July 20th, 2013
10:00 PM ET

Reza Aslan: Why I write about Jesus

Opinion by Reza Aslan, special to CNN

(CNN) - When I was 15 years old, I found Jesus.

I spent the summer of my sophomore year at an evangelical youth camp in Northern California, a place of timbered fields and boundless blue skies, where, given enough time and stillness and soft-spoken encouragement, one could not help but hear the voice of God.

Amid the man-made lakes and majestic pines my friends and I sang songs, played games and swapped secrets, rollicking in our freedom from the pressures of home and school.

In the evenings, we gathered in a fire-lit assembly hall at the center of the camp. It was there that I heard a remarkable story that would change my life forever.

Two thousand years ago, I was told, in an ancient land called Galilee, the God of heaven and Earth was born in the form of a helpless child. The child grew into a blameless man. The man became the Christ, the savior of humanity.

Through his words and miraculous deeds, he challenged the Jews who thought they were the chosen of God, and in return he was nailed to a cross. Though Jesus could have saved himself from that gruesome death, he freely chose to die.

Indeed, his death was the point of it all, for his sacrifice freed us all from the burden of our sins.

But the story did not end there, because three days later, he rose again, exalted and divine, so that now, all who believe in him and accept him into their hearts will also never die, but have eternal life.

For a kid raised in a motley family of lukewarm Muslims and exuberant atheists, this was truly the greatest story ever told. Never before had I felt so intimately the pull of God.

In Iran, the place of my birth, I was Muslim in much the way I was Persian. My religion and my ethnicity were mutual and linked. Like most people born into a religious tradition, my faith was as familiar to me as my skin, and just as disregardable.

After the Iranian revolution forced my family to flee our home, religion in general, and Islam in particular, became taboo in our household. Islam was shorthand for everything we had lost to the mullahs who now ruled Iran.

My mother still prayed when no one was looking, and you could still find a stray Quran or two hidden in a closet or a drawer somewhere. But, for the most part, our lives were scrubbed of all trace of God.

That was just fine with me. After all, in the America of the 1980s, being Muslim was like being from Mars. My faith was a bruise, the most obvious symbol of my otherness; it needed to be concealed.

Jesus, on the other hand, was America. He was the central figure in America’s national drama. Accepting him into my heart was as close as I could get to feeling truly American.

I do not mean to say that mine was a conversion of convenience. On the contrary, I burned with absolute devotion to my newfound faith.

I was presented with a Jesus who was less “Lord and Savior” than he was a best friend, someone with whom I could have a deep and personal relationship. As a teenager trying to make sense of an indeterminate world I had only just become aware of, this was an invitation I could not refuse.

The moment I returned home from camp, I began eagerly to share the good news of Jesus Christ with my friends and family, my neighbors and classmates, with people I’d just met and with strangers on the street: those who heard it gladly, and those who threw it back in my face.

Yet something unexpected happened in my quest to save the souls of the world.

The more I probed the Bible to arm myself against the doubts of unbelievers, the more distance I discovered between the Jesus of the Gospels and the Jesus of history – between Jesus the Christ and Jesus of Nazareth.

In college, where I began my formal study of the history of religions, that initial discomfort soon ballooned into full-blown doubts.

The bedrock of evangelical Christianity, at least as it was taught to me, is the unconditional belief that every word of the Bible is God-breathed and true, literal and inerrant.

The sudden realization that this belief is patently and irrefutably false, that the Bible is replete with the most blatant and obvious errors and contradictions — just as one would expect from a document written by hundreds of different hands across thousands of years — left me confused and spiritually unmoored.

And so, like many people in my situation, I angrily discarded my faith as if it were a costly forgery I had been duped into buying.

I began to rethink the faith and culture of my forefathers, finding in them a deeper, more intimate familiarity than I ever had as a child, the kind that comes from reconnecting with an old friend after many years apart.

Meanwhile, I continued my academic work in religious studies, delving back into the Bible not as an unquestioning believer but as an inquisitive scholar. No longer chained to the assumption that the stories I read were literally true, I became aware of a more meaningful truth in the text.

Ironically, the more I learned about the life of the historical Jesus, the turbulent world in which he lived, and the brutality of the Roman occupation that he defied, the more I was drawn to him.

The Jewish peasant and revolutionary who challenged the rule of the most powerful empire the world had ever known became so much more real to me than the detached, unearthly being I had been introduced to in church.

Today, I can confidently say that two decades of rigorous academic research into the origins of Christianity has made me a more genuinely committed disciple of Jesus of Nazareth than I ever was of Jesus Christ.

I have modeled my life not after the celestial spirit whom many Christians believe sacrificed himself for our sins, but rather after the illiterate, marginal Jew who gave his life fighting an unwinnable battle against the religious and political powers of his day on behalf of the poor and the dispossessed – those his society deemed unworthy of saving.

I wrote my newest book, "Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth" in order to spread the good news of the Jesus of history with the same fervor that I once applied to spreading the story of the Christ.

Because I am convinced that one can be a devoted follower of Jesus without being a Christian, just as I know that one can be a Christian without being a follower of Jesus.

Reza Aslan is a bestselling author and a scholar of religion. This article was adapted from his newest book, "Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth." The views expressed in this column are Aslan's alone.

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Belief • Bible • Christianity • Church • Jesus • Opinion

soundoff (4,311 Responses)
  1. Meg Pierce

    To the author: I really like this article and often feel the same way. Jesus as a god doesn't really appeal to me, I mean if one is immortal, than one isn't really sacrificing anything by dying. Jesus as a man, human and fallible, is so much more impressive. I don't think that Jesus needs to be the son of God for his teachings to be meaningful.

    July 21, 2013 at 4:16 pm |
    • jazzguitarman

      Well based on the posting by the Christians here, the teachings are not that important. What is key is being saved and that can only happen if one views JC as their savior. Religion is nothing without faith in the mumbo jumbo.

      July 21, 2013 at 4:25 pm |
    • lol??

      Haven't you heard? Everybody gets their own little personal just fer them tailor made individual specific and appointed resurrection. What a mob!

      July 21, 2013 at 4:44 pm |
  2. Phil

    Same ol same ol dated modern era liberalism. After Bart Ehrman showed that you could make a bunch of money doing this there have been plenty of takers. Don't get dupped!

    July 21, 2013 at 4:12 pm |
    • Dippy's Little Helper


      July 21, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
      • Phil


        July 21, 2013 at 4:16 pm |
      • Dippy

        Thanks, helper. But maybe dupp is a word? Johnny Dupp?

        July 21, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
    • tony

      I thought that the teachings ascribed to Jesus were the Liberal agenda of his times?

      July 21, 2013 at 4:15 pm |
      • Phil

        Jesus was pre-modern

        July 21, 2013 at 4:18 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      It's just now dawning on you that all of religion is a giant scam to make money for the priest class?

      Don't get duped, indeed!

      July 21, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
      • Peter

        A US bishop makes around $11,000 and most religious orders take vows of poverty, the only way a priest has any real kind of money is if he inherits it because they are not allowed to amass wealth.

        July 21, 2013 at 4:41 pm |
        • RichardSRussell

          Let's skip right over the megabux that the televangelists haul in and focus on that $11,000. It doesn't include the free food, lodging, clothing, entertainment, transportation, medical care, etc. that come along as part of the package. It also glides lightly over the fact that, whatever the dollar amount, it represents *100%* of what they've got coming in.

          "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it." —Upton Sinclair

          July 21, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
  3. jazzguitarman

    Christians: Does the author get under your skin more so than atheist and agnostics? I’m getting that impression based on the postings. A common theme I see is that Christians assume agnostics don’t have a good understanding of the Christian faith and that explains why their agnostic I.e. if they only knew more they would have faith.

    Well that theme doesn’t work with this guy since he is in the ‘know’ (i.e. he has put in the research, done the reading, studied the text etc…). Is that the reason for such a harsh rejected of his POV?

    July 21, 2013 at 4:11 pm |
    • Terry

      None of them get under my skin because we are responsible for our own selves. They have been presented the same evidence so they can either choose to believe or not just as those in the bible did. You either do or do not there is no middle road because Jesus himself stated "You are either for me or against me, those who are against me scatter abroad." Matt 12:30. I happen to choose to believe and I hope others do but if not, that is their choice.

      July 21, 2013 at 4:27 pm |
      • jazzguitarman

        Terry, I hope you don't get offended when people like me say that there is no evidence and you're POV is based on delusion.

        But I really don't see how one can have this discussion without insulting each other. You imply there is evdience and since agnostic chose to ignore said evidence you're calling agnostic dummies. (since only a dunce would ignore evidence).

        Agnostic say there is no evidence and your delusional.

        July 21, 2013 at 4:32 pm |
  4. Rich

    Dear Reza,
    The very premise you claim led you to reject the Christ but love the man is false. The " foundation of evavangelical Christianity" is not that every word is intended literally. The Bible is a mix of literary genres. Most of the New Testament is written as eye witness testimony, to be taken very literally. However much of the Old Testament is written as narrative, rich in symbolism with profound meaning and Truth, but not always intended to be taken in a literal sense (see creation account. 7 is a number used to symbolize completion, the entire universe was obviously not created in 7 days).

    I wonder if you study how to read scriptures and re-evaluate them with that new found wisdom if you will arrive at the same conclusions...methinks not. As Paul says regarding The Law of the Old Testament ( much of which seems insane and contradictory, and impossible to fulfill) its through the law that we die to the law. It's purpose all along was to point us to look to a Savior because of our inability to fulfill it. It's purpose was never to be interpreted word for word and for the integrity of the Bible to rest upon it being true or for it to make sense.

    As Lewis says, Jesus was a lunatic, a liar...or he was the Christ the He claimed to be. Why model yourself after a lunatic liar ?

    July 21, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
    • ME II

      "As Lewis says, Jesus was a lunatic, a liar...or he was the Christ the He claimed to be."

      ... or he was just misquoted.

      July 21, 2013 at 4:20 pm |
    • Aaron

      Well said, Rich. Good job.

      July 21, 2013 at 4:30 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Logic was hardly C. S. Lewis's strong suit. Other possibilities that Lewis ignores include:
       • Jesus was sincere but mistaken.
       • Stories of what he believed or did have become garbled.
       • The whole Jesus thing was an evil plot by Ahriman to distract people from the truth of Ahura Mazda.
       • and more ...

      Not surprisingly, people who are fond of quoting Lewis's trilemma seem not to be particularly adept at critical thinking themselves.

      July 21, 2013 at 4:34 pm |
  5. Skeptical

    How do you know that the man on the corner with a cardboard sign isn't your god/savior testing us?

    July 21, 2013 at 4:08 pm |
    • Peter

      We don't, that is why scripture say whatever you do to least of these you do to me. Scripture also shows that angels can take human form to test us, see Book of Tobit and he destruction of Soddom and Gemorrah, angels take human formats why you are supposed to be kind to everyone.

      July 21, 2013 at 4:16 pm |
    • tundexxdisu

      My Lord and savior can be in the man on the corner with a sign. He abides in a lot of people. The Holy Spirit lives in the hearts of born–again believers in Jesus. He lives in me too. I simply asked Him to come into my heart. He is not partial, He can do the same in you too. He will be on the inside of you and instruct you. Sometimes through the bible, a preacher, the works of God in nature, or yes...even the man on the corner. Jesus. Call on Jesus. believe you and receive you by faith. I come as a child. Lead me by your truth. Your Holy word and Holy Spirit–Amen

      July 21, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
  6. seventeen

    i agree with the article – following Jesus is a lot different than being a christian – being a christian is following man-made teachings – following Jesus is taking His word and allowing it to become real in your life – HE spelled it out for us in the gospels –

    July 21, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
    • von

      He rejects Christ as Lord and Savior (much like Buddhism and Islam) and you agree with that?

      July 21, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
    • Peter

      You only have the Word of God in written form because the Catholic Church put all the sacred texts into one book and God Bless the Irish monks during the medieval times because they copied sacred scripture over and over as their vocation or else it would have been lost. If you correctly read sacred scripture a dont ignore parts of it you see very clearly Jesus himself establishes a Church and the Old Testament prophet Daniel cannot be ignored either because it tells you that the Messiah will be born during the 4th kingdom and He will give that kingdom to His saints. Is there not a universal Church that is head quartered in Rome that literally was built on the remains of Saint Peter and who has an unbroken succession from Saint Peter?

      July 21, 2013 at 4:27 pm |
  7. Highwaybyway

    The Holy Spirit is not mentioned, the author needs to seek the Holy Spirit.

    July 21, 2013 at 4:00 pm |
    • Reality

      For added "pizzazz", Catholic/Christian theologians divided god the singularity into three persons (father, son and holy spirit) and invented atonement as an added guilt trip for the "pew people" to go along with this trinity of overseers. By doing so, they made god the padre into god the "filicider".

      July 21, 2013 at 4:06 pm |
      • Peter

        How do you read sacred scripture and ignore the Holy Spirit and Jesus saying he is equal with the father? That claim is kinda why you know Jesus was executed!!!!! No one would have killed or wanted to kill a rabbi who was like Mr. Rogers telling everyone not to worry about their sins and curing people who had diseases, no one would have wanted Jesus dead if that is what he was talking about and doing.

        July 21, 2013 at 4:33 pm |
        • Reality

          Jesus was an illiterate Jewish peasant/carpenter/simple preacher man who suffered from hallucinations (or “mythicizing” from P, M, M, L and J) and who has been characterized anywhere from the Messiah from Nazareth to a mythical character from mythical Nazareth to a ma-mzer from Nazareth (Professor Bruce Chilton, in his book Rabbi Jesus). An-alyses of Jesus’ life by many contemporary NT scholars (e.g. Professors Ludemann, Crossan, Borg and Fredriksen, ) via the NT and related doc-uments have concluded that only about 30% of Jesus' sayings and ways noted in the NT were authentic. The rest being embellishments (e.g. miracles)/hallucinations made/had by the NT authors to impress various Christian, Jewish and Pagan sects.

          The 30% of the NT that is "authentic Jesus" like everything in life was borrowed/plagiarized and/or improved from those who came before. In Jesus' case, it was the ways and sayings of the Babylonians, Greeks, Persians, Egyptians, Hitt-ites, Canaanites, OT, John the Baptizer and possibly the ways and sayings of traveling Greek Cynics.


          For added "pizzazz", Catholic theologians divided god the singularity into three persons and invented atonement as an added guilt trip for the "pew people" to go along with this trinity of overseers. By doing so, they made god the padre into god the "filicider".

          Current RCC problems:

          Pedophiliac priests, an all-male, mostly white hierarchy, atonement theology and original sin!!!!

          Luther, Calvin, Joe Smith, Henry VIII, Wesley, Roger Williams, the Great “Babs” et al, founders of Christian-based religions or combination religions also suffered from the belief in/hallucinations of "pretty wingie thingie" visits and "prophecies" for profits analogous to the myths of Catholicism (resurrections, apparitions, ascensions and immacu-late co-nceptions).

          Current problems:
          Adulterous preachers, pedophiliac clerics, "propheteering/ profiteering" evangelicals and atonement theology,

          July 21, 2013 at 11:10 pm |
  8. popseal

    It is not surprising that skeptics deny the historic nature of the New Testament in and attempt to assuage trepidations growing from denying the resurrection of Christ. The changed lives of the disciples and the changed lives of contemporary converts like myself are attributed to psychological disorders, deceptions, etc. 43 years ago my drunkenness was healed and a new life was begun, explained only by the fact the He lives. Over these years I've watched the lack of faith around me lead to the ruin of lives. It doesn't matter that hypocrites fail or fakers get exposed, Jesus remains Who He has always been and will always remain. Faith in Christ disturbs unbelief because it presents the possibilities of eternity.

    July 21, 2013 at 4:00 pm |
    • Reality

      Saving Christians from the Infamous Resurrection Con/

      From that famous passage: In 1 Corinthians 15: 14, Paul reasoned, "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith."

      Even now Catholic/Christian professors (e.g.Notre Dame, Catholic U, Georgetown) of theology are questioning the bodily resurrection of the simple, preacher man aka Jesus.

      To wit;

      From a major Catholic university's theology professor’s grad school white-board notes:

      "Heaven is a Spirit state or spiritual reality of union with God in love, without earthly – earth bound distractions.
      Jesus and Mary's bodies are therefore not in Heaven.

      Most believe that it to mean that the personal spiritual self that survives death is in continuity with the self we were while living on earth as an embodied person.

      Again, the physical Resurrection (meaning a resuscitated corpse returning to life), Ascension (of Jesus' crucified corpse), and Assumption (Mary's corpse) into heaven did not take place.

      The Ascension symbolizes the end of Jesus' earthly ministry and the beginning of the Church.

      Only Luke records it. (Luke mentions it in his gospel and Acts, i.e. a single attestation and therefore historically untenable). The Ascension ties Jesus' mission to Pentecost and missionary activity of Jesus' followers.

      The Assumption has multiple layers of symbolism, some are related to Mary's special role as "Christ bearer" (theotokos). It does not seem fitting that Mary, the body of Jesus' Virgin-Mother (another biblically based symbol found in Luke 1) would be derived by worms upon her death. Mary's assumption also shows God's positive regard, not only for Christ's male body, but also for female bodies." "

      "In three controversial Wednesday Audiences, Pope John Paul II pointed out that the essential characteristic of heaven, hell or purgatory is that they are states of being of a spirit (angel/demon) or human soul, rather than places, as commonly perceived and represented in human language. This language of place is, according to the Pope, inadequate to describe the realities involved, since it is tied to the temporal order in which this world and we exist. In this he is applying the philosophical categories used by the Church in her theology and saying what St. Thomas Aquinas said long before him."

      The Vatican quickly embellished this story with a lot CYAP.

      With respect to rising from the dead, we also have this account:

      An added note: As per R.B. Stewart in his introduction to the recent book, The Resurrection of Jesus, Crossan and Wright in Dialogue,


      "Reimarus (1774-1778) posits that Jesus became sidetracked by embracing a political position, sought to force God's hand and that he died alone deserted by his disciples. What began as a call for repentance ended up as a misguided attempt to usher in the earthly political kingdom of God. After Jesus' failure and death, his disciples stole his body and declared his resurrection in order to maintain their financial security and ensure themselves some standing."

      p.168. by Ted Peters:

      Even so, asking historical questions is our responsibility. Did Jesus really rise from the tomb? Is it necessary to have been raised from the tomb and to appear to his disciples in order to explain the rise of early church and the transcription of the bible? Crossan answers no, Wright answers, yes. "

      So where are the bones"? As per Professor Crossan's analyses in his many books, the body of Jesus would have ended up in the mass graves of the crucified, eaten by wild dogs, covered with lime in a shallow grave, or under a pile of stones.

      July 21, 2013 at 4:04 pm |
  9. effrod

    Christ is Hebrew for Messiah which means savior. Yes, you may know -of- Jesus and not be a christian i.e. follower of Christ (Jesus). Knowing of Him will not save you. You need a savior, a Christ. This is black and white, plain and simple. Know of Jesus Christ, the savior or -know- him. It's up to you. When it comes to eternal life, it is in Him and only Him. Can't have life without the giver of life. Can't be saved from death without a savior. [username at g(oogle)mail]

    July 21, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
    • tony

      YOU might need a savior Anyone who basically lives their life doing good, shouldn't need one, or else the loving god story is one heck of a lie.

      July 21, 2013 at 4:21 pm |
    • Peter

      Christ is actually Greek not Hebrew and it means anointed one.

      July 21, 2013 at 4:36 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      The Hebrew for "Messiah" is "meschach". "Christ" is Greek for "anointed one". The former is a religious concept (which is why ONE of the New Testament lineages of Jesus goes thru his mother Mary), while the latter is a royal one (which is why the OTHER lineage — different in all but 3 points — goes thru Joseph). What you see in the Bible is a conflation of 2 DIFFERENT traditions as to who was gonna come along and save the Hebrews from their Roman conquerors. As it happens, they were both wrong, since NOBODY saved them from the Romans.

      July 21, 2013 at 4:47 pm |
  10. Reality

    A bit wishy-washy is "Professor" Aslan as he is listed as born a Shiite than became an evangelical Christian and now he has returned to his roots as a Shiite.

    With this in mind, some questions and answers for Aslan to address in this forum:

    What instigated the attack on the Twin Towers, Flight 93 and the Pentagon?

    And what drives today's 24/7 mosque/imam-planned acts of terror and horror?

    The koran, Mohammed's book of death for all infidels and Muslim domination of the world by any means.

    Muslims must clean up this book removing said passages admitting that they are based on the Gabriel myth and therefore obviously the hallucinations and/or lies of Mohammed.

    Then we can talk about the safety and location of mosques and what is taught therein.

    Until then, no Muslim can be trusted anytime or anywhere..................................

    July 21, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
    • Zman

      Your statements are highly innaccurate. Yes, Muslim extremists were responsible for these attacks, however many terrorist attacks have been committed by Christians, Jews, Hindus, and other religions. Of the many terrorist attacks to occur in America, 5% are due to communists, 6% due to Muslim Extremists, 7% due to Jewish extremists, and the rest committed by average Americans, many of whom happened to be Christian. So you see, when you try to attribute the fallacies and misjudgments of one small extremist sect of Islam to all Muslims, you make errors in your thinking and logic because that is simply not the case. The majority of Muslims are peaceful and follow a religion that advises peace first and violence only as a last resort. So how can you possibly say no Muslims can be trusted anywhere? Does that mean no Jews can be trusted? Or no Christians either for that matter? Because all have committed acts of terrorism, but the members of these religions who do so fail to reap the true benefits of religion and are therefore not truly a part of that religion at all. There is nothing wrong with the Qur'an, the problem is with people like you that take everything at face value and make ridiculous assumptions based on things they know little about.

      July 21, 2013 at 4:29 pm |
      • Reality

        http://www.muslimaccess.com/quraan/arabic/005.asp et al

        Some of the koranic passages that make Islam the terror and horror religion that it is:

        o "Believers, take neither Jews nor Christians for your friends." (Surah 5:51)
        "Believers, when you encounter the infidels on the march, do not turn your backs to them in flight. If anyone on that day turns his back to them, except it be for tactical reasons...he shall incur the wrath of God and Hell shall be his home..." (Surah 8:12-)

        "Make war on them until idolatry shall cease and God's religion shall reign supreme." (Surah 8:36-)

        "...make war on the leaders of unbelief...Make war on them: God will chastise them at your hands and humble them. He will grant you victory over them..." (Surah 9:12-)

        "Fight against such as those to whom the Scriptures were given [Jews and Christians]...until they pay tribute out of hand and are utterly subdued." (Surah 9:27-)

        "It is He who has sent forth His apostle with guidance and the true Faith [Islam] to make it triumphant over all religions, however much the idolaters [non-Muslims] may dislike it." (Surah 9:31-)

        "If you do not fight, He will punish you sternly, and replace you by other men." (Surah 9:37-)

        "Prophet make war on the unbelievers and the hypocrites and deal rigorously with them. Hell shall be their home." (Surah 9:73)

        "Believers, make war on the infidels who dwell around you. Deal firmly with them." (Surah 9:121-)

        "Say: 'Praise be to God who has never begotten a son; who has no partner in His Kingdom..." (Surah 17:111)

        "'How shall I bear a child,' she [Mary] answered, 'when I am a virgin...?' 'Such is the will of the Lord,' he replied. 'That is no difficult thing for Him...God forbid that He [God[ Himself should beget a son!...Those who say: 'The Lord of Mercy has begotten a son,' preach a monstrous falsehood..." (Surah 19:12-, 29-, 88)

        "Fight for the cause of God with the devotion due to Him...He has given you the name of Muslims..." (Surah 22:78-)

        "Blessed are the believers...who restrain their carnal desires (except with their wives and slave-girls, for these are lawful to them)...These are the heirs of Paradise..." (Surah 23:1-5-)

        "Muhammad is God's apostle. Those who follow him are ruthless to the unbelievers but merciful to one another." (Surah 48:29)

        "Shall the reward of goodness be anything but good?...Dark-eyed virgins sheltered in their tents...They shall recline on green cushions and fine carpets...Blessed be the name of your Lord..." (Surah 55:52-66-)

        July 21, 2013 at 11:13 pm |
        • Reality

          And some of the results of these koranic passages:

          As the koranic/mosque driven acts of terror and horror continue:

          The Muslim Conquest of India – 11th to 18th century

          ■"The likely death toll is somewhere between 2 million and 80 million. The geometric mean of those two limits is 12.7 million. "

          and the 19 million killed in the Mideast Slave Trade 7C-19C by Muslims.

          and more recently

          1a) 179 killed in Mumbai/Bombay, 290 injured

          1b) Assassination of Benazir Bhutto and Theo Van Gogh

          2) 9/11, 3000 mostly US citizens, 1000’s injured

          3) The 24/7 Sunni-Shiite centuries-old blood feud currently being carried out in Iraq, US troops killed in action, 3,480 and 928 in non combat roles. Iraqi civilians killed as of 05/10/2013/, 113,249-123,978 mostly due to suicide bombers, land mines and bombs of various types, http://www.iraqbodycount.org/ and http://www.defenselink.mil/news/casualty.pdf

          4) Kenya- In Nairobi, about 212 people were killed and an estimated 4000 injured; in Dar es Salaam, the attack killed at least 11 and wounded 85.[2]

          5) Bali-in 2002-killing 202 people, 164 of whom were foreign nationals, and 38 Indonesian citizens. A further 209 people were injured.

          6) Bali in 2005- Twenty people were killed, and 129 people were injured by three bombers who killed themselves in the attacks.

          7) Spain in 2004- killing 191 people and wounding 2,050.

          8. UK in 2005- The bombings killed 52 commuters and the four radical Islamic suicide bombers, injured 700.

          9) The execution of an eloping couple in Afghanistan on 04/15/2009 by the Taliban.

          10) – Afghanistan: US troops 1,385 killed in action, 273 killed in non-combat situations as of 09/15/2011. Over 40,000 Afghan civilians killed due to the dark-age, koranic-driven Taliban acts of horror

          11) The killing of 13 citizen soldiers at Ft. Hood by a follower of the koran.

          12) 38 Russian citizens killed on March 29, 2010 by Muslim women suicide bombers.

          13) The May 28, 2010 attack on a Islamic religious minority in Pakistan, which have left 98 dead,

          14) Lockerbie is known internationally as the site where, on 21 December 1988, the wreckage of Pan Am Flight 103 crashed as a result of a terrorist bomb. In the United Kingdom the event is referred to as the Lockerbie disaster, the Lockerbie bombing, or simply Lockerbie. Eleven townspeople were killed in Sherwood Crescent, where the plane's wings and fuel tanks plummeted in a fiery explosion, destroying several houses and leaving a huge crater, with debris causing damage to a number of buildings nearby. The 270 fatalities (259 on the plane, 11 in Lockerbie) were citizens of 21 nations.

          15 The daily suicide and/or roadside and/or mosque bombings in the terror world of Islam.

          16) Bombs sent from Yemen by followers of the koran which fortunately were discovered before the bombs were detonated.

          17) The killing of 58 Christians in a Catholic church in one of the latest acts of horror and terror in Iraq.

          18) Moscow airport suicide bombing: 35 dead, 130 injured. January 25, 2011.

          19) A Pakistani minister, who had said he was getting death threats because of his stance against the country's controversial blasphemy law, was shot and killed Wednesday, 3/2/2011

          20) two American troops killed in Germany by a recently radicalized Muslim, 3/3/2011

          21) the kidnapping and apparent killing of a follower of Zoraster in the dark world of Islamic Pakistan.

          22) Shariatpur, Bangladesh (CNN 3/30/2011) - Hena Akhter's last words to her mother proclaimed her innocence. But it was too late to save the 14-year-old girl. Her fellow villagers in Bangladesh's Shariatpur district had already passed harsh judgment on her. Guilty, they said, of having an affair with a married man. The imam from the local mosque ordered the fatwa, or religious ruling, and the punishment: 101 lashes delivered swiftly, deliberately in public. Hena dropped after 70 and died a week later.

          23) "October 4, 2011, 100 die as a truck loaded with drums of fuel exploded Tuesday at the gate of compound housing several government ministries on a busy Mogadishu street. It was the deadliest single bombing carried out by the al Qaeda-linked al-Shabab group in Somalia since their insurgency began. "

          o 24) Mon Jun 4, 2012 10:18am EDT
          BAGHDAD (Reuters) – A suicide bomber detonated an explosive-packed car outside a Shi'ite Muslim office in central Baghdad on Monday, killing at least 26 people and wounding more than 190 in an attack bearing the hallmarks of Iraq's al Qaeda affiliate.

          The bombing on a Shi'ite religious office comes at a sensitive time, with the country's fractious Shi'ite, Sunni and Kurdish blocs locked in a crisis that threatens to unravel their power-sharing deal and spill into sectarian tensions."

          25) BURGAS, Bulgaria | Thu Jul 19, 2012 11:27am EDT

          (Reuters) – A suicide bomber carried out an attack that killed seven people in a bus transporting Israeli tourists in Bulgaria, the interior minister said on Thursday, and Israel said Iranian-backed Hezbollah militants were to blame.

          26 ) September 12, 2012
          Envoy to Libya dies in rocket blast

          27) Boston Marathon horror – April 2013, four dead, hundreds injured and maimed for life.

          July 21, 2013 at 11:15 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      What's responsible for all the atrocities of religion? The concept of FAITH — that you can know something for sure and certain without a lick of evidence for it, and usually despite plenty of evidence against it, including massive contradictions.

      Faith is the rotten core of all religions. Of course, since it's the only thing that keeps the suckers coming back week after week to plank their bux down in the collection plate, it's incµmbent on the priest class to praise the whole idea of faith to the skies, because their livelihood depends on it.

      July 21, 2013 at 4:43 pm |
    • Fuzzy

      Your rant against islam is indeed one of ignorance considering the attrocities that can be attributed to christianity. Have you chosen to forget the crusades, the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre, the thousands who have died becasue of your christian verse 'Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live' (exodus 22:18), not to mention that just this past february a 22 year old New Guinea mother was tortured and burned at the stake by christians becasue they thought her a witch. There are countless passages in your bible that contradict your notion of peace and love, such as Jepthah from the book of Judges who sacrifced his daughter as a prize to god for winning a battle. I've studied your bible intensly for 20 plus years and you can't fool me with your false promises of peace and love; your religion promotes racism, hate and an immense inequality for women

      July 22, 2013 at 1:40 am |
  11. von

    To separate Christ from his Lordship is to crucify him again. I'm so glad this article was posted because it's a true example of FALSE conversion. Mentally converted, but not in spirit – Christ was never formed in this guy.

    July 21, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
  12. Jesus

    I dont want people to believe in me , just love one another as they love themselves , and serve the God of thier Understanding by serving one another in need , find a peaceful way to live , and love on another as the family that all mankind is . Devine love and natural law , is all you need .

    July 21, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
    • Reality

      JC's family and friends had it right 2000 years ago ( Mark 3: 21 "And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself.")

      Said passage is one of the few judged to be authentic by most contemporary NT scholars. e.g. See Professor Ludemann's conclusion in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 24 and p. 694.

      Actually, Jesus was a bit "touched". After all he thought he spoke to Satan, thought he changed water into wine, thought he raised Lazarus from the dead etc. In today's world, said Jesus would be declared legally insane.

      Or did P, M, M, L and J simply make him into a first century magic-man via their epistles and gospels of semi-fiction? Many contemporary NT experts after thorough analyses of all the scriptures go with the latter magic-man conclusion with J's gospel being mostly fiction.

      Obviously, today's followers of Paul et al's "magic-man" are also a bit on the odd side believing in all the Christian mumbo jumbo about bodies resurrecting, and exorcisms, and miracles, and "magic-man atonement, and infallible, old, European/Utah white men, and 24/7 body/blood sacrifices followed by consumption of said sacrifices. Yummy!!!!

      So why do we really care what a first century CE, illiterate, long-dead, preacher/magic man would do or say?

      July 21, 2013 at 4:01 pm |
    • Reality

      "As a concept, the Golden Rule has a history that long predates the term "Golden Rule", or "Golden law", as it was called from the 1670s.[1][6] As a concept of "the ethic of reciprocity," it has its roots in a wide range of world cultures, and is a standard way that different cultures use to resolve conflicts.[1][5] It has a long history, and a great number of prominent religious figures and philosophers have restated its reciprocal, "two-way" nature in various ways (not limited to the above forms).[1]

      Rushworth Kidder discusses the early contributions of Confucius (551–479 BCE) (See a version in Confucianism below). Kidder notes that this concept's framework appears prominently in many religions, including "Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Zoroastrianism, and the rest of the world's major religions".[7] According to Greg M. Epstein, " 'do unto others' ... is a concept that essentially no religion misses entirely."[8] Simon Blackburn also states that the Golden Rule can be "found in some form in almost every ethical tradition".[9] In his commentary to the Torah verse (Hebrew: "ואהבת לרעך כמוך" ca.1300 BCE):"

      You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against your kinsfolk. Love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.

      —Leviticus 19:18[10], the "Great Commandment"

      Did the historical Jesus utter a version of the Golden Rule? Luke 6:31 = Matt 7:12- no he did not according to the findings of many contemporary NT scholars.

      e.g Professor Gerd Luedemann [Jesus, 151f] notes the ancient and diverse attestation of this saying in antiquity, including its earliest occurrence in Herodotus III 142, 3:

      "I will not do that for which I censure my neighbors."

      From Ludemann's book, Jesus After 2000 Years, pp. 151-152, " In view of the widespread attestation of the Golden Rule in antiquity and its generality, it cannot be attributed to Jesus."

      See also: http://www.faithfutures.org/JDB/jdb033.html

      And because of the common sense nature of the Golden Rule, most humans to include myself follow said rule.

      July 21, 2013 at 4:03 pm |
    • Dippy

      Eliminate the space before every punctuation mark, Jesus. Then maybe I'll believe you. NOT!

      July 21, 2013 at 4:16 pm |
  13. chuck

    Coming to CNN to discuss Christ is like going to hell to talk to God

    July 21, 2013 at 3:54 pm |
    • tony

      But all the non-believers, with common sense and an appreciation for honest facts, will be in hell.

      July 21, 2013 at 4:18 pm |
    • Seadog837

      As the Faithful all know - God is on FOX News.

      July 21, 2013 at 4:21 pm |
  14. jklntx

    I will reserve final comment until after I read the book. I am intrigued by this view as I studied the Essene who Jesus is reported to be a follower.

    I also have studied the regional events that were occurring during Jesus lifetime. I cannot separate that reality from the man's life that many think I should. To me, that is only fabricating reality.

    I believe writings of the period are flawed because of the linguistic differences between the actual spoken word and the interpreted word. The Bible is an interpreted work so, to me is a source, but not the only source of Belief.

    To me, this work may provide another source to support my real Belief.., something organized religion, with its interpretation, does not do.

    July 21, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
  15. thinquer

    Can you be in the carpenter's union without being a carpenter? Doesn't make sense, unless you're a poser – who wants to be that?

    July 21, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
    • ME II

      "The [United Brotherhood of Carpenters,] UBC represents and offers training to North America's general carpenters, interior systems carpenters and drywallers, millwrights, floor coverers, millworkers and cabinetmakers, framing and residential carpenters, pile drivers, lathers, scaffolders, roofers, and workers in forest-product and related industries. "
      (https://www.carpenters.org/Todays_UBC_Top_Nav/Stats_at_a_Glance.aspx )

      July 21, 2013 at 3:58 pm |
  16. Rick

    There is a reason that the enemy of the church is called the anti-Christ and not the anti-Jesus. Christ means anointed, it refers to his supernatural character and power. We can admire a purely human Jesus, admire His ethics, but a purely human Jesus will not deliver from sin or grant eternal life, the two central attributes of Jesus the Christ. Reza, it sounds like you gave mental assent to Christianity but did not actually know the Lord. If you met President Obama, you would have an unshakable faith that you met him, you talked to him, he talked to you. That experience is possible for everyone and still possible for you.

    July 21, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
    • tony

      How about next Friday, in front of a dozen witnesses?

      July 21, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
    • Elder Johnson

      Preach, Rick!

      July 21, 2013 at 4:21 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Once again, a true believer tries to put a good face on the diseased concept of FAITH. If I met President Obama, I wouldn't have FAITH that I'd met him, I'd have a memory of it, possibly even photographic evidence.

      But you only haul out FAITH as an explanation or motive when there's absolutely no reason whatsoever to believe what you say is true. If there IS a reason of any kind, nobody ever quotes faith. You only use it for things that don't matter and where nobody can possibly check up on you. That's because faith is utterly corrupt, the WORST DECISION-MAKING PROCESS EVER!

      July 21, 2013 at 4:39 pm |
    • G to the T

      "Annointed one" refers to the practice of pouring oils on the heads of new crowned kings as sign of their favor with god (or else they wouldn't be kings if god didn't think it was Ok). Calling Jesus "the Christ" is essentially saying he is king of the jews. That's why roam and the authorities weren't terribly happy with him. With Rome in charge, the jews weren't allowed to have their own king.

      July 26, 2013 at 10:21 am |
  17. usresham

    If you think God is a person you are likely to go astray but if you think God is Love -unconditional love, you may reach your goal.

    July 21, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
    • Wrong

      That's all fine and dandy, but I'm willing to bet your definition of love is: encouraging people to do whatever they fancy w/o regard for consequences. Whereas, in actuality, Love is wanting the best for someone.

      July 21, 2013 at 3:51 pm |
      • G to the T

        Love is wanting what you think is best for someone.

        There you go, fixed that sentance for you Wrong. This is the aspect of Love that can be harmful to the object of that love.

        July 26, 2013 at 10:28 am |
  18. Loathstheright

    Why of course you can believe in Jesus' teachings and not believe in god....that's what atheism is all about, doing good, being good, helping others....without some stupid threat of burning in hades, good people don't need threats to be good.

    July 21, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
    • Wrong

      Spoken like a true, bitter ignoramus

      July 21, 2013 at 3:51 pm |
      • jazzguitarman

        Wrong, which person?

        July 21, 2013 at 4:00 pm |
  19. Don Lee

    I'm not sure of what the author is saying? Is he following a good man with good teaching, eg, Gandhi, and not the Son of God?

    July 21, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
    • Wrong

      The author is committing a fallacy – he is believing what HE chooses to believe about Jesus – not what Jesus actually told us to believe about him.

      July 21, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
      • A Frayed Knot

        The alleged Jesus never wrote a single word. You choose to believe what some late first century evangelists *said* that he said.

        July 21, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
  20. Someone

    Jesus-believer, Chirstian – It doesn't matter. There are a million different names for mental retardation. Pick one..

    July 21, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
    • Colin

      someone is a prime example

      July 21, 2013 at 3:42 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.