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. CoCoDol52

    Jon, I'm so very sorry that the misleading of the flocks has truly blinded many. YHWH did not leave His book of remembrance in Malachi 3v16, for nothing, the so called OT. Notice that if this is the true name of the book, then why would the jewish roman writers remove it? They did not want us to remember. It and the true name of YHWH of 6800 times, has been removed this was no accident this was control over the masses. Your Creator is not contrary, YHWH knows what He left for us He knows what He wants us to know He knows all, but sometimes one cannot see the truth with just the carnal eye, it takes a certain anointment many times and sometimes people see it, but refrain from it to not be judged. Why would YHWH put so many scriptures in the book of remembrance to tell us of the misleading of the flocks? This is not just reflecting the days of old the book is juxtaposed, one has to think rationally. It's also talking about today. Malach 2 and Ezekiel 20 of the ones misleading us, it has not changed and YHWH in His time will address this. When I said that YHWH is not contrary, the scriptures that you've provided YHWH tells us exactly who He is talking about they are all speaking of David the servant of YHWH. David and his SEED his descendants will be the ones upon the throne as YHWH confirms in Jeremiah 33v14-26. The Anointed One that you are speaking of, and the seventy seven, these are the days and time frame for the anointed chosen to rebuild the temple, and he failed he was cut off by a lying letter sent to Cyrus in Ezra 4v 17-24 to stop the command of rebuilding given to the Messiah and Prince Zerubabel in Daniel 9v25, from the same command, and to confirm it then go to Ezra1v 7,8 they give his (slave name) Sheshbazzar the prince, but then go to Ezra 2v2 then it gives the Prince of Judah's name Zerubbabel of the command to rebuild the temple. Yes Ezra, Daniel, Zerubbabel the Prince, and the brethern with Daniel (Meshach, Shadrach, Abednego), were all in captivity in 586BCE, look it up. My point is this there is no mention of jesus, nor his story from YHWH anywhere in the so called OT lookit up, YHWH is not contrary, He will tell us of it in Isaiah 42v9. Everyone else is prophesied, and named all through the OT why not something as important as the son of YHWH? Also, YHWH says in Exodus 4v22,23 that ISRAEL is His Son, and Firstborn now do you think that YHWH would change this to someone else and not let us know it? The scriptures that you have in your post are all speaking about David YHWH who is His chosen, for David was do dedicated to YHWH, and the seed of David his descendant that will govern on the throne just read carefully Jeremiah 33v14-26. What many are not taught in the NT is that David was the child born in Bethlehem of Nazerith in I Samuel 16,17. Many have been mislead. Next one should read in Exodus 17v14-16, it will tell us why there is so much misconception, and of the misleading of the flocks its from the enemy of YHWH in Psalms 83 and of their descendants yes people they are here today from generations to generations is a spiritual war until the day of YHWH and its near. Also in Ezekiel 34 YHWH will reclaim the flocks people.

    January 29, 2012 at 11:35 am |
  2. DJP

    I have read these comments on this article for some time now and find I must join the response. This article has many misunderstanding in it but we do live in a free speech society and so it has a riht to exist. It is interesting that many times when such statements are made they can be shown false within the statement itself. For example he makes the point that the stories of Abraham and Moses we passed down over so many generations that they could not possibly be accurate. Yet he states "Moses, the religious genius who put his stamp on the religion of the Old Testament more powerfully than any other figure". Where do you get that Moses was any kind of religious genius than from the very statements passed down over centuries that in according to this must be false?

    January 29, 2012 at 10:38 am |
  3. Leucadia Bob


    January 29, 2012 at 10:22 am |
  4. TLS

    whatever you want to beLIEve in your own brain is up to you.

    January 29, 2012 at 10:01 am |
    • russ reimer

      The bottom line is this...you think God is an idiot, without the intelligence to get his will, commands and the way he wishes us to live our lives before him in the 66 books written by 40 authors that compose this "human owner's manual", OR, you use your noodle and think..."Hey...If I were God, it would be the simplest thing in the world to pass along my thoughts, words and commands no matter what the time frame, or the frailty of the authors as humans. Second...you MUST look at the evidence of the veracity concerning the stories, miracles, Jesus death and resurrection etc. 11 of 12 diciples died horrible deaths as martyrs, along with 10s of thousands of the original Christians in the Colluseum for holding to their testimonies that they SAW Jesus walk on water, heal the blind, raise the dead, and ascend into heaven. All they had to do was say, "Ummm...well, we made it up...sorry bout that..." and they could have escaped being thrown to the lions, being sawn in half or crucified upside down etc. but NOT ONE DICIPLE did so, nor the thousands of others who witnessed these events. John died on the Island of Patmos of natural causes after writing Revelation, but the others all died as martyrs without ever recanting their eye witness testimony. So when CNN trots out some "authority" who tries his best to discount the authority and reliability of God's Word..just laugh at the poor fellow's ignorance and THINK of all the folks who SAW these things first hand, and gave their lives for their "beliefs." Atheist Madalyn Murry O'Hair said similar things, and after her brutal murder...all that was found of her body in the desert were her hands, just like Jezebel after she tried to kill God's prophet and people. The Bible is proven historically accurate time and again...the location of ancient cities, persons births and deaths and so on. Furthermore...it isn't just a story book....God SPEAKS three dimensionally to ANYONE who reads it while truly seeking him...to KNOW him. Give it a try. Open anywhere and start reading. If you hit a boring part with geneologies or whatever, skip a few pages and start again. Don't let folks who write silly "intellectual approach" articles like the one we are responding to here, impose their utterly limited and completely biased world view/God view become fact in your head without checking out the WHOLE Bible yourself and making up your own mind. Don't miss heaven and wind up in hell by buying into ANYONE'S short, inaccurate article in CNN or anywhere else!

      January 29, 2012 at 10:24 am |
    • Real Deal

      russ reimer,

      Errors, misconceptions or downright lies in your post:

      "11 of 12 diciples died horrible deaths as martyrs"
      - The fates (and even the ident.ities) of most of the alleged 12 apostles is not verified. Legends about them abound in Christian folklore, however.

      " Atheist Madalyn Murry O'Hair said similar things, and after her brutal murder...all that was found of her body in the desert were her hands"
      - "The remains exhibited such extensive mutilation and successive decomposition that identification had to be made through dental records, by DNA testing and, in Madalyn O'Hair's case, by the serial number of her prosthetic hip." –http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madalyn_Murray_O%27Hair#Investigation_and_arrests
      Quit your dramatic, "they found only her hands" schtick.

      " 10s of thousands of the original Christians in the Colluseum for holding to their testimonies that they SAW Jesus walk on water, heal the blind, raise the dead, and ascend into heaven."
      - Construction of the Colosseum began under the rule of the Emperor Vespasian in around 70–72 AD. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colosseum#Christians_and_the_Colosseum
      Where is your evidence that 10s of thousands of elderly (90+/- years old) "witnesses of miracles" were slain there?

      January 29, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
  5. TRH

    I've been perusing this blog off and on for over four hours. There is a clear pattern here: The article was written by a theist. the vast majority of the responses have been posted by theists. These responders either agree or disagree with Mr. Spong. The theist responders not only agree or disagree with Mr. Spong, they generally seem to disagree with one another. And the majority of these theist responders seem to be of the "disagree with Mr. Spong" variety.

    Am I surprised by this? Not at all. I will quote the late George Carlin because THIS response is very clear, very distinct, and very easy to understand: "It's all BS folks, and it's BAD for ya."

    I will close by saying thank god I'm an atheist.

    January 29, 2012 at 8:57 am |
    • Yuri Pelham

      Yup. It's like picking mushrooms. Some are good and healthful. Some are deadly. Fundamentalists often pick the deadly kind. Spong's "mushrooms" are quite tasty and provide protection from toxic religious zealots.

      January 29, 2012 at 9:33 am |
    • Frances

      Well said. by both you and George.

      January 29, 2012 at 9:44 am |
  6. Ed Roberts

    The Time is near......."Satan is a liar"............enough said.

    January 29, 2012 at 7:44 am |
  7. George Marshall

    The Bible is a book of myths and legends, fact and fiction, interpretations and reinterpretations, truths and half truths, scribes and transcriptions compiled over a period of approximately fifteen hundred years by forty or more people few of whom ever met.

    January 29, 2012 at 7:38 am |
  8. John

    "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."

    Well, we can see who this man associates with and who he is seeking to please. A man without the Holy Spirit denies it exists as described in the scripture. Big surprise in these times to see one having the form of godliness but denying the power thereof–a pagan of the cloth.

    "As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed."

    Check yourself before you wreck yourself, "father."

    Another assault on the faith by CNN's Unbelief Blog.

    January 28, 2012 at 10:12 pm |
    • TRH

      "Well, we can see who this man associates with and who he is seeking to please."


      January 29, 2012 at 8:53 am |
    • Yuri Pelham

      It takes more than a Spong blog to free one from a cult.

      January 29, 2012 at 9:36 am |
    • TRH

      "Faith" has been assaulted long before CNN my friend. Try Mark Twain:

      "Faith is believing what you know ain't so. If Christ were here today there is one thing he would not be....a Christian."

      Or Mohandas Ghandi:

      "I quite like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ."

      January 29, 2012 at 11:33 am |
  9. Wanda

    Well for one thing-Matthew-Mark-
    Luke and John are the first 4 new testament books.Not Mark and then Matthew.Also the children being disobedient to be killed? Really? Jesus used parables..And Dana you are right .Jesus even did miracles in front of people and to people and they still didn't follow him and be obedient.He tried that= DIDN'T WORK...And didn't they have clay tablets back then? why would it have had to be mouth to mouth? We don't have mouth to mouth in the history books= Why should we believe them?

    January 28, 2012 at 10:07 pm |
    • momoya

      Wanda, there are several basic books out there to help you discover the truth, if you really want to research how "the bible" came into being. To seriously suggest that people were transferring words on clay tablets is pretty far off base, and you seem to be ignorant in regards to current work that studies the gospel of Mark. Bishop Spong has obviously done his research; if you do yours on these issues, and find answers that you don't like, what will you do?

      January 28, 2012 at 10:49 pm |
    • UncleBenny

      When he says Mark is the first book, he means the first one to be written, not the first in order in the New Testament. Mark is generally acknowledged to be the earliest gospel, and it provides a lot of the source material for the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, which incorporated Mark almost word for word and added additional material from other as yet unknown sources.

      January 29, 2012 at 7:53 am |
    • DocG

      Mark was the first synoptic written. All Biblical scholars agree on this.
      Matthew was placed first in the new testament because of its opening genealogy and because it was addressed to the group being evangelized by Jesus directly, the Hebrews, not because it was written first.
      Please, follow the advise in Proverbs, best paraphrased as ... it is better to remain silent and thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt!

      January 29, 2012 at 8:05 am |
  10. CoCoDol52

    TRH, I apologize for my diction, I know its one big paragraph right? lol, I'll take more time to punctuate' but yes the historical facts are just where I told you the facts are in the Arm of YHWH in Isaiah 59v10-21, prophesied in Jeremiah 23v1-8. Yes, at 1-773-874-0325 call for the real historical facts. This was brought to the public when Lebanon was bombed in 2006 from the Lord (YHWH) Our Righteousness its here, and the reason that they allowed the number is...who do you think they are that own this site they Know, and they also know it won't matter most will not get it. But I dedicated my job as a servant of YHWH to reach the other anointed and jewels of the only savior in Isaiah 49v26, YHWH. Although He has this already in progress of course, in Malachi 3v16,17, but its me I have a soft heart for the mislead flocks prophesied in Ezekiel 20, Malachi 2. and Jeremiah 23v1-4. of the misleading of the flocks from elders priest and pastors, and this does not reflect only the past the book of remembrance is juxtapose it tells us the past future and the present. I'm sure that you know this, but in Ezekiel 34 YHWH will reclaim the flocks and I'm going to help.

    January 28, 2012 at 9:45 pm |
    • UncleBenny

      Have you stopped taking your meds again? Because that is one of the most incredibly incoherent posts on this entire forum.

      January 29, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
  11. CoCoDol52

    rzzzll, I do not do judaism I don't do any religions these are Pagan to the Creator YHWH pronounced 'Yah' who many of you call GOD but this is profane for as He says in Ezekiel 36v22,23 He will sanctify His name soon. He never condone any idos nor religions they are not from YHWH the Creator of all and knows all, as He says in Isaiah 44v24-27 created all by Himself, and as He also says in Isaiah 40v22 that He sits upon the circle of the earth etc....and satanic is what Moses taught us in Deut.32v17 from YHWH about the strange gods idols devil (the antichrist) that he told the people then of their 'future generations' that they will go into in the 'latter days'. Again in Daniel's vision helped by Gabriel taught us of them in Daniel 11v36-45 of vs.39 christianity vs.43 islam idols,devils. For your information christianity is an offshoot from judaism of the 3rd kingdom and christianity is of the 4th. look it up, it was (forced) legalized by Constantine in 311. This is why many christians still say Amen it is the Egyptian pagan praise from sun gods Amen Rah and Amen Sirapus the praise for the truth of the Creator YHWH and His Spirituality of righteousness and peace is 'Selah' its not pagan and is used in Psalms. Also see Psalm 68 where they the hellenistic jewish roman writers who began writing that NT(not true) in 200BCE and translated the name from YHWH to JAH misleading the flocks from their true Creator of the Heavens and Earth and the Waters and son of man is all by YHWH. All religions are idolatry pagan.

    January 28, 2012 at 8:51 pm |
  12. TRH

    I've been perusing this blog off and on for over two hours. There is a clear pattern here: The article was written by a theist. the vast majority of the responses have been posted by theists. These responders either agree or disagree with Mr. Spong. The theist responders not only agree or disagree with Mr. Spong, they generally seem to disagree with one another. And the majority of these theist responders seem to be of the "disagree with Mr. Spong" variety.

    Am I surprised by this. Not at all. I will quote the late George Carlin because THIS response in very clear, very distinct, and very easy to understand: "It's all BS folks, and it's BAD for ya."

    I will close by saying thank god I'm an atheist.

    January 28, 2012 at 8:06 pm |
  13. CoCoDol52

    Victor, Please do not use Amen, for this is another misconception this was the misleading of the flocks again, Amen is pagan, and it represents the sun gods that were worshiped by the Egyptians as in Amen Rah and Amen Sirapus look it up. This all also comes from Christianity that was an offshoot from Judasim of the 3rd century. Christianity was made legal (forced) by Constantine 311 in the 4th. Use Selah it the true Praise for the Almighty Creator YHWH which many call GOD. You'll find the Selah praise used in Psalms a lot. And its not pagan or used for idols. They don't teach or tell this in the NT but Moses in the OT truly the book of remembrance in Malachi 3v16 did in Deut.32v17 of the (newly) strange gods, idols.

    January 28, 2012 at 7:49 pm |
    • TRH

      "Amen is pagan, and it represents the sun gods that were worshiped by the Egyptians"

      Fascinating! Don't forget that Christmas had it's origins in pagan lore, and Easter (Ishtar).

      January 28, 2012 at 8:23 pm |
    • TRH

      "Christianity was made legal (forced) by Constantine 311 in the 4th."

      It was made legal in 313 CE and made the state religion (forced) in 380 CE....and the world was never the same again; and I don't mean that in any way as a positive occurrence.

      January 28, 2012 at 8:31 pm |
  14. CoCoDol52


    January 28, 2012 at 7:12 pm |
    • Jon

      CoCoDol52 stop spilling your poison out on these people. GOD IS THE ONLY SAVIOR BUT GUESS WHAT, JESUS CHRIST IS GOD THE SON AND SO ACTUALLY WE ARE SAVED BY BELIEVING IN HIM. JUST LOOK AT ALL OF THE THINGS PROPHESIED IN THE OLD TESTAMENT THAT JESUS FULFILLED. Isaiah 11:2, Isaiah 61:1 , Psalms 45:7-8 show that Jesus would be anointed with the holy spirit. Isaiah 9:5-7 (NIV) Jeremiah 23:5-6 show that Jesus name is the same as YHWH. Deuteronomy 18:15 (NIV) Deuteronomy 18:18 (NIV) both say Jesus would also be a prophet. JUST LOOK AT WHAT DANIEL HAD TO SAY Daniel 9:24-26 (NIV) "Seventy 'sevens' are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy. 25 "Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven 'sevens,' and sixty-two 'sevens.' It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. 26 After the sixty-two 'sevens,' the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed.

      The fact of the matter is i can go on about how much Jesus appears in the bible and how he truly is the SAVIOR. I mean even atheists who have dies, witness the truth of Jesus Christ. I will leave you off with one more quote before i go, but know that i will pray for you because you are the one that has been mislead of the Devil.

      Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." John 14:6

      January 28, 2012 at 11:16 pm |
  15. Bill

    Why is garbage like this printed. There is historical evedience of the Holy Scriptures and these EX-church people want others to follow them and their man-made theology. People like this have a pay day coming but according to Jesus in Scripture it won't be a good one.

    January 28, 2012 at 7:05 pm |
    • TRH


      January 28, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
    • John

      Don't let the costume fool you. You and I both know who this man is working for, and I'm not talking about the controversy-driven ad revenue he's generating for CNN.

      January 28, 2012 at 10:15 pm |
    • TRH

      "You and I both know who this man is working for"...

      I don't. Please tell me.

      January 28, 2012 at 10:58 pm |
    • Jon

      AMEN Bill, AMEN

      January 28, 2012 at 11:20 pm |
  16. Dana Davis

    Odd that Mr. Spong was ever an Episcopal bishop...one would have to think that he would have received at least some education related to history and proper exigesis (critical interpretation). The fighting in wars was brutal and victory even more so...the winner was not determined by a treaty, the winner completely eradicated their opponent (Homer uses very similar language in the Odyssey to describe victory at war). This is just the way men fought wars – the Bible does not say God preferred men to interact this way only that this is how it was done. The people who were "dashing babies heads against the rocks" were the ones who won....therefore "happy". The Psalmist was saying "the people who defeat the Babylonians will be happy"
    Perhaps Spong should have at least attacked the Bible from the "best world" approach – God should be able to make it where His people win wars more humanely. Of course, no one knows what that means....require the loser to accept God as sovereign?(hmm...just lost free will),..just separate the two groups? (He showed that was ineffective during the Exodus – not just with the Egyptians, but most clearly through divine intervention with them)...require them to make treaties?(Come on...read the Bible, none of these people ever kept treaties...I mean we're "civilized" and we don't keep treaties.)
    The fact is that the Bible teaches that man is fallen and the atrocities man commits against man are a result of this fallen nature. It is God's restraint of this as exemplified throughout the Bible (not discovered in Malachi or Jonah) that is the coherent message from beginning to end.
    Mr. Spong's illiteracy with respect to the New Testament is understandable given his incompetence respecting the Bible as a whole. It would take way too much time to make a full accounting of his errors here...suffice it to say that Mr Spong appears to have been absent the day that Bible was taught at as part of his "religious studies".

    January 28, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
    • TRH

      Well.....Maybe Mr. Spong is illiterate concerning the bible, I don't really know frankly. However his article and explanation is at least coherent and I actually understand what he's saying....I cannot say the same about your response here with the exception of the last paragraph where you begin your personal attack and name-calling. THAT I understand.

      But hey....you can safely ignore me too...I'm just a misguided atheist.

      January 28, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
  17. Lydia

    What a truthful article. Anyone who can read it, especially the part about historical inaccuracy, and still want to read the Bible as literal, needs to think about it a little more.

    January 28, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
    • CoCoDol52

      The facts are historically accurate just call the Arm of YHWH who many call God, of His Branch prophesied in Jeremiah 23v1-8, and you will see that the Creator YHWH knows all, and did not have this book of remembrance its true name in Malachi 3v16, distributed in 2500 languages for nothing, all over the world billions read. After the bombings over Lebanon in 2006 YHWH brought His Arm open to the public for us to come back to the truth for He already redeemed us in Isaiah 44v22, call 1-773-874-0325 and get the real historical facts, and the real truth. YHWH or (YHVH for pronunciation) is the English name for the true Hebrew name of the Almighty YHWH.

      January 28, 2012 at 7:27 pm |
    • TRH


      I have looked at all your posts in this blog. No, I didn't really READ them because I couldn't due to your lack of sentence structure, punctuation, and NO paragraph structure whatsoever. And by the way, It surprises me that the forum sensors allowed you to reference a phone number here.

      So, tell me....where are your "historical facts" and upon what exactly are they based? You call them facts. Be very careful here.

      January 28, 2012 at 7:49 pm |
  18. Nick

    This is why he is a Episcopal bishop. This is what he believes and that is OK but many non-Episcopal would not agree with his understanding and that is OK too. I know what I believe and that is good enough for me.

    January 28, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
    • Lydia

      How can you ignore facts? I believe in Jesus, God and being kind to one another. But I don't have to ignore the truth that the Bible isn't accurate historically to do that.

      January 28, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
  19. Wentra

    You're an idiot. You must have failed divinity school.

    January 28, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
    • TRH

      Why do you say this? Name calling can't educate or support a point of view.

      January 28, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
    • mmaxum2002

      You're an idiot indeed. To ignore fact over folklore, is ignorance. He briefly touches on the New Testament and the lack of facts on the life of Jesus which are abundant. Read some books on the facts of the time, like the scribes of the time who reported day to day minutiae of life, but made no mention of Jesus or any miracles. Read! Free your mind!

      January 28, 2012 at 7:49 pm |
    • TRH

      "To ignore fact over folklore, is ignorance."

      Quite right. Which is why I ignore the bible in its entirety. Now....I fully expect you to call me an idiot. That's OK as I realize that name-calling is usually a refuge of the desperate....you seem desperate to prove your point which you haven't done all that well frankly.

      January 28, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
  20. Jon Walkup

    For me, this article and it's reviews reveal one truth: that we are sinful, hateful, untrusting, and unloving people. The quarreling is enough for me to realize that we are a bunch of fools, and we desperately need help if we have any hope whatsoever. So I close my eyes, and thank Jesus for dying for us all. Even for those who sinned over this stupid article.

    January 28, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
    • Wentra

      It is a stupid article indeed. I also am grateful for what Jesus did for me.

      January 28, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
    • TRH

      "The quarreling is enough for me to realize that we are a bunch of fools, and we desperately need help"

      Well-stated. But you will find that this quarreling is quite common among theists. By now I'm sure Mr. Spong's ears must be ringing and if he's following this forum at all he might just have a twinge of regret at writing his article at all. Or maybe not.

      As I stated in a previous post....thank god I'm an atheist.

      January 28, 2012 at 8:49 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.