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. LMB123

    To: Left the LDS – Joseph Smith being illiterate and translating the Book of Mormon is in itself evidence that he was a prophet. There was no other way he could come up with such a complex book being illiterate. Being called as a 14 year old boy has precedent. The prophet Samuel in the Old Testament was also called at 14. Since scripture is not for "private interpretation", the only way that anybody can find out if the BoM is true is by putting it's promise to the test, which is to read it with an open mind and then ask God in the name of Jesus Christ if it's true or not. If you ask with sincere desire and faith you will get your unmistakable answer. Once you have been spoken to by the Holy Spirit you know for sure. It's beyond man's way to communicate. Anyone can try this. Those who do, will find the truth and the truth will set you free (from ignorance).

    January 14, 2012 at 9:06 pm |
    • rzzzll

      More like a con man, but who cares all you christians and muslims are heretics from Judaism to begin with.

      January 15, 2012 at 10:16 pm |
  2. LMB123

    Reading this article makes me wonder what Mr Spong is doing being a "man of the cloth". He spends 99% of the time discrediting the Bible and then adds a shallow line at the end saying that he still believes in it. I think he is doing more of Satan's work than God's work. It would be interesting where he got all those so called "indisputable sources of information". On the other hand this article screams the need for God to send modern prophets to staighten out this astray world. It's a good thing that he has.

    January 14, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
  3. Timmy

    The literal point about children being stoned is interesting. That was a law that the Nation of Israel was to carryout by God. However when the Christian Congregation came into existence that law was abolished and to be longer practiced because if any more deaths would occur it was going to be at the literal hand of God and not human hands. The Mosaic Laws that God describes in Deuteronomy is for our benefit to read the history lessons of how God feels on morality. The punishment is the same today as it was then, only God has reserved the execution of those punishments at Armageddon and Judgment Day to Jesus, where he will literally be involved in the process from heaven and no humans take part in this process. The U.S. Government enacts and abolishes many Laws today, if we can do such a thing, why can't God?

    January 14, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
  4. arcandciel

    I've just seen at many places on CNN where people are allowed to give tons of book references and even websites without being barred at all. I'll try my luck myself as this is a blog that asks "What do you believe?". I believe what I have read from the following free books or sites on the internet:.... "Satan's Great Deception" by C.Paul Meredith available through the Yahoo search engine.... "Judah's Scepter and Joseph's Birthright" by J.H.Allen + "America and Britain in Prophecy" + "King David's Everlasting Dynasty" + "Solving tha Arab-Israeli Impasse" by Raymond F. McNair that can be found on a site where NOT everything is good http://WWW.ORIGINOFNATIONS.ORG. You can also find there the Herman L.Hoeh Collection and other very rare articles that are very good. Then you have of course http://WWW.LCG.ORG and for archives you have http://WWW.HERBERT-ARMSTRONG.ORG . It is NOT possible for me to refure men like those who are featured above but other more intelligent people than him have also written very bright things like you wouldn't believe! I cannot read for you though and good reading!....

    January 14, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
  5. Confused in Cleveland

    Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Communist leader of the Soviet Union, has acknowledged his Christian faith for the first time, paying a surprise visit to pray at the tomb of St Francis of Assisi.


    January 14, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • Amy Henderson

      Honestly it's really time to for everyone to admit how silly it is to discuss the bible. In the balance of time, people will acknowledge to themselves that there is no god and discussions like this one have no more relevance to mankind than a book review. I'm tired of pretending that religious folks have some "right" to their opinions. It's irrational and unreasonable to believe in god. I for one am tired of suffering the foolishness of religion.

      January 14, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
  6. Confused in Cleveland

    God has been replaced, as he has all over the West, with respectability and air conditioning. ~Imamu Amiri Baraka

    January 14, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
  7. Bob

    The inaccuracies in this article are so extensive, I would get tired responding to all and would need a long article myself. We'll just hit a few. 1) The idea that EVERY Biblical scholar believes the bible does not accurately reflect history portrays either woeful ignorance or extreme arrogance. Surely the author must know that an easy google search would immediately disprove him (google Gary Habermas and J.P. Moreland for starters). Unless he doesn't have an internet connection, or believes you can only be a Bible scholar if you agree with him. 2) He completely fails to address Paul's letter to the Corinthians, which even the most liberal scholars (even buddies he agrees with) agree; namely, that Paul's 1 letter to the Corinthians was written in the 50's. In 1 Corinthians 15 we see how Paul tells the Corinthians that what he was told as a brand new Christian he is now passing on to them; namely, that Christ died on the cross, died, was buried, and rose again from the dead appearing to a total of over 500 people. Every scholar agrees that Paul was converted to Christianity within 5 years of the beginning of Christianity. This shows, as even many liberal scholars admit, that from its earliest days Christians believed in and preached Christ's resurrection from the dead, the cornerstone of the Christian faith. So much for the so called gazillean generations of oral tradiation. Paul was willing to suffer intensely for this belief, even to the point of martyrdom. Whatever you think of Paul, no scholar questions he sincerely believed what he preached. Thus, this article"s premise that it took 70-100 years before miracles were added to the Christian tradition is so woefully inaccurate, again, it cries out for either extreme ignorance and/or extreme arrogance. His article reveals a lot of both. Sorry I had to stop there, no more space or time. Go to http://www.reasonablefaith.com or Lee Strobel's website if you want to see more of the other side of the story for starters.

    January 14, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • backup666


      "The inaccuracies in this article are so extensive, I would get tired responding to all and would need a long article myself." Please write to your hearts content to expound on what you believe are inaccuracies in Spong's article. I will point out one historical inaccuracy in the bible to prove Spong's point.

      1. Luke 2:1-2 Now it came to pass in those days, there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment made when Quirinius was governor of Syria. ASV

      Christians believe that Jesus' birth occurred during the reign of Herod according to the Gospel. However, Herod reigned from 37 B.C.E until his death in 4 B.C.E. Quirinius did not become the governor of Syria until 6 C.E. That's 10 years after the death of Herod.

      2. "He completely fails to address Paul's letter to the Corinthians, which even the most liberal scholars (even buddies he agrees with) agree; namely, that Paul's 1 letter to the Corinthians was written in the 50's." Spong states, "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." Spong was addressing those particular books of the Gospel and NOT Paul. Anyone studying history would know that Paul died sometime between 65 – 67 A.D. no one knows for sure exactly when he died so course Paul's letters would be written prior to 70 A.D.

      Please read the article again and readdress.

      January 14, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
  8. MTW

    This article was informative and I can relate to the topic of misconceptions, there is how ever a point I would like to inject into the subject. When discussing the misconceptions that so many christians have about thier own religious system can we allow these individuals to continue to ignore the fact that NOT ONE of the holidays that are practiced by vertually all christians, can be found in any bible. Refering to CHRISTMAS, EASTER, VALENTINES DAY, HALLOWEEN? Yes this too is a misconception to the highest degree. In fact, I say as a matter fact, not one of these customs can be found in the scriptures. The seperation of church and state is just as much of a misconception as well. Because these HOLIDAYS are Religous Pagan Customs, incorporated into the faith by crusades, and violence, and made MANDATORY throught laws of the states here in the USA. So to continue to believe that seperation of church and state is in place to protect the religous freedoms of the nation is KAKA, every child in America practices these condmned PAGAN holidays in PUBLIC schools and the christians "BELIEVE" in these days as being all about the savior, and thier religon. I say what a shame. Non of these days was taught to the children of the father during the time periods mentioned by the author of this article, in fact if christians would read thier bibles and stop listening to deceived under-educated priests, and preachers like the bible teaches, they would know Jer. 10, they would know that these days were CONDEMNED by the creator. But because lieing, deceived people continue to speake the tickle words, and arrogance and pride rule your lives you all will continue in your own deception, and lose the opportunity of being call a son or daugter of the heavenly father. SO misconceptions will continue to be revealed, and as ussual Americans will continue to pick and choose what THEY want, no matter WHAT the CREATOR has said. What a SHAME preachers, have you ever wondered why the scriptures speak so mush about the lieing toungs of the leaders??????

    January 14, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
    • Matt

      Valentines Day? Really??

      January 15, 2012 at 9:37 am |
    • CoCoDol52

      These misconceptions I am afraid are from idolatry and religions that we were told not to do but we did it anyway, and all religions are idolatry. The Creator YHWH does not condone them they are vanities. I rather enjoyed Mr. Spong's sincerity on his depiction of the book of life, the book of remembrance as in Malachi 3v16, that YHWH the Creator left for us to remember Him. He, who many of you call (God), called this book not bible, not the OT, but the book of remembrance. I understand that one would find many of the events in the book of life as hard to believe; but Moses did write for the Father YHWH when he came from Mt. Sinai where YHWH spoke to Moses from the burning bush, and Moses had two tablets with the statues and ordinances of the law on them from the Creator, and went to get them a second time after the people had corrupted themselves, and Moses destroyed them tossing them at an idol the people had made while he was with YHWH upon the mount. In Deuteronomy 31v24-26, Later Moses instructed the priest who bare the covenant of YHWH the Levites, to take this book of written law. Then on Mr. Spong's comment on the war with the Amalekites, these are the enemies of the Father YHWH as is written in Exodus 17v14-16, for generations until this day they are the Edomites, descendants of Esau for which it tells us in Psalms 83, that they are the enemies of YHWH. And they are evil selfish and bloody nature and have to be destroyed until this day for their descendants are still here making this world a hell to live in. This was prophesied as well in Genesis 27 by Isaac to his eldest son Esau. So this is a Spiritual War we are in people. YHWH is our Savior and our only Redeemer in Isaiah 44v22, and no man can be delivered from out of His hands in Isaiah 43v13. I am sorry people that you have been lied to most of your life this is why YHWH hates all religions. But to confirm this YHWH changes not in Malachi 3v6, this means not His law, nor His statues or ordinances, and we must abide them or we are under His sword in Jeremiah 25. And this is why many things go wrong for us from leaving the Father YHWH for idols and religions, and not living righteously. And Mr. Spong's comment on being gay, this is also true for it is not tolerated at all by the Creator, none. And disobedience is not either, in these times this was most common. Now what I understand from this is the sin of evil is a problem, and I suppose that YHWH dealt with it a bit more harsh than we could understand today but wait, we destroy and execute the evil too, so, I guess it is how some situations need to be handled. Then as the writer Mr. Spong says on wars and killing many must understand that YHWH was ridding us of the wicked ones and the evil ones and ones who could not change to do righteously so He YHWH set out to destroy them and their children especially the young men but mostly the ones over 20 and also the women. It seems cruel but in Zechariah 13v1-3, after YHWH gets all the wicked out and off of the earth, and nothing but the righteousness will stand, and a new will come, and all idols of religion and falseness will be taken from out of the house of YHWH, and of David, and if any one says that they are a prophet for there will be no more need for them at this time then that person is to be slewed even if it is a child. Once YHWH cleans us, and says what is to be we must abide by it. For it is for our righteous sakes and there will be no more lies or deceit none, just love

      January 18, 2012 at 12:35 am |
  9. OBAMA IN 2012

    I still believe in Hope & Change

    We are the 99%

    January 14, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
    • Sean D.

      Me too. I and I really HOPE we CHANGE who is the President again.

      January 14, 2012 at 10:31 pm |
  10. arcandciel

    Satan in person couldn't speak any better, that's why the Bible says very clearly that Satan has his agents and that the whole world is deceived. WHY would people like that who hate the Bible so much spend a lifetime reading it in the first place? Don't they have anything better to do with their lives? The Bible's historical accuracy is absolutely mind-boggling and scary when you really understand it but when you know NOTHING you really cannot tell one way or another. Then to assume that it is not the inspired Word of God because you don't agree with it doesn't change anything to the fact that God decides what is right and wrong and has the power to obliterate out of existence in a like of fire those who won't submit to His will. I don't argue with people like that, I just make sure that in my personal life I won't suffer their fate!....

    January 14, 2012 at 2:55 am |
  11. Really?

    All of you that are scrutinizing this article for it's historical and logical as well as biblical flaws are missing the point. The man says more than once that this article is simply his opinion and perception. However if you stop being so critical maybe you wouldn't have missed the point of the article. The man is a Christian in the sense that he loves God enough to write an article about how much he loves us and how people are missing the point.
    "It issues the invitation to live fully, to love wastefully and to have the courage to be our most complete selves".
    I think we can all admit that people twist and turn the bible so it suites them.
    Jesus died for us all and God loves us enough to allow his son to do so. If you don't believe in that part believe in the fact that their is a higher power that creates and manages all things. And that that Higher power loves us.

    January 14, 2012 at 12:34 am |
    • joe

      Here is the point that you and he are missing.The bible was written by man,but it was inspired by Holy Spirit.I highly doubt that the Holy Spirit would give a wrong historical account.He say's that most biblical scholor's agree.This is not true at all.Plus this is cnn,owned by the big banking nwo types message.God gave us one book to learn and meditate on that is not corrupted or played with.God made sure that the scriptures would be a God given message and would be legit and not corrupted like most things.I only hope that God opens the eyes of the people that actually think this is true.God bless.

      January 14, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
    • backup666


      Then you need to take your nose out of the bible and study history.

      January 14, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
  12. wikiIeaks

    All things written aforetime were written for our instruction, so says the bible. Therefore, if you do the research, all these pagan nations that were destroyed by God's hand were just destroyed. They were warned, they heard the stories about the approaching people of God who had no enemies that could stand against them. They had opportunity to attach themselves to God's people. They chose destruction rather than life. That is why God, through Moses, told the people "I have put life and death before you, and you must choose life in order that you may keep living". Also Ezekiel 33:11 says that God takes delight, not in the death of the wicked one, but in that the wicked turn back from their wicked ways and keep living". What a loving, fair, and just God. Also, if you want to know him personally by name read Psalm 83, particularly verse 18.

    January 13, 2012 at 11:43 pm |
    • wikiIeaks

      were NOT just destroyed.. sorry

      January 13, 2012 at 11:44 pm |
  13. tony

    The biggest question in religion that is never asked is:

    Who or what set all the so many restrictions on Gods' power that are exampled so much in the Bible and by today's preachers.

    January 13, 2012 at 10:00 pm |
  14. Paul

    It never ceases to amaze me that the media picks a "non-believing pastor," only to portray him as an authority on that which he would never believe, even if God Himself appeared to him. They choose him to write on behalf of those who believe. NOW, let them choose someone who bases their writing and statements on historical fact rather than on long-term historical myths such as this author...even the Gospels themselves record that the religious leaders paid off the soldiers who were eye-witnesses to the resurrection to tell a lie, instead of the truth, about the resurrection! The lies began the day of Jesus' resurrection because of unbelief. I imagine there are plenty of "authotrities" out there who could tell a great story of how 2+2=5, too; but it doesn't make it true. Check the facts! God is alive and well; Jesus is risen; "God's Word" is just that. The supernatural is just that as well. God does truty love each of us!

    January 13, 2012 at 7:57 pm |
    • Mike

      "someone who bases their writing and statements on historical fact" simply would not be a Christian.

      January 13, 2012 at 8:19 pm |
  15. Wayne Simpson

    Unfortunately , for fundamentalist thinking ,once again Bishop Spong "hits them right between the eyes" with intelligent logical truths. His knowledge of the construction of the Bible along with his actual knowledge of the bible itself continues to amaze and uplift me tremendously.

    January 13, 2012 at 7:31 pm |
    • mjm


      January 13, 2012 at 10:59 pm |
    • kmichelle

      His article is full of complete inaccuracies. He is not a Christian.

      January 13, 2012 at 11:02 pm |
    • joe

      You need to open your eyes to the lies of this article.Do you think that Holy Spirit ,who is the inspiration of the Word of God would not know history or lie about it?

      January 14, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • JB

      This is actually a reply to KMICHELLE who writes, "He [Bishop Spong] is not a Christian." I was not aware that we flawed humans had the ability–much less the authority–to make such statements. You claim steadfast belief in the scripture. That being the case, with all due respect, perhaps you might wish to re-read Matthew 7:1-5 or Luke 6:37. Just a thought.

      January 14, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
    • JCBinTN

      This is actually a reply to KMICHELLE who writes, "He [Bishop Spong] is not a Christian." I was not aware that we flawed humans had the ability–much less the authority–to make such statements. You claim steadfast belief in the scripture. That being the case, with all due respect, perhaps you might wish to re-read Matthew 7:1-5 or Luke 6:37. Just a thought.

      January 14, 2012 at 7:12 pm |
  16. Neil

    There are a lot of historical claims here that I've never heard despite a fair amount of study on these subjects... anyone know the basis for the author's claims about those components of the Jesus "story" that were only "added" in later decades?

    January 13, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
    • Jared

      He is putting Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John in chronological order, according to when biblical historians think they were written. And when read in this order, the first account of Jesus is quite simple, and the later ones contain the more fantastical elements.

      January 13, 2012 at 8:14 pm |
  17. OBAMA IN 2012


    January 13, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
  18. Kelly

    Sadly, the author of the story has the apperance of godliness, but is denying its power. Can an all powerful God assure that his living word is accurately recorded and given to man? The author says no, God says yes. By denying anything supernatural in the Bible he effectively denies the Supernatural being of God himself. Like many religious theologians, the author can not get past his own human doubts and fraility to realize there is a God to which human thoughts and limitations do not apply. The Bible is either the inerrant word of God to which every word must be truth, or it is all a lie, and you are a fool to follow it. I believe it is truth and trust it by faith. You can't pick and choose, if ther is one lie or inaccuracy, then God can not be believed. Choose who you will serve, the God of the Bible, or man.

    January 13, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
    • Jared

      "Can an all powerful God assure that his living word is accurately recorded and given to man?" So...which version of the bible is the one that has the accurate recording of an all-powerful God?

      January 13, 2012 at 8:16 pm |
    • Mike

      Too funny. Kind of like software, "god" got a lot wrong in versions 1 and 2, as so often happens when humans write stuff, so now we need a version 3 to fix the latest bugs. But the development team died and so there hasn't been new code written for 2000 years. All we have to go on is the really buggy v1 and 2 stuff that should never have been released.

      January 13, 2012 at 8:27 pm |
    • tony

      "All powerful", but his commandments written on handy pieces of local rock, then able to be lost and/or destroyed????? What happened to godly, self-illuminating, everlasting and indestructible platinum slabs, that display the tesxt in the natural language of the viewer?

      January 13, 2012 at 10:05 pm |
    • kmichelle

      I agree Kelly. The most amazing thing I have found about Christianity is how unbelievably historical and accurate it is. The "versions" of the bible have been accurately transcribed to the word for centuries. If any of the doubters/mockers would actually look into the historical accounts of Jesus' life portrayed in the gospels, the evidence is overwhelming. This author just throws out cheap bait that is easy to eat up. Taste the truth. It's much more palatable and interesting than this. It's a shame he gets any bandwith at all with this article. Thoughtless and unprovoking. Truly. Just fodder to an easy audience.

      January 13, 2012 at 11:06 pm |
  19. SecularTruther

    Any story that is told orally is going to be misconstrued over time. My teacher taught me this in 6th grade when we played the whisper game with only about 20 students and the original phrase didn't come out right. Now imagine 300 years, keep beliving believers but your wrong.

    January 13, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      300 might be stretching it a bit far. Papyrus 104 has a bit of Matthew's Gospel in it and it ranges around 150-250 AD.
      And forgive me if I do not think that children that are not trained in relaying oral history is a bad example to use.

      January 13, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • Bizarre

      Uncouth Swain - "I do not think that children that are not trained in relaying oral history is a bad example to use."

      How about ethnocentric blowhards?

      January 13, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
  20. Michael Crippen

    The article, and the comments that follow, prove the point that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (“Mormons”) makes. Joseph Smith and others of his generation testified that they saw God the Father and the resurrected Jesus. We have today living apostles who are special witnesses Jesus Christ. The Book of Mormon tells the story of an ancient people who lived on the American Continent, to whom the resurrected Jesus Christ appeared and told them that He was the Son of God and showed them the prints of the nails in his hands and feet and the wounds in his side.

    The Book of Mormon is a second witness that confirms the witness of the Bible. Jesus is the Christ, the Holy Son of God. We, the Latter Day Saints invite all to come and learn more about our Savior, Lord and King even Jesus the Christ. I give you my witness that I know that Jesus is the Christ that he lives and is the living head of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints today.

    January 13, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
    • left the LDS

      blah, blah, blah...perfect regurgitation of what the church pounds in their members heads. There are several accounts of people claiming to have seen Jesus, God, angels, and other spiritual begins. What makes them all wrong and Joseph Smith right? I know for a fact that if a 14 yr old boy came to you and bore testimony to being visited by Jesus Christ you would quickly deny him...wouldn't you? And the claim that the BofM is an accurate book is far from believable. Assuming you believe that the plates of brass exist and that Joseph Smith (who was illiterate) could read them with the Urim and Thummim who's to say that the plates weren't also passed down as poorly as the bible. I always thought it silly that an illiterate man would even need to tool to translate a book. If it was important for the book to be translated why the need for a special tool...wouldn't god just "make" him able to read it?
      And the BofM can't be a second witness if it was written in the Americas. Doesn't the second witness need to be in the same place and time as the first in order for it to be considered a witness? And doesn't the church also put a silly little clause to protect them just in case the bible is wrong? "we beleive the bible to be the word of god SO LONG AS IT IS TRANSLATED CORRECTLY". Why would the BofM stand as a witness to a possibly incorrect record? Take your head out of their grasp and think for yourself. You'll be amazed at the power that god gave you to think rationally.

      January 13, 2012 at 7:52 pm |
    • isolate

      Would you explain how, according to the Book of Mormon, these displaced Israelites built great cities, lived in them for a thousand years, killed each other off to the last man, woman and child– yet left not a single trace behind? Not even a speck of Middle Eastern DNA has been found, and the ruins of the great cities apparently evaporated along with all the bodies, artifacts– the whole megillah. The Nephites found horses and cattle waiting for them in the new world. In reality horses and cattle native to North America died out 8,000 years before the alleged arrival of the Nephites and weren't reintroduced until the end of the 15th century. The Book of Mormon takes more willing suspension of disbelief than all other scriptures combined.

      January 13, 2012 at 8:06 pm |
    • tony

      Don't forget the coupla slices of toast with Christ's face that "appeared" on EBay!

      January 13, 2012 at 10:10 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.