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My Take: The 3 biggest biblical misconceptions
The Bible presents us with an evolving story, writes John Shelby Spong.
December 29th, 2011
09:10 AM ET

My Take: The 3 biggest biblical misconceptions

Editor’s note: John Shelby Spong, a former Episcopal bishop of Newark, New Jersey, is author of "Re-Claiming the Bible for a Non-Religious World."

By John Shelby Spong, Special to CNN

The Bible is both a reservoir of spiritual insight and a cultural icon to which lip service is still paid in the Western world. Yet when the Bible is talked about in public by both believers and critics, it becomes clear that misconceptions abound.

To me, three misconceptions stand out and serve to make the Bible hard to comprehend.

First, people assume the Bible accurately reflects history. That is absolutely not so, and every biblical scholar recognizes it.

The facts are that Abraham, the biblically acknowledged founding father of the Jewish people, whose story forms the earliest content of the Bible, died about 900 years before the first story of Abraham was written in the Old Testament.

Actually, that's not in the Bible

Can a defining tribal narrative that is passed on orally for 45 generations ever be regarded as history, at least as history is understood today?

Moses, the religious genius who put his stamp on the religion of the Old Testament more powerfully than any other figure, died about 300 years before the first story of Moses entered the written form we call Holy Scripture.

This means that everything we know about Moses in the Bible had to have passed orally through about 15 generations before achieving written form. Do stories of heroic figures not grow, experience magnifying tendencies and become surrounded by interpretive mythology as the years roll by?

My Take: Bible condemns a lot, so why focus on homosexuality?

Jesus of Nazareth, according to our best research, lived between the years 4 B.C. and A.D. 30. Yet all of the gospels were written between the years 70 to 100 A.D., or 40 to 70 years after his crucifixion, and they were written in Greek, a language that neither Jesus nor any of his disciples spoke or were able to write.

Are the gospels then capable of being effective guides to history? If we line up the gospels in the time sequence in which they were written - that is, with Mark first, followed by Matthew, then by Luke and ending with John - we can see exactly how the story expanded between the years 70 and 100.

For example, miracles do not get attached to the memory of Jesus story until the eighth decade. The miraculous birth of Jesus is a ninth-decade addition; the story of Jesus ascending into heaven is a 10th-decade narrative.

In the first gospel, Mark, the risen Christ appears physically to no one, but by the time we come to the last gospel, John, Thomas is invited to feel the nail prints in Christ’s hands and feet and the spear wound in his side.

Perhaps the most telling witness against the claim of accurate history for the Bible comes when we read the earliest narrative of the crucifixion found in Mark’s gospel and discover that it is not based on eyewitness testimony at all.

My Take: Yes, the Bible really condemns homosexuality

Instead, it’s an interpretive account designed to conform the story of Jesus’ death to the messianic yearnings of the Hebrew Scriptures, including Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53.

The Bible interprets life from its particular perspective; it does not record in a factual way the human journey through history.

The second major misconception comes from the distorting claim that the Bible is in any literal sense “the word of God.” Only someone who has never read the Bible could make such a claim. The Bible portrays God as hating the Egyptians, stopping the sun in the sky to allow more daylight to enable Joshua to kill more Amorites and ordering King Saul to commit genocide against the Amalekites.

Can these acts of immorality ever be called “the word of God”? The book of Psalms promises happiness to the defeated and exiled Jews only when they can dash the heads of Babylonian children against the rocks! Is this “the word of God? What kind of God would that be?

The Bible, when read literally, calls for the execution of children who are willfully disobedient to their parents, for those who worship false gods, for those who commit adultery, for homosexual persons and for any man who has sex with his mother-in-law, just to name a few.

The Bible exhorts slaves to be obedient to their masters and wives to be obedient to their husbands. Over the centuries, texts like these, taken from the Bible and interpreted literally, have been used as powerful and evil weapons to support killing prejudices and to justify the cruelest kind of inhumanity.

The third major misconception is that biblical truth is somehow static and thus unchanging. Instead, the Bible presents us with an evolutionary story, and in those evolving patterns, the permanent value of the Bible is ultimately revealed.

It was a long road for human beings and human values to travel between the tribal deity found in the book of Exodus, who orders the death of the firstborn male in every Egyptian household on the night of the Passover, until we reach an understanding of God who commands us to love our enemies.

The transition moments on this journey can be studied easily. It was the prophet named Hosea, writing in the eighth century B.C., who changed God’s name to love. It was the prophet named Amos who changed God’s name to justice. It was the prophet we call Jonah who taught us that the love of God is not bounded by the limits of our own ability to love.

It was the prophet Micah who understood that beautiful religious rituals and even lavish sacrifices were not the things that worship requires, but rather “to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with your God.” It was the prophet we call Malachi, writing in the fifth century B.C., who finally saw God as a universal experience, transcending all national and tribal boundaries.

One has only to look at Christian history to see why these misconceptions are dangerous. They have fed religious persecution and religious wars. They have fueled racism, anti-female biases, anti-Semitism and homophobia.They have fought against science and the explosion of knowledge.

The ultimate meaning of the Bible escapes human limits and calls us to a recognition that every life is holy, every life is loved, and every life is called to be all that that life is capable of being. The Bible is, thus, not about religion at all but about becoming deeply and fully human. It issues the invitation to live fully, to love wastefully and to have the courage to be our most complete selves.

That is why I treasure this book and why I struggle to reclaim its essential message for our increasingly non-religious world.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of John Shelby Spong.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Bible • Christianity • Opinion

soundoff (6,068 Responses)
  1. Spong-a confused ex-bishop

    Spong's ideas have received strong criticism from some other theologians, notably the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams (when Williams was the Bishop of Monmouth), describing his twelve theses as embodying
    "confusion and misinterpretation".–wiki

    Spong you are a very confused man, you need to seek divine guidance before it is too late for your soul.

    December 29, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
    • Answer

      "you need to seek divine guidance before it is too late for your soul."

      Hilarious. Your kind doesn't even know what to look for as a sign of divinity. Men telling other men that something they have an opinion on is "divine" – so laughable.

      December 29, 2011 at 5:16 pm |
    • IceT

      Spong .. of course he's gotten stron criticism, he disagrees with them. That's the main trait of all religions.

      December 29, 2011 at 5:17 pm |
    • Keith

      Jud 1:13 Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever. Spong is such an individual.

      December 29, 2011 at 5:17 pm |
    • asrael

      This just in: not everyone agrees with Bishop Spong; Earth trembles...

      December 29, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
    • The Maurey Povich Bible Show

      Spong doesn't think he's confused. He is "confused" because he doesn't agree with Rowan Williams, that guy who can't even get a hair cut ? And thank you Keith, for spouting even more babble verses at us. THAT changes EVERYTHING. Now I better repent, because Keith said something really really scary.

      December 29, 2011 at 5:27 pm |
    • AGuest9

      "With what, O Socrates, is the soul nourished?", Hippocrates asked. "'With knowledge, of course', I said," replied Socrates. – Plato, Protagoras, 313c., written in 380 B.C.E.

      December 29, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
    • Rick

      Keith: Oooh, a quotation. Impressive.

      December 29, 2011 at 5:52 pm |
    • Keith

      Hbr 9:27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:

      December 29, 2011 at 8:15 pm |
    • Keith

      Now the good news: 1Th 5:9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,

      1Th 5:10 Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.
      It's a free gift people, all you have to do is repent and take it.

      December 29, 2011 at 8:17 pm |
    • AGuest9

      @Keith, I prefer to deal with reality.

      December 29, 2011 at 8:46 pm |
  2. andrew.peter

    There is a clear divide here between Orthodox and Liberal theology. That divide as at the point of reference. The Orthodox theology says that God is the focal point of worship and power, while the Liberal theology says our selves are the focal point. The bible clearly says that those living according to their own flesh are against God. So "becoming deeply and fully human" is not in line with Biblical truth. Being made more in the image of God is true.
    And Orthodox Christianity teaches that God's children reject oppression of any kind. To say otherwise is to not distinguish true Christianity from political/secular Christianity.

    December 29, 2011 at 5:10 pm |
    • Stace

      Just different arrangements of the deck chairs. Same sinking ship.

      December 29, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
    • AGuest9

      By definition, the physical world cannot be made into the form of the imaginary.

      December 29, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
  3. SOTR

    No archeology has ever disproven the historical details of the Bible. 'Scholars' thought that Troy was a myth too. Check out the Dead Sea Scroll texts compared to what we have in Isaiah for example to see the veracity. This 'man of the cloth' is a liberal theology adherant apologizing erroneously. Simon Greenleaf has prove the 'eye witness' case in Testimony of the Evangelists. People that don't recognize the truth only do so to protect their moral self-autonomy.

    December 29, 2011 at 5:07 pm |
    • Answer

      You religious doofus' love to attach divinity onto everything – it can be as plain as just false account of history, not divinity.

      December 29, 2011 at 5:11 pm |
    • Amused

      I'm not really sure what your point actually is, but the most important thing to consider about the bible is the FACT that NONE of it is written from any eyewitness account. That alone tells us that we cannot take any part of it as absolute literal truth. You have to consider obvious distortions of fact that have been inserted into the narrative both intentionally and inadvertantly!

      December 29, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
    • Stace

      Answer. Funny too that the god character won't show his face again. Well, supposedly, not til it's all over anyway. No way should we be expected by some god to believe based on some old stories now that few can agree on and some really musty so-called evidence. If the god blames us for not believing now, he's pretty stupid. Like Epicurus said, why call such a stupid thing "god".

      December 29, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      The fact that places exist in no way lends credibility to claims that certain people existed, tht they said certain things or that they did certain things. Hanging myths (lies) around a few facts is a great way to trick the gullible.

      December 29, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
    • Answer

      @Stace

      It's so funny too that all religious people can't even figure out the most simplest rule -to look for- when a god walks on the earth.
      "You look right down at their feet and look for the absence of shadows." It's the most basic of logic to deduce a divinity without them doing anything -except manipulate light- and not worldly materials. Of course science gives us the invisible cloaks – soon 🙂

      December 29, 2011 at 5:34 pm |
  4. IceT

    Every time I come to this belief blog to discuss, learn & yes even ridicule, I always, at least at one point, find myself with my mouth open & slowly shaking my head in utter shock at what otherwise rational human beings will post when espousing the "truth" of their religion. In life they won't believe their child's story of how a lamp was broken but they'll believe people used to live 900 years !?

    December 29, 2011 at 5:07 pm |
    • asrael

      That's because the Bible says so; for some, break one "fact" and the whole edifice begins to crumble...

      December 29, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
  5. JiminTX

    All you poor, uneducated simpletons who believe in the Invisible Sky Friend who grants wishes. What a waste of potential, time, and useless self-flagelling.

    December 29, 2011 at 5:07 pm |
  6. Michael

    "In the first gospel, Mark, the risen Christ appears physically to no one, but by the time we come to the last gospel, John, Thomas is invited to feel the nail prints in Christ’s hands and feet and the spear wound in his side."

    The author of this article needs to research facts before making such claims. Mark Chapter 16: 9-14 says:

    Mar 16:9 Now when [Jesus] was risen early the first [day] of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.

    Mar 16:10 [And] she went and told them that had been with him, as they mourned and wept.

    Mar 16:11 And they, when they had heard that he was alive, and had been seen of her, believed not.

    Mar 16:12 After that he appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country.

    Mar 16:13 And they went and told [it] unto the residue: neither believed they them.

    Mar 16:14 Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen.

    In those verses He appears to 14 people. So, this author's facts are incorrect.

    December 29, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
    • One one

      isn't it strange that Jesus appeared to lots of people thousands of years ago but never appears to anyone now?

      December 29, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
    • The Maurey Povich Bible Show

      Well since all 4 gospels report who was first at the tomb, who was with them, and what happened, differently, clearly no one knows what happened. And Mike, have you ever looked into the "sources" for Mark, and how that gospel was "put together" ?

      December 29, 2011 at 5:07 pm |
  7. You don't have the balls to listen anyway

    So why bother posting up something productive? You're athiests. You're destined for Hell, and I'm going to laugh my a-s-s off while you burn for eternity. Blaspheming the Holy Spirit is the ONLY unforgivable sin, and you all do it every day.

    Compassion is something I'm short on, but that's MY sin.

    December 29, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
    • Answer

      In your dreams.

      December 29, 2011 at 4:44 pm |
    • The Maurey Povich Bible Show

      Wow, another VERY loving christian, laughing at people suffering. Lardy save us from these christians.

      December 29, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
    • You don't have the balls to listen anyway

      @maurey

      Prove you're deserving of understanding or any kind of love? Your complete inability to love God and accept Jesus tells me you don't love at all, and that you're a miserable, pathetic little being who just delights in trying to hurt people.

      Guess what? So do I. The more they hurt, the more I enjoy it. I'm not your "typical" Christian.

      December 29, 2011 at 4:48 pm |
    • If horses had Gods ...

      So you're admitting that you're "intentionally" sinning with the plan to repent when convenient to save yourself. If your God buys that load-o-c .. I want nothing to do with your God.

      December 29, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
    • You don't have the balls to listen anyway

      @horses

      Like most people, I've gone through some tremendously hellish things in my life. These things have given me my own darkness, and oftentimes it overcomes me. Yes, I sometimes enjoy hurting people. It's a leftover from the days when I was an athiest myself. I turn TO God to try to help me fight that. When I see others blaspheming God, it enrages me. Again, that's my sin.

      December 29, 2011 at 4:53 pm |
    • IceT

      Mr. you don't have balls ... I hate to be the one to break this to you, but based on your post .. we'll all see YOU in hell.

      December 29, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
    • You don't have the balls to listen anyway

      @IceT

      Possibly. If you do, then it will be my own fault, not God's.

      December 29, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
    • Answer

      "When I see others blaspheming God, it enrages me. Again, that's my sin."

      That's exactly why we atheists do ridicule you lot – to make you blow 🙂 It's so fun.

      December 29, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
    • Jon

      How do you know what happens when you die? It is a FACT that neither you nor I nor any human being knows what happens after you die. I know you are not smarter than me and I am not smarter than you. You do not possess any special or secret knowledge about the afterlife. So what if you are wrong? What if you are the one that will burn in hell for not believing in Allah or any other belief? What if nothing happens?

      December 29, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
    • Timber

      You are no "christian" at all. friend.

      James 1: 19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.

      James 3: 9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. 11 Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring?

      There's much, much more, but saying such things to others is sure proof that you say you believe, but are not really a follower of Jesus, and will be one of those to whom Jesus says "depart from me, you who practice evil (that is, cursing people as you are doing)" unless you repent, as we all must do.

      I hope you repent.

      December 29, 2011 at 5:01 pm |
    • You don't have the balls to listen anyway

      @Jon

      Then, again, I made my own bed.

      My problem is I come on here every day. I never post, I always read, and I always see the same angry, bitter, hateful athiests posting in the belief blog on anything having to do with Christianity. Your hate filled vomit is getting to me. So yes, I blow and lose my temper. It feels good, and it's the easy path, which Jesus teaches is the path to Hell. Being Christian is NOT the easy path, as it teaches us to be something greater than humankind can achieve.

      December 29, 2011 at 5:01 pm |
    • Answer

      "So yes, I blow and lose my temper."

      I like to see an aneurism come your way. Bless ye to jesus and your god to take you swiftly on your way to your fairyland.

      December 29, 2011 at 5:03 pm |
    • One one

      And Christians wonder why atheists find them offensive.

      December 29, 2011 at 5:04 pm |
    • JiminTX

      Congratulations! You win my reason of the day to support abortion.

      December 29, 2011 at 5:04 pm |
    • Too Bad

      @You – You obviously missed most of the New Testament where it talks about loving others, including your enemies. Jesus when asked about stoning the adulteress didn't say "she's going to Hell," but said "He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone." Funny thing, Jesus didn't then pick up a rock and cave in her skull either, just admonished her to "go and sin no more." Also, pretty sure there's something about not judging, kinda sure condeming people to Hell would be God's job, not yours. That said, yeah, most of the atheists trolling these forums deserve as much contempt as you do (and no, not being a hypocrite here, just holding you to your supposed standards as a Christian).

      December 29, 2011 at 5:06 pm |
    • The Maurey Povich Bible Show

      I just point out people's intellectual failings for their own good. Too bad you see that as "hurting". If you want to believe in Santy, that's your business. Fell all warm and fuzzy about that. I at least don't claim to be a "christian" while delighting in other's pain.

      December 29, 2011 at 5:09 pm |
    • Jon

      @ You don’t have the balls

      I get on here every day as well and see hateful Atheists and hateful Christians and believers as well. I am not filled with hate with don’t assume that every Atheist on here is full of hate. That is a statement that isn’t supported by the facts. Because if you have gotten on here like you say, you have seen the hatred come from all sides of the fence. Faith feels good for believers because they have faith but so does reason and logic for us nonbelievers. I don’t need a book to be a guide on becoming a better human. We all have those traits inside of us. We are born to love, we are taught to hate. Whether that love comes from God or Allah or is simply a biological aspect of Evolution is another topic for another time.

      December 29, 2011 at 5:11 pm |
    • Elisabeth

      I have a lot of anger towards Christianity because I feel that it can be oppressive to those of us who aren't believers. However, I really try and see it from both sides (I was raised in the church) and try to remember that religion isn't all bad. Even though there is a lot of hate and intolerance, there is also love and compassion. It is very hard to remember the good when there are people like you who remind me why I would never want to associate myself with Christianity. Just because I don't believe in your god does not mean I am going to burn in hell. I don't care how much faith you have, NO ONE knows what happens after we die. Who is to say that your religion is the right one. If you believe that, good for you, but you should keep your hate-filled vile opinions to yourself because you are just doing more damage than good. I am sure it is frustrating to read what others have to say about your religion, however, you are just making things worse by feeding into the negativity. I feel sorry for you.

      December 29, 2011 at 5:11 pm |
    • MikeD

      I'm Catholic and I can't believe the vile things coming out of these so called "Christian" commenters. Would Jesus not have forgiven someone who did not believe in him, if they lived their life as a good person,. From my understanding of Jesus, he would, as he spent most of his time forgiving the sins of man. More-so because this person did not need to have the fear of God's wrath, as you put it, in order to live life as a good person. If you can not see your hypocrisy, you have no room touting the name of Jesus as your God, as you do not follow his ways.

      December 29, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
    • asrael

      Wow! "Hate filled vomit", is it? You might as well stop right now, Ydhtballstla; Satan already owns your sanctimonious behind...

      December 29, 2011 at 5:29 pm |
    • DamianKnight

      With all due respect, can we not judge who is destined to what for eternity?

      That's God's call, not ours.

      December 29, 2011 at 5:34 pm |
    • Patrick

      @You don't have the balls to listen anyway
      Like most people, I've gone through some tremendously hellish things in my life. These things have given me my own darkness, and oftentimes it overcomes me. Yes, I sometimes enjoy hurting people. It's a leftover from the days when I was an athiest myself. I turn TO God to try to help me fight that. When I see others blaspheming God, it enrages me. Again, that's my sin.
      You just prove what many Atheist say. You turned to ‘god’ out of mental weakness and need to be comforted. Not evidence of existence.

      December 29, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      Patrick..he never said anything about mental weakness in anyway you dip. Quit giving us the flawed NPV (New patrick Version) of what ppl are saying.

      December 29, 2011 at 6:57 pm |
    • Patrick

      @ Uncouth Swain
      Wrong Patrick Uncouth lol. Nice to see I have a fan stalking posts with my name. A rather common one at that.

      December 30, 2011 at 10:50 am |
    • Uncouth Swain

      Hmmm..though you must be stalking me since you felt the need to comment. The circle thus continues.

      January 3, 2012 at 8:23 pm |
  8. Athiestsrt3hsux

    I wonder if it's possible to get athiesm banned and athiests executed summarily.

    December 29, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
    • boocat

      What a lovely "christian" thought!!!!!!! And you're too stupid to get the irony.

      December 29, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
    • Observer

      Ah, the hypocrisy!

      December 29, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
    • jimbo

      Oh it is possible, and does happen. Just another reason why religion is a scourge of humanity. Don't believe in my invisible fairy tale father? You must die!

      December 29, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
    • Fookin' Prawn

      Rick Perry? Is that YOU?

      December 29, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
    • Elisabeth

      @Athiestsrt3hsux – I think you are just trying to stir up trouble and probably aren't even religious.

      @Fookin Prawn – LOL!!!!

      December 29, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
    • asrael

      Not without learning how to spell the main word...

      December 29, 2011 at 5:30 pm |
    • Meowser

      There are those who summarily execute individuals who do not profess the faith demanded of them. They are known collectively as the Tailban.

      December 29, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
  9. Pooka

    JASON K
    Re: your post---
    Dang you are absolutely right. God never claims to be nice. Infact most of the old testament is God beating down the Jews for failing to keep a law he knows they have no possible way of keeping

    Sure - there must be a god that did what you THINK he did -- the same god that prevents and avenges the hundreds of five – to fifteen year olds that are sodomized every night. Yea – right.

    December 29, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
  10. The Truth shall set you free

    I never seen a fairy tale or a fiction book outlast the bible yet. There is still quite a difference between the spiritual man and a physcial man. The Spiritual man is conscious of his spiritual need, whereas the physical man is not, and his words and actions prove it. The spiritual man fears (in respect and honor) the true God and the physical man does not. One last thing, We all will be held accountable for the choices we make. Some it matters too, others it does not.

    December 29, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
    • llɐq ʎʞɔnq

      The Gilgamesh Epic. It predates the Bible, and is still here. Your literary ignorance is not our problem. 😈

      December 29, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
    • Chach

      I am as much as, if not more spiritual than any bible pounding religious fanatic. Whether they are Christian, Muslim, Jewish ans so on.....I don't need a book of contradictions, inconsistencies and myths about an angry, spiteful, yet somehow "loving" god that ignores (lovingly of course) some that follow "him" or love him back while randomly favoring others for no apparent reason. I act in kindness towards others because I know it's right in my heart, not because I'm afraid of eternal damnation. It's much more fulfilling to do things because I want to impulsively out of my desire to be a positive contributor to present and future humanity. My "god" is the universe and my religion is the only one that comes with proof: Science. The more we know about life, the universe, physics, our origins and our future, the closer we come to understanding "god" and our purpose. If there was a creator, surely it would have intended for us to be, intellectual, inquisitive and curious enough to understand what created us. Because the more we understand about the universe, the more we unuderstand about ourselves. Imagine how far we would have come if all the energy, blood, persecution, fear mongering and preaching wasted for the last 5,000 years had been focused on discovering what makes us tick and how the universe works. We would be living among the stars by now. In my opinion that would truly be the ultimate honor to the creator. To be closer to the creation itself.

      December 29, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
    • jimbo

      @Chach

      Well said.

      December 29, 2011 at 4:59 pm |
    • Too Bad

      @Chach – If there were more atheists like you maybe we wouldn't be as despised as we are. If you had just left out that tiny bit of ridicule it would have been my idea of a perfect post.

      December 29, 2011 at 5:30 pm |
  11. jimbo

    The bible doesn't even make sense. God created man in his image, but didn't want him to have knowledge (which by all accounts has worked among the religious). Man ate the fruit of knowledge, so god damned the people, but later had a change of heart and sent his son (or himself depending on which sect you talk to) only so he could kill him (or himself) so that people could go to heaven (on a technicality of his own rules). God seems like a flip-flopper at best, or guilty of child murder at worse. In any case, it is a stupid story and sounds as if it was written by an 8 year old. I would think that god, being all knowing and powerful, could piece together a better, more coherent plot.

    December 29, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
    • asrael

      "like"

      December 29, 2011 at 5:34 pm |
    • Timber

      Jimbo – God didn't have a "change of heart." It was the plan all along. And there was no technicality. The payment for sin is death...spiritual, in addition to physical. No "hell forever." Just perish (gone.) The only way to pay for sin is sacrifice...the shedding of blood. And there was only one being whose blood could actually pay for sin, Yeshua, Jesus, the Messiah.

      Our choice is to accept that or not. Many, many will not. Their end, sadly, is destruction. 😦

      December 30, 2011 at 3:16 am |
  12. Christian

    Liberal Scholarship at its best!! I don't know why CNN promotes this crap!

    December 29, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
    • Keith

      cnn's trolling.

      December 29, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
    • Keith

      cnn's shamelessly trolling.

      December 29, 2011 at 4:41 pm |
    • Automatic Translator

      "I didn't agree with much of what little I could read (don't read too good, durnit), so...must be them liberals!!! Extra exclamation points means it must be true!!!"

      December 29, 2011 at 5:02 pm |
    • asrael

      And yet you read it, "Christian"...

      December 29, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
  13. George

    More liberal pap spouted by a liberal. The Bible is the inerrant Word of God. This Spong guy is guilty of heresy.

    December 29, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
    • Patrick

      Which version of the bible are we discussing?

      December 29, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
    • George

      Any version except the Living Bible, the Catholic Bible, or the Mormon Bible.

      December 29, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
    • Keith

      Don't forget the message. It's crap.

      December 29, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
    • Patrick

      Why are those not considered the inerrant word of god?

      The Authorized Version, commonly known as the King James Version, King James Bible or KJV, is an English translation of the Christian Bible by the Church of England begun in 1604 and completed in 1611.] First printed by the King's Printer Robert Barke this was the third official translation into English; the first having been the Great Bible commissioned by the Church of England in the reign of King Henry VIII, and the second was the Bishop's bible of 1568. In January 1604, King James I of England convened the Hampton Court Conference where a new English version was conceived in response to the perceived problems of the earlier translations as detected by the Puritans, a faction within the Church of England
      James gave the translators instructions intended to guarantee that the new version would conform to the ecclesiology and reflect the episcopal structure of the Church of England and its beliefs about an ordained clergy. The translation was done by 47 scholars, all of whom were members of the Church of England

      If said bible was inerrant, why the need for correction?

      December 29, 2011 at 4:39 pm |
    • boocat

      JUDGE NOT LEST YE BE JUDGED......gee I wonder who that quote is attributed to....

      December 29, 2011 at 4:41 pm |
    • AGuest9

      The Catholic Bible came before any Protestant Bible. KJV is a derivative of the Catholic Bible.

      December 29, 2011 at 4:41 pm |
    • Keith

      boocat, Once again, an atheist who doesn't know what the hell they're talking about. Mis-quoting scripture. 1Cr 6:2 Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?

      1Cr 6:3 Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?

      December 29, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
    • Automatic Translator

      "I come here every day and use labels for things I don't understand, because they confuse and frighten me."

      December 29, 2011 at 5:03 pm |
    • Observer

      George,

      You need to get more specific since there are different English versions and they don't agree with each other. Which is the ONE TRUE BIBLE?

      December 29, 2011 at 5:08 pm |
    • One one

      Which god are we talking about?

      December 29, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
    • Patrick

      @Keith
      Recent studies (don’t take my word for it) actually show Atheist and Agnostics to be better educated in religion thank Christians.
      Look it up.

      @AGuest9
      Nothing in my search shows this to be true. Post your source, I’m willing to be educated. But this point is moot unless you can answer the question of why is it not considered to be inerrant.

      The claim is the bible is the inerrant word of god. Show me which bible you are referring and we can go from there.

      December 29, 2011 at 5:30 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Patrick, when did the Reformation occur? Before the Reformation, what was THE church?

      December 29, 2011 at 8:51 pm |
    • Patrick

      Why won’t you answer the question AGuest9? Is it because there is no such thing an inerrant bible?

      December 30, 2011 at 10:54 am |
  14. Darrell

    FINALLY!!!! I am SO glad that someone else actually READ THE BIBLE, and understands it, and has enough guts to put to words what he knows. This man is not an atheist, he READ THE BIBLE. So many people claim to have READ THE BIBLE, yet they continue to spew out all the things that they were TOLD. READ THE BIBLE and you'll see that what John Shelby Spongis saying is accurate. Put it out in FRONT of your own eyes, and READ THE BIBLE. After you READ THE WHOLE BIBLE, then you will have a leg to stand on when you are ready to begin spewing insults to this man.
    READ THE BIBLE, like I have (dozens of times) and you will stop trying to PUSH people into your religious beliefs. Because that's what they are. Most people's "interpretation" of the bible equivalent to someone telling a child he can fly, then he goes out and jumps off a roof on blind faith that what he was told is true...and now that child is DEAD.
    READ THE BIBLE... then follow god.
    thinkingoutsidethebox on facebook.

    December 29, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
  15. Michael Smith

    "The second major misconception comes from the distorting claim that the Bible is in any literal sense “the word of God.” Only someone who has never read the Bible could make such a claim. The Bible portrays God as hating the Egyptians, stopping the sun in the sky to allow more daylight to enable Joshua to kill more Amorites and ordering King Saul to commit genocide against the Amalekites.... Is this “the word of God? What kind of God would that be?"

    The great irony here is that Spong discredits the idea of the Bible being the "word of God" by means of a completely irrational appeal to his own authority. "Surely the things depicted in the Bible cannot reflect who God is..."

    The assumption is Spong has a more accurate idea of who God is than what the Bible portrays. He is now the authority regarding the nature of God. Where did he get this revelation? Surely he does not base his concept of God on anything biblical; how can any of it be trusted when it is so flawed? And if he has extracted a few feel-good ideas of who God is from biblical texts, what qualifies him to be the arbiter of which parts of the bible we can trust and which we can't?

    I have absolutely no problem with Spong questioning the tenets of Christianity. But that he speaks so boldly against it yet lacks the intellectual integrity to admit that he has rejected the historical faith altogether is simply breathtaking.

    December 29, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
  16. david s.

    The author is an EX-bishop, and I'm not surprised. This article is full of lies, and it makes me wonder if the author has ever read the entire Bible. Consider the scholarly merits (or lack thereof) of the article. He wrote "every biblical scholar recognizes" that the Bible does not accurately reflect history. But he doesn't cite any such scholar at all. I challenge him to find a single historical statement in the Bible which modern historians have proven to be false. I maintain that the Bible record of historical events is constantly proven true as more archaeology is done and as science advances. And though my faith in its historical accuracy is enough for me, the evidential proof that exists today bolsters my confidence in its accuracy.

    Yes, Abraham did die before the book of Genesis (which tells of him) was written. But it was written by God, who told the scriptorian what to write. That scriptorian was Moses. And Moses did not die before the account of his own life was given...Moses also penned Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, which covered the duration of his life. After Moses died, God instructed Joshua on what to write to record the conquest of the land God gave to the Hebrews. Every mortal who had a hand in recording the Bible wrote only what God told him to write.

    As for the Gospels of the New Testament, it may be true that the best surviving manuscripts in existence today were penned 20 or more years after Jesus left the earth. But who would presume that no one ever wrote anything about Jesus while He was on the earth? Luke opened his account of the Gospel by stating that "Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us...." Those who penned the 4 Gospels (and all the other books of the Bible) did so by God's inspiration...God told them what to write. Matthew and John were personal witnesses of Jesus alive on the earth and the things He did. They witnessed His crucifixion and they saw Him alive after His resurrection. Mark and Luke were not personal eyewitnesses of Jesus. Mark penned the eyewitness testimony given by the Apostle Peter, and Luke penned the eyewitness testimony given by the Apostle Paul. Matthew, John, Peter, and Paul were all eyewitnesses, and God told them what to record. Again, my faith in God is ample for me to believe the Bible is accurate, but the fact that these 4 men and others were eyewitnesses and recorded what they saw further strengthens my confidence in the Bible.

    Could Jesus or His disciples speak or write Greek? Greek was the dominant language of the Roman Empire in the first century, not Latin. Nearly everyone spoke Greek...you couldn't do business in the Roman Empire if you didn't speak the common language. Jesus & His disciples spoke a particular dialect call Koine Greek, which was the common man's Greek. Most Europeans today speak more than 1 language...usually English and another language from their country of origin. Why should Jesus and His disciples not have known both their native tongue (Hebrew) and the tongue of the world's most powerful empire at the time? Beyond all that, Jesus and His Apostles could work miracles, and speaking in tongues was one of those miracles. The manuscripts of the New Testament that exist today are in Greek because most people in the Roman Empire spoke Greek…it makes sense that if you want to publish a book, you publish it in the language of your target audience.

    December 29, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
    • llɐq ʎʞɔnq

      The book of Deuteronomy's last chapter describes the death, burial, (and reaction to it) of Moses. So he wrote about his own death and burial ? Alrighty then.

      What source, other than the Bible, says it was "inspired" ? What does "inspired" mean, (EXACTLY) ? Did god change the pathways of their neuro-chemicals ? Where, EXACTLY, chapter and verse, does the bible say that god wrote, (dictated), it ?

      Just more of the usual "bible" thumpers stuff who never really read it.

      December 29, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
    • Christian

      Yeah i totality skipped over 'former'. Anyone who lets him pastor a church should be fired.

      December 29, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
    • llɐq ʎʞɔnq

      He was ELECTED a bishop, by a majority of his Christian community. Fire them.

      December 29, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
    • Rachael

      Bishop Spong voluntarily retired; he is well over 80, so that is no surprise.

      December 29, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
    • DamianKnight

      You asked: "Where, EXACTLY, chapter and verse, does the bible say that god wrote, (dictated), it ? "

      Closest thing I found to what you're talking about is 2 Timothy 3:16-17:

      "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. "

      December 29, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
    • llɐq ʎʞɔnq

      Well thanks, DK.
      Now we just have the "authenticity" problem to deal with. How do you know that a letter, written by a human, who never had even a Biology 1-001 course, (or an arithmetic class), and knew next to nothing about reality, and which was VOTED, (and NOT unanimously), into the canon, by human beings, actually "belongs" in the Bible ? 😈

      December 29, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
    • DamianKnight

      The author of that letter was Paul, and he was quite well-educated for the time. Admittedly, their knowledge of practical sciences was probably fairly limited. But Paul was actually a Pharisee, a group of Jewish priests, who arguably were some of the most educated in the region. Certainly they were some of the few who could actually read and write. Paul says he was in Acts 26:5 "They have known me for a long time and can testify, if they are willing, that I conformed to the strictest sect of our religion, living as a Pharisee."

      Paul was one of the front leaders of the early Christian church. His writings are a mere ten to twenty years after the death of Christ. One of the reasons he was thought so highly of, was because he gave up the riches and benefits of being a Pharisee and instead began a ministry. His letters are an incomplete picture, however. In these letters, Paul was addressing the issues that were occurring in the churches he was writing to. Here's the problem. There are several things that are cultural and several items that are not specifically talked about because there was no need to reference them, because everyone who the letter was addressed to already knew it.

      I don't believe Paul ever intended or thought his letters would be considered scripture. It wasn't until much later with Constantine (almost 300 years after the death of Paul) that Paul's writings would be considered canon as one of the early church leaders.

      December 29, 2011 at 6:38 pm |
    • The Maurey Povich Bible Show

      Ok. So what changed ? One day they weren't scripture, and the next they were ? Sounds all kind of nebulous for the "inerrant word of god".

      December 29, 2011 at 7:10 pm |
    • DamianKnight

      Yup. Exactly like Genesis and Malachi were not written at the same time, nor were Jeremiah and Luke.

      December 29, 2011 at 7:40 pm |
    • Peppermint Patty

      D,
      Nope. He was talking about one text. You changed the argument. The point was where precisely in it's long human history of development, is a text one moment not "the word of god", and the next turns into it ? Pooph. Isn't there a Harry Potter spell for that ? They obviously started out as human literary attempts, and LATER made claims to much more. Why is that ? If you wrote a book and claimed it was the "word of Zeus", you would be laughed out of town.

      December 29, 2011 at 9:16 pm |
    • llɐq ʎʞɔnq

      Hi PP. (Just saw you on TV, skating in Charlie Brown's New Years thingy. You are so sweet.) But interesting post. The concept "the Word of God" is a totally Greek concept, ("logos"/Idealism bla bla bla), which was over-read onto texts that NEVER claimed to be anything other than the "Hebrew national story". It's a conflation of Hebrew culture, and Greek culture, not unique to either. Since Jesus knew nothing about Gnosticism, and the early gospels never said he was the "word", but by the time they were writing John, the Greek world had made inroads into their culture, it, (Christianity), was radically changed from the concepts of it's founders, and we don't even notice today all the developmental factors, and nuances. Fascinating.
      I think the 4 vastly different concepts of Yeshua's "divinity" are also interesting. Mark, (human->divine), Matthew,Luke, (divine->human->divine), and John, ((divine only, (gnosos/word)->human+divine->"glorified",divine only)), and are rather instructive that the gospels developed pretty much in isolation from each other, with of course the common sourse docu'ments, which almost everyone agrees upon. 😈

      December 29, 2011 at 9:35 pm |
    • David S.

      Finishing up my previous post...

      The notion that miracles were not attributed to Jesus until the 8th century is another unsupported fiction. Josephus, a first-century Jewish historian serving the Roman Empire, and NOT a Christian, referred to Jesus as a doer of "wonderful works." He asserted that Jesus was more than just a man, implying that Jesus was God in the flesh. He referred to Jesus as the Christ which means "anointed one of God." He stated that Jesus had been seen alive after His miraculous resurrection from the dead. And he wrote that divine prophets had testified of Him. And there were other 1st and 2nd century historians who mentioned Jesus and His works as well. The ex-bishop's "best research" on this matter apparently was quite limited in scope.

      Regarding the idea that the Bible is the literal word of God, the ex-bishop wrote, "Only someone who has never read the Bible could make such a claim." I personally believe he has it exactly backwards, but let's omit opinions and stick to facts, something the ex-bishop seems incapable of providing. He gives no evidence to support his statement...he just makes a personal attack against Bible believers. True scholarship has no room for personal attacks or statements that are biased, uninformed, unfounded, unfactural, and unprovable. Since he cannot prove his position about the literal nature of the Bible, he resorts instead to marginalizing those who do believe it is literally inspired. It seems to me that this ex-bishop is more atheist that Christian, but I can only deduce that from the evidence in his writings.

      The Bible does not portray God as hating any man, ever. God loves every man, and loved every man enough that He sent His Own Son to be sacrified on the cross to bear the penalty of death to make salvation possible for every soul. God did not hate the Egyptians, nor the Babylonians, nor the Assyrians, nor the Canaanites, nor the Persians, nor the Greeks, nor the Romans. But God does hate sin because sin separates man from God, and God desires to have a relationship with every man. God does not hate children who disobey their parents, but He hates the sin of disobedience to parents. Sin is a crime against God, and even an atheist's sense of justice demands that crimes should be punished. Who better to decide punishment than the all-knowing God who alone can dispense perfect mercy and justice?

      December 30, 2011 at 2:29 am |
    • David S.

      To llɐq ʎʞɔnq,

      No I don't think Moses wrote his own obituary. As I stated in the post, Joshua took up the pen after Moses died, and God told Joshua what to write, including the writing of the end of the book of Deuteronomy after Moses died.

      Does the Bible itself say that God is its author? I refer you to this web site which demonstrates that the answer is yes: http://gospelway.com/bible/bible_inspiration.php

      December 30, 2011 at 3:10 am |
  17. boocat

    This guy is a christian. The Old Testament is the book for the Jews. The New Testament is the book for the Christians. What the hell is a christian priest doing interpreting the OT? You don't see rabbis interpreting the New Testament.

    December 29, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
    • Christian

      lol really? I think you forgot that Christianity is the fulfillment of Judaism. (Isaiah 53)

      December 29, 2011 at 4:59 pm |
    • One one

      OT, NT, it's still the same god isn't it? Or is it two different gods with different management styles?

      December 29, 2011 at 5:17 pm |
    • asrael

      Such a novel argument, boocat. And of course, having a god who radically changes his/her/its mind would never do, would it?...

      December 29, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
  18. Keith

    Spong is a LIAR. 1Jo 2:22 Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.

    December 29, 2011 at 4:15 pm |
    • Keith

      2Ti 3:16 All scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: Spong is calling God a liar. That either takes a lot of balls, no brains, or both.

      December 29, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
    • LWZRGHT

      ? What are you talking about? How do you interpret this article to say this man denies Christ?

      December 29, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
    • Keith

      The entire Bible is the written word of God. Therefore, the entire Bible is true. If one part were false, it all would be false. Spong is saying parts are false. Spong is a liar.

      December 29, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
    • The Maurey Povich Bible Show

      Harry Potter is entirely the written word of god. Therefore it is true.

      December 29, 2011 at 4:44 pm |
    • jimbo

      "The entire Bible is the written word of God. Therefore, the entire Bible is true. If one part were false, it all would be false. Spong is saying parts are false. Spong is a liar."

      I can't believe you wrote that. If that is the case, then why hasn't the bible been discredited already? Should we start with the talking snake?

      December 29, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
    • Observer

      Keith,

      Speaking of liars, you do know that the Bible says a circle can have a diameter of 10 and a circ-umference of 30. Ooops!

      December 29, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
    • Observer

      – 1 Corinthians 4:5 “Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men's hearts."

      Wow! There it is in the Bible: there is a tiny asterisk at the bottom that says "* does not apply to Keith". Wow!

      December 29, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
    • LinCA

      Keith

      You said, "If one part were false, it all would be false. Spong is saying parts are false."
      True

      You said, "Spong is a liar."
      Wrong conclusion.

      Here is a partial list of contradictions in the bible (I'd like to give credit to whomever compiled it, but unfortunately my records are incomplete. Thanks anyway). Any single one of these proves beyond a show of a doubt that the bible contains errors. Therefor parts of it are false. Thus Sprong was right. Therefor, if "the entire Bible is the written word of God", your god is not perfect.

      Who incited David to count the fighting men of Israel?
      (a) God did (2 Samuel 24: 1)
      (b) Satan did (I Chronicles 2 1:1)

      In that count how many fighting men were found in Israel?
      (a) Eight hundred thousand (2 Samuel 24:9)
      (b) One million, one hundred thousand (IChronicles 21:5)

      How many fighting men were found in Judah?
      (a) Five hundred thousand (2 Samuel 24:9)
      (b) Four hundred and seventy thousand (I Chronicles 21:5)

      God sent his prophet to threaten David with how many years of famine?
      (a) Seven (2 Samuel 24:13)
      (b) Three (I Chronicles 21:12)

      How old was Ahaziah when he began to rule over Jerusalem?
      (a) Twenty-two (2 Kings 8:26)
      (b) Forty-two (2 Chronicles 22:2)

      How old was Jehoiachin when he became king of Jerusalem?
      (a) Eighteen (2 Kings 24:8)
      (b) Eight (2 Chronicles 36:9)

      How long did he rule over Jerusalem?
      (a) Three months (2 Kings 24:8)
      (b) Three months and ten days (2 Chronicles 36:9)

      The chief of the mighty men of David lifted up his spear and killed how many men at one time?
      (a) Eight hundred (2 Samuel 23:8)
      (b) Three hundred (I Chronicles 11: 11)

      When did David bring the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem? Before defeating the Philistines or after?
      (a) After (2 Samuel 5 and 6)
      (b) Before (I Chronicles 13 and 14)

      How many pairs of clean animals did God tell Noah to take into the Ark?
      (a) Two (Genesis 6:19, 20)
      (b) Seven (Genesis 7:2). But despite this last instruction only two pairs went into the ark (Genesis 7:8-9)

      When David defeated the King of Zobah, how many horsemen did he capture?
      (a) One thousand and seven hundred (2 Samuel 8:4)
      (b) Seven thousand (I Chronicles 18:4)

      How many stalls for horses did Solomon have?
      (a) Forty thousand (I Kings 4:26)
      (b) Four thousand (2 chronicles 9:25)

      In what year of King Asa's reign did Baasha, King of Israel die?
      (a) Twenty-sixth year (I Kings 15:33 – 16:8)
      (b) Still alive in the thirty-sixth year (2 Chronicles 16:1)

      How many overseers did Solomon appoint for the work of building the temple?
      (a) Three thousand six hundred (2 Chronicles 2:2)
      (b) Three thousand three hundred (I Kings 5:16)

      Solomon built a facility containing how many baths?
      (a) Two thousand (1 Kings 7:26)
      (b) Over three thousand (2 Chronicles 4:5)

      Of the Israelites who were freed from the Babylonian captivity, how many were the children of Pahrath-Moab?
      (a) Two thousand eight hundred and twelve (Ezra 2:6)
      (b) Two thousand eight hundred and eighteen (Nehemiah 7:11)

      How many were the children of Zattu?
      (a) Nine hundred and forty-five (Ezra 2:8)
      (b) Eight hundred and forty-five (Nehemiah 7:13)

      How many were the children of Azgad?
      (a) One thousand two hundred and twenty-two (Ezra 2:12)
      (b) Two thousand three hundred and twenty-two (Nehemiah 7:17)

      How many were the children of Adin?
      (a) Four hundred and fifty-four (Ezra 2:15)
      (b) Six hundred and fifty-five (Nehemiah 7:20)

      How many were the children of Hashum?
      (a) Two hundred and twenty-three (Ezra 2:19)
      (b) Three hundred and twenty-eight (Nehemiah 7:22)

      How many were the children of Bethel and Ai?
      (a) Two hundred and twenty-three (Ezra 2:28)
      (b) One hundred and twenty-three (Nehemiah 7:32)

      Ezra 2:64 and Nehemiah 7:66 agree that the total number of the whole assembly was 42,360. Yet the numbers do not add up to anything close. The totals obtained from each book is as follows:
      (a) 29,818 (Ezra)
      (b) 31,089 (Nehemiah)

      How many singers accompanied the assembly?
      (a) Two hundred (Ezra 2:65)
      (b) Two hundred and forty-five (Nehemiah 7:67)

      December 29, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
    • AGuest9

      The bible starts as a folk-tale that relates the origination of the Earth and Man. Of course, other men must have existed, since Cain married a woman who wasn't his sister. Things go downhill from there. Following events claim to be "proof" of purported earlier claims. Roughly 4,000 years after the earliest writings, a man is born who supposedly fulfilled prophesy. The occupying Roman garrison hangs him at the behest of religious leaders. The man's brother steals his body from his grave, and claims that his brother rose from the dead, then sends his followers to areas in Asia Minor, the Mediterranean, Northern Africa and perhaps Britain. As the Roman Empire declined, it accepted the fanatics and some of their holidays, eventually allowing them to take over the Empire, as they were further overtaken by other outsiders. (Sound familiar?)

      December 29, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
    • Keith

      LinCA, Did you come up with those all by yourself? Or is this plagarism?

      December 29, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Keith, once again your inability to read and comprehend shines through! LinCA wrote this above:

      "(I'd like to give credit to whomever compiled it, but unfortunately my records are incomplete. Thanks anyway). "

      Do you need somone with Grade 3+ reading skills to take you through it word by word?

      Are you just deflecting attention from the questions? How about giving us your answers?

      December 29, 2011 at 5:37 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      The above questions about contradictions in The Babble, and 76 more, can be found at http://www.sunnahonline.com/ilm/dawah/0009.htm.

      December 29, 2011 at 5:40 pm |
    • Keith

      I don't need to answer an arrogant canadian.

      December 29, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Because you can't!!

      What's your excuse for not answering LinCA?

      December 29, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
    • asrael

      Oops! Keith has been totally owned by an "arrogant Canadian"...

      December 29, 2011 at 5:48 pm |
    • LinCA

      @HotAirAce

      Thanks!

      December 29, 2011 at 6:07 pm |
    • Observer

      So Keith is trying to change the subject rather than answer all the questions. Not surprising.

      December 29, 2011 at 6:09 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      @LinCA – no problem, you revealed "the secret of HTML" so I owed you.

      I'm actually surprised Keith hasn't continued to try to avoid answering your questions by pointing out that my "math" is wrong – you posted 23 and the URL I provided has 101. He was probably saving this nit for the coup de grace on his way to his first win!

      December 29, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
    • The Maurey Povich Bible Show

      More like "I CAN"T answer an arrogant Canadian".

      December 29, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
    • LinCA

      @HotAirAce

      You said, "so I owed you."
      Good. I say we're even.

      You said, "I'm actually surprised Keith hasn't continued to try to avoid answering your questions by pointing out that my "math" is wrong – you posted 23 and the URL I provided has 101."
      You must have used biblical math. It's all good in his eyes....

      December 29, 2011 at 6:27 pm |
    • Keith

      LinCA, Concerning Solomon's horse stalls, did it ever occur to you that larger # was at the zenith of his reign and the lesser # was after it was already in decline?

      December 29, 2011 at 7:25 pm |
    • Keith

      LinCA, Now that the discrepancy has been refuted, will you admit that it was indeed not a discrepancy to begin with?

      December 29, 2011 at 7:29 pm |
    • Keith

      asrael, shut up. I'm not into your little h0m0/qu eer thing. No one owns me. Try it and you'll be spitting your teeth out like Chicklets for a week!

      December 29, 2011 at 7:36 pm |
    • Keith

      HAA, I'm not the spelling/punctuation/math error nazi that Tom is.

      December 29, 2011 at 7:39 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Keith

      You said, "Concerning Solomon's horse stalls, did it ever occur to you that larger # was at the zenith of his reign and the lesser # was after it was already in decline?"
      That's one possibility. Not a likely one, though, as the two accounts appear to be of the same period. And, no it didn't occur to me because I never felt the urge to twist bible verses to prove it's veracity. Even without factual errors, it doesn't hold much sway. To me, the bible's value is entirely caloric.

      You said, "Now that the discrepancy has been refuted, will you admit that it was indeed not a discrepancy to begin with?"
      But OK, I admit that the discrepancy about Solomon's horse stalls can be explained. One down, one hundred left to go.

      December 29, 2011 at 7:46 pm |
    • Keith

      LinCA, No. I think now the burden of proof is upon you to prove that the next 100 are actual discrepancies since I've shown that at least one is false. Why should I waste time/effort in disproving a negative?

      December 29, 2011 at 7:56 pm |
    • Keith

      LinCA, No amount of evidence will convince you or others like you. Jesus could descend out of the clouds and set foot on the 50 yard line during the Super Bowl and you still won't believe.

      December 29, 2011 at 8:00 pm |
    • Keith

      Luk 11:29 ¶ And when the people were gathered thick together, he began to say, This is an evil generation: they seek a sign; and there shall no sign be given it, but the sign of Jonas the prophet.

      December 29, 2011 at 8:02 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Keith

      You said, "No. I think now the burden of proof is upon you to prove that the next 100 are actual discrepancies since I've shown that at least one is false. Why should I waste time/effort in disproving a negative?"
      Well, unsurprisingly, you're wrong. You made the claim that your bible was 100% true. Nothing can be 100% true if it has even a single error in it. So, until you refute each and every challenge, your claim is false.

      Not to worry, though. I'll give you an easy way out. All you need to do is retract your initial claim.
      Will you retract "The entire Bible is the written word of God. Therefor the entire Bible is true"?

      December 29, 2011 at 8:06 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Keith

      You said, "No amount of evidence will convince you or others like you. Jesus could descend out of the clouds and set foot on the 50 yard line during the Super Bowl and you still won't believe."

      Now if he did that, that would be impressive. And, because most christians would be shown to be wrong in their interpretation, I bet that such an act would convince a higher percentage of atheists than christians.

      December 29, 2011 at 8:11 pm |
    • Keith

      LinCA, Usually I believe never say never. But I will NEVER retract my statement about the Word of God. Just so you know, if someone does descend from the clouds and set foot on the 50 yard line-it's not Christ, anti-christ maybe, but not Jesus. You see, since you won't believe in Him- the Bible says you will believe the lie. Sucks to be you.

      December 29, 2011 at 8:24 pm |
    • Keith

      LinCA, It's truly bizzare that people who refuse to believe in Jesus will believe in the Anti-christ but that's what the Bible tells us: 2Th 2:9 [Even him], whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,

      2Th 2:10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.

      2Th 2:11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:

      2Th 2:12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

      December 29, 2011 at 8:43 pm |
    • Keith

      LinCA, please consider these scriptures. There's no reason for you to go to hell. Forget your pride and ask God to reveal Himself to you. Ask Him to forgive your sins and turn away(repent) from your sins. He paid your penalty, too, LinCA. It's a free gift. All you have to do is understand your need for the gift and take it.

      December 29, 2011 at 8:48 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Keith

      You said, "Just so you know, if someone does descend from the clouds and set foot on the 50 yard line-it's not Christ, anti-christ maybe, but not Jesus."
      I guessed right then. Even if Jesus returned, you wouldn't believe it.

      You said, "You see, since you won't believe in Him- the Bible says you will believe the lie."
      Not likely.

      You said, "Sucks to be you."
      But you just said that you wouldn't believe it if your savior returned. Doesn't that suck for you?

      You said, "please consider these scriptures. There's no reason for you to go to hell."
      I won't go to hell for the simple reason that there is no such place, except in Michigan.

      You said, "Forget your pride and ask God to reveal Himself to you. Ask Him to forgive your sins and turn away(repent) from your sins. He paid your penalty, too, LinCA. It's a free gift. All you have to do is understand your need for the gift and take it."
      No pride, no sin, no reason to ask for forgiveness. So, thanks but, no thanks.

      December 29, 2011 at 9:24 pm |
    • Keith

      LinCA, No sin? Seriously? Never lied? Never stolen anything? Never looked at someone with lust? Never taken the Lord's name in vain? Really?

      December 29, 2011 at 11:24 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Re: number of stalls, from http: / / www . rationalchristianity . net / num_stalls . html:

      "This is a copyist error (see the translation footnotes). The general consensus is that 4000 is the correct number, since it's closer to the number of horsemen."

      I would have thought there would have been more horses than horsemen 'cause chariots probably had more than 1 horse each and each horseman would have had at least one extra horse (in case the horse gets lame, injured or killed).

      The notes re: copyist errors are very reassuring:

      "Copyist Errors

      Some points on the subject of copyist errors in the Bible from the Baker Encyclopedia of Christan Apologetics by Norman Geisler:
      •Biblical inerrancy refers to the original texts, not the copies.
      •The errors are minor errors (e.g. numeric errors) which don't affect any doctrine in the Bible.
      •There are very few errors. (See Are the Biblical Documents Reliable? by Jimmy Williams.)
      •We are able to determine what the error is, usually by context or by other verses.
      •The original meaning is preserved and comes through. That is, no copyist error is so bad that the meaning of the text is obscured or lost.
      Some of my thoughts:
      People have asked, "Why didn't God inspire the copyists as well, and enable us to have inerrant Bibles today?" If God intended to protect the transmission of Scripture from error, this implies he would have to prevent deliberate errors as well as honest mistakes. People would be unable to produce any deviant copies of Scripture – this would soon be noticed and remarked on, and others who heard the rumor would try it out for themselves and find that they were somehow unable to produce a copy of Scripture that deviated in any way from the original. This would be tantamount to providing proof of God and the veracity of Scripture – but providing proof instead of evidence is something that God has decided not to do. (See article on Why doesn't God prove his existence?) It may also be that God simply decided to give humans the responsibility of copying and translating the Bible, just as he gave us the responsibility of telling others about Christ."

      So I don’t think Keith has proven is case and needs to answer LinCA’s question(s).

      December 30, 2011 at 2:30 am |
    • jimbo

      "asrael, shut up. I'm not into your little h0m0/qu eer thing. No one owns me. Try it and you'll be spitting your teeth out like Chicklets for a week!"

      You are the worst kind of Christian, a phony one. What happened to "turn the other cheek?" I suppose you believe in the NT where Jesus watched UFC and studied to be a ninja, all the while spewing hatred for gays. Interesting and insightful post. Seems you might have missed important parts of Jesus' teachings. You are the type that would have beaten and called Jesus a dirty socialist hippy when he was around.

      December 30, 2011 at 9:50 am |
    • Keith

      jimbo, blah blah blah-I could care less what you think.

      December 30, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
    • Keith

      jimbo, What makes you think I'm going to stand by an be a punching bag for some useless atheist? I suppose now you'll give me the sorry a$$ excuse that you'll go to hell and it will be all my fault because I drove you away from God? BS. You will have to accept personal responsiblity for your own eternal destination. I'm here warning you atheists pretty much every day: Eze 3:18 When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked [man] shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand.

      Eze 3:19 Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul.

      December 30, 2011 at 7:47 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      The only problem I have with the oh so tiny tiny probability that I might end up in hell is the certainty that
      I would be sharing it with Keith and several of his ilk that call themselves christians here.

      December 30, 2011 at 9:32 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Keith

      You said, "No sin? Seriously? Never lied? Never stolen anything? Never looked at someone with lust? Never taken the Lord's name in vain? Really?"

      I haven't committed a sin in my life. I am incapable of committing sin.

      Sin is a violation of a religious rule or law. As such, people that belong to a particular religious denomination that break the rules set by that denomination, sin. Those that don't subscribe to that religion, don't sin, even when they act in a way that would be considered a sin for followers of that religion.

      It's a simple matter of jurisdiction. The bible, or any religion based on it, has no jurisdiction over those that don't follow it. Freedom of religion guarantees that nobody is subject to religious rules from a religion they don't subscribe to.

      Of course, while atheists can't sin, they will still be held accountable should they break the laws of the land. But an atheist, even one that commits murder, doesn't sin. Ever.

      December 30, 2011 at 9:47 pm |
    • Keith

      LinCA, So that's going to be your defense when you stand guilty before Jesus on Judgement Day? "You don't have jursidiction over me".

      December 31, 2011 at 9:26 am |
    • Keith

      LinCA, And once you realize that you were wrong, your fallback plan is what?

      December 31, 2011 at 9:28 am |
    • LinCA

      @Keith

      You said, "So that's going to be your defense when you stand guilty before Jesus on Judgement Day? "You don't have jursidiction over me"."
      There won't be a judgement day. Jesus, if he ever existed, is long gone, never to return or be seen again.

      You said, "LinCA, And once you realize that you were wrong, your fallback plan is what?"
      Odds are that I won't have the consciousness to realize anything after I'm dead. But if I do, odds are you are equally wrong.

      December 31, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
  19. OrthodoxGuy

    @jimbo

    How is it "censorship" to not wish to deal with evil and iniquity on almost every blog post? I do not wish to have my eyes filthied with the dirt on the souls of non-believers. Go find an athiest blog to spew your hate filled propoganda on, we believers are not interested in your evil.

    December 29, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
    • boocat

      Then turn off the damn computer, moron! It's called freedom of speech. And you have the freedom to choose not listen or read it.

      December 29, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
    • claybigsby

      If you are not interested in listening to opinions of others...look the other way.

      December 29, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
    • Darrell

      ...agrees with boocat and claybigsby

      December 29, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
    • jimbo

      Hate filled propaganda? Filth? Seeing other opinions dirties your soul (thus you want to censor it)? You think that because I don't believe in your made up "truth" that I am evil? Wow. What a limited perspective you have.

      December 29, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
    • Automatic Translator

      LOL 'Evil and iniquity'. Are you sure you're not actually HeavenSent, forgetting to add 'amen' to every post?

      December 29, 2011 at 5:07 pm |
    • asrael

      Wow! Those are pretty delicate eyes you have, OG. And if you insist on the anti-atheist rant, you might want to check a few spellings...

      December 29, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
    • Elisabeth

      Let me get this straight. So it's ok for you guys to "witness" to non-believers all over the world but it's not ok for us to question your religion on a blog??? I have seriously had people ringing my doorbell at 9 am on a Saturday morning trying to invite me to church and asking if I've taken Jesus into my heart. Numerous times. You know how annoying that is? Could you imagine the outrage if I went door to door explaining why I don't believe in the Bible? Or how about if I handed out flyers on evolution in a church parking lot?

      I am not a Christian but was brought up in the church, so I know a bit about the Bible. I think it's ironic how Christians get so offended when you try and point out the inaccuracies of their religion, however, think it's totally fine to push their beliefs on us non-believers. If you are so sure about Christianity, why not have a clean debate about it? Why get so upset? Honestly I think it's because deep down, you know that we have some valid points. The Bible is a fairytale and even though some events might be historically accurate, it's crazy to me how people can blindly believe in talking snakes, people rising from the dead, parting the sea, walking on water, the list goes on and on.

      December 29, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
  20. Religion Fail

    I'm just glad God created Battlefield 3 on Xbox 360. I really love playing that game. Thanks god!

    December 29, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
    • Patrick

      Agreed, it pwns MW3 all day.

      December 29, 2011 at 4:28 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.