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. jac

    47 pages of comments...wow. Spong has combined agenda with opinion, with a few skewed inaccuracies thrown in, and has flat out expected his readers to accept it all as "fact". Perhaps CNN (or certain commentators in this forum) thinks he knows that of which he speaks because he is an ex-minister. I would only urge anyone who thinks Spong is some kind of authority on the subject to avail themselves of the resources to confirm or reject his views. It's a daunting task but rewarding to the person who comes at it with an open mind.

    December 30, 2011 at 10:43 pm |
    • Sue

      I, for one, have availed myself of many resources and agree with his conclusions. What say you now?

      December 31, 2011 at 12:16 am |
    • HotAirAce

      I suspect jac will say that if you don't agree with him/her then you are wrong or haven't done enough research.

      Re: Spong bring an ex-minister, I don't think that is true. He's a former bishop because he retired, but I don't think he has been "defrocked" (or whatever his cult does to wayward charlatans).

      December 31, 2011 at 12:25 am |
  2. Haime52

    Mr. Sponge, former bishop. Very telling! A non-believer trying to hawk his wares to a gullible group of non-believers and fence sitters.
    Sorry old man, not buying,....ever!
    The wisdom of God is foolishness to the world and the wisdom of the world is foolishness to God. I believe Paul wrote something to that effect.

    December 30, 2011 at 10:17 pm |
    • Sue

      Yes, Paul was right, the thinking that God is real actually is foolishness. Now ask yourself, do you accept all forms of foolishness, or only the kind that appeals to you as Christianity does?

      December 31, 2011 at 12:20 am |
    • *frank*

      Paul comes across as a spiteful constipated napoleonic bigot.
      And sometimes impressions are not misleading.

      December 31, 2011 at 12:42 am |
  3. Tort

    Not only is there no such thing as "sin", there is no god to "sin" against, and no reason to believe any religious BS.
    Genesis makes it quite clear that your "paradise" is a lush jungle inhabited by primates where you are a primate, and where intelligence and morality is a crime punishable by "exile."
    Read Genesis, the basis for your claims of "sin" and then explain how anyone can "sin" against a super-being who supposedly "knows-all, sees-all, does-all, and is all-powerful" and who supposedly created the universe including creatures that somehow go against his "design" and I will just laugh in your stupid face.

    December 30, 2011 at 8:30 pm |
    • Haime52

      No sin! Does that mean no right or wrong? Explain!

      December 30, 2011 at 9:59 pm |
    • RedRussian

      prove that there's is no God or Supreme Being, simply taking your word for it as if you're the final know-it-all is just as stupid as you accuse people for believing in God. Stupid is as stupid does, stupid.

      December 30, 2011 at 10:03 pm |
    • RedRussian

      tort you are really, really stupid

      December 30, 2011 at 10:06 pm |
    • Tort

      Genesis is bullsh!t. We all use moral relativism. No god exists. You say a god exists? Prove it or shut up.
      All you need to be moral is a well-developed brain and some of the right brain chemicals, like oxytocin.
      What is moral in your culture may not be moral in mine. Do you eat with one special hand or will either hand work okay?
      Moral relativism is how humans follow social constructs using a mix of instinctual reactions and empathy. No Bible needed.
      Genesis is so stupid I'm surprised anyone would bother to defend it.
      Prove your god exists or shut up. You are the one saying it exists. I'm not. I'm saying no one has ever proved it exists, therefore I feel pretty confident in saying it doesn't exist. Prove me wrong and I'll shut up. But you can't.
      Why? Because your "god" does not exist. Everything you point to is not a "god" but your delusional interpretation of real-world events. This is reality, not your fairy tale wonderland. When you die you don't come back. Nobody does and never has throughout history. Don't bother using the Bible to prove the Bible to be right. Evidence doesn't work that way.

      December 30, 2011 at 10:32 pm |
    • LinCA


      You said, "No sin! Does that mean no right or wrong? Explain!"

      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.

      There is still right and wrong, it's just not sin.


      You said, "prove that there's is no God or Supreme Being, simply taking your word for it as if you're the final know-it-all is just as stupid as you accuse people for believing in God. Stupid is as stupid does, stupid."

      It's the believers that claim there to be such a creature. The burden of proof is exclusively on their sholders.

      The belief in gods is, in essence, the same as believing in the Tooth Fairy. There is equal evidence to support their existence. Equal evidence means equal merit. The fact that I can't prove that the Tooth Fairy doesn't exist, does little to invalidate the disbelief in it.

      Claims for the existence of a creature, or a phenomenon, have no merit until, at the very least, a hypothesis is presented that does not conflict with any known fact. Even if this hypothesis is available, that in and of itself doesn't do anything to support the existence of the phenomenon described. For this phenomenon to go from "not impossible" to "probable", evidence is required. The amount and quality of the evidence govern how probable the phenomenon is to exist.

      The most rudimentary hypothesis of gods may be consistent with all of the know facts. This pretty much requires that these gods don't, or no longer, interact with our universe. That means that we can't entirely rule out the possibility that they exist. On the other hand, gods that have mutually exclusive traits are impossible to exist. The christian god fits this second category. Mutually exclusive traits make the christian god, as he is most commonly described, impossible to exist.

      December 30, 2011 at 10:32 pm |
    • fred

      The mutual exclusive traits you mentioned are nonsense when applied to God. The error is in comparison of God who always was and always will be with the man made gods that followed. Further you cannot use material from sources you reject and expect any rational person to accept them.

      December 30, 2011 at 10:48 pm |
    • LinCA


      You said, "The mutual exclusive traits you mentioned are nonsense when applied to God. The error is in comparison of God who always was and always will be with the man made gods that followed. Further you cannot use material from sources you reject and expect any rational person to accept them."

      Before we even get to whether your god exists, please provide some evidence that any god exists. Until you do, your hypothesis is entirely without merit.

      December 30, 2011 at 10:53 pm |
    • Sue

      Lots of other gods were believed to be eternal. Without proof that yours is somehow special your statement is just an opinion, nothing more.

      December 31, 2011 at 12:25 am |
  4. david burns

    Bishop Spong is one of my few heros. He has had the courage and intellect to step forward and tell us the truth about so many religious myths. These myths were forced upon me by well meaning Sunday school teachers who had no real knowlege – and from tv evangilists like Jimmy Swaggart whose main notives have been profit and adoration – instead of the truth. When all else fails – it is the pure truth that really matters, regardless of what people want to believe.

    December 30, 2011 at 8:27 pm |
    • steffielyn

      david...I agree, despite all the hate that is being spewed on this site, Bishop Spong is a hero to me as well. I don't believe that God is a mean, spiteful God , with petty, picayune traits...picking out groups of people to hate as some folks seem to think. And so many wrongs have been done to innocent people all in the name of religion. Bishop Spong doesn't say that God doesn't exist, he merely points out that good Christian people are leaving churches because there is so much hate and negativity...and asks the question "Is that who God is?" I admire him even more today for speaking out once again. I personally hopes he continues to challenge peoples thinking, and continues as well , telling all who will listen that God is kind and loving, not judgmental, and we should live and love fully to honor Him.

      December 31, 2011 at 1:33 am |
  5. cc

    Mr. Sponge,
    Your statements are for the most part erroneous. It is church leaders like you who are "brain washing" the church body. You need to talk to some historians on the subject.

    December 30, 2011 at 7:56 pm |
    • Sue

      Like all the other negative commentators to this article you make a statement, but offer nothing to support your opinion. Please tell us why he is wrong, and don't just resort to saying that he has to be because he disagrees with you.

      December 31, 2011 at 12:29 am |
  6. RedRussian

    Sean that's good to know, at least you have sense of humor, but you are still a moron

    December 30, 2011 at 7:40 pm |
  7. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things in Brooklyn
    Prayer works miracles
    God knows exactly what He is doing

    December 30, 2011 at 7:38 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things –
      -Truth is good for everyone (including children). Self-deception leads to misfortune.
      ==="Prayer changes things in Brooklyn"
      -Prayer may very well be beneficial to the one who prays, but there is no empirical evidence it has any other effect.
      ==="Prayer works miracles"
      -There is no empirical evidence miracles occur (or ever have).
      ==="God knows exactly what He is doing"
      ....1931 China floods – 1 – 2.5 million deaths
      ....2010 Haiti earthquake – 360,000 deaths
      ....2004 Indian Ocean tsunami – ~200,000 – 300,000 deaths
      ....Malaria results in the death of more that one million African children each year.
      ....greater than 99% of all species that have ever existed on our planet are extinct.

      If "God knows exactly what He is doing", he's a real as.shole!

      December 30, 2011 at 8:15 pm |
    • One one

      @Really-O. Your mention of the earthquake in Haiti reminds me of Pat Robertson's comment. He said it was god's punishment because Hatians made a deal with the devil several hundred years ago to free them from slavery. So, according to Robertson, the devil freed slaves and god killed thousands.

      It doesn't take a biblical scholar to see its all non-sense.

      Like, does god refuse to answer the prayers of a mother as her infant dies of starvation in her arms yet he helps Tim Tebow score points in a football game? Does that really make any sense at all?

      December 30, 2011 at 9:33 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @One one –

      All evidence indicates Pat Robertson is an ignorant, evil old man. However, you, One one, seem to be a clever fellow.


      December 30, 2011 at 10:18 pm |
  8. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes tings
    God knows exactly what He is doing

    December 30, 2011 at 7:30 pm |
    • ashrakay

      Are you suggesting an atheist plant is less healthy than a god loving plant?

      December 30, 2011 at 8:44 pm |
    • just helping out

      an atheist plant would be a poisonous weed

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

      just helping out
      People use to believe that tomatoes were poisonous until they became open-minded and got over their irrational superst.ition.

      December 31, 2011 at 12:53 am |
  9. Robert Hagedorn

    Challenge yourself. Google First Scandal.

    December 30, 2011 at 7:27 pm |
  10. Tone Gaglione

    I wish I could draw a justice scale. I would have salvation on one side, verses nothing. The scale would have salvation up high, and nothing on the bottom. God answers prayers! Try him! Worship Him! If I'm wrong, oh well. So I lay in the ground like you and just decay and become fertilizer. But if I'm right, OH WELL! You will be fertilizer and I will live eternally with my Father. I live for the rapture, and coming down after the tribulation when the earth has been cleansed of evil, with my Savior Jesus Christ forever, and ever AMEN!. The Devil is a master of tricks and loves to turn people away from God." Trust in the Lord Thy God with all your Heart, Soul, Strength and Mind"! The Bible is the true Word of God!

    December 30, 2011 at 7:26 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Another believer only because of Pascal's Wager.

      December 30, 2011 at 10:07 pm |
    • What IF


      What if the "real" god considers you to be a greedy sycophant, who is not satisfied with the life you have, and punishes you severely for wanting MORE... and a perfect, blissful, eternal, MORE too!

      What if the "Devil", the MASTER of Tricks, has fooled YOU!

      December 30, 2011 at 10:27 pm |
    • Sue

      Tone Gaglione
      "The scale would have salvation up high, and nothing on the bottom."
      If you draw that then it would indicate that 'nothing' far outweighs 'salvation', in which I would agree.

      So, who do you have to step over in order to get your ticket into heaven? Gays, Muslims, Jews, Catholics, women seeking equality?

      December 31, 2011 at 12:36 am |
    • Sue

      Tone Gaglione
      Pascal's Wager: No price for the believer, but everyone else has to pay.

      December 31, 2011 at 12:57 am |
  11. Muneef

    This is the Book about which there is no doubt, a guidance for those conscious of Allah – (2:2)

    Who believe in the unseen, establish prayer, and spend out of what We have provided for them,(2:3)

    And who believe in what has been revealed to you, [O Muhammad], and what was revealed before you, and of the Hereafter they are certain [in faith]. (2:4)

    Those are upon [right] guidance from their Lord, and it is those who are the successful. (2:5)

    Indeed, those who disbelieve – it is all the same for them whether you warn them or do not warn them – they will not believe. (2:6)

    O you who have believed, believe in Allah and His Messenger and the Book that He sent down upon His Messenger and the Scripture which He sent down before. And whoever disbelieves in Allah , His angels, His books, His messengers, and the Last Day has certainly gone far astray.(4:136)

    December 30, 2011 at 6:34 pm |
    • Thomson & Thompson

      If John Shelby is considered to be the the most confused individual walking this planet currently, you do not fall far behind. U might be be a close second!

      December 30, 2011 at 6:44 pm |
    • Muneef

      Thanks for the complement... 😉

      December 30, 2011 at 7:00 pm |
    • ashrakay

      The Qur'an is full of as much murder and violence as the bible. There are tons of verses promoting war and fighting. These kinds of religions are designed to feed on humans' baser tendencies toward violence. It's a primitive lizard brain, chemical response of comfort when something feels "righteous". Easy answers feel comfortable. When you wake up from the lizard brain's automatic processing of experience, you'll find the universe is way more complicated than you could have possibly imagined.

      December 30, 2011 at 7:09 pm |
    • Muneef

      What a joke.

      Hollywood and Play station games promote violence and no one says or speaks a thing about it !? What an excuse that is then?

      December 30, 2011 at 7:16 pm |
    • faye62

      Please.... don't try to convert Americans to Muslim... You are so wasting your time. It'll never happen...(lol) Your only chance is with young angry black boys.

      December 30, 2011 at 7:17 pm |
    • Muneef

      Hollywood and Play station games promote violence and no one says or speaks a thing about that although it does much more brainwashing to upbringing a race of sav-age animals rather than moral and ethical human beings...have you any comment about that if you are so considerate?

      December 30, 2011 at 7:21 pm |
    • Muneef

      Well racist there is some thing called freewill of choice as it is with freedom of speech.. So rather try not to get blacks or RedIndians angry if you do not want them to rebel into conversion...!

      December 30, 2011 at 7:25 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      Maybe because watching movies and playing vieo games isn't considered a religion? Comparing books considered to be holy and movies and video games is reaching way too much.

      December 30, 2011 at 7:26 pm |
    • ashrakay

      @Muneef, It's a good comparison actually. Religion is very much like playing a video game. You are transported into a world of illusion that for a moment feels real. Your brain accepts this "altered reality" as real life. In the end though it's a fantasy. And if your neighbor starting trying to convince you that Grand Theft Auto is actually really happening, you'd think he's as crazy as we think you are.

      December 30, 2011 at 7:29 pm |
    • Muneef

      Those blacks were the hard working people who build this country of not yours after all...and they were dragged there against their will from their own lands because your fancy color was too lazy to do his own work...! Shame on you speaking about colors when we are all equal in front of GOD and no color is above any other color....

      December 30, 2011 at 7:29 pm |
    • Muneef


      I might be sounding crazy to you because you live in a world different than mine...your type of life is far more in illusion than mine...and rather more far from the spiritual world therefore cannot see what we might see...
      Any way our Holy Book teaches us ethics and morality that no movie or video games might teach you although not all Muslims might adopt that in lack of knowledge or in being agnostics or disbelievers or more into earthly joys than spiritual life... Not all Muslims are perfect and not all terrorists are real Muslims...

      December 30, 2011 at 7:41 pm |
    • Muneef

      Thank you and been nice chatting with you but got to go now to catch some sleep as our weekend is over and we work on Saturday's already 4 am at ours...so good night for now...

      December 30, 2011 at 7:45 pm |
    • ashrakay

      @Muneef, It's just that my world of illusion is supported by verifiable evidence. Any claim I make can be backed up with proof. Without proof, all claims, whether they be about fairies, god, zeus or otherwise all fall into the same category: fantasy.

      December 30, 2011 at 8:12 pm |
    • Muneef


      And even if We had sent down to you, [O Muhammad], a written scripture on a page and they touched it with their hands, the disbelievers would say, "This is not but obvious magic." (6:7)

      December 31, 2011 at 5:40 pm |
  12. HolyChrist

    #1. That it's real.

    December 30, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
  13. David

    How can so many claim to take the bible literally and ignore what it says? Everything this man says is verifiable fact, available to be read in any bible. The apologists go to great lengths to explain away what they claim to believe. This man at least has an intelligent rationalization for his acceptance of the unacceptable. Look and be amazed by the number who can't even stand to read an intelligent piece because there beliefs are not strong enough to stand honest consideration.

    December 30, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
    • Russ

      @ David: verifiable problems with Spong's article...

      1) "every biblical scholar" "absolutely" knows the bible doesn't reflect history? Even the American Academy of Religion is not so monolithic that saying "most" would have be an accurate representation.

      2) The text itself claims frequently to be giving historical facts, especially in regard to Jesus. See Luke 1:1-4; 1 John 1:1; 1 Cor.15:1-5. It is the clear meaning of the text.

      3) His late dates for the theology of Jesus' birth & resurrection ignore Paul. Spong says late AD 80s & 90s. Paul died by AD 64. Read 1 Cor.15:1-5 or Php.2:6-10 – both uncontested Pauline writings. 1 Corinthians is normally dated AD 53-57.

      4) the Bible itself does claim to be the Word of God, even though written thru human means. (1 Thess.2:13; 2 Tim.3:16; Jesus himself uses a single word from OT to argue his point in Mt.22:44; Jesus promised the Holy Spirit would remind them of everything he said in Jn.14:26; etc.)

      Most problematic, though, is that Spong comes to the text assuming there is no supernatural, which is directly opposite from the primary contention of the Bible. Even if you agree with his predisposition, recognize that is not something he is getting from the text itself. It leads to self-fulfilling conclusions, not ones based in the text.

      December 30, 2011 at 4:15 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest


      You cannot use the bible to prove the validity of the bible. Doing so forces you to believe your original premise for your "facts" to hold any weight. This is bad logic and does not hold under any kind of scrutiny. You speak about self-fullfilling conclusions, and that is exactly what you are using when you use the bible to prove itself.

      December 30, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Hawaii: you're missing my point. David thought everything Spong said was verifiable fact from reading the Bible. I was not attempting to "prove the Bible from the Bible." I was responding to David's contention that Spong accurately represented the text. He verifiably does not – regardless of your critical disposition to the text.

      December 30, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
    • SG

      I think the only 'verifiable fact' is that historians disagree on much of what Mr. Spong asserts as fact pertaining to the historicity of the Bible. Just do a few Google searches and you'll see.

      December 30, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      Ok so apparently CNN won't put up my post so I will have to summarize.


      Haven't seen or read anything like that


      I need more clarification on what your point was.

      December 30, 2011 at 7:27 pm |
  14. RedRussian

    Sean so why are you posting comment if debate with religious people is nonsense? All you want to do is goad and ridicule people who believe in God, you are no better than communist and you are moron.

    December 30, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      @RedRussian: Based on the clinical definition of "moron," I don't fit the bill. I'm also very much a capitalist because I like money, so that doesn't hold much water either.

      I guess I just like posting comments for the sake of posting comments. I've tried having serious debates in the past, and it's a pointless exercise. So, the only value I get out of these boards now is to a good belly laugh when you religious folks hoist yourselves on your own petards.

      December 30, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
    • ashrakay

      As a communist I'm offended by your equating communism with being an atheist. Communists believe in helping their fellow man and turning the other cheek when we are offended. Clearly atheists seek only to kill puppies in service to their overlord Christopher Hitchens, who recently rose again from the dead to lead them onto eternal glory.

      December 30, 2011 at 8:48 pm |
  15. RedRussian

    Jim I see your point, and if I were you I would feel as you do, just to let you know Christianity is religion based on personal conscience it's one of choice and personal volition, at least that is what I was taught. every one has choice, you respect people's choice to live as they wish that's all good.

    December 30, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
    • Sheesh

      I think you are just a tad off the mark Red. The one thing Christians most certainly do not do is leave others to their own belief's. You don't need a Bible to confirm this truth. A simple history book will do.

      December 30, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
    • Sue

      Don't see much respect for people's right to choose in the pro-life movement.

      December 31, 2011 at 12:05 am |
    • HotAirAce

      Actually Sue, believers in the USA choose to have about 780,000 abortions each year. Of course, their, and everyone's, right to choose will change if the 'Pubs and their stooges from the christian right have their way.

      December 31, 2011 at 12:15 am |
    • Sue

      Yes, nothing says that you believe in God-given free will like making all the 'wrong' choices illegal.

      December 31, 2011 at 12:39 am |
  16. SG

    I conducted a mini-research project (less than 1/2 hour) into the various positions on the dating of the gospels and the issue of whether Mark served as the basis for the other gospels. I found four different views espoused by historians/theologians. The view espoused here would be a fifth since it contains elements found in some of the other views, but also some differences. Why would a learned person put forth just one view of the dating of the gospels as historical fact, when he must be aware that there are alternative viewpoints? And why would he then reject the historicity of the gospels based on just one unproven (and unprovable) viewpoint?

    December 30, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
  17. John

    Biggest load of crap ive ever read. Did this guy actually do ANY research? Or just what his gay buddies who hate the bible becuz it condemns their acts as sinful. Eat me God hater.

    December 30, 2011 at 2:40 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      Awwww someone's all hurt by the big mean article.

      December 30, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
    • Rick

      Ease up, little fella, you're gonna pop an artery. Now, relax and dip your bible into KY jelly......

      December 30, 2011 at 6:02 pm |
    • Sheesh

      You are eating your own life by wasting it in your belief of ancient mythology as something real and important. The only thing you need to be saved from is yourself.

      December 30, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
  18. RedRussian

    there's nothing you can't discuss with the religious as long as you don't mock or slander them in a mean spirited way, i have friends that don't believe a shred of what i believe, but they're still my friends, because we are all human beings and we can respect each other for just being human

    December 30, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
    • Jim

      I agree about co-existing. The problem starts with the threats of eternal torment for not believing your faith.

      December 30, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      @Jim: You don't really feel threatened though, right? It's more like, "I can't believe I'm actually having this discussion with another adult."

      December 30, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
    • Jim

      @Sean, true. That's why I'm always so curious to why they believe this.

      December 30, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
    • Jlackey

      Addressing eternal torment may not seem like a big issue to a non-believer, as an atheist doesn't believe in God, so why care about eternal separation? But to a believer in Christ (i.e. follower/truster) this is huge... We are assured of our place, but if our hearts haven't become calloused, we are deeply concerned for those who have been misled. I appreciate the anger and incense of many commentaries of atheists, agnostics, and seekers. It comes from fundamentally not understanding the source of God's love (sacrificial love) and who God is (perfect and righteous). If you can read scripture from that vantage point, I would anticipate more alignment with many (though not all) of the stated values (fairness, grace, forgiveness, love, mercy, charity, industry, work ethic, kindness...). I challenge any reader to honestly seek God's heart before reading scripture... If you're an atheist that should be easy (although inane)... But try it, what is there to lose? In Christ – JLackey

      December 30, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
    • Don Camp

      @Jim. Yes. the idea of accountability does seem to be the sticking point for most post-moderns. There is, however, the other side of eschatology (end things). There is eternal life.

      December 30, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
    • ashrakay

      @Jlackey, You assume that everyone comes to the bible from a position of callousness. I grew up in a christian home, went to a christian school and was thoroughly brainwashed to believe everything I was taught. It wasn't callousness that freed me from my slavery to god. It wasn't anger. It was morality. My heart couldn't not accept a god who could do the things this god did. As a 14 year old boy, I had to choose, what I knew to be right in my heart, or what other people kept telling me was right. It was then that I let go of god. After I got some distance and age and maturity, I was able to see the fallacy of the bible, god and religion. With a clear and reasoning mind, I read and reread the bible and watched the countless holes appear in the stories. The older I become, the more ridiculous the story becomes. The more I love, the more I question the morality of the god of the bible and his followers.

      If you fear separation for eternity, think of what you have now. You are constantly seeking fulfillment from some outside source. You look to family, the bible, god, your job, money... fill in the blank... You are in hell. When you find peace and love within your own heart, you will know the truth about god—he's just a story you tell yourself to make yourself feel better.

      December 30, 2011 at 4:48 pm |
    • Sheesh

      That sounds like the root of your problem Red. Your experience with Christianity extends only as far as the entrance to your neighborhood. The crimes against humanity committed by people of your faith are and will forever be truly horrible.

      December 30, 2011 at 6:25 pm |
  19. whuff

    It is refreshing to read that Bishop Shelby Spong points out the flaws in the Bible. I am glad that he has the courage to do so. The immorality and anomalies make a long list. It is sad though that his research isn't up to date and his logic is faulty, otherwise he would be aware that Abraham and Moses served a very different purpose than the ones implied by the roles they play.

    December 30, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
  20. The Truth shall set you free

    To: OneOne, Read Psalms 83:18 for yourself. He'll tell you.

    December 30, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
    • Jim

      I like Psalms 137:8-9. You'll get yours!

      December 30, 2011 at 2:08 pm |
    • Keith

      Psa 83:18 That [men] may know that thou, whose name alone [is] JEHOVAH, [art] the most high over all the earth.

      December 30, 2011 at 7:35 pm |
    • just helping out

      Read the whole psalm Jim and see the context of the remarks. The psalm describes things that had happened to the citizens of Jerusalem when it was overran by godless heathens. The entire psalm is a lament and a call for justice for the infants so killed by atheistic invaders.Quit trying to work your own selfish agenda against God.

      December 30, 2011 at 7:42 pm |
    • Jim

      @just helping out, I read it again, just for you. Yup, just as I thought. Someone did wrong by us, so we declare anyone who kills their children to be blessed. Still one of my favorites.

      December 30, 2011 at 10:13 pm |
    • AGuest9

      "atheistic invaders"??? This, passed down by a bunch of ignorant desert-dwellers from 3,000 years ago who talked to the sky, burning bushes, etc. Look at the Middle East, not much has changed today, just better technology designed for killing one another. THIS is what you want to believe? No thanks.

      December 30, 2011 at 10:32 pm |
    • ashrakay

      @just helping out, Actually there is no commandment in the bible against being an atheist. It says you can't have other gods, but there's no directive about not worshiping any god at all. Isn't that funny that god didn't see that one coming?

      December 30, 2011 at 11:17 pm |
    • Keith

      ashrakay, Mat 4:10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. You were saying?

      December 31, 2011 at 9:17 am |
    • ashrakay

      @Keith, Last time I checked, I'm not Satan... I find it amazing I have to spell even that one out for you. YOU were saying? Let me guess... "something, something.. out of context... something... have to read this with god in your heart... something, something..."

      December 31, 2011 at 4:10 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.