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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. Really-O?

    “Censorship is telling a man he can't have a steak just because a baby can't chew it.”

    ― Mark Twain

    I'm only posting this to see if Daniel will delete it. Cheers, Dan

    July 21, 2013 at 5:31 pm |
  2. Marshall

    CNN is anti-Christian, hook, line and sinker. How sad. Two billion Christians will march onward in peace regardless.

    July 21, 2013 at 5:30 pm |
    • ineedaname

      How does posting articles on religion constitute anti-Christian? You know that there is more than one religion in America, right? And that not all 2 billion Christians live here?
      I think the wide diversity of articles on all faiths is nice. March on, brah.

      July 21, 2013 at 5:35 pm |
    • Edweird69

      History debunks your claim that Christians are peaceful. BS! Nothing but a judgmental controlling mass of thugs

      July 21, 2013 at 5:38 pm |
    • Bill

      Since Christianity is basically just ignorant silliness, I would think being anti-Christian is a good, normal, moral, decent way for a human to be! You know, kind of like how you wouldn't be caught worshiping Apollo, lighting a candle for Thor, or talking to the virgin mother Isis.

      July 21, 2013 at 5:39 pm |
      • solo

        anti-Christian is a good, normal, moral, decent way for a human to be!

        I Am LOST!!!!!!!!

        July 21, 2013 at 5:51 pm |
  3. Reply

    if you do understand quantum physics a bit – or have seen how having different thoughts around water molecules can change the shape of the molecule by the vibrations emmitted from the human brain based upon differing thoughts – then you can possibly start to understand the positive effects on many people from babtism and communion, etc. if these rituals are performed by someone who is 'mighty in prayer' or faith – with the faith or belief rendering the conscious ability to understand and practice to some degree the realities of quatum physics – only revealed in a way that does not include the words quantum mechanics

    July 21, 2013 at 5:30 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      I knew it would have to happen eventually. People who don't understand a thing about quantum mechanics would catch on that nobody else does either — not really — and try to claim it as the basis for whatever ridiculous woo-woo superst¡tion they happened to believe in but had absolutely no explanation for.

      And here it is.

      May as well go whole hog and buy into all the homeopathy bullsh¡t while you're at it.

      July 21, 2013 at 5:34 pm |
    • ME II

      @Reply,
      There is no evidence that human thought has any effect on the shape of water crystals, let alone any effect on water molecules.

      Please, cite your sources for this information.

      July 21, 2013 at 5:43 pm |
    • solo

      i have taken quantum physicist and you sound like you are barn and noble reader than a physicists i hope drop none sense.

      July 21, 2013 at 5:44 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @Reply –

      Now, that is simply New Age, pseudoscience nonsense. Forgive me, but there is no point in mincing words.

      July 21, 2013 at 5:47 pm |
      • seriously

        it is as good as way to have a scientific understanding of god and faith and miracles and prayer and meditation as any from what i know so far about religion and life – why else would a person pray – and many people do – of all religions – and even those whom do not know they pray in conscious awareness – they still do pray (so to speak)

        July 21, 2013 at 6:03 pm |
        • Really-O?

          Huh?

          July 21, 2013 at 6:09 pm |
        • Atheism s the natural state of children and certanly everything nonhuman with a nervous system

          Prayer can't even change things on the quantum level. Bah. Stuff and nonsense.

          July 21, 2013 at 6:14 pm |
        • reply

          it is a way to understand some of the mysteries of life and the spiritual references in religion – a kernal of 'truth' that even the most scientifically minded might appreciate

          July 21, 2013 at 6:23 pm |
        • Really-O?

          @reply –

          It might sound nice and make some kind of sense to you, but it is not an accurate description of nature.

          July 21, 2013 at 6:29 pm |
        • reply

          why would you say that – i think it explains a lot actually

          July 21, 2013 at 6:46 pm |
        • G to the T

          Reply – he says that because you are misinterpreting the science in the most new-agey way possible. Just because it makes sense to you doesn't mean it jives with reality.

          July 25, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @reply –

      I made my statement because it is fact. You used the example of prayer in your first post and we actually do know, through application of the scientific method, that intercessory prayer has no effect – it is worthless, other than making the person who prays feel like they're doing something. If by "it" you mean your "quantum mechanics" bit, then "it" explains nothing because "it" is nonsense.

      July 21, 2013 at 7:01 pm |
      • reply

        seriously – how do you know it is nonsense?

        July 21, 2013 at 7:08 pm |
  4. Salero21

    Well, what can I say? It is stupid!

    You can't never ever, separate one from the other because Jesus is the Christ. You can't loose one and pretend to find the other. Because He is always all at the same time. That's what He is and that's who He is always, all the time besides being the Son of God. If you miss that in its entirety as a whole you miss everything and loose everything beginning with your soul.

    July 21, 2013 at 5:28 pm |
    • Neo Atheist

      There is no God, hence No Jesus, hence No Christ.

      July 21, 2013 at 5:31 pm |
      • mzh

        I understand that its your opinion and you only represent yourself...

        July 21, 2013 at 5:40 pm |
    • Gorgeous Gloria

      You have no soul. It was all a lie, sorry!

      July 21, 2013 at 5:31 pm |
      • mzh

        What do you think what happens when a human dies? why the box do not move after being pronounced dead?

        July 21, 2013 at 5:41 pm |
        • G to the T

          Why does your computer stop working after you turn the power off?

          July 24, 2013 at 9:37 am |
  5. Lionly Lamb

    Tiff...

    I wrote, "Christ Jesus would rather see people being morally upright and civilly constrained in their scruples then to give Him falsely impure considerations..."

    One needs not be Christ-like but if one is able to live a morally sound and civilly righteous living then Christ Jesus cannot find blame in such a person...

    July 21, 2013 at 5:28 pm |
    • Edweird69

      That's not what Christians claim. You're inventing your own religion.

      July 21, 2013 at 5:41 pm |
  6. Really-O?

    “Censorship is telling a man he can't have a steak just because a baby can't chew it.”

    ― Mark Twain

    I'm only posting this to see if Daniel will delete it. Cheers, Dan.

    July 21, 2013 at 5:24 pm |
  7. JesusNotReligion

    ***BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND***

    Dear Reza...I'm sure you are reading this and I will try to be concise...And let me say before I forget that I do appreciate your segment because I believe the Jesus of the Bible will use it to bring clarity to WHO He really is, in spite of your rejection of Who the Bible says He is..."What then? (asks the apostle Paul in Philippians 1:18) Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Jesus Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice."

    1) The "Jesus" of the Bible was both the "man" of Nazareth AND "Immanuel" (God with us) from "eternity" (ref. Isaiah 7:14 & Micah 5:2–"Old Testament" references-WRITTEN 750 YEARS BEFORE JESUS OF NAZARETH WALKED THE EARTH)...
    Unfortunately you must believe BOTH TRUTHS of WHO Jesus is as He is presented in the whole of Scripture in order to be "saved" or throw Him fully to the curb along with every other "earthly" self-help guru who teaches "a way" to peace with God that is essentially "works-based" religion...You've fallen from grace back into works, and instead of completely discarding Jesus, you've DOMESTICATED Him (i.e. turned Him into something/ someone He is not for your own purposes) just like every cult and false religion does...Do us all a favor an just dump Him and the New Testament completely or embrace both fully with a surrendered life that does not present a "Burger King Jesus" (i.e. "Have it your way" instead of YAHWEH)...I'm sure the Atheist's on this site would also agree with me...

    2) Since you are promoting "Jesus" as an "historical" figure in your segment above, you must still regard the New Testament as a somewhat legitimate do¢ument (an accurate/historical accounting) of His life and teachings (to one degree or another)...I applaud that! My question is: How will you now determnine what is true and what is supposedly false?–Acuurate vs. Inaccurate? Perhaps you should purchase a book called, The Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, by Gleason Archer BEFORE you jump ship – though I hope you understand that if you never return to the "ship" (by grace alone through faith alone), to the "Jesus" of the Bible, then you were NEVER really on board to begin with...

    3) The Jesus of the New Testament extensively quoted the Old Testament, especially in reference to Himself as being the One (the Christ/ Messiah) by whom all things were being "fulfilled"...You do realize that this "Jesus of Nazareth" only had access to copies of copies of copies (and more "copies") of the original text and yet He quoted from them with an "authority" that you are now undermining in your segment...You are unwittingly playing the role of Satan in the garden (Genesis 3), essentially saying, "Did God really say..?"

    I can actually introduce you to the Divine Jesus (the fully God/ fully man) from the Old Testament, which is how Jesus did it, along with all the New Testament writers (though the Apostolic New Testament writers were all eyewitnesses of the Jesus you are now rejecting)...

    I will continue to worship and follow hard after the Jesus of the Bible, and pray in His uniquely authoritative name for you, even you no longer do. "But God's firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: 'The Lord knows those who are His'..." (2 Timothy 2:19)

    JesusNotReligion

    July 21, 2013 at 5:24 pm |
    • Neo Atheist

      Not by popular demand, because no one is actually reading it. Didn't read it the last time, wont read it this time.

      July 21, 2013 at 5:29 pm |
  8. solo

    HI Reza Aslan a bestselling author and a scholar of religion .You are not the only one who wrote this kind of books this kind of books have been written and continue to be written . from people who to begin with have no relation ship with the Lord
    One simple thing i know carnal mind can not to God (who uses worldly( acquire) Knowledge.) i am not talking about scientific means to make and understand our physical world , please i ask to keep searching !!! He(Jesus the risen Lord) will wait for your return with and like The Prodigal Son by the Door looking and hoping.
    thank you!!!

    July 21, 2013 at 5:23 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      So, Solo, do you follow your own advice? Are YOU still searching?

      July 21, 2013 at 5:26 pm |
      • solo

        I have found Jesus my Lord and i will keep searching and learning about his Kingdom, you found your God(yourself) and try to make scenes of it . And try to shut other people belief who don't prescribe with your world view .Like the atheist who challenged
        a person who believe in God , the person who believe in God responded to him if he is expert in all field (physics ,astronomy ,botany etc..) the atheist responded with honesty by saying no, then the person who believe in God said if you keep searching you might find him in one.

        July 21, 2013 at 5:40 pm |
        • RichardSRussell

          By "still searching" I meant are you seriously investigating what OTHER religions (like Islam, Buddhism, Mormonism, etc.) have to offer? Or even agnosticism or atheism? Because you seem to think that searching is a good idea, I was just wondering how sincere you were about it in your own life.

          Or are you all talk and no action?

          July 21, 2013 at 7:03 pm |
  9. RichardSRussell

    People who wonder why we atheists don't just blindly accept everything the Bible says have to look no further than a typical exaggeration that creeps in unnoticed in Reza Aslan's article. He says Jesus "... was nailed to a cross [and died]. But the story did not end there, because three days later, he rose again ..."
     
    I'll bet that 99.99% of the people who read the article just skimmed right past those words without questioning them. Yet, if you read the gospels, you'll see that Jesus was taken down off the cross at sundown on Friday and was gone from the tomb at sunrise on Sunday morning, AT MOST a day and a half later, not double that ("three days") as claimed by Aslan (and many others).

    THIS is how the inaccuracies creep into the story — thru routine, rote repet¡tion that nobody ever questions, because it would be at least impolite (if not dangerously heretical) to do so.

    Another good one: Matthew 1:23, 25. We can't even get out of the very 1st chapter of the very 1st book of the New Testament without a walloping, in-your-face blatant contradiction. And the irony is that this story gets read from every pulpit in the land every year at Xmas and NOBODY EVER NOTICES IT!

    And the same mindset that supplies these exaggerations and ignores these contradictions was at work with the people who wrote the whole shebang in the first place. Why do you people keep falling for this scam?

    July 21, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Besides, how big a "sacrifice" could it be if he got to take it back within 36 hours?

      July 21, 2013 at 5:24 pm |
      • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

        Bingo! An all-knowing god sends a tiny piece of itself to Earth in human form, knowing that human form will live, die, live again then ascend to Heaven to rejoin itself.

        Sacrifice?? Hello ..... Christians? How, how, how is that ANY sacrifice, let alone the ULTIMATE sacrifice?

        God's ONLY begotten son? God's omnipotent, right? He can just crank out another son. He made all of the living creatures, and plants, and – well – everything, so another son would be no big deal.

        So where's the sacrifice?

        July 21, 2013 at 5:28 pm |
        • Neo Atheist

          One or two things will happen here. One. You will get a slew of bible quotes that don't answer a thing. 2. You wont get an answer.

          July 21, 2013 at 5:32 pm |
        • Tiff

          thumbs up

          July 21, 2013 at 6:07 pm |
      • faith

        the more basic problem is that no one wrote down what happened. the silliness was gossiped about for hundreds of years before they realized they could could control the masses by combing all the various lies.

        plus, if you've ever seen any body crucified, you know it is hardly a big deal. you get a few nails to hold you up and you can just basically stand there til you tire out.

        July 21, 2013 at 5:31 pm |
        • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

          You can also whistle, especially if you whistle "Always look on the bright side of life".

          July 21, 2013 at 5:34 pm |
    • Edweird69

      Any rational person would find it repulsive to worship the idea that someone had to be tortured unmercifully (although 36 hours later he was back on his feet).... in order for someone else to forgive someone else...bizarre

      July 21, 2013 at 5:31 pm |
    • Talk to the hand

      That's what the apostles wanted to do when Jesus rose too soon. But he was gone, so they talked to angels instead.

      July 21, 2013 at 5:32 pm |
    • Elliott Carlin

      Uh, Friday, Saturday Sunday equates to 3 days. Ever rent a car?

      Man, I'll be you didn't now the Jewish day didn't start until sundown either.

      And CNN is king of the scams RSR...they still have the public believing Trayvon Martin is a 13 year old boy, so enough w/your neo-intellectualism.

      July 21, 2013 at 5:35 pm |
      • RichardSRussell

        Follow up on your own challenge here, Elliott. Call a car-rental company and say you want to check out a car at 5 PM on Friday and return it at 5 AM on Sunday and see how many days they'll charge you for. And remember that it's in their financial interest to round UP.

        July 21, 2013 at 7:05 pm |
  10. joey

    jesus, if she really existed among the 6.000 other humans with that name, and at that time, would be nothing more than a david koresh. there are no gods or god. and waco is a lot more fun

    July 21, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
  11. Annie

    I don't know if this is the right board to post on but I'm new to the internet and have to ask. I just defecated an enormous turd that is the spitting image of Jesus Christ! I've roped off the bathroom so no one will flush it but I'm lost! What should I do? Can I sell it on eBay? is that allowed? Will the water ruin it, should I take it out and into a baggie or something? What if it loses its shape, all of its value would diminish? Oh Christ I missed church for this....I've been yelling up to god all morning, but he just isn't answering. Please help me, is eBay the right place for my divine Turd?

    July 21, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      Very important question: when you were passing this, was it SOOOO huge that you screamed, "Jesus Christ that hurts!"? Because if you didn't, then no, it's not Jesus.

      July 21, 2013 at 5:30 pm |
      • Annie

        I tried to capture it and it squished 😦 Now it looks like Al Sharpton (but I guess they all kind of do)

        July 21, 2013 at 5:34 pm |
    • Andrew

      Ask your mother.

      July 21, 2013 at 5:31 pm |
  12. Adam Kelly

    The Last Day, by JD Landis. Set in New Hampshire. This book changed my outlook on life.
    "I meet Jesus on the day I get home from the war. I’m on the beach, but I don’t know how I got here. My mind is as dark as the night. . . . I spend the whole night on the beach. But when the sun’s faint light begins to bend around the Earth, I see him. . . . There, coming toward me, out of the light, is a man. . . . Behind the man a faint curtain of light rises to the sky out of the ocean. He wears the light like a robe, though I see he’s dressed like me. Jeans and a T-shirt, no shoes. And that he’s older than I am, a lot older, maybe mid-thirties. He walks right toward me. He walks right into my eyes.

    So begins the spellbinding story of Warren Harlan Pease, a young U.S. Army sniper freshly returned from the Iraq War to his native New Hampshire. What follows is a page-turning adventure that is also a powerful meditation on religion and war, love and loss. "

    July 21, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      So, Adam, since you're so happily pushing this book, are you coming in for any of the royalties on it?

      And have you given any thot to approaching CNN about having IT as a feature attraction on a future Belief Blog?

      July 21, 2013 at 5:39 pm |
  13. joey

    there is no god or gods. there is only the human mind.

    July 21, 2013 at 5:19 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      And boobs. Don't forget boobs.

      July 21, 2013 at 5:31 pm |
  14. nkaranja

    Reza, I can identify with you. I did not grow up knowing faith in Christ and as a teenager I was introduced to Him and I believed. Shortly after I experienced the baptism and power of the Holy Spirit. Prior to this I had never read the bible and immediately I could quote from all the 4 gospels. Wow. I shared the good news at school, public transportation and parks...just a fire ball. I looked forward to learning more about God and faith through Christ Jesus. I came to America few years later however, I was in disbelief as to what I heard declared from the pulpits. I attended several conferences and bible studies which all seemed to center on the same thing.."How to mend men; spiritually, psychologically, financially, etc.." hoping to hear Jesus Christ as the focus..this did not happen. I truly was hungry for truth and was not about to give up my quest because of bad publicity or representation. I sought to become a student of the bible. (Back in my home country my dad would wake us up at 4am and we individually would read the bible for 2hrs. My father also was converted at the same time as me.) I began studying the book of Ephesians, reading it aloud and even to the point of re-writing it word for word. I am a linguist by profession so it did not take me long to study both Hebrew and Greek and started literal translation of the book. All this took me about 3yrs and by the end of it, the Word of God (Bible), God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit became more clear than ever before. Not because I am a blind follower but by reason that I QUESTIONED EVERYTHING that I had ever heard or learned about or in the Bible. One thing for sure,is that people have the propensity to believe man's testimony than finding out the truth for themselves. John 6:40 ...everyone that "sees" the Son... the word sees is not merely to look at but rather the word from which we get the English word "Theory". By no means can anyone come up with a theory overnight. A theory has to be tested, torn apart, distrusted,measured, surveyed, etc..before conclusions can be drawn. Let me say this, God the Father and Jesus Christ are not intimidated when we question but rather well understood. Many people are like Pilate who asked the question.. are you a King?? but never stuck around for the answer. God is Spirit and those that worship Him must do so in spirit and in truth! Initially, when a person is born again, his spirit man comes alive but still reasons in the natural way. The Word of God through the power of the Holy Spirit develops an individually and transitions from reasoning from the natural way to now the spirit manner and communion with the Father is inevitable. Otherwise, we remain children always second guessing..growth is eminent for a believer in order to see Christ and thus continue believing. Absence of continual seeing and believing in Jesus Christ results in a frustrating and unfulfilled life. Fullness of Joy in Christ Jesus is to be shared by all and not some!

    July 21, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
  15. LWJR

    More antichrist dribble from CNN. True to Ted Turner's vision to kill the organized church. John 15:5-6 if you are not party of the vine, you will be burned.

    July 21, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
    • Jacqueline R.

      that' exactly what I'm talking about... If you don't like these writings, don't read them or post on them! Freedom of Religion is for everyone... Judge not, lest ye be judged.

      July 21, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
    • joey

      what a nice religion, burn people who disagree. violent much ?

      July 21, 2013 at 5:23 pm |
    • Tiff

      Well, that's not nice. Your're not only judging, but you're using violent analogies to someone who's merely displaying their freedom of thought and will. Did GOD himself not give us freedom of choice and will?

      July 21, 2013 at 5:25 pm |
  16. evangelismnext

    The apostle Paul describe the fallacy of seeing Jesus as merely human:

    "And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable." 1 Corinthians 15:17-19.

    Seeing Jesus as merely a moral person does nothing for our need to be lifted from our total depravity in sin. We need a redeemer not a good example.

    July 21, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
    • G to the T

      Which is why Paul may be considered the anti-Jesus (as opposed to the anti-Christ). He changed the religion OF jesus into a religion ABOUT Jesus.

      Strange how so many people believe his words over those of the books (supposedly) written by people that actually met the man.

      July 24, 2013 at 9:47 am |
  17. Adam Kelly

    Incredible fictional book about a returned soldier's encounter with Jesus as an ordinary man. Read the reviews: http://www.amazon.com/The-Last-Day-A-Novel/dp/1586421654

    July 21, 2013 at 5:16 pm |
  18. Tim

    Religion is the opium of the poor and ill-informed.

    July 21, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
    • joey

      thanx karl

      July 21, 2013 at 5:18 pm |
    • KRenee

      I'm sorry, but that is simply opinion not fact. I used to have a similar opinion that religion was a "crutch". Amazing how life can turn your world upside down and change your mind 🙂 While religion can turn the ill-informed into raging lunatics, religion can also elevate a person to amazing heights of spirituality and enlighten the mind, if viewed properly. People are certainly free to live a life without any religion or belief in God, and they are even free to look at scorn at those who choose a religious path..but I have been on both sides, and I can say that I am better off now than ever before. I have sympathy and sadness to see so many people living a life in the dark, and I wish you all the best luck, because you are going to need it in this crazy world.

      July 21, 2013 at 5:27 pm |
      • joey

        and your easy persuasion one way or the others means you sell soap for amway.

        July 21, 2013 at 5:29 pm |
      • Edweird69

        You did nothing except expound drivel. What made you "cross-over" to the nutty side of religion? You can't "choose" to believe something. I'd like to choose the idea that I'm rich...darned reality says otherwise. Give yourself some credit. Don't give all the credit to "religion"...you're making it through this world on your own. Everyone who is alive, is making it on their own. There are no magic beings watching over you.

        July 21, 2013 at 5:36 pm |
      • Gumby

        I love how you religious nutbars spout such condescending drivel to make you feel better about yourselves. Don't feel sorry for us – we're not the ones who have enslaved our minds to silly Bronze Age mythology.

        July 21, 2013 at 6:00 pm |
  19. mzh

    Dear Reza Aslan:

    I feel sorry for you that you have not been able the taste the sweetness of True Islam and you turned yourself into what you are… I also feel sorry for those parents who could not raise their children as good one in Islam who would represent the truth but the truth… instead the false…

    Here is what I would like to share with you from Quran and these may apply to anyone who goes away from Islam after they were brought into Islam:

    How shall Allah guide a people who disbelieved after their belief and after they bore witness that the Messenger (Muhammad SAW) is true and after clear proofs had come unto them? And Allah guides not the people who are Zalimun (polytheists and wrong-doers). – 3:86

    Verily, those who disbelieved after their Belief and then went on increasing in their disbelief (i.e. disbelief in the Quran and in Prophet Muhammad SAW) – never will their repentance be accepted [because they repent only by their tongues and not from their hearts]. And they are those who are astray. – 3:90

    Verily, those who disbelieved, and died while they were disbelievers, the (whole) earth full of gold will not be accepted from anyone of them even if they offered it as a ransom. For them is a painful torment and they will have no helpers. – 3:91

    By no means shall you attain Al-Birr (piety, righteousness, etc., it means here Allah's Reward, i.e. Paradise), unless you spend (in Allah's Cause) of that which you love; and whatever of good you spend, Allah knows it well. – 3:92

    I pray for myself and for those who have been guided:

    "Our Lord, let not our hearts deviate after You have guided us and grant us from Yourself mercy. Indeed, You are the Bestower. – 3:8

    Our Lord, surely You will gather the people for a Day about which there is no doubt. Indeed, Allah does not fail in His promise." – 3:9

    I bear witness and testify that there is no one worthy of worship except Allah and Mohammad and Jesus are the messengers of Allah Almighty.

    July 21, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      "Taste the sweetness of true Islam". Is that what those poor 3000 people on 9/11 did?

      July 21, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
      • mzh

        Peace, Peace, Peace be upon you!!!

        July 21, 2013 at 5:34 pm |
        • G to the T

          Groveling doesn't answer the question.

          Of course, you'll probably argue they weren't "true" Muslims.

          July 25, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
    • KneonKnight

      "I bear witness and testify that there is no one worthy of worship except Allah (my imaginary friend) and Mohammad (a child rapist) and Jesus (a person who likely never existed but would have been delusional if he had) are the messengers of Allah (CROM!!!) Almighty.

      July 21, 2013 at 5:27 pm |
      • mzh

        Peace, Peace, Peace be upon you!!!

        July 21, 2013 at 5:35 pm |
    • Aria

      Dude Reza is a Muslim. Reza knows about Islam than you probably.

      July 22, 2013 at 3:53 am |
  20. kyzaadrao

    Welcome to the unbelief blog, please leave your faith at the door. Very little is known of Jesus outside of the context of faith, but the message here is that he makes a better role model than your average athlete. Or how to recycle theology when you no longer have a personal need for it.

    July 21, 2013 at 5:14 pm |
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About this blog

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