CNN examines the tumultuous early years of Christianity in a special narrated by Liam Neeson. Watch “After Jesus: The First Christians,” Sunday at 8 p.m. ET.
By John Blake, CNN
(CNN) – She walked into the Roman arena where the wild beasts awaited her. She trembled not from fear but from joy.
Her name was Vibia Perpetua. She was just 22, a young mother singing hymns as the crowd jeered and a lion, leopard and wild cow encircled her.
One of the beasts attacked, hurling her to the ground. She covered an exposed thigh with her bloody robe to preserve her modesty and groped in the dust for her hair pin so she could fix her disheveled hair.
And when a Roman executioner approached Perpetua with a sword, her last words before collapsing were aimed at her Christian companions: “Stand fast in the faith, and love you all one another and do not let our sufferings be a stumbling block to you.”
Millions of Christians worldwide will celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus on this Easter Sunday. But the story of how the church rose to prominence after Jesus’ death is being turned upside down.
According to a belief passed down through the centuries, the church grew because of Roman persecution. The blood of Christian martyrs such as Perpetua became “the seed of the church,” said third-century church leader Tertullian. It’s the Hollywood version of Christianity reflected in epic biblical films such as “Ben-Hur” and “The Robe.” Vicious Romans relentlessly targeted early Christians, so the story goes, but the faith of people like Perpetua proved so inspiring that Christianity became the official religion of Rome, and eventually the largest religion in the world.
But that script is getting a rewrite. The first Christians were never systematically persecuted by the Romans, and most martyrdom stories – with the exception of a handful such as Perpetua's – were exaggerated and invented, several scholars and historians say. It wasn’t just how the early Christians died that inspired so many people in the ancient world; it was how they lived.
“You had much better odds of winning the lottery than you would have becoming a martyr,” says Joyce E. Salisbury, author of “The Blood of Martyrs: Unintended Consequences of Ancient Violence.”
“The odds were pretty slim. More people read about martyrs than ever saw one.”
Do Christians have a martyr complex today?
The debate over exactly how many Christians were persecuted and martyred may seem irrelevant centuries later. A scholarly consensus has indeed emerged that Roman persecution of Christians was sporadic, and that at least some Christian martyrdom stories are theological tall tales.
But a new book by Candida Moss, a New Testament professor at the University of Notre Dame, is bringing that message to the masses.
Moss says ancient stories of church persecution have created a contemporary cult of bogus Christian martyrs. She says too many American Christians are acting like they’re members of a persecuted minority, being thrown to the lions by people who simply disagree with them.
Professor Candida Moss, author of "The Myth of Persecution," says most stories of Christian martyrs were fabricated.
She cited former Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum. Romney claimed last year that President Barack Obama was waging a “war against religion,” and Santorum said the gay community “had gone out on a jihad” against him. Other Christians invoke images of persecution when someone disagrees with them on controversial issues such as abortion or birth control, says Moss, whose "The Myth of Persecution" was recently released.
The problem with invoking persecution is it implies your opponents are evil – and no common ground can be found with evil, Moss says.
“When someone is persecuting you" she says, "there is no room for dialogue."
Others say Moss’ claim is dangerous.
People such as Perpetua did die because of their beliefs. The first Christians were tortured, reviled and held in contempt by Romans – and their example helped the church grow, they say.
The Rev. Robert Morgan, author of "On This Day in Christian History: 365 Amazing and Inspiring Stories about Saints, Martyrs and Heroes, " says it’s true that some of the accounts of martyrdom were “undoubtedly embellished” and that many of the persecution stories were “handed down in an atmosphere of confusion and pressure.”
Still, being a Christian in the first century was a risky move – persecution was significant. Jesus and most of his apostles were executed, he says.
“To deny the history of the movement is a way of attacking the movement,” Morgan says.
Some opposition to contemporary Christians is indeed evil, Morgan says. Christians are being killed today in places such as Nigeria and North Africa.
“Christians do not have a victim’s mentality,” Morgan says. “They take their stands, they know what they believe and they do good in this world. They are the ones who have established orphanages, hospitals and charitable institutions. For some reason, there’s this animosity against them.”
Hatred of Christians is woven into much of the New Testament. Jesus constantly warned his followers to expect persecution. The Apostle Paul wrote many of his epistles from jail. And the death of the first Christian martyr, Stephen, is dramatically recorded in the New Testament book the Acts of the Apostles.
The Easter message itself is a story of martyrdom – Jesus, unjustly executed by the Romans. The idea that Christians are at war with demonic forces in the world is reflected throughout the New Testament, says Bryan Litfin, a theology professor at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago.
“If Jesus was just a soft moral teacher who taught us to love one another and petted little babies, the Romans wouldn’t have crucified him,” Litfin says. “Jesus is a polarizing figure, then and today. The early Christians weren’t foisting a narrative out of the blue about being martyrs. ”
'Like the action heroes of the ancient world'
If the first Christians pictured themselves as waging war against the world, the martyrs were their version of the Navy SEALs. They were the elite Christians who inspired and united others of their faith.
There was a purpose behind spreading stories of persecution: Nothing brings a new group closer together than a common enemy, Moss says.
“The idea that you are persecuted forges a concrete identity,” Moss says. “It really solidifies your sense of group identity.”
The stories of Christian persecution were so popular that they spawned a market during the first centuries after the crucifixion. The places where martyrs were born and died became early tourist stops. Towns competed with one another to draw rich pilgrims seeking martyr memorabilia, Moss says.
“People would go and buy the equivalent of a T-shirt,” Moss says. “You’d have all these little combs with saints on them that people would buy, and lamps with saints on them. People would also buy fruit from trees that grew in the vicinity of martyrs’ graves. Of course, the prices were completely jacked up.”
Church leaders began to embellish and invent stories of martyrdom to inspire the faithful but also to settle theological feuds, Moss says. If, say, a bishop wanted to denounce a rivals’ theology, he spun a story in which a martyr denounced the same doctrine with his last breath, Moss says.
“Martyrs were like the action heroes of the ancient world,” Moss says. “It was like getting your favorite athlete endorsing your favorite brand of soda.”
But how often did Romans force Christians to endure torture or die for their faith? Christianity took roughly 300 years to conquer Rome. The emperor Constantine converted to Christianity in 312 and gave Christians religious freedom. Christianity became the official religion of Rome by the end of the fourth century, scholars say.
For the first 300 years of the church, Christians were often ridiculed and viewed with contempt. But Roman leaders spent about "less than 10 years" out of the first 300 actually persecuting Christians, Moss says. There are only six reliable cases of Christian martyrdom before A.D. 250 out of “hundreds of stories,” including Perpetua’s, she says.
Many scholars have greeted Moss’ contention that Roman persecution of Christians was exaggerated with a shrug. They say it was common knowledge in the academic world.
“There weren’t that many Christians who were persecuted,” says Gail O’Day, dean of the Wake Forest University School of Divinity in North Carolina. “When you actually read the Roman historical records, the Christians just weren’t that important to them. Most Christians just got along with empire.”
When Roman persecution did occur, though, it was vicious. The Emperor Nero covered fully conscious Christians with wax and used them as human torches. Other Christians were skinned alive and covered with salt, while others were slowly roasted above a pit until they died.
One of the most famous martyrs was Perpetua.
She lived in Carthage in North Africa (modern-day Tunisia) and was arrested in March 203 with four others as they prepared for baptism. The Roman Emperor Septimius Severus had decreed that any new conversion to Christianity would result in death.
History remembers Perpetua because she kept a diary during her imprisonment. It’s called "The Passion of Perpetua and Felicity" (Felicity was a slave girl arrested with Perpetua). It’s the oldest-surviving document from a Christian woman. The emotion in the diary is almost unbearable. Perpetua describes the pain of leaving her infant son, who she was still nursing. She describes a prison visit from her weeping father, who kissed her hands while trying to get her to renounce her faith.
Perpetua's father visited her in prison, begging her to think of him and renounce her faith.
A narrator picks up the story in the diary after Perpetua was sent to her death. He says in the diary that Perpetua’s faith was so inspiring it caused the prison’s warden, a man called Pudens, to convert. The narrator also describes Perpetua's death.
While she was imprisoned, Perpetua says God gave her visions to reassure her. After one, she wrote:
“I understood that I should fight, not with beasts but against the devil. But I knew that mine was the victory.”
You can’t discount the power of such stories, even if persecution “wasn’t extremely common,” says Litfin, the Moody Bible Institute professor.
Persecution was central to the rise of the early church, he says.
“How many people in your church would have to be pulled out and executed and tormented for it not to have a tremendous effect for many years on your memory and self-perception,” Litfin says. “The early Christians are not foisting a narrative out of the blue about being matyrs.”
The early Christians' secret weapon
Other scholars say it wasn't simply persecution that helped the church grow. Instead, they say, Christians had a secret weapon.
The martyrs may have gotten all the press, but it was ordinary Christians who got it done by the way they treated friends and strangers.
Life in ancient Rome was brutal and nasty, says Rodney Stark, author of "The Triumph of Christianity." Stark’s well-regarded book gives one of the most detailed descriptions of the early church and ancient Rome.
Forget those antiseptic portraits of Roman cities you see in biblical moves such as “The Robe.” Roman cities were overcrowded, raw sewage ran in the streets, people locked their doors at night for fear of being robbed and plagues were rampant. Soap had not yet been invented, Stark says.
“The stink of the cities in the summertime must have been astounding,” Stark says. “You would have smelled a city miles before you got to it.”
Christians stood out because they created a “miniature welfare state" to help the less fortunate, Stark says. They took in infant girls routinely left for dead by their parents. They risked their lives to tend the sick when plagues hit and others fled in terror. They gave positions of leadership to women when many women had no rights, and girls as young as 12 were often married off to middle-aged men, he says.
Ordinary Romans might have thought Christians were odd but liked having them for neighbors, Stark says.
“If people had really been against them, I don’t think they would have grown like they did,” Stark says.
Christianity became so popular that when Rome did unleash one of its sporadic waves of persecutions, the empire couldn’t stop the church’s momentum, Stark says.
“If you knocked off a bishop, there were 20 guys waiting to be bishop,” Stark says
Christian belonging, not blood, is what drew many people, another scholar says.
The Easter story of a risen savior wasn’t distinctive in Rome’s competitive religious marketplace. Dying for one’s beliefs wasn’t considered heroic; it was expected in the Roman world, says Selina O' Grady, author of "And Man Created God: A History of the World at the Time of Jesus."
The early church, though, was radically inclusive. First-century Rome was undergoing globalization. The peace of Rome had made travel easier. People left homes and tribal ties for Rome. The empire was filled with rootless and excluded people: immigrants, traders, slaves.
The Christian message offered guidelines for living in this strange new world, she says.
“Its universal message, its proclamation of equality, unconditional love, offered everyone in the Roman Empire a new family, a new community, and a way to live,” O’Grady says.
Roman rulers eventually found reasons to support the church, she says.
The Christian message of obeying earthly masters – “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's and unto God what is God's" – reduced the potential for social unrest, O’Grady says.
“Christianity told the poor and lowly that their status was noble and that there would be recompense in the afterlife,” O’Grady says. “It was a wonderful recipe for creating good, obedient Roman subjects.”
A turning point for the early church was the conversion of Constantine. Scholars still debate Constantine’s motive. By that time the empire was rife with division, and Christians had become a major political bloc with members in the highest reaches of Roman society, says Stark, the sociologist.
“Constantine was interested so much in church affairs for the rest of his life, but I don’t think there’s a reason to not think he was a sincere Christian,” Stark says. “But he was also an egomaniac and an emperor.”
The growth of Christianity was too complex to be attributed to any one factor – whether it be Constantine, persecution or Christianity's message of compassion and inclusion, Stark says.
“I don’t think there was a primary reason,” he says. “It was a collection of things. It was all part of a package.”
Wrapped in that package, though, were the persecution stories of people such as Perpetua.
Today, churches have been named after Perpetua; films and graphic novels have been made about her life. She is considered a saint.
Her words still inspire. People still read her diary. There’s probably a Christian somewhere in the world now facing danger who is taking courage from Perpetua’s ordeal.
One passage in Perpetua’s diary is particularly luminous.
Perpetua stopped keeping her diary just before she was sent into the arena. No one knows for sure what she felt when she faced her moment of death, but she did write what she expected to see afterward.
She wrote that God gave her a reassuring vision while in prison. In the vision, she saw a great bronze ladder ascending to heaven. At the foot of the ladder was a great serpent surrounded by swords and knives.
Perpetua said she ignored the serpent and climbed the ladder. When she arrived at the top, she saw a great garden and a white-haired man in shepherd’s clothing milking a sheep. He was flanked by thousands of others Christians dressed in white.
“And he raised his head and beheld me and said to me: Welcome child.”
The man gave Perpetua curds from the milk of the sheep, and she said it tasted sweet.
She then wrote:
“And I took it with joined hands and ate it up: and all that stood around said, Amen.”
Centuries later, millions of people who look to Perpetua are still saying amen.
I look forward to seeing an article about how Jews were never really persecuted on Yom Kippur.
Tasteless much, CNN?
Antiochus was such a sweet heart. He gave haircuts and pork barbeques in the temple,and he built the arena next to the temple and partied on saturday. what a ball.
Reading comprehension isn't your strong suit is it?
A similar senerio: Even if you are ignorant of who your government is, that is not a free pass to ignore the laws and expect you can avoid judgement. All your friends and ancestors that guided you, did not make up your mind for you. You had the opportunity to figure it out, and rejected it as a pointless pursuit, even telling others to reject their government as well. How 'moral' will your government be in this senerio?
The problem for SH is that he bases his belief in God, on his lack of belief in false gods. He's lumped in the only God there is, with all the false gods, and hopes everyone else will too. Miracles of God are real, and prophecies complex enough to make note of God being the truth, and all other gods being false. Would SH ever believe me saying this, probably not, and I don't care either. I care enough to say he's wrong, and have fun begging your 'nothing god' to save you when you are judged by God for trying to divert people from the only God there is.
Any god that bases rewards or punishments on what a person believes is itself immoral....even if it were true.
The missing name in this comment to reply to, it's easy to reply to the wrong one, trying again...
My goodness – you're on a roll – you've earned yourself another video!
my guess is that someone other than the usual menses/period posted that one.
There do seem to be more than one here.
Yeshua, the Son of the Most High God atoned for the sins of the world. This was the plan of God the Father indeed, though those who brought this about are certainly held accountable. We as His disciples must be willing to take up our cross daily and follow Him. We die to ourselves daily. God seeks those who recognize that this world is passing away and cannot be compared with the world to come. Those who are willing to set aside the "pleasures of this life", or the "pleasures of sin for a season" so that they, through faith in Yeshua/Jesus as the Messiah of Israel and Savior of the world, can know life eternal. Shalom
It is really moving that any human will face a hungry beast in order to defend her or his believe in Jesus!!! truly the spirit of God must of been with them as they walk with their face up high, with no fear and with the glory of Jesus glowing in their face. No wonder so many Romans converted to Christianity when they saw this!!
How many today claiming to be christian will do the same?, or will deny their faith in Jesus
there are at present days many that would be very glad to feed lions with Christians!!
Shalom brother! I love that name.
I think you would be happier if Christians were being fed to lions, or torn apart by weasels or whatever. Christianity started with a human sacrifice, progressed through a string of martyrs, but has only been coasting lately.
This article is partially half-assed. I agree that the most attractive thing about Christianity would be the welfare ideals that lie within the Bible, but there has been a lot of animosity towards Christians throughout the centuries. What about the Catholic church massacring hundreds of thousands of protestants just because they dared to actually read the Bible for themselves? If Christians were not persecuted in the Roman Empire, why did they meet in catacombs below the city where no one could find them? Who wants to meet down there where there is no light?
I would like to agree that a lot of Christians in America do seem to think they are persecuted. This is ridiculous. American Christians don't know what persecution is. There were some Christians in Nazi Germany that hid Jews and would not sell them out, and of course there were the posers who felt that lying was worse than letting the people hiding in their house be tortured and killed.
" but there has been a lot of animosity towards Christians throughout the centuries. What about the Catholic church massacring hundreds of thousands of protestants just because they dared to actually read the Bible for themselves?
Isn't that Christian on Christian persecution? Oh and the Protestants fought the Catholics for centuries in return.
The Catholics were not Christians at that point because their theology completely defied what Jesus taught in the Bible. As of recent, they have leveled off, but protestants did not persecute Catholics. Most of those "wars" were in the same spirit as Constantine. The political leaders of the day merely used Christians to unite their empires. For example, Prince Frederick did not hide Martin Luther because he want to get a German Bible into the hands of Germans so badly as the Hollywood movie "Luther" would tell you. He did it merely as a means to expel the Catholic church and the Holy Roman Empire that came with it.
"The Catholics were not Christians at that point"
Bwaa haa haa.
"No True Scotsman" dude.
"but protestants did not persecute Catholics
English (and American colonial) history is rife with Protestants persecuting Catholics.
Do you know what is celebrated on Guy Fawkes Day?
Do you know where your precious right to bear arms comes from? I'll give you a hint:
The right to arms has roots that date back at least to the English Bill of Rights, enacted with Royal consent by William and Mary after the Glorious Revolution in 1689 (1688 Julian). These rights applied equally to Englishmen in North America.
Bill of Rights, 1688
That the raising or keeping a standing Army within the Kingdome in time of Peace unlesse it be with Consent of Parlyament is against Law.
That the Subjects which are Protestants may have Arms for their Defence suitable to their Conditions and as allowed by Law.
They are an unalloyed product of the wars of the reformation, whose primary purpose was the defense of a religious state wedded to the divine right of Kings.
Where no one could find them? What hogwash. The people who built them and who used them for various purposes knew exactly where the catacombs were, If anything, meeting there, where the poor may well have sheltered, is more akin to doing homeless outreach under the viaduct, That the Christians when to places they could hope to find new members is no major surprise,
Michael, Do you know the history of your religion? Catholics existed before Protestants. Christians are by definition followers of Christ. Look up Northern Ireland to see Catholic/Protestant issues.
Anyone believing in evolution as a means to species, is 40 years out of date in their biology education.
Says the idiot still stuck in evolutionary theory outdated by decades.
Come on, Tarvball, let's see your evidence against current evolutionary theory (if you even have an inkling what that means) . . .
Evolution is a slow change over time and has nothing to do with current theories on the mreans to species. There is the oxymoron of punctuated evolution, but is has no basis and is not even a notional hypothesis, not a theory under the scientific method.
I've heard those things Tarvball. I've heard others as well. Still no evidence for what you say is out of date. Tsk tsk. Come on – you can do it.
It is impossable to prove a negative, silly troll.
So you're saying you can't prove the point you've been trying to prove all along – that what is taught in schools about evolution is out of date – is not provable because you can't prove a negative?? See – I knew we'd get around (soon) to that place where you'd once again fail to provide your evidence. My goodness Tarvball – at least you are consistent.
Out of date for 40 years and proven so 10 years ago. You came up with a logical paradox as a straw man, but it is a well known straw man.
"and proven so 10 years ago"
This part here, Tarvball – let's see it. Let's see the proof – and THEN we will see where that proof stands NOW. lol.
AOD, evolution is a failed theory due to 'Reverse Evolution'. They admitted that it happens, and because of this, there is no goal for evolution to aim towards, and nothing never does anything to make species. God simply did and does what ever he wants to do when ever he wants to do it. That's how it is, and how it's always been.
John, that is one of the stupidest things I've read on here in days. You really are nuts.
New International Version
The Word Became Flesh
1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was with God in the beginning. 3Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcomea it.
Jesus is the Word of God.....He is Risen
Jehovah Shammah The Lord is There
Revelation 19:13 ►
New International Version (©2011)
He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God.
Was that just a hissing sound from you, Austin.
She who smelt it dealt it.
Hebrews 4:12 ►
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, jo.ints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and att.itudes of the heart.
No Agnes I care about you I have patience. Paul the apostle killed christians so I am sure He had a heart for God and all people when they persecuted him he still had patience.
I wont hiss at a new name.
Well the "historians" had to keep things interesting, Austin. The story wouldn't have been much of a story if Paul just slowly changed his view on things, right? The screenplay need a lot of pizzazz.
The guy in the video says written by "gods". ....it couldn't have been written by "gods".
If he wants to speculate he could at least refer to "God" instead of "gods" as the impossible author. What a doofus .
Question to atheist?
physicist claim that according to QM, there are multiple realities superimposed one over another, (superposition? and since they exist in a different frequency than that one our brian in tuned into, we cant see them, or experience them any way!
DO YOU BELIEVE THAT?
I'm having trouble tuning my brian to your frequencies.
Come again, over.
The notional hypothesis of parallel universes is based in probabilities being dterministic, a basis proven false by John Bell. This idea was the alternative to Einstein's statement that relativity and QM require a sentient being outside the universe to make the universe real.
John P. Tarver, MS/PE;
MY QUESTION IS DO YOU BELIEVE IT, YES OR NO!!
AS SIMPLE AS THAST
No, it is obsolete science.
The problem is, Tarver is obsolete and doesn't know it. Ask him to supply some proof here. (He usually disappears shortly after.)
is that what they are in to on coast to coast ?
Cue the Elena Zone theme music...I will give Elena points for originality, however.
And here I thought the person to answer what the frequency is was named Kenneth, not Brian.
last I checked, superposition was still a very important component of QM, because of the dual nature of particles, or matter!!!!!
particles exist as waves of probabilities, till they are observed or measured!
gosh english is such a barren language, it lacks a pronoun for non human things!
I don't really have any thoughts about it. Why do you think it warrants a question?
it really doesn't matter what a few physicists think in the bizarre, abstract and badly misreported world of quantum mechanics. the pertinent point is that, on the whole, atheists have a far better understanding of history, theology, psychology and text criticism, than your own excruciatingly wrong and childish description of quantum mechanics; and this is why religion is struggling as the field of discourse rapidly opens up in the fast and free internet age
Moss will soon BOW DOWN.....please don't be a fool , accept Jesus as savior
If god made universe who made god, or his father? What is evolution?
Evolution is a slow change over time once mistakenly believed to be the source of species. A giant leap of faith, followed by a fall.
The evolution theory -really is a fact now- doesn't contradict religion- certainly not Islam. Actually Darwin’s contemporarily scientists used to refer to this theory as the "mohammedan theory" because many Muslim scientists talked about it even as early as 1000 years from Darwin and last one of them ibn khaldoon in his book the introduction 200 years before Darwin. Alas Muslim sided with Christian theologians in the late 18th century despite a clear text in the Quran of how mankind was created and evolved to be what he/she is.
Tarver is out of date – poor thing hasn't kept up with current theory.
what verse in the quran if you know?
Evolution as a means to species is false, due to the global geological record proving species occur rapidly following a mass extintion, the opposite of evolution. Evolution as a means to species is now a religion of outdated science believed by atheists.
Tarvball like to stay in the theory of thirty or so years ago. Science is not best utilized that way.
John Tarver........God bless you sir. You seem to be a good shepherd.
The global geological record is hard physical fact, not a notional hypothesis. A current NASA notion is that retro-viruses arrive on a meteor, causing a mass extinction and new species, based upon the iridium 24 layer between eras.
So, what...Tarver? God created man after the mass extinctions? Give me a break.
There are many, but I recommend by starting with the first verse that was revealed to the prophet "Read". Avoid fake theologian interpretations and there is a lot of them and stick to the original text. If you have good heads on your shoulder and you have a good heart you will see the truth.
God always existed. He was not created.
"Evolution is a slow change over time once mistakenly believed to be the source of species. A giant leap of faith, followed by a fall."
This is simply not correct. Evolution may take place gradually or quickly and although the fossil record generally indicates Punctuated Equilibrium (where the nodes still represent ~10K – 100K yrs) there are clear examples of gradualism as well (e.g. Foraminifera). Similarly, the effective reproductive isolation of a subpopulation from a parental population (i.e. speciation) may be relatively gradual or quick.
Just finished watching the bible epic episode on History channel. You can still see some truth in spite of many mistakes by the producers. The Aramaic language on the cross didn’t look like Aramaic perhaps for fears that may look like Arabic to the viewers so Latin letters were used instead. Jesus Christ the Messiah was born in late summer according to the Quran – and the last Pop recently – under a palm tree and his first miracle was to assure his mother and speak to people in the temple. The Quran says that the one who was crucified wasn’t Jesus but someone – Judas – who was made look like him. Still Jesus the son of Mary was lifted up to return as the Messiah. Even if you look at the narrative shown, many signs confirm the Quran narrative. Judas was not there during the crucifixion, no one saw him killing himself yet everybody believe he killed himself. Jesus was seen after the crucifixion. “Everything is possible by God” the man dragging the cross said. Also said to the Romans “even if I tell you I am not Jesus would you believe me”. On the cross he prays to God, and says God why you have forsaken me. Other old – non circulating – bibles say that Jesus was even among the crowd watching the crucifixion. Finally there is no trinity, and Jesus is not God nor he is the literal son of God as the son-father terminology back then – and still till this time in the middle east- doesn’t mean blood father son. This is simply bad translation from Aramaic. There is no God but one God and Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad who is the last one of them are all his messengers.
The prophets spoke about a future messiah to come...they even spoke that he had to die. I know you and Prophet Mohammed took the prophets of old seriously. Analyze the signs those prophets foretold about who would be the promised Messiah!
4Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
5But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
6We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
It's also written in the Quran that Jesus will die. Every living thing – except God- will perish. But for Jesus the Christ the Messiah that will happen in his second coming after he kills the anti Christ and makes peace on earth.
Guess who also read (or heard) the stories of Isaiah?
Answer: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul and Jesus himself (if he existed).
Guess who tweaked their own stories to 'fulfill' those old-time 'prophecies'?
Allegedly, Jesus even said so when calling for a donkey to ride into Jerusalem.
I wish these people who keep quoting Isaiah 53 would go back a few verses, so they could see that Isaiah is NOT foretelling of Jesus. He's speaking of one who he calls "the servant". Who is "the servant"? Go back to Isaiah 41:8, where he says "But thou, Israel, art my servant". Or Isaiah 49:3, where he says "Thou art my servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified". Get it? "The servant" is a metaphor for Israel, it's NOT Jesus! How do we know? Because Isaiah freaking TELLS us!
It is really moving that any human will face a hungry beast in order to defend her or his believe in Jesus!!! truly the spirit of God must of been with them as they walk with their face up high, with no fear and with the glory of Jesus glowing in their face. No wonder so many Romans converted to Christianity when they saw this!!
Elena: 39 people in the Heaven's Gate group committed suicide in order to go meet up with the Hale-Bopp comet. Does that mean Marshall Applewhite is a prophet.? People can hold tightly onto delusion, if they feel it is worth a cause.
I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV
and having read it (or at least big chunks of it) and rejected it, what then?
There is more than enough 'evidence' inside the bible to point to the idea of the non-existence of God than anyone needs.
fill us in
@menses, aka period,
let's start with the easy stuff – the 'just' God who kills everyone on the planet*, including those who are truly innocent, with floodwaters.
* except for the chosen handful in the ark.
For a limited time only! Every time you forget to reply earns you a new video post in the new page. It's a win win!
There is no such thing as a god in evolution.
There is actually. Science molds your way of thinking,and what you believe in, therefore its your god
Perhaps, when one refers to GOD as meaning Good, Orderly, Direction it becomes embedded in the word Evolution.
Sure there is! God made the universe. And then it continued to evolve. What's so hard to understand about that?
God is the SOURCE of life, but that doesn't mean life doesn't have a genetic blueprint. I have no problems with believing in both God and evolution, to me they are very compatible ideas.
but bannister that leaves us with nothing to argue about. "no god in evolution". that is what they really really really want.
speaking for this atheist. I really don't care what you believe. You can believe that the universe was sneezed into existence from the Great Green Arkleseizure if you like.
If you want to believe that God created the universe and that evolution is part of his plan – no worries. That works for me.
Just don't try to teach creationism in schools. Don't legislate your beliefs in areas like marriage equality and reproductive rights and we'll all get along just fine.
I will ask you a question I have never gotten a serious answer to, name one thing any religion has been able to demonstate as true without the use of science.
To "Blessed and GOPer"… To answer your previous question, God wrote the scriptures the way he did on purpose. It was never his intention for ordinary people to be able to understand the scriptures. He gave the secrets and the understanding of the scriptures only to his sent preachers. He didn't give it to anyone else. For anyone else to have the understanding the scriptures and to know what God says, you must get your info from the sent preacher. That is the system God set up. All other sources of information is false and of the devil…
The reason there are so many false churches and false religions on the earth today is precisely because there are people who refuse to listen to the sent preacher, who don't like other people telling them anything, and feel like they can read the bible for themselves and can get their own understanding. Many of those same people then set up churches. Those churches and everything they teach is of the devil. And all who attend those churches are bound for hell and the lake. They will not be saved…
Luke 8:10 (Jesus speaking to his disciples) And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.
As Jesus himself confirms in the above scripture, unto you (his sent preachers that he would send to preach the gospel) it is given to understand the mysteries of the kingdom of God. But to others (those people who are not saved and are not sent preachers) it is not given, but done in parables. God wrote the scriptures like that intentionally (convoluted and confusing) so that people who are not saved and not sent preachers, although they might read the same bible, "seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand." God did not want ordinary people to be able to read and understand the scriptures. Instead, he wanted them to get their understanding from the sent preacher. And anyone too proud and too arrogant to do that, too proud to listen to the sent preacher, they can continue on to hell…
" It was never his intention for ordinary people to be able to understand the scriptures."
Way to rationalize the 'inerrant' word of God there ER!
I suppose you would make four right turns around the block to try to cross the street and still be wondering how to get across the road.
It is not a rationalization. It is the gospel truth. And how do I know that? Answer: I got it from a true sent preacher, just like the system God set up...
"make sure you pay the middleman!"
"It was never his intention for ordinary people to be able to understand the scriptures."
The god you describe is hiding the answers. Considering it would be the most important information if it was true and by doing so he helped create the false religions you claim thereby having a hand in damning people unnecessarily that makes your god a vile asshat. Great belief system you have there...you worship the worst being possible. That goodness your beliefs are delusion, the world is a better place without that monster.
I also notice that you did not name any "sent preachers" so that people can find the salvation through you god's hidden messages that only they can decipher ....that makes you an accomplice to the immorality of your god.
End's post actually a common response god peddlers use – "you re not reading it right!" "You need to read it in the original Latin, Greek or Arabic" or my favorite "you have a child's understanding of the Gospel!"
They use it when they ve run out of runway.
It is not only that we aren't reading it correctly, but that we can't. That is a common claim of cultists.
So Once again CNN continues its attack on Christianity and gives a loud voice to anyone who defames Christianity and Christians and of course they publish this article on Easter Sunday.
Instead of publishing stories of the Indonesian Christians whose Churches are being Demolished by Islamists, Instead of publishing the persecution of the Copts in Egypt, The Christians in Pakistan, In Afghanistan, In China, In India, In Nigeria. CNN posts this Opinion that attacks Christianity.
You didn't read the article, did you?
Speaking of persecution complexes
Too many words for @Rosstrex apparently.
... All the article did is say that persecution of Christians was not as widespread as is believed, and that Roman records show they really didn't go out of their way to punish Christians.
If that to you is "assaulting your religion" then apparently anything to even question your pre-held beliefs is an "assault of your religion".
What a weak faith you must have.
The article was posted yesterday.
You READ it today.
The above article defames Christianity NOT AT ALL.
Where exactly is the attack on christianity? Because an opinion piece said that you christians are exaggerating to get sympathy? Gee... thats a lie. NOT
your pre-held beliefs is an "assault of your religion
whose pre-held beliefs, dorothy? what pre-held beliefs do you own?
Oh, I see. Anyone who disagrees with a Christian is a "dorothy", is that it?
or perhaps a friend of her's?
The message of love and sacrifice is embedded in the Christian belief enshrined in tolerance and forgiveness. The strength of Christian belief is sourced from the soul and a psyche that is innate in humankind. We are all works in ;progress and our destination shall not stop with our earthly death.
Remember man that thou art Oxygen (65%), Carbon (18%), Hydrogen (10%), Nitrogen (3%), Calcium (1.5%), Phosphorus (1.0%), Potassium (0.35%), Sulfur (0.25%),Sodium (0.15%) Magnesium,
skip a bit brother Maynard
and unto Oxygen, Carbon, Hydrogen, Nitrogen, Calcium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Sulfur, Sodium, Magnesium, ... thou shalt return.
As far as tolerance goes, it seems that a lot of christians seem to want to deny gays their rights
Don't be silly. When you die there will be nil for you, just as there was before you were born. Nothing about you is eternal.
What tolerance? What forgiveness? christians don't display those.
Tom, Tom, the Other One
Don't be silly. When you die there will be nil for you, just as there was before you were born. Nothing about you is eternal.
and you know this how?
Do you know who provides the USA with Science and advance technology, THE JEWS!!!!!!!!!!!,
do you know where do they get this knowledge? FROM THE BIBLE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
IT IS CALLED JEWISH KABBALAH
That is their mysticism; not all Jews believe in that especially the more Orthodox sects.
Einstein got his knowledge from the bible eh?
Eisenstein certainly practice d t!!!
Technology existed way before the Jews, and, well, science came a lot later, and it falls somewhere in the Enlightenment.. unless you're talking about philosophy and what was considered science by the ancient Greeks and so on....
"For me the Jewish religion like all others is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions. And the Jewish people to whom I gladly belong and with whose mentality I have a deep affinity have no different quality for me than all other people. As far as my experience goes, they are no better than other human groups, although they are protected from the worst cancers by a lack of power. Otherwise I cannot see anything 'chosen' about them." – Albert Einstein, 1954
exactly technology ans knowledge existed way before the Jews, it existed since a very remote time!! they just past it along encoded, hidden for only those with wisdom could use it.
I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV;
so your are not Jewish at all since Judaism isn't a race is a faith! at most you could sy you are Israelite, but i doubt it, you must be an European Khazar, from ancient kazharia!
I am christian but I have Sephardi ancestor!!
Cue Twilight Zone theme music...
I'm laughing so hard I can't put together a coherent response.
Actually a cut and paste job does the trick ...
You're travelling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind; a journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That's the signpost up ahead – your next stop, the Elena Zone!"
Otherwise I cannot see anything 'chosen' about them. – Albert Einstein, 1954
Albert, no offense, but if you couldn't see that you and your jewish brethren were not the chosen of god almighty, no wonder you didn't discover the grand unifying theory.
or, my guess is you were constrained by your knowledge of the history your people faced for, in fact, being his very chosen ones. jealousy moves people to do horrible things. it is clear as atheists' hatred for christians that the jews were exactly that, god's chosen people
How did life begin on earth? It is absurd to think this could happen by random chance. The most crazy idea is that life happened by chance. Now the super powerful atheistic brains will say, "then who created God?" Something had to always be, that is God. God is outside of time, in fact, He invented time. Outside of time, the beginning is undefined. God always existed. Life begins and ends and is completely dictated by time. There had to be a first cause of life. What is the first cause? Naturally selecting from nothing? No. God created life.
Its much more to absurd to think that some guy always existed and he blinked it into existence.
DoctorKnow, We don't know for sure how life formed on Earth and maybe we'll never be certain but several experiments had shown that amino acids can be created from the elements and conditions present at that time. Once you have amino acids, evolution accounts for species.
If you think a god can be eternal why can't a universe?
I strongly agree with you that it is crazy to think a guy would blink into existence. That is a very crazy idea. God always existed. It is absolutely certain something existed before life. Life is caused. Something had to cause it. God did not blink into existence. God is what always was.
If all else fails, try number 11 on my list of the most irritatingly stupid arguments religionists make here:
11. The ‘reductionem ad creationis’ argument, no matter what the topic of the day, let’s talk origins or evolution … again and again!
eg: “science doesn’t explain what happened before the big bang, so God is real, ergo he created everything 6,000 years ago” – Opponents of abiogenesis belong here too.
In Santa we trust, You have made a scientific error. It has not been proven that amino acids could form naturally any where on earth. Even if they could form outside a test tube filled mostly with tar that would quickly break down any complex molecules, the UV, H20, or O2 would quickly breakdown any amino acids very quickly. Now where on earth would you find no H2O, UV, or O2. No where. If you have no O2 then you have no O3. No O3 means you have UV. All three will break down amino acids. You are wrong.
You sure seem to have an issue with logic, DoctorKnow
DoctorKnow, One of the experiments was in hot water, so I guess your explanation isn't accurate. Just presuming that you know better than the world's leading scientists, how does that prove god? There is no evidence of a god since the big bang and before that it is all speculation, but as most things since the big bang have a scientific explanation why go with the supernatural explanation? The fact that we have gaps in our knowledge doesn't mean a god did it.
how do you make the logical leap from the possiblity of a creator to the certainty that it is a "God"?
sam stone, Please point out my logical error and humiliate me with the error.
Explain, why life couldn't happen by chance.
It's absurd to think that God blinked into existence, but he blinked the universe into existence? Yeah, okay. If you're going to insist that God has always been there, I'm pretty much am going to insist that the universe always has been too.
If the universe HAD to have a beginning, God has to, also. Just being isn't an explanation, sorry.
DoctorWho, mainly when talking about chance, one is in fact referring to an incomprehensible system, none the less, still subject to cause-effect relations
Even if we don't know how life began on earth, you still cannot infer "therefore god".. that's an appeal to ignorance argument.
Now, I am not sure what your claim is, outside of attempting to poorly establish the existence of your deity. But, it seems to me that you are not willing to allow for the fact that your god may have set in motion a system that would result with the inevitable evolution of life on earth. Why couldn't it have done so? There seems to be nothing contradictory about that.
... and by the way ... Man created god in his own image. That's why god is a misogynist...
"Please point out my logical error and humiliate me with the error."
Because you imply that a creator has to be a "God"
Melisa, yes it is stupid to think a guy always existed, but who said the creator is a guy or a human at all? to believe such thing is even more stupid!!!
FreeFromTheism, You have more than life to know that God exists. Let me be very frank with you. God talks to you and you can not hear because you do not want to hear Him. If you pray about this, you will get a response.
DoctorKnow, How do know that there is anything outside of space and time?How do you next leap to your god? You must have sources that none of us are aware of including the best scientist the world has to offer. If you can show that there was something outside of space time what makes you think it's god. Could be any fictional character man has invented or something we haven't imagined. We don't doubt that something caused life, we just think it happened by some natural cause. Afteralll history has shown us that supernatural explanations are not explanations at all and have been consistently replaced by natural explanations. There is no reason to believe that is we discover how life got started that the trend will not continue.
Way to not address my response to your argument.
Also, I've never believed, not even when I was very young and brought to mass or in Sunday school. You know why? Because I always knew that what I was being told was mostly BS.
You remind me of some of those people.
DoctorKnow, so you want us to talk to ourselves now. When you pray do you hear voices responding to you? Ive never heard a voice inside my head but my own when I'm thinking to myself. I suggest that is happening to you when you pray and you are assuming its god. If you really hear voices then maybe you should seek help. After all this time don't you think that if there were an all powerful all knowing being who created all of what you see it would speak in an audible voice and say I'm real, stop arguing, and get along please. Why hasn't this happened?? You know why I think..you are just emotionally tied to your god position.
Its much more to absurd to think that some guy always existed and he blinked it into existence." well, i know bernie did it once. i saw it.
melissa, we know you are a miserable, stupid, cowardly heathen, like dorothy and you are being honest when you say something as ridiculous as this. so, u r forgiven.
now pay attention, love. god isn't "some guy" honey. but stick around. u never no what u might absorb
sam stone, It is logical to call the creator God when you define God as whatever created life. God has further demonstrated the ability to see events in the future showing that he is outside of time. Daniel knew the day when Jesus would enter Jerusalem (Palm Sunday) after being told by an angel from God.
FreeFromTheism wrote:"Even if we don't know how life began on earth, you still cannot infer "therefore god".. "
We can if we define God as the creator that designed life. One thing is for sure, someone designed DNA.
"One thing is for sure, someone designed DNA." There's no real evidence to indicate this. But if you believe this, then please explain why we humans have a defunct gene for egg yolk production.
Gosh, I was really looking forward to seeing DoctorKnowNothing answer that question, too. Maybe he's still looking for the information so he can respond intelligently. There's a first time for everything!
I dispute the logic of "creator=God"
it's as if you are saying "something created us, therefore MY religious story is true"
what of the possiblity that this being got the whole thing in motion, and walked away, not concerning itself in the least about humans or their interaction or morality? perhaps heaven and hell are human constructs and do not exist in reality.
sorry dork dorothy.
The five historical facts of Jesus Christ's resurrection are so historically reliable that there is a sweeping majority of New Testament scholars both Christian and non-Christian alike who agree on these facts. These historical facts cannot be explained using legend or myth-making from astrology and must somehow be accounted for if someone is going to cast doubt on the historicity of Jesus resurrection.
Jesus, His disciples, James and Paul are historical figures and that is agreed upon by the majority of scholars. To suggest otherwise would be on the radical fringe of scholarship. These facts are:
1. Jesus Death by Roman Crucifixion
2. The Empty Tomb
3.The Disciples Claimed and Believed that Jesus Appeared to Them
4. The Conversion of James, Jesus Half-Brother
5. The Conversion of Paul
The empty tomb? Historical fact?
Nooooo, those things are called fiction. The bible is not proof of the bible, sorry.
So...wo wrote the NT?
I'm eagerly awaiting menses' explanation as to who wrote the NT, since it obviously thinks only one person authored it.
Those so called facts are too weak to even respond to.
Yes, Akira, and I'm curious if it thinks the "word" is "inerrant". lol.
ok... but in reality – none of the authors of the "gospels" were eye-witnesses.
it's a bitter pill for lots of xians to swallow.
– the more you know.
JUST WHO ARE THOSE SCHOLARS??
well, for one, we know those scholars were real scholars, not like ms. murdock, don't we?
I'm eagerly awaiting menses' explanation as to who wrote the NT, since it obviously thinks only one person authored it." sweetie, you're out. gots 2 do better than that, dorothy
Rules of the Internet
ok... but in reality – none of the authors of the "gospels" were eye-witnesses.
"none of the authors of the "gospels" were eye-witnesses" really?
@menses aka period
what happens on the third strike?
Is it three o'clock?
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.