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. Tracy

    Wow, he struggles with the Bible, as he mentioned at the last, because he is trying to ride the fence between believing it and disbelieving it. This is the worst kind of confusion to be brought to the world. He is basically saying that he does not believe the Bible, but then says that he does believe it , but not really.

    Look, the Bible itself says it is the word of God, Inspired by God. And yes, God did have His people ( the Israelites) destroy some peoples because they were evil and would draw them (His people) into destructive and terrible things, such as child sacrifice which was a part of idolatry and other destructive practices. God is a jealous God and wants His people to put Him first because He is life and the worship of Him alone brings light and life. All other worship is authored by the author of lies, whose sole job is to steal, kill and destroy God's special creation of mankind.

    If you are reading this article, please DO NOT think that this is an accurate representation of conservative Biblical scholarship or belief. He is basically an unbeliever, albeit, highly intelligent, yet still, one who really does not believe the Bible or the claims contained therein. His job is to explain away why we don't have to believe the Bible, which is again, why he is so confused.

    December 30, 2011 at 12:58 am |
    • Atheist

      Tracy is definitely confused.

      December 30, 2011 at 1:01 am |
    • Observer

      "God did have His people ( the Israelites) destroy some peoples because they were evil"

      REALITY. Those "some peoples" amounted to over 1,000,000 people by some counts according to the Bible. The Bible specifically says that some of those "evil" people were children. Girls were saved to be ra-ped as a reward. REALITY.

      December 30, 2011 at 1:02 am |
    • Peppermint Patty

      Yeah those evil babies. Destroy those evil babies.

      December 30, 2011 at 1:04 am |
    • Relictus

      The intelligent man is an enemy to the bible. The more that he looks at it, the sillier it becomes, until the whole charade come crashing down.

      December 30, 2011 at 1:12 am |
    • Christian Chameleon

      Why do "biblical scholars" always want to question the validity of the Bible....either you believe in the wholeness of God or you don't...


      December 30, 2011 at 1:54 am |
    • ashrakay

      "God is jealous". I demand more out of my girlfriends! You sure do a good job of making god sounds like a whiny b itch. Anyone who doesn't struggle with the bible is either amoral or they lack the intelligence to understand what's actually going on.

      December 30, 2011 at 2:03 am |
    • TR6

      @Christian Chameleon:”Why do "biblical scholars" always want to question the validity of the Bible”

      It’s because when you really study the bible its validity becomes impossible to accept

      December 30, 2011 at 6:56 am |
  2. yearightwwjd

    As this will probably be my last post this eveing, I would just like to say that the problem with some people is that their not able to question their faith because they dont have any faith, just an all consuming fear of being punished if they do try to self examine their beliefs and a complete lack of understanding of the real world they live in. good luck sleeping tonight knowing that you're real faith is based on fear not understanding, otherwise you would have totally understood what this author was trying to convey to you.

    December 30, 2011 at 12:57 am |
  3. Atheist

    Wow, judging from the posts here, these Christian's faith is shattered if the Bible isn't 100% factual. Being an Atheist, I'm the last one to defend the Bible, but give the book a break! Stories can still have value even of they are fictional. That's what literature is all about. Fiction can be instructive and enlightening because it is free to explore truths that couldn't otherwise have been revealed through factual situations. Don't cry over it. Appreciate it for what it is.

    December 30, 2011 at 12:56 am |
    • TL

      Fictional Example "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson

      A link to the criticisms of the story.
      The Lottery Jackson, Shirley – Introduction." Contemporary Literary Criticism. Ed. Christopher Giroux. Vol. 87. Gale Cengage, 1995. eNotes.com. 29 Dec, 2011

      December 30, 2011 at 2:40 am |
    • TR6

      If the bible isn’t 100% factual how do you tell which parts will get you damned if you don’t follow them and which parts are just literature? If all of it isn’t true then all of it is open to question

      December 30, 2011 at 7:01 am |
  4. tony

    Probably 90% of the humans who ever lived, lived and died prior to Christianity. So that means that Christians will be a tiny minority in Heaven. . . .

    December 30, 2011 at 12:47 am |
    • yearightwwjd

      So very true, and they wouldn't have it any other way........... after all it is that great gated community in the sky.

      December 30, 2011 at 1:14 am |
  5. Lucifer's Evil Twin

    Bender: I'm immortal.
    Amy: How come you scream so much when you're in danger?
    Bender: I never said I wasn't a drama queen.

    December 30, 2011 at 12:46 am |
  6. yearightwwjd

    yeah ok, keep bashing science by typing on your computer....I get it, the earth is flat,6000 years old, and the sun revolves it.thats just hogwash and a hoot.............And on the eighth day g-o-d created google, and the google was good. G-O-D bless the baby google.

    December 30, 2011 at 12:42 am |
  7. brett

    Dinosaurs for Jesus

    December 30, 2011 at 12:41 am |
  8. The Christians are revolting!!!

    And so are the other people! Eeeyyyaaaarrrrggghhhh!

    December 30, 2011 at 12:36 am |
  9. Henry

    Religion is just willful ignorance. It might have been the best we could do a few hundred years ago but we've moved far, far beyond. Claiming that the Bible, Qur'an, Book of Mormon, or any other dusty religious holy book is somehow the word of a magical sky god is profoundly silly.

    December 30, 2011 at 12:35 am |
  10. Mwaniki Mburu

    Mr. Spong; you do sound like an intelligent person...that I have no doubt about. Unfortunately in your intelligence you have exposed your ignorance by trying to discredit the authenticity of the Bible. We all know that there is other Historical literature out there that we do not have logical and sequential facts to affirm their authenticity, yet we tend to base our belief on them more than we do the Word of God. People tend to believe more in Aristotle's, Socrates, et al philosophies, yet we cannot also be sure that they are too factual. My point here being; if factual evidence is your only basis for determining the believability of the Bible, then you miss the point by a big margin. In actual fact, the Bible holds life's principles that were true back then as they are even today. And if your greatest concern is getting factual support for the authenticity of the Bible and what is written in it; all you have to do is to put it into test, just like every scientist would do, (carry out an experiment). If you do not find it true, then you are free to hold onto your opinion. However, you must remember that, God is real, supreme, and Almighty, and not everything about Him can be understood by a finite mind. That's where faith steps in...faith like you always exercise when you sit on a chair, being confident that it will hold you up due to the force of gravity which you can neither see, nor touch, even measure.

    December 30, 2011 at 12:30 am |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      Hate to break this to you, but I find it doubtful that Spong will read your post.

      December 30, 2011 at 12:38 am |
    • Eh

      You can see the effects of gravity, feel the effects, and you can measure it. Since gravity is a distortion of space-time, you can actually see this distortion around any mass large enough.
      It does not take any kind of faith to sit in a chair. You cannot prove your god exists because you have no god.
      And your reasoning skills are very poor.

      December 30, 2011 at 12:40 am |
    • Peppermint Patty

      You completely missed the point of his article. Read his first sentence. "The Bible is both a reservoir of spiritual insight and a cultural icon." He is saying the Bible has wisdom, even though it is obviously not factually correct.

      December 30, 2011 at 12:40 am |
    • theydidthisonegood

      This crap that the Bible is not factualy correct, is another attack on the authenticity of the WORD OF GOD, NOTHING MORE.

      December 30, 2011 at 12:45 am |
    • theydidthisonegood

      This crap that the Bible is not factualy correct, is another attack on the authenticity of the WORD OF GOD, NOTHING MORE. come on people, look at the site you are on??? duh??? we are talking about cnn here??? does any one believe that any of this is by someone that can be believed, trusted not to inject their( and cnn's ) agenda here?? If you do you are a lot further gone than any of thought, but hey, i have never underestimated the overinflated sense of intelligence of the cnn crowd sorry.

      December 30, 2011 at 12:49 am |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      The babble sucks. "The moon is a harsh mistres" by Robert Heinlein, now THAT'S a great book.

      December 30, 2011 at 12:50 am |
    • Mwaniki Mburu

      @ Lucifer's...who is Spong? He is not my God; and I dont care if he reads my comments or not...but hen he writes his crap touching on the core of my belief I wont just sit back and watch.

      .@Eh...you can see, feel, and measure..what? the effects of gravity...but not gravity itself. How do you even know that what you are seeing, feeling, and measuring is gravity? In the same way, we see, feel, and measure the effects of life's principles written in the Bible...everyone of them.

      @Peppermint...I agree; that i missed the point on the wisdom of the Bible. I however, hope that Spong and others would actually not just pay lip service to the wisdom in the Bible; yet at the same time discrediting its authority...but instead simply accept it and live by its principles.

      December 30, 2011 at 1:01 am |
    • Peppermint Patty

      So theydidthisonegood, have you sacrificed your burnt offering today ? It's in your WORD OF GOD. Or was he mumbling for that part ?

      December 30, 2011 at 1:08 am |
    • Eh

      Mwaniki, you are very stupidly dishonest to talk like that, or you're insane or both. You are evidently totally clueless about gravity.
      What next? Will you prove your god exists by the warm feelings you have instead of showing us something that would actually prove your god exists? No you won't. Why? Because your god does not exist. We have plenty of proof, you have none.
      I guess you'll have to choke on that, 'cause I'm not wasting more time with a dumb-ass like you. Ta-ta.

      December 30, 2011 at 1:11 am |
    • Observer


      "This crap that the Bible is not factualy correct, is another attack on the authenticity"

      The Bible is full of false statements. It even claims that the ratio pi is equal to 3.00. lol. Read the Bible sometime.

      December 30, 2011 at 1:30 am |
  11. PleezThink

    K. Passages about sin are, by your definition negative. If gay (since I can't use that other word) is the only sin pointed out, then they are being very short sighted. Stealing a piece of gum or gossiping are also sins. As is adultery like you pointed out. I don't think that anyone is trashing gays or gossipers if they are told that what they are doing is wrong. On the contrary, that could be an example of the Golden Rule. But, if I were to guess, you just don't want to hear that the Bible says that it is wrong.

    December 30, 2011 at 12:25 am |
    • PleezThink

      Sorry, meant to be a reply back to Observer.

      December 30, 2011 at 12:26 am |
    • Observer

      I'll be the first person to say that the Bible says it's an abomination. No question. Eating shellfish is an abomination, so why do Christians go crazy over gay marriage, but don't give a hoot if they themselves eat shellfish? Same for the Three WISE Men. They are greatly honored every year and even have a major holiday in Catholic nations. What are they so honored for: they brought gold and the ABOMINATIONS of myrrh and frankincense to baby Jesus. "Incense is an abomination to me" - God.

      It's all pick and choose HYPOCRISY.

      December 30, 2011 at 12:40 am |
  12. satanisagod

    Satan is the god of punishment. The god whose job is to catch and kill evil people and torture them in prison. obey the laws of the gods or die evil souls..that is Satan..Satan is the god of punishment...the grim reaper is coming your evil souls. and evil doers...hahahah

    December 30, 2011 at 12:12 am |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      You shouldn't mock my sister, she doesn't like Christians that much in the first place, they are overcrowding her domain.

      December 30, 2011 at 12:22 am |
  13. theydidthisonegood

    All the people that don't buy into the God thing or christianity, are the loudest and the least tolerant of all points of view that are not in complete agreeance with theirs. They are the most hateful, most foulmouthed, most disrespectful of all people and more than likely, if evolution did occor in some small way, they are the ones that evolved from some sort of mud puddle. All they needed was another mud puddle, another lightning bolt and BANG, they have kids!!! If you don't believe the word of Gd, (the Bible), then dont read it and we will find out when our time and the end of time comes, k? There is No reason to continually bash a thought, a theory, ( it has neevr been proven wrong) unless you are trying to convince some one bigger and less intelligent thanhose with which you bash, (like yourself) it seems to me "they dothrotest too much". Either believe and give your life to Jesus, or shut up and let us show our faith any way we want to as long it isn't illegal or immoral. It aint hurtin you pal.

    December 30, 2011 at 12:12 am |
    • Kraig Derstler

      Many Christian religious practices are hurting us, pal. Consider the constant pressure over textbooks and content in the public schools that comes from conservative Christians. Consider the endless efforts by conservative Christians to demonize gays. You tell me that those folks are not being hurt by religious practices. What a dumb comment you made, pal.

      December 30, 2011 at 12:18 am |
    • Eh

      Then why are so many Christians trying to turn this into a theocracy?
      So many Christians want their biblical nonsense enshrined in our nation's laws as if they knew there was no god behind them.
      So many Christians get angry when anyone fights back against their deliberately breaking the law with illegal expressions of "faith".
      You say there's no harm? What a bald-faced liar you are!

      December 30, 2011 at 12:19 am |
    • yearightwwjd

      maybe they just get frustrated trying to explain scientific rational thought to a grown person who believes in myths......how did you feel when you found out that santa,the easterbunny and the thooth were'nt real? oh sorry, I hope I didnt ruin it for you.

      December 30, 2011 at 12:21 am |
    • Rowan

      Are you really asking for tolerance and telling people to shut up in the same sentence?

      December 30, 2011 at 12:21 am |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      Stupid troll

      December 30, 2011 at 12:24 am |
    • HotAirAce

      Talking out of both sides of their mouth, and not realizing it, is nothing compared to believers actually believing the crap in The Babble.

      December 30, 2011 at 12:25 am |
    • theydidthisonegood

      You fools have been bashing and telling us to shut up for so long it a text in schools now, i think. now it is time for you guys to sit down and shut up. we will pray and believe in our God, you guys deal with it k?,, it aint hurtin you pal. as i said. and there is nothing wrong with teaching children that gay is wrong, has always will be wrong, will always be wrong. i have taught all six of children that, will continue to. It is you that have the problem, it fine that you teach your children that christians are wrong??? as i said, you are the most hatefull, the most loudmouthed and the least tolerant. Gay behavior is a mental disorder that can be cured, period. dont accept it as normal and we wont treat it as a normal choice. Not to mention the host of other immoral behavior as seen by our current administration as his entire cult crew.

      December 30, 2011 at 12:28 am |
    • PleezThink

      Hey Eh. That "biblical nonsense" is already enshrined in our laws. I would argue that it is the religious left that is trying to change things and the religious right is just pushing back.

      December 30, 2011 at 12:29 am |
    • theydidthisonegood

      boy, a little common sense facts and conviction about the Bible being the infallable word of God really gets you your panties in wad don't it??? ha ha ha

      December 30, 2011 at 12:32 am |
    • HotAirAce

      Trained medical experts have determined that being gay is not a choice or a mental illness. The jury is still out on whether or not adults believing childish myths is a mental illness but I think it is becoming more evident that it is.

      December 30, 2011 at 12:41 am |
    • Observer

      "there is nothing wrong with teaching children that gay is wrong, has always will be wrong, will always be wrong."

      WRONG. Teaching bigotry and teaching children to discriminate is just plain wrong. Fortunately, education is wiping out bigotry and it's obvious that it won't be long before the ignornance of discrimination for that will disappear like it did for blacks and women.

      Sad that Christians select bigotry over the Golden Rule.

      December 30, 2011 at 12:52 am |
    • Peppermint Patty

      agreeance.....what the heck is agreeance ? Look THAT up in your Funk and Wagnals.

      December 30, 2011 at 1:10 am |
    • Relictus

      Anyone that does not agree with me is intolerant and WRONG! Kneel before my magic sky fairie to show that you are open minded!

      Or, not. =)

      December 30, 2011 at 1:15 am |
    • theydidthisonegood

      Hey peppermint,,,, Drinking a little too mush of that intelligence?

      Agreeance | Define Agreeance at Dictionary.comdictionary.reference.com/browse/agreeanceCached – Similar
      You +1'd this publicly. Undo
      a·gree·ance. /əˈgri əns/ Show Spelled[uh-gree-uh ns] Show IPA. noun Now Rare. the act or state of agreeing; agreement. ...

      Also, why is you guys always to go to burnt offering, you must be gay, they always do that for some reason, must be something about being gay??? as i said, it is wrong will always be wrong, in thought, in mind, and in spirit. But hey,,,, have at it girl! or man, you never know these days, do you?

      December 30, 2011 at 1:22 am |
    • Christian Chameleon

      Why do "biblical scholars" always want to question the validity of the Bible....either you believe in the wholeness of God or you don't......that's nothing but the devil playing hopscotch with your faith. Don't keep questioning what you obviously know God represented as the truth.


      December 30, 2011 at 1:55 am |
    • TR6

      “are the loudest and the least tolerant of all points of view that are not in complete agreeance with theirs. They are the most hateful, most foulmouthed, most disrespectful of all people”

      How Christian of you to say so

      December 30, 2011 at 7:59 am |
  14. md2205

    "so, according to you, where did man come from? Your answer: god. How do you know that? Your answer: the bible. Why should anyone believe anything that is in the bible? Your answer: it is the word of god. How do you know? Your answer: because it says so in the bible. Am I missing anything here?"

    Yes, because you are not aware of how it says it in the Torah, plus the addition of some common logic thinking about what it says. It says in the Torah 24 times that G-d gave the Torah to Moses in front of the entire Jewish people at the mountain. There were 3 million people there watching. Historical facts are not discounted when 3 million people saw something happen. If 3 million people hadn't seen it, when they would read the book supposedly written so many years later, they would say no one ever told them that before. It would be hogwash and they would recognize it as such. If you discount that a book says that 3 million people saw that when it happened, you have to discount all the rest of any historical account in the world. Remember, the holy days of the Jews started when they left Egypt. They did the first commandments they were ever commanded by G-d to make the Passover sacrifice as a remembrance of going out of Egypt. They did so every year thereafter without interruption. If someone had tried to impose those holy days on them many hundreds of years later, by saying G-d told him to tell everyone to make the Passover sacrifice and wrote that the Jews did it already, as it is written in the Torah, and the people have never done it before, he would be exposed as a crackpot. The only things we know of the past were what is written in history books for us to read. If we believe any other history book, which contains history in it that much less than 3 million people experienced, then we have to use the same standard with this "book" as well.

    Why do so many people believe in Mohamed? He said he went up to the heavens on a (horse or donkey) and G-d gave him the Koran. How many people saw him when he went up? No one. Not one person saw him when he went up. Logically speaking, when one person tells you something, you could have doubt whether it happened or not as there was no one to verify it. But you have billions of people believing what he said. Here we have in the Torah written 24 times that Moses received the Torah on the mountain in front of the entire Jewish people, 3 million of them. Why would anyone doubt that? If someone would come later to say that happened, if it hadn't happened, no one would believe him. If 3 million people say they saw something happen, it happened.

    December 30, 2011 at 12:10 am |
    • yearightwwjd

      3 million people couldnt see to the front of the crowd. Are you afraid of rational thought?

      December 30, 2011 at 12:16 am |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      Oh. The my god can kick your god's ass argument? Good one.

      December 30, 2011 at 12:27 am |
    • Eh

      3 million people? Prove it. All you have is second and third-hand accounts of everything. There isn't even any record of Moses in the Egyptian record that I've ever heard of, and nothing but distant gossip in Jesus' case, all written long after both of these fakers were dead.
      Gullible. You either are or you aren't. It's that simple.

      December 30, 2011 at 12:32 am |
    • Peppermint Patty

      You need a good Ancient History course. Try alternatively, the Nova series on "Bible Secrets", or just Google the Merneptah Steele, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merneptah_Stele
      The Hebrews were ALREADY in Canaan, and the Egyptians defeated them there. Your "National Story" is just that...a "story".
      Three million people indeed. The population of the ENTIRE Near East was not 3,000,000.

      December 30, 2011 at 12:48 am |
    • Relictus

      Six million people saw G-D give me a Happy Meal. It's written down on real paper that I bought at the store. How could it not be true if six million people saw it? And my Happy Meal was divine. Even the toy was cool. Maybe tomorrow 12 million – no, TWENTY million – will see me "Brofist" the Living God. And I will write the account down in my diary. That makes it real, right? Because nobody makes stuff up. *rolls eyes*

      December 30, 2011 at 1:19 am |
  15. PleezThink

    Mr. Spong has endeavored to prove his own point with his own point. Namely that the Bible has evolved and should evolve, fitting our current sensibilities, therefore, "since there are a few things that I don't like contained within, let us take it and make it in our own image."

    December 30, 2011 at 12:08 am |
  16. moralsandethics

    the big bang theory of the universe is as credible as the 7 days it took to create the universe.

    December 30, 2011 at 12:06 am |
    • yearightwwjd

      not even close, its called science, which is completly different than myth. go get an education, then come back and say something rational.

      December 30, 2011 at 12:11 am |
    • md2205

      Why is it so hard to believe that G-d created the world in six days? G-d is Infinite in every aspect. That means infinite capability to create, and quickly if that is what He wants. He didn't have to take six days to create. He could have created instantly. We, the world, are in G-d's thought, so to speak. If He would want to destroy the world, it would not take much effort. What would He need to do? Create a nuclear bomb, make a flood, a large tsunami all over the world? He doesn't have to do that. He could just stop thinking about the world and it would cease to exist.

      December 30, 2011 at 12:15 am |
    • bigbang

      the big bang theory is hogwash or fantasy science. the fact scientist don't know the beginning and end of time or how large the universe is. that is a fact,,,The UNKNOWN..the knowledge is beyond human comprehension that is fact...the 'secrets' of the gods....nuclear energy is a secret of the gods or fire of the gods.

      December 30, 2011 at 12:15 am |
    • theydidthisonegood

      yearightwwjd, there is n, not one, shred of hard cold proof that anything other than the full explaination of life as written in the Bible, didn't happen. you need to look at some other writings than those that confirm your own thoughts, brought on by those writings, you see the dog chasing his tail here??? it aint us man, if you stop spinning circles, you might see the truth and it is God's word, no other. Now go away and come back when you have something definitive to say about science, other than it is based on crap that has yet to be proven wrong. How the heck is that for fact????? what a hoot.

      December 30, 2011 at 12:21 am |
    • Eh


      December 30, 2011 at 12:21 am |
    • Peppermint Patty

      So he created light first, then created the stars, from whence it comes, after. Right.

      December 30, 2011 at 12:50 am |
    • Relictus

      If the Big Bang theory was false, would it make the magic sky fairy more probable? Bluntly, no. Christians are mentally weak.

      December 30, 2011 at 1:20 am |
    • TR6

      @md2205: “He could just stop thinking about the world and it would cease to exist.”

      Evidence please? And no a 2000 year old book of sadistic fairy tales is not evidence

      December 30, 2011 at 8:24 am |
    • TR6

      yearightwwjd, there is n, not one, shred of hard cold proof that anything other than the full explaination of life as written in the Bible, didn't happen”

      There isn’t one, shred of evidence (not even proof , just evidence) hard, soft, cold or warm the that “ the full explanation of life as written in the Bible” isn’t pure drivel

      December 30, 2011 at 8:32 am |
    • TR6

      @Russ:”"the devil's greatest trick is convincing the world he doesn't exist." -Charles Baudelaire”

      “The vampires’ greatest strength is that people do not believe in him” – Dr Van Hesig

      December 30, 2011 at 8:36 am |
  17. yearightwwjd

    Hell is a man made invention.......the devil is a man made invention........all to controll the simple minded......most christians today (in america atleast) dont even follow the teachings of jesus................. maybe their just mad that you cant kill your own child for being disrespectful anymore.

    December 29, 2011 at 11:58 pm |
    • Russ

      "the devil's greatest trick is convincing the world he doesn't exist." -Charles Baudelaire

      December 30, 2011 at 12:02 am |
    • yearightwwjd

      the greatest trick was convincing you that he does. now do as I say or pay the penalty!

      December 30, 2011 at 12:08 am |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      Bender: This calls for a party, baby. I'm ordering 100 kegs, 100 ho.okers and 100 Elvis impersonators that aren't above a little ho.oking should the occasion arise.

      December 30, 2011 at 12:16 am |
  18. Words that need a dash or a dot to work in this stupid wordpress blog

    ar-se.....as in spa-rse, pa-rse, ar-senic, etc.
    ass-hole.....yet ass is okay.
    cia-lis...as in Cia-lis(a drug), socia-lism, socia-list, specia-list, etc. (note: this only happens with some email addresses uknown as to why)
    co-ck.....as in co-ckatiel, co-ckatrice, co-ckleshell, co-ckles, lubco-ck, etc.
    co-on.....as in rac-oon, coc-oon, etc.
    cu-m......as in doc-ument, accu-mulate, circu-mnavigate, circu-mstances, cu-mbersome, cucu-mber, etc.
    ef-fing...as in ef-fing filter
    ft-w......as in soft-ware, delft-ware, swift-water, etc.
    ho-mo.....as in ho-mo sapiens or ho-mose-xual, ho-mogenous, etc.
    ho-rny....as in tho-rny, etc.
    jacka-ss...yet "ass" is allowed by itself.....
    ja-p......as in j-apanese, ja-pan, j-ape, etc.
    po-on.....as in spo-on, po-ontang, harpo-on, etc.
    pr-ick....as in pri-ckling, pri-ckles, etc.
    ra-pe.....as in scra-pe, tra-peze, gr-ape, thera-peutic, sara-pe, etc.
    se-x......as in Ess-ex, s-exual, etc.
    sh-@t.....but shat is okay – don't use the @ symbol there.
    sp-ic.....as in disp-icable, hosp-ice, consp-icuous, susp-icious, sp-icule, sp-ice, etc.
    strip-per..but strip, stripe are okay.
    ti-t......as in const-itution, att-itude, ent-ities, alt-itude, anti-thesis (any anti-"t" word),beat-itude, etc.
    tw-at.....as in wristw-atch, nightw-atchman, etc.
    va-g......as in extrava-gant, va-gina, va-grant, va-gue, sava-ge, etc.
    who-re....as in who're you kidding / don't forget to put in that apostrophe!

    There are more, some of them considered "racist", so do not assume that this list is complete.

    December 29, 2011 at 11:58 pm |
    • Peppermint Patty

      Unless you pray real hard, then Jeebus lets you say bad words, and NOT go to blog hell.

      December 30, 2011 at 12:57 am |
    • Peppermint Patty

      Opps, didn't pray hard enough that time.

      December 30, 2011 at 12:59 am |


      See? you just have to yell. Don't bother praying. There's no one worth praying to at CNN.

      December 30, 2011 at 1:17 am |
  19. brett

    Do you Christians ever feel like Linus waiting in the pumpkin patch?

    December 29, 2011 at 11:57 pm |
    • Russ

      @ brett: no, more like Linus on the stage reciting Lk.2, in awe of the real meaning of Christmas even as we repeat it to Charlie Brown.

      December 30, 2011 at 12:00 am |
    • PleezThink

      Do you really want to discuss any of this or are you just a troll?

      December 30, 2011 at 12:09 am |
    • Relictus

      LOL brett wins some internets =)

      December 30, 2011 at 1:21 am |
  20. Don Camp

    Spong's reservation about history would disqualify almost all history. It is appropriate to be skeptical in any study. But to be so skeptical as to find nothing true is insanity. In Spong's case the insanity extends to weaving his own "religious" reality and then implying that only he has it right. Isn't that a symptom of delusion of grandeur? We would call a doctor rather than call him doctor.

    December 29, 2011 at 11:57 pm |
    • squelch

      @Don – The bible is not a reliable source of historical information. Hopefully that helps.

      December 30, 2011 at 12:01 am |
    • yearightwwjd

      everything in this article is factually correct....look to the majority of scholars not just the one who indoctrinated you, and one of them did , or were you born with your relegious beliefs??????

      December 30, 2011 at 12:02 am |
    • Russ

      @ yeahright: factually incorrect items in this article...

      1) the American Academy of Religion is far from monolithic on this issue. Not "every biblical scholar."

      2) Jesus' birth & crucifixion were well established b/f the AD 80s & 90s. Paul died in AD 64. Just read 1 Cor.15:1-5 or Php.2:6-10. Both uncontested Pauline texts.

      3) The Bible itself claims to be the Word of God, even as it comes through human means (1 Thess.2:13). Jesus himself uses a single word from the OT to argue his point (Mt.22). The OT prophets repeatedly say "thus says the Lord" & 1 Pet.1 claims even angels longed to hear what God would reveal through humanity.

      Moreover, Spong approaches the text assuming the miraculous is impossible. The text explicitly states the contrary. Not surprisingly, when he ignores the primary content of the text (the Supernatural!), he gets a self-fulfilling prophecy. That's bad scholarship. Or at the very least, he's admitting this is not theological (about God) studies, but anthropological (about humanity) studies. Which opens him to Feuerbach's critique: "all [such] theology is just anthropology," simply self-projections.

      December 30, 2011 at 12:18 am |
    • Christian Chameleon

      Why do "biblical scholars" always want to question the validity of the Bible....either you believe in the wholeness of God or you don't...don't pick and choose what you want to believe...that's nothing but the devil playing hopscotch with your faith. Don't keep questioning what you obviously know God represented as the truth.


      December 30, 2011 at 1:52 am |
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About this blog

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