Actually, that's not in the Bible
Satan tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden right? Nope. That's one of many phantom passages that people think are in the Bible.
June 5th, 2011
01:00 AM ET

Actually, that's not in the Bible

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) - NFL legend Mike Ditka was giving a news conference one day after being fired as the coach of the Chicago Bears when he decided to quote the Bible.

“Scripture tells you that all things shall pass,” a choked-up Ditka said after leading his team to only five wins during the previous season.  “This, too, shall pass.”

Ditka fumbled his biblical citation, though. The phrase “This, too, shall pass” doesn’t appear in the Bible. Ditka was quoting a phantom scripture that sounds like it belongs in the Bible, but look closer and it’s not there.

Ditka’s biblical blunder is as common as preachers delivering long-winded public prayers. The Bible may be the most revered book in America, but it’s also one of the most misquoted. Politicians, motivational speakers, coaches - all types of people  - quote passages that actually have no place in the Bible, religious scholars say.

These phantom passages include:

“God helps those who help themselves.”

“Spare the rod, spoil the child.”

And there is this often-cited paraphrase: Satan tempted Eve to eat the forbidden apple in the Garden of Eden.

None of those passages appear in the Bible, and one is actually anti-biblical, scholars say.

But people rarely challenge them because biblical ignorance is so pervasive that it even reaches groups of people who should know better, says Steve Bouma-Prediger, a religion professor at Hope College in Holland, Michigan.

“In my college religion classes, I sometimes quote 2 Hesitations 4:3 (‘There are no internal combustion engines in heaven’),” Bouma-Prediger says. “I wait to see if anyone realizes that there is no such book in the Bible and therefore no such verse.

“Only a few catch on.”

Few catch on because they don’t want to - people prefer knowing biblical passages that reinforce their pre-existing beliefs, a Bible professor says.

“Most people who profess a deep love of the Bible have never actually read the book,” says Rabbi Rami Shapiro, who once had to persuade a student in his Bible class at Middle Tennessee State University that the saying “this dog won’t hunt” doesn’t appear in the Book of Proverbs.

“They have memorized parts of texts that they can string together to prove the biblical basis for whatever it is they believe in,” he says, “but they ignore the vast majority of the text."

Phantom biblical passages work in mysterious ways

Ignorance isn’t the only cause for phantom Bible verses. Confusion is another.

Some of the most popular faux verses are pithy paraphrases of biblical concepts or bits of folk wisdom.

Consider these two:

“God works in mysterious ways.”

“Cleanliness is next to Godliness.”

Both sound as if they are taken from the Bible, but they’re not. The first is a paraphrase of a 19th century hymn by the English poet William Cowper (“God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform).

The “cleanliness” passage was coined by John Wesley, the 18th century evangelist who founded Methodism,  says Thomas Kidd, a history professor at Baylor University in Texas.

“No matter if John Wesley or someone else came up with a wise saying - if it sounds proverbish, people figure it must come from the Bible,” Kidd says.

Our fondness for the short and tweet-worthy may also explain our fondness for phantom biblical phrases. The pseudo-verses function like theological tweets: They’re pithy summarizations of biblical concepts.

“Spare the rod, spoil the child” falls into that category. It’s a popular verse - and painful for many kids. Could some enterprising kid avoid the rod by pointing out to his mother that it's not in the Bible?

It’s doubtful. Her possible retort: The popular saying is a distillation of Proverbs 13:24: “The one who withholds [or spares] the rod is one who hates his son.”

Another saying that sounds Bible-worthy: “Pride goes before a fall.” But its approximation, Proverbs 16:18, is actually written: “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”

There are some phantom biblical verses for which no excuse can be offered. The speaker goofed.

That’s what Bruce Wells, a theology professor, thinks happened to Ditka, the former NFL coach, when he strayed from the gridiron to biblical commentary during his 1993 press conference in Chicago.

Wells watched Ditka’s biblical blunder on local television when he lived in Chicago. After Ditka cited the mysterious passage, reporters scrambled unsuccessfully the next day to find the biblical source.

They should have consulted Wells, who is now director of the ancient studies program at Saint Joseph’s University in Pennsylvania. Wells says Ditka’s error probably came from a peculiar feature of the King James Bible.

“My hunch on the Ditka quote is that it comes from a quirk of the King James translation,” Wells says. “Ancient Hebrew had a particular way of saying things like, ‘and the next thing that happened was…’ The King James translators of the Old Testament consistently rendered this as ‘and it came to pass.’ ’’

When phantom Bible passages turn dangerous

People may get verses wrong, but they also mangle plenty of well-known biblical stories as well.

Two examples: The scripture never says a whale swallowed Jonah, the Old Testament prophet, nor did any New Testament passages say that three wise men visited baby Jesus, scholars say.

Those details may seem minor, but scholars say one popular phantom Bible story stands above the rest: The Genesis story about the fall of humanity.

Most people know the popular version - Satan in the guise of a serpent tempts Eve to pick the forbidden apple from the Tree of Life. It’s been downhill ever since.

But the story in the book of Genesis never places Satan in the Garden of Eden.

“Genesis mentions nothing but a serpent,” says Kevin Dunn, chair of the department of religion at Tufts University in Massachusetts.

“Not only does the text not mention Satan, the very idea of Satan as a devilish tempter postdates the composition of the Garden of Eden story by at least 500 years,” Dunn says.

Getting biblical scriptures and stories wrong may not seem significant, but it can become dangerous, one scholar says.

Most people have heard this one: “God helps those that help themselves.” It’s another phantom scripture that appears nowhere in the Bible, but many people think it does. It's actually attributed to Benjamin Franklin, one of the nation's founding fathers.

The passage is popular in part because it is a reflection of cherished American values: individual liberty and self-reliance, says Sidnie White Crawford, a religious studies scholar at the University of Nebraska.

Yet that passage contradicts the biblical definition of goodness: defining one’s worth by what one does for others, like the poor and the outcast, Crawford says.

Crawford cites a scripture from Leviticus that tells people that when they harvest the land, they should leave some “for the poor and the alien” (Leviticus 19:9-10), and another passage from Deuteronomy that declares that people should not be “tight-fisted toward your needy neighbor.”

“We often infect the Bible with our own values and morals, not asking what the Bible’s values and morals really are,” Crawford says.

Where do these phantom passages come from?

It’s easy to blame the spread of phantom biblical passages on pervasive biblical illiteracy. But the causes are varied and go back centuries.

Some of the guilty parties are anonymous, lost to history. They are artists and storytellers who over the years embellished biblical stories and passages with their own twists.

If, say, you were an anonymous artist painting the Garden of Eden during the Renaissance, why not portray the serpent as the devil to give some punch to your creation? And if you’re a preacher telling a story about Jonah, doesn’t it just sound better to say that Jonah was swallowed by a whale, not a “great fish”?

Others blame the spread of phantom Bible passages on King James, or more specifically the declining popularity of the King James translation of the Bible.

That translation, which marks 400 years of existence this year, had a near monopoly on the Bible market as recently as 50 years ago, says Douglas Jacobsen, a professor of church history and theology at Messiah College in Pennsylvania.

“If you quoted the Bible and got it wrong then, people were more likely to notice because there was only one text,” he says. “Today, so many different translations are used that almost no one can tell for sure if something supposedly from the Bible is being quoted accurately or not.”

Others blame the spread of phantom biblical verses on Martin Luther, the German monk who ignited the Protestant Reformation, the massive “protest” against the excesses of the Roman Catholic Church that led to the formation of Protestant church denominations.

“It is a great Protestant tradition for anyone - milkmaid, cobbler, or innkeeper - to be able to pick up the Bible and read for herself. No need for a highly trained scholar or cleric to walk a lay person through the text,” says Craig Hazen, director of the Christian Apologetics program at Biola University in Southern California.

But often the milkmaid, the cobbler - and the NFL coach - start creating biblical passages without the guidance of biblical experts, he says.

“You can see this manifest today in living room Bible studies across North America where lovely Christian people, with no training whatsoever, drink decaf, eat brownies and ask each other, ‘What does this text mean to you?’’’ Hazen says.

“Not only do they get the interpretation wrong, but very often end up quoting verses that really aren’t there.”

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Belief • Bible • Books • Christianity • Faith

soundoff (8,604 Responses)
  1. Dave L

    One thing that I think would make Internet debate more civil would be for people to consider the fact that someone much smarter than them disagrees with their views. I don't think that's a stretch, either; I know we all think that we're probably in the top 20% of smart people in the world, but how many commenters honestly believe themselves to be in the top 1% or .1% of intelligence? I mean, out of the 7 million most-intelligent people in the world, it's a safe bet that there's a wide variety of religious views.

    June 6, 2011 at 12:28 am |
    • arjen

      You realize most scientific studies find Jews and Atheists to be in the top percentage of intelligence?

      June 6, 2011 at 12:40 am |
    • frank

      That would be nice, but the overwhelming majority of people are pretty dumb, and thus aren't capable of grasping, internalizing, and acting upon something sensible like that, because they're, well, pretty dumb...

      June 6, 2011 at 12:43 am |
    • RichardSRussell

      Aristotle was undeniably one of the smartest people in the world. And he thot that an object twice as heavy as another would fall twice as fast. He said so. People believed him for 2000 years until Galileo came around and actually ran the test to show that they fall at the same speed.

      Being really smart is no guarantee of always being right.

      June 6, 2011 at 12:44 am |
    • Stan Dupp

      That is true, RichardSR. Very true indeed. We all have our little foibles and weaknesses. Yet if you make sure to not speak about things you don't know very well (or at all) you will find that mistakes can become much less, at least as far as discussion and debate go.
      I know how to dog-paddle my way through some very deep waters, but I am not as energetic as I once was. I get tired. I make mistakes. My memory is fading in some areas. Yet I can still mop up the floor with anyone suffering from delusions.
      This is not very chivalrous, to take advantage of the massive ignorance and insanity of my fellow humans in denouncing that ignorance and insanity, yet I find it helps keep my mind active from a social standpoint.
      And you believers really are wrong about all that, you see.
      You might complain that I say rude things when I call you deluded, insane, brainwashed, etc., yet if you were talking to crazy people who are apt to violate YOUR rights every day, you might find yourself viewing their criminal motives very harshly indeed.
      Very harshly indeed.

      June 6, 2011 at 1:45 am |
  2. James Black


    June 6, 2011 at 12:27 am |
  3. Tatarize

    The article said there was danger to these misquotes. It didn't give anything actually dangerous. Sure, there's a few things that aren't in the Bible that are wrongly attributed. But, there's stuff that's actually *IS* in the Bible that nobody should do, treating women like chattel, slavery, genocide, forsaking your family and running off to preach the Gospels, ignoring your family because the world is going to end in the current Generation (of the 1st century). - The stuff people think is in the Bible is generally better than the stuff that *actually* is in the Bible.

    June 6, 2011 at 12:25 am |
  4. rob


    The belief that a walking dead Jewish deity who was his own father although he always existed, commits suicide by cop, although he didn't really die, in order to give himself permission not to send you to an eternal place of torture that he created for you, but instead to make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh, drink his blood, and telepathically promise him you accept him as your master, so he can cleanse you of an evil force that is present in mankind because a rib-woman and a mud-man were convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree. - Anon.

    June 6, 2011 at 12:23 am |
    • Luis

      Rob tries to tell joke. Epic fail.

      June 6, 2011 at 12:35 am |
    • RichardSRussell

      The joke is that there people who actually BELIEVE exactly what Rob wrote.

      June 6, 2011 at 12:37 am |
    • Luis

      RichardSRussell Is Rob's set up man

      Rob: Knock, knock
      RichardSRussell: Who's there?
      Rob: Christians are stupid
      RichardSRussell: Christians are stupid who?
      Rob: Christians are stupid who take anything we have to say seriously.
      RichardSRussell: Good one Rob! We showed how clever we are.

      June 6, 2011 at 12:43 am |
  5. Talitha

    "Tree of Life?"

    You mean Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil! Adam and Eve were allowed to eat the fruit of the Tree of Life (the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil was the ONLY tree whose fruits had been forbidden).

    I find it quite ironic that the author of this article would make such a mistake.

    June 6, 2011 at 12:17 am |
    • Luis

      Oh Snap!

      June 6, 2011 at 12:21 am |
    • Luis

      The forbidden fruit is never called an apple either.

      June 6, 2011 at 12:31 am |
    • I Don't Get It

      If Adam & Eve had no knowledge of Good and Evil, how could they possibly know that it was wrong ('Evil') to disobey "God"... or that there would be bad ('Evil') consequences for it?

      June 6, 2011 at 12:48 am |
    • Luis

      @I Don't Get It

      You're right. They didn't know what was good or bad. The serpent (Satan) said they would be like God and know good from evil if they ate the fruit. They wanted to know even though they were told they would die because of it.

      Here is a good article about it.

      June 6, 2011 at 1:08 am |
  6. Dome

    and the more proverb must said " Zeal without knowledge is runaway horse "

    so , i should be place more as the saw was say " The apple of discord" – – the cause of strife , connection , or quarrel from the telltales . . . Eris the goddess of discord had not been invited to the wedding of Peleus and Thetis , the parents of Achilles. To avenge this slight, Eris threw among the guests a golden apple on which was written " for the most beautiful " Juno, Minerva and Venus contented for this prize of beauty and this quarrel finally led to the Trojan War

    and this is mine and finally said " The wise make jests and the fool repeats them "

    June 6, 2011 at 12:17 am |
  7. frank

    My favorite verse from Scripture is the one that says "Grisly ghouls from every tomb are closing in to seal your doom!"
    It makes me want to dance for some reason.

    June 6, 2011 at 12:10 am |
  8. bluemax77

    Saw the movie – It was crap..!!

    June 6, 2011 at 12:08 am |
  9. Stephen

    Years ago, a preacher told me that the King James Bible was the best version to read. I asked my mother about this matter. This is what she told me..."wht I think, read the Bible in a good version for the today. The meaning – no matter what version – is the same. So, rather than get in a controversy about what is a right version (any one version that goes back to the original Greek text is ok) listen for the message that is being presented and let the version you can understand best be yours and let others claim theirs."

    June 6, 2011 at 12:03 am |
    • DN3

      Your mother is a very wise woman.

      June 6, 2011 at 12:12 am |
    • paintpaintpaint

      Smart lady...

      June 6, 2011 at 12:16 am |
  10. MoreChoices

    This is my favorite phantom scripture... "And whosoever shall be found, without the soul for getting down, must stand and face the hounds of hell, and rot inside a corpse's shell."

    June 6, 2011 at 12:00 am |
  11. ROB

    To the Author of this “Stupid Story:”

    Rabbi Rami Shapiro says: “Most people who profess a deep love of the "Bible" have never actually read the book,” says Rabbi Rami Shapiro, who once had to persuade a student in his "Bible class” ... yada, yada, yada …

    For one, the totality of God's Holy Word (the Bible), consists of the (complete) Old and New Testament; or, the Torah (the 1st 5 Books of Moses), the Tenach (the Books of the Prophets), and also the New Testament … and not just the Torah and the Tenach like all of the “Jesus is ‘not’ the Messiah” (aka: all of the unbelieving) Jewish Rabbis teach; so your Rabbi’s statement is untrue as well; he doesn’t read the whole of the Bible himself … thus, he doesn’t have the whole truth either!

    God's Holy Word (the entire Holy Bible), encompasses 66 Books, by 40 authors, penned over a period some 1,546 years of human time; and ALL done “As they were ‘led by’ (aka: the words of God that were ‘dictated to them by’) the Holy Spirit Himself; directly into the minds of the “chosen men” of God; who in turn (as mere humans), simply ‘penned’ (they didn’t author) what they were ‘instructed’ by the Holy Spirit to write; that “is” in the Bible … so why not tell the blogging people that, so many can (once, and for all time) stop with all the ignorant remarks like “man” wrote the Bible. Jesus taught there are only 2 camps of people … those that are His; and those who belong to the Devil (that is “also” in the Bible). If you believe the Holy Spirit was the Author of the (entire) Holy Bible, you are of the camp of Jesus; if you believe otherwise, then Jesus said, “you are of your father, the Devil;’ that’s in the Bible too!

    But more importantly; every year this "same stupid story" ... or one just like it, comes out about what the Bible
    (supposedly) “doesn't say" ... as though you as the author of such a story, would even know what the Holy Bible "does say” ... you and your ilk simply pick through stories, then parrot what all the other mocking and unbelieving people say. For once, why don't you (as the author of ‘this’ stupid story show people how Biblically literate you really are, by educating people on what the Bible really "does say" ... that would be way more useful to everyone.

    Man is not made greater by his mocking of God; he merely adds to his ‘account’ that is kept by the “ONE that will JUDGE him or her, for every ‘idle’ (evil, wicked, blasphemous, or disrespectful) word spoken.” That’s in the Bible too.

    June 5, 2011 at 11:55 pm |
    • Reasonable

      Believing in the supernatural is a symptom of mental illness. Arguing for it could very well be the definition.

      June 6, 2011 at 12:09 am |
    • Bill


      June 6, 2011 at 12:14 am |
    • I_get _it

      @ROB: "the words of God that were ‘dictated to them by’) the Holy Spirit Himself;"

      Therein is the crux of the problem. You have no proof of this. No proof that there *is* a 'Holy Spirit', nor that it inspired anyone.

      What about all of the books that were excluded by the early church council who voted on which ones to include in the compilation? Those poor old authors probably thought that they were 'inspired' too.

      Why did this 'Holy Spirit' include contradictions in his 'inspiring'?

      June 6, 2011 at 12:22 am |
    • RichardSRussell

      Q. Why do you believe the Bible?
      A. Because it’s the word of God.
      Q. How do you know?
      A. Because the Bible says so.
      Q. But why do you believe the Bible?
      A. Because it’s the word of God.
      Q. How do you ... oh, never mind.

      June 6, 2011 at 12:24 am |
    • Fuz

      I once was told that the greatest trick by the Devil was convincing the world that he didn't exist. It took some contemplation but now I realize that he was never concerned about those that don't believe in him but those who would believe in God. I believe that the greatest trick by the Devil is putting forth words written by man and stating they are from God. Those looking for answers go to a book instead of directly to the source, and the fighting has never stopped. I believe Satan is laughing knowing that few will simply open their hearts and mind to God by humbling themselves. That requires someone to look at themselves and admit they have no idea what is going on and ask for wisdom. Very difficult.

      June 6, 2011 at 11:13 am |
    • crysharrus

      Just because Rabbi Shapiro is Jewish, that doesn't mean he hasnn't read the Bible. I'd imagine he has probably read the Koran and the I,Ching, and other religious works as well. His point is that many Christians have not read the Bible, in its totality, and are therefore more prone to make errors as to what is actually in the text.

      I agree with your position that articles like this don't contribute to religious discourse, albeit for different reasons. Fundamentalists and literal Bible readers cannot entertain any discussion about contradictions of their everyday faith with the text of the Bible, nor contradictions within the text itself. Therefore, engaging in discussion is always one-sided and emotional.

      June 6, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
  12. Randy Seamans

    anyone who has read their bible knows this article is bunk. Actually, it's worse, more like condescending "re-education" to distort what he bible does say. if you really don't believe the bible, and you have not read it (front to back), then how do you know? Is not that the "definition" of prejudice?

    June 5, 2011 at 11:53 pm |
    • Pastor Todd

      Why yes... yes that IS the definition of prejudice.

      June 6, 2011 at 12:04 am |
    • Reasonable

      You call it prejudice. We call it common sense.

      June 6, 2011 at 12:11 am |
    • RichardSRussell

      How is this bunk? People demonstrably DO quote things AS IF they were in the Bible, and they are demonstrably NOT in the Bible. That's all the article says. Why do you have a problem with that?

      June 6, 2011 at 12:26 am |
  13. Dome

    It would be joked that I have had heard the premodial parody which it was tales as "Satan tempted Eve to eat the forbidden apple in the Garden of Eden. " . . . for the further information was narrate that god had punished by grasping the pip or apple's kernel put and gulp to men those who ate the apples should has something outreach from them throat and from now on we are well known its apple as APPLE'S ADAM so that to seperate between men and wemen.

    June 5, 2011 at 11:53 pm |
    • Reasonable


      June 6, 2011 at 12:12 am |
  14. John

    I'm actually with Chuck E on this one. Go read the bible:


    June 5, 2011 at 11:46 pm |
  15. Gerald Long

    This person knows nothing about the Bible. Read the following where the Bible clearly indicates that Satan was in the Garden:

    (Eze 28:13) "You were in Eden, the garden of God; Every precious stone was your covering: The ruby, the topaz and the diamond; The beryl, the onyx and the jasper; The lapis lazuli, the turquoise and the emerald; And the gold, the workmanship of your settings and sockets, Was in you. On the day that you were created They were prepared.

    (Eze 28:14) "You were the anointed cherub who covers, And I placed you there. You were on the holy mountain of God; You walked in the midst of the stones of fire.

    (Eze 28:15) "You were blameless in your ways From the day you were created Until unrighteousness was found in you.

    (Eze 28:16) "By the abundance of your trade You were internally filled with violence, And you sinned; Therefore I have cast you as profane From the mountain of God. And I have destroyed you, O covering cherub, From the midst of the stones of fire.

    Also, Jesus Himself said of Satan:

    (Luk 10:18) And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.

    Also, others have appropriately quoted from the Revelation of Jesus Christ chapter 12 which reads as follows about the serpent and tells us who that serpent is:

    (Rev 12:3) And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.

    (Rev 12:4) And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.

    (Rev 12:5) And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.

    (Rev 12:6) And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.

    (Rev 12:7) And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,

    (Rev 12:8) And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.

    (Rev 12:9) And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

    Believe it or not, scripture will interpret scripture, and each of us will one day find that the Bible is the Word of God and Jesus Christ is the only hope for mankind. Don't believe these people who malign what they have no knowledge of. Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.

    June 5, 2011 at 11:42 pm |
    • Jacob

      "Believe it or not, scripture will interpret scripture"

      That's what's known in the real world as circular logic or begging the question.

      June 5, 2011 at 11:49 pm |
    • David Galligan

      Brain exploding from knowledge

      June 5, 2011 at 11:52 pm |
    • Phil Storms

      Right on!

      June 5, 2011 at 11:55 pm |
    • David Galligan

      @ Jacob..... it's not circular reasoning. the phrase means that it's like a puzzle. It's not complete unless every piece has been inserted. Chronologically forward and backward the Bible ties itself together.

      June 5, 2011 at 11:57 pm |
    • Nicole

      I'm with you on that one Gerald!

      June 5, 2011 at 11:58 pm |
    • Jacob

      David, that's the definition of circular logic.

      June 6, 2011 at 12:01 am |
    • poopdog

      But the story in the book of Genesis never places Satan in the Garden of Eden.

      “Genesis mentions nothing but a serpent,” says Kevin Dunn, chair of the department of religion at Tufts University in Massachusetts.

      “Not only does the text not mention Satan, the very idea of Satan as a devilish tempter postdates the composition of the Garden of Eden story by at least 500 years,” Dunn says.

      your quoting ezekiel and revelations not genesis. the author clearly states he's referring to the book of genesis

      June 6, 2011 at 12:04 am |
    • Nicole

      Rev.12:9- So down the great dragon was hurled, THE ORIGINAL SERPENT, THE ONE CALLED DEVIL AND SATAN, who is misleading the entire inhabited earth, and his angels were hurled down with him. Thats where it shows that the serpent is satan!

      June 6, 2011 at 12:14 am |
  16. Jacob

    Christians need their Christ the way Heroin addicts need their fix.

    June 5, 2011 at 11:41 pm |
    • Dave L

      Oh man, this about how amazing the world would be if Christians sought Christ the way a heroin addict sought his drugs. (And I'm talking the for-real Christ, not the "Jesus hates you if you're (whatever I don't like)" Christ. But at the same time, I'm talking the for-real "No one comes to the Father but through Me" Christ, not the "do what you want and just have happy feelings" Christ.)

      I think if Christians sought Christ like that, there would be a much different view of Christianity in the world today.

      June 6, 2011 at 12:09 am |
    • Gerald Long

      I need Christ more than a junky needs heroin. So do you. The stone the builder rejected has become the chief cornerstone. You have determined to not believe, which is your right. I have determined to believe and have become convinced through careful study with an open mind. I was once an unbeliever, but I was a seeker of truth and I followed truth where it led me and I ended up with Jesus Christ. And I am not ashamed of that decision. I am proud to say that I belong to Him. There is no other name given among men whereby we might be saved.

      Men profess to be wise but they have become fools (Romans 1). The fool has said in his heart, "there is no God". (Psalms 14:1)

      You continue to believe what you wish to believe and I will do the same and at the end of our days on earth, which are very short, let's find out who was right.

      June 6, 2011 at 12:21 am |
    • tallulah13

      Gerald certainly proved your point, Jacob.

      June 6, 2011 at 12:22 am |
  17. James Black


    June 5, 2011 at 11:37 pm |
  18. Evan

    This article essentially sums up religion in America. People like to call themselves Christian without actually taking the effort to do what Christ says. People pick only the verses that they like or that fit their views. Americans simply treat religion as a tool, not a way of life. America likes to call itself Christian, but it's not.

    June 5, 2011 at 11:37 pm |
    • Lauren

      Not only do people ignore what the Bible actually teaches, but the ignore the ideals on what America was founded on.
      "The government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion." –John Adams in the Treaty of Tripoly.

      It seems like people feel they can pick and choose what to follow in the Bible, especially regarding the Old Testament.

      June 5, 2011 at 11:42 pm |
    • Mike

      Oh, let us all thank the heavens. We have Evan here to tell us what a real Christian is.

      June 5, 2011 at 11:54 pm |
    • Reasonable

      Mike, why do people like you keeping pounding more nails into the Christian coffin?

      June 6, 2011 at 12:16 am |
    • paintpaintpaint

      I think Christ is probably amused at all the different 'Christian' religions. When He was asked what the most important 'rule' was, He Himself said :Two rules: Love God and Love Each Other. Most of us do OK on the first rule, but fail the second...

      June 6, 2011 at 12:19 am |
  19. Mark Soper

    Hasn't this author ever heard of parallelism? Several of the so-called "errors" cited in this article are accurate simplifications from a passage using parallelism.

    And regarding the "misidentification" of Satan and the serpent: See Revelation 20:1-2, which was written no later than around 100AD, as the last of many identifications of Satan and the serpent.

    June 5, 2011 at 11:31 pm |
    • Free

      No, it identifies Satan as a serpent. People simply infer that the two are the same.

      June 5, 2011 at 11:41 pm |
    • Justinian

      You are a moron. He said identifying Satan as the serpent POSTDATES the genesis story by 500 years and you then cite Revelations, which by your own admission was written around 100a.d. or at least 500yrs after genesis.
      Also, since when does a "simplification" or "parallelism" count as a quote of a bible verse? You almost certainly didn't go to college, or a real one anyway- what you describe is a form of plagiarism that can get you kicked out of school or at the very least a poor grade. You probably saw plenty even though likely home-schooled by your idiot religious nut parents.

      June 5, 2011 at 11:49 pm |
    • Sepirus

      Hold on, Justinian, hold on.

      The article correctly identifies a problem amongst Christians and the propensity to misquote and misunderstand scripture, but I must say, some of the distinctions drawn in the article are semantics.

      The serpent in the garden of Eden may not bear the name Lucifer or Satan or one of the many other names that have been attributed to the figure we commonly refer to as Satan, but it is clear from the scripture that the serpent tempted Eve into eating the apple and betraying the pact God had made with Adam and Eve. For me and the majority of Christians, as per my understanding, the serpent is a symbolic representation of "the Devil." If I used the word Devil instead of Satan or Lucifer, should my conveyance of the concept be any less diminished. Not to mention the process of translation and it's tendency to change words for audiences and understanding.

      Furthermore, does it matter about the literal definition of the word used or the connotation and the theme it conveys? I think the latter is closer to the mark.

      All in all, the article brings up several valid points to consider, especially given the tendency of individuals with less than stellar intelligence to teach a book as if they themselves were the vehicle of the being of creation. I'm 23, and it dawned on me only 3 years ago at a sermon that I was smarter than the preachers I grew up with after studying the text they were teaching and thinking, "huh, that word does not mean that..." haha. So yea, this article hits it on the head pretty well with a few caveats.

      June 6, 2011 at 12:16 am |
    • Reasonable

      Serpirus, can you share your absolutely amazing sense of logic with your fellow Christians, please? The only reason this kind of argument exist is because most Christians don't hold the kind of sensitivity and tolerance you do towards others outside of your church and we, as Atheists, LOVE the hypocrisy in that and feed on it. If you could share your gift of communication with others who believe in your god, Christians would have a very much less tarnished reputation in this world.

      You're alright in my book, dude. And I can say, from my experiences with other Atheists, you're the kind of person we cherish having friendships with. Forget about what we believe in respects to this argument.

      June 6, 2011 at 12:24 am |
  20. TeaClown

    Breaking away from the chains of organized religion felt great. No more mind control, false guilt, stress, etc. My family has fun on Sunday mornings because we don't dwell on death and mortality.

    June 5, 2011 at 11:24 pm |
    • Lauren

      Agreed. A decent bit of humor my family shares is the phrase "Thank god I'm an atheist."

      June 5, 2011 at 11:39 pm |
    • Reasonable

      Right on, TeaClown! If you guys still study the bible without the nonsense that comes with "the church", then kudos to you. See...most Atheists (at least, most that I know) don't really care what anyone believes in so much. We understand it's something you CANNOT CHANGE IN ANYONE. Choice does not come into play when dealing with belief. We just hate the hypocrisy that comes from those waving their religious flags in our faces.

      June 6, 2011 at 12:36 am |
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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.