The Backsliding, Get Right with God, Backsliding Cycle

Backsliding is very much a part of the fabric of Evangelicalism. Every Evangelical church has three types of people:

  • The sold out, on-fire Christian
  • The unsaved
  • The backslidden Christian

Most Evangelical churches have a small percentage of sold out, on-fire Christians and a smattering of unsaved people. Most Evangelicals, including pastors, are backslidden to some degree or the other.

What is a backslidden Christian? A backslidden Christian is a person who has spiritually slid backwards from where they once were in their Christian life. They have left their first love and have become a lukewarm Christian. While they might attend church on Sunday, their day-to-day life reflects that they are not as good of a Christian as they once were.  Since most Evangelicals believe that once a person is saved they can never lose their salvation, they must come up with a word that describes the majority of Evangelical church members; hence the word backslider.

Every year, churches hold special meetings or revivals meant to get church members all jacked up on Mountain Dew. (Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby reference for those culturally unaware)  A special meetings or a revival is called for when the church is in need of spiritual “reviving.”  In come special speakers and evangelists, specialists in breathing life into backslidden church members. These specialists preach sermons meant to convict backsliders of their backsliddeness and sure enough the backsliders realize the error of their way and stream down to the altar and get right with God or make some other sort of confession that they have been a real bad boy and they promise to never, ever be bad again.

In Baptist churches, revivals are often scheduled events. Every spring and/or fall, the church holds a revival hoping that it will light a spiritual fire under those who are not a sold out, on-fire Christian.  Church members dutifully attend each night of the revival and one or more times during the week will likely make some sort of commitment to be a better Christian.  The backslider confesses all the things that keep them from being a sold out, on-fire Christian. Many of them have been doing this for years. Revivals are like taking a bath once or twice a year. The backslider gets all cleaned up, only to get dirty again a few  days, weeks, or months later. Over the course of 50 years in the Evangelical church, I saw scores of backsliders get right with God. I saw smokers confess the sin of smoking, only to backslide again before they got out of the church parking lot. I’ve seen uncounted Christian weep, wail, and sling snot over their backslidden condition, only to go home and resume their “sinning”.

Evangelical pastors spend a good bit of their time trying to get church members to live the Christian life. They challenge people to come to church every time the doors are open, to study the Bible every day, to pray without ceasing, to tithe, and to witness to the lost. Little do church members realize that their pastor is not spiritually any better off than they are. He puts on a good show in the pulpit, but behind closed doors he struggles with many of the same things church members do.

Why are there so many backslidden people in Evangelical churches? (I’m sure this is a problem in other sects, but my experience is with the Evangelical church) Is it because most of them aren’t “really” a Christian? Is it because they really don’t want to give up the pleasures of the world? At one time I thought so. I have now come to see that the difference between the sold out, on-fire Christian and the backslidden Christian is a matter of personality or a matter of how much time a Christian has to devote to the things that would make them a poster child for a sold out, on-fire Christian.

super mom

My wife was mother/teacher to six-children, keeper of the home, and on-call gopher for her God-called preacher husband. Like her husband, she was busy all the time. Polly always had good intentions. She intended to read the Bible more, pray more, and witness more, but she never really got around to it. There was a time I feared for her soul. I wondered, doesn’t she love God’s word? Doesn’t she want to be in constant communion with God? I now see that it wasn’t that she wasn’t willing as much as it was there was only so many hours in the day. After feeding six children and educating them and doing any number of tasks for her preacher husband, there was no time for God.  Polly spent years feeling guilty over not doing enough for Jesus or following her husband’s call to be a sold out, on-fire Christian.

I could read the Bible any time I wanted and pray without ceasing because I had the leisure time to do so. I was being paid to be a good Christian. Many of the people I pastored worked 8-12 hours a day, along with taking care of their families, and they didn’t have the leisure time that I had to devote to God.  It took me many years to figure this out. Until I did, I would beat people over the head with the sin stick trying to shame them into being a sold out, on-fire Christian. And it worked, for a time. People would get right with God and for a time be a sold out, on-fire Christian. But, as the grind of day-to-day life wore them down, it was not long until they returned to their backslidden ways.

It should come as no surprise that many Evangelicals are quite depressed over the state of their Christian life. The cycle of getting right with God, backsliding, getting right with God, over and over and over keeps the person from finding a resting place in their life. And just when they think they might have found a resting place the preacher reminds them of how much Jesus did for them and how little they really do for Jesus.

Is this some aberration, a corruption of Christianity? Of course not. Jesus said, let a man deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.  Jesus expected his followers to abandon their nets, family, and worldly cares, and follow him. You’ll search in vain to find a passage of Scripture that says being a lukewarm, backslidden Christian is in any way acceptable. Of the lukewarm Christian, the Bible says:

So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

The book of Revelation says:

Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write…Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.

Songs like Set My Soul Afire, Lord, remind the Christian of what it is that God expects of them:

Set my soul afire Lord, for Thy Holy Word,
Burn it deep within me, let Thy voice be heard
Millions grope in darkness in this day and hour,
I will be a witness, fill me with Thy pow’r

Set my soul afire Lord, set my soul afire.
Make my life a witness of Thy saving pow’r.
Millions grope in darkness, waiting for Thy Word.
Set my soul afire, Lord, set my soul afire!

Set my soul afire, Lord, for the lost in sin,
Give to me a passion as I seek to win;
Help me not to falter never let me fail,
Fill me with Thy Spirit, let Thy will prevail.

Set my soul afire, Lord, in my daily life.
Far too long I’ve wandered in this day of strife;
Nothing else will matter but to live for Thee,
I will be a witness for Christ lives in me.

I Surrender All is another old standard that reminds every Christian of the devotion God expects from them:

All to Jesus I surrender;
all to him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust him,
in his presence daily live.

I surrender all, I surrender all,
all to thee, my blessed Savior,
I surrender all.

All to Jesus I surrender;
humbly at his feet I bow,
worldly pleasures all forsaken;
take me, Jesus, take me now.

All to Jesus I surrender;
make me, Savior, wholly thine;
fill me with thy love and power;
truly know that thou art mine.

All to Jesus I surrender;
Lord, I give myself to thee;
fill me with thy love and power;
let thy blessing fall on me.

All to Jesus I surrender;
now I feel the sacred flame.
O the joy of full salvation!
Glory, glory, to his name!

Despite the preaching, the revival meetings, and the soul-stirring songs, most church members can’t sustain a life as a sold out, on-fire Christian. Too bad none of us sold out, on-fire Christians told them the truth…

Neither could we…

I Hope You (Fill in the Blank)

meaning of life

Well meaning people have all kinds of expectations and desires for me. Their expectations and desires for me often reveal how they view my life and me as a person. Often, they view me as hurt, broken, damaged, angry, bitter, disillusioned, unhappy, pessimistic, or jaded. Instead of allowing me to define who and what I am, they use their own version of who and what I am and then come to certain conclusions about me. It’s like me saying I am a cat and someone saying no you are a dog and then all their subsequent judgments about me are based on their belief that I am a dog. No matter how loud I meow, they still think I am a dog.

These kind of people think there is something wrong with me. Take my friend Bill. Here is what he said in a blog comment:

But in my not very humble opinion as a person who has known your thinking for more than 20 years (?), the topic of “god” is disturbing your mind to no good end.

Now, on one hand, Bill has known me for a long time. He lives thousands of miles away from me and we have met face-to-face one time in the late 1990’s. Years ago, I sponsored the CHARIS discussion list and Bill was a regular participant. He has, on and off, read my writing for almost 20 years. He has followed my evolution from a Calvinistic pastor to an atheist. Surely, he should “know” me, right?

While I consider Bill a friend, I would never say that Bill “knows” me. In fact, the number of people who really know me can be counted on one hand. And even then, can someone ever really completely “know” me? During the course of our friendship, Bill has mentally developed his own version of Bruce Gerencser. While this Bruce bears some resemblance to the real Bruce, it is not the real Bruce and if Bill doesn’t understand this he will likely, like in his comment above, come to a wrong conclusion about me.

I think Dale summed up things quite well when he said to Bill:

What Bruce is doing is therapeutic for him and for many of us.

Dale precisely summed up why I write. I am not sitting here raging at God. I am not, on most days, hurt, broken, damaged, angry, bitter, disillusioned, unhappy, pessimistic, or jaded. Outside of the constant pain I live with, I am quite happy. I have a wonderful marriage and family and I love interacting with my internet friends through this blog. Yes, I can go through bouts of deep depression, but people like Bill wrongly assume that my depression is driven by my questions about god and religion.  It’s not. My health problems are what drive my depression. Feel better=less depression. Lots of pain=more depression.

These days, the only time I think about God and religion is when I am writing. There are no unanswered questions for me when it comes to God. I don’t think there is a God, so this pretty well answers all the “God” questions for me. My interest in religion has more to do with sociology, philosophy, and politics, than it does anything else.

I frequently get emails, blog comments, and comments on other blogs that start with, I hope you _____________________. These people have read something I have written and have made a judgment about me. They think I am lacking in some way, and if I would just have what they are hoping I will have, then all would be well for me.  They hope I find peace, deliverance, salvation, or faith. They are internet psychiatrists who think they can discern who I really am and what my life consists of by reading a few blog posts.

I know that this is the nature of the internet. People make snap judgments about a person based on the scantiest of information. They think they “know” you after they have read 1,500 words, and they are then ready to pass judgment on what you need.  Everyone who writes in the public space faces this problem, but it doesn’t mean we have to like it.

This is me saying, I don’t like it. I am not a problem in need of solving. I am not a broken toy that needs fixed. I don’t need what my critics are hoping for me. I am quite happy with who and what I am. It is atheism that has allowed me the freedom to be who I am. I realize this presents a real problem for Evangelicals because they believe that a person can not be happy, satisfied, or at peace without Jesus. But, here I am.

One commenter stated:

Dear Bruce, I hope you are delivered from your delusions of a happy, satisfied, peaceful life. You are living in denial of how things REALLY are for you.

All I can say to this is that I am enjoying every delusional moment of this life and I suspect many of my fellow atheists are doing the same.

The Similarity Between Answered Prayer and the Gifts Santa Brings


A guest post by Richard. He blogs at RichardMarlowe236.

I grew up as a fundamentalist Christian.  A church three times a week, the Bible is the inspired inerrant word of God, evolution is a lie type of Christian.  I have since deconverted and consider myself an atheist (I prefer the term free-thinker).  I plan to write a later post detailing my journey.

A few months ago I had a conversation with a family.  The family member is a fundamentalist Christian.  I had just revealed my loss of faith to her.  Needless to say she was surprised.  She seemed unable to fathom how anybody could deny the existence of God. So, the conversation turned to proof for God’s existence.  Her reasons for believing were personal experience, scriptural authority, creation, and answered prayer.  While the first three reasons played a part in her belief, answered prayer was the most convincing to her.  She never said this directly, but it was the primary emphasis of the discussion.  Her logic for answered prayer as proof of God is as follows:

  • She had a need or want for something.
  • She prayed to the Christian God for this something.
  • She received this something.
  • God is why she received it.
  • Therefore, God exists.

Answered prayer is a common “proof”  by theists for the existence of God.  Sometimes it can be difficult to convince believers that answered prayer may have a natural explanation or may be a coincidence.

Yet this logic is flawed.  I witnessed this exact same logic unfold before my eyes except it was not to prove God’s existence.  It was proof for Santa’s existence.  (I know, I know!  Atheists always equate belief in God with belief in Santa.  Please keep reading as I am just using a personal example to demonstrate the flaw in the above-mentioned logic.)

I have three young children.  The oldest two believe in Santa Claus.  Starting in November, they began picking out toys they wanted for Christmas.  They went to see Santa and asked him for those toys.  On Christmas morning they awoke to these toys under the tree.  Automatically they attributed this to Santa.  To them it was “proof” for his existence.  Their logic was as follows:

  • They had a want for something.
  • They requested (prayed) for Santa to receive this something.
  • They received this something.
  • Santa Claus is why they received it.
  • Therefore, Santa exists.

See any similarities to the answered prayer logic?  It is exactly the same.  Actually you could use this logic to prove almost any being’s existence.

This does not even take into consideration unanswered prayer.  When this is brought up, many believers will say sometimes God says “No.”  Basically it boils down to this:

If I pray to God for something there are two possible outcomes.

1.  It will come to pass.


2.  It will not.

How would this be different if there was no God?  If you made it this far… Thanks for reading!

Bruce, Would You Pray if Asked To?

atheist prayer

Andre asked:

Suppose you were at a dinner party and the host puts you on the spot to pray for the meal in front of 10-20 guests. Do you be a good sport and make up a prayer or politely decline, creating an awkward situation.

This is a great question, one that can be answered several different ways. Since all of my family and friends know I am no longer a Christian, I doubt any of them would ask me to pray. I can’t think of any social setting where I would now be asked to pray. Everyone knows I am an atheist, so I doubt they would want a godless heathen blessing their food.

Each of us must determine how we would respond when asked to pray. If a person is an atheist or an unbeliever, but hasn’t come out yet, then it might be appropriate for them to pray if asked. No harm will be done since the God they are praying to is a fictional being. Their prayer, like every other prayer, will hit the ceiling and bounce right back. No harm, no foul.

A dinner party is not a good place to declare to the world that you are an atheist or that you are no longer a Christian. Such a pronouncement will surely dampen the spirit and you will be blamed for ruining the party. The best advice I can give is to size up who is there and act accordingly.

Please see Count the Cost Before You Say I am an Atheist

One Man’s Journey From There and Back Again


A guest post by Wayne

I started life as an atheist and was pursing a career in the sciences. During my first year of university, I had a personal crisis trying to find my direction and purpose in life. A friend witnessed to me and I attended church service a couple of times, but did not find anything to sway my atheistic view. However, it was a really emotional and stressful period in my life and I eventually decided to give god one more shot and attended what I thought would be my last day in church.

My recollections of that fateful day are very hazy. I was not even paying any attention to the service as my life was in turmoil and I was wrestling with my rational mind and my spirituality. Eventually, I decided to just do what I thought was right. Christianity was not for me and I was going to sever my ties. To this day I do not know what happened, but god must have heard my cries and I somehow ended up at the altar accepting Christ.

Needless to say, I had a lot to learn and had to make a lot of adjustments to follow this new direction in life. I had doubts about my sincerity. How can I reject god and still end up accepting him? I concluded that god had set me on this journey because I wanted to do the right thing. Therefore, I decided to cast away my doubts and do things his way and rely on faith.

To show my commitment, I decided to get baptized. Just before being submerged, I remember telling god that he alone knows my heart and that this was my way of showing that I was putting my trust in him.  After my baptism, as I was changing in the backroom, I mysteriously broke down into uncontrollable crying. Several people knelt next to me and prayed for me but no one was able to stop my crying. One of the church officials stood fast and stayed by my side the whole time to comfort me. When exhaustion finally stopped my crying, he told me that I must really love god for him to touch me in such a way. When I left and checked the clock in my car, I realized that I had cried for well over an hour. I no longer had any doubts about my sincerity and knew I was doing what was right.

My life had changed completely. My ambition in life was simple. I wanted to do god’s will and to raise a family.  Science was no longer compatible with my new-found spirituality and way of thinking. Therefore, I changed my studies at university to pursue a career in education to avoid conflict. Life was good and I had a purpose. I became even closer with the friend who had brought me to Christ and ended up marrying her. I found a job as a teacher where I lived at a time when it was virtually impossible to do so. At church, I had found my calling and was a Sunday school teacher.

The first major test of my faith was when my wife’s first pregnancy ended up in a miscarriage; in my fundamentalist belief, this is the same as the death of a baby. To add insult to injury, it happened on Christmas Day. If god had said that I was not to have children, I could have lived with that.  However, it was more painful to have the seed planted and then have it taken away.  I felt like Abraham sacrificing my child for god; only in my case, there was no reprieve.  I did a lot of soul-searching and made sure my life was right with god and told him it was his will and not mine. I was totally devastated, but my faith was stronger than ever.

When my wife was pregnant the second time, I was sure that god would bless us as I had remained true to him.  The unthinkable then happened.  We had another miscarriage on Easter Sunday. The anguish was so severe I contemplated killing myself. The only thing that stopped me was the vision of my wife exhausted and asleep in the hospital bed. I remembered my vow of love to stay by her through thick and thin and knew that I had to endure. God was using adversity to send me a message. Many months of confusion, guilt and shame ensued as I tried to figure out what I was doing wrong in my life.  What was god trying to tell me? Were my motives contrary to his will?  Did I love my wife more than him?  Was I really sincere in my walk with him?  Was my ambition of wanting a family not in god’s plans? All I wanted was to do the right thing. I had been tested again, but I had promised to trust him and I again stood firm in my resolve.

However, there was a difference this time. I studied the bible more rigorously and reassessed my faith and started to touch the boundaries of the fundamentalist box I had put myself in. What if I was wrong? Fear kept me from exploring that question for a long time. I looked back and remember that I had asked the same question when I was an atheist.  If I never confronted the question, I would not have found god. It was a question I must explore again if I wanted the truth and do what is right. I took tiny steps to remove my fundamentalist blinders and looked outside my box, and the world opened up in a totally different way.

For the first time in my Christian life I started to look outwards instead of inwards and saw the world and the people around me without my fundamentalist mentality. I finally saw people as people. We are all on our own personal journeys in life. God and spirituality meant different things to different people. The bible is not inerrant, it is a record of the search for god by people of the past. We all interpret our holy texts and ethics according to our own limited perspective and experiences. The Holy Spirit guides and moves us all in a different manner based on our own personal interpretations. We are all different and god did not intend us to be Christian zombies shambling mindlessly to convert others who were not like us. With this revelation, my whole perspective as a Christian shifted.

At this time, many other major events started to take their toll on me. I was no longer the fundamentalist I once was and felt trapped. My marriage started falling apart and I was secretly struggling with the beginning stages of depression from all the strain. I knew I had to leave the fundamentalist chains that bound me.  Fear and uncertainty set in.  Can I just walk away from almost ten years of my life?  What will happen with my fundamentalist wife who I love so dearly?  What about my friends at church?  After a year of struggling, I was on the verge of a complete meltdown.  My integrity did not allow me to maintain the charade of being a fundamentalist any longer. I again told god that I must do what I feel is right and I will trust him to lead me as he had done in the past.  I had a long talk with my wife and we mutually agreed that the best course of action was to leave church temporarily to reassess our lives.

With that freedom, I was finally completely outside my box and began to explore. This was the days before the internet and finding information was no easy task.  My first secular book was “Isaac Asimov’s Guide to the Bible”; don’t laugh as it was the only resource available at the local library at the time. In a few days, I learned more from that book than I ever did in church. There was no looking back for me.  My thirst for knowledge increased and I even started exploring other religions. When my pastor checked up on me a few months later, it was obvious I had moved on.  I have no hard feelings about my church.  There were some good honest people including the pastor that I really respected and appreciated.  My time was not completely wasted, and there are many good things that I will always take with me.  However, there were also a lot of the crazy stuff and I had to leave the lunatics and the narrow mindset behind.

I left church almost 25 years ago now. I am still motivated by finding the truth and doing what is right. There is no need for me to go into details of my journey from this point since those of us who had similar experiences will know what will ultimately happen when one chooses to open one’s mind; I grew up and left god behind.  Unless some real evidence shows up to the contrary, I personally believe that there is no god especially as put forth by the various religions. A person’s belief in or lack of belief in god is no longer a concern for me. What is important, is whether or not someone is a good person.

Although I am back to being an atheist again now, I have a new non-religious spirituality in me. I feel a closer spiritual connection with the world as a result of my experiences.  As such, I actually prefer to label myself as an agnostic. My ambition in life still remains the same except I have taken the god part out and shortened it to raising a family. Yes, there is life outside of religion and my relationship with my wife did not collapse as I had feared; love, trust and respect are even more powerful without their religious trappings. I also have two wonderful children who are just about ready to leave the nest and choose whichever path their own life dictates.  My advice to them will be “Keep both your heart and your mind open in order to do that which is right”.  That is what I learned from my own journey there and back again.

“Colors of the Wind”

You think the only people who are people,
Are people who look and think like you,
But if you walk the footsteps of a stranger,
You‘ll learn things you never knew, you never knew.

And we are all connected to each other,
In a circle, in a hoop that never ends.

from Disney’s Poncahontas.

The Closing of the Evangelical Mind: The Bible is the Inspired, Inerrant Word of God

inerrancy test

Evangelical Christians believe the Bible is the inspired (God breathed), inerrant Word of God.  They believe the text of the Christian Bible is without error and they are certain that every word in the Bible is the very words of God. (either spoken or inspired by God)

While many Evangelical pastors and professors don’t really believe the Bible is inerrant, they continue to preach the inerrancy myth from the pulpit and in their college classrooms. These Evangelicals late at night get out a flashlight, pull the covers over their head, and secretly read one of Bart Ehrman’s books. They will never tell anyone about this lest they lose their job. But, when it comes to the people in the First Baptist Church pew, I’ve never met an Evangelical Christian who didn’t believe every word in the Bible is true. They are certain that the leather-bound Bible they carry to church every Sunday is the very words of God.

Evangelicals are told from their youth up that the Bible can be understood by anyone, even a child. Why then are there so many theology books if the Bible is so simple it can be understood by a child? The fact is, the Bible is anything BUT a simple book. It is a book that must be interpreted and this is where Evangelicals get themselves into trouble. They think, the Bible is God’s Word, it is so simple a child can understand it, I have read it, and I understand it, thus my interpretation of the Bible is exactly what God said. This kind of thinking leads to arrogance. When a person is absolutely convinced they are absolutely right, they no longer have to consider competing ideas or interpretations. This is why most Evangelicals are closed minded about any God or belief but their own

All Evangelicals are theological Fundamentalists. (see Are Evangelicals Fundamentalists?)  The doctrine of inerrancy requires the Evangelical to have a fundamentalist view of the Bible. In most cases, Evangelicals are also social fundamentalists who take their inspired, inerrant Bible and strictly apply it to every aspect of their lives. They believe that everything in their lives is governed by what the Bible says. It is theological and social fundamentalism that is driving Evangelicals as they wage war against secularism, atheism, pluralism, abortion, same-sex marriage, and homosexuality.

Evangelicalism is a large tent, so it is impossible to point to one group and say, this is Evangelicalism. On one end of the spectrum you have the hip relational preachers found at nondescript megachurches and on the other end of the spectrum you find the fire and brimstone preachers of the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church movement.  Every Evangelical church falls in between these two extremes. Some are Calvinist, others are Arminian, but the one thing that binds them together is the belief that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant word of God.

In most Evangelical churches the pastor is considered a person uniquely called by God to preach and teach the Bible. Their words are given great weight and authority because God leads and directs them as they preach the unsearchable riches of Christ.  Some pastors are laid back, more of a teacher or a professor, while others are animated foot stomping, pulpit pounding preachers.  Regardless of their style or methodology, every Evangelical pastor believes they are speaking the words of God to the people of God and the people of God believe, through the preaching and the inward work of the Holy Spirit, that God is speaking to them.

In most Evangelical churches diversity of belief is discouraged, and in some churches it is forbidden. After all, if the Bible is inerrant then there can only be ONE correct interpretation of the Bible, right? While Evangelicals skirmish over peripheral doctrines and peculiar beliefs, there is a core set of doctrines every Evangelical must believe. Don’t believe these things? Then you are not an Evangelical.

Currently, Evangelicalism is going through great upheaval over beliefs that were once were considered cardinal doctrines of the faith. Thanks to postmodernism, concrete doctrines like creationism, eternal punishment for unbelievers, God’s omniscience, the exclusivity of the Evangelical gospel, and whether a homosexual can be a Christian are now being attacked and challenged.  Politically, an increasing number of Evangelicals are moving towards the left, rejecting the conservative, Republican values of yesteryear. While most Evangelicals are Republicans and support some or all of the tenets of the culture war, there are a small number of Evangelicals, mostly young adults, who are no longer willing to blindly accept the politics of their church, pastor, and parents.  The question for me is at what point in this postmodern, questioning move to the left does a church, pastor, and individual church member cease to be Evangelical?

During the George W Bush administration and the run up to the War in Iraq, we saw a good example of how fundamentalism works.  George Bush and his administration were certain their beliefs about Iraq, Saddam Hussein, and weapons of mass destruction were infallibly right.  Fourteen years and hundreds of thousands of deaths later, we now know that virtually every belief peddled by George Bush, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld was wrong. Yet, to this day, none of the architects of the Iraq war are willing to admit that they were wrong. They are certain that their beliefs were/are correct, and in the case of George Bush, the Christian God was/is on their side.

If I took a political party survey at the average Evangelical church I’m sure I’d find that most church members are either Republican or Libertarian and come the first Tuesday in November 2016 they will vote for the Republican candidate for President. I am sure there are a few Evangelicals who are Democrats, but they, like gay or bisexual church members, are way in the back of the closet. While church members are told to vote their “conscience”, everyone knows that voting your conscience means voting exactly the way God the pastor tells you to vote. To vote differently means going against the man of God, the Word of God, and God himself, and no one want to do that, right? Again, things are changing in the Evangelical church, but lets not mistake ripples on the pond for a tsunami.

Challenges to core beliefs is not permitted. Those who think for themselves or believe differently than the pastor are told they are not right with God or that they are backslidden; they are told their “discerner” is broke and that they need to listen to their pastor. Those who refuse to conform end up marginalized, disciplined, or asked to leave the church. Evangelical churches go through quite a bit of membership churn. There is a steady stream of people going out the back door as new people come in the front, with most new people coming from other churches.

The lifeblood that courses through the veins of Evangelical Christianity is the belief that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant word of God. To the Evangelical, the Bible is not just a collection of words, chapters, and books written by humans as they try to explain their understanding of God and the world. The Bible is God’s words, a supernatural book given to fallible humans by a supernatural God. Every book, every sentence, and every word is truth. When an Evangelical reads the Bible they believe they are reading the very words of God. They can know exactly what God’s truth is by reading and studying the Bible. In the Evangelical’s mind, the Bible is THUS SAITH THE LORD!

Since most Evangelicals are, to some degree or the other, literalists, it becomes quite easy for them to develop rigid beliefs, and as their certainty grows the more likely they are to see themselves as right and everyone else wrong.  Is it any wonder that this kind of thinking turns people into haters?  Is it any wonder that people raised in this kind of environment lack the necessary skills to make sound, reasoned judgments about the world they live in? This is the kind of thinking that gives us Fred Phelps, Al Mohler, John MacArthur, Joyce Meyers, Rod Parsley, James Dobson, Franklin Graham, Ken Ham, Matt Chandler, Rick Warren, Joel Osteen, Richard Land, Andy Stanley, Charles Stanley, Tony Perkins, David Barton, TD Jakes, Brad Powell, Rick Furtick, Jack Hyles, Jack Schaap, and a plethora of parachurch groups dedicated to waging war on an unbelieving, sinful, and wicked culture.

According to a 2014 Gallup Poll, 28% of Americans believe the Bible is the actual Word of God and should be taken literally.  47% of Americans believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God, but not everything in it should be taken literally. This means that three out four American believe the Bible is the Word of God. (The good news is that 21% of Americans now believe the Bible is an “ancient book of fables,legends, history, and moral precepts recorded by man. The percentage of Americans who believed this in 1976 was 13%) According to a 2012 Gallup Poll, 46% of Americans believe God created humans in their present form (creationism) and 32% of Americans believe humans evolved with God guiding the process (theistic evolution). In other words, three out of four Americans believe God is the creator of everything.  Only 15% of American believe humans evolved, but God had no part in the process.

Depressing, isn’t it? While secularism, humanism, and atheism are making inroads, the vast majority of Americans still believe the Bible is the Word of God, a unique book different from every other book ever written.  The only way to reach people like this is to attack their foundational belief that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant Word of God. If they can be brought to see that the Bible is not what they claim it is, there is hope for them. Sadly, most Evangelicals will die with their fingers clenched around a book they consider the words of God.  When you take a high road position like inerrancy it is hard to back up. To admit the Bible is not inerrant is to admit you are wrong and Evangelicals rarely admit they are wrong. Those who do do so on their way OUT the doors of the Evangelical church.

Since every Evangelical believes there is a hell to shun and a heaven to gain, believing and practicing the teachings of the Bible is essential. While Evangelicals will tell you that they preach a gospel of grace, what they really preach is a gospel of right belief. Believe THIS and thou shalt live in heaven forever with God; don’t believe THIS and thou shalt live in hell forever with the Devil and his angels.  Evangelicals are taught that this present life is preparation for life beyond the grave. Believing the right things is important because that is what gets your ticket to heaven punched. Is it any wonder that most Evangelicals will leave this life firm in their belief that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant Word of God? Too much rests on believing this for them to ever question or doubt.

Songs of Sacrilege: Jesus Was a Leprechaun

This is the fifty-eighth installment in the Songs of Sacrilege series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a song 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 send me an email.

Today’s Song of Sacrilege is Jesus Was a Leprechaun by Snakefinger and the Vestal Virgins.

 Video Link


Jesus was a leprechaun dying on the cross
Remembering his celtic roots
Some place to hold my up lost

Jesus was a leprechaun his name was Tiny Tom
He tried to have a little fun
But now my hands on my venus of lom

Jesus was a leprechaun full of trickery
But it went a bit too far
Now they made a matter of me

Jesus was a leprechaun with a twinkle in his eye
Always smiling sweetly
But I never expected to die

Now I Know Why Many Evangelicals Have Empty Heads

Snark Ahead

Mike Ratliff, writing for the Christian Research Network, had this to say about faith:

…Human faith is not the same thing as Genuine (saving) faith, which is a gift from God. The former is based in Human reason and intellect. The latter is supernatural. What passes for faith in many professing believer’s “Christianity” is a belief based in who preaches to or teaches them. This is not Genuine faith because it is not a belief in the Word or in God through the Word. These are “believers” who will eventually fall away. Some may last a lifetime, but as soon as the fires of tribulation come upon them they slide into apostasy because their faith is not of the substance that endures…

In one short paragraph, Ratliff reveals WHY so many Evangelicals have empty heads, why they lack any sort of intellectual acumen. Why, you ask? Because God has replaced their human faith with genuine faith. According to Ratliff, genuine faith is a gift from God. Human faith is not from God and is based on reason and intellect.

There ya have it…God gives Evangelicals faith and BOOM out goes reason and intellect. In comes a faith God gives, a faith that leads people to believe things like the Bible is inerrant, the earth was created in six days six thousand years ago, Adam and Eve were real people, and Jesus really, really did walk on water and resurrect from the dead.

Ratliff’s post is a reminder of how preachers like him keep people enslaved by telling them that their human intellect and reason should never be trusted. Instead trust the pronouncements of Ratliff, the man of God, God, the Holy Spirit,  and His inerrant, inspired Bible.

Ratliff and others like him know that if people really begin to use their intellect and reason they are likely to exit stage left. Thinking Evangelicals often don’t stay in the Evangelical church. Once they see that they been snookered by their church and pastor they move on to places where reason and intellect are appreciated.