July 31st, 2011
01:00 AM ET

Do you speak Christian?

Editor's note: Kirby Ferguson is a New York-based writer, filmmaker and speaker who created the web video series Everything is a Remix. His videos, like the one above, can be found on Vimeo, an online community where artists share their films.

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) - Can you speak Christian?

Have you told anyone “I’m born again?” Have you “walked the aisle” to “pray the prayer?”

Did you ever “name and claim” something and, after getting it, announce, “I’m highly blessed and favored?”

Many Americans are bilingual. They speak a secular language of sports talk, celebrity gossip and current events. But mention religion and some become armchair preachers who pepper their conversations with popular Christian words and trendy theological phrases.

If this is you, some Christian pastors and scholars have some bad news: You may not know what you’re talking about. They say that many contemporary Christians have become pious parrots. They constantly repeat Christian phrases that they don’t understand or distort.

Marcus Borg, an Episcopal theologian, calls this practice “speaking Christian.” He says he heard so many people misusing terms such as “born again” and “salvation” that he wrote a book about the practice.

People who speak Christian aren’t just mangling religious terminology, he says. They’re also inventing counterfeit Christian terms such as “the rapture” as if they were a part of essential church teaching.

The rapture, a phrase used to describe the sudden transport of true Christians to heaven while the rest of humanity is left behind to suffer, actually contradicts historic Christian teaching, Borg says.

“The rapture is a recent invention. Nobody had thought of what is now known as the rapture until about 1850,” says Borg, canon theologian at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Portland, Oregon.

How politicians speak Christian

Speaking Christian isn’t confined to religion. It’s infiltrated politics.

Political candidates have to learn how to speak Christian to win elections, says Bill Leonard, a professor of church history at Wake Forest University’s School of Divinity in North Carolina.

One of our greatest presidents learned this early in his career. Abraham Lincoln was running for Congress when his opponent accused him of not being a Christian. Lincoln often referred to the Bible in his speeches, but he never joined a church or said he was born again like his congressional opponent, Leonard says.

"Lincoln was less specific about his own experience and, while he used biblical language, it was less distinctively Christian or conversionistic than many of the evangelical preachers thought it should be,” Leonard says.

Lincoln won that congressional election, but the accusation stuck with him until his death, Leonard says.

One recent president, though, knew how to speak Christian fluently.

During his 2003 State of the Union address, George W. Bush baffled some listeners when he declared that there was “wonder-working power” in the goodness of American people.

Evangelical ears, though, perked up at that phrase. It was an evangelical favorite, drawn from a popular 19th century revival hymn about the wonder-working power of Christ called “In the Precious Blood of the Lamb.”

Leonard says Bush was sending a coded message to evangelical voters: I’m one of you.

“The code says that one: I’m inside the community. And two: These are the linguistic ways that I show I believe what is required of me,” Leonard says.

Have you ‘named it and claimed it'?

Ordinary Christians do what Bush did all the time, Leonard says. They use coded Christian terms like verbal passports - flashing them gains you admittance to certain Christian communities.

Say you’ve met someone who is Pentecostal or charismatic, a group whose members believe in the gifts of the Holy Spirit, such as healing and speaking in tongues. If you want to signal to that person that you share their belief, you start talking about “receiving the baptism of the Holy Ghost” or getting the “second blessings,” Leonard says.

Translation: Getting a baptism by water or sprinkling isn’t enough for some Pentecostals and charismatics. A person needs a baptism “in the spirit” to validate their Christian credentials.

Or say you’ve been invited to a megachurch that proclaims the prosperity theology (God will bless the faithful with wealth and health). You may hear what sounds like a new language.

Prosperity Christians don’t say “I want that new Mercedes.” They say they are going to “believe for a new Mercedes.” They don’t say “I want a promotion.” They say I “name and claim” a promotion.

The rationale behind both phrases is that what one speaks aloud in faith will come to pass. The prosperity dialect has become so popular that Leonard has added his own wrinkle.

“I call it ‘name it, claim it, grab it and have it,’ ’’ he says with a chuckle.

Some forms of speaking Christian, though, can become obsolete through lack of use.

Few contemporary pastors use the language of damnation - “turn or burn,” converting “the pagans” or warning people they’re going to hit “hell wide open” - because it’s considered too polarizing, Leonard says. The language of “walking the aisle” is also fading, Leonard says.

Appalachian and Southern Christians often told stories about staggering into church and walking forward during the altar call to say the “sinner’s prayer” during revival services that would often last for several weeks.

“People ‘testified’ to holding on to the pew until their knuckles turned white, fighting salvation all the way,” Leonard says. “You were in the back of the church, and you fought being saved.”

Contemporary churchgoers, though, no longer have time to take that walk, Leonard says. They consider their lives too busy for long revival services and extended altar calls. Many churches are either jettisoning or streamlining the altar call, Leonard says.

“You got soccer, you got PTA, you got family responsibilities - the culture just won’t sustain it as it once did,” Leonard says.

Even some of the most basic religious words are in jeopardy because of overuse.

Calling yourself a Christian, for example, is no longer cool among evangelicals on college campuses, says Robert Crosby, a theology professor at Southeastern University in Florida.

“Fewer believers are referring to themselves these days as ‘Christian,’ ” Crosby says. “More are using terms such as ‘Christ follower.’ This is due to the fact that the more generic term, Christian, has come to be used within religious and even political ways to refer to a voting bloc.”

What’s at stake

Speaking Christian correctly may seem like it’s just a fuss over semantics, but it’s ultimately about something bigger: defining Christianity, says Borg, author of “Speaking Christian.”

Christians use common words and phrases in hymns, prayers and sermons “to connect their religion to their life in the world,” Borg says.

“Speaking Christian is an umbrella term for not only knowing the words, but understanding them,” Borg says. “It’s knowing the basic vocabulary, knowing the basic stories.”

When Christians forget what their words mean, they forget what their faith means, Borg says.

Consider the word “salvation.” Most Christians use the words "salvation" or "saved" to talk about being rescued from sin or going to heaven, Borg says.

Yet salvation in the Bible is seldom confined to an afterlife. Those characters in the Bible who invoked the word salvation used it to describe the passage from injustice to justice, like the Israelites’ liberation from Egyptian bondage, Borg says.

“The Bible knows that powerful and wealthy elites commonly structure the world in their own self-interest. Pharaoh and Herod and Caesar are still with us. From them we need to be saved,” Borg writes.

And when Christians forget what their faith means, they get duped by trendy terms such as the rapture that have little to do with historical Christianity, he says.

The rapture has become an accepted part of the Christian vocabulary with the publication of the megaselling “Left Behind” novels and a heavily publicized prediction earlier this year by a Christian radio broadcaster that the rapture would occur in May.

But the notion that Christians will abandon the Earth to meet Jesus in the clouds while others are left behind to suffer is not traditional Christian teaching, Borg says.

He says it was first proclaimed by John Nelson Darby, a 19th century British evangelist, who thought of it after reading a New Testament passage in the first book of Thessalonians that described true believers being “caught up in the clouds together” with Jesus.

Christianity’s focus has long been about ushering in God’s kingdom “on Earth, not just in heaven,” Borg says.

“Christianity’s goal is not to escape from this world. It loves this world and seeks to change it for the better,” he writes.

For now, though, Borg and others are also focusing on changing how Christians talk about their faith.

If you don’t want to speak Christian, they say, pay attention to how Christianity’s founder spoke. Jesus spoke in a way that drew people in, says Leonard, the Wake Forest professor.

“He used stories, parables and metaphors,” Leonard says. “He communicated in images that both the religious folks and nonreligious folks of his day understand.”

When Christians develop their own private language for one another, they forget how Jesus made faith accessible to ordinary people, he says.

“Speaking Christian can become a way of suggesting a kind of spiritual status that others don’t have,” he says. “It communicates a kind of spiritual elitism that holds the spiritually ‘unwashed’ at arm’s length."

By that time, they’ve reached the final stage of speaking Christian - they've become spiritual snobs.

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Baptist • Belief • Bible • Christianity • Church • Culture wars • Episcopal • Faith • Fundamentalism • Politics • Uncategorized

soundoff (3,878 Responses)
  1. DiscipleofElijah

    Why do people readily accept the writings of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle without question; then reject the writings of the Old Testament Prophets simply because they wrote the words of God?

    August 1, 2011 at 12:10 am |
    • Colin

      Name any one thing of S, P or A that is still accepted today?

      August 1, 2011 at 12:13 am |
    • frank

      "Why do people readily accept the writings of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle without question"
      They don't. Why do you think such a silly thing?

      August 1, 2011 at 12:31 am |
    • Aristocles

      Shows how much you know. Neither Jesus nor Socrates actually left any writings. The works in which Socrates appears are written by Plato, and the Gospels are written by early Christians according to the apostles Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

      August 1, 2011 at 1:31 am |
    • Enough

      Hey, Aristocles, did you bother to read the comment? The poster said "then reject the writings of the Old Testament Prophets simply because they wrote the words of God?" Where did he mention that Jesus wrote anything down or anything about the New Testament? He clearly stated that the writings were from the OT Prophets. If you are going to try to bash someone please try not to look stupid doing it.

      August 1, 2011 at 6:26 am |
  2. stubbycat

    Jesus practiced the genuine spiritual life according all matter and material sense with all its sin, sickness and death as nothing in contradistinction to the Life, Truth and Love,of Spirit. This alone is Christianity, the gist of which this material world resists ad for this it suffers relentlessly. Part of this resistance is the churchianity which pretends to be Christianity. This- in all its many flavors- "churchianity" appears sometimes good in its higher aspects, but never good enough for its denial of the infinite God who is Love by its affirmation of hell. What churchianity speaks it lives and what it lives it speaks and to date this amounts to little different from the average matter-ridden mortal mind imbued with the laws of its own demise.

    August 1, 2011 at 12:08 am |
    • Ben

      Does christianity have the same nasty bas-turd for a god as churchianity does?

      August 1, 2011 at 12:15 am |
    • Derek

      Careful bub, the Gnostics of the first and second century were all 'Material is baaaaad so bad' and it led to them saying Jesus only APPEARED to have a flesh body.

      Material is not all bad, man. Else why would God have made it? Come on.

      August 1, 2011 at 12:47 am |
  3. Muneef

    CNN .

    Will we get to have this subject issue here?
    ISRAEL: Is the Arab Spring spreading to the Jewish state?‎
    Los Angeles Times – 5 days ago
    Doctors are striking, the head of Israel's medical association is on a hunger strike. The latest is a Facebook call not to show up for work on Aug. 1. ...
    Has the Arab Spring arrived in Israel?‎ GlobalPost
    Housing protests roil Israel as tent cities pop up‎.

    August 1, 2011 at 12:03 am |
    • Muneef

      As it seems that since Israel cought the fever then the U.S will not be far from it...unless the consumption of pork and alcohol will lazy them to the slavery they have to live with for generations to come in an ending debts.

      August 1, 2011 at 12:07 am |
    • Muneef

      As it seems that since Israel cought the fever then the U.S will not be far from it...unless the consumption of pork and alcohol will lazy them to the slavery they have to live with for generations to come in unending debts.

      August 1, 2011 at 12:08 am |
    • Ben

      Yeah, Muneef, pork and alcohol, the evils of the world. Not.

      August 1, 2011 at 12:16 am |
  4. AesopsRetreat_Forum

    Speak Christian? Heck I want to know if you can speak ebonics. Or can you speak Black, or Gay or Marxist or Socialist. Just look at all the "groups" such secretive language will get you a passport into!

    THis is just another masqueraded piece of finger pointing at Christians. Just another cloaked Witch hunt because many of you morons believed the idiotic lies that the Norway killer was Christian. He was not. He was anti Muslim. That does not make him Christian.

    August 1, 2011 at 12:02 am |
    • History Guy

      Little buddy, the killer is a Christian Fundamentalist terrorist. You only have to read his screed and watch that video to see this.

      You can deny that he was a Christian Fundie all you want but that won't change the facts.

      August 1, 2011 at 12:07 am |
    • Don Camp

      @ History Guy.This may be a hard concept, but just because a mouse is in the cookie jar doesn't make him a cookie.

      The word Christian means different things depending on who is using it and the context. It can mean born in a nation that is Christian – as Norway is. (Christianity is the national religion.) It would make sense then that Breivik would see himself as Christian. It may mean belonging to a Christian church or culture. That is why the Spanish inquisition, crusades, and Bosnia are sometimes called Christian acts. But to people who are Christians by personal choice and are truly connected to God through Jesus Christ, none of these things are Christian. What is Christian is living as Jesus lived, loving, sacrificial giving, and willingness to be injured rather than injure. None of those things characterize Breivik. So to a real Christian Breivik is not real.

      August 1, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
  5. MCP123

    His mercy upon us... please kill your children if they rebel... offer them as burnt sacrifices... stone them if they are bad. The bible tells us so so it must be right and just.

    If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them: Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place; And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear. - Deuteronomy 21:18-21
    The eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it. - Proverbs 30:17
    And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and ... offer him there for a burnt offering.... And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. - Genesis 22:2,10
    The LORD smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon.... And there was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not a house where there was not one dead. - Exodus 12:29-30
    Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones. - Psalm 137:9

    July 31, 2011 at 11:56 pm |
    • Don Camp

      @ MCP123. Please read those passages in context and with some thought. (You may still find them offensive, but at least you'll know why.)

      Deuteronomy 21. These are instructions for the nation Israel, not for everyone. Israel was God's kingdom on earth. Rebellion was therefore exceptionally serious. God intended the nation to be pure and righteous. Rebellion undermined that and had to be judged. BTW rebellion in any culture is a terribly destructive thing for that culture. Just look at America. However, America is not God's kingdom. We will have to live with the consequences of rebellion and will become a testament to the wisdom of God's law, allbeit a negative one.

      Abraham and Isaac. This was a personal test for Abraham. It is not something that everyone was/is commanded to do. But note, please, that God did not allow Isaac to be killed. God only wanted Abraham's complete faith and obedience.

      Exodus 12. This judgement was the result of a long series of rejected opportunities to obey God. It also demonstrates that judgement, when it comes, is huge. Maybe rather than complain about it, it would be profitable to consider the judgement hanging over all who refuse God's opportunities.

      Psalm 137. The verse is quoted out of context. It refers to the Babylonians, who did as bad or worse to Israel, BTW. They had been promised just retribution by God when they went beyond His purpose in crushing Israel. The Psalmist is simply reflecting the severity of that judgement.

      Though reading the verses in context and with understanding does change some things, it does not take away the seriousness of sin. Sin, which is disobedience to God's righteous law, has not only natural consequences, it incurs God's judgement. And that is truly serious.

      BUT none of these things are unavoidable. God takes no pleasure in death, even death of the wicked. He is always desiring your good – which in biblical language is called salvation. He longs to bring you into His family, to heal you of your sin, to change you into the image of Jesus. What prevents Him? Only your will. All the good that God can give is yours, if you would choose Him.

      August 1, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
  6. Happy Hippie

    These are the end times in Revelations it speaks of a plant that will heal all nations. The proof is legalization of medical marijuana and the fight to out right legalize god's bud.

    July 31, 2011 at 11:56 pm |
    • Michael

      There is no book of "Revelations". It's called "Revelation". This article aptly and accurately describes someone like you who "talks Christian" founded in total ignorance.

      August 1, 2011 at 1:40 am |
  7. Muneef

    Some one is wasted..

    July 31, 2011 at 11:52 pm |
  8. FaithScent

    Christianity – the only hope of nations. It teaches one true God, holiness, salvation, sanity, compassion, goodness, intelligence, dignity and justice. Christianity with the Bible made the world civil.

    July 31, 2011 at 11:47 pm |
    • Team Apologetics

      You must have quit school before finishing the first grade.

      This may well be the most ignorant statement of the entire thread.

      July 31, 2011 at 11:49 pm |
    • Rob

      Christianity with the Bible made the world civil.


      This is why educated people see Xians are morons. No offense.

      July 31, 2011 at 11:52 pm |
    • MCP123

      "Christianity with the Bible made the world civil."

      Yeah that Breivik guy in Norway...he's real civil. So were the crusades...the spanish inquisition...witch burnings.... that little issue in Croatia where "christians" killed 8,000 muslim men and boys.

      et cetera... that must be what you think civility is.

      July 31, 2011 at 11:54 pm |
    • History Guy


      Put down the holey bibble and read some history. Go read about the ancient Greeks and the Persians and the Chinese.

      Stop looking like a twit.

      July 31, 2011 at 11:55 pm |
    • History Guy

      Actually, the Serbs killed the Muslims in Bosnia. The Croats had nothing to do with.

      July 31, 2011 at 11:57 pm |
  9. DiscipleofElijah

    In his video Mr. Ferguson incorrectly states what the Bible says about Salvation. He says that Salvation can be "worked for and achieved here and now". This is not true. Salvation is not "worked for", it is achieved through faith and is a gift of God as Paul stated in Ephesians 2:8-9.

    "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast." Ephesians 2:8-9 (KJV)

    July 31, 2011 at 11:45 pm |
    • ssolilrose

      See, that just doesn't seem fair. You do good all your life for the sake of human kind and still get chucked off to the side.....

      July 31, 2011 at 11:57 pm |
    • JKoontz

      Yes, but, what about James 2:17-26 (KJV)?

      17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

      18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.

      19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.

      20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

      21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?

      22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?

      23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.

      24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.

      25 Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?

      26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

      August 1, 2011 at 12:18 am |
    • The True Believer


      La-la-la! We believers can't hear yooooooo!

      August 1, 2011 at 12:22 am |
  10. Muneef

    Surah An-Nas/Makind;

    In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

    Say: I seek refuge with the Lord and Cherisher of Mankind, (1) The King (or Ruler) of Mankind― (2) The Allah (or Judge) of Mankind― (3) From the mischief of the Whisperer (of Evil), who withdraws (after his whisper)― (4) (The same) who whispers into the hearts of Mankind― (5) Among Jinns and among Men. (6)

    July 31, 2011 at 11:44 pm |
    • gupsphoo

      I just prayed to Allah, he told me Muhammad was a pedophile.

      July 31, 2011 at 11:48 pm |
    • Muneef

      You know Alhamedlilah that am fasting and ought to stay calm as possible...but if it was any other day I think I could lower my level into your level of cheapness.. Drug Addict repent for saving your afterlife from becoming fuel of Hell...

      August 1, 2011 at 12:14 am |
    • The Original

      Mohammed the pedophile was also a drug addict.

      August 1, 2011 at 12:20 am |
    • Muneef

      You both hate America or non American hearted...in a multi national culture you can never know who is your enemy but who ever does that is a public enemy of American Unity...so should expect those sick hearted are not writing from the U.S...should not expect as well that America has that type of junk to clean within before they can taste a real peace and prosperity...just remember that junk can be found among Religious and Non Religious communities.... Have seen how Serpents,Snakes peel out their ugly dry skin to appear to us with colorful shining skins....it is time as seems !?

      August 1, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
    • Muneef

      Or as one commented on other page saying;

      After going through the comments ... It smells like the world is now steping towards the world war three which has been predicted to be basd on religions!!
      August 1, 2011 at 3:21 am | Report abuse | Reply

      August 1, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
    • Muneef

      Therefore it is either you Baptize the country or we Muslims will come and Circu-m-cise it for you....! 😉

      August 1, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
  11. Reality

    Christians speak economics/greed 101:

    The Baptizer drew crowds and charged for the "dunking".

    The historical Jesus saw a good thing and continued dunking and preaching the good word but added "healing" as an added charge to include free room and board. Sure was better than being a poor peasant but he got a bit too zealous and they nailed him to a tree. But still no greed there.

    Paul picked up the money scent on the road to Damascus. He added some letters and a prophecy of the imminent second coming for a fee for salvation and "Gentilized" the good word to the "big buck" world. i.e. Paul was the first media evangelist!!! And he and the other Apostles forgot to pay their Roman taxes and the legendary actions by the Romans made them martyrs for future greed. Paul was guilty of minor greed?

    Along comes Constantine. He saw the growing rich Christian community and recognized a new tax base so he set them "free". Major greed on his part!!

    The Holy Roman "Empirers"/Popes/Kings/Queens/evangelicals et al continued the money grab selling access to JC and heaven resulting in some of today's richest organizations on the globe i.e. the Christian churches (including the Mormon Church) and related aristocracies. Obvious greed!!!

    July 31, 2011 at 11:39 pm |
  12. Don Camp

    Borg? I wish we could get beyond this guy who at best speaks for the Christian fringe and at worst is not Christian at all in the historical sense of the word. Why do we look to him for information about Christianity?

    Case in point: "salvation" in the Old Testament does often refer to political and social salvation. But that is because the nation of Israel was the representative of God's kingdom and often needed political revival (salvation) and was filled with people who were victims of misguided religion and were suffering socially. In the New Testament the scene changes. The focus is now upon a deeper need – spiritual salvation. Spiritual salvation means saved from sin and its consequences. That does not overlook political salvation or social salvation because the person saved from sin becomes an agent for health (the root idea of salvation in Greek) in every venue of life, political and social.

    Borg seeks to frame Christianity as a social action committee. He's missing the most important point.

    July 31, 2011 at 11:33 pm |
    • Team Apologetics

      In the New Testament the scene changes. The focus is now upon a deeper need – spiritual salvation.



      God has offered us a means to escape his Holy Wrath! If we don't we will incur the full weight of it. He will stomp us like mad men stomping ants.

      Accept his mercy before it's too late. He cares not a whit about your character or works only that you were gullible enough to believe in a primitive myth!


      July 31, 2011 at 11:37 pm |
    • gupsphoo

      Team Apologetics: "Truth!"

      Why? Because you believe so? LOL!

      Forget your Bible. Start worshiping the Flying Spaghetti Monster or else you risk spending eternity in a hot pot of spaghetti sauce.

      July 31, 2011 at 11:41 pm |
    • Da Queen

      I think TA is being sarcastic, bro.

      July 31, 2011 at 11:44 pm |
    • gupsphoo

      Well may be so.

      July 31, 2011 at 11:45 pm |
    • Team Apologetics

      Yes, it's so big of god to condemn us all to eternal torture for simply being born human and then giving a few of us, the gullible ones, a Get Out of Hell Pass.

      Yaye, god!

      July 31, 2011 at 11:47 pm |
    • LA Pelican

      TeamApologetics – Holy Wrath isn't what I read in the story of the prodigal son, or of the good shepherd who goes after his sheep. Christ's most revolutionary teaching was that we are beloved children of the father, not ants waiting to be stomped on.

      July 31, 2011 at 11:49 pm |
    • Rob

      The message of Christianity is that eternal suffering awaits anyone who questions god's infinite love. – Bill Hicks

      July 31, 2011 at 11:53 pm |
    • Don Camp

      I think the biblical term is mocking.

      BTW Ferguson does have it right. Language does change. But it is senseless to read Shakespeare using modern definitions for the words. It is also senseless to redefine the words used in the Bible. The meanings of those words in both cases do not change. The reader's task is to get at the original meaning. Borg chooses to redefine. Please! That is not even good practice for a literature professor much less a professor of the Bible.

      Re: the rapture. Even though that word does not occur in the Bible, it does seem to capture the meaning of the I Thessalonians passage. What is wrong with that? Does the Greek word harpazo make the idea any clearer. Get real, Borg. You might have a point with your overall thesis, but some of your points are a bit weak.

      July 31, 2011 at 11:58 pm |
    • Don Camp

      The message of Christianity is that God loves you, Rob. He loves you whether you receive and enjoy his love or reject it. Rejecting it, however, is like refusing to be a part of the family and enjoy the good things of the family. You end up on the street.

      When that happens it is your choice. So it is with God. Yet he loves you just as a father loves a son who will not come home.

      There is, I suppose, the option of having you arrested and brought home by the police. But that seldom works out well. The wayward son is no more pleased than if he were on the street. In fact, home becomes hell for the rebel. That is why he left.

      So too with heaven. Heaven would be hell for anyone who considers God a tyrant. However, remember the option is yours. God would have you home and enjoying his love.

      August 1, 2011 at 12:10 am |
    • The True Believer

      The good lord gives us a choice:

      a) worship him

      b) roast in hell for eternity

      What a great guy!

      August 1, 2011 at 12:19 am |
    • Michael

      Apologetics, thank you for showing just have weak, fragile, and selfish your faith really is. True faith is not based upon the receipt of an eternal reward or the avoidance of an eternal punishment. Then again, the use of the word "apologetics" in your name is all one needs to see right through you. Christian apologeticism is nothing more than a bunch of people who are trying to console themselves over their doubt.

      August 1, 2011 at 1:44 am |
  13. MCP123

    "These are the times to expect this kind of language and discourse about God, these are the endtimes and the Enemy is working overtime"

    Uh huh...and I am the Sultan of Siam I am. The "endtimes" as your refer it have been predicted by dozens of civilizations over the past 3,000 years... guess what... NOT ONE... prediction has come true. I'm still here! Get used to it.... it ain't changing anytime soon.

    Oh...and the Mayans can stuff it too...

    July 31, 2011 at 11:28 pm |
  14. Jozua .

    `Christian' defines the hypnotic state of mind when emotional deficiency also lack analytical ability. The main cause of this illness is the damage done to children from birth up to 12 years old. People involved in this destructive activity are dominated and abused by teachers and preachers who care only for money and personal power. To enable them beyond reason they invented the idea of God. My poor mother lived her 78 years like that, with nothing to show for it but disappointment and poverty. She totally failed to understand any analytical fact despite her kind and passionate personality. According to her, her prayers were always answered but she never had anything to show for it. What a powerful drug and you only have to pay the church.The only hope for humanity is that Christians of this type are less than 5% of the world population.

    July 31, 2011 at 11:25 pm |
    • Bob Rock

      Think about religion as a drug addiction. Instead of mind altering chemicals, people are getting mind altering illusions. Same thing. People love their addictions that free them from ho-hum lives!

      July 31, 2011 at 11:27 pm |
    • gupsphoo

      I think gullibility is also a big factor.

      July 31, 2011 at 11:31 pm |
    • Joe

      It seems you assume your mother prayed for worldly riches and something to satisfy her immediately rather than long term. Did you know her prayers? You say she lived 78 years and had nothing to show for it but it seems she had you and your life to show for it. It seems she lived and died with the very belief that sustained her for almost 8 decades. Might I remind you of people whom have also died in poverty...Mother Teresa, Jesus Christ, as a matter of fact we all die in poverty seeing how we take nothing with us when we leave. Your mother was a brave woman and a strong person for believing in a being that can only be seen with your heart. How easy is it to disgard something you cannot prove? How hard is it to defend something your entire life that your own child says is invalid? Seems to me she was heroic!!

      July 31, 2011 at 11:58 pm |
    • History Guy

      Joe, or much more likely the poor woman wasted her life on a primitive tribal war-god death cult.

      August 1, 2011 at 12:04 am |
  15. mrkusn

    Ok, so some Christians talk and don't completely know what they are saying. As if Borg and the rest really know. I know many genuine Christians who not only know their terminology, but practice it too. What an irresponsible over-generalization.

    July 31, 2011 at 11:24 pm |
  16. Bob Rock

    Religion should not be taught to kids under 18. As adults, the kids will hopefully gain some basic reasoning skill. That's all it would take for religion to die a natural death.

    July 31, 2011 at 11:24 pm |
    • R

      If you teach logical thinking to Kid, how do you expect them to learn religions at later age ? you must mind wash them when they are kids.

      July 31, 2011 at 11:27 pm |
    • Bob Rock

      Here's a funny one: God has no p e-nis! He doesn't need it for reproduction (to make little gods??), and doesn't screw around (no Godzilla the last time I checked, although you never know!). He is not a ho mo $exual (he lookes down on that, and haven't been cought with men hired to carry his luggage). To top it off, he cerainly has no "balls" – as he is not omnipotent.

      July 31, 2011 at 11:35 pm |
    • gupsphoo

      Well, R, not everyone is smart enough to understand logic. Those are the ones who will remain immune to logical reasoning for life. They're more suited for religion.

      July 31, 2011 at 11:35 pm |
  17. Reality

    A RCC Cardinal speaks:

    o Saw this on another blog:

    From the Philadelphia Inquirer's report on Cardinal Bevilacqua's testimony to a grand jury investigating the pedophilia coverup in the Philadelphia Archdiocese during the Cardinal's tenure:

    "Bevilacqua insisted he needed "evidence in order to ask someone to step down."

    And not just any evidence. Anonymous reports, Bevilacqua said, had "no value at all to me."

    "Secondhand information," he added, lacked credibility.

    That puzzled the jurors, who then asked Bevilacqua if he believed in the Gospels.

    "Yes," assured the cardinal.

    "But," Spade pressed, "it's the jurors' understanding that the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were written many years after the actual events," by those not present at the time.

    "Yes," Bevilacqua agreed.

    So, using the cleric's own logic, wouldn't that make the Gospels "secondhand information"?

    July 31, 2011 at 11:23 pm |
    • Buddy R

      Many atheists certainly seem to enjoy telling lies. Matthew, Mark, and John all had first hand knowledge of Chirst. Luke was a historian who traveled with the apostle Paul. Luke was inspired by God to write the book of Luke.

      Atheist have nothing to attack Christianity with but lies and deceit and the moral makeup of many of them means they are fine with doing so.

      July 31, 2011 at 11:57 pm |
    • History Guy

      Buddy, I don't know whether to laugh or cry when I see such appalling ignorance as yours.

      August 1, 2011 at 12:09 am |
    • Story Dude

      Dearest Buddy, there were about 40 historians recording events during the time that JC allegedly lived. Not a one ever mentions him.

      We have no idea who wrote the gospels. No idea at all.

      August 1, 2011 at 12:13 am |
  18. R

    "To end all discussion. I must come back send my messenger to you. Please let me know any good looking young (16-) girl wants to be virgin Mary ? Also, do not believe in science." That is christian talk.
    "Its not god, its Allah. If you ask for tax, we want pay you. Use Arabic word zakat and we will empty our pockets. Also, if you don't believe us, we will kill you. Please do not misinterpret us as violent people and read koran to understand us. Otherwise we must kill you." That is Muslim talk.
    "We believe in secularism, but we hate Gandhi. Because he prefer non-violence." That is Hindu talk.
    and so on....I am sick of religions

    July 31, 2011 at 11:23 pm |
  19. Brian

    "The fact that Christianity is held up with much ridicule in this article is not new or surprising. It is to be expected from those who do not know God, "..................................................................................

    That's what Jimmy Swaggart said.

    July 31, 2011 at 11:22 pm |
  20. frank

    Jesus strikes the unbiased reader as a loutish annoying twerp.

    July 31, 2011 at 11:21 pm |
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About this blog

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