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. sharon

    Has anyone read The Chalice and the Blade? Are some of us now realizing it's time to "eat meat" and be done with the childish "milk" as Paul mentioned?

    July 21, 2013 at 10:56 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      I know, right, it's like getting a "power up" bar on a video game when you go from milk to meat.

      July 21, 2013 at 11:02 pm |
  2. Phaerisee

    With the de-mystification of the traditional churches there is not a lot of room for concepts such as a personal relationship with Jesus. Or a valid reason for suffering. Or an explanation for Fatima. As long as we continue to try to make churches more worldly in an attempt to attract parishioners, the more we will continue to lose our connection with God. If we look to God first, everything falls into place. If we look to each other first, our houses will be built on straw.

    July 21, 2013 at 10:50 pm |
  3. M

    My goodness. Why does someone have to die so that we can be forgiven? This doesn't make any sense to me. If I was God, I would just appear to everyone (in the world) and let them know that they could be forgiven for their wrongdoings if they were sincere about it. But someone having to die when mere words will do? That just doesn't make sense.

    July 21, 2013 at 10:45 pm |
    • GodFreeNow

      Yes. This is one of many perplexing questions if you really think about the mythology. Why does an all-powerful god need to create a less than perfect creation, and then punish them for his design flaw... then, in order to make up for the flaw, he has to kill his own son. Worst CEO, ever!

      July 21, 2013 at 10:50 pm |
      • twebb2

        Human free will chose to rebel against the Creator and fall into sin, death, and corruption. Would you rather that we were created without free will?

        The idea that God would enter into his own creation, and suffer evil himself, is at the heart of the Christian faith. As theologian John Stott said, "I could never myself believe in God, if it were not for the cross... In the real world of pain, how could one worship a God who as immune to it?"

        July 21, 2013 at 10:55 pm |
    • Rationalist

      And therein lies the abject immorality that is the very core of Christianity. The promise of complete absolution from the most hideous of crimes in return for a s s kissing of an imaginary character. Who can turn down a deal like that? No wonder Christianity has billions of followers. It's the best deal in town. No Christian can possibly do any wrong.

      July 21, 2013 at 10:53 pm |
      • GodFreeNow

        No wonder they feel so guilty all of the time.

        July 21, 2013 at 10:54 pm |
    • Reality

      From Professor JD Crossan's book, "Who is Jesus" co-authored with Richard Watts)

      "Moreover, an atonement theology that says God sacrifices his own son in place of humans who needed to be punished for their sins might make some Christians love Jesus, but it is an obscene picture of God. It is almost heavenly child abuse, and may infect our imagination at more earthly levels as well. I do not want to express my faith through a theology that pictures God demanding blood sacrifices in order to be reconciled to us."

      "Traditionally, Christians have said, 'See how Christ's passion was foretold by the prophets." Actually, it was the other way around. The Hebrew prophets did not predict the events of Jesus' last week; rather, many of those Christian stories were created to fit the ancient prophecies in order to show that Jesus, despite his execution, was still and always held in the hands of God."

      "In terms of divine consistency, I do not think that anyone, anywhere, at any time, including Jesus, brings dead people back to life."

      July 21, 2013 at 11:38 pm |
    • Don Camp

      May I suggest that forgiveness is a bit harder than just waving your hand and saying you're okay, I'm okay. The forgiveness transaction (which most counselors can describe very well) begins with an injury of some kind – let's say the murder of your daughter. You know the perp. It is your son.

      Now if you care nothing for your son, you could easily hate him for murdering the daughter you loved. No forgiveness is offered. Let justice be done. Call the cops. Turn him in. Hate him forever. It won't solve anything, but it feeds your desire for revenge.

      But if you love him as well, as hard as is may be to understand why, you can not hate him. You might feel terribly sad. You might be angry. Mostly you will be hurt beyond words.

      Justice must, of course, be done. That is the duty of the state. But that is another issue. In this case, the only way to solve the torturous dilemma for you is to forgive your son. But doing that requires you to accept the fact that you must forever suffer that dilemma. You cannot turn your hurt upon your son; that would not be forgiveness. You can only determine to live with the hurt and love your son. You must release your son. In your heart you must allow your son to go free, never to hold his crime against him, never to bring it up again, to love your son without reservation.

      Is that hard? If you don't think so, you don't understand the depth of the hurt or the difficulty of forgiveness.

      So in this scenario, who is hurt? Your murdered daughter, of course, but also you the forgiver. You have chosen not to unleash your anger over your hurt upon your son. Who's left? Only you. You will hurt.

      That is the meaning of the cross.The crimes we have committed are great. We have hurt very deeply others God loves. His love for us, however, creates a dilemma for God. The only solution is to choose to live with the hurt, to accept the hurt for our crimes, and to release (forgive) the criminal.

      Now there is another part of the forgiveness transaction I haven't mentioned. It is this: the greater the hurt, the more difficult the forgiveness. Little things do not need forgiveness. We just overlook them. But like the murder of a beloved daughter, some things are too great to overlook. So with our sin. We may not think it much, but that is like asking the son whether his crime was great. It doesn't make any difference what he thinks. If he thought it a big deal, he probably would not have committed the crime. What matters is what the father thinks. So with our sin. With God it is a big deal. And so forgiveness is hard. It carries a huge cost. So the cross.

      There is one final aspect to forgiveness. The benefit of forgiveness, which is the restoration of our relationship, requires that forgiveness be received as well as being given. The father may forgive his son, but if the son does not accept it – irrational as that sounds – the relationship is not restored. So God forgives, but we have no benefit from that unless we accept it.

      Accepting it, of course, requires the son recognize with sorrow his crime. And that is the rub for most of us, as you may understand.

      July 22, 2013 at 12:06 am |
    • some thoughts

      it is a metaphor for how a person reaches enlightenment or learns to meditate and relax into the vast awesome wonder of the existence of life – and thus his/her ego is 'laid to rest' and his/her brain gets this release that allows for the acknowledgement of the unknown and unseen – since these are all outside the ego – but truly it is more physical than that if you read / understand kundalini and such – then he is 'born again' – but has gone – if the practice or moment achieves the relaxation within the mind to release and receive what there is to be released and received – into a place of deeper thought and being that allows for karma (or sin) to be purified (or detoxified) and thus is released (if only briefly) from the weight of the past and the future and becomes a fully aware being in the now

      July 22, 2013 at 2:52 am |
  4. Angry Lice

    You can't lose or find someone who never existed.

    July 21, 2013 at 10:45 pm |
    • twebb2

      No respectable scholar of any stripe (liberal, conservative, or whatever) has any doubt that Jesus lived.

      July 21, 2013 at 10:51 pm |
      • fintastic

        And you know this how?

        July 22, 2013 at 12:25 pm |
  5. Major Tom

    No rational, intelligent person in the 21st century wold give a rat's a#% about mythical characters from the Bronze Age, except for the awareness that unwashed masses have always been making up and worshiping such imaginary characters throughout human history, from Zeus, Apollo and Hercules to Thor to Odin to Wotan to Yahweh to Jesus to Allah to Xenu. As long as there is ignorance and gullibility, there will be imaginary characters and idi0ts who worship them and who slaughter those who refuse to relinquish rational thought.

    July 21, 2013 at 10:44 pm |
  6. Mike Z

    If Jesus was illiterate, how did He read from the scriptures as told in the Bible? Do you believe that even that was a mere metaphor? That He wasn't really reading to the congregation? A lot of people like to say "These ancient illiterates. What did they know? But they knew scripture like the back of their hands and WROTE some of the finest literature ever to grace the planet. If that isn't literacy, I'm not sure what is.

    And just because you cannot see the cohesiveness of scripture or perhaps don't know how incredibly precisely it was copied and preserved to this day does not make it so. There are many "errors" in the manuscripts. But when compares against the thousands of manuscripts, they amount to nothing more than spelling variations or errors on the part of the copyists. If 1,000 manuscripts say gray and one says grey, that is an error. But it is a copyist error. Not a change in meaning.

    July 21, 2013 at 10:40 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      I would agree that the bible portrays a reading Christ. The historical "jesus" was many different individuals, I think, since the name was common and at that time lots of "prophets" claimed to be the messiah and do miracles. Of those prophets that make up part of the jesus myth, the majority were illiterate.

      July 21, 2013 at 10:45 pm |
    • M

      That's a strange thing. I bet 2000 years ago most of the Bible was literal. 1000 years ago, perhaps less so, but now, definitely so.

      July 21, 2013 at 10:47 pm |
    • Bippy the new lesser to medium level judging squirrel god

      Baloney. The differences are massive, Nice try.

      July 21, 2013 at 11:07 pm |
    • Bippy the new lesser to medium level judging squirrel god

      Whole verses and section were invented to make things look better.

      July 21, 2013 at 11:35 pm |
    • G to the T

      Illiterate means you cannot write, it doesn't mean you cannot read. In the ancient world they were two very different skills and were not taught at same time as we do now. About 99% of population at that time was illiterate and an only slightly larger percentage could read. So it's very possible for Jesus to be able to read, but not write – thus illiterate.

      July 24, 2013 at 12:14 pm |
  7. aallen333

    41 At this the Jews there began to grumble about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I came down from heaven’?”

    43 “Stop grumbling among yourselves,” Jesus answered. 44 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day. 45 It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard the Father and learned from him comes to me. 46 No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father. 47 Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. 50 But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”

    52 Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”

    53 Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. 56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. 57 Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” 59 He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.

    Many Disciples Desert Jesus

    60 On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”

    61 Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? 62 Then what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! 63 The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life. 64 Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. 65 He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.” (John 6:41-64)

    July 21, 2013 at 10:37 pm |
    • M

      I've often wondered, do you recite sections of the Bible for the readers, or do you do this for yourself. I don't see that when you do this, there is any discussion. There is an expectation for understanding something that really isn't written for today's speech.

      July 21, 2013 at 10:49 pm |
      • Don Camp

        Do you read these posts? How many of them invite discussion? Very few. It is not the nature of this forum to encourage discussion. What most of us do is respond to someone's post. Our hope, I suppose, is that our comment may spark some thought. (That would be the best spin on this forum thing.)

        Quoting scripture is not out of bounds. I does express the author's opinion or concern. You don't have to read it, though what could be the harm?

        July 22, 2013 at 12:22 am |
  8. Tim Boyer


    July 21, 2013 at 10:36 pm |
  9. Southernsuga

    Author: You can't know Jesus Christ and not be a Christian, for they are one in the same. Jesus is the Holy Spirit, the Son of God, and God made man/flesh. I wouldn't write another article or book if you don't understand this.

    July 21, 2013 at 10:25 pm |
    • TheBob

      He is also the invisible pink unicorn. He is invisible, yet pink at the same time. Also a unicorn. A holy trinity.

      July 21, 2013 at 10:33 pm |
    • Saraswati

      He omitted the word Christ for a reason. Millions find value in Jesus' life and the words recorded as being his without believing he is messiah, prophet or god.

      July 21, 2013 at 10:48 pm |
  10. thelastindependent

    I think if Jesus was alive today, he would have been deeply upset on how distorted and falsified his story according to the Bible have become. He had been taken out of context from the place and time he was part of, the facts and truths heavily distorted by church opportunists and the pull of time. Jesus must be approached and viewed as a person of his time, not as the Son of God, but as a real person, like you and me, who had dreams, hopes, and doubts. In the end, the real-life story of Jesus of Nazareth is a much more compelling and emotional story than Jesus Christ.

    July 21, 2013 at 10:17 pm |
    • Austin

      ya because he can resurrect, and provide prophets and sea partings, but He cant handle putting together that book?

      He is God and the book is wrong?

      July 21, 2013 at 10:25 pm |
    • Annat

      I agree.

      July 22, 2013 at 1:48 am |
  11. OrygunDuck

    Jesus did not accept the religion of his day. What he saw was a belief all tied with money and worldly concerns. Christians today should take note.

    July 21, 2013 at 10:17 pm |
    • Austin

      He was the fulfillment of the old covenant. He started the intervention with the Jews. Moses, Elijah, Abraham, saints by faith, and the law was given. This progressed, the Abrahamic Covenant, the Mosaic covenant, the new covenant.

      They liked Mary and Joseph? They were Jewish, and God loved them. Its not a group that God judges. not religion. but the individual. Jesus had no problem with Jews.

      July 21, 2013 at 10:28 pm |
      • G to the T

        Not sure where you're getting that from Austin – there are many many references in the bible of God punishing/rewarding whole nations based on their collective actions (not individual) OR on the actions of their ruler (over which they had NO control).

        July 24, 2013 at 12:17 pm |
    • Reggie from LA

      That's very interesting and insightful, what you said. Quite frankly, we should be afraid of a resurrected Jesus. We've got a ton of false prophets. We also have many who take his name in vain (not ugly language, but how we throw Jesus at people that we either hate or we believe they are not walking on "the path" of righteousness...or we just hate). Money is a big time church matter. Historically it appears that Jesus was not big on money and possessions. That appears to be counter intuitive to a WHOLE LOT of "Christians" Yep. Religion–big business. Jesus's doctrine gets in the way of that.

      July 21, 2013 at 11:12 pm |
  12. Leslie McCawley

    Jesus was not "illiterate" – he read aloud and taught from the scrolls of the Torah.

    July 21, 2013 at 10:14 pm |
    • Reggie from LA

      Oh did he now? Do you know what it took to have been educated in Jesus's time? Not like going to college today. You were likely from a wealthy family to have been exposed to any education.

      July 21, 2013 at 11:16 pm |
    • G to the T

      Illiterate means "cannot write" – completely separate skill set from being to read at that time as they were not taught at same time as we do now.

      July 24, 2013 at 12:18 pm |
    • Ken

      Jewish men were taught how to read the scrolls back then just as Jewish kids are taught today in prep of their 13th birthday celebrations into spiritual adulthood.

      Writing Hebrew, however, was never a necessary skill for most Jewish men back in ancient times. Only scribes made a living at it, and they were employed in keeping records and writing scripture, and few people probably saw any good coming out of the ability of any Amos, Saul or Judah being able to write their own scriptures whenever they felt like it. Scripture came from court, and the priestly class.

      By Jesus's time, however, many fairly well off Roman citizens probably could write as well as read Greek, which explains the mult itude of extra gospels, acts, letters, and Revelations in circulation back then, but it's questionable whether even Paul could do without a scribe to write his letters.

      Jesus, coming from the Galilee, with it's many pagan contact points, likely spoke some Greek in order to trade with the townspeople, but there is no reason to assume that he even had the opportunity to learn how to write.

      July 24, 2013 at 12:34 pm |
  13. lazarus00000

    The problem is universal for all "True believers". Your faith makes you blind to all except waht is written in "Your bible". I am curious, is your bible the King James version? Google the King James and the Bible to read the real truty of how it came to be and why?
    I bet you will not go there out of fear that your faith is not strong enough to handle the truth.
    The Bible is not history. It is a record that has been edited, rewritten, and the vision of Jesus has been changed so many times that he himself would not recognize what is written about him.
    There is a true historian who has written many books on the Early Christians and Jesus. His name is Geza Vermes and he worked on the translation of the dead sea scrolls.
    I recommend his books about Jesus and the Early christians because he does not seem have a preordained agenda to influence people in any way other than to speak of Historical facts.
    I have read every source of Biblical related history I could because the Bible just left too much unanswered and in order to have true faith these holes need to be ignored.
    I am a Christian in the sense that I believe in Jesus but not in any interpretations of religion. That is not to say that all religion is bad...it is not. But for most people who claime to have faith, whatever the spiritual leader says is to be taken in faith.
    That is why the so called christians after the 4th century were murd-eri-ng so much of humanity for the next 1500 years. Today we see the muslims also using their faith to commit crimes against humanity as the followers stand and shout their faith in god. As the people around the world see news stories about Africa and the brutal treatment of other humans in the name of Christ, the world equates Christians with the Muslims, even calling the ultraconservatives of America the "Tali-ban of America". Ironically, the comparison is justified since both religions come from the same source, the ancient Hebrew religions dating back past Abraham and Moses. The brutal religion of the hebrews was what Jesus rebelled against, them and the Romans.
    Jesus was kil-led for his loud voice as were all of the real christian followers that came for the next two hundred years after christ.
    History is a cruel teacher and a fool will learn by no other means.

    July 21, 2013 at 10:10 pm |
  14. PRISM 1234

    Anyone trying to immagine Jesus who is not Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the living God, is doing just that: immagining. Don't accuse US of believing the fairy tales! ...DUH!

    Jesus of Nazareth, Yeshua, IS the Christ who came to save mankind from their sins. This is forever settled in heaven and earth, regardless of man's opinions.

    July 21, 2013 at 10:01 pm |
    • John P. Tarver

      The Christ of the Gospels came to forgive one sin of man and fulfill the law. Adam's sin of becoming self aware had cost mankind his birthright of everlasting life and only a kinsman redeemer return Adam's birthright of everlasting life to mankind. There was never any salvation in the law, it is only a useless burden. Walk in the Spirit brother.

      July 21, 2013 at 10:06 pm |
    • Bob

      PRISM 1234, I hereby accuse you of believing a fairy tale, that being Christianity.

      July 21, 2013 at 10:09 pm |
      • PRISM 1234

        How silly.... LOL!

        July 21, 2013 at 10:13 pm |
        • Bob

          Indeed, PRISM, your beliefs are silly. And the evidence overwhelmingly does not support them.

          July 22, 2013 at 1:25 am |
    • TheBob

      How about some evidence to back your claims?

      July 21, 2013 at 10:47 pm |
    • GodFreeNow


      July 21, 2013 at 10:47 pm |
  15. faith

    our doctrinal position is that jesus is fictional character

    July 21, 2013 at 9:50 pm |
    • John P. Tarver

      You can not prove a negative, faulty logic. F

      July 21, 2013 at 9:53 pm |
      • Austin

        thats why people should investigate people who make claims about God like I make. because I did encounter the revelation of the spirit through the word of God.

        Jehovah Shammah
        Our Lord is Here

        July 21, 2013 at 10:10 pm |
        • Jess

          Yet I will bet that whatever conclusions are drawn are incorrect, according to you, right? Just as I will bet my bottom dollar that you haven't read Aslan's book, but condemned it already, right?

          July 21, 2013 at 10:22 pm |
        • Bippy the new lesser to medium level judging squirrel god

          Or maybe you need to up you psych meds.
          Everything you describe has been studied by psychiatrists and Neuro-science researchers. It's all a product of the chemistry in your brain. The fact that you know nothing about Biology, Chemistry, or Neurology is your problem.

          July 21, 2013 at 11:38 pm |
    • alchemon

      What is the basis for your belief that Jesus was a fictional superhero?

      Have you actually done any research?

      July 21, 2013 at 10:01 pm |
      • faith

        we know that mankind does not respond to the threat of punishment (beaten with stripes.) people contemplating committing evil deeds are not dissuaded by the death penalty, or life sentences. therefore, we realize that "god" trying to scare some into repentance with claims of harsh punishment are futile and barbarian and foolish. no one repents from her sinful ways out of fear that sky daddy will punish her.

        July 21, 2013 at 10:31 pm |
        • faith

          we believe all harsh penalties for "sin" be eliminated from our penal code and from our primitive (biblical) way of thinking. these kinds of penalties encourage violent behavior. enticements to include luxury cruises for felonies would prove more efficacious and affordable.

          July 21, 2013 at 10:58 pm |
      • faith

        where is your proof that he existed?

        July 21, 2013 at 11:04 pm |
        • alchemon

          You are using a somewhat obsolete view of God, punishment, and reward. Many fundamentalist still use a punishment system as the catalyst for belief.

          Most modern churches do not use this approach. Interesting enough, you advise a reward based system, which is exactly what the message God conveys. Meaning, in a simple form, if you love me, worship me, profess me, etc. you will receive eternal paradise. The primary difference is the motive of catalyst. A desire for carnal objects is, according to Christian theology, from the Adversary.

          The proof of God's existence is quite simple. Generally speaking, the medieval arguments are the most persuasive. I would recommend you read some of St. Thomas Aquinas's work.

          If you prefer a more modern, scientific approach, look at it from the standpoint of cause and effect. Without God, there is no initial cause, no initial catalyst. The Big Bang cannot explain the source of all of the universe's energy, matter, mass, etc. Also, if you know anything about thermodynamics, you will see that systems tend to decay (i.e. energy tends to become less and less organized and useful). So to think that somehow the universe is all cyclic violates what we observe in nature. Without God, you basically give the universe God-like qualities, which is much less probably than Creation.

          July 22, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
    • faith

      no rational, sane, intelligent human being believes in worthless, silly, outrageous claims of fairy tale creatures.

      no matter what "proof" is presented that could suggest otherwise can have merit. atheists don't reject evidence. indeed, we trust it. remember, the gods of abraham were vicious, cruel despots and jesus claimed to be just like them.

      July 21, 2013 at 10:17 pm |
  16. Bootyfunk

    jesus promoted slavery. he said to beat disobedient slaves "with many stripes." not exactly the kind of guy i want to take ethics lessons from.

    July 21, 2013 at 9:46 pm |
    • John P. Tarver

      Jesus promoted freeing all the slaves, claiming it was "the year of jubilee." Every 50 years Jewish Law required debts be forgiven and slaves freed every 50 years.

      July 21, 2013 at 9:51 pm |
    • JDK80

      actually that isn't completely accurate...

      July 21, 2013 at 9:54 pm |
    • Truth Is Pain

      Jesus did NOT say that. Where's the verse? Read your Bible before you make anymore ignorant quotes.

      July 21, 2013 at 9:54 pm |
      • JDK80

        it's in Luke 12, but most people take that parable out of context, or don't leave it in the context it was originally in. you can pick a verse, stand it alone, and make it say anything you want, if that is your goal.

        July 21, 2013 at 9:58 pm |
        • Jess

          People take one verse and hold it against gays. That's shady as hell.

          July 21, 2013 at 10:09 pm |
    • Observer

      What Jesus said pales in comparison to God's command that you can break the arms and legs of female servants without any punishment if they don't die "in a day or so".

      It doesn't get much more barbaric and heartless than that.

      July 21, 2013 at 10:09 pm |
      • Observer

        meant slaves rather than servants.

        July 21, 2013 at 10:09 pm |
    • Stephen

      This is not an accurate representation of what Jesus was saying. He was using the illustration of slavery, which was known to the fellow downtrodden, oppressed Jews which were Jesus's audience, to illustrate a truth about how God judges our decisions based on what we were given to understand . . . point being, he wasn't advocating slavery.

      July 22, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
  17. Josiah

    I am surprised, as a scholar of religion, that you write that you were told that Jesus was born in Galilee. Bethlehem (where the Gospels report Jesus was born) is in Judea. Galilee is in the North; Nazareth (where Jesus lived as a child) and Capernaum (where he lived as an adult) are in Galilee. Bethlehem is not.

    If you mess up a detail this simple, you lose a lot of credibility.

    July 21, 2013 at 9:41 pm |
    • John P. Tarver

      They are just whiting the Jesus of Bethlehem-Ephraim up a little. You have to remember that the white church only reads the first half of Ezekiel.

      July 21, 2013 at 9:45 pm |
      • ananomous

        John what are you talking about? explain the second half of ezekiel quick if you can.

        July 21, 2013 at 10:05 pm |
        • John P. Tarver

          The first half of Ezekiel chapter 37 is the resurrection and the second half it the King of the Jews prophesy, concordant with the contemporary text of Hosea. There are 14 tribes of Israel in the New Testament, twelve sons of Israel and the two Egyptian sons of Joseph. Two of those tribes are black and we find one of them in Revelations and the other has reconciliation in Christ.

          July 21, 2013 at 10:10 pm |
        • Austin

          interesting. have to check that out. what verses talk about the two tribes that details this?

          July 21, 2013 at 10:13 pm |
        • John P. Tarver

          Ezekiel 37 is not very long and you will find two stories there split about the 16th verse. Hosea is at the fall of the Northern Kingdom and is mostly about redemption and reconciliation and a similar King of the Jews prophesy. any more and I will tell you to just go read it.

          July 21, 2013 at 10:30 pm |
    • Bippy the new lesser to medium level judging squirrel god

      The only reason Bethlehem was written in that way was to make it appear to fulfill a prophesy.
      Grow up. Jebus was a Galilean peasant.

      July 21, 2013 at 11:09 pm |
  18. Neo Atheist

    He knows where They have trod earth's fields, and where They still tread them, and why no one can behold Them as They tread. By Their smell can men sometimes know Them near, but of Their semblance can no man know, saving only in the features of those They have begotten on mankind; and of those are there many sorts, differing in likeness from man's truest eidolon to that shape without sight or substance which is Them. They walk unseen and foul in lonely places where the Words have spoken and the Rites howled through at their Seasons. The wind gibbers with Their voices, and the earth mutters with Their consciousness. They bend the forest and crush the city, yet may not forest or city behold the hand that smites

    July 21, 2013 at 9:39 pm |
    • John P. Tarver

      Do most people know you by your smell?

      July 21, 2013 at 10:35 pm |
  19. Neo Atheist

    Nor is it to be thought, that man is either the oldest or the last of earth's masters, or that the common bulk of life and substance walks alone. The Old Ones were, the Old Ones are, and the Old Ones shall be. Not in the spaces we know, but between them, They walk serene and primal, undimensioned and to us unseen. Yog-Sothoth knows the gate. Yog-Sothoth is the gate. Yog-Sothoth is the key and guardian of the gate. Past, present, future, all are one in Yog-Sothoth. He knows where the Old Ones broke through of old, and where They shall break through again.

    July 21, 2013 at 9:38 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.