April 26th, 2012
12:12 PM ET
Our Take: Name-calling is ‘rhetorical pornography’
Editor’s note: Jim Daly is president of Focus on the Family, Dr. Russell Moore is dean of the School of Theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez is president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference.
By Jim Daly, Russell D. Moore and Samuel Rodriguez, Special to CNN
(CNN) – We've all heard it, since we were schoolkids knocking about on the playground: "Sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never hurt me." A saying with good intent, to be sure, designed to steel young minds, and hearts, against the inevitable bruises that come with sharing childhood and adolescence with other children and adolescents.
But did any of us ever believe it was true? Even today – now that we're older, hopefully wiser, having experienced the heartaches of everyday life more fully than we may have as kids – is it a statement we can stand behind?
We don't think so.
Just about every day, a quick scan of the news headlines or a couple of keystrokes for a Google search serve up stories proving this old adage false. The evidence can come from picket signs, talk-show sound bites or something as short and simple as a 140-character tweet.
CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories
Clashes in Arizona over immigration policy. Public arguments over homosexuality in California. Christians and atheists lobbing verbal firebombs at each other in Washington, D.C. Sometimes, those at the center of the name-calling are famous. Most of the time, they aren’t. Well-known or not, their actions prove a singular truth: Names do hurt – and not just those on the receiving end of them.
To borrow the point of another, more accurate old aphorism: What we say about others reveals more about ourselves than the people we're talking about. This is especially true for Christians, who encounter any number of verses in the Bible that point to how "sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness," as the English Standard Version translation of Proverbs 16:21 puts it.
Jesus, as tended to be his way, was a bit more direct: "But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken," he said in Matthew 12:36, adding: "For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned."
So, no, it is not news to any of us that we live in an electrocharged public square.
But it should be convicting to all Christians when we find ourselves contributing to this maelstrom. Derogatory terms for other human beings – regardless of how widely their views differ from ours or, more importantly, from the truths of Scripture – should never pass our lips. To call it rhetorical pornography, for the debasement it engenders, is not an overstatement.
To get into the terms specifically here would be to attach to them a dignity they don't deserve. But we know them when we hear them: Epithets and cutting adjectives directed at gays and lesbians that go far beyond reasoned articulation of our biblical views about God's design for human sexuality.
Cruel, dismissive descriptions of those who do not share our faith – whether they be of a different religion or none at all – serving to drive people further from the heart of Christ, the exact opposite of our calling as his modern-day disciples.
And, perhaps most distressingly, ethnic slurs against noncitizens in our country, people who, in many cases, are families just like our own, seeking the best quality of life they can achieve. How do those hurtful words address the deeper and quite nuanced issues of legality and border integrity?
What each of these instances has in common is that the words are being used to deny the innate humanity and dignity owed every individual. The Jesus we follow did not just die for those who believe in him; his father created each one of us in his own image.
That means that as Christ breathed his last on the cross, there was as much love in his heart for the homosexual activist, the Mexican national who is not a citizen and the atheist as there was for us.
It is out of the "overflow of the heart," Jesus says in Matthew 12, that "the mouth speaks." That means it is far more than a failure of "tone" when we marginalize or malign those with whom we disagree. The solution is not just "nicer" words, but a transformed perspective, one that sees all human beings, including “opponents,” through the eyes of our proponent, Jesus.
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.
Expecting christians to act christian. The thought!
"Choose Life" what brutal and vicious slogan!
'Christians' use their beliefs as a justification for violence and hatred. Whether wars in Europe, jewish persecutions or inquisitions, christians are responsible for much, if not most, of the world's suffering. They attack one another over dogma, they attack unbelievers. I am a firm believer in freedom of religion, but I would like to be free of your religion, as well.
CNN, why did you write the words "Christians, let's stop the name calling" under the picture in the "belief" blogs line up?
You have stooped pretty low to label name calling on Christians, but ignored often blatant and degrading insults of unbelievers toward Christians.
If you wanted to appeal to everyone to "be civil", why didn't you appeal to EVERYONE, saying, let's stop the name calling" .
The fact is , the self proclaimed atheists and unbelievers are much more often using derogatory names for Christians, then Christians toward them, and you KNOW this is the truth!
CNN, Why aren't you honest and upfront? Why don't you take a crosscut of posts from each blog, and print them ....... let's see your honesty. I believe you couldn't do it! I believe even then you would fudge, picking what you want, and ignore what you shouldn't!
CNN, you should be ashamed, you really are showing your true colors! Are you so desperate for popular vote of the masses that you even have to lie blatantly in spite of what is obvious?!
No Name, did you read the column? It was written by christian ministers and a scholar, and was addressed to Christians about OUR behavior! Read the column and try again!
Yeah, I read it! But buddy, you tell on yourself through what glasses did YOU read it!
...or you could just accept the fact that some people are going to be rude and there's nothing you can do about it, and move on with your life. Jesus doesn't need us to defend him, being God and all. The authors are exactly correct, there's nothing worse than a Christian beating people in the name of Jesus.
I don't think it is the name calling of Christians that's the issue which bothers their opponents. It is the fact that those who speak the truth about sin, righteousness and judgment are thorn in their side.
One only needs to look at recent blog concerning Kirk Cameron. The mud that was thrown at his character is unbelievable! He was labeled hatemonger and bigot. Yet, the man did not speak in hate nor anger, stating only the truth, by calling sin what it is, especially sin of ho/mo/s/ex/uality, without sugarcoating it. It seems that this is the hot spot in our days, because that se/x thing is what the degenerate man wants to cling on with deer life, even to the point of damning his own soul....
So, because those who justify it and want it to be accepted hate d the truth and to get their ways, resort to deceitfulness of lies, even portraying themselves as victims! But there is nothing new under the sun, we've seen all of it before.....
If we, Christians are not so speak against sin and what harm does it in the society when gone rampant and accepted widely, then we are like salt without flavor thrown into the streets, to be trampled over it. And that's exactly what is happening to today's washed out Christianity. What kind of testimony are you giving by loving the ungodly and sinner when you don't tell them the truth? Yeah, you can lead them right to doors of Hell itself with your "love", it won't do them any good!
I believe you're on wrong bandwagon, friends... or do you care to know?
Ernst Käsemann: "One is overwhelmed by how little [of the accounts of Jesus in the New Testament] can be called authentic...the historical figure of Jesus is traceable only in a few words of the Sermon on the Mount, the conflict with the Pharisees, a number of parables and some further narratives."
Günther Bornekamm: "The attempt to reconstruct an original draft of the Gospel according to Mark is a hopeless undertaking..."
Accounts of Christ's existence and resurrection are more dependable than virtually any other ancient texts. The quote you provided is certainly intriguing, but it is far from factual.
As for Jesus, here is what some eminent scholars tell us.:
Rudolf Bultmann: "The character of Jesus, the clear picture of his personality and life, has faded beyond recognition. I do indeed think that we can now know almost nothing concerning his life and personality, since the early Christian sources show no interest in either, are moreover fragmentary and often legendary..."
Bultmann Rocks! (He really helped me maintain my sanity through seminary.)
Have you read any of Robert M. Price's works ("The Incredible Shrinking Son of Man" or "Deconstructing Jesus")? He goes further than Bultmann to make a pretty sound case (I think) that we can know nothing about the life of this Jesus guy, and that, in all likelihood, he never actually existed. Fascinating stuff, to stop and consider that many may be/are living their lives in service to the modern-day equivalent of "Thor"!
"Peace 2 U!"
As a Hindu I am proud to subscribe to a creed that is free of the restrictive dogmas of holy writ, that refuses to be shackled to the limitations of a single holy book.
Above all I am proud that as a Hindu I belong to the only major religion in the world that does not claim to be the only true religion. I find it immensely congenial to be able to face my fellow human beings of other faiths without being burdened by the conviction that I am embarked upon a “true path” that they have missed."
Not all Christians believe ours is the only true religion. We all have different lives, different experiences, and different spiritual needs, and each individual must decide what, if any, religion fills their needs. Believe it or not, a lot of Christians are totally on board with that.
@ Pope: Again, well said.
@ Sorcha: "Not all Christians believe ours is the only true religion." Agreed that many in the pews are evolving beyond the "Christo-fascism" which has characterized much of the last two thousand years. But as far as official Church doctrine goes, not sure there are many who don't still proclaim ". . . No one comes to the Father but by" Jesus. Thus, (I think) Pope's critique is spot on.
"Peace 2 U!"
...kinda hard not to call oneself a Christian and then deny his words that he is "...the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me." Jesus was either crazy or telling the truth. You decide which one you believe.
@ Scott: “Jesus was either crazy or telling the truth.”
There are other options beside the two you lay out. One is that Jesus never existed, and what we have in the Gospels is not historically-inspired writing but religiously-inspired writing. [If the Gospels are historical, someone please take a look at Matt. 1 & Luke 3 and tell me who was Jesus’ grandpa? (M: Jacob vs. L: Heli) Or his great-great grandpa (M: Eleazar vs. L: Levi)? Or his great-great-great grandpa (M: Eliud vs. L: Melchi)? Etc. They can’t even agree on which of David’s sons fathered Jesus’ bloodline (M: Solomon vs. L: Nathan).]
But even if you do take Jesus to be historical (as you apparently do), that doesn’t mean you have to believe everything that was said about him in the Gospels. Not sure how much you know about the origins of the Gospels, but many New Testament scholars consider the Gospel called “John” to be the least historical of the four because of the Synoptic problem; which is the fact that the first three Gospels have much material in common [“Syn-optic” = same viewpoint], whereas “John” has very little in common with the other three. So that, yet another option beside the two you lay out, is that the words of Jesus we read in “John” do not reflect anything Jesus actually said, but rather reflect the faith of the community that authored “John.”
Yet another option is to accept that Jesus did indeed say: “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). Accepting that he said this doesn’t mean one has to accept the standard, Christo-Fascist interpretation; namely, if one isn’t a Christian, one is going to hell. I’m by no means a New Testament scholar, but I could easily hear this passage meaning something like: “Look at the life I’ve lived. Look at the love I’ve shared. No one can make it to heaven without turning away from their narcissistic, self-centered lives, and following my example of a life that embraces agape love for all your fellow human beings.” A life like Gandhi, or the Dalai Lama, or Dr. King. In other words, the “me” in Jn. 14:6 doesn’t have to mean one must embrace the Christological dogmas and doctrines formulated by a Gentile church which in all likelihood Jesus would have found more disgusting than the money changers he ran out of the Temple. The “me” in this passage could mean “emulation of me” by devoting oneself to a life of uncompromising service to God by serving humanity.
Just a bit of food for thought . . .
“Peace 2 U!”
va gabond in the
In the story of cain and Abel, they are Adam and Eve’s only children up to that point. Who then is cain afraid of when he said?
Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and
I shall be a fugitive and a
va ga bo nd in the
In the story of cain and Abel, they are Adam and Eve’s only children up to that point. Who then is cain afraid of when he said?
Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a va ga bo nd in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me.
… and where are the following wives coming from?
And cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch: and he builded a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch.
And Lamech took unto him two wives: the name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah.
If the primary foundation of the bible can be proven false, it only stands to reason the rest is garbage as well.
thank you jesus!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
F U CNN
va ga bo nd???? really????
I am Catholic, and have worked and studied professionally in my diocese....and it is appalling what some Protestant leaders are teaching about my faith and church. We constantly witnesses false statements, misrepresentations...just the other day I was viewing a program about how Pope John Paul II was reading about Marxism and his ties with Gorbachev.. with his statement saying he will show the communists what socialism means...you can find it in ' Centissimus Annus'....where the right of conscience, the dignity of the human being, the foundation of family in society in context of the State serving the people, not the people serving the State.
Christianity is the greatest bloc in the USA, yet it is the most fragmented and vulnerable to ignorance, bigotry, and willful acceptance of falsehoods perpetrated against the Church and other denominations. Fortunately, there are Protestant evangelical ministers who, through objective academic studies, are finding the truth, and the path to greater unity in Christ.
We pray daily for the restoration of Christianity.....
It is human nature to be angry at those who reject us. God is not rejecting you, he is trying to save you. Save your anger for the Devil you serve. The day will come that your eyes will open. Be angry then. It is not the Christrians who are repressing you. It is your karnal nature than in the end will destroy you.
Prayer changes everything. God knows your hearts here, you have been hurt, you are angry, you are enraged because he didnt answer the prayer in YOUR time.
ARROGANT AND FILTHY Generation of EVIL.
Bhristians; FIGHT BACK. Either that, or face the wrath of God.
Mitt Romney is a diaper wearing, Draft dodging cult member. Now I feel better.
Ditto for Barack hussein Osama
anybody with a bible read genesis 19: 1-8 and than that just shows you how messed up the people in the bible truly are. including jesus's followers so i'm not going to be looking to this book for any answers
Can you help me understand something? Where does it say that Lot's actions were condoned?
You also said "that just shows you how messed up the people in the bible truly are. including jesus's followers"
Yes, we are all sinners. That's why we are in need of salvation.
Can you help me out with your reasoning? Does it directly follow that because there are some messed up people in the Bible, that you shouldn't look "to this book for any answers"? The people in the Bible, as well as people today, are pretty messed up and in need of support and encouragement to stop doing those things and doing what is right. That's a big part of what the Bible is about.
And you are part of that race...Pot. Kettle. Black
Jesus was an illegal immigrant when he was born, that no good Communist hippie. Take that, christoids.
Jesus was born in Bethlehem (IN ISRAEL). He was then taken into Egypt, and then brought back to Nazareth. Jesus didnt do anything that was illegal.
He stood up to FILTH like you.
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Ironically, examples of Jesus calling people nasty names are myriad.
"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean."
Jesus didn't pull his punches and he didn't put things nicely.
Prayer does work. Just because we don't get the answer we want doesen't mean it dosen't work. God has three answers to prayer- Yes, Not Yet, and I have a better idea. That situation with the Grady's? They were being persecuted. God decides when and how long we will live. Aaron's time was up. God called him home. Of course there will be persecution. Jesus Himself said in Matthew 10:21-23 – “A brother will betray another brother to death. A father will betray his child.
Children will rebel against their Christian parents, so their parents will die. People will hate you
because you belong to Me. But if a person continue faithful until the end, that person will be
saved. When people persecute you in one city, run away and go to another city. I tell you the
truth, before you visit every city in Israel, the Son of Man will come.”
Persecution will happen. Its our job as Christians to remain faithful to the end. God in the end will judge the unsaved. You break the law you get judged. Unless you accept Jesus Christ's gift of salvation.
Jesus was addressing the Bush's and Obamas of HIS day.
I am impressed to see such fine leadership. You have come out in support of the bare minimum possible when dealing with others. You, unlike Jesus, don't try to make us do things like actually care or show compassion to others. It's cool with you that we harbor hatred in our hearts as long as we're hypocritical enough to converse pleasantly.
Jesus, again, wept.
Did Jesus weep or is this just more myth from John's gospel i.e. John 11:35? As per many contemporary NT scholars, it is more myth. e.g. http://wiki.faithfutures.org/index.php?t-itle=130_Dead_Man_Raised and Professor Gerd Ludemann's conclusions in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, pp. 507-513.
Ditto for Luke 19: 41, e.g. http://wiki.faithfutures.org/index.php?t-itle=477_Jerusalem_Destroyed and Professor Gerd Ludemann's conclusions in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, pp. 383-384.
More about John's gospel:
From Professor Bruce Chilton in his book, Rabbi Jesus,
"Conventionally, scholarship has accorded priority to the first three gospels in historical work on Jesus, putting progressively less credence in works of late date. John's Gospel for example is routinely dismissed as a source......
"Since "the higher criticism" of the 19th century, some historians have largely rejected the gospel of John as a reliable source of information about the historical Jesus. "[M]ost commentators regard the work as anonymous," and date it to 90-100."
"The authorship has been disputed since at least the second century, with mainstream Christianity believing that the author is John the Apostle, son of Zebedee. Modern experts usually consider the author to be an unknown non-eyewitness, though many apologetic Christian scholars still hold to the conservative Johannine view that ascribes authorship to John the Apostle."
And from Professor Gerd Ludemann, in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 416,
"Anyone looking for the historical Jesus will not find him in the Gospel of John. "
See also http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/1john.html
Jesus is not weeping anymore, he is angry.
"Jesus is not weeping anymore, he is angry"
This is much more real description of Jesus, then how washed out Christianity of today portrays Him.
The first time Jesus came, He was the Lamb of God. The next time He comes He will be the Lion of Judah, the great and mighty warrior, slaying His enemies with the breath of His mouth.
To those who love Him , He will be the beautiful savior with healing in His wings, but to those who hate Him, He will be a fearsome judge, and thy will flee before the brightness of His glory. Thy will hide, but will not be able to flee from His Presence.... Any one who calls themselves a Christian, and does not like this Jesus who is comming with the sword of His justice, he or she better examine which Jesus they really believe in and which God they worship and glorify! If your God is a God of tolerance and smooth Joel osteen version kind, you've bitten the bite, hook line and sinker. Jesus did not suffer in vain, to be dragged down to the level of compromise of who He is! Blessed are those who are not offended in Him!
P.S.Dear Catholic people, He is NOT hanging on the cross any more....
Going with the facts- no name calling involved:
What we do know: (from the fields of astrophysics, nuclear physics, geology and the history of religion)
1. The Sun will burn out in 3-5 billion years so we have a time frame.
2. Asteroids continue to circle us in the nearby asteroid belt.
3. One wayward rock and it is all over in a blast of permanent winter.
4. There are enough nuclear weapons to do the same job.
5. Most contemporary NT exegetes do not believe in the Second Coming so apparently there is no concern about JC coming back on an asteroid or cloud of raptors/rapture.
6. All stars will eventually extinguish as there is a limit to the amount of hydrogen in the universe. When this happens (100 trillion years?), the universe will go dark. If it does not collapse and recycle, the universe will end.
7. Super, dormant volcanoes off the coast of Africa and under Yellowstone Park could explode catalytically at any time ending life on Earth.
Bottom line: our apocalypse will start between now and 3-5 billion CE. The universe apocalypse, 100 trillion years?
It's a good thing science has never been wrong about anything before ... oh, wait.
Prayer changes things .
Prayer doesn’t not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.
An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.
The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!*!.~
What about plants and vegetables...what will happen to them if they don't pray?
The point is not that prayer gets you anything you want. If that were the case, everyone would believe and faith would be unnecessary. Does that mean that prayer is irrelevant and unhelpful? Hardly. It just means that sometimes we are provided for in ways that we may not initially understand.
Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things
why isnt it?