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Millennials and the false 'gospel of nice'
Jesus confronts the money-lenders in the temple.
April 3rd, 2014
10:29 PM ET

Millennials and the false 'gospel of nice'

Opinion by Daniel Darling, special to CNN

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(CNN) - Perhaps you’ve heard that there is trouble brewing among evangelicals.

Younger Christians are weary of pitched cultural battles and are longing for the “real Jesus” – a Jesus who talks more about washing feet and feeding the poor than flashpoint issues like same-sex marriage and the sanctity of life.

If key evangelical influencers don’t listen, we are told, they are about to lose the entire millennial generation. Or, maybe that generation is already gone.

This story has been told with testimonials, chronicled in best-selling books and posted on popular blogs.

Here’s the short version: If only orthodox evangelical leaders would give up their antiquated beliefs, get more in step with the real Jesus, the church and the world would be better off.

Embedded in this narrative are two presuppositions:

• Young evangelicals are fleeing the church at a rapid pace.
• The real message of Jesus looks nothing like orthodox Christianity.

There’s only one thing wrong with these two ideas: They aren’t true.

Let me explain.

First of all, evangelicals don’t have a youth problem. I’ve heard the apocalyptic “leaving in droves” narrative since I was, wait for it, an evangelical young person myself.

But experts who have weighed this data point beg to differ.

Bradley Wright, a sociologist from the University of Connecticut, has thoroughly examined the data that purportedly shows an exodus of young evangelicals and says it doesn’t support the “disaster narrative.”

Wright says the biggest drop of faith in young people happened in the 1990s, and that current levels are about the same as the early 1970s.

Ed Stetzer, the president of Lifeway Research, has also looked at the statistics and has concluded that while religious identity has declined in America, it’s mainly the nominal Christians and mainline Protestants who’ve suffered - not evangelicals.

“The reality is that evangelicals have been relatively steady as a percent of the population over the last few years,” Stetzer writes, and “no serious researcher believes Christianity in America is dying. Not one.”

Of course, there are legitimate concerns about the evangelical church in the United States.

For the last several years, some Southern Baptist leaders have voiced concern about the decline in baptisms and membership.

But nobody is suggesting that orthodoxy is the reason for decline.

If anything, leaders are pointing to a lack of faithful evangelical preaching and intentional gospel witness as the culprit. Church history doesn’t bear out evidence that a mushy, heterodox movement is the cure for stagnation.

What’s more, there is anecdotal evidence that seems to indicate a robustly orthodox evangelicalism is growing among the young.

Networks such as The Gospel Coalition, Together for the Gospel and others are growing. Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, an unflinching bastion of orthodoxy, enrolls more Masters of Divinity students than any other institution accredited by the Association of Theological Schools.

One might argue that young evangelicals aren’t fleeing core conservative institutions, but flooding them.

Perhaps the doom and gloom story seems familiar - if also wrong - because we’ve heard it so many times before. As young scholar Matthew Lee Anderson puts it, the “change or die narrative is presented as a perennial problem.”

Progressive hand-wringers are missing the point, in my view. If history teaches us anything, it is that what dies is malleable, un-rooted faith and not 2,000 years of Christian orthodoxy.

But even if the change-or-die narrative is true, even if faithfulness becomes less attractive in this new age, this shouldn’t be cause for worry.

Jesus prepared us for seasons like this, urging his followers to a counter-cultural faith, one that gains the favor of heaven, but earns the antagonism of the world.

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me,” Jesus says in the Gospels.

The pop Jesus of progressives sounds less like the Jesus of the Bible and more like a malleable deity who easily aligns with our cultural sensibilities. A mascot for every chic cause, except for that difficult mission to which he called his followers: cross-bearing.

Consider some of Jesus’ statements:

“You will be hated by all for my name’s sake.”

“If anyone does not hate his father or mother, he cannot be my disciple.”

“If any man will be my disciple, let me him take up his cross and follow me.”

“For this cause, shall a man leave his father and mother and cleave unto his wife.”

What’s more, Jesus praised John the Baptist, that culture warrior, for his prophetic word against Herod, the monarch who committed adultery.

Yes, it is true that Christians should be known more for what they are for than what they are against.

But if you move past the rhetoric, you’ll find that it is often not aggrieved ex-evangelicals who are founding and leading charitable organizations, but the stubbornly orthodox. Faithful Christians are not the only ones in the trenches, relieving human need - but they make up a large percentage.

All over the world, you will find faithful followers of Christ adopting orphaned children, rescuing girls from trafficking, feeding the poor, digging wells and volunteering in disaster relief.

My own denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention, operates one of the world’s largest relief operations while holding fast to its theological commitments.

And some of the world’s most effective ministries to the poor and marginalized were started by and continue to operate according to evangelical Christian beliefs. They live in the tension of the New Testament, which calls believers to both faithfulness and charity.

In fact, the most effective agents of hope in this world likely don’t have Twitter accounts, have never blogged and might never have even uttered the words, “social justice.”

And yet silently, quietly, patiently they serve the least of these, not because they first jettisoned their quaint notions of orthodoxy, but because they held them tighter.

Daniel Darling is the vice-president of Communications for the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and the author of several books, including "Activist Faith." The views expressed in this column belong to Darling.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Baptist • Belief • Bible • Christianity • Culture wars • evangelicals • Opinion • Protestant

soundoff (1,027 Responses)
  1. Theo Phileo

    "If anything, leaders are pointing to a lack of faithful evangelical preaching and intentional gospel witness as the culprit. Church history doesn’t bear out evidence that a mushy, heterodox movement is the cure for stagnation."
    ------------
    Amen to that, brother.

    As Christians, we are required to "preach the word in season and out of season." And it seems more and more that the preaching of the word and a call to repentance is getting "out of season" with today's culture, but that's no reason to stop preaching or change the message. That's reason to preach all the louder, and become even more orthodox in our message!

    Indeed if we change the gospel message – the one that calls sinners to repent – so that it is mroe friendly to society, and just "accepts people as they are" then we are left with something that isn't even the gospel anymore. We are left with a message that cannot save, but only damn.

    April 4, 2014 at 8:01 am |
    • midwest rail

      What a load of tripe. What a load of morally inconsistent hooey. For decades, evangelicals have gladly accepted adulterers, wife beaters, etc "as they are". Why ? Because they were hetero, of course. Multiple divorces ?? No problem, come on in, and don't forget to make a donation. Sleeping with the church secretary, and the whole town knows ?? No problem, come on in, and don't forget to make a donation.
      What's that, you're gay ?!? Begone, Satan !!

      April 4, 2014 at 8:07 am |
      • Theo Phileo

        Methinks that your idea of evangelicals are the TV preachers like Osteen, Dollar, Baker, Jakes, and others of the Word-Faith movement and Charismaticism... Let me assure you they are not evangelical, and certainly not reformed. You need to look to the examples of Steve Lawson, Erwin Lutzer, John MacArthur, Ravi Zacharius, Sinclair Ferguson, R.C. Sproul, John Piper to see the face of reformed evangelicalism today.

        We certainly welcome sinners of any kind, for all men are sinners, but we also demand repentance.

        Ti.tus 3:10 – Reject a factious (divisive) man after a first and second warning, knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned.

        The unrepentant sinner within the church must be rejected and removed from the church according to 1 Corinthians 5:13, or, according to 2 John 1:10, you are a participant in his deeds, leading others astray from the truth. (cross reference Deuteronomy 13:5, 17:7, 12, 21:21, 22:21, 1 Corinthians 5:2)

        April 4, 2014 at 8:16 am |
        • midwest rail

          For every name you list as a "true" evangelical, I can give you ten more that back up my position. Like it or not, the fringe is now the center. The evangelical movement IS reaping what they've sown for decades, so tough luck.

          April 4, 2014 at 8:21 am |
        • Theo Phileo

          "For every name you list as a "true" evangelical, I can give you ten more that back up my position"
          ------------
          So? Do you stop using money because counterfeit $20 bills exist? Of course not, that's silly. What you do is rid the system of counterfeit bills, or in this case, call those out to repentance!

          The cure for stagnation is orthodoxy, and if men leave the church because of orthodoxy, let them leave.

          April 4, 2014 at 8:23 am |
        • midwest rail

          Why are they counterfeit ? Because YOU say so ? Using the same scripture, they would most likely claim the same of you. Tap dance all you want, your orthodoxy IS at the root of the problem.

          April 4, 2014 at 8:26 am |
        • Theo Phileo

          "Why are they counterfeit ? Because YOU say so ? Using the same scripture, they would most likely claim the same of you. Tap dance all you want, your orthodoxy IS at the root of the problem."
          -------------------
          I don't believe I actually have to say this, but you detect a counterfeit $20 bill by comparing it to a standard. The same is true with those in sin. The Bible is the standard, and it is against that canon that one is compared.

          Satan, in order to destroy orthodoxy, would have men believe that orthodoxy itself is the problem, at the same time ignoring the fact that without orthodoxy, there is no gospel.

          Semper reformanda.

          April 4, 2014 at 8:30 am |
        • midwest rail

          " The same is true with those in sin. "

          And yet the supposed standard is not applied equally. I get that you don't like having the inconsistency pointed out, and again, you can tap dance all you like, The simple fact of the matter is that you are morally inconsistent hypocrites with an image problem that you now seek to distance yourselves from with batted eyelashes and an innocent "Who, me ?!?"

          You'll all be joining us that you so eagerly condemn in hell.
          "Welcome to the party, pal."

          April 4, 2014 at 8:36 am |
        • Theo Phileo

          "And yet the... standard is not applied equally."
          -----------
          But that isn't a statement about the standard, that's an admonition against those who apply it. And I agree. The standard of the word of God should be applied equally.

          April 4, 2014 at 9:35 am |
        • midwest rail

          Yes, Theo, the admonition is against you and your ilk. You, fred, Vic, guidedans, ad nauseum.
          The whole hateful, twisted, condescending lot of you. Again, welcome to the party, pal.

          April 4, 2014 at 9:40 am |
        • sam stone

          No, corn pone, our idea of evangelicals includes blowhards such as you

          April 4, 2014 at 9:49 am |
        • Theo Phileo

          midwest rail, sam stone,
          Proverbs 3:7 – Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and turn away from evil.

          April 4, 2014 at 10:08 am |
        • midwest rail

          " Do not be wise in your own eyes; "
          Pot, kettle.
          Welcome to the party, pal.

          April 4, 2014 at 10:10 am |
        • Dyslexic doG

          "Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and turn away from evil"

          now there's cult-speak if I've ever heard it!

          April 4, 2014 at 10:17 am |
        • joey3467

          Until I see Christians banning together to attempt to ban everything the Bible says as a sin I will consider them hypocrites for only trying to ban gay marriage. This of course will never happen because they only want to ban the things that have no affect on their lives.

          April 4, 2014 at 10:49 am |
        • fortheloveofellipsis

          Do you demand repentance from Newt and his Serial-Adulterer Follies, Theo? Or is that demand only for people who play with boy-and-girl parts of the same gender?...

          April 4, 2014 at 4:24 pm |
    • kudlak

      Theo
      Progress happens. Without progress Christians would still be burning suspected witches, owning slaves, and thinking that the Bible was right in the world being flat. The opaque nature of the gospels has actually been the strength of Christianity throughout the ages. As society changes it's always been easy to reinterpret Jesus as supporting those changes. Without that flexibility do you really think that Christianity would have survived the Enlightenment?

      April 4, 2014 at 9:39 am |
  2. thefinisher1

    Atheism allows children to suffer and die. Atheism allows murder and war. Atheism allows r@p.e. Atheism allows death and suffering. Atheism divides people. Atheism can't prevent bad things from happening. As you can see, atheists worship their logic god who hates us and allows suffering. Thus atheism is false.

    April 4, 2014 at 8:00 am |
    • TruthPrevails1

      You best leave the nurses station and find them for your daily injection, you're sounding delusional again!

      April 4, 2014 at 8:03 am |
    • QuestionsEverything

      Nothing you wrote has anything to do with atheism. Please, educate yourself before you harm yourself.

      April 4, 2014 at 9:46 am |
    • kudlak

      Does God prevent bad things from happening?

      April 4, 2014 at 9:56 am |
    • Dyslexic doG

      asinine

      April 4, 2014 at 10:04 am |
  3. fortheloveofellipsis

    This is rich. Sanctimonious shizzle from the comm. director of an organization that was LITERALLY created to provide Biblical justification for slavery in America, and which has NEVER issued a binding apology for their active support for and encouragement of slavery, racial etiquette, and Jim Crow. Yeah, I really look up to the SBC for moral guidance–not...

    April 4, 2014 at 7:46 am |
    • kudlak

      Actually, the religious argument for abolition was deeply rooted in the same Great Awakenings led by the young George Whitefield that helped form the evangelical movement in the US. Of course, when George got older he rejected his liberal reading of the Gospel and became one of the strongest supporters for slavery in the South. So, yeah, evangelicalism is deeply rooted in the pro-slavery movement.

      April 4, 2014 at 10:22 am |
  4. Dyslexic doG

    if I was powerful enough to create the universe, I wouldn't let thousands of children die in agony from malnutrition and sickness every day. I am glad to say that's the difference between me and your god.

    April 4, 2014 at 6:58 am |
  5. saggyroy

    "...The pop Jesus of progressives sounds less like the Jesus of the Bible and more like a malleable deity who easily aligns with our cultural sensibilities..." Oh you mean like ending slavery even tho it is ok in the Bible? Not torturing, imprisoning or killing people that disagree with you?

    April 4, 2014 at 5:59 am |
    • fortheloveofellipsis

      End ing? The BC was INVENTED to PROMOTE Biblical support for slavery, and they have NEVER apologized in any binding way for those acts. Yeah, and these sacks have the gall to preach to me about Jesus...

      April 4, 2014 at 7:47 am |
      • fortheloveofellipsis

        * SBC (for Southern Baptist Convention)

        April 4, 2014 at 7:48 am |
      • kudlak

        George Whitefield, a prominent leader in establishing evangelism in the US, actually appears to have been pretty anti-slavery in his youth. He lost that as he aged, however, and became one of the strongest supporters for a bible-based defence of legal slavery in the South.

        It seems that evangelicals tend to lose their empathy for others with old age.

        April 4, 2014 at 10:31 am |
  6. Dayo Adewoye

    Reblogged this on The Christian Mind.

    April 4, 2014 at 4:22 am |
  7. Bootyfunk

    • Young evangelicals are fleeing the church at a rapid pace.
    author says it's not true, i say it is. he says "But experts who have weighed this data point beg to differ." you may find a few that 'beg to differ' but the majority are in agreement that the church has an attendance problem. my fiance (both of us are atheists) takes an elderly woman from down the street to church every sunday morning. she says the church is a ghost town, with maybe 3 people under 30. it seems this author is not looking at the facts with an honest eye.

    • The real message of Jesus looks nothing like orthodox Christianity.
    well... jesus said a lot of great things - but he said some pretty horrible things too. it's kind of a mixed bag, if you look at the entirety of his supposed statements. for instance, jesus clearly supported slavery, telling slaves to obey their masters as they would god and recommending beating slaves that don't. i really like what he said about rich/poor, but balanced by his promotion of slavery and violence toward disobedient slaves, he doesn't exactly sound like the prince of peace.

    April 4, 2014 at 3:54 am |
    • fortheloveofellipsis

      I wonder, Bootyfunk, if these are the same experts that tell us the Earth is 6000 years old and dinosaur bones are nothing but Satan's snare...

      April 4, 2014 at 7:50 am |
  8. MadeFromDirt

    Darling, you seem to be caught up a bit in the swirling debate you aim to quell and in the resulting diversion and vanity, focusing on what you think Christians should do and what they should be for, instead of remaining focused on what Christ has done and who He is for. Do any good deeds save anyone? No. Anyone can give to charity or strive to improve society, but are they doing it truly for Christ or for themselves? And are they secure in their faith, or looking for God's favor? God searches our hearts and motivations, and so should we.

    April 4, 2014 at 2:50 am |
    • In Santa We Trust

      Are you saying that christians are not striving to get god's favor and go to heaven? That's all there is to their actions.

      April 4, 2014 at 3:31 am |
    • Bootyfunk

      "Anyone can give to charity or strive to improve society, but are they doing it truly for Christ or for themselves?"
      +++ i'll pick choice #3, i do it to help my fellow brothers and sisters of this world, no sky deity needed for that.

      April 4, 2014 at 3:56 am |
    • kudlak

      MadeFromDirt
      Why not do good things for the betterment of the society we all live in? Isn't that selfless enough for you?

      April 4, 2014 at 8:13 am |
    • MadeFromDirt

      Gentlemen, I would have replied earlier but I was off the grid for the weekend. Thank you for your comments and questions. One common misunderstanding about the Gospel, among deniers and believers alike, is that we can earn our way into heaven by following the Bible's instructions about how to live. The Holy nature of God requires purity in any creature to dwell with Him forever. We have all sinned, we have all lost our purity. In this flesh, even our good deeds are filthy rags to God. Jesus Christ lived a pure life, and now He stands in our place; He took God's judgment for us, and His righteousness is imputed to those who have faith in Him and submit to His authority in all they do. The good deeds by God's people are motivated out of gratetude for what Christ has done for us. Without Christ, no one can ever balance the scales of justice; God doesn't work that way. Anyone seeking God's favor by performance of their deeds is actually displaying weak faith in what Christ has done for us, and what He will continue to do. Strong faith in Christ provides assurance that we already have God's forgiveness and His favor, and we let His Spirit within us guide our emotions, decisions, actions, and lives.

      April 7, 2014 at 3:06 pm |
  9. Johnson

    Oh my word!

    This article is right on so many different levels, don't know where to begin, except to say thank you for a well written, honest, truthful and a much needed op-ed on the belief blog

    Kudos to Belief blog editors and Kudos to Daniel Darling!

    April 4, 2014 at 2:49 am |
    • Johnson

      "All over the world, you will find faithful followers of Christ adopting orphaned children, rescuing girls from trafficking, feeding the poor, digging wells and volunteering in disaster relief."

      Amen! A scripture that comes to mind, "In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven."

      April 4, 2014 at 3:05 am |
      • Bootyfunk

        i found the article wrong on a number of points. the youth is fleeing the church.

        April 4, 2014 at 3:57 am |
      • spleenylutheran

        Reading this article, what comes to my mind is Matthew 6:1-4. All forms of "volunteerism" are self-glorifying hypocrisy, on one level or another.

        April 4, 2014 at 7:29 am |
      • fortheloveofellipsis

        And you know what, bright boy? You find people of EVERY religious and philosophical persuasion, as well as atheists, doing THE EXACT SAME THING. Don't break your arm patting yourself on the back, Philistine...

        April 4, 2014 at 7:54 am |
      • kudlak

        And you'll find future young evangelicals wanting to do all of those great things, only without all the angst towards other people different than themselves, so the surveys say.

        The future is looking brighter for everyone. Is that the problem here?

        April 4, 2014 at 8:09 am |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Except that Daniel is in deep denial over the hard data.

      Data is data. His "experts" are but spin meisters.

      April 4, 2014 at 10:01 am |
  10. ddeevviinn

    A voice of sanity crying in the liberal wilderness.

    Thank you Daniel.

    April 4, 2014 at 2:03 am |
    • ssq41

      Clearly, dev, you are not a follower of Jesus...just of a political party. Thank you for your "witness."

      April 4, 2014 at 2:11 am |
      • ddeevviinn

        Clearly, ss, you are either disingenuous or clueless. The entire article, and my comment, were both with in the context of theological liberalism. Politics was never under consideration.But of course you knew this, you just desired cutting retort at any cost.

        April 4, 2014 at 2:22 am |
        • ssq41

          Ahhhh, dev....you aren't that ignorant (I hope).

          Let's key in on two terms Mr. Darling uses (not to mention the tone of the piece):

          "...core conservative insti.tutions..." AND "Progressive hand-wringers are missing the point..."

          Terms and phrases exploding with connotations. And I doubt you've been sleeping over the past 30+ years of the "culture wars" that Mr. Falwell happily jumped in on "In the Name of Jesus."

          Your "faith" amounts to politics by other means.

          So, clueless? Not I...but you are definitely disingenuous in your attempt to claim innocence of intent with the word(s) you've chosen. Mr. Darling's piece isn't exclusively theological in its context. And your use of "liberal" without it's theological context was clearly intended to be a cutting retort at any cost.

          And, your statement: "Politics was never under consideration" confirms your lack of integrity...not only here but in most all your posts.

          Again, a great witness for Jesus.

          April 4, 2014 at 2:47 am |
        • kudlak

          ddeevviinn
          In what sense was Jesus not a theological liberal, or did he just not care about the Law because he mistakenly thought that the end was coming soon?

          April 4, 2014 at 8:05 am |
        • spleenylutheran

          Which "theological liberalism" is that? ...Matthew 19:16-26? ...perhaps Matthew 22:17-22? ...maybe Matthew 25:31-46?

          April 4, 2014 at 8:32 am |
        • kudlak

          spleenylutheran
          Don't all the times where Jesus butts heads with the Pharisees, who are characterized as ultra-conservatives, denote a certain liberal take on observance of the Law, or are you saying that he just didn't care because he mistakenly believed that the end was coming then?

          April 4, 2014 at 10:38 am |
        • spleenylutheran

          Kudlak:

          It's pretty clear to me that Jesus was a radical socialist, but with a pacifist / mystical bent. Also he was a feminist, but to see that a person must be a serious reader since the bits where he shows that are usually overlooked.

          April 6, 2014 at 5:00 pm |
      • fortheloveofellipsis

        ssq, to people like devin, religion IS politics. This is why they almost invariably push theocratic ideas like "This iz uh Crischin Nayshun(tm)" garbage; because they think the Christ who told Pilate that His kingdom was not of this world won't be happy unless everyone has to follow the laws they make in His (alleged) name. Salem, anyone?...

        April 4, 2014 at 7:58 am |
    • Bootyfunk

      more like a voice of cluelessness making excuses for the decline of supersti.tion

      April 4, 2014 at 3:58 am |
    • spleenylutheran

      more like... one of a million voices of insanity crying in the conservatively-correct (and money-loving) wilderness.

      April 4, 2014 at 8:09 am |
      • fortheloveofellipsis

        "Conservatively correct." spleenylutheran, this one is an absolute keeper! Perfect!...

        April 4, 2014 at 4:26 pm |
  11. rogerthat2014

    In other words, don't believe all the talk about evangelicals leaving the faith. Instead, stand with us and discriminate against your fellow man the way God intended. He's such a loving god.

    April 4, 2014 at 1:14 am |
  12. karnaval2

    On "pedophiliac priests, pedophiliac clerics, propheteering/profiteering evangelicals:"

    "Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power." - Abraham Lincoln

    April 4, 2014 at 12:20 am |
  13. observer

    Leave it to Christians to come up with an R-rated picture.

    April 4, 2014 at 12:01 am |
  14. kahlers12

    Reblogged this on thewaythetruthandthelife.

    April 3, 2014 at 11:56 pm |
  15. kudlak

    This article in Patheos seems to be saying the opposite, that all age groups are declining in Evangelism in the USA since 1992.

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/blackwhiteandgray/2013/04/are-we-losing-the-young-evangelicals-by-age-since-1972/

    April 3, 2014 at 11:48 pm |
    • realbuckyball

      These people (Evangelicals) are so hilarious and SO obsessed with "false gospels". Of course it's NEVER THEIR (many many) versions that are "false". It's always somebody else's gospel that's the "false" one. If every Evangelical that proclaims someone else has a "false" gospel, how many are left ? None. Why are these militant angry Christians trying to force their "good news" on every one ?

      April 3, 2014 at 11:58 pm |
      • fortheloveofellipsis

        Because they want a do-over of the Thirty Years' War, perhaps?...

        April 4, 2014 at 4:27 pm |
    • kudlak

      Lucky for them that gays, liberal Mainstream protestants, Catholics, Muslims, atheists, and a bunch of other groups exist outside of them. Otherwise they'd have to comb through their own ranks more to find the essential "prosecutors" of the TRUE GOSPEL.

      April 4, 2014 at 8:02 am |
  16. Reality

    Will the real Jesus please stand up?

    Only for the new members of this blog:

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

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

    earlychristianwritings.com/

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

    Current RCC problems:

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

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

    Current problems:

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

    April 3, 2014 at 11:39 pm |
  17. realbuckyball

    Such desperation. As if humans in 3000 are still going to be referencing some ancient desert dwellers' myths.
    Jesus, (if he existed) was a Jew. The Jews did not believe in heaven or hell. Sheol was not heaven or hell. here is NO reason to think Jesus thought any different. He was an apocalyptic. Like all the wandering apocalyptic preacher/miracle- workers the time, he was wrong about the end-times.

    April 3, 2014 at 11:28 pm |
    • jonwilke

      People have been saying the same thing for 2000 years.

      April 4, 2014 at 11:18 am |
  18. Dyslexic doG

    Oh Darling! Oh Darling! OH DARLING!!!

    No no, it's not what you think. I just get so frustrated when Christians use the phrase "Consider some of Jesus’ statements".

    how can you possibly speak about "what jesus said"?!?!

    The King James version of the new testament was completed in 1611 by 8 members of the church of England. There were (and still are) NO original texts to translate. The oldest manuscripts we have were written down 100's of years after the last apostle died. There are over 8,000 of these old manuscripts with no two alike. The king james translators used none of these anyway. Instead they edited previous translations to create a version their king and parliament would approve. So.... 21st century christians believe the "word of god" is a book edited in the 17th century from the 16th century translations of 8,000 contradictory copies of 4th century scrolls that claim to be copies of lost letters written in the 1st century.

    So here's what we know. We do have a little evidence that a MAN named jesus lived in the area at that time. We have NO evidence that any of the supposed miracles and/or virgin birth and/or resurrection ever happened. In fact the similarities of this tale to predating tales in other civilizations like Horus from Egypt in 3000 BC (Jesus is a copy of Horus), or Attis from Greece in 1500 BC (Jesus is a copy of Attis), or Mithra from Persia in 1200BC (Jesus is a copy of Mithra), or Krishna from India in 900BC (Jesus is a copy of Krishna), or Dionysus from Greece in 500 BC (Jesus is a copy of Dionysus) indicates that it was all just stories. We DO NOT have any proof of anything the jesus character ever said. All the words that have been attributed to him were written down by mostly unknown authors hundreds of years after his death! In a time of no recording media, that period of time tells us that the words in the bible are purely composed.

    So seriously?! Claiming that jesus said certain phrases is utter mind numbing nonsense, and yet you seem to base your belief on this! It would be laughable if it wasn't so tragic.

    April 3, 2014 at 11:04 pm |
  19. Bob

    Evangelical apologist Dan Darling in his opinion piece here repeatedly references the Jesus tall tale of the Christian folklore. The Jesus myth, insofar as Jesus' claimed divinity, and regarding the Jesus-sacrifice-salvation idiocy, is complete nonsense. Christians, how is it 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. The foundation of your whole religion is nonsense.

    And then there is the nasty, vengeful Christian sky creature, this murderous "loving" "god", who according to the Christian book of nasty AKA the bible makes similarly murderous demands of his followers such as these, from both testaments (and note the text after the quotes):

    Numbers 31:17-18
    17 Now kiII all the boys. And kiII every woman who has slept with a man,
    18 but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

    Deuteronomy 13:6 – “If your brother, your mother’s son or your son or daughter, or the wife you cherish, or your friend who is as your own soul entice you secretly, saying, let us go and serve other gods … you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death”

    Revelation 2:23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.

    Leviticus 25
    44 “‘Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves.
    45 You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property.
    46 You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.

    Note that the bible is also very clear that you should sacrifice and burn an animal today because the smell makes sicko Christian sky fairy happy. No, you don't get to use the parts for food. You burn them, a complete waste of the poor animal.

    Yes, the bible really says that, everyone. Yes, it's in Leviticus, look it up. Yes, Jesus purportedly said that the OT commands still apply. No exceptions. But even if you think the OT was god's mistaken first go around, you have to ask why a perfect, loving enti-ty would ever put such horrid instructions in there. If you think rationally at all, that is.

    And then, if you disagree with my interpretation, ask yourself how it is that your "god" couldn't come up with a better way to communicate than a book that is so readily subject to so many interpretations and to being taken "out of context", and has so many mistakes in it. Pretty pathetic god that you've made for yourself.

    So get out your sacrificial knife or your nasty sky creature will torture you eternally. Or just take a closer look at your foolish supersti-tions, understand that they are just silly, and toss them into the dustbin with all the rest of the gods that man has created.

    And further, ask yourself why we should have to rely on very stale, thousands-of-years-old, many-versioned old text, that is only reasonably subject to debates over its meaning. Why is it that your pathetic sky fairy can't even get with the past decade and create his own web presence (no, religious shill sites don't count), or push some tweets out? Even the pope, that creepy hider of criminal priests, could do that much, as can most children. After thousands of years of radio silence, reasonable doubt in the existence of your sky creature is easily justified, to say the least. Your absurd "god" is also apparently less capable at communication than any modern 10 year old.

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

    April 3, 2014 at 10:48 pm |
    • colin31714

      well said

      April 4, 2014 at 8:34 am |
    • Mr. T

      Watch Bob break into a lively 'jive', upon hearing a reading from Leviticus 24.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=5falw1KpSTc

      April 5, 2014 at 9:18 am |
  20. Shane Destivelle

    "Evangelical" is still just another word for "stupid".

    April 3, 2014 at 10:39 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      AMEN!

      April 3, 2014 at 10:55 pm |
    • realbuckyball

      Actually there is scientific evidence for that. There is a negative correlation between intelligence and belief.
      http://doczine.com/bigdata/2/1385623463_21cd64bdeb/average-intelligence-predicts-atheism-rates-across-137-nations-lynn-et-al.pdf

      April 4, 2014 at 4:29 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.