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June 27th, 2013
01:32 PM ET

Not all religious convictions are written in stone

Editor's Note: Rachel Held Evans is the author of "Evolving in Monkey Town" and "A Year of Biblical Womanhood." She blogs at rachelheldevans.com

By Rachel Held Evans, Special to CNN

(CNN) - There’s a misconception among many faithful folks that religious convictions, by their very nature, are set in stone.

People who change their minds are called flip-floppers or backsliders, accused of capitulating to culture and “conforming to the world.”

But some of the most recognizable names in the Christian story experienced changes of heart: Paul, Augustine, Martin Luther, C.S. Lewis and Madeleine L'Engle.

In my own life, questions and doubts have served as refining fires that keep my faith hot and alive and bubbling where certainty would only freeze it on the spot.

I’ve changed my mind about a lot of things—the age of the Earth, the reality of climate change, the value of women in church leadership, the equal failings of both the Republican and Democratic platforms to embody the teachings of Jesus.

Like a lot of evangelicals, I grew up in a religious environment that vilified LGBT people.

I remember attending a Christian conference in which liberals were derisively referred to as FOGS (friends-of-gays). I laughed along with the speaker, albeit nervously, dismissing the voice in my head reminding me that Jesus was ridiculed for his choice of friends, too.

Today, I am honored to be the friend of many LGBT people, and I celebrated along with them as Exodus International closed its doors and as the Supreme Court ruled the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional.

I know sometimes it seems like evangelical Christians are unyielding and unwilling to change, but as I scrolled through my Facebook feed this week, I saw a mixture of responses from my Christian friends — some joyful and some dismayed.

I noticed that several friends who had been at that very same conference so many years ago boasted red equal signs as their profile pictures.

In his book “Velvet Elvis,” Rob Bell writes:

“Times change. God doesn’t, but times do. We learn and grow, and the world around us shifts, and the Christian faith is alive only when it is listening, morphing, innovating, letting go of whatever has gotten in the way of Jesus and embracing whatever will help us be more and more the people God wants us to be.”

A person of conviction is not one who is unyielding to change, but one whose beliefs evolve based on new information, new movements of the Spirit, new biblical insights and, yes, new friends.

There’s a story in the New Testament about a Roman centurion named Cornelius, whose fear of God and care for the poor was widely known among the people.

After receiving a vision from God, Cornelius sends for the apostle Peter, who agrees to meet with him, even though it was forbidden for a Jew to associate with a Gentile.

Peter, an observant Jew, had been wrestling with the idea of including Gentiles in the church. But when he encounters the sincere faith of Cornelius, he is moved to declare, “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right!”

He tells the skeptical people who have gathered outside, “God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean.”

Peter changed his mind, and the church would never be the same.

Despite deeply held religious convictions regarding circumcision and dietary restrictions, he led the way in opening the doors of the church to all who would enter, regardless of ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status or religious background.

We can learn a lot from Peter — not only from his inclusiveness, but also from his willingness to change his mind.

Like Peter, God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean. And that I should not think so highly of myself as to assume I’ve got this faith thing all figured out.

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

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Bible • Christianity • Church • Culture wars • Faith • Gay marriage • Gay rights • Opinion • Politics

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soundoff (706 Responses)
  1. I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

    "Not all religious convictions are written in stone

    There’s a misconception among many faithful folks that religious convictions, by their very nature, are set in stone."

    Indeed so.

    The notion of moral absolutism needs to be exterminated.

    A big thank you to Rachel Held Evans for stating what is obvious, but so many Christian apologists cannot digest.

    Morality is relative.

    June 27, 2013 at 4:08 pm |
    • Lycidas

      Absolutism in all it's forms should be eliminated. That would include societal prejudices toward those that belong to a religious faith.

      June 27, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Are there any negative societal prejudices towards those of religious faith?

      I agree that prejudices exist. They were overwhelmingly in favor of supporting religionists in almost every way. That those pro-religious prejudices are eroding is only cause for celebration.

      June 27, 2013 at 4:39 pm |
    • Lycidas

      @I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV- "Are there any negative societal prejudices towards those of religious faith?"

      I am sure with your experience commenting and reading on these blogs that you have seen certain posters make wildly absolutist type comments about those of faith. There are those that claim all religous people are ignorant or even schizophrenic. Thankfully those people are in the minority but they are a very vocal minority.

      June 27, 2013 at 5:34 pm |
      • aldewacs2

        In my experience, it's mostly the religious who make absolutist statements. After all, as proven by their 'faith', they need no proof to take any position and cling onto it.

        September 20, 2013 at 11:09 am |
  2. HeavenSent

    Dippy,

    Woe to them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

    Isaiah 5:20

    Amen.

    June 27, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
    • meifumado

      Oo-ey, goo-ey, rich and chewy inside

      Rich and golden, tender, flaky outside

      Put the inside in the outside

      Is it good?

      Darn tootin’!
      Doin’ the big

      Fig

      Newton

      (here’s the tricky part)

      The big

      Fig

      Newton

      (one more time!)

      The big

      Fig

      Newton!!!!

      June 27, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
    • Dippy

      What does that nonsense mean, HS? Is it supposed to have some meaning to an atheist?

      June 27, 2013 at 4:22 pm |
    • sam stone

      HS always posts as if we should accept the same drivel she does.

      Probably has something to do with that jeeebus marital aid stuck in her stanky weedpatch

      June 27, 2013 at 4:26 pm |
      • hharri

        cnn, does her stanky weed patch really focus on god?

        September 5, 2013 at 12:28 am |
    • Løki

      Nicht dazu verleiten Odins Zorn durch ihn lustig mit Ihrem impotent Gott. Die Asen sind die einzigen Götter würdig Ihre Angst ...

      June 27, 2013 at 4:45 pm |
    • Løki

      Asen= Aesir

      June 27, 2013 at 4:47 pm |
  3. Dyslexic doG

    change the bible. be malleable, move with the times, do what we think Christ would do ....

    So what you're saying is that none of the words that you use to judge people and oppress people are really the word of god, it's just centuries of people's feelings of what this god may or may not think is right though in the absence of any real communication from said god, it's all debatable and so more popular human opinion rather than divine direction.

    If God was powerful enough to create the universe, don't you think he'd have a more foolproof way of getting his exact message across to future generations than this endlessly translated, edited, confused, modified, twisted, corrupted book of stories that is changed by religious power brokers to suit each generation?

    Wouldn't god's word be carved on the moon, unchangeable and for all to see? Wouldn't it be spoken unchanged by a species of animal? Wouldn't it be written microscopically on every stone or every tree? Wouldn't there be some space age material that had god's voice recorded, uncorrupted over the centuries and there for everyone to hear.

    Wouldn't there be parts of God's word that reflect computers or artificial intelligence or DNA or modern medicine or future medicine or electricity or space travel to other parts of this amazing universe he created? Wouldn't there be talk of gender and race equality? Wouldn't there be talk of Asia and Australia and the Americas and Europe and Africa?

    Instead the bible is limited to horses and carts and herbs and grain and swords and shields and misogyny and racism and slavery all set in the deserts of the middle east. The Bible is so obviously a product of bronze age man, you must be in denial to even argue that it is the word of god. There may or may not be a god or gods, but this book of bronze age voodoo and oppression has nothing to do with him, her or them.

    And stop it with this "not the word of god but words inspired by god" cop out. That just means it was written by greedy, evil men who got their way by claiming that god told them to do something. That's a self serving scam that should be laughed, especially by anyone claiming to love an omnipotent god. That scam is an abomination and an insult to your god ... as is the bible!

    June 27, 2013 at 3:45 pm |
    • Lycidas

      I have a feeling that even if all your suggestions were done, you probably would still find a reason not to believe.

      June 27, 2013 at 3:53 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Only perverts want to change the Bible so no one knows they are perverted.

      June 27, 2013 at 3:56 pm |
    • sam stone

      "Only perverts want to change the Bible so no one knows they are perverted."

      That's why there is only one bible, and one christian church

      June 27, 2013 at 4:00 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      give me one shred of proof for any god's existence and I will be a believer. This I solemnly swear!

      One iota of evidence. anything. anything at all to prove to me something other than what mountains of evidence shows: that there is no god and your religion is nothing more than bronze age voodoo.

      June 27, 2013 at 4:00 pm |
    • Lycidas

      @Dyslexic doG- "give me one shred of proof for any god's existence and I will be a believer. This I solemnly swear!"

      Any chance you could offer up what would be considered viable and resonable proof for you?

      "that there is no god and your religion is nothing more than bronze age voodoo."

      Whose religion? Anyway, I have yet to see mountains of evidence from you or anyone on here that proves that any god does not exist. Let me get this straight, are you saying their is evidence to prove something doesn't exist?
      Might want to watch which terms you mix with what. "Bronze Age" and "Voodoo" don't exactly jive historically.

      June 27, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
    • What IF

      Lycidas,

      Actually, I would love to believe in your fantasy. Live a good, loving life, like I do now, and be rewarded with eternal bliss - pretty slick, I'd say.

      Fact is, the ancient god of the Hebrew / Christian writings is generally a hideous monster. The NT softened 'his' image a bit, but the main premise of it is that this blood-thirsty god had his hurt feelings appeased by a brutal killing, and will punish for eternity those who cannot believe those ineffective, ambiguous, alleged "clues" to 'his' existence and 'his' wants, needs and demands. I cannot in good conscience believe that such a being exists.

      June 27, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      doG, though you believe you are special that everyone should make you b.elieve. You own your u.nbelief.

      Jesus said,

      Revelation 21:8

      But the f.earful, and u.nbelieving, and the a.bominable, and m.urderers, and w.horemongers, and s.orcerers, and i.dolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

      Amen.

      June 27, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
    • What IF

      Heaven Sent,

      And you adore and worship that monster? That says a lot about you... ugh!

      June 27, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      @HeavenSent

      The words of the bible hold no more validity than the words of the Harry Potter series.

      I don't know why you keep quoting text from a bronze age story book. It proves nothing other than you can remember a few phrases from a bronze age story book.

      June 27, 2013 at 4:25 pm |
    • Lycidas

      @What IF- "Actually, I would love to believe in your fantasy."

      What would that be? I ask only because I've never claimed a belief or faith on here.

      "Live a good, loving life, like I do now, and be rewarded with eternal bliss – pretty slick, I'd say."

      Most people would.

      "Fact is, the ancient god of the Hebrew / Christian writings is generally a hideous monster."

      I dunno, healing Naaman seemed kind of nice to me.

      "I cannot in good conscience believe that such a being exists."

      I don't know anyone who has asked you to believe in anything you just wrote down.

      June 27, 2013 at 4:28 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      @Lycidas

      by proof I would gladly accept anything commensurate with what you claim your god has done.

      you claim he has created the universe and everything in it. How about moving a mountain from one side of a country to the other. smaller? How about appearing before the world and explaining himself? Surely he's not shy? smaller? how about healing an amputee? making a limb grow back.

      bolts of lightning don't convince me. old made up stories don't convince me.

      June 27, 2013 at 4:29 pm |
    • Lycidas

      @Dyslexic doG- "by proof I would gladly accept anything commensurate with what you claim your god has done."

      I have made no claim to any god, nor is it relevant to the discussion.

      "you claim he has created the universe and everything in it."

      I have made no claim.

      "How about moving a mountain from one side of a country to the other. smaller?"

      Again, I doubt that would convince you.

      "How about appearing before the world and explaining himself?"

      You are just as likely to claim a Von Däniken hypothesis instead of believing in a diety.

      "bolts of lightning don't convince me. old made up stories don't convince me."

      Again, I doubt anything would.

      June 27, 2013 at 4:39 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      @Lycidas

      I have just answered your question and listed things that would convince me. If any of those things happened, I would be a believer.

      why are you talking in circles and doubting my word?

      June 27, 2013 at 4:46 pm |
    • What IF

      Lycidas,

      "What would that be? I ask only because I've never claimed a belief or faith on here."

      I could be mistaken, but by some of your other writings, I am led to believe that you lean toward/are Eastern Orthodox.

      "I dunno, healing Naaman seemed kind of nice to me."

      Sure, IF it ever happened and is verified to have been caused by any ancient god.

      "I don't know anyone who has asked you to believe in anything you just wrote down."

      The "scriptures" of every Biblically derived sect *demand* it - Hebrew, Christian, Islamic, Mormon, etc. Maybe you don't literally know a lot of the posters on here, and other Evangelicals in the real world, but they say it all the time.

      June 27, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
    • Lycidas

      @Dyslexic doG- "I have just answered your question and listed things that would convince me."

      And I thank you for that.

      "If any of those things happened, I would be a believer."

      Permit me to doubt as I have permitted you to doubt.

      "why are you talking in circles and doubting my word?"

      I have no faith in your integrity on this topic.

      June 27, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      @Lycidas

      You can believe all you want. When religious ideas enter the science class (ID) there's a huge problem.

      June 27, 2013 at 5:26 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Let's all take a moment to remember that Lycidias is so stupid that he has asked for evidence that no god exists. Add to that that he's an azzhole ever single time he posts here. Why do you guys even treat his comments as if they are even worthy of discussion?

      June 27, 2013 at 5:26 pm |
    • Lycidas

      @What IF- "I could be mistaken, but by some of your other writings, I am led to believe that you lean toward/are Eastern Orthodox."

      No, I haven't made an issue of my beliefs or non-beliefs. Eastern Orthodox eh? Interesting.

      "Sure, IF it ever happened and is verified to have been caused by any ancient god."

      Now didn't you make a judgment call on his behavior from the ancient writings? Shouldn't you therefor take into consideration all the writings?

      "I don't know anyone who has asked you to believe in anything you just wrote down."

      "Maybe you don't literally know a lot of the posters on here, and other Evangelicals in the real world, but they say it all the time."

      When you ever meet a person that says you must literally, "follow a blood-thirsty god had his hurt feelings appeased by a brutal killing, and will punish for eternity those who cannot believe those ineffective, ambiguous, alleged "clues" to 'his' existence and 'his' wants, needs and demands."...direct them to me. I would want to have a word with them.

      June 27, 2013 at 5:27 pm |
    • Lycidas

      @Secular Humanist from Ohio- "When religious ideas enter the science class (ID) there's a huge problem."

      With that I agree.

      @Cpt. Obvious- "Let's all take a moment to remember that Lycidias is so stupid that he has asked for evidence that no god exists."

      I have not. You are incorrect.

      "Add to that that he's an azzhole ever single time he posts here."

      Your opinion is irrelevant to the discussion at hand.

      "Why do you guys even treat his comments as if they are even worthy of discussion?"

      Why do you think your attack deserves or needs their support?

      June 27, 2013 at 5:30 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      @Capt.

      Thanks for the lesson.

      June 27, 2013 at 5:31 pm |
    • Lycidas

      Cpt. Oblivious stated, "Let's all take a moment to remember that Lycidias is so stupid that he has asked for evidence that no god exists."

      What he obviously missed was this statement, "other than what mountains of evidence shows: that there is no god and your religion is nothing more than bronze age voodoo."
      So Capt. Oblivious, does that sound like someone making a claim that there is evidence to prove something does not exist? Pause for a bit and think on it. And if you think I am treating you poorly, consider this....you probably deserve it at this time. Hope you enjoyed the lesson.

      June 27, 2013 at 6:07 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Lycidas, you do not "treat me poorly." You treat everyone according to what you are down deep inside: an azzhole. I don't pity you because of the responses you give me; I pity you because of the person you are.

      June 27, 2013 at 6:18 pm |
    • Lycidas

      @Cpt. Obvious- "You treat everyone..."

      Fail...you are using an absolute.

      "...according to what you are down deep inside: an azzhole."

      Your opinion based on ignorance is irrelevant.

      "I pity you because of the person you are."

      Your half hearted pity is irrelevant.
      What isn't irrelevant is that you were incorrect. I never once asked for evidence that no god exists.
      At this point in the discussion, I have to guess it is not ignorance that prevents you from understanding this but that you are just too stubborn to admit you are wrong.

      June 27, 2013 at 6:43 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Lycidas, I pity you because you are a continual azzhole. I pity you for my own reasons, so don't worry about it.

      June 27, 2013 at 6:46 pm |
    • Lycidas

      @Cpt. Oblivious- this is quite amusing. You just don't get it. You were wrong and you cannot admit it. You keep trying to switch this into a name calling contest without realizing how much of (as you would say) azzhole you are appearing.

      Please, continue. I just wonder how long you will keep this up before reality sets in 🙂

      Oh...btw, "continual" would still be fail because that is an absolutism. Nice try though.

      June 27, 2013 at 7:20 pm |
  4. Reality

    Rachel, Rachel, Rachel,

    Change of belief comes only after you do your homework:

    Some results:

    Putting the kibosh on all religion in less than ten seconds: Priceless !!!

    • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Abraham i.e. the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are non-existent.

    • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Moses i.e the pillars of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have no strength of purpose.

    • There was no Gabriel i.e. Islam fails as a religion. Christianity partially fails.

    • There was no Easter i.e. Christianity completely fails as a religion.

    • There was no Moroni i.e. Mormonism is nothing more than a business cult.

    • Sacred/revered cows, monkey gods, castes, reincarnations and therefore Hinduism fails as a religion.

    • Fat Buddhas here, skinny Buddhas there, reincarnated/reborn Buddhas everywhere makes for a no on Buddhism.

    • A constant cycle of reincarnation until enlightenment is reached and belief that various beings (angels?, tinkerbells? etc) exist that we, as mortals, cannot comprehend makes for a no on Sikhism.

    Added details available upon written request.

    A quick search will put the kibosh on any other groups calling themselves a religion.

    e.g. Taoism

    "The origins of Taoism are unclear. Traditionally, Lao-tzu who lived in the sixth century is regarded as its founder. Its early philosophic foundations and its later beliefs and rituals are two completely different ways of life. Today (1982) Taoism claims 31,286,000 followers.

    Legend says that Lao-tzu was immaculately conceived by a shooting star; carried in his mother's womb for eighty-two years; and born a full grown wise old man. "

    June 27, 2013 at 3:40 pm |
  5. Check list

    ____ believe Jesus died for your sins
    ____ believe Jesus raised again on the third day
    ____ repent of your sins
    ____ do God's will
    ____ teach others to do the same
    ____ produce fruit
    ____ study to show yourself approved
    ____ prove all things
    ____ help others
    ____ glory goes to God
    ____ go forth and multiply
    ____ you're not taking it with you, give it away

    June 27, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
    • Roger that

      Missed one.

      _______ Complete checklists for all other religions in case one of them is correct.

      June 27, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
    • sam stone

      sin is a man made concept, so are heaven, hell and god

      June 27, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      sam stone, wishing He's not true?

      June 27, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
    • Check list

      Jhn 8:42 Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. Why do ye not understand my speech? [even] because ye cannot hear my word. Ye are of [your] father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. And because I tell [you] the truth, ye believe me not. Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me? He that is of God heareth God's words: ye therefore hear [them] not, because ye are not of God.

      June 27, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
    • sam stone

      HS: Wishing has nothing to do with it. Still slurping up JesusTruth behind your trailer?

      June 27, 2013 at 4:01 pm |
    • meifumado

      Please seek help for your delusions and stay away from children.

      June 27, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
    • Ingram

      🌟 🌟 🌟 to the checklist

      June 27, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      sam, slurp this.

      Jesus said,

      Revelation 21:8

      But the f.earful, and u.nbelieving, and the a.bominable, and m.urderers, and w.horemongers, and s.orcerers, and i.dolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

      Amen.

      June 27, 2013 at 4:16 pm |
    • Neo Atheist

      ________ Are an Atheist and don't believe in God and the Bible, but are a good decent human being who doesn't need religion to be a good human being.

      June 27, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
    • sam stone

      HS: Slurp this....your iron age comic book means nothing to me or most of the world

      fvck you and your punk god.

      go ahead, b1tch, post more gibberish

      June 27, 2013 at 4:28 pm |
    • jboom

      ID challenges a reigning scientific paradigm.
      ID is not anti-science, it is rather anti-establishment.
      ID theorists want more scientific investigation, not less.
      They just want freedom to let the evidence lead to where it may, without philosophical restrictions.

      http://www.evolutionnews.org/2013/05/from_discoverin_5072541.html#sthash.hsujg7TT.dpuf

      June 27, 2013 at 5:37 pm |
  6. bostontola

    Pretty amazing position for an evangelical, my compliments. I doubt there are many other evangelicals that share her enlightened perspective.

    June 27, 2013 at 3:19 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      bostontola, she's just as blind as you.

      June 27, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
  7. Darcy

    Hmmm. If more Christians were like Rachel Held Evans, perhaps people would not take such umbrage with them.

    June 27, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
    • Roger that

      I agree. She is more Christlike.

      June 27, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      Christ is an imaginary book character. Rachel is a real person. How is she in any way Christ like?

      June 27, 2013 at 3:49 pm |
    • Julias Ceasar

      A.) As a dyslexic myself I don't care for your screen name.

      B.) No religion intended but do you think Jesse James is fictional? What about Washington, Ceasar, Plato?

      June 28, 2013 at 6:23 pm |
  8. David Thompson

    God and holy books are interpreted in order to stay in business. God is only as good as Its ability to extract cash from the faithful. In Christianity Today it is claimed that there are more than 33,800 Christian sects. Each with enough of a different message as to attract sufficient adherents to feed thousands of preachers.

    God is schizophrenic or It is extremely malleable. If It it wasn't just the imagination of people, It could demonstrate Itself in such a way as to be unmistakable by all humanity. You get a lot of options when you are omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, and omnibenevolent. It fails miserably for something having all those attributes.

    June 27, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      So what you're saying is you need something a little more tangible than being nailed to a tree?

      June 27, 2013 at 3:19 pm |
    • Lycidas

      @David Thompson- "God and holy books are interpreted in order to stay in business."

      Got any evidence for this opinion?

      "God is only as good as Its ability to extract cash from the faithful."

      That's an opinion without facts.

      "God is schizophrenic or It is extremely malleable."

      So you have a PHD in Dietian Medicine? Or do you mean the followers of God are schizophrenic? If that's the case, are you a doctor?

      "It fails miserably for something having all those attributes."

      More accurately...it fails to make sense to you.

      June 27, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
    • actually

      it does make more sense if we close up the gap:

      "Today it is claimed that there are more than 33,800 Christian sects. Each with enough of a different message as to attract sufficient adherents to feed thousands of preachers. God is schizophrenic or It is extremely malleable. "

      June 27, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
    • Lycidas

      @actually- "it does make more sense if we close up the gap:"

      I think there is an @ssumption that is being made incorrectly with all this. It's that all these denominations are a result of theological differences. Is that really the case?
      Have you consider many of the denominations exist due to reasons like language, politics, geography, history...etc?
      Of course there are denominations that came about from genuine theological differences but all of them? I find that doubtful.

      June 27, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
    • David

      Yes, Bill Deacon. We need proof that the being nailed to said tree was a divine being or the son of one. So far, none has been given.

      Nice try though, you slippery little trickster. What do you do, bathe in crude oil?

      June 27, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
  9. Colin

    "Peter changed his mind. The church would never be the same.

    Despite deeply held religious convictions regarding circ.umcision and dietary restrictions, he led the way in opening the doors of the church to all who would enter, regardless of ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status or religious background."

    Well, not so, I'm afraid. It was actualy Pauline theology and Paul's insistence on allowing pagans into the church without requiring that they adhere to Mosaic law.

    June 27, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
  10. O. Alexandre

    Nice post. A Brazilian song writer used to sing that 'he rather prefers to be a walking metamorphosis than to have that old opinion about everything"... But at the same time I would like to question which creeds of our Christian that we hold so dearly are eternal for our growth in grace and love.

    June 27, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
  11. Robert Brown

    Amen Rachel!

    God be merciful to me a sinner.

    Luke 18:

    9 And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:

    10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.

    11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.

    12 I fast twice in the week, I give t.ithes of all that I possess.

    13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.

    14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

    June 27, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
    • sam stone

      robert: you see god as merciful, i see the picture painted by christians as a vindictive pr1ck

      June 27, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
    • ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

      To humble and admit fault, never to repeat faults again is dear to truth absolute GOD, and to be proud in front of GOD, and consider himself to be above others is sure way to hind, hell. First is of the truth and second is of hindu secular ism, criminal self center ism of human.

      June 27, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
    • NESTLE FOUNDATION OF OVALT INE

      Oh look, it's Gullible's Travels (parts 1 & 2) meets Gullible's Travels, the Mohammad edition. How cute.

      June 27, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
    • Oh the humanity

      The important thing Sam, is that you recognize that everybody has their own opinion.

      June 27, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
    • ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

      And idiotic, secular, self centered, in hind denial of truth absolute have no value.

      June 27, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
    • NESTLE FOUNDATION OF OVALT INE

      @ISLAM

      Nope....

      June 27, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
    • sam stone

      Of course everyone has their own opinion, and everyone is welcome to theirs. However, if someone tries to convince others of the correctness of their opinion, they should expect a critical eye applied to their claims

      June 27, 2013 at 2:57 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      sam stone, He offered you His grace. You rejected Him, now you whine? It's not to late to repent for your sins.

      1 John 1:8   If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

      1 John 1:9   If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

      1 John 1:10   If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

      Amen.

      June 27, 2013 at 2:57 pm |
    • mama k

      sorry, HS, sam's right. Your god is a vindictive prick.

      June 27, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
    • sam stone

      HS: Your god is a punk. You are a diseased gash. Both of you can fvck off

      June 27, 2013 at 3:06 pm |
    • *

      Heaven Sent,

      And yet, here you are, back again - whining about non-believers.

      June 27, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
    • sam stone

      Also, gash, I am not whining. I am stating my opinion that your god is a vindictive, petty punk.

      June 27, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
    • sam stone

      HS is a troll

      June 27, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      sam and mama k, LOL how's those lies of Baalim working for you?.

      Judges 2

      Amen.

      June 27, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
    • Darcy

      With a diseased gash, apparently.

      June 27, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      sam stone, you going by by for your unbelief and idol worshiping of false gods (tradition and babble of men) and you whine after He told you what and what not to do? R U brain dead?

      June 27, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      LOL. Here comes the dummy backup for perverted lies.

      June 27, 2013 at 3:25 pm |
    • checking out the folklore

      http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Evidence_for_the_historical_existence_of_Jesus_Christ

      June 27, 2013 at 3:30 pm |
    • sam stone

      HS: You are the one who is worshipping the babble of men. In fact, you post that babble pretty much every time you post.

      June 27, 2013 at 3:38 pm |
    • sam stone

      HS: Jeebus is waiting on you. One shot from your sidearm and you can be slurping up "Jesus Truth"....why are you waiting? Heaven is waiting....

      June 27, 2013 at 3:40 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Checking out,

      Woe to them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

      Isaiah 5:20

      Amen.

      June 27, 2013 at 3:42 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      sam stone, I have to endure your lies of babble unto the bitter end.

      June 27, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
    • sam stone

      Oooh, a lie.....

      Get back on your knees, b1tch

      June 27, 2013 at 3:47 pm |
    • mama k

      ScentedTissue, with head permanently stuck in Gullible's Travels talk of babble? LOL.

      June 27, 2013 at 3:47 pm |
    • sam stone

      Post some more drivel from your iron age comic book, gash.

      Jeebus will fill your cheeks with his Truth

      June 27, 2013 at 3:49 pm |
    • *

      Heaven Sent,

      Grab that mute of yours and waaaah, waaaah, waaaah some more.

      June 27, 2013 at 3:51 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      spot, I don't whine be.cause He's going to wipe out evil.

      June 27, 2013 at 4:02 pm |
    • Darcy

      Hey, Heaven Sent? I'm just reading this thread; I have no opinion one way or another about your diseased gash. I don't have any knowledge whether that's a lie it not. I'm not a sock puppet, but I find it interesting that you think your diseased gash needs back-up. I do find it amusing that you immediately jump on the offensive. Is it true that your gash is diseased? You can probably pick up some medicated douche if you're too lazy to see a gynie.

      Oh, and HeavenSent? If this is the way you proselytize to unbelievers, you need a refresher course. You fail.

      June 27, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Jesus said,

      Revelation 21:8

      But the f.earful, and u.nbelieving, and the a.bominable, and m.urderers, and w.horemongers, and s.orcerers, and i.dolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

      Amen.

      June 27, 2013 at 4:18 pm |
    • mama k

      Yada yada yada, ScentedTissue. We all know John of Patmos was high as a kite when he wrote that bullshit.

      June 27, 2013 at 4:35 pm |
  12. Colin

    Well given that "God" will always have the personality that the person who believes in him wants him to have, of course God changes over time. You can trace his evolution through the oldest Biblical writing – Proto-Isaiah, for example, where he was just one of many gods, through later Old Testamnent writings such as Deutero or Trito-Isaiah, where he is The Only God, to the NEw Testament when he (apparently) gives birth to the post biblical early Christian writings where he becomes a Trinity.

    He then later splits into the Mulsim and Christian gods we pretty much have today. The Christian god's personality also keeps pace with the norms of the societies who believe in him. This is why he, by remarkable coincidence, starts to accept gays and to allow women in the clergy, just as society is doing so.

    Why it is not obvious beyond all sane doubt to any thinking person that we make the gods and not vice-versa is beyond me.

    June 27, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
    • Lycidas

      Perception does not equate creation.
      If you would take five people and ask them to define and event or a certain person, you would not get the identical responses from them all. It's resonable for the religious to do that as well with God. But that subjective perception does not prove that the concept of God is man made, only how man views God.

      June 27, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
    • Colin

      If you can point to anhwhere he exists outside of human minds, you might have a point.

      June 27, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      1 Kings 18

      Amen.

      June 27, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
    • mama k

      @ScentedTissue: Colin said "outside human minds" dipshit.

      June 27, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
    • laststonecarver

      @Colin,
      To perceive beyond yourself, allows for the realization of the Big Picture –
      Perceiving your environment, is critical in developmental decision making – in the understanding of the little picture –

      'Why it is not obvious beyond all sane doubt to any thinking person that we make the gods and not vice-versa is beyond me.'

      You can only know, that which you have been made aware of –
      If all your information comes for one source, it makes it harder to perceive beyond yourself/your group self –
      This article seems to be about perceiving beyond that religious self – to perceiving the actual environment –

      June 27, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
    • David Thompson

      Nicely stated, but I doubt if any believers can break outside their bubble.

      June 27, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
    • John Stemberger

      ........only how man views God.
      ------------------
      Actually, there are thousands of gods.......shouldnt you have said gods????????????

      June 27, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
    • mama k

      This was interesting:

      The Cartesian Theatre

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a3a2FFoRpzQ&w=640&h=390]

      June 27, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      John Stemberger, you listen to those that were deceived by Jezebel.

      Revelation 2:20

      Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.

      Amen.

      June 27, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
    • mama k

      John of Patmos must have eaten some of the same poisonous week that Paul had to hallucinate all that shit that he spewed in Revelation.

      June 27, 2013 at 3:22 pm |
    • mama k

      (poisonous weed)

      June 27, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
    • Lycidas

      @Colin- If you can point to anywhere he was created by the human mind, you might have a point.

      June 27, 2013 at 3:26 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      mama k, Paul didn't write the book of Revelation.

      June 27, 2013 at 3:47 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Malachi 3:6  

      For I [am] the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.

      Amen.

      June 27, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
    • Darcy

      It appears that Heaven Sent cannot read, either. Mama k never said that Paul wrote Revelation. Read it again.

      June 27, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      D.arcy d.ummy .h.andle, r.ead it again.

      m.ama k posted "J.ohn of P.atmos must have e.aten some of the same p.oisonous week that P.aul had to h.allucinate all that s.hit that he s.p.ewed in R.evelation."

      June 27, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
    • mama k

      Wow – Darcy is right. ScentedTissue has some reading comprehension problems.

      June 27, 2013 at 4:31 pm |
    • mama k

      And you didn't include my correction when you quoted me HS. But we all know you lie for your God, so it's no surprise.

      June 27, 2013 at 4:32 pm |
  13. gcrkatie

    Thank you, Rachel, for your boldness and transparency. You have taught me a lot about wrestling and celebrating faith at the same time. Can't wait to read more articles on CNN!

    June 27, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
  14. laststonecarver

    It is good to perceive your environment –

    June 27, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
  15. Russell

    Stupid article.
    According to itself, the bible is not supposed to be changed.
    That is the problem here- you can change your opinions, but the bible does not change.
    The bible still accepts all kinds of stuff I find immoral , and it always will.

    June 27, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
    • ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

      Cause of problem is translation of Hebrew word in hindu manipulated form, better to learn words in Hebrew, original Latin yourself, than to depend on others to be hind, fool for life.

      June 27, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
    • Lycidas

      @Russell- "the bible is not supposed to be changed."

      I think you are referring to the Book of Revelation and not the collection of books known as the Bible. The verse in Revelation that says not to take away or add to the text is regulated to that one book.

      June 27, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Revelation 2

      Amen.

      June 27, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
    • mama k

      While ScentedTissue has it's head stuck in a book most likely written by someone who was hallucinating, others might find this more helpful:

      The Quarterly Review of Biology: December, 2012: epigenetics.

      June 27, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
    • Russell

      @lycidas
      Are you saying it is okay to change the bible?
      We can keep the parts we like, and replace the parts we don't?

      June 27, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      mama k, mute point with your babble.

      June 27, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
    • *

      Heaven Sent,

      A horn mute can be used to make that waaah, waaah, waaah, whining sound of yours.

      June 27, 2013 at 3:24 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Spot, sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal as a dummy handle to backup their lies,

      June 27, 2013 at 3:30 pm |
    • Lycidas

      @Russell- "Are you saying it is okay to change the bible?"

      Is it revelant to me pointing out that what you said was only directed toward a single book in the collection known as the Bible?

      "We can keep the parts we like, and replace the parts we don't?"

      I think you are phishing for some kind of response. Again, the statement your initial comment revolved around was in the Book of Revelation and did not mean the Bible. Unless you think the Bible somehow came before the Book of Revelation did.

      June 27, 2013 at 3:30 pm |
    • Dippy

      Moot, not mute. Holy shit, what makes you religious nitwits so stupid? Too much time groveling on your knees.

      June 27, 2013 at 3:35 pm |
    • *

      Dippy,

      HS has been edified on the moot/mute deal. She insists on bringing it up, partially as a needling thing, and partially as a way to refuse to admit her error.

      June 27, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Dippy,, it means quiet with the babbling of lies.

      June 27, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
    • Dippy

      A little mental imbalance, then. Oh well, apparently there are people like that.

      June 27, 2013 at 3:51 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Dippy, read it and keep spewing lies doesn't change His truth.

      Jesus said,

      Revelation 21:8

      But the f.earful, and u.nbelieving, and the a.bominable, and m.urderers, and w.horemongers, and s.orcerers, and i.dolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

      Amen.

      June 27, 2013 at 4:27 pm |
    • mama k

      HS: "mute point" LMAO.

      Stunted reading comprehension and gullibility brought to you in full bloom courtesy of ScentedTissue.

      June 27, 2013 at 4:40 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      mama k, I was being polite. If you prefer shut up with your lies. So be it.

      June 27, 2013 at 4:46 pm |
    • mama k

      There you go, ScentedTissue. You do much better when you stick to easy "Dick and Jane" words.

      As for lying, ha! We all know who consistently lies for their God the most in these blogs.

      June 27, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
  16. ME II

    "I’ve changed my mind about a lot of things—the age of the Earth, the reality of climate change, the value of women in church leadership, the equal failings of both the Republican and Democratic platforms to embody the teachings of Jesus."

    Ah, welcome to rationality, new data can lead to new understanding.

    June 27, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Revelation 1

      Amen.

      June 27, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
    • mama k

      While ScentedTissue has it's head stuck in a book most likely written by someone who was hallucinating, others might find this more helpful:

      The Quarterly Review of Biology: December, 2012: epigenetics

      June 27, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Tommy Tom as mama k do and know nothing but babble.

      June 27, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      ME II, This is such a poor article, like something I would expect from an eighth grade sociology class or comparative religion. Did you notice that not a single thing she pointed to as subjects she has changed her mind on are doctrinal? Do you think she understands the difference between social teaching and dogma? I see nothing in her writing to say she does.

      June 27, 2013 at 3:31 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Bill Deacon, she's another one that does Isaiah 5:20.

      June 27, 2013 at 3:52 pm |
  17. Catalyst

    Why did Jesus hang out with sinners?

    June 27, 2013 at 1:54 pm |
    • Catalyst

      To change them, transform their lives and give them a purpose and meaning in life that only he could give.

      June 27, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
    • Russell

      Religions have always recruited people who were down and out.
      The Scientologists are excellent at it.

      June 27, 2013 at 2:59 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      "The sinners are much more fun.
      You know that only the good die young"
      – Billy Joel

      June 27, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
    • pete

      Because hanging out with people who never sin would be very boring, and Jesus liked to party.

      June 27, 2013 at 4:35 pm |
  18. Even God changes his mind

    "6 The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. 7 So the Lord said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.” Gen 6:6,7

    Of course, that proves he's not God in the infallible sense. And not only that, he's a vindictive pr ick for wiping out all the animals and birds who apparently did nothing but what they were told to do.

    June 27, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Whiners, whining that God wiped them out due to their unbelief and continuing with their sinful natures. Nothing new under the sun.

      June 27, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
    • ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

      Out of hind, corrupted Torah, called Greek Torah, not Hebrew Torah, by hindu secular s, crook self centered, having nothing to do with truth absolute GOD, foundation of America.

      June 27, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Revelation 2:12

      And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges;

      Amen.

      June 27, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
    • sam stone

      HS: Your god is a vindictive pr1ck and you are a delusional diseased gash. Amen

      June 27, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
    • Roger that

      HeavenSent,

      Read the book of Job and get back to me.

      June 27, 2013 at 3:28 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      sam stone, as a Christian believe me when I say "yeah Jesus who rocks".

      June 27, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Roger that, Job explains what happens when you listen to the naysayers or unbelievers.

      June 27, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
    • sam stone

      HS: Why should I believe you? You are a disengenuous gash.

      June 27, 2013 at 4:04 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      sam stone, it's not me you need to believe, it's Jesus' truth that counts.

      Jesus said,

      Revelation 21:8

      But the f.earful, and u.nbelieving, and the a.bominable, and m.urderers, and w.horemongers, and s.orcerers, and i.dolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

      Amen.

      June 27, 2013 at 4:31 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      HS, As there is no evidence that Jesus was divine (and little evidence that he actually existed) then really all you're saying is your word. And why would we take anyone's word without evidence?

      June 27, 2013 at 4:34 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      santa, did you miss the 2nd word in Revelation 21:8?

      June 27, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      CORRECTION: santa, did you miss the 2nd reason in Revelation 21:8?

      June 27, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
    • mama k

      Reading assignment for others whilst ScentedTissue has its head glued to Gullible's Travels.

      http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Evidence_for_the_historical_existence_of_Jesus_Christ

      June 27, 2013 at 4:53 pm |
    • HISLAM HOUNDATION OF HAMERICAN HONSTI TUTION

      @ISLAM
      STFU you farting musalman, bhangi ki olad

      June 27, 2013 at 5:57 pm |
  19. ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

    religions a hinduism, denial of truth absolute, foundation of existence and American consti ttution, handy work of hindered secular s, criminal self centered to hind fool humanity in to gentile ism, slavery of another human as their gods, but truth absolute is fundamental, constant, no one has power to change, and truth absolute is GOD.

    June 27, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
    • HISLAM HOUNDATION OF HAMERICAN HONSTI TUTION

      @ISLAM, STFU you farting bhang musalman

      June 27, 2013 at 5:58 pm |
  20. Doc Vestibule

    Mormons change their convictions whenever it is profitable.

    June 27, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
    • David

      Not true Doc, they just tell you they change but they are taught that it's okay to lie for Christ.

      June 27, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
    • ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

      Word Mormon has no other meaning but on path of desire, such as Roman, flowing in desire, having nothing to do with truth absolute, expect nothing better but hinduism denial of truth absolute from a hind, hungry dog, secular, self centered.

      June 27, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
    • ME II

      ... or prophet-able.

      June 27, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
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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.