November 3rd, 2013
06:42 AM ET

The surprisingly badass birds of the Bible

Opinion by Debbie Blue, special to CNN

(CNN) - As long as humans have been breathing, they've invested birds with meaning.

They fly all over the Bible - from beginning to end - and they have a prominent place in the founding narratives of almost every culture and religion. They are not just bones and feathers. They are strength or hope, omen and oracle.

In the Bible's first book, Genesis, God hovers over the face of the water like a dove, the Jewish sages suggest in the Talmud. In its final book, birds gorge on the flesh of the defeated "beast" in Book of Revelation.

Birds are the currency of mercy, sacrificed to God in the hopes of winning blessings or forgiveness. They bring bread to the prophets. Abraham has to shoo them away from his offering, and a pigeon accompanies Jesus on his first visit to the temple.

Jesus told us to "consider the birds." I love this about him, and I've taken his advice to heart.

In doing so, I've found paying attention to these wild, awesome animals reveals hidden layers of meaning in the Bible and new lessons for modern Christians looking for grace in unexpected places.

Here are a few of the surprising things I've learned about Bible birds.

1. Pigeon

Take the one bird everyone thinks they know: the dove.

In each of the four gospels, the Spirit of God shows up at Jesus' baptism in the form of a dove. In the popular imagination this Holy Spirit dove is snow white.

But the bird at the baptism was more likely a rock dove, a species much more prevalent in Palestine. These birds are grey with an iridescent green and violet neck. They're more commonly known as the pigeon.

Though most of us have separate categories for pigeons (dirty) and doves (pure), ornithologists will tell you the names are interchangeable.

That means the symbol for the Holy Spirit is just a hair's breadth away from the symbol of urban trashiness.

The dove has come to seem a bit bland as far as Christian symbols go. Maybe it would be helpful to imagine the Holy Spirit as a pigeon instead of a dainty white dove.

Pigeons are ubiquitous, on the streets. They are forever leaving droppings on our sidewalks and windowsills. What if the spirit of God descends like a pigeon, somehow - always underfoot, routinely ignored, often disdained?

2. Vulture

The Hebrew word "nesher" is often translated in English versions of the Bible as eagle, but most scholars agree that "griffon vulture" is at least an alternate, if not a more fitting, translation.

When God reminds Moses how He bore the Israelites on "nesher's" wings, and when the prophet Isaiah promises that the faithful will rise up with wings like "neshers'" -  think vulture instead of eagle.

Vultures may be loathsome to the average westerner, but they are some pretty badass creatures.

They are remarkable purifying machines. They take care of rotting remains that could otherwise spread diseases. They have uniquely strong digestive juices that kill bacteria and nasty pathogens.

The Mayans referred to the vultures as death eaters. This struck them as a good, godlike thing. It makes sense. We need something to eat death (digest it, rid it of its toxicity). Vultures stare death in the face and fear it not at all.

3. Raven

Before Noah sends out the dove from the ark, he releases a raven. Which apparently never comes back.

Commentators have often come to the conclusion that the raven must have failed in its mission. Maybe it got distracted while eating the corpses of the people drowned in the flood.

Philo, the Jewish commentator, called the raven a symbol of Satan. Augustine said it personified impure men and procrastinators.

In the book of Proverbs, we meet ravens plucking out the eyes of disobedient children. But it is also the raven that flies to feed the prophet Elijah when he is stranded in the desert.

In Luke, Jesus asks his hearers to consider the raven. He says this might free them from anxiety.

This takes on more meaning when you've followed the bird through the text. The raven fails, it blunders; it is noble, it is voracious; occasionally its succeeds in doing the right thing - much like us.

Jesus says, consider the raven, and don't be anxious: God feeds the carrion-eating procrastinator, which means God will care for you as well.

4. The Rooster

The rooster announces Peter's betrayal on the night before Jesus dies.

Other than that, the bird usually doesn't get much attention. It announces the dawn. Yawn.

But the rooster is symbolically loaded.

The cock has long been associated with masculine virility (the slang term for the male body part is not an accident).

The rooster was believed to be so potent that if a man smeared himself with a broth of boiled cock, the fiercest of beasts could not harm him. Rabid lions cowered before it. Even the most terrible monster would be so struck with fear at the sound of a cockcrow that it would simply die of fear.

We miss something in the story of Peter's betrayal if we don't consider this barrel-chested badass.

5. Chicken

Of all the birds Jesus might have compared himself to, he chose ... a chicken.

"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem ... how often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings," Jesus says in the Gospel of Luke.

It's a loving image, but there's a certain fragility in it as well.

The chicken was domesticated from the wild red jungle fowl nearly 6,000 years ago. They've been caged, stuffed with garlic, wrapped in bacon, Kentucky fried.

In other words, it is vastly different, in the cultural vernacular, to be a chicken than it is to be the slang term for rooster.

That makes me think that God's power may be different than how we're used to imagining it.

It's quieter, slower.

More like a mother hen than a strutting, crowing rooster.

If considering the birds can change our ideas about what holy means, what God is like, then maybe we can begin to see grace in wild places where we’d never noticed it before.

Debbie Blue is the author of "Consider the Birds," and a founding pastor of House of Mercy, a church in St. Paul, Minnesota.

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Belief • Bible • Christianity • Faith

soundoff (723 Responses)
  1. Huginn and Muninn

    If the ravens are around, be on the lookout for Odin, too.

    November 4, 2013 at 9:12 pm |
  2. Bootyfunk

    also in the bible: unicorns, dragons, satyrs and c.ockatrice.
    isn't fantasy fun?

    November 4, 2013 at 8:24 pm |
  3. Cull the Pigeons

    Cull the pigeons, they are seeking world domination, guano wise, the horror, the horror.

    November 4, 2013 at 7:43 pm |
  4. Chris

    The author keeps using that word, “badass,” but I do not think it means what she thinks it means.

    Also, this argument about birds and bats … I mean, Robin and Nightwing belong to the Batman family … wingéd things of the world, unite!

    November 4, 2013 at 6:17 pm |
    • Maddy

      I wonder how much she was giggling when she was writing this...."Badass...giggle..."

      November 4, 2013 at 6:51 pm |
  5. Dr. Michael Hfuhruhurr

    " O pointy birds, o pointy pointy, anoint my head, anointy-nointy. "

    November 4, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
  6. Jon


    (Heb. nesher , i.e. a tearer with the beak ). At least four distinct kinds of eagles have been observed in Palestine, viz., the golden eagle, Aquila chrysaetos , the spotted eagle, Aquila naevia , the imperial eagle, Aquila heliaca , and the very common Circaetos gallicus . The Hebrew nesher may stand for any of these different species, though perhaps more particular reference to the golden and imperial eagles and the griffon vulture may be intended. The passage in Micah, ( Micah 1:16 ) "enlarge thy baldness as the eagle," may refer to the griffon vulture, Vultur fulvus , in which case the simile is peculiarly appropriate, for the whole head and neck of this bird are dest itute of true feathers. The "eagles" of ( Matthew 24:28 ; Luke 17:37 ) may include the Vultur fulvus and Neophron percnopterus ; though, as eagles frequently prey upon dead bodies, there is no necessity to restrict the Greek word to the Vulturidae . –Smith's Bible Dictionary

    The bird referred to in Isaiah is most likely an Eagle.

    November 4, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
    • Jon

      "Many ornithologists have thought that the Bible picture of an eagle carrying her young was merely figurative, but in recent years certain reliable observers have actually seen a parent bird let its young rest for a moment on the feathered back – especially when there was no other roosting place in sight. When an eagle nests on the ledge of a sheer-walled canyon, many feet above the earth, with no jutting tree or protruding rock to break the fall, the quick movement of a mother bird to offer her own back to a frightened fledgling may be the only way to let it live to try its wings again." (V.C. Holmgren, Bird Walk Through The Bible [New York: Dover Publications 1988] p. 98)

      November 4, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
  7. Jesus's Beloved

    Jesus did not choose some to save. Christ's death and resurrection is for ALL (not just those who call themselves Christians).
    In this dispensation (Grace) God doesn’t punish sin anymore; because He’s already punished it in His Son Christ Jesus. This is the Gospel- the good news of salvation. The good news is – it’s not about you receiving Christ. Christ has already accepted you.
    The question is have you accepted him… will you believe you are accepted by him.

    November 4, 2013 at 2:47 pm |
    • Frank

      Read John 3:16

      November 4, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
      • Jesus' Beloved

        For God so love (the Christian) =NO
        For God so love THE WORLD. He gave His only son for THE WORLD.
        That WHOSOEVER believe in Him. = We're all whosoevers.

        As I mentioned above. He's already accepted us. He's already forgiven all our sins. He's already provided for our healing, for an abundant life.

        Now, the person who does not believe these things, all it does is rob them of the freedom, peace, joy, love, over-abundance that is found only in Christ. (If your spouse or child doesn’t believe that you love them even though you love them with all your heart, their approach to life will be very different than if they believe and are secure in that knowledge)

        November 4, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
        • Frank

          First, The world was in a ruinous, condemned state, about to perish everlastingly; and was utterly without power to rescue itself from destruction.

          Secondly, That God, through the impulse of his eternal love, provided for its rescue and salvation, by giving his Son to die for it.

          Thirdly, That the sacrifice of Jesus was the only mean by which the redemption of man could be effected, and that it is absolutely sufficient to accomplish this gracious design: for it would have been inconsistent with the wisdom of God, to have appointed a sacrifice greater in itself, or less in its merit, than what the urgent necessities of the case required.

          Fourthly, That sin must be an indescribable evil, when it required no less a sacrifice, to make atonement for it, than God manifested in the flesh.

          Fifthly, That no man is saved through this sacrifice, but he that believes, i.e. who credits what God has spoken concerning Christ, his sacrifice, the end for which it was offered, and the way in which it is to be applied in order to become effectual.–Clarke's Bible study.

          November 4, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
        • Jesus' Beloved

          A simpler way to put it.
          God gave the earth to man (Adam) to have full authority over.
          That is why whenever God does anything on earth it is usually through a covenant.
          Think of his covenant with Adam- to have dominion over the earth. Do not eat of this tree.
          Abraham – concerning Sodom If he found 10 righteous pple he would not destroy the city.
          the other covenant concerning his seed..
          Noah- building the ark
          Children of Israel- 10 Commandments

          Because man lost his authority over the earth, God had to send a man (in his Son) to restore all that was lost.
          If people knew the power and authority they have they would stop questioning the will of God.
          Authority has been restored to man, but most don't know this. Worst of all... the Christian doesn't believe this (at least most of them).
          The believer has the power in him to do ALL that Christ did and more. (To heal the sick, to raise the dead) but most don't exercise this authority.
          The veil is being lifted and more and more are renewing their mind and most importantly their hearts. Expect great things!
          God Bless.

          November 4, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
        • Jesus' Beloved

          The reason I made a post in the first place was b/c of LofA who mentioned that God is sovereign and in control – in the earth realm and this is not true.
          Many Christians mistakenly think omnipotence, omniscient etc. means that God controls what goes on in the earth. This is just not so.
          I gave the reason above. God gave authority to Adam (man)... man lost that authority... He sent his Son Jesus to restore that authority back to man.
          God deals with man through covenant.

          That's why Jesus cried "Finished!"...All that the father sent him to accomplish was done 2000yrs ago.

          So everything a person needs, he only needs to know that it's a finished work and whatever he wants is already done.
          You don't need to pray for healing because you've already being healed. If you have forgiveness of sins, you are healed. etc.
          Provisions...same thing.

          November 4, 2013 at 3:28 pm |
        • Roger that

          Sixthly, believing 1 through 5 makes you delusional.

          November 4, 2013 at 6:00 pm |
        • Frank

          Jesus' Beloved, Agree with your post. You are absolutely right that God loves all of mankind, it,s up to each individual to accept Him and accept His plan of salvation.Sorry about misunderstanding your root post.
          God bless!

          November 4, 2013 at 7:43 pm |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          The stupidity of it is just overwhelming. I'm gonna make this universe, but balance it on a knife's edge, so that one little arm movement will throw the entire thing into nuclear meltdown (world corrupted through sin). But wait....then I'm going to sacrifice myself to myself to save the people from myself...not sure why I feel the need to keep the door open to that place with all the never ending fire, but well, sacrificing myself to myself is a better idea..

          November 4, 2013 at 10:31 pm |
        • sam stone

          wow, a ruinous condemned state...

          what would you pious fvcks do without your chicken little blather?

          November 5, 2013 at 5:49 am |
      • Joey

        Read Harry Potter Book 4 Chapter 12

        November 4, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
        • Harry's Beloved

          Joey, in the beginning of Book 4, Chapter 9 there is a much more in-depth revelation of the true meaning of what is, by comparison, only briefly touched on in Chapter 12.

          November 4, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
    • Jesus' Beloved

      God loves each and everyone of us the same. Believer, non-believer. We belong to him, we are accepted by him unconditionally. We are Righteous, Free and Holy because of who we are in Christ.
      In Adam ALL die. In Christ ALL live.

      November 4, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
      • Frank

        Salvation can be found in no other name other than Jesus Christ.
        Jesus clearly says that in John 14:6

        November 4, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
        • Doc Vestibule

          10 PRINT "The Bible is true becuase..."
          20 GOTO 10

          November 4, 2013 at 2:58 pm |
        • Tom, Tom, the Other One


          November 4, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
        • Jesus' Beloved

          Agree 100%.

          I just want to point out here that Jesus' Gospel is one of no condemnation. God is love, and only when we start to believe this in our heart will we experience true peace, joy, love ...etc.

          Love is defined as not our love for God, but His love for us. It’s not enough to know God loves us.. we must believe
          1John 4:16 And we have known and believed the love that God hath for us.

          (So we're in unity).

          November 4, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
        • Madtown

          Salvation can be found in no other name other than Jesus Christ
          Stinks for people who've never heard of JC, through no fault of their own.

          November 4, 2013 at 5:14 pm |
    • Madtown

      Christ's death and resurrection is for ALL (not just those who call themselves Christians).
      That is indeed good news, because it means there's no need for religion.

      November 4, 2013 at 5:12 pm |
    • Bob

      The whole Jesus-sacrifice thing is a steaming pile of bull-do. How is it again that your omnipotent being couldn't do his saving 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.

      November 4, 2013 at 6:03 pm |
  8. Sean Lynch not bananas

    The bible's got birds so it must be true.

    November 4, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
    • Science Works

      So does the movie The Birds Alfred Hitchco-ck 1963

      And so does the Wyoming Bighorn fossil bed has fossils of rare birds from 50 million years ago.

      November 4, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
      • zampaz

        Everything we need to know about birds, and the medicinal uses thereof is in the bible. You don't have to understand math or science to know the science of the bible is true and complete and everything else we observe in nature that conflicts with the bible is a way to fool arrogant non-believers so they will betray themselves into the gaping jaws of hell.

        November 4, 2013 at 11:50 pm |
        • HotAirAce

          You're making funny, right? If not, you need major help getting out of the cult you are in.

          November 4, 2013 at 11:58 pm |
        • zampaz


          November 5, 2013 at 12:20 am |
  9. palintwit

    Sarah Palin's entire schtick is repeating ridiculous lies and simply opposing things that liberals support for no other reason than to be a childish, annoying, petulant troublemaker. It's clear that she has no actual values or ideas. Just narcissism and greed...and she's lazy with no work ethic. Anybody who would vote for her for a serious role in government is the epitome of a low information voter. See my post at 12:35 pm for the definition of a low information voter.

    November 4, 2013 at 12:38 pm |
    • seriously?

      Seems to have worked in her favor...look at your obsession with her....exactly what she wants...dance for the palin, puppet, dance.

      November 4, 2013 at 4:22 pm |
      • palintwit

        I suggest you cut your wrist, get comfortable in your bath tub and bleed out.

        November 5, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
  10. palintwit

    Sarah Palin supporters are the very definition of low information voters. They watch Fox, a proven source of misinformation. Studies show Fox watchers think they are well informed but are really factually deficient.

    November 4, 2013 at 12:35 pm |
  11. Apple Bush

    This is the best article about birds I have read today.

    November 4, 2013 at 12:04 pm |
    • Charm Quark

      The Birds, biography by Bruce Eder, Allmusic.com, You're on my Mind, dating myself.

      November 4, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
      • Apple Bush

        I'm on it

        November 4, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
        • Charm Quark

          Just find it interesting to follow the evolution of the careers of some of my favorite rockers like Ronnie Wood, from a small band "The Birds" to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Rolling Stones. Evolution proved yet again.

          November 4, 2013 at 1:29 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      You just need to read one more article on birds today to invalidate that opinion.

      November 4, 2013 at 11:49 pm |
  12. Aviarist

    All of the answers to the Universe are contained herein.

    The responsible being is a giant, invisible, cosmic seagull. It is e*tern*al.

    November 4, 2013 at 11:55 am |
  13. Bootyfunk

    silly pro-christian fluff piece.

    November 4, 2013 at 11:54 am |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      I don't mind as long as they're fluffy.

      November 4, 2013 at 11:56 am |
      • a reasonable atheist

        I prefer puff to fluff (unless we are talking about marshmallows).

        November 4, 2013 at 4:16 pm |
  14. Lawrence of Arabia

    Of all the doctrinal and theological topics that could be written about – supralapsarianism vs infralapsarianism, atonement, election, sola scriptura... You choose to write about BIRDS???

    That's like two sports broadcasters on the radio discussing the construction of the stadium during the entire game, and not mentioning a thing about the game itself.

    November 4, 2013 at 8:49 am |
    • Sparrow

      Somebody's gotta write about the birds, remind yourself of Matthew 6:26 and its importance.

      Also, don't forget to smile today!

      November 4, 2013 at 9:04 am |
      • Lawrence of Arabia

        I do smile! It looks like this 😐

        November 4, 2013 at 9:30 am |
      • Reality # 2

        Matt 6: 26 " Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?"

        Said passage, as per most contemporary NT scholars, is historically authentic Jesus.

        Evolving humans in the 21st century would say: " Look at the birds of the air. they have evolved, as per Darwin and others, to feed off their local food supplies. "

        And those reading about the historic Jesus would conclude:

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

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

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

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

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

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

        November 4, 2013 at 10:02 am |
    • ?

      You are long overdue in finding a blog that is worthy of your circular religious knowledge. Go now and educate others, somewhere else where you will be appreciated. Please, bye bye.

      November 4, 2013 at 9:04 am |
      • Lawrence of Arabia

        My point is this... There are many people both within and without religious circles who have a form of godliness, but without knowledge. They perform religious acts, but those acts have no value. Many are deceived into thinking that they are saved, but they are not: "many will say to Me, Lord, Lord, did we not do marvelous things in Your Name? And I will say to them, depart from Me you worker of lawlessness, I never knew you."

        And with people in THAT condition, when there exists opportunities to show people their error, and point them to a true and saving knowledge in the Redeemer, they choose to write about BIRDS???

        Where are the articles about Jonathan Edwards' methods of presenting the gospel? What about the articles that reveal John Owen's pleas for a "mortification of sin in the believer?"

        No, instead we are presetned with articles of the lifestyles of the roman popery, or the lavishness of wicked men who claim to be within Christendom.

        November 4, 2013 at 9:12 am |
        • ?

          I am simply saying that there maybe a far more erudite site where your vast knowledge would be greatly appreciated. Not so much on this site, go away now, please.

          November 4, 2013 at 9:22 am |
        • Lawrence of Arabia

          To "?,"
          So your suggestion is that I go to an Olympic swim team in order to teach people to swim?

          November 4, 2013 at 9:27 am |
        • ?

          Sigh, just hoping to be rid of you as our Chad disappeared. Wonder why god can't post or tweet? Probably doesn't exist or is as dumb as an illiterate goat herder from 2000 years ago.

          November 4, 2013 at 9:39 am |
        • Lawrence of Arabia

          "Sigh, just hoping to be rid of you as our Chad disappeared."

          This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. – John 3:19

          "Wonder why god can't post or tweet?"

          "It has pleased God to make such a revelation (scripture) by a gradual process which is now completed, with the result that his saving Word is now deposited in the Bible." Westminster Confession of Faith.
          The Word of God was once for all given tot he saints. There is no new revelation, therefore God has no need for "modern" methods of communication – either through "tweets" or through self proclaimed modern "prophets."

          "Probably doesn't exist or is as dumb as an illiterate goat herder from 2000 years ago."

          Natural revelation, although insufficient to prove that "the true God is," but is sufficient to prove "a god may possibly exist." Ergo, you have it backwards.
          1) From the world as a great effect, we may argue the possibility of a great cause
          2) From the apparent order and design in the world, we may argue the possibility of a designing intelligence
          3) From the apparent rule of the world by moral law, we may argue the possibility of a moral law-giver

          November 4, 2013 at 9:51 am |
        • Reality # 2

          Strong circ-umstantial evidence that there is no god (or did the following all die as martyrs?)

          Number of god's creations who died horrible deaths from the following diseases:

          1. 300,000,000 approx.

          2. 200,000,000 ?

          3. 100,000,000 approx.
          Black Death

          4. 80,000,000–250,000,000

          5. 50,000,000–100,000,000
          Spanish Flu

          6. 40,000,000–100,000,000
          Plague of Justinian

          7. 40,000,000–100,000,000

          8. 30,000,000[13]
          AIDS pandemic

          9. 12,000,000 ?
          Third Pandemic of Bubonic Plague

          10. 5,000,000
          Antonine Plague

          11. 4,000,000
          Asian Flu

          12. 250,000 or more annually Seasonal influenza

          November 4, 2013 at 10:06 am |
        • Lawrence of Arabia

          Reality #2,
          If you will read in Luke 13:1-5, the Jews were bringing a similar accusation to Jesus – Jesus teaches us that horrible things happen to otherwise “good” people that are perpetrated by others who are very wicked, and in just the same way, natural disasters also come and kill many “innocent” people.

          What we can gleam from this is twofold:
          1) That there was not a single person who was killed who was not going to die anyway. And since God is sovereignly in control and works all things according to the council of His own will, and He works all things for good to those who love God – as tragic as those deaths were, if they loved God, then they were immediately put into the presence of God, for the ultimate good of any believer is to be with God

          2)Furthermore, Jesus tells us that unless we repent, we will all likewise perish – in other words, no one knows the day nor the hour that they will die, so they must always be prepared to do so – therefore repent and trust in Christ. Therefore, whenever tragedies happen anywhere on this earth, Jesus tells us that it is a call to repent!

          November 4, 2013 at 10:12 am |
        • Reality # 2

          Luke 13:1-5- prophecy of Jesus about war and the destruction of Jerusalem.

          But then we all know that "prophecies" by any "prophet"/fortune teller are by common sense a violation of the innate human gifts of free will and future.

          And based on rigorous testing, Luke 13: 1-5 fails as being said by the historic Jesus as it is a single attestation found no where else in scripture. See for example: http://www.faithfutures.org/JDB/jdb453.html and Professor Gerd Ludemann's an-alysis in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, pp. 353-353.

          November 4, 2013 at 12:13 pm |
        • Jim

          What? That's nuts. From the moment we're born, the clock is ticking to the time we're going to die. Do you posit that God sent those plagues and illness in his MERCY?? Do you SEE why some people may have a bloody problem with that??
          People die off soon enough anyhow. If He is so patient, He can wait for the good to come to Him without killing innocents because He is impatient. Absurd.

          November 4, 2013 at 12:18 pm |
        • Lawrence of Arabia

          In order for man to be the image and likeness of God, two things were essential. His being must be like God’s, and his will or purpose must also be like God’s. The being of God is not a matter of choice. Neither is the being of man a matter of choice. He is God’s image. To be other than this would be to be other than human. As long as men are men, they exist in God’s image. It therefore follows that human existence is such as to compel the sense of deity within man. All men know God, the true God, the only God. They do not merely have the capacity for knowing Him; they actually do know Him, and cannot possibly evade knowing Him.

          However, the purpose of man is a matter of choice. As God is free to do as He will, so man (being created in the divine image) is free to do as he will. But even in his freedom of will, man cannot escape the absolute control of God because the being of man (he is only an image) is wholly dependent upon God. In setting his will against the will of God revealed by the Word of God, man can only violate, but can never destroy, his dependent relationship to God. He is metaphysically God’s image, although he is ethically God’s likeness no longer. Man’s determination to be independent of God is doomed to frustration, and he is clearly and constantly reminded of this through natural revelation. Natural revelation never ceases to declare to sinful man the fact that the true God is, and that man’s very existence is wholly dependent upon God. In order to continue in rebellion against God, therefore, a man must lie to himself about the situation. He must suppress the truth in unrighteousness (Romans 1:18). This suppression of the truth (whereby sinful men refuse to know either themselves or the true God aright) is wholly due to sin, and not in any way due to an insufficiency or defect in natural revelation.

          November 4, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
        • Sue

          Excellent points, Jim. Lawrence's "god" would have to be classified as a murderous, cruel, vengeful being. It's about time it joined the other gods that humans have made, in the dustbin that is the sorry history of man's god supersti.tions. I'm optimistic that transition is actually happening, however slowly,and that the propping up of such supersti.tions by the Lawrence's of the world is in decline. Discussions like this one might be helping that along, since the Christian tales clearly do not hold up under scrutiny.

          November 4, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
        • Lawrence of Arabia

          I never said that God did those things out of mercy. Only that Jesus taught that every death has a purpose. The Westminster Confession of Faith would later expound on this and other teachings like this when they wrote about how natural revelation now reveals to man God's wrath against sin. Not that every death is a direct penalty to that person for their specific sins, but that sin is responsible for death – death is a temporal revelation of God's future wrath to come in dealing with sins once and for all. Therefore, when you see death, let it always be a reminder to repent.

          November 4, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
        • Jim

          Murder of innocents is still murder, not mercy; because it is God doing it doesn't change the fact He is breaking His own commandment. No amount of linguistic gymnastics is going to change that.

          November 4, 2013 at 1:36 pm |
        • Lawrence of Arabia

          Since Adam chose to disobey God, every man after him is born with the capacity and a desire to sin. This is called a sin nature. Because of our sin nature, there are no innocents.
          God would be totally just in wiping out all of humanity, and sending them all to hell. But because He doesn't, and chooses some to save, and pays their debt for them, He shows us that He is also merciful.

          November 4, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
        • ?

          You are still here, too bad. Your last post is one of the dumbest I have ever read for believing in a judgemental deity. You are one of those intellectuals that constantly can slip between near genius and insanity, meds may help and flushing the gospels would be the first step to recovery.

          November 4, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
        • Lawrence of Arabia

          Since there are no innocent people – "for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God," and this is evidenced by death, disease, natrual disaster, etc., "since the whole earth was subjected to futility because of sin," God doesn't "murder innocent people," what he does is "carry out capital punishment upon worthy criminals." And He does so to demonstrate to the world His just att.itude towards sin, and His mercy upon vessels that he chooses to save.

          Both att.itudes are "good" when it is done in secular court systems, but somehow people claim it is wicked when done by God. Now why is that?

          To "?,"
          It's a really slow day at work today, so I'm able to post more. What about my last post didn't agree with you?

          November 4, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
        • Doc Vestibule

          God said "Do what I say, don't ask questions, stay ignorant and you'll be happy forever".
          All throughout the Bible, God punishes humanity for the crime of asking questions, finding answers and working together towards a common goal.
          Self-awareness is the original sin.

          November 4, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
        • Jim

          Babies are born innocent; devoid of any wrongdoing. That you think God is good with killing innocents because a long-ago failure of an experiment (that he KNEW would fail because He's "all-knowing") is beyond absurd. That you would call this "mercy" is ridiculous.

          November 4, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
        • Lawrence of Arabia

          "Babies are born innocent; devoid of any wrongdoing."

          Show me where you have had to teach your children to lie. Show me the classes that they had to take over and over, because they just couldn't grasp the concept of dishonoring their parents... No, children are born with the capacity, and a desire to sinfulness that springs from a selfishness that they are all born with. Now, scripture does allude in several places to a special grace that is applied to infants should they die that would keep them out of hell because they were not old enough to make conscious decisions to sin, but once they reach that age of knowing right from wrong, every human being wills to do what is wrong. It is the doing of the good that must be taught.

          "That you think God is good with killing innocents because a long-ago failure of an experiment (that he KNEW would fail because He's "all-knowing") is beyond absurd. That you would call this "mercy" is ridiculous"

          What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory... Romans 9:22-23

          November 4, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
        • ?

          All of it. If I were to believe in your idea of a god it would certainly not be a vindictive as.shole that you describe, every child that is born is guilty and deserves destruction if your ugly god deems it to be so. You have to be truly morbidly insane to really believe that, god loves you unless you p!ss him off, rubbish.

          November 4, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
        • Lawrence of Arabia

          To "?,"
          Well, you are enti.tled to your opinions, of course. But I would make this suggestion, if you really wish to see what the Christian religion really teaches, but you may feel that the Bible is too (insert your word here) then do this... I've been reading a lot in the Westminster Confession of Faith recently, and it's a great book. Read about who the men were who wrote that declaration, and why, and learn about their scholastic credentials and their lives... Try that, and then come back in here informed as to what I'm talking about, and make an informed decision for yourself whether or not our sanity is in question.

          November 4, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
        • Lawrence of Arabia

          The Bible is FULL of passages where God's people ask questions and are encouraged to do so... How else can a child learn but by asking questions? It sounds like you may be referring to the Tower of Babel, but those were not God's children, and they were being blatantly disobedient. Hence their punishment...

          November 4, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
        • ?

          You may want to flush that also. It is really screwing up your ability to reason.

          November 4, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
        • Lawrence of Arabia

          To "?,"
          Once again, you are certainly enti.tled to your opinion, just be sure that you're not forming your opinion on incorrect understandings or you may find yourself in serious error.

          November 4, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
        • ?

          1646, really, when Christians were trashing each other and dividing into their many sects complete with persecution and treachery and murder. The only thing uglier than the bible is the history of Christian evolution. Garbage in, garbage out.

          November 4, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
        • Jim

          Babies are born innocent.
          Keep on believing what you please, LoA; the customs of 2000 years ago is not relevant to the vast majority of people any more.
          I am done beating my head against the proverbial wall. Have a nice life condemning innocents.

          November 4, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
        • a reasonable atheist

          What an utterly ridiculous, steaming pile of bull puckey your assertion is... You can tell me that my infant son is a sinner deserving of your god's wrath all you want. The fact of the matter is that he is utterly helpless and lacks the capacity to communicate meaningfully, much less do harm. He also trusts his mother and me implicitly. You don't get any more innocent than that.

          The fact of the matter is that sin is an invented concept along with the rest of your religion. Even if it were true, the god you purport to worship is a cruel, vindictive, petulant psychopath unworthy of a dousing in sewage runoff, much less worship and admiration.

          I normally think of myself as a reasonable person, but I'm at an absolute loss at how to proceed to even hope to find common ground with someone who think infants are sinners worthy wrath.

          November 4, 2013 at 4:33 pm |
        • Reality # 2


          For your severe case of the 3B Syndrome (Bred, Born and Brainwashed) in Christianity, once again a quick cure via an updated creed:

          The Apostles' Creed 2013: (updated by yours truly and based on the studies of historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

          Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
          and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
          human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven??

          I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
          preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
          named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
          girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

          Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
          the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

          He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
          a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of

          Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
          many semi-fiction writers. A descent into Hell, a bodily resurrection
          and ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
          Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
          grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
          and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
          called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

          (references used are available upon request)

          November 4, 2013 at 4:40 pm |
    • Eric

      Lawrence, can you expand on the chicken references in the bible? Easy to find the other bird references in the bible.

      November 4, 2013 at 9:10 am |
      • Lawrence of Arabia

        If people want a better picture of what the holiness of God means, the LAST thing that they need to do is to look at birds...

        Look at the prophets of God, who, when they were presented with a veiled presentation of God, they fell on their faces like dead men, pronouncing curses upon themselves because they were unworthy to be in the presence of God. Moses, when he saw a veiled presentation of God, his face reflected God's holiness for days afterward. Look to the angels surrounding God's throne who are called the "burning ones" because they refelct the same holiness that was shown in Moses' face, but to a greater extent – they cover their faces and their feet in the presence of God, for even though they are sinless, they are created beings, and unworthy to stand in the presence of such holiness... Look at the characteristic of God that is the only characteristic that is repeated 3 times: "God is Holy, Holy, Holy..." That doesn't mean much to us English speaking folks, but to the Jewish mind, that was the most emphasis that someone could give, by repeating it three times.

        November 4, 2013 at 9:22 am |
        • The roman road to...

          You are not as smart as you think, not only did you not answer the poster @Eric's question, you went on to ramble. Try again focus on the question, next time.

          @ Eric-Your answer is found in the article, read the scriptural reference the author has provided in this opinion piece under the category 'Chicken'. It has a very deep significance to it when you try and understand the underlying context.

          November 4, 2013 at 9:52 am |
        • Lawrence of Arabia

          To: "The Roman Road to..."
          So you would agree with the writer of the article then in describing God's power as "quieter and slower" than we think? If that is true of God, since the Bible tells us that God "changes not," then apply that reasoning to the Genesis flood... And to Sodom And Gomorrah... And to Jesus' curses on Chorazin and Bethsaida... In those cases, how is God's power quieter and slower?

          November 4, 2013 at 10:00 am |
        • The roman road to...

          @Lawrence, the question is about "chicken" references in the Bible. I pointed @Eric who was unaware of the scriptural reference to "chicken" in the Bible which can be found in Matthew 23. The underlying context of this particular verse is very significant if you bother to study it.

          November 4, 2013 at 10:10 am |
        • Jed

          And Lawrence gets PWNED yet again...

          November 4, 2013 at 10:12 am |
        • Lawrence of Arabia

          You drew emphasis to the word "pawned," but spelled it incorrectly. Are you trying to say that I've been sold?

          If it was in reference to the "chicken" issue, the reason that I didn't comment further on all of the chicken references is because the purpose of the "gathering as a hen..." comment that Jesus made was not to comment on His holiness, but merely that He wanted to gather together that which was His own, an image represented by a hen gathering her chicks to warm them and protect and provide for them, but His own would soon reject Him.

          November 4, 2013 at 10:18 am |
        • Lawrence of Arabia

          Luke 13:34 by the way...

          November 4, 2013 at 10:22 am |
        • Leslie

          Psst, Lawrence, "PWNED" doesn't mean what you think it does. Better search on it.

          November 4, 2013 at 10:29 am |
        • Lawrence of Arabia

          Topher, is that me?

          November 4, 2013 at 10:30 am |
        • Lawrence of Arabia

          I am not a child, nor do I care for slang words. If you wish to make a statement of opinion, then do so intelligibly.

          November 4, 2013 at 10:35 am |
        • Lawrence of Arabia

          Austin, is that me?

          November 4, 2013 at 11:41 am |
        • a reasonable atheist

          Tell me more about these bird prophets and their wisdom.

          November 4, 2013 at 4:40 pm |
  15. Natwick

    If considering the birds can change our ideas about what holy means, what God is like, then maybe we can begin to see grace in wild places where we’d never noticed it before.

    Nicely summarized, there's no place so unholy and dreary that God's grace cannot reach.

    November 4, 2013 at 8:37 am |

    ... and when the prophet Isaiah promises that the faithful will rise up with wings like "neshers!"
    That time has already come!


    November 4, 2013 at 3:36 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Most people have moved on to 23 or 29. Why are you on about 19?

      November 4, 2013 at 3:38 am |
  17. From a skeptic

    I make no supernatural claims about the Christian bible. What I get from it is a story about a man who suffered for a cause, a man who wanted to teach the world about ideas like humility and compassion.

    What turns my stomach is my fellow skeptics who reject these ideas in favor of focusing on things like errors where a bat is a bird. I follow your thinking to the point where I see this story as a parable, however if all you can gain from a parable is things like a tortoise and a hare don't actually talk there is something wrong with that.

    There is something wrong with your thinking and I suspect it is exactly this type of thinking that is influencing our legal systems for the worse, this lack of ability to think in the abstract. The inability to see the big picture.

    November 4, 2013 at 2:36 am |
    • hawaiiguest

      What makes you think it's anything more than a story? And why would I take things that Jesus said specifically. A great majority of what Jesus supposedly said ties into either the god aspect, or eternal punishment. Aside from the god as portrayed in the OT, Jesus is the most morally reprehensible character in the bible.

      November 4, 2013 at 2:44 am |
      • guest

        I wonder if it is something like: we read what we want to read, i.e. one reads one thing, another reads something else.

        November 4, 2013 at 3:41 am |
      • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

        He's worse. When Yahweh smote you, you stayed smoted. However, that's only the beginning of the fun with Jesus, who sends you to burn in eternal hellfire. Yahweh's a puppy dog compared to Jesus.

        November 4, 2013 at 8:24 am |
  18. children of Israel

    Isaiah 60:16 and thou shalt know that I the Lord am thy Saviour and thy Redeemer, the mighty One of Jacob. (Revelation 18:1-24) *Jeremiah 50:29 for she hath been proud against the Lord, against the Holy One of Israel. (Revelation 17:4-5)

    November 3, 2013 at 11:24 pm |
    • Ctrl+C - Ctrl+V

      Clean your keyboard please.

      November 3, 2013 at 11:29 pm |
  19. o momma

    He reigns supreme. Worship him all he his saints

    November 3, 2013 at 11:13 pm |
  20. tallulah13

    And Bob? Satan had god's permission to kill Job's children. God is complicit.

    November 3, 2013 at 10:28 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Shoot. Wrong place. Sorry.

      November 3, 2013 at 10:29 pm |
    • o momma

      And yours

      November 3, 2013 at 11:12 pm |
    • guest

      Did you consider why God allowed Satan to kill Job’s children? Have you ever thought who it is that suffers the most when someone dies—of course, it’s the survivors, not the deceased. God allowed Satan to ‘test’ Job’s faith. God is very lenient; even you can only do what God will allow you to do and you may do a lot of things that are displeasing to Him, I’m sure I do too.

      November 4, 2013 at 3:59 am |
    • hawaiiguest

      So it's lenient to allow a person's family, property, and reputation get completely destroyed so that "god" could test him? Isn't this god supposed to be all knowing? Your justification is just plain sadistic.

      November 4, 2013 at 4:24 am |
      • guest

        No, it was Satan who was to test the faith of Job. He, Satan, claimed that Job was faithful to God only because He, God, had placed protection around Job, but if God would remove that protection from him, Job would curse God. So God allowed Satan to do anything he wished to Job except take his life and that is just what Satan did, but Job remained faithful. If you read to the last of the story you will discover that Job regained everything in double that he had lost, and he had ten more children, and I assume that the ten children Job had lost in the tornado will go to that heavenly paradise, so Job will have twenty children.
        Likewise, when believers face hardships it is because God has allowed Satan to test their faith. Satan, not God, is the cause of all the trouble in this world. In the end when everyone has made a choice to love and obey God or not to, then Christ will come; sinners will die because of the brightness of Christ’s appearing and the faithful will go back with Christ to Heaven. God does not wish that any should parish, but that all should come to repentance and be redeemed. God loves you.

        November 4, 2013 at 9:38 am |
        • Spuds Mackenzie

          Am I the only one questioning the morality of a God, or anyone for that matter, who would allow "Satan" to kill off a persons family just to win a bet?

          November 4, 2013 at 9:40 am |
        • Spuds Mackenzie

          Oh yeah, and God loves you. And you better love him back or suffer for eternity! No thanks.

          November 4, 2013 at 9:41 am |
        • Doc Vestibule

          "Let me take you to the hurting ground
          Where all good men are trampled down
          Just to settle up a bet that could not be won
          Between a prideful father and His son."

          – Dr. Greg Graffin

          November 4, 2013 at 9:43 am |
        • Jim

          I don't remember 'cuz it's been a long time: does God restore everything Satan took away from Job?

          November 4, 2013 at 11:07 am |
        • guest

          @ Spuds Mackenzie: If those persons who die are saved then in reality they are not lost, only waiting (unconscious) for the return of Christ and a better life. (There are some who would say: “Good, they will not have to suffer in this life anymore.”)

          November 4, 2013 at 11:28 am |
        • Spuds Mackenzie

          And you believe that crap! I will NOT submit to an immoral God. Why would you worship something that is, for lack of a better word, evil? Prime example of the top of my head. Forced the Egyptian Pharoah to keep refusing to let the slaves go just so he can show his might by MURDERING about 500,000 children. Yea, I want to worship that. Besides, why would you worship a God how does nothing. My God would protect me. My God would make sure disease does not exist. And so on, and so on. Luckily, I don't believe that there can be a God. So I don't have to waste my life living in fear or guilt. Life is good. Gods do not exist.

          November 4, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
        • tallulah13

          Job gets all new stuff, but his family, whose only crime was being related to Job, remains dead. Nice story.

          November 4, 2013 at 11:32 am |
        • guest

          @ Spuds Mackenzie:By saying, “No, thanks, does not change truth, but it is your choice, however God loves you and if you do not want to choose to serve Him He will not let you suffer for eternity, you have chosen death and that is what you will receive.

          November 4, 2013 at 11:38 am |
        • Spuds Mackenzie

          "...does not change the truth..." What truth? The truth a collection of stories written by someone who wanted to control a bunch of illiterate sheep herders, in some cases, thousands of years after the events happened. Or in the case of Jesus, 60 or so years to several hundred years after he supposedly lived and by people who were not even alive when Jesus was? Or believe what I see with my own eyes and trust in the fact that all the scientific evidence cannot even prove a slight possibility into this Gods, or even Jesus', existence? I do not need faith to answer my questions. I choose to live without the guilt of original sin? I mean seriously. Why would a God create you with sin just so he can threaten you with eternal damnation if you don't repent this sin and worship him who created you with this sin. All in all, it sounds pretty silly to me. I'd rather believe in the Tooth Fairy.

          November 4, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that


          November 4, 2013 at 11:41 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
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.