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March 9th, 2013
10:00 PM ET

Chris Tomlin, king of the sing-along

By Eric Marrapodi and Tom Foreman, CNN
[twitter-follow screen_name='EricCNNBelief'] [twitter-follow screen_name='tomforemancnn']

Baltimore (CNN) - The capacity crowd at the 1st Mariner Arena in Baltimore is bouncing in unison to the most widely sung music on the planet today. The catwalk above the arena is shaking.

Chris Tomlin grabs the microphone and asks the crowd if they’re ready.

"I feel alive, on God's great dance floor!" He leads the packed venue in singing and jumping.

Tomlin is out touring the country with his latest studio album, “Burning Lights.” In January, it topped the Billboard 200 charts. But unlike those who've enjoyed performances by Beyonce, Johnny Cash and a host of others who've played this Baltimore hall, after these fans stream out the doors they will have ample opportunity to sing Tomlin's songs again, as one.

That is the secret to Tomlin’s success – the stage, the lights, the band - aren’t about him. As lively as his shows are, the point is not to get you inside the doors. The point is to get you singing in church.

“I strive for trying to write something that people can sing, that people want to sing, and that people need to sing,” Tomlin explained before the show.

Tomlin is the undisputed king of worship music, a genre of Christian music sung on Sunday mornings all across the world and increasingly played on Christian radio stations. The music is simple, devotional and easy on the ears.

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“We would say that Chris is the most prolific songwriter in the United States now, in this past decade,” said Howard Rachinski, CEO of Christian Copyright Licensing International, the company that tracks what music is used in churches around the world.

In 2012, CCLI paid out $40 million to artists and musicians, and Tomlin got a healthy slice of that pie. Churches around the world used 128 songs he wrote or co-wrote last year, Rachinski said.

CCLI estimates that every Sunday in the United States, between 60,000 and 120,000 churches are singing Tomlin’s songs. By extrapolating that data, Rachinski says, “our best guess would be in the United States on any given Sunday, 20 to 30 million people would be singing Chris Tomlin's songs.”

In their last two reporting periods, Tomlin had the No. 1 most-sung song and five of the top 25.

Search YouTube for "How Great is Our God" or "Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)." Black, white, Asian, big churches, small ones are all belting out Tomlin songs. A lot.

For perspective, consider Tomlin’s musical success against one secular counterpart. In 2012, Katy Perry's record sales dwarfed Tomlin’s, but Billboard reported her songs were played 1.4 million times on the radio. Using CCLI’s low-end calculation, Tomlin’s songs were played 3.12 million times in churches.

Growing up Tomlin

Chris Tomlin was reared in Grand Saline, Texas, heavily influenced by country music. His dad taught him to play the guitar.

“I learned all country music - Willie Nelson, and Johnny Cash, all those kind of guys. Those are what my dad played and I played. And I played at my church as well,” Tomlin said.

Tomlin went to college to study sports medicine. “I just didn't know the music would take me here. I loved it and I was getting opportunities to go play, and when I say go play I was starting to write songs of worship even (as) a young kid. I didn't know really what worship music was, what a worship leader was, any of that. I didn't know any of those terms,” he said.

Today, at 40 years old, he is the artist most associated with worship music.

While in college he began singing and writing in earnest. As a senior, he said, he was getting invitations to lead the music for Christian conferences with 10,000 students.

He knew his music was resonating with crowds when he got a call from EMI Publishing after his song “We Fall Down,” which was released in 1998, starting being  played in churches.

“I was just writing songs for the church and from there they just started taking off.”

The compositions are considerably different from pop music. They are simpler, and he takes pains to write them that way.

“I'm thinking as that comes out of my heart as a song of response, I'm trying to think, how can I form this so that everybody, people who are tone deaf, who can't clap on two and four, how can I form this song so they can sing it, so that it is singable?”

Part of that process comes from his love of country music, the simplicity of that music and the stories those songs tell. His goal is to write songs that communicate what people would like to say to God.

“Now, that doesn't happen all the time. I mean, I write so many songs that you never hear because they are not any good.”

Tomlin is the worship pastor at Passion City Church in Atlanta. He leads worship there twice a month and beta tests all his new songs on the congregation. Tomlin is also a major draw as the worship leader of the Passion Conferences, a series of Christian conferences around the world. In January, the conference packed out the Georgia Dome in Atlanta with 60,000 college-age students. Billboard magazine noted the conference helped push up pre-sales of Tomlin’s latest CD.

His songs are so sought-after that, even before they're released on CD, they start showing up in CCLI’s online database.

“His songs have probably had the most immediate impact on churches that we have seen in history,” Rachinski said. “Even before you get to street release [of a CD], churches are already networked and engaged with his songs.”

Don’t look for a crossover

Other contemporary Christian musicians, as the music industry designates them, have crossed over to mainstream pop with some success. Tomlin said he has no designs on making that leap.

He also doesn’t need the money. Over the course of his career he’s sold 4.2 million albums, had 6 million digital downloads, a number of sold-out tours, and of course, the copyright royalties.

Tomlin said money isn't what motivates him to write and perform.

“I feel like I have a responsibility,  that God has given me a gift to write songs for his church that people listen to and that people are coming to expect now,” he said. “When I make a record I feel that responsibility that worship leaders, churches are going to say, 'Hey, are these some new songs we can sing in our church?' And I don't take that lightly, and I don't go, ‘Oh let's go do something else fun.’”

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“I haven't invented any new instruments, I haven't created new chords that no one has ever played. I play the same chord that every band plays, we play the same instruments up there, the melodies are melodies. The difference to me in the music is that I ask that God's presence be on it and that people, when they sing these songs, sense that God does something.”

The spotlight is on Tomlin even more than ever after starting the year a top the Billboard charts. As he tours the country at bigger and bigger venues, he would prefer to step out of the spotlight, away from the microphone, and let everyone else sing.

“People would be mad that they paid for a ticket for that. So I do that just occasionally, but that is what I love.”

He said the night before, at the Theater at Madison Square Garden, he took as much time as he could to step back and let everyone else sing.

“It was just so beautiful, because I feel like it says something. It's not just like, ‘Hey, listen to me sing.’ This is all of us together. I think when you step back from the mic and it is not about you - and yeah, the light may be on you, but this is about all of us singing. This is about a bigger story, it's about a greater story. It's about a greater name than my name. My name is on the ticket, but this is about a greater name.”

CNN's Oliver Janney, Chris Turner, and Dan Merica contributed to this post.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Christianity • Music

soundoff (1,754 Responses)
  1. Brad McIntyre

    CNN

    Thanks for a well written, well researched article. Excellent! Enjoyed reading this.

    March 10, 2013 at 9:11 pm |
    • Amazing Grace

      Wishing Chris Tomlin the best as he continues to share the message through his songs.

      March 10, 2013 at 9:13 pm |
    • Ricardo

      Kudos to Eric Marrapodi and Tom Foreman for this post. Well done.

      March 10, 2013 at 9:16 pm |
  2. TheVocalAtheist

    What a waste of time! All that energy and all that money creating this little warm and fuzzy unreality. I never really understood why Country music is, was so popular. It's just plain simple, you don't have to think, the words and the tempo is the meat, nothing very cerebral about it. Yes, there are excellent musicians that are skilled at producing that Country sound but in the end it all sounds the same, same chords, same melodies, just like Tomlin said. All he is doing is creating Christian versions of Happy Birthday, Mary Had A Little Lamb and all the other simple rhyming songs that children hold so dear, they are easy to remember, hum, sing, tap your foot but that's as far as it goes. Its not art or an expression of art, he is out to make money and doing quite well with it.

    March 10, 2013 at 8:52 pm |
    • Francine

      You are pathetic. Everyone has a job. Everyone has to make money to live. If Christian stuff bothers you so much Mr/Miss Atheist why did you even bother to read the article. Atheists think that just because they don't believe that no one else should have the right to believe. Why don't you just get off your stupid soapbox and leave us alone. We have rights too even though you and the ACLU don't think we should.

      March 10, 2013 at 9:02 pm |
    • TheVocalAtheist

      No Francine, 60,000 people singing songs about fairies is childish and pathetic unless you have a brain like a child.

      March 10, 2013 at 9:09 pm |
    • hawkeye

      Francine pwnd hard

      March 10, 2013 at 9:13 pm |
    • I Paint Houses

      Tam Lin by Fairport Convention is about fairies and is a damn fine, English, folk song.

      March 10, 2013 at 9:28 pm |
  3. kevobx

    Genesis 47:7 And Joseph brought in Jacob his father, and set him before Pharaoh: and Jacob blessed Pharaoh. *Genesis 49:33 And when Jacob had made an end of commanding his sons, he gathered up his feet into the bed, and yielded up the ghost, and was gathered unto his people. *Matthew 27:50 Jesus, when he cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.

    March 10, 2013 at 8:25 pm |
    • Science

      That is the worst reading for the mind Genisis is BS

      Adam had to POKE himselfhard with his own BONE to create Eve.

      March 10, 2013 at 8:39 pm |
    • Al

      Cool story, bro.

      March 10, 2013 at 9:33 pm |
  4. Rich Kirkpatrick

    Thanks for excellent coverage of Chris Tomlin. He is surely a hero to many of us who write music and lead in our local churches. As one who writes about worship music, and blogs and is well-connected to people in this industry, Tomlin is one of the best. Thanks for the article!

    March 10, 2013 at 8:19 pm |
    • Bob

      Very refreshing to see this post by CNN. Agree that Chris Tomlin is one of the gifted worship leaders. He blesses us with every song of his. Hope to hear more inspirational songs from him.

      March 10, 2013 at 8:28 pm |
    • Douglas

      Chris Tomlin sucks and Christian "music" stinks like bad cheese.

      March 10, 2013 at 8:50 pm |
    • BukkakeJack

      Article is misleading. Never heard of the guy.

      March 10, 2013 at 10:54 pm |
  5. kevobx

    Pharaoh, let my people go *Jeremiah 8:21 For the hurt of the daughter of my people am I hurt; I am black; astonishment hath taken hold of me. *Mark 14:62 And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. *Revelation 16:2 and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshipped his image.

    March 10, 2013 at 8:02 pm |
    • Science

      Selective reading is bad for your mind !!!

      March 10, 2013 at 8:12 pm |
  6. The God of angel armies

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=FzB9I8p819M

    March 10, 2013 at 8:00 pm |
    • End Religion

      Your god doesn't exist until I see extraordinary proof it does. However, you'd have to agree you cannot dispute the existence of Elephus, the purple polka-dotted elephant god who pinched her trunk and farted us into existence. She is the one true god, and the path to her exists only through obeying my word, her right hand man and appointed prophet. We celebrate her appropriately on St. Elephus Day by wearing wrinkly grey boots and an elephant mask while prancing through the streets showering with pink and brown confetti those gathered to bear witness to her godliness.

      March 10, 2013 at 8:51 pm |
  7. Nothingness Is Our Self-fulfilling Destiny

    You're all wasting time, as am I by typing this. Honestly, I'm just doing this to be entertained by the responses it gets. I want to ask a simple question: why do people care about this so much? It gets people nowhere, and doesn't help anything – whether you believe in anything or not. There are much more important things to worry about than religion/professing your faith, what other people believe, or what people think of your way of thinking. All it's ever done is make people stupid, create wars, and kill people. Maybe that's a good thing, though. This world would be so much better without people. Everything on this planet has a way of finding equilibrium, but we don't. We just multiply and consume everything until the only option is to spread to another area and repeat those steps since we never learn any better. We are the virus of the world, no matter what you think or believe. Now, if people as a whole were willing to change their ways towards the betterment of the species – such as the endeavor of expanding the mind and advancing our knowledge in science/technology and finding balance in the world rather than indulgent defiling of it – it may be a different story. But so many people waste time in quoting their Bible or Quran or whatever, pushing beliefs and pointing fingers – wasting time and air on this world. Just die and go to Heaven, Hell, Asgard, Xibalba, fade to nothingness, become a tree, who cares. All I know is that you're making no difference in the world living that way. No one cares what you think, what the first person who comments on this post thinks, or what I think. You're not contributing to new technologies, new organizations of living, new discoveries, etc. Keep your personal crap personal and do something helpful. If you meet someone and you find out through personal conversations that you have similar beliefs, great. If you meet them and find out they have different beliefs, open your mind and accept them for them anyways and find other things in common, say a passion for physics or art. If you expect people to accept what you profess publicly, then you had better accept people if they have different beliefs (as long as they are respectful – which is another problem us insignificant humans have). Isn't Christianity about being loving and accepting to all? That was lost in translation I guess. As to the people who say science is bad and just ask God to make stuff happen...didn't he give you a brain? Isn't that ever-expansive brain for...thinking?

    March 10, 2013 at 7:34 pm |
    • Jeff

      All I can say to you is...GET BEHIND ME SATAN

      March 10, 2013 at 7:54 pm |
    • thought

      Jeff, come on...you can do better than that. Really?? Nothingness had made a LOT of great points...some I agree with some I don't. Discuss something!! Or perhaps it's best you just get off the post?

      March 10, 2013 at 8:02 pm |
    • Science

      thought
      You sound like a Chad reply
      peace

      March 10, 2013 at 8:53 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      I'm just not that concerned with the long term results of my actions. My behavior and the behavior of those around me have an affect here and now, and that's the world I'm living in-–here and now.

      March 10, 2013 at 8:57 pm |
    • thought

      Science,

      So? What makes your words better than mine?

      March 10, 2013 at 8:59 pm |
    • Nothingness Is Our Self-fulfilling Destiny

      I appreciate all of the replies. I actually came to this article because of an assignment in my sociology class (not my major, just an elective) and I usually read some posts to see people's opinions. I don't think I have ever posted anything in a reply section before, but I always wondered what people would reply back. I even appreciate Jeff's comment – although it seems as if he's referring to me as Satan...don't know why, though. Am I mistaken? If not, is it because I stated my opinion of people needlessly pushing their ideals as if it's something of superior importance? Or that at the way and rate we are going, we'll end up vanquishing into nothingness – one little pockmark in the history of the universe? If I did perceive your reference correctly, why did you make it? I'm not trying to be provocative, I'm just trying to understand your viewpoint.

      March 10, 2013 at 10:06 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      I think that the truth is a worthwhile effort. We are nothing. Dust. The quantum foam is nothing, with tiny fluctuations. The atom is nothing, with infinitesimal charges. The molecule is made of almost pure nothing. Space is almost all nothing. We are, quite literally, nothing. Or, if you consider the reality, mere dust of dust.

      That reality does not change the perception of differences and drives. Because I perceive that my experience matters here and now, I behave as if it does-–and exactly to that degree, no less or more. Perception is the important bit.

      And of course, we don't know what larger structure we may be a part of. Perhaps the information is stored and used in some higher way. But that possibility doesn't matter, either. Our intuitions are almost always wrong, so there's no reason to swing too wildly in any direction. Our efforts matter here and now, or seem to, and yet they have no eternal consequence. The "fact" is not as important as how we cope with it. And isn't our decisions that always make us?

      March 10, 2013 at 10:16 pm |
    • *

      @Nothingness...

      Could you please put in some paragraphs and line spaces in your future posts? It's uncomfortable to read your text.
      (your profs will thank you too, in real life)

      March 10, 2013 at 10:54 pm |
    • Nothingness Is Our Self-fulfilling Destiny

      I will most definitely paragraph my posts now. Of course I do in my reports, but I'll start on here as well. It is quite possible about the majority of things in the universe is made of nothing, but the literal truth is that we just have no idea what most of it is, from my understanding anyways. Most of it has been labeled dark matter and dark energy.

      It may be nothing, it may very well be a very big something. We just don't know yet. What I do know is that we can do much better than that. In my opinion, not enough people care near enough about science and the pursuit of knowledge – especially beyond this planet. Too many people get too caught up in trifling with technicalities in either religion or politics. I'm not saying to not believe in anything, but just keep your beliefs YOUR beliefs.

      I'm also still blown away that if I say something like what I did in my original post, people would automatically assume that I am atheist or some other equivalent in their eyes – or just relate me to Satan. Why?

      March 10, 2013 at 11:15 pm |
  8. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    March 10, 2013 at 7:20 pm |
    • thought

      Amen! And for those who don't like to pray...tell me...why is it many start "praying" when they are about ready to die and they don't want to?? They make a "deal" with a God that they perhaps don't believe it? What's with that??

      March 10, 2013 at 7:27 pm |
    • End Religion

      fear of death and early indoctrination seems to be big motivators for religion.

      March 10, 2013 at 7:35 pm |
    • veggiedude

      How is any Abrahamic faith healthy for cows, chickens, pigs or any other living thing? Billions lay waste...

      March 10, 2013 at 7:50 pm |
    • bspurloc

      I guess the Inca and Mayans prayed to the wrong gods.... well according to christians they did and they payed dearly for it

      March 10, 2013 at 8:06 pm |
    • Atheist

      Science. Science is healthy for children and living things. The HIV cure? do you believe that was god? Science is what helps people.

      March 10, 2013 at 8:17 pm |
    • huh?

      "Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things"

      Yeah, those poor atheist shrubs and weevils, all condemned to eternal damnation.... *le sigh*

      March 10, 2013 at 9:30 pm |
    • I Paint Houses

      I think calling the recent breakthrough a cure is a little premature.

      March 10, 2013 at 9:33 pm |
    • Z

      To Atheist, the gift of Science is never in dispute of God's Living Word. He gave us this world so we can enjoy and discover the wonders of His creation. What is in doubt, is when Evolution is merge with Science. Darwism is a theory and NOT science. Did you know all the great Ivy League Universities in this world were once theology schools? Have you heard of the Cambrian Explosion? Hope you find the joy in your life. Peace my friend.

      March 10, 2013 at 9:39 pm |
    • na

      It takes more blind faith to believe in nothing than it does to believe there is a God. Open your eyes.

      March 11, 2013 at 2:57 am |
    • ya

      na,

      Sure, your pat little "goddidit" is the easy, cover-all answer. No thought required, and certainly no open eyes.

      March 11, 2013 at 3:02 am |
  9. Stacy

    Whoops! Make that "disagree"...we believers are an imperfect lot, ain't we?

    March 10, 2013 at 7:18 pm |
    • thought

      That's okay!! Christians aren't perfect...just trying to "tell one beggar to another beggar where there is food".

      March 10, 2013 at 7:22 pm |
  10. Stacy

    When I was in college many years ago, the atheists I knew were somewhat the intellectual requiring proof of God's existence, yet approachable in discussions of reason and faith–or the lack, thereof. However, today's unbeliever seems simply to harbor disdain for those who agree with their point of view–lacking reason and a higher intellect that would allow for the existence of many unprovable truths.

    March 10, 2013 at 7:16 pm |
    • thought

      Thank you...would LOVE a conversation!! Why are they bashing people...maybe it's because people feel POWERFUL to say horrible words when hiding behind a computer screen. Well said!!

      March 10, 2013 at 7:20 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      There are indeed unprovable truths, Stacy. I don't believe any of the gods people have trotted out are real, though.

      March 10, 2013 at 7:21 pm |
    • Saving the earth,one pithy comment at a time

      What reason and intellect?Please,enlighten us to the shortcomings of the new,apparently not as quant,atheists.If the atheists of your college days were more reasonable perhaps they were just being polite and allowing you your creative indulgences.

      March 10, 2013 at 7:23 pm |
    • End Religion

      Stacy, many atheists are "live and let live" types. Unfortunately religion in the U.S. has not been satisfied to keep the status quo, but to instead weasel its way into government where it doesn't belong. It's gotten to the point where religion under the guise of "intelligent design" is attempting to work its way into schools. This is where our nice, kindly atheist "live and let live" approach has gotten us.

      Religion is dangerous to the future of our country and to the world. We've coddled it long enough. You may not experience such easy-going atheists into the future unless we can get religion back where it belongs, out of the public sphere, of out of government and education. You want to worship invisible unicorns, fine, keep it to yourself and/or your family. Do not run for public office and do not become a teacher. These jobs are too important to put in the hands of people who run their lives based on immoral imaginary creatures like the supposed god of israel.

      March 10, 2013 at 7:32 pm |
    • Saving the earth,one pithy comment at a time

      @ thought-I'm sure you would love a conversation in which all is agreed upon.These conversations are readily available in your neighborhood church.I also take offence at the implication that atheists say nasty things.Some do,I agree.But when a Christian really,really wants to retaliate while losing an argument,they do not hesitate to condemn the non-beleiver to the hot place.Well-one thing they tend to forget-atheists DON"T BELIEVE IN H E L L .The fact that religious folks do,makes it laughable,childish and truly pathetic.Do you understand ?

      March 10, 2013 at 7:35 pm |
    • Stacy

      Well, they were reasonable enough to make me question my own faith. I morphed into an agnostic for 16 years, seeking my own proof and applying every "-ology" there in the hope of proving the "unprovable". And the inevitable disdain for those who would call me somehow "inadequate" began to take root...quite the opposite of the love I had before. I had believed in Christ with my mind...I was raised that way. But to be transformed, one must believe with their heart. It boils down to faith. I am quite sure that sounds like foolishness to many...the Word testifies to that truth. Hey, we all just looking for the truth...we can share that.

      March 10, 2013 at 7:51 pm |
    • thought

      Saving one earth,

      Actually, I don't go on a rampage at all and condemn people to Hell...that's insane. Why are you judging me? You don't know me at all. I happen to love discussions with ANYONE...what I don't tolerate is emotional spewing that really makes no sense. Just because I'm a Christian doesn't mean I don't have a brain. Besides, Atheists can shout that they want religion out of classrooms, government halls, etc., but Atheism is a religion. Why should we accept the Atheist's religion and not other religions? Just askin...

      I'd appreciate a solid answer...thanks 🙂

      March 10, 2013 at 7:55 pm |
    • End Religion

      atheism is a religion like transparent is a color
      http://youtu.be/SSxgnu3Hww8

      March 10, 2013 at 8:10 pm |
    • .

      Thoughts, atheism is not a religion. This thought is probably a good place to start; why do you believe it is? No need to capitalize a word such as atheism; it isn't a proper name.

      March 10, 2013 at 8:11 pm |
    • thought

      End Religion,

      I guess you might be a kind of atheist that may not believe that atheism is not a religion. However, it seems that some types of atheists may not agree with you: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/01/07/the-sunday-assembly_n_2423590.html. What's your thought about this "church"?

      Thanks for the discussion!

      March 10, 2013 at 8:18 pm |
    • David

      If conservative christians would stop their persecution of atheists, I think that you would see atheists do their thing quietly as you do yours. The problem is that conservative christians aren't willing to do that – they try to force their religion on others legally.

      Conservative Christians have mastered the art of appearing the victim while in reality they are the bully.

      March 10, 2013 at 8:29 pm |
    • visitor

      because stacey, one can only listen to the same hustle so many times before getting disdainful. call it experiance.

      March 10, 2013 at 8:32 pm |
    • End Religion

      thought, instead of referring to me as "a kind of atheist that may not believe that atheism is not a religion" you might want to swap that around a bit. Overwhelmingly, atheists will tell you it is not a religion. Atheism is simply the answer "no" to "do you believe in any god(s)?" Any other trappings, beliefs, etc, have nothing to do with the term atheist.

      As for your article the very first paragraph tells you the gathering was setup by comedians. That should tell you something. They wanted publicity and they got it. it sounds more like a prank to me.

      But having said all this, atheists are not hermits that live on the edge of town. We are just like anybody else. Some of us feel the need to gather, work within the community, go to events, etc. Plenty of people enjoy getting together for group events and share good times without needing to call it "church."

      People will do all kinds of wacky things. Plenty or religious and non-religious groups go off on wild tangents.... who knows what these comedians are up to? While there are some atheist groups around, they're just for like-minded people to enjoy community. Atheists do not worship any one or any thing.

      March 10, 2013 at 8:44 pm |
    • End Religion

      *sigh* stacey, the "word" testifies to nothing. The bible is a known fraud. It is proof of nothing. It is simply your fervent belief that gives it any more meaning than Dr. Seuss' Green Eggs and Ham.

      March 10, 2013 at 8:49 pm |
    • thought

      End Religion,

      Thanks for the discussion and your reply. I appreciated your thoughts. At the end of the day, we can agree to disagree and go peacefully. Have a great evening!

      March 10, 2013 at 9:02 pm |
    • Stacy

      I apologize to the atheists that did not fall into the "disdaining" category. We seem to address the most vocal in these discussions. The message of Christ is love, tolerance, acceptance, forgiveness. Where's the harm in that? And that message is not for the so-called "righteous", it is for those who do not believe. Don't confuse the Christian with the Christ. We often drop the ball...I often drop the ball. I am as skeptical as the most staunch atheist on this blog, but I must ask you to, at least, entertain the possibility that there is a truth out there..one that does not agree with our basic sensibilities until we openly consider a Creator. Ray Bradbury said that we are an impossibility in an impossible universe. But we are here, nonetheless. What other impossibility does that imply? Just give it some thought, read the words of Christ with an open mind..if for nothing else than to strengthen your arguement against Christianity in that you would understand it more. Just leave open the possiblilty that the universe is not doomed to entrophy...not that's unhealthy for society right thar.

      March 10, 2013 at 9:04 pm |
    • End Religion

      Stacy, you talk as if we are from some other planet. Many atheists here were formerly a part of a church. Some here were ministers with a congregation. We know your religion. We've considered your religion. We've read your bible. Truth is not a fervent belief or "feeling deep in your heart"; truth is evidence and there is zero evidence for any god and no credible evidence in favour of your bible being anything but fiction.

      March 10, 2013 at 9:22 pm |
    • visitor

      stacey, messages of love were around a lot longer than christianity. only the arrogant and ignorant don't know that. religion added in messages of hell after death if one does not beleive. teaching that to children is abusive.
      you are very conveniently skipping the offensive parts of the doctrine.

      March 10, 2013 at 9:32 pm |
    • Stacy

      End religion...you are right. I did make some invalid assumptions. I suppose my target audience would be those who have not considered Christ with an open mind. If you really felt that you had discovered the, let's say...fountain of youth, would you not want to share that discovery? There is no intent of harm here. Besides, if I am wrong–in a relative instant in time–nothing remains but scattered dust in a cold universe. But if I am right.... And no, I don't fear nothingness (as it is basically unawareness)...just hopelessness. Sure, I HOPE my kids find happiness, the dow hits 15000 and the Braves have a great year, but we know what the demands of time are. I'm sure we can agree on that.

      March 10, 2013 at 9:52 pm |
    • End Religion

      @Stacy: "If you really felt that you had discovered the, let's say...fountain of youth, would you not want to share that discovery?"

      I hear you. Yes I would probably want to share the info. Personally, as much as it annoys me, I think religious folks should proselytize. The bible tells you to, and as you say, if you feel you're saving us from something (or have good news) you'd want to share it. It just gets old. From our view religious people are just deluded, and there's only so much "come listen to more of my crazy talk" one can put up with and still remain polite.

      ***
      "There is no intent of harm here. Besides, if I am wrong–in a relative instant in time–nothing remains but scattered dust in a cold universe. But if I am right.... And no, I don't fear nothingness (as it is basically unawareness)...just hopelessness. Sure, I HOPE my kids find happiness, the dow hits 15000 and the Braves have a great year, but we know what the demands of time are. I'm sure we can agree on that."

      It's nice to know you aren't wishing harm. What do you think your chances are of there being a hell? It isn't 50/50... right? You understand the "what if i'm right" fallacy is known as Pascal's Wager and is considered immoral by some, basically a gambling bet in not believing in God because he's awesome but instead believing to avoid hell? You've also considered how legitimate any religion could be that threatens eternal torture for simply not worshiping – does this sound like a reasonable feature for a loving god? Wouldn't an all powerful god be a little above petty jealousy and the need for worship – i mean he created an entire universe just to be worshiped and play some warped game around it? How is something like that even worthy of worship?

      March 10, 2013 at 10:24 pm |
    • Z

      To End Religion, not sure what you've researched or been through? Maybe you've grown up in a Church and found people's life's inconsistent with the Word of God? But m from a family of Atheist, Science, Engineering, & Computers was my major. And even made fun of people in this ridiculous religion. Then I seen people life's change, miracles to not everyone but one or two, and then after one year of research. Incapable of giving in, decided to seek help from the unseen God of the Bible, the God of Abraham, Isaac, & Jacob. And He answered my prayer. By miracle He allow it to happen. When I read the gospels, people of those days wanted to stone, kill, beat up our Lord & Savior. If people see and dpnt believe, how much more will you believe? It is a step of faith, so is trusting n the traffic light, that when it says walk, You have faith that the driver will proceed to stop. Faith is NOT blind, it is rational. 50/50? Playing your chances? Or finding out that there is life from this mundane world. No one can convince you to Heaven above, just like Pharaoh heart was harden. Pharaoh by himself, thought he was the god of his own destiny, God just reconfirms what you believe is true. In a way, Pharaoh's believe is similar to Atheist, not the afterlife part, but controlling your own destiny. Hope you find trust, love, and hope.

      March 10, 2013 at 10:49 pm |
    • Damocles

      @Z

      Aaaaaaaahahahahahahahahahahaha......

      March 10, 2013 at 10:55 pm |
    • Science

      Good night

      Chad/thought

      Paece

      Thaught I poked a puusy cat !

      March 10, 2013 at 11:15 pm |
    • End Religion

      Z, mental problems are a challenge. Seek medical help.

      March 11, 2013 at 7:37 am |
    • Saraswati

      You are probably just getting exposed to a different group of people than before. If you went back to your college do you really think the atheists there now would be any different?

      March 11, 2013 at 7:41 am |
  11. Pastafairian

    I love a glass or two of Pinot Noir, with my pasta dish, and a slice of garlic bread, but if I had to equate that with some 2000 year old crucified Jew that would turn my stomach. The eucharist sucks. Amen.

    March 10, 2013 at 7:05 pm |
    • thought

      What does this mean? I don't get it?? (and please...expand on your thoughts...tired of reading rambling, ranting sound-offs on this page). I'd love a discussion 🙂

      March 10, 2013 at 7:07 pm |
  12. Jon

    He seems a bit young to have written "Amazing Grace."

    March 10, 2013 at 7:01 pm |
    • thought

      He wrote a contemporary version of it.

      March 10, 2013 at 7:05 pm |
    • Ilivebygrace

      Find out why before you spout off about something you don't know anything about please.

      http://www.todayschristianmusic.com/artists/chris-tomlin/audio/chris-tomlin-story-behind-the-song-amazing-grace/

      March 10, 2013 at 7:20 pm |
    • Jam One

      My thoughts exactly, how can they give this man credit for a hymn from the 18th century.

      "Amazing Grace" is a Christian hymn with words written by the English poet and clergyman John Newton (1725–1807), published in 1779.

      Serious overreach here, not surprising given its source I suppose.

      March 10, 2013 at 7:34 pm |
    • .

      Thought, one reason why people may get their back up is livebygrace's snarky answer. There was zero need for it.

      March 10, 2013 at 8:28 pm |
  13. Austin

    Kevbox, you sit here and make comments about hitler hanging out with Luther. You call out Hispanics and colored people, and you accuse Christians as worshiping Paul.

    Then, you give us a lesson on pride?
    I take in the word of God, from cover to cover . And there is no distinction of a nation by color. You Do not know who spiritual Israel is, and you must be part of the loveless church.

    March 10, 2013 at 6:57 pm |
    • Austin

      What is a Christian who sticks up for colored people and Hispanics doing wrong? By not supportinig your prejudice?

      Once again, where is the scripture that talks about colored people and Hispanics?

      March 10, 2013 at 7:06 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      That's quaint, Austin. "Colored people" – where did you grow up? Are you colorless yourself?

      March 10, 2013 at 7:24 pm |
    • Austin

      @ tom tom My apologies, I should have used a " quotation", for kevobx statement "colored and Hispanics". Obviously I was contesting HIS idea. I suppose that a newbie would not pick that up. That's a bad example of laziness.

      March 10, 2013 at 7:41 pm |
    • Akira

      TTTOO:
      Kevobx made the statement yesterday that "coloreds and hispanics are satanists". This is what Austin is referring to.

      Austin: this person isn't a real believer. Remember the definition of poe? He is the epitome of one.
      You are wasting your time. He is amusing himself, that is all.

      March 10, 2013 at 8:38 pm |
    • Austin

      Akira,

      That was very compassionate. Thank you.

      March 11, 2013 at 7:42 am |
  14. kevobx

    The world saw the Bible miniseries, why be angred? (Jeremiah 4:28)

    March 10, 2013 at 6:52 pm |
    • End Religion

      "The only unforgivable sin is not being gullible enough to believe unsupported unintelligible nonsense contradictions asserted by the most dishonest and least credible sources."
      – AronRa

      March 10, 2013 at 6:55 pm |
    • JJ

      Psalm 137:9 – Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.

      March 10, 2013 at 6:57 pm |
  15. duh

    Tomlin's story may be very American, but it's not Christian. There is nothing in the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth that suggests he advocated using his name to make millions of dollars.

    March 10, 2013 at 6:42 pm |
    • thought

      Just wondering if you know about Tomlin's charity efforts? I don't but because the man is not broadcasting the amount he most likely gives away, you judge him.

      March 10, 2013 at 6:57 pm |
    • Ilivebygrace

      dah,

      You do not know Chris Tomlin's story at all. I have been following the man and his music for years. I have been to his concerts and I have looked into where the money goes that he makes. He is an amazing human being and bringing thousand's to Jesus Christ through the words in his music. He is a very Godly man and donates a HUGE amount of his money to the church, missionaries and countless charities. Shame on you for implying that he is not worthy of his popularity. Try listening instead of mouthing off about something/someone you obviously know nothing about.

      March 10, 2013 at 7:11 pm |
  16. Elliott Carlin

    I think Chris Tomlin needs to find a ministry where he isn't front and center, and I think the atheists and religion-hating posters ought to seek employment.

    March 10, 2013 at 6:38 pm |
    • End Religion

      Hi! Guess what my job is? Letting people know religion is a fraud, your bible is false and your god does not exist. Have a nice day!

      March 10, 2013 at 6:54 pm |
    • JJ

      When you started your sentence with "I think" I was encouraged. And then it all went down the shiter.

      March 10, 2013 at 7:00 pm |
    • thought

      Actually, until this story was written for CNN, Tomlin was not known to many people. Sounds like he tries to stay away from front/center. Having said this, I am actually quite surprised how much hate there is towards Christians on this discussion page. Christians make mistakes and also many who say they are Christians are giving Jesus a BAD name. So for the ones who have nothing better to do, I agree...go find something constructive to do with your time then bash Christians on a news page that was written as information under a "religion" column.

      March 10, 2013 at 7:04 pm |
    • .

      This is a belief blog, nt a religious blog. Make the distinction, please, though. And further, people are guaranteed the right to speak their minds, even if it offends some. If one doesn't find the Belief Blog to their taste, there are a myriad of other sites to visit.

      March 10, 2013 at 9:20 pm |
  17. Compulsive Christian Criticizer

    Just a reminder, no bigee. There's no reason to believe in gods or their sons.

    March 10, 2013 at 6:34 pm |
  18. kevobx

    Do you see red people on television? When they get angred see the red in them. Ask the Christians what church did Christ ever walk in or even preached in? Christians are following Saul / Paul who found grace and did not reject the gift, for the pride of life. Who are those people telling you to be proud, mark them well? (1st John 2:15-16).

    March 10, 2013 at 6:34 pm |
    • Compulsive Christian Criticizer

      People bleed red. Does that bother you?

      March 10, 2013 at 6:36 pm |
  19. pie

    lame, just like religion...burn baby burn

    March 10, 2013 at 6:29 pm |
  20. Domine

    Chris Tomlin, you arent making Christianity any better, just rock worse.

    March 10, 2013 at 6:19 pm |
    • Bob

      great way to put it, Domine.

      March 10, 2013 at 6:25 pm |
    • Austin

      So very true, dude.

      March 10, 2013 at 6:31 pm |
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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.