My Take: God not in whirlwinds of Sandy, presidential race
A NASA image of Hurricane Sandy.
October 29th, 2012
01:33 PM ET

My Take: God not in whirlwinds of Sandy, presidential race

Editor's Note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "The American Bible: How Our Words Unite, Divide, and Define a Nation," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.

By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN

I am riding out Sandy on Cape Cod and wondering whether this, too, is God’s will.

As this storm has carved its path through the Caribbean and up the Eastern Seaboard of the United States, it has taken 67 lives and (so far) spared the rest of us. Was it the will of the Almighty that so many should perish?

Is God angry with Cuba, where 11 died last week? More angry with Haiti, where 51 perished? Relatively unperturbed with Jamaica, where the death toll was only two? If a tree falls on my house today, will that be an Act of God, too?

There has been a lot of talk lately about what is and what isn’t willed by Providence, thanks to Richard Mourdock, the Indiana Republican and U.S. Senate candidate who said last week, “I think that even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something God intended to happen.”

Whether “it” in this sentence refers to rape or to conception, it assumes that God is both busy and capricious. Why does God offer the gift of life to some rape victims and not to others? Why does God allow some elections to be close and not others?

One answer, of course, is that God does nothing of the sort. Perhaps there is no God. Or perhaps God is more like the watchmaker divinity of Deism fame who winds up the universe, sets it in motion and then leaves it to its own devices.

In the thought worlds of Indian religions, things operate not by the will of God but in keeping with the laws of karma. So to put it in crudest terms, those who are injured in Sandy somehow have it coming to them, as do victims of rape who find themselves pregnant.

The western religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have argued that God has a hand not only in setting our story in motion but also in seeing it through to the end. So Jews, Christians, and Muslims have had to reckon with the classical problem of “theodicy”: In a world in which God is all powerful and all good, why do bad things happen to good people?

As I wrestle with these questions, I cannot help thinking about how differently my New England forebears interpreted these natural disasters. While we speak of the eye of the hurricane, New England's colonists were ever mindful of the eye of a God who was forever watching over them, and sending storms their way as punishment for their collective sins.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

When the Great Colonial Hurricane raced up the east coast and lashed New England in August 1635, its 130 mph winds and 21-foot storm surge were almost universally viewed in supernatural rather than natural terms — as a judgment of God on the unfaithful.

We still have Puritans among us today, of course.

Televangelist Pat Robertson is notorious for turning natural disasters such as the Haiti earthquake and Hurricane Katrina into supernatural communications — God’s curse on Haiti or New Orleans for bad religion or widespread abortions. And with this “Stormpocalpyse” arriving on the eve of the election, I suspect some will suggest that the rain and the wind are God’s judgment on the leadership of President Obama.

Still, American society as a whole no longer interprets natural disasters as signs of a coming apocalypse or evidence of past misdeeds. When it comes to earthquakes and hurricanes, we tune in to the Weather Channel, not the Christian Broadcasting Network. And we interpret these events not through the rumblings of biblical prophets but through the scientific truths of air pressure and tectonic plates.

As a result of this sort of secular turn, we are much better at predicting the course of hurricanes. The Great Colonial Hurricane of 1635 arrived as a surprise and took many lives with it, including, according to the report of the Massachusetts governor, John Winthrop, those of eight Native Americans taken by the storm surge while “flying from their wigwams.” Sandy is a surprise to no one, thanks to science.

Still, we Americans cannot give up on talk of God’s will. At least according to Newt Gingrich, Mourdock’s foray into rape and theology reflects the position of “virtually every Catholic” in the United States. And if we are to believe the full-page ads taken out  by Billy Graham, God wills the victory of Mitt Romney over Barack Obama.

As for me, I am less sure about what God wills for our storms (political or otherwise). In my view, any God worth worshiping isn’t going to be so predictable, or so capricious.

I don’t think Graham, Mourdock, or Gingrich is speaking on behalf of God. They are speaking on behalf of themselves, on the basis of their own fears and experiences. And they are reading the Bible through their politics, not the other way around.

When it comes to storms like Sandy, I just don't believe in a God who drowns black babies in Haiti yet refuses to drown out the voices of cranky white men who claim so irreverently to speak in His name.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Stephen Prothero.

- CNN Belief Blog contributor

Filed under: 2012 Election • Belief • Billy Graham • Christianity • Church and state • Newt Gingrich • Politics • Science • United States

soundoff (2,188 Responses)
  1. Russ Reimer

    I received the gift of prophecy as outlined in the Second chapter of Acts in the New Testament, April 4, 2009 and now regularly receive visions and prophetic words from the Lord I take down as dictation. To to twitter.com and punch in my username prophetletters or prophetletters@russ reimer and scroll to the bottom to begin. I let this gift lay dormant for a long time but begin to post several days ago and there are several fulfillments you will note. Do not think you know it all and that such a thing as a person receiving information and visions from God is crazy. I've heard every variation of "what have you been smoking" to outrage that I'd even suggest such a thing in SPITE of what Paul the Apostle wrote about modern day prophets like me. Simply read the prophecies and compare the news to what I have written. Be SMART enough to be open minded, not defensive, not know it all etc. if you are to come across with any intelligence at all. Simply watch what happens and make your own evalutation. I have no agenda, no books to sell, am not looking to make money in any way...I simply post what the Lord gives me, and when these things are fulfilled (and I have had DOZENS of very specific fulfillments so far) then folks have the chance to make the choice to believe in God or mindlessly reject what has happened right before their own eyes. Great week to ya! Russ Reimer

    October 29, 2012 at 9:44 pm |
    • tony

      So it is you or the signs in the heavens according to Genesis 1:14 who/that has precedence? I would take the heavens personally, as arrogance is seldom a sign of gifted knowledge.

      October 29, 2012 at 9:47 pm |
    • Nobrain123

      Wow you should write horoscopes or play the tables or the lottery

      October 29, 2012 at 10:22 pm |
  2. I'm right

    And this guy is a "regular" contributor in the "belief' blog here at good ole, CNN??? Why am I NOT surprised. But I have at least figured out CNN's... ummmm, logic?
    Belief = Unbelief. Just like Good = Evil, Evil = Good, Right = Wrong, Wrong = Right... or Left depending on the definition, etc. etc. etc. Oh yeah... a few more... News = Trending, Popular = Value Set, Moral = Weakness, Immoral = Choice, Someone Else's Opinion = Bullying, Position = Racism, and finally, Success = Greed.
    Thanks Stephan.... I had been trying to understand for a long time.

    October 29, 2012 at 9:42 pm |
  3. Frank DeStefano

    My Bible training calls to mind a few answers. Remember the bible account at Luke chapter 4. Jesus after his Baptism is led by the spirit into the wilderness. He fasts for 40 days and is tempted by the devil. In verse 5 Satan takes him to a high mountain and shows him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. He says, I will give you all this authority and the glory of them because it has been delivered to me, and to whomever I wish I give it. Jesus replied we must worship God, but never denied authority has been rendered to the devil over this world. That is why Jesus calls him the ruler of the world at John 14:30 or 1John 5:19 We know we originate with God, but the whole world is lying in the [power of the] wicked one. I have never commented on one of these things before, but could not sit still while you blame God for a situation Satan has caused. In fact God has promised over and again through his Kingdom to take back control of this world, and make it into the paradise he intended from the beginning. You are mistaken, God is not responsible for this.

    October 29, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
    • Eliminate hinduism, religions corruption of truth absolute by hindu's lairs, for peace, Islam among humanity.

      All in black letters, hinduism, absurdity of some hindu, lair.

      October 29, 2012 at 9:39 pm |
    • Yeah

      Your Bible training is every bit as valid as Mullah Omar's Quran training and the Thugee cult's Shiva training.

      You studied fiction and mistook it for fact.

      October 29, 2012 at 9:40 pm |
    • tony

      God parted the Red sea, therefore Sandy (and the tsunami massacres) are also his.

      If you believe Satan has more power than god, you really have problem.

      October 29, 2012 at 9:49 pm |
    • Answer

      "and make it into the paradise he intended from the beginning. "

      Yep ..god the failure – who couldn't even do it right in the first place. What a pathetic god.

      October 29, 2012 at 9:51 pm |
  4. Anybody know how to read?

    Stevie should address his concerns to Lady Gaga.

    October 29, 2012 at 9:31 pm |
    • Learn the difference between fact and fiction

      I will take Lady Gaga to any religious whack any day. Even the new chunky style Lady Gaga.

      October 29, 2012 at 9:42 pm |
  5. Evangelical

    The question that we must continually be asking ourselves is whether we are prepared to meet God. If you are not, it's time to get your heart right with God before you are lost forever.

    October 29, 2012 at 9:20 pm |
    • Chad @ Cape Cod

      The real question: Is god ready to meet me? That absentee landlord better bring his a-game, cause I got a few scores to settle.

      October 29, 2012 at 9:24 pm |
    • Evangelical

      Don't trifle with God or you will burn in hell forever.

      October 29, 2012 at 9:26 pm |
    • Yeah

      The real question is who is the God that God answers to? I mean, if there must be a creator, then that creator needed a creator. If therefore, why should I worship a middleman god who causes all this evil and disaster, and who made this freakish self-indulgent "kiss my ass or I kick you ass" cult?

      Really, we should cut out the middleman and go for God's God. Or God's God's God. Or God's God's God's God . . . .

      October 29, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
    • Poltergiest

      You both sound crazy to me.

      October 29, 2012 at 9:30 pm |
    • Chad @ Cape Cod

      So riddle me this batman: If God Is able to stop evil but unwilling then he him self is evil. If God is able and willing to stop evil then why is there any evil in the first place? If he is willing to stop evil but unable then he is not all powerful. If God however is neither able nor willing- then why call him God?

      October 29, 2012 at 9:31 pm |
    • Poltergiest

      Because without the ability to commit evil you do not have free will. How would God stop all evil except by hijacking your very actions to ensure that you never act on an evil thought or to make it so your thoughts are limited? To want a God like that would be to want to be a slave or a machine. God allowed you free will to make actions both good and evil, but likewise every one of those choices have consequences. What would be the purpose of mindless prayer bots?

      October 29, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
    • Evangelatin

      The question that we must continually be asking ourselves is whether we are prepared to meet a specific God. If you are not, it's time to get your heart right with some God before you are deemed a reasonable person forever.

      October 29, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
    • Chad @ Cape Cod

      That's what devout Christian, Muslims etc are... mindless prayer bots who have given up their rational thought because the notion that they are responsible for their own destiny is way to scary.

      October 29, 2012 at 9:40 pm |
    • tony

      The only god in your life is the personal one in your head. he's you.

      October 29, 2012 at 9:50 pm |
    • Poltergiest

      No they make a choice to follow a path just as you have. They believe they are showing responsiblity by following the rules that their religion provides. You might not see the value in it based on your personal experiences, but likely had different experiences.

      October 29, 2012 at 9:52 pm |
  6. Poltergiest

    Another thing Prothero. It wasn't a turn to secularism that allowed us to better predict hurricanes and weather. We invented the radar.

    October 29, 2012 at 9:20 pm |
  7. Poltergiest

    Here is an interesting thought. Wouldn't better buildings have also reduced the death toll? Perhaps instead of asking God why he put yet another hurricane on an ocean that gets hurricanes every year, why not ask why the self proclaimed richest and most powerful nation on the planet sitting next to an incredibly poor island has never bothered to upgrade the island so that they could have more than tents and hovels when the next hurricane inevitably hits their island.

    Instead they sit back gawking about how horrible it is on the news or using it as a set piece for some uselessly juvenile philosophical conversation about what God could have done to make up for the general apathy we show people once they been arbitrarily divided by nationatilty. We as humans had the ability to ensure that hati, and the surrounding nations have the basic they need, but we chose not to in favor of our self-interest. When humanity has the ability to help itself but not the will, should a diety benevolent or otherwise compensate for their own apathy?

    October 29, 2012 at 9:18 pm |
  8. Anybody know how to read?

    Stevie sayz, '....I don’t think....'

    October 29, 2012 at 9:17 pm |
  9. Ric

    Jesus wisely addresses this: "But unless you repent, you too will all perish. 4 Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish” (Luke 13:3-5). In other words, "It could be YOU." Where are YOU? It's hardly surprising that God uses natural disasters to get our attention. What else would? Is it judgment on others, or a call to the living to repentance, turning away from sin, because it could be any of us just as easily? Are we spritually ready to be taken?

    October 29, 2012 at 9:14 pm |
    • The Bloodlust of Jesus

      Jesus sure is a callous dickhead and a bully, isn't he?

      October 29, 2012 at 9:17 pm |
    • Chad @ Cape Cod

      So the carpenter who couldn't take a squad of Roman legionnaires is going to kill us all...rrrright.

      October 29, 2012 at 9:21 pm |
    • Moose Wranglin' Pierre Renault's Sermon On The Mountie!

      Carpenter? In a land with no wood?

      "Carpenter" was a modification, as the actual word used in the original translates to "unskilled manual laborer." Jesus was a rockstacker, but later Christians tried to romanticize it by making it sound like he was a craftsman.

      Just one of many Christian lies.

      October 29, 2012 at 9:25 pm |
    • tony

      I see. Only the really wicked harmless women and really young innocent children drowned in the Tsunamis. That makes good sense.

      October 29, 2012 at 9:52 pm |
  10. jbc

    I guess when you cannot face the thought that gods are imaginary creations of man, then you have to constantly wrestle with why your god would allow bad things to happen.

    October 29, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
    • John316

      Well if you are willing to know God you will find him. Knowing God is having a relationship with him. Try cutting the cord of religion and joint the few. who serve him.

      October 29, 2012 at 9:25 pm |
  11. Chad @ Cape Cod

    Prayer: how to feel like you are doing something, while actually doing nothing.

    October 29, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
  12. ArthurP

    If God's flood kills a pregnant woman is that an abortion?

    October 29, 2012 at 9:11 pm |
    • Hobbling Bob Dobbs

      Everything is okay if God does it.

      Do you think the Virgin Mary gave consent? Nope! That's rape for God.

      Mass murders at Sodom and Gomorrah, and the flood? Bad for humans, good for God.

      October 29, 2012 at 9:14 pm |
    • Evangelical

      No, and that is a silly thing to say.

      October 29, 2012 at 9:15 pm |
    • itsallaloadofbollocks

      Evangelical. Why is it silly? An unborn baby is dead. If you believe god is omniscient and omnipotent then he/she/it could have prevented it but didn't.

      October 29, 2012 at 9:22 pm |
    • Russ

      The Author of Life is the only one with the right to take it.

      October 29, 2012 at 9:23 pm |
    • Chad @ Cape Cod

      Exactly- so the woman who created the embryo has the right to terminate it. Case closed, Pro-Choice wins. Flawless victory.

      October 29, 2012 at 9:33 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Chad: no, she is not the Author of her own life, the egg within her, or the laws of physics which so incredibly weave new DNA together within her body.

      October 29, 2012 at 9:42 pm |
    • tony

      It's physics and chenistry, just like everything else the nutters blame on god, or praise him for if they get off.

      October 29, 2012 at 9:53 pm |
    • Russ

      @ tony: and yet neither physics nor chemistry presumes to have created itself...
      as Nietzsche said: "it is still a metaphysical faith that underlies our faith in science."

      Notice his words: "FAITH in science." Not science. Metaphysics.
      In other words, physics that *competes* with metaphysics is no longer physics. It's religion.

      October 29, 2012 at 10:06 pm |
    • hawaiiguest


      Well if Nietzsche says it it must be true.
      Give me a break, just because some guy says something doesn't mean anything. Especially when you're using it to build a generalization on the thought process of those who take science seriously and accept science.

      October 29, 2012 at 10:10 pm |
    • Russ

      @ hawaiiguest: no, you're missing Nietzsche's point.
      He's not objecting to "serious" scientists. He objection to religion operating under the guise of science.

      I have no qualms with science. I have major problems with those who have made a religion out of science.

      It is a major philosophical flaw. As I said before, physics cannot address metaphysics – by definition. And appealing to physics in that manner is ample evidence that a so-called scientist is not self-aware.

      Just look at the scientific community itself: there are many different faiths present. Asserting an atheistic naturalism (or pure materialism) and calling that "science" is – at best – intellectual dishonest.

      I do not object to science. I object to calling your philosophical underpinnings "science" when they clearly are something entirely unscientific: your faith.

      October 29, 2012 at 10:34 pm |
    • Russ

      Correction: He is objecting to religion operating under the guise of science. (auto correct fail)

      October 29, 2012 at 10:37 pm |
    • hawaiiguest


      Do you realize that science operates under methodological naturalism?
      Do you also realize that if something "metaphysical" (completely unproven to even exist) interacts within the physical, then it is therefore testable by science?
      What definition are you using for religion in your post? Because under some definitions, science would qualify, but under any practical definition, it doesn't.
      Don't even get me started on your use of atheistic naturalism. Seems like a redundant term to me.

      October 29, 2012 at 10:39 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      Of course, athiestic naturalism would only be redundant depending on your definition of a god.

      October 29, 2012 at 10:47 pm |
    • The Truth

      Let's get back to the point, the religious here would have you believe that if God makes something living he then has the right to kill it and in so doing isn't really committing murder or "aborting" that life, but if a woman decides to evacuate a fertilized egg from her own body it's off with her head. The religious have come to this conclusion because thing's are so complex they must have been created by an intelligent being, who by definition must be really really complex, but that's where most religious persons give up on their reasoning, they stop without ever asking the all important "But if you believe God exists only because of the existence of complexity, would that not also mean God's complexity would require an even more complex being to have created him? And wouldn't that mean God's creations aren't really his either so he is a murderer and has to ask permission from his creator to abort his creations?"

      October 29, 2012 at 10:50 pm |
    • Russ

      @ hawaiiguest:
      you said: "Don't even get me started on your use of atheistic naturalism. Seems like a redundant term to me."

      now you're demonstrating my point. your presuppositions preclude other *scientific* possibilities. it's a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you believe nature is all there is, then of course you scoff at any other notion (not to mention, fail to interpret any such data in light of any potential greater Reality). But science didn't tell you that – you *began* with that assumption.

      And that is why Nietzsche (with whom I notably disagree in most other things) is criticizing such scientists who fail to see the distinction. They are doing religion & calling it science.

      October 29, 2012 at 10:55 pm |
    • hawaiiguest


      And you have failed to produce anything to even think something beyond the natural is even probable. Without even a minor probability, there's no reason to think it is true. Establish supernatural existence first, then its effect can be talked about.

      October 29, 2012 at 11:00 pm |
    • Russ

      @ The Truth: you are conflating separate discussions. This is not an intelligent design debate. If (as we believe) there is a God who made everything, there is a fundamental, categorical difference that must be admitted. As Soren Kierkegaard said: there is "an infinite, qualitative difference between God & humanity."

      So, we're not talking about an infinite regress (who made whom? complexity begs for greater complexity) from WITHIN existence, but rather a qualitative "totally Other" from OUTSIDE existence (or – if you will – creation). A uniquely *independent* being – beyond time, space, existence as we know it.

      Comparing the authority of a woman to the authority of God in that understanding is like comparing the authority of a character within a play to the actual Author of the play. The One who writes is in a completely different category. He has absoutely authority to do whatever he wants – to write the story as he sees fit. (And then there's the obvious root "author" in the word authority...) Moreover, the only way we have access to such an Author is if he writes himself into the play.

      October 29, 2012 at 11:03 pm |
    • Russ

      @ hawaiiguest: but that's exactly the larger debate. existence itself is ample evidence that God exists.

      beyond that, as a Christian, we believe God has broken into time & space. That the Author has written himself into the play so that the characters might know him.

      In that regard, I point to vast scholarly resources that attest to the historical event of Jesus' life, death & resurrection. As I listed for John G. below, a few good recent options...

      NT Wright's comprehensive book on the resurrection: "Resurrection and the Son of God"
      (which deals with objections to the reality of the resurrection from historical, theological & philosophical approaches)

      Richard Bauckham's recent book on the Gospel accounts: "Jesus & the Eyewitnesses"
      (which deals with many of your objections in more scholarly forms)

      For a more concise overview on the reliability of the New Testament (which is statistically unrivaled among ancient texts):

      October 29, 2012 at 11:07 pm |
    • hawaiiguest


      All you gave are more and more assertions.
      "Existence = god" is total bullshit, completely based on a huge argument from ignorance.
      There is no extra-biblical evidence for even the existence of Jesus, let alone his supposed works, no matter how many apologetic "scholars" you trot out.

      October 30, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
  13. John316

    See demons cast out at emmanuel. tv enjoy

    October 29, 2012 at 9:11 pm |
  14. Suzanne

    Hmm.... For those of you that don't believe in God why did you click on the articale? Just wondering.

    October 29, 2012 at 9:08 pm |
    • Chad @ Cape Cod

      To mock you ignorant suckers. People like you are the cause of much of the hate, evil, terrorism and ignorance in this world. Besides, it's kinda fun.

      October 29, 2012 at 9:15 pm |
    • itsallaloadofbollocks

      Suzanne. Are you a murderer? Thought not. But I bet you have an opinion on murder and murderers.

      October 29, 2012 at 9:23 pm |
    • tony

      To try and ram some sense into your thick head, so you might hopefully pollute less, or even no children, with your fantasies subsequently. Spreading religion is the greatest evil a man can do.

      October 29, 2012 at 9:55 pm |
    • hawaiiguest


      Why shouldn't we? Do you really think that people who don't believe in god have no reason to see what others who disagree have to say?

      October 29, 2012 at 9:57 pm |
  15. Moose Wranglin' Pierre Renault's Sermon On The Mountie!

    Stephen Prithero's faith is eroding. He has spent too much time trying to explain the ridiculous, and reality is starting to break through the thick blinds of religion.

    October 29, 2012 at 9:07 pm |
  16. John316

    John 14:6

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

    October 29, 2012 at 9:07 pm |
    • Chad @ Cape Cod

      isn't that the credo of the Hell's Angles?

      October 29, 2012 at 9:43 pm |
  17. Russ

    @ Stephen Prothero: is God judging us? Liberals say "of course not." Conservatives say "those people deserve it."

    Jesus was asked virtually this same question in Luke 13 – and gave a stunning alternative.
    A tower had fallen on 18 people & killed them. Did they deserve it?

    Jesus basically said: "No more than you do. Repent or perish."

    October 29, 2012 at 9:05 pm |
    • Moose Wranglin' Pierre Renault's Sermon On The Mountie!

      Okay, so the moral of your story is that Jesus was an insensitive, bullying dickhead?

      October 29, 2012 at 9:09 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Moose: no. as with everything Jesus did, he was pointing them to their one hope: Himself.
      the real commentary on this Hurricane is the cross.
      If Jesus died to save us from what we deserve, is this hurricane what we deserve?

      what does the cross tell us?
      1) we're worse off than we want to admit (we deserve to die)
      2) we're more loved than we ever dared to hope (he was willing to die in our place)

      No, not insensitive or a bully – but like a cancer doctor who doesn't sugarcoat the fact that this terminal illness must be treated. Here's the Doctor with the cure, in a room full of terminally ill patients. The only man in real danger is the man who thinks he's not sick.

      October 29, 2012 at 9:17 pm |
    • Moose Wranglin' Pierre Renault's Sermon On The Mountie!

      Jesus (according to the fiction) is immortal, and thus did not die. He knew he was immortal, and thus had little to fear but a bit of pain.

      Jesus' sacrifice was the shallowest imaginable, a total sham and a fraud intended to create a guilt trip.

      You may be worse off than you admit and deserve to die – studies do find Christians to commit more major crime and they support torture far more than atheists – but many of us live quite decently . . . and we don't need your threatening Jesus to choose to live decently.

      Cancer doctor? Cancer doctors do not give patients cancer, as your God did. He could have made people free of sin, but instead made them sinners so that they would have to obey him.

      Everything you said is ridiculous gibberish that does not stand up to even the slightest critical thought.

      October 29, 2012 at 9:22 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Moose: I appreciate that you are engaging the thought, but your objections make it clear that you misunderstand some central things to the Christian faith.

      The depth of Jesus' sacrifice is beyond cognitive ability. Here's two examples
      1) the full humanity of Jesus
      We're told he was tempted in every way (Heb.4:15). not a sham. not "i'm God & this is easy." he took on a fully human life – meaning he lived fully as a human does (as Php.2 says: he set aside his glory). At the same time, that does not mean he abdicated his "God-ness..."

      2) the full divinity of Jesus
      Col.2:9 says he is the fullness of God in human form. John 1 pointed says he is God, as does Php.2. So now, we're left to wrestle with the mystery of Christmas (the incarnation: God came as a human).

      Let me put this balance pointedly: the Author of existence wrote himself into the story. And not a Superman who couldn't be hurt, but as one who held the very molecules of the nails together (Col.1:17) as they pierced him, dying in our place. Why write the story like this? God is revealing his heart, ours, and how his love is deeper than our worst mess.

      To go one step further... and invite the maelstrom that comes with it...
      Jesus' death is not merely a human death – and yet it is not the death of God. Jesus is the second person of the Trinity (one God, three persons; from all eternity 3 in 1 & 1 in 3) – and now, somehow, on the cross there is a fracturing of that eternal relationship. Jesus is forsaken from that fellowship in our place. That's *infinitely* more valuable than anything in existence – and certainly pays the full debt.

      To think this is a guilt trip fails to see the point: the goal is not to get you to feel bad & do more for God. The whole point of Christianity (as distinct from ALL other religions) is that our hope is not what we do but what He did. It's not now *up to me* to earn it – but rather to rejoice that God loves in such an unmerited way & to live in that love.

      October 29, 2012 at 9:38 pm |
    • John G.

      That's really crazy, Russ.

      October 29, 2012 at 9:45 pm |
    • Russ

      @ John G.: Existence is crazy. That's not the issue. All that matters is this: is it true?
      If not, I'm an idiot. Rightfully dismissed.
      But if Jesus is who he said he is... and the resurrection actually happened...

      October 29, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
    • John G.

      There is absolutely no evidence of anything you say. Not the slightest sharp of evidence anywhere. You fail miserably at your own "is it true" test. The only thing you have is a book, one of many religions that have books, and the contents of your book are contradictory, unproven, unsupported, and often wildly ridiculous.

      You fail your own test of "is it true?" I'm afraid I must dismiss you.

      By the way, your resurrection? How do you know it happened? There are four VERY different accounts in the four gospels, and they are irreconcilably different. Different numbers of women saw (or didn't see) very different things, and what they did after is totally incompatible with the other versions. Your resurrection tale just reeks of an invented story – four accounts, four different tales, cannot go together. That is the sure sign that it is a fraud.

      October 29, 2012 at 10:08 pm |
    • Russ

      @ John G.: Glad you asked. A few recent scholarly books directly to the contrary:

      NT Wright's comprehensive book on the resurrection: "Resurrection and the Son of God"
      (which deals with objections to the reality of the resurrection from historical, theological & philosophical approaches)

      Richard Bauckham's recent book on the Gospel accounts: "Jesus & the Eyewitnesses"
      (which deals with many of your objections in more scholarly forms)

      For a more concise overview on the reliability of the New Testament (which is statistically unrivaled among ancient texts):

      In SUM: the evidence is there for those willing to actual check the research.

      October 29, 2012 at 10:23 pm |
  18. Kay

    These are signs of the end time as the Bible expressly foretold. And "...our salvation is closer than when we first believed"

    October 29, 2012 at 9:03 pm |
    • Hobbling Bob Dobbs

      Jesus said it woould occur within the lifetime of some there listening to him.

      Jesus 0
      Reality 1

      October 29, 2012 at 9:10 pm |
    • Simple Truth

      Right, because that region has never experienced a storm like this before...at least not in the last 80 years!! Wow what a long time!! I mean 80 years!! If it hadn't happened like this before in 80 years then it must be a sign from God, obviously...

      October 29, 2012 at 9:11 pm |
    • Reality

      Some previous Pennsylvania Frankenstorms for those who believe in the wrath of some god:


      September 18, 1876- A tropical storm produced 50 knots (93 km/h, 58 mph) sustained winds in at least parts of Pennsylvania. [1][2][3][4]

      September 13, 1878- A extratropical storm produced at least 70 km/h sustained winds throughout the state. [5][6]

      October 24, 1878- The Gale of 1878 destroys at least 700 buildings, causes $2 million in damage, kills at least ten people and injures more, and produced 80 km/h sustained winds throughout the state. [7][8][9][10]

      October 13, 1885- An extratropical storm produced 70 km/h sustained winds throughout the state. [11][12]

      August 22, 1888- A tropical storm produced 75 km/h sustained winds throughout the state. [13][14][15]

      August 29, 1893- A tropical storm produced 100 km/h sustained winds throughout the state. [16][17][18]

      October 25, 1893- A tropical storm produced 65 km/h sustained winds. [19][20]

      September 30, 1896- An extratropical storm produced 95–100 km/h sustained winds. [21][22]

      November 1, 1899- An extratropical storm produced 95 km/h sustained winds. [23

      And if global warming or climate change were occurring this far back, would not we all be "toast" and/or ice cubes by now?????...See More

      October 30, 2012 at 8:12 am |
  19. carl

    some are funny. some are sad. most are self righteous, defensive and ignorant. how can one have such strong feelings and convictions about something that doesn't exist? mortals speak of god as though he is a human with our motives, organizations and punishments. it is the choices made by humans and the use of our will which is the cause of far greater destruction on this planet than some wind and rain. you would buckle and cry in HIS presence of Love. this weather event is small compared to the weather that nature is capable of. nature is the one doing this. ask yourself... what have we done to nature. small minded and afraid many are simply closed from the truth. god and religion are two entirely different roads leading to very different places.

    October 29, 2012 at 9:02 pm |
    • itsallaloadofbollocks

      So you agree prayer is futile?

      October 29, 2012 at 9:11 pm |
  20. John316

    mathew 16
    13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”

    14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

    15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

    16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

    17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter,[b] and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades[c] will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be[d] bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be[e] loosed in heaven.” 20 Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

    October 29, 2012 at 9:02 pm |
    • itsallaloadofbollocks

      It couldn't be Jeremiah, he was a bullfrog.

      October 29, 2012 at 9:08 pm |
    • Chad @ Cape Cod

      ...and to this day cathloics sit through latin sermons- they never understood a single word that was said but they help him drink his wine.

      October 29, 2012 at 9:12 pm |
    • Eliminate hinduism, religions corruption of truth absolute by hindu's lairs, for peace, Islam among humanity.

      Jesus, the one, who never existed.

      October 29, 2012 at 9:24 pm |
    • Athy

      Just as well they didn't understand. Bullshit in Latin probably doesn't sound so bad if you don't understand it.

      October 29, 2012 at 9:25 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.