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September 21st, 2013
11:41 AM ET

Can Pope Francis make his vision a reality?

By John L. Allen Jr., CNN

ROME (CNN) - Pope Francis has sketched a vision of a Catholic Church that’s more welcoming – to women, to homosexuals, to divorced and remarried believers, to pretty much everybody –- and less invested in the culture wars.

In a now famous interview published Thursday, the pope said he knows some militants want him to toss around more fire and brimstone. But he insists that Catholic positions on hot-button issues such as abortion and gay marriage are already well known, and anyway, “Ministers of the church must be ministers of mercy above all.”

None of that implies a change in church teaching, but it does suggest a fairly serious shift in tone. The question now becomes, is this just the pope talking? Or is he capable of bringing the rest of the church along with him?

Despite the mythology of Roman Catholicism as a top-down monolith, the truth is that it’s actually one of the most decentralized institutions on Earth.

There are only about 3,000 personnel in the Vatican directing the affairs of a church that counts 1.2 billion members, which means that Rome doesn’t have the manpower to micromanage anything but exceptional cases.

Probably 90% of the decisions that matter – what pastor will be assigned to which parish, or what tithes will be used for –- are made at the local level.

Popes trying to steer this colossus in a new direction, therefore, need middle managers as well as the rank and file to pull in the same direction, and experience suggests they don’t always fall in line.

MORE ON CNN: Pope Francis: Church can't 'interfere' with gays

Pope John Paul II, nearly 27 years, exhorted the church to be more evangelical, more daring about taking its message to the streets, and while he unleashed powerful new energies – think about World Youth Days, for instance – that missionary aspiration still remains a work in progress.

Similarly, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI desired a church more appreciative of tradition and more focused on its core identity, and again most observers would say the end result over eight difficult years was a mixed bag.

If Francis is to bring the Catholic Church into line with his more pastoral and compassionate vision, two fronts seem especially critical.

First is personnel. Nothing a pope does to shape culture in the church is more important than naming the roughly 5,100 bishops of the world, who set the tone in their own backyards.

A new papal direction may be invigorating, but if people don’t pick up the same vibe from their local bishops and pastors, over time it will only seem like sound and fury signifying little.

To date Francis hasn’t made many flagship picks except for his own successor in Buenos Aires, Argentina, but he’ll have to do so soon, since archbishops in critical locales such as Madrid, Cologne and Chicago are all older than 75, the normal retirement age.

Popes typically rely on their nuncios, or ambassadors, around the world to recommend new bishops.

In June, Francis gave his nuncios their marching orders, saying he wants bishops who are “close to the people, fathers and brothers” as well as “gentle, patient and merciful.” He also said they shouldn’t have “the psychology of princes.”

How well he spots talent to fit that profile will help determine whether his dream of moving past what he called “a church of small-minded rules” becomes reality.

MORE ON CNN: The pope said what? Six stunners from Francis

The other key test is structural reform, beginning in the Vatican and radiating outward, perhaps especially on financial transparency and the fight against child sexual abuse.

Scandals in those areas have plagued the Vatican and the wider church in recent years, making it difficult for many people to see Catholicism as a vehicle for compassion.

Francis has set up three commissions to ponder reform, including a body of eight cardinals from around the world set to hold its first meeting in Rome from October 1-3.

If those groups don’t deliver significant recommendations, which are embraced and implemented by the pope, once again his rhetoric about reforming the church may ring hollow.

Popes play many roles, including prophet and CEO. Francis has delivered a stunning debut as the church’s voice of conscience and spiritual guide; now he has to get down to the brass tacks of management to make sure it doesn’t go to waste.

John L. Allen Jr. is CNN’s senior Vatican analyst and senior correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter. 

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • Leaders • Pope Francis

soundoff (2,596 Responses)
  1. Robert Brown

    I see lots of post on here by self-described atheists stating many problems they see with the bible. Is this the main reason you don’t believe? If God revealed himself to you, the way he reveals himself to believers, would you believe then? For example, you feel drawn to hear the word of God, you listen and suddenly feel guilt and shame for breaking God’s law, you suddenly realize that God is real and Jesus is knocking at your hearts door to forgive you and save you. Would you open the door or blow it off as emotion or temporary delusion?

    September 24, 2013 at 11:01 am |
    • Atheist

      "feel guilt and shame..."

      –What guilt and shame are you talking about?

      September 24, 2013 at 11:11 am |
      • Robert Brown

        for sinning against God

        September 24, 2013 at 11:13 am |
        • Atheist

          "sinning against God"

          -Not everybody posting here believes in your God, many of them are pantheists.

          September 24, 2013 at 11:15 am |
        • JWT

          your god is not my god thus i cannot sin against it.

          September 24, 2013 at 11:22 am |
        • Sea Otter (Leader of Allied Atheist Alliance)

          Your question is built on a false premise...

          September 24, 2013 at 11:49 am |
        • Robert Brown

          Sea Otter,

          How so?

          September 24, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      Yes Robert
      You have sinned against god. Ra is very abgry with you for worshipping the wrong god. So is Quetzlcoatl and thousands of others.
      They are all going to do terrible things to you if there is an afterlife to go to.

      You reject all of them, and you will pay for eternity because of it.

      Or...grow up.

      September 24, 2013 at 11:17 am |
      • Robert Brown

        The appeal is to the heart, spirit, and soul Richard, to the little boy inside you. This could be one of those times when yielding to your grown up flesh would not be to your advantage.

        September 24, 2013 at 11:23 am |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          =>"The appeal is to the heart, spirit, and soul Richard, to the little boy inside you."

          Conversion and indoctrination techniques often appeal to trying to get you to "think like a child". Why is that? could it be because children are easily confused and gullible and usually just accept what they are told at face value without requiring the claim to be validated? What do you think Robert?

          September 24, 2013 at 12:27 pm |
        • Robert Brown

          I think the appeal is to your heart, spirit, and soul because it goes beyond all the walls people put up to cope and justify their thoughts and actions. It gets down to your very being past all barriers you've erected.

          September 24, 2013 at 1:08 pm |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          Robert, that appeal could be made by any religion. It is an appeal to ones emotion rather than ones intellect. Why do you think religion needs to appeal to emotion? Emotion tends to override our rational thinking, and that is exactly what any religion wants to accomplish. They can't base their belief on reason so they have no choice but to resort to emotion. I just don't understand why you think it is a positive position.

          September 24, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
        • Robert Brown

          Blessed,

          You are almost there, you’ve mentioned a couple of more barriers that people put up, emotion and intellect. We’re going all the way down to where the rubber meets the road, to your very soul, past your emotions, past how smart you think you are.

          September 24, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
        • In Santa we trust

          RB, The main point is that there is no evidence of a god, so it is futile to discuss how one connects with any god.

          September 24, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          What is a soul? Is it something you can demonstrate?

          September 24, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
      • Richard Cranium

        RB
        Why do you think Ra isn't mad at you....have you prayed to him /her today?
        What have you done for Quetzlcoatl lately?

        You disregard the other gods, yet want people to proclaim yours the correct one, out of the thousands. Why do you think YOU are right?

        Zeus is waiting to hear your reply.

        September 24, 2013 at 11:28 am |
        • Robert Brown

          Richard,

          The biggest reason I have faith is because I have had experiences with God.

          September 24, 2013 at 11:46 am |
        • Richard Cranium

          RB
          Yes I believe you believe that, but there is no real evidence to that. Your mind is very good at creating things that YOU then attribute to god. You want it to be a god, so in your mind you have concinced yourself that it is a god. SO apparently you KNOW there is a god, which defeats the whole purpose of faith...don't you see your delusion is destroying the actual faith, by convincing yourself it is real, removing the need for faith?

          again, the very definition of delusion.

          That is the very definition of delusion.

          September 24, 2013 at 11:52 am |
        • Sea Otter (Leader of Allied Atheist Alliance)

          "The biggest reason I have faith is because I have had experiences with God"
          .
          Schizophrenia: Any of a group of severe mental disorders that have in common symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions, blunted emotions, disorganized thinking, and withdrawal from reality. Five main types are recognized: the paranoid, characterized by delusions of persecution or grandeur combined with unrealistic, illogical thinking and frequent auditory hallucinations; the disorganized (hebephrenic), characterized by disordered speech and behaviour and shallow or inappropriate emotional responses; the catatonic, characterized by motor inflexibility or stupor along with mutism, echolalia, or other speech abnormalities; the simple or undifferentiated type, which conforms to basic definitions of schizophrenia but does not exhibit particular behaviours in the aforementioned types; and the residual type, which is a chronic stage indicating advancement toward later-stage schizophrenia. Schizophrenia seems to occur in 0.5–1% of the general population, and more than half of those so diagnosed will eventually recover. There is strong evidence that genetic inheritance plays a role, but no single cause of schizophrenia has been identified. Stressful life experiences may help trigger its onset. Treatment consists of drug therapy and counseling.

          September 24, 2013 at 11:53 am |
        • Honey Badger Don't Care

          RB,

          How do you know that you're not worshipping a falses god, ie. Loki, and he is just clouding your eyes?

          September 24, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
        • Løki

          Huhn Scheiße Katholiken beten nicht den Asen oder die Vanir

          September 24, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
        • Alias

          @Robert,
          ALL religions a re followed by people who they they have some connection to their god.
          All of them.
          Why should i believe you are the one who actually has it right?

          September 24, 2013 at 12:34 pm |
        • Joey

          In my mind, if there is a god, he is using the bible to weed out the dumbest among us by sending the people who take all of it as literal to hell.

          September 24, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
        • Robert Brown

          Richard,

          No, it is faith. Know is a very strong word. When you have a couple of minutes read the 11th chapter of Hebrews. Everyone commended for their faith, had an experience with God.

          September 24, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
        • Robert Brown

          Sea Otter,

          So, believers have Schizophrenia?

          September 24, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
        • Richard Cranium

          RB
          you said " because I have had experiences with God"

          You HAVE had...meaning you know it was a god. So since you know, there is no need for faith. Knowing eliminates faith, so it is not faith.

          What you should have said is that you have had experiences that you attributed to a god, since you do not even know that any god exists. Otherwise it shows a delusion, which is a symptom of mental illness.

          You had faith that it was a god, but really it was your mind convincing you it was a god. How special you must be that god gives you such experiences. I'm certain that I have had similar experiences, but I also know my mind creates a great deal of things to perceive the world, and if I do not know the source of some experience, I should not jump to wild unprovable, illogical conculsions. That would be insanity.

          September 24, 2013 at 1:35 pm |
        • Robert Brown

          Ok Richard, one of us is crazy. If it is me, I’m satisfied with it. Peace.

          September 24, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
        • Just the Facts Ma'am...

          @Robert Brown "The biggest reason I have faith is because I have had experiences with God."

          So how do you know that the followers of Ra did not have any experiences with their God just the same as you experience? What if all those experiences a person perceives as a divine connection through prayer and meditation are actually chemicals your own body and brain produce? And if anyone who prays and believes hard enough experiences the same feeling regardless of what God they are praying to, wouldn't that mean that either all Gods are real or none? The simpler answer is that none are real and you just feel what every other worshiper has felt down through the ages, which is the only reason they kept believing, the reinforcing chemical feelings that occur inside humans when we meditate or pray.

          September 24, 2013 at 1:54 pm |
    • doobzz

      I can only speak for myself as a former Catholic turned fundie turned non believer.

      "I see lots of post on here by self-described atheists stating many problems they see with the bible. Is this the main reason you don’t believe?"

      It is one of the top reasons.

      "If God revealed himself to you, the way he reveals himself to believers, would you believe then?"

      No. If your god "reveals" himself only through the bible and the emotional experiences of humans, that is not enough for me.

      "For example, you feel drawn to hear the word of God, you listen and suddenly feel guilt and shame for breaking God’s law, you suddenly realize that God is real and Jesus is knocking at your hearts door to forgive you and save you."

      I don't ever feel "drawn" to the bible. I don't feel unclean or shameful for having a menstrual cycle, eating pork, or wearing cotton and lycra. I also don't feel shame for getting angry, looking at a handsome guy and thinking "Whoa!", or thinking that I'd like to konk my boss on the head every so often. I don't think these are "sins" and I don't believe in guilt by proxy.

      "Would you open the door or blow it off as emotion or temporary delusion?"

      I'd laugh it off as a relic of my childhood brainwashing and go about my day.

      September 24, 2013 at 11:22 am |
      • Robert Brown

        Doobzz,

        “I don't feel unclean or shameful for having a menstrual cycle, eating pork, or wearing cotton and lycra. I also don't feel shame for getting angry, looking at a handsome guy and thinking "Whoa!", or thinking that I'd like to konk my boss on the head every so often. I don't think these are "sins" and I don't believe in guilt by proxy.”

        As stated here, I wouldn’t call any of those sins, either. If I understand the bible correctly, some could be taken to the point of sin. For example, you become and continue to be so angry with your boss that it develops into a deep seated hatred, or you continue looking at and thinking about the handsome guy and basically go to bed with him in your mind. I think the key is whether it is a passing thought that you realize is wrong and quickly dismiss or something you dwell on and take pleasure in thinking about.

        September 24, 2013 at 11:43 am |
        • doobzz

          "For example, you become and continue to be so angry with your boss that it develops into a deep seated hatred,"

          That might give me acid indigestion, but it's not a "sin".

          "or you continue looking at and thinking about the handsome guy and basically go to bed with him in your mind."

          Thoughts are not actions. Fantasy isn't reality. Getting wet over a cute guy is a normal hormonal response. It's not a sin and not shameful. Controlling people by making them feel ashamed of a normal human response is just a method of control.

          "I think the key is whether it is a passing thought that you realize is wrong and quickly dismiss or something you dwell on and take pleasure in thinking about."

          Thoughts are not the same as action. Thinking I'd like to clobber my boss when he dumps his work on me so he can go golfing isn't the same as actually hitting him. Thinking about what a guy looks like nekkid is not the same as bumping naughty bits with him.

          Sin only exists in the minds of the religious. I don't feel ashamed for being human.

          September 24, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
        • My Dog is a jealous Dog

          There are pictures floating around the net of Iggy Pop in a dress – with the quote "I am not ashamed to dress like a woman, because I don't think its shameful to be a woman."

          September 24, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
      • Live4Him

        @doobzz : I also don't feel shame for getting angry, looking at a handsome guy and thinking "Whoa!", or thinking that I'd like to konk my boss on the head every so often. I don't think these are "sins" and I don't believe in guilt by proxy.

        So, if my friend were to "konk you on the head", then would that be agreeable to you? Or would you think that was wrong to do? What if your significant other looked at another and thought "Whoa!"? Essentially, "sin" is "doing wrong" – so either you have a double standard (one when it happens to others and another when it happens to you) or you've lost touch with reality.

        September 24, 2013 at 12:16 pm |
        • Now that's Classic

          Lie4Him telling someone that they have lost touch with reality, good one liar.

          September 24, 2013 at 12:31 pm |
        • Observer

          Jimmy Carter and every other person has lusted after people. it's the way mankind is designed to operate. Trying to make people feel guilty for that is just plain ignorant.

          September 24, 2013 at 12:37 pm |
        • doobzz

          "So, if my friend were to "konk you on the head", then would that be agreeable to you?"

          That's not what I said. I said that THINKING about konking someone on the head isn't wrong. Actually doing it is a crime and punishable under secular law. No deity required.

          "What if your significant other looked at another and thought "Whoa!"?"

          I'd figure he is a normal man.

          "Essentially, "sin" is "doing wrong" – so either you have a double standard (one when it happens to others and another when it happens to you) or you've lost touch with reality."

          Again, that is not what I said. I said thoughts are not actions. Your bible claims that they are, and that thoughts are "sins", punishable by your deity.

          Anger = murder – NO

          Looking at my cute neighbor and thinking he looks fine = infidelity – NO

          A double standard is "Do as I say, not as I do". Please point out where I said it's okay for me to hit someone on the head, but not okay for you to hit me on the head". I said thoughts are not actions, nothing more.

          Stop lying about what I said to make your point.

          September 24, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
        • Joey

          Do as I say not as I do is kind of god's whole deal. I mean he tells us to love our enemies while he sends his enemies to hell for eternity.

          September 24, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
    • A former Catholic

      I went to a Catholic school, that makes me a Catholic 😉

      September 24, 2013 at 11:34 am |
      • Bill Deacon

        I hope you are receiving the sacraments

        September 24, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
        • A former Catholic

          No.

          How about my auntie is a nun, does that make me a Catholic?

          September 24, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
        • Bill Deacon

          No, your baptism makes you a Catholic. After that it's up to you what kind of Catholic you become.

          September 24, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
        • A former Catholic

          This is the internet, I can claim to be a Catholic.

          September 24, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
        • Madame Laveau

          Bill Deacon,

          I hope that you are taking good care of your voodoo doll. Calamity awaits if you don't, you know.

          September 24, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
        • OKfine

          Dangerous ground their BD. Hitler was baptized and confirmed a Catholic, you are going to get a bunch of fundies all upset.

          September 24, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
        • Bill Deacon

          Do you think you can find a fundie that will claim the work of Christ does not extend towards Hitler?

          September 24, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
      • OKfine

        The work of christ, you mean selling snake oil for a living, ya I guess politicians do that even dictators.

        September 24, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
        • Bill Deacon

          Did you get a receipt?

          September 24, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
        • OKfine

          BD of course I did. But like the Vatican I do not release docu.ments until after they are shredded. Funny how Ratzinger's papers went up in smoke.

          September 24, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
        • Bill Deacon

          Not as funny as how you meander from one angle to the next. LOL

          September 24, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
        • OKfine

          BD none of which you have a coherent answer for. Apologetics is all you have.

          September 24, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
        • doobzz

          Boof Deacon is just getting his daily fix for the shakey shakeys.

          September 24, 2013 at 3:58 pm |
    • Cyprus

      self-described atheists stating many problems they see with the bible

      You can google search and look for contradictions, you don't need to be an atheist to do that. There are websites dedicated to provide you this list.

      September 24, 2013 at 11:38 am |
    • In Santa we trust

      If there were evidence of a god, I'd believe. The bible is basically the superstitions of Bronze Age Middle Eastern tribes; its creation myths (and all creation myths) are proven to be incorrect. If the foundation is so flawed the rest is built on sand (so to speak). No reason to believe that a god did anything.

      September 24, 2013 at 11:41 am |
    • Honey Badger Don't Care

      I would blow it off as an emotional response to early childhood conditioning and the temporary delusion as you describe it.

      September 24, 2013 at 11:50 am |
    • WhenCowsAttack

      Bill- that is not the ONLY reason I don't believe, but it's part of it. The rest of it is the fact that I tried so hard for so long- repented of my sins, asked Jesus into my heart, prayed alone and with groups for him to walk with me, and felt.....nothing. Nothing at all. Either the God of the bible made me broken and totally unable to believe, and therefore condemned to hell, or it doesn't exist. You cannot force belief.

      September 24, 2013 at 11:54 am |
      • Bill Deacon

        It is not an illusion that you are sometimes rapt in ecstasy and then quickly returned to the usual follies of your heart. For these are evils which you suffer rather than commit; and so long as they displease you and you struggle against them, it is a matter of merit and not a loss. How vain our devotion in the midst of consolation. The lover is only ardent who remains constant when that consolation is lacking.

        Thomas A'Kempis

        September 24, 2013 at 12:37 pm |
      • Robert Brown

        WhenCowsAttack,

        I agree, belief can’t be forced, you can’t make yourself believe. I can understand how someone who has tried to seek God could become discouraged and give up. I’ve communicated with folks on here who have had similar experiences and I certainly hope you will seek again. I know I’m not very patient and I’ve prayed about things for a long time before God answered. I can’t explain why, but I have had the thought before that how we measure time compared to how an eternal being measures time, could be very different.

        September 24, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      "I see lots of post on here by self-described atheists stating many problems they see with the bible. Is this the main reason you don’t believe?"
      +++ no, the main reason is because the idea of any god is silly in this day and age. it's the same reason you don't believe in Ra, Odin or Zeus.

      " If God revealed himself to you, the way he reveals himself to believers, would you believe then?"
      +++ yes, which shows how open-minded atheists are. if god appears in front of me, i will believe in him.
      now same question to you - what would it take for you NOT to believe?

      September 24, 2013 at 12:45 pm |
      • Bill Deacon

        I would choose not to believe if I thought mankind could achieve righteousness on their own.

        September 24, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
        • Bootyfunk

          no such thing as righteousness.
          you don't need god to be a good person.
          love your brothers and sisters - don't waste time loving something that doesn't exist.
          have "faith" in humanity - things are getting better.

          September 24, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
        • Bill Deacon

          You couldn't be a good person if you tried, which you don't

          September 24, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
        • Bootyfunk

          only the ignorant think a person needs to believe in invisible sky fairies to be a good person.

          September 24, 2013 at 1:06 pm |
        • Bill Deacon

          I agree.

          September 24, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
        • Bootyfunk

          wow, i thought it would be harder to get you to agree you're an idiot.

          September 24, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
        • Bill Deacon

          You're the one who keeps talking about invisible sky fairies, moron.

          September 24, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Otter,

      How so?

      September 24, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
    • Colin

      An internal self-conviction that god speaks to me would send me to a therapist- as it should anybody else.

      September 24, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
  2. Bootyfunk

    Jesus...
    long hair, great tan, six-pack abs, never got with a women, hung out with 12 dudes...
    yeah, Jesus would be pro-same s.ex marriage fo sho.

    September 24, 2013 at 2:56 am |
    • james

      He would not have had long hair, 1 Cor.11:14

      September 24, 2013 at 11:19 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      Still deluded by your own biases booty?

      On the contrary, according to the Gospel of Matthew, when Jesus was arrested in the garden of Gethsemane before the Crucifixion, Judas Iscariot had to indicate to the soldiers whom Jesus was because they could not tell him apart from his disciples. Further clouding the question of what Jesus looked like is the simple fact that nowhere in the New Testament is Jesus described, nor have any drawings of him ever been uncovered. While western images have dominated the artistic landscape, new advances in forensic anthropology have achieved some progress in reconstruction of what Jesus may have actually looked like

      Read more: The Real Face Of Jesus – What Did Jesus Look Like? – Popular Mechanics
      Follow us: @PopMech on Twitter | popularmechanics on Facebook
      Visit us at PopularMechanics.com

      September 24, 2013 at 11:24 am |
      • Bootyfunk

        geez, what does a fictional character look like? it's so fun to imagine what the tooth fairy would look like.

        September 24, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
        • Bill Deacon

          You're in the distinct minority if you believe Jesus never existed. Even those who oppose his claims accept his existence with only the fringe element denying. Good luck with that!

          September 24, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
        • Bootyfunk

          there are whole books written on the subject. do you have any proof jesus existed? no, of course you don't.

          September 24, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
        • doobzz

          A few obscure notations by someone who also believed that Hercules existed isn't hard evidence, Boof Deacon.

          Even if those few references are accurate, they don't provide evidence for any of the so called eyewitness accounts or quotations attributed to this human called Jesus, much less proof of his divinity.

          September 24, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
        • Bill Deacon

          I have testimony. It might not hold up in your court but Jesus has already been tried. Are you shooting for double jeopardy?

          September 24, 2013 at 1:05 pm |
        • Bill Deacon

          HAHA Doobz thinks I'm going for Josephus. What do I care what the contemporary government report says? Did Josephus give us the unemployment numbers for that quarter too?

          September 24, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
        • Bootyfunk

          no bill, not trying to convict a fictional character twice. may as well put the tooth fairy on trial...

          September 24, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
        • Doc Vestibule

          The authenticity of the Testimonium Flavianum is far from certain.
          There is evidence that the text was altered by Christian editors.
          Other early Christian writers who were most assuredly aware of his works failed to cite him as a historical source for Christ's divinity.
          Origen explicitly denies that Josephus recognized Jesus as the Messiah – which would be more in standing with Josephus' beliefs as a hard line Pharisaic Jew.

          September 24, 2013 at 1:28 pm |
        • doobzz

          Oh, Boof, do tell about this irrefutable evidence that you have.

          Did you have another episode with Teh Voice frum Above again?

          September 24, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
    • OKfine

      Morning BD. I thought being the brainwashed fellow that you are, you would have bought into the shroud of Turin scam. It has been a big money maker for your lot and that is all that really counts isn't it?

      September 24, 2013 at 11:50 am |
      • Bill Deacon

        I may not be up to date on the but the last statement I recall the Vatican making is that it verification isn't possible at this time but people are free to use it as a devotional artifact.

        September 24, 2013 at 12:31 pm |
        • OKfine

          Well BD what a coincidence, I happen to have a few devotional artifacts that I would be willing to part with for the right price. A sliver of wood from the cross, a flagon of wine from the last supper, a rosary the Mama T once used in India, a bleeding statue of the virgin Mary (oops sorry, someone wiped the red bird crap off) etc. Let me know what you are interested in, something for any budget.

          September 24, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
        • Bill Deacon

          It might be more profitable if you were to utilize them.

          September 24, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
        • OKfine

          BD utilize them for what exactly? I'm trying to run a profitable scam here. How about a few gallons of Lourdes water, you can take a shot when you are feeling down and drop back into your sinful ways.

          September 24, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
        • doobzz

          LMAO!

          The best use for them is as kindling.

          September 24, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
        • Bill Deacon

          I was actually thinking about the recurrent claims that the Church is just a money scam. While I'm certain there have been those who seek their own ends within the clergy, I can't imagine the legions of devoted who gave their very lives for the faith had much concern for worldly gain. The charge just doesn't hold water. What it does show is that, if your concept of everyone's motivation revolves around money, just how limited you are.

          September 24, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
        • OKfine

          BD check out Marcial Maciel, a favorite of the popes because he was a good earner lots of cash. Old Maciel got to kiss a lot of rings both the finger type and the other. The Vatican bank has been laundering Mafia money since the Mafia has been around. In denial again BD.

          September 24, 2013 at 1:20 pm |
        • OKfine

          BD try not to set limits on everyone but yourself, not just money but POWER to get those like yourself to be an obedient little follower and apologist.

          September 24, 2013 at 1:24 pm |
        • doobzz

          " I can't imagine the legions of devoted who gave their very lives for the faith had much concern for worldly gain. "

          Argumentum ad populum, Boof. Lots of people foolishly sacrifice themselves for a variety of reasons that they firmly believe.

          September 24, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
        • a reasonable atheist

          I don't think the point being made is that everyone's motivation revolves around money. The point being made is that the church's motivation revolves around money.

          It seems astoundingly hypocritical that an organization holding vast sums in its coffers, priceless works of art, and billions in prime real estate preaches about giving. The church could effectively end poverty if it wanted to, but instead a mere trickle issues forth along with all of the verbal diarrhea, obsessing over certain bible verses while casually discarding others, and the shielding of some of the world's worst serial child rapists. The cost of one pair of Ratzinger's shoes could feed a poor family in Rome for months.

          September 25, 2013 at 9:09 am |
  3. Bootyfunk

    Bible Fun Fact:

    children should never tease God's prophets for being bald or he'll send she-bears to slaughter them:

    2 Kings 2:23-24
    Elisha Mocked
    23Then he went up from there to Bethel; and as he was going up by the way, young lads came out from the city and mocked him and said to him, "Go up, you baldhead; go up, you baldhead!"
    24When he looked behind him and saw them, he cursed them in the name of the LORD. Then two female bears came out of the woods and tore up forty-two lads of their number.

    pretty harsh of God to murder children, but they did make fun of one of a prophet. hopefully their parents don't cry too long.

    God + infanticide = LOVE!

    September 24, 2013 at 2:52 am |
    •  

      i can't bear it.

      September 24, 2013 at 2:53 am |
      • Bootyfunk

        ^^ haha, 10 points

        September 24, 2013 at 2:54 am |
        • 10 sans 1

          There goes down your points, booty!

          September 24, 2013 at 9:37 am |
      • holly butt

        So, where in that verse that says, 'God sent those two bears to tear apart those mocking lads?

        September 24, 2013 at 9:35 am |
        • Reading Is Fundamental

          "Then two female bears came out of the woods and tore up forty-two lads of their number."
          After calling out to the Lord because he was butthurt.
          If this isn't the correct interpretation, what is? Karma? And if you're wondering why people have trouble with the Bible, do you think this kind of stuff is kinda sorta the reason why?

          September 24, 2013 at 12:12 pm |
        • doobzz

          Elisha cursed the children in the name of the LORD. So says your book.

          September 24, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
  4. Bootyfunk

    Can Pope Francis make reality his vision?

    September 24, 2013 at 2:42 am |
    •  

      Godless Vagabond
      Can he make his vision reality?

      September 24, 2013 at 2:45 am |
      • Bootyfunk

        well obviously not, invisible sky fairies would have to become reality.

        now what about my question...?

        September 24, 2013 at 2:53 am |
  5. atheist

    achooooo!

    September 23, 2013 at 10:51 pm |
    • some guy

      bless you!

      September 23, 2013 at 10:51 pm |
  6. D MURDOCH

    You are posting comments too quickly. Slow down. LOL!

    September 23, 2013 at 10:46 pm |
    • M MURDOCH

      lol

      September 23, 2013 at 10:48 pm |
    • D MURDOCH

      I can't help it because this is the way I roll!!

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4YIj4rLYo0c&w=640&h=360]

      September 23, 2013 at 10:50 pm |
    • M MURDOCH

      consume all the bioflavonoids u can swallow. won't help.

      just remember what its like to breathe without using every bit of your failing strength. like drowning. but very, very, very, very, very slowly. pray the morphine drips end it b4 too long

      September 23, 2013 at 10:51 pm |
  7. Drinchs

    Ladies and gentlemen, the people of God:

    Jacob was a cheater,
    Peter had a temper,
    David had an affair,
    Noah got drunk,
    Jonah ran from God,
    Paul was a murderer,
    Gideon was insecure,
    Miriam was a gossip,
    Martha was a worrier,
    Thomas was a doubter,
    Sara was impatient,
    Elijah was moody,
    Moses stuttered,
    Zaccheus was short,
    Abraham was old,
    Lazarus was dead.

    September 23, 2013 at 10:32 pm |
  8. .

    Today is a gift, that is why they call it the present!

    September 23, 2013 at 10:07 pm |
    • atheist dog

      if there is a god how come i cant eat chocolate?

      September 23, 2013 at 10:48 pm |
      • ATHEIST

        GOD DOESN'T EXIST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 😦 😦 😦 😦

        September 23, 2013 at 10:52 pm |
  9. SoldierOfConscience

    they want it to become a buffet line not a 7 course meal. that is just wrong. The chef (i.e. the clergy / preacher / church) gives you want you need in 7 courses not what you want.. in which case you end up eating just hamburger and a slice of cake, no veggies or liver.
    another point of principle is that there is good and there is evil. When a church coddles us and does not inform us of evil then it is useless. I dont oppose g @ys for any other reason. its simple. man + woman = good. anything else (man / man, woman/ woman, man/ goat, man/ child) = evil. another example, you either are for killing unborn people or are against it. its black and white. dont make it sea of grey.
    FYI. im in my late thirties myself. when I shopped around for a church I rejected 90% of those I saw around.. coz I asked
    1. do they teach the bible literally?
2. do they differentiate clearly between good adn evil
    its not the fashion nowadays, alas.

    September 23, 2013 at 8:16 pm |
    • Well - Churched

      Well, when you reach your mid-fifties maybe you'll have seen enough to know it for what it really is – a social club for people who pretend that they know God and the difference between good and evil.

      September 23, 2013 at 8:56 pm |
      • sam stone

        exactly.

        September 23, 2013 at 9:29 pm |
        • Robert Brown

          Sycophant

          September 23, 2013 at 9:36 pm |
        • sam stone

          snivelling punk

          September 24, 2013 at 4:59 am |
      • D MURDOCH

        lol

        September 23, 2013 at 10:45 pm |
      • ATHEIST

        GOD DOESN'T EXIST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 😦 😦 😦 😦 WELL CHURCHED MORE LIKE FLAWED CHRUCH

        September 23, 2013 at 10:53 pm |
        • Al

          You need more practice as a fake atheist.

          September 24, 2013 at 2:48 am |
    • Doris

      So, late-thirties, you think the Bible has the answer on good and evil, especially if taken literally, right? Well, let's just dig a bit deeper. How do you know you're interpreting it correctly? Where did you get your information? If the "Word" is straight from God (objective truth), then how did you get this information objectively (not influenced by other men)? Does your God tell you directly how to judge other people? Or are you reading, listening and forming an opinion?

      Well, if you live in the U.S., being among the over thousands of sects of Christianity (even if you are by yourself as your Christian "church"), you'll understand quite well why we have a strong wall of separation between church and state. And if you think about it just a little bit, you'd understand what Jefferson meant by this:

      "Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth."

      September 23, 2013 at 9:33 pm |
      • sam stone

        So Delores, hell is hot

        September 24, 2013 at 4:06 am |
    • In Santa we trust

      SoC, Pretty poor analogy. Given the best data, people can make informed decisions – no need to conform to a centuries-old book of superstition. How can anybody believe that the bible should be read literally? We know that the Genesis accounts are irreparably flawed.

      September 23, 2013 at 9:47 pm |
      • ATHEIST

        WE KNOW GOD DOESN'T EXIST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 😦 😦 😦 😦

        September 23, 2013 at 10:53 pm |
    • Anonymous

      You don't need the church or the Bible to teach you what is good or evil, right or wrong.

      Morality is doing what is right regardless of what you are told.
      Religion is doing what you are told regardless of what is right.

      Don't let a 2,000 year old book lead you down the wrong path. Think for yourself.

      September 23, 2013 at 10:10 pm |
      • M MURDOCH

        dodo, u would consider right and wrong if god didn't exist, u fool. smoke another

        September 23, 2013 at 10:47 pm |
        • ATHEIST

          GOD DOESN'T EXIST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 😦 😦 😦 😦

          September 23, 2013 at 10:54 pm |
        • Al

          It's really not that complicated, but apparently it is for some. Someday it may all come together for you.

          September 24, 2013 at 2:46 am |
    • Observer

      SoldierOfConscience,

      The world is full of color and not simple-minded black-and-white.

      September 23, 2013 at 10:24 pm |
      • D MURDOCH

        LIKE SAMBO STONED

        September 23, 2013 at 10:33 pm |
        • Doris

          Oh D, you're on a roll, tonight. Do you sell these little tidbits of wisdom? lol.

          September 23, 2013 at 10:37 pm |
        • sam stone

          how is that big, big, big, big, big, big lawsuit coming, gash?

          September 24, 2013 at 5:01 am |
      • SoldierOfConscience

        If there are no certainities then anything goes.. this is how p3doph1les justify their thing "g @ys do it so we can". this is how lil children justify their naughty acts "But Billy can go to the stephenson's so why cant I?". Well.. if the rule is that Billy can go coz he is 8 years old and you being 3 years old cant go by yourself then its black and white. no arguments. same in every aspect of life.

        September 24, 2013 at 1:06 pm |
      • SoldierOfConscience

        Sez the pope : there are no rules. anything goes. let us welcome sin AND sinners. they have always said "love the sinner hate the sin". guess that wasnt enough for the PC crowd.

        September 24, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
    • tallulah13

      So, SoC, you shopped around until you found a church that had the same interpretation of the bible and the same definition of good and evil as you do. You chose your church precisely so that you could feel vindicated about your personal prejudices. You just wanted a permission slip that allows you to hate whomever you want. I'm not seeing any virtue there.

      September 24, 2013 at 12:42 am |
  10. Well - Churched

    Be shepherds with the smell of your sheep, not the smell of young boys, in the midst of your people like good shepherds.

    September 23, 2013 at 7:47 pm |
    • D MURDOCH

      LOL!

      September 23, 2013 at 10:45 pm |
  11. The "religion of peace and tolerance" has a busy weekend

    Reports from separate floors of the building in the first hours of the assault told how the attackers, speaking rough Swahili and English, shouted at Muslims to identify themselves.

    Many people came forward. They were ordered to speak in Arabic, or to recite a verse from the Koran, or to name the Prophet Mohammed’s mother. Those who passed this test were allowed to flee. Those that did not were executed, including children.

    “People soon realised not to try to cheat,” said Charles Karani, an IT engineer who watched from beneath a 4×4 in the rooftop car park where he was hiding with his daughters aged eight and four.

    Saadia Ahmed, a Kenyan radio presenter who was caught in the assault, said she saw people “say something in Arabic and the gunmen let them go”.

    “A colleague of mine said he was Muslim and recited something in Arabic and they let him go as well,” she said. “I saw a lot of children and elderly people being shot dead. I don’t understand why you would shoot a five-year-old child.”

    September 23, 2013 at 6:39 pm |
    • Athy

      And what does this have to do with the topic?

      September 23, 2013 at 6:41 pm |
    • Just the Facts Ma'am...

      Yes yes, we know Islam is violent and illogical and is no more valid than any other religion on the planet. What's your point?

      September 23, 2013 at 7:30 pm |
    • The "religion of peace and tolerance" has a busy weekend

      It has nothing to do with this topic. The point is this: cnn and the lamestream media ignore and cover FOR this evil that is islam. They will cry and whine and be sure to show you all the victims and tell their stories on the nightly news if it suits their agenda(any "mass shooting" in the US). But they continue to coddle and pander to islam-you know, it's not part of the "talking points" issued by the regime in the white house...

      September 24, 2013 at 8:02 am |
      • Richard Cranium

        cover for the evil that is islam.?

        So YOU have decided that islam is evil so YOU have decided that there is a cover up and YOU have decided that the current president runs a regime.

        You are nothing but an alarmist, and a conspriacy guy who likes to proclaim their OPINION is what everyone shuld believe, you will say a bunch of paranoid things but don't have anything to back it up.

        ALl religions are just as "evil" as islam since they all teach belief as if it were truth.

        September 24, 2013 at 8:33 am |
        • doobzz

          Yeah, I saw that on BBC and nowhere here.

          September 24, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
        • doobzz

          Sorry, meant for Alias.

          September 24, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
      • Alias

        They also left the latest story about a priest being with a pantless 15 year old boy off this blog.

        September 24, 2013 at 10:31 am |
        • doobzz

          Yeah, I saw that on BBC and nowhere here.

          September 24, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
    • doobzz

      This is an opinion blog. The terrorist acts in Nairobi are being fully covered as news stories on the news pages of CNN.

      September 24, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
  12. Bk

    Sadly, people will follow the pope only as long he agrees with their version of intolerance.

    I won't be too surprised if some faction somewhere will start a new rally to oust the pope for being too inconsiderate of their discrimination and hatred.

    September 23, 2013 at 6:25 pm |
    • Bob

      And he in turn will reject them via his set of discrimination and hatred.

      September 23, 2013 at 6:30 pm |
  13. Dan Dennett

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EJsD-3jtXz0&w=640&h=360]

    September 23, 2013 at 6:03 pm |
    • D MURDOCH

      LOL!

      September 23, 2013 at 10:46 pm |
  14. bostontola

    Suicide bombers kill 81 at church in Peshawar, Pakistan.
    At least 18 Sunni worshipers were killed and 29 others were injured in Iraq on Friday when two bombs ripped through a mosque.

    "you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion."
    Weinberg

    September 23, 2013 at 5:53 pm |
    • Atheist

      Thanks for the uplifting post, brother!

      September 23, 2013 at 6:01 pm |
    • Athy

      And what does this have to do with the topic?

      September 23, 2013 at 6:57 pm |
      • bostontola

        Catholicism is a religion.

        September 23, 2013 at 8:29 pm |
        • ATHEIST

          GOD DOESN'T EXIST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 😦 😦 😦 😦

          September 23, 2013 at 10:55 pm |
  15. The Lion, the Lamb, and the Scroll

    Can Pope Francis make God's vision a reality?

    No. But he can help.

    September 23, 2013 at 5:48 pm |
  16. Reality # 2

    Only for the new visitors to this blog:

    The last paragraph of the topic:

    "Popes play many roles, including prophet and CEO. Francis has delivered a stunning debut as the church’s voice of conscience and spiritual guide; now he has to get down to the brass tacks of management to make sure it doesn’t go to waste."

    Popes as prophets? Give us a break ! More like a brainwashed fortune teller !

    Popes as CEOs? Give us a break ! The only money he should be involved with is the refunding of all the money to the former and current members of the RCC for the con that has been pulled on them for the last 2000 years.

    September 23, 2013 at 5:38 pm |
  17. Lionly Lamb

    The Revelations of the many are not of a sole Revelation nor are the souls beginnings and endings ever Revealed...

    September 23, 2013 at 4:42 pm |
    • The Lion, the Lamb, and the Scroll

      All creation praises the Father and the Lamb.
      "And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: 'Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever!' Then the four living creatures said, 'Amen!' And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped Him who lives forever and ever."
      EVERY CREATURE. EVEN THE ATHEISTS WILL PROCLAIM THIS. GOD IS THAT GOOD.

      September 23, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
      •  

        Godless Vagabond
        Count me out. I don't believe in your hocus pocus.

        September 23, 2013 at 6:45 pm |
    • Jill

      Gobble the fertile gravel. There is no caveat to the Klein bottle, and there will be no gold watch for the unspoken zero.

      Focus your nose on the test tube. Stay succulently upon your velodrome and fear not the coming of the essential kangaroo. Strawberries are your incidental chemistry. Present the fulcrum in advance of the gypsum cookie, for as the tree is combed, so goes the predicate. Expand quietly but do not relish.

      Whether or not you agree with the plumber, harvest away ye hearties. Kalabash in Friebourg but not in spanners while it's raining. Bring out the mustard but flap flap flap until takeoff. Why would you say such a thing in the presence of the substrate? 64. 1112. Welcome to the new sandwich lumberyard. Bus stops follow movement, or do they?

      The impediment to your posterior is large but can be dissected with chestnuts. Obermeyer. Glasnost and shallot cookies will do the main job when a steamshovel is too distant for pomegranate.

      And remember, never ever miss an opportunity to watch an elephant paint Mozart.

      September 23, 2013 at 5:30 pm |
      • Anon

        Jill! Always a pleasure to read your posts!

        September 23, 2013 at 6:01 pm |
        •  

          Godless Vagabond
          Yes! They make so much more sense than Lionly Lamb's!

          September 23, 2013 at 6:46 pm |
      • a reasonable atheist

        I'm never succinct upon my velodrome!

        September 25, 2013 at 8:31 am |
  18. Live4Him

    @Alias : Doesn't the bible say that everyone who does not accept jesus is going to hell?

    Why do you want people who reject Christ to have to suffer eternity with Him in heaven?

    September 23, 2013 at 4:28 pm |
    • Sara

      If it turns out the Christian god is real, we'll know that at death and obviously most will say "oops, changed my mind." Your problem is in creating a story to justify god disallowing this.

      September 23, 2013 at 4:36 pm |
      • Live4Him

        How many times have you "Oops!" and instantly changed your mind?

        September 23, 2013 at 4:43 pm |
        • Sara

          Plenty. Thought the highway was the best route because I didn't check traffic. Oops...accident. Take the next exit and go another route.

          September 24, 2013 at 12:24 am |
    • Topher

      Sara

      It'll be too late for an "oops!" at that point.

      September 23, 2013 at 4:45 pm |
      • Live4Him

        That's the point I was making. One cannot invest a lifetime in one direction and instantly turn 180 degrees. There is too much momentum keeping your along the original path. One cannot invest a lifetime in hating Christ and instantly turn to loving him simply because you've been rejected for entrance in to heaven.

        September 23, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
        • Lionly Lamb

          sired Live 4 Him....

          What really does one of your desires truly know about the places and whereabouts of God's kingdom domains..? Can you tell me and/or us your views as to such literal whereabouts of God's domains truest locations..?

          September 23, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
        • Live4Him

          @Lionly Lamb : Can you tell me and/or us your views as to such literal whereabouts of God's domains truest locations..?

          One doesn't know since nothing much is really recorded in the Bible about heaven, leaving only conjecture. However, I believe it is so different than our current universe that it cannot be described – i.e. no thermodynamics, no time, no evil, etc. I, for one, cannot get my head wrapped around living outside of time.

          September 23, 2013 at 5:01 pm |
        • JWT

          I doubt many atheists hate that which we do not hold to exist.

          September 23, 2013 at 7:32 pm |
        • Just the Facts Ma'am...

          "One cannot invest a lifetime in one direction and instantly turn 180 degrees."

          I was a pastor for over 10 years, total of 30 years in my Church before I left. Now, as an atheist, I live a cleaner, healtheier, happier life than ever before. I love my neighbors, I volunteer, I donate to a couple well deserving charities, i've slept with two women in my life, both of whom I married (not at same time obviously). The only thing I no longer do is try and convince others of some invisible deity that I tried very hard to maintain faith in for many many years. If all of a sudden my faith was restored through something tangible I wouldn't have to do much turning, I would just have to say "Okay, I believe now".

          If that's a 180 degree turn from what you are doing then I would never want to be anything like you.

          September 23, 2013 at 7:46 pm |
        • ATHEIST

          NO ONE GIVES AN EF WHY YOU BECAME AN ATHEIST. NOONE!

          September 23, 2013 at 10:58 pm |
      • sam stone

        judgement is a bad joke

        sin is a man made concept desiged to trap the gullible

        gopher is at the front of the line

        September 23, 2013 at 4:55 pm |
        • Atheist

          I used to change people's names I didn't like into derogatory names, too... when I was 12!

          September 23, 2013 at 6:18 pm |
      • Colin

        So, let me get this straight. In order for your "all loving" god to inflict a penalty of burning for all eternity on a person – a sick, barbaric act that I would never inflict upon any person for five minutes, let alone all eternity – all one has to do is have a rational, honest and reasonable disbelief in him.

        That, my friend is sick beyond comparison. Nothing Hitler, Pol Pot, Stalin and every othher dictator combined ever did could match the unfathomable barbarity of such a god.

        Tha's the problem with using the same sky-fairy to be both the carrot and the stick – your religion looks really, really silly really, really quickly.

        September 23, 2013 at 4:57 pm |
        • sam stone

          not to mention the particularly cowardly act of allowing someone else to take the punishment you feel you deserve

          folks like lie4him and gopher not only line up to do it, they brag about it

          September 23, 2013 at 5:02 pm |
        • Wendy

          What Colin and sam stone said. Exactly.

          September 23, 2013 at 5:05 pm |
        • The Lion, the Lamb, and the Scroll

          You are not the judge and you don't know the truth. Once you know the truth, you will praise God. He is that good.
          Forget what you have learned from people. They are wrong.

          September 23, 2013 at 5:25 pm |
        • sam stone

          and people wrote, edited and translated the bible

          September 23, 2013 at 5:32 pm |
        • m murdoch

          sam stone
          not to mention the particularly cowardly act of allowing someone else to take the punishment you feel you deserve
          folks like lie4him and gopher not only line up to do it, they brag about it

          u will beg god 4 eternity for the cowardice to take back every word that vomits from your sewer, and u will do so 4 ever and ever, amen

          September 23, 2013 at 5:36 pm |
        • The Lion, the Lamb, and the Scroll

          You've got a disease. Jesus has the cure.

          September 23, 2013 at 5:38 pm |
        • sam stone

          isn't that sweet? the troll has a new name

          how is that big, big, big lawsuit coming, gash?

          September 23, 2013 at 6:06 pm |
        • m murdoch is stupid

          Yeah, when the bitch isn't stealing a 9/11 widow's name. Her cruelty is unlimited. Such a "good" little Christian.

          September 23, 2013 at 6:49 pm |
      • Sara

        That's what makes your god so unbelievable. Provide only enough evidence for the gullible, and then don't allow anyone else to change their mind when real evidence is presented. Such a god would be either an ass or an idiot.

        September 24, 2013 at 12:27 am |
      • sam stone

        gopher blathers some more empty proxy threats.

        September 24, 2013 at 5:03 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      Not accepting does not mean rejecting.

      If Jesus wanted me to believe in him, he knows what it would take. Since I do not believe in gods, it would be a hard sell, but he should know what he can do, very simply for him if he can do what you claim.

      Since I have seen nothing that would qualify as evidence, i do not believe...that does not mean I reject, it just means I have no reason to believe.

      So where do I fit. I neither accept nor reject, and all it would take is the slightest effort for a god to show me the proof that my skeptical mind requires. Do I go to heaven, do I go to hell?

      What if I did not ever like a certain person, and my idea of heaven is to not interact with that person ever again, and the other person thinks their idea of heaven is to spend all eternity with me, who wins?

      September 23, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
      • Live4Him

        @Richard Cranium : So where do I fit. I neither accept nor reject,

        The topics of your posts suggest otherwise. You don't seek information on Christ/God. You don't support Christ/God. However, you do mock and attack beliefs in Christ/God.

        The bottom line is: Do you accept Christ as your leader? This is like asking "Is the light on or off?"

        September 23, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
        • Richard Cranium

          Of course not. I have not seen any evidence indicating that there are any gods, nor any sprit, nor any leader of this spirit.
          I have read the bible nand other than a bunch of passages that your christ character took from Buddha, and never gives credit for, but otherwise in false in so many ways that it itself is unbelieveable.
          I do not believe there are any gods, so I am an atheist. I am open to the possibility there might be god(s) but have seen no indication of one or many. I do believe that all RELIGIONS are man made and false, at least from everything I see, they all possess the same common human failings.
          I do mock those who make claims that they know the truth for that is clearly a lie, or as you so often do, cherry pick not only the bible but science as well, and misrepresent not only the bible but your obviously limited understanding of science, jumping to wild conclusions that even the scientists you take from would never leap to.

          You also never directly address any question.

          So since I do not reject completely, not accept the Jesus character, where do I fit. If Hitler can go to heaven if he repented (which is a disctinct possiblility), but I also can go to heaven, and my idea of heaven would never include hitler, who wins? and if Hitler was kept far away from me, since that is what heaven would include for me, but then hitler wanted to meet me, as part of his definition of heaven, who wins...I don't want to meet him, yet he wants to meet me?

          You see your broad definitions of what is creates more questions than they answer.

          You would be far better off if you preface your posts with words like I BELIEVE that, or there is a possibility that..... Everytime you post anything other than that, you are lying, and I have caught you in several just today.

          My questions of heaven are of course purely speculation and hypothetical since heaven cannot logically exist, since there is no singular place where all inhabiutants agree 100% on everything.

          September 23, 2013 at 5:08 pm |
        • Live4Him

          @Richard Cranium : So since I do not reject completely, not accept the Jesus character, where do I fit.

          This is a mutually exclusive answer – accept or not. Since you've choosen the latter, then you should be content with your decision. Eternity separated from Christ (i.e. love) in heaven – no love anywhere around or in you.

          September 23, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
        • The Lion, the Lamb, and the Scroll

          Logically you don't exist, Richard.

          September 23, 2013 at 5:31 pm |
      • Topher

        Richard Cranium

        The Bible says that you've been given the Creation and a conscience to know He exists and thus have no excuse on Judgment Day.

        Not only that, dude, but Jesus said " He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad."

        September 23, 2013 at 4:53 pm |
        • Wendy

          Your Jesus sounds like quite the bigoted jerk.

          September 23, 2013 at 5:04 pm |
        • Topher

          Wendy

          "Your Jesus sounds like quite the bigoted jerk."

          How? You've done everything wrong that God has told you not to do. You shake your fist at Him. You call Him names. You hate Him. And despite all that He stepped out of Heaven and off His throne to be tortured and die for you ... to take the punishment you deserve. Then He defeated death so that you can live forever. No, no. You're right. Such a jerk (sarcasm.)

          September 23, 2013 at 5:10 pm |
        • Wendy

          No, it is your cruel bastard of a sky fairy who is the one threatening me with torture. I'm just giving an accurate description of him, as he is presented in the crazy stories of your religion.

          Nice try at defending your delusion, but you get a big FAIL for it.

          September 23, 2013 at 5:25 pm |
        • Topher

          Ah, so your problem is that you don't like justice.

          September 23, 2013 at 5:29 pm |
        • sam stone

          again, gopher blathers on about justice, but then does everything he can to AVOID justice

          his is not only a coward, but he is a hyporite and an imbecile

          September 23, 2013 at 5:36 pm |
      • Bill Deacon

        I have to go with Richard on this one. The continuum of doubt/faith isn't static and isn't polar. The flesh pulls and so does the spirit. One may declare their faith or their doubt but I think we've settled, even on this board, that the war for men's hearts, minds and souls wages on. It isn't a light switch. In Catholicism we call it final perseverance.

        September 23, 2013 at 5:26 pm |
        • The Lion, the Lamb, and the Scroll

          God gives us the power to endure.

          September 23, 2013 at 5:49 pm |
    • sam stone

      i suppose you will enjoy eternity with jesus

      on your knees

      begging and worshipping

      FOREVER

      take your kneepads

      September 23, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
      • Live4Him

        Yes I will – no kneepads needed as there is no pain in heaven. 🙂

        September 23, 2013 at 4:54 pm |
        • sam stone

          what is amazing is that folks like you and gopher actually believe that tripe

          what is keeping you here?

          you have ETERNITY in heaven waiting

          September 23, 2013 at 5:00 pm |
    • Madtown

      I don't want to speak for him/her, but I believe Alias is referring to people who HAVE NEVER HEARD OF CHRIST. You are aware that christianity is not universally shared by all of your human brothers and sisters? You cannot possibly reject something that you have no knowledge of.

      September 23, 2013 at 4:59 pm |
      • Topher

        OK, so let's say Billy Native on the island of Boingo-Boingo has never heard of Christ. But Billy has lied. He's stolen. He's looked at his neighbor's daughter with lust. He knows these things are wrong. And he didn't have to know about Christ or have read the Bible to tell him so.

        September 23, 2013 at 5:05 pm |
        • Wendy

          So Topher, you've just now stated that belief in your god is unnecessary to know right from wrong. Good progress for you. Now just lose the belief bit entirely and you'll be on your way to a better, less deluded life.

          September 23, 2013 at 5:10 pm |
        • Madtown

          I've heard Boingo-Boingo is an awesome winter getaway! Thanks Topher, you've just completely made my point. Yes, those things are wrong(except the lust part, that's just biology), and our friend did not need Jesus or the bible to know this. You're right.........no need for religion!! Excellent work, I think you may be coming around a bit!

          September 23, 2013 at 5:12 pm |
        • Topher

          Wendy

          "So Topher, you've just now stated that belief in your god is unnecessary to know right from wrong."

          Absolutely. God has written His laws on our heart. That's a standard you can't explain in your worldview.

          September 23, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
        • Wendy

          That statement of yours is total bullshit Topher, and I think you should know that by now. The golden rule and evolutionary considerations of cooperation suffice to build up awareness of wrong and right in us.

          Again, you get a massive FAIL for your attempts to defend your crazy god delusion.

          September 23, 2013 at 5:28 pm |
        • Topher

          Wendy

          "The golden rule and evolutionary considerations of cooperation suffice to build up awareness of wrong and right in us."

          So society determines right and wrong?

          September 23, 2013 at 5:31 pm |
        • Anon

          Billy Boingo-Boingo, who has never heard of Jesus/God/Bible, is born, lives an exemplary life, never lied, never stole, never murdered, never lusted after anyone other than his life-long companion, who he has remained faithful to, never "sinned" in any Christian context, suddenly dies. He is consigned to Hell....why? For the (according to you Topher) unforgivable sin of never having any knowledge of Jesus/God/Bible? Really?
          Help me out, here. It would seem that Billy is totally devoid of ever having committed any sin, yet on to the Great Furnace he goes?

          September 23, 2013 at 5:57 pm |
        • Topher

          Anon

          This is a strawman. The Bible says ALL have sinned and fallen short. No one is innocent.

          Also, not having heard of Jesus or the Bible is not a sin. And thus you won't be punished for those things. Billy, however, will be punished for the sins he has committed.

          September 23, 2013 at 6:04 pm |
        • Anon

          I see. Billy, just by having lived a life that is free from Biblical sin, is consigned to Hell because the Bible clearly says that he has sinned by just the act of being born. Have I git that right? So babies who only live a few hours will be going to Hell, also. Yes, this is surely "justice".
          No, not cruel at all. "Justice".

          September 23, 2013 at 6:26 pm |
        • Topher

          Anon

          "I see. Billy, just by having lived a life that is free from Biblical sin, is consigned to Hell because the Bible clearly says that he has sinned by just the act of being born. Have I git that right?"

          No. Being born is not a sin. Sin is when you break one of God's laws. You keep saying Billy is free of Biblical sin ... that's impossible. No one, except Jesus, has ever been perfect. Not Gandhi. Not Mother Theresa. We have ALL sinned.

          "So babies who only live a few hours will be going to Hell, also. Yes, this is surely "justice"."

          You sure you want to reject Christianity? You clearly don't understand what you are rejecting. I'd suggest you study up, be SURE you're right on which ever side you take. Babies and children are still sinners (don't believe me? Visit a Chuck-E-Cheese). But because they have not reached the age of accountability they are given God's grace.

          September 23, 2013 at 6:45 pm |
        •  

          Godless Vagabond
          What, pray tell, is the age of accountability?

          September 23, 2013 at 6:56 pm |
        • In Santa we trust

          Topher, You suggest studying Christianity in detail before rejecting it. How long did you study Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Shinto, Baha'i, Buddhism, Confucianism, Jainism, Sikhism, Taoism, and Zoroastrianism before you rejected them? How long did you study the other Christian sects before rejecting them?

          September 23, 2013 at 9:11 pm |
      • Live4Him

        @Madtown : I believe Alias is referring to people who HAVE NEVER HEARD OF CHRIST.

        This has been previously discussed.

        1 Peter 3:18-20
        For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water

        Given that Christ proclaimed His salvation to all who never heard of Christ before death, then there are no more in that category. Second, death (and Christ) is outside of this system (i.e. matter, energy and time), then even those born today having never heard of Christ prior to their death will hear of Christ prior to Judgment.

        September 23, 2013 at 5:09 pm |
        • Madtown

          That is so great that the bible talks about people who've never heard of the bible! How completely irrelevant for them. Somewhere out there, there could be a set of religious traditions that you've never heard of, are they "wrong"?

          September 23, 2013 at 5:19 pm |
        • Lin Chen

          Go get busy, there are some people in N.Korea, Mongolia, Nepal and parts of Africa that have never heard the gospel.

          September 23, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
        • Anon

          Fantastic! The Billy Boingo gets to go to Heaven, along with the babies that only breathed a short time before they died.

          See, Topher? They DO get to go to Heaven!

          September 23, 2013 at 6:36 pm |
    • Alias

      @live4him
      As usual, you fundies don't like the truth, so you misquote and put things into the wrong context.
      My point was that according to the bible, peopel who live and die without ever having heard of jesus are all going to hell.
      Trying to say otherwise is either ignorant or a lie.
      Go ahead and try to justify this by only focussing on people living today, or make something up about how jesus will judge them differently if it makes you feel better about the great torturer you worship.
      The bible is either wrong, or every soul forced into a person who llived without hearing the name jesus is going to hell for ever.
      If you fundies cannot accept the truth about your religion, how can you expect me to?

      September 24, 2013 at 10:42 am |
  19. Bill Deacon

    It is quite evident that from the beginning the Church was regarded as a new spiritual society, potentially world­wide, united by a common faith, enjoying a real spiritual union with Christ himself, permeated and sustained by the Holy Spirit and his various gifts of grace.

    This new spiritual society was the visible organization to which baptism gave admission. The attempt to distinguish between the two, to recognize an invisible Church within the visible does not belong to the earliest thought. The authority of the Church was guaranteed ultimately by its connection with the Holy Spirit Himself; but the continuity of this authority was preserved through the Bishops the successors of the Apostles, the living representatives of Christ on earth. It was this unbroken succession that gave the assurance that the Church was still the society founded by Christ.

    It was in and through this Society that all the benefits of the life and death of Christ were to be obtained. In this society were vested all the means of grace. It was this society to which were applied the four epithets:

    One, holy, Catholic, Apostolic.

    And this society, which was in existence from the beginning, to which the Creed refers as One Holy Catholic and Apostolic, is still in existence today, preserving unalloyed and undiminished the Catholic faith. This is the Church established by Christ against which the “gates of hell shall not prevail;” This is the church which “if a man will not hear. . . let him be to thee as a heathen and a publican;” This is the Church outside which Cyprian declares there is no salvation. This is the visible body of believers united to consecrated Bishops. This is the one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.

    September 23, 2013 at 4:27 pm |
    • John 14:6

      The pivotal message is John 14:6 and John 3:16

      🙂 🙂

      September 23, 2013 at 4:29 pm |
    • Jill

      Bill Deacon, gobble the fertile gravel. There is no caveat to the Klein bottle, and there will be no gold watch for the unspoken zero.

      Focus your nose on the test tube. Stay succulently upon your velodrome and fear not the coming of the essential kangaroo. Strawberries are your incidental chemistry. Present the fulcrum in advance of the gypsum cookie, for as the tree is combed, so goes the predicate. Expand quietly but do not relish.

      Whether or not you agree with the plumber, harvest away ye hearties. Kalabash in Friebourg but not in spanners while it's raining. Bring out the mustard but flap flap flap until takeoff. Why would you say such a thing in the presence of the substrate? 64. 1112. Welcome to the new sandwich lumberyard. Bus stops follow movement, or do they?

      The impediment to your posterior is large but can be dissected with chestnuts. Obermeyer. Glasnost and shallot cookies will do the main job when a steamshovel is too distant for pomegranate.

      And remember, never ever miss an opportunity to watch an elephant paint Mozart.

      September 23, 2013 at 4:36 pm |
      • Bill Deacon

        Doesn't sound heathen. Must be publican. I never learned to translate.

        September 23, 2013 at 4:39 pm |
    • OKfine

      Wow, that line of Bishop's and Cardinal's had a whole bunch of power mad murdering bas,tards that would do and did do almost anything ro grasp the golden ring, the vicar of christ on earth. Amazing how you can simply ignore the ugly history of the RCC.

      September 23, 2013 at 4:46 pm |
      • Bill Deacon

        broad brush much?

        September 23, 2013 at 4:48 pm |
      • OKfine

        Do you even know anything about the history of the RCC or would you prefer to be willfully blind? There was a long line of warrior popes and cardinals, many, many criminals the brush cannot be broad enough.

        September 23, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
      • Bill Deacon

        And there may yet be more. Are you saying you oppose the just war doctrine?

        September 23, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
        • OKfine

          BD are you saying you and the RCC protect criminals in their midst, oh ya, you and the church have already done that.

          September 23, 2013 at 6:03 pm |
    • Vic

      It is imperative to discern that the believer in Jesus Christ as Lord and personal Savior has a "direct relationship" with Him, Who is our ONLY Mediator to God the Father and our ONLY High Priest. The church has NO AUTHORITY over the "belief" of the individual, ONLY the Lord Jesus Christ Himself has that authority.

      September 23, 2013 at 4:57 pm |
      • Moses

        You're not baptized?

        September 23, 2013 at 5:02 pm |
        • Vic tor

          I think he lost a bit of skin to a mohel.

          September 23, 2013 at 5:10 pm |
    • Alias

      Bill Deacon, the master debater.....
      Actually religion spread through military victory.
      The government and the church were one and the same in many places for a long time.

      September 23, 2013 at 5:05 pm |
      • Bill Deacon

        When Christianity began it was not governmental. Once Constantine declared Christianity the state religion of Rome circa 400 a.d., it furthered the Church influence in politics for the next 1000 years or so until Henry the eighth bolted. From that time, through the age of Enlightenment into the modern age, religion and government has been mostly autonomous with some notable exceptions. I give credit that political expansionism and empire building both benefited from and contributed to the growth of Christianity but it is the pull the Gospel places on the hearts and minds of reasonable men which has kept the faith alive through all the wars, all the scandals, all the heresies. The Gospel of Christ resurrected draws people to it despite the Church, not because of it.

        September 23, 2013 at 5:16 pm |
    • OKfine

      BD, before the reformation it was often the practice of rich bishop's and cardinal' to war against each other in order to get the grand prize, your just war comment is simply the kind of red herring you use to avoid the history.

      September 23, 2013 at 5:16 pm |
      • Bill Deacon

        You attribute motive where none may be. Isn't it possible than some of those Bishops waged war in order to defend the faith? Shall we lump them in the same category?

        September 23, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
        • OKfine

          Well BD, you may want to read up on the history, they were warring against each other for power they really didn't give a good god damn about the faith. It was then and still is now a very lucrative scam. Need an indulgence, I can get you one cheap.

          September 23, 2013 at 5:30 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.