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. Kenny of Salt

    I think if God had wanted us to expose our frailty by arguing viciously over the idea of fundamental truth, He would have had multiple groups of editors collect many contradictory ideas about those truths and and assembled them over hundreds of years into a single volume, translated multiple times from many different languages, and printed in very small letters to enhance the eyestrain factor.

    January 30, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
  2. Miya

    You cant be serious! I see why you are a former bishop. You must not know the Word. I pray that you repent, it would be a shame for you to see hell for leading people astray. The bible does have metaphorical meaning but it also has literal meaning as well. For you to make likely God's instructions whether they were relayed through prophets or from God's on mouth is disgusting. Scientists and historians are not my God and as with anything their is scholars for and against the idea that the Bible is history. No man can overrule God so this article is irrelevant.

    January 30, 2012 at 10:21 am |
    • matsamharv@gmail.com

      It's "disgusting" to question historical accuracy of a book that portrays God ordering the deaths of innocent children? No I think you are the disgusting one to believe that. Would you murder a child if God told you? I hope not.

      January 30, 2012 at 10:45 am |
    • TRH

      "Scientists and historians are not my God"

      Not mine either as I have none. They (scientists and historians) start with intuition, perform research, apply logical thought and intellect, and usually come up with an answer that is pretty much based on hard evidence. The theist has no hard evidence...their intuition (the gut instinct) goes as far as the heart (emotion) but never makes it to the brain as does hard thoroughly researched evidence.

      "No man can overrule God so this article is irrelevant."

      I have a question for you: Is Fred Phelps overruling god in your opinion?

      January 30, 2012 at 11:20 am |
  3. F Whitaker

    A new believer was on a plane with an intellectual (a man educated beyond his intelligence like the man who wrote this article). He sneered at her reading the Bible. Asked if she believed it?
    "Jonah and the whale story?"
    "How did it happen?"
    "Don't know, but I'll find out when I get to heaven."
    "What if Jonah isn't there?"
    "Then I guess you'll have to ask him for me."

    The point is clear...the Bible is your foundation, your true guide down the path of life...for what you think you know vs. what IS actually true about life and yes, eternal life!

    If the deceiver and his apostles can teach you to believe that the Bible is untrustworthy in this area, or untrustworthy there in that area, then, eventually, they will have led you completely off the path of truth, not by denying the Word of God outright, but by denying it in small, seemingly obscure ways.

    If you have lived for any amount of time in this generation, you will learn that what is misunderstood about the Bible by educated deceivers today, comes to light later.

    You can be sure of this: 1) that GOD's Word and His Character of Honesty and Truth is made clear to those who hold to it by faith as FACT; and 2) That God always shows the deceiver and his apostles for what they are. They are what Jesus stated they were, Jn 8:43 (KJV) when Jesus answering the Pharisees said, "Why do ye not understand my speech? even because YE CANNOT HEAR MY WORD. Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and ABODE NOT IN THE TRUTH, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it."

    Yes, this is clear, concerning GOD's WORD and HIS truth, that the deceiver and his apostles are the same today as they were in the Garden of Eden, when the deceiver started it all by asking, "...hath God said?"

    This deceiver and his apostles are still asking the same thing today in the Garden of your heart by use of articles like this one. They want to help you question the integrity of the Word of God.

    Listen, to God and to what HIS Word clearly states in 2Ti 3:16 (KJV) "ALL scripture is given by INSPIRATION OF GOD, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness...." See, to question the interity of the Bible is to question the intergrity of the author...GOD, Himself!

    Personally, whether I understand it yet or not, I'll stick with GOD and one day, in His time, He will make all things clear! And for those doubting "educators", who purport truth from a human concept which disagree with God, can ask the deceiver in hell!

    January 30, 2012 at 10:04 am |
    • matsamharv@gmail.com

      Three times in the new testiment Jesus told people he would be coming back in their lifetimes. You are the one who is deceived.

      January 30, 2012 at 10:30 am |
    • TRH

      Well, that's excellent fire and brimstone.

      I have a serious question: What is your learned and UN-deceived opinion of Fred Phelps?

      January 30, 2012 at 11:34 am |
    • Kenny of Salt

      I didn't read your whole post, since I failed to resonate with your tone. However, I really like your definition of an intellectual as a person educated beyond his/her intelligence. That is an idea worth contemplating. Thanks!


      January 30, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
    • Bizarre

      F Whitaker: "(KJV) "ALL scripture is given by INSPIRATION OF GOD, ..."

      So, the Bible dubs itself the "word of "God"", eh?

      Well, so does the Quran, and The Book of Mormon... and even L Ron Hubbard says that his Scientology book is the "truth".

      A book's veracity cannot be based on what it calls itself.

      There is not a shred of verified evidence for the supernatural beings or events spoken about in The Bible (or in any other book).

      January 30, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
  4. Mark

    What kind of faith does John Shelby Long represent. One wonders why in the world he chose his profession. Is he an atheist? I love how he throws around the emphatic denials of the bible's veracity wants us to accept that they are universally accepted. Things like "every biblical scholar accepts this". CNN should be embarassed to present this totally biased, uninformed opinion. In the future please spare us these superficial, uneducated and flippant opinions. Its a waste of our time and yours.

    January 30, 2012 at 9:15 am |
    • momoya

      CNN should be proud to post articles that present some important facts about the text most used by the christian myth.

      January 30, 2012 at 9:45 am |
    • Amy

      Wow, its amazing! What I see is all these people arguing over whether the bible justifies there belief and the out right hatred of anyone with a possible different opinion or explanation. Don't believe everything you read people, bible included.

      January 30, 2012 at 10:24 am |
    • matsamharv@gmail.com

      I always wonder how any reasonably intelligent adult could take the Bible literally, then I realized the answer to my question was in the question itself.

      January 30, 2012 at 10:33 am |
  5. TRH

    I wonder what the deists think of Thomas Jefferson's cut n' paste job on their holy book? I'm sure they believe Tommy is in a very special place in h**l.

    January 30, 2012 at 7:21 am |
    • TRH

      I meant to say "theists".

      January 30, 2012 at 7:49 am |
  6. Cynthia

    Even if you could read all those languages you will never know all the meanings. The meaning of a word can vary even within a small region or short amount of time. Example #1: I grew up on a farm & people in my area called the large metal water container livestock drank from a horse "tank". A friend of mine, who lived only 60 miles from me, said they called the same container a "pond"! Example #2: Just 40 years ago I put "regular" gasoline (had lead) in my car, instead of diesel, my only other option at the pump. Then 30 years ago I put "unleaded" gasoline in and now I ask for "regular" (so I don't pay for premium...)! Anyone my age, 50s, understands all this, however, younger folks may not and years from now no one will!

    January 30, 2012 at 12:54 am |
    • Wholly Goats

      Wouldn't an omniscient god know that difficulty?... and do a better job of communicating...

      January 30, 2012 at 11:48 am |
  7. Fred

    The problem for those who believe in a Literal Interpretation is a Literal Interpretation of WHAT? There is NO WAY that the original 5 books translates completely accurately into English. Neither do the Prophets. No where in the Prophets does it call the mother of the Messiah a "virgin". A truly LITERAL translation of the first commandment is the following: "I am the L-rd your G-d and you will not have any other gods in MY FACE." Does that change the whole flavor of the first commandment or not?

    If you want to know what the Bible literally says, you have to learn biblical Hebrew, and, if you are a Christian, Greek.

    By the way, I was asked to read Daniel and I did recently. The preamble to the Daniel story stars off in Hebrew but then is segues into Aramaic which is a SURE SIGN that it was never meant as Holy Writ but as a story. Aramaic was street Hebrew meant for ordinary conversation whereas Hebrew was reserved for religious works. That transition is totally lost in the English translations of the story of Daniel. If you want to learn what G-d said, you have to know the language that G-d used which was Hebrew of course.

    January 30, 2012 at 12:07 am |
    • F Whitaker

      "Much learning hath made you mad" would seemingly be a true statement for you. Someone poured a lot of information in your brain, a brain that does not have the discipline to know how to use it or categorize properly. Listen closely, Fred, to wisdom BEYOND your grasp, it requires faith, (by those who have ears to hear the truth), "ALL SCRIPTURE is given by INSPIRATION of GOD...." Not the ones you want to accept, but ALL! All means all and that is ALL it will EVER MEAN!

      January 30, 2012 at 10:37 am |
    • matsamharv@gmail.com

      F Whitaker-So this means if God told you to kill an innocent child you would do it?

      January 30, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • *facepalm*

      Why was god inspired to tell us that wearing polycotton blends is evil?

      January 30, 2012 at 10:43 am |
    • TRH

      "Much learning hath made you mad" would seemingly be a true statement for you. Someone poured a lot of information in your brain, a brain that does not have the discipline to know how to use it or categorize properly. Listen closely, Fred, to wisdom BEYOND your grasp, it requires faith, (by those who have ears to hear the truth), "ALL SCRIPTURE is given by INSPIRATION of GOD...." Not the ones you want to accept, but ALL! All means all and that is ALL it will EVER MEAN!"

      And once again the theists' weapons are unsheathed...arrogance, condescension, name-calling (although VERY eloquent in this case) and the last refuge...ya gotta have faith. I have run into this one MANY times.

      [sigh] [sigh]

      January 30, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
  8. Heidi

    I have read countless Christian authors/scholars who refute (with citations) against everything he has stated in this article. I would LOVE to see this guy debate author Jerome Bridges.

    January 29, 2012 at 10:52 pm |
    • matsamharv@gmail.com

      There are mountains of Mormon scholars who have written mountains of books that defend Joseph Smith's claims that Native Americans are of Hebrew descent, had metal weapons, and rode horses before Europeans brought them here....the're all full of B S, but they get published and people who WANT to believe them...do, and the're the only ones.

      January 30, 2012 at 10:38 am |
    • TRH

      I'd rather see him (and you) debate Richard Dawkins.

      January 30, 2012 at 11:10 am |
  9. Alex

    "The Bible presents us with an evolutionary story"??? We're already in trouble if you're wearing that collar. If it's a misconception that the Bible reflects actual history, then I'm curious about what book (or set of assumptions) you're double-checking it against? If it's just a bunch of stories with good spiritual messages (as you seem to say) then why is it any better than the other spiritual stories about there? If it's not based upon a pretty darn accurate account of what actually happened, then who really cares if non-Christians dig it? Plenty of other stories to choose from. You've compromised too much and sawed off the branch you were sitting on. I'd rather believe it all (with good reason) and be wrong then try to sell some watered-down version to people who smell the compromise a mile away.

    January 29, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
    • momoya

      I completely agree, Alex. People should either go all the way in faith, and believe that the earth is 6,000 years old, and that everything in the bible should be taken literally. Instead, we have all these lukewarm christians believing in the bible and evolution and in redemption and in the big bang. That way, as soon as people realized the scientific facts they'd shake the entire delusion of christianity. Its wimpy just to smush all those scientific facts past the error of the bible and still maintain belief in such a silly myth. Rock on, brother.

      January 29, 2012 at 10:35 pm |
    • Roger

      Do you really think that either you have to believe the whole Bible is literally true or dont believe it at all? Is that really a reasonable position?

      January 29, 2012 at 11:06 pm |
    • TRH

      What we are seeing in this forum among the deists has been taking place since the Reformation in the mid 16th Century. Once everyone became fed up with the Roman Catholic way of running the world after 1,100 years they decided, with some inspiration from Martin Luther, to start their own "religions" all of them based pretty much on their own interpretation of the bible. And it's been going on ever since. This forum and the majority of it's respondents are a microcosm of this "struggle."

      January 30, 2012 at 7:02 am |
  10. CoCoDol52


    January 29, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
    • William

      Mithra, a Syrian god, ran along the same lines of Jesus. Constantine's former god of Worship.

      January 29, 2012 at 8:41 pm |
    • Theophilus7

      CoCo – Jesus alone fulfilled the Law. He taught that the Law is Spirit then explained how adultery is broken when you lu-st after another woman. Murder is anger manifested. No man is capable of keeping the whole Law. Christ did. He is YWHW incarnate – Isaiah 9. He is the Branch of the LORD (Isaiah 4:2). He alone saves because and YHWH are One.

      January 29, 2012 at 11:59 pm |
    • Theophilus7

      CoCo – YHWH promised that through Abraham, father of faith, all nations would be blessed.

      Romans 11:25-35
      25 For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; 26 and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written,


      28 [b]From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but [c]from the standpoint of God’s choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers; 29 for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. 30 For just as you once were disobedient to God, but now have been shown mercy because of their disobedience, 31 so these also now have been disobedient, that because of the mercy shown to you they also may now be shown mercy. 32 For God has shut up all in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all.

      33 Oh, the depth of the riches [d]both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! 34 For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, OR WHO BECAME HIS COUNSELOR? 35 Or WHO HAS FIRST GIVEN TO HIM [e]THAT IT MIGHT BE PAID BACK TO HIM AGAIN? 36 For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory [f]forever. Amen.' btw, Coco, the word 'Amen' means "so be it"

      January 30, 2012 at 12:18 am |
  11. Gerhard Venter

    The only incongruous thing is that little whit collar around the man's neck. He's a clergyman? God help us! or do atheists also have preachers now? I don't follow his three misconceptions clearly - according to him there's only one: that there might be a scrap of truth in the Bible. I'm tired of clergy sawing at the branch they're sitting on. If you don't believe in God's word, more power to you brother. But lose the sheep's clothing.

    January 29, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
    • Roger

      Just because someone doesn't believe that every word of the Bible is literally true doesn't mean he doesn't believe in God's word. This man has a stronger faith than many Christians because his faith is based on reason and it can stand up against criticisms that are based on reason. A faith based on wholsale acceptance of dogma is a house of cards.

      January 29, 2012 at 8:09 pm |
    • William

      Either the truth is finally being told, or people are no longer being led to believe Jesus wants the congregations pastor to have a real expensive car.

      January 29, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      In other words, believe the way you do or else!

      January 29, 2012 at 9:57 pm |
    • TRH

      A deist, such as Thomas Paine, believes in a higher power....god if you will, but scorns organized religion. Does that mean that ol' Tom is burning in Hades as we speak?

      January 30, 2012 at 6:50 am |
  12. dexnew

    This is one confused man. I will guarantee you his personal life is steeped in immorality. I have seen this type of person time and time again deny the Plenary Inspiration of the Holy Scriptures. People like him DO NOT want to help accountable by the God mentioned in the Bible so they spend their lives trying to discredit it.

    January 29, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
    • momoya

      How can you be so comfortable assuming so much about another person who claims to share your belief? Christians are extremely arrogant and many of them like that their god sustains an eternal torture chamber for people who don't see eye to eye with their interpretations of scripture. How profoundly disgusting.

      January 29, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • Nii Croffie

      Momoya u did not learn much from ur yrs of Bible study did u? What are the requirements for Heaven? Clue : Parable of sheep and goats. They are not religious. However I will side with u on people presuming to know where someone will end up. But please cud u be less arrogant. It stops up ur thinking

      January 29, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
    • He's wrong

      Momoya, please not that Spong is a FORMER Bishop. His views are not Christian. They are heretical.

      January 29, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
    • momoya

      @He's Wrong some christian, somewhere would think that your views were heretical and you were not a christian. It's funny that each christian recognizes that the bible provides no reliable method to vet interpretations that arise from it. Every christian just believes that his interpretation is correct because he believes it to be correct. Theologians and scholars spend their lives studying scripture only to be called heretics and apostates for simply sharing the information they find. It's funny!

      January 29, 2012 at 8:17 pm |
    • William

      Its a CNN news report. Probably one of the few reliable dotcom news sites. Its information. Take it or leave it. They could have done a excerpt on Blenko Glass Company of West Virginia.. And he's not wrong. Which makes living life crucial for all those that live among people that believe God gave a whole lotta dirt to the Jews, a man walked on water and then rose from the dead.

      January 29, 2012 at 8:35 pm |
    • TRH


      THERE IT IS AGAIN! Just as I predicted two days ago.

      January 30, 2012 at 6:52 am |
  13. CoCoDol52

    russ reimer, I admire your dedication to the NT(not true), but as Real deal says, there is not proof of any of these stories historically the scholars have no real date even on jesus birth. There is no mention of jesus or his story in the OT, and does that tell you anything? Everyone is prophesied and their names and the scriptures in the OT 49,53,9,40,41,42 in Isaiah are about David his seed his descendants the servant of YHWH confirms this for us in Jeremiah 33v14-26, and David was a child born in Bethlehem read I Samuel 16,17. Christianity began in the 4th century legally by Constantine (forced) during the Nicene Creed, and jesus was a folklore from the oppression of the people, and especially slaves. They took that crying out for a Messiah and ran with it being the biggest gain of times as prophesied in the vision of Daniel 11v36-45, of strange gods the antichrist, that will rule over many vs. 39 christianity,and of vs.43 of Islam too, and to divide the land for 'gain' this was the plan all the time and until this day. They make good money off of people with this folklore. I witnessed a pope receive more than 20 mill just because the guy liked him. But, on this show 20,20, we then saw one of the popes members, an old man who's coat and shoes looked like rats had been chewing them, the pope shook his hand, and told him to have a good day. Now I wanted that pope to take that man in the back, and ask him hows things going, you know what I mean, that money is to help the people not just the 'pope' and this is not always done, but often it is. And if they do give to the members its the chaff from the wheat, I learned that from the true savior YHWH as He told us in Isaiah 49v26 and Isaiah 60v16. YHWH is not jesus christians want for their 'beliefs' to be true so bad that now they want to say jesus is God, I thought first he was the son of God, which one is it? YHWH is not contrary like this He would tell us, as He says in Isaiah 42v9. And the 'belief' about sins, no one can die for anyone else sins in Ezekiel 14v14,20 and in Jeremiah 31v30, and you must take heed to this from YHWH, He says He changes NOT in Malachi 3v6, that means nothing in the NT is what He says they changed the law and if anyone is hung from a tree, in Duet.23v21 its a curse, do you really think that YHWH God would do this to His own son. Furthermore, the only son and firstborn that YHWH has is Israel, in Exodus 4v22,23 there can't be two firstborn sons. YHWH has left for us in scriptures that the priest pastors are misleading flocks in Malachi 2 and in Jeremiah 23v1-8, and this is not the days of old it is now for the book of remembrance in Malachi 3v16 that YHWH truly named His book the OT is juxtaposed it tells the past future and present. And these rabbis popes pastors, have not changed much from then they're worst. YHWH does have enemies and in Exodus 17v14-16, He tells Moses and Yoshua that they will be against Him from generations to generations until this day they do have a big hand into these misconceptions that we have in the religions now days. And by the way YHWH does not condone religion they are idolatry idols (devils) in Deut.32v17 in His Words just look in the OT all through it there nothing of religion spoke of there, not from YHWH our Creator, He's Spiritual of righteousness and peace for all no matter the skin. Just a bit of the truth and not the (good ship jesus, the first slave ship), look it up.

    January 29, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
    • CoCoDol52


      January 29, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • Huh, wha??

      I think you need to go back to the history books. If you believe Constantine started Christianity (hint: he didn't), then how do you explain all of the works prior to his time that tell the same story of Jesus and Christianity? How do you explain the early papyri of the New Testament that exist prior to his time? Constantine didn't start Christianity. He adopted it.

      January 29, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
    • Nii Croffie

      There is a reason why we are not responding. We can't read it!. Cud u please keep it to about 500 characters. The initial assessment is u need to attend an Alpha course or an introduction to Orthodox Christianity. I know u suffered and I love u as myself so he keto n origin.

      January 29, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      Constantine didn't start Christianity; he just started the criminalization of other beliefs. Under Constantine the Christians became the persecutors instead of being victims of persecution.

      January 29, 2012 at 10:02 pm |
    • Theophilus7

      CoCo – read Psalm 110. This is about Jesus Christ.

      January 29, 2012 at 11:52 pm |
    • TRH

      In 313 CE Constantine LEGALIZED Christianity and it became the dominant religion. It was made the STATE RELIGION in 380 CE by Theodosius I.

      (Ferguson, McHugh, Norris (1999), pg. 1126)

      January 30, 2012 at 7:14 am |
    • Theophilus7

      CoCo – re: Curse on a tree – Galatians 3:13 "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:"

      Compare to Numbers 21:9 "And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived." This was a precursor to Christ being lifted up and those who looked to Him in faith would live eternally.

      Compare to John 3:14-21 " 14And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

      CoCo – as long as you don't harden your heart like Pharoah, you are SO close to connecting all these things. You are well read in the OT yet there's so much from there to connect to Christ. You are REALLY close. Just don't harden your heart.

      18He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

      19And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

      20For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.

      21But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

      January 30, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
    • Theophilus7

      CoCo – Jesus is not a slave ship; He's an emancipation ship – saving us from bondage to our sins. He took the penalty of the Law for us so that we may live by the Spirit of the living God. And the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. Against such things, there is no Law.

      January 30, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
    • Theophilus7

      CoCo – you just need something comparable to the Road to Emmaus experience and then you'll be home free. See Luke 24:13-35. Here's a snippet from that Emmaus Road conversation between Jesus, after He had risen from the dead, and a couple of Jewish people:

      25 "Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself."

      January 30, 2012 at 12:30 pm |

    I believe the four Gospel writers are the literal writers (through inspiration of the Holy Spirit) of the Good News. All 66 books of the bible point to the one and true Messiah, Jesus Christ. He says in Luke 24:25-27 this: " You are such foolish people! You find it so hard to believe all that the prophets wrote in the scriptures. Wasn't it clearly predicted by the prophets that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before entering His time of glory? Then Jesus quoted passages from the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining what all the scriptures said about Himself." Don't you think if there was any doubt about any of the OT scriptures that Jesus Christ, who was the "Son of God" would have told us? The apostle Peter became bold after Pentecost because he had the Holy Spirit in him to proclaim the Good News. When ANYONE attempts to cause doubt about any part of the 66 books of scripture, they are playing into the hands of Satan! 2nd Timothy 3:16-17 says: "ALL SCRIPTURE is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right. It is God's way of preparing us in every way, fully equipped for every good thing God wants us to do."

    January 29, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • CoCoDol52

      CORRECTLYCENTER, You should first know that jesus is not the son of YHWH, God is not His name its YHWH, its been taken out and Lord God GOD replaced it to mislead the flocks. As in I Kings 17, 18 in this time the people then thought that Ba'al was the son of YHWH (GOD), ba'al was born of a virgin too, the whole 9 an idol, and YHWH sent Elijah to get the people straight. The priest prophets were all in on it just like they are today, to mislead the flocks and in I Kings v 36-40 all of those prophets were killed after the people witnessed the true savior and redeemer is YHWH in Isaiah 49v26 not jc. Then YHWH teaches us that the only son and firstborn that He ever mentions in the OT, truly called the book of remembrance in Malachi 3v16 is in Exodus 4v22,23 and this son is 'Israel' the chosen people, know the truth, there cannot be two firstborn sons, and do not let the priest mislead you, the flocks again today as they did in the day of Elijah of the idol ba'al.

      January 30, 2012 at 10:27 pm |
    • CoCoDol52

      CORRECTLYCENTER, Another thing you want to talk about suffering then track the occurrences of the chosen people 'Israel' they have suffered since 161BCE, and until this day all as said in Deut.28v15-68, punished by YHWH being exiled from Jerusalem Judah the 10 lost tribes of Jacob for their transgressions and iniquities and are still going through it right now today captivity and suffering more than those few chapters in the NT(not true) could ever describe of the suffering of jesus his was only for less than a year when he turned 30 a good flattering story. The chosen people are still going through sufferings so this is the son and firstborn YHWH is speaking of just read LAMENTATIONS of His Israel chosen people His son in Exodus 4v22,23,now this is real suffering and the truth.

      January 30, 2012 at 10:41 pm |
  15. Theophilus7

    Argument for the miraculous in the Bible by appealing to reason:
    Throughout this blog and in Spong's writing, there are plenty who dismiss the miraculous recorded in the Bible. Rather than using the Bible to argue the Bible as some have rejected, let me appeal to reason. Let's start with the presupposition that the God of the Bible made everything according to Genesis 1:1.
    Follow me on this thought. One of my brothers was a project manager for the English Chunnel project. His company manufactured the tunnel boring machines used to drill under the English Channel. Let’s says you had an opportunity to visit the home of one of the engineers from his company who contributed to the design of this amazing machine and you saw a playset in his backyard. This engineer told you that he designed and built that playset for his kids. Would you, being a reasoning intelligent human being, doubt his claim to designing and building his children's playset by himself after knowing this same man helped develop a tunnel boring machine? Highly doubtful. I think you would come to the conclusion that this man has the abilities to do it.
    And yet, after reading the first chapter of the Bible where God creates everything from nothing, there are still those trying to wrestle with the plausibility of this same God parting the Red Sea, healing some people, walking on water, and raising a dead man. All these other miracles are child’s play if you consider what was done in the beginning. Any so called believer who presumes God did make all things yet no way could all the other miracles have occurred are simply trying to fit God into their own image. We were created in God’s image, not the other way around. Yes, God did perform the miracles of the Bible. But every miracle had a purpose, they weren’t wasted.
    I Corinithians 1:22-29 “For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, [are called]: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, [yea], and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence.”

    January 29, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      Got it! The Bible is true because the Bible says so. Just like Newt Gingrich.

      January 29, 2012 at 10:05 pm |
  16. Leo

    Dating the gospels is very important. If it can be established that the gospels were written early, say before the year 70 A.D., then we would have good reason for believing that they were written by the disciples of Jesus himself. If they were written by the disciples, then their reliability, authenticity, and accuracy are better substantiated. Also, if they were written early, this would mean that there would not have been enough time for myth to creep into the gospel accounts since it was the eyewitnesses to Christ's life that wrote them. Furthermore, those who were alive at the time of the events could have countered the gospel accounts and since we have no contradictory writings to the gospels, their early authorship as well as apostolic authorship becomes even more critical.

    Destruction of the temple in 70 A.D. , Luke and Acts

    None of the gospels mention the destruction of the Jewish temple in 70 A.D. This is significant because Jesus had prophesied concerning the temple when He said "As for these things which you are looking at, the days will come in which there will not be left one stone upon another which will not be torn down," (Luke 21:6, see also Matt. 24:1; Mark 13:1). This prophecy was fulfilled in 70 A.D. when the Romans sacked Jerusalem and burned the temple. The gold in the temple melted down between the stone walls and the Romans took the walls apart, stone by stone, to get the gold. Such an obvious fulfillment of Jesus' prophecy most likely would have been recorded as such by the gospel writers who were fond of mentioning fulfillment of prophecy if they had been written after 70 A.D. Also, if the gospels were fabrications of mythical events then anything to bolster the Messianic claims - such as the destruction of the temple as Jesus said - would surely have been included. But, it was not included suggesting that the gospels (at least Matthew, Mark, and Luke) were written before 70 A.D.

    January 29, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
  17. Daryl

    A formal bishop; I wonder why?

    January 29, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
  18. CoCoDol52

    JON, CONTINUED...The prophecy of the command that was given to Cyrus begins in Isaiah 44v28-45v1-6, then from vs. 7-12, then YHWH magnifies Himself, next from vs.13-16, is the command prophesied to rebuild the temple given unto Cyrus from the Creator YHWH. Now this was prophesied 200 years before the birth of Cyrus, Isaiah was in the 8th century, and Cyrus was in the 6th century. So why could not the name or story of jesus be anywhere in the OT, it is a myth, folklore, of the 4th century from the oppression of Constantine when christianity was legalized (forced), During his reign, Constantine initiated many measures favoring the Christians. In 313 he issued the Edict of Milan which legalized Christianity throughout the Empire. Imperial funds were used to subsidize the building of churches. In 325 Constantine tried to resolve a dispute between Christian factions at the Council of Nicea. This meeting produced the Nicene Creed which essentially converted the Roman Empire from paganism to Christianity. Roman ref. Emperor Baseball Card Project, and it took the flocks away from YHWH this is why He says for us to return to Him in Isaiah 44v22, and Malachi 3v7. Then many need to know that No One Can Die For No One Else Sins!! prophesied by YHWH through His prophets Jeremiah 31v30 and Ezekiel 14v14,20, where YHWH says even Noah, Daniel and Job had to be responsible for their own righteousness. Their sins cannot be passed on through anyone else so do you think that YHWH will go back on His Word of this? Do you know who He is? Isaiah 40v18-31. YHWH is the only savior and our redeemer as He says in Isaiah 49v26, and 60v16 and remember YHWH changes NOT in Malachi 3v6. Ask your pastor about Zerubbabel, he was the governor of Judah and the Messiah then. And in Amos 3v7 YHWH does nothing without his prophets or his servants, and many in the beginning of the 4th century around the time of Constantine and later on were all false prophets they had not spoken to YHWH especially that joseph smith guy he is a fraud in Jeremiah 10 of the plates of gold all vanities. The jewish roman writer made a deal with Constantine look it up, just google( did the hellenistic jewish roman writers make a deal with Constantine?) and it will all show up.

    January 29, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
  19. Leo

    The First Gospel is Mark? Really? Why do you have non Christians write about the bible? The Blind leading the Blind, just like the Bible warns!!

    January 29, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
    • momoya

      It's not about you, Leo. It's about diligent and careful research of the texts in question. A lot of people, christians or not, want to know more about how the bible came to be. Certain christians do not want to face the facts found, but that's irrelevant to the facts on display. If you believe the bible so much, why are you afraid to research its origins? If your god is the ultimate author of the text, then you should be eager to learn more about its origins.

      January 29, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • Nii Croffie

      momoya I sincerely think u lost ur moral right to advice people to learn with the virus evolution 'theory'. I am now afraid of any info u put out! U SHUD LEARN!

      January 29, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • UncleBenny

      Yes, the first Gospel to be WRITTEN was Mark. Matthew was placed first in the canon for theological reasons. Matthew and Luke both incorporate Mark pretty much word for word and expand on it with additional material.

      January 29, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
  20. TRH

    "There is nothing wrong with using Christ's character as presented in the Bible as a personal guide.
    Charity, compassion, humility – these are traits we should nurture in ourselves and if the Bible helps you do it, then it truly is a Good Book.
    Problems arise when people start believing that the Bible is the ONLY path to becoming a better person.
    People can trod different roads on their journeys, yet still reach the same destination."

    Now how can any person with an ounce of intellect had a problem with a statement like this? Even me....I'm an atheist.

    January 29, 2012 at 11:47 am |
    • Nii Croffie

      As a Messianic Jewish Anglican I do not find any fault wit ur submission. Time n time again Jesus taught this same principle 2 his disciples but it is lost on most X'tians nowadays. It was also taught in de OT but most Jews n X'tians ignore it 'cos dey want 2 believe God has chosen dem but nt others

      January 29, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
    • Nii Croffie

      Momoya again??? Yesterday u were giving out voodoo science theories n today u r advicing people to learn? What about u and ur homework? Have u finished? I think u shud learn! There are so many books to learn e.g. the Bible. Don't take anyone's word for it! After the virus evolution theory u shud!

      January 29, 2012 at 1:30 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.