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. JohnQuest

    J.Hill, Although I do not want religion of any kind taught to my children, ultimately it is up to me to teach them about life, schools are not the place for it. If we open the door to creationism we have to let everyone in, public schools will become Madra ssa's for all religions.

    October 25, 2010 at 3:31 pm |
    • Thomas

      So if all religions should not be taught then why should evolution. It is it's own type of belief system. It takes faith to believe that humans evolved from monkeys. It takes faith to believe that the earth was created by a spontaneous explosion and then all life formed together and things work perfectly in cohesion, and that with the millions of functions going on in our cells, it happened by a random "bang". So in my opinion, I do not think any belief system should be taught. None at all.

      October 26, 2010 at 7:07 pm |
  2. J.Hill

    I'm not sure. To tell you the truth, I've never given this idea that much thought... I'm sure it'll become a bigger issue to me as my daughter gets old enough to go to school. But I don't see the harm in showing different perspectives and different cultures and different schools of thought...

    October 25, 2010 at 3:19 pm |
    • Luke

      This is the teach the controversy rationale. How do you feel about teaching alchemy alongside chemistry? What about the story theory of human reproduction? Astrology alongside astronomy? These are rival theories and alternatives too. They sound silly, don't they? The same applies to creationism in the science classroom. It is completely unscientific and rejected, therefore you can teach that on your own time, but public funds go nowhere near that. The harm, obviously, is misused time in the classroom, a waste of money and completely the warping of young minds. Please do read my prior post in the above thing you wrote as well.

      October 25, 2010 at 3:22 pm |
    • Luke

      Oops. Typo. Stork theory of human reproduction.

      October 25, 2010 at 3:23 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      I agree with the "teach the controversy" approach – but again, a science classroom is not the place for it.
      My 5 year old and I went to the library this past weekend and checked out an encyclopedia of mythology so we can read all about the ways people have tried to explain the world throughout history.
      Abrahamic, Egyptian, Norse, Haida, Hindu – the myths of these cultures reveal a great deal about how the people thought and lived.
      Believing in something doesn't make it real and wishing it was otherwise can't change the facts.
      How is it that a kid in kindergarden grasps this concept while many of the posters on here don't?

      October 26, 2010 at 8:12 am |
    • Oh the Irony

      I love how luke says teaching Creationism in schools would be warping the young children's minds. As if teaching evolution isn't? The educational system is going to "warp" kids' minds regardless of the topic. But Evolution is not a full proof theory. Darwin himself knew it was not full proof. Yet it has been accepted as true and teaching anything else would be "warping"?? If life came from a microwave oven, not from Evolution, that would mean School has "warped" us into believing evolution. Do you understand what I am trying to say? You only consider the teaching of Creationism "Warping" because it goes against what you believe. Yet I believe, no I KNOW that our youth as well as ourselves and those before us have been "warped" into believing Evolution.

      October 26, 2010 at 6:59 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      @Oh The Irony

      Why is it so hard for you to understand that evolution is a scientific theory not based on any religious views so is perfectly acceptable for teaching in public schools, while creationism (even if deceitfully labeled as "intelligent design") is based on one (perhaps more) religious views and is therefore not acceptable for teaching in public schools, except perhaps in a comparitive supernatural belief course. It makes perfect sense and is the law!

      October 26, 2010 at 7:31 pm |
    • Oh the Irony

      You're right. Evolution isn't a "religion" but it is something that requires faith to believe in. And it is in many ways based on a religious view. Common Scientists' views on religion are that there is no supernatural being, and that everything can be explained by science. So therefore there had to be another origin of life. What I am saying is that by teaching children that there is no creator, it was just by pure science and mystery, schools brain wash children to believe that.
      It's also crazy to think that non-religious people argue so strongly against religion. You spend hours of your life trying to dissuade people for no reason. The reason Christians do it is because it is our purpose. Our creator that we have had personal encounters with made us for that goal.

      October 26, 2010 at 8:03 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      @Oh The Irony

      Let me try one more time...

      Evolution is science. The "faith" that is required is faith in the scientific method. Blind (emphasis on *blind*) faith is not required and in fact is highly discouraged if not frowned upon.

      Creationism is belief in the supernatural, just like believing in the tooth fairy, santa claus, zeus, pick your favorite invisible friend.

      Intelligent Design is an attempt by christians to deceive others.

      Re: why do *I* spend my time in here? 1) To keep an eye on "the crazies" – "believers" particularly in the USA cause me great concern especially with id-iots of the religious right (Beck, Palin, O'Donnell to name just a few) trying to turn the USA into a theocracy 2) to point out the stupidity of religion and the arguments believers use to justify the unbelievable – if something I write saves just 1 person from getting into religion, all the time is worth it 3) believers and their beliefs amuse me and 4) yes, I'll admit it, if nothing else, to wind up believers.

      October 26, 2010 at 10:19 pm |
    • Luke

      Oh the Irony

      Note that I will no longer explain to people like that you are wrong. I will merely memind you that you are ignorant.

      October 27, 2010 at 1:57 pm |
    • Some_Truth

      Oh the Irony,
      "Our creator that we have had personal encounters with ..."

      If this being is into personal encounters, it would have no trouble personally encountering your children without your contrived stories.

      October 27, 2010 at 2:11 pm |
    • w247


      "Intelligent Design is an attempt by christians to deceive others"

      What can you tell me about intelligent design? How much do you know about it?

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


      I won't claim to be an expert on ID or evolution for that matter, but I've read enough, including articles about Judge Jones ruling – "The overwhelming evidence at trial established that intelligent design is a religious view, a mere re-labelling of creationism, and not a scientific theory." I just tried to find out if the judge's decision was overturned, but didn't find anything. So given that ID is just biblical BS, I don't need to read anymore. Yes, I'm aware of organizations/websites that are still trying to breath credibility into ID, but until mainstream scientists agree, I have others ways to spend my time. Now, if you've got Dawkins agreeing with ID, I'm all ears.

      October 27, 2010 at 7:24 pm |
    • Oh the Irony

      The faith required to believe in Evolution is just as "blind" as the faith required to believe in creationism. There is no concrete proof of the evolution from animals to man, just as there is no concrete proof for the big bangs. These theories require faith. Faith in those who you learned it from. Faith in the ones who created the theories.

      October 27, 2010 at 10:34 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      This can get so tiresome...

      There is no concrete proof of evolution just as there is no concrete proof for any supernatural being and associated myths.

      The evidence for evolution far surpasses that for supernatural beings. With the exception of a few historical and geographical facts, the bible has been shown to be a book of errors, inconsistencies and hatred authored by man. None of the alledged miracles have been verified or reproduced and it has not been shown to be the word of any god. Despite this, noone is allowed to question anything. Well OK, some believers do question some things, but far too often that has resulted in more cults than fewer.

      Evolution and many scientific theories on the other hand are open to inspection, questions and skepticism. Everyone, whether a trained scientist or not, is encouraged to openly debate, reproduce and critically discuss all theories. Some theories have been discarded by this process, while most have been improved upon and verified by many other researchers.

      You are holding science to a 100% certainty standard in an attempt to deflect attention away from the shoddy basis for religion. Rather than trying to minimize evolution and science, you should be asking more questions about your childish supernatural myths.

      October 28, 2010 at 12:20 am |
  3. CC


    if you're offended it's only because you can be offended. it matters not to me who is 'here' - if you want to dialog, go for it – i'm sure my thoughts weren't meant for you then... but, if you are a person that just looks for opportunity to argue, accuse & hate – no thanks.

    you have a problem with me being here? 😉

    October 25, 2010 at 3:14 pm |
    • Frogist

      @CC: I'm not sure I understand your post. I do like to come here to read opposing viewpoints and make arguments against them. It's also a really good place to learn more about different religious ideas. My only issue with your being here is your questioning why I should care about the topic of religion or why I should be informed about it. Which is why I posed the same question to you. I have no issues with you or anyone else who is here so long as people keep their arguments civil.
      Although... Andy is giving out hugs, so I might have to sue him for se-xual harasment. 😉

      October 25, 2010 at 4:59 pm |
  4. J.Hill

    I'm just saying that where I went to school, both evolution and creationism were taught as theories and I think that's the best way to go about teaching science.
    I was saying that people aren't allowed to talk about Jesus or pray in school and it seems like a double standard.
    I'm all about giving audience to whatever someone has to say as long as I get the same courtesy and it doesn't seem like that's the case sometimes.

    October 25, 2010 at 3:05 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      J.Hill, where do you draw the line? If the Christian version of creation is taught should we also teach the Hindu version?

      October 25, 2010 at 3:07 pm |
    • Luke

      What version or creationism are you referring to? Regarding the theory of creationism – what predictions does it make? Is it testable? Are there other alternatives that make predictions and can be tested? Are they valid? Are there better explanations and are they testable? Now you know why it is not a theory and rejected science. If you want to teach creationsim, so be it, but it stays out of science class.

      Regarding creationism vs evolution – evolution makes no mention of the origins of life. Zero. Zich. None. This is a misnomer made up by believers to try to make evolution look bad. Evolution explains mutations from one generation to the next, with Darwin just explaining how natural selection works (note that we already knew evolution existed prior to his famous work). If you want to insert creationism of any form into classrooms, it should go alongside PhD work in cosmology classes. Those are the people working on the origins of life. As it is, the leading theories place the seeds of life in raw elements that reside in the guts of stars which explode when they die. This is advanced chemistry and not something done in public schools, but rather at the highest university levels by theoretical physicists. Evolution is the basis of modern biology.

      October 25, 2010 at 3:19 pm |
    • Frogist

      @J.Hill: I'm afraid I'm going to have to disagree with you on Creationism in science class. Creationism is philosophy and not science. I don't mind it being taught but not in science class since it hasn't proven itself as a valid scientific theory. Everything has it's place and science is not where ID is relevant.
      I understand that you are saying that everyone's point of view is important. I agree with that when we are trying to create compassion or put ourselves in someone else's shoes. But that is not what science class is for. It's for teaching scientific methodology and leading scientific theory. So unless ID is taught with the caveat that it does not uphold scientific standards, it has no place being taught as science.

      As for whether or not kids are allowed to pray in school, my question is why is it a double standard? Are there other kids who are allowed to pray in your school?

      October 25, 2010 at 5:22 pm |
    • Sum Dude


      I think you need to go to school and see for yourself that everyone is free to talk about Jesus and to pray whenever they want as long as they are not disrupting the educational process for which the school finds its purpose.

      To say otherwise is to state something that simply isn't true the way you have written it. Go to a local public school and have a quick one-minute prayer meeting with agreeable kids in-between classes. No one is going to do anything about it because that sort of thing is okay. Of course, you need permission to be on campus, but other than that the rest is up to you.

      You are either being a fear-monger trying to stir up irrational fear and hatred of our Constltution, or you really don't know what you're talking about. If the former, then you need to be shown the door, if the latter, you need educatin'...

      October 25, 2010 at 6:12 pm |
    • D-Bo


      Where did those scientists say those stars that contain seeds of life came from?

      October 26, 2010 at 3:47 pm |
  5. patti

    To each his own.

    October 25, 2010 at 2:23 pm |
    • NL

      I'm OK with that as long as you keep 'your own' to yourself.

      The Religious Right, however, tends to feel that THEIR own is the only right way for everyone, and that God himself will punish anybody who thinks otherwise.

      October 25, 2010 at 11:23 pm |
  6. JohnQuest

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    J.Hill, it should not matter what a person believes but I think we can agree that if such a person was running and it came out said person would not get into office, no matter how smart that person is (they could have multiple doctorates in eco nomics, public po licy, and const itutional law.

    October 25, 2010 at 1:57 pm |
    • Peace2All


      I'm sorry... LOL... on the 'comment moderation' I am trying to figure out what flagged your comments.

      It gets frustrating sometimes. Believe me, I know...

      October 25, 2010 at 3:52 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      Peace2All, thanks, its cool, I'm trying to work around it.

      October 25, 2010 at 4:22 pm |
  7. JohnQuest

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    J.Hill, it should not matter what a person believes but I think we can agree that if such a person was running and it came out before the election said person would not get elected, no matter how smart that person is, they could have multiple doctorates in economics, public policy, and law.

    October 25, 2010 at 1:55 pm |
  8. JohnQuest

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    J.Hill, it should not matter what a person believes but I think we can agree that if such a person was running and it came out before the election said person would not get elected, no matter how smart that person is (they could have multiple doctorates in economics, public policy, and law.

    October 25, 2010 at 1:54 pm |
    • Peace2All


      LOL.. i.e..'comment moderation'...

      October 25, 2010 at 3:51 pm |
  9. D-Bo

    Sheesh, I feel like I’m in philosophy 101 here. There are two theories here; one theory says God does not exist and one theory says that he does. Both theories are based on their own arguments of “proof” (and no, you haven’t proven that God doesn’t exist, but more simply you THINK there is lack of evidence that he exists [you obviously don’t have an exhaustive knowledge of when time and space began do you…okay, that’s what I thought…everyone only have theories]). If you choose to agree with the theory that says God does not exist….what does that make it? Bingo….a BELIEF (ie, the psychological state in which an individual holds a proposition or premise to be true). That’s what atheists are….people who believe there is lack of evidence that supports God existence.
    In regard to Hawking, how does he explain that something expanded out of nothingness? The answer is that Hawking is making predictions from “stuff” that is already there. How can he use math to show the concept of nothingness? He of all people should know that 0 x 0 is 0. All he can attempt to explain is the “stuff” after it already exists. Only philosophy can attempt to explain the origins, then science kicks in to measure it after the fact.

    October 25, 2010 at 1:52 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      D-Bo so your belief is that Santa does not exist or do you know that Santa does not exist?

      October 25, 2010 at 2:00 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Sorry to sound pedantic here, but I think we come around to the question no creationist answers: If God made the universe, then who created the creator?
      0 x 0 = 0 so your own logic dictates that something created God.
      If not then we simply run in a loop where anything that can't be adequately or succinctly explained is answered with "God did it".
      It certainly wraps any arguments up in a neat little box with a shiny theological bow, but in the end such faith reeks of intellectual apathy.

      October 25, 2010 at 2:09 pm |
    • D-Bo


      If you found a Boeing 747 on the beach, would you think that time and chance (which has no power) made it?

      October 25, 2010 at 2:10 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Please don't resort to Irreducible Complexity as an argument.
      Again, this is intellectual apathy. Just because you don't understand something, that doesn't make it magical.
      Instead of smugly as-serting "God did it" and washing your hands of any need for real understanding, why not say "I don't know" instead and seek a rational explanation. Form a hypothesis that can be tested with results, either positive or negative, that can be verified by others.
      Your lack of understanding does not const-itue proof of divine intervention.

      October 25, 2010 at 2:18 pm |
    • D-Bo

      Thanks for the response Doc. Theologians claim that God is eternal. Math can postulate what the idea of that is but it can't measure something eternal. Do you think the idea of something being eternal is irrational? I can't think of any other reason as to why something could be here now unless something that has always exists created it. If an eternal being did not create us...then the other theory is that something came out of nothing. Science explains this as the big bang....but what kicked off the big bang? The law of inertia says that something (or in this case, nothing) stays at rest unless acted upon by an outside force. The only outside force that I can come up with that doesn't defy the laws of logic is an eternal being.

      October 25, 2010 at 2:18 pm |
    • Luke

      I stopped at the first line. There is no theory that god does not exist. You made that up. People like me merely reject the null-hypothesis that god does exist and then seek other explanations. That is were you ere. There are not two possibilities here and that is why you fail at this argument. There is the hypothesis (note that I use th is word and not theory) that god exists and then an infinite number of other hypothesis to explain the origins of the universe. You are just dead wrong here, sir.

      October 25, 2010 at 2:26 pm |
    • Luke

      D-Bo – the 747 argument is old and boring as well. Anyone worth their salt just replies and says, "the creation of a jetliner and a universe are totally two differnt things and not comparable." I grow tired of your boring arguments. At least be creative. You are just repeating things that have long been refuted many years ago.

      October 25, 2010 at 2:28 pm |
    • D-Bo

      You said: "Just because you don't understand something, that doesn't make it magical.
      Instead of smugly as-serting "God did it" and washing your hands of any need for real understanding, why not say "I don't know" instead and seek a rational explanation."

      It's an argument that works back from science actually. When we find order and it functions as "purpose" we find intelligence behind it right? You can measure that correct? When we see a cell divide and purposly mutate to serve a function, we call this intelligence. But again, science can only take us so far. Where did intelligence originate? If we started from a single cell organism, where did it get it's information from? Atheist always go crazy with science and they preach how it disproves God but philosophers always come back to the origins and ask why/how. Science only measures after everything already exists. Is that rational enough for you?

      October 25, 2010 at 2:31 pm |
    • Luke

      Note that the big bang is not proven and the theory fails at the singularity. Other theories have arisen such as white holes and M-theory. At this time, we only know that the universe is expanding at light speed and has been for 13.6B years. At no pointed does the God of Abraham ever enter the picture, however. All of your points have been repeated from other Christian apologists and all have been rebutted by noted intellectuals in the past. You are not creative nor bringing anything new to the table. You are boring.

      October 25, 2010 at 2:32 pm |
    • NL

      Finding a 747 on the beach would be pretty unexplainable if one could not just go down to the Smithsonian and see every advancement of aviation from even before the Wright brothers on up to the 747 and beyond, just as you can look at the fossil record and see the evolution of life. Ideas that worked in aviation were passed on to the next design with added modifications that were sometimes also successful. So, aircraft evolved in just the same way that nature tends to keep successful designs, and new innovations (mutations) that are useful, tend to be passed on.

      God the creator supposedly just went 'poof' and there was the natural equivalent of a 747, just out of the blue. Sorry, but the fossil record does not support that notion as we can see the history of life's developing design.

      October 25, 2010 at 2:36 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      D-Bo, yes I would because that is exactly what made it, maybe time and chance (trail and error), but there is a big difference between an airplane and a planet. An airplane built by a creator (humans) takes items from one place to another, the planet earth takes up where (mostly in a very big circle), what is the point of creating this planet?

      October 25, 2010 at 2:36 pm |
    • D-Bo


      Just because you don't like to hear truth, doesn't make my arguments any less valid. What have you said that is so new and interesting. lol. Your moral chimp argument? haha. I still can't believe you're responding as if what you say here is important after you said: - "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." - If I'm sold on a misnomer and life really is not important as you just said, then you were sold on it too because you keep thinking that what you have to say is important enough to respond back to me. Just another aheist hypocrit on a belief blog. Boring!

      October 25, 2010 at 2:39 pm |
    • D-Bo

      @Luke said: "Other theories have arisen such as white holes and M-theory"

      M theory has it critics to genius. They haven't even shown yet that it has predictive power yet you think it the answer to our origins? Talk about blind faith. There will always be another scientist who comes along with another theory and then someone else will dispute it. Let's say that God is one of those theories in there that keeps getting disputed. Why are you so quick to dismiss it yet you have faith in theories that too, will be disputed. You can't at least think it's a possible in the tons of science theories that are being disputed right now? If I were an atheist, I would never open my mouth because my theories change all the time. When you thought it was the big bang, you preached it as fact. Now you're doing that with M theory and it hasn't even been proven yet. Why don't you come back in a few years when you've got your next theory Luke. Better yet...don't....cause I'm sure it will change too.

      October 25, 2010 at 2:47 pm |
    • D-Bo


      Time and chance didn't make anything John. They don't have the power to do anything. They are mathematical abstracts. I've got an idea, lets put nothing in a box and then come back a million, billion, trillion, years later and see if time and chance magically created something.

      October 25, 2010 at 2:50 pm |
    • Luke

      D-Bo – Why do you call it the truth, when you yourself called your theory of god improvable earlier? That's a false logic as well. Regarding the rest of your nonsense – at least I'm original. Furthermore, the idea of morality from science and evolution is being investigated thoroughly by reputable scientists across the globe, hardly nonsense and displays your utter lack of recent research on the topic.

      October 25, 2010 at 2:50 pm |
    • Luke

      Nothing in a box is also false, because it isn't empty. It is full of trillions of atoms, each with immense potential energy. Your idea is interesting, however. Given the prorper setting, an empty box could expand infinitely given infinite time. There is no mathematical law preventing that.

      October 25, 2010 at 2:54 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      D-Bo, you are correct, time and chance in itself are just constructs. That is also true about God, just a construct, created by man to only be used by man. You are still left with the issue of where God came from, if everything (the operative word is thing) had to come from something and God is a thing not a construct then where did God come from?

      October 25, 2010 at 2:56 pm |
    • Luke

      D-Bo – Again, you are so obtuse. Never did I claim superiority of M-Theory above anything. It is a current investigative theory that we are working on. You are the one injecting the entire Christian Doctrine in place of good science. Tell me, do you think a man lived in a fish? What about the Noah story? Did he collect every living animal in pairs? If you reject these ideas and claims, you reject the Christian Faith and admit to being a cherry picker. If you accept them, I've got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.

      October 25, 2010 at 2:58 pm |
    • D-Bo


      Who do you think is giving a "good" and "evil" status to actions that chimps are making? I'll give you a hint, it's not the chimps that are telling scientists whether or not their actions are moral. It's cleary scientists that are giving their actions values. So, in order for some action to be right or wrong, someone needs to say what is right and what is wrong? Who gets to make that decision? You? Me? Chimps? Can you prove to me why chimps (who are less intelligent than humans) should be choosing what's "good" and "bad" for all humanity? Seriously Luke...you're joking right? Or maybe throwing feces on you IS the right thing to do!! Now we're talk'en!

      October 25, 2010 at 3:14 pm |
    • Luke

      D-Bo – I am trying to figure out why good and evil has to be dictated by a who. Again, you insert false logic into a rationale debate.

      October 25, 2010 at 3:25 pm |
    • D-Bo


      I have not made a argument for the authenticity of the bible yet, but instead have spoken about the theory of an intelligent designer as being more likely than something coming from nothing. If you would agree that there is the possibility for a self-existent eternal creator, THEN we could start discussing scripture. However, since you don't believe in God, there is no point to go over scripture line by line with you.
      Second, you parroted me about puting nothing in a box but then said there are atoms and particles in the box. Well...which is it....nothing or atoms & particles? It certinaly can't be both?

      October 25, 2010 at 3:29 pm |
    • Luke

      D-Bo – there's no evidence to suggest an intelligent designer. You are just speculating using old arguments that have long been refuted. If you want to provide a theory, the leading of course being ID, then go ahead. However, the scientific community rejected it as untestable, pseudo science and creationism in disguise. The founders of the Discovery Inst-itude have long been proven to be Charlatans of Christianity and haven't advanced their ID theory an iota since being rejected. One of the writers was even removed from his post at his university for trying to advance his theory after his very own university rejected his ideas. Hardly science.

      October 25, 2010 at 3:36 pm |
    • D-Bo

      Luke said: "I am trying to figure out why good and evil has to be dictated by a who. Again, you insert false logic into a rationale debate."

      This isn't a real tough idea to think about. There are two options here. Either there is an ultimate moral standard or there is subjective morality. Can you think of any other options? What false logic am I inserting here?
      If we take the ultimate moral standard idea to it's conclusion, then we have to postulate a moral law giver who created morality and set the standard for what is "right" and "wrong."
      If we take the subjective morality idea to it's conclusion, then you and me battle it out to see who is "right" and who is "wrong" because if there is no standard, then it's up for grabs and to the agressor goes the spoils (again...no false logic here).

      October 25, 2010 at 3:37 pm |
    • Luke

      D-Bo – your false logic that you keep tripping over is that you insert a who being behind every unknown. There's no evidence for a who being responsible for everything. This was common logic used millennia ago when we didn't know the earth was round. Back them, people said who lights the sun every day? So they inserted the god of the sun that lights it on a chariot of fire. Then they wondered why the raged, so they introduced us to Poseidon. This is forever ongoing. You have just taken it one step further, inserted a god behind morality. This is where you ere. And with that, you should disappear into a puff of logic.

      October 25, 2010 at 3:42 pm |
    • D-Bo


      You say that the ID argument has long been refuted. Please, show me how? What was the argument that emphatically put the nail in the intelligent design coffin? My guess, is that your side THINKS it won and my side thinks we won. Again, science CAN'T disprove God (can you measure eternity?). Logic has to disprove God, it's the only way. Rene Descartes said the only thing we can truly know is that we exist because we think. That is where the battle is....and your science friends are found wanting.

      October 25, 2010 at 3:46 pm |
    • Luke

      Sure. When ID came up to fight in the courts, the state of Pennsylvania rejected the idea that it should be taught in schools. During the campaign, a thousand or so scientists signed a letter that stated that they do not support ID and its ideas. Additionally, during the trial, the ID proponents were unable to argue against evidence brought forward by biologists that display concretely the similarities between our primate cousins and fellow humans. Notably, they proved how and why chimps, for example, have 48 chromosomes and humans have 46 chromosomes. They showed, via the human genome project, that one pair of chromosomes fused. The ID proponents were unable to explain this and ultimately lost the case among other reasons.

      October 25, 2010 at 3:51 pm |
    • D-Bo


      Are you so dense? I gave you the who (moral law giver) and the non-who (man attempts to find his own moral law). What other options are there? Please enlighten us?

      October 25, 2010 at 3:52 pm |
    • D-Bo


      Wow! That is why you think ID has been refuted...because 1000 scientists signed a paper and PA voted on it? I just said that science only starts AFTER origins. Science can't measure ontology, epistemology, metaphysics, etc. Does that mean they would get thrown out of the courtroom too....b/c science can't measure them? Can science measure who Luke is (are you body, mind, or soul?)? Science can only say that you're a lump of matter. Is that what is at the core of Luke or are you a mind...or a soul? This is a matter of philosophy and even more so, politics now-a-days.

      October 25, 2010 at 3:59 pm |
    • Luke

      D-Bo – Nothing you said refutes my point, or props yours up above science. You don't have a leg to stand on. Just speculation based on nothing.

      October 25, 2010 at 4:01 pm |
    • D-Bo


      Just because you say it doesn't, doesn't make it so. We're not even on the same page. I'm talking about the philosophy of orgins and metaphysics and you just keep saying that science can't measure them so they're not valid. You're the one that brings nothing new to the table. You're not refuting my logic, you just keep reciting some science theory after another and then think you're correct. All science can tell us is that we're all insignificant, unintelligent lumps of matter on a space rock.....unless you want to finally answer me and tell me whether you think you're a mind, body, or soul. But you don't know how to answer that question because science hasn't told you yet right? Aww...that's cute.

      October 25, 2010 at 4:32 pm |
    • Luke

      D-Bo – To answer you earlier question, which I missed, there are not two options a who or man-made morality. It is infinite and a combination of nature and mankind. None of which points towards a desiger, for the record.

      October 25, 2010 at 4:44 pm |
    • Luke

      D-Bo – now I am trying to figure out what the F metaphysics, mind, body, soul, etc has to do with you pushing ID. It appears to be that you cherry pick things from Christianity and ID (among others I've read) to culminate into an ultimate theory of grand design that you are still unable to explain fully without running into walls. I'd love to read your full theory. That is, of course, if you are able to publish it in respectable journal.

      October 25, 2010 at 4:48 pm |
    • D-Bo


      My consistent theory was about the origins of all things which leads you logically to a eternal creator. It's linear and simple, I'm sorry it was lost on you. Furthermore, you can read my published theory right after I read your theory about some sort of moral combination of nature and mankind. lol. See you in the funny papers...in the meantime....keep coming back to belief blogs, I know you really can't swallow your own self-perscribed pill of hopelessness and insignificance. It's why you keep coming back here. I get it...to bad you just can't admit it. Your words say one thing, your actions say another.....guess which one I believe about you. Peace out.

      October 25, 2010 at 5:03 pm |
    • Luke

      D-Bo – So your theory is that there is an eternal creator and that it is linear and simple. Got it. I am going to have to ask you to provide evidence then. To be valid, it must be testable and make predictions. Peers must be able to reproduce your work and scrutinize it. It then must hold water to become a theory. Can you do that? At it seems, you have yourself a speculative hypothesis that is untestable that makes no predictions.

      I'm not trying to introduce a new scientific theory to the world, you are. I don't have to publish my results. You do.

      October 25, 2010 at 7:15 pm |
    • D-Bo

      Maybe another philosopher can try to explain it to you since you don't seem to understand the difference between philosophy and science. And even if the big bang is not accepted anymore, M theory or whatever new theory you come up with still has to deal with the idea that something can't create itself. If we exist now, something eternal had to exist, otherwise there would be nothingness (a concept you can't seem to wrap your head around....you seem to think that nothingness means there are atoms floating around in the nothingness).


      October 26, 2010 at 3:42 pm |
    • Luke


      Oh, so it is philosophy you are arguing for, not science. Therefore you only have words and no evidence. Got it.

      October 27, 2010 at 1:59 pm |
  10. J.Hill

    I'm sure a LOT of Christians in America would freak out if that were the case... Pat Robertson would have a stroke. But that doesn't mean that I would have a problem with it, per se... If I voted, then my voice was heard, but if whoever it is got elected, I can't do anything about that. It would be wrong to lobby to have someone removed from any job just because they think a different way than I do.

    October 25, 2010 at 1:48 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      It should not matter what a person believes but do we really want a Sat anist running the most powerful military the world has ever known?

      October 25, 2010 at 2:01 pm |
  11. Andy

    Hmmmm....I see a possible "Comment Section debating: do's and don'ts"

    Do's "how bout a hug?"
    Don'ts "you're going to hell!!!"

    October 25, 2010 at 1:45 pm |
    • Frogist

      @Andy: How bout a hug?

      October 25, 2010 at 4:35 pm |
  12. JohnQuest

    J.Hill, no logic will ever cause you or most of the people that think like you to change your mind, that's why its called faith. But I think that you and all those that think like you would have a serious problem if you found out that a President of the United States believed in and worshiped Baal or Zeus or Thor or any of the other ancient Gods, if I am wrong please tell me.

    October 25, 2010 at 1:37 pm |
  13. Jesse

    Luke, I would never want to take away any of your joy. I apologize if you felt my comment was primarily aimed at you. Although I did use your name, it was simply the first response back to the article. My post was directed to other christians who argue against you in a heated fashion.

    Now, I challenge you to fully embrace reason and logic. Use the mind you have to its fullest extent. Dig deep for truth and work hard to decipher what that truth all entails. I would challenge you to go back and re-read what Jesus has to say. Read through the gospel with not only an open, clear, mind, but also a with an eager heart. The 18-inch connection between the head and heart was helpful for me.

    I don't doubt your intellect at all, in fact, your writing hints that you are well read. But please understand that taking a fully comprehensive look at Jesus requires a child-like faith. Thanks for reading my comment and I genuinely do hope you have a good day.

    October 25, 2010 at 1:29 pm |
    • Luke

      Uhm, sure. I wasn't mad at you. I was engaging in debate with you. Do you have anything else to add to the topic?

      October 25, 2010 at 2:24 pm |
  14. J.Hill

    @Sum Dude
    I can dig that. I really can. I think that the "mysterious ways" thing kinda sucks, too. I wish that God would do something on a large scale that is just amazing and undeniable. But I have no clue HOW God works, I just know that for me, I just know that God works.

    This is honestly making me fatigued. Let's really step back and look at why we are saying what we are saying...
    What is the point in you trying to convince me to believe in nothing? ...or everything? ...or whatever it is that your stance is?
    What does it hurt that I believe that Jesus is one with God, made into flesh & sent to Earth, led a blameless life, was murdered, burried, & raised back to life to bridge the gap we made between Heaven and Earth? What is it hurting?
    My reason for posting in the first place is to let people know that yes, there are Christians that hurt people and are closed-minded and intollerant and hateful... but that's not all of us, in fact, that isn't at all accurate to who we are supposed to be. So please don't judge all of us just because some of us judge everyone else. If I went about this wrong, my bad. I apologize. But at the end of the day, we just have to agree to disagree. So there it is. We don't think the same way and we're not going to, and that's okay. Life goes on. I've had an interesting time in this convo and its made me think, but its only going to make me come back to my same beliefs and make me stronger... for that I thank you. Peace.

    October 25, 2010 at 1:28 pm |
    • Luke

      I am telling you that there is no such thing as beliefs. There is, and there is not. In the end, you inject the entire doctrine of Christian faith into unknown gaps in science. Then you cherry pick the teachings of the bible that make you feel warm inside without even reading the bad parts that would make you reject the doctrine. That's a false logic. Believing that you will win the lottery is not a false logic, however. Things like this have a mathematical possibility no matter has slim it may be. However, we have concretelty rejected the bible's claims time and time again, but you reject facts in favor of folklore. Those are not acceptable in intellectual debates.

      October 25, 2010 at 2:23 pm |
  15. Rebecca

    On a MUCH lighter note, you had me at ODB and Woo Tang Crew

    October 25, 2010 at 1:21 pm |
  16. tintin

    Abrahamic Religions with their self proclaimed copyright to GOD always inhibit scientific curiosity and reasoning. Why can't they realize that GOD is not theirs?

    October 25, 2010 at 1:09 pm |
    • Frogist

      @tintin: God does not belong to anyone. I like that.

      October 25, 2010 at 4:32 pm |
    • Christi

      @frogist @tintin

      "God does not belong to anyone"

      I like that too.

      October 26, 2010 at 10:00 am |
  17. Jesse

    Luke, if you have ethical standards and high morality, then why so eager to pick a cyber-argument? Please understand the irony in your own posts as well. I think you are right, there are many scandals in "the church" and thats why this article is here.

    Fellow Christians, John 13:34-35. Please stop hiding behind your keyboards and slinging verbal mud. I believe this all would fall under Paul telling Timothy about fruitless arguments that cause dissensions.

    October 25, 2010 at 1:02 pm |
    • Luke

      As a stated much earlier, I enjoy debate, speaking about religion, science and math in a historical sense. Why shouldn't I be allowed to state my opinion here? I am highly moral indeed in my private life. I don't understand why you would want to take something I enjoy away from me. Why am I eager to argue on this topic? I like debate, Jessee.

      October 25, 2010 at 1:09 pm |
    • Sum Dude


      You are deliberately mis-characterizing Luke, who is much nicer than I am. He is not being hateful. But you are. Stop it.

      October 25, 2010 at 1:55 pm |
  18. Aaron

    It's interesting to me how several anti-religionists have complained about Christian proselytism here, yet they seem to have hijacked the discussion. Well, whatever gets one's jollies on, I suppose.

    Thanks for the article, Jon. I continue to appreciate and enjoy your writing.

    October 25, 2010 at 1:02 pm |
  19. J.Hill

    Okay, so let's check the scoreboard.
    Jesus makes kids dumb.
    Our tests scores are down because of Christ (and definately not uninvolved parents).
    American schools are promoting freedom of speech by not allowing people to talk about Jesus.
    The Bible is evil because its a message of how God created a world and it turned against him so he sent Jesus to die for us so we can have a way back to God.
    Apparently, I don't read the texts that I've based my eternity on, because if I did, it would magically negate itself.
    The Bible is obviously ripped off because there is no way two people couldve written down "Treat others the way you want to be treated". I guess all of the Proverbs should start every verse with "RT @jain"...
    Obviously, as I stated in my first comment, this whole tread is going nowhere...

    October 25, 2010 at 12:49 pm |
    • Luke


      No, I didn't say Jesus makes kids dumb. I said injecting religion in the place of science makes us dumb. Big difference.

      Our test scores are down, in theory, due to high levels of religiosity. Numerous studies have been conducted on the matter. In all cases, a high level of religiosity has a direct correlation to low IQ and low levels of religiosity directly correlates to high IQ. Helmuth Nyborg conducted a huge study on the manner. Check it out.

      Not allowing creationism (you keep saying Jesus for some reason even though I never did) in science class rooms is not a matter of free speech. It is a matter of proper science. Of course, injecting religion into schools, except in the case of civics or specific religion courses where all sects are taught, is a violation of the Establishment Clause. It has zero to do with free speech. You are confused.

      No, the bible is evil because it calls for the systematic destruction of all cultures and awaits the End Days, where only proper followers will be united with their god, while the rest perrish for eternity. Outside of that, it condones slavery and genocide regularly among other common evils.

      Again, you don’t know history. The bible hijacks ideas from previous cultures and philosophies. We have hard evidence of that. Jainism predates Christianity and we see blatant copies of many ideas. Furthermore, we see copies of the bible's central character, Jesus, from other cultures as well. Many of his characteristics such as walking on water, healing people and other supernatural traits appear in Egyptian gods and folklore, nullifying the uniqueness of Jesus. Therefore, we conclude that it is false.

      The thread would be going somewhere, but people like you don't read my posts properly, making false assumptions, don't follow proper logic, insert false logic into my ideas and don't know much about world religions, history or science.

      October 25, 2010 at 1:02 pm |
    • D-Bo

      Very nice response J.Hill. Glad to see a fellow theologian out there. Luke believes we came from nothing and return to nothing but thinks he is significant in between simply because he says he is. He admitted we're all meaningless but comments on this board as if his thoughts were meaningful. And then when he gets cornered on it, he says that people who believe in God are hate filled when if truly agreed with his own ideology, there would be no such thing as "hate" to him. Just some puposless chemcial reaction in his brain as a response to "feeling hated" which wouldn't have any significance in the universe even if that were true. Man...must be tough to be Luke.

      October 25, 2010 at 1:03 pm |
    • Sum Dude


      Looks like you got a stalker, Luke. This kid is after you in a big way. Nothing like another hateful Christian to let us all know what the Bible teaches, eh?

      October 25, 2010 at 1:53 pm |
    • Luke

      Sum Dude – He just thinks he can keep up with me. He can't, so he just rambling about things that can't be replied to logically.

      October 25, 2010 at 2:19 pm |
    • Frogist

      LOL@Sum Dude!

      October 25, 2010 at 4:28 pm |
  20. TulsaSupport

    Jon Acuff, I enjoy reading your blogs! I appreciate the humorous spin you put on issues, and I love your proactive support for those in need. Keep it up! This truly is 'Stuff Christians Like' ... (:

    October 25, 2010 at 12:35 pm |
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About this blog

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