I sure hope not.
To the person who did a Google Search for Bruce Gerencser Dead, I want you to know I am indeed alive and kicking.
I am d-y-i-n-g just like we all are but I am not dead…yet.
I hope this clears up any rumors of my demise.
I sure hope not.
To the person who did a Google Search for Bruce Gerencser Dead, I want you to know I am indeed alive and kicking.
I am d-y-i-n-g just like we all are but I am not dead…yet.
I hope this clears up any rumors of my demise.
What follows is a response to my recent Letter to the Editor of the Defiance Crescent News. You can read the letter here. This response to my letter is a good example of the way a lot of people think in rural, small town, NW Ohio. My response is in italics and indented.
Mr. Gerencser is trying to undermine the historical importance the Bible played in the building of our country’s government by villainizing it and by stating; “that the moral code of conduct of a particular religion has no business being codified into law within a secular state”.
Not at all. I readily admit the significant part the Bible played in the history and foundation of the United States. I also admit the McGuffey Readers played a vital part in the education of countless children in the United States. No one suggests that we should use McGuffey Readers in our schools today and the same should go for the Bible.
The Bible is an antiquated book, written thousands of years ago, for a people whose lives bear little to no connection with how we live in the 21st century. It is irrelevant. In fact, the Bible often stands in the way of us becoming a just and progressive society.
Look at who the culture warriors are. Most all of them have a Bible in their hand as they demand that the citizens of a secular state submit to the commands of their particular sect’s God. This kind of thinking should be offensive to all those who value democracy and freedom.
I readily admit the Bible played a part in the making of our laws. But then, there are a lot of laws that are contrary to what the Bible teaches. Why do we not see Christians demanding non-Biblical laws be repealed?
Besides, no Christian really wants the laws of the Bible codified as the law of the State. It would cramp their lifestyle. Imagine, no NFL football because of the command to keep the Sabbath.
What is the Bible? It’s a book, an inanimate object. Mr. Gerencser states that; “The Bible has been used in the past to justify all kinds of vile behavior.” The Bible itself is not responsible for any of the reprehensible acts that have been committed throughout history and have been justified by misquoting the Bible. It is the person behind the act that is responsible; not just for committing them but also for using the Bible in a lie to further their own agenda. No one will inherit the kingdom of God, if the Bible is to be taken literally. It is all of us, myself included. Why, because of our sin nature, and because of this we have all of these “vile acts” throughout history. But the Bible is not just a book, it is God breathed, meaning it came from God.
So which is it? Is the Bible an inanimate object or is it a God breathed (inspired) book?
You would have me believe that reprehensible acts have been committed by people who found justification for their acts misquoting the Bible. The Bible is not the problem, people are. I don’t have a problem with your thinking here.
However, because no two Christians can agree on what the Bible says and people routinely use their interpretations of the Bible to justify acts that sane people consider evil, we should be able to agree that the Bible should not be consulted at all when it comes to matters of State. How could we ever determine whose interpretation is right?
I want leaders who use reason and common sense when they make decisions on my behalf. I don’t want them consulting religious leaders or the Bible before they act. As leaders in a secular state they should only concern themselves with making decisions that are in the best interest of the American people. (hint: banning abortion, demanding creationism be taught in public schools, withholding civil rights from same sex couples, and requiring sectarian prayers in school are not in the best interest of the American people)
You want to take the Bible literally, be my guest. However, we live in a secular state and literal interpretations of the Bible or any interpretation of any religious text for that matter, should play no part in our government’s decision making process.
I am not suggesting that Christians can’t be a part of our government. Since the majority of Americans are Christians. (albeit in name only) I don’t expect them to become atheists when they take office. I do, however, expect them to act in the best interest of the American people.
I want leaders who seek the counsel of good men and women rather than trying to divine the teachings and prophecies of an antiquated book written thousands of years ago.
We the United States of America are not a secular state, but a constitutional republic. Our Founding Fathers created our government based upon the Constitution which was based upon three separate documents: the Declaration of Independence, the Magna Carta and the Bible. Because of this our government is controlled by the Constitution. That is why it is called a, “living, breathing document”. We have been a Christian nation from the very beginning and many of us still are. Because our Constitution was based upon the Bible, that our government is based upon the Bible and the only way to change that is to change the Constitution. Hence, the fight we have been having over the last several decades.
Uh…we are a secular constitutional republic.
Uh, most people of your stripe do not consider the Constitution a living , breathing document. I suspect you are misidentifying yourself here. Most people who hold your view take a strict constructionist view of the Constitution. Strict constructionists view the Constitution like they do the Ten Commandments, written in stone.
I believe the Constitution is a living, breathing document. Over hundreds of years, as our nation continues to grow, evolve, and mature, our understanding of the Constitution changes. In my view, it matters not what the Founders meant the Constitution to say. What matters is what it is interpreted to mean now. Our laws have evolved and changed over time and I can only hope they will continue to do so.
Mr. Gerencser also stated that, “Our legal system should reflect what is best for the American people. How best to live as a pluralistic people in a secular state.”
Do you know what the second sentence in his quote means? Pluralism is the theory that a multitude of groups should govern the United States, not the people as a whole. These groups or organizations include trade unions, civil rights activists, environmentalists and business or financial lobbyists.
I have no idea where you got your definition of pluralism.
Diane Eck of The Pluralism Project at Harvard University writes:
The plurality of religious traditions and cultures has come to characterize every part of the world today. But what is pluralism? Here are four points to begin our thinking:
First, pluralism is not diversity alone, but the energetic engagement with diversity. Diversity can and has meant the creation of religious ghettoes with little traffic between or among them. Today, religious diversity is a given, but pluralism is not a given; it is an achievement. Mere diversity without real encounter and relationship will yield increasing tensions in our societies.
Second, pluralism is not just tolerance, but the active seeking of understanding across lines of difference. Tolerance is a necessary public virtue, but it does not require Christians and Muslims, Hindus, Jews, and ardent secularists to know anything about one another. Tolerance is too thin a foundation for a world of religious difference and proximity. It does nothing to remove our ignorance of one another, and leaves in place the stereotype, the half-truth, the fears that underlie old patterns of division and violence. In the world in which we live today, our ignorance of one another will be increasingly costly.
Third, pluralism is not relativism, but the encounter of commitments. The new paradigm of pluralism does not require us to leave our identities and our commitments behind, for pluralism is the encounter of commitments. It means holding our deepest differences, even our religious differences, not in isolation, but in relationship to one another.
Fourth, pluralism is based on dialogue. The language of pluralism is that of dialogue and encounter, give and take, criticism and self-criticism. Dialogue means both speaking and listening, and that process reveals both common understandings and real differences. Dialogue does not mean everyone at the “table” will agree with one another. Pluralism involves the commitment to being at the table — with one’s commitments.
I would also remind you that we do not have a government structure where the people as a whole govern. We elect people to represent us. If we like what they do while in office we reelect them. If we don’t we boot them out of office.
Majority rule democracy would quickly devolve into anarchy and oppression. Our current government structure rightly recognizes the right of minorities to find redress of their grievances.
We have all been witness to the glowing success of this in action over the last 3½ years. Just look at how certain groups within our government have tried to bail out the automotive industry and the housing market. All they have succeeded in doing is taking over the private market with an already failing model and enslaved our future generations with debt. A secular state remains neutral in matters of religion and treats all its citizens equal regardless of religion. Our Founding Fathers did not want our fledgling country to be sucked back into what they had just left where your religious stance could get you killed, and they wanted God to be the father of our nation. It all comes down to one thing: Do you believe in God?
Are you suggesting that the state should not be neutral in matters of religion? Are you suggesting that certain religions (I am assume the Christian religion) should receive preferential treatment? I assume you are advocating a Christian theocracy.
Yet, you turn right around suggest that our forefathers fled a theocracy to find freedom here in America. I am confused by your logic here, but then most Christian theocrats confuse me.
Where does the Constitution say the Christian God is the father of the United States?
Whether one believes in God is of no importance except for Christians who make believing in their God a matter of moral goodness. Since most of the evil acts perpetrated by the U.S. government over the course of its history were authorized by Christian men, it is proper and right for us to ask WHY anyone should think Christianity gives a person moral goodness?
I get it. God matters to you. The Bible matters to you. However, as a fellow citizen of the United States, God doesn’t matter to me and I find the Bible offensive and irrelevant. Since we are fellow citizens in a secular state we must find a way to co-exist. Telling me that I must bow to your God and follow your God’s law book is not co-existence, it is a declaration of war.
“It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God.” — George Washington.
You do know that George Washington was a deist?
I will leave you with a few George Washington quotes of my own:
“Of all the animosities which have existed among mankind, those which are caused by difference of sentiments in religion appear to be the most inveterate and distressing, and ought most to be deprecated. I was in hopes that the enlightened and liberal policy, which has marked the present age, would at least have reconciled Christians of every denomination so far that we should never again see the religious disputes carried to such a pitch as to endanger the peace of society.”
“Religious controversies are always productive of more acrimony and irreconcilable hatreds than those which spring from any other cause.”
“The blessed Religion revealed in the word of God will remain an eternal and awful monument to prove that the best Institutions may be abused by human depravity; and that they may even, in some instances, be made subservient to the vilest of purposes.”
Human beings are easily influenced and manipulated, some more so than others. What we hear and see often elicits an emotional response. As much as we try to steel ourselves against such things, we inevitably find ourselves being influenced and manipulated by what we see and hear.
Advertisers count on this. Every TV, print, internet, and radio ad is an attempt to sell us something or get us to do something. Certain colors, air brushed hunks and babes, starving children, action scenes, and the like are all used to elicit an emotional response from us.
We know this, we know the psychology of it, yet we still, unless we forcibly fight it, get sucked in. Human behavior is studied by those who want to sell us something or get us to do something. They know what visual or audible cues get our attention. They are the experts and we are the lab rats.
It should come as no surprise that Evangelical churches use these very same methods. I know this post is likely to cause Evangelicals to scream, whine, moan, and complain but…protest all they want, they know I am right.
I am no atheist outsider chucking rocks at the Evangelical church. I am a former insider, having spent twenty-five years in the Evangelical trenches. I served as assistant pastor or senior pastor in seven churches. A General Association of Regular Baptist Church (GARBC), a Christian Union Church, a Sovereign Grace Baptist Church, a Southern Baptist Church, 2 Independent Baptist Churches, and a Non-denominational Church.
I preached thousands of sermons and held thousands of public worship services. I held revival meetings, spoke at youth camp, and was guest speaker for various special events. I was a guest speaker at churches from 20 different sects or denominations.
After I left the ministry our family visited over a hundred churches, looking for a church that took seriously the teachings of Jesus. You can check out the list of churches we visited here.
It is safe to say that my experience with Evangelical Christianity is broad and that I am quite qualified to make some observations about Evangelicalism. I continue to monitor and study the Evangelical movement. The fact that I am an atheist is immaterial.
Now that we have that out of the way…
Now some Evangelical churches and pastors don’t have a clue how to effectively reach (manipulate) people. Usually churches like this have a handful people attending. I am not talking about these kind of churches.
Every church I pastored grew in attendance. Several of them had dramatic attendance growth. Some of the churches were small churches, churches that had been in decline for years. When I became their pastor attendance began to increase. Why did every church I pastored (or was an assistant pastor) grow in attendance? (at the time I ascribed it to God and his blessing on my ministry)
The first thing we must understand is that Evangelical churches are all about WHO the pastor is. Churches are known as Pastor So and So’s church. Every piece of church literature has the pastor’s name on it. The church sign, the church’s website, well just about everything, has the pastor’s name attached to it. The bottom line is this…it is all about the pastor. (see my post The Cult of Personality)
I know there will Evangelicals that will object and say, MY CHURCH IS NOT LIKE THIS. I am sure there are a few outliers, but most Evangelical churches are just like I described above.
What happens when a well-liked Pastor leaves a church? Attendance numbers decline. Why is this? Simple. Large numbers of Evangelicals attend the church they do because of who the pastor is. Pastor leaves, they leave, doing what many Evangelicals have turned into a fine-art,
church pastor shopping.
Most of the people who attended the churches I pastored did so because I was the pastor. They liked my friendly personality. They liked that I paid attention to them and that I listened to them when they had problems. I was always available, always willing to lend a helping hand. (or loan them money or the use of my car)
Most of all they liked my preaching. I was good at my craft. My sermons were, for the most part, well received. I took great pride in putting together sermons that were as close to perfect as possible. I studied hard and put a lot of work into making sure my sermon would say exactly what I wanted it to say and that it would elicit the response I wanted it to. (of course I bathed every sermon in prayer, asking God to use my sermon to advance the kingdom of God)
Every pastor preaches with the hope that his sermon will be well received and that those hearing it will respond appropriately. Most public speakers, religious or not, want the same result. Who publicly speaks and expects no response?
In his sermon, the pastor uses verbal language, illustrations, voice inflections, and body language to effectively deliver the sermon. Over time, the pastor learns what works and what doesn’t.
I know of several pastors who are “crying” pastors. They cry at some point in most every sermon. As any pastor knows, tears are very effective in reinforcing what he is saying in his sermon. As his voice quivers and the tears run down his cheeks, parishioners are often emotionally affected and begin to cry. (advertisers do the same when they use pictures of starving black children or sickly, starving puppies.)
When people gather together in Evangelical churches for public worship they believe that God meets with them and, if they are listening, God will speak to them. (through the music, prayer, the sermon, etc.) Emotional outbursts are often viewed as God speaking or God moving.
Add to this the fact that most people entering the church on Sunday, enter with personal problems and burdens. During the past week they have faced troubles and trials and they enter the church hoping to find peace, comfort, and direction. And more often than not, through the sermon, the music, or some other aspect of public worship, they find some help and they “feel” better when they leave the church than when they came in.
Even in hell fire and brimstone, preaching hard against sin, churches, people generally leave in better shape than they came in. How? Through the sermon,
God the pastor exposed their sin and showed them they needed to repent. What better way to find peace than to have your sins exposed and expiated?
People enter the church emotionally vulnerable. They come wanting a changed life. They want God to speak to them, to change them, to deliver them. They are open to manipulation and often are unaware they are even being manipulated.
I should make clear at this point that the manipulators, most often the pastor or maybe a worship leader, are often not even aware they are manipulating people. They do what they were taught to do, what they grew up experiencing. They are a product of their environment and often think that their manipulative methods are simply what pastors are supposed to do. (though some pastors, especially of the charismatic, faith healer type, are con-artists and they know exactly what they are doing)
As I look back over twenty-five years of pastoring churches, I sadly must conclude that I was an expert manipulator. At the time I would never have thought myself to be a manipulator since I was only doing what I had experienced and been taught, but it was manipulation nonetheless. ( and I wonder if ANY religious service is free of manipulation, no matter how subtle it might be)
Smart pastors know first impressions are very important and they do everything they can to make sure the first impression is a good impression. What they are doing is what every business tries do; get consumers to buy their product. Services, music, programs, printed material, sermons, etc. are all designed to get the consumer to buy what the church/pastor is selling.
Evangelical companies like Lifeway and Barna spend considerable money and time studying American behavior.The study results are made available to Evangelical denominations, churches, and pastors. Growing churches know their niche, they know the demographics of the area they are in. Everything is geared towards reaching their target audience.
As any pastor knows, no church can be all things to all people. Every church must decide who to reach, who to sell their product to. Churches who think they can be all things to all people generally don’t grow and aren’t very effective in reaching the community they are in.
Let me tie all this together. Yes, there really is a point to this post.
When you take everything I have written here together, you perhaps can see how easy it is for people to be manipulated when they visit or are a member of an Evangelical church. Most everything the church/pastor does is done to attract new people or keep members in the chair. (pews are s-o 20th century) They have a product to sell and they do everything they can to get people to buy what they are selling.
From the physical structure, to the seat layout, to the order of the service, everything is geared towards closing the deal. The worship leader carefully plans the service, choosing songs that mesh with the pastor’s sermon. Even the lighting and sound are carefully managed to produce the desired result.
Churches that have altar calls are the most manipulative of all. They use all of the above and them some, with their heads bowed, everyone praying, softly singing, pleas to obey God, altar calls.
I have watched hundreds and hundreds of people come to the altar to do business with God. Many of them were weeping and emotionally distraught. Surely this was God moving, right? Or maybe, it was emotional manipulation, Evangelical style.
I am of the opinion that going to an Evangelical church with your emotional guard down can be very dangerous. If a person is not careful they can be be easily manipulated into saying and doing things they would not normally say or do. I know the Evangelical will say this is God moving but I am convinced most Evangelicals can not tell the difference between God moving and emotional manipulation. (as an atheist, since I don’t believe God exists, I am certain it is emotional manipulation)
Over the course of twenty-five years as a pastor I saw countless numbers of people get saved, get right with God, confess their sins, etc., only to never return to the church or revert right back to doing whatever sin they confessed.
They were emotionally manipulated into making a decision, praying a prayer, or responding to a sermon. Once they were free from the church and the pastor they realized how foolish they had been. (as many atheists find out years after the fact)
Individuality is not encouraged in the Evangelical church. (with exceptions made for the pastor, worship leader, and other church super-stars) Herd mentality is prominent in many churches. Watch a contemporary praise and worship service. It “looks” like everyone is freely worshiping God, but are they? Granted there are some signs of individuality , but, for the most part, everyone is doing the same thing.
I know most Evangelicals will heartily and vehemently reject what I have written in this post. I doubt there is anything I can say that will change their mind. This much I know…if you look at Evangelicalism from a emotional, psychological, and sociological perspective, it is hard not to see emotional manipulation in most everything Evangelicals do when they gather together for public worship.
In many ways, Evangelicals mirror the age we live in. Their techniques are not much different from those used by advertisers, political campaign managers, or TV producers. All of them have a product to sell and will do whatever they need to do to get us to buy what they are selling.
I am always amazed at where my writing shows up on the internet. My posts have been widely discussed and cussed. I am grateful for the exposure, even when my words are being dissected, abused, misused, and taken out of context.
Sermonindex is not an attempt by man to build something for God. It began as God gave the burden and only will continue as He is guiding the work being fully trusted. It began by a work of God’s Spirit and for His glory: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD Almighty.’ – Zechariah 4:6.
The work and ministry of SermonIndex can be encapsulated in this one word: Revival. Concepts such as Holiness, Purity, Christ-Likeness, Self-Denial and Discipleship are hardly the goal of much modern preaching. Thus the main thrust of the speakers and articles on the website encourage us towards a reviving of these missing elements of Christianity. This biblical balanced Christianity is something needed desperately today. ‘Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain.’ – Psalm 127:1. The desire for a Spiritual Awakening (revival in a larger-sense) is close to the heart of this ministry. That we would see God working in such a way that sin would be forsaken, restitution be made, Christ honored and the morality of society even changed.
One commenter had this to say about my post:
…That being said, the author of the article did make a few statements that I suspect are not true; of course it may not be possible to PROVE he is wrong; nonetheless:
1. It is doubtful that many atheists were Christians prior to their “conversion” to atheism. Perhaps there was some connection to Christianity, which is a far car from being a true follower and disciple of Christ. It is very unlikely that they had a genuine love for the Lord and were truly followers of Him at some point in their lives.
2. Atheists almost always appeal to intellectual reasons to support their non-belief. While I believe they really do have these intellectual reasons, it is my suspicion that there is almost always some bad past experience behind their choice to not believe. Further, there are ‘cultural’ reasons are practically synonymous with ‘intellectual’ reasons since it is our culture that poisons people’s thinking in erroneous ways which make Christianity seem unbelievable.
3. I disagree with his statement that atheists “probably aren’t God’s ‘elect’ anyways.” Jesus Christ is God’s elect One and every person is invited to share election through Him.
4. I agree with most of his list of the methods that generally don’t work with atheists, but “friendship evangelism,” if done in love and not just to ‘convert’ them as a means to an end can be effective IF (and it’s a big if) the witness is truly living a Christ-like life.
The commenter starts out by saying that I make some statements in my post that he “suspects” are not true. Of course, he can’t prove that I am wrong, but as we all know, that has never stopped a Christian from saying whatever they wanted about atheists.
Atheists, homosexuals and liberal Christians, are routinely attacked and disparaged by Evangelical Christians.Usually, all they know about the aforementioned evil doers comes from what a talking parrot, also known as a pastor, regurgitated from an apologetics books he has recently read.
I preached for years against atheists, homosexuals, and liberals and never personally knew anyone who wore those labels. Preaching about them was like preaching about people who didn’t faithfully attend church. Those who didn’t faithfully attend church weren’t there to hear me preach about them, and neither were the atheists, homosexuals, and liberals.
This kind of preaching was meant for the choir. It was meant to let the faithful know that they were on the right side, God’s side. As long as people live in the Evangelical bubble they will continue to believe things about atheists, homosexuals, and liberals that are no true. The only hope of changing their mind will come when they actually meet and get to know the evil doers their pastor rages against. Once a real flesh and blood face is put to the point in the sermon, all of a sudden things change.
It is evident the commenter on the Sermon Index doesn’t really know any atheists. If he did he wouldn’t have written the ill informed, foolish things that he did.
Granted, there are some atheists who were nominal Christians before they deconverted. However, most of the atheists I know were not nominal Christians. They were active in their church. Many of them taught Sunday School or led worship. More than a few of them were pastors, evangelists, Christian school teachers, or Christian college professors. These people, like myself, were anything BUT nominal. They were sincere, devoted, committed, faithful followers of Jesus Christ.
Of course, I understand WHY the commenter disparages atheists like he does. If we were just nominal, sit in the pew Christians who didn’t take the Christian faith seriously, it is much easier to dismiss us.
I have stated many times, and I will state it again here. I was a sincere, devoted, committed follower of Jesus Christ. I was saved, baptized, and spent most of my life in loving, faithful devotion to Jesus.
I was orthodox in doctrine. I was a dedicated student of the Bible and I took seriously my calling to preach the gospel. No one, in 25 years, out of the thousands of people that heard me preach, ever said, I don’t think Bruce is a Christian.
Of course, it is easy to judge me never a Christian now. My current life is proof that I never was a Christian, or so they think. All I know is this, either I was deceived for 50 years and I deceived thousands of people for 25 years, or I was a Christian and now I am not.
The commenter goes on to suggest that atheists are not honest about their reasons for deconverting. He writes:
it is my suspicion that there is almost always some bad past experience behind their choice to not believe.
No matter how many times you tell them the reasons, they still insist that behind the intellectual reasons is anger or hurt.
So what if a person like me was angry or hurt. Does a person being angry or hurt mean they can’t make a decision for intellectual reasons? Must our choice to deconvert be for passionless reasons?
Let me turn this around for a moment. Imagine if atheists said “I don’t believe you became a Christian for intellectual reasons. You didn’t become a Christian because of the gospel message. There was some psychological or emotional reason.”
I can only imagine the outrage. Is there an emotional or psychological component to a person’s conversion? Absolutely. However, I would hope that a person became a Christian because they intellectually believed what the Bible taught about Jesus and the good news of the gospel.
Again, it is far easier to dismiss atheists when their deconversion is attributed to psychological or emotional reasons. Once it is admitted that they deconverted for intellectual reasons then they are forced to deal with the actual evidence that led to the atheist’s deconversion.
The commenter would have us believe that atheists deconvert because culture (and I am not sure exactly what he means here) presents Christianity as unbelievable.
Actually, it is Christians themselves, along with the Bible, that presents Christianity as unbelievable. Culture is not to blame, the church is.
Evangelical Christianity excels at turning people into atheists. Instead of trying to fault the athiest, blame the culture, how about Christians owning up to their own culpability in turning people away from the faith.
Look at Evangelical Christianity. What do you see? Hateful, mean spirited, judgmental, right-wing, homophobic, bigots. (and yes, I am deliberately painting with a broad brush) Why would ANYONE want to become a Christian?
The truth is the Christian church has little or nothing to offer. Go ahead and blame the atheists, homosexuals and liberals. Go ahead and blame Richard Dawkins or Bart Ehrman. Blame anyone and everyone but who should be blamed.
The Southern Baptist Convention is dying on the vine. Instead of taking time to reflect on why that is…they busy themselves passing resolutions stating that same sex marriage is not a civil rights matter. Who is is the target of this resolution? Not Southern Baptist gays. What openly gay person would want to be a part of a homophobic denomination like the Southern Baptist Convention?
Resolutions like this are meant for the culture at large. They want us to know they intend to be the moral arbiters for everyone, not just Southern Baptists.
The newspapers have regular stories about Evangelical pastors who do despicable things. And what to Evangelicals do? Forgive, often hide, and forget. Those of us in the worldly culture so despised by Evangelicals are not so quick to forgive and forget. When people with power rape, molest, steal, and abuse we hold a grudge. We demand justice. We don’t give them a time out or move them on to another church. Quite frankly, many of us godless heathens are sickened by how the Godly dismiss the peccadillos of their leaders. (and this includes the child abuse scandal in the Catholic church)
The best thing Evangelicals could do is get off the internet, shut the hell up, stop trying to turn America into a theocracy, and get your house in order. Return to the good works of the Jesus you say you follow. Then, just maybe, you might have something to offer to the rest of us.
The commenter, in his fourth point, suggests that Friendship Evangelism can be an effective way to evangelize atheists if:
done in love and not just to ‘convert’ them as a means to an end can be effective IF (and it’s a big if) the witness is truly living a Christ-like life.
Over the past four years, I have had a number of Christians try the Friendship Evangelism approach with me. They friend me on Facebook. They send me invitations to lunch or dinner. They ask if I “just want to hang out.” They assure me their motives are pure…they just want to be my friend.
Either they are deluded or lying. What is the grand end-all for the Evangelical? The conversion of sinners. It is all about making new Christians. The friendship offer is predicated on the belief that, if they are nice, they will be given the opportunity to share the gospel.
I have no problem with this. I know what the Bible says and Christians SHOULD be witnessing at every opportunity. However, they shouldn’t hide behind wanting to be my friend.
Now, if they really just want to be my friend…how about we get together with the church deacons and go and drink some beers at the strip club? Come on, just us guys, hanging out, doing guy stuff.
Or how about we will be friends but you can’t mention your religion, pray, invite me to church, or do anything that remotely smells like an attempt to evangelize me?
No takers? I thought so.
Someday, somewhere, I just might actually meet an Evangelical Christian that really wants to have a no-strings attached friendship. Like the ivory-billed woodpecker, I am sure there is one out there…s-o-m-e-w-h-e-r-e.
Rebellion is a common word in the vocabulary of Evangelical Christian pastors, church leaders, husbands, and parents.
The Bible considers rebellion a serious matter:
For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king. (1 Samuel 15:23)
Those who practiced witchcraft were to be put to death (Exodus 22:18, Deuteronomy 18:9-11) so it is clear that God considered rebellion to be a serious matter.
God commanded a harsh punishment for a rebellious son:
If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them; Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place;And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard.And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you and all Israel shall hear, and fear. Deuteronomy 21:18-21)
The Old Testament is the written record of how a Holy God dealt with a rebellious people, Israel. Page after page details God’s judgments against his people. (and those who got in his way)
When we get to the New Testament, the word rebellion is not used. Does this mean that God had changed? Of course not. How is it possible for a perfect God to change? Malachi 3:6 says:
For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.
The Bible says, speaking of Jesus:
Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. (Hebrews 13:8)
It is clear that God is immutable. He doesn’t change. (though there are texts that seem to suggest otherwise)
The Evangelical Church is a sect that accepts both Testaments as authoritative. (especially those Old Testament verses about tithing) Granted, Evangelicals are quite contradictory in their interpretations of the Old Testament, picking and choosing what they want to believe, but they do say all 66 books of the Bible are authoritative.
And there is the key word, AUTHORATATIVE.
Evangelicals take seriously the matter of rebellion because they believe that Bible is an authoritative text and from the text they deduce an authority structure.
It goes something like this:
The Evangelical Christian believes God rules over all. There is no King but Jesus and no God but the Christian God.
The problem here is that Evangelical Christians are human. Contrary to all their talk about being saved and sanctified, Christians are pretty much just like the rest of us. For all their praying and confessing sin they live and talk just like everyone else. Simply put, like all of us, they do what they want to do.
And that is a big, big problem.
You see the God of the authoritative Bible demands obedience. God expects Christians to implicitly obey his commands. All of them. God will have none of this picking and choosing that American Christians love to do.
So everywhere you look you have Christians in some form of rebellion against God, the pastor, their parents, or their husband. No matter how much they pray, read the Bible, go to the altar, and promise to really obey God this time, they continue to lapse into rebellion.
This is what Jesus told his followers in Matthew 5:48:
Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
It seems Jesus didn’t lower the standard. God expects and demands perfection. God will have none of this “I am not perfect just forgiven” cheap grace Christianity. Jesus expects his followers to walk in his steps. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, they have been given everything they need pertaining to life and godliness. (2 Peter 1:3)
But, let me say again:
The problem here is that Evangelical Christians are human. Contrary to all their their talk about being saved and sanctified, Christians are pretty much just like the rest of us. For all their praying and confessing sin they live and talk just like everyone else. Simply put, like all of us, they do what they want to do.
The difference between the atheist and the Evangelical Christian is guilt. The Christian lives in a constant cycle of living right, rebelling, feeling guilty, repenting, and back to living right. This cycle can go one numerous times a day.
The atheist can feel guilty at times but since he is not encumbered by a long list of laws, commands, rules, regulations, precepts, or standards he is less likely to feel guilty. With no God hovering over him, with no pastor thundering at him, the atheist is pretty much free to enjoy life. He tries to live by the maxim, don’t hurt other people and when he fails he is likely to make restitution and ask for forgiveness from the person he hurt. No need for a God, Bible, church, or pastor. As a human, he has all the necessary faculties to be a good person.
What makes it worse for the Christian is that they go to church and their pastor reminds them, from the Bible of course, how rebellious they are. He points out their sin and reminds them that God hates sin. He rightly calls on them to repent.
You would think that people would get tired of all this but each week they dutifully return to church so their pastor can remind them about their sinfulness and need of repentance.
Children, especially teenagers, get this same treatment from their parents. When they don’t obey their parents they are chastised and reminded that God hates rebellion. But kids will be kids, as every parent knows…and in Christian homes it seems that children are either starting into rebellion or coming out of it.
Parents are commanded by God to beat the rebellion out of their children. They have a good example in God. Hebrews 12:5-10 says:
And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him:For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.
The Bible records how God goes about chastising rebellious Christians. He maims them, makes them sick, kills their family, takes away their possessions, starves them, and if necessary kills them. God goes to great lengths to make sure a Christian seeks after the “peaceable fruit of righteousness.” (Hebrews 12:11)
Here is how God expects Evangelical Christian parents to respond to the rebellion of their children:
Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him. (Proverbs 22:15)
Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die.Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell. (Proverbs 23:13,14)
Let me tie this all together.
An authoritative text from an authoritarian God establishes authority structures for the church, family, and nations. Disobedience to authority is to be be punished.
For those of us raised in this kind of Christianity (and all forms of Christianity have some of this, even liberal iterations of Christianity) we well know how this practically works out.The Bible, in the hands of God’s man, the pastor, is used to dominate and control people. Individuality and freedom is discouraged and, in some cases, severely punished.
Pastors remind the church of pastoral authority. Parents remind children that they are to be obedient at all times and threaten them with punishment if they don’t. Husbands remind their wives that they are the head of the home and their word is f-i-n-a-l. Collectively, Christians warn government officials that Jesus is the Lord of Lords and King of Kings and God demands they submit to the authority of God, the Bible and his people. (this is the essence of the theocracy movement in this country)
Some readers are likely weeping by now. Their mind goes back 20 or 30 years to a time when they were teenagers. Their parents considered them rebellious. Often their rebellion was things like listening to rock music, smoking, getting pregnant, talking back, having sex, or smoking marijuana.Their parents, needing to show them that they were in charge, sent them off to group homes to get their “rebellion” problem fixed. What really happened is that they were cruelly misused, abused, and debased. Years later their lives still bear the marks of the Godly “rebellion” treatment they received.
It is hard not to see cultism in all of this. I am sure Bible-believing Christians, people of the book, will scream foul, but the marks of a cult are there for all to see if they dare but open their eyes. Millions of people attend churches that believe the things I have written about in this post.
This is what Bible literalism gets you. How can it be otherwise?
Guest post by Exrelayman
If the Bible were God’s word:
1. It would be perfectly engrossing. You would love reading it.
2. It would be perfectly clear. There would not be any disagreement anywhere about the meaning of any verse or passage.
3. It would be perfectly persuasive. People of any other faith would convert immediately upon reading this clear and persuasive message.
4. It would perfectly distributed to all the cultures of the world simultaneously, in their own language.
5. It would be perfectly indestructible. Neither years nor flood nor flame could mar or destroy it.
6. It would be perfectly original and accurate in all that it says.
In brief, it would be a perfect revelation proceeding from a perfect God.
And what do we observe in the real world:
1a. Very hard to force yourself to slog through it. Most who profess Christianity don’t struggle through all the begats and directions for making temple garments. Very inferior to myriads of mere human novelists.
2a. Earnest disagreement about what it actually says has led to thousands of differing denominations. Not so clear then.
3a. It needs a bit of help. Pastors must spend Sundays being persuasive. Persuasive hymns and apologetics are needed. Heaven and hell must be dangled as carrot and stick to evince coercion through hope and fear rather than clear evidential persuasion.
4a. Given at one part of the world, the gospels especially through unknown biased writers at unknown places and times.
5a. As susceptible to decay and destruction as any other book.
6a. Sadly imitative, many other dying and resurrecting savior gods from surrounding cultures preceded the Christ story. The Old Testament stories largely derive from antecedent cultures also. Flatly in conflict with what science has discovered about the age of the Earth and the evolution of life upon it. Flatly contradictory with its own self in numerous places.
At each expectation of what the revelation of a perfect and powerful God would be like, the Bible fails. Now these expectations are admittedly subjective, so that each one of them might be arguable. But cumulatively they become, at least as I see it, irresistable. Thus the verdict that it is not a divine document, but is shown by its own nature to be the product of ignorant and superstitious men writing in ignorant and superstitious times.
Many Evangelical Christians take seriously Jesus’s command to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. Every creature includes atheists.
Here is what Christians need to understand:
Here are some Evangelistic methods that will likely not work:
Personally, I would suggest you not witness to an atheist. You are likely going to be disappointed with the result. There are a lot of “other” prospects for heaven that will be much easier to evangelize.
However, if you are certain God is directing you and the Hoy Spirit is leading you to witness to an atheist I would encourage you to be all prayed up and ready to have an intellectual discussion about God, Jesus, and the Bible. Be prepared to talk about theology, philosophy, history, science, and archeology. Be prepared to give evidence (proof) of the assertions you make. Saying the Bible says will not work since the atheist will likely not accept the authority of the Bible.
You might as well face it, if the atheist refuses to accept the Bible as a God inspired authoritative text there is no hope of you successfully witnessing to him. It is better for you to kick the dust off your shoes and go witness to those who accept your presuppositions about God and the Bible.
Atheists are the swine in the don’t cast your pearls before swine Bible verse. Atheists are reprobates whom God has turned over to their evil desires. Atheists are followers of Satan, deaf and blind to your God and the Bible.
With so many billions of other people to witness to why bother witnessing to people who have no interest in your message, are likely to make great intellectual demands of you, and are likely not God’s elect? Be a smart fisher-of-men, go where the fish are.
Chris Hohnholz, at the Fundamentalist blog Defending Contending, says that the reason Americans, especially young Americans, are embracing the radical homosexual agenda is because they haven’t been really told what the Bible says about the matter.
Maybe I am overstating the obvious here, but the Christian church has lost a lot of ground with regards to homosexuality. I’m not talking about on the legislative or protest front, I’m talking about in our preaching and teaching of the gospel. We are losing and the culture is looking at us as old, fuddy-duddies who simply haven’t got a clue…
…Now, all one has to do is peruse social media and blogging sites to see the prevailing attitude among our culture. Young people have no clue what the Bible says about homosexuality. And what little they think they know is grossly wrenched out of context. But the sad truth is that many Christians know less about this issue, biblically speaking, than those whose voices are being the agent of change in our culture. We simply don’t know how to defend the faith, and we look like fools when we try. So the culture throws the out of context verses at us, along with emotionally charged rhetoric, and we either respond with half thought answers, or we fold under the pressure. The result is that immorality grows unabated and the church loses more influence everyday.
So how do we address this? Well, it certainly isn’t going to be through protests, legislation and lawsuits. Just watch the evening news to see how well that battle is going. What’s worse, because there is no gospel centeredness in such efforts, all we appear to be are hate mongering jerks who want everyone to do things our way.
I believe that we as a church must first start by educating ourselves in the scriptures. And this means doing a lot of hermeneutical homework. We have to understand the passages of scripture, and their contexts, with regard to homosexuality. We also have to understand the passages the world loves to use to point out the so called hypocrisy in what we obey (such as the prohibitions to the Jews to wearing blended fabrics or eating shellfish). We have to understand for ourselves the differences between moral and civil laws and know what it is Christ really said about marriage. If we don’t take the time to do this individually, we will be ill prepared for any conversation that comes up…
…We have lost so much ground because, as a church, we have not invested the time to learn the right answers. We have lashed out angrily, we have given weak answers that toppled with a mere shove, or we have cowered into our philosophical corners and let the issue march right by…
Hohnholz believes that Christians need to be better educated about Bible hermeneutics and using the Christian Scriptures in context. Simply put, Hohnholz believes the problem is a lack of good apologetical skills. (on the website he recommends a video by the Apologetics god, Reformed Baptist, James White.)
Is the problem really a lack of education? Will America repent of her embracing of the radical homosexual agenda if Christians only learn how to argue and debate better?
Of course not. Perhaps this approach will work when debating liberal Christians who have done their best to reinterpret, explain away, or rewrite what the Bible says about homosexuality. Perhaps this approach will work with angry atheists who show their lack of theological and hermenuetical understanding when they point to Christian interpretive contradictions.
However, Hohnholz’s approach won’t work with people like me, a former Evangelical trained pastor of 25 years. I spent 25 years studying the Christian Bible and I know it inside and out. I understand the argument that Hohnholz is making about hermeneutics, about the difference between moral and civil law. While I am quite confident that I could poke holes in Hohnholz’s moral vs. civil law distinction (is he suggesting some of God’s laws are NOT moral?) I readily grant that his view is widely held among Calvinistic and Reformed Christians.
You see I agree with Hohnholz about what the Bible teaches on the matter of homosexuality. I think Hohnholz’s understanding of homosexuality accurately reflects what the Christian Bible teaches. In other words, Hohnholz is right. The Bible condemns homosexuality. It is a sin, a mark of a reprobate. Hohnholz believes what Christians everywhere believed for over 1900 years.
Cal Thomas is right about one thing. The Bible clearly condemns homosexuality. The Bible is not ambiguous about homosexuality. It is a sinful behaviour that is the mark of a reprobate heart. If the Bible is taken literally, it is clear that no homosexual will inherit the kingdom of God.
And this is the very reason the Bible should not be used as a legal standard in the United States. Christians are free to live according to the dictates of the Bible, however, in a secular state, a particular religion’s moral code of conduct has no business being codified into law.
There are many moral strictures in the Bible that many moderns find abhorrent. The Bible has been used in the past to justify all kinds of vile behavior. Not too many years ago segregationists routinely quoted the Bible to justify their dehumanizing of the African-American race. We matured as a Nation and realized the Bible was wrong about slavery and the so-called inferior races.
In the same manner, the Bible is wrong about homosexuality. In fact, the Bible is wrong about many sexual matters. At best, the Bible is a religious text that promotes sexual repression and control. It is is book that is currently being used by single, white, Catholic men to deny women birth control and control of their own bodies. Christians who willingly submit to such anachronistic laws are free to do so, but Christian sects have no right to force, through the legal process, others to live by their moral code.
We say we are a Nation that believes in privacy but it seems that many Christians only support a right to privacy when what is being done in private lines up with their moral code. Simply put, Christians need to mind their own business when it comes to the sexual proclivities of others. What goes on behind closed doors between consenting adults is nobody’s business. Again, Christians are free to live according to their interpretation of the moral code of the Bible, but in a secular state they have no right to insist, through legal means, that others do so.
Homosexuals should have the same civil rights as any other American. Since marriage is a legal act licensed by the state, matters of religion have no place in the process. Two men, two women, or a man or woman should have the same freedom to marry. There is no civil reason for denying homosexuals the right to marry.
Christians need to realize that the United States is not a Christian nation. It never has been. Christianity does not deserve special status and certainly the Bible should have no weight when it comes to enacting law.
Our legal system should reflect what is best for the American people. How best to live as a pluralistic people in a secular state. Allowing homosexuals to marry and have the same civil rights as heterosexuals is absolutely essential as we mature as a nation.
Here is what I am saying…Hohnholz is right about the Bible and how Christians should present the Bible teaching on homosexuality. He is quite right to suggest that most Christians are woefully lacking when it comes to the skills necessary to adequately defend what the Bible says about homosexuality.
Americans should be told that the Christian God condemns homosexuality, along with fornication and adultery. They should be told that fornicators, adulterers and homosexuals will not inherit the kingdom of God. They should be told that hell awaits ALL homosexuals and that the only remedy for the homosexual is to repent, embrace salvation in Jesus Christ, and stop being a homosexual. There is no such thing as a homosexual Christian.
Americans need to be told bluntly exactly how much God hates their sin, how much God hates every person who is his enemy. (and all unregenerate people are God’s enemy. all unregenerate people have Satan as their father) Americans need to hear the complete, unvarnished truth about what the Christian Bible really teaches. I am for FULL disclosure.
Maybe then, finally, the American people will know WHY they should reject Christianity and its abhorrent Bible. Maybe then they will see the danger of attempts to erode the wall of separation between church and state. Maybe then they will stop voting for right wing Republican or God loving, flag waving Tea Party members who, if they had their way, would have homosexuals incarcerated or executed. (after all they only believe this because it IS what the Bible teaches)
Once Christianity and its Bible is completely exposed for all to see, maybe then we can put this prehistoric age behind us, and maybe then every citizen in America will have the same civil rights, regardless of who they love or who they have sex with.
So Hohnholz is right and I hope him being right will be the death of the Christianity he wants everyone to embrace.
No, it doesn’t.
And if it actually did, it is the one command every Christian breaks on a daily basis.
I am sure you have been in one of THOSE arguments, debates, or discussions. You know when you express your opinion about a matter and someone shrieks, YOU ARE JUDGING!
Why of course, we are judging.
We all judge each and every day of our lives. Common sense tells us this is so.
People who use the stop judging line are trying to control the debate and stifle any opinion other than their own. If you agree with the person you are a wonderful person but if you disagree you are judgmental.
I wish these don’t judge people would at least be honest when they open their mouth, post something on Facebook, write a blog post, etc. They need to preface each public pronouncement with:
I am not interested in what you think. If you disagree with me I will consider you to be a judgmental person and if you continue I might even throw a fit, and if you really, really keep at it I will SHOW you…I will unfriend you on Facebook. TAKE THAT!
Let’s settle one thing here. You judge, I judge, we all judge. What matters is HOW we judge, what standard we use for judging.
And that, by the way is exactly what the Bible says.
Christians, by far, are the whiniest when it comes to judging. With Bible in hand they make all sorts of judgments . They judge who is saved and who is lost. They judge what sin is and they really, really like to judge sexual sin. (a sign that they have not gotten laid lately)
Yet, when others turn their judgment towards them they protest loudly and say, the BIBLE says, thou shalt not judge.
Let’s look at what the Bible actually says:
Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:1-5)
Most people stop at Matthew 7:1. Judge not, that ye be not judged.
Seems pretty clear doesn’t it? Don’t judge others if you don’t want to be judged yourself.
This one verse is foundational for those who think we should tolerate any belief a person might have. The toleration at all costs crowd thinks every person is autonomous and has a right to say whatever they want. Free speech reigns paramount.
The libertarian in me generally thinks toleration is a good idea but when individuals or groups bring their ideas into the public square any notion of toleration must be put aside. In a democracy like ours, we fight our battles in the public square. Citizens bring their ideas to the public square in hopes of finding like minded people to join with their cause. Often they do, but in the public square they also often find those who oppose their cause. And so competing causes, ideas, and beliefs clash with one another and wage war against each other in the public square. Over time, it is hoped the best cause, idea, or belief wins. (and I speak with gross generalization here)
It is likely the winner’s cause, idea, or belief will have been altered by those who challenged it. Through this bloody give and take we progress and move forward as a people. (1) As you can readily see, the scientific method fits well in this kind of environment. Scientist A says _____________________, and Scientists B, C, and D take exception and through the scientific method set out to challenge, refute, or modify what Scientist A said.
Note what the Bible says in Matthew 7:2-5, the verses few Christians ever bother to read. (after all, Christians subscribe to the “ignore what doesn’t fit my agenda, worldview, way I want to live, rule of interpretation.”)
Verse 2 says:
For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
For WITH WHAT JUDGMENT YE JUDGE, ye shall be judged. The Bible is quite clear. It is a given…we all make judgments, so when we judge, whatever standard of judgment we use, that same standard of judgment will be used by others when they judge us.
The Bible even addresses the method we use to judge when it says with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. In modern vernacular the Bible is saying, however you dish out judgment expect it to be dished back to you the same way.
Over the course of 4 years of blogging people have left almost 15,000 comments on my various blog iterations. A small percentage of comments were left by Christians with nasty dispositions, Christians who were so filled with certainty that they had no tolerance for any differing viewpoint. (I can count on one hand the non-Christians who did this) They knew the truth and their objective was to tell me that I was wrong, deceived, blind, lost, headed for hell, or an enemy of God. In their worldview there is no room for doubt or not knowing.
These know-it-all Christians tend to be arrogant, bombastic, and lacking in basic social graces. Of all the different types of people I have met on the internet, they are the type that really get under my skin. (perhaps because I was just like them at one time in my life) I tend to respond “in kind” to this kind of commenter. Using Bible terms, I am just meting out to them what they meted out to me.
Bit by bit I am learning to not engage people who think like this. They lack the ability or the desire to engage in thoughtful discussion and, to use a Bible quote again, discussions with them is casting my pearls before swine. Simply put, it is a waste of time.
Well, enough of chasing that rabbit trail. (the preacher in me still lives) Back to Matthew 7:1-5.
Verses 3 and 4 say:
And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
The Bible teaches that we should first consider our own life, our own faults, our own inconsistencies, and for my Christian readers, our own sins, before we consider the the deficiencies of others.
As is often the case, we tend to be able to see the smallest of matters in the lives of others (the mote, a small sliver) all the while not being able to see the biggest of matters in our own lives.(the beam)
Before we judge others we should carefully judge ourselves. We seem to rarely do this. Self reflection. Taking an inventory of our own lives. Like the old evangelist said, draw a circle on the floor, stand in the middle of the circle, and judge everyone in the circle.
This kind of judgment will fundamentally change how he judge others. As we carefully plumb the depths of our own being we will likely become more understanding of those we disagree with. This doesn’t make the disagreements go away but it does help us to see we are ALL capable of embracing ideas that are faulty or dangerous.
Does this mean we shouldn’t judge others? Of course not. Notice what verse 5 says:
Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.
If we judge ourselves first we will then be able to better judge the actions, words, ideas, and beliefs of others. The hypocrite ignores his own life and focuses on others. We see this all the time with Christian pastors. You know the type…they thunder against sin, most often sexual sin. They eviscerate all those who dare transgress the Bible’s sexual standard. Yet, in their own lives they do the very things they condemn. (Ted Haggard, Jimmy Swaggart, Bob Gray, Jack Hyles, Benny Hinn, Paul Crouch, Jim Bakker, Eddie Long, and too many Catholic priests to count, just to name a few.)
I am of the opinion that those who shout the loudest over the peccadillos of others often commit those very same sins in the privacy of their home, office, motel room, or back seat of their car. They are hypocrites of the first degree.
The Bible, from start to finish, clearly teaches that Christians are to judge others, It never teaches, thou shalt not judge. It DOES teach judging righteously. It does teach using a proper standard of judgment. It does teach a judgment that begins with self.
But, Bruce, you are not a Christian. No I am not. I wrote this post to, first, tell those Christians who love to scream DON’T judge to shut the hell up. They need to read the Bible they say they believe. Better yet, they need to PRACTICE the teachings of the Bible they say they believe.
As an atheist, I can glean some helpful guidance from Matthew 7:1-5. It stresses the important of self-judgment before taking on the task of judging others and their their ideas and beliefs. I need to be often reminded of my own shortcomings (sorry Christians, no sins for me) and motives. I need to be reminded that I am, like those I oppose, a fallible, frail human being. I can be be w-r-o-n-g.
The comment section awaits your judgments of this post.
(1) Religion does not play well in this kind of environment. Religion is based on revealed truth, on dogma. In the United States the dominant religion is Christianity, a religion founded on a truth that cant not be altered or changed. This is why Christians do not fare well in the public square. They have little capacity for change. To change means they or their God are wrong. Now we know, as we look through the lens of 2000 years of Christian Church history, that the Church has indeed adapted and changed. But, it should be noted that this kind of change takes a much longer time than it does with other people and groups. Christianity is nothing, if it is not arrogant and intractable about its truth.
Let’s face it, Evangelicals have an irrational fear of breasts. Evangelical men are so weak that if a woman exposes even a portion of her breasts they are sure to fall into sin. I find it amazing that the Christian God can save them from any and every sin but he is quite powerless to keep them from being tempted and led astray by a woman’s breasts.
Let me illustrate this for you.
The following picture first appeared in the 1937 Popular Photography Magazine.
In 1937 this picture of a burlesque dancer appeared without the black bar over her breasts. 75 years later, when this picture was republished in the May 2012 magazine, the black bar was added to cover the woman’s bare breasts.
Several readers objected to the black bar being placed over the woman’s breasts. They considered it prudish and censorship, two things not normally on display in a photography magazine. (and I subscribe to the magazine)
The caption for the picture stated, “it was illustrated with semi-nude shots we have to black-bar today.” One reader asked for an explanation for the phrase “we have to.”
Why did the editors of Popular Photography magazine put a black-bar over the woman’s breasts? This was their reply:
The editors decided to add the black-bar to a photo originally published in Popular Photography in 1937 because we feared that running a topless photo would have gotten the issue pulled from distribution by some retailers, school libraries, and other outlets.
We have the answer to WHY and now we must ask the WHO question. Who is it that would object to this woman’s breasts being bared?
Those of us who follow the culture war carefully know who the WHO is. It is Evangelicals with breast-a-phobia. Groups like One Million Moms, the American Family Association, and Focus on the Family look for opportunities to gin up controversy. Let a Janet Jackson-like breast exposure occur and 48 hours later the Evangelical Borg are calling for people to cancel their subscriptions and calling on them to let their local libraries know they don’t appreciate the library exposing their children to porn. (no it is not porn but in the Evangelical mind porn has a far different definition)
The editors of Popular Photography need to realize that the Evangelical bark is a lot worse than its bite. Ignore them. Library directors need to ignore them too. The picture in question is not on the cover so no child is going to be breast-traumatized by walking past the magazine rack.
Pity the poor Evangelical. So weak that they can not withstand a look at a woman’s breasts. It should come as no surprise that Evangelical men and pastors find themselves in all kinds of trouble…..They are taught they are weak. They are taught they are but one sin away from being a pervert, child molester, porn addict, or rapist.
Teen boys are constantly berated and reminded that God will judge them if they give into temptation. After all, everyone knows photography magazines and National Geographic Magazine are gateway magazines. Let a teen boy gaze on naked women in these magazines and the next thing you will know they will be filled with raging lust and who knows what they will turn into next.
So silly, isn’t it?