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My Take: Can Zipcars save my dying church?
April 19th, 2011
07:57 AM ET

My Take: Can Zipcars save my dying church?

Editor's Note: Mark Barger Elliott is senior pastor of Mayflower Congregational Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan and author of "Creative Styles of Preaching." His blog Faith in the World identifies stories of hope from around the world and places where religion intersects everyday life.

By Mark Barger Elliott, Special to CNN

The prospect of death typically prompts action.

Doctors offer experimental trials. Tuna casseroles appear on doorsteps. Families ask that loved ones to be placed on church prayer lists.

As a pastor, I’ve seen that when time grows short, people feel compelled to do something. Best-selling books such as "1,000 Places to See Before You Die" owe their popularity to that human instinct.

I’ve thought of this lately as I’ve begun to watch my church die.

Not the local church I serve in Grand Rapids, Michigan, but the larger church of which I’m a part – what we know as the mainline church.

What’s the mainline church?

Unlike megachurches that flourish in places like abandoned shopping centers and movie theaters and draw visitors with LED signs, mainline churches typically are built on downtown corners and along winding country roads. Our moveable type signs read: Methodist, Presbyterian and Congregational.

While megachurches – which typically represent Christianity’s evangelical or nondenominational arms - offer cappuccino bars and hologram images of pastors, we are identified by spires and white clapboard, cemeteries and pews and pastors draped in fraying black robes.

And we are dying.

In the last 50 years, mainline church membership has plummeted by more than 25%, to about 20 million people, according to a recent report from The Barna Group, a major church research firm.

Barna found that only 15% of American adults are associated with a mainline church today, a stark contrast to a time when our influence was wide and broad. The Supreme Court, for example, was once composed entirely of mainline church members. Today, it has no such members.

How did it come to this?

In many ways, the mainline church functions today as GM did before its 2008 government bailout. Our product lines have grown outdated (think tattered hymnals, wheezing organs and pastors preaching stiffly behind pulpits).

Our ability to respond to demographic and cultural changes is impaired by a business model that clings to tradition and is wary of collaboration and innovation.

Important but secondary issues – for example, disputes over sexual orientation – have led to conflicts that hold scant appeal to potential new members.

So we find ourselves stuck like GM in 2008, unable to imagine a new mainline church, unable to produce something as dynamic and vibrant as say, a hybrid Ford Fusion.

What can we do?

Fortunately, serving as a mainline pastor for 15 years has taught me this lesson: Sometimes the patient revives. Those who walk through the doors of a hospice facility do, on occasion, walk out.

Our revival, I believe, can be sparked by a process that author Lisa Gansky calls "better things, easily shared." In her book "The Mesh: Why the Future of Business is Sharing," Gansky points to Zipcar as an example of how this works.

Zipcar uses the internet to offer customers the opportunity to share resources (a nice car) and, thereby, costs. It appeals to those who need a car for only a few hours, or part of the day. Zipcar users save $400-600 a month by sharing the costs of gas and insurance.

How do we apply "better things, easily shared" to the church?

In regards to reducing costs, I know my own church facilities often sit unused during the late afternoon and evening and could easily be offered to the community or other churches. A website might coordinate church space "customers," just as some companies now advertise office space you can rent by the hour or day.

We could intentionally seek to identify and to share our "better things." A significant proportion of my week, for example, is spent writing a sermon. Not all pastors have that luxury of time.

While websites do offer sermons, it is frowned upon to "borrow" someone else's work. Could that change? Mainline denominations could approve a website where "the best" sermons are posted. The same process might be applied to administrative resources, church choirs and educational resources.

How about a mainline church "better things, easily shared" conference where our "better ideas" are shared in short talks that are then posted on the web - a very successful formula for organizations like TED. Could it be time to identity potential outside collaborators like Gansky, who could help steer us in the direction of our own hybrid Ford Fusion?

Reviving the church may seem like a long shot. But sometimes the dying - and even the dead - do revive.

The mainline church does have a name for that experience: Easter.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Mark Barger Elliott.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Church • Opinion • Protestant

soundoff (167 Responses)
  1. Tyler V

    Why are mainline churches dying? It has nothing to do with their inability to enageg culture, shift to changing times, borrowing corporate models or anything listed in this article. It has to do with its abandonment of traditional Christian orthodoxy for liberal ideals – it lost its distinctive voice and message in a lost world. It became white noise because people can hear "sermons" on global warming, self help, etc. from Al Gore and Obama. They dont need to go to church to hear the liberal hum drum.

    For anyone seriously interested in this topic I recommend a couple of books:

    J. Gresham Machin's Christianity and Liberalism
    Michael Horton's Christless Christianity
    Oz Guiness' Dining with the Devil

    April 19, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
    • William Demuth

      I agree. We need to go back to traditional orthodoxy, like exorcisims, pogroms, hollocausts, crusades and witch trials.

      It's the only hope!

      April 19, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
  2. Barry

    The author of the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes (Koheleth) stated that “ there is nothing new under the sun”, and surely this is true today.

    Throughout history there has undoubtedly always been the waxing and waning of faith and righteousness; and, so civilizations rise and fall, and we live and die and return to the dust, from where we came.

    The monks were well aware of these rises and ebbs of faith. They noted that a people suffer and become diligent and then they prosper; then they become lazy and decadent, and there is a decline.

    One of the things that has always worked against faith, throughout the ages, is wealth and materialism.

    Jesus said: “A person cannot serve both God and mammon (or money and materialism).

    And yet people continue to try to do so, and then they wonder why they are so unhappy and so unfulfilled, even though they have more now than people have ever had.

    Generations come and generations go,
    but the earth remains forever.
    The sun rises and the sun sets,
    and hurries back to where it rises.
    The wind blows to the south
    and turns to the north;
    round and round it goes,
    ever returning on its course.
    All streams flow into the sea,
    yet the sea is never full.
    To the place the streams come from,
    there they return again.
    All things are wearisome,
    more than one can say.
    The eye never has enough of seeing,
    nor the ear its fill of hearing.
    What has been will be again,
    what has been done will be done again;
    there is nothing new under the sun.
    Is there anything of which one can say,
    “Look! This is something new”?
    It was here already, long ago;
    it was here before our time.
    No one remembers the former generations,
    and even those yet to come
    will not be remembered
    by those who follow them. (Ecclesiastes)

    Jesus, referring to himself, once said to his disciples: When the son of man returns, will he find faith?

    The question then becomes: Are we going to pursue materialism and creature comforts, or spiritual matters?

    Jesus also said that the flesh counts for nothing and that spiritual matters are all matter and are all that will last!

    I will, therefore, pursue spiritual matters, such as kindness, compassion, love, mercy, forgiveness, justice, etc..

    April 19, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Thats cool.

      As for me, I shall be more than happy to free you of your material burdens.

      As for Christ returning, I am quite confident that if he ever actually exsisted, he is long since dead, and shall stay that way, as we all shall.

      April 19, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
  3. John

    Have you ever thought about the offering plate in your church? If God is real, why do they have to pass it ? If you read these verses in the Bible, you can see that God claims to be extremely powerful and willing to answer any prayer;
    Matthew 7:7
    Matthew 17:20
    Matthew 18:19
    Mark 11:24
    John 14:12-24
    Mark 9:23
    Luke 1:37

    Now consider this; why doesn't the ministers and deacons of the church gather together every Sunday morning and pray to Jesus for the money they need? Why doesn't Jesus answer their prayers? Why does churches have to beg for money from mere mortals when there is an immortal, all-powerful God who should provide anything they ask for? All of these verses listed above tells you to pray and he will give you for anything you ask.

    Gods Answer:
    Because even though I created the universe and everything in it, and even though I will give you everything you ask for in prayer, I can't give a cent to the church ever. When they pass the offering plate at church, be sure to give generously.

    This of course is ridiculous.

    The reason why they pass the offering plate at the church is because God is imaginary.

    April 19, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
    • William Demuth

      John

      The great majority of priests and preachers already know they are lying

      They just want the money, and the little boys.

      April 19, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
    • Kevin

      These scriptures you quote discuss God providing Holy Spirit for the outworking of preaching the Good news about God's Kingdom. The reason why nearly all churches are begging for money and not receiving is because they are not requesting things in accordance with God's purpose or will.

      Jesus main activity and purpose while on earth was preaching the Kingdom Good news. (Luke 4:43) But he said to them: “Also to other cities I must declare the good news of the kingdom of God, because for this I was sent forth.”)

      Many will claim to be followers of Jesus. Yet they do not follow in his footsteps in this all important activity that is supposed to define them. This is why they are unfruitful since God isn't with them.

      April 19, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
    • Up Your Rear Admiral

      The great George Carlin on religion:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gPOfurmrjxo

      April 19, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
    • Harry Leonard

      George Carlin at his best.

      April 19, 2011 at 2:25 pm |
    • Dexter Skagway

      Definitely love that George Carlin routine.

      So how come there are no really funny religious people? Is the Eleventh Commandment "Thou shalt not have any sense of humor at all"?

      April 19, 2011 at 6:07 pm |
  4. John

    If we go back and look at the beginning we shall find that ignorance and fear created the God's; that fancy, enthusiasm, or deceit adorned or disfiguered them; that weakness worshipped them ; that credulity preserved them ; and that custom respect and tryanny supports them in order to make the blindness of men serve its own interest. If ignorance of nature gave birth to gods, then knowledge of nature is calculated to destroy them.

    April 19, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
  5. Aaron

    "Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you." (Matthew 5:10-12)

    April 19, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Blessed are the idiots, for theirs is the kingdom of Yahveh (William Book 1 Chapter 1)

      April 19, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
    • Incontinentia Buttocks

      Blessed are the cheesemakers (obviously, this is not meant to be taken literally. It refers to any manufacturers of dairy products). And Blessed are the Greek. Apparently, he's going to inherit the earth.

      April 19, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
    • Pontius Pilate

      I have a vewy gweat fwiend in Wome called 'Biggus Dickus'.

      He has a wife, you know. You know what she's called? She's called... 'Incontinentia'. 'Incontinentia Buttocks'.

      April 19, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
    • William Demuth

      And I will gladly pay you Thursday for a hamburger eaten today.

      The checks in the mail.

      Read my lips, no new taxes!

      I am not a crook.

      I could go on all day!

      April 19, 2011 at 3:23 pm |
  6. Rev. Dr. Alden Marshall

    While your suggestions may help conserve resources, which is positive, the problem is that mainline ministers are not preaching in the power of the Holy Spirit. Otherwise, those who listen will be converted and will live holy lives as the Bible teaches. The R word is ignored for the most part (repentance), and therefore divorces and other signs of hatred are spreading in our congregations. 500 years ago there were only 2 denominations, the RC and the Orthodox, so if mainline (which has become sideline) dies away, so what? I am a mainline Pres minister, by the way.

    April 19, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
  7. Aaron

    To the people like Todd and Rear Admiral. You have thrown out a lot of insults and presuppositions without really knowing anything yourselves. First, I know that atheists love to cite the most violent passages they can find in the old testament and then wave it like a flag as if it is the Christian doctrine. Please EDUCATE yourselves and know that as Christians the New Testament of Jesus Christ is our main standard for practice – one of peace not violent. Secondly, while it may be true that some people use Religion as a tool to murder, the reverse has been true in places like USSR, Vietnam, China, etc. Also people of the faith are more giving and have started more charities than non-religious peoples. You all can continue to speak the lies and bigotry, but I encourage you to look up the true facts. In the name of Jesus, may you have peace and good health.

    April 19, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
    • William Demuth

      So you reject Genesis? What of the Commandments?

      I appreciate your admitting you are only half Christian, but that like being half HIV positive.

      Either you reject the old testament or you don't.

      So whats it gonna be? Either you are going to reject the sick actions of your God in the old days, and admit he was a wacko, or you aren't.

      Murdering innocent children is not something even a God can be forgiven for.

      April 19, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
    • Godless

      "Also people of the faith are more giving and have started more charities than non-religious peoples."

      Got any facts to back that up? Any hard numbers from a verified source?

      By the way, I would hope that your statement is correct, considering that the number of people who associate themselves with religion outnumber non-religious people about 6-1 (based on the latest numbers I've seen that about 16% of the US considers themselves non-religious, meaning a whopping 84% consider themselves religious).

      April 19, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
  8. William Demuth

    Heaven Spent

    Trust in one thing

    If Christ returns, I will personaly crucify him again, for the sins of his followers shall follow him in eternal damnation.

    Natalie

    Keep your faith in your heart, but if your faith trades in the currency of the realm then they must render onto Ceaser that which is Ceasers. And if your faith tolerates pedophilia, then yours is the kingdom of the imaginary hell.

    April 19, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
  9. Des

    @Nicole – The idea that you lose nothing if you're faith in Jesus is misplaced is not only incorrect, it doesn't even make logical sense. *Every* religion thinks that about themselves. What if Muslims are correct and Mohammad was a true prophet and Allah is God. Where will you go, then? What if Zoroastrians (the original mono-theists) are correct? What will happen to your eternal soul then? You can't just blindly parrot back the lines your pastor gives you and expect that to satisfy God at the judgment seat. You need to think things through for yourself, use the brain He gave you, and "work out your salvation with fear and trembling."

    April 19, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      How long, you simple ones, will you love simplicity? For scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge.

      Proverbs 1:22

      Amen.

      April 19, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
  10. William Demuth

    These people have used their imaginary Gods to avoid responsibility and accountability for their collective actions since the beginnings of this country. They have let others assume their tax burden, they have tolerated and even shielded degenerates, and they have been permitted to defraud the weak minded for far too long. They claim to have some relation with a superior being, and in my eyes, this is simple mental illness and needs to be called such. Christianity has ritual cannibalism, zombie rebirth feti*hes and a theocentric philosophy that is as obsolete and repugnant as slavery. Enough of these absurdities, we have to build a future for our children, and I for one refuse for this obscen1ty to be left unaccountable.

    Tax the churches, prosecute the criminals and crucify anyone of the cloth who harms children

    April 19, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

      James 1:21

      Amen.

      April 19, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
  11. Natalie

    The mainstream Christian church is dying because, at the heart of it, the message no longer serves the people of mainstream America. Christianity, particularly of the mainstream flavors, is a religion born in the dark ages, based on a society so radically different from our own that it seems foreign to most.

    If you really want to become relevant again, get out of your pampered pews, out of your stone buildings with their stained glass windows, get away from the way you view things now...go out into the world and listen, watch, learn...understand the world around you...make your faith real, live it, feel it, show it through how you behave, give the people around you something to WANT to reach for.

    The old formulas don't work anymore. Keep the faith, ditch the dressing.

    April 19, 2011 at 11:56 am |
    • William Demuth

      Interesting. Adapt the illusion to the reality on the ground!

      Schizophrenia at it's finest!

      Perhaps better yet they might embrace reality?

      April 19, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
    • Natalie

      @William, reality is that faith serves a purpose for some. Why strip them of that if it is used for good?

      Now, mind that faith is different than religion. Religion subjugates while faith liberates. Discovering true faith freed me from the confines of religion and myth. It is the religion and its abuses that causes stagnation, fear, financial disparity and ruin, loss of freedom and loss of self.

      Again, that is only my take on it, as a Pagan who was very nearly an Evangelical preacher at one point in my life.

      April 19, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
  12. Liza Null

    If Jesus was ANYTHING AT ALL like this present-day followers, it's no wonder he ended up on a cross. Talk about overbearing, sheesh.

    April 19, 2011 at 11:51 am |
    • HeavenSent

      Oh, Liza is miffed that Christians who actually read His truth (the Bible) DON'T run around telling everyone the man made lie to love the sinner, hate the sin that sends all the sinners who refuse to give up their sinful natures a sure fire one way ticket to the eternal flames, blotted out. No eternity for any of them. Oh, please stay quiet about Jesus' truth so we can continue sinning our way through this life and taking no responsibilities for our thoughts/beliefs, words or actions just wanting chaos to rule supreme so no one looks at what we are doing.

      Amen.

      April 19, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
  13. Nicole

    Todd, I guess you have not understood the Bible. I whole-heartedly chose to believe in Jesus Christ, which allows me love those who believe differently from myself. The sacrifice He made for the whole world shows that He loves us all despite our sins. I'm trying to model that lifestyle, not a lifestyle of hate, labeling, prejudice, name calling, etc. Have a great day all!Todd, I guess you have not understood the Bible. I whole-heartedly chose to believe in Jesus Christ, which allows me love those who believe differently from myself. The sacrifice He made for the whole world shows that He loves us all despite our sins. I'm trying to model that lifestyle, not a lifestyle of hate, labeling, prejudice, name calling, etc. Have a great day all!

    April 19, 2011 at 11:41 am |
    • William Demuth

      Jesus is a lie, parroted by idiots.

      Leave the stone age in the past and stop embarrasing my race.

      April 19, 2011 at 11:44 am |
    • Dexter Skagway

      Nicole, if Jesus really is God, then he made absolutely no sacrifice beyond a bit of pain, the same experienced by many. Worse pain has been suffered before and since.

      If you are immortal, dying is not dying; it does not even contain the fear of dying. If Jesus really is what you say, his "sacrifice" was trivial and meaningless – his sacrifice cost him nothing of consequence.

      If you take a moment and carefully consider how you became a Christian, you will realize that you did not chose it at all. Most likely, you were born into a religious family and grew up around religious people. You were told about the wonders of Christ all through your early childhood development, and by a young age, it became self-evident (or so it seemed) that it was true. You actually did not chose Christianity; you conformed to your indoctrination. You never,with an open mind, have asked tough questions about evidence or contradictions or other views. You have never seriously considered that, if there is a God, he created evil and hate and Hitler and everything else, that he had the power to stop some of the worst occurances in history but did not. Just as if he was not there.

      Very few people actually choose their religion. They simply conform to the commonly held beliefs of their community.

      April 19, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      John 15 is a great read.

      Amen.

      April 19, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
  14. Aaron Moore

    The irony of this post is perfectly stated in the last sentence. The Church is dying because those inside it show no evidence of the power of God that raised Christ from the dead. To say to an unbelieving world that they need Jesus , that he can heal them, change them, forgive them...whatever...rings patently false when those who claim to have Jesus are no better off than those that do not. That is the reason the Church is dying. On the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2, 3,000 people converted to Christianity – not because of a gimmick or a sermon, but because of the undeniable power of God's Spirit. Ask God to unleash that in your life, and you'll have no problem attracting the "lost".

    April 19, 2011 at 11:38 am |
    • HeavenSent

      Aaron, Jesus only asked that we spread His seeds of truth. He does the watering. Let me know after a few months of blogging with these lost souls you don't rely on His truth written in Matthew 7:6.

      Amen.

      April 19, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
  15. William Demuth

    The Church should be taxed.

    The rapists should be imprisoned.

    The leaders who were comlicit should be prosecuted.

    Once these steps are taken we can discuss what to do with the carcass of Christianity.

    As for my personal perspective, I take great joy in watching its slow demise. Like any Ponzi scheme, it shall eventually collpase of its own weight once it runs out of fools who are willing to buy into the lies.

    April 19, 2011 at 11:34 am |
    • HeavenSent

      William, we used to have these laws on the books except non-believers ensured said laws were erased from the courts. Now you complain? What else is new with non-believers nonsense not knowing the outcome for what they do.

      Amen.

      April 19, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Heven Sent? You must be smoking crack.

      The Christians have actively protected men who sodomize children.

      I may not be able to cure you of your delusions, but even in your illness I would hope that you would condem those who sodomize in the name of your imaginary lord.

      April 19, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
  16. Rich

    What's just as bad as a fundamentalist Christian? A fundamentalist atheist.(those who want everyone to believe like them)

    April 19, 2011 at 11:28 am |
    • Todd (another one)

      How many fundie athiests went on murder sprees recently, trying to convert everyone to atheism?

      April 19, 2011 at 11:35 am |
    • HeavenSent

      Rich, sitting on the side of the pool is not the same as jumping in the water.

      Sink or swim.

      Amen.

      April 19, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
  17. Colin

    I am pleased to see mainline churches disappear. This is happening all over the educated World. It was apparent, even in the early 90s, that the congregations were getting older and older as young people became less ignorant and less tied to the beliefs of their parents.

    In many areas, they are now reduced to congregations of poor, simple withered and bent folks, hoping to bury their heads in their Bibles and ignore their inevitable mortality. They will soon all pass along and there will be nobody there to fill the pews.

    While that will take care of the traditional church, the problem confronting the freethought movement, in hoping to elevate people out of their dark supersti-tions, however, is the rise of the evangelical megachurch. The gullible flocks have simply herded themselves down the street, rather than abandoned their Dark Ages myths.

    This is where our challenge lies. The priest is a dinosaur, the evangelical is a growing and dangerous virus that is more subtle in its salesmanship.

    April 19, 2011 at 9:27 am |
    • Up Your Rear Admiral

      On a related note, frightening indeed, and ironic, that modern, highly developed sales techniques plus the internet, are being used to propagate the backward mind virus set known generally as religion.

      I'm taking up your challenge. Those modern tools are also at our disposal.
      Cheers.

      April 19, 2011 at 9:56 am |
    • HeavenSent

      Colin, I'm glad I have a few years on you punks and most likely won't be around when others like you crash and burn our society with your let chaos rule supreme. I notice none of you have any answers to this major flaw in your beliefs.

      Amen.

      April 19, 2011 at 10:05 am |
    • Colin

      @ Admiral. Wikapedia is a real concern. The god-drunk are vigilant in getting their views across there (claiming miracles at Fátima, Lourdes, for example) but amendments putting balance into articles on alleged supernatural events are erased soon after addition.

      Wikipedia is fast becoming the "go to" site for young learners and we need to cut out superst-itious nonsense whenever we see it there.

      April 19, 2011 at 10:06 am |
    • Dexter Skagway

      HeavenSent, why do people like you always say that society is collapsing and America is falling apart? The rise of secular government went hand in hand with the rise of prosperity. Quite the opposite of being in collapse, things are about as good as they have ever been for the average human being, much better than most people before us experienced.

      Of course there are problems; there always have been and always will be. But if you honestly consider what the average person has and how they live, then you must realize that things are actually about as good as one could ever expect. America is not falling apart, as all the political people love to howl. They want you to believe that so you obey them, give them money and votes. Do you know that up to 100 years ago, America underwent a full-blown depression every 20 years? Unless you were alive in the 1930s, you have not experienced one in your lifetime.

      Life is good, America is doing just fine.

      April 19, 2011 at 11:08 am |
    • William Demuth

      The key is taxation.

      Mega churces are merely mini economies that prosper due to preferential tax treatment.

      Furthermore, they usually self destruct because of the sickness of their leaders. It seems it is not only priests that like to harm children.

      April 19, 2011 at 11:46 am |
    • New Wicca

      @ William Demuth: i totally agree! Take away the tax-exempt status of churches and religions and you will see a crumbling of the megachurches and most non-denonminational will cease to exist.

      Religion is BIG business in the USA...

      April 19, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Dexter Skagway, we are speaking about moral/spiritual decay. Jesus' truth versus satan's lies.

      Amen.

      April 19, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
    • Dexter Skagway

      No, that is not at all what you said. You are lying.

      April 19, 2011 at 2:08 pm |
  18. Eric G

    "Mainline Church must respect God and His Word more than fellow humans."

    Wow.

    This statement is exactally why I fear religion and it's followers. Statements like this show how dangerous they are.

    Adelina, if you actually believe this statement to be true, you have become a threat to the rest of humanity and should be dealt with accordingly.

    April 19, 2011 at 9:03 am |
    • HeavenSent

      Yes, and you are the reason we have the words and descriptions of psychopaths/sociopaths, anti-social personality in our language today. No breaking mechanisms with any of you. All driven because of others like you. Never to look past your own beliefs ever to think you to be WRONG that your theory doesn't hold water.

      Amen.

      April 19, 2011 at 10:02 am |
    • Natalie

      @HeavenSent,

      So, is anyone who believes differently than you a sociopath/psycopath/etc?

      Very charitable Christian thought.

      April 19, 2011 at 11:46 am |
    • HeavenSent

      Actually Natalie, all you non-believers are anti-social personalities and all have different excuses for not giving up your sinful natures. Jesus wrote the truth about all you fools throughout the Bible. I just posted 2 Timothy 3:1-5 above if you care to read His truth and weep. You own what you are if you don't shelf your ego, meaning go humble, repent and ask Jesus for forgiveness, then sin no more. None of your other nonsense will save your soul. Therefore, no eternity for any of you. You do it to yourself. Jesus just obliges all of you of your wishes/beliefs.

      Amen.

      April 19, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
    • Dexter Skagway

      HeavenSent, since you say that "Jesus just obliges all of you of your wishes/beliefs", please understand that our wishes and beliefs are that you shut up with your egotistical "everyone is burning in hell" psychosis. So here is the great test if Jesus is real: if you shut up, then there is a Jesus as you define him. If you keep on vomiting your CHristian psycho-hate, then there is no God.

      Pretty easy to know how this is going to turn out.

      April 19, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
    • Natalie

      @HeavenSent,

      You said, "Actually Natalie, all you non-believers are anti-social personalities"

      First, I'm not a "non-believer" I just believe something different than you do. And, I am not anti-social, I have a wide circle of friends of many faiths, races, creeds, gender, etc.

      You said, "and all have different excuses for not giving up your sinful natures. "

      Which sinful nature is that? Giving to charity? Helping others? Working hard to pay my own bills? Serving my community? Helping to raise my brother's children? Taking in a homeless, pregnant teenager who had no where else to go? Or maybe it's that sinful way I crochet hats for cancer patients or scarves for the homeless shelter? Possibly it is the dropping off cookies and home made candy to the local police stations and fire stations? Please let me know what it is I'm doing (since you obviously can see my soul through the internet) that is so sinful so I may correct it.

      You said, "Jesus wrote the truth about all you fools throughout the Bible."

      Jesus wrote nothing of the bible, other people put down what they say he said, many years after he actually said it. Ever play telephone?

      You said, "I just posted 2 Timothy 3:1-5 above if you care to read His truth and weep."

      Your scriptural quote is far from making me weep. Maybe you need to read it yourself. Think on it. Meditate on it. I'll even repost it for you. "For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away."

      There's a few of those words that might possibly point at someone other than me. Most of those words have nothing to do with me. I did boast a little above, when I spoke of the things I do, but in my defense, I was trying to make a point.

      You said,"You own what you are"

      Indeed, I do. I am rather pleased with what I am. Thank you for noticing.

      You said, "if you don't shelf your ego, meaning go humble, repent and ask Jesus for forgiveness, then sin no more. None of your other nonsense will save your soul. Therefore, no eternity for any of you. You do it to yourself. Jesus just obliges all of you of your wishes/beliefs."

      My ego? Have you met me? Obviously not. And, you can drop the fear mongering. It doesn't work on me. I used to use it too. Was a "born-again Evangelical" at one point in my life, a few months away from being a minister. Me and Jesus? We worked it out. Took me a long time to get to where I am. A lot of prayer. A lot of study. A lot of thoughtful meditation.

      My eternity is between me and the Divine. Just as yours is. Difference is, I've learned that what matters more to me than what comes after I die, is what I do with what I've been given here in this life. I choose to serve with love.

      April 19, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Dexter Skagway, oh boo hoo HeavenSent go away and stop writing Jesus truth that we are going to fry, blottted out, no eternity because we refuse to give up our sinful natures.

      Good. I'm glad I'm getting to you Dexter heathen that loves and follows satan's lies. Your soul depends on knowing Jesus' truth to stop being lulled by the lies of satan you worship into oblivion.

      Amen.

      April 19, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
    • Dexter Skagway

      Hilarious! Thanks for proving that God does not exist, HeavenSent.

      It must be hard for you to get so much time on the computer at Bellevue, what with Adelina fighting for it too.

      April 19, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Natalie, you never said who you believe in. All you do is say that you came close to being a preacher, but backed away. You write all about the good you do to stay away from telling anyone who's side you are on. Two choices with that free will Jesus gave all of us. Love and follow Jesus (truth) or love and follow Satan (lies).

      If you care to come right out and write who you follow. Fine. If not. Play all the games you want by walking around His truth and never coming clean.

      Amen.

      April 19, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
    • Natalie

      @HeavenSent,

      According to your own scripture it doesn't matter who I follow. "By their fruits"...

      You will only dismiss me, whether I tell you I follow Jesus or Zeus or Allah or Morrigan or Odin or Ishtar or Isis. Why should I bother? You won't listen.

      April 19, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
    • Dexter Skagway

      Natalie, I would respect you infinitely more if you were a practicing witch, a druidic priest, or a follower of Larry, the Lesser God of Doorknobs than if you were a Christian like HeavenSent or BG or Adelina.

      April 19, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
    • Natalie

      @Dexter Skagway

      Respect me for what I say and do, not what I believe, because belief is personal and subjective, weighted by our life experience, our education and our exposure to ideas.

      Whether I am Christian, Pagan, Muslim, Jew, Atheist, Buddhist...doesn't matter as much as the words I say, the actions I take and the honor and respect I give my fellow man.

      But for the record, I'm Pagan.

      April 19, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
    • Dexter Skagway

      I am kind of with you, Natalie, but what you say and do are inextricably interwoven with your beliefs.

      Totally agree with your "Whether I am Christian, Pagan, Muslim, Jew, Atheist, Buddhist...doesn't matter as much as the words I say, the actions I take and the honor and respect I give my fellow man."

      I'll take a pagan to a Christian/Mormon/Muslim any day

      April 20, 2011 at 2:43 am |
  19. Adelina

    The mainline Church is dying because of its liberal theology. Wrong doctrinal teachings are a cancer to Christian Church. Mainline Church must respect God and His Word more than fellow humans.

    April 19, 2011 at 8:14 am |
    • Up Your Rear Admiral

      Religion is a cancer on humanity. Let's hope its decline continues until we finally cure humanity of it.

      April 19, 2011 at 9:48 am |
    • HeavenSent

      Actually Admiral, you non-believers are the reason cancer comes out of it's dormant stage when we meet you and have to endure your presence. When I was forced to deal with all the lies and deceptions of non-believers destroying my life, as I knew it, I just prayed to Jesus I didn't get cancer due to all the stress.

      Amen.

      April 19, 2011 at 9:56 am |
    • Up Your Rear Admiral

      HS, you are a cancer on this website.

      Up yours, you backward, ignorant fool.

      April 19, 2011 at 10:01 am |
    • John

      Amen! This is the sad truth. False prophets are leading a great many people astray.

      April 19, 2011 at 10:21 am |
    • Throckton Stockton

      HeavenSent thinks atheists cause cancer. Laughing my ass off ! ! ! ! Yeah, we cause tornados too – wait those happen in the Bible Belt, so it must be God's judgement on all the crazy religious dumb-asses who live there.

      April 19, 2011 at 10:58 am |
    • HeavenSent

      Same truth of Jesus' I just posted above pertaining to ALL you non-believers. Thank God you are end of days generation.

      But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away.

      2 Timothy 3:1-5

      Amen.

      April 19, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Admiral, get a job.

      Amen.

      April 19, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
    • Evan

      You said it, sister.

      April 19, 2011 at 1:03 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      You just blew your handle (cough) Admiral Tommie, Tom and the 100s of phony handles you hide behind on this site..

      UY means unbelievable coward aka YELLOW.

      Amen.

      April 19, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
    • The Bobinator

      > Amen! This is the sad truth. False prophets are leading a great many people astray.

      Unless you have a tested and reliable method to determine who is and isn't a prophet vs. a false prophet, you really don't have a leg to stand on.

      April 19, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
    • Arthur Worthington

      But you hide behind a phony name too, HeavenSent.

      April 19, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
    • Up Your Rear Admiral

      "HeavenSent", no, I have never used the alias "Tommie" or anything similar. Nice try at slander, though. Very typical of your posts. You sustain a lot of personal delusions, religion being just one of them.

      And as for your "get a job" insult, I retired after having worked long hours for years and having created rewarding employment for dozens of smart, reasonable people.

      The egg is on your face, and you deserve it.

      April 19, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
    • Robert Gansden

      Total waste of an egg, admiral.

      April 20, 2011 at 12:08 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Wow. I am awestruck by the impact I've apparently made on HS. I'm being credited with writing any and every post she finds disagreeable. How honored am I!

      April 20, 2011 at 1:06 am |
  20. Reality

    The real reason mainline churches are dying:

    Once again "to the point":

    Recognizing the flaws, follies and frauds in the foundations of Islam, Judaism and Christianity by the "bowers", kneelers" and "pew peasants" will 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 of "worthless worship" aka mosques, churches, basilicas, cathedrals, temples and synagogues.

    April 19, 2011 at 8:06 am |
    • Adelina

      Morality is dying in America. A lot of good things are vanishing from America in exchange of more blasphemy, more greed and more toxic toys.

      April 19, 2011 at 8:18 am |
    • Nicole

      I'm a Christian! If I'm wrong about my faith in Jesus Christ, I have not lost anything. But if you are wrong.....

      April 19, 2011 at 9:37 am |
    • Up Your Rear Admiral

      Adelina, yeah, that'd be why the crime rate has been steadily dropping since the 80's...
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crime_in_the_United_States
      and why more secular countries have lower crime rates, as noted here often.
      Oh, that lack of morality.

      April 19, 2011 at 9:47 am |
    • HeavenSent

      Good post Adelina and Nicole. The lazy heathens that complain the most need Jesus' truth in their lives so they don't have to stay dry bones, wells without water, spiritually dead walking among us. I've written this over and over again. They just laugh and have no clue how clueless they are.

      Amen.

      April 19, 2011 at 9:53 am |
    • Up Your Rear Admiral

      "HeavenSent", yeah, I'm one of those lazy heathens, having worked long hours for years and having created rewarding employment for dozens of smart, reasonable people.

      Up yours, you backward, ignorant fool.

      April 19, 2011 at 9:59 am |
    • Nicole

      I don't condone the name calling Heaven Sent. We are to lift up, not tear down. If only we (Christians) would love as God loves. God loves us all and would love for everyone to accept the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ. Anyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved!

      April 19, 2011 at 10:28 am |
    • Barkingkitty

      @Nicole: You say if you're wrong about your faith in Jesus Christ, you haven't lost anything. I maintain you have: your ability to think and act for yourself, all your life, and to live the life you choose based on sound and rational choices and judgments, rather than having lived lived all your life based on the words and directions of others for fear of going to hell. I maintain you have already lost far, far more in individuality that non-believers ever will.

      April 19, 2011 at 11:06 am |
    • Todd (another one)

      Nicole, if you are wrong about your faith, then you have wasted your life, hated on gays, agnostics, and non christians for nothing. If you are right, then that means you killed your children for talking back to you, accept stoning of women who aren't virgins when they get married, kill people who eat shrimp, work on the Sabbath, or wear their hair the wrong length.

      I'm guessing you don't actually read the entire bible, do you?

      April 19, 2011 at 11:29 am |
    • Natalie

      @Nicole

      I was a Christian and said the same things. Then I discovered that the faith I put my trust in was filled with hatred for others and I walked away. Today, I am a practicing Pagan. I live my life based on what I believe regarding life, love, and our purpose on earth. I am a far, far better person than I ever was as a Christian, in my opinion.

      If I am wrong, and I stand before your god come the end, I will stand by the good I have done with my life, the people I have served...and if that isn't good enough for him? He's no god I'd care to serve anyway.

      April 19, 2011 at 11:44 am |
    • fuadramses

      Nicole – Remember this: if you picked the wrong god to worship and overlooked the correct one (Maybe it's Allah? Maybe it's Zeus?), you're still screwed.

      April 19, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Nicole, then you need to read the Bible instead of carrying it under your armpit. You type like you bought into all the lies of the liars who pretend to preach Jesus' truth.

      Here's the truth about these non-believers. Pay attention to the last sentence.

      But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away.

      2 Timothy 3:1-5

      Amen.

      April 19, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
    • Dexter Skagway

      Nicole, if you are wrong, then you have wasted the only thing ou have, your life, on a delusion. Moreover, you have helped force that delusion upon others, including through your vote. If you are wrong, you have helped perpetuate the long history of division, oppression, war and repression that is Christianity, Islam, and all the other religions. You have almost certainly helped persecute ga-ys based on a non-existent belief. You have helped impede science in human progress, and helped confuse children and adults on the origins of the world and the role of science. And you have helped conform another generation to obey the non-existent God and continue the cycle.

      There are a lot of negatives in religion that religious people refuse even recognize, much less to take responsibility for. The delusion that one is somehow under divine preference makes them assume that they are right, instead of an-alyzing what they are doing and its impact on those around them, and adjusting their behavior.

      I mean no disrespect of you personally, as you seem a kind person, but you are out a lot if you are wrong, and the world is a tad worse for your choice.

      April 19, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
    • Nicole

      HeavenSent: Not only have I read the Bible, I believe what it says. It does not say that we are to name call, but win those souls to Christ. Love wins!!!

      April 19, 2011 at 1:03 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Nicole. Get a backbone and stop kissing up to non-believers who HATE Jesus. As for "name calling". How convenient you buy into that nonsense ... I use the same terminology that Jesus has written in the Bible. You'd know that if you really read His truth. We aren't suppose to coddle these fools. We are just to spread His truth. If the seeds fall on rocks, Jesus handles them. Not us.

      Therefore, I will number you for the sword, and you shall all bow down to the slaughter; because when I called, you did not answer; when I spoke, you did not hear. But did evil before My eyes, and chose that in which I do not delight.

      Isaiah 65:12

      So will I choose their delusions, and bring their fears on them; because, when I called, no one answered, when I spoke they did not hear; but they did evil before My eyes, and chose that in which I do not delight.

      Isaiah 66:4

      Amen.

      April 19, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
    • Natalie

      @HeavenSent,

      You do realize you haven't yet actually quoted Jesus, right? You quote apostles and Old Testament, but not the words attributed to Christ himself.

      How about "Love your neighbor as you love yourself"? or perhaps "love your enemies" or possibly "by their fruit you shall know them". I'd offer you full quotes, but I don't have any of my bibles with me at the moment.

      April 19, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
    • Jason

      The real reality is that nobody can produce "flaws, follies and frauds", as you say, in the bible. Don't you think if there were ever a true flaw in the bible it would be widely known by now? If you were the first to find such a flaw, how famous do you think you would be? As long as the bible has been around, and with the brightest of atheist minds, surely someone would have found something. You claim 'logic' all the time. How does over two thousand years of inerrancy sound illogical? You can't break it.

      April 19, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
    • Reality

      Jason,

      Breaks in the OT and NT:

      1. origin: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482

      New Torah For Modern Minds

      Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.

      Such startling propositions – the product of findings by archaeologists digging in Israel and its environs over the last 25 years – have gained wide acceptance among non-Orthodox rabbis. But there has been no attempt to disseminate these ideas or to discuss them with the laity – until now.

      The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which represents the 1.5 million Conservative Jews in the United States, has just issued a new Torah and commentary, the first for Conservatives in more than 60 years. Called "Etz Hayim" ("Tree of Life" in Hebrew), it offers an interpretation that incorporates the latest findings from archaeology, philology, anthropology and the study of ancient cultures. To the editors who worked on the book, it represents one of the boldest efforts ever to introduce into the religious mainstream a view of the Bible as a human rather than divine docu-ment.

      2. Jesus was an illiterate Jewish peasant/carpenter/simple preacher man who suffered from hallucinations (or “mythicizing” from P, M, M, L and J) and who has been characterized anywhere from the Messiah from Nazareth to a mythical character from mythical Nazareth to a ma-mzer from Nazareth (Professor Bruce Chilton, in his book Rabbi Jesus). An-alyses of Jesus’ life by many contemporary NT scholars (e.g. Professors Crossan, Borg and Fredriksen, ) via the NT and related doc-uments have concluded that only about 30% of Jesus' sayings and ways noted in the NT were authentic. The rest being embellishments (e.g. miracles)/hallucinations made/had by the NT authors to impress various Christian, Jewish and Pagan sects.

      The 30% of the NT that is "authentic Jesus" like everything in life was borrowed/plagiarized and/or improved from those who came before. In Jesus' case, it was the ways and sayings of the Babylonians, Greeks, Persians, Egyptians, Hitt-ites, Canaanites, OT, John the Baptizer and possibly the ways and sayings of traveling Greek Cynics.

      earlychristianwritings.com/theories.html

      For added "pizzazz", Catholic theologians divided god the singularity into three persons and invented atonement as an added guilt trip for the "pew people" to go along with this trinity of overseers. By doing so, they made god the padre into god the "filicider".

      Current RCC problems:

      Pedophiliac priests, an all-male, mostly white hierarchy, atonement theology and original sin!!!!

      3. Luther, Calvin, Joe Smith, Henry VIII, Wesley, Roger Williams, the Great “Babs” et al, founders of Christian-based religions or combination religions also suffered from the belief in/hallucinations of "pretty wingie thingie" visits and "prophecies" for profits analogous to the myths of Catholicism (resurrections, apparitions, ascensions and immacu-late co-nceptions).

      Current problems:

      Adulterous preachers, pedophiliac ministers, "propheteering/ profiteering" evangelicals and atonement theology,

      April 19, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
    • Magic

      Jason,

      The errors and contradictions of the Bible *are* widely known... and I don't think anyone really wants to be 'famous' for pointing them out. Believers just refuse to accept any hint of them.

      Evangelical Rule of Thumb: If a bible verse furthers the cause, it is to be taken literally. If a bible verse is detrimental to the cause, it is either: taken out of context; is allegorical; refers to another verse somewhere else; is a translation or copyist's error; means something other than what it actually says; is a mystery of god or not discernible by humans; or is just plain magic. - David Johnson

      April 19, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • Jason

      Reality

      So spewing off a bunch of opinions (not of your own) makes things fact? I can come up with all sorts of corroberating evidence in support of Jesus that directly refutes your 'theories.' Furthermore, why is it that a biography of Abraham Lincoln, written 130 years after his death is considered fact without argument, yet the same can't be said for Jesus? Sounds like an agenda to me.

      Pedophiles in the church, money launderers, etc.... News flash, I can find those outside of the church to boot. Therefore, church can't be blamed as it is only a variable. The only common denominator is they're human. Since when did Christians claim to be anything but human?

      April 19, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
    • The Bobinator

      > I can come up with all sorts of corroberating evidence in support of Jesus that directly refutes your 'theories.' Furthermore, why is it that a biography of Abraham Lincoln, written 130 years after his death is considered fact without argument, yet the same can't be said for Jesus? Sounds like an agenda to me.

      It's not an agenda. You're just haven't figured out why this is the case.

      April 19, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
    • The Bobinator

      > I can come up with all sorts of corroberating evidence in support of Jesus that directly refutes your 'theories.' Furthermore, why is it that a biography of Abraham Lincoln, written 130 years after his death is considered fact without argument, yet the same can't be said for Jesus? Sounds like an agenda to me.

      It's not an agenda. You've not figured out why this is the case.

      April 19, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
    • Arthur Worthington

      How about this for a whopper of a flaw, by Jesus himself, repeatedly.

      "For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father's glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done. Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” Matthew 16:27-28

      Jesus makes the same prediction at other times. Jesus was wrong, repeatedly. There is no way to read that HONESTLY and not see that 100CE is the latest date for that prediction to possibly be true.

      April 19, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
    • Jason

      Magic –

      Sure, I can spin any verse to make it sound contradictory, like many atheists do. Or, I could leave them in their original context and take them for what they're worth.

      And a quote with no foundation means very little.

      Example:

      Atheist rule of thumb: If a bible verse doesn't go along with my belief system, it must be wrong. If I can't understand the context of the bible, it's because god (lowercase G on purpose) was ambiguous in his explanation. I don't believe people should protect the lives of the innocent, so those that were killed in the bible were killed without cause. If I don't believe in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, or Yosemite Sam, then I can't believe in a god either. And if there is a valid explanation of anything scientific that agrees with the bible, it's clearly delusional.

      April 19, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
    • Jason

      Arhtur Worthington –

      Thank you for proving my point.

      Matthew 16:28 (along with Mark 9:1; and Luke 9:27) is a reference to the transfiguration, which "some" of the disciples would witness only days later, exactly as Jesus predicted. In each Gospel, the very next passage after this promise from Jesus is the transfiguration, which shows Jesus in all His glory which will be seen again in the Kingdom of God.

      If you truly read the bible in its context (without verse picking) you'll see the argument for an error is eliminated.

      April 19, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
    • ScottK

      @Jason- "don't believe people should protect the lives of the innocent" I think you have that reversed, athiests do believe in protecting the lives of the innocent, it's the religious nutjobs who claim that anyone of another religion is not "innocent" and should be either converted or killed. The bible has many examples of entire cities and cultures being wiped out at god's command and the only thing that justifies it is the writings of the people doing the killing, yeah, sounds trustworthy to me.

      April 19, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
    • Dexter Skagway

      Let's try it again, Jason. Mark 13:23-30

      But take ye heed: behold, I have foretold you all things.

      But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light,
      And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken.
      And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.
      And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven.
      Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When her branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is near:
      So ye in like manner, when ye shall see these things come to pass, know that it is nigh, even at the doors.
      Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done."

      This generation, all dead by 100CE, will see the Son of God coming in the clouds, the sun gone dark and the stars fallign from the sky, sending his angels out to collect the elect. That's not the transfiguration; that's the apocalypse.

      Okay, so what is your perverse excuse for why this one doesn't say what it says?

      April 19, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
    • Jason

      ScottK –

      Atheists believe in protecting the lives of the innocent? Where were the atheists when entire cities were burning their children in offerings to the god Molech? Who was is that killed Jesus' disciples? Give me a break.

      April 19, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
    • Jason

      Dexter Skagway –

      Did you even read those verses?

      "But in those days, after that tribulation..."

      Speaking of future events... This is one of the most misinterpreted verses of the bible that atheists try to use as evidence of fallacies. Inadmissable.

      April 19, 2011 at 2:35 pm |
    • Jason

      To all –

      I'd like to point out that these are not my answers, but the bible's. I take no credit in providing these defenses to you. I'm a skeptic by nature, and my skepticism has allowed me to study both sides of the argument. Yes, when I see an issue in the bible I'm not comfortable with, I follow up until I find out the meaning and reasoning behind it. For those of you who are skeptics like me, it's okay to be skeptical of each side until you find your answer. You don't need me for that, and it will enhance your knowledge as well.

      April 19, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
    • Reality

      Jason,

      Many NT scholars have rigorously studied the transfiguration passages, Mark 9:2-10 = Matt 17:1-9 = Luke 9:28-36, and have concluded they have no historic reliabilitiy.

      e.g. see http://www.faithfutures.org/JDB/jdb184.html, http://wiki.faithfutures.org/index.php?ti-tle=184_Transfiguration_of_Jesus and Professor Gerd Ludemann in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 61, "Since the tradition is an original Easter story, its historicity is a priori ruled out."

      April 19, 2011 at 4:55 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.