The Modern Church Doesn’t Need a Make-Believe Devil

The biggest problem with all this talk of Satan is that he doesn’t exist.

The devil is a fascinating fellow. He has argued a court case against Daniel Webster, gone down to Georgia, and worn a blue dress. And he’s getting a lot of press these days.

At Harvard, a student group planned, then cancelled, a mock mass worshiping the devil. The Archbishop of Boston responded with a warning about the Satan’s powers. And as the Washington Post reported, the devil is making a comeback in the Vatican, thanks to what some see as Pope Francis’ frequent allusions to the devil and support of exorcists who seek to rid us of the devil.

A 2013 YouGov poll found that 57 percent of Americans believe the devil exists. A 2007 Harris poll found that more Americans believed in the devil than believed in Darwin’s theory of evolution.

I’m just the pastor of local church in a small-ish denomination, so it may be folly to go against the majority of a polled public and a popular pontiff. (The pope has the prestige of an international pulpit, the history of the Roman Catholicism, and a cadre of theologians to support his views.) But it’s time to be clear: the devil does not exist.

In the earliest traditions of Hebrew scripture, both good and evil were God’s domain. Satan appeared in the books of Job and Zechariah. At first, he worked for God. In the Book of Job, the devil functions as something of a chief-of-staff, checking up on God’s lower level employee. (Some readers may be confused by this and think of the devil as tricky tempter right from the get-go, as in the Garden of Eden. Remember, even though the Book of Genesis is printed first in the Bible, it was not written first.)

As centuries went by, Satan became testier and more independent. He began to oppose God with accusations that tempt humans. The devil moved from God’s employee to less-than-loyal opposition. This move was, in part, because Persian thinking seeped into Judaism. For three years (from about 700-300 BCE), Persia ruled a huge chunk of land from the Indus River to Greece, including what is now Palestine and Israel. Even after the Persian Empire declined, their thinking remained. The Persian philosophy saw the world as a struggle of good and bad.

By the time that Christianity grew out of Judaism, the devil was a full-fledged bad boy, the enemy of God and humans alike.

As Christianity grew, Satan became more specific. In the thirteenth century, a monk illustrated a Bible with a picture of the devil, complete with horns, claws and a tail. (At least part of the costume may have been borrowed from Hades in Greek tales of the underworld.) The picture appealed to the medieval mind, and the monk’s Bible got the name The Devil’s Bible. The image stuck. A devil with horns and a tail is a classic Halloween costume.

In the fourteenth century, Dante went to work as the devil’s interior decorator. He described hell with such vivid details that his Inferno is still what most people would describe when asked to picture hell, even if they don’t know they’re quoting Dante.

Satan is not only Jewish or Christian. Islam inherited and developed a similar persona. While offering different takes on the idea, Zorosatrianism, Buddhism, Greek mythology, Roman mythology, and Nordic religions offer some version of the devil or an evil spirit.

So the pope and the exorcists quoted in the Washington Post article are warming themselves at long-glowing fires when they speak of the devil. But the devil as a personal being is clearly a theological construct found in many cultures and dolled up differently over time.

It makes sense that we need a devil, especially in religion. Life is often complicated, painful and inexplicable. Not long after Dante finished his literary telling of Satan, the bubonic plague swept across Europe. People wanted answers, or at least someone to blame. In our time, evil extremists kidnap school girls in Nigeria. Why? we lament. We want answers or someone to fault. Blaming an unseen, ethereal devil is an easy out that may save us from having to look into the shadows of our own selves.

Why do we suffer? we ask. If we’re fully honest, we have to admit that people suffer because other people are often selfish and uncaring. The next step then, is to ask, How am I selfish and uncaring? How do I cause suffering? Those kinds of questions hurt. They force us to admit out own failures and foibles. Focusing on a made-up devil as the agent of evil distracts us from the hard work of confronting our own wrongdoing.

Timothy Tutt
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  • Samuel Ogles

    I appreciate the discussion OnFaith is hosting and this topic in particular, but *please* give your posts a final proofread (preferably by a new set of eyes) before posting. At first read, I counted seven obvious mistakes, .e.g., “dolled up differently up.” Repeat words, misplaced commas, and words that are missing from the sentence entirely are all problem in this piece. OnFaith editors, do your readers the service of taking an extra five minutes to catch the things that will distract your readers and keep them from engaging the topics (by instead posting about editing, for example).

    • Eric Grimes

      Similar to the errant period before e.g?

      • Samuel Ogles

        Yes, similar to that extra period. You go it.

    • Eric Grimes

      Similar to editing the extraneous comma in front of the e.g?

    • faithstreet

      Thanks for your concern for proofreading — we share it. This piece went live before it was ready. It happens sometimes, and we regret it when it does. You’re always welcome to call our attention to mistakes at

  • John C. Wood

    Sam and Eric arguing over grammer maybe the work of The Prince of Darkness. Should we get rid of the Devil? He might still be a very good editor…

  • Internet_Loading..

    If the devil doesn’t exist, then you have to deal with the fact that god is not omnibenevolent because He, then, causes you pain on purpose. Worship that if you like, but that’s like worshipping a mean step-dad. To imply people, ourselves, are part of the issue of suffering implies god is not Omnipotent because either he cannot control us or then, chooses not to, which implies he is not Omnibenevolent. Or maybe he’s just not Omnipresent. (which would imply he is not Omnipotent). Contrarily, if the devil does exist, that implies God is not Omnipotent, because there are competing powers. So, our best outcome is that God exists, and is kind of a dick. Yay! (not checked for spelling or grammatical errors, because grammar nazi’s are called nazi’s for a reason Sam. Yes, I’m ogling you, sam. *ba doom crash*). Or… maybe all this posturing about things that cannot be measured in any way, ever, is just a severe waste of everyone’s time. That’s debatable… for sure.

    • Evan Tiffany

      That’s an interesting point. But whenever I imagine God preventing all pain in the world no matter what, I get this vision of a super powered baby sitter. Which wouldn’t sit very well with me. Isn’t it kind of important that we can choose to suffer, and that as dark as it is, we also have the choice to make others suffer (and thus also the choice to serve and love others)?

      • allinthistogether

        Your point that it is important that “we can choose to suffer,” leaves out the very critical point that lots of people suffer without choosing to? Infants for example. And unless you think that we choose to be born into a particular body, infants did not get a chance to choose. There is no compelling evidence that the universe is run by a God who intervenes in human existence. That doesn’t mean that you should or shouldn’t have faith, only that faith is faith (not proof).

        • AmmDavid

          The wonderful part of this post is that it shows the diversity and, dare we say it, the ambiguity in the Bible and Christian tradition. The understanding of Satan changed over time as the metaphors for sin changed. Up until the Persian influence (texts written during the 1st Temple Period), sin was thought of as a burden. As the Hebrew culture blended with the culture of the Persians, the language idioms from Aramaic (the official language of the Persian empire) influenced the Hebrew language; thus, changing the understanding of sin and moving it from “burden” to “debt.” Combine all that with the Hellenistic influence on philosophy (an omnipotent and omniscient god is referred to as the god of the philosophers) and the Reformers taking it to its logical conclusions, we get a God that is a monster, or, as you put it…a dick. This blog post is essentially arguing for new metaphors for sin and evil that don’t have a pointy tail. It is clear that, even within the limited space of the Bible, people’s understanding of sin and evil evolved. These concepts are not, and never were, stationary – even within the confines of the Bible. Yes, it is true, the Bible is not consistent on certain ideas. It was written at different times by different people who had different understandings about good and evil. This should be celebrated. This gives me hope that we can create new metaphors and understandings that don’t paint God to be a monster.

      • Tom from North Carolina

        So what’s your view of heaven? Is there suffering in heaven?

        Plus, I would argue that choosing to suffer or causing someone else to suffer are not the only choices. When the tsunami of 2005 struck Indonesia killing 250,000 people, the suffering of their friends and relatives had nothing to do with a choice. It’s simply life. That certainly doesn’t speak well of a personal, loving god who is interested in our well being.

        • Evan Tiffany

          I’ll be honest, I couldn’t give you a theologically sound answer because I don’t think at this stuff from every angle. I’m still working on the Earth stuff. But it seems to me that the suffering of others is an opportunity and a calling for us to serve them. For example, not only can we serve the victims of the 2005 tsunami by sending people and aid afterwards. We can prioritize spending money, time, and effort on ensuring that all the areas in the world at risk of tsunamis are well equipped with warning systems and infrastructure capable of mitigating and responding to those disasters. We can spend more resources on researching the behavior of tectonic plates. We’re capable to a large extent of shaping how vulnerable people are to natural disasters. We’ll never be perfect at it, but God has equipped us to reach out to each other, which I see as an act of a very loving God.

          • Tom from North Carolina

            It still sounds like a pretty poor design if the best god can do is use awful human suffering as a teachable moment.

            I think you ideas, putting god aside for a minute, about working to help others is a really good one and very much in keeping with my own moral compass. I remain skeptical that conservative Christians, who seem to disdain much of science concludes (evolution, global warming, the benefits of vaccinations) would be open to the idea of investing in infrastructure that would help others but be of no immediate benefit to them.

    • Tom from North Carolina

      Dear Iinternet,

      This is an excellent rendition of the built in contradiction called faith. All powerful and loving god sure did a poor job of designing this world. Even our “sacred” books claim god had to destroy it after only a couple of generations. And at the other end is the faithful’s avoidance of responsibility. In the words of Flip Wilson, the devil made me do it.

      The only way to reconcile these conflicting views is the obvious; there is no Satan nor is there a god.

    • Lauren Swick

      The first sentence is an overreach the devil’s non existence does not logically exclude God’s omnibenevolence. The author is saying the devil doesn’t exist because humans themselves have the capacity of unlimited evil. Satan is a convenient scapegoat. This allows us to overlook our own selfish and destructive behavior and blame someone else. Just like your average three year old.

    • LoveUSAmerica

      And yet if the Devil wins from time to time, doesn’t that mean he is neither omnibenevolent or omnipotent or any other omni-thing?

  • JACKjozevz

    Big Note: FOR the Same Reality that G_D (if any) whom hath many names is NO/Not/Nay/Never a ‘HE” or a “HIM” nor
    a “SHE” or a “HER” THAT: The Shatan, Devil, Lucifer and By Many Names is Not-a-HE (nor a Her)! Soo,

    Never Refer to GOD (by Many names) nor to Satan (by Many names) as a HE!
    [This] World needs to get Used to think that; Then Humanity will be FREE (at last)!

  • BishopAndrewGeralesGentry

    Old Scratch may be a metaphor for evil but evil my dear brother is NOT a “made up” literary character! Suffering is relative to the condition and situation becuase much of suffering is visited on the innocent and most vulnerable who no more “deserve” the pain than all of the rest combined! All of our theological and yes ideological explanations of suffering are in the final analysis “dust in the wind”!

    • Andrew Dowling

      When did the author say “evil” was made-up . . .he actually said the opposite; evil exists, the devil does not.

  • Mike D’Virgilio

    Ah, a United Church of Christ guy, no wonder. Yeah, there is no devil. Jesus wasn’t really born of a virgin, or raised from the dead. The Bible is just a bunch of made up stories. No wonder mainline churches have been slowly dying for 50 years.

    • Tom from North Carolina

      Actually Mike, you are right in just about everything you said. The bible is a not a particularly book of fiction. Jesus as divine and miracle worker is unfounded and unsupported in any historical documents and found almost exclusively in religious documents.

      Mainline churches are slowly dying and for good reason. Science shows no need for god. Society demonstrates that you can be moral without a belief in god.

      • Mike D’Virgilio

        Hey Tom. I would debate you anytime, anywhere (too bad I don’t live in NC) because every statement you make her is egregiously wrong. Not just wrong, mind you, but spectacularly, pretentiously wrong. I’d be embarrassed to make such statements in public, but there you go. You are obviously familiar with all the non-biblical sources that authenticate the basic outline of the New Testament, right? No doubt you know about the Roman historian Tacitus, right? And you’ve studied Pliny the Younger, correct? I’m sure the first century Jewish historian Josephus’ Jewish Antiquities is bedside reading for you, right? And we all know about the the Babylonian Talmud, a collection of Jewish rabbinical writings from the first century on.

        And no doubt you’ve done rigorous study of the ancient Greek and Latin texts of the New Testament. Of course you know that there are presently 5,686 Greek manuscripts in existence today for the New Testament, right? The next largest number of manuscripts in existence for an ancient text? Come on, you must know that! It’s Homer at 643, Aristotle pulls in at 49 and Plato 7! I’m sure you’re out there on the web constantly questioning the veracity and existence of the ancient Roman and Greek philosophers, not to mention the history, right? No credible historian, believer or not, questions the basic outline of what happened in the New Testament. Of course, Tom, you must be a scholar of the deepest erudition to dismiss what every other historian says is the case. I’m curious how many years you spent studying ancient texts. It must be impressive.

        And exactly how does science show there is no need for God? Last time I looked, science was concerned with empirical data that can be observed and tested. It doesn’t do real well in the realm of metaphysics. But who am I to question the great and might TOM, who asserts things that he could never possibly prove in a million years.

        Sorry for the snark, but you deserve it. Cheers!

        • Tom from North Carolina

          Reply to Mike #1:

          Hello Mike. I’m good with snark so use sarcasm as much as you like. In fact, I enjoy clever sarcasm almost as much as I enjoy good ole corny jokes.

          On to the specifics….

          Some of the non-biblical sources you cite are new to me while others I’ve read. Let’s take one I’m familiar with as an example, the testimony of Flavius Josephus. In all his books, Josephus makes only two references to Jesus. Reading the text around those references and including the references to Jesus, I was left with a distinct impression, one which is shared by the majority of biblical scholars. A passage that states that Jesus the Messiah was a wise teacher was obviously an insertion by fourth century Christian apologists. If you’ve read the text, one aspect that should be obvious is the disjointed nature of the references to Jesus. It’s almost like looking at a shopping list of what crops were grown, who the leaders were and what products were traded and then all of a sudden there’s a reference to Jesus being more than a mere man. Then it goes back to describing goods being traded.

          The Josephus texts referring to Jesus have three problems. First, he uses terms not used anywhere else in his texts like the word Christos. As mentioned above, the flow of the text actually reads between if one were to eliminate the references to Jesus. And last, as a historical document, the earlier texts should reference earlier accounts, which it general does except for those made of Jesus. You see, the older texts refer to Jesus before John the Baptist implying that Jesus came before John. I would say this is all evidence (are you familiar with that term) pointing toward doctored manuscripts.

          Be that as it may, if you still believe those two references to Jesus were not doctored, then I have to make an admission and an offer to you. I’ve spent most of my life in NJ and boy have I got a bridge for you. It’s got a beautiful view of the Hudson river. I can get it to you for a song (assuming Governor Christie doesn’t close it down to undertake another traffic study).

          Since my last post got lost, possibly due to its length, I’ve decided to break it up into multiple posts. Continued.

        • Tom from North Carolina

          Reply to Mike #3.

          Science versus religion.

          In the time of Jesus, many events in the world were attributed to god. Your neighbor’s house was destroyed in a wind storm. God must have been angry. Your crops failed. You must have not uttered the correct words to appease an angry god (or gods).

          Even though science explains most of what used to be attributed to god, there are still a few remnants. My favorite is the woman who survived a hurricane in a trailer park that took the lives of 10 of her neighbors. Invariably, she talks about god saving her or the miracle of god’s protection while completing ignoring the fact that this loving god just introduced enormous suffering to a community that was probably also praying for a miracle.

          Besides the obvious question as to why god would kill some and spare others, there is now a deep understanding of what killed those people. We have knowledge of weather patterns and know about droughts, microbial infestations and fertilizers. We know the cause of earthquakes, tornadoes and volcanoes. We know about heart disease and cancer, bacterial and viral infections. Almost all of nature’s catastrophes can now be explained by science. And none of these underlying causes, so well understood today, were ever described in the bible. More likely, these events were explained in the bible as acts of an angry god or demonic possession.

          If you look today at the number of things that we attribute to god, it is an ever shrinking list, comprised mostly of actions by sinful individuals. We still don’t hold god accountable for anything bad (the tsunami of 2005 comes to mind) but give him praise for a beautiful day. One of the best illustrations of this inability to hold god accountable for anything bad while crediting him for everything good occurred when John Glenn orbited the earth. Looking back at that beautiful blue sphere, Glenn stated; “To look out at this kind of creation and not believe in God is to me impossible”. What makes Glenn’s quote so memorable is that at the very instant when he was voicing those words, a hurricane was plowing through central America, ultimately killing 20,000 people.

          Science still doesn’t have all the answers but admits as much. It doesn’t claim facts to be true forever and when better evidence comes along, will quickly abandon one theory for another.

          Religion is just the opposite. It portrays its truths as absolute and forever even though many of the “truths” that religion used to support (slavery and the inferiority of women come to mind), have, in most cases, been abandoned. (The Muslim and Catholic religions still view women as inferior).

          We don’t need religion to explain the world. We don’t need religion to be good and moral people. We don’t need religion anymore.

          • God is real

            I was in a horrible car crash a couple years ago. It was concluded that the person who hit the car I was in was accelerating at 14.6 m/s^2. As the car was a Jeep Grand Cherokee, it had a mass of at least 1800 kg, equating to about 2 tons. This means the force of the car hitting me was over 26,000 N. A human femur, the strongest bone in the body, can only withstand 4,000 N. I survived, unscathed, with some large bruises and not a single broken bone. When there was no side airbag, and a nearly negligible impulse, explain that without “divine intervention”.

          • LoveUSAmerica

            So, Tom, God has turned away from those who do not survive or have broken bones?

          • Tom from North Carolina

            That’s explained in the same way that my friend with her first granddaughter is facing years of surgeries and probable development issues from birth defects. This poor baby was born with fused bones including her skull and elbows. If you hold God responsible for your miraculous escape from a bad accident, shouldn’t you also hold God responsible for birth defects, earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes and all manner of “natural” disasters?

          • God is real

            Of course God is behind it.

            38 Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said:

            2 “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?
            3 Dress for action[a] like a man;
            I will question you, and you make it known to me.

            4 “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
            Tell me, if you have understanding.
            5 Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
            Or who stretched the line upon it?
            6 On what were its bases sunk,
            or who laid its cornerstone,
            7 when the morning stars sang together
            and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

            8 “Or who shut in the sea with doors
            when it burst out from the womb,
            9 when I made clouds its garment
            and thick darkness its swaddling band,
            10 and prescribed limits for it
            and set bars and doors,
            11 and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther,
            and here shall your proud waves be stayed’?

            12 “Have you commanded the morning since your days began,
            and caused the dawn to know its place,
            13 that it might take hold of the skirts of the earth,
            and the wicked be shaken out of it?
            14 It is changed like clay under the seal,
            and its features stand out like a garment.
            15 From the wicked their light is withheld,
            and their uplifted arm is broken.

            16 “Have you entered into the springs of the sea,
            or walked in the recesses of the deep?
            17 Have the gates of death been revealed to you,
            or have you seen the gates of deep darkness?
            18 Have you comprehended the expanse of the earth?
            Declare, if you know all this.

            19 “Where is the way to the dwelling of light,
            and where is the place of darkness,
            20 that you may take it to its territory
            and that you may discern the paths to its home?
            21 You know, for you were born then,
            and the number of your days is great!

            22 “Have you entered the storehouses of the snow,
            or have you seen the storehouses of the hail,
            23 which I have reserved for the time of trouble,
            for the day of battle and war?
            24 What is the way to the place where the light is distributed,
            or where the east wind is scattered upon the earth?

            25 “Who has cleft a channel for the torrents of rain
            and a way for the thunderbolt,
            26 to bring rain on a land where no man is,
            on the desert in which there is no man,
            27 to satisfy the waste and desolate land,
            and to make the ground sprout with grass?

            28 “Has the rain a father,
            or who has begotten the drops of dew?
            29 From whose womb did the ice come forth,
            and who has given birth to the frost of heaven?
            30 The waters become hard like stone,
            and the face of the deep is frozen.

            31 “Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades
            or loose the cords of Orion?
            32 Can you lead forth the Mazzaroth[b] in their season,
            or can you guide the Bear with its children?
            33 Do you know the ordinances of the heavens?
            Can you establish their rule on the earth?

            34 “Can you lift up your voice to the clouds,
            that a flood of waters may cover you?
            35 Can you send forth lightnings, that they may go
            and say to you, ‘Here we are’?
            36 Who has put wisdom in the inward parts[c]
            or given understanding to the mind?[d]
            37 Who can number the clouds by wisdom?
            Or who can tilt the waterskins of the heavens,
            38 when the dust runs into a mass
            and the clods stick fast together?

            39 “Can you hunt the prey for the lion,
            or satisfy the appetite of the young lions,
            40 when they crouch in their dens
            or lie in wait in their thicket?
            41 Who provides for the raven its prey,
            when its young ones cry to God for help,
            and wander about for lack of food?

          • Tom from North Carolina

            And you think if there really existed a create like this, that they would be worth worshiping?

          • God is real

            Why did you even leave your comment here in the first place?

          • Tom from North Carolina

            Why did you cite the bible when I’ve been arguing for 6 days that it’s a book of fiction?

        • Tom from North Carolina

          Reply to Mike #2:

          This section discusses ancient Greek and Latin texts. Although I don’t read Greek or Latin or Aramaic, I do read books by biblical scholars who do read these languages (and Hebrew too). My personal favorite and the one who casts the greatest doubt as to the divine nature of the bible, is Bart Ehrman (google him). Bart is the chairman of new testament studies at UNC Chapel Hill as well as the head of the new testament graduate program there as well and author of 25+ books on aspects of the new testament.

          What’s interesting about his books is his description of early new testament manuscripts. As you may recall, one of the lesser known biblical miracles involves how during, the birth of Christ, no Xerox machines worked and Staples was closed for Christmas. This “miracle” forced early Christian scribes to copy by hand, the stories comprising the new testament. If you’ve ever tried to copy a friend’s notes from a college class that you missed, you’ll appreciate the difficulty in making an exact replica back in Jesus’ time. If someone wanted to make a copy of the book of Mark, someone (since less than 10% of the population were literate) had to copy, line by line and word by word. Invariably, mistakes were
          introduced. And then when someone else who wanted a copy,would in turn introduce their mistakes on top of those made by the first copy. And so copies of copies of copies for 300 years would result in text dramatically different from the original; and unfortunately, we don’t have a single original
          manuscript. New testament biblical scholars have cataloged some 300,000 discrepancies in the new testament between the collected manuscripts. That’s a significant number considering the new testament only had 250,000 words in the Greek text.

          So what can one conclude from this? First, even if you believe this to be the divinely inspired word of God, we don’t know what God said since we have no original text. (Bonus question Mike: From what time period is the oldest fragment of the new testament? Bonus question #2: What book of the new testament did that fragment come from?)

          We can also conclude that either god didn’t care whether his original words were preserved since he didn’t bother protecting them or, the most likely scenario, there is no god to protect the original documents.

      • Irenaeus

        Oh, yes. Just look how serene and peaceful our culture has become since ridding ourselves of God. Thank you so much science for showing us the way to high moral character!

        • Tom from North Carolina

          I guess I’m not following you. When did we rid ourselves of God? And for what time period are you measuring peace in cultures?

          Would you say we are less peaceful now than during WW I or WW II? How about than during the Korean war? Vietnam? Civil war? Tell me your time frame and I’ll be happy to comment.

          • Irenaeus

            Are you even capable of rational discussion??? I’m talking about being able to walk safely down city streets here in the good ol’ USA as a young girl or boy. Up until the early ’70s, it was safe in an average city for young girls and boys to run errands like walking to the store at night 1/2 mile away for a carton of milk. Not anymore! No flash mobs back in those days. No one knocking out women children and old men to prove how tough they are, and I could go on and on. As the scripture declares, “when vile behavior is exalted, violence will increase!”

          • Tom from North Carolina

            In answer to your first question; Yes, I am capable of a rational discussion. I was trying to determine the context with which your statements were made. When speaking about peace, based on your follow-up comment, you’re talking about safety within America and not worldwide peace as measured by the number of people killed annually in wars and civil strife.

            Okay, so here’s some statistics. The high point of crime rate in the US, looking every 10 years from 1960 until 2012 (the latest year for nationwide crime statistics) was 1980. In 1960, there were 188.7 crimes per 10,000 people in the US. In 1970 that figure was 398.4. In 1980, that figure was 595.0. In 1990, that figure was 582. In 2000 it was 412. In 2010 it was 335. And in 2012, there were 324.6 crimes for every 10,000 people.

            I think what you’re seeing is more news coverage of crimes than ever before. But the incidence of crime started climbing from 1960, it peaked at 1980 and has been declining ever since.

  • Scott Miller

    We moderns and post-moderns should be thankful that we have ministers of Christ like Rev. Trutt who apparently know more than Jesus or the apostles he selected about such things.

    • geoffrobinson

      You beat me to the punch. Who’s going to break the news to God what Rev. Trutt has to say on the matter?

      • Allen Bourque

        That’s an interesting take. I think Rev Trutt is expressing exactly the take of Jesus and the apostles!

  • Martin Hughes

    You’d think that if God were in total charge the one thing there could not be is a rival supernatural force trying to frustrate God. God would abolish that force or never permit it to exist in the first place, as any authority would when confronted with a force that was hostile. If the Pope is pushing devil-beliefs that only reinforces my astonishment that he is taken so seriously.

  • Irenaeus

    The utter superficiality of modern liberal thinking never ceases to astonish me. Try this. Read the Bible through three times. Before you begin ask the Holy Spirit to open your understanding of the scriptures in the same manner He did for the first apostles in Luke 24:45. Keep a diary at hand to write down things the Holy Spirit brings to your attention or gives you special insight on. Prepare to be amazed at the utter continuity of the scriptures!

    • Tom from North Carolina

      I’ve read through my the bible multiple times and was truly unimpressed. I did not ask the holy spirit for interpretation assistance because it would have felt a little like asking the tooth fairy for some money.

      Yes, we liberals are so superficial because we demand evidence and don’t take things on faith. We also don’t hold much stock in a 2,000 year old book of unsupported stories as the way to live our lives in the 21st century.

      • Irenaeus

        How rational is it to read a book written by a tooth fairy??? How rational is it to read a book over and over that makes such weighty claims e.g. a man can hear and know the voice of God, but never once sincerely ask God to reveal Himself if He is truly the author? Perhaps you are terrified He might answer? God won’t have much to do with those who are proud and fearful. But His heart is captured by those who approach Him in true humility and sincerity.

        • Tom from North Carolina

          To Irenaeus: To my knowledge, the tooth fairy never wrote a book. Neither did god.

          To Mike: I’ve now posted three replies although two seem to be held up waiting approval from on faith.

          The ball is in your court now.

      • Mike D’Virgilio

        Notice, my friends, that good old Tom from NC completely ignores my challenge to him from six hours previous to making the same stupid comments. We all know the truth: most atheists completely ignore the evidence and take their poverty stricken world view on absolute faith. I fell sorry for people like Tom from NC because they have to keep spouting their vapid, shallow nonsense driven by fear that they might just be wrong, or they might be sucked into a religion they despise because the evidence for it is actually very compelling.

        • Tom from North Carolina

          I actually did reply more than 4 hours ago Mike. It was done on a tablet and not a PC.

          Searching now for why it didn’t post properly.

          • Mike D’Virgilio

            I look forward to seeing it, Tom.

          • Tom from North Carolina

            All three replies are now posted. Reply #2 was resubmitted 4 times before I finally found the reason why it was being withheld.

            The ball is in your court now Mike. Snark away.

  • MarcusRegulus

    One definition of God, (from Aquinas?) is that God is Being, Being Itself, Ground of Being. Nothing that exists can exist without God underlying and supporting constantly. If this idea has any validity, then God supports/sustains not only the entire universe, and us humans, but also both The Devil, and the soul in Hell. If that doesn’t raise Merry Hell with most of the theologies I have seen, what would?

  • ThereseZ

    So, in the New Testament, who spoke to Jesus when He was fasting in the desert for 40 days? Who begged to enter the Gadarene swine? Who called themselves “legion?” You gloss right from the Old Testament to the young Church.

  • sparkobuzzer

    Just goes to show me that how much the devil has deceived the writer. I wonder what he would have thought the first time i saw somebody that was “demonized”? I saw it with my own eyes.

  • Paladin13

    Tutt is not a Christian. He is a vandal who has infiltrated the Church to mislead. Jesus spoke about Satan and Hell. So Tutt is calling Jesus a liar and a deceiver.

    • Tom from North Carolina

      Hell is an interesting place and one which seems to contradict religious thinking and Jesus’ teachings.

      When we send a person to prison there are a few goals. Incarceration, to protect society from the actions of the prisoner and there is also rehabilitation, to teach them what was wrong with their actions and how to do things better. The latter goal assumes that at some point, prisoners will be integrated back into society. All but a very few prisoners will serve their time and return to society.

      Hell is unique and should be troubling for believers. Its sole purpose is punishment since there is no chance whatsoever for rehabilitation. Now think about it for a few seconds. If the only way to get to heaven and avoid hell, is by believing a certain set of myths, what does that tell us about the loving nature of god or his justice? A lot.

      First of all, according to believers God had to create hell along with everything else in the universe. Why would an all loving, all powerful, all seeing god, who was creating a perfect world, have a need for hell? Did god predict his creation would backfire? Did he not have the skills to create a better world?

      And what about the criteria for getting into heaven thus avoiding hell? There are lots of people who don’t believe that Jesus was the son of god and thus are destined to burn in agonizing pain for all eternity. Does it seem fair that an accident of birth (where you were born determines your religious affinities in about 88% of the time) should determine whether you spend eternity burning in hell?

      Just think about it, quite a few of America’s founding fathers did not believe in a personal, god. Does that mean that Thomas Jefferson today is writhing in pain while spending just a small amount of his eternal sentence in hell? How about Mahatma Gandhi, one of the most influential and peace-loving people in the world. Should he be punished for not accepting Jesus as his holy savior?

      The idea that an all loving god would even create a place called hell is ludicrous. That many people still believe such nonsense is sad.

      • Paladin13

        Well Tom, I didn’t write the Bible. Jesus spent more time warning of hell than speaking of heaven. And I don’t know where Jefferson is. That depends on what he believed before he died. All I can say is I believe in what the Bible says. What is sad Tom is that I have had the same questions. When you and I see God, we will be able to ask him. However, I will not see hell, you will unless you accept the Gospel. Go see Revelation 3:20.

        Anyone who says there is no devil or Satan or hell is not a Christian. That was my point. If you don’t believe that Jesus was the Son of God and is God and that he rose from the dead after being crucified, you’re not a Christian. You can call yourself whatever you want, except a Christian.

        • Tom from North Carolina

          I haven’t called myself a Christian. I’ve simply tried to point out the inconsistent nature of the typical Christian — god is all loving and yet created hell.

          • Anthony Lewis

            But, you have to realize that God is more than just omni-benevolent. He has so many other characteristics such as being omnipresent, omniscient, just, etc. Of course it won’t make sense when an argument only focuses on one aspect of God as He is a conglomeration of all of these qualities. It may not make sense as such matters are beyond our capacity to truly comprehend, but we cannot constrain him to have only singular characteristics when that is not what he truly is. Such confusion fuels arguments that are just logical fallacies.

          • Tom from North Carolina

            “It may not make sense as such matters are beyond our capacity to truly comprehend,”
            And yet, you are describing god’s characteristics as if you had an understanding of him. It’s really quite funny when someone says god is so far beyond our understanding and then goes on to describe their understanding of God — he’s loving, he’s all knowing, he’s all powerful, he created the universe.

          • Mike D’Virgilio

            Actually, Tom, I’ve become an atheist and burned all my Bibles and Christian books because you make so much damn sense! I can’t keep up the benighted wishful thinking of a fairyland called Christianity when all the logic and reason and facts are on your side. Hopefully when we depart this mortal coil you are right because if not . . . .

          • Tom from North Carolina

            Sarcasm aside Mike, atheists see no need to burn books, bibles or other works of fiction. In fact, we see no need to burn any books. In the mythical world of faith where evidence is of no importance, one may reasonably classify Christianity as a fairyland. I didn’t call it such, those were your words, but I guess a belief in mystical creatures like fairies and dragons and demons is akin to a belief in other mythical creatures — Hercules, Thor, Jupiter, Odin, Yahweh and my personal favorite Xenu. As you probably know Mike, because you undoubtedly studied all the various religions before concluding that Christianity is the one true religion, Xenu was the ruler of a galactic confederation some 75 million years ago, comprised of some 25 different stars and their corresponding planets. Now here’s one mean dude, having killed billions of his race when they came to this planet.

          • Mike D’Virgilio

            “In the mythical world of faith where evidence is of no importance,” Tom, since you continue to purposefully mischaracterize the Christian faith, or are just genuinely ignorant of all of the evidence put forth by Christians for the last two thousand years, I see no need to waste my time interacting with you. Your condescension is excruciatingly banal. Good day.

          • Tom from North Carolina

            Isn’t it interesting how the religious people in this world are so invested in their beliefs, that any arguments challenging those beliefs are met with name calling. Yes Mike, it was you that called me ignorant even though you haven’t responded to my specific assertions in 4 days……And that was after you criticized me for taking almost 12 hours to respond to you..

            I guess if you have nothing with which to argue, attacking someone personally is the best you can do.

          • Mike D’Virgilio

            Tom, I’ll get to your comments, snark excluded, but it will take some time which is always short. But I can’t let this pass. If you are going to comment on Christian doctrine and theology,at least be accurate; I don’t care if you believe it or not. You need to study up a bit on the doctrine of God. You cannot play one attribute of God off of another, and you can’t take one attribute of God and make it exclude all others. God not only is love (Scripture never calls him “all loving”), he is holy. God’s wrath against sin is as much a reality as is ours; we hate, viscerally, when we see injustice, be it the holocaust or my wife cheating on me. God’s love and wrath are perfectly bound up in the cross. I won’t elaborate further, but please do not share your ignorance so liberally.

          • Tom from North Carolina

            Feel free to point out my ignorance Mike. As I demonstrated above, I backed many of my assertions by providing a reasonable argument as to why the bible is unreliable. I also explained to you why the manuscripts from the historian Josephus were in all likelihood, doctored by Christian apologists. If the extent of your arguments are name calling then don’t waste my time or your time. If you find faults with my arguments, point them out. As I mentioned, I’m fine with sarcasm and even some clever name calling. I just have seen either coming from you yet.

            Your understanding of God is just that. It’s based on your personal interpretation and that’s why religions are so contradictory and why people hold vastly different beliefs with no sign of a god to set the record straight. For all you confidence in what God is, there are far more people with a different understandings of what god is. Why hasn’t god EVER, in all of recorded history, set the record straight? Why hasn’t he said; “You know that verse in the bible about wearing clothes of multiple types of fibers? That’s really not that important.” Or maybe he could rewrite the 10 commandments so that we would finally know which of the three is the authentic 10 commandments (yes, God supposedly gave the 10 commandments to Moses three time of which only 25% agree from version to version). My personal favorite useless commandment is found in Exodus 34, after God gave Moses the second “stone” version. In that version, #10 says “Thou shalt not seethe a kid in its mother’s milk.”

            You are hampered by the same affliction common to many people of faith. You make claims you can’t possibly know. Your understanding of God’s love and wrath bound up in the cross is a case in point. Having read some historical books on ancient cultures, before there was a general movement toward a single god. During these times, it was common for a family in a ancient villages to sacrifice their first born child (usually a son) for the good of the community. This sickening practice of human sacrifice occurred in many cultures throughout human history and usually it was as an offering to a deity. What seems most troubling to me is the idea that Christianity, as evidenced by your statement above, essentially is a celebration of human sacrifice. Whether Jesus rose from the dead is irrelevant, the idea that Christians look at Jesus’ sacrifice as a wonderful event is absolutely sickening to me. The idea that the founder of three major religions of the world — Abraham — was willing to sacrifice his son based on what he thought god said, is just as disturbing. Even though the story of Abraham is most likely fictitious, the fact that we look at his “faith” in a positive way is just plain disturbing. I have three sons. I can’t imaging the long-term impact on their lives if they thought I would be willing to kill one them them because of voices that I heard or a dream that I had.

            God has never corrected the record. There’s nothing in the bible that couldn’t have been written by humans. The understanding of the physical nature of the universe as described in the bible, is inferior to the understanding of most first graders.

          • Mike D’Virgilio

            Tom, where is the name calling? I asserted your ignorance of Christian theology. You say feel free to point out your ignorance, but then you say that is name calling. I’m confused. No, my understanding of God is not based on my personal interpretation. Don’t you wish it was, then you can bat it down just as you think you are doing here. I’m taking the Bible and two thousand years of Church history. And while there may be a lot of doctrinal differences, there is a huge amount of agreement on basic, orthodox Christian faith. To assert otherwise is simply not accurate. God has set the record straight in his Word, which you choose to reject and misrepresent.

            And your understanding of human sacrifice is just as faulty as everything else you say. Sin, like any law that is broken, must be punished. Just because you don’t like the punishment is irrelevant. You make claims you can’t possibly know, like the claim that manuscripts of Josephus were “in all likelihood” were doctored.Some could have been, but all? That’s your claim? In all likelihood? And the other non-Christian sources? I guess, “in all likelihood” they were doctored too? How convenient for you! And why hasn’t God set the record straight? He has, you don’t like the answers, therefore he must not have done so.

          • Tom from North Carolina

            Hi Mike,

            Yup, I equated personal criticisms without backing them up as equivalent to name calling. I guess calling someone ignorant is easier than addressing the specifics.

            My assertion that the Josephus manuscripts were doctored is one shared by the majority of scholars studying that time period and that culture. I never said all the manuscripts were doctored, but certainly it appears that the two references (only two were made about Jesus) regarding Jesus were. What about the two casual references would make you believe they are part of the original text other than a strong desire to confirm your beliefs? Doesn’t it seem just a little strange that his documents were so precise and detailed while speaking about goods and products while so vague when referencing to Jesus.Although I haven’t looked into the other non-Christian sources yet because (sadly) I’m still running a business. But you haven’t addressed any of the concerns I raised.

            One other point I’d like to make. When I use terms like in all likelihood and the overwhelming majority of biblical scholars, I’m doing that intentionally. Unlike most people of faith, I recognized that nothing is completely certain. My conclusions could be wrong; if someday we found a more complete set of manuscripts from around 70 to 120 CE when it was thought the original gospels were penned, then maybe there we’ll find far fewer inconsistencies than the number scholars have currently cataloged.

            Your conclusion, “there is a huge amount of agreement on basic, orthodox Christian faith” contradicts the evidence. If that statement were close to being accurate there wouldn’t be a thousand different denominations all believing that their understanding of how to live and how to worship is the only correct way.

            Your statement “God has set the record straight in his Word, which you choose to reject and misrepresent.” is a good example of circular thinking. I think the bible as an accurate representation of what God said is pathetically weak. Using the bible to prove the bible’s accuracy is circular thinking at its finest. This entire discussion has been about the accuracy of the bible and how, in the 21st century, we have no idea of what God said. He hasn’t set the record straight because he hasn’t updated his word and for some reason, he’s decided there’s no reason to.

          • P Grace

            Mike: When you have gone to the next world – and I’d be quite concerned about my place there, if I were you – the rest of us here can debate your existence. Some of us will say, “There never was this guy named Mike.” Just a myth. Others will point to the texts you left on the Internet as evidence, but we naysayers will say, “Hey, those were doctored. Someone else stepped in and created this character out of whole cloth. Don’t BS us about his existence; there never was any proof he was real.” Those who decided they could believe in you will be derided as childish and deluded, utterly lacking in sophistication. Poor benighted idiots.
            John Patrick Grace
            Huntington, West Virginia

          • Tom from North Carolina

            And your evidence that God had anything to do with one particular set of holy books? Was there anything written in those books that couldn’t have been written by man?

          • Tom from North Carolina

            Mike, I’m hoping, as P Grace indicated, that you haven’t gone to the next world and that the only reasons why you haven’t responded to my posts is because you are business collecting the specific writings that demonstrate historical writings match the bible. I can see you hard at work, citing the specific historical documents that not only conclude Jesus more than a man, but describe in detail some of his miracles.

          • Christine Single

            The very first verse in Exodus 34 God tells moses to bring the tablets and he (God) will write the words that were on the first tablets, so I am not understanding where the changes you are talking about are coming from. I will tell you this. If you are a non believer and you read the bible on your own it will seem like jiberish to you. I think your first mistake is that you are reading a bible like KJV which is typically hard ot read with all the thee and thou’s. The rest of Exodus 34 is God explaining to Moses the “laws’ of the old testement, not giving the exact commandments in order of them on the tablet., The “laws” do not even apply to us Christians these days. YOu dont see us burning offerings to God these days! Jesus came and took the wrath of God for us. FOR YOU. God is a loving God but like a parent teaching his children there is consequences to our actions. You have grosely misinterpreted the bible with an eye of discontent. You are believing the lies of the enemy which is common in non believers. The one useless “commandment” about seeing a “kid” in its mothers milk, if you had done your research, explains the Jewish law about not cooking a young goat (kid) in its mothers mile. Jewish people do not drink milk with lamb becuase they believe it to be wrong to drink the milk of the mother while eating the young animal. It is NOT a commandment. This is the ignorance that Mike was speaking about. I would suggest getting a study bible that has at least one version that is easier to read like the NIV. A study bible has usually 4 different versions and you can see the different versions side by side. If you truly want to learn you will see all the versions though they might have different verbage, will all have the same meaning. Good luck and I hope you find the real truth.

          • Tom from North Carolina

            The very first verse in Exodus 34 God tells moses to bring the tablets and he (God) will write the words that were on the first tablets, so I am not understanding where the changes you are talking about are coming from.

            There are actually three versions of the 10 commands presented in the bible. The first set was not written down but told to Moses by God. The second was written down by God on tables but that version was destroyed by Moses upon his return. And the third version was a new set of tablets given to replace the broken tables. Since these commandments should be the most important words in the history of mankind, being the only words written by God, you would think that there would be consistency between all three. In fact, the three sets only agree about 20% of the time. What does that tell you about the accuracy of the historical record? What does that say about people who believe the bible must be taken literally even though it really is a copy of a copy of copy of a copy for more than 500 years, each copy introducing its own errors.

            The one useless “commandment” about seeing a “kid” in its mothers milk, if you had done your research, explains the Jewish law about not cooking a young goat (kid) in its mothers mile. It is NOT a commandment.

            In Exodus 34, God directed Moses to “chisel out two stone tablets like the first ones and I will write the words that were on the first tablets.” This chapter contains the third set of 10 commandments that God relayed to Moses except they are not the same words as were written on the first set (Exodus 20). You would think that if God said he would write the same words as were written on the first set that the words would be identical. But they aren’t even close. The example I gave you illustrates one such contradiction. Exodus 10, commandment #10 reads “You shall not covet.” Exodus 34, commandment #10 reads, “Thou shalt not seethe a kid inits mother’s milk.”.

            Do those seem like the same words to you?

            If you truly want to learn you will see all the versions though they might have different verbage, will all have the same meaning. Good luck and I hope you find the real truth.

            Only someone with the flexibility of a gymnast would conclude that those two commandments hold the same meaning.

          • Paladin13

            I was referring to the minister who is not a Christian, despite falsely calling himself one, not you Tom. God is also a God of judgment and justice. And God created Hell for the fallen angels. How does God overlook sin as a Judge? He inflicts and inflicted the penalties of sin on his Son but with a proviso that in order to found innocent you have to believe in his only begotten Son – the one who incurred the punishment. So whenever you and I sin Tom, we inflict another stripe onto Christ. We reach back in time sort to speak. The difference is that I ask God and Jesus to forgive my sins, you don’t. And since you’ve heard the Gospel and rejected it, your punishment will be greater than those who never heard it. I take no pleasure in saying these things but do so so that you may become a believer.

          • LoveUSAmerica

            I know Rev. Tutt. You don’t so how can you possibly say he is not a Christian because he believes in a loving God not in your rants? He’s one of the finest Christian examples I’ve ever met

          • Paladin13

            Rants??? Your friend is not a Christian. Otherwise he is calling the Old Testament filled with lies and calling Jesus a liar in the New Testament. Because someone believes in a loving God does not mean he or she is a Christian. Since he calls himself a Christian and misleads others, he is a liar and Christian. It sounds as if Mr. Tutt does not believe in hell – and neither do you.

          • Tom from North Carolina

            Hi Paladin13,

            There are literally tens of thousands of gods invented by man and the difference between your beliefs and mine are simply one god. Whereas I reject tens of thousands of gods as you do also, you accept one out of the thousands. Now, I’m probably making an assumption here when I say that you probably didn’t undertake years of study and evaluation before deciding, out of the thousands of religions around the world, which particular god to worship. The chances are that you were born into a Christian family and as such, Christianity became the default just like if you were born in Iran (assuming you got access to the internet) you would be claiming that following Mohammed’s teachings are the only way to paradise.

            I’m as afraid of hell as you are of the Hindu equivalent — naraka — a place of punishment. Why aren’t you doing what the Hindu religion says you should do in order to avoid naraka? Because you don’t believe it exists. Now why is that? Probably because you were raised as a Christian and don’t give a second thought to all of the beliefs and fears of the thousands of other religions.

            There isn’t a good reason to believe in hell just like there isn’t a good reason to believe in one god out of the thousands of gods invented by man. And Pascal’s wager is a particularly poor basis for belief.

          • Paladin13

            I accept the true God of the Bible and his Son, who shed his blood for you and me. You might think that you believe in one less god than me, but you truly don’t realize that you believe and have faith in forces that molded the universe, life, etc. Those are your gods. May God – and not the force – be with you.

          • Paladin13

            Tom – I forgot to include in my other response that I was raised Catholic, became an agnostic as a teenager and college student, and slowly began turning back to the true God. Heck, I even read Immanuel Velikovsky. I have also studied other religions on my own. I think what turned me back towards God was reading “The Passover Plot.” Its premise was so ridiculous that I came to the conclusion that the disciples truly believed that they saw the risen Jesus and testified of that belief on pain of death. And I also think that Jesus kept knocking on the door to my heart (see Revelation 3:20) until I slowly opened it. I’m glad I did.

          • Tom from North Carolina

            Paladin, you answered honestly in confirming my point that you were raised a Christian. Don’t you find it the least bit troubling that after thousands of years there are so many interpretations of god and yet no one religion has won over the hearts and minds of a majority of people. If there were truths to be found with nothing more than an open mind, then surely, humanity would coalesce around a single set of beliefs and not default to the beliefs of their parents.

            My experiences are a little different from your. I was the president of our church’s ruling board, called the consistory, for 5 years. I attended bible study for 4 years with small groups in my church. And yet, the more I learned about the bible and its interpretations, the more disenchanted I became with the stories, the contradictory demands of god in different books of the bible and the variety of interpretations. Trained in college as a scientist but living most of my life as the owner of various software companies, I could no longer ignore or gloss over the contradictions, the obvious exaggerations and the lack of historical support for the stories in the bible.

            I started reading other authors including Sam Harris, Bart Ehrman, Daniel Dennett, Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens. I found their demand for evidence and use of reason far more powerful than anything written in the bible.

          • Christine Single

            you should read the case for the creator and the case for Christ, they are scientifically based. If you did your research, there are over 40.000 documents corroborating the evidence of the “stories” in the bible. The earliest writings were close to only 50 years after the death of Christ. By historical standards that is impressive. If you can believe the life of Napoleon which has a handful of documents recording the events of his life, why would you not believe the documents of the bible. People have been trying to rebuke the bible for thousands of years and more and more archeological evidence proves over and over again the things in the bible people do not believe to be true. Cities uncovered, scientific reconstruction of events like the plagues that scientifically explain the events. I have been studying Christianity for years and was a skeptic brought up in a house of non believers.

          • Tom from North Carolina

            there are over 40.000 documents corroborating the evidence of the “stories” in the bible.
            Finding fragments of the bible and calling them corroboration underscores your lack of understanding of the differences between belief and evidence. As you’ve suggested in an earlier post that I should spend a little more time “studying” the bible, I would seriously suggest that you take a course in the scientific method. Had you done so, you would understand that fragments of pieces of the same stories are not supportive or corroborative, especially considering that non-biblical references to these stories are few and unreliable. Biblical scholars have concluded, for example, the the two references to Josephus were doctored after he wrote his histories and neither reference relates anything approaching specifics or detailed like his other writings do.

            Of your 40,000 documents how many are non-biblical? From my readings, there are more discrepancies between the stories in these fragments than there are words in the bible. That sounds like contradiction rather than corroboration.

        • LoveUSAmerica

          Paladin13–I prefer to believe in a Redeemer who has promised grace than accept your judgmental literalism.

          • Paladin13

            Believe what you want. And it is not my judgmental literalism. The New Testament refers to Satan as a real being. So the authors of the NT, along with Jesus, are deceivers and liars? That’s what he and you are saying. Good luck with that.

          • Tom from North Carolina

            The new testament also explains where you should go to get your slaves and warns slaves to obey their masters. In fact, there are lots of admonitions in the new testament that we reject today. Why accept literally something from the same book that warns of dragons and treats mental illness as demonic possession?

          • Paladin13

            Yes, the New Testament gives instructions to both slaves and their masters about what they are to do. The slavery of the Old and New Testament by Jews was not like slavery elsewhere at that time or through the ages, including the cruel chattel slavery practiced by so-called Christians until the 19th century. Christ knew that slavery would not be abolished instantly but it would take time. When He said “love your neighbor as you love yourself” it forced people to understand that true love requires not having slaves. Also, the first person to recognize Jesus was the Messiah at one town (Samaritan woman at the well) and the first witnesses of His resurrection were women, who were considered by the Jews to be unreliable witnesses. Their witness of him as the Messiah and as the resurrected Son of God is a subtle message from God that women are equal to men, a message that has taken thousands of years to develop. Maybe too slow for us, but God has his own timeline.

          • Tom from North Carolina

            Whether slavery is much like it was in America up to the 1860’s does not eliminate the immorality of slavery as an institution. My problem with use of the bible as a source of moral values is that it is subject to interpretation. Today, we universally find slavery, in any form, repugnant. And yet neither god nor Jesus ever condemned slavery. As a source of moral absolutes, the bible certainly falls short.

            Today, the people most vocal in opposing gay rights and equality are fundamental Christians. So why is it that slavery, never condemned by God or Jesus is universally recognized as immoral and yet “Christians” are the least accepting of allowing gays and lesbians the same benefits as marriage as straights enjoy. Your quote, love your neighbor as yourself, could be interpreted to mean the true love requires not having slaves. Couldn’t the same interpretation be applied to gays — true love wouldn’t deny them the same right to marry who they love?

            By the way, if you want to see why the bible can’t be taken literally, just try reading the various gospel accounts of the resurrection story. It’s filled with one contradiction after the other. Samples below:

            1. Matthew 28:1 states two women (Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary) came to the tomb; Mark 16:1 states it was three women (Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome);Luke 24:10 agrees it was three women but gives a different list of three than Mark (Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James); John 20:1 states it was only Mary Magdalene.

            2. Mark 16:2 states “the sun had risen” at the time of this visit, while John 20:1 states “it was still dark.”

            3. Matthew 28:2 says “an angel” “came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it”; Mark 16:5 says the women encountered “a young man sitting at the right” of the tomb (rather than upon the stone); Luke 24:4 says they saw “two men” who “suddenly stood near them in dazzling clothing”; in John 20:1, Mary Magdalene saw nothing other than a moved stone.

            4. There is also a discrepancy as to whatever dialogue occurred between this angel(s) or man (men) and the women: Matthew 28:5-7 and Mark 16:6-7 generally agree the women were told that Jesus (peace be upon him) had risen, and instructed to advise the disciples that “He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going ahead of you into Galilee, there you will see Him” (Matthew 28:7), and ; Luke 24:6-7 contains no instruction to advise the disciples about an appearance by Issa in Galilee.

            5. To whom did Jesus (peace be upon him) appear first: Mary Magdalene and the other Mary as Matthew 28:9 claims? Mary Magdalene only as Mark 16:9 claims? Cephas (Peter) and then the other disciples, as 1 Corinthians 15:5 claims? Matthew 28:9 claims that Issa (peace be upon him) appeared before the women even had reported to the disciples what the found (or didnt) at the tomb. Also in Mark 16:9 the appearance to Mary Magdalene was before Mary made any report to the disciples. However, John and Luke report no appearance before the women reported an empty tomb to the disciples.

            There are far more but I just wanted to leave you with a sample. Now many believers simply ignore these contradictions but I don’t.

          • Christine Single

            We are all slaves or slave owners. Those with money are slave owners and those who need money are the slaves. Wouldnt you want your employer to treat you with dignity and respect. Employer/employee relationship is still relevent today. Jesus told the people who had money to buy a person for personal help should treat them well. Now we do. We pay each other saleries and no one works for nothing (in most countries) There was no other word for this in Jesus time. There were no employers. Just slave owners. To read into the scriptures you need to research the history and culture of the day. We as people have not changed much over time. We just percieve differently.

          • Tom from North Carolina

            You are saying these were not really “slaves” but just people who didn’t necessarily get paid for their work, who had no freedom of movement and had to obey their employer or be punished. There was also no ability to change jobs.

            Sounds like slavery to me and also far different from today. Even in today’s harsh economic times, any of my employees can quit tomorrow and what they do after work is their business.

            I think you are viewing history with rose-colored glasses.

          • Christine Single

            Its a metaphore. In the times that the bible was written people didnt have emplyees, they had slaves. it was part of how they lived. Some slave owners were horrible and mean to their slaves. Others treated them like family. The concept is the same for employer/employee relationship, Not all slaves were beaten and made to work 120 hours a week and kept in a dungeon. They married, had children whom the “owners” also took care of as well as employed. They could have easily ran from their owners but didnt because they were like family. I am not condoning slavery, But gviing you a dated metaphore. the bible is relevent and God is a lover of people, he is a redeemer and what Jesus says in the bible is still applicable today. He spoke to the people of the day in a way they can understand about the way they live. Using parables so they can understand his teachings. Most emloyers today dont treat thier employees like family, some are treated worse than some of the slaves of the bible were treated. Joseph was sold as a slave and he ended up ruling. He obayed his “owners” who treated him kindly and showd him favor. His “owners” were Godly and showed him the mercy God is talking about in the scripture you sited before. If you treat your employees just as Godly, He will show you favor as well. If you treat your employees like you are doing them a favor by hiring them, and they are replaceable you will end up with a big turn over rate. Same thing.Oh and people who were sold as slaves would have much better lives with a compassionate slave owner than living in society as the government didnt acnowlege them as “people”.

          • Tom from North Carolina

            The concept is the same for employer/employee relationship, Not all slaves were beaten and made to work 120 hours a week and kept in a dungeon. They married, had children whom the “owners” also took care of as well as employed.
            When you use terms like “took care of”, I’m reminded of the recent quotes from Cliven Bundy who stated that black people were better off a slaves. I reject that conclusion just as I refuse to give a pass to God’s perfect morality which wasn’t quite good enough to criticize the institution of slavery. Christians talk about Jesus as a revolutionary figure and yet you excuse his acceptance of slavery as “the culture of the time”. I don’t.

      • geoffrobinson

        “Why would an all loving, all powerful, all seeing god, who was creating a perfect world, have a need for hell?”

        You forgot “all-holy and righteous” and that would give you your answer.

        “And what about the criteria for getting into heaven thus avoiding hell? There are lots of people who don’t believe that Jesus was the son of god and thus are destined to burn in agonizing pain for all eternity. Does it seem fair that an accident of birth (where you were born determines your religious affinities in about 88% of the time) should determine whether you spend eternity burning in hell?”

        You go to hell for being a sinner. Everyone knows enough about God to rightly condemned. (Romans 1) “No one seeks after God. Not even one.” The person who never heard of Jesus will be less accountable for his crimes than you.

        “Just think about it, quite a few of America’s founding fathers did not believe in a personal, god. Does that mean that Thomas Jefferson today is writhing in pain while spending just a small amount of his eternal sentence in hell? How about Mahatma Gandhi, one of the most influential and peace-loving people in the world. Should he be punished for not accepting Jesus as his holy savior?”

        They are sinners, so yes. If you are on a boat that is sinking and don’t want to look for or get in a life boat, you are going down.

        “The idea that an all loving god would even create a place called hell is ludicrous. That many people still believe such nonsense is sad.”

        You forgot the holiness and righteousness thing again. You are not going by God’s self-reveleation but my your own imaginations. That is idolatry.

        • Tom from North Carolina

          geoffrobinson said, “You go to hell for being a sinner. Everyone knows enough about God to rightly condemned. (Romans 1) “No one seeks after God. Not even one.” The person who never heard of Jesus will be less accountable for his crimes than you.”

          Should the person who never heard of Jesus be held accountable at all?

          geoffrobinson said, “You forgot the holiness and righteousness thing again. You are not going by God’s self-reveleation but my your own imaginations. That is idolatry.”

          Well, since more than 2/3’s of the world don’t believe in the same Jesus-directed way to go to heaven that you do, then God’s perfect design is an absolute failure. If he designed the world so poorly that the vast majority of people are destined to burn in hell for all eternity, he doesn’t have a batting average that even approaches a typical major league hitter or he’s so bad about communicating his message that most people throughout history have rejected it. Either way, as far as gods go, he would be graded a failure.

          Of course, the obvious answer is that (1) there is no hell because (2) there is no god.

          • geoffrobinson

            “Should the person who never heard of Jesus be held accountable at all?”

            They are sinners just like you and I. They lust in their heart, covet, murder, steal, envy, etc., etc., etc. They have the light of revelation from the created order, just like we do.

            “Well, since more than 2/3’s of the world don’t believe in the same Jesus-directed way to go to heaven that you do, then God’s perfect design is an absolute failure.”

            Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. Matthew 7:13

            “Of course, the obvious answer is that (1) there is no hell because (2) there is no god.”

            If you are an atheist how can you objectively judge this situation as a failure? The answer is obvious. You are a theist repressing the truth in unrighteousness. Your deeds are wicked and you don’t want God to exist. Repent and trust in Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins. Fortunately for you, that option exists for you. Avail yourself of it while it is still available.

          • Tom from North Carolina

            Sorry Geoff, there just is no evidence for a god or gods. There’s plenty of evidence that a loving god wouldn’t have created a world like this anyway. From an objective standpoint, it would be very difficult for someone trained in science and logic to accept without evidence, the myths underlying all religions. Although I appreciate your concern and sentiment, I don’t lose any sleep thinking about the consequences regarding god. Even if god exists, he’s done such a poor job of being “godly” that he is unworthy of worship.

          • Tom from North Carolina


            I’m trying to reply to your latest post, but it is being held up by the moderator. I’ve found, when you embed links in your comment, it will be held up for days.

  • Sam Sommers

    Personally I do not believe in the dualism that characterizes the Abrahamic Religions either.

    Yeah, I know thousands of years of tradition…but I believe the three Abrahamic Relicgions are understandings put forth by those building on world views of those that came before them.

    I truly believe that spiritual union with God, if you want to call it that is real and attainable. Spirituality is real. Spiritual practices work. Prayer works, love and service and morality, prayer and meditations lifting up Jesus in our lives are perfections of human doing and knowing that serve Truth and Love and help us to break out of our narrow and egoic human struggles. I believe Jesus exsited. I sure as heck don’t believe he was birthed without the agency of human sperm.

    But praying to Jesus, using his life as a pattern to pattern our lives after works. Christian practices help us live grace-filled lives. Christianity is one of the paths that can take you into unity with God, if you want to call it that, but many, many theological concepts like the Devil in my opinion, are holdovers from a mythology that is the product of the power of human suggestion developed by a particular slice of people, who inherited a particular theological framework that included concepts like the Devil and Virgin Births, at a particular point in human, global and cosmic history.

  • Matt

    Try Googling Allah 666. The devil has a name and it is Allah. He is mascerading as god.

  • John S.

    So a 3 year reign, pause please: by my math 700-300 is 400 years but I guess BCE is figured differently than BC?-is math hard or is it that as a nontheolgian I’m not qualified? While were at it, the date of the Medo-Persian Empire is generally considered to be 538-333 BC, history is hard but I’m not a theologian. You know, given the factual mistakes I’m not even going into the deductive mistakes.

  • R Joseph Owles

    So… Jesus clearly believed in Satan. If he got that wrong, what else is he wrong about?

  • Joseph

    “And others will he [ the devil] pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well—and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell. And behold, others he flattereth away, and telleth them there is no hell; and he saith unto them: I am no devil, for there is none—and thus he whispereth in their ears, until he grasps them with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance”
    Book of Mormon Prophecy, ~ 550bc

  • Brain_san

    “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.” Keyser Soze (or Charles Baudelaire)

  • Laurence Charles Ringo

    So, in other words, Jesus is a rank liar…wow.Did you claim you are a pastor? Of what?

  • westcj

    If you listen carefully you can nearly hear the collective sighs of disappointment from moderate Catholics
    all around the world. Here at last was a Pope that looked like he may be able
    to drag the Catholic Church, if not into the present day, at least into
    the 1970’s/80’s. Sadly his strange statements that Satan is alive and
    well, and his endorsement of exorcisms is firmly placing the Church back in the
    dark ages.

    At first I thought Pope was is beginning to sound like an old
    man who was starting to lose his marbles.But perhaps he has an ulterior motive.

    In Australia it has been implied by the Catholic Church that the actions of pedophile priests had been influenced by
    Satan, which is one of the greatest cope outs I have ever heard: “The Devil
    made them do it” Is the Pope giving this ridiculous argument some

    An excellent article by a Church Minister who has the guts to say the concept
    of Satan is nonsense