How “Thirsting” for God Led to Dehydration and Almost Killed Me

thirsting for god

I grew up in churches that believed Christians were to give their hearts, souls, and minds to God. Followers of Christ were implored to lay their lives on the altar and give everything to Jesus. The hymn I Surrender All aptly illustrated this:

All to Jesus I surrender,
All to Him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust Him,
In His presence daily live.

Refrain:
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;
Let me feel the Holy Spirit,
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;
Oh, the joy of full salvation!
Glory, glory, to His Name!

“I surrender my life to you, Jesus,” I often prayed. “I’ll say what you want to say, do what you want me to do, and go where you want me go.” Jesus commanded his followers to take up their cross and follow him. Those who were unwilling to do so were not his disciples. The book of First John had this to say about what Jesus expected of people who said they were Christians:

And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. (1 John 2:3,4)

Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever. (1 John 2:15-17)

Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. (1 John 3:6-10)

My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. (1 John 3:18)

Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. (1 John 4:7,8)

For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? (1 John 5:4,5)

We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not. (1 John 5:18)

If these verses are taken literally, one thing seems clear: most people who profess to be Christians are what some preachers call “professors and not possessors.” These people have prayed a prayer and embraced cultural Christianity, but they know nothing of True Salvation®. These verses, taken at face value, show that God sets an impossible standard of living.

Evangelical pastors have all sorts of explanations for these verses:

  • There are two classes of Christians: spiritual and carnal. Both are saved, but carnal Christians still live according to the dictates of the “flesh.” Carnal Christians are “babies” in Christ. Readers might remember that this is how some Trump-supporting Evangelicals justified the President’s un-Christian lifestyle. He is just a babe in Christ who needs to mature in the faith, these pastors said. Thus, spiritual people will live according to these verses, and carnal Christians won’t.
  • People become Christians by believing a set of propositional truths. What truths must be believed vary from sect to sect. After they are saved, these newly minted Christians are encouraged to attend church every time the doors are opened, tithe, pray, give offerings above the tithe, study the Bible, give to the building fund, and follow the church’s teachings. Not doing these things will result in a lack of blessing from God in the present and a lack of future rewards in Heaven. Once people mentally assent to the gospel and pray to Jesus for the forgiveness of sins, they are forever saved. (This is why some Evangelicals believe I am still a Christian.) These verses are a lofty goal Christians should strive to achieve, but if they don’t, no worries, they are still saved.
  • Saved people have two natures: the spirit and the flesh. The spirit cannot sin, but the flesh can. The verses that talk about not sinning refer to the spirit, not the flesh. Christians still sin in the flesh, but the spirit is sin-free.
  • These verses must be interpreted in ways that give them nuance, harmonizing them with the rest of Scripture. It’s hard to not conclude with this approach to these verses, that what pastors are saying is that God didn’t mean what he said.
  • These verses are to be taken literally. The Bible commands us to die to self, crucify the flesh, etc. Salvation is conditional. Do these things and thou shalt liveDon’t do these things and you will perish and go to hell. No one can know for sure if he or she is saved. Calvinists say that followers of Christ must endure to the end to be saved. And even then, God, on judgment day, will be the ultimate judge of whether a person’s good works reached the enter into the joy of the Lord (Heaven) level.
  • Some Christians believe that the Holy Spirit takes up residence in people’s lives the moment they are saved, but that there is a separate, special baptism or infilling of the Spirit that can take place at a later date. Often called being baptized with Spirit or a second definite work of grace, those who receive this second filling of the Holy Spirit live lives wholly consecrated to God. Some Christians believe in what is called entire sanctification — a state of sinless perfection. People who are entirely sanctified no longer sin. When doubters point out certain less-than-Christian behaviors by the sanctified, they are often told these bad behaviors are mistakes, not sins.

thirsting for god 3

I spent much of my Christian life seeking to love Jesus with all my heart, soul, and mind. I didn’t know, at the time, that there’s no such thing as a heart or a soul, but I took the commands to live this way as saying that I was to give everything to Jesus. I was to die to worldly pleasures and desires. I was to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. My desires, wants, and needs didn’t matter. All to Jesus I surrender, all to Him I freely give, I told myself. My life belonged wholly to God, and he had the right to do whatever he wanted with me. I was, as the Apostle Paul said, God’s slave.

Add to these beliefs my conviction that the Bible is the very words of God and that I had an intimate relationship with God where I talked to him (in prayer) and he talked back to me (through the Holy Spirit), it is not surprising that my life was in a state of constant turmoil. Peace? How could I have peace when there were sins to be confessed and eradicated. Remember, Evangelicals believe that all of us of daily sin in thought, word, and deed. Unlike Catholics who seemly to only sweat the big stuff, Evangelicals believe any thought, word, or behavior that does not conform to teachings of the Bible (and the leadership of the Holy Spirit) is a sin. Jesus, himself, taught this when he said in Matthew 5:28, But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

Imagine how difficult life was for me when virtually everything I did in life was potentially a sin. Worse yet, I had to judge my motives for doing anything. Giving $50 to a homeless person was considered an act of compassion, but if I gave the money so people would think well of me, I had sinned against God. And then there were sins of commission and omission. Not only could thoughts, words, and deeds be sins, but failing to do something could be a sin too. Murdering someone was certainly was a sin, but so was not trying to stop abortion doctors from murdering zygotes (Greek for babies).

What I have written above about my spiritual quest can be summed up this way: I had a thirst for God. I needed God more than anything. I wanted his presence and power in my life. I read Christian biographies of great men who were devotes seekers God, men such as Hudson Taylor, E.M. Bounds, C.T. Studd, John Wesley, David Brainerd, D.L. Moody, Charles Spurgeon, Adoniram Judson, George Whitfield, George Muller, Nate Saint, and Jim Elliot. These stories stirred a yearning in me that, for many years, could not be quenched.

Of course, living this way is impossible, despite what preachers might tell you. Trust me, there’s not a preacher on earth, dead or living, who met the mark.  But Bruce, what about the Christian biographies that suggest otherwise. Like all biographies, Christian ones are an admixture of truth and fiction. Unfortunately, Evangelicals only want to hear stories about winners; stories about people who were victorious; stories about people they could aspire to be. The recent death of Billy Graham has brought out all sorts of fantastical stories about the barely human Graham. Much like the Beatles decades ago, Graham has been made out to be bigger than Jesus. For those of us who don’t buy the Graham myth, we know the rest of the story. All we need to do is look at his two children, Franklin Graham and Anne Graham Lotz. Both of them are hateful, mean-spirited, caustic Fundamentalists. Where did their beliefs come from? The notion that Billy was not a Fundamentalist is laughable.

It took me until I was in my 40s before I realized that striving for holiness and perfection was a fool’s errand; that no matter how much I devoted myself to God and the ministry, my life was never going to measure up. Decades of denying self had destroyed my self-worth. Jesus was preeminent in my life, but Bruce was nowhere to be found (and my wife, Polly, could tell a similar story). I spent a decade trying to be a “normal’ Christian, but I still battled with thoughts about not doing enough for the cause of Christ; not doing enough to win souls; not doing enough to advance God’s kingdom to the ends of the earth. By the time I left the ministry in 2005, a lifetime of thirsting for God had led to dehydration and almost killed me. I have no doubt that my commitment to serving God day and night; to burning the candle at both ends; to working while it is yet day, for night is coming when no man can work, played a part in my declining health. And, at some level, I knew this, but I told myself, it’s better to burn out than rust out.

Come November, it will be ten years since I walked away from Christianity; ten years since Jesus and I divorced; ten years since I realized that the Bible was not what Christians claim it is; ten years since I concluded that the Christian narrative was false. Once the Bible was no longer central in my life, I was forced to build, from the ground up, a new moral and ethical framework. This, of course, required me to abandon or set aside the countless beliefs, commands, and laws that had governed my life for fifty years. Most of all, I had to find the life that had been swallowed up by God, the Bible, and the ministry. Somewhere along the way, Bruce Gerencser died, and I had to find where and start over. I had to answer two crucial questions: who are you and what are you?  For a few years, this process was quite painful, and without regular counseling sessions with a secular psychologist, I doubt that I would have been able to undergo it. Not that I have, in any way, arrived. I am still reconnecting with who I really am. I am still learning about my emotions; emotions that I had, at one time, surrendered to Jesus by laying them at the foot of his cross.

Rebooting your life at age fifty isn’t easy, as anyone who has done so will tell you. This is why most people who leave Christianity do so at much younger ages. By the time one reaches one’s fifties, it is hard to abandon a lifetime of beliefs, practices, and experiences. On one hand, I felt, and continue to feel, a great sense of freedom. I am now free from the bondage of religion. Much like the Israelites and their flight from the bondage of Egypt to the Promised Land, my Promised Land journey has been fraught with uncertainty and doubt. I wish I had come to the light decades before, but crying over what might what have been accomplishes nothing. I live in the here and now. My present life is all I have, and once it is gone, that’s it. No heaven, no hell, no afterlife. This is why I encourage people who leave Christianity to focus on the here and now. Evangelicals are fond of saying, only one life, twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last. For the atheist, this little ditty goes this way: only one life, twill soon be past, and once it’s past you’re dead, so you best get to living.

In 2008, I was psychologically dehydrated, near death. It was only when I realized I was doing this to myself that I began to find strength and healing. I remain a work in progress. I will never arrive, but as the old gospel song says, I’ve come too far to turn back now. This blog will remain one man telling his story; a running biography of my former life as a Christian and my present journey as an atheist and a humanist. I have a story to tell, a story of death and resurrection. Thank you for continuing to walk along with me.

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29 Comments

  1. Ami

    The longer I am away from the whole religion thing, the more amazed I am at how dysfunctional a relationship with the Christian God really is.

    Think about having that same type of relationship with a human person, the sublimation/subjugation of self, the guilt and the willingness to think of yourself as less than.

    It’s sick and disgusting.
    Amazing how many otherwise intelligent people live with that twisted thinking their whole lives.

    No wonder so many of them feel like shit about themselves.

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Polly and I have spent endless hours talking about how poorly we viewed ourselves when we were Christians. We knew, based on the Bible, that no matter how hard we tried we weren’t going to measure up to God’s standard of holiness. (Be ye perfect, God commands) The Bible says, if the righteous scarcely be saved….ponder that for a moment. If the cream of crop are scarcely saved, what does that say for run of the mill believers? Being told that God is still angry over your sin, and without Jesus as your go between you would go straight to hell (the essence of substitutionary atonement-Jesus taking our place), it can and does cause fear and despair. And for women it was worse. Not only was their God a never satisfied tyrant, their husbands were to be the tyrants, err I mean the heads, of the home. Is it any wonder that one of the first things many Evangelical women do when they leave Fundamentalism is divorce their husbands?

      If people don’t take Evangelicalism seriously, they will be fine, but for people who do; for people who really believe the Bible is the Words of God; for people who believe the commands, laws, and precepts were written for them; well, it leads to all sorts of psychological and social dysfunction.

      We are so, so, so, so glad to free from this nonsense.

      Reply
  2. Becky Wiren

    This is beautiful. Beautiful that you could leave. You gave fundamentalism all you could, and then continued to try. But your basic honesty led you to the truth. I’m just so sorry things were so hard on you and Polly, but glad for you both now.

    Reply
  3. ObstacleChick

    I had to memorize every one of those verses in Christian school. Reading them as an outsider now I see the contradictions inherent within them. When you are mired knee deep in them and believe that theyou are the honest to goodness exact words of god, inerrant and infallible, one then muse contort the meanings to obscure the contradictions. I guess this is why there are so many interpretations.

    I think about my mom and grandma, both dead now, and the severe self esteem issues they had. I can’t help but think they were exacerbated by fundamentalist evangelical Christianity. My grandma particularly was the most kind, thoughtful and sincere person I have ever known, yet she considered herself a rebellious and sinful POS in the sight of Jesus. Nothing was good enough. As you said, every thought and motivation must be examined in light of Jesus. It’s a lot of pressure.

    Reply
  4. Rebecca

    I wonder what makes the difference in people. I don’t think it’s a matter of commitment or taking the Christian faith seriously. For me, I actually think that the more we grow in Christ, the freer we become, and the more we love the world. Didn’t God so love the world…? Perhaps the term “world” in the Scripture is not always meant in the same way depending on the context.

    I think Jesus came to give us abundant life. He actually condemned the Pharisees for putting burdens on people that they could not bear. He said that His burden was easy, and His yoke light. Perfection, so to speak, expressing the perfect love of Christ is not something anyone can do in this life..Even, so, I think it is a work that God does in us in Christ. We need to trust and relax into that, rather than stress over it, IMO.

    Yet, I know exactly what Bruce is talking about, and I think really can be a problem in the church. Just the other day, I heard someone share how she so much admired her father for tithing thirty percent of his income to the church even though at one point he had to borrow money to feed his family. HUH! What the Hell?

    This does not sound like God to me. Tithing is not even taught in the NT. How did the church become the OT storehouse? I’m not trying to judge or condemn anyone in this, just trying to understand it.

    To me, if something is not ultimately loving and life giving in our lives, how can it ever be from God?

    Yet, what seems so clear and obvious to me is often not accepted as such by others at all.

    Perhaps it does have to do with one’s view of the Bible, or perhaps it is also rooted in something deeper. I’m not entirely certain.

    Reply
    1. Karen the rock whisperer

      Rebecca, it might come of being firmly grounded in reality. I’m personally an atheist humanist, but my dear mom-in-law is a Christian, raised in an Evangelical tradition. Mom grew up extremely poor, and they were extremely poor to just poor until Dad retired from the Navy when their youngest child (my husband) was a teenager. Dad and Mom eventually got good jobs and retired middle-class.

      So, regardless of what the preacher said, there were mouths to feed, and clothes and shoes to buy. There was the problem of putting dinner on the table every night after a long workday, without recourse to easy but expensive pre-made foods. While Mom was a committed Christian, as were her parents and siblings, she wasn’t about to sacrifice her children’s welfare to her church. That let her put some distance between herself and the churches they attended, and finally let her give up on church entirely.

      I think it is this distance that allows Mom to believe much as you seem to believe, and more power to you both. But belief doesn’t work for me (or my husband).

      Reply
      1. Rebecca

        Your mom in law sounds like a good lady, Karen.

        Reply
        1. Brian

          Karen the rock whisperer’s relative does indeed sound like a fine person. I know many many people who do not display the extremes that are foundational in scripture and in much practice as Bruce lays out quite clearly. When Rebecca states, ” I actually think that the more we grow in Christ, the freer we become, and the more we love the world. Didn’t God so love the world…? Perhaps the term “world” in the Scripture is not always meant in the same way depending on the context.”, she forms a different view to suit her needs, one that seems, well, more ‘balanced’ and more in tune with natural life. Of course, to do that one must reinterpret the writings and not stress the built-in extremism available. Churches are full of people weekly lamenting their sins and their inability to lead the perfect (sic!) life of Christ. That is simply because the religion is set up to harm and garner control. one over the other while singing hymns of great sacrifice and amazing grace. Orwell’s double think come to mind.
          I too, share the view that looking back on my belief, I am astounded at how much I hated myself and tried harder and harder to harm myself by following Jesus. It does not work for me to read the words and change them all to suit myself because I know in doing so I support the continuation of harm out there. Does not work for me. It is a passification, or was in me, not a perpetual blooming flower, not freedom. To be free in Christ is slavery.

          Reply
          1. Rebecca

            Brian, I don’t pretend to have all the answers in this. I think there are passages of Scripture that could be read in a way to cause harm. However, what impacts how people read and interpret the Bible? There is something even deeper going on, IMO.

            For me, one of the core teachings of Christ is to love our neighbor as yourself. People tend to focus on the love our neighbor part. They can forget about “as yourself.” It seems to me that Jesus is presupposing that people should love themselves.

            The truth is unless we love and care for our selves, we can not truly love our neighbor, and we cannot love God, either.

            I think as people become healed emotionally and spiritually, they will begin to look at God, and their neighbor differently, even those neighbors that were formerly regarded as enemies or adversaries.

  5. Reverend Greg

    While some may have believed in ‘sinless perfection’ in regards to entire sanctification, there are very few Nazarenes (my tribe) that I know who hold this view today.

    Reply
  6. Michael Mock, who's clearly in A Mood

    How in the world do Christians manage to make devotion to their god sound so NFBSKing carnal???

    “If you want a deeper relationship with Jesus, feast on him until you lose all taste for the things of this world”…? Really? Like, find a lovely little vacation cottage in Maine, spend the weekend in bed with Jesus, just really devour him. You’ll come so hard you’ll never want to be with anyone else. That’s the message?

    ‘Cause, I mean, it’s either something like that… or it’s cannibalism.

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Nobody Fucks Like Jesus? Jesus Always Leaves You Begging For More?

      Reply
      1. Brian

        Holy smoke! Bruce and Michael! Thy wrists be slapped!

        Reply
  7. Scott

    Well said Bruce. Having left ‘the faith’ at the age of 55y has been very traumatic for me. I live in a small insular district where I work and mix with xians, many of whom only know the old me. It’s tough going made tougher through a failed marriage.

    Thanks for all your thoughts.

    Reply
    1. Angiep

      Hang in there, Scott. We’re here for you. You truly do have a tough life and work situation. Sometimes I wonder what is really the difference between the Taliban and fundamentalist Christianity. Either way you have to conform to the dominant religion or face ostracism or worse. And I hope you will bounce back from your “failed” marriage and come to realize life can be even better than it was when you were married.

      Reply
  8. Pingback: “Thirsting” for God Led to Dehydration, Almost Killed Me – FairAndUNbalanced.com

  9. Brian

    Rebecca says: “For me, one of the core teachings of Christ is to love our neighbor as yourself. People tend to focus on the love our neighbor part. They can forget about “as yourself.” It seems to me that Jesus is presupposing that people should love themselves.”
    And when Christ asks people to forsake their kin and follow him he really means to love them better, right? And by saying follow me he means not literally but to live like him and not worship him, right? Sure, I see how any scripture can be illuminated in such a fashion to suit individual needs. Clever manipulators, successful car salesmen, all these show how malleable language can be. In your Christian world, the leaders of other world religions are like Christ, leaders and people of wisdom. But that is not Christianity as we know it. If there is one good pastor in upstate Ohio who does God’s will as you see it, you will point to him and say, Jesus is Lord. I prefer to look beyond upstate Ohio. Your Christianity is very pretty but it does not honestly represent your faith as I see it in the West. Do you hate your mother and father for Christ as Luke (I think) says you are to do? Hate is strong word but Christ apparently wished it for us with regard to our natural love and connections. Does that actually work for you?
    I am a simple man. Don’t speak to me in complicated manners that are found in higher learnings. Just be honest and as simple as you can.

    Reply
  10. Rebecca

    Brian, I’ll do my best. I don’t think we can have this both ways. If Jesus says to love our neighbor and even care for enemies…Well, doesn’t our family carry as much value as a neighbor? Does it seem likely that Jesus who was a devout Jewish man would want people to wantonly violate the commandment to “Honor your father and mother..”

    What I think is happening here is that Jesus is using a technique called hyperbole, exaggeration, to make a salient point, and to create a strong emotional response.

    There are times when a commitment to follow Christ might result in a turning away even from family. Years ago a knew a young Muslim woman who had married a Christian man and came to faith in Christ. She was rejected by her entire family. There are other situations where one’s family could be racist or involved in criminal activity. A commitment to Christ and walking that out might result in a severing of family ties.

    There are many times when Jesus in His teaching uses hyperbole. Christian people who are not fundamentalists take these teachings, the principles they are sharing seriously, but understand that they are not meant to be read literally.

    Brian, I think that I will not be able to convince you of this. To me, this seems, well, like common sense, really. I’ve had many conversations with wonderful brothers and sisters who are fundamentalists. It is not so to them.

    Reply
  11. Rebecca

    https://trystanowainhughes.wordpress.com/2014/03/07/jesus-and-hyperbole/

    Brian, try this link. It illustrates what I’m trying to share a bit more deeply.

    Reply
  12. Brian

    Perhaps Jesus, with his superpowers could have explained this a bit better to the punishers of the faith, the preachers I have previously mentioned who delight in harming others as Jesus taught them. They feel the truth deeply and you do not see the truth they do and are therefore lukewarm. Lukewarm is better place to be in my experience as a Christian and the use of hyperbole does not forgive the pragmatic outcome of Christianity in the world. So, no, Rebecca, you will not convince me of a deeper understanding that was for me really a darker place I have already hiked. Faith in imaginary bosses/guides/monsters is somehow the result of harm done to bipeds, I think, most often explainable with a look at one or two generations back in any of our lives…usually no need to go further. You might try Janov for better insight than I am able to muster, a book such as Life Before Birth, but I do not think I can convince etc. You sound to me like a decent person, well-meaning, as far is that goes. I think you see some of the harm that extreme faith does but you do not relate it to the ‘right way’ of doing things. On this, we agree. Also, that a biped can sincerely believe they are doing God’s will and harm someone like God pleased itself to do in the Bible. The peace that passeth understanding, Rebecca, is often, as I see it, sweet wine Denial.

    Reply
    1. Rebecca

      Brian, your kindness and compassion certainly are evident to me. You are a very good and decent man. I’m so sorry that you’ve been harmed by the church. I hope that you will be able to make a positive impact in your family with some of your insights and concerns.

      Reply
      1. Brian

        Thank-you Rebecca. After rejecting Christianity of the IFB flavour, I was able to begin to feel some things that were previously buried. I was able to stop active hurting and to wait with biped faith on life, just life as it is… It do not believe in original sin. This led to letting my children lead me in their early lives. In their presence, I became more human, more me and learned to play again. I will forever be grateful to be freed from Christianity and its Orwellian ways. I am happy to see that you are aware of some of that harm done both in my life and in the life of the Christian church. You are a survivor too. Thank-you for sharing.

        Reply
  13. Troy

    Regarding Billy Graham: Bruce, I’m curious about how you felt about him back when you were IFB? I actually haven’t thought about him, except in regard to his nasty offspring, in years. Of course a passing does bring out various appreciations and eulogies, or the opposite depending on what you’re reading. It seems William Randolph Hearst got him going for no good reason. I was thinking about it though the same religious fervor to fight godless communism that got us the ceremonial deism of “In God we Trust” and “Under God” also got us Billy Graham.
    Since Graham was made and not born back when one media Mogul could get enough eyes on someone with his media empire, thankfully Billy Graham will likely be the last of his ilk. His legacy fading quickly.

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Graham was considered a liberal and compromiser. What’s not been reported is that Graham in his early days was an evangelist associated with IFB preacher John R.Rice and the Fundamentalist rag The Sword of the Lord.

      Graham became quite wealthy from preaching the old time gospel — estimated wealth $25 million. Personally, I had a big problem with the manipulative methods he used in his crusades. He used a method called “priming the pump” to entice people to respond to the invitation. Worse, the retention rate of those saved during his meetings was quite low. Most of the people saved in a Graham meeting never became faithfully connected to a local church.

      It is often said that our children speak volumes about what kind of parents we were. Franklin Graham and Anne Lotz learned their theology, bigotry, xenophobia, and hatred somewhere. I think Billy did a good job at hiding his true beliefs.

      Reply
  14. ObstacleChick

    Bruce, I second that request as I would love to hear your thoughts on Billy Graham.

    Reply
  15. Rebecca

    I can tell you that from the year I spent at BJU, the fundamentalists did not approve of Billy Graham at all. They felt he was a terrible compromiser. They especially seemed to dislike his ecumenical emphasis with more progressive Christians and the Roman Catholic church. I never heard a good word spoken about him at all in any sense.

    Reply
    1. Brian

      Quite so from my IFBish view in the 60’s too. Billy was a businessman and knew that the real money was in a wider embrace. He was clever enough to use that to bring in the hoardes, just as they were, so to speak and get them singing Just As I Am! But real believers saw him as nearing a stray path, an easy route. They were right of course. Billy followed the money, for Jesus, of course. His children are lesser versions and don’t interest me. Billy always did and I never tired of his altar calls. The man was a stand-alone acting school. He had the music.

      Reply
    2. Troy

      I happened to record fox television one hour special about Billy Graham. One thing I did find interesting is how he did annoy many southern Christians by espousing integration and personally removing the segregation markers at his shows. Especially the Bob Jones Christians wouldn’t have liked that at the time.
      My theory is that Billy Graham had already traveled extensively outside the south and had a visceral feeling that if he wanted to have a national and international presence he had to put aside segregation.
      It is interesting that as well traveled as Franklin Graham is (he went to 50 state capitals in 2016 to pump for Trump) he doesn’t see that he is on the wrong side of history.

      Reply
      1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

        Graham did oppose segregation, but, based on the reports I’ve read, He wanted MLK to slow down his march for racial,equality. Imagine how much greater good could have been done had Graham publicly joined hands with MLK and marched with him.

        Reply

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