not written by a God. They were first written by people who thought they had experienced a connection to the "other side" like many Mediums do today. Others found this to be a technique to control people and their money and started the organized exploitation, commonly called organized religion. Since it was thousands of years before the printing press and each author who re-wrote those words put his own spin on them, we hardly know exactly what was the original meaning of any particular chapter, let alone making huge decisions based upon what amounts to the written "Game of Gossip."

    November 18, 2012 at 8:46 am |
    • GetRealBeLearnSpiritualTruth

      Deist, mediums are just as fake as false preachers. Jesus died for our sins to defeat death. Why is that so difficult for anyone to comprehend?

      November 18, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
  20. a dose of reality

    Rather than inculcating our children with the primary-color simple Sunday school legends and myths most people do, might I suggest the following ten comandments to enable them to think for themselves.
    1. DO NOT automatically believe something just because a parent, priest, rabbi or minister tells you that you must.
    2. DO NOT think that claims about magic and the supernatural are more likely true because they are written in old books. That makes them less likely true.
    3. DO analyze claims about religion with the same critical eye that you would claims about money, political positions or social issues.
    4. DO NOT accept it when religious leaders tell you it is wrong to question, doubt or think for yourself. It never is. Only those selling junk cars get frightened when you want to "look under the hood".
    5. DO decouple morality from a belief in the supernatural, in any of its formulations (Christianity, Judaism, Islam etc.). One can be moral without believing in gods, ghosts and goblins and believing in any of them does not make one moral.
    6. DO a bit of independent research into whatever book you were brought up to believe in. Who are its authors and why should I believe them in what they say? How many translations has it gone through? Do we have originals, or only edited copies of copies of copies– the latter is certainly true for every single book in the Bible.
    7. DO realize that you are only a Christian (or Hindu or Jew) because of where you were born. Were you lucky enough to be born in the one part of the World that “got it right”?
    8. DO NOT be an apologist or accept the explanation “your mind is too small to understand the greatness of god” or “god moves in mysterious ways” when you come upon logical inconsistencies in your belief. A retreat to mysticism is the first refuge of the cornered wrong.
    9. DO understand where your religion came from and how it evolved from earlier beliefs to the point you were taught it. Are you lucky enough to be living at that one point in history where we “got it right”?
    10. DO educate yourself on the natural Universe, human history and the history of life on Earth, so as to be able to properly evaluate claims that a benevolent, mind-reading god is behind the whole thing.
    I sometimes think that, if we first taught our children these simple guidelines, any religion or other supernatural belief would be quickly dismissed by them as quaint nostalgia from a bygone era. I hope we get there as a species.

    November 18, 2012 at 8:43 am |
    • More reality

      DO NOT READ OR USE any of the above post.

      November 18, 2012 at 8:45 am |
    • a dose of reality

      AT 'More Reality'. Why? can you please explain with logic and sound reasoning for not reading the post? Or, maybe all you have is your frail beliefs in ancient myths and legends......?????

      November 18, 2012 at 8:48 am |
    • More reality

      You have already displayed an unreasonable prejudice that shows you as what you are.

      November 18, 2012 at 8:50 am |
    • roy

      Good post.

      November 18, 2012 at 8:52 am |
    • Will

      Beware of wolves n sheeps clothing.

      November 18, 2012 at 8:55 am |
    • BD70

      Too late!

      November 18, 2012 at 9:00 am |
    • a dose of reality

      At 'more reality' please xplain...where is the prejudice?

      November 18, 2012 at 9:02 am |
    • theorycraft

      you do realize that science is the exact same right? we believe our proofs and theories because they are consistent with past data but its entirely possible that its just coincidence the results aligned with our hypothesis and more than once has some alternate view of things blown our entire understanding of the world and forced us to rethink entire fields in order to progress. So how do you know we're living in the time where science 'got it right'?

      So please, don't get all high and mighty. The name of your god is science and there are certain rituals and ceremonies you perform in order to harness power over the world. You think its coincidence when prayers come true? Equally likely that its coincidence water boils at 100*C. And when either don't work, both ask why and ponder and theorize answers to why.

      November 18, 2012 at 9:13 am |
    • Painter

      What you've said is good common sense. Theological education also suggest taking a closer look at belief systems. I've always taught my children to respectfully request answers to things they don't understand, whether from the pastor, teacher, boss, or me. And to trust their instincts.

      November 18, 2012 at 9:15 am |
    • Bob

      Go ahead and add teachers and government 'officials' to your list of untrustworthy people, and alot of the worlds problems would be fully solved...

      November 18, 2012 at 9:21 am |
    • Dave

      'More Reality' is typical of the mental illness some of these people live with.

      He actually thinks it's bad to read or question things.

      I consider people like him dangerous actually.

      As for dose of reality... amen brother! (tongue firmly in cheek)

      November 18, 2012 at 9:43 am |
    • David S

      @More Reality. Please explain what is wrong with this post. It is simply (or perhaps not simply) advocating critical thinking. I would worry about any group that feared for you to think for yourself. Thankfully, the church I was brought up in was heavy in church history and encouraged one to question and think.

      @Theorycraft. Science and religion are the same? Really? As you point out, scientific conclusions are reached by studying past data. Religion has no data, just faith. I am not downplaying the importance of faith, but faith doesn't disprove science. Both have their place in a healthy life, even if one's religious choice is no religion at all.

      November 18, 2012 at 10:30 am |
    • GetRealBeLearnSpiritualTruth

      a dose of reality, instead of cutting and pasting what other humans said over the years about Jesus' truth. I suggest you hurry up and mature to the point that the lust of the world is behind you and you can focus your attention on what he had written. Other than that, you just posted nonsense that has been read before.

      November 18, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.