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July 20th, 2013
10:00 PM ET

Reza Aslan: Why I write about Jesus

Opinion by Reza Aslan, special to CNN

(CNN) - When I was 15 years old, I found Jesus.

I spent the summer of my sophomore year at an evangelical youth camp in Northern California, a place of timbered fields and boundless blue skies, where, given enough time and stillness and soft-spoken encouragement, one could not help but hear the voice of God.

Amid the man-made lakes and majestic pines my friends and I sang songs, played games and swapped secrets, rollicking in our freedom from the pressures of home and school.

In the evenings, we gathered in a fire-lit assembly hall at the center of the camp. It was there that I heard a remarkable story that would change my life forever.


Two thousand years ago, I was told, in an ancient land called Galilee, the God of heaven and Earth was born in the form of a helpless child. The child grew into a blameless man. The man became the Christ, the savior of humanity.

Through his words and miraculous deeds, he challenged the Jews who thought they were the chosen of God, and in return he was nailed to a cross. Though Jesus could have saved himself from that gruesome death, he freely chose to die.

Indeed, his death was the point of it all, for his sacrifice freed us all from the burden of our sins.

But the story did not end there, because three days later, he rose again, exalted and divine, so that now, all who believe in him and accept him into their hearts will also never die, but have eternal life.

For a kid raised in a motley family of lukewarm Muslims and exuberant atheists, this was truly the greatest story ever told. Never before had I felt so intimately the pull of God.

In Iran, the place of my birth, I was Muslim in much the way I was Persian. My religion and my ethnicity were mutual and linked. Like most people born into a religious tradition, my faith was as familiar to me as my skin, and just as disregardable.

After the Iranian revolution forced my family to flee our home, religion in general, and Islam in particular, became taboo in our household. Islam was shorthand for everything we had lost to the mullahs who now ruled Iran.

My mother still prayed when no one was looking, and you could still find a stray Quran or two hidden in a closet or a drawer somewhere. But, for the most part, our lives were scrubbed of all trace of God.

That was just fine with me. After all, in the America of the 1980s, being Muslim was like being from Mars. My faith was a bruise, the most obvious symbol of my otherness; it needed to be concealed.

Jesus, on the other hand, was America. He was the central figure in America’s national drama. Accepting him into my heart was as close as I could get to feeling truly American.

I do not mean to say that mine was a conversion of convenience. On the contrary, I burned with absolute devotion to my newfound faith.

I was presented with a Jesus who was less “Lord and Savior” than he was a best friend, someone with whom I could have a deep and personal relationship. As a teenager trying to make sense of an indeterminate world I had only just become aware of, this was an invitation I could not refuse.

The moment I returned home from camp, I began eagerly to share the good news of Jesus Christ with my friends and family, my neighbors and classmates, with people I’d just met and with strangers on the street: those who heard it gladly, and those who threw it back in my face.

Yet something unexpected happened in my quest to save the souls of the world.

The more I probed the Bible to arm myself against the doubts of unbelievers, the more distance I discovered between the Jesus of the Gospels and the Jesus of history – between Jesus the Christ and Jesus of Nazareth.

In college, where I began my formal study of the history of religions, that initial discomfort soon ballooned into full-blown doubts.

The bedrock of evangelical Christianity, at least as it was taught to me, is the unconditional belief that every word of the Bible is God-breathed and true, literal and inerrant.

The sudden realization that this belief is patently and irrefutably false, that the Bible is replete with the most blatant and obvious errors and contradictions — just as one would expect from a document written by hundreds of different hands across thousands of years — left me confused and spiritually unmoored.

And so, like many people in my situation, I angrily discarded my faith as if it were a costly forgery I had been duped into buying.

I began to rethink the faith and culture of my forefathers, finding in them a deeper, more intimate familiarity than I ever had as a child, the kind that comes from reconnecting with an old friend after many years apart.

Meanwhile, I continued my academic work in religious studies, delving back into the Bible not as an unquestioning believer but as an inquisitive scholar. No longer chained to the assumption that the stories I read were literally true, I became aware of a more meaningful truth in the text.

Ironically, the more I learned about the life of the historical Jesus, the turbulent world in which he lived, and the brutality of the Roman occupation that he defied, the more I was drawn to him.

The Jewish peasant and revolutionary who challenged the rule of the most powerful empire the world had ever known became so much more real to me than the detached, unearthly being I had been introduced to in church.

Today, I can confidently say that two decades of rigorous academic research into the origins of Christianity has made me a more genuinely committed disciple of Jesus of Nazareth than I ever was of Jesus Christ.

I have modeled my life not after the celestial spirit whom many Christians believe sacrificed himself for our sins, but rather after the illiterate, marginal Jew who gave his life fighting an unwinnable battle against the religious and political powers of his day on behalf of the poor and the dispossessed – those his society deemed unworthy of saving.

I wrote my newest book, "Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth" in order to spread the good news of the Jesus of history with the same fervor that I once applied to spreading the story of the Christ.

Because I am convinced that one can be a devoted follower of Jesus without being a Christian, just as I know that one can be a Christian without being a follower of Jesus.

Reza Aslan is a bestselling author and a scholar of religion. This article was adapted from his newest book, "Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth." The views expressed in this column are Aslan's alone.

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Belief • Bible • Christianity • Church • Jesus • Opinion

soundoff (4,311 Responses)
  1. Heavenleigh

    She misses the point. It is not what we do first but what He did for us. Those of us who count ourselves Christians respond accordingly with faith and know that Jesus was more than a great moral teacher. Our response to Jesus is the recognition of His divinity and worthiness of worship.

    July 21, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
    • WhenCowsAttack

      She doesn't miss the point, she just doesn't agree.

      July 21, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
    • One one

      Is someone, according to your belief, who sends billions of people to hell for eternal torture worthy of your worship ?

      July 21, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
      • Seth

        Yes.

        July 21, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
        • Tiff

          Madness

          July 21, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      if jesus was such a great moral teacher, how come he p.romoted slavery? there is no greater evil. slavery means b.ondage, deg.radation, r.ape and m.urder. how could an all-loving messiah get that wrong?

      July 21, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
      • lol??

        Are you gonna pay your neighbor's share of the national debt??

        July 21, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      if jesus was such a great moral teacher, how come he promoted slavery? there is no greater evil.

      July 21, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      if jesus was such a great moral teacher, how come he promoted s.lavery? there is no greater evil.

      July 21, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      if jesus was such a great m.oral teacher, how come he promoted slavery? there is no greater evil.

      July 21, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
      • John P. Tarver

        Indentured Servitude is not so evil.

        July 21, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
        • niknak

          Then lets sign you up for it Tarver and see how you like it.

          July 21, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
        • Tiff

          lmao

          July 21, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
        • John P. Tarver

          We owned millions of Celts in the South and it was great.

          July 21, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
        • G to the T

          "Indentured Servitude" This is an old chestnut that get's trotted out once is a while. In my studies, only other Hebrews would (VERY RARELY) put themselves into a situation like this. The case with NON-Hebrews was VERY different and much closer to slavery in the sense most people think (i.e. humans as property).

          July 25, 2013 at 1:36 pm |
    • David Hawn

      SHE... is actually a man.... REZA has a ubiquitous presence on youtube. Look up some of his talks.

      July 21, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
      • ME II

        Thank you !

        July 21, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
    • Christian7

      I agree. Well put

      July 21, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
  2. Universe

    Quran says (Islamic Scripture)

    “The example of Jesus, as far as GOD is concerned, is the same as that of Adam; He created him from dust, then said to him, "Be," and he was.” Quran [3:59]

    “They say , "We live only this life; we will not be resurrected. If you could only see them when they stand before their Lord! He would say, "Is this not the truth?" They would say, "Yes, by our Lord." He would say, "You have incurred the retribution by your disbelief." [6:30]

    “No soul can carry the sins of another soul. If a soul that is loaded with sins implores another to bear part of its load, no other soul can carry any part of it, even if they were related. ... [35:18]

    “They even attribute to Him sons and daughters, without any knowledge. Be He glorified. He is the Most High, far above their claims.” Quran [6:100]

    “Recall that your Lord said to the angels, "I am placing a representative on Earth." They said, "Will You place therein one who will spread evil therein and shed blood, while we sing Your praises, glorify You, and uphold Your absolute authority?" He said, "I know what you do not know." [2:30]

    It does not befit God that He begets a son, be He glorified. To have anything done, He simply says to it, "Be," and it is. [19:35]

    “We have honored the children of Adam, and provided them with rides on land and in the sea. We provided for them good provisions, and we gave them greater advantages than many of our creatures.” Quran [17:70]

    “O children of Adam, we have provided you with garments to cover your bodies, as well as for luxury. But the best garment is the garment of righteousness. These are some of God's signs, that they may take heed.” Quran [7:26]

    “O children of Adam, do not let the devil dupe you as he did when he caused the eviction of your parents from Paradise, and the removal of their garments to expose their bodies. He and his tribe see you, while you do not see them. We appoint the devils as companions of those who do not believe.” Quran [7:27]

    “O children of Adam, when messengers come to you from among you, and recite My revelations to you, those who take heed and lead a righteous life, will have nothing to fear, nor will they grieve.” Quran [7:35]

    “Losers indeed are those who disbelieve in meeting God, until the Hour comes to them suddenly, then say, "We deeply regret wasting our lives in this world." They will carry loads of their sins on their backs; what a miserable load! [6:31]

    Thanks for taking time to read my post. Please take a moment to visit whyIslam org website.

    July 21, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
    • ME II

      Got it! Islam doesn't believe that Jesus was divine! Message received.

      July 21, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
    • Christian7

      Allah and God are not the same. Jesus is God and Mohammad is not His messenger.

      July 21, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
  3. Bootyfunk

    Jesus "the illiterate, marginal Jew who gave his life fighting an unwinnable battle against the religious and political powers of his day on behalf of the poor and the dispossessed – those his society deemed unworthy of saving."

    too bad he didn't fight for slaves. in fact, he told slaves to obey their masters if they want any chance of getting into heaven themselves. Jesus also said to beat slaves that disobey "with many stripes." he said some great things about love, but he was also a promoter of slavery, as is the whole bible. you would think that the son of an all-loving and omniscient god would know slavery is the worst kind of evil man can inflict upon man.

    July 21, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
    • ME II

      @Bootyfunk,
      With Jesus as a god, you are correct, but with Jesus as an "illiterate, marginal Jew" he was limited by his culture, just like anyone else.

      July 21, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
    • John P. Tarver

      My grandfather's name was Benjamin Franklin Tarver, but he went by AJ, because his name made people angry. There is nothing to be gained on this earth by fighting for slaves.

      July 21, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
    • Rebbe Bupkis

      This assumes that you believe that everything in the Gospels is accurate, no?

      July 21, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
    • Gorsh

      Any half educated person understands that "slaves" of the ancient world were quite different from the slaves of American history.

      Slaves of the time of Jesus were generally more akin to "indentured servants". It took the awesome freedom loving Americans to come up with race based multi-generational eternal slavery.

      July 21, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
      • Damocles

        Ohhh... I get it.... when you couch it in the words 'indentured servitude', slavery becomes much more palatable. Maybe we could call murder 'involuntary volunteering of the cessation of life function'. How's that grab you?

        July 21, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
      • RichardSRussell

        Right, because we know that all thru history the way you got your indentured servants was to "indenture" the surviving children of the villages you'd massacred. Needless to say, since they were ONLY indentured servants, not full blown slaves, they beat them in only the most kindly and loving manner, and the "servants" stood still for it because they knew they had it coming.

        July 21, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
      • ME II

        Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. 45 You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. 46 You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.
        (Lev 25)

        July 21, 2013 at 3:52 pm |
      • G to the T

        I'd love to hear your sources for this. In my studies it was only in very rare situations that a jew might put themselves into something similar to indentured servitude. If you weren't a jew, the situation was very different (think war spoils in OT). These people were most defnitely not in it for a set amount of time and were considered PROPERTY! That's why their different rules for jewish slaves vs. the rest.

        July 25, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
    • Elena

      you must be a Jew? right!, only a Jew would express about Jesus like that! it is not Islam destroying Christianity, it is Judaism! they have try since the day Jesus was born!

      July 21, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
      • tallulah13

        Jesus was a jew. He lived a jew, he died a jew.

        If anyone is destroying christianity, it is christians themselves, with their hate and bigotry, and their attempts to force their superstitions on a world that no longer needs superstitions.

        July 21, 2013 at 2:47 pm |
  4. Buster

    Hi Elena, what is your religion or faith?

    July 21, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
    • Elena

      Is a faith, the faith of the spirit!
      I believe i am not just an organic biochemical machine and I believe there is something else beyond this material world! But we can only reach it through the spirit; not the mind!

      July 21, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
      • tallulah13

        Your belief that you are "not just an organic biochemical machine" has no basis in reality. It is nothing more than the manifestation of your very human emotions: Fear of your own mortality, combined with your desire to feel special. These are things that religions are very good at exploiting.

        July 21, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
  5. CommonSense

    >>And so, like many people in my situation, I angrily discarded my faith as if it were a costly forgery I had been duped into buying.

    It IS a costly forgery and you WERE duped. That is why you cast it aside.
    Of course, there is no "historical" Jesus. So, you are devoted to the mythical character who maintains certain moral values which you believe are good. These same fictional characters appears in many forms throughout history and cultural religious practices with the common moral ideas of Good vs Evil.
    It's the same with the "salvation" story. It is the story written by oppressed people who long for justice in the world. The salvation story is found throughout history, literature and cultural religious books.
    We all know that by now, don't we??

    July 21, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
    • Rebbe Bupkis

      But, and I ask the question respectfully, isn't the same true about our "Founding Fathers" and the stories that surround any "historical" figure? I, as a Jew, admire the teachings that are connected to this rabbi, whether or not they came from his mouth or the writers. Does that fact that they may be apocryphal change the fact that some of them make pretty good sense, such as the message of love and forgiveness?

      July 21, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
  6. iwillbelieve

    The belief of Jesus is based on his ressurection, that makes his story credible. Anybody can say or write a book about anything to make a buck. Reza, come back from the dead, and I'll follow you.

    July 21, 2013 at 1:54 pm |
    • Colin (the original)

      The problem with believeing that story is that you are faced with 4 totally contradictory versions.The 4 gospels totally contradict each other. I have split the comparison between the four accounts into three parts; (i) who went to Jesus’ tomb; (ii) what they found there; and (iii) what happened next.

      Who went to the tomb?

      Mark – 3 women – Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Salome.
      Matthew – 2 women – Mary Magdalene and “the other Mary.”
      Luke – at least 5 women – Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, Joanna and other, unnamed women.
      John – only 1 woman – Mary Magdalene.

      What did they find there?

      Mark – the stone has been rolled back from the entrance to the tomb. There is no mention of any guards. A young man in a long, white robe is inside. His identi.ty is not revealed. He tells the women to go tell the disciples that Jesus has risen and has gone to Galilee, where Jesus will appear to them. No angels or other persons, nor any earthquake is mentioned.

      Matthew – the stone has not been rolled back from the tomb and there is no man in a white robe, but there is a great earthquake and an angel from heaven appears, rolls back the stone, sits on it and stares at the women with “a face like lightning.” There are guards posted, who freeze with fear. The angel takes the two women and shows them that the tomb is empty and tells them that Jesus has risen from the dead and will meet the disciples in Galilee.

      Luke – the stone is rolled back. There is no earthquake, no angels, no young man in a robe and no guards. Instead, two men are inside in shining garments. They tell the group of (at least five) women that Jesus has risen as he foretold he would. No direction is given for the disciples to go to Galilee.

      John – the stone is rolled back. Mary Magdalene, who is alone, simply finds an empty tomb and flees. No man in a long white robe, angel with a face like lightening, earthquake, men in shining uniforms nor guards are mentioned. She fetches Peter and one other, unnamed disciple and they return. They find Jesus’ robes discarded on the floor, but the garment from his head neatly folded. Peter and the other disciple leave, but Mary Magdalene stays, weeping. She looks back in to the tomb and sees two angels and Jesus appears. She thinks he is the gardener until he reveals himself as Jesus. He gives no direction about Galilee but simply tells her to tell the others he is ascending to the Father.

      What happens next?

      Mark – Nothing. The original Gospel according to Mark ends with the women leaving the tomb frightened and saying nothing to anybody about what they saw.

      Matthew– The two women meet Jesus and worship at his feet. He tells them to tell his disciples to meet him in Galilee. Meanwhile, the guards relate their story to the elders and the chief priests who bribe them to lie and say that the disciples took Jesus’ body away. Eventually the 11 remaining apostles see Jesus in Galilee. Jesus tells them to go out and baptize people of all nations and that he will always be with them.

      Luke – Peter runs to the tomb and finds it empty with Jesus’ clothes discarded. Jesus does not appear to him, but does to two disciples who are walking in the countryside. They do not recognize him and he feigns ignorance as they recount the story of his death and of the women encountering angels in the tomb. Jesus walks with them some more, spends the night with them, breaking bread at which point they realize who he is and he vanishes. They tell the others what happens and then Jesus appears to them. He explains the scriptures to them and that it was necessary that he die and be resurrected. He then leads them to Bethany and is carried up to heaven.

      John – This is the longest post mortem account of the four. Mary Magdalene recounts her story to the apostles. Jesus appears to them that night when they are assembled, hiding from the Jews. He shows his wounds to them. Thomas was not there and when they later tell him, there is the famous “doubting Thomas” scene. This scene does not appear in any other gospel.

      Jesus later appears to some apostles while they are fishing. They do not recognize him at first. They catch nothing, but Jesus tells them throw the nets out of the other side of the boat and they do so and catch many fish. Then they know it is Jesus. Jesus eats a breakfast of fish with them and has a conversation with Peter. No mention is made of Jesus’ ultimate departure.

      July 21, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
      • One one

        Also, compare Jesus final words on the cross.

        According to John, Jesus' last words were "It is finished". According to Luke, Jesus' last words before dying on the cross were "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!", an expression of confidence. But According to Matthew and Mark, Jesus' last words before dying on the cross were "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?", an expression of doubt.

        July 21, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
        • John P. Tarver

          Only John Christs mother and Lazarus' sisters were at the foot of the cross, the rest were hiding.

          July 21, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
  7. brian

    Some people are not religious so they don't have to worry about these silly things.

    July 21, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
  8. FOZIA

    THE TRUTH OF JESUS AS DETAILED IN THE HOLY QURAN

    Surah Maryam (Mary); CHAPTER 19; Verses 16-36

    16. Relate in the Book (the story of) Mary, when she withdrew from her family to a place in the East.
    17. She placed a screen (to screen herself) from them: then We sent to her Our angel, and he appeared before her as a man in all respects.
    18. She said: "I seek refuge from thee to (Allah) Most Gracious: (come not near) if thou dost fear Allah."
    19. He said: "Nay, I am only a messenger from thy Lord (to announce) to thee the gift of a holy son."
    20. She said: "How shall I have a son, seeing that no man has touched me, and I am not unchaste?"
    21. He said: "So (it will be): thy Lord saith `That is easy for Me: and (We wish) to appoint him as a Sign unto men and a Mercy from Us': it is a matter (so) decreed."
    22. So she conceived him, and she retired with him to a remote place.
    23. And the pains of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a palm-tree: she cried (in her anguish): "Ah! would that I had died before this! Would that I had been a thing forgotten and out of sight!"
    24. But (a voice) cried to her from beneath the (palm-free): "Grieve not! for thy Lord hath provided a rivulet beneath thee;
    25. "And shake towards thyself the trunk of the palm-tree: it will let fall fresh ripe dates upon thee.
    26. "So eat and drink and cool (thine) eye. And if thou dost see any man say `I have vowed a fast to (Allah) Most Gracious, and this day will I enter into no talk with any human being.' "
    27. At length she brought the (babe) to her people, carrying him (in her arms). they said: "O Mary! truly an amazing thing hast thou brought!
    28. "O sister of Aaron! thy father was not a man of evil, nor thy mother a woman unchaste!"
    29. But she pointed to the babe. They said: "How can we talk to one who is a child in the cradle?"
    30. He said: "I am indeed a servant of Allah: He hath given me revelation and made me a prophet;
    31. "And He hath made me Blessed wheresoever I be, and hath enjoined on me Prayer and Charity as long as I live;
    32. "(He) hath made me kind to my mother, and not overbearing or miserable;
    33. "So Peace is on me the day I was born, the day that I die and the day that I shall be raised up to life (again)"!
    34. Such (was) Jesus the son of Mary: (it is) a statement of truth, about which they (vainly) dispute.
    35. It is not befitting to (the majesty of) Allah that He should beget a son. Glory be to Him! When He determines a matter, He only says to it "Be", and it is.
    36. Verily Allah is my Lord and your Lord: Him therefore serve ye: this is a Way that is straight.

    SURAH MAIDA (CHAPTER-5)

    75. The Messiah ['Iesa (Jesus)], son of Maryam (Mary), was no more than a Messenger; many were the Messengers that passed away before him. His mother [Maryam (Mary)] was a Siddiqah [i.e. she believed in the words of Allah and His Books (see Verse 66:12)]. They both used to eat food (as any other human being, while Allah does not eat). Look how We make the Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) clear to them, yet look how they are deluded away (from the truth).

    110. (Remember) when Allah will say (on the Day of Resurrection). "O 'Iesa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary)! Remember My Favour to you and to your mother when I supported you with Ruh-ul-Qudus [Jibrael (Gabriel)] so that you spoke to the people in the cradle and in maturity; and when I taught you writing, Al-Hikmah (the power of understanding), the Taurat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel); and when you made out of the clay, as it were, the figure of a bird, by My Permission, and you breathed into it, and it became a bird by My Permission, and you healed those born blind, and the lepers by My Permission, and when you brought forth the dead by My Permission; and when I restrained the Children of Israel from you (when they resolved to kill you) since you came unto them with clear proofs, and the disbelievers among them said: 'This is nothing but evident magic.' "

    116. And (remember) when Allah will say (on the Day of Resurrection): "O 'Iesa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary)! Did you say unto men: 'Worship me and my mother as two gods besides Allah?' " He will say: "Glory be to You! It was not for me to say what I had no right (to say). Had I said such a thing, You would surely have known it. You know what is in my inner-self though I do not know what is in Yours, truly, You, only You, are the All-Knower of all that is hidden and unseen.

    117. "Never did I say to them aught except what You (Allah) did command me to say: 'Worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord.' And I was a witness over them while I dwelt amongst them, but when You took me up, You were the Watcher over them, and You are a Witness to all things.

    118. "If You punish them, they are Your slaves, and if You forgive them, verily You, only You are the All-Mighty, the All-Wise .

    July 21, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
    • niknak

      Too long, too boring.....
      And phuck allah too

      July 21, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
    • Colin (the original)

      It is historically unlikly that Mohammed ever existed. The first references to gim were about 80 years after his supposed death. The tradition of the revelations from Gabriel in the cave is pure fiction.

      July 21, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
  9. chiz3914

    Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence.

    July 21, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
    • John P. Tarver

      Religion is the cure for normal human psychosis.

      July 21, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
      • MandoZink

        Actually religion tends to look much like a psychosis, albeit a normally inherited one.

        July 21, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
        • Tiff

          LMAO

          July 21, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
        • John P. Tarver

          Jung claimed it is all nonsense and it does not matter what you believe. I think if it is all nonsense, what you believe is even more important, because some magical creature will not be along to clean up the mess you made.

          July 21, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
  10. blakenaustin

    Christian and follower of Jesus are synonymous terms. Although the term "Christian" has picked up some cultural baggage in recent decades.

    July 21, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
    • Jonathan Wagner

      I have to disagree with you. Christianity brings a lot of core beliefs about Jesus that some claim if you reject you don't actually believe in Jesus, I was raised in Christianity so I know this well. Some of these beliefs include that Jesus is God and that Jesus died for our sins and was the ultimate sacrifice. If you reject either of these things, most will say you are not a "true" Christian despite the fact that you might actually follow the words of Christ.

      Most of what Christianity is today is based on the Nicaen Crreed which outlined a bullet point list of what a "Christian" is.

      July 21, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
  11. A Dose of Reality

    Faith that could stand up to any form of reason is long gone. Our knowledge of the world from 2000 years ago to what we now know about the world has irrevocably changed the need for religion. We do not need God to explain things; and religion becomes obsolete as an explanation when it becomes optional or one among many different beliefs. We now see that the leap of faith is not just one leap; it is a leap repeatedly made, and a leap that becomes more difficult to take the more it is taken, reaching its pinnacle in blind allegiance and active denial and rejection of any other possibilities. At that point, the credibility of the faithful is entirely lost.

    July 21, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
  12. eyeswideopen

    I stated look at the life of Jesus in the times He was in. He was most likely in very good shape. Think about it . He was working with Joseph beginning at a young age , up until He began teaching . That's close to twenty years working with His hands. His hands were most likely heavily calloused and His shoulders were well defined. Carpentry will get you in shape very quickly, especially when everything is done by hand. Lifting, cutting , swinging a mallet, cutting trees down and working logs to their right shape. Make no mistake about it . He was built. Tight and muscular with His arms well defined. He was NOT this skinny white guy that paintings would have you believe. He performed miracles everyday multiple times a day for almost three years straight. Day after day, after day , after day and so on and so on. By the time three years were up there was no mistake about His power. He left no room for doubt. Can you imagine today if someone did the things He did. Why in the first hour it would be all over the internet. Now imagine that same person doing those things day after day after day after day . As a former atheist I thank God everyday for my life , along with all the ups and downs which makes me the person that I are. Thank You Jesus for opening my eyes and allowing me to see.

    July 21, 2013 at 1:48 pm |
    • John P. Tarver

      Jesus of the new Testament was a prince of Israel, not a carpenter. You are worshiping Peter, the poor illiterate man.

      July 21, 2013 at 1:54 pm |
    • niknak

      He must not have worked all that well at it since he left carpentry and went into store front preaching.
      Old Joe probably got tired of cleaning up his messes and booted his punk a zz.
      Man, had there just been Xbox back then, he would have sat on the couch all day and played that instead of starting this dumb religion.

      July 21, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
  13. Charles

    Articles about religion and the myriad of hateful responses that follow below says all you need to know about our atheist friends. You don't believe in God. We get it. Congratulations. Now go spew your venom in another direction.

    July 21, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
    • A Dose of Reality

      You only find it hatefull because it's true. Now, would you like to tell about how I will burn in hell for eternity? But that, of course, would not be hatefull eh?

      July 21, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
    • A Frayed Knot

      Charles,

      This is a discussion blog. It is open to all. Do you always consider ideas which disagree with yours as "spew" and "venom"?

      Perhaps you'd be better off on one of the many Christian-only forums on the internet, where they ban disagreeing posts and posters...

      July 21, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
      • Really-O?

        @A Frayed Knot –

        Good point, but one correction – as we now have a new moderator (censor?) on this blog, free expression of ideas is no longer a given.

        See if this post is still here in 24 hours.

        Delete away, Daniel.

        July 21, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
      • Tiff

        @ A Frayed Knot....Thumbs up. lol

        July 21, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
    • Damocles

      That's somewhat amusing considering if you actually look at these posts, most of the hateful things are being said by other believers.

      Me? I'm just laughing at the absurdity of people who believe in imaginary things telling others who believe in imaginary things that they aren't doing it right.

      July 21, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
  14. Man is All

    Jesus is a lie, just as god is a lie. Salvation is unnecessary. There is nothing to be saved from. Life is reality, nothing more. Don't be set up to believe otherwise.

    July 21, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
    • Susan

      I pray that someday you realize that the alarm clock didn't wake you up. GOD spirit dwells on the inside of us which is how we live, move and have our being.

      July 21, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
      • tallulah13

        Every true believer of every one of the thousands of gods humans have worshiped throughout history has felt the exact same certainty that you feel. Emotions are not proof of god. They are proof that you really, really want to believe in a god.

        July 21, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
    • Catholic4ever

      OK. I will stop believing. Thank you for the information. Good bye!

      July 21, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
      • niknak

        How is all that anit pedophilia efforts working for your mythology these days?

        July 21, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
      • JR

        Well, if you're still "Catholic forever" after the countless thousands of children raped and slaughtered by your pedophile infested cult then nothing will cure you.

        July 21, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
  15. Catholic4ever

    Another blatant attack on Christianity sponsored by none other than CNN the promoter of abortions and fake marriages.

    The author can call herself a christian yet she is not. You don't "adopt" Christianity. You live it!! Once you live it you stop trying to implement dumb ideologies and LIVE ONLY ACCORDING TO THE WORD OF GOD!

    Another joke journalist from CNN.

    July 21, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
    • ME II

      I'm not sure that the author would call herself "Christian".

      "...I am convinced that one can be a devoted follower of Jesus without being a Christian, just as I know that one can be a Christian without being a follower of Jesus."

      July 21, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
      • Catholic4ever

        ridiculous... to say the least.

        July 21, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
        • Jonathan Wagner

          I am sure you can find me the scriptures about praying to Mary.

          July 21, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
      • Tiff

        @ ME ll....Good 1. lol

        July 21, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
    • ME II

      @Catholic4ever,
      I don't think it's ridiculous at all. She's simply making the distinction between an actual person and the stories claimed about that person.

      I don't know if her evidence is sufficient, but it's not a ridiculous approach.

      July 21, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
    • niknak

      You poor abused xtians.
      How horrible it must be to have all your houses of mythology NOT have to pay any taxes.
      Must be living hell, and then to have to suffer all these atheists scoffing at your magic man, poor you.

      July 21, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
  16. Lionly Lamb

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AE_BX1XUSC4&w=640&h=360]

    July 21, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
  17. Henry

    C.S. Lewis said it best: "I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronising nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. ... Now it seems to me obvious that He was neither a lunatic nor a fiend: and consequently, however strange or terrifying or unlikely it may seem, I have to accept the view that He was and is God."

    July 21, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
    • Catholic4ever

      oh yeah.. I like Terminator and the Great Gatsby too.

      July 21, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
      • Colin (the original)

        No less crazy than the garbage Catholics believe

        July 21, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
    • OTOH

      Henry,

      Ah, C.S. Lewis and his Liar, Lunatic or Lord deal? There is one more "L" to consider – Legend.

      There is not a whit of verified evidence for any of the supernatural beings or events which are told about in your ancient book.

      July 21, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
    • tony

      That is, if you also accept the nonsense that is the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

      July 21, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
  18. abbydelabbey

    You can follow the teachings of Jesus without accepting him as the son of God - I am a Christian and do believe Jesus is the Son of God and the Christ, but if someone chooses not to believe that he/she can still abide by the teachings.

    July 21, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
    • WhenCowsAttack

      Which are pretty much exactly the same as "the golden rule".

      July 21, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
    • Susan

      You can't just take what you believe out of the word of GOD. Again it's all or nothing. People tend to take out of it what applies to their life which is the problem. If you submit your life and apply his word he does the rest. It's something that we can't try to figure out. Again, you either believe or you don't.

      July 21, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
      • WhenCowsAttack

        Again, Susan, WHY? Because you say they can't? Well, guess what? They can, they are, and probably more people will continue to do so as it seems to be a new fad of some sort.

        You can shrilly scream at them all day long that "you CAN'T do that!!!" and yet people are going to continue to do EXACTLY that.

        What are you going to do about it?

        July 21, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
      • Tiff

        Susan, that's the rule of the church, not the freedom of God because God gave us freewill. One can certainly adhere to the teaching of Jesus without having to belong to a certain religion....obviously.

        July 21, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
    • Catholic4ever

      ahhh.. nope. you're not a christian. sorry.

      July 21, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
      • Typical Christian

        That is o.k. Catholic's aren't true Christians anyways.

        July 22, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
  19. ME II

    Excellent article.

    Great distinction between the plausible reality and the hype of religion.

    July 21, 2013 at 1:40 pm |
    • Susan

      Religion distorts the truth. If you believe and have a personal relationship with GOD it will all be revealed. I am a living testimony to this.

      July 21, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
      • WhenCowsAttack

        How so? Because you're telling us as much?

        That's what's called "anecdotal evidence".

        July 21, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
        • hopelessinseattle

          But of course you have hard evidence that God does not exist? You have searched every inch of the universe and have found nothing resembling God, right....oh wait you haven't have you? So the possibility exists that you MIGHT have missed something.....

          July 21, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
        • ME II

          @hopelessinseattle,
          "But of course you have hard evidence that God does not exist?"

          We don't know that your God is impossible, true, just like every other god, demon, fairy, etc.

          July 21, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
      • ME II

        So, I am supposed to trust your word? In other words, would I be believing in "God" or you?

        July 21, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
      • OTOH

        Susan,

        I have a close personal relationship with reality.

        July 21, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
      • Lionly Lamb

        Hello young maiden Susan...

        Living testimonials are a wonderful mannerism to be made and are of goodness sakes... I have lain down my bitterness sights against the godly divisions of soulfully hateful conditionings and repent daily and churn up waves towards those who make soiled commentaries toward the religiously orientated and God with His first born of many sons...their righteous king and our spirits' redeemer of our souled impartations...Christ Jesus... The most merciful of all of God's first born sonly generations...

        July 21, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
  20. Susan

    Being a Christian is actually being a follower of Christ. Jesus and Jesus of Nazareth are the same person. The writer of this article is confused concerning who Jesus is. He is the son of GOD, seated at his right hand forever making intercession for us, since he gave his life for us so that we could have eternal life. Our life is our spiritual walk with GOD the father and his son Jesus.

    July 21, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
    • Colin (the original)

      And your evidence for that?

      July 21, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
      • Larry

        Colin you also miss the point, it's obvious that you do not beleive, thats your choice, just remember We must be Called by God
        or we cannot follow the Lord Jesus Christ! "There is no evidence in creation that would convince you any more than you can
        discourage us".

        July 21, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
      • hopelessinseattle

        Something else you miss Colin, I am obligated to prove nothing to you. You can say prove it, prove it, prove it all that you want, but the thing is I don't have to prove it. If everything about God was physically evident there would be no need for faith and faith is a cornerstone of our relationship with God. Believe, don't believe, your choice.

        July 21, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
        • G to the T

          Funny that eh? He was more than happy to "show" himself through miracles throughout the bible (and the early church if stories are to believed) but NOW he requires blind faith...

          July 23, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
    • Larry

      I agree Susan, this woman is trying to alter our perception of our Son of God Savior looking through the cloudy lens of her
      Muslim Faith, there are no half way measures about Christ, we take the whole Man/God or we have missed the point!

      July 21, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
    • niknak

      Follower being the key word Susan B Anthony.
      But that is exactly what the religious scammers want, blind followers like you who will keep believing in the bull they are putting down so you can keep giving them your hard earned money.

      July 21, 2013 at 2:03 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.