My Take: Why evangelicals should stop evangelizing
Carl Medearis with Sheikh Nabil Qawouk Hezbollah’s number two leader.
July 24th, 2011
01:00 AM ET

My Take: Why evangelicals should stop evangelizing

Editor's Note: Carl Medearis is an international expert in Arab-American and Muslim-Christian relations and is author of the book Speaking of Jesus: The Art of Not-Evangelism.

By Carl Medearis, Special to CNN

Let’s do an exercise. I want you to fill in the blank on what you think you know about me based on what I’m about to tell you.

Here goes: Twenty years ago, I became a missionary. My wife and I left our home in Colorado Springs, Colorado to move to Beirut, Lebanon. Our job description was to plant churches and evangelize to Muslims.

Based on what I just said, Carl Medearis is a ______________ .

Depending on your background, the blank may look something like this:

Carl Medearis is a... hero of the Christian faith, a saintly super-man willing to sacrifice the comforts of home in order to share the love of Jesus Christ with those who have never heard the gospel.

Or this:

Carl Medearis is a... right-wing extremist who destroys cultures, tears apart families and paves the way for neo-colonialist crusaders to invade, occupy and plunder the resources of local populations.

Quite a range, isn’t it?

For one group of people, the words “evangelist” and “missionary” bring to mind pious heroes performing good deeds that are unattainable for the average Christian. For another group, those same words represent just about everything that’s wrong with the world.

I understand the confusion.

Based on my experiences of living and traveling around the world, I know that religion is often an identity marker that determines people’s access to jobs, resources, civil liberties and political power.

When I lived in Lebanon I saw firsthand how destructive an obsession with religious identity could be. Because of the sectarian nature of Lebanese politics, modern Lebanese history is rife with coups, invasions, civil wars and government shutdowns.

When I tell my Christian friends in America that some of the fiercest militias were (and are) Christian, most are shocked. It doesn’t fit the us-versus-them mentality that evangelism fosters, in which we are always the innocent victims and they are always the aggressors.

This us-versus-them thinking is odd, given that Jesus was constantly breaking down walls between Jews and Gentiles, rich and poor, men and women, sinners and saints. That’s why we have the parable of the Good Samaritan.

Jews in Jesus’ day thought of the Samaritans as the violent heretics, much the same way that Christians think of Muslims today. The idea that a Samaritan could be good was scandalous to first century Jews.

Jesus was the master of challenging religious prejudice and breaking down sectarian walls. Why do so many Christians want to rebuild those walls?

Even the Apostle Paul insisted that it’s faith in Jesus that matters, not converting to a new religion or a new socio-religious identity.

What if evangelicals today, instead of focusing on “evangelizing” and “converting” people, were to begin to think of Jesus not as starting a new religion, but as the central figure of a movement that transcends religious distinctions and identities?

Jesus the uniter of humanity, not Jesus the divider. How might that change the way we look at others?

This is more than just a semantic difference.

When I used to think of myself as a missionary, I was obsessed with converting Muslims (or anybody for that matter) to what I thought of as “Christianity.” I had a set of doctrinal litmus tests that the potential convert had to pass before I would consider them “in” or one of “us.”

Funny thing is, Jesus never said, “Go into the world and convert people to Christianity.” What he said was, “Go and make disciples of all nations.”

Encouraging anyone and everyone to become an apprentice of Jesus, without manipulation, is a more open, dynamic and relational way of helping people who want to become more like Jesus — regardless of their religious identity.

Just because I believe that evangelicals should stop evangelizing doesn’t mean that they should to stop speaking of Jesus.

I speak of Jesus everywhere I go and with everyone I meet.

As founder and president of a company called International Initiatives, my work is aimed at building relationships among Christian leaders in the West and among Muslim leaders in the Middle East.

It may come as a surprise to many Christians that Muslims are generally open to studying the life of Jesus as a model for leadership because they revere him as a prophet.

But now that I’m no longer obsessed with converting people to Christianity, I’ve found that talking about Jesus is much easier and far more compelling.

I believe that doctrine is important, but it’s not more important than following Jesus.

Jesus met people where they were. Instead of trying to figure out who’s “in” and who’s “out,” why don’t we simply invite people to follow Jesus — and let Jesus run his kingdom?

Inviting people to love, trust, and follow Jesus is something the world can live with. And since evangelicals like to say that it’s not about religion, but rather a personal relationship with Jesus, perhaps we should practice what we preach.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Carl Medearis.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Interfaith issues • Opinion

soundoff (3,792 Responses)
  1. Richard S Kaiser

    Brian writes; ""Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations,"....................................................................Jesus didn't say this in English. What we call the Bible is a translation of a translation of a translation. This is why theology is so obtuse. We have hundreds of denominations, creeds and sects – each being the True Religion. Wars have been fought over interpretations of the Bible. Religion is part of the problem, not a solution to anything." (Wrote On July 24, 2011 at 9:07 pm)

    Hello Brian,
    In your Posting you wrote, "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations". Are we or could we percieve Christ Jesus was saying to make all nations to become a discipleship of National Governmental Denomination or something else?

    July 24, 2011 at 9:34 pm |
  2. chris

    People like this twist the words and leave things out to justify their liberal position. These people are wolves in sheep clothing. The ENTIRE text reads:

    "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the FATHER and of the SON and of the HOLY SPIRIT.

    Desciples of who? JESUS.

    July 24, 2011 at 9:31 pm |
    • Spiffy

      Jesus never existed.

      July 24, 2011 at 9:34 pm |
    • Richard S Kaiser

      chris wrote; ""Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the FATHER and of the SON and of the HOLY SPIRIT"

      I am under the assumption that we or better yet, Christendom's Ambassadors should help with Otherly Nations to bring them the WORD or the Gospels to each and every Nations' Political Virtuosos/Leaders,,,,,,,,,,,,?.

      July 24, 2011 at 9:40 pm |
    • Muneef

      No Jesus (Issa) has existed and (Muhammed) existed and both are the prophets of GOD who brought to us the words of Truth from GOD Almighty...the proof for this the books and the believers of their existance and Holy Words...

      Actually I as an Arab and as a Muslim hold all the respect for the personality of the present leader Mr.H.Nasserallah and to all of his team for their contribution of freeing Lebnon from their invaders and for uniting Lebnon after a long time of wear and tear...she had made a balance to our world better than any existing leadership in the Arabic or Muslim countries...they were alone in their last war better and more firm on the ground than any Arabic or Muslim countries... No matter from whom they get the finance or the arms... They are no Terrorists but rather world wanted it's privacy and freedom of belief as well as the ability to defend their community... Actually those inhabit the southern part of Lebnon meaning they are at the front of danger. They are Muslim Shia and I am a Muslim Sunni but admire their leadership although at the moment am upset for them being framed up by the international court for the late Alhariri assassination as mean of disarming them first and then court marshal them as terrorists for their bravery and high principals..after all Armed or Disarmed you will not be left in peace for defending your rights and land..!!!

      [2:283] Do not withhold any testimony by concealing what you had witnessed. Anyone who withholds a testimony is sinful at heart. GOD is fully aware of everything you do.

      July 24, 2011 at 10:07 pm |
    • Spiffy

      @Muneef first off learn to use proper grammar.

      Jesus with most certainty did not exist. The whole birth of Jesus is filled with historical inaccuracies. The rest of his life is completely copied from pagan stories from around the Mediterranean at the time.

      Muhammad yes probably existed. I'm not sure how people could follow such a horrible person though. The whole Muslim religion is an obvious hybrid of the religions available to Muhammad at the time.

      The proof for God's existence is not the fact that there are books about God. If that were true then using that same logic I could make a case for magic being real or fairies.

      I do not like Israel's treatment of it's neighbor's though and it's illegal take over of land it does not own. Israel should not be immune to international law.

      July 24, 2011 at 10:48 pm |
  3. Raz car mor

    Why are you blocking my post?

    July 24, 2011 at 9:30 pm |
  4. alan

    That all sounds compelling until you consider Jesus' teaching such as – Luke 13:26-28 What Carl is saying is not wholly untrue – but there is enough truth lacking that this tips toward "another Gospel". Jesus was not just a good man or philosopher. Salvation does not come from imitation and understanding of his teaching or follwing his example. Salvation is through acceptamce of his sacrifice as the son of God on my behalf. In short it is a matter of faith and allegence to Christ – not culture, race, or principles.

    July 24, 2011 at 9:28 pm |
    • Bill

      Yes, except what we learned from the teachings of Paul is to meet people where they are. Out job is to share the Good News of the Gospel ... not to get people to abandon their lives as they know it ... as the old axiom says, "we catch em, God cleans em." It is NOT for us to judge what non-bleivers do and tell them they are wrong. In fact, the Bible FORBIDS that. We are only to spread the good news and plant seeds.... the Holy Spirit does the rest.

      July 24, 2011 at 9:33 pm |
    • Richard S Kaiser

      Hello alan,
      You blogged saying, "In short it is a matter of faith and allegence to Christ – not culture, race, or principles."

      Might you have meant it's a matter of personal convictions such as faith and allegence to Christ Jesus and his Base Principles in one's participation of their social ongoings, such as Church involvement and for anyone to develop a rigorous understanding of what it means to Have Faith in GOD, the Creator and the CREATION?

      July 24, 2011 at 9:50 pm |
    • alan

      I'll grant you that. Technique and tact is lacking in many evangelistic efforts. Real witnessing is done over years by life example and by tactfully sharing the truth – not by beating people over the head with a leahterbound tome of any kind. My issue though is that a soft-sell gospel IS NOT a saving gospel. Of course the Holy Spirit may fill in the gaps by someone else dotting the "i"s and crossing the "t"s later on after "the seeds have been sown" but that's a far cry from Paul on Mar's Hill.

      July 24, 2011 at 9:53 pm |
    • alan

      No Rich, salvation is simple. The outcome of that real salvation will pan out in what you say, but salvation itself is not by my works.

      July 24, 2011 at 9:56 pm |
  5. Jchap

    Ya know... That muslim gentleman standing next to you does not really look so happy to be standing next to you.

    July 24, 2011 at 9:28 pm |
  6. Spiffy

    God isn't real.

    July 24, 2011 at 9:27 pm |
    • macj121

      I am so pleased that your shared your enlightened and intelligent comment .... I am sure billions of people will now give up their faiths becasue 'you' shed light on the topic. Just wondering how you can 'prove' this?

      July 24, 2011 at 9:32 pm |
    • Spiffy

      I don't care what others think. They can worship their magical sky daddy as long as they please. I am expressing my opinion. Jesus freaks are allowed to post their scripture I am allowed to post my facts.

      How do I intend on proving there is no God? With logic. There is no proof for a God. People in ancient times just used him to explain why things were. Anyone can make any claim saying that anything exists. Just because I can't disprove there isn't a teacup orbiting the sun doesn't mean there is. Just because I can't disprove there isn't a magical invisible unicorn going around doesn't mean there is one.

      You see when people make ridiculous claims that an all powerful being controls everything and unless I do exactly what said being says I am going to burn for eternity I will just laugh in their faces.

      July 24, 2011 at 9:44 pm |
    • macj121

      Spiffy, you speak of ridiculous claims, but the problem is that intellectually we all, at some point, make faith steps – like the origins of the universe, evil, the soul. I believe all truth is God's truth – sciences included, so please don't paint all people who adhere to a faith as unscientific ... and please don't make science your god, as everyday I turn my radio I hear yet another 'scientic and proven truth' as being wrong, misinterpreted, or outdated.

      July 24, 2011 at 9:52 pm |
    • Spiffy

      I do not make "faith steps" I act on logic. What is more logical? That the universe was created by some all powerful being in 7 days and that the earth is six thousand years old or that the big-bang created the universe and that the earth is billions of years old?

      I never said people who had faith were unscientific. In fact you said it. People who do believe in God are less likely to be scientists that is a fact.

      Why do you believe that all truth is "God's" truth? Why give credit to God when it should be given to the person who actually thought of it? Do you even have proof that God is real? Why give all truth to something you do not even know is real? That is like saying all truth is fairy's truth.

      Science isn't my god because there is no God. Albert Einstein did believe that science was so beautiful and wonderful that it was god like.

      So because you hear that there are innovations in science you have come to the thought that science can not be true because it constantly changes? That is the whole point of science. To keep progressing. To keep innovating. To make the world better. Something no supernatural being could ever do.

      July 24, 2011 at 10:14 pm |
    • Duce

      Spiffy speaks with knowledge. Like he said, don't care if you believe or not...

      July 25, 2011 at 12:10 am |
  7. Paul

    Christ said to this end was I born and for this cause came I unto the world that I should bear witness unto the truth. what is truth? Thy word is truth. what does the Word say? Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners of whom I am chief.
    in the market place of ideas christianity presents a simple message that the infinite God creator of the heaven and earth loves us and has shown His love to us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us (no greater love than that). Today all you have to do is read the news to prove the Bible is right that people are sinners bent in doing wrong and the greatest message is that God loves us and has made it possible for us to have life in Him
    Carl this says nothing about converting people or forcing people to convert by being pushy just present the message of what God has done for sinners like us and leave the rest for God to do His work and some will believe by Grace through faith
    We are witnesses in all that we say or do and we are not aiming to change peoples religion, but let God change peoples' lives

    July 24, 2011 at 9:27 pm |
    • Spiffy

      Jesus wasn't anything special. He didn't even exist.

      July 24, 2011 at 9:28 pm |
    • Dave

      Spiffy, how can you say Jesus didn't exist. Jesus came to my house this past Friday to mow my lawn along with Pedro.

      July 24, 2011 at 9:30 pm |
  8. Richard S Kaiser

    izhar syed writes; "In this day of advertisements and marketing, religeon has taken full advantage of doing just that. I think religon is private and it should stay this way. Governments are keeping the idiots (US) busy so that they can do and commit all sins towards man. I am not an athiest and I do believe in all three monotheistic fundamentals but this is a gross representation of what religon should be. Wake up people, WE ARE ARE ALREADY IN HELL....God forbid if there is another one......People take a breath, sit down and enjoy life with families and friends and once in a while read a real book, reading will keep your critical thought process in check."........On July 24, 2011 at 7:30 pm

    Hello izhar syed,

    I am a basic Christian Fundamentalist Syed. My Holy and Spiritual Mindset is more than a mouthful for most to Comprehend and Now is not the Place.to write my views to you. I must however agree with you and say this world can Seem Like Hell but I can assure you Syed, it is not even close! As for spending Time with Family, I have but one brother. We live Together and do spend time with each other. His 2 children are grown up. One's married and has 2 children. My brother's Son is now spending time in the U.S.A.'s Navy. My Niece and Nephew did graduate from High School. They are prescious to Us Both!

    Maybe I might Take Your Advice and Buy a Book to Read,,,,,,Maybe,,LoL

    "Go Placidly amid the Noise and Waste and remember what Peace there may Be in finding Peace thereof!"

    Salutations to you Syed

    July 24, 2011 at 9:26 pm |
    • Another Doubting Thomas

      When are you gonna run out of capital letters ?

      July 24, 2011 at 10:24 pm |
  9. Dave

    This is the most important article on evangelizing I've read in my life. This is one of the best articles I've read on Christianity. Unfortunately, since far too many "Christians" are in love with a religion this will be dismissed by the majority.

    July 24, 2011 at 9:26 pm |
  10. philologus

    Christians and Muslims BOTH endeavor to expand their respective religions. Neither group will stop until the other does. Moreover, representatives from each group would add that indeed they would not stop even if the other group did. I live nearby a large university in the US, and my next door neighbor is a Muslim missionary who spends all day on campus - a good deal of which is "witnessing" to persuade students to claim Islam as their own religion.

    July 24, 2011 at 9:25 pm |
  11. Robble

    This is another idiot who can't think for himself. Deed not creed. People should be judged by their actions, not what they believe. It's time for people like this to grow up and realize that all this religious stuff is a bunch of fairytale malarky. My eleven year old daughter said to me,"Religion is primitive science. It is explanations for the ignorant. We now have science so we don't need religion."

    July 24, 2011 at 9:21 pm |
    • TheWiz71

      Comparing science and religion is like comparing apples and oranges. But, that's besides the point. How about you atheists actually commenting on the article instead of taking every opportunity to display your ignorance regarding the actual role of science and the actual role of religion (and what religious people, out of religious motivations have actually contributed to scientific discovery) in misguided attacks on anything to do with faith. Hope your eleven year old gets a better education on science and religion than what you are providing.

      July 24, 2011 at 9:27 pm |
    • macj121

      I feel sad that you are failing your child ... we were created body, mind and soul. Our culture/homes tend to feed the first two but sadly fails in the last ... this is your responsiblity, given to you by God, is to help nourish all areas for your child.

      July 24, 2011 at 9:29 pm |
    • philologus

      I'm sorry to say this, but your 11 year old's mind is . . . well . . . only 11.

      July 24, 2011 at 9:31 pm |
  12. Herewe Goagain

    Carl, you're desire to preach Christ and not Christianity is a distinction without a difference. If a person is a 'disciple' (of Christ) then they are a Christian.

    July 24, 2011 at 9:18 pm |
    • Bill

      Yeah but here is the issue ... Muslims see "Christians" as pigs as infidels ... because they view "Christians" as hypocrites who dont practice what they preach. The point here is to show muslims that we are followers of Jesus, the real Jesus, and his teachings. Muslims actually respect Jesus and his teachings. You can say you are a follower of Jesus or a follower of "The Book" but muslims equate "Christians" with "American imperialists" so its a word to avoid.

      July 24, 2011 at 9:41 pm |
    • Muneef


      Do not know who ever gave you that idea about Muslim look towards a Christian a real Christian that sticks to the Holy Book..as to HALAL and Haram...but maybe the look might be different if caledl Christian but not doing so just as if you would look to a Muslim who is not supposed to do this and that but does it even more than any body else...well in such case those from both sides are no Christains and no Muslims...but rather some thing else you name it....!

      July 24, 2011 at 10:18 pm |
    • Muneef

      It may come as a surprise to many Christians that Muslims are generally open to studying the life of Jesus as a model for leadership because they revere him as a prophet.

      July 24, 2011 at 10:43 pm |
  13. saaaly

    should anderson cooper admit he's gay?

    July 24, 2011 at 9:15 pm |
    • Another Doubting Thomas

      You must REALLY be in love with him. That's the 4th week in a row you said that. You think we're all as stupid as you don't you ?

      July 24, 2011 at 10:27 pm |
  14. Razcarmor


    Matthew 3:16
    16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:

    John 13:15
    15 For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.

    July 24, 2011 at 9:15 pm |
  15. pazyfe

    Your life is EVANGELISM, how you treat your fellowman, you do not need to scream from the North to the South for all to see, so man may praise you for your works, or is it that you serve the Lord so people can see you and praise you, WWWRRRRROOOONNNNGGGGG. You do Gods work, you praise His name and move on and know that He knows your heart, He knows why you do the things that you do.

    July 24, 2011 at 9:15 pm |
  16. mako

    ALL religious people are mentally ill at some level, the more "devote" they are to their crazy brand, the more dangerous they are. These people and churches should be treated like mentally ill F's

    July 24, 2011 at 9:13 pm |
  17. pazyfe

    Your life is EVANGELISM, how you treat your fellowman, you do not need to dream from the north to the South related to serving the Lord, or is it that you serve the Lord so people can see you an praise you, WWWRRRRROOOONNNNGGGGG. You do Gods work, you praise His name and move on and know that he knows your heart, he knows why you do the things that you do.

    July 24, 2011 at 9:12 pm |
  18. scott

    Why do people preach the word of Jesus and trying to covert people to Christianity? Jesus was never a Christian! Jesus was Jewish. He never claimed to be anything else. The only people that try to covert you are also trying to get you to give them money.

    July 24, 2011 at 9:09 pm |
    • macj121

      You apparently are not very familiar with the Bible. Perhaps you should try reading it before you speak ignorantly of it.

      July 24, 2011 at 9:17 pm |
    • alan

      Jesus was the son of God. He differed from the average Jew more than a little – that's why he was crucified. "We will not have this man rule over us" was th reason given at the time. Kudos for recognizing Jesus heritage. Study a bit harder and you may see the bigger picture.

      July 24, 2011 at 9:36 pm |
    • Bill

      Scott ... people who share the Gospel of Jesus Christ dont ask for a dime ... never .

      July 24, 2011 at 9:37 pm |
    • eric calderone

      Jesus by culture was a Jew, but His teachings transcended Judaic beliefs with an application of Charity and Love. That is what Christianity is. So, pointing to Jesus's ethnicity and inferring that He is Jewish, is rather superficial. It misses the point, to put it mildly, but not considering the content of His message.

      July 24, 2011 at 9:40 pm |
  19. Brian

    "Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations,"....................................................................

    Jesus didn't say this in English. What we call the Bible is a translation of a translation of a translation. This is why theology is so obtuse. We have hundreds of denominations, creeds and sects – each being the True Religion. Wars have been fought over interpretations of the Bible. Religion is part of the problem, not a solution to anything.

    July 24, 2011 at 9:07 pm |
    • Matt

      Brain, you are my hero. I have been saying the same thing for a while now.

      July 24, 2011 at 9:11 pm |
    • eric calderone

      No, people are part of the problem, not religion. Religion consists of affirming a set of beliefs regarding Jesus and His teachings. There is nothing wrong with faith in Jesus. On the contrary. The problems lies in how various people and cults superimpose their misunderstandings of those teachings, and their prejudices, on the faith. That there are numerous cults claiming to be christian is irrelevant. What is important is not what one claims, but in reality, what one IS.

      July 24, 2011 at 9:14 pm |
    • News Flash

      @eric calderone
      "misunderstandings" = code for "anything that doesn't agree with MY understanding

      July 24, 2011 at 9:19 pm |
    • eric calderone

      RE: Newsflash. Aphorisms or "witticisms" such as yours are a redflag for not being able to repudiate with rational argument what one does not like. Sophistry does not equate to intelligence.

      July 24, 2011 at 9:22 pm |
    • zzzzzzzz

      Religion is as man-made as all things you find in a dollar store but more since if you pay a dollar you actually get something.

      July 24, 2011 at 9:23 pm |
    • Tank

      That and the fact all these religious stories are a bunch of made up fairy tales. There is no supreme being that watches over humanity ... geez ... one day all you religious zealots will wake up and see how truly stupid this is ... it is not much different than the ancients who worshiped supreme beings.

      July 24, 2011 at 9:25 pm |
    • macj121

      Brian, you accurately point out the evil that has been done by evil people – under the guise of faith/religion; however, you fail to note all the good that is propelled out of it.

      Christians are called to be 'little Christs' ... to try to live in a manner like He did .. you know, 'turn the other cheek' and 'love your enemy' kindstuff. Interesting though, he was persecuted and killed for being this kind of threat ... perhaps like little Christs today.

      July 24, 2011 at 9:26 pm |
    • Demirew Guangul

      2 Tim 4: 3-4] NIV
      "For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, they will
      gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear."

      July 24, 2011 at 9:26 pm |
    • eric calderone

      RE: zzzzzz. Jesus, in addition to being God, was a man. So, saying something is man-made is no derogation on the value of that thing. That man chose to place faith in Jesus and His teachings (i.e, religion) means that people choose to avail themselvs of the opportunity for salvation. That is a good thing.

      I can state that atheism is a man-made thing. Being man-made is not bad, per se. But since the content of that man-made thing consists of an absolute faith in skepticism or NOTHING, that makes atheism a bad thing.

      July 24, 2011 at 9:29 pm |
    • alan

      Religion is not a word found in the Bible dude. We use that word to dovetail any belief in a supernatural world. The Bible calls for a relationship and we wrap our tiny human minds around the study of eternal things through established religion. If you want to start a new one – it will only add to the confusion. I think I'll stick to the one Jesus chose to sacrifice his life to present as worthy (read Colossians and Philippians sraight through).

      July 24, 2011 at 9:44 pm |
    • eric calderone

      RE: ALAN. Not certain what point you are trying to make. Trinity isn't found in the bible either. So what? I don't worship the bible, I worship GOD. You don't care for "established religion"? Fine, guess you like your religion disestablished or disordered. If that is the case, you must absolutely love the labyrinth of nutty quasi-christian cults found in America. Maybe the nutcase in Norway is one of your favorites. I hear he also worshipped nothing but the bible.

      July 24, 2011 at 9:50 pm |
    • News Flash

      @eric caldarone
      I don't see YOU refuting or arguing anything, other than calling them names, ("misunderstandings").
      What are the objective CRITERIA you use to judge something IS a "misunderstanding" ?

      July 24, 2011 at 9:52 pm |
    • eric calderone

      RE: Newsflash. Good question. If a belief has no precedent in historical Christianity, with emphasis on the early Church and Early Christian Fathers, then it is a problematic belief. A fine example would be glorifying a book called the bible. Jesus never wrote a word. Chrisianity spread throughout the Roman Empire without there being a canon of books. Sola Scriptura (the Bible Alone), just like Sola Fide (Faith Alone), are recent inventions (heresies) that have no precedent in Christianity.

      July 24, 2011 at 9:55 pm |
    • alan

      Eric, re-read what I wrote. There's nothing wrong with religion. We simply need to make a choice of the right kind. Start a new one or accept what is already there. Christ pointed a specific path – that's my choice.

      July 24, 2011 at 10:03 pm |
    • News Flash

      eric caldarone
      You need to review your history sir. Of course Jesus never wrote a word. How exactly do you think they spread it, if not by word of mouth. When do you consider it as having "spread' ?, (before or after Eusebius of Caesarea, and his canon, before or after Constantine ? If you think it had already spread BEFORE 60-70 AD when the first gospel was written, then you appear to know nothing. Those texts played an integral part, just as they do today, and if you think they don't, YOU are the "heretic".

      July 24, 2011 at 10:36 pm |
    • eric calderone

      RE: NEWS FLASH. Irrelevant when first or last gospel was written. What is relevant to the topic is WHEN the bible became canon: that is when the decision was made that only these books are to be included in what is recognized as the bible. That did not occur until the end of the 4th century. Before then various books not now recognized as canon were used in Church liturgy because they were popular. I don't need to review my history sir, I know it quite well, thank you.

      So, my point is twofold: that the bible is only viewed as the bible, because the senior clergy of Christianity met, discussed and agreed on what the most spiritual and orthodox books were. The bible didn't validate itself: the Church validated it. Second point: the bible is a tool, that is all, a tool, used by the Church for faith promotion during the liturgy, It was not written, nor ever used, as a textbook on faith. The books were written to address various local situations. In terms of faith instruction, the CREEDS, such as the Nicene Creed, are far more valuable than the bible.

      It was only after the Reformation, when protestants having rejected the authority of the Bishop of Rome, were left with no alternative than to resort to the bible as a rule to decide what was "acceptable" christian doctrine. They elevated the bible into a textbook on faith, which is a role that the bible, in terms of substance, cannot legitimately serve.

      July 25, 2011 at 10:05 pm |
  20. Razcarmor

    Romans 2:12

    For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law;

    July 24, 2011 at 9:07 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.