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.
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.
Everything said and supported by the Bible is not accepted today.
Witness Genesis 19:34-38. We would condemn those acts which were essentially praised.
Scholar, Who is saying that the acts of these two sisters were praised?, I beg to differ, this was not right but this is what did happen. From the poor judgment of these two sisters is what happened here. They never got any sign from the Almighty YHWH to do this none at all, this is only what they had decided to do on their own actions. I suppose they believed that they were the only people around at the time. This was a mistake on their part of doing what they willed themselves to do, 'free will.' But it was not right then, or is it now according to Leviticus, it is not allowed. Later the sons their (descendents) of Lot became the enemy of YHWH as stated in Psalms 83.
My response to this shoddy research (no footnotes and only opinion) is this:
"John Shelby Spong, a former Episcopal bishop of Newark"
This is very weak even to a novice, which I'm not. As a seminary grad from Southwestern Seminary and Gordon Conwell Seminary, THIS IS PATHETIC. I'm glad you are a "former."
Then let's see your rebuttal, point by point. Since you are not a novice, it should be easy for you. What you have done here is what I would call "dump and run". You call the article pathetic....let's hear just why that may be.
Well, this is interesting to be sure. I haven't even read any of the responses here yet but I will bet the evangelical and fundamentalist types are warming up their keyboards in preparation to perform a virtual inquisition and will brand this man a heretic....and burn him at a virtual stake. This will no doubt be fascinating!!
You are forgetting a very important truth of the Bible, II Timothy 3:16 – 17: "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness....." Scripture was "inspired" by God, not merely passed down by word of mouth. You are reducing the miraculous power of God to man's limitations, thereby creating doubt of what God says is true about scripture. Of course it's truths can fall apart if you start with the presumption that they are merely a product of man's memory.
I don't think the writer forgot that at all. What he's saying is that if it truly IS the "inspired word of God", then that "god" has a problem. I think he covers this quite nicely in the following paragraph:
"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."
And especially this one:
"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?"
Do you get it?
Bob, See now that is the problem with this scripture timothy gave it not the Creator YHWH, you never change anything He gave to us unless it is by a true prophet of YHWH God as said in Amos 3v7 not His law, not His ordinances, and not His Word, as in Isaiah 24v5, never, because YHWH tells us in Malachi 3v6 that He changes NOT. And folks wonder why there is so much pain and suffering. Going against the law of righteousness and peace for all no matter the skin that's why. Do one knows who YHWH is read Isaiah 40v18-31. Do the 10 Commandments as told to us in Malachi 4v4.
Here we go again. The Scriptures were inspired by God because they say they were. OK, now I'm convinced.
After reading this artical I find it to be a very good theroy !!!! BUT !!! beinging a Christian and reading everyones coments no one has said any thing about the death of Jesus Christ on the cross for our salvation . This was spoken about in the book of Isaiah 9th chapter and he talks about a child being born and the government will be apon his shoulders .The answer we are looking for is the faith in the death on the cross for our sins .He was the lamb of God .The gift to us all and to except this great gift is to belive in Him
John, did you know from the OT the Creator YHWH in Isaiah 44v24-27 who made it all by Himself, has said to us that no one can ever die for anyone else sins in Jeremiah 31v30 and in Ezekiel 14v14 for Noah Job and Daniel had to be responsible for their own righteousness, and take heed that your Creator YHWH(God) does not change anything He ever tells us as He said for us to remember that in Malachi 3v6. And in Isaiah 42v9 He says if there is something new that He will tell us of it. Many feel that the OT is out of style well this was to mislead the flocks for the book of remembrance the OT is juxtaposed it tells us the past the present and the future, of what is to come and it shows us to always remember Him and His Word so that we are not consumed. Did you also know that YHWH(God) His Hebrew name in English, is our only savior and redeemer He told this to us in Isaiah 49v26 and Isaiah 60v16 and that no man can ever be delivered from out of His hands in Isaiah 43v13. This is His Word and it hasn't changed it will never said YHWH. He forgave our sins in Isaiah 44v22 and He just wants us to return to Him and His Word the law as said in Malachi 3v7. The only son and firstborn that YHWH has is in Exodus 4v22,23 of His chosen people ISRAEL there can't be two firstborn sons and jesus nor his story is never mentioned or prophesied in the OT book of remembrance. The scriptures in Isaiah 9 is not of jesus why assume who it is when it does not say jesus, YHWH gives names its David the seed of David or His servant the Arm of YHWH or His elect is what YHWH says in all of these prophesies in Isaiah 53, 49,42, and David was born in Bethlehem in I Samuel 16,17 and he is the chosen servant of YHWH. In Jeremiah 23v1-8 and Jeremiah 33v14-26 who's SEED David's descendant will be on the throne to govern the people the flocks this has not happened yet this is a prophecy to come (future). YHWH lets us know that the flocks are being mislead by the priest and pastors not only in the past, but now today, in Malachi 2 and in Jeremiah 23v1-4 as YHWH tells us in Ezekiel 34 of the future prophecy to reclaim His flocks that these who mislead us will be dealt with in the Day of YHWH in Malachi 4v1. Take heed. In Isaiah 60 He YHWH will do all this in His time but we are in the end times so it is near as He says in Isaiah 60v22.
Spong is well know as one of the most; if not THE most liberal theologians around. It would be great to get a counterpoint article from someone much more theologically in the middle and also someone from the theologically conservative. I suggest Billy Grahm and D.A. Carson.
First, everything was not orally handed down to succeeding generations as Mr. Spong suggests. Moses was commanded to write what he saw. John wrote. And of course Paul wrote his letters. The fact that we don't have actual copies of what they wrote doesn't mean the Jews and the early church didn't have them.
Second, Spong writes that the gospels were finished by AD 90 but that miracles were not attached to Jesus until the 9th century AD. In what sense then would the gospels be considered "finished" if for 800 years or so they contained no record of miracles? Are we to believe the church just let them be inserted into the cannon of Scripture after being absent for 800 years? If you know of the church's wrestling over a single word "iota" that went on during the drafting of the Nicene Creed you would realize it would be impossible to insert whole stories into the Scriptures 800 years later. This is the most preposterous part of Spong's writing
Finally, Spong says we have traveled a long road from the "tribal deity" of the book of Exodus to the one we have today. If that is the case, like a previous poster said, why would he even call himself a Christian. Christians, despite the difficult texts Spong cited, would never say that the God they believe in was once a little, tribal, apparently petty God. Move to another religion that better suits you rather than bend Christianity beyond all recognition to suit your liking.
Amen, and Amen, and Amen!!!!!!!
James Mullings, The Hellenistic Jewish Roman writings went on for 600 years of rewriting the NT and some discerns of the OT changing what the Creator YHWH left for us to remember in the book of remembrance which is the true name of the so called OT told to us by YHWH(God) Hebrew name in English, in Malachi 3v16 through His last prophet until this day. The Hellenistic Jewish writings were from 200BCE to 200AD and Christ was from 50AD to 400AD this rewriting and as you say inserts. The Jewish writers made a deal with Constantine who (forced) legalized Christianity in 311 all this in the beginning of the 4th kingdom of man. And this too was prophesied by YHWH through the prophet Moses in Deut.32v17 of (newly) strange gods that the peoples future generations will do in the latter days of devils idols. Also, this was prophesied by YHWH through His prophet Daniel with the help of Gabriel, for out of all the dreams and visions of Daniel this one he couldn't understand, in Daniel 11v36-12v10 for the end times of his vision in Daniel 2v1-49 of the 4th kingdom in Daniel 2v40, that there will be strange gods(that the fathers Abraham Isaac and Jacob knew not) idols that will rule over many to divide the land for gain. In vs.39 is of Christianity and in vs.43 it is of Islam and in vs.45 it prophesied the destruction of the kings of the east Mubarak Egypt, Gadaffi Libya, Saddam Hussin harassing Ethiopia its all been done and come to pass as prophesied. The Creator YHWH assured us in Malachi 3v6 that He changes Not. Not His Word Not His law. For the only son that YHWH ever mentions in the book of remembrance the OT is in Exodus v22,23 and it is ISRAEL His chosen people to give the light unto the gentiles and nations in Jeremiah 16v16-21 is prophesied all through the OT to come (future). There is no mention of jc nor his story nowhere in the book of remembrance OT. To confirm from YHWH He says No one can die for anyones else Sins in Jeremiah 31v30 and Ezekiel 14v14 telling us even Noah Job and Daniel had to account for their own righteousness. One other truth YHWH is the savior and the redeemer as He says in Isaiah 49v26 and Isaiah 60v16 and Isaiah 43v3,11 and that no man can ever be delivered from out of His hands in Isaiah 43v13 and YHWH ask for us all the return to Him in Malachi 3v7 and in Isaiah 44v22 for He has already forgivin us. The flocks has been mislead from priest pastors prophesied by YHWH in Malachi 2 and Jeremiah 23v1-4. Take heed we need the righteousness and law of the Creator YHWH and is why the world is divided into mayhem unless we return to the law for 2000 years none of these religions have made any progress so they are idolatry as was prophesied they would be and nothing will be right. YHWH does not do religions or idols He's Spiritual of righteousness and peace.
He said 'decade' not century
'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.'
The article says, "decade", not "century".
You are not the first one on these many pages of comments to allege the "century" thing. I have seen it mentioned several times. It certainly causes susp.icion about what all else you all miscomprehend.
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.
"Decade' not century.
Plse read again.
Agreed! At what point do you believe the Word on FAITH and stop trying to break it down like a math problem?
James Mullings, CORRECTION TYPO..... to the scripture; the only son and firstborn of YHWH who many call God, is in Exodus 4v22,23 and it is ISRAEL the chosen people, who are to bring the light to the gentiles the nations in Jeremiah 16v16-21. There cannot be two Firstborn Sons. It does not mention any story of nor jesus. It's David and the seeds(descendants) of David from and born in Bethlehem that will be upon the throne to govern over the flocks Isaiah 40 he's been taught and is the our future the Branch and Arm of YHWH in Jeremiah 23v1-8.
This article is absolutely disgusting, and outright dangerous. John Spong is clearly attacking virtually every aspect of the Bible, from Christ’s Deity, virgin birth, to the story of Abraham. He even lies, “First, people assume the Bible accurately reflects history. That is absolutely not so, and every biblical scholar recognizes it.” Every Biblical scholar? I urge people to disregard this article. No wonder CNN chose this guy. Just pray for the truth. God Bless.
@ oowarrior... I agree with you. and another point.... about the Bible not being the Word of God.
yes man wrote it, but it was inspired by the Spirit of God, the words given to them, and much of this is 'eye-witness' accounts, not necessarily written just then, but the story of it passed down, then written down.
maybe this writer of this article will one day have a 'road to damascus' encounter with the Lord and his eyes opened.
Amen, Amen, Amen!!!!!!!!!
"yes man wrote it, but it was inspired by the Spirit of God,"
- who says? Prove it.
"much of this is 'eye-witness' accounts, not necessarily written just then, but the story of it passed down, then written down."
- sort of like those stories of Yeti and Big Foot sightings.
"maybe this writer of this article will one day have a 'road to damascus' encounter with the Lord and his eyes opened."
- or be delusional about this experience, or make it up.
Do you believe that Mohammad, Joseph Smith, Jim Jones, David Koresh, Warren Jeffs and a bunch of others who claim this "encounter" are correct?
Get real u relly think revelation is not poSsible. let me tell u a story. An engineering student was busy studying Eng Maths in his room one evening. He heard a fun conversation poking fun @ 'false pastors/men of God/prophets' and the speaker went,"oh u will b sitting n they mention things like...
What does that even mean? Based on your typing, you're clearly very young and should probably refrain from commenting on article above your education level.
"Outright Dangerous" to whom? If it is not a "history book" then what is it and what is it's true value?
"attacking virtually every aspect of the Bible, from Christ’s Deity, virgin birth"....perhaps because he knows these are fables passed through the ages?
"I urge people to disregard this article." Oh, I have no doubt you do. However, people of rational thought, common sense, and intellect will not. And I'm sure that really upsets you.
Last week, I helped my child make a one meter tower with marshmallows and toothpicks for a school project. In a couple of days, due to his carelessness, the whole structure started to crumble down. I couldn't stand his heart being broken, so I spent 3 hours last night fixing the whole structure, standing on my knees, while he was asleep.
If we had a maker, someone who cared for us, would n't he try to fix this crumbling world?
You may say why does the omnipotent create a crumbling world. But you should realize that this show on earth is only moment in eternity. If eveything was perfect and we are already in perfect paradise, we would be gods ourselves, no? May be we have to learn a lot before we enter the perfect state – or we need to have perfect spirits and souls ourselves to enter this place of eternal bliss. What can make us perfect other than the creator's perefect spirit itself? What could be a better proof that there is a God and a Holy Spirit willing to redeem you – other than the story of the perfectly meek rabbi who was killed on a cross for all to see and then seen in perfected body? The proof of the story is the courage of the desciples who were ready to die for the truth and the believers who were ready to be mocked upon by outsiders which is still continuing in the 21st century.
Now, taking bible literally is entirely different matter and I cannot comment on that. Everyone has their right to believe what they want to believe. Science is allright, but the claims of validity of big bang and how universe came into existence are still theories and never proven beyond doubt. May be, we will have better undertsanding if we can do now impossible scientific calculations using advanced quantum computers – in a hundred years.
Lastly, if there is no belief about something waiting for you in the afterlife, no matter what beeswax the atheists say, humans will not be creating their own moral axis as we have in this modern world which has created a peaceful enviorment in which science can thrive and culture can go on. The reason is that human being is ultimately selfish and we have neurohormones which predispose us to do actions that can be harmful to other people and the society itself. The athiest claim is a very very shallow claim.
Obviously you don't know what the term "theory" means in the scientific sense. That's a shame. Why in the world would you trust quantum computers if you don't understand what a scientific theory is? That's like not believing in evolution yet getting a flu shot because the virus evolved since you got your last one.
Your reasons for "the atheists' claim" being "very very shallow" don't make any sense. It's almost like you don't understand what the atheist claim is or how it works in regards to the larger issues you mention. Interesting ideas you have, but a long way to go in understanding logic, science, and atheism. Educate yourself.
Yes Momoya, this from a person who wrote, that the universe will just "disappear" at the end of the time.
Did I say that I don't believe in Sceince? I am a physician, and I know what Infleunza virus's genetic shift is – it is not "evolution" as some of your atheists want to believe.
If everything is known – proven and sealed, why do you think they are doing the multibillion dollar projects in search of a tiny particle? A lot of things that you know as "facts" including Darvin's theory are still theories. I am not denying evolution, but the point is that there are a lot of missing links and speculations. You can call us anything you want to, but Christians are not the only people who tend to have "blind faith" sometimes.
Don't try to pretend that you don't understand: I am talking about the claim I see in every blog and atheist circle that religion is unnecessary for making us moralistic because us humans are capable of creating a culture with highest standard of morality just using either our own inner compass or as a part of cultural evolution.
Oh, I understand, rochdoc.. I understand that you are too deluded to listen to anybody's opinion but your own. Your arguments are silly and have been defeated numerous times–yet you continue to use them. Enjoy your sick delusion that allows you to feel better with some ancient myths; you really do need it.
Momoya u r now telling people to educate themselves??? A new virus strain is as a result of evolution? Now who told u that?
finally resorted to name calling.
rochdoc, What our Creator YHWH(God) created was perfect, He gave to us all we needed, but there were rules, and when we did not follow that (one) simple rule we destined our world as the beginning of our struggles for life. And, the way I look at it, it does help us to appreciate things more when we do reach our destiny so life in this case is not easy, but its what it is, and what we do for ourselves, and those around us to make the best of it. But we must do what is right. For there are consequences so one should want to be considerate of the other when we do go through life, and many times we don't do the right things by one another, and we continue to struggle to get it right. As I said before about that (one) rule, we need to have rules to live by and that is why I have a different opinion on we can all just believe whatever we want to this can cause problems. We all need to do the rule of what is right, and to keep peace between each other by doing the spiritual rule and the law of righteousness and this is what our Creator YHWH the Hebrew name in English did set up for us in a perfect existence to follow that one rule, and although we could not even do that we must work to try, and now today we have more and more problems doing what everybody wants to do, but somehow we have to back track, and start by doing what is right. Having no in difference no greed no violence no poverty and the only way this can be accomplished is that we must do the rule of the law given to us by our Creator YHWH who made us and He would know what we need, and this is why He left for us His law the 10 Commandments, but many have said that they are hard to do this is to mislead us, they are as simple as that (one rule in the beginning) they are of righteousness and peace no matter the skin. One is to not covet 'anything' belonging to another man or woman, simple, do not borrow that lawn mower every Sunday, this is coveting, and rude and disrepectful its not right, and can create resentment. These kinds of things get out of hand everyday, and people need this rule for sure and all the rules of the law they are good for us. YHWH says to return to Him to know the rules the law to know the truth of life, in Malachi 3v7, and in Isaiah 44v22, for all has been forgiven.
Google the essay "Ethics Without Religion" by Philip Kitcher. That might help you understand this "atheist beeswax."
It sounds like you alluding to the atheist having "no moral compass" argument. And he might live an aimless and meaningless life because he believes that no "reward" is waiting for him after death. Do you know what I feel like doing right now? I feel like typing a scathing diatribe to you but the problem is it would never get past the forum censors.
I'm not usually this militant but you've pushed my buttons. NOW GET THIS: We do NOT need a published set of rules to tell us right from wrong. We have intellect, common sense, and rational thought. Especially when that set of rules is full of hate, intolerance, misogyny, bigotry, contradictions, myth and the supernatural and whose more ardent followers have screwed up this world for centuries. And they're STILL trying to screw up the United States even more that it already is. There are those ardent followers who would love nothing more than to establish a theocratic state in this country. And don't EVEN TELL ME I'm exaggerating....they are out there.
There....I feel better now...but I'll bet YOU do not.
"I am talking about the CLAIM I see in every blog and atheist circle that religion is unnecessary for making us moralistic because us humans are capable of creating a culture with highest standard of morality just using either our own inner compass or as a part of cultural evolution."
GET THIS STRAIGHT rochdoc: This isn't a claim...it's a FACT. Probably the only FACT I have seen in this forum. Here's why...pay close attention:
There are millions of people, MYSELF INCLUDED, that are living that way each and every day...quite happy and quite contented. THAT IS A FACT. We have common sense, we have intellect, we rely on logical and rational thought, and we educate ourselves. Yes, that's right. What the H**L do think I'm even doing on this forum, reading an article written by a theist?? I spent an hour last night on a creationist website to try to get the core of what they believe. I found it complete nonsense, but I read it anyway.
I'll tell you what we DON'T have....arrogance and condescension. That's what I see from you and many other theists on this forum. LOL!!! You can't even agree among yourselves....do you KNOW how ridiculous you all sound??
Just the fact that you get so incensed with such trivial matter just proves my point. Think why you are getting such emotions. Is n't this because I am actually refuting the idea of your personality you have painted for yourself? when this is threatened you get angry. You say that if there were no rules in this blog you would have started your diatribe – so where is your selfcontrol which doe s not require an external set of rules.
I don't need to read the essay from an atheist to understand what you are trying to say, I have read these points before- but I will try to read again,
Way to go, my brother, I admire your "My Take".
What this author failed to mention, apparently because he himself is not very well versed in the historical facts, are the following:
1) The story of Jesus is refrenced by Paul in Corinthians, in a letter dated 54 AD and considered authentic by virtually all scholars, both secular and otherwise. Thus, it is crystal clear the story of Jesus existed prior to that date and most likely, it first came into existence almost immediately after his crucifixion. Thus, the story of Jesus is more contemporary than many modern biographies of famous people like King and the Kennedys of the 20th Century. His position is typical of poorly educated 'scholars' who typically don't pay very close attention to the details of history unless they happen to agree with them.
2) Prior to written history, oral histories were carefully guarded for accuracy because it was the only way people had of knowing their heritage. Most modern people can't conceive of a world where there is no other option other than oral history and thus, they have no clue how carefully God-fearing tribal elders would guard the accuracy of their heritage, which is why there are so many "begats" in the Bible. A careful and honest historian will freely admit that many oral histories are likely as accurate or more accurate than any known written histories. Nobody can just carelessly dismiss oral histories, any more than they can carelessly dismiss the various "histories" found in the Encyclopedia Britannica.
Amen, Amen, and Amen!!!
"The story of Jesus is refrenced by Paul in Corinthians"
Not so. Paul NEVER talks about Jesus the man. He shows a total lack of interest in (or perhaps lack of knowledge of) Jesus' birth, life, ministry, or teachings. He writes solely about the crucified and risen Christ, who comes across as a totally spiritual figure. You should go back and read Paul more closely, without the assumptions.
Richard Aberdeen, Could you explain to myself and others as to why isn't jesus ever mentioned nor his story in the book of remembrance in Malachi 3v16 the OT? Since he is portrayed as the SON of GOD shouldn't it be some evidence of him being talked about especially from the prophets of YHWH(God) for YHWH (English for the Hebrew name),says He does nothing without His prophets or servants in Amos 3v7. The prophet Isaiah prophesied Cyrus the Great before he was born 200 years prior. For Cyrus was in the 6th century and Isaiah was in the 8th. look it up. So where is jesus even told to us by his Father God YHWH? Many seemed to assume much in Christianity without having names or the Word of YHWH, and YHWH has never had any problem giving names not nowhere in the so called OT. Everyone is prophesied and named even Gabriel. I've even been told that Christians say that jesus is the YHWH God is this also true? For the Creator YHWH has told us to take heed for in Isaiah 40v18 He says " To Whom will you liken or compare Him to? and in vs.22, "it is He that sit upon the circle of the earth, etc,etc....Also, in the OT YHWH does say that His son and firstborn is in Exodus 4v22,23 and it is ISREAL the chosen people. Can there be two firstborns?
As others have posted this is one of the most sane interpretations of the bible I have ever read. I can see it appealing to both sides of the debate. For the religious it reaffirms their adherence to the values and allows them to lay down the dogma, for the agnostic it allows them to see the bible as a valid work of human thought without requiring them to believe. My take, this is an excelllent article and if more on both sides ascribed to it's viewpoints much less strife would be rampant.
I agree however, the world would be a better place without money, religion and republican mindsets. Without the these ills we may all be equal and pursue a real happiness.
If u can't b happy now read the Bible. Its the easiest way rather than killing all Republicans n the over 6bn believers. A good dose of eternal life never killed anybody. lol
As to equality Cuba is not that far from US. I think they even have all three blessings. Happy! haaahaaahaaahaaaahaaaa.....
People perish for lack of knowledge. It takes knowledge, experience, and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ to believe in and understand the Bible. One of them is not enough. Neither of the three renders any dialog about the bible useless.The Bible is both accurate and relevant, more so than any other book on earth that has ever been written or passed on orally. I don't believe there is any book available in or out of print that anyone would want to base their eternity on outside of the Bible. When read properly and understood, it is extremely logical and precise. The caveat is that one has to accept the Bible on its own terms. And, for those who will dismiss these comments, it is the only book of its kind on earth that commands us to love one another and forgive one another, unconditionally. I like that.
If you have read many of the responses here I don't think you can agree that it has "appealed to both sides of the argument".
Left the LDS, well for one YHWH gave us the scripture that tells us that joseph smith is a fraud and a fool this is prophesied for us from the Creator YHWH through His prophet Jeremiah 10, it tells us that the gold plates and doctrines are all vanities confounded with the idol of this foolish man joseph smith who YHWH describes as a brutish fool and warns us of this. The book of remembrance that was left to us to remember YHWH was written from the Hebrew text the NT by the hellenistic jewish roman writers only began witing it in 200AD of its lies and changes from the OT and it too must be discerned of course but when one has anointment they know what YHWH does and says and how He works. For instance why would all through the OT the book of remembrance son of man is born from the seed of conception of man and woman from the very beginning and YHWH made us for His own sake, and don't forget YHWH changes Not never does He change what He says or does especially His law. But now in the NT they tell you that jc is born of a holy ghost what? and a virgin this is not the way of the Creator and its misleading away from truth. In Isaiah his sons were the wonders of YHWH and they were all of a man and woman son of man. Each of Isaiah's sons birth and name were of a purpose from YHWH Immanuel, was a sign for the king Ahaz from YHWH, the oldest son's name meant a remnant shall return this was a prophecy for Cyrus and Ezra 2v64 only 43,000 return from that war, and the youngest son's name meant that the 10 lost tribes will be exiled from Jerusalem Judah Israel and the tribes were all exiled. YHWH does not change so that we know when He does something. Moreover, He said the only son and firstborn is Israel the chosen people, and it cannot be two firstborn sons. This is that change in the NT of (newly) strange gods idols prophesied in Duet.32v17 from the prophet Moses to the people of the future generations in the latter days of idolatry. Religions are all idolatry they are not of the Creator YHWH He is the only savior and redeemer in Isaiah 49v26 and Isaiah 60v16 there is no one else and no one can die for another ones sins in Jeremiah 31v30 and Ezekiel 14v14. These are all those changes in the Nt prophesied.
I don't understand... why does this guy still claim to be Christian? I'm sure there is another religion better suited to his tastes.
Because "being a Christian" means following the way of Jesus, not getting your doctrine right! Don't know many better followers of the way than JSS!
...I think this article can be summarized by two phrases: "every biblical scholar" and "my take". This dude claims that EVERY biblical scholar concurs with his take–or maybe just all of the REAL scholars (!). This is a classic band wagon fallacy. I've taken classes on both sides and read several books and there is NOT this scholarly consensus on his take on the nature of the scriptures. ...Maybe this is true of all of his buddies that believe the exact same way that he does. ...What would be more profitable would be to pose the EVIDENCE for the idea that Moses writings weren't actually written by him, or that there weren't previous writings passed down to Moses that predated the compilation of the Pentatauch. How does he KNOW that? The answer is that he does not, and that this particular "scholarly" school of thought is really based on an INTERPRETATION of history, often laden with assumptions about the universe such as there are no such things as miracles or prophecy. ...So it really does come down to the fact that this is "his take", and his interpretation based on his belief system and assumptions, which is clearly liberal, and likely more akin to Secular Humanism, rather than a Christian perspective. I happen to know that an awful lot of Protestant Evangelicals would disagree with this liberal point of view, and would call it a distorted, dishonest view, although maybe that's what passes for journalism at CNN. That's my take.
Yeah, but protestant evangelists are nut jobs who don't believe in modern science or that the earth is older than 6000 years! LOL!!
OH! I'M SHOCKED! Momoya u have not done ur homework! shame on u! There is a big difference between an Evangelical and an evangelist. Since u Atheist Evangelicals believe blindly that Jesus is a myth, I gave u a Wikipedia Research. I now simplify it to just 'Jewish views on Jesus'. Now read up.
momoya- Protestant evangelicals happen to be the largest religious group in the US. They are ALL nut jobs? Hmmmm. I'm sure the American atheist's are the smart ones who have all the answers. Like where and how did life originate? Prominant atheist Sam Harris (along with many others) thinks that aliens from another planet have brought Earth's first life forms. ...That's brilliant. Science is a method, not a belief system, but those who don't believe in God, and only believe in "science" strangely don't use the method that often.
Who told you that alien stuff about Sam Harris?
Cite direct quotes from Mr. Harris regarding this, please.
@mikes You guys don't even have a method. Even lifelong theologians can't show any reliable way to determine which interpretation is correct and which is "deception."
Momoya do u know how long theology has been an academic discipline? Don't be ridiculous. U don't study and then u spew out whichever thought comes to mind. Go and study.
I think he means Richard Dawkins, as far as the aliens bringing life to Earth. I don't know what Sam Harris says, but there are other atheists who say similar things. How did life on Earth begin? Was it spontaneous generation in a primordeal soup? Was it aliens from another planet? Was it IDK? Anything but God obviously
This is the most intelligent article about the Bible I have read in a very long time. Taking the Bible literally is really not understanding it at all. Thank you John Shelby Spong for writing this and please continue to try to educate people.
shame on the editor of this article!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! how old are you? sure that all this info. that u have were came frm the book not on ur self... now what im saying nobody knw what happen in the past!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! the bible is path of our moral life and pls dnt be like a hero as if u knw everthing....
please write in english. yr adrvatns are stpd
please read the koran.. it is "the word of god" for more people on the planet than christians. I will tell tell you here that both are equally un factual and have no bearing on our lives.
Which part of 2.1bn Christians, 23mn Jews, 1.2bn Muslims, and other Bible based cultists did u not understand, Mr dondondon?
Ed_ To have the courage to be our most complete selves. What exactly does that mean? Are we supposed to lean upon our own understanding while we do this? Should the commandments be followed or ignored?_ just that which is convenient in the process of being our most complete selves?
My opinion, reduced to its essence, is the following: "Deception is the name of the game and Satan is the master". Deception to believe that our body is ours and we cannot be accountable for what we do to it. Deception to believe that we make the rules _ One can marry a man or a woman as long as they declare their love for each other. Next to come, under the same premise, mothers will marry sons or daughters and so will fathers. Deception to speak untruth, blaspheme, covet, be unfaithful, kill, to name a few.
Wake up and don't be deceive! Ask God to grant you success in being a great servant, be fruitful, be loving according to His Will.
I look ahead having firming placed my trust in Jesus, my Lord. I look forward to become Christlike.
yes, just go forth blindly, "damm the facts, full speed ahead" to a glorious christian law in the u.s !!!!! btw, make sure any other divinely inspired laws are supressed. after all , Jesus was" quoted" only 300 years after he died.. sure, i believe that religious nut cases got that quote perfectly after a few hundred years .. like all the red letters in the catholic bible.
Poor Ed, slave to a myth that has cause pain and suffering for all those who have failed to exercise their own intelligence on the matter. Ed do you believe in santa claus. He does deliver toys all over the world every year, doesn't he!?
Atheists had a Messiah or Messiahs what happened? Mao, Lenin, Stalin, Marx, Engels, Castro, Ho Chi Mihn, Pol Pot, Mengistu Haille Miriam, and now enters Hugo Chavez! Happy happy people! Please leave us alone... all we want is to love u as ourselves-enemies n all-as our Saviour taught us.
Please don't project your own character flaw of a craving for hero-worship onto rational thinkers.
Bizarre I haven't forgotten u @ all. I love u as myself too.
Hero? Who? that poor mythicl depraved illiterate carpenter son of an unfaithful woman who cuckolded her stupid deluded husband from a family of mythical kings who rule a real kingdom of people descended from a mythical ancestor and u call that hero worship! thats pretty bizarre don't u think!
In my estimation spiritual people are most rational. Dey see atheists n religious peole fighting n laugh because what u can't see y fight. one says evolution is true one says fault. Rationalist agrees wit de scientist n says theory y fight. One says God 1 says God is not. Rationalist: we shall see
I believe in God's unchanging Hands. Apparently, you believe in yourself. I believe in love according to God. You, on the other hand, believe in sarcasm.
I know that I must practice His commandments, especially the first two. You believe in the changing hand of the world.
I believe in God's justice. I abide by all earthly laws that do not conflict with the word of the Christ. You believe in the world's justice.
I no longer believe in Santa. Incidently, are you going against the culture that you practice. Get it together.
I am not perfect, none of us are. I want to serve God, and I don't know how to do this except to follow the words of His only sons Jesus Christ who died for all our sins.
As God planned, so it will be. As He purposed, so it will stand.
be happy, help others, and treat other the way you would like to be treated....everything else is all bs.....
Exactly...and I know that without a book or someone telling me.
There are so many things we can do without books. However reading the books help us with more solutions to more problems not just one simple problem. The Bible provides a lot of solutions to life problems. The Law to love ur neighbor as urself is a cure for depression. Did u know that? Study hard.
Every religion has major flaws when it is applied to reality. If religion is so great why do priest molest children, why is there so much hate among religious rivals, why do religions have to be forced, why are religions so rich while the parishioners are so poor. Religion is like politics, law and education... they are all syndicated organized crime functions for the purpose of fleecing money from the less fortunate.
Read Animal Farm it was written about atheists and religious and everything else in between. It seems u need more than the Bible to see urself as human!
To D Swet,
Being Christian is a spiritual commitment free of any conditions based on faith. I do not want to make light of it, it is a serious decision. The author of this article knows just enough to be dangerous. He deceives. Even our mothers have once lied to us if they love us more than this ex servant ever will. D Swet, God is against killing, children abuse, lie, etc...Do God's will no matter what others do, for we will be in His courtroom one day accounting for ourselves only. The childish game "look s/he made me do it" won't work. He is the creator. He knows everything.
The Bible will not make sense to you if you don't practice what it says. Here is my testimony: I once prayed for a specific situation seemingly controlled by someone 3000 miles away who did not know me. I asked that he call me three days from now in the morning. I prayed after I had failed for a 3 years to resolve the situation. I started my prayer by saying: "God if this is your will, I will no longer attemptt; but, if it is not, have him call me. He did call me 3 days later in the moringn and offered me everything that I wanted.
Praise God! I pray that at least one incredulous sister or brother offer him/herself totally to you and start enjoying a prosperous relationship with you.
A former Episcopal bishop who DOESN'T understand the Bible....
Don't dump and run...tell us why Mr. Spong does not and you do.
No Dumping, no running, OK. I cannot prove to you that God exists and that the Bible is the word of God. For the sake of argument you cannot prove the opposite either.
When God knocks and you choose not to answer, do not expect to understand. It is a personal, one-on-one relationship.
You have a better chance understanding metaphysics or Einstein's theory of relativity, or even come up the origin of matters that created the big boom, and before that, and before that... By then you should have circled around in time and continue this interesting and friendly chat.
To el pedre:
' I cannot prove to you that God exists and that the Bible is the word of God. For the sake of argument you cannot prove the opposite either.'
I didn't ask you to do that. I asked why your thought Mr. Spong's article is not correct. And you give me a a typical theist attempt to humiliate. The burden of proof is not on me sir. I just choose not to believe.
'When God knocks and you choose not to answer, do not expect to understand. It is a personal, one-on-one relationship.
You have a better chance understanding metaphysics or Einstein's theory of relativity, or even come up the origin of matters that created the big boom, and before that, and before that... By then you should have circled around in time and continue this interesting and friendly chat."
Typical theist dogma which just reeks of condescension and arrogance...with no substance whatsoever.
John – Jesus and the Apostle Paul talked about people like you:
Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. But EVIL MEN and IMPOSTERS will proceed from bad to worse, DECEIVING and being deceived.
You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
ALL SCRIPTURE IS INSPIRED BY GOD and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:12-16
Are you sure that YHWH says to change or correct any of what He says to do and learn? Reproof really, nothing of YHWH needs reproofing are you kidding me? As YHWH says in Isaiah 40v21-31, Have you not known, Have you not heard who He is? Therefore, No, one must never change His law nor His Word never, this is why He left for us in Malachi 3v6 that He changes Not in His book of remembrance in Malachi 3v16 the OT to R E M E M B E R. Not His Word His Law nor the statues judgments and ordinances His covenant to abide for our righteousness and peace to live right, and by one another no matter the skin no in difference no greed and love each other. Do the Law as told to us in Malachi 4v4. Just as in Isaiah 49v26 YHWH says that He is our Savior and Redeemer and in Isaiah 43v13 He tells us that No Man Can Be Delivered From Out Of His Hands so I have no idea why people try to equal the Creator YHWH(God) to anyone as He said to us in Isaiah 40v18, "Who will you liken Him to? People take heed and know your Creator YHWH and get out of the NT for it changes from the truth our Creator YHWH and His law He says He does not change anything of His ways. This is why there are misconceptions trying to go from what YHWH says in the OT to changing it in the NT(not true) is what Mr Spong is in doubt and confused from we weren't suppose to change anything of the Almighty Creator YHWH. The only Son and firstborn that YHWH has He says in Exodus 4v22,23 it is ISRAEL His chosen people, not jc he is nowhere in the OT from YHWH, and He and His chosen will bring the light unto the gentiles and the nations. YHWH says that He has already forgiven our sins and redeemed them in Isaiah 44v22. And No One Can Die For No One Else Sins in Jeremiah 31v30 and Ezekiel 14v14. Religions are strange gods to YHWH and are idols as He prophesied in Deut.32v17 Moses told the people that their future generations will go into idolatry in the latter days and in Daniel 11v36-12v10 of strange gods of christianity and islam in the end times the 4th kingdom Daniel 2v40 of the vision. And grace yes because of Moses YHWH gave us grace in Exodus 33v11-19 read it the truth.
Prove it! Show me God, in the flesh and I will convert immediately. Show god, his race, his home, his dna, his mentality.
If he exist, he must be republican. You see what the republicans did to our world.
Dude, you've been brainwashed. Call your doctor immediately.
Funny u shud say! Jesus of Nazareth claims to be God have u investigated his claims? If u have been searching u will not have a preconcieved notion of who he wud be. That is called prejudice. That is not very rational of u. let go the republicans or move to Spain. I assure u they are no there.