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October 25th, 2010
07:00 AM ET

My take: How to scandal proof your church

Editor's Note: Jonathan Acuff writes the blog www.stuffchristianslike.net and recently released the book "Stuff Christians Like." He writes for the Dave Ramsey Organization and lives in Nashville with his wife and two children. Follow him on Twitter @prodigaljohn.

By Jonathan Acuff, Special to CNN

Katy Perry is the greatest “pastor’s kid gone wild," ever. It used to be Alice Cooper and we briefly considered giving the title to comedian Daniel Tosh, but at the end of the day, Perry crushes them both.

Of course, we Christians know Katy Perry as Katy Hudson, the gospel singer. But even though she’s left our musical realm, we’re ready to take her back. She and fiancé Russell Brand could be Christian music’s Tim McGraw and Faith Hill. Think about it Katy, think about it.

Maybe I’ll spread that as a “Christian urban legend.” I’ll just start telling people that rumor until eventually enough people believe it’s actually going to happen, Katy Perry is coming back!

It wouldn’t be the first Christian urban legend though. We’ve had faith-flavored folklore floating about for years. (Christians hate using Snopes to disprove things. Look it up, that’s somewhere in the Old Testament.)

One of my favorite urban legends was the one about the Satanist and the pastor on the airplane. (Doesn’t that kind of sound like a “Satanist and pastor walked into a bar” joke?) In this particular urban legend, a pastor asks the guy next to him on a plane what brought him to town. The Satanist responds, “I worship the devil and was in town to pray for the destruction of pastors across the country.”

I don’t know any Satanists, but I have to assume they do have conventions from time to time. In Vegas, of course, you can’t hold a Beelzebub Ball in Branson, Missouri. But that urban legend seems way to crazy to be true despite the fact that I heard it a dozen different times when I was a kid.

But based on the number of big pastors that have been involved in some wildly public scandals over the years, you start to worry that maybe it’s true. Maybe someone is actively praying that. Or maybe we’ve just got some really unhealthy churches.

I tend to put my belief in the latter. I don’t doubt for a second that there’s opposition to ministries all over the world, forces of evil that make Christopher Walken’s “The Prophecy” seem calm. But I think we as Christians can do a much better job scandal-proofing our churches.

In fact, I think there are four ways we can keep scandal at bay in our congregations.

1. Create an environment where it’s OK for people to fail.
Sometimes, we Christians confess “safe sins.” We sit in small groups and say, “I’ve got to be real tonight. I want to be honest, I want to give it to you raw like ODB in the Wu Tang Clan.”

So you lean in expecting some deep honesty and instead someone confesses, “I don’t read my Bible enough,” or “I don’t do very long quiet times.” If you’ve got a big neon sin, if you’re struggling with porn or a drug addiction, it’s really hard to follow the “I don’t read the Bible enough” guy.

So you fake it a little. You shine things ups. You start to use what people call the “Christian F-Word,” which is “fine.” How’s your marriage? Fine. How’s your job? Fine. As Christians, we’ve got to make it OK to fail. Not to justify it or support it, but to allow an environment where grace reigns, not judgment.

2. Go first.
The challenge of creating an honest environment is that you have to go first. You have to throw yourself on the honesty grenade, which is difficult. Because when you go first, you don’t know the boundaries. You don’t know what’s acceptable or OK.

You have to step out into the gaping void of a conversation and be honest. But when you do, when you go first and share your story and your life, you give everyone in the room or your family or your community, the gift of going second.

You give them the opportunity to go second and follow your lead. They get to step into the space you’ve carved out with your honesty. We’ve got to give the gift of going second.

3. Hold pastors accountable.
According to the Bible, Solomon was the wisest person who ever lived. He asked God for and was granted more wisdom than we can possibly fathom. And he failed.

So why do we think our pastors won’t? Why are we surprised when we treat them like they’re perfect, never challenge their actions and then they fall? It’s classic “CEO Disease” or just another example of “The Emperor’s New Clothes.”

The pastor gets so big and successful that we don’t hold them accountable. We surround them with people who constantly tell them “yes.” We establish a different set of rules for them.

Instead, we need to surround our pastors with people who love them enough to tell them things they don’t want to hear. To challenge them and embrace the Biblical model of iron sharpening iron.

4. Look out for Aaron lies.
No one wakes up on a Tuesday and says, “I think I’ll wreck my whole life, throw away my ministry and destroy my marriage.”  We all take small steps toward the big, dumb decisions we make. And along the way, we justify the things we’re doing with the craziest excuses and lies.

Like Aaron telling Moses that he just threw gold in a fire and a calf magically popped out, we’ll create wild lies. We’ll say, “Oh that, that’s just what guys do!” Or, “That’s not an emotional affair, I just have a flirty personality. That’s nothing.”

We’ll pile lie upon lie until eventually the whole stack topples over. Scandals should never really surprise us. There’s a veritable ginger bread trail of lies the whole time. Seek truth and celebrate truth and don’t for a second accept that golden calves magically appear.

I don’t know what will happen with the latest scandal. I don’t know that minister. I don’t know that church. But I do know we’ll keep having scandals if we keep creating environments where people can’t be honest and we act like our pastors are perfect.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Jonathan Acuff.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Opinion

soundoff (279 Responses)
  1. Andy

    Show me an article with the word "God" in it and I'll show you a comment section that has "chimp" in it...always entertaining!

    Good post Jon!

    October 25, 2010 at 12:17 pm |
    • Luke

      What's your point, Andy?

      October 25, 2010 at 12:25 pm |
    • Jacob

      No kidding! I was thinking the same thing. Any time the word "God" appears in an article or on a YouTube video, you can bet that the comments section is going to be an argument about the existence of God, even if the article of video has absolutely nothing to do with proving God's existence.

      Great post, Jon. Definitely a list that needs to be the standard in our churches.

      October 25, 2010 at 12:48 pm |
    • Todd S

      Best comment yet.

      October 26, 2010 at 5:11 pm |
  2. Really

    Oh my goodness. The hatred and anger flowing from this conversation is sad. I know that Christians and Jews and Muslims and religion are accused of hatred and judgment all the time, but if this utter disgust and hostility and disdain flowing forth from the non-religious camp is representative of the behavior to expect from being part of such a group, I'll pass.

    October 25, 2010 at 12:16 pm |
    • capnjammer

      I still can't understand why expressing opinion is considered all those things. I mean, it's a whole lot better than telling innocent children they need to turn to Jesus or they'll burn in He-ll, it's better than following an organization the leaders of which have been known for mass child mole-station, it's better than telling people their entire view of life is wrong and they can't be happy until they share yours, it's better than voting against g-ay marriage and other legislation that hurts people who aren't like you, it's better than sequestering yourself away from this world trying to build up a paycheck you'll never be able to cash, it's better than hindering scientific, medical, and societal advancement because it makes you look wrong... I believe these things are wrong and evil, but because you believe it's good I'm not allowed to say anything bad about it? I could say "I hate Hit-ler" and you'd probably say "right on!" but if I say "Christianity hurts people" you say I'm full of hatred. I really don't understand.

      October 25, 2010 at 1:05 pm |
    • Sum Dude

      @Really

      If only you would pass, yes. If only you didn't stay here and say nasty and snide things. Yes, just go. You are one of the nasty ones....!

      October 25, 2010 at 1:48 pm |
  3. myhkev

    Great list for all organizations, churches more so. people of faith are held at a higher standard. I.E. they are the ones that need to prove their God exists while moral atheists sit behind the card that their logic trumps Christians logic (arrogance).
    also, there are far more churches than "secular philanthropies or scientific groups" so to say the number of flaws outweighs the number at these organizations is not entirely true. We would have to look at a per captia type number to decide this.

    also, to say that only logic can prove God would be illogical. I see it as an easy way to cast all the typical judgments towards Christians "isnt your God great? shouldnt he show me something to prove himself?" how arrogant! if he indeed created the world and lets it run then indeed he has shown himself and the revelation of divine grace holds true!

    so to come onto a Christian blog that gives good advice and to demean Christians , in my opinion, gives sway to the bible. besides if sin was just a word why would anyone feel the need to come and prove their point on a blog that gives advice that would make the world a better place?

    I feel the worst thing a human can do is say that an almighty God owes him anything, he owes nothing.Please if you are an atheist quit asking the same mundane questions that have been answered a thousand times by the likes of William lane Craig, John Lennox, and other great philosophers. Think for your self and try to not rehash the words of Hitchens, Dawkins, and Harris. its getting old.

    This is a great blog for people who are trying to redo the church in a way that is relevant. great advice. thank you Prodigal Jon.

    October 25, 2010 at 12:03 pm |
    • Sum Dude

      @myhkev

      What makes you think this blog is here for your express purpose? Anyone can come here and say what they like!
      This "Belief" blog is not a blog on "crossroads.org", but a blog on an international NEWS website. They do not require registration or any particular "belief" to come here and make comments.

      Why are YOU here when you could be in a Christian blog on a Christian website patting each other on the back about how great your faith is?

      I do not "rehash" the words of authors I have never read. I speak my own words and tend to quote from mainstream media.

      I doubt you could even make a serious effort to "scandal-proof" your particular church. But go ahead and try. Nobody's stopping you.

      You complain yet no one invited you here just as no one invited us. We point out lack of proof and you complain that we are attacking you. You complain when we argue, you complain when we make jokes, you complain about things that aren't true, you complain and complain more than we ever do. You complain even though you are members in the most influential religion in the USA. You want it all and you want more than that and you want it both ways if you can get it.

      Ugh. Scandals aren't much of a problem compared to how Christians tend to treat everybody.

      Please quit sounding like spoiled children who want the playground all to themselves.
      And please quit bearing false witness. If you don't know what I mean, others do. Lying to support whatever propaganda you're trying to push is reprehensible and disgusting.
      We are not politicians, but some of you are trying to be. Or trying to be "Rush" or "Beck" wannabes. It's just sick.

      October 25, 2010 at 1:37 pm |
    • Frogist

      @myhkev: For someone who doesn't like arrogance, you seem to have an awfully arrogant point of view concerning the non-believers who post here. I'm sure we can all turn around what you said and just replace "non-believer" with "christian" if we all were just like you. Your ideas about God and sin are not universal ones. And that's where the true arrogance of your post lies. It's unfortunate, because it's posts like yours that's perpetuating the intolerant, holier-than-thou Christian stereotype that others are fighting so hard to get rid of.
      BTW This article was posted in an open forum called the Belief Blog.

      October 25, 2010 at 3:50 pm |
  4. ChadJ

    Over on my blog, I'm trying to do exactly this: give folks the gift of going second. http://movethemountains.blogspot.com

    To the haters: the only proof that means anything to me vis-a-vis Christianity is that Jesus is still changing lives. Say what you want–I've seen it time and time again.

    October 25, 2010 at 12:01 pm |
  5. J.Hill

    @Luke
    Really? The Bible tells me to destroy all other cultures? All I remember reading is loving people of all corners of the earth just like Jesus did...
    And we're forcing creationism into schools? Last I checked the freedom of being able to express an affiliation with Jesus is being forced OUT of schools... and creationism 'hurts' you? What part of people being alowed to think a different way hurts you? In schools (& I was very recently there) all theories of how we got here are to be treated just like that: theories.
    I don't understand what the big deal is.
    You've seen too many people that chuck their Bible at you and tell you you're going to Hell. Its not my conquest to spread Christianity across Earth like some sort of religious manifest destiny, PERSONALLY I found something that has made my life better and I would like to share that with people & they can take it or leave it.
    Stop lumping all Christians in the same boat. That's exactly what you're accusing us of doing: stereotyping and closed-mindedness.

    October 25, 2010 at 12:01 pm |
    • Luke

      Maybe you should reread your bible. It calls for the systematic destruction of all non-Christians, hence the reason for the Inquisition and the Crusades.

      Yes, many school boards, particularly in the South are trying to put creationism and ID into science classrooms. Check out Parish, LA, for example.

      Jesus was never in schools. If he were, it would be illegal and you should do your civic duty in reporting it to the ACLU. By removing Jesus from schools, you are following the 1st amendment properly. It hurts the intelligence of school children. It is a false theory that attempts to contradict evolution. There is a reason why the US has fallen to 27th out of 30 developed nations in science and 17th in Math. That hurts me directly, indeed. ID and creationism are rejected by the scientific community and are not considered theories. They are considered hypothesizes that have been debunked and therefore, rejected. Hence, we don't teach them.

      I am far from stereotyping. I am knowledgeable on the topic and know what the bible says. You are guilty of cherry picking from the bible. I doubt you've even read it cover to cover. If you had, you'd see how evil it really is and likely reject it. You merely take the good parts and pass them off as Christianity. The ultimate irony is that the good parts, namely the golden rule for example, was hijacked from Jainism. Hence, the good parts are not even unique to Christianity and you're better off being a Jain so are not lumped in with the other Christians.

      October 25, 2010 at 12:17 pm |
    • Frogist

      @J.Hill: Whoa! I thought we just got through discussing how each person has the right to follow their own path and we should respect that. And now you're for teaching creationism in science class and against keeping religious indoctrination out of schools? I don't know. That sounds like loading the dice in favor of your religion not letting people find their own path. Doesn't that contradict what you said before?

      October 25, 2010 at 2:45 pm |
    • Fraiser

      @ Luke

      1: Evolution is just a theory, it has not been proved but I will say that creation has not been proved scientifically as well.
      2: Which Bible are you reading? The cathlic? Mormon? New Living translation? They are all VERY different.

      October 26, 2010 at 4:11 pm |
    • Luke

      Fraiser

      You're ignorant. Go look up the scientific method, read it and get back to me.

      October 27, 2010 at 2:00 pm |
    • Rachel

      Luke-
      I'm interested to hear which passages in specific call christians to destroy others. I have read my bible from cover to cover and I can't recall any of that. Also, a few comments back you mentioned something about Christians believing that miscarriage is murder. Where did you ever hear that? If you ever heard that in a church or from a Christian's mouth then I'm deeply disturbed by that. As a Christian woman who has suffered several miscarriages I can assure you that that is not the accepted stance of any true, bible believing Christian. It seems a little dramatic to blame the entire country's poor performance in math and science on God. Isn't it possible that our teachers just arent up to par, or perhaps our parents aren't as involved in their children's educations as they should be? It also seems like a bit of an over statement to say that Jesus was never in schools. Do you have any facts to back that up? I've read through most of your comments and I'm very curious about how you came to many of the conclusions you've shared.

      October 27, 2010 at 6:07 pm |
    • Lee

      @Luke

      Surely your evolved scientific mind can come up with a better retort than...'you're ignorant'. Evolution is a theory. Why should it be taught in school if it has not been proven?

      October 31, 2010 at 7:47 pm |
    • that guy

      also as a sidenote, evolution as in natural selection is a viable and provable scientific theory, while the theory of Evolution as a means of the creation of life is just as unprovable as the theory of creation.

      November 1, 2010 at 11:51 pm |
  6. Stephanie

    Why is it that a someone writes an article about Christianity and gets slammed. If this happened to another religion, people would be up in arms. I find that ironic.

    Great article, John. By the way, my entire family is passing around Stuff Christians Like. We love it!

    October 25, 2010 at 12:00 pm |
    • Ellen

      I could not agree more with your comment.

      October 25, 2010 at 12:05 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      @Stephanie

      Did you read "Exhibit: Albanian Muslims saved Jews from Nazis" and the associated comments? Seems to me that lots of people (dare I say many christians?) slammed that ariticle and islam...

      October 25, 2010 at 12:19 pm |
    • Magic

      @Stephanie,

      All religious myths, delusions and superst!tions are open for inspection and comment here.

      October 25, 2010 at 12:27 pm |
    • D-Bo

      @Magic

      That's true, they are open for discussion if there is meaning and value to life. But atheists agree that life really has no meaning (which all atheists are nihilists at heart b/c if you take their ideology to it's conclusion, there is no meaning or purpose if we're cosmic accidents that happened by chance. You don't magically get significance out of INsignificance). The more you comment the more it shows you don't even believe your own ideology because you think what you have to say has merit. Do your atheist friends a favor and stop commenting.....you're starting to make people believe you think that what you're saying is important in this universe.

      October 25, 2010 at 12:54 pm |
    • Magic

      D-Bo,

      Really, you are sounding more and more obtuse with each post.

      Which atheist/agnostic said there is no meaning or no goals? You have extrapolated that from.... well, I just don't know where your mind wanders.

      Of course there is meaning, but it is temporal - for the here and now. 'Ultimate goals' are just not proved to be as far-ranging as you propose. Your arrogance that you know that you have universal, eternal significance is insulting to healthy egos.

      We don't know what is beyond this plane of existence, pal - we don't know... yet (and maybe we never will). Frankly, if you say you do, you are a liar or a fool or are profoundly mistaken.

      October 25, 2010 at 1:16 pm |
  7. Ellen

    Thanks for such an honest article John. I strongly dislike reading some of these comments however. It breaks my heart to see people with no understanding of the joy that comes in a relationship with Jesus. It's not a about a religion, it's about a real relationship with the Creator. I'm sorry if "the church" or someone that claims Christianity has hurt you... we as humans are all imperfect. But please don't correlate that hurt with the One who is without sin. I just encourage everyone to get to know someone who is a true follower of Christ and attend a service at a church that is really going after the things of God. If you are as open to reason and truth as you say, then give it a try. The Lord has literally changed my life from an early age and I can honestly say I would not be the person I am today without His love and grace.

    October 25, 2010 at 11:58 am |
  8. J.Hill

    @JohnQuest
    If I personally knew you, all I could do for you is show you love and respect and how my life is different and better than it was before I was a Christ follower. Its not peoples job to prove God is real. It is our job to show what life is like with him in it.
    Scientifically, I can't physically prove the existance of God. That's why it takes faith on my part to even believe that he is out there and shaping my life. If I can't prove it myself how can I prove it to you? I just believe because of instances throughout the course of my own life. I don't solely base my life off of the accounts of others. I don't follow my grandmoms religious belief just because she told me to. That would be crazy. I have developed my own belief and conlusion and that is why I repect others that have done the same, no matter what they believe in.
    What if this evidence that everyone is waiting for has been right in front of you all along? What if you can pinpoint different places in your life and just can't explain why you're alive or how you got through whatever situation? Whatever that situation may be, know that it happened because you're worth it. You're worth the love & time & consideration.
    Not all Christians are intollerant or closed minded. A lot of us just genuinely care about people.

    October 25, 2010 at 11:51 am |
    • Sum Dude

      @J.Hill

      That is a very nice post. Very eloquent and honest. I value that sort of thing when I can.

      We know that many Christians are nice, or try hard to be nice, yet there is always problems cropping up thanks to a person's particular beliefs. Often, this means the Bible, but other religions are sometimes represented by visitors.

      I don't want to disturb your niceness, but your religious rules and beliefs must be able to be applied equally to every person in the world, in every situation, and must make sense regardless of these things.

      I'd like to point out that there are people in this world who do not fit into your glowing and positive outlook, whose situations are so cruel as to make a mockery of any simplistic worldview that does not take these things into consideration.

      Those people did nothing, made no choice, but are victims of others or victims of circ-umstance and the universe, etc.
      Yet many would have us believe that there is some sort of purpose in these events.

      "Working in mysterious ways" is not the greatest thing to say to those poor people. It is used to cover anything and everything that makes no sense according to the religion those words come from. Not really nice, that....

      But I would welcome a real explanation by God if God exists. Not someone's "interpretation", but a real explanation that makes sense.

      Those people deserve an explanation. I ask for it on their behalf, yet would not mind if they received it and not me.

      Everything must make sense, for the whole universe works together according to rules. That seems pretty sensible so far, I, for one, simply insist that everything else make sense as well.

      I do not believe that I am being unreasonable in this. I expect God to understand if he exists, yet I am still waiting for proof beyond the extreme lack we have now.
      A super-powerful, all-wise, etc. being should not act this way. But who am I to insist? Just a possible "creation" of that same being.
      I fulfill my function, I guess. If this is asking for answers that may never come, then so be it. I am only trying to do my best.
      Thanks again for posting that. 🙂

      October 25, 2010 at 1:01 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      J.Hill, thank you for your kind words, although I don't drink, I wouldn't object to having a beer with you. We can disagree without being disagreeable.

      October 25, 2010 at 1:05 pm |
    • capnjammer

      Sorry to step in on your conversation, but I have to say I like "Disagree without being disagreeable." I had a debate with my fiancee last night and she used the old "agree to disagree" thing. "Of course I agree that we don't agree!" I said disagreeably. I think your wanton turn of phrase has changed my life 🙂

      October 25, 2010 at 1:31 pm |
    • Kara

      @ Sum Dude, I agree. I'm a Christian and i often ask God questions like why my best friend's mother had to die of cancer. Christians have those doubts too. But I am willing to wait for him to answer me while i live in his plan for my life. I think that his love through the hard times shows me that i can still trust him and overpowers my doubts.

      October 26, 2010 at 4:19 pm |
  9. CC

    Hmmm, anyone want to go back to what the post was about rather than just rant in the comments?

    IF you attend and believe in the church – this is some solid, useful & wise information. IF you don't attend & believe in the church – why read this – why comment – why care?

    By the way, ranting on someone else's article is NOT the same as being asked by CNN (or any other news source) for your view point. Lose the anger, jealousy... or boredom – and get out there & make a difference.

    Thanks Jonathan – appreciate the article.

    October 25, 2010 at 11:50 am |
    • Sharideth Smith

      comment win.

      exactly. though i find it entertaining to watch the haters get all super cool and edgy with their condescension and snarkiness. it's so original and stuff.

      October 25, 2010 at 11:55 am |
    • Sum Dude

      @Sharideth Smith

      8) Hi Sharideth! Glad you could join in the "stuff" with us. Welcome to the CNN Belief Blog. lol

      October 25, 2010 at 12:38 pm |
    • capnjammer

      Are you saying we don't have a right to exercise our right to free speech? Personally, I came here because I was interested to see what might be some solutions to what is becoming a major problem... there has been a new arrest for child mole-station multiple times every month this year within churches. When I was in seminary they trained us never to be alone with children or people of the opposite s-ex. I find that missing from this article. Furthermore, a real solution would be for churches to understand that human beings have urges that can't be considered evil because they are natural. If the church didn't say mas-turb-ation or s-ex before marriage was evil, I guarantee there would be significantly less instances of ra-pe and child abuse in this country. I'm not advocating it, but my proof is that in countries where prost-itution is legal there is considerably less of these crimes. Prohibition breeds contempt, and telling a regular man with regular manly urges that he can never have s-ex or even have se-xual thoughts is a surefire way to cause a little child to be victimized somewhere down the road.

      October 25, 2010 at 12:39 pm |
    • Sharideth Smith

      @sum dude – thanks! lol. i've been here once or twice before. i'm not sure if i used my real name or not though. i guess this time i just figured, meh, if i'm going to say it, i may as well own it. 😉 for the record, i think there are people here who aren't on board with what jon is saying who honestly want to have discourse. like you. others just sit here waiting to pounce and roll around in their smugness. i find that funny.

      October 25, 2010 at 1:13 pm |
    • Frogist

      @CC: That's like saying, "If you're not a Democrat, why do you care what they do?" We non-believers read because that is how you stay informed. We non-believers care because we live in a world dominated by Christianity. Much of which is rife with hypocrisy unfortunately which is affecting us all. And why comment? Because an opinion, especially from the outside, is always important. My question to you is why does our existence here bother you?

      October 25, 2010 at 2:26 pm |
  10. JohnQuest

    J.Hill, that's not true for all, I have never been hurt by a Christian. I am a non believer not because of what was done in the name of religion, which we both can admit some if which was and is horrific but because religion and/or the belief in a deity make absolutely no sense what so ever. If someone can convince me that it is true or makes sense I would reconsider my opposition to religion and the existence of a deity (the deity of course will require at least some evidence to support existence).

    October 25, 2010 at 11:34 am |
  11. J.Hill

    It seems to me that there are two different types of people here: people that are Christians, and people that have been hurt by Christians.
    And that's cool. Blame us. We deserve it. We have really made a mess of what we believe in. We have been a poor representation of Jesus' model for the life we should lead.
    But isn't there a double standard to trashing someones beliefs and then telling them to 'keep an open mind'?
    Believe what you want that's cool. That's why he have free will. The most frustrating thing about conversations in religion is that both sides of the arguement are deadlocked on what they believe anyway. I go into any conversation about Jesus knowing that I'm most likely not going to blow anyones mind with what I have to say. I just want to promote everyone just accepting that people are allowed to believe in different things so stop beat your head against the wal trying to convince everyone else that they are wrong. And that goes for "Christians" and "other".

    October 25, 2010 at 11:26 am |
    • Luke

      I was never hurt directly by a Christian, but I will continue to fight against you because the ultimate goal is to convert all non-Christians. Something as simple as forcing creationism into schools is hurtful to us. It, among other things, hurts the knowledge center of all children, weakening the USA. Of course, I could give you hundreds of other examples. The ultimate hurt, of course, being the destruction of all other cultures as warranted by your bible.

      October 25, 2010 at 11:40 am |
    • capnjammer

      I was never hurt by religion. When I made the transition to atheism, it was a very long and difficult road. I didn't WANT God to be a fairy tale, but I couldn't come to any other conclusion than that he was. I didn't want to lose my direct line to the creator, I didn't want to lose my friends and family, I didn't want to stop being an ambas-sador and start becoming a regular joe, but there was no other choice except to continue in ignorance.

      I also fight because Christians do hurt people, even if they don't mean to. Having been one of you once, I understand that you may not really have any spite or malice in your heart, but you hurt people, even people you love, on a daily basis. It needs to stop, and where that starts is people standing up and letting you know that your actions are hurtful to others. Just because you believe in God's law doesn't mean it's okay for you to legislate against g-ay marriage, or raise a child with such inundation in your philosophy that he literally has no other choice: even if you present him with other options and remind him that you will still love him no matter what choice he makes, he will still be so overwhelmed by the religion all around him and feel that you will be so disappointed in him if he doesn't choose your religion that he really has no other choice. It's child abuse, no matter how caring and loving a parent you are.

      Using God as an excuse really gives you no right, because if it did, then the radical Muslim extremists who flew planes into buildings were also justified. Even though I was a fundamentalist Baptist and spent a good amount of time shoving my doctrine down people's throats, I also believed that the Bible only had one part that applied to everyone: salvation. If you want everyone to get saved, that's your own prerogative (although don't expect me not to be upset when you try to tell me everything I know is wrong and I'll burn in h-ell unless I believe the way you do), but you can't try to pass legislation in favor of your beliefs so even the unbelievers have to follow it. It's unfair, it's unconsti-tutional, and its really, when you boil it down, evil.

      October 25, 2010 at 12:31 pm |
    • D-Bo

      J.Hill, what's funny to me is that Luke admits that as an atheist and that he doesn't believe in purpose or meaning but then he makes comments with words like "hurt," "ultimate goal," and "knowledge." What can someone be "hurt" if you dont' believe we're all meaningless cosmic accidents? How can there be an "ultimate goal" when there is no purpose for the atheist? What is "knowledge" when intelligence has no value in an insignificant universe to an atheist? Luke is a typical double-speak atheist who can't even agree with his own ideology. You can't argue with them because they already start off as hypocrits when they open their mouths, thinking what they say is important.

      October 25, 2010 at 12:46 pm |
    • Luke

      D-Bo – You're such a fool, unworthy of dialog, sir. What you write only makes sense to yourself.

      October 25, 2010 at 12:52 pm |
    • Frogist

      @J. Hill: I agree with you that we have to be tolerant of another person's belief system. We have to share the same space, so we don't have a choice. I don't think that people are deadlocked into their beliefs. I was Presbyterian, now I'm agnostic. It came about as a slow drift and then an ultimate defining sense of relief when I finally let go of my "Christianity". And I wouldn't say I have been hurt by Christians, I would say I was put off by them... many of them. Mostly because I asked questions and that bothered them that I wouldn't just believe the way they did. But I think we can find common ground. While we understand that we call ourselves "Christian" or "Atheist" or otherwise, we can respect our right to follow our own path, and try to be decent, caring human beings whatever the label.

      October 25, 2010 at 2:20 pm |
  12. capnjammer

    In order to scandal-proof a church, you need to do one very important thing: realize that no one is perfect. You can say all you want that a "child of God" has a higher moral standing and is an amba-ssador for God, but at the end of the day, it's just a group of people. You can say "That pastor that mole-sted little kids never really was a REAL Christian," but that's just a diversionary tactic. We're all just people, like me, like the next guy, living our lives. People fail from time to time. It's sad, but it's true. We put people on pedestals, sometimes even ourselves, but no one needs to be there. No one is more or less special or important than the next person.

    Also, a big part of church scandals is religious repre-ssion. History has shown that when society at large places a social stigma on performing certain actions, it makes matters worse. Why is there so much mole-station in the Catholic church? Because normal men, like you and I, are being put in a place where they are suspending natural urges. They aren't evil people, they are highly advanced primates trying to do what comes naturally – have s-ex, and altar boys are a convenient target.

    I remember in high school, dancing was a taboo. When everyone else was having prom, my friends were playing Scrabble. Not being able to have a prom was only making us want it even more.

    The ideas on this list are good for, for instance, having a good marriage or friendship, but it isn't until we allow ourselves to be people... real, regular people, with regular feelings and regular, non-heavenly "urges," that you are going to see a decrease in church scandals, or any other kind of scandal.

    October 25, 2010 at 10:53 am |
    • ktrails

      @capnjammer – Good post – basically, we all need to read and internalize Romans 7 instead of pretending it doesn't apply to ourselves. Not to the point of antinomianism, but to understand that we all fall short. I also think churches that implement small groups help address some of the issues brought up in the article.

      grace and peace,

      -jeff

      October 25, 2010 at 11:13 am |
    • JohnQuest

      capnjammer, why was dancing a taboo, or for that matter ho mose xuality? I think most sins are nothing more than "thought crimes". To truly scandal proof our religious origination is very simple (get rid of them), we don't need them, they are devise and cause more harm then good.

      October 25, 2010 at 11:22 am |
    • capnjammer

      @JohnQuest: I'm an atheist now, thank goodness, so I agree wholeheartedly with you. Unfortunately, the de-churching of the world isn't going to happen any time soon, so reminding people that just because they follow the Bible (or any other holy book for that matter) doesn't make them any better or on any higher moral ground than anyone else can't hurt.

      October 25, 2010 at 12:17 pm |
    • Jana

      @JohnQuest
      I agree with you about the dancing thing. I think that was the church creating laws where there were none. Check out this post on legalism, if you want to read what a Christian who's smarter than I am would say about that.
      http://torianomayo.posterous.com/

      October 28, 2010 at 12:04 am |
  13. D-Bo

    @Sum Dude

    All that you asked for God to do to show himself has already been done. He did do something that many (thousands) people saw through Jesus. And He has answered prayers. He has been in touch. What else would you like him to do? Should you put him on a leash and make him do tricks for you before you believe in him? Are you angry because you prayed to win the lottery and then you didn't win the lottery and then claimed that prayer doesn't work? You are asking an omniscient eternal being to bend to your will as if you know better than him. You are a finite being with limited knowledge and then you're questioning why God does something???? Where were you when he created the cosmos? Where were you when he created the heavens and the earth? You are the foolish one....thinking God is the one who should serve you. Just because he doesn't obey you doesn't make him less powerful....it makes him smarter for NOT listening to someone with limited knowledge. Furthermore, if you did know how to adimit when you are wrong, you'd admit that we all are sinners (you included) and that we need a perfect savior who can reconcile our sinful selves to an "ultra" holy God.
    My question to you is, if you're so sure there is no God, why are you here on a belief blog searching for answers? If there ultimately was no meaning, no purpose, and no significance before the "big bang," then why do you think you have meaning in the universe all of the sudden? If you're a true atheist, then you have to agree that there was no purpose 16 billion years ago and there is no purpose now. If you are a true atheist, why are you on this belief blog pretending that what you have to say is meaningful and significant when your own creed states that you're a cosmic accident with zero significance? You came from nothing and you'll go to nothing but somehow you strive for meaning in between. Who is foolish now?

    October 25, 2010 at 10:18 am |
    • Luke

      There is no meaning. Life is what you make of it. Your argument is common and unoriginal. It is based on the foundation that you are important, humans are important and that the universe cares about human life. This is a misnomer you were sold on. A good way to think about this is to take a gander at the grand scale of the universe and how many things that are out there that are trying to kill us. First of all, 99.99% of all life that has ever lived on earth has gone extinct. We are just alive at a time that is conducive for human life to thrive. For you to believe in the God of Abraham, you must believe that your god sat around and watched humans evolve for 200K years and nearly die off many times before revealing himself through the Jesus Character of the bible just 2K years ago. In revealing himself, he failed to teach his creation anything about germ theory or morality and only made himself available to desert people, never mind the thriving cities in China, other Middle Eastern countries or North America, which was still undiscovered anyway. Moving on, despite our evolution to modern society, you must explain away inefficiencies with the human body such as our penchant for autoimmune diseases, cancers and babies born with bone cancer. You must also explain why an omnipotent god that is in charge of everything is the biggest abortionist in the world, as most females that live will have at least one miscarriage during her lifetime (which I find bitterly ironic since most religious folks think miscarriage is murder). I would also like to hear your explanation why humans do not have an extra hole in our heads for breathing. Why do we breathe through the same hole that we eat and drink though? Imagine how many souls would be saved if we had a blow hole just like other mammals such as whales and dolphins. And that’s just on earth! Now we have to look at how many things are trying to kill us in the solar system such as comets, asteroids and solar flares. But that doesn’t matter anyway, since the sun will one day explode and kill us even if we manage not to kill ourselves first. Going even deeper, galactic orbits will no doubt pass us near a supernova, which will probably kill everything on earth or rip the earth out of its orbit from the sun, hurling us out into deep space with no energy source. Finally, the universe will end one day when it loses all heat and freeze itself out to nothingness again. This ocurrs roughly every 1T years. And yet you still think that the God of Abraham cares about you?

      We tend to go on belief blogs for entertainment, to be honest.

      October 25, 2010 at 10:46 am |
    • Sum Dude

      @D-Bo
      Who is foolish now? Why, that would be you, of course! lol 😛

      I am an agnostic, not a "true atheist" whatever you think THAT means....

      As for "sin", you need to define God in such a way that it makes sense using logic, and then you might have a chance at proving God exists....for without a logical and realistic definition, we have no subject to speak of or discover.

      If you cannot prove God exists, then your "sin" is just a joke, a meaningless word.

      But then, if you look at the Bible using logic and reason and common sense, "sin" makes NO sense whatsoever anyway.

      It doesn't exist. It makes no sense for God to put "sin" on his own creations the way all you silly deluded "believers" like to say happens.
      For example, if "death" is our "wages" for our "sin" then death is the end of it and it should not continue past that point.

      Simple, but you would twist around and grab at straws to justify everyone needing guilt over something they never did. I was not born into "sin". I was just born. Your attempts to put "sin" on me is disgusting. I did not "do" anything to warrant such an attack upon a helpless baby like that.
      You would also threaten children with "Hell", who are innocent and who don't know any better than what lies you tell them in this regard. That is child abuse and disgusting. Period.

      You say prayer works. Well, then, what is the problem? Why is it so hard for you to prove prayer works?

      Oh, don't tell me, you'll probably say something about "doing it right" or "having a strong enough faith" or something else just as obviously bullshlt as so much of what you spout in "support" of your delusional belief system.

      Bah. Put up or shut up. I still wait for someone to do something that proves God exists. You made him up in the first place, therefore you need to prove he exists before anything else you might say. Period. The logic must flow in a linear fashion. Any attempts to avoid logic are a no-no.
      You cannot avoid the truth, nor can you avoid the necessity of using logic to prove anything you might like to say to me.

      Scripture or religious teachings are not logic nor in the proper form for use within an argument. You might like to joke around, but I am dead serious about my "soul" and do not appreciate any deviation from the truth, logic, facts, or anything else like that. Dead serious about my soul, all right? But your Bible is not dead serious. It is a collection of words written by men who did not check to see if they were keeping their stories straight. Pretty obvious to me and a lot of other people.

      And please don't try to put a "creed" upon my atheist friends. The lack of a belief is NOT a belief.
      You must understand that or prove yourself to be just another lackluster deluded person unable to think past the words indoctrinated into your brain.

      The lack of a belief is NOT in itself a belief and never will be. So many of you fail to understand this, it is maddening.

      Try looking at it from the outside. You cannot argue from the inside of a delusion to prove that the delusion is real.
      You have to use real logic, reason, common sense, and actual facts. NOT the Bible or anything that was written by "unreliable" humans like yourself. That would be empty sophistry and not good form at all.

      Quoting or alluding to scripture and your belief system only makes sense to YOU. I do not subscribe to your beliefs, therefore you need to use an argument that takes that into consideration. Otherwise, forget it.

      As for why I am here, I am here fighting for truth, justice, humanity, and for YOUR mental health.
      If you don't like it, so what? I am trying to help YOU in my own erratic way. If you don't like it, try to get CNN to delete this blog once and for all. Otherwise I am free to post. Okay?

      I find deluded people here and I do what I can to help. That I am probably wasting my time has occurred to me more than once, let me assure you....!

      October 25, 2010 at 11:08 am |
    • D-Bo

      @Luke

      Thank you for your pointless response. I appreciate you admitting that you are insignificant and everything you do, say, and write are meaningless and without value or merit. Yet you responded to my post because you obviously thought what you had to say was important enough to respond to me. You thought your response was valuable enough to post when you just admitted that we all have zero value or importance in an eternal abyss of purposlessness. Therefore, you sir, are a hypocrit. You admit you have no value, but you respond because you think what you have to say is worthy enough to be said (even if it is just for "fun" or whatever you think that worthless word means). The more you comment back, the more valuable you think your words are proving your own ideology of atheistic meaninglessness wrong. If you really want to show that atheism is the best belief system, you'd better just not say or do anything to anyone. haha. Atheists' arguments are so stupid. lol. They can't even live by their own creed.

      October 25, 2010 at 11:12 am |
    • JohnQuest

      D-Bo, to answer your question of why a non believer is on this blog; its because, believers will destroy the world in the name of their God, Muslims, Jews, and Christians. Non believers are in the minority (for now, but that is changing), we will fall victim to believers if believers had their way. The more believers I convince of the error of their ways (thinking and believing) the better chance my children will have at surviving.

      October 25, 2010 at 11:14 am |
    • Luke

      D-Bo – My first line says life is what you make it. I enjoy debate, philosophies, religion and spreading science and logic. Therefore, this is fun for me, nullifying everything you hatefully said about my ideas instead of rebutting them. Clearly, you can't, so you resorted to hatefulness, a rather common reply I've come across.

      Regadring sin, evolution proves there was no Adam and Eve, therefore there was no original sin. Hence, we conclude that the very foundation of Christianity is bunk. Explain.

      October 25, 2010 at 11:17 am |
    • Luke

      D-Bo – Atheism is not a belief system, sir. There is no creed to live by. That nullifies that part of your argument too. The only thing I can add is that most secular humanists realize that morality is in our genes and expanded through societies, mutually exclusive from religion. We witness morality in the Animal Kingdom of which we are a part. There is no atheistic approach to morality. Someone told you that too.

      October 25, 2010 at 11:20 am |
    • D-Bo

      @Sum Dude,

      I can appreciate that you're at least agnostic. As far as atheism goes, would you prefer me to call it an ideology instead of a belief system? haha. Does that solve your problem? lol. Please tell me how thinking there isn't a God is an "unbelief" system? How can you possibly "unbelieve" something? You can't. Instead, you use logic and reason to come up with the best explanation for something and then you either believe that the outcome is true or false. You don't "unbelieve" it. (hahaha, hilarious post though).
      Now, in speaking of using logic and reason, people who believe that the universe magically popped into existence out of nothing are not using logic or reason (something coming from nothing is a logical fallacy). Yet this is what atheists and agnostics believe (yes, that's right, they BELIEVE their theory to be true). One other atheist poster says that M theory "may" prove that something came from nothing and that it came out of gravity. This statement is already false because gravity is something...if existence came out of gravity then where did gravity come from? We know gravity is not eternal (it changes and by definition, something eternal does not change). This is the problem that atheists and agnostics cannot get around. They proselytize their ideology that something came from nothing all day but that theory is completely illogical. And it gets compounded when they say intelligence came from unintelligent matter. And finally that somehow there is such a thing as morality when they believe there is no ultimate moral law giver from which to differentiate between good and evil. All illogical arugments. However, an self existent eternal being does not violate the laws of logic (that idea cannot be falisfied and it IS an logical theory).

      October 25, 2010 at 11:52 am |
    • D-Bo

      @JohnQuest

      Yep John, you're right...believers would destory the world for sure (sarcasm). They've been around for more than 4,000 years and yet here we are. Weird. Furthermore, I believe it was the atheistic ideology of Hitler and Stalin who tried to destroy the world and they tried to destory Jews too...(not the other way around genius).

      October 25, 2010 at 11:56 am |
    • D-Bo

      @Luke,

      If we're all meaningless, as you admitted previously, then how can something be "fun" Luke? Is it "fun" just because Luke showed up on the scene and assigned commenting on posts as "fun?" when in reality we're just a spec of meaningless space dust floating around on a space rock of purposlessness? Do you feel hatred from me? Doesn't "hate" have to have "meaning" behind it for it to be hate?

      October 25, 2010 at 12:00 pm |
    • Luke

      D-Bo – you don't know the definition of atheist, that is why you don't understand. You too are atheist, just to other gods such as Zeus and Apollo. It is just a rejection of theism since there is no evidence to suggest otherwise. Some metaphorically explain it this way – not being a stamp collector doesn't mean your hobby is not stamp collecting. It just means I don't collect stamps. The same goes for rejecting Christianity and the God of Abraham. I reject the idea of it, but it is not my system of beliefs and morality. The same goes for being a-anything. Not doing something doesn't mean it is my core system. It just means I don't do it.

      Scientists do not believe in magic, they have a theory for everything. If it is unknown or unfounded, they hypothesize. No scientist will say the universe popped out of nothing. Steven Hawking argues that the law of gravitaion allows for spontaneous expansion from nothingness, resulting in a universe with matter. You should read his latest book rather than repeating what someone told you.

      The problem with your logic is actually quite simple. You take the unknown and inject the entire Christian doctrine. Every scientist, even myself, will admit we don't know everything and we don't know for sure why the universe exists. But we're working on it. You take the unknown and insert the God of Abraham, Yahweh despite the overwhelming evidence that the bible is bunk and that the supernatural is outside the laws of nature. Clearly you see how your logic is falsified. It's actually childish logic and philosophically immature to insert an entire system into one unknown. That is why it is rejected by anyone worth their salt intellectually speaking.

      October 25, 2010 at 12:04 pm |
    • Luke

      D-Bo – Regarding fun. You clearly don't understand and never will and arguing with you is unwarranted. I don't hate you. I think you're a dullard. And to the point, even if I concede that hate and fun make things meaningful, that doesn't prove the existence of the supernatural. It just means that things can be fun or hateful. In any event, I do try to have fun daily and remove hate from my life where I can. Since I am living proof that this is possible and still reject religion, I still nullify your argument.

      October 25, 2010 at 12:07 pm |
    • Sum Dude

      @D-Bo

      Atheism is not even an ideology. It is a complete and utter lack of ideation due to the lack of proof upon which to base any sort of belief or ideation at all.
      You just don't understand what the word means. That's okay. We're here for you.

      And you assume, for reasons I can only guess at, that I have a particular physics theory regarding the universe that you already "know" all about just because I am an "agnostic" (I happen to doubt that you know what "agnostic" means).
      You are incorrect about my understanding of physics and the theories I rely upon.

      My understanding of physics precludes the sort of "beliefs" you put forth as being mine. You made assumptions about what I believe, knowing nothing about me or what I have tried to explain in the past.

      If this is the way you operate, don't expect much more in the way of responses from me. I prefer honest discussions.

      And as for your understanding of logic and what logic means, especially in a discussion such as this one, it is clear to me that you are seriously deficient in this area and I will not require you to bother trying to use something you don't understand.

      I'm sorry you are unable to discuss these things coherently or logically or truthfully.

      Perhaps "sorry" isn't quite the right word, but it's going to have to do. Good-bye, D-Bo.

      I will not talk to you anymore about these things, okay?
      Just be glad we're all trying to love one another, more or less.
      Maybe we can talk about other things, but this particular discussion is closed as far as you and me are concerned.
      Have a nice day.

      October 25, 2010 at 12:15 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @D-Bo
      Robert Heinlein said it best:
      "The most preposterous notion that H. sapiens has ever dreamed up is that the Lord God of Creation, Shaper and Ruler of all the Universes, wants the saccharine adoration of His creatures, can be swayed by their prayers, and becomes petulant if He does not receive this flattery."

      In other words, the concept of an anthropocentric God is nothing but vanity.

      Also, Douglas Adams put forth this little tidbit in response to Creationist hubris:

      "Imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking,
      'This is an interesting world I find myself in, an interesting hole I find myself in, fits me rather neatly, doesn't it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!'
      This is such a powerful idea that as the sun rises in the sky and the air heats up and as, gradually, the puddle gets smaller and smaller, it's still frantically hanging on to the notion that everything's going to be alright, because this world was meant to have him in it, was built to have him in it; so the moment he disappears catches him rather by surprise."

      I believe most atheists/agnostics can be friendly with Deists – they at least recognize that idea of divine intervention in the affairs of man is extraordinarily unlikely – but we've a hard time communicating with Theists who insist that God talks to them, or Jesus is coming back next week to rapture the faithful.
      Theists tend to be dogmatic and they're the ones who seem to enjoy condeming this and that from a fiery pulpit.

      October 25, 2010 at 12:51 pm |
    • Tacoma

      @D-Bo

      I think the majority of people come on this blog because they find it a fun place to rip on Christians and call the weak foolish idiots. I don't think in their minds it's out of a sense of searching. Both sides on this blog are on the deadset. Those that are religious will argue their religion and try to presuade people towards their religion until they are blue in the face. Those that are against religion will argue the evils of religion and try presuade people away from religion until they are blue in the face. No constructive conversation can occur because no one on either side will acknowledge when the other has made a good point. Commenting on this blog is almost a futile excersize, though for some reason I can't seem to stop myself, no matter how frustrating it is.

      October 25, 2010 at 2:22 pm |
    • Muneef

      @JohnQuest.

      Be fair now. The present scene is that the seculars Gv who are doing all this world mess under the term of politics and those minorities believers are weaker in power but united under religion "The Flag Of God" to defend them selves injected with the willpower and determination to resist with words said or written beside other means of de-fense.

      October 26, 2010 at 8:23 pm |
    • Muneef

      @JohnQuest.

      Another thing is that every one is talking about scandals found in churchs! But nothing about scandals heard of at the highest locations that rule the whole country? Guess you heard about it with out me going into details in the mans rooms?

      October 26, 2010 at 8:29 pm |
    • Lee

      @Luke

      You say that scientists admit they don't know everything and yet you are convinced that the Bible is 'bunk'. Curious, how you arrived at that conclusion so definitively without knowing everything. Perhaps some of what you think you know as fact is not fact at all. But I guess you are cursed to rely on the knowledge of the times and will undoubtedly be thought a fool down the road when we discover there is more to learn, including that many of the things we thought were true are not.

      October 31, 2010 at 7:40 pm |
  14. NL

    If they want to avoid scandal I might advise Christians to move away from charismatic, Alpha male-type ministers and priests and slip into churches where the congregation is more in charge. If you hire, or pick based on dramatic leadership qualities you really shouldn't be surprised that this minister ends up leading you by the nose, and treats the church, it's resources and people like their own personal kingdom.

    October 25, 2010 at 10:09 am |
    • NL

      Instead, go to leaders more mild-mannered, egalitarian, and Jesus-like. Yes, definitely not Christ-like. Most people's idea of Christ is the polar opposite to Jesus' character. Remember, Jesus was the people person who treated folks as equals. Unfortunately, lots of people want the kick butt Christ type. The strong fighter against social evils. The judge and punisher type. These are the ministers who tend to end up in scandals, right?

      October 25, 2010 at 10:11 am |
    • matt

      that's crazy. show me a biblical example of congregational government. when He needed to make a decision, did Jesus rally the deciples to take a vote. So you want to use the "but my pastor isn't Jesus argument." O-K. So when one of the apostles or leaders in the early church needed to make a decion about governance...where was there a secret ballot vote written about.

      read your Bible. it's not the "alpha male charismatics" that are the issue...it's sin. Sinful man and pridefully-led churches. There is more of it and it's getting worse. Revelation describes it...be ready.

      we need to stop holding our church leaders on this pestal that says, "1 mistake and your out" and equip/surround them with accountability and process that allows for faithful and godly decision-making over the long-term.

      and for that "there's not 'sin' in any scientific or logic-based groups.." BULL CRAP. It's just celebrated or at best not considered deviant, so it's irrelevant. Try to find a scathing article on the travesties of Tuna Surprise at a church Potluck. Have you ever eaten one...they're terrible...but it's not a big deal in the circle. #bazinga

      Matthew 11:27-30,

      "All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

      October 25, 2010 at 11:54 am |
    • Reality

      matt,

      An update:

      Most contemporary NT exegetes have given Matt 11:27 a "thumbs down" regarding its historic authencity

      "All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

      e.g. http://wiki.faithfutures.org/index.php/045_Father_and_Son and

      "Lüdemann [Jesus, 330f] invokes the classic description from K. Hase of this passage as a "thunderbolt from the Johannine heavens." He notes the typically Johannine reference to mutual knowledge between Father and Son, and the absolute use of "Son" as a designation for Jesus. In dismissing the saying's authenticity, Luedemann also notes the similarity to ideas in the post-Easter commissioning scene at Matt 28:18, "All authority has been given to me ..."

      "Lachs [Rabbinic Commentary on the New Testament, 279] notes that "Lord of heaven and earth" is similar to the frequent expression in rabbinic Hebrew: ribono shel olam, 'lord of the world.'

      He also notes the anti-Christian polemic:

      R. Johanan said: 'From the time of the destruction of the Temple prophecy was taken from prophets and given to children and fools.' (B. BB. 12b)"

      For an analyses of Matt 11:28-30 see:

      faithfutures.org/JDB/jdb052.html

      October 25, 2010 at 12:55 pm |
    • Frogist

      @NL: I do think the job description attracts a certain personality type. Who wouldn't want the complete power and control over an entire congregation where people hang on your every word as the wiseman that doles out morality? And you get paid for it! I wouldn't want it, but that's just me... But like in most other situations the loud, brash, ambitious people push themselves to the top. But the meek ones never really inherit anything. Can you imagine the Jesus-like person you're describing being the pastor of a mega-church? Unlikely. I agree, we could use more of the Jesus-like people around. But how many of these fundie types would want him?

      October 25, 2010 at 1:21 pm |
    • NL

      Frogist-
      I guess when you pick your religion based on it's political message then the potential political power of your religious group becomes important, thus the attraction of mega-churches. People are just naturally more attracted to leaders who can draw thousands rather than just hundreds. That's how we measure quality in our society, by it's popularity. Can't say that I blame them either. Presidents listen to mega-church pastors, not the humble minister of a congregation of 100, no matter who is actually the wiser person.

      October 25, 2010 at 2:54 pm |
    • Mike, not me

      Reality, not an update but the same old argument from many scholars both thelogical and secular dismiss the voting system of the Jesus seminars

      The voting system has been criticized by, among others, NT Wright, who says '... I cannot understand how, if a majority ... thought a saying authentic or probably authentic, the "weighted average" turned out to be "probably inauthentic". A voting system that produces a result like this ought to be scrapped

      http://www.ntwrightpage.com/Wright_Five_Gospels.pdf

      .

      October 25, 2010 at 4:35 pm |
    • NL

      matt-
      So, are you saying that, to be a Christian, one must either lead, or be led? Where is the sense of being part of a 'community' when you designate someone to do all your thinking for you. After all, if you take sola scriptura seriously then what need does a Christian community need of a spiritual leader?

      October 25, 2010 at 5:02 pm |
    • Reality

      Mike, Mike, Mike,

      We see you are still trying to capture the historic Jesus This is how the Jesus Semarians do it:

      "The ground-breaking work of the Jesus Seminar appears in two texts: The Five
      Gospels (1993) and Acts of Jesus (1998), both published by Polebridge Press.
      The Jesus Seminar is a group of biblical scholars originally chaired by Robert Funk, PhD.,
      who took the unprecedented step of voting as a group on the authenticity of the
      teachings and acts of Jesus. The following observations are taken from the
      introductory chapters of 5G and AOJ."

      Every individual saying and action was examined and rated by the Seminar as to
      whether Jesus actually said it or did it, or whether it was primarily the
      product of the author of the gospel. Building on the earlier work of individual
      scholars, the Seminar's research represents an unprecedented cooperative effort
      to separate what Jesus really said and did from what gets added on over time in
      the story telling and writing process.

      In addition to the four Gospels: Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John, that we have
      known for two thousand years, the Seminar also included the Gospel of Thomas in
      their considerations. Thomas consists of sayings of Jesus that were discovered
      at Nag Hamadi, along with hundreds of other ancient texts, in a major
      archeological discovery in 1945. Thomas is not in story form, but it is a
      series of sayings. Many of the sayings are very similar to what appear in the
      other four gospels, and it was used by the Seminar as an independent report of
      what Jesus said.

      The Seminar's work assumes that for a period of some years the stories about
      Jesus were passed on by word of mouth as his followers practiced his teachings
      and some anxiously expected his return. Ten years may have gone by before
      teachings and actions began to be written down, and perhaps another ten years
      passed before they were put into larger collections like Thomas. These
      collections were probably taking place about the same time that Paul was writing
      letters (Galatians, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Romans) to various Christian communities.
      Eventually the materials were put together in story form, probably first by
      Mark, sometime around 70CE, followed by Matthew, John, and Luke/Acts, in that
      order. Some of the writing occurred as late as the first part to the middle of
      the second century CE.

      When the Seminar members voted, a red vote received 3 points, a pink vote
      received 2 points, a gray vote received 1 point, and a black vote received 0
      points. The colors were given the following definitions: Red = This statement
      is an accurate representation of what Jesus said or did. Pink = This statement
      very likely represents what Jesus said or did. Gray = This statement is most
      likely a formulation of the author, but the content is similar to what Jesus
      actually said or did. Black = This statement is purely a formulation of the
      author. A statement or event was given a final color code based on the
      following percentages: Red = .7501 or more of the scholars agreed that the
      teaching or event was authentic. Pink = .5001 to .7500 of the scholars agreed
      that the teaching or event was authentic. Gray = .2501 to .5000 of the scholars
      agreed that the teaching or event was authentic. Black = .0000 to .2500 of the
      scholars agreed that the teaching or event was authentic.

      THE SCHOLARS USED RULES to determine if Jesus really said or did something; for
      example:

      1. Primary assumption: Jesus was a reasonably well integrated person whose
      behavior was more or less congruent with his words.

      2. Certain categories, some much more than others, are common to the teaching
      and behavioral materials.

      (a) Itinerant

      (b) Family ties don't bind

      (c) Demon possession and exorcism

      (d) Social deviance

      (e) Association with undesirables

      (f) Embracing the unclean

      (g) Sabbath

      (h) Critics of Jesus

      (i) Healing

      3. Material that reflects knowledge of events after Jesus' death must be looked
      at cautiously.

      4. Material that appears in independent sources is older than the sources.

      5. Material that appears in independent contexts circulated on its own at an
      earlier time.

      6. Similar content that has taken on different forms had a prior life of its
      own.

      7. Oral memory best retains short, provocative, memorable material, like
      aphorisms and parables.

      8. It is more likely that the core or gist of a matter was recalled, rather than
      precise words.

      9. The writers likely put their own words in Jesus' mouth under the following
      conditions.

      (a) Story transitions: for example, "Let's go over to the other side." (Mk 4:35)

      (b) Summarizing the message: "The time is up. God's imperial rule is closing
      in." (Mk 1:15)

      (c) Anticipating the story: "The son of Adam is being turned over to his
      enemies, and they

      will end up killing him." (Mk 9:31)

      (d) Expressing the writer's view: "Why are you so cowardly? You still don't
      trust, do you?" (Mk 4:40)

      (e) Underscoring a narrative point: "He was unable to perform a single miracle
      there, except." (Mk 6:6)

      (f) Clarifying current practices: "The days will come when the groom is taken
      away from them, and then they will fast on that day." (Mk 2:20)

      (g) Elic-iting a confessional point: "What about you, who do you say that I am?"
      (Mk 8:29)

      WHEN THE RULES ARE APPLIED an emerging pattern reinforces itself:

      (1) Talks distinctively, distinguishable from common lore.

      (2) Teaches against the social and religious grain.

      (3) Surprises and shocks by role reversal or frustration of ordinary
      expectation.

      (4) Uses characteristics of exaggeration, humor, and paradox.

      (5) Uses concrete and vivid images.

      (6) Uses metaphorical language without explicit application.

      (7) Seldom initiates dialogue, debate, or healing activity.

      (8) Rarely speaks about himself in the first person.

      (9) Makes no claim to be the Messiah."

      October 27, 2010 at 12:16 am |
    • Mike, not me

      Given credit to the Gospel of Thomas written in the 2nd century would be like given credit to a letter by King George found in Ohio over the severity of the USA

      October 28, 2010 at 10:48 am |
  15. Frogist

    All the things on this list are good commandments for having a healthy relationship whether it's with your spouse or your church. It's good advice... esp that "Go first" one... Being proactive and taking a risk can create an environment of mutual trust. But I have to wonder whether these rules can be implemented in churches. Number 1 means not being judgemental, and considering the religious people I've met, that might be impossible on a large scale. Which sinks No.2... no one's going to be first to put themselves up for ridicule, gossip and people looking down their noses at you. And 3 and 4 are about questioning what you are told by your religious leaders which is counter-intuitive for people who care more about the image of their church than the morals it is supposed to teach. It's a good list. But how practical is it for churches? Anyway, practicality has never been a strong point for religion. Morality that prescribes the same exacting rules for all without context or consideration is an impossibly high standard to set that only results in situations that make for scandals. Practical morals based on their relation to a person's situation is what is needed, but always frowned upon by the religious.

    October 25, 2010 at 9:55 am |
    • Sum Dude

      @Frogist

      Wow. That is a damn good post. You must be a "morning person" or something. 😀

      October 25, 2010 at 10:04 am |
    • Jonas

      Having seen churches and pastors fail due to arrogance, it is an exceptionally important list for many churches nowadays.

      October 25, 2010 at 10:10 am |
    • NL

      Frogist-
      Great post!

      I agree with your assessment, these points do not seem practical in today's American churches. In fact, what the author describes best describes what many Christians call "Dead Churches." Any attempt to move away from being judgmental is seen as apostasy.

      October 25, 2010 at 10:28 am |
    • OKGO

      Hence his statement that there are too many unhealthy churches and hence the need for a list like this...

      October 25, 2010 at 11:18 am |
    • NL

      OKGO-
      Depends on how you judge a church as being 'unhealthy', or not, right? 'Dead Churches' vs. churches led by powerful ministers judgmental of the rest of society.

      October 25, 2010 at 11:36 am |
    • Frogist

      @Sum Dude: Thanks! I'll take the compliments when I get it. 😉
      Unfortunately, I'm not a morning person. But maybe I should be if my brain functions better when half asleep!
      @NL: Thanks! I can't see either how they would implement these rules and maintain their legitimacy and power over their flock.

      October 25, 2010 at 1:09 pm |
    • Mike, not me

      Reality, not an update but the same old argument from many scholars both thelogical and secular dismiss the voting system of the Jesus seminars

      The voting system has been criticized by, among others, NT Wright, who says '... I cannot understand how, if a majority ... thought a saying authentic or probably authentic, the "weighted average" turned out to be "probably inauthentic". A voting system that produces a result like this ought to be scrapped

      http://www.ntwrightpage.com/Wright_Five_Gospels.pdf

      October 25, 2010 at 4:35 pm |
    • Saved by Grace

      It's amazing how so many people who discount God still agree with what He commands us to do. Do you think that Acuff pulled this list out of his butt? No, he gleaned it from examples in the Bible. The disciples failed to live up to their calling frequently in front of Jesus. What did He do? He loved, rebuked, and taught them better, knowing all the while they would still fail. As for going first: Paul declared himself the chief of sinners, and Zacchaeus the tax collector – as soon as he became convicted of his sin – volunteered to repay those whom he cheated four times over. As for accountability, check out the story of David, Bathsheeba, Uriah, and the prophet Nathan. Not even kings were allowed to do whatever they wanted without God sending someone to say, "Hey, this isn't right." You can refer to Aaron for the fourth instruction.

      I'm sorry that you have had such negative experiences with "the religious." But I wonder what these "religious" people you refer to would say about their encounters with you.

      RE: practical morals. Huh? The definition of morality is "conforming to the rules of right conduct." Yes, there are rules. And you either abide by them or you don't. The phrase you're looking for is "practical ethics."

      October 26, 2010 at 7:36 pm |
  16. HeLives

    Christianity will always be here. Churches will stay open. Jesus will continue to speak thru his children. Open the door to your heart, for he is standing there waiting.

    October 25, 2010 at 9:13 am |
    • Sum Dude

      @HeLives

      Yes, insanity will always be with us. Groups of crazy people will always be able to use buildings to gather. Jesus is not known to have had any children. I am waiting with my mind open for God to get with the program and actually DO something.

      Take your proselytizing that we've all heard thousands of times before and go find some proof or get God to do something we can all see.
      He is ultra-powerful, is he not? Knows all, sees all? Answers prayers? Listens to fools like yourself?

      Have him get in touch. We're all waiting. No hearts are closed. You think you see closed hearts but you obviously do not have that capability.

      Get to work and quit being an ass. Show us the error of our ways instead of showing us how right we are.

      We, at least, know how to admit when we are wrong. Prove us wrong. Please. A real God would be very welcome.

      October 25, 2010 at 9:24 am |
    • NL

      But I thought Christ was about to return at any moment? Are you saying that there will still be a need for churches after He has returned? Doesn't sound like much will change then.

      October 25, 2010 at 9:52 am |
    • Ed

      You have a god, Dude. Your god is yourself, your anger and hatred towards a God you claim does not exist, yet cant help but getting mad at. If he doesn't exist, why so much hate, so much anger? Its like getting mad at the tooth fairy.

      Unless you know there is a void you are missing out on, and just choose to set your own ways, to not answer to higher morality and standards that you or I can not reach, which is why we need Jesus. Your error of your ways has nothing to do with God not being here, its you not being sincere.

      October 26, 2010 at 5:26 pm |
    • Saved by Grace

      @ Sum Dude

      Tempt God and "call Him out" if you will, but that has never really ended well for anyone who has done it in the past.
      Besides, can you not see the workings of God every day around you? The sun rises and sets, the rain falls, crops grow, people love and share and have babies. All of these things are a gift from God, every day. I know – "but what about all the bad stuff?" We live in a fallen world. Not everything can be explained to our satisfaction. But we have the promise of the future. Hope one day you can recognize that.

      October 26, 2010 at 6:48 pm |
    • Sum Dude

      @Saved by Grace

      I see a universe that contains both beauty and ugliness. I do not often hide my eyes from the ugly truths of this universe.
      If you make claims of God without proof or without supporting scripture that does not contradict, then I should be allowed to call you on it.
      Your heresy is clear to me. You do not know what God wants or desires, nor do you know how he views me.
      Your blasphemy is your problem, yet I must hear it from you as you attempt to chastise me.

      By claiming superhuman knowledge while showing that you do not have it at the same time, you do not show yourself to be anything but a rude and ignorant person like the rest of us.

      You say we live in a "fallen world". Fallen into the madness of religion, yes. Without your fake guilt your eyes would see more than they do now.

      All it takes to fool you is for someone to claim to follow your religion. I am not doing that.
      But I'll bet you are voting for people like that who will betray your trust for money as surely as the sun shining in the sky.
      When will you learn who to trust?
      If you trust in God, why should that make you immediately trust everyone who is not God?
      There is your "fallen world", lies and misdirection, criminals who run things like churches and governments, pedo-priests who use filthy hands to put a wafer in your mouth.

      If you refuse to see the evil around you, how can anyone trust you to do anything but blink in the sunlight like a child?

      Fight the evil and gain my respect. Say you know when you really don't – and gain my disrespect.

      Tell me God does everything and then turn around and say he doesn't and you show me that you have no idea what you're talking about. Is God the God of contradiction? Of foolish pride? Of speaking without knowledge?
      Is God the God of logic and reason or is he a God of nonsense?

      I test what I can. If that means God, then he will be equal to the test. If that means evil spirits I expect them to fail the test.
      I am not tempting God when I am talking to you and asking that you prove he exists.

      You must needs be honest when talking of God, or prove yourself a liar by default. Prove something to me and I'll do my best to acknowledge it to you if I am able.

      @Ed
      I told you to stay the hell away from me. I asked you in Jesus' name to stop attacking me. Yet you continue to do evil.
      You are surely evil to do and say the things you do. Smirk all you want. It will not save you from what you do to yourself.

      October 26, 2010 at 11:21 pm |
    • Just Saying

      @Sam Dude

      I'm guessing from your name that you are in fact a "dude", so I'll put it this way...You want to see God do something that will "earn" your belief? You want Him to prove something to you? What if He is just tired of doing that and you being to busy to see it. What if your wife/boyfriend/shack-up-buddy came to you and said, "Everyone I'm hanging out with and allowing to influence me says that you do not love me. I want you to prove to me right now that you love me!" but the entire time you are trying he/she is reading emails from his/her friends that say nothing but "proofs" that you do not love them.

      Maybe God's just tired of trying. Maybe if you want to see Him, you'll have to put forth some effort as well.

      October 27, 2010 at 12:26 pm |
    • Russell

      @anybody...

      We are all very intelligent. We can throw around big words and big ideas. The facts are, creation exists, therefor a creator exists. In order that anything exists temporally, something must exist eternally. (its logical and true, think about it before you retort).

      In light of the fact that a creator exists. Seek Him/It. Don't scoff at Him/It.

      I am a Christian. I believe that the sin in my life separated me from a Holy God, but the Righteousness of Jesus was imputed to me through his death on the cross to restore that relationship. This is something available to anyone willing to accept it.

      October 27, 2010 at 5:00 pm |
    • Luz

      thank you for your courage to write this when so many people are against you. You are so right. 🙂 Its encouraging when someone like you writes on these blogs. something I had to remember tho is "dont throw ur pearls to the pigs." These people have hardened their hearts to God, but at least they have been warned. Thank you again

      October 27, 2010 at 10:43 pm |
  17. Reality

    The very easy solution to scandal proofing your church aka "houses of worthless worship": (for new eyes only)

    By recognizing the flaws, follies and frauds in the foundations of Islam, Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism and Paganism by the "bowers", kneelers" and "pew peasants" will quickly converge these religions into some simple rules of life. No koran, bible, clerics, nuns, monks, imams, evangelicals, ayatollahs, rabbis, professors of religion or priests needed or desired. Ditto for houses and classes of "worthless worship" aka mosques, churches, basilicas, cathedrals, temples and synagogues.

    October 25, 2010 at 8:26 am |
    • ktrails

      Yaaaaaaawwwwwwwnnnnnn.... zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.........

      October 25, 2010 at 8:31 am |
    • Muneef

      @Reality.
      Began to miss you when you are not there. Ha ha

      Take this:
      MICHAEL PAUL SAID.. 
      I WROTE ON THE DOOR OF HEART, "PLEASE DO NOT ENTER"  
      LOVE CAME SMILING AND SAID: "SORRY I AM AN ILLITERATE"

      October 25, 2010 at 8:53 am |
    • Sum Dude

      @Muneef

      Take this:
      Love is not religion.
      Love is not words written in a book.
      Love is something people do, not the universe.

      October 25, 2010 at 9:11 am |
    • Muneef

      @Sum Dude.

      Love in my terms means that no hate and that who can hate can not love.

      October 25, 2010 at 11:44 am |
    • Sharideth Smith

      @reality (wow, felt ironic just to type that)

      you've got mad cut and paste skills.

      October 25, 2010 at 11:50 am |
    • Sum Dude

      @Muneef

      If only it were so.

      October 25, 2010 at 11:54 am |
    • Reality

      Obviously, some missed the words "for new eyes only" . On the other hand, reiteration is a great learning tool.

      October 25, 2010 at 12:43 pm |
    • Sum Dude

      @Reality

      "for new eyes only" implies newborn children or people with successful eye transplants or something silly like that.

      And "for new members only" implies those with recent s-ex change operations to become male.

      Just as "Reality" implies objective reality, while you are very subjective at times. Does your view of the universe include proper grammar, or will you re-iterate everyone to death using old stuff you have not modified to reflect new knowledge?

      Just criticizin'

      October 26, 2010 at 10:48 pm |
  18. Scorn

    Lies are the worst things people can do. You won't ever stop them from lying with a stupid list of limp words.
    Scandals are just the tip of the iceberg where churches are concerned. The truth is far worse than any scandal.
    Satan has them all in his grip and will not let go. Evil runs through their veins like heroin – they will not stop doing evil.
    May all the lies get blasted by the truth over and over until they burst into flames. Then all the churches will burn.

    October 25, 2010 at 8:01 am |
    • Sum Dude

      @Scorn

      Uh...

      October 25, 2010 at 8:09 am |
    • Peace2All

      @Scorn

      Say wut..?

      October 25, 2010 at 4:12 pm |
  19. Sum Dude

    Here's how to scandal-proof your church: Don't let anyone in. Keep the doors locked at all times. Board up the windows.
    Close the church and tell everyone to feck off. If anyone argues with you, kick them in the crotch and shove them into traffic.

    October 25, 2010 at 7:45 am |
    • NL

      Reminds me of when CatholicMom describes the RCC as being 'perfect', and 'without blemish.' Well, if you remove all the actual Catholics, maybe...

      October 25, 2010 at 11:22 am |
  20. Luke

    I find this article essentially the epitome of ironic, particularly considering that I am yet to hear of many scandals at secular philanthropies or scientific groups dedicated to spreading reason and logic.

    October 25, 2010 at 7:11 am |
    • ArmyChap

      Luke – it's not that it isn't happening for all those logic spreading philanthropists – because it is, it's because no one cares. Those in ministry for God are and should be held to a higher moral standard of exceptional ethics – living what they believe. Because logic never changed a heart and those in the business of enabling life change should model a changed life.

      October 25, 2010 at 8:41 am |
    • Luke

      ArmyChap – I'd argue that believing and following what the Church teaches actually warps ingrained moral perception, and is a cause of immorality. This idea negates your idea. What do you think?

      October 25, 2010 at 8:47 am |
    • Sum Dude

      @Luke
      You've got my vote.

      @ArmyChap

      Logic has changed my heart many times. But then I am able to change. Maybe you are not.

      October 25, 2010 at 9:14 am |
    • Frogist

      @SumDude: I was going to say that myself. I find it a bit condescending that some religious people think living a life without religion is to live a life without heart, or high moral standards or ethical behaviour.

      October 25, 2010 at 9:30 am |
    • Mike, not me

      "scandals at secular philanthropies" United Way ring a bell.

      October 25, 2010 at 9:40 am |
    • Luke

      Frogist – That is because the glut of religious folks forget that we are 100% a part of nature and the animal kingdom. They need to watch a special by Jane Goodall for example and see how Chimps are very similar to humans. They are territorial and kill one another. They are compassionate to the other chimps in their family and display morality towards other animals. They laugh and play just like us. I feel that the religious are blind to this, or at least can't make the connection. If they could, they'd realize that life can be good and bad with or without religion, nullifying the need for it in the first place.

      October 25, 2010 at 9:43 am |
    • Luke

      Mike, not me – Sure, that is why I said many, not all. In any event, the scandals at secular organizations dwarf those at religious. They also are not behind the systematic abuse of young children on multiple continents for the last few millennia either, but that's another argument altogether.

      October 25, 2010 at 9:45 am |
    • Jessica

      of course you do. Every time a politician runs a campaign and embezzles money or sells a senate seat or whatever else removes them from office. Politicians stand before us all the time and fail to live up to the standards they have promised to you.

      October 25, 2010 at 11:56 am |
    • James Swanson

      The argument about chimps knowing about good and bad is irrelevant. You are judging their actions as good or bad from your concept of good and bad. They understand instincts not whether their actions are "good" or "bad." Acknowledging morals as relative shows that you think there is a supreme moral standard. I choose to believe this is the embodiment of God, but I understand you don't, which is fine. But it is not a good argument about chimps.

      October 25, 2010 at 12:18 pm |
    • Luke

      Jessica – Say what?

      October 25, 2010 at 12:20 pm |
    • Luke

      James Swanson – It is actually perfectly valid and being reserached extensively by scientists right now. My argument is that morality exists in the Animal Kingdom. Since Chimps are our closest cousins among primates, we can see where our morals come from. They exhibity very familar traits if you watch them closely. They laugh and play. They are protective of family members and the pack. They kill intruders from other tribes. They fight with rivals for territory. This goes on and on. Of course, we have expanded them as our societies grew. You take the idea of morality and injefct an entire concept of god and what god is. That's false logic and easily refutable. It's childish at best.

      October 25, 2010 at 12:24 pm |
    • Frogist

      @Luke:
      I don't know, Luke: That path leads to recognizing we're just really smart animals which might mean we have no souls... not to mention that whole evolution dealie. Good luck with getting the fundies to roll with that!

      October 25, 2010 at 12:59 pm |
    • Luke

      Frogist – Too bad that is exactly correct and so few understand it and even fewer accept it.

      October 25, 2010 at 1:05 pm |
    • James Swanson

      Luke – You have still only argued that they understand the difference between an insider and an outsider, not that they know the difference between good and bad, even dogs understand this concept as pack loyalty. All of the other traits you listed as being uniquely primate-oriented can be seen all over the animal kingdom. This has no relevance in their perception of right and wrong.

      October 26, 2010 at 12:01 pm |
    • James Swanson

      It is a huge step from recognizing these traits for familial relations and recognizing them for the entire species. This is the opposite of survival of the fittest in evolution. They have this reaction to further their progeny, but there is no room for morality in survival of the fittest, because helping (or resisting hurting) another would decrease the chance of survival for itself and its family. I feel that science can't explain this step (with others) by an evolution only model.

      October 26, 2010 at 12:35 pm |
    • Phoeniceus

      Google two names: Hwang Woo-suk and Vipul Bhrigu. Unfortunately science is not exempt from scandals.

      October 26, 2010 at 3:38 pm |
    • J

      @Luke...
      "They are territorial and kill one another. They are compassionate to the other chimps in their family and display morality towards other animals. They laugh and play just like us." I understand what you're getting at here, but you've worded it poorly, from a scientific standpoint. One of the very first things we were taught as ethologists (animal behavorists) is that you can't anthropomorphize animals. Yes, humans are part of the animal kingdom. But that doesn't mean that all animals are human or display human characteristics. Many animals do display characteristics that "apear" to be similar to human characteristics, but you shouldn't make a blanket statement and say that they display those characteristics "just like us". No, it's not just like us, we're two different species. We aren't able to understand their motives or drives from their framework, because we are not them and they are not us. We can describe behavior, sure, but to extrapolate much beyond that is very shifty work.

      October 27, 2010 at 9:03 am |
    • Robert Glenn Smith

      Luke, what might be the definition of scandalous in the context of scientific or secular? Is it the same as in the context of the Church? Based upon what standard or reference might you even be able to define a scandal?

      October 27, 2010 at 12:23 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.