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)

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    December 29, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
    • adrian

      what a joke

      December 29, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
  2. nick policow

    The claim that "every biblical scholar" believes the Bible is non-historical is patently false. Biblical scholars range from the views of the gentleman who wrote this blog to those who revere the Scriptures as the very word of God. For a great incredibly scholarly and technical treatment of the reality of the resurrection of Christ and it's historical nature see NT Wright's The Resurrection of the Son of God." For a popular survey of scholars who believe the Bible is accurate see Lee Strobel's "The Case For Christ."

    December 29, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
    • ddblah

      Right. The very words of God that defy reality, can't be verified.

      December 29, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
    • Binky42

      Depends how you define a scholar. I think of a scholar as a Ph.D who has published in the field. You'd have a hard time finding a history scholar who quotes the Bible as historically accurate getting a tenure position at any university.

      December 29, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
    • md2205

      A person cannot be called a scholar unless he learns the Torah in its original Hebrew, because there are meanings within the markings around the words that are not able to be translated without large amounts of explanation. There are times that words cannot be translated from one language to another without a lot of explanation because of the subtlety of the meaning that has to be conveyed, or because there is an idea conveyed by one word in one language and the next language simply doesn't have that idea in its lexicon. To convey that idea would need a few pages. When you have so much of this, the Torah (Bible) could not be conveyed just by a word for word translation. The people would not get it right at all if they don't know what the markings mean. There are so many examples of this. One untranslatable word that comes to mind is the word tameh in Hebrew. It is translated as pure in English, however, it does not mean pure. It means a whole idea that would take me much too long to describe here. (See Chabad.org for more info.) But when people read the word pure in the Bible, and it is translated from tameh, people get a whole wrong idea of what that particular idea is and what the sentence actually means. A scholar reading the English would not know that different words for "G-d" are used to convey which attribute of G-d is showing at the time. For example, the word Elo-him means the attribute of justice, of acting within the rules of nature. The word Y-H-W-H refers to the attribute of kindness and mercy, of being above the natural rules of the world. When you know that, the entire meanings of the sentences changes drastically. When you don't know that, as some so-called Biblical scholars do not, they explain it by saying different authors wrote those sections at different times. That is not true at all as G-d gave the Torah to Moses at the mountain in front of the entire Jewish people, 3 million of them, as they were watching. This is what is written in the Torah 24 times. Imagine that this did not happen. The Jews many years later would be given this book that someone wrote and told that this is what happened to your ancestors. They would say that they never heard of that before. They would not be doing any of the practices written in the book that says the Jews were doing. They would know the guy is a faker. But when it says that 3 million people saw G-d give the Torah to the Jews on the mountain, and that knowledge was passed from generation to generation, you can believe it. It was not a case of one man saying G-d came to him in private saying he should do or say such or other. No one could verify it. When the Torah was given, it was a historical fact.

      January 11, 2012 at 10:22 pm |
  3. Jason

    This is a biased liberal take of the Bible that send any conservative Christian into convulsions. Read something by N.T. Wright, John Piper, or J.I. Packer to get a better perspective . The author's assertions have been shown to be less than convincing. Believe or don't believe, but come up with some better reasons than this author gives PLEASE!!

    December 29, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
    • Binky42

      So, you suggest three controversial evangelical scholars as being more convincing? That just tells everyone that you are an evangelical and are incapable of rational thought. This is a mostly rational article. Comparing it to evangelical writings is like apples and oranges.

      December 29, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
    • The Maurey Povich Bible Show

      Let's see YOU try, JUST ONE Jason.

      December 29, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
    • justin

      I agree with blinky... We do not know if the Bible that you read is the true word of God.... God did not come down from the heaven himself and give use the bible it was passed down from man to man generation to generation. Man makes mistakes. Our view of God my be false.

      December 29, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      I have found ALL proponents of The Babble to be less than convincing. Until someone proves that there is a god, discussing the validity of The Babble (or any other cult's tribal mythology) is nothing more than hacking over the (man made) rules for the world's biggest fantasy role playing game, with heavy emphasis on fantasy and game.

      December 29, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
    • md2205

      To Justin: "God did not come down from the heaven himself and give use the bible it was passed down from man to man generation to generation. Man makes mistakes. Our view of God my be false."
      There are false views of G-d. The Jewish people have preserved with great precision the Torah given to them by G-d generations ago, to three million strong who left Egypt watching as He gave the tablets to Moses on the mountain. If you read the sections of the Bible explaining there what happened, they saw what we usually hear, and they heard what we usually see. Their experience of Infinity trying to clothe Itself in physicality was so overwhelming to them that they thought they were going to die and they begged Moses to get the Torah himself and bring it to them so they would remain alive. That entire experience and the teachings given then were passed down precisely and faithfully in writings and learned from generation to generation without break. The Torah written then is the same Torah we have today because of the care of the transmitters. It is too important to change even one iota and great care was taken to keep everything intact. Any changes to that teaching are considered out of the realm of Judaism and are not passed on as Judaism. If anyone thinks that G-d is more than One, divisible, physical in any form, less than Infinite in any way whatsoever, etc., then his view of G-d could be distorted. However, that can be remedied. There is a website called Chabad.org that is very helpful for those interested in easy reading about all sorts of modern issues.

      January 11, 2012 at 9:54 pm |
    • UncleBenny

      md2205 "There are false views of G-d. The Jewish people have preserved with great precision the Torah given to them by G-d generations ago, to three million strong who left Egypt watching as He gave the tablets to Moses on the mountain. "

      Exactly where you get this three million number from is a mystery. The book of Exodus only says that there "about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides women and children," and Numbers gives the amount as 603,550. Your three million is a rather generous estimate based on those numbers.

      Furthermore, there is no evidence outside of the scriptures that such a migration ever took place. The Egyptians don't record anything like that, except perhaps the expulsion of the Hyksos. There is no evidence whatsoever of a mass migration of anywhere near that size occurring in the Sinai and Canaan. Millions (or even hundreds of thousands) of people stomping around Canaan would have left some mark of their passing. Archeologists today believe that the kingdoms of Israel and Judah were indigenous to Canaan and that the Exodus story is theology, not history.

      January 29, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
  4. The Maurey Povich Bible Show

    My my. Great job Father Spong. Ya sure got them "thumpers" all riled up today ! I have every book you ever wrote. Love me some J.S. Spong. What a GREAT credit you are to your (Christian) community. Anyone with any serious education knows you are EXACTLY correct, in all respects. GREAT JOB !

    December 29, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
  5. adrian

    The fewer social opiates in the cabinet, the clearer the mind becomes

    December 29, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
  6. ficklemookie

    This article shows, yet again, how easy it is for even the most "learned" person to be blinded to the truth. Oral history is not like the oral tales we tell now. It wasn't treated like the "telephone game" back then. Look at any tribe that doesn't have a written language, learning the history of your people's past and passing it to the next generation is an extremely important tradition that you don't dare mess with. Many tribe's histories have been accurately upheld by oral history because they valued it's accuracy. The younger generation had to learn, word for word, their history from their elders and were not to deviate it becuase they understood that it could taint it's value or importance.

    We need to stop trying to make God fit into our nice sweet picture of what we think God should be and make it our live's goal to do our best to see God for who He is... And to accept that we won't fully understand him, ever. To fully understand God would mean that we are God.

    It also seems silly to me to equate God as only love and therefore reject any violence that he may have allowed. God has every right to allow punishment to whom he sees fit.

    Let's tackle the real problem. Us and our sins and are desire to warp God's truth to fit out own agenda. So I read something in the Bible that didnt' sit well with me. Instead of studying it further to make sure I fully understand it's impact and what that means within the context of the entire Bible and then adjusting my life accordingly... I know I either A) take it as a stand alone command and act like the many crazy extremists out there or B) Just chuck it all together and blame it on writer error instead of reader error.

    December 29, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
    • adrian

      Probability alone assumes errors in recounting stories will occur in time. Not to mention any sort of mind altering ritual/practice a tribe may perform could easily illicit an altered account of a story passed from generation to generation. Check out psychological studies on eye-witnesses sometimes. A plethora of accuracy to be found there. Just the fact you embrace a single god suggests you hold a high degree of self-serving bias, and for you to accept any form of criticism requires you to respond with defensive rationalizations to further comfort your insecurities. In terms of critical thinking have you objectively examined other religions in the world outside the judeo-christian circles? I am willing to bet no.

      December 29, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
    • David

      When I was in the police academy as a young man (before college, grad school, and military service) we learned that a police officer's word in court and accurate description of witnessed events were paramount, much like the ability of the old tribes you discussed to properly account for their histories. Well, we were all told to watch a video of an event and then individually write a description of what we remember happening. If our accounts were wrong then they were not admissible in the mock courtroom. Once we finished our instructor went over the events moment by moment. Guess how many of the 32 cadets accurately described the event? Zero. None. Zilch. We all falsely remembered some detail or another. So, if 32 bright young modern minds can't accurately remember an event that took place in front of them only moments before, in a controlled environment, when they were TOLD they were going to be asked to recall the events then how can I believe that ancient tribes accurately passed on events from generations prior by word of mouth before archaically writing them down? Let's just go ahead and stop deluding ourselves...

      December 29, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
  7. thomas23

    BS. I would expect nothing less from an Episcopalian and CNN. There are plenty of scholars who fervently disagree with the writer.

    December 29, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
    • LP

      . . . and they can write their own columns in rebuttal. Next?

      December 29, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
  8. The_Mick

    Some recent books by Israel Finkelstein, the decorated-by-Israel professor at Tel Aviv University and official head of the archeology at Megiddo (the Biblical "Armageddon"), show clearly that the Old Testament was organized to for the benefit of the King Josiah of Judah in the 500's B.C. as a propaganda tool so he could claim the lands that used to be Israel to the north. Elevating Josiahs ancestors like David and Solomon to ruling a great city of Jerusalem where archeology shows it to have been mud huts and a population around 300, creating Moses where archeology shows NO Exodus and no break in the Hebrews living in the hills around Judah and Israel, etc. shows the Bible is a fake.

    December 29, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
    • just sayin

      If you subscribe to bull sh it theories.

      December 29, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
    • UncleBenny

      just sayin "If you subscribe to bull sh it theories."

      Bull sh it theories [sic]? You mean theories by one of the most eminent archeologists in Israel, based on years of research, and not molded by religious preconceptions? That kind of bull sh it theories?

      January 29, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
  9. The most eloquent and intelligent article ever written for this blog...

    As the most grumpy variety of non-believer, it is refreshing to hear such commentary from an author on a blog I love to hate. A nod to the hurdles religion tries to put in front of scientific progress, acknowledgement of the divinely mandated and immoral acts throughout the Bible, of the ridiculous belief that the text has passed unaltered through centuries and multiple translations to land in the lap of modern Christians as the "infallible word of God". Now, if only the rest of the Christian world were to study their own holy book in the same light, with the same (dare I say skeptical) eye of a modern human armed with knowledge of the world and history not afforded many of the Christians that came before. The first article on this blog that hasn't made my blood boil.

    December 29, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
    • ddblah

      There is zero chance that will happen.

      Religious believers have been moded to believe, most are blind believers. Granted, perhaps only a tiny portion of those believers are capable of independent and critical thinking to begin with, the blind faith that they have acquired in their young ages made it a lot harder for them to become independent thinkers.

      That's the effect of poison to young minds.

      December 29, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
    • Mark

      All evidence points to the fact that the bible has been handed down virtually unaltered. People like this writter attempt to push the assumption that the bible doesn't mean what it says, has many errors, isn't literal, contradicts itself etc etc. They do this in SPITE of the evidence and not the other way around.
      Basically he's telling you what you want to hear and you're just happy as hell to hear it. Nothing ground breaking here.

      December 29, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
    • DaveMKE

      This may sound like a silly question, but if every article on this blog makes your blood boil, why do you read every article on this blog? I think it's very important to read and learn things we disagree with, because it helps steel our beliefs, but it's also very important to do so with a sound mind and not let ourselves get too worked up over the disagreements.

      I always like to remind myself, and I think it's wise for the other commenters on this blog to do the same, that there are people much smarter than me who agree with much of my beliefs, and there are people much smarter than me who disagree with many of my beliefs.

      December 29, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
    • saopaco

      Mark, have you actually read the book? Even a Stephanie Meyer afficinado could read it and see the contradictions buried in the text. Even if you overlook the contradictions, there are still tons of hateful passages in there, canonized as the word of god. I for one would not follow the petty, genocidal deity as described in the OT.

      Do you know what cured me of christianity? A critical reading of the bible.

      December 29, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
    • The Maurey Povich Bible Show

      Do you know when the concept of "literal", or "fact" arose in human consciousness and discourse ?

      December 29, 2011 at 2:33 pm |
    • Dave in Portland

      Mark: Prove it. Give me links to evidence that is not put out by some evangelical.

      It is impossible for a text based on word of mouth, to make it through multiple human hands, through multiple retellings, rewrites, and translations and still stay unaltered and true to the original content. Simply impossible. Step outside your blind obedient faith and think about it.

      December 29, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
  10. ddblah

    Bible is part of human culture and a treasure.

    Religion is also part of human culture. When religion is used to inspire, it is treasure. When religion is used to suppress or murder, it is tyranny.

    In old days, killing for religious reasons was justified, even glorified. Nowadays, this is no-longer an acceptable practice in advanced civilization (though, still acceptable in barbaric culture).

    People believe in religion because of their failure to understand and to learn. As we human beings learn more, we will become less religious.

    December 29, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
  11. Joshua

    "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?"

    Yes, seeing as how it is divine revelation – the entire premise of the bible.

    December 29, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
    • ddblah

      That's called blind faith. You believe what you want to believe. No question asked, no reason. Just blind faith.

      December 29, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
    • The Maurey Povich Bible Show

      When you go get an education, you will learn that what you just said, is called "circular reasoning". That is beyond you now, but maybe someday, you will get it.

      December 29, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
    • David

      Actually, it's no.

      December 29, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
  12. Keith

    2Jo 1:7 ¶ For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.

    December 29, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
  13. speekbo

    It seems to be that the Christians have jumped on the defensive for this article. I do believe it has touched a significant nerve.

    Personal story, I got in trouble in Catholic school for asking questions about when was the Bible actually WRITTEN, who edited it and why didn't they exclude so many books, and also, if our god exists, why don't all the others?

    December 29, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
  14. D. Miller

    Misconception 1:
    Heb 2:3- How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him
    2 Pet 1:16- For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.

    Misconception 2:
    2 Tim 3:15a- All scripture is given by inspiration of God
    2 Pet 1:21- For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

    Misconception 3:
    Heb 13:8- Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever
    James 1:17- Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
    I Pet 1:25a- But the word of the Lord endureth forever.

    December 29, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      And the circle jerk continues... The Babble is true because The Babble says it is true...

      December 29, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
    • captain america

      An unoriginal butt in canadian is still an unoriginal butt in canadian. If they don't want your opinion there why would you think we need it here? There's your sign

      December 29, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
    • Reply to HotAirAce

      Any claim to ultimate authority uses circularity, but not all can be valid.

      The Bible is the Christian's ultimate authority but if you are not a Christian: What is your ultimate authority? Most 'unbelievers' have never given this question much thought but the answer is often: "My own human reason." The question is: "By what authority do you use human reason as your ultimate authority? "Um...my human reason?" This logic is entirely circular!

      To be valid an ultimate authority must first claim ultimate authority and then prove itself internally.
      Reference: http://www.proofthatgodexists.org/main.php#could-God-have-used-fallible-people

      December 29, 2011 at 2:18 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Ulimate authority = civilian courts enforcing civil laws put in place by duly elected representatives according to a const!tution accepted by civilians. Yes, the collective wisdom on many individuals.

      December 29, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
  15. Binky42

    Psalms 137:9: "Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones."

    Gotta love the "Good Book"

    December 29, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
    • Jesse

      There are many scriptures that can be ripped out of their context to make a case against them. God is not commanding such barbaric behavior but stating what the future will be for Babylon. This was a fulfillment of Isaiah 13:15-16: Everyone who is found will be thrust through, and everyone who is captured will fall by the sword. Their children also will be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their houses will be plundered and their wives ravished.”

      December 29, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
    • Steve

      But Jesse, God, through the bible, could have criticized such a scripture immediately thereafter...but naah that would be out of character. Think about how vile that diety is. Noah's global flood drowned virtually all of humanity including innocent children and animals. Same for Soddom and Gommorrah. How bout the Caananite tribes...god commands every man, woman, child and their animals to be ruthlessly destroyed....genocide anyone? God required a human sacrifice for humans to have any possibility of being "saved". Makes sense right?...Sigh. What if Jesus failed? If there was no chance of it then it was irrelevant, if there was a chance of it then god is callous and evil. How bout Armageddon, all those hindus, muslims, false christians and non-believers going to "Fry" for eternity....and people believe this and they call themselves "good". Amazing how deluded human beings can be.

      December 29, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
  16. DianeD

    You may want to read some of these posts....http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Is_there_real_proof_that_Jesus_Christ_really_existed

    December 29, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
    • Jack Kilgore

      your talking about Wikipedia-affiliated sites and sources here; they are unreliable and frequently erroneus. Being a student of History, it is imperative that you receive the right information. WikiAnswers is not it, sorry.

      December 29, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
    • LinCA


      You said, "You may want to read some of these posts....http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Is_there_real_proof_that_Jesus_Christ_really_existed"

      The one I like best is: "Outside the Bible and the forgery that was inserted in Josephus writings The antiquities of the Jews Book 18, Chap. 3, sec. 3, there are no verifiable proof that Jesus ever existed." (http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Is_there_real_proof_that_Jesus_Christ_really_existed#ixzz1hwvySjvB)

      December 29, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
  17. Josh

    I was just kidding! This is the most enlightening article CNN has ever published.

    December 29, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
    • asrael

      Josh, either you've got a bit of work to do on your leg-pulling mode (it doesn't work of nobody gets it), or you have an advanced case of Romney-itis...

      December 29, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
    • asrael

      Make that "if nobody gets it"...

      December 29, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
  18. DC

    The author sounds very conflicted. He's trying to ascribe a give a secular and humanist description of the Bible when it's so obvious that the Bible supports neither. The author would be better served by moving on from such a lukewarm philosophy.

    December 29, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
    • Anatomically Bombed

      I see no conflict. This author hit the nail on the head. The problem most Christians have is that they refuse to see the incongruities the bible presents, which is why most religions do not require reading it in whole, but like to cherry pick the scriptures that fit their ideology. I have read both the Hebrew and Greek scriptures cover to cover more than three times, and I agree with the authors conclusion, the bible is NOT the word of God but an evolving treatise of man's discovery of the spiritual or divine.

      December 29, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
    • Jesse

      Good point.

      December 29, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
    • justin

      The Bible was written and passed down by man and man alone. Mistakes are made by man. God did not come down from heaven and give us this book himself. God is perfect in our universe but, men who told these stories and wrote them down are not. Therefore the Bible that you read may not be the real word of God but only a false knowledge of what man thinks who God is and acts.

      December 29, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
  19. Greenspam

    Jesus condemned the rich: I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” Matthew 19:23-24

    So, why are the "religious" Republicans helping out the rich?

    December 29, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
    • Jose


      What does it matter, the Kingdom of heaven is just a myth anyways, nobodies entering it rich or poor.

      December 29, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
  20. Rainer Braendlein

    @Doc Vestibule

    The Nazis tried to establish a pseudo-Christianity, but only because of tactical reasons. They had no personal faith, but were cunning evildoers.

    Please take in account that Hitler spoke out lies because of tactical reasons. You cannot take his ridiculous public speeches as confessions of his personal faith. I have read elsewhere that he yet in his youth abandoned any faith (that he confessed in a personal talk; sorry, I don't remember where I read that).

    Hitler could not afford to lose the support of the multi-tudes of the nominal Christians of Germany and thus he had to tell them lies about his personal faith.

    December 29, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
    • DianeD

      Didn't Hitler and the Nazis get into Satanism??? Seriously. Thought I read that somewhere or some special on cable TV.

      December 29, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
    • Ace

      Let's assume you are correct and that Hitler was an atheist.
      How big was his army? Were they atheists too?

      If not, why did they follow such orders?

      December 29, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
    • Rainer Braendlein


      Hitler was addicted to the operas of Richard Wagner. Wagner glorified ancient Germanic myths in his operas. It is quite probable that Hitler thought of himself to be a new Siegfried.

      Of course, the old Germanic religion was demonic, because the Gods, which they worshipped were in fact demons or devils (Odin, Thor, etc.). In so far at least Hitler got into Satanism, whereby he himself had never used that word for his "faith".

      December 29, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
    • The Maurey Povich Bible Show

      No Rainer, Wagner knew they were "mythology", and he knew what "mythology" was. Clearly you are too childish to understand the concept of "mythology".

      December 29, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
    • Anatomically Bombed

      "They had no personal faith, but were cunning evildoers."

      But who gets to decide that their faith is false? Is it that "you will know them by their fruits, every bad tree will bear rotten fruit"? So you can sit back and then after the fact if the professed "Christians" commit horrible acts you get to disown them and say "They must not have been real Christians." To bad you are unable to make that choice to kick them out of the fold before they commit the horrible acts and instead let any and all raise your Christs banner to rally the already frenzied zealots to whatever evil they choose. Go ahead and absolve yourselves of any guilt, Christians are great at washing their hands of their dirty little secrets, funny though how they love to hijack any positive world accomplishments and attempt to make everyone believe it was them, like somehow most Americans think it was Christians who invented democracy, basic laws and morality, completely ignoring several thousands of years of prior recorded history.

      December 29, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
    • CommonSense

      Odin and Thor were in fact demons? Where do you get this stuff?

      December 29, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Whether Hitler himself maintained his Christian beliefs (however warped they may have been) until his death is a question nobody can answer.
      What we know for certain is that he made many public declarations that reference his faith.
      The Deutsche Christen, who sought to reconcile national socialism with protestantism, claimed that Hitler had converted from Catholicism to Protestantism.
      Hitler's propaganda machine was able to convince many lutherans that Martin Luther was anti-semitic and would have supported to extermination of the Jewish people.
      In his quest to indoctrinate the german youth, Hitler made it quite clear:
      "Secular schools can never be tolerated because such schools have no religious instruction, and a general moral instruction without a religious foundation is built on air; consequently, all character training and religion must be derived from faith."
      Children recited the following prayer to Hitler:
      "Leader, my Leader, given to me by God, protect me and sustain my life for a long time
      you have rescued Germany out of deepest misery, to you I owe my daily bread
      Leader, my Leader, my belief, my light
      Leader my Leader, do not abandon me"

      And therein lay the problem with faith.
      If one bases one's life on unprovable tenets, how can one be certain of the motives of the teachers of said tenets?
      During those years, the overwhelming majority of the German people were both Christian and Nazi – and found no fundamental contradiction between the two seemingly ant.ithetical belief systems.

      December 29, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
    • Anatomically Bombed

      "Odin and Thor were in fact demons?"

      Rainer, along with many right wing republicans and neocons, like to use the term "in fact" when they really mean "in f@ct*" which is their trademarked marketing tool designed to fool the untrained mind. They throw out any nonsensical opinion they want but preceed it with "in f@ct"... and expect everyone to believe them.

      December 29, 2011 at 2:09 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.