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. Hannah

    English Standard Version
    Job 38:2 “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?

    December 29, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
    • The Maurey Povich Bible Show

      Using the babble to prove the babble is circular.

      December 29, 2011 at 2:02 pm |
    • Robert

      If two men are fighting and the wife of one of them comes to rescue her husband from his assailant, and she reaches out and seizes him by his private parts, you shall cut off her hand. Show her no pity. Deuteronomy 25.

      So Hannah, what exactly is your point? Is your verse more relevant than mine?

      December 29, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
  2. LEE

    Spong is a heretic and has his own agenda. Just ignore him. I recommend listening to some of his debates with Christians. For example James White.

    December 29, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
    • The Maurey Povich Bible Show

      So which is it ? Ignore him, or listen to debates ?

      December 29, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
    • kateslate

      Listen to the debates. One should always listen. Then decide what makes sense to you (without additional input from others: family, friends, business partners...those who are vested in your decisions.) Always decide for yourself what is reality. Bishop Shelby makes sense to me. If he does not make sense to you, move on to another body of knowledge that does. That is all he is saying. The Bible, as translated by today's average Evangelical American, is pretty hard to take seriously.

      December 30, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
  3. Tim

    There's Religion, and there's Religious. Religion is all about Power: examine what the major religions have done "in God's name." Religious is about good and goodness, things all - well, most - of us aspire to, what we hope and want the world to be. Religion says, "I am right; my way is the right way, and you are wrong and damned. DO IT MY WAY." Religious says, "......" Well, it doesn't really SAY anything; it acts. It acts for the good, with goodness in its heart, for the betterment of all.

    December 29, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
    • Robert

      I appreciate what you are trying to say, but I havent met many people who distinguish between the two.

      December 29, 2011 at 2:02 pm |
  4. Mr Mark

    The Rev provides an accurate description of what the Bible is an isn't.

    But the question remains: why bother consulting the Bible for any reason, including anything that might lead us to "becoming deeply and fully human?" There are much better guides available that have been penned over the past centuries that aren't saddled with the horrors of the Bible or the fanaticism of its believers.

    And, he speaks of the decline of religion as if that was a bad thing. Quite the contrary. the sooner the world is rid of the fantasy world of religion – ALL religion – the world will be a far better place.

    December 29, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
    • Sue

      I don't know. You can learn a lot about the human condition from reading the Greek myths, Shakespeare, poetry, or even Harry Potter. The trick is not to fool yourself into thinking that any of it isn't actually fictional.

      December 29, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
  5. Dina

    God created us and loves us but if we don't believe in him the right way we will be eternally tortured in hell?
    My husband and I created two people. I love them. I do not expect them to worship me and I will not torture them to the end of time if they don't.

    December 29, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
    • Happy Atheist

      Good work to you and your husband. Love is more important than faith.

      December 29, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
  6. jos

    It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come!

    December 29, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
  7. David Johnson

    From the article:

    "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?"

    Pay attention people! This is part of what I've been saying about the Jesus myth.

    One more time:

    "Do stories of heroic figures not grow, experience magnifying tendencies and become surrounded by interpretive mythology as the years roll by?"

    Yep, they sure do. "The existence of Moses as well as the veracity of the Exodus story is disputed amongst archaeologists and Egyptologists, with experts in the field of biblical criticism citing logical inconsistencies, new archaeological evidence, historical evidence, and related origin myths in Canaanite culture." – Wikipedia

    It's all just people sitting by the campfire, making sh!t up. Eventually, the stories become "history".


    December 29, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
  8. Fred

    The god that Spong describes is not a real god, but one that he has made up in his own mind. He has taken Scripture and decieded to pick and choose. You either believe that the Bible is the Word of God or you don't, and Spong doesn't end of story. And by the way Most Biblical Scholars don't agree with Spong, his theories are old ones that have not stood the test of time.

    December 29, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
    • jos

      We've come to the time when most will not endure sound teaching. Maranatha!

      December 29, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
    • Larry A.

      Thanks Fred. Finally a voice of reason. As I read this article and the following comments it is not hard to find people who this "man of God" has turned away from the true God.

      "This is one of the best articles i've ever seen on the Bible. the meanings of the Bible are not on the surface, but hidden in the meanings of the stories. taking the Bible as history is like saying 'Gone With the Wind' must be a true story because Atlanta exists and the Civil War actually happened"

      This is not an admonishment against those who do not believe because that is a personal choice between them and God. I will rebuke Mr. Sprong for turning people away from God and into the hands of Satan. He will surely have much blood on his hands in the day of judgement.

      December 29, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
    • Observer

      EVERYONE just picks and chooses what they like from the Bible and ignors the rest. That's why so many hypocritical Christian h0mophobes pick verses to trash gays when they could have chosen the MORE IMPORTANT Golden Rule.

      December 29, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
    • Robert

      You sir, are blinded by your faith. You will believe anything anyone tells you on Sunday. There is a difference between blind faith and being a Scholar. Spong is the latter.

      December 29, 2011 at 2:08 pm |
    • Average Joe

      Fred and Larry will actually be the ones who are greatly (and unpleasantly) surprised on judgement day. While the Bible, through divine inspiration, is the "Word of God" – since it is told through human interpretation it is not the "words of God". There is a big difference that some, like Fred and Larry, are just too inept to understand in this life. But don't worry, you will learn all about it in the next life. Bring shorts, it'll be warm where you're going 😉

      December 29, 2011 at 2:08 pm |
    • David Johnson


      And you have evidence for what you are disputing...Right?


      December 29, 2011 at 8:17 pm |
    • David Johnson


      Read what the Happy Atheist has to say. He is a wise man.


      December 29, 2011 at 8:19 pm |
  9. matt

    Hmmm. Why the picture with the clerical collar? Who urinated in your proverbial spiritual cornflakes? You sure seem to have an axe to grind against the faith you are part of (or formerly a part of)! If I had been the bishop of Newark my faith would probably evaporate too? Doesn't the Bible say, "Can anything good come from New Jersey?"

    As to your ahistorical claims, why are oral traditions less 'authentic'. Would you tell a World War II vet or holocaust survivor his/her story was invalid since they are just now writing it down? Just sayin.

    December 29, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
    • Happy Atheist

      I find it bizarre that some religious types are so confident that their way is the only way. Maybe the Raelians or the Hindus have it right. That would mean those poor Christians would have to stay all toasty along with the atheists in "time-out" land. You know the non-religious types are probably correct and to make matters worse...science appears to support the secular world view. Even the RC church has begrudingly accepted evolution (albeit with a theistic twist).

      December 29, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
    • asrael

      So the argument is "I don't like your collar"? Compelling stuff...

      December 29, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
    • Lenny Pincus

      If you accept a WWII vet's story today without checking it out, you have no idea what facts are.

      December 29, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
    • Average Joe

      Wow, way to completely miss everything the author was writing about. Your comment reads as if you never even looked at what the author was writing. First of all, just because someone chooses to change or even leave a particular organized religion does not mean that they are never allowed to comment on religion again. Their opinions are still as valid as anyone else's, regardless of their bias. We all have personal bias, critical thinking means identifying those biases and evaluating information within that particular context.

      Second, the author doesn't state the oral history is invalid. He simply identifies the probability that information changes as it is re-told over the generations. The WWII veteran's account of what happened to him or her is firsthand information, but the same tale being told by their great-grandchild or great-great-grandchild who never actually heard the firsthand account can never be as accurate and fully informed. So what happens 20 generations down the line? If you really believe that every story ever told includes the exact same information and no more or no less after each re-telling, then you are highly ignorant of reality.

      And nothing in his column was "ahistorical" – it's all based on decades of precise study by theologians, scientists, scholars and thousands of students who have been able to track timelines and inaccuracies. But because those timelines don't back up your own opinion, they must all be incorrect. Wow, what a narrow-minded view on life and religion. I feel sorry for those that have to interact with you on a regular basis.

      December 29, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
    • Bryan

      Matt, there is a difference between a veteran or Holocaust survivor telling a story of what they witnessed and someone being decades removed from the events they are talking about. The Vet and survivor were there and witnessed the events personally. What the author is saying is that the people who wrote the stories in the Bible played a decades long version of "Whisper Down the Lane". Interpretations and how they're used change over time. Kings and Emperors used religion as a means to rule, and since most of the common people couldn't read nor write and clerics and leaders could, the Bible and its stories were used as a means of oppression. That's how stories and beliefs change. If God says so, the common people won't question it.

      December 29, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
    • Craig

      You ever play a game of telephone? Over the course of several minutes, passing through less than a dozen people, a message can be hopelessly scrambed beyond recognition. Imagine a message passing through THOUSANDS of people, over the course of HUNDREDS of years. The message coming out would be NOTHING like what went in. That is a far cry from your example of calling into question someone's personal experiences. Nothing in the Bible is from personal experience. They are all talking about something that happened hundreds, if not a thousand, years ago.

      December 29, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      @matt: You said, "As to your ahistorical claims, why are oral traditions less 'authentic'. Would you tell a World War II vet or holocaust survivor his/her story was invalid since they are just now writing it down? Just sayin."

      There's a difference between history and historical fiction. If their story consists of "I served during WWII," that's one thing. If their story is, "I served during WWII, and I'm the won who killed Mussolini and Hitler," then it makes sense to look at it skeptically.

      December 29, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      Did I really just substi.tute "won" for "one?"

      I'll be excusing myself for the rest of the day. Good afternoon.

      December 29, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
    • matt

      OK, folks, here's the deal. You obviously haven't read the text you are critiquing. Luke starts with the author saying (this is a paraphrase, not a quote), "I heard _______________ and went to find out for myself. After talking to eye witnesses, this is the story as best I find it and you can ask around, this is the story." All I'm saying is, the Bible doesn't even make the claims about itself that you are insisting it says.

      Here's what you fail to realize: the Bible has been PROVEN to be largely (please notice this word before you reply) historically accurate. (I won't bore you with the details here. If you want to have that discussion, do what I did and go study it in an academic setting.) Does that mean there is not discrepancies? Of course not. There's the matter of textual translation, copying, etc, etc, etc. Now the miracles, the teachings on the afterlife, the posits about God, are not proven or even provable. They are a matter of FAITH which is why they are part of the Christian FAITH. Important distinction I think.

      December 29, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
    • David Johnson


      Or if they say stuff that no one else but that group recorded. Like saying they served in World War III. Or claimed not to have killed Hitler, but told tales about a Messiah... The old B.S. antenna should shoot right up, huh?

      Your Christian god is very unlikely to exist. His demigod was a myth.

      Or can you prove otherwise?


      December 29, 2011 at 8:25 pm |
    • Lycidas

      Troy was a myth but it was still true.

      December 29, 2011 at 8:29 pm |
    • David Johnson


      Yes, Troy probably did exist, as did the Trojan War. Homer in his poem the Iliad, told about it. Homer greatly embellished it. Adding characters like Helen and Achilles. Homer knew how to tell a story!

      Many novels have been written using real places. That doesn't take them out of the fiction section at the library.

      This is actually further evidence, that the whole Jesus thing, is just a bad novel. Ancient people at night, had nothing better to do than tell a few whoppers and then go to bed. Telling the same story over and over isn't going to happen. Their heroes will always grow.

      Ever played telephone? You write down a short story and read it to the first person in a group. Each person repeats the story to the next person. The story "heard" by the last person in the group is compared to the original story. The story is most often very different.

      The Israelites hated their job with the Romans. Low pay and long hours. No 401k. They dreamed about a Messiah, who would usher in the world to come. Why do you find it surprising that much of the campfire chat would be about this Messiah? It gave them comfort. Like a blanket to a young child.

      These guys were also candidates for Messiah around the time of Jesus. Too bad they kept getting killed in battle.
      Simon of Peraea ; Athronges ; Menahem ben Judah

      Jesus was a myth. An exciting pastime that took on a life of it's own.


      December 30, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
  10. lip

    It's Obama's fault!!!!! What are we talking about again?

    December 29, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
    • PC

      Obama is a loser, but I don't think this is his fault.

      December 29, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
    • matt


      December 29, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
    • retief1954

      EVERYTHING is Obama's fault. Just ask Michele Bachmann and the rest of the Right-Wing candidates. Believe it or not, I actually saw Perry on TV this morning taking Obama to task for not staging a parade for returning veterans! Just when you thought they couldn't get any more stupid.... and, we still have 10 months to go!

      December 29, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
    • David Johnson


      Yeah, we'd be much better off if McCain and Palin had won. The Republicans serve two masters: The rich and the Christian Right. Obama is a better man than anything the Republicans have.


      December 29, 2011 at 8:29 pm |
  11. Lenny Pincus

    This is an excellent article that reflects the most intelligent, intellectually honest, and mature approach a human can have to the Bible. I know the wingers will find it offensive as it undercuts their crusade to gain power, but for the rest of us it makes perfect sense.

    December 29, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
    • Binky42

      This is exactly the same thing we were taught in Scripture class in religious school. This is also the same reason why so many evangelicals would rather home school their kids than send them to religious school – they want to remove the entire thought process from their lives.

      December 29, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
    • matt

      Wingers huh? Lenny the Pincus. Has a nice ring to it. I find the statements naive, but I don't find them detrimental at all in my quest for global evangelical dominance.

      Seriously though, you can go to hell. I mean really, you can, your choice (or non-election, depending on your position on the Calvin-Arminius spectrum). For those of us that believe no more proof is necessary. For those of you that don't, none will ever suffice.

      December 29, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
    • Lenny Pincus

      I hardly fear the judgement of matt, but you seem to ignore a ton of God's words in your response. And thinking you know who will go to hell...wow?

      December 29, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
    • matt

      Not judging buddy. I was being tongue in cheek. Sorry if I offended you. I don't waste my time worrying about what people who don't believe think or do. Jesus said "I come to heal the sick not the well." I'm with that. If you don't want to believe, fine. Doesn't bother me in the slightest. I just don't understand why you and Mr. Spong want to spoil the party for those of us that do.

      December 29, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
    • Revelation123

      Why is it when someone strings together some big sounding words that are, at best, grammatically correct, do people stamp them as intelligent? This man is clearly perverting the bible, not understanding the progressive revelation that God unfolded through various persons, primarily the Hebrew people. He makes the bible human-centric – man's self-revelation of God, rather than God-centric, God's revelation of Himself to mankind. Jesus is the culmination of all revelation and truth about God. Is God love? Yes. Do we love our enemy? Yes. However, that's within the context of human relationship, within this period theologians call the "dispensation of grace". But it will not always be this way. Even Jesus speaks very demonstratively regarding the Thyatiran church, threating to slay children and mother alike. And this is post-resurrection Jesus. Balance is always the key to understanding everything. Humans have a tendency to narrow down things to make sense of them. But the bible paints a very complex and full picture of God. There are no contradictions between God being a God of love and also of judgment. In the same way, we as parents can love our children but discipline them at the same time. Does a parent cease to be loving because of punishment? Do they have to choose one or the other? No. They can be both. Well, it is the same with God. This writer has been given over to himself, relegated to his own intellect – without revelation and understanding from God's spirit. Thus, he's left to his own reasoning and conclusions, apart from the Divine One. It's the same as it was with Adam. He lost his connection with God, as a result we have the mess that is humanity (or the lack of it) today. Mankind needs an awakening; a shaking from above. But, even that won't work for all people. Mankind is stubborn like a donkey. Take the clerical collar off and immerse yourself into the ways of the world Mr. Spong. That's what you really want. But don't try to take others with you. You've condemned yourself, but don't cause others to follow your foolishness.

      December 29, 2011 at 2:35 pm |
    • David Johnson


      You are right. They want to rewrite history and ignore Jesus. Paul is their Messiah.

      "What harm would it do, if a man told a good strong lie for the sake of the good and for the Christian church … a lie out of necessity, a useful lie, a helpful lie, such lies would not be against God, he would accept them." – Martin Luther


      December 30, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
  12. barbiedahl3

    How can you say the apostles didn't know Greek? How do you know? Greek was a common language that was spoken by most people. If you noticed when Jesus was killed they had a sign that read "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews" (or something close to that; sorry if I miss quoted it) and it was written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek. Greek was a common language to most people of the time. So it's not surprising at all that the gospels were in Greek.

    December 29, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
    • Sabrosafb

      How can you tell for sure it was written The king of jews in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek? Do you have any picture of it? Oh I forgot, it was written in the Bible.

      December 29, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
    • 21k

      so the author cannot be correct about whether the apostles knew greek, but you know for sure that they did? you so smart!

      December 29, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
    • Kevin Dunn

      The highly intelligent athiests are out today (LOL). Nobody cares if you believe in god... That's a personal feeling we each hold close to our own hearts. You trashing religion just makes you look like an uneducated tool that fell pray to bad parenting. It's okay to be a hater and to hate (athiests are very negative people, as proof by most of your comments and personal accounts). Athiests get offended when a Christian/Catholic tells them god is real, why? because your the smartest person in the world and have figured it all out? This book is OLD as dirt and it's still being researched by SCIENCE. science/religion are not always on the opposite side. Before you go ranting about the bible read it first.. because if you dont everything you have to say holds no credability.

      December 29, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
    • Kevin Dunn

      and yes im well aware of my spelling mistakes before you point them out 🙂 prey/pray... religious joke.. corny but ah well.. and atheist... well... I dont spell that much so I ASSumed ;).

      December 29, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
    • The Maurey Povich Bible Show

      @ Kevin
      It's "fell prey". Atheists don't "pray". And please cite ONE study that proves your babbling.

      December 29, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
  13. 21k

    seems like the #1 misconception about the bible is that it is true.

    December 29, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
  14. Sabrosafb

    Yes a dumb book. Why not follow the principles of any Disney story. It's the same fiction.

    December 29, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
  15. Rainer Braendlein

    "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 apostate said.

    Tribal deity? What a nasty term to designate the eternal God, who has made heaven and earth.

    Of course, God, the creator of life, is allowed to take it away any moment even without giving a reason. God is higher than we and we are not allowed to accuse him. He doesn't need to justify his deeds.

    When God takes away a life, this has nothing to do with love or hate. It is more or less a an offical devine act. It is God's divine office to give life and to take it away.

    For every Egyptian, who died during the Passover it was just his personal death, which God has prescribed for him. Assumed Passover had not taken place they had nevertheless had to die any time. When I die tomorrow, shall I accuse God for that? Ridiculous. When I die, I die, and there is no reason to be at odds with God for that. God in his overwhelming power ordered it that at Passover "by chance" many Egyptians died at the same time. Nevertheless for every single one it was just his personal death, which he had to face anyway anyt time.

    December 29, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
  16. Mark

    CNN could you f_cking smarten the f0ck up and fix your muther f8cking comment system???? Do you realize how damn annoying it is to spend 20 minutes writting something and then press fycking post and find that the comment just doesn't appear for no reason whatsoever?
    It is utterly useless!

    Are you attempting to govern peoples writing by silently stopping certain things from being posted? If that's the case it obviously doesn't F6cking work now does it? This got posted but the well articulated comment PG language didn't.
    How can you post horse sh\t stories like this on your front f0cking page but then get all concerned about the quality of comments below it? idiots!

    December 29, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Two suggestions for dealing with CNN's crappy word filter:

      – "select all" and "copy" your posts before posting it or

      – use your browser's "back button" to return to the page before you hit "Post."

      December 29, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
    • Liz the First

      What he said!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      December 29, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      The Belief Blog has a bad word filter, and in that place there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

      The only way this would've been any better is if that line had appeared in Mark's gospel.

      Damn you lack of serendipity!!!

      December 29, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
    • Mark

      I went through my comment over and over trying to find something that set off the word filter but I couldn't find anything. (I do copy and paste).
      The most frustrating thing is that it doesn't tell you that your comment has been filtered or anything. These sleazebags set it up so that it appears to work and then just doesn't post it and gives no explaination.

      December 29, 2011 at 2:08 pm |
    • llɐq ʎʞɔnq

      Mark, you can say any fucking thing you want. Or "˙ʇuɐʍ noʎ ƃuıɥʇ ƃuıʞɔnɟ ʎuɐ". Use your brain, dude.
      Actually it's a miracle. Jeebus only wants inspired stuff floating around his web site.

      December 29, 2011 at 2:23 pm |
    • Helpful Hints


      Bad letter combinations / words to avoid if you want to get past the CNN automatic filter:
      Many, if not most, are buried within other words, so use your imagination.
      You can use dashes, spaces, or other characters to modify the "offending" letter combinations.
      ar-se.....as in ar-senic.
      co-ck.....as in co-ckatiel, co-ckatrice, co-ckleshell, co-ckles, etc.
      co-on.....as in rac-oon, coc-oon, etc.
      cu-m......as in doc-ument, accu-mulate, circu-mnavigate, circu-mstances, cu-mbersome, cuc-umber, etc.
      cu-nt.....as in Scu-ntthorpe, a city in the UK famous for having problems with filters...!
      ef-fing...as in ef-fing filter
      ft-w......as in soft-ware, delft-ware, swift-water, drift-wood, etc.
      ho-mo.....as in ho-mo sapiens or ho-mose-xual, ho-mogenous, etc.
      ho-rny....as in tho-rny, etc.
      hu-mp… as in th-ump, th-umper, th-umping
      jacka-ss...yet "ass" is allowed by itself.....
      ja-p......as in j-apanese, ja-pan, j-ape, etc.
      koo-ch....as in koo-chie koo..!
      o-rgy….as in po-rgy, zo-rgy, etc.
      pi-s......as in pi-stol, lapi-s, pi-ssed, therapi-st, etc.
      p-orn… as in p-ornography
      pr-ick....as in pri-ckling, pri-ckles, etc.
      ra-pe.....as in scra-pe, tra-peze, gr-ape, thera-peutic, sara-pe, etc.
      se-x......as in Ess-ex, s-exual, etc.
      sp-ic.....as in desp-icable, hosp-ice, consp-icuous, susp-icious, sp-icule, sp-ice, etc.
      sp-ook… as in sp-ooky, sp-ooked
      ti-t......as in const-itution, att-itude, ent-ities, alt-itude, beat-itude, etc.
      tw-at.....as in wristw-atch, nightw-atchman, etc.
      va-g......as in extrava-gant, va-gina, va-grant, va-gue, sava-ge, etc.
      who-re....as in who're you kidding / don't forget to put in that apostrophe!

      December 29, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
  17. kirk

    i have never seen such ignorace of the word from a person who claims to know it shame on you sir
    you are wrong on all counts if you wish i will instruct you

    December 29, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
    • Robert

      Please, enlighten us.

      December 29, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
    • The Maurey Povich Bible Show

      Ok Kirk...we're waiting. Let's go already.

      December 29, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
    • Judas Ann

      Remember, punctuation kills.

      December 29, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
  18. Ursasolus

    John Shelby Spong is a raving lunatic, and has just written the most insane piece of pure fiction I've read in a very long time. The fact that he attempts to pass this rubish off as a piece of knowledge writen from the perspective of a learned biblical scholar is even more ludicrous. He either has never read the scriptures all the way through for himself, or is spouting rhetoric that he has heard from other sources. No true scholar of the Bible would ever misss state the claims that he is making in regards to the timelines and authors of the scripture he is poorly attempting to reference.

    December 29, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
    • The Maurey Povich Bible Show

      One example please. Generalizations with not one fact don't cut it.

      December 29, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
    • Jesus

      Everything you know is wrong.

      December 29, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
    • Robert

      Let me ask you something... have YOU read the bible cover to cover? I have, and I think it’s the best case for atheism ever written.

      December 29, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
    • asrael

      Just guessing wildly here, but it seems that Ursasolus is a wee bit unhappy...

      December 29, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
    • The Maurey Povich Bible Show

      Not unhappy. Just VERY VERY threatened.

      December 29, 2011 at 2:25 pm |
    • kateslate

      Okay, what claims is he "miss stating?"

      Miss State

      December 30, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
  19. Fred

    What the author says about the Bible is true about his article "it does not record in a factual way...". Seriously we are supposed to put any confidence in this man when he clearly is saying the Bible is written by man and therefore not to be trusted. I can't help but roll my eyes at self appointed experts like this.

    December 29, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
    • The Maurey Povich Bible Show

      And we're supposed to beliebe it was written by something other than a man, without ONE bit of evidence ? Who is crazy here anyway ?

      December 29, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
    • Observer

      "I can't help but roll my eyes at self appointed experts like this."

      But NOT you, of course.

      December 29, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
    • Robert

      The bible WAS written by men. Virtually every reputable biblical scholar agrees with this. I suppose I can understand if your "non demoninational Christian community" pastor has a different view. Then again, you better check his qualificaitons.

      December 29, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
    • asrael

      Oh, well! If you're going to do the eye-rolling thing, Fred, I guess we'll have to pay attention...

      December 29, 2011 at 2:02 pm |
  20. One one

    He's just telling it like it is. The fact is, young people are leaving the church in droves. If fundamentalists continue to cling to the literal absurdities and inconsistancies of the bible, it will only hasten the inevitably decline of religion.

    December 29, 2011 at 1:35 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.