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What baseball umpires can learn from the Vatican
Allen Craig of the St. Louis Cardinals gets tripped up by Will Middlebrooks of the Boston Red Sox during the 2013 World Series.
October 29th, 2013
11:37 AM ET

What baseball umpires can learn from the Vatican

Opinion by Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN

(CNN) - This is a post about the instantly infamous “obstruction” call that ended Game 3 of the World Series between the Boston Red Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday.  But it starts with an epiphany I had years ago about Vatican law.

This epiphany came in the form of a 2005 op-ed on gay Catholic priests, written by John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter.

As a long-time observer of all things Vatican, Allen was trying to explain to American readers why there will always be gay priests. In so doing, he drew a sharp distinction between Italian law (which holds sway in the Vatican) and Anglo-Saxon law (which prevails in the United States).

Italian law “expresses an ideal," he wrote. "It describes a perfect state of affairs from which many people will inevitably fall short. This view is far removed from the typical Anglo-Saxon approach, which expects the law to dictate what people actually do.”

So when Italians say “no gays in the priesthood,” they are not expressing what we in the United States refer to as a law. They are expressing an aspiration. They are saying, “Wouldn’t it be nice if there were no gays in the priesthood.” Or, as a senior Vatican official told Allen, “Law describes the way things would work if men were angels.”

I was livid on Saturday night when I saw the Cardinals’ runner Allen Craig awarded home plate (and the game) because of “obstruction” by Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks. In fact, I screamed so loud at the television set that my throat still hurts days later.

But I wasn’t just reacting as a lifetime member of the Church of the Boston Red Sox. I was outraged at the umpires’ misapplication of their rules.

Although baseball is America’s pastime, it works by Italian law. The shape-shifting strike zone is a model of subjectivity, varying from umpire to umpire, and from inning to inning.

Umpires routinely allow second basemen and shortstops to catch double play relays merely in the vicinity of second base in order to prevent injury at the hands of sliding runners. In fact, this happens so often it has a name (“the phantom double play”).

All this is to say that baseball umpires are expected to exercise their judgment.

As many baseball pundits have noted, the umpires acted in World Series Game 3 according to the letter of the law (which in this case turns out to be Rule 7.06 on “obstruction”).

As umpire John Hirschbeck himself explained in an interview after the controversial game — the only World Series contest ever to end on an obstruction call — intent does not matter:

”Obstruction is the act of a fielder obstructing a runner when not in the act of fielding a ball. It does not have to be intent. There does not have to be intent, OK? Once he has the opportunity to field the ball, he can no longer in any way obstruct the runner. That's basically the rule.”

During the same interview, Joe Torre, Major League Baseball's executive VP of baseball operations, cited Rule 2, which offered this almost eerie example of "obstruction": "An infielder dives at a ground ball and the ball passes him, and he continues to lie on the ground and delays the progress of the runner, he very likely has obstructed the runner."

Fair enough. That certainly does seem to describe the Game 3 situation. But notice the language here. “Very likely” indicates that umpires are supposed to exercise some discretion here, some subjectivity, some judgment. Which is how it should be.

Those who claim that the umpires in this case should have followed the letter of the law misunderstand the nature of the baseball rulebook, which throughout baseball history, from Little League to the major leagues, has been interpreted in the spirit of Italian rather than Anglo-Saxon law.

We have always expected umpires to exercise their discretion, to pay attention to particulars as they interpret the rules.

The purpose of Rule 7.06 is to prevent fielders from hindering runners as they proceed from base to base. Yet this same rule recognizes that fielders have the right to field their position.

In this case, these two rights literally bumped up against one another in the bodies of Will Middlebrooks and Allen Craig. The Red Sox third baseman dived to his left in an effort to catch a ball coming his way from his team’s catcher. He had every right to reach for the ball, just as the Cardinals' runner had every right to slide into third base.

As soon as the ball shot past Middlebrooks, Craig tried to jump over him and tripped as he was heading for home. Third base umpire Jim Joyce signaled obstruction, and the home plate umpire, yielding to Joyce’s judgment, awarded Craig home plate, despite the fact that he was tagged out easily by the Red Sox catcher.

So my question is this: What was MIddlebrooks supposed to do? If he possessed superpowers that elude mere mortals, he could have teleported his body to another dimension, but failing that, his body was going to fall where gravity took it.

To call this obstruction is to tell Middlebrooks and every future third baseman that they cannot dive to their left for an errant throw, or that they do so at the risk of awarding the runner a free pass home. And that doesn’t make any sense, because as the rule itself recognizes, the fielders have every right to field their position.

To return to the Rome and Vatican law, what we have here is a conflict between two modes of legal interpretation.

Cardinals fans who lauded the umpires for following the letter of the law were demanding Anglo-American interpretation. But baseball, despite its American origins, has always been governed by an Italian approach.

“If men were angels,” the Red Sox third baseman could have winged his body away a millisecond after diving for the ball. But men are not angels, and Game 3 should have gone into extra innings.

- CNN Belief Blog contributor

Filed under: Catholic Church • Sports • Vatican

soundoff (528 Responses)
  1. Cpt. Obvious

    None of those scientists proved one thing about any gods, but they all proved something about the nature of reality as we seem to interact with it. And none of them believed in the same god or the same version. Hmm

    October 29, 2013 at 7:38 pm |
  2. Proclaw

    What a waste of electrons. Prothero, it is time to admit you are a fraud and a sleazeball. Get the hell out of here you dip.

    October 29, 2013 at 7:37 pm |
  3. Lamb of Dog

    Rebecca
    I do live by the golden rule. If I was constantly spouting ridiculous stuff I would want someone to make it obvious to me.

    October 29, 2013 at 7:35 pm |
    • Lamb of Dog

      While you might not appreciate now maybe some day you will.
      You're Welcome

      October 29, 2013 at 7:36 pm |
  4. Lamb of Dog

    List of people killed for heresy

    Ramihrdus of Cambrai (1076 or 1077) (lynched)
    Peter of Bruys († 1130) (lynched)
    Gerard Segarelli († 1300)
    Maifreda da Pirovano († 1300)
    Andrea Saramiti († 1300)
    Fra Dolcino († 1307) (never tried by Catholic Church), Italy
    Sister Margherita († 1307), Italy
    Brother Longino († 1307), Italy
    Marguerite Porete († 1310)
    Botulf Botulfsson († 1311), the only known heretic executed in Sweden
    Jacques de Molay (1243–1314), burned after conviction by a tribunal under the control of King Philip IV of France, France
    Geoffroi de Charney († 1314), burned with Jacques de Molay above, France.
    Guilhèm Belibasta († 1321), last Cathar
    Francesco da Pistoia († 1337)
    Lorenzo Gherardi († 1337)
    Bartolomeo Greco († 1337)
    Bartolomeo da Bucciano († 1337)
    Antonio Bevilacqua († 1337)
    William Sawtre († 1401)
    John Badby († 1410)
    Jan Hus (1371–1415), impenitent/unrepentant heretic
    Jerome of Prague (1365–1416), relapsed heretic

    Joan of Arc at the stake, 1431St. Joan of Arc (1412–1431), relapsed heretic, Rouen, France
    Thomas Bagley († 1431)
    Pavel Kravař († 1433)
    Girolamo Savonarola († 1498)
    Joshua Weißöck (1488–1498)
    Jean Vallière († 1523)
    Hendrik Voes († 1523), 1st martyr in the Seventeen Provinces
    Jan van Essen († 1523), 1st martyr in the Seventeen Provinces
    Jan de Bakker († 1525), 1st martyr in the Northern Netherlands
    Wendelmoet Claesdochter († 1527), 1st Dutch woman burned as heretic
    Michael Sattler († 1527)
    Patrick Hamilton († 1528), St Andrews, Scotland
    Balthasar Hubmaier (1485–1528), relapsed heretic
    George Blaurock (1491–1529)
    Hans Langegger († 1529)
    Giovanni Milanese († 1530)
    Richard Bayfield († 1531)
    James Bainham († 1532)
    John Frith (1503–1533), England
    William Tyndale (1490–1536)
    Jakob Hutter († 1536)
    Aefgen Listincx (d. 1538)
    Anneke Esaiasdochter (d. 1539)
    Francisco de San Roman († 1540)
    Robert Barnes († 1540), England
    Thomas Gerrard († 1540), England
    Giandomenico dell' Aquila († 1542)
    Maria van Beckum (d. 1544)
    Ursula van Beckum (d. 1544)
    George Wishart (1513–1546), St Andrews, Scotland

    Rogers' execution at Smithfield, 1555John Rogers († 1555), London, England
    Canterbury Martyrs († 1555), England
    Laurence Saunders, (1519–1555), England
    Rowland Taylor († 1555), England
    John Hooper († 1555), England
    Robert Ferrar († 1555), Carmarthen, Wales
    Patrick Pakingham († 1555), Uxbridge, England
    Hugh Latimer (1485–1555), relapsed heretic, England
    Nicholas Ridley (1500–1555), England
    Bartolomeo Hector († 1555)
    Paolo Rappi († 1555)
    Vernon Giovanni († 1555)
    Labori Antonio († 1555)
    John Bradford († 1555), London, England
    Thomas Cranmer (1489–1556), relapsed heretic, England
    Stratford Martyrs († 1556), 11 men and 2 women, London, England
    Joan Waste (d. 1556), Derby, England
    Pomponio Angerio († 1556)
    Nicola Sartonio († 1557)
    Thomas von Imbroich († 1558) (beheaded)
    Fra Goffredo Varaglia († 1558)
    Gisberto di Milanuccio († 1558)
    Francesco Cartone († 1558)
    Antonio di Colella († 1559)
    Antonio Gesualdi († 1559)
    Giacomo Bonello († 1560)
    Mermetto Savoiardo († 1560)
    Dionigi di Cola († 1560)
    Gian Pascali di Cuneo († 1560)
    Bernardino Conte († 1560)
    Giorgio Olivetto († 1567)
    Luca di Faenza († 1568)
    Thomas Szük (1522–1568)
    Bartolomeo Bartoccio († 1569)
    Dirk Willems († 1569), Netherlands
    Fra Arnaldo di Santo Zeno († 1570)
    Alessandro di Giacomo († 1574)
    Benedetto Thomaria († 1574)
    Diego Lopez († 1583)
    Gabriello Henriquez († 1583)
    Borro of Arezzo († 1583)
    Ludovico Moro († 1583)
    Pietro Benato († 1585)
    Francesco Gambonelli († 1594)
    Marcantonio Valena († 1594)
    Giovanni Antonio da Verona († 1599)
    Fra Celestino († 1599)
    Giordano Bruno (1548–1600), Rome, Italy
    Maurizio Rinaldi († 1600)
    Bartolomeo Coppino († 1601)
    Edward Wightman († 1612), last person burned for heresy in England.
    Malin Matsdotter (1613–1676), for witchcraft, Sweden
    Kimpa Vita (1684–1706), Angola
    Maria Barbara Carillo (1625–1721), Madrid, Spain

    How many might have been great scientist?

    October 29, 2013 at 7:32 pm |
    • Lamb of Dog

      Notice it wasn't until they stopped killing people with the ability to think for themselves that the Einstein's of the world were able to accomplish great things.

      How many hundreds of years were wasted because of religious dogma?

      October 29, 2013 at 7:34 pm |
    • R.M. Goodswell

      and how many more ended up like Galileo? – a virtual prisoner for the remainder of his life post 'trial'.....

      October 29, 2013 at 7:37 pm |
    • Lisa

      People usually forget that "heresy" didn't mean atheism, but just a difference in theological opinion. Heretics were just Christians of a different, and minority stripe.

      October 29, 2013 at 7:46 pm |
      • Lamb of Dog

        I am sure that most of the people on the list above were catholic. In those days you were suicidal to say you were not.

        October 29, 2013 at 7:49 pm |
        • Lisa

          Yes, question authority and end up being excluded as a "true" Christian. I see the same thing going on in protestant circles. Born agains claim that they are the only real "Christians" and that Catholics and mainstream protestants are false churches, which is just another way of saying "heretics", isn't it?

          October 29, 2013 at 7:56 pm |
        • Harry the Hairy Tick

          Heretic! Jesus is going to push you back down with a foot in your face. No heaven for you.

          October 29, 2013 at 8:14 pm |
    • Sywa

      Talk about an incomplete list! They murdered millions of people for not following their commands. Burned many of them alive, too.

      October 29, 2013 at 10:10 pm |
  5. Rebecca

    Scientific discoveries made by religious people:

    Isaac Newton the Newtonian Revolution Anglican
    William Harvey Circulation of the Blood Anglican
    Charles Darwin Evolution Anglican; Unitarian
    Christiaan Huygens the Wave Theory of Light Calvinist
    Leonard Euler Eighteenth-Century Mathematics Calvinist
    Alexander Fleming Penicillin Catholic
    Andreas Vesalius the New Anatomy Catholic
    Antoine Laurent Lavoisier the Revolution in Chemistry Catholic
    Enrico Fermi Atomic Physics Catholic
    Erwin Schrodinger Wave Mechanics Catholic
    Galileo Galilei the New Science Catholic
    Louis Pasteur the Germ Theory of Disease Catholic
    Marcello Malpighi Microscopic Anatomy Catholic
    Marie Curie Radioactivity Catholic
    Gregor Mendel the Laws of Inheritance Catholic (Augustinian monk)
    Nicolaus Copernicus the Heliocentric Universe Catholic (priest)
    Carl Linnaeus the Binomial Nomenclature Christianity
    Anton van Leeuwenhoek the Simple Microscope Dutch Reformed
    Albert Einstein Twentieth-Century Science Jewish
    Claude Levi-Strauss Structural Anthropology Jewish
    Edward Teller the Bomb Jewish
    Franz Boas Modern Anthropology Jewish
    Hans Bethe the Energy of the Sun Jewish
    J. Robert Oppenheimer the Atomic Era Jewish
    Jonas Salk Vaccination Jewish
    Karl Landsteiner the Blood Groups Jewish
    Lynn Margulis Symbiosis Theory Jewish
    Murray Gell-Mann the Eightfold Way Jewish
    Paul Ehrlich Chemotherapy Jewish
    Richard Feynman Quantum Electrodynamics Jewish
    Sheldon Glashow the Discovery of Charm Jewish
    William Herschel the Discovery of the Heavens Jewish
    John von Neumann the Modern Computer Jewish Catholic
    Max Born Quantum Mechanics Jewish Lutheran
    Neils Bohr the Atom Jewish Lutheran
    Carl Gauss (Karl Friedrich Gauss) Mathematical Genius Lutheran
    Johannes Kepler Motion of the Planets Lutheran
    Linus Pauling Twentieth-Century Chemistry Lutheran
    Tycho Brahe the New Astronomy Lutheran
    Werner Heisenberg Quantum Theory Lutheran
    James Clerk Maxwell the Electromagnetic Field Presbyterian; Anglican; Baptist
    Max Planck the Quanta Protestant
    Arthur Eddington Modern Astronomy Quaker
    John Dalton the Theory of the Atom Quaker
    Theodosius Dobzhansky the Modern Synthesis Russian Orthodox
    Trofim Lysenko Soviet Genetics Russian Orthodox
    Michael Faraday the Classical Field Theory Sandemanian

    What great scientific discoveries have any of YOU made? None, I bet. Yet you sit back and mock.

    October 29, 2013 at 7:12 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Where is your name on that list ?

      October 29, 2013 at 7:13 pm |
      • Rebecca

        Why should my name be on it? Oh, I get it. This is the obligatory ad hominem attack, which come a dime a dozen in this blog.

        October 29, 2013 at 7:17 pm |
        • midwest rail

          " What great scientific discoveries have any of YOU made? "
          You mean an ad hominem like the one you ended your pointless post with ?

          October 29, 2013 at 7:18 pm |
        • Rebecca

          That wasn't an ad hominem attack.

          October 29, 2013 at 7:22 pm |
        • midwest rail

          " It must be nice not to be burdened by things like the Golden Rule. "
          Of course it was.

          October 29, 2013 at 7:23 pm |
        • Rebecca

          No it wasn't.

          October 29, 2013 at 7:27 pm |
        • Clabbertine

          What about those of us who do not sit back and mock? I guess you are insulting us.
          YOU are the one sitting back and mocking. Hypocrite. Jesus has a disgusted look on His Face at YOU.

          October 29, 2013 at 7:33 pm |
        • Rebecca

          They could make a drinking game about the accusations of hypocrisy that are made in this blog.

          October 29, 2013 at 7:58 pm |
        • dust mote in yur eye

          Jesus HATED HYPOCRITES

          October 29, 2013 at 8:15 pm |
    • R.M. Goodswell

      Most of that list were people of their time. As Neil deGrasse Tyson pointed out in his Perimeter of Ignorance speech, many of these only invoked God when they ran up against the limits of their knowledge and understanding.

      Some of this list lost their religion late in life (Darwin) or are misrepresented (Einstein – Spinoza's god).

      for most of the last 2000 years, it has been a REALLY bad idea to buck the system – as in do and die.

      October 29, 2013 at 7:24 pm |
    • Lisa

      There is nothing to stop religious people from making scientific discoveries, but can they successfully combine their discoveries with their religious beliefs? It's a separate job, isn't it? Akin to a lawyer giving all of her clients the best defence she can regardless of what she personally believes about their innocence, a religious scientist can also honestly follow the evidence where it leads regardless of where they want it to lead (with the exception of creationist scientists, who never appear to be be honestly following the evidence). Attempts to demonstrate how God is revealed by science have all failed.

      October 29, 2013 at 7:43 pm |
      • Rebecca

        I like thought responses that don't attack. Thanks.

        October 29, 2013 at 8:42 pm |
        • Rebecca

          thoughtful

          October 29, 2013 at 8:43 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Scientific discoveries by religious people using religion to make said discovery.

      .....
      .....

      October 29, 2013 at 9:57 pm |
  6. Lamb of Dog

    For tens of years, Rebecca's brain did not exist because no one could not prove its existence.

    October 29, 2013 at 7:02 pm |
    • Rebecca

      It must be nice not to be burdened by things like the Golden Rule.

      October 29, 2013 at 7:05 pm |
    • Lamb of Dog

      It must be nice living in la la land.

      October 29, 2013 at 7:28 pm |
  7. Rebecca

    For millions of years, gamma rays did not exist because dinosaurs could not prove their existence.

    October 29, 2013 at 6:36 pm |
    • bostontola

      Unicorns exist because I think they are pretty?

      October 29, 2013 at 6:42 pm |
    • Commenter

      Rebecca,

      Following that track then: **anything** that you can imagine (and **anything** that you can't imagine") could be true, including a lot of other ideas which do not include a deity, that could be real regarding the universe.

      We. Do. Not. Know (yet, if ever). A god is not the fall-back, default answer.

      October 29, 2013 at 6:47 pm |
      • Rebecca

        What is the proof supposed to look like?

        October 29, 2013 at 6:58 pm |
        • bostontola

          No proof is required, just any objective evidence. There is a lot of objective evidence that the gods of man's religions don't exist.

          October 29, 2013 at 7:01 pm |
        • Commenter

          Rebecca
          "What is the proof supposed to look like?"

          Something like pudding, I've heard! 🙂

          You know, think about the size and complexity of the dinosaurs brain - their main concerns were to eat, drink, sleep, mate and run/hide from danger. We have a more complex set up in our human brains today. Who knows, maybe 160 million years from now there will be even more highly intelligent beings around here, who will look back at h.o.mo sapiens with quizzical interest; and will discuss the many strange ideas that we had.

          October 29, 2013 at 7:25 pm |
    • bostontola

      NASA's Swift satellite has found the most distant gamma-ray burst ever detected. The blast, designated GRB 080913, arose from an exploding star 12.8 billion light-years away.

      That means we are directly observing gamma rays from a time well before dinosaurs, our planet's existence, and our solar system's existence. We don't know about the existence of gamma rays in the first 3-400 million years of the observable universe though.

      October 29, 2013 at 6:59 pm |
    • Lisa

      Rebecca
      That may be true, but the time to believe in things is after there is evidence for it, not before. Not everything that we imagine will eventually turn out to be true, correct?

      October 29, 2013 at 7:31 pm |
  8. XOXO

    According to the pic...touch other mans gluts!

    October 29, 2013 at 6:29 pm |
  9. Bob

    @fred, your whole religion is based on absurd and false premises. How is it that your omnipotent being couldn't do his "salvation" bit without the whole silly Jesus hoopla? And how was Jesus' death a "sacrifice", when an omnipotent being could just pop up a replacement son any time with less than a snap of his fingers? Pretty pathetic "god" that you've made for yourself there.

    Ask the questions. Break the chains. Join the movement.
    Be free of Christianity and other superstitions.
    http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/

    October 29, 2013 at 5:38 pm |
    • Rebecca

      Your premise presumes many assumptions.

      October 29, 2013 at 6:40 pm |
      • Woid

        Your assumptions assume many presumptive presumptions.

        October 29, 2013 at 8:17 pm |
  10. Apple Bush

    In our home we have an agnostic, three atheists, 1 lesbian, one adulterous, one recovering alcoholic and a bunny named Daisy. We all get along just fine and have fulfilling, artistic and normal lives. So could everyone else if people would tell that bitch to be chill.

    October 29, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Oh also, on topic, that was the right call.

      October 29, 2013 at 5:26 pm |
    • Sanarc

      Just you and Daisy, then? Okay.

      October 29, 2013 at 8:03 pm |
  11. the troll

    (Uptempo/Swing)

    I remember there was a time when I could troll to my heart’s content.
    But now it seems I can’t get the blog’s consent.

    Every time I try to troll
    It’s just another nasty “No!”
    Someone says the same thing every time…

    They say, trolling is bad, it makes me feel sad.
    I wish that you wouldn’t troll you see?

    We all need a break, from your crummy mistake!

    So please stop your trolling today!

    I really mean it…..

    Please stop the trolling, Christ quit the trolling, cease with the trolling today!

    (Tips in the case please.)

    October 29, 2013 at 5:06 pm |
  12. bostontola

    Being from Boston, I think Mr. Prothero's post is immaculate.

    October 29, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
    • Akira

      This made me laugh...thanks.

      October 29, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
  13. Richard Cranium

    I see the theif is still not blocked. That will change.

    October 29, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Most likely not.

      October 29, 2013 at 4:11 pm |
  14. I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

    Really Prof Prothero,

    because there are gay priests, the red birds should never have been awarded home plate? Is this the argument here?

    At this point does it matter. The Sox are now home with a 3-2 advantage. Seems like crying over spilt milk at this point.

    October 29, 2013 at 4:04 pm |
  15. Max

    Really? Because someone doesn't like their username stolen by insidious trolls with ill intentions? Weird. I smell the troll.

    October 29, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
  16. Reality # 2

    Steve P. can't even decide on what god to honor and yet he sits in judgment of the umpires of baseball !!!

    October 29, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
  17. Chris

    I've umpired for 10+ years from doing everything from little league to JUCO, as well as having attended Evan's Florida school and taught multiple clinics for local officials. That was an easy obstruction call, and the interpretation and judgment were absolutely correct. That was absolutely the correct judgement. I don't know a single umpire who would have not called that, and I would have absolutely called it in that situation.

    October 29, 2013 at 3:31 pm |
  18. fred

    The laws of man are a far cry from the divine laws of God. God established the very laws of physics creating order in our existence. All that science knows is limited to and based upon the laws of Gods creation. The laws given to man remain the fundamental basis for behavior and relationships between people and God since the beginning. These laws have not changed and are not subject to the whims of culture or their umpires.

    Jesus came at a perfect time for many reasons. One of them being that the keepers of the law (Hebrews or chosen ones) lost sight of the very law they were destined to bring forward in time for all generations. Jesus said I have not come to overturn the law but to fulfill the law and that he did. In his first preaching Jesus brought clarity to the law in his famous Sermon on the Mount. Only Divinity could so perfectly simplify the law so that no one could be mistaken about a right and wrong way to eternal life.

    October 29, 2013 at 3:22 pm |
    • Joey

      Or Not.

      October 29, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
      • fred

        Even if you deny God you cannot deny that the what was made clear by Jesus regarding the 8 characteristics of the children of God in that sermon trumps any ideology of man since recorded history. If man lived by these simple rules then our world would be more like heaven ..............God or no God.

        October 29, 2013 at 3:46 pm |
        • Madtown

          You can believe in God, yet not have a clue who Jesus is. Christianity is not the only way of approaching spirituality, many humans on this planet have never heard of it.

          October 29, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
        • Pete

          How do you know that God and Jesus weren't just characters written by men?

          October 29, 2013 at 3:52 pm |
        • fred

          Madtown
          You can be a Christian and not have a clue who God is.

          October 29, 2013 at 3:53 pm |
        • fred

          Pete
          Most likely men did the best they could to draw an image of God or Jesus in their writings. It cannot be done. God cannot be reduced to the things of man. The image of God is presented directly to the soul of man by the Holy Spirit. The characters of God (if you want to call it that) as written in the Bible can lead you to the truth the way and the life.

          October 29, 2013 at 4:00 pm |
        • fred

          Madtown
          "Christianity is not the only way of approaching spirituality, many humans on this planet have never heard of it."
          =>spirituality is very broad and includes a lot of things so yes it is not the only way. The problem is that we are speaking about the way the truth and the life for which there is only one. Hindus, Muslims etc. address spirituality in different ways but Jesus said I am the way and no one comes to the Father but through me. So, if you want unity with the Father then the gate is narrow and few find it. If it is spirituality you want then everyone is on that path. I imagine even atheists, although they will deny it, have some level of spirituality.

          =>I is possible there are a minority that have never heard of Jesus so you are correct. The vast majority have been given the opportunity given the billions of Bibles in circulation. The overriding assumption however is that God, given attributes reflected in the Bible, already knows each of us very well. God would not accidently overlook anyone that has a heart inclined towards God. The suggestion that God could or would design a plan for salvation yet forget someone is nonsense. You must argue against Gods attributes which just degrades into speculation and a design of a god that fits our vision not the God revealed through all existence.

          October 29, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
        • Madtown

          You can be a Christian and not have a clue who God is
          -----
          Only the arrogant think they know details about who God is.

          October 29, 2013 at 4:35 pm |
        • sam stone.

          "You can be a Christian and not have a clue who God is."

          Like you, Freddie?

          October 29, 2013 at 4:35 pm |
        • eduardo

          but how can god have created earth? there is no proof of that

          October 29, 2013 at 4:39 pm |
        • Madtown

          we are speaking about the way the truth and the life for which there is only one.
          ----
          How fortunate you are, to have been exposed to the "only true" religion in existence! You lucky dog. So many humans out there equal to you, yet so unfortunate in comparison because they'll never know the truth. And why? It's what God desires. He placed them in areas devoid of christianity.

          October 29, 2013 at 4:41 pm |
        • Evolution 101

          fred the truth !

          Kansas will Cope with COPE

          Posted on October 23, 2013 * Leave a comment

          Anti-evolution

          Attack on science education

          Creationism

          Evolution denial

          History

          Intelligent design creationism

          Legal State science standards

          http://ncse.com/blog/2013/10/kansas-will-cope-with-cope-0015134

          October 29, 2013 at 4:43 pm |
        • fred

          Madtown
          "Only the arrogant think they know details about who God is."
          =>you could not be more wrong as a humble nature is a sign of one of Gods children.
          =>Further, arrogance is not a characteristic of a pure heart and Jesus said "Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God."
          =>I only stated what was written so perhaps you think Jesus as arrogant or you do not take well to the narrow path for those who love Christ.

          October 29, 2013 at 4:57 pm |
        • Madtown

          I only stated what was written
          ----
          You did state what was written.........by other human beings! The bible is not "the truth", it's a set of opinions and notions. You must not have very much faith in the power of God if you think the bible is his word. He's pretty powerful, creating this entire universe is a stunning feat. Surely he's powerful enough to get a simple message out to everyone he creates, if he cared enough to do so.

          October 29, 2013 at 5:08 pm |
        • fred

          Eduardo
          "how can god have created earth? there is no proof of that"
          =>correct, no accepted proof exists as to how our existence came into being. Science has come up empty handed because science can only deal with those things that were created.
          =>one either believes in a purpose greater and more miraculous than ourselves or existence without purpose. The Bible stands out when it comes to purpose for existence and Jesus stands out when it comes to love and perfection. I do not know of anyone whose words are more powerful and long lasting. I do not know of any being who has achieved a greater purpose for existence than Jesus

          October 29, 2013 at 5:09 pm |
        • ME II

          @fred,
          "one either believes in a purpose greater and more miraculous than ourselves or existence without purpose. "

          What about determining our own purpose?

          October 29, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
        • fred

          Madtown
          " He placed them in areas devoid of Christianity"
          =>There are many reasons people are where they are in life and God placing them there is a biblical possibility. The Good News is that those who were never exposed to God are in a better position than those given great opportunity yet turning away from God.
          If you believe it was a misguided understanding of science that turned you then you have been deceived. This goes back to the beginning in the garden. You chose the deception of the serpent before you used science to back fill the reasons for non belief. This is a poor excuse as you would have been better off never to have heard of Jesus.

          October 29, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
        • ME II

          @fred,
          " This is a poor excuse as you would have been better off never to have heard of Jesus."

          That's confusing.
          If that were the case and Jesus loved us, then wouldn't he have left us alone so we would be better off?

          October 29, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
        • Madtown

          God placing them there is a biblical possibility
          -----
          No, it's a logical certainty. We don't choose where we're born. If you're able to forge any thoughts that don't come directly from scripture, imagine yourself for a moment having been born in Egypt. This was not your choice. You wouldn't grow up to believe the bible is God's truth. You'd be a Muslim, and then believe christians follow a false path.

          October 29, 2013 at 5:25 pm |
        • fred

          Madtown
          "Surely he's powerful enough to get a simple message out to everyone he creates, if he cared enough to do so."
          =>The purpose of creation was the salvation of souls into eternal unity with God. Not everything is purposed for God. You cannot argue against this (other than to say there is no purpose for existence and thus no God). The purpose was onto God because of the glory of God. It is a complete perfect eternal construct.
          In short the message reached its target.

          October 29, 2013 at 5:26 pm |
        • Nanook

          Eskimo: 'If I did not know about God and sin, would I go to hell?'

          Priest: 'No, not if you did not know.'

          Eskimo: 'Then why did you tell me?'

          October 29, 2013 at 5:27 pm |
        • Madtown

          You cannot argue against this
          ---
          Because you say so? You have no assemblance of logic in most anything you say. I don't think you'd argue that God is powerful. You likely believe God can do whatever he wants. By simple extension, he's more than capable of distributing a simple message out to all, instead of relying on fallible human beings who would just mess it up.

          October 29, 2013 at 5:39 pm |
        • fred

          MEII
          "What about determining our own purpose?"
          =>it is called free will so go for it. I noticed a couple domesticated rabbits today in a field this morning fat, pretty and white as snow. I know there are coyotes and bobcat in that field with the hawks due at sunrise. I give them about an hour as animals fulfill their purpose in nature.
          =>Your purpose is greater than that of a simple animal yet you chose to determine your purpose as limited to what can be known by the natural. You will also fulfill your purpose in that limited field. The result is clear based on your own belief.

          Ah, wait you have heard that there is possibly something outside your limited field of view. If there is then logically purpose is more than rather than less than a limited field. If you desire purpose greater than what is seen you must desire what cannot be seen. Other wise like the rabbits you will never become aware that you are out of your element.

          October 29, 2013 at 5:48 pm |
        • fred

          ME II
          "If that were the case and Jesus loved us, then wouldn't he have left us alone so we would be better off?"
          =>He did and actually said he spoke in parables so only those with eyes could see and those with ears could hear.
          =>He did as shown by his refusal to do a trick for the crowds to prove he was Christ. What did he say "This is a wicked generation. It asks for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah. So is the answer inside the big fish story...no (although skeptics fall for it) it was the Ninevites who heard the word of God and repented.
          =>God does not trample your free will. As with Adam and Eve they could have listened to God or followed their own purpose.

          October 29, 2013 at 5:58 pm |
        • fred

          Madtown
          "We don't choose where we're born"
          =>and you were given every opportunity to be a Christian yet rejected everything you experienced, were told and read about Jesus.
          =>Jesus was born in an anti Christian world and place. Jesus and followers were hunted down tortured and killed in the land they were born. That was Gods choice. The example is clear and you will suffer if you get on that narrow path.

          October 29, 2013 at 6:06 pm |
        • sam stone.

          humble nature? that is about the last thing you pseudo pious folks have

          you claim KNOWLEDGE that not only does A god exist, but it is the one YOU and the rest of your inbred bretheren grovel before

          robert brown claims that all believers in the christian god speak for that god. when i asked him if that were the case, what about when they disagree in classic gopheresque fashion, he runs like a scared little child

          the arrogance of the True Believers (TM) is astounding

          October 29, 2013 at 6:42 pm |
        • sam stone.

          fred: gopher believes in predestination. do you? you must, because robbie (i cannot be wrong) brown said all believes are god's spokesman.

          if there is predestination, how does free will exist?

          October 29, 2013 at 6:49 pm |
        • fred

          sam
          It is hard to be humble when you are a child of God! Just kidding of course but, the Bible does say we are Gods children if we accept Christ. The world also took the Chosen Ones wrong as they thought they were special to God. Everyone is special to God so we are on a level playing field not above non believers. Perhaps what I don't understand is how is it arrogant or not humble to claim knowledge of God. It is overpowering when suddenly what the Bible says will happen when you trust and obey Jesus actually happens. When the Bible comes to life and you are filled with a personal experience or encounter with God we instantly know things that previously sounded silly.

          October 29, 2013 at 7:14 pm |
        • fred

          Sam
          Predestination depends on your point of reference. Man puts his own spin on things which is why we have thousands of denominations. Paul made it clear we are not to look down on another believer because he or she has a different take on a non critical doctrine. The Catholics added all sorts of stuff as did say the Mormons. Jesus boiled it down to the most simple components and never mentioned predestination. If it was important Jesus would have said so. When you incorporate the Sermon on the Mount into your life you get a clear picture of the characteristics of those who love Christ.

          Predestination does not apply if God is not bound by the time and space he created. Beginning and end only have reference points inside of our timeline. Thus, predestination is a concept men come up with to explain how God knows those who will choose to believe before they were even born. You position in Christ is not impacted by predestination or a view contrary to that.

          October 29, 2013 at 7:36 pm |
        • Madtown

          and you were given every opportunity to be a Christian yet rejected everything you experienced, were told and read about Jesus
          ---
          How do you know? You have no idea where I stand, I haven't mentioned it. You again make as.sumptions. We're not talking about me, we're talking about people who've never been exposed to christianity. Yes, I have. Yes, you have. Why do you think you follow it and prefer it? It's likely the prevailing religion where you've grown up! Yes, it's just that simple. Again....picture yourself having been born in Saudi Arabia. You wouldn't be a christian. You'd defy christianity, as you defy the muslim way.

          October 29, 2013 at 7:52 pm |
        • fred

          Madtown
          I agree that religion is generally transmitted culturally. However, the Bible says no one comes to the Lord unless they are first called. I have no reason to discount the Bible and as such God can and will call anyone anywhere. God chose Noah out of a world full of wickedness. Location does not seem to be a problem.

          October 29, 2013 at 8:13 pm |
        • sam stone.

          fred: if god knows what we are going to do before we do it, and god cannot be wrong, how does free will exist?

          October 29, 2013 at 8:28 pm |
        • sam stone.

          "Predestination does not apply if God is not bound by the time and space he created."

          What does that mean? Can you answer a simple question. No need to bring in Jesus or Paul, or John, or George, or Ringo.

          if i apparently have two choices, A and B, and god KNOWS (being omniscient and all) that i am going to choose, B, what is the chance that i will prove god wrong?

          I think this time and space shill you uttered is nothing but slight of hand. answer the question, or take your place with gopher and robbie (i cannot be wrong) brown and serveral other True Believers (TM) who cannot carry on a conversation without self serving bu||sh1t

          October 29, 2013 at 8:39 pm |
        • fred

          sam
          " if god knows what we are going to do before we do it, and god cannot be wrong, how does free will exist?"
          Do any of us really understand eternity or an eternal existence without beginning or end? C.S. Lewis made a simple observation that eternity is a sheet of paper that extends infinitely in all directions. The existence of our universe is a very short pencil line drawn on that landscape.
          Now, an eternal God knows that pencil line at once not before during or after that universe was created. A sequence of time Before, during and after is all we know and have ever experienced. Free will for us flows along that sequence so you have not replied to this post yet. No one knows what you are going to do. God on the other hand simply is and what you do already exists on that eternal landscape.

          October 29, 2013 at 9:05 pm |
        • sam stone.

          wow, fred, still no direct answer...a-fvcking-mazing

          we will make it simple for you

          does god know what i am going to do before i do it?

          October 30, 2013 at 5:39 am |
        • fred

          sam
          What ever you do has already been done in Gods eyes as God does not exist in sequenced time.

          October 30, 2013 at 12:20 pm |
        • fred

          sam
          We experience time based on millions of years of patterning so we think in terms of past present and future. What is the logic of assuming God or that outside of our time and space would be so conditioned?

          October 30, 2013 at 12:30 pm |
      • Bob

        fred, your whole religion is based on absurd and false premises. How is it that your omnipotent being couldn't do his "salvation" bit without the whole silly Jesus on sticks hoopla? And how was Jesus' death a "sacrifice", when an omnipotent being could just pop up a replacement son any time with less than a snap of his fingers? Pretty pathetic "god" that you've made for yourself there.

        Ask the questions. Break the chains. Join the movement.
        Be free of Christianity and other superstitions.
        http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/

        October 29, 2013 at 5:37 pm |
        • fred

          Bob, sorry to hear you actually think that. You have heard the Good News many times yet this continues to be your position.

          October 29, 2013 at 6:12 pm |
        • sam stone.

          yeah, watch it, bob. god might throw a hissyfit if you don't believe what OTHER PEOPLE tell you about him

          October 29, 2013 at 8:52 pm |
    • sam stone.

      freddie, freddie, freddie.....why do you think you have authority to speak for god?

      an overblown sense of self worth?

      a way too short wee-nee that makes you want to compensate?

      October 29, 2013 at 4:32 pm |
      • fred

        sam
        I do not need to speak for God, I simply reveal what is written. "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth" is the first verse of the Bible which says all creation that you and everyone know, test and think about was created by God. That would include the laws of physics etc.

        Jesus is the one who said "I have not come to do away with the law of Moses and the Prophets but to fulfill the law. Those are not my words.

        As to authority God is the absolute authority and the Bible commands me to go out and share the truth the way and the life. Actually, there is no law (in this country anyway) that can take away that authority I was given. That is a fact.

        October 29, 2013 at 4:47 pm |
        • sam stone.

          nonsense, fred. speaking for god is exactly what you are purporting to do

          otherwise, you would say "the bible say....."

          instead, you say "god says"

          the bible was written, translated and edited men. no more the word of god than Catch 22 or Thank You For Smoking

          October 29, 2013 at 5:04 pm |
        • sam stone.

          that is true, fred, you are free to share "the word"

          and, we are free to challenge it or ridicule it, or do pretty much whatever free speech allows us

          October 29, 2013 at 5:06 pm |
        • fred

          Sam
          You are correct, sometimes I say God instead of Jesus says. I do mean the Bible says.

          October 29, 2013 at 6:14 pm |
        • sam stone.

          and if you claim to KNOW

          October 29, 2013 at 8:53 pm |
        • sam stone.

          that the bible is the word of god, that is precisely what you are doing, speaking for god

          you christians sure have an problem confusing fact with opinion, and knowledge with belief

          October 29, 2013 at 8:56 pm |
        • sam stone.

          claiming that everything was made by god does not make it true

          try some humility, fred

          October 29, 2013 at 8:58 pm |
        • fred

          sam
          If matter is neither created or destroyed then everything is the product of something. I word it as all things were created by God simply because it is Gods creation. Now how is that not spoken with the same humility as sam speak?

          Now if there is no God your answer would be "we don't know". That is not humility because you believe that man can know or will know or that it was anything but God at the point of creation.

          October 29, 2013 at 9:17 pm |
        • sam stone.

          ".....I word it as all things were created by God simply because it is Gods creation"

          the same unsupported claim

          "Now how is that not spoken with the same humility as sam speak?"

          you purport to KNOW what made the universe. how does that even approach humility?

          "That is not humility because you believe that man can know or will know or that it was anything but God at the point of creation."

          where did i say man can know?

          how a creator synonymous with a god?

          October 30, 2013 at 5:46 am |
        • fred

          sam
          "you purport to KNOW what made the universe. how does that even approach humility?"
          =>I have 6,000 + years of oral tradition beginning with the first Hebrews (Adam and Eve) that clearly explains the purpose and plan of creation. There is no way I could ever surpass the Prophets of Old or Jesus, Paul and the Apostles when it comes to crossing over into the promised land (the kingdom of God). These greats all had a special ability to embrace that which even our best scientists cannot begin to measure or identify.
          Jesus was far beyond man when it came to understanding of what all this really is about. His words do come to life and when applied as given produce tangible results that transform lives to their very core. Those transformed begin to experience what Paul referred to as principalities of light and darkness.
          Given I and millions have personally experienced these transforming truths as written in the Bible and given there is no proof that anything in the Bible is not as presented there is no logical reason to doubt the Bible is not the word of God translated so that we can begin the journey.
          This is why I "know", not because I am more than those who do not know simply because they have not seen.

          October 30, 2013 at 12:16 pm |
    • Bob

      fred, your whole religion is based on absurd and false premises. How is it that your omnipotent being couldn't do his "salvation" bit without the whole silly Jesus hoopla? And how was Jesus' death a "sacrifice", when an omnipotent being could just pop up a replacement son any time with less than a snap of his fingers? Pretty pathetic "god" that you've made for yourself there.

      Ask the questions. Break the chains. Join the movement.
      Be free of Christianity and other superstitions.
      http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/

      October 29, 2013 at 5:36 pm |
  19. guest

    The problem with modern Christianity is that they want to change the principles and laws taught in the Bible. There seems to be the desire to equate with the secular world which always leads to the problem of drawing the Christian into a lifestyle that leads them away from God rather than drawing them closer to God.
    The principles of God have not changed.
    But, before I get into that I want the atheists that are reading this to understand that they do not seem to understand the plan of salvation. For instance: I have noted that some have said the Christians are not making animal sacrifices as they should. I think they think that the sacrificial system was to appease an angry God: Wrong. When Adam and Eve sinned God promised them that a Christ would come and redeem them from their sin. That plan was that God, in the form of mankind would take his place and die for him thus providing a way of escape from eternal death. The sacrificial system was set up to remind the people that the result of sin was death, not to appease God. The animal that was sacrificed was a reminder of that promise. When Christ came and died the animal sacrifice system ended.
    Unfortunately, man (me included) does not understand the purity of God and the awfulness of sin with the tendency to excuse sin in various ways, mostly by excusing what seems to them as not being ‘so bad’.
    Christians today think God’s Holy Law was done away with when Jesus died. What they don’t know is that the hand written Law of Moses, which is not the same as the Law of God, was done away with. Because of this, many Christians do not serve God as they ought and follow the ways of man, seeking their own pleasure.
    However, the Law of Moses also included the civil laws for the Jewish community and these laws were not necessarily transferred to other communities such as the stoning of sinners. (BTW, so far as I know, the Jewish people, because they don’t accept Jesus as the messiah, are still under the Mosaic Law.)
    sorry,I need to go, will check back latter.

    October 29, 2013 at 3:06 pm |
    • sam

      Uh huh. Well. How about those Sox, though?

      October 29, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
    • Alias

      Why force jesus to die for a sin Adam committed?
      Why hold that sin against people who were not even born yet?
      God should have made Adam repent and left te rest of us the hell alone.

      October 29, 2013 at 3:53 pm |
      • guest

        Alias,I hope that your questions are sincere. I’m not trying to be critical, but this is the sort of thing that atheists do not seem to understand about the love of God. God is not willing any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. Jesus was not forced to pay for anyone’s sin; he gave His life voluntarily because He loved man who He created.
        Sin is a choice. Because Adam sinned all his offspring inherited a sinful nature therefore, all are born with the propitiation to sin. True, it seems as though there are some who seem to be born with a natural inclination toward God, still they must accept Jesus as their personal savior; however in spite of this, there are some who will never hear of Jesus the Christ, so just by their nature of doing what is right God has reserved them a place in His Kingdom.
        Adam was not forced to repent because repentance is a choice. But, I do believe that Adam and Eve did repent.

        October 29, 2013 at 9:36 pm |
    • Pete

      Yeah, back with slavery, keeping women quiet in church, beating your kids to death, and all the other great stuff that the first Christians and the NT are OK with, right? You sound just like the guys who said that MLK and the abolitionists were just liberals who were twisting what the Bible actually said about blacks.

      October 29, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
      • guest

        Well Pete, I have to admit, I don’t understand the thing about slavery, but I do understand that slaves were to be treated with respect; in fact, slaves were at times given positions of great responsibility and respect. To name a few: Abraham’s trusted servant (a slave) was given the responsibility to find a wife for his son Isaac. He took ten camels and rich gifts for the trip. Why did he return? Joseph, great grandson of Abraham was sold into slavery; he was eventually given the responsibility of the whole Egyptian nation. Daniel and his three friends—all captives of war making them slaves, were given high positions in the government of Babylon. The slave girl of Naamam loved her master so much that she sent him to Elijah to be cured of leprosy. So slaves were not the same as slaves today. Technically, even Queen Ester was a slave. So, before we are so quick to judge, we need to know more facts.
        I agree, women were second class citizens, in fact even in our own country women were viewed as second class citizens for a long time—considered ‘property’; that doesn’t mean they were unloved. And just because we, myself included, don’t understand the customs of a different time and a different place doesn’t mean they were wrong, we’re only judging them by our standards.
        However, Paul was talking mostly about women who were unschooled and disturbing the a.s.sembly with questions they could ask their husbands when they got home.

        October 29, 2013 at 9:41 pm |
    • sam stone.

      guest: allowing someone else to take the punishment you feel you deserve is the act of a coward. whether it be you, or gopher, or robbie brown, or larry of arabia. if you had any moral foundation, you would demand to be punished, not hide like a snivelling sycophant

      October 29, 2013 at 4:38 pm |
      • guest

        Sam, if we are to pay the penalty of our sins, the penalty is death. The gracious love of God our creator has made a way for our redemption. Of course, sinners will get the wages of sin, but we can choose the loving grace of God who has made a way of escape; it’s your choice. Oh, BTW, we are all guilty even if you don’t want to admit it.

        October 29, 2013 at 9:44 pm |
  20. Blessed are the Cheesemakers

    Free speech is not free, it comes with responsibility....I suggest you take some responsibilty.

    October 29, 2013 at 2:58 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      I completely agree with that Richard. But the Consti.tutional protection of free speech is only protected from goverment censorship, and even then there are some basic limits. In this case the censorship is coming from CNN and they have a right to censor their blog. I certainly don't agree with how they apply that at times but the troll in this case has in my opinion crossed the line repeatedly.

      October 29, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      "When you draw a line you destroy the rights of a free peoples there is no private versus public right to free speech it is a basic human right."

      You couldn't be more wrong. There is absolutely a public verses private right to free speech. You won't win a lawsuit where you publically defame the company you work for and then are fired you for it. You will be arrested for yelling "FIRE" in a theater. Free speech does have certain limits. I also think there are some ethical standards, such as stealing someones name to make them appear to say something they didn't, but ethics don't concern you do they troll?

      I wouldn't make the argument of "thought crimes" either. Your god loves to punish "crimes of thought". But then ethics don't concern him either, I can see why you like him so much.

      October 29, 2013 at 3:38 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      That wasn't me. That was the thief. Daniel Burke had blocked the punk earlier, but I guess some punks don't learn. If you name is being hijacked....contact daniel.burke@cnn.com. This punk needs to stop, so others can enjoy some conversations.

      October 29, 2013 at 4:12 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.