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Where is the God of Elijah?

elijah

Elisha, the prophet who succeeded Elijah asked, in 2 Kings 2:14, where if the God of Elijah? Christians of today should be asking the same question.

Elijah’s God is one that sent fire from heaven and killed the prophets of Baal. Throughout the Old Testament, we see Elijah’s God dealing harshly with those who opposed or disobeyed him. Elijah’s God drowned everyone in the world, except Noah and his family, because the world was increasingly wicked. The God of Elijah, rained fire and brimstone on Sodom and Gomorrah, used his followers to slaughter countless enemies, and even killed a man for trying to keep the Ark of the Covenant from tipping over. Elijah’s God, at least in the Old Testament, was a vengeful, angry God that was the meanest son-of-a-bitch in town. He was not a God to be trifled with. As the writer of Hebrews said, it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

However, once we get to the New Testament, outside of killing Ananias and Sapphira because they lied about the price they received for a property, Elijah’s God seems to have successfully completed anger management class and is being treated for a split personality disorder. Granted, according to the book of Revelation, God will, someday, go off his meds and revert to the vengeful, angry, petulant God of the Old Testament. But, for now, we have to wonder…exactly where IS Elijah’s God?

Evangelical preachers and TV talking heads frequently say that we are living in the Last Days. Some think it is just as bad now as it was in the days of Noah or when God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. Since the advent of the internet, atheists, agnostics, humanists, and virtually every non-Christian religion you can think of, has taken to the blogosphere to preach heresy and ridicule and mock the Evangelical Christian God. Abortionists, homosexuals, Hollywood actors, and Democrats, promote godlessness and give nary a thought about Elijah’s bad ass God. Where is Elijah’s God? You know that God who routinely killed false prophets and those who dare to disobey him?

It seems to me that there are two explanations for Elijah’s God being AWOL. Either he is on vacation and when he comes back he will take care of those who blaspheme his name or he doesn’t exist.  I am inclined to think that Elijah’s God doesn’t exist. Supposedly, God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  Surely, God should act consistently, yes? Why then, does he not strike down evil, wicked, Christ-denying false prophets like me? Why has he allowed Bart Ehrman to have such a devastating effect on the Christian church?  These days, vocal atheists live full lives and the Evangelical God does not touch them? Again, is God on vacation? Or perhaps this God does not exist.

According to Evangelicals, God is knows the number of hairs on their head, helps them find their car keys, and blesses them with jobs, cars, vacations, and palace-like church buildings. He is a micromanaging God, interested in every detail of their lives, yet when it comes to modern false prophets he does nothing. Doesn’t this seem strange to you? More than one Christian zealot has prayed an imprecatory prayer over my head, yet here I am. Why? Wouldn’t it be awesome if the Evangelical God struck me dead or caused my hands to wither up so I couldn’t type? Imagine the stories preachers could tell about the atheist God killed. Imagine books that could be written about my life, cautionary tales about a man who thought he was bigger than God. Yet, despite all the prayers, sermons, blog posts, and indignant calling fire down from heaven blog comments, I remain alive.

Perhaps it is time for Evangelicals to ask, where IS the God of Elijah? Let me know when you find him. For now, I fear his crazy, right-wing followers a lot more than I do him. You know, the ones who say they would love for someone to slit my throat.  If the Evangelical God wants to straighten me out, chastise me, or kill me, he knows where I live.

Published: July 23, 2014 | Comments: 0

Those Who Fall Away Just Didn’t Love Jesus Enough

facebook jesus

Susan, who blogs at Susan’s Flutterbys, continues to be infatuated with yours truly. In today’s missive, she quotes Joshua Whipps, agrees with him, and says since I used my real name in a comment she is officially “outing” me. Which is kind of funny since I have never been “in”. I have always used my real name on the internet. I am readily accessible, with nothing to hide.

Susan tells a bold-faced lie when she states:

…Mr. Gerencser ruins attempts at meaningful dialogue with Christians and only gives kudos to those who agree with him.

Meaningful dialog is ALWAYS welcome. Susan made no attempt to have meaningful dialog with me, accusing me of being an hater, and when asked to give here reasons for this claim, refused to do so. Even on her own blog, after my good friend John Arthur commented on a previous post  about me, Susan closed down the comments. As far as Joshua Whipps is concerned, I asked him to comment on the blog posts he disagreed with, yet he made it clear that he was not going to lower himself and waste his valuable words on the people who read The Way Forward. Whipps could have engaged in meaningful dialog with me but he chose not to. Whipps wrote a total of three posts about me but allowed no comments. Whipps considers his posts about me “teaching” posts. Yet, according to Susan and Whipps, I am the one that “ruins attempts at meaningful dialogue with Christians and only gives kudos to those who agree with him.”

Now, on to the focus of this post. Susan recently listened to a sermon by Phil Johnson,the executive director of Grace to You and a longtime member of John MacArthur’s church. This is what she learned:

One thing he says towards the beginning is the thing that I was (thankfully I can say “was”) having trouble with. He says that institutions and persons have failed and will continue to fail into the future, but the gospel of Jesus will be triumphant. I admit that I was overly concerned by individual persons failing and falling away. Pastor Johnson says that this is actually a blessing in disguise in that the Lord is weeding out through this process the pretenders and keeping the faithful remnant. Pastor Johnson sees the season of unpopularity of the Church having a purifying effect on the Church because the ones who go for any other reason besides their love of Jesus, will drop out. They can deny and deny and speak of their previous love for Jesus, but in the end TRUE LOVE DOESN’T FAIL, so their denials are about as valid as an alcoholic saying he’s not a drunk.

Here’s the gist of Susan’s Johnson Bruce inspired post:

  • The Lord is weeding pretenders like Bruce Gerencser out of the church
  • Bruce Gerencser had some other motivation than love for Jesus and this is why he fell away
  • Bruce Gerencser didn’t really love Jesus or didn’t love Jesus enough

I always find it amazing that people from afar, people who never sat under my ministry, never heard me preach, never observed my life, can make such severe judgments about my life. I suppose I am to blame for this. I am quite open and honest as I tell my story and this gives my critics a lot of information by which to judge my life. Yet, not one church member, fellow pastor, or personal friend ever thought that I didn’t love Jesus. This charge is silly, unfounded, and a lazy attempt to explain away my life.

Here’s two questions I have for Susan and the “I really didn’t really love Jesus or didn’t love Jesus enough” crowd:

  • How much love for Jesus is enough?
  • What is the standard for determining if a Christian really loves Jesus or loves him enough?

Susan’s post is a reminder that Calvinists, for all their talk about salvation by grace, actually believe in salvation by works. The measure of love for Jesus is what? Good works. Since I didn’t persevere and continue to produce good works that showed I really, really, really loved Jesus, I never “really” loved Jesus and was never a true Christian.  Unless the Calvinist continues producing good works and continues to do so until their last breath, they can not be certain that they are a Christian.

I know I can not convince the Susan’s and Joshua Whipps of the world of anything. Their minds are made up. They have weighed me in the balance and found me wanting..

Let me close this post with one of my favorite songs when I was a pastor. When I led and sang this song I did so with every fiber of my being. It is ludicrous to say that I was a deceiver or that I never loved Jesus. Like two people who were once married, their marriage likely ended with a loss of love, but who can doubt they, at one time, loved one another. So it was with my relationship with Jesus. Here’s the song, Gone From My Heart the World and All its Charms:

Gone from my heart the world and all its charms;
Now through the blood I’m saved from all alarms;
Down at the cross my heart is bending low;
The precious blood of Jesus cleanses white as snow.

I love Him, I love Him,
Because He first loved me,
And purchased my salvation on Calv’ry’s tree.

Once I was lost, and fallen deep in sin;
Once was a slave to passions fierce within;
Once was afraid to meet an angry God,
But now I’m cleansed from every stain thro’ Jesus’ blood.

Once I was bound, but now I am set free;
Once I was blind, but now the light I see;
Once I was dead, but now in Christ I live,
To tell the world around the peace that He doth give.

Responses to Joshua Whipps

Another Deconstruction of My Story

Joshua Whipps: I’ve Read Your Blog

Fundamentalist Christian Gnats

Response to Susan

The Anti-Christ’s Brother is Revealed: His Name is Anti-Pastor

Evangelicals Use the Wrong Equation to Determine Their Beliefs

Published: July 23, 2014 | Comments: 11

Louisville Bats vs. Toledo Mud Hens July 18, 2014

Polly and I drove to Toledo to watch the AAA affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds, the Louisville Bats, play the Toledo Mud Hens.  Here are some of the pictures I took. Most of them are in black and white.

Bruce and Polly Gerencser

Bruce and Polly Gerencser. Thanks to the unnamed man that volunteered to take a picture of us. Polly’s shirt says Whiny Birds, a diss of the St Louis Cardinals. You’d have to be a diehard Reds or Cardinals fan to appreciate the intense rivalry between these two teams.

Polly Gerencser

My girlfriend. We really should get married some day.

Jack Hannahan

Jack Hannahan, utility player for the Cincinnati Reds. He is rehabbing from a recent shoulder surgery. I was delighted to see Jack take time to sign autographs and talk with the young people congregated near the Louisville dugout.

mascot

Mascot for the Toledo Walleye hockey team

Duane Below

#32 Duane Below, Toledo Mud Hens

Rey Navarro

#1 Rey Navarro, Louisville Bats

David Holmberg

#19 David Holmberg, Louisville Bats

Louisville Toledo Baseball Game July 18 2014

Unknown player for Toledo, #7 Tucker Barnhart catching for Louisville Bats

Felix Perez

# 14 Felix Perez, Louisville Bats

Thomas Neal

#3 Thomas Neal, Louisville Bats

Published: July 23, 2014 | Comments: 2

Out on The Town with the Boys, July 20th 2014

Last Sunday, I attended, with my sons and grandson, the minor league baseball game between the Louisville Bats and the Toledo Mud Hens. As always, I had my camera with me:

toledo louisville baseball game july 20 2014
Levi, Jaime, son #3, and Jason, son #1.

toledo louisville baseball game july 20 2014

Jason and Nathan, son #2.

toledo louisville baseball game july 20 2014

Grandpa and  grandson Levi

toledo louisville baseball game july 20 2014

Levi

toledo louisville baseball game july 20 2014

Levi

toledo louisville baseball game july 20 2014

Levi

toledo louisville baseball game july 20 2014

Levi

Published: July 23, 2014 | Comments: 4

Pastor Tim Conway Shows he Doesn’t Know Much About Mental Health

pastor tim conway

Tim Conway is the pastor of Grace Community Church in San Antonio, Texas. He is a fundamentalist Calvinist. I was Tim’s pastor for a short time in 1994. In the following video, Conway shows that he knows absolutely nothing about the mental health issues many people face. He may have stayed at a Holiday Inn but he most certainly is not qualified to give any advice to someone with mental health problems.

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I also find it interesting that Conway did not mention one of major reasons people have mental health problems…fundamentalist religion and abusive, manipulative pastors. Yes, guilt is a BIG problem, but the solution is to free oneself from the purveyors of guilt. There is no greater guilt producer than Christian fundamentalism. It is a religion that debases, demoralizes, and abuses people, teaching them to blame themselves rather than the religious beliefs, practices, and leaders who have emotionally and mentally harmed them.

Published: July 22, 2014 | Comments: 10

A Sign on a Government Building Promotes an Ignorant Faith

On our way to Fort Wayne a few weeks ago, I took the following picture of the sign in front of the Springfield Township, Harlan, Indiana Fire Station. (which is one of fire stations operated by the Grabill Volunteer Fire Department)  Yes, this is a tax supported government facility. Evidently, they have not heard of the separation of church and state, which is ironic since the fire station is located near an Amish community, a people group known for their belief in a strict separation of church and state.

springfield township fire department

Published: July 22, 2014 | Comments: 8

Evangelicals Use the Wrong Equation to Determine Their Beliefs

bible absolute truth

Most evangelicals are presuppositionalists and don’t even know it. Talk to enough Evangelicals about their beliefs and you will find out that they usually use the following equation:

God+Bible=What I Believe.

Susan, a recent commenter on The Way Forward, said on her blog that her beliefs are 100% what the Bible says. Susan presupposes the Christian God exists, the Bible is an inspired, inerrant, divine text, and that her beliefs come directly from the God who wrote the Bible.  As Catholics rightly observe, every protestant is their own infallible pope. They are absolutely certain that their beliefs are straight from the mouth of God. It is impossible to have a meaningful discussion with people who think like this, especially if you are a non-Christian. The Bible says that non-Christians are deceived, deluded, and blinded by the god of this world. Such people have nothing to offer to the Evangelical. Every conversation is a one way conversation: Repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Until the non-Christian is willing to submit to the superior beliefs of the Evangelical, they have nothing to offer the zealot.

Until an Evangelical can at least consider that the above equation is wrong, there is no hope of reaching them. Until they see that the correct equation is:

Culture+God+Bible+Personal Interpretation=What I Believe

it is impossible to have a thoughtful discussion with them. While they may put up with the non-Christian for a time, they will eventually cut off any further discussion. After John Arthur, a regular commenter on The Way Forward, left a comment on Susan’s post The Anti-Pastor, she decided to close the comments:

Now if you don’t mind this topic is not receiving any further comments. Thank you for your participation.

You see, in Susan’s mind, John Arthur didn’t have an open, receptive, willing mind. Any further discussion with him was deemed a waste of time. Until John sees things the right way, the 100% Bible way, there is no reason to talk to him.

No one is born into the world with a belief in the God of a particular religion. It is up to their culture to teach them what the cultural God is. Their tribe, consisting of their parents, siblings, grandparents, and extended family teach them which deity is the approved tribal God. From these deeply engrained presuppositions, a person engages in religious worship and practice. In the Christian cult, this includes reading and studying the Bible and hearing religious leaders preach and teach from the Christian sacred text. These activities reinforce the person’s belief in the cultural and tribal God.

I think one effective way to attack Evangelical belief is to get a person to think sociologically about their beliefs. Rather than focusing on what they believe, focus on why they believe.  John Loftus’s Outsider Test For Faith is one tool I think is helpful in getting people to see their beliefs from a sociological perspective. BTW, The Outsider Test For Faith: How You Can Know Which Religion is True is now in book form.

The question is simple. Why do most Americans self-identify as Christian, whereas most Indians self-identity as Hindu or Muslim? Honestly answering this question will force a person to admit that maybe, just maybe, “true” belief is rooted in culture and family rather than the presuppositions they hold dear. Once they can admit this as a possibility, they are then open to a direct challenge of their beliefs.

Published: July 22, 2014 | Comments: 3

Elizabeth Warren’s List of 11 Progressive Values Worth Fighting For

elizabeth warren quote

Over the weekend, Congresswoman Elizabeth Warren was the keynote speaker at the Netroots Nation convention held in Detroit, Michigan. Warren stated “we have to talk about what does it mean to be a progressive, an American.” She then listed 11 progressive values that are worth fighting for:

  • “We believe Wall Street needs stronger rules and tougher enforcement, and we’re willing to fight for it.
  • “We believe in science, and that means that we have a responsibility to protect this Earth, and we’re willing to fight for it.
  • “We believe that the Internet shouldn’t be rigged to benefit big corporations, and that means real net neutrality, and we will fight for it.
  • “We believe that no one should work full-time and still live in poverty, and that means raising the minimum wage, and we will fight for it.
  • “We believe that fast-food workers deserve a livable wage, and that means that when they take to the picket line, we are proud to fight alongside them.
  • “We believe that students are entitled to get an education without being crushed by debt, and we will fight for it.
  • “We believe that after a lifetime of work, people are entitled to retire with dignity, and that means protecting Social Security, Medicare, and pensions, and we will fight for it.
  • “We believe — and I can’t believe I have to say this in 2014 — we believe in equal pay for equal work, and we will fight for it.
  • “We believe that equal means equal, and that’s true in marriage, it’s true in the workplace, it’s true in all of America, and we will fight for it.
  • “We believe that immigration has made this country strong and vibrant, and that means reform, and we will fight for it.
  • “And we believe that corporations are not people, that women have a right to their bodies. We will overturn Hobby Lobby and we will fight for it. We will fight for it!

Here are several notable quotes from Warren’s speech:

“We can’t win what we won’t fight for and it will be a hard fight. Many profitable companies look for every way they can to improve profits and bonuses, but many of them have another plan. They use their money and they try to influence Washington. Those with power fight to make sure every rule tilts in their favor. That’s what we are up against. That’s what America is up against,”

“For big corporations, trade negotiations are like Christmas morning. They get gifts they could never get through Congress. These meetings are held in secret so giant corporations can make deals and get inside information while regulations are gutted.”

“Lobbyists and lawyers have plenty of friends in congress. We can whine about it, or we can fight back. I’m fighting back! This is a fight over economics, privilege, and power. But deep down it’s a fight over values.”

Published: July 22, 2014 | Comments: 2