The Latest from Bruce

Questions?

Is there a question you’d like me to answer or a subject you’d like me to write about ? If so, here’s your chance. If you have a question you’d like me to answer or a subject you’d like me to write about , please leave your request in the comment section. Any subject…ask away.

Doing this from time to time helps me understand what is important to the readers of this blog. I have plenty of subjects to busy myself with, but I would love to hear from you,

Thanks in advance for helping me improve  this blog.

James Ach Says Steven Anderson Isn’t Really IFB

ifb

Recently, one point Calvinist Bob Gray, retired pastor of Longview Baptist Temple, posted an article by James Ach that let everyone know the infamous Steven Anderson was NOT part of  Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) club.  While most of Ach’s post was a harangue against Calvinism, I found his statement about Anderson to be the most interesting and laughable:

…Let us first say on behalf of all independent fundamental Baptists (IFB) of all stripes, that NONE of us recognize Steven Anderson as a bona fide fundamental Baptist. He has virtually nothing in common with any IFB denomination, and has been openly hostile of every IFB minister and ministry from Peter Ruckman, Bob Gray Sr., David Cloud, D.A. Waite, Jack Moorman, Phil Stringer, Jack Chick,  to Fellowship Tract League, William Grady, Sam Gipp, Lester Roloff et al , and that’s just about every known “leader” so-to-speak in modern fundamental “circles”. The above names have sharp disagreements with each other, but Anderson hates them ALL. Anderson is an anti-Semitic, hermeneutically challenged anomaly that in our opinion at DRC is on someone’s payroll to make Baptists look like complete idiots (above and beyond some of the dumb things we’ve done amongst ourselves). In fact, not only do we deny that Anderson is IFB but have a standing joke that Anderson is actually a closet Calvinist…

If you are like me, you found yourself rolling on the floor with uncontrollable laughter over Ach’s claims that Steven Anderson, pastor of Faithful Word Baptist Church in Tempe, Arizona, is ” on someone’s payroll to make Baptists look like complete idiots.” Ach, who is known to make conspiratorial claims, provides no proof for this claim.  Besides, most IFB preachers are quite capable of acting like idiots all on their own.

Ach would lead those uninitiated in IFB life to think that Steven Anderson is an outlier, and not at all representative of the typical IFB preacher. For those of us what spent many years in the IFB church movement, we know better. We’ve heard uncounted vitriolic sermons, attacks on everything from Roman Catholics and the NIV to Southern Baptists and the NKJV. No subject, no institution, or preacher was untouchable. We’ve heard screamed out threatening and hour-long long sermons on “liberal” IFB churches, pastors, and colleges. While Anderson and the late Fred Phelps are a bit more hyperbolic, they certainly are within the pale of what can be heard in many IFB churches.

In my case, I had a gold card that gave me special access to the IFB insider’s club. From Sword of the Lord conferences to IFB Bible conferences to pastor’s fellowships, I’ve heard so-called men of God vent their spleen over every sin imaginable. One such man preached from the text, neither give place to the devil. After he read the text, he spend the next hour giving a rundown and run over of everything he considered a sin. And all the preachers in attendance shouted AMEN!

Steven Anderson is IFB and there’s nothing James Ach or Bob Gray Sr can do about it. His beliefs, in the main, are standard IFB fare. Even his antisemitism and racism can be found in virtually every corner  of the IFB world.  As I stated in my post, Understanding Steven Anderson, Pastor Faithful Word Baptist Church, Tempe, Arizona, there is nothing out of the ordinary about Anderson. He’s a garden variety IFB preacher who, as a narcissist, is full of himself and thinks he speaks for God.

I encourage readers to take a gander at Ach’s Do Right Christians blog and see if there really is any difference as far as behavior is concerned between James Ach and Steven Anderson. For even more amusement, check out Ach’s Twitter account.  I think you’ll find that if the former is IFB then the latter is.

Anthony Wayne Escalera Follows Dorothy Over the Rainbow Over Gay Pride Flag

gay pride flag

Fundamentalist Christian Mark Anthony Escalera Slays a Gay Pride Flag

Snark, sarcasm ahead!

Over at the fundamentalist Christian Defending Contending blog, Mark Anthony Escalera had this to say:

…After the flood, God created a rainbow to be His seal in the heavens. It was a declaration to show the mercy and longsuffering of God. The rainbow was His picture to a depraved world that while He would never again destroy the world with a flood, He would be coming again. The next time He comes, there will be no rainbows. There will only be fire and total destruction of ALL that stand opposed to Him.

The true rainbow is made up of 7 different primary colors of a spectrum. It is a beautiful reminder of the wonder that God long holds up His wrath and judgment against the wickedness of this world. Seven in the Bible indicates perfection and completion.

However, Satan perverted that sign and it is now used around the world as a symbol of “gay pride.” It has only 6 colors. Six in the Bible is the number of man. This “rainbow” is not a true rainbow, but is a symbol of perversion, debauchery, sodomy, lust, pedophilia, and bestiality – just to name a few. The one below is a perversion, and for the record, the White House KNEW what was coming and this was done deliberately. Read Psalm 2 for the conclusion….

According to the ignorant Escalera, a TRUE rainbow has SEVEN colors, seven being a number that many fundamentalists think signifies perfection and completion. The gay pride flag only has SIX colors, six being a number that many fundamentalists think is the number of man; you know like 666. In Escalera’s addled mind, the difference between seven and six colors is proof that the gay pride flag is a “symbol of perversion, debauchery, sodomy, lust, pedophilia, and bestiality – just to name a few. ” For a minute, when he started listing all the sins gays practice, I thought he was talking about Evangelical pastors. Just saying…

Evidently Escalera doesn’t have access to Wikipedia:

A spectrum obtained using a glass prism and a point source is a continuum of wavelengths without bands. The number of colours that the human eye is able to distinguish in a spectrum is in the order of 100. Accordingly, the Munsell colour system (a 20th-century system for numerically describing colours, based on equal steps for human visual perception) distinguishes 100 hues. The apparent discreteness of main colours is an artefact of human perception and the exact number of main colours is a somewhat arbitrary choice.

Newton, who admitted his eyes were not very critical in distinguishing colours, originally (1672) divided the spectrum into five main colours: red, yellow, green, blue and violet. Later he included orange and indigo, giving seven main colours by analogy to the number of notes in a musical scale. Newton chose to divide the visible spectrum into seven colours out of a belief derived from the beliefs of the ancient Greek sophists, who thought there was a connection between the colours, the musical notes, the known objects in the Solar System, and the days of the week.

According to Isaac Asimov, “It is customary to list indigo as a color lying between blue and violet, but it has never seemed to me that indigo is worth the dignity of being considered a separate color. To my eyes it seems merely deep blue.” Today, the color Newton associated as “light blue” (~520–490 nm / ~580–610 THz) is referred distinguished as a separate color of either cyan or azure.

The colour pattern of a rainbow is different from a spectrum, and the colours are less saturated. There is spectral smearing in a rainbow owing to the fact that for any particular wavelength, there is a distribution of exit angles, rather than a single unvarying angle. In addition, a rainbow is a blurred version of the bow obtained from a point source, because the disk diameter of the sun (0.5°) cannot be neglected compared to the width of a rainbow (2°). The number of colour bands of a rainbow may therefore be different from the number of bands in a spectrum, especially if the droplets are particularly large or small. Therefore, the number of colours of a rainbow is variable. If, however, the word rainbow is used inaccurately to mean spectrum, it is the number of main colours in the spectrum.

And just like that, Esclara’s  Bullingerian numerical nonsense goes up in smoke.( Number in Scripture: Its Supernatural Design and Spiritual Significance by E.W. Bullinger)

Think this is Esclara’s worst with Dorothy over the rainbow moment? Oh no. Here’s how he ends his post:

…If you are reading this and think that this is the final conclusion of the LGBT community, then you have been duped. The LGBT community will NOT stop until the next step of Satan’s agenda has been accomplished and accepted. Polygamy will soon be accepted. The age of consent will be dropped just as is happening in other parts of the world. Adherents of LGBT, PFLAG, and NAMBLA cannot have their own children and will only grow as they prey on more and more young people trying to entice them to a life of lust-filled debauchery that will never offer anything but disease and heartache for it is not what God ordained.

Soon, this blog may be taken down because it will be considered hate speech. I know that day is coming. Many companies openly rejoice in the ruling by SCOTUS. One day soon, true believers will be given a choice to conform to the world’s standards or lose their jobs…

Someone unschooled in hyperbolic, delusional Evangelical rhetoric might conclude that Escalera is exaggerating (literary lying) to make a point. But, he’s not. He really believes that ONE DAY SOON, like in ‘ONE DAY SOON Jesus is coming back?’ his blog will be considered hate speech and taken taken down by the U.S. government. ONE DAY SOON, like in ‘ONE DAY SOON Evangelicals are going to start caring about the poor and disenfranchised?’ Christians like him are going to lose their jobs over their homophobic, bigoted stand for Jesus.

Here’s the truth. Yes, Escalera’s post is offensive, ignorant, hateful, bigoted, and homophobic. But, all of these behaviors are completely legal. Escalera seems to forget he lives in the United States. Hate speech is protected speech, so Escalera is free to hate away. The same goes for losing his job. No employer is going to fire someone over what they believe as long as they don’t promote their beliefs while at work. In some instances, employers have a personal conduct code and this might result in someone being fired over hate speech, but most of the time employees, on their own time, are free to swill Schlitz, wave around an AK47, listen to Toby Keith, drape themselves in the confederate flag, and remind anyone who will listen that God hates fags!!!

As Seen on Social Media: Jesus is My Lifeguard

Graphics, Memes, Quotes, and Comments I’ve spotted on Facebook or Twitter.  Today’s graphic comes from Facebook.

It’s summertime. The lake is calling and you pack up your family and head to your favorite lake. Mommy, mommy, mommy, can I go swimming? Mom replies, Sure, but watch out for pedophile preachers strolling on the beach.

Little Betty heads to the lake and jumps into the water. Her older teenage brother is nearby, keeping a watchful eye on her and making sure there are no pedophile preachers strolling on the beach. Pedophile preachers have no part to play in this story, but I thought I’d add them as a public service reminder.

Little Betty swims what seems like a mile away from the beach and then, out of nowhere, a hornet stings Betty on the shoulder. In a matter of minutes, Betty’s eyes and throat start to swell. She’s deathly allergic to hornet stings, and with a muffled voice she tries to scream for help. But, she’s too far way from shore for her brother or the lifeguard to hear her. And then she remembers a wonderful graphic she saw on Facebook:

jesus is my lifeguard

JESUS is my lifeguard

No need to call for the lifeguard because JESUS, the bestest, most awesome lifeguard e-v-e-r, constantly patrols the lakes protecting swimmers from harm.

Finally, poor little Betty’s throat swells shut, she chokes on her tongue and then she dies.

In heaven Betty asks St Peter, Hey, I thought Jesus was supposed to be my lifeguard and save me if I was drowning?

St. Peter replies, Silly girl, that’s a metaphor, a way Christians speak when trying to convince themselves that Jesus, the one and only, true and living, and most a-w-e-s-o-m-e God ever, cares if they are drowning.

Too bad Betty is dead. Had she lived, it would be because a real, flesh and blood lifeguard saw her distress and rescued her.

Waiting for Jesus to save you from drowning is a sure way to die.

Sacrilegious Humor: Introduction to Religion by Dave Allen

This is the ninth installment in the Sacrilegious Humor series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a comedy bit that is irreverent towards religion, makes fun of religion, pokes fun at sincerely held religious beliefs, or challenges the firmly held religious beliefs of others, please email me the name of the bit or a link to it.

Today’s bit is Introduction to Religion by Dave Allen.

Warning, many of the comedy bits in this series will contain profanity. You have been warned.

Video Link

Local Christians Respond to Supreme Court Ruling on Same-Sex Marriage

biblical marriage

On Friday, the godless, anti-American,socialistic, communistic,  jihadist, liberal, satanic-inspired U.S. Supreme Court overturned Ohio’s constitutional ban of same-sex marriage. Ohio Governor John Kasich, also known as Mr. Wall Street, publicly admitted the marriage battle is over:

“I’ve always felt that marriage is, you know, one of these traditions between a man and a woman, but the Court has spoken. And I’ve said all along that when the Court makes a decision, we abide by the law of the land. And they made their determination and—just move on. It doesn’t mean I’m not disappointed, I am, but the decision has been made.”

 

Williams County Commissioner Al Word, formerly the sheriff of Williams County, evidently slept through high school government class. Word told The Bryan Times (behind paywall):

“Why don’t they change the voting process so the minority always wins?  I believe everyone should be treated with respect, whoever they are, but this has gone completely over the edge. I’m in total disbelief and most people don’t realize the gravity of the whole thing. It changes who we are and how our issues get decided.”

Evidently, Word thinks the United States is a democracy where the majority rules. However, as anyone who has ever taken a government class should know, the United States is a republic with a representative form of government. Majority or minority has little to do with it, and in the case of the Supreme Court ruling, the issue is the court’s interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment, especially the equal protection clause.

I understand why Word is upset. In 2004, Ohioans voted to restrict marriage to “only a union between one man and one woman.” This constitutional amendment passed 62-38 percent statewide. In Williams County the margin was 73-27 percent. According to The Bryan Times, the voting margins were similar in nearby Defiance, Fulton, Henry, Putnam, Paulding, and Van Wert counties.

But, let’s look at the numbers for God’s Kingdom-NW Ohio Division, also known as Williams County. In 2004, there were 26,722 registered voters in Williams County and 18,294 of them voted on the marriage amendment. (68% voter turnout) 13,275 voted for Issue One, and 5,019 vote against the amendment. Yes, 73% of those who voted cast a vote in favor of the marriage amendment. However, when measured against the number of registered voters, the number drops to 50%. As in the case of most Ohio ballot initiatives, they are voted up or down by a majority of a minority. (in 2004, Ohio had its largest voter turnout in years)

I think Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown is right when he said:

“The court has spoken. The public is behind the court and the court speaks for the public…I am convinced Ohio voters, if they had it to do over would agree. Marriage equality is the law of the land now, period, just like civil rights. It’s a victory for everyone, gay and straight. Those who disagree will be relegated to the dustbin of history.”

After the Court’s decision, The Bryan Times contacted “virtually every church in Bryan”  to get a response. Only two pastors responded: Pat Schwenk, pastor of New Hope Community Church and Kevin Kellum, pastor of Grace Community Church. Both pastors were deeply disturbed by the ruling.

Schwenk stated:

This is certainly not the firs time the U.S. Supreme Court has made a ruling contrary to the truth of God’s word. It’s not a decision we celebrate, nor is it one we despair over either. God is still in control. Regardless of the moral and spiritual drift happening in our country, our response should be to faithfully honor God first, while loving others–even when there is disagreement.

Kellum stated:

Troubling, for a number of reasons. The church’s worldview of marriage has always been that it’s a vow between a man and a woman. Now we’re in uncharted territory. We’ve talked about openly with the congregation. Our doors are open to any race, gender, and (sexual) orientation.  We still have hope and we still believe and obey the word of God and depend on him for guidance on our lives, and we continue to look to God for his definition (of marriage). I’m concerned that there is a whole generation of young people who have no foundation in the church’s teachings, and with this ruling, I expect that to continue, to present a challenge to the church.

Don’t be blinded and misled by the talk of loving others and open doors. These words are loaded with Evangelical presuppositions, and all that is meant by their perfidious words is:

Yes we love homosexuals, they need Jesus, so our doors are open so that they can repent and find Jesus as their Lord and Savior. And if they don’t, they are going to be eternally tortured by God in hell.

Neither pastor is willing to openly and without reservation embrace homosexuals and welcome them into the membership. Married same-sex couples will find that very few local churches are willing to treat them as they do married heterosexual couples. As long as the Bible is the authoritative standard, same-sex couples will never be treated justly, fairly, and equally in churches like New Hope and Grace Community Church.

Over in Defiance County, the Crescent-News asked readers what they thought of the Court’s ruling. Here’s what several local fundamentalists had to say on the newspaper’s Facebook page:

crescent news 1

crescent news 2

crescent news 3

I left more comments on the Crescent-News’s page than anyone else, yet when the newspaper printed many of the comments in today’s edition of the paper, none of my comments were printed. It’s hard not to conclude that they either “overlooked” my comments, they were too long, too intellectual, or they didn’t want to give the village atheist any more press.

The Bryan Times was able to find an openly gay local man willing to comment. Here’s what Denver Henderson of Bryan had to say:

“Yesterday, I could do anything everyone else does–buy a car, own a house, pay taxes, fall in love–but there was always one thing I couldn’t do. Tomorrow I can. It’s not a big national question of ‘Can we?’ anymore. Now it’s the personal question of ‘Do we want to?’  (That kind of freedom is)  what it feels like to be a part of ‘We the People.’  It’s a big deal. It’s history happening right now and you don’t get to see that very often.”

Notes

Over the years, I’ve tried to give the Crescent-News editorial staff the benefit of the doubt when it comes to things like not printing my comments, but I have reached a point where I am no longer willing to do so. If I am missing something here, then I’d love for Steve VanDemark, Dennis Van Scoder, Todd Helberg, Mark Froelich , or Bruce Hefflinger to point it out to me. From “lost” letters to the editor, a “lost” 35th wedding anniversary announcement, numerous resumes submitted for a photography position flushed down the toilet, and no response to emails, comments, and tweets, it’s hard not to conclude that the newspaper has no interest in engaging me at any level. Even when fundamentalists personally attack me in their letters to the editor, making inflammatory and untrue statements, the newspaper says nothing. Why is this?

Grace Community Church is a part of the Ohio Mennonite conference. While there has been some movement towards accepting same-sex marriage at the national level, I suspect most NW Ohio Mennonite pastors/churches consider homosexuality and same-sex marriage a sin.

New Hope Community Church is a garden variety Evangelical church. Here’s their doctrinal statement (proof texts removed):

The Infallibility of the Bible
We accept the miracles, creation, etc., as literal accounts.
To repudiate any portion of Scripture as unreliable is like changing an inch on a ruler.
If one inch is changed, the entire system of measurement is altered.

The Absolute Diety of Christ

The Virgin Birth of Christ

The Historical Creation of Man
Man did not accidentally evolve from lower forms of life.
God created man as a unique spiritual being.

The Sinful Nature of Man
Man is not basically good.
He is basically evil.

The Substitutionary Death of Christ
Others have died difficult, martyrs’ deaths.
Jesus is the only One who died for the sins of the world.

The Bodily Resurrection of Christ
Some say Christ arose in spirit or His teaching lives on.
But the Bibles teaches Jesus arose bodily from the grave.

A Literal Return of Christ to Earth as Promised

The Resurrection and Assignment of All People to Heaven or Hell
We are sometimes criticized for too rigid a stand.
But Jesus said, “Narrow is the way…”

Atheists Talk Interview, Sunday, June 28, 2015

bruce 2015

Here’s my interview with Atheists Talk, a program broadcast Sundays on AM950, the Progressive Voice of Minnesota. The program is a production of Minnesota Atheists. Thanks to Scott Lohman for having me on.

Link to podcast

If you have any questions about the podcast or are interested in having me on your program,  please email me.

Sacrilegious Humor: Biblical History by Robin Williams

This is the eighth installment in the Sacrilegious Humor series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a comedy bit that is irreverent towards religion, makes fun of religion, pokes fun at sincerely held religious beliefs, or challenges the firmly held religious beliefs of others, please email me the name of the bit or a link to it.

Today’s bit is Biblical History by Robin Williams.

Warning, many of the comedy bits in this series will contain profanity. You have been warned.

Video Link

I’m Not Preaching Now, I’m Telling the Truth

preaching

I attended Midwestern Baptist College in Pontiac, Michigan from 1976-1979. Midwestern, started in 1954 by Alabama preacher Tom Malone, was a small fundamentalist Baptist college.  Malone pastored nearby Emmanuel Baptist Church. In the 1970’s, Emmanuel was one of the largest churches in the country. Today its buildings are shuttered and a FOR SALE sign sits in the dust-covered main entrance door.

During my time at Midwestern, I heard Tom Malone preach several hundred times. Considered by many to be a great pulpiteer, Malone’s preaching was fervent and punctuated with illustrations meant to drive home the point he was making. During one sermon, Malone said something I never forgot. In the middle of sharing an illustration, Malone said:

I’m not preaching now, I’m telling the truth.

Everyone laughed and then he finished his illustration.

Over the march of my life from infancy to the grave, I’ve heard thousands of sermons and preached thousands more. I’ve heard men that had no public speaking skills and others who were wordsmiths capable of enchanting hearers with their preaching and illustrations. Sadly, there are a lot more of the former than the latter.  Even though I am an atheist, I still enjoy hearing a well crafted sermon delivered by a man who knows how to turn a word into an epic Broadway production.

Preaching only the Bible is boring, uninspiring preaching. An effective sermon requires illustrations. Jesus was a master storyteller. His sermons made ample use of illustrations meant to drive home a spiritual point. A preacher that is good at his craft knows that illustrations are key to helping listeners understand and embrace his sermon. And therein lies the danger.

When I started preaching, I used illustrations from illustration books. As I aged and experienced more of life, I began to use more and more illustrations about my experiences and personal life. If a preacher isn’t careful, it is easy to massage his illustrations to “fit” a particular sermon or audience. Sometimes, the illustration becomes a lie.

As I mentioned above, I’ve heard a lot of sermons. I’ve heard thousands of illustrations and personal stories, all meant to get my attention or drive home a point. Over time, I came to understand that many preachers played loose with the truth, often shaping their stories to make a particular point or to cast themselves in a positive light. In other words, they lied, even if they don’t understand they are doing so. Often, a speaker can tell the same lie over and over until they reach a point where the lie become reality and they think it is the truth.

Take Jack Hyles, by all accounts a masterful speaker and storyteller. He was also a narcissistic liar. I heard Hyles preach numerous times at Sword of the Lord and Bible conferences. His sermons were usually long on illustrations and short on Scripture and exegesis. For Hyles, it was all about the sermon, the story, and the invitation. Everything he said was meant to bring hearers to a point of making a decision for or against Jesus.

Here’s a story Hyles told about winning an auto mechanic to Christ:

When I got to his house, he was working under the car. He was lying face up on a creeper and could not see me as I arrived.

“Hyles Mechanic Service!” I shouted.

“Who called you?” he asked.

“I was not called,” I replied, “I was sent.”

“Well, roll yourself under and see if you can see what is the trouble.”

I got another creeper, laid down on it, and roiled myself under the car with him.

“Looks like to me you need the valves ground,” I shouted.

“How can you tell from under here?”

“I am not talking about your car. I am talking about you.”

“Who are you?” he asked.

“I am Pastor Hyles of First Baptist Church.”

Then he became inquisitive, and I explained to him that he needed Christ as Saviour to make him a new creature and that he was in worse shape than the car. With both of us lying on our backs looking up at the bottom side of the car, I told him how to be saved. When time came to pray the sinner’s prayer, he closed by saying, “Lord, I am just coming for a general overhauling.” I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, so I did both. The next Sunday he came forward in our service professing his faith in Christ.

Great story, and one I have no doubt is an admixture of truth and lie. Every time I read a story like this I am reminded of that Sunday morning almost forty years ago when I heard Tom Malone say, “I’m not preaching now, I’m telling the truth.”  Now, that will preach, as the Baptists like to say.