A Few Quotes From Karen Armstrong

I have been reading a transcript of an interview of Karen Armstrong. The interview was conducted by Steve Paulson of Salon.com. You can read it for yourself here. Be prepared to be shocked if you are not familiar with Karen Armstrong. You will notice that she often refers to sages in here answers. Of them she says: “The Axial sages discovered the inner world. And religions became much more spiritualized because humanity had taken a leap forward.” In his introduction Paulson mentions how she is “especially drawn to the mystical traditions”. I did not catch the significance of that point until I had finished reading the interview. Here are a few quotes from the interview.

Armstrong was asked: What is religion?

Religion is a search for transcendence. But transcendence isn’t necessarily sited in an external god, which can be a very unspiritual, unreligious concept. The sages were all extremely concerned with transcendence, with going beyond the self and discovering a realm, a reality, that could not be defined in words. Buddhists talk about nirvana in very much the same terms as monotheists describe God.

Can you see the mysticism dripping off that answer? Being transcendent is defined by Merriam-Webster as “1 a: exceeding usual limits : surpassing b: extending or lying beyond the limits of ordinary experience c: being beyond the limits of all possible experience and knowledge 2: being beyond comprehension“. Is this really the purpose of religion?

She also says

And religion is like any other activity. It’s like cooking or sex or science. You have good art, sex and science, and bad art, sex and science. It’s not easy to do it well.

To some extent I actually agree with this statement but it is hard to do because of the way she words the comment. It is true that we can have good and bad religion but it seems to cheapen religion by comparing it to “any other activity”.

Paulson says: That’s when fundamentalism starts to appear.

Yes, because fundamentalism has developed in every single one of the major traditions as a response to secularism that has been dismissive or even cruel, and has attempted to wipe out religion. And if you try to repress it — as happened in the Soviet Union — there’s now a huge religious revival in the Soviet Union, and some of it’s not very healthy. It’s like the suppression of the sexual instinct. If you repress the sexual instinct and try to tamp it down, it’s likely to develop all kinds of perverse and twisted forms. And religion’s the same.

Don’t miss this! She compares religious fundamentalists to sexually perverse people. Now I will admit that fundamentalists sometimes go too far but I think this analogy is completely out of bounds. There is no way someone can make this claim in a serious manner. It is design specifically to put the fundamentalist in a no win situation. If he tries to defend fundamentalism then he gives legitimacy to the analogy and if he protests the analogy then he is seen as attacking the messenger instead of addressing the issue. I think she should be more responsible in her analogies. She only does a disservice to her arguments with such tactics.

Armstrong says

If you’d presented some of these literalistic readings of the Bible to people in the pre-modern age, they would have found it rather obtuse. They’d have found it incomprehensible that people really believe the first chapter of Genesis is an account of the origins of life.

We are not told on what she bases this on. What are her sources? I assume they are listed in her books but I have not yet reviewed her books. It would be interesting to see what they are. At any rate, I think she may be picking and choosing her sources based on her intended conclusions. People mentioned in the Bible itself, including Jesus, believed in a literal interpretation of Genesis.

Armstrong defines theology

Once my television career had folded, I was left on my own with these texts. There was nobody to exclaim derisively about the irrationality of a Greek Orthodox text or the stupidity of a certain Jewish mysticism. I began to read them like poetry, which is what theology is. It’s poetry. It’s an attempt to express the inexpressible. It needs quiet.

Theology is poetry! Wow. She has redefined the term. What does it really mean? Lets turn to Merriam-Webster again to find out. Theology is the study of religious faith, practice, and experience; especially : the study of God and of God’s relation to the world”. So for everyone else in the world theology is the study of God but for Armstrong it is poetry. Redefining terms is a common practice of liberals and cults. It allows them to appear and sound to be similar and familiar to those they seek to mislead. As Christians, we need to be very precise with our definitions and with the definitions of those we debate.

Paulson asks: Does everything end once we die?

I don’t know. I prefer to be agnostic on that matter, as do most of the world’s religions. It’s really only Christianity and Islam that are obsessed with afterlife in this way……Religion is supposed to be about the loss of the ego, not about its eternal survival.

I believe that what we have is now. The religions say you can experience eternity in this life, here and now, by getting those moments of ecstasy where time ceases to be a constraint. And you do it by the exercise of the Golden Rule and by compassion. And just endless speculation about the next world is depriving you of a great experience in this one.

She is more concerned with here and now than with eternal life.  She says religion is supposed to be about loss of ego….who says that again?  Oh yeah, the sages we mentioned earlier.  They “all insisted that you must give up and abandon your ego. The sages said the root cause of suffering lay in our desperate concern with self, which often needs to destroy others in order to preserve itself. And so they insisted that if we stepped outside the ego, then we would encounter what we call Brahman or God, nirvana or the Tao.”  It is all about the self.  It is new age mysticism.  That is what Karen Armstrong appears to be all about.  She calls herself a “freelance monotheist” but I call her a non-believer and a false teacher.  She is leading people astray and will be made to answer for it on judgement day.  The Bible gives a warning to those who wish to be teachers in James 3:1.  It says “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.”  There are also many passages about false teachers.

I pray that God would do a work in Mrs. Armstrong’s life and that she could be brought to Him.  I also pray that all those who have been misled by her (including the deacon at my church) will be shown the truth and will turn from her false teaching and seek the answers in God.  Only then will He be truly glorified.

What is your take on Karen Armstrong and her teachings?  Have you ever encountered anyone who has been influenced by her before?  Share your thoughts here and we can all be more prepared to face this false teacher in the future.

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15 Responses to A Few Quotes From Karen Armstrong

  1. The term “fundamentalism” has taken on a different edge recently. In past days, a fundamentalist was simply defined as someone who accepted the Bible or holy book X as truth (fundamental).

    The meaning nowadays is almost synonymous with extremism. I’m not sure if Armstrong means the same thing as you when referring to fundamentalism because it’s not very well defined nowadays.

    That having been said…combining bits and pieces of different religions may not even make a modicum of sense. At that point, it becomes a philosophy based on that person’s opinion on the truth. Using bits and pieces of scripture to back up feeling is not the way to go.

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  2. Tom says:

    LEQ,

    You are correct in that the term fundamentalism has been redefined in recent years. It now is used as an insult or to paint the person it is applied to as some sort of extremist. While that can be the correct application in a few cases most of the time it is not accurate.

    When you say that buffet style religion does not make sense, again you are correct. The scary thing is how many people are trying to do just that these days. It is simply a travesty. It seems to be a normal part of the New Age Mysticism that is growing more prevelant in our day.

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  3. Tom Heneghan says:

    If you’re interested in Karen Armstrong, you might want to look at her latest interview on Pakistan, Islam and secularism in the Reuters religion blog FaithWorld.

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  4. Noah says:

    It is sad that when on Google’s “Karen Armstrong quotes” this is one of the very first hits.

    There is a difference between saying that you accept the Bible as “truth” or as “the truth”. If the former, than you are accepting an interpretation of the same spiritual energy that everybody who has ever lived has been privy too. You are allowing for a collection of opinions to stand while still allowing for differing interpretations from other equally capable, eloquent and spiritually attuned individuals throughout the years.

    If you see fundamentalism as believing the Bible to be “the truth”, which is how fundamentalism is currently understood by the international community, then you are in fact reverting to an oversimplified dogmatic stance dictated without thought or consideration. If I were to ask a jingoist what his conception of America is and he all said was “I can own guns and say whatever I want”, we would be offered the same glossed over look at what is, ultimately, an enormously complex subject beyond our full means of understanding. In that sense, the oversimplified understanding of sex as from a sexual pervert, who is only able to see it as a physical act and expressed in one way, is in fact a strong analogy.

    Karen Armstrong has dedicated her life to understanding and accepting the spiritual interpretations of others, because that is what faith is about – a subjective conception of what lies beyond. To allow my understanding of the spiritual plane to be dictated by superficially motivated politicians, which is what the individuals who “decided” what should be in the Bible or not are, is the same as saying that our version of democracy needs to be exactly the way that the Greeks initially conceived of it.

    An attitude like this is a wonderful presentation as to why the world is what it is now.

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  5. Tom says:

    Noah,

    Please list a few of the people your refer to as “equally capable, eloquent and spiritually attuned individuals“. There can be only one truth. It should be our task to find and understand it. God has given us what we need to do that in the Bible. He is truth. Jesus said “I am the way, the truth, and the life”. That is as far as we need to go in our search for truth. Our task then shifts to understanding Him and His teachings.

    If you see fundamentalism as believing the Bible to be “the truth”, which is how fundamentalism is currently understood by the international community, then you are in fact reverting to an oversimplified dogmatic stance dictated without thought or consideration.

    I understand that this is your opinion. You need to back this up….not just state it as if it were fact. While that assertion may have some merit because some “fundamentalists” have not thought out their position, it is certainly not true for all fundamentalists. You are making a generalization about everyone who is a fundamentalist based on the observation of a few. Please cite your reasons and sources for this.

    Karen Armstrong has dedicated her life to understanding and accepting the spiritual interpretations of others, because that is what faith is about – a subjective conception of what lies beyond.

    I am sorry but you are wrong. Faith has nothing to do with understanding and accepting the interpretations of others. Faith is defined for us in the Bible in Hebrews 11:1 which says “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Faith is a powerful thing. The question now becomes how do we get faith. Romans 10:17 answers this for us. It says So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

    Now we know what faith is and how we get it. We can see that your assertion about what Armstrong is doing is not faith. She is not even a Christian. She is a false teacher and not to be listened to. I suggest that you flee from her teachings. They will only lead you astray.

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    • EB says:

      There is no god!

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      • Tom Shelton says:

        EB,

        Please explain to us how you know this. The only way you could “know” that there is no god for certain is if you were god. And if you were god then the statement would be false. Do you see the dilemma that you have when making such a silly statement?

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  6. Noah says:

    Tom,

    You equate backing up an opinion with fact as quoting from the Bible. If that is the direction of this discussion, then this is a discussion that will stop here. I do not believe the Bible to be infallible or to be anything more than the subjective interpretations of the authors and the politically-driven editors. Your argument about faith is simplistic and indicative of a simple individual who is either incapable or willfully ignorant to the spiritual and intellectual contributions of others. Just because the Bible, which was as politically driven a text as there ever was, says that faith is one thing doesn’t make it so. I have to admit, I chuckled to myself a little bit when you stated “Now we know what faith is and how we get it”. It was reminiscent of a small child returning from Kindergarten class and stamping his foot down on the floor defiantly, so convinced that because his Kindergarten teacher told him the moon is made of cheese that it must be so. Just like you are so convinced that a book authored by narcissistic ideologues were so sure that their archetypal imagery was so spot-on (and unique, which is even more laughable given that Christianity’s symbols and imagery are largely derived from Greek mythology, such as the trinity and the half mortal/half deity individual) that you will take whatever they say for face value. That sort of sad blind adherence does not indicate much thought outside of the box that you have retreated into.

    You state I need to back up what I said about fundamentalism. I’m not quite sure what you mean by that as it fairly self-explanatory. Fundamentalism is defined as “a movement or attitude stressing strict and literal adherence to a set of basic principles “. That, my friend, is indeed an oversimplification. There has never been one individual or group who has so fully understood and comprehended the past, present and future that their words are to be taken literally without question or speculation from now until the end of time. It is nonsense. Is it any small wonder that the allegiances of such fundamentalists are largely geographical? That indicates that you, just like your Muslim fundamentalist counterpart in the Middle East, simply tapped into the available cultural trends and imagery and allowed that to suffice without any further questioning, exploration, or acknowledgement that, just maybe, you don’t know everything.

    Granted, there are those fundamentalists that have explored outside their realm of initial spiritual understanding, but it indicates a willful ignorance when they just reject all that is different and simply retreat into the safe and cozy confines of fundamentalism. The safe and cozy confines of a doctrine that dictates everything for you and saves you from having to do any work yourself. They pose all your questions for you and then answer them for you as well.

    That being said, there is never “one truth”. That is a fundamentalist, dogmatic, i.e. ridiculous, statement that simply allows you to blind yourself to the larger world. There is nothing easier in this world than to lean back, put your feet up, and state “There is one truth, and that one truth, coincidentally, is the one that I believe in. Go figure.” There are multiple examples of how truth is defined by the individual. The debate on whether we should have invaded and occupied Iraq is the most obvious one. Whose truth do we listen to, the truth that states that Iraq was a danger that needed to be nullified pre-emptively or the truth that states we simply killed tens of thousands of people for politico-economically ideological reasons and have now created a larger threat? Whose truth is “right”?

    By saying there is “one truth” you ironically nullify the free will (which you fundamentalists so arrogantly speak of as if your faith was the first to conceive of it) that we all possess to formulate our own opinions as to what is truth and what is not. We can deduce whether the action itself is truth (we bombed Iraq – there is no other truth) but we cannot deduce whether there is truth within the action. To put it back into context, yes there is “one truth” in the sense that a very angry and embittered man named Paul wrote a number of essays fully delineating his hate, but whether there is any truth within his hate is the question itself.

    To wrap this up, the unwillingness to explore the ideas of others outside of non-contextual snippets is particularly sad given the case of Karen Armstrong. If you were to read any of her books, you would find an eloquent understanding and delineation of religious and spiritual thought through the millennia that has helped to shape her faith and understanding of the ethereal plane. You can disagree with her, but you are in no position to determine what somebody does or does not believe, much less who is and who is not a Christian. And if you are indicating that she leads me astray from you, than I welcome that growing distance.

    I encourage you to look beyond your narrow view of the world and embrace the beauty of others and their interpretations of the energy all around us. I encourage you to move beyond your narrow dogma and acknowledge the remarkable similarities that cultures share and come to recognize that we are all existing under one umbrella, we just have different perspectives. Your hatred and intolerance of that which is different is sadly draining the color from life. I encourage you to move beyond it.

    For right now, I encourage you to explore the concept of archetypes and the collective unconscious. Armstrong’s “A History of God” and Sir James George Frazer’s “The Golden Bough” beautifully illustrate the shared imagery and symbolism of all humanity and how different cultures have interpreted such subconscious thought.

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  7. Tom says:

    Noah,

    You said:

    I do not believe the Bible to be infallible or to be anything more than the subjective interpretations of the authors and the politically-driven editors. Your argument about faith is simplistic and indicative of a simple individual who is either incapable or willfully ignorant to the spiritual and intellectual contributions of others. Just because the Bible, which was as politically driven a text as there ever was, says that faith is one thing doesn’t make it so.

    I guess then that we will have to stop our discussion then. I believe that the Bible IS the infallible, unerring word of God. I believe He gave it to us as His revelation so that we could seek Him. It does not contain all knowledge but it contains all the necessary knowledge to bring us into a relationship with Him.

    Also, no Christian believes in a “half mortal/half deity” individual. We believe Jesus was fully God and fully human at the same time. Anyone who believes less is not a Christian.

    Your accusation that Christianity borrows it’s symbols and imagery from other cultures and religions is fairly common but you again do not cite any of your sources. I have heard similar accusations before and i have listen to apologists (such as Dr. James White of http://www.aomin.org) refute them. I think I have also heard RC Sproul refute them. I appreciated your sharing your opinions but I am more interested in facts than your opinions.

    You said:

    There has never been one individual or group who has so fully understood and comprehended the past, present and future that their words are to be taken literally without question or speculation from now until the end of time. It is nonsense.

    I have to disagree. Jesus is one who fully understood the past, present, and future. His words are to be taken literally. He was God incarnate. He was the creator of the universe. He is the propitiation for our sins. He is to be worshiped and glorified.

    You said:

    That being said, there is never “one truth”…..By saying there is “one truth” you ironically nullify the free will (which you fundamentalists so arrogantly speak of as if your faith was the first to conceive of it) that we all possess to formulate our own opinions as to what is truth and what is not.

    There can only be ONE TRUTH. The Creator gets to define what it is. He has done so in His word.

    I do not believe in free will. I am reformed. I believe that our will is only free to choose what is consistent with its nature. So for non-believers, they can only choose sin because their nature is to sin. .

    You said:

    To wrap this up, the unwillingness to explore the ideas of others outside of non-contextual snippets is particularly sad given the case of Karen Armstrong. If you were to read any of her books, you would find an eloquent understanding and delineation of religious and spiritual thought through the millennia that has helped to shape her faith and understanding of the ethereal plane. You can disagree with her, but you are in no position to determine what somebody does or does not believe, much less who is and who is not a Christian. And if you are indicating that she leads me astray from you, than I welcome that growing distance.

    Karen Armstrong has chosen the “enlightenment” of the world over the truth of God. It sounds as if you too have chosen the “enlightenment” of the world. Matthew 7:13-14 says (13) “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. (14) For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. Armstrong, and you, have entered the wide gate. This is the path to Hell.

    I urge you to repent. God alone can save you from this path. REPENT!! Turn to God and He will show you the TRUTH. He will show you what true enlightenment is.

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  8. Noah says:

    Tom,

    This discussion has begun to bore me, so I will leave you with two brief points:

    1. I have turned to God, and I am on a path to enlightenment. When you say God will show me the true path to enlightentment, you’re really saying that YOU will show me the true path. I acknowledge, honor and follow many spiritual sources and guides, just as we do in other areas of our life. What is truly sad is that you have buried yourself so deeply in your rhetoric that you have no conception of any path other than your own.

    2. My last point is that your common and primitive arguing method of disregarding what I’m saying as opinion rather than fact, which I recognize as coming straight from Evangelical 101, is fundamentally flawed. How far back do we go before we acknowledge something as fact? The entire basis for all of your points is rooted in antiquity, devoid of any subsequent theological ideas or discussion. You quote the enormously edited words of men who existed within a superstitious time. If anybody is relying on opinion, it is you, my friend.

    It is not opinion that Jesus had a father who was a deity and a mother who was a mortal, which was extremely common in many earlier religions, including the Greek mythology that Jesus was indubitably exposed to.

    It is not opinion that the Holy Trinity composed of a figure seen as a strong father, a man in touch with human emotions and the human pain, and a more elusive figure who is omnipresent but intangible is quite lucidly modeled after the three “father” Gods of Greek mythology: Zeus (the father), Poseidon (the emotion), and Hades (the subconscious yet present).

    It is not opinion to state that humanity shares a collective sub-conscious that has emerged in a variety of ways over the years. When taking a multicultural cross-sample for each 100 years, the similarities between religious and spiritual expression, conception and understanding are astounding, even when these cultures’ contact with one another would have been scant at best.

    Does that make any of that fact? Not necessarily, but where there is smoke there is fire, and I’m providing you with a far more sound theoretical basis for my arguments than you are simply by quoting from one text that was politically driven. Again, I urge you to read History of God, The Golden Bough, Gods In Everyman and Goddesses In Every Woman. There are a multitude of sources out there in which to expand your mind – I encourage you to take that opportunity. You sound intelligent, but you wallow in ignorance for as long as you only view the world through one prism.

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  9. Noah says:

    oh right, forgot one thing. You keep saying that there is only one truth and that only the Creator can decide that one truth, but you are choosing the Creator that you wish to follow because you want to choose the “one truth” that is most homogenous with your own thoughts. YOU are the one choosing YOUR truth and, as a consequence, are choosing YOUR God so as to justify and validate YOUR truth. For every one of you, there’s a Muslim, a Hindi, a Jew, a Unitarian and so forth saying the exact same thing. What makes you more right than anybody else? You, because of the choices you’re making.

    Think about it.

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  10. LadyPeaches says:

    I am reading her book, “A Case for God,” right now as a requirement for one of my college classes. As a Christian, I find it difficult to agree with a lot of what she says. There is a strong element of mysticism and an almost pantheistic nuance. That said, she forms some beautiful ideas and points out some of the areas where Christianity today has gone wrong. Mostly, its her discussion of religion as a discipline rather than a belief that I find fascinating. Beyond that, it leaves Christ largely out of the equation. She focuses a great deal on the Old Testament, which I happen to love. In many ways, I feel like I have learned more about God from the Old Testament than the New. And everything I have learned from it, even when it is violent or apparently cruel and arbitrary, is just so moving because it all points to the coming of Christ and to a God who is entirely boundless but utterly consistent as well. However, Armstrong critiques it as a collection of inconsistent and incoherent stories, most of which never actually happened. Moreover, her interpretation is based on the supposition that religion, and more specifically the stories of the Bible, are a way for people to make sense of the world. However, she fails to consider the possibility that “religion” is God’s way of revealing Himself. And therein lies the fundamental flaw of her work: She focuses on people rather than God, which contributes to an almost humanistic sort of spirituality that actually has very little to do with God at all. For example, Armstrong describes the story of God commanding Abraham to sacrifice his son as a way for people to make sense of a chaotic world full of pain and suffering. But I see it as a foreshadwoing of what God Himself was would do in sending His own Son to be sacrificed. A little hint about who God himself was, and consequently who people are. However, the latter is extremely secondary to the former. Ironic that her book is titled “The Case for God.” It should be titled “The Case of Humanistic Spirituality.” She touts the Golden Rule and the abandonment from self-absorption, but subtly indicates that focus on other people is more important than focus on God. God is side note, a means to an end in a quest for “spirituality” that ultimately serves selfish purposes. In my experience, I can only truly put others before myself when I lose myself in Christ. Moreover, she jumbles all the religions into one, making a very clear statement that she believes they are all basically the same thing. Yet as she describes other religions, I see very little resemblance to my personal experience with God via Christianity. Not all religions are the same. Period. Even if you believe that all religions ultimately lead to the same place (I don’t but that’s another thread entirely), it is extremely difficult to say there are no real differences between them. While some of what she has to say has the potential to deepen one’s Christian walk, it is largely hollow and leaves me feeling empty rather than filled. Spirituality for the sake of spirituality, or even spirituality for the sake of becoming more in tune with yourself and those around you (most spiritual systems naturally lend themselves to this because of the reflection and discipline they require, but hey so does a good therapist), is simply not enough. Armstrong’s conception of spirituality does not require a belief in God, or a belief in ultimate purpose, or even the desire for truth. All it requires is introspection and belief in that which is transcendent. And if you genuinely believe that there is a transcendent spaghetti monster (hey there is a real church devoted to this) then that is all it takes according to Armstrong.

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  11. LadyPeaches says:

    Just as a quick note, I noticed a lot of comments critiquing the belief in absolute truth. Noah, you are entirely right that people try to validate their beliefs and it doesn’t necessarily make them right. But on the flip side, just because you believe that all religions are the same and correct doesn’t make you right either. When it comes to truth, it doesn’t actually matter what you believe. 2+2 always equals 4. Even if you think it equals 5. Unless of course you are a flaming moral relativist, which has a tone of issues on its own. My point is that Christians and Muslims and Jews don’t claim exclusive rights to God merely out of pride. They do so because that informs the core beliefs of their teachings. And basically, there are three possibilities: None of them are right, all of them are right, or one of them is right. Sounds like you lean towards the second option, but its not fair to disparage those who disagree. In our “politically correct” addicted world, the third option is considered “arrogant” or “bigoted.” Sorry about that. But just because it isn’t met with a warm reception doesn’t automatically make it wrong. There are many things people don’t like to hear, but they are true. For example: Fact, if you are an sexually active homosexual you are more likely to contract AIDS than a sexually active heterosexual. Fact, if you are an atheist you tend to report living a less fulfilling life and will probably die earlier. Fact, women are not as physically strong as males. None of these statements are socially acceptable. If you say the first out loud you will get met with fury from the homosexual community. The second will receive public outcry from atheists. And feminists will roast you for the third. But this doesn’t make them any less true. The stats are out there and they are irrefutable. My point is, truth doesn’t care how anyone feels about it.

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    • Joan says:

      Approximately 36M people are living with HIV/AIDS. 24M of which live in Sub-Saharan Africa. Fact, if you don’t use a condom you are more likely to contract AIDS. Please stop labeling your bigotry as “facts.” You are making Christians look dumb.

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  12. Joann says:

    I am a believer in Jesus and aspire to be a Christian. Religion is mans way to God. Gods word (his unparalleled truth) is Gods way & gift to man. The Bible is Gods Word(love) not a religion. Old testament allows man to know what God likes and dislikes,etc. and his chosen ones, atonement, etc. The new testament God gives all men(all people, gentiles, the world) the greatest gift because He loved/loves the world. That gift was/ is Jesus Christ the Most Precious Gift to all mankind. Because Jesus paid for our sins on the cross to everyone who believes. Atonement and law was next to impossible for the chosen ones in the old testament. No one is perfect except for Jesus.
    For the searchers of truth (which I am) It is difficult for people who work many hours and want a sort of condensed source to go to. I believe that Karen Armstrong has her own agenda/ideas for the world. See Teds,you tube interviews etc. So for the searchers of truth you have to go to the True Source, the Authority that is not neccessarily religion but Gods Word “The Holy Bible” because this is so complicated I recommend “New King James: Nelson Study Bible with Jesus words in red) this is not just a story that was made up as some may be led to believe. Google book of Isaiah found caves. and or dead sea findings and/or “the forbidden book” Dr. Craig Lampe, the history of scriptures from stone to printing. Reformation because of sin and corruption in the Roman Catholic Church and their governace(not to pick on that but sin is not excluded from Christian religions) …But remember only Gods Word is the source of unparalled truth. Jesus was sinless. Also there are great testimonials :Don Piper “90 minutes in Heaven” to my own which I was afraid to share when I was trying to fit in to the worlds ideal social acceptance. Now I am Gods girl. This may not be popular to alqueda but The New Testament preaches to Love Not Kill. Compassion Not Kill. Charles Stanley is a give it to you straight source also.
    I recommend reading the New Testament first. God is my #1 Authority … and Karen Armsrong is not my cup of tea.

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