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Jesus, the man
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 Belief Blog Editor

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

soundoff (4,311 Responses)
  1. ollie

    You should write about the Arabian Sand Prophet – he was an illiterate, genocidal, caravan-robbing, misogynistic, pedophile and rapist.

    August 2, 2013 at 10:28 am |
    • sam stone

      the god of israel is a petty, vindictive pr1ck. they all share an angry god.

      August 2, 2013 at 10:47 am |
      • harleybird

        What bible are you reading? I don't have any of that in mine.

        August 2, 2013 at 11:13 am |
        • Picture This

          harleybird,

          Which version are you reading? Even the Children's Bible has those stories about "God's" petulant tantrums. Perhaps if they included illustrations, you'd get it:

          http://www.illustratedbiblestories

          (*NOT an ad for that book... just using it as an example)

          August 2, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
        • harleybird

          Link didn't work but that's probably a good thing. However I still don't follow you. Give me an example? The flood? You do realize it took many years to build the ark and all the people needed to do was repent and get in. They had plenty warning and were told how to save their lives and yet they made another choice that had a consequence. Any others?

          August 2, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
        • sam stone

          how about punishing one person for other's "sins"

          August 2, 2013 at 5:06 pm |
        • harleybird

          Where do you read that in the bible? Who was punished for someone else's sins?

          August 2, 2013 at 5:24 pm |
        • sam stone

          how about eternal torture for punishment? how is that vindictive and petty?

          August 2, 2013 at 5:11 pm |
        • harleybird

          Ah. There is no scripture in the bible that says anyone is tortured eternally. There is no bell fire. That is a lie and man made invention that some in Christendom want you to believe.

          August 2, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
        • sam stone

          harleybird: your explanation just shows what a punk it is you worship

          August 2, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
        • harleybird

          Really? How so? In order for me to understand your position you're going to have to back it up with facts or at least details or something substantial. Just repeating things you've heard isn't doing you any good.

          August 2, 2013 at 5:23 pm |
        • sam stone

          how about punishing one person for the sins of another?

          August 2, 2013 at 5:24 pm |
        • sam stone

          why should i proide facts when you don't?

          August 2, 2013 at 5:26 pm |
        • sam stone

          isn't people repeating what they heard the way the biblical stories were passed on?

          August 2, 2013 at 5:29 pm |
        • sam stone

          not only WERE they passed on though oral stories, but that is largely the way they ARE continuing to be passed on

          August 2, 2013 at 5:40 pm |
        • harleybird

          Nope. They were written down and today I don't need to hear them I can read for myself.

          August 2, 2013 at 6:01 pm |
        • sam stone

          come on, harleybird, cat got yer tounge?

          August 2, 2013 at 5:42 pm |
        • harleybird

          No. Bible stories were not passed on orally. They were written down. Dead sea scrolls ring a bell? Also I won't ever pay for your sins. I can't quote a scripture because the bible never says that. Same with firery torment. As for Noah he preached about the coming flood for about 50 years. It took him a while to construct the ark. Read Gen. 6:9-9:19. Those people had ample time to repent and be saved. Is this an example of god being petty?

          August 2, 2013 at 5:59 pm |
        • harleybird

          You still there?

          August 2, 2013 at 6:25 pm |
  2. Joel Tucker

    When the author dares to write about Mohammed in the same spirit, I'll consider reading this book.

    August 1, 2013 at 8:12 pm |
    • kaafir

      My thoughts exactly.

      August 5, 2013 at 11:23 pm |
    • Anjil

      What do you mean "in the same spirit"? Mohammed is already viewed as a human revolutionary in most of Islam. This only likens Jesus to Mohammed.

      August 5, 2013 at 11:27 pm |
      • GOD

        Yes its me........I am tired of all the bickering......PEOPLE WAKE UP!!!!!! THERE IS NO MAGICAL MAN IN THE SKY!!!! THIS APLLIES TO MUSLIMS, JEWS, CHRISTIANS ETC....MOST OF YOU ARE WELL EDUCATED AND SHOULD GET IT BY NOW......REALLLY!!!!!!
        P.S. THERE IS NO SANTA EITHER........JUST SAYING

        August 8, 2013 at 3:54 pm |
        • dan bennett

          Anybody else sick of this particular brand of atheism? THE IGNORE THE DEBATE AND SHOUT SHOUT SHOUT your personal outrage?

          Because you can't grasp an idea, you claim it can't be true. This is known as the argument from personal incredulity.

          It don't mean squat.

          Are there any, I mean any, serious atheists on these boards, or is it just the mental masturbators?

          Dear Christopher Hitchens, please reach down from heaven and smite your incompetent followers

          August 8, 2013 at 4:33 pm |
        • keith

          You are a sad excuse for a human being, debate you have never heard of the word. I keep writing to local churches asking questions and I get NO REPLY, they must be shaking in their boots because I ASK QUESTIONS.
          Grasp an idea, What idea christianity doesn't have ANY IDEAS, they just scream from the rooftops with hatred, threats, insults and INSANITY.
          Do you know how many times I have asked questions about everlasting life and I get NO ANSWERS.
          I ask about gods love of HIS CHILDREN and get NO ANSWERS.
          I ask about gods responsibility towards the welfare of HI CHILDREN and get NO REPLY.
          I ask about gods PROMISE to send guardian angels to protect CHILDREN and get NO REPLY.
          I am here to have a debate but the christians are TERRIFIED to answer me, you are all cowards, just like your dog a coward and a liar.

          August 8, 2013 at 6:51 pm |
        • keith

          Are you related to the other GOD? I hope not as you speak far too much COMMON SENSE.

          August 8, 2013 at 6:43 pm |
      • Joel Tucker

        "In the same spirit" ... casting the same critical eye, as willing to challenge the faith of followers in the name of historical accuracy, as willing to challenge the historical accuracy of the core religious text. It is not physically dangerous to be critical or disrespectful of a religious leader who taught "love your enemies" and washed the feet of his disciples. A particular Bible is not a sacred object, and what is seen as inconsistencies within its content is actually the willingness of multiple authors to challenge and comment on one another's work, and a religion's ability to accept diversity and challenge itself. "Why I write about Jesus" might be answered in part, "It is safer to write about Jesus than about Mohammed." And, in the final analysis, "Because the name sells books."

        September 5, 2013 at 6:31 am |
  3. GOOD NEWS

    One can NEVER lose "Christ" when/if he truly finds "Jesus!"

    http://www.holy-19-harvest.com
    UNIVERSAL MAGNIFICENT MIRACLES

    August 1, 2013 at 7:41 pm |
  4. Ronnie Harper

    I am ardently non-religious. I picked up this book two weeks ago and ready in as many days. It is a spectacular book, with compelling historical analysis and thought-provoking probes into 1-3rd century Judea.

    August 1, 2013 at 5:32 pm |
  5. Judy

    If he was truly was brother born again in the spirit of God, he will come back, but if not he went to emotional phase n it was not real. But who knows only God knows the heart of Men. May God convict n show him if he is a child of God. But it's probably was persecution and the darts of Satan and probably he hardness of heart. I have been through this but God brought me back in. So pray for this man.

    August 1, 2013 at 4:29 pm |
    • sam stone

      if god has a plan, isn't prayer at the best useless and and the worst blasphemy?

      do you purport to know better than god?

      August 2, 2013 at 9:11 am |
  6. William D. Simpson

    I will ask that people read a book which gives undeniable evidence to the truths of the Bible against Reza Aslan's "THE ZEALOT" to show that he has absolutely no truth to back his false accusations of Christ's historical account. If you wish to read a compelling testimony to the transforming power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ I am offering a free eBook version of "LIVING IN THE HOPE OF MY IMAGINATION". He presents his argument as I have presented mine. Lets see whose witness is the more convincing witness of historical truth...

    Author, William D. Simpson

    http://wsimpson.wordpress.com/2013/08/01/living-in-the-hope-of-my-imagination-ebook/

    August 1, 2013 at 3:51 pm |
  7. Believer

    18 inches separated you from faith. Jesus was an new aquaintance, not a lifelong friend.

    August 1, 2013 at 10:41 am |
  8. Hue Gibbons

    Reza, you forgot one thing. Faith is a gift. Either you have it or you don't. I'm buying your book, rock on!

    August 1, 2013 at 8:14 am |
  9. RickP

    Reza Aslan lied in the Fox interview. He does not have a PhD in Religious History; It is in Sociology. He does not teach religion; he teaches revolution using literature. He is anti-Israel and associated with George Soros funded groups like The Center for American Progress, Code pink, Samantha Power, and an Iranian organization that is against Israel. He has no degree in History whatsoever. He wrote the book for a reason he has not disclosed yet. Source: TheBlaze TV

    August 1, 2013 at 5:10 am |
  10. B

    There isn't any historical record of Jesus existing or being anything other than a copycat mishmash of earlier savior/deities. If he'd been crucified there would be a record of it because the romans kept records of such things. Likewise if he'd caused any kind of social upheaval there would have been independent records about him. The bible is an incomplete collection of stories written by people that never witnessed anything in it. It was and continues to be the worlds most successful political tool to divide and conquer. A religious scholar writing a book about religious figures is doing his job. His religion doesn't matter, and everyone that gets their panties in a wad about this have obviously drunk the koolaid.

    August 1, 2013 at 12:45 am |
    • Mike the Massacred

      Thank you for pointing this out.

      August 1, 2013 at 2:47 am |
      • harleybird

        Not true. A few other historians wrote about Jesus. A simple google check will get you that info.

        August 2, 2013 at 11:08 am |
    • harleybird

      Not true. A few apostles that were eye witnesses to Jesus and his ministry and death wrote books of the bible. These are facts that are accepted around the world. Just google for yourself.

      August 2, 2013 at 11:12 am |
  11. TheDad

    An individual's worldview is without a doubt impacted by his or her faith or religion.

    To say that Mr. Azlan is an unbiased scholar in this particular instance would be fraudulent, at best. As the failed (and biased) FOX reporter attempted to point-out, how can an individual who was born in a Muslin society and claims to be a Muslim be viewed as an unbiased scholar on Christianity, let alone Jesus Christ? (Fortunately for Mr. Azlan, her fumbles made his book sales soar). Or in other words, how can one's scholarship be credible (or unbiased) in this case?

    The Muslin faith (or religion) is one of the most hostile towards Christianity and Christians all over the world, as evidenced by the overwhelming statistics on persecution of Christians in mostly predominately Muslim nations. And, the Muslim faith denies the deity of Jesus Christ. Consistent with the general beliefs of the Muslim faith, Mr. Azlan's book is a blatant attack on the deity of Jesus Christ – the most foundational truth that Christianity is based on.

    The historical validity of the Old Testament and the frequent references to Jesus Christ contained therein are sufficient enough to help one overcome doubt about the deity of Jesus Christ, the son of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary in Bethlehem (and who's birth split time), who lived in Nazareth, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried; he descended into hell; on the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty; from there he will come to judge the living and the dead.

    July 31, 2013 at 9:16 pm |
  12. libertyadamson

    He's obviously no expert on Jesus or Christianity.

    July 31, 2013 at 11:47 am |
    • ibelieve

      yeah degrees don't mean anything because you can get them online.... wait can't i be ordained online?? damnnnnn

      July 31, 2013 at 12:28 pm |
    • keeth

      Because?

      July 31, 2013 at 8:39 pm |
  13. JonathanL

    This is so nonsensical it gives me hope I can write a best seller and not care about whether it makes any sense.

    July 31, 2013 at 11:00 am |
  14. ACJS

    The joke of a book uses dishonesty and lies. It starts from a false premise and goes on from there. It excites most CNN readers though because it insults Jews and Christians, especially Catholics.

    July 31, 2013 at 6:40 am |
  15. LotusNotes

    "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."

    I will agree. There are many out there that profess to believe in Jesus Christ and not give place for Him in their heart. You see that with the division and hatred between different religious leaders. "Not ever one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven" Matthew 7:21 KJV

    I believe Jesus was the Son of God. For if Jesus was the actual Father than He broke one of His own commandments, "Thou Shalt Not Bear Faults Witness". If Jesus was the Father in the flesh than He would have stated so, but no Jesus stated more than once that He was the Son Of God to be about His Father's business.

    Truth is found when truth is sought. Truth is only sought after when there is a purpose and until one can see the importance of finding that truth than they will be left waiting, never knowing.

    I believe knowing the life and times of Jesus is just as important than knowing He is the Christ. I do not believe Aslan needs to be ridiculed for his changed beliefs and searching questions. Who knows, maybe he will come to know the Aslan of C.S. Lewis through his life's work.

    July 31, 2013 at 3:47 am |
    • harleybird

      Good points. I can't understand how people can say Jesus was god when he always prayed to his father or said he did the will of his father. It doesn't take a mental giant to figure that one out.

      July 31, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
      • well

        It could certainly be possible to think this way if you thought the stories written about Jesus decades and centuries later exaggerated his claims significantly in being the son of God, and you think perhaps he didn't make those claims.

        July 31, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
        • harleybird

          What writings? The bible was completed before 100c.e. And some of the books of the Christian scripts were written by people with first-hand knowledge. In other words there were there with Jesus. If you're talking about other things that people have written that are not part of the bible cannon well there are reasons why they are not in the bible.

          July 31, 2013 at 6:40 pm |
        • Donu

          These online discussions do more harm than good because people just ramble from one falsehood to another and confuse each other even more. Be warned these discussions are rubbish .

          August 1, 2013 at 12:00 am |
        • Donu

          These online discussions do more harm than good because people just ramble from one falsehood to another and confuse each other even more. Be warned these discussions are rubbish.

          August 1, 2013 at 12:00 am |
    • Allen

      "I and the father are one"...Jesus. Also, (to Phillip) "If you have seen me, you have seen the father". And there are other places also.

      August 1, 2013 at 7:32 pm |
      • harleybird

        And this means? Because if you look at me you will see my father. We look a lot a like. I can also tell you a lot about him. More than just about anyone else. I can't be my father and he can't be me. So now you get the illustration.

        August 2, 2013 at 11:05 am |
  16. Professor and Dr.

    Reasons why atheism is horrible and unhealthy for our children and living things:

    - Atheists do not have any morality, are heartless, soulless and cold.
    - Atheists grew up in a bad family, not being loved and abused.
    - Atheism was brought upon during the French Revolution, one of the most evil time of history.
    - Communism – evil system created by atheists!
    - Atheists cannot prove God does not exist and how Earth was created.
    - No atheist org. contribute to charitable causes, unlike Christians, due to atheism beliefs in Darwinism.
    - Atheism making you agree with mass murder leaders like Stalin, Mao, Pot, Mussolini and even Hitler!
    - Atheists are mentally ill, that's why they have no faith and belief.
    - Countries with high rate of atheism = high suicide rate (Nordic nations).
    - Atheists tries to convert (young) people into their evil belief over the internet.
    - Atheists believe in evolutions, and want us to act like animals.
    - Atheists bash Christianity based on Jewish scriptures (Old Testament/Torah) and organized religion, and tend to ignore or forget how amazing, loving, friendly, supportive, and excellent the most influential person who has even walked on Earth, Jesus Christ, was. Christians found hospitals, universities, science, etc.
    - Atheists do not believe in Jesus Christ; therefore they must hate their neighbor and enemy. Remember the Sermon on the Mount?

    Atheists are minority in the U.S. and the world no matter what "secular" sources and polls voted by few thousands of people tells you that were made up by silly atheists dreaming about making America more atheist, unbiblical and unGodly than what it actually is. More than 90% of Americans believe in God. Period! Christianity is the world's largest religion, and the main religion in the western world. Christianity grows dramatically and goes globall

    July 30, 2013 at 11:12 pm |
    • richard anderson

      False generalizations from top to bottom.

      July 31, 2013 at 6:38 am |
    • Armand

      You are one angry, narrow-minded "Professor & Dr". Not someone I'd trust at all. If you really are that passionate about persecuting others for having different beliefs, then you are truly someone that I definitely wouldn't want to know.
      There's no respect for those who tarnish the character of others so freely. You're not a Christian. You're a bigot.

      July 31, 2013 at 10:32 am |
    • Sean

      - Atheists do not have any morality, are heartless, soulless and cold. - FALSE – I live my life in an attempt to do good by others, because I believe it is the right thing to do. I love my family, girlfriend and friends unconditionally and would do whatever I could to protect and make them happy.

      – Atheists grew up in a bad family, not being loved and abused. –FALSE – My parents, siblings, and extended family loved and nutured me just as much as anyone else I have ever known. They did not abuse me, and in fact only ever encouraged me to better myself so that I can have a better life than they did.

      – Atheism was brought upon during the French Revolution, one of the most evil time of history. - I will not agree or deny this particular point as I do not know the actual history of atheism, but I would highly doubt this is true and will now have to read up on this as it is an interesting view.

      – Communism – evil system created by atheists! - Communism is a completely idealistic form of Socialism. It is no more inherently evil than Capitalism is in theory. It is the men who run the systems that make them evil. All these things are nothing more than ideas until they are implemented by men. I do not agree with the concept of Communism, but it is not an automatically evil theory.

      – Atheists cannot prove God does not exist and how Earth was created. - I cannot prove that God exists or not. I find it highly imprombable that there is a supreme being that is all powerful, compassionate and caring yet would decide to let the people of the world cause so much pain and suffering. Since I cannot prove, beyond every doubt, that a god does not exist, I consider myself to be an agnostic leaning more toward atheist. Also, as far as how the Earth was created, there is a fairly good theory out there about how it was created, and there are men and women working to prove that theory (or find a newer, more correct one) every day. Science does not claim to have all the answers to the universe, but the men and women who work in science are trying every day to fill in the gaps in their knowledge of the universe. They base their knowledge and beliefs on facts which have been proven true, and in an event that their ideas are disproven they welcome the new knowledge and work to expand on it.

      – No atheist org. contribute to charitable causes, unlike Christians, due to atheism beliefs in Darwinism. - This is also false. There is actually an online charitable organization that was mentioned on another CNN Belief blog article that I just got done reading. Darwanism is the theory of evolution, but that doesn't mean that people who believe in it don't want to attempt to help others.

      – Atheism making you agree with mass murder leaders like Stalin, Mao, Pot, Mussolini and even Hitler! - FALSE again. I do not agree with the actions of the men listed above. Me being an atheist makes me no more likely to be a follower of the evils of the men listed above, than you being a believer makes you more likely to agree with the Crusades, the Inquisition, or even the Jihadists of the Muslim world. Having common ideas with people throughout history, doesn't mean you are the same. Also, Hitler was a Christian FYI.

      – Atheists are mentally ill, that's why they have no faith and belief. - FALSE – I am perfectly mentally healthy. I am a productive member of society, and in fact have never met another atheist that is mentally ill. Mental illness has absolutely nothing to do with a person's beliefs. It is a serious issue that should not be put forth in a debate between theology because it causes severe anguish in many people's lives.

      – Countries with high rate of atheism = high suicide rate (Nordic nations). - I do not know the specific stats on this, so I cannot confirm or deny this. I don't see any logical connection between the two though, and will again have to research this.

      – Atheists tries to convert (young) people into their evil belief over the internet. - I personally do not try to convert anyone. But yes, there are those who do try to convert people, just as there are many, many more people attempting to convert people to their religious beliefs. Religious preachers attempt to convert people in person, on television and over the internet. This does not make them any better or worse than people trying to convince people of a lack of a deity.

      – Atheists believe in evolutions, and want us to act like animals. - This just doesn't make any sense. Period. Believeing in evolution, means you believe in the continual betterment of the species through natural selection. It has nothing to do with acting like an animal. If anything believing in evolution would mean you want to see people evolve into better, stronger, smarter beings. Actimg more animalistic would be the opposite of the evolutionary process.

      – Atheists bash Christianity based on Jewish scriptures (Old Testament/Torah) and organized religion, and tend to ignore or forget how amazing, loving, friendly, supportive, and excellent the most influential person who has even walked on Earth, Jesus Christ, was. Christians found hospitals, universities, science, etc. - Some people who are atheist do bash scripture and organized religion. I cannot deny that, but you are bashing atheists, so how does that make you any better than them? Also, the scriptures very greatly between teachings of compassion and that of the wrath of God. There is many different pieces, written by many different men throughout the ages. Some are good, and some are bad. That is just fact. Also, Christians are not the only people who found hospitals, universities, and definitely science. Some do, and that is a great thing, but it is not an exclusive action of Christians. There are many universities, hospitals and science foundations that have nothing to do with christianity.

      – Atheists do not believe in Jesus Christ; therefore they must hate their neighbor and enemy. Remember the Sermon on the Mount? - FALSE – Not believing that Jesus was God incarnate has no correlation with hating one's neighbors. I am polite and kind to everyone I meet because that is how I was raised. I hate no-one that does not try to do harm to myself or the ones I love. To this day, I have never met a person who I can say I truly hate. I may meet people whom I disagree with, and choose not to associate with because they have had negative impacts on my life, but that is far different from hate.

      It is people like you, who bash others without truly knowing them or even meeting them that give Christianity, and religions in general the very negative stigma amonst atheists that you have towards them. You have your beliefs, and that is fine. If your belief in a higher being, somehow betters your life then that is good for you. But you are not living up to the Christian ideals that you say you follow by posting what you have. You are judging others because they don't conform to your beliefs. There are more than 7 billion people on this planet. Some are Jews, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Bhuddists, Scientologists, Pagans, Atheists and many more that I am not familiar with. There has yet to be any definitive proof that any of these beliefs, or lack of, are correct.

      Having differences in beliefs does not mean that people are any better or worse than the other. It is the actions of people that shows their character and is the only thing that anyone should be judged on. I live my life in a manner that I find to be moral and ethical because I do not want to cause harm to others. That is the way I was raised. My belief, or more correctly stated, lack of belief in a deity has no baring on the way I live my life. Stop worrrying so much about judging others and worry about taking care of yourself, your loved ones, and leaving behind a positive contribution in your life. Live up to the Christian ideals that you preach and be happy in life. Life is too short to spend judging and bashing others that you don't know simply because they do not agree with you.

      July 31, 2013 at 10:56 am |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      It's baaack ...

      July 31, 2013 at 9:19 pm |
    • DRJJJ

      Sing with me now, nobody loves me this I know, for nobody told me so?

      August 2, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
    • DRJJJ

      When we invite hell into our country, don't be surprised when all hell breaks loose-turn on the news! Sorry about the song, just kiddin/too much coffee-we are all broken sinners, dysfunctional and hypocritical, the good news-there's room for one more! Loving God and loving others, what a horrible world view to promote??

      August 2, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
  17. GOOD NEWS

    Losing the Cross, finding the Christ!

    http://www.holy-19-harvest.com
    UNIVERSAL MAGNIFICENT MIRACLES

    July 30, 2013 at 8:15 pm |
  18. MIT

    It's not about where you graduated from, it's about how objectively you are able to write on the subject matter.
    When your intent is glaringly biased your works can be dismissed as irrelevant.

    July 30, 2013 at 3:38 pm |
    • sam stone

      does that also go for those who are "glaringly biased" for christianity?

      July 30, 2013 at 6:10 pm |
    • sam stone

      hmmmmm?

      July 30, 2013 at 6:44 pm |
  19. rahul

    I love how all the nut jobs on here who claim that a Harvard PhD who happens to be Muslim can never write a book on Christianity (a field he's been studying for 20+ years), yet these very same community college dropouts who get their 'news' from Rupert Murdoch sanctioned outlets are experts on all things Islam.

    Right.

    July 30, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
    • Saraswati

      Master's from Harvard, PhD from Santa Barbara. But yeah, his religion should be irrelevant to his scholarship...and he's kind of nominally Muslim anyway.

      July 30, 2013 at 9:13 pm |
    • jsad

      What about writing against Islam?? or muhammad?? or is that too risky??

      July 30, 2013 at 11:10 pm |
      • Saraswati

        First, this book isn't "against" Jesus but interprets him as a human prophet which has been the standard Islamic interpretation since the founding of that religion. Muslims, Many Jews anda even certain sects of Christianity view him this way. Second, if you look into this author's previous writing and what conservative Muslim's have to say about him you'll see that his work is very critical of fundamentalist Islam and that he has already pis.sed off the more conservative elements of that religion.

        July 31, 2013 at 7:05 am |
  20. Brian Barrett

    Mr. Aslan,

    I am very curious about the meaning of this quote, from the article above:

    "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."

    Why, if we can be so uncertain about what this Jesus of Nazareth actually did or said (because the only historical records that record details about his life are ripe with falsehoods and spin), should we be interested in "following him"? Follow something as mirky as that? Why not follow someone that we can actually learn real details & facts about – someone like Medgar Evers, or Martin Luther King Jr, or any number of men or women who have given their lives to help the helpless?

    If this was your intent, then what a colossal waste of time, ink and paper. Yet if your intent, hidden (not very well) beneath this language was to cast doubt upon who Jesus the Christ was & is, then you are free to espouse your opinions. But I challenge your intent as quite weak, as stated.

    July 30, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
    • Dollar sense

      Writing books about Jesus is hardly an unprofitable pursuit. He is probably laughing all the way to the bank. An autobiography of Aslan would sure not sell, neither will something he writes about Mohammad.

      July 30, 2013 at 2:58 pm |
      • jsad

        exactly

        July 30, 2013 at 11:09 pm |
        • Saraswati

          You realize this is the guy who wrote 'The Struggle for Islam's Soul' as part of 'With All Our Might: A Progressive Strategy for Defeating Jihadism and Defending Liberty"?

          July 31, 2013 at 7:08 am |
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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.