Guest Post by ObstacleChick
My brother posted this article written by John Burton from the online Charisma Magazine:
One second in the presence of God will cure the most devoted skeptic, or so the saying goes.
Continually, as I watch the world go ’round, I am utterly stunned that people go about their lives while either casually or aggressively rejecting Jesus. Do they not know what they are doing?
Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34a).
Almost with intentional naivete, I wonder just why anybody would refuse such a life-altering, healing and glorious gift. Historically, people still rejected Jesus after being a witness to the resurrection. Others ignored the call to the upper room. Today, people react similarly to calls to radical surrender to the most powerful being in existence. It truly does not make sense—or does it?
Today, those who have not experienced true, godly, supernatural love that transforms their hearts have no option but to seek out an alternative to satisfy their needs and desires. A counterfeit.
God’s love looks and feels very different than [sic] most would presume. When someone authentically encounters the love of God, everything changes. Everything.
They haven’t heard God’s voice. “Call to me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things which you do not know” (Jer. 33:3).
The author shows incredulity at the fact that so many people reject the resurrection, the “life-altering, healing, and glorious gift” given by Jesus. He cannot comprehend how dismissal makes sense. However, he gives us a list of reasons why unbelievers repudiate Jesus/God, each reason backed up by a lovely cherry-picked Bible proof text lifted out of its context, of course. (I didn’t list every single verse in the article). The author delivers his article with no small dose of smugness, self-righteousness, and superiority. For those of you atheists and agnostics who are concerned you may be insane in the membrane like me, sit back while I give you a summary of Mr. Burton’s incredibly long book promotion infomercial regarding the reasons surrounding the insanity of the poor deluded non-believer.
“They have no grid for the presence of God.” (I Corinthians 2:14) “The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
Mr. Burton refers to overwhelming emotions he experienced at a Christian conference, surrounded by others overwhelmed by emotion and attributing it all to the presence of God. It’s not uncommon for people to be overtaken by feelings, but many of us do not attribute feelings to the presence of a deity. Sometimes we just get giddy.
“They have never experienced a miracle.” “God worked powerful miracles by the hands of Paul. So handkerchiefs or aprons he had touched were brought to the sick, and the diseases left them, and the evil spirits went out of them.” (Acts 19:11-12).
The author states that he has witnessed more wonders and miracles than he cares to mention (but you may find some in his book to which he has provided a link for purchase). He states that non-believers explain “wonders and miracles” away through natural causes. Non-believers let that pesky little thing called “evidence” get in the way of a good old-fashioned miracle story.
“True peace, joy, and freedom are absolutely foreign to them.” “You will make known to me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” (Psalm 16:11).
The author refers to seeing before and after photos of lost people who surrender their ever-loving souls to the power of Jesus and states that the “lost” cannot know freedom outside meeting and falling in love with Jesus. Because non-believers are all miserable excuses for humans and need a good Jesus-flooding to give them joy.
“They have settled for counterfeit love.”
Mr. Burton refers to another one of his books and provides a link for purchase to help readers discover how they too can hear the voice of God. One must hear God’s voice to feel that overwhelming supernatural love that is the only true love in the world, and all other types of love are counterfeit. He assures us that the voice of God is real, not a “weird, imagined sci-fi style message.” Non-believers live in radio silence and need Mr. Burton’s book so they can find the correct radio frequency to hear the authentic voice of God. Is it AM1430? Or AM1250? Better buy the book and find out!
“Dreams and visions are foreign to them.” “‘In the last days it shall be,’ says God, ‘that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.'” (Acts 2:17).
The author apparently has cool dreams all the time, and he states that God sometimes even talks to non-believers like the Apostle Paul and even *gasp* Muslims to give them an opportunity to surrender their ever-loving souls for eternity! I had a dream the other night about buying a house with an Olympic-sized indoor pool surrounded by a running track and a fully-equipped gym. But then I awakened to the reality of my treadmill, squat rack, and weight bench in the garage. Dang.
“They misunderstand the power of sin and the nature of God.”
To make a long section short, Mr. Burton tells us that sin is bad, that God will turn away from us if we sin, that we need to live in the fear and love of Jesus in order to leave our sin behind so that God can love us again. Isn’t God great? If we fear him and leave our sin, he’ll conditionally love us again! By the way, here’s the list of sins from Galatians 5:19-21: adultery, sexual immorality, impurity, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, strife, jealousy, rage, selfishness, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. Got it? Good.
“They haven’t experienced the transforming baptism of the Holy Spirit.”
I was wondering when the third member of the triumvirate would be mentioned, but here he is, the Amazing, the Awesome, the Invisible Holy Spirit! The author wants us to be baptized in the Holy Spirit rather than relying on positive thinking or going to counseling. He also wants a revival in Hollywood so that A-list stars are bathed in the power of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. I guess Justin Bieber and Chris Pratt are too few in number, and Kirk Cameron and Kevin Sorbo don’t rate as A-list celebrities.
“The Word of God isn’t alive to them.”
In summary, read your Bible, but not intellectually – especially not intellectually. Mr. Burton avers that the Bible only comes alive when we are intimate with God. I really don’t want to think about what “intimate with God” means, but it brought to mind Bruce’s Black Collar Crime series . . .
“What they see with their eyes is more real than what is invisible.”
Here we go, ladies and gentlemen, Christians’ favorite verse to explain why we need to abandon reason and evidence and just believe, damn it, believe! “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5).
“Their prayers have gone unanswered.”
Here we go with one of the loopholes for why prayers are unanswered. “We know that God does not listen to sinners. But if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him.” (John 9:31). Mr. Burton doesn’t want us to forget that it’s usually our fault if prayer isn’t answered. But don’t forget, God has his own ways that we are too foolish to understand, so God must be trusted.
“They are unconcerned about eternity.”
I don’t feel like typing out I Thessalonians 5:1-3 about the Lord coming like a thief in the night. But of course, here it is, ladies and gentlemen, the number one threat of evangelical Christians – the threat of eternity in HELL! Surely, you didn’t think he would leave that out! That’s Christians’ greatest weapon in their arsenal, appealing to people’s fear of everlasting torment in HELL.
“God sent a strong delusion and has turned them over to a debased mind.”
Ladies and gentlemen, repent before it is too late because God will give up on you. Or maybe it’s Calvinism. I don’t know. But please know, readers, that Mr. Burton is terribly grieved when people reject Jesus.
Good luck convincing the American Psychiatric Association to include rejection of Jesus as a sign of insanity when they revise their Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5.
I came away from Mr. Burton’s article with the conclusion that he believes that if one does not accept his list of Bible verses to support the concept that one must completely surrender one’s life to God in order to escape eternal punishment in hell, one is certifiably insane. Given that, I must respectfully declare myself in the words of Cypress Hill as “insane in the membrane”.
“Insane in the Membrane” by Cypress Hill
Hi Bruce and readers. I have been trying to get a much bigger audience for my blog, even if it is only one person at a time. I wish you would be so kind as to leave your readers (like me) the e-mail addresses of these assorted fundamentalist pastors and evangelical nimwads—like this Burton guy and David Hyles that you are always mentioning here. I would also like to have the e-mail addresses of the individuals who send you occasional e-mails and letters to tell you how horrible you are and beg or warn you to come back to your fundamentalist roots. I do not wish to confront them or give them a tongue lashing. I would just like to invite them to visit my blog and leave the hyperlink from my blog with them. Thanks!!!
Ignoring eternity…actually, this atheist has a serious interest in eternity. I’d love to be able to check back in periodically after I die, and learn what living scientists have learned about the cosmos. Ain’t gonna happen; I will die, get turned into ash, and ultimately scattered somewhere to be part of the natural planet.
The myth of a vengeful deity torturing people for eternity always bothered me, but really started to bother me when I began to study geology and started to think in terms of deep time. I have trouble getting my mind around the measly 4 1/2 billion years or so that our planet has existed, let alone the 13.8 billion years since the Big Bang. I can’t get my mind around eternity.
I wonder what the word, or its Greek equivalent, really meant to the people who wrote the New Testament? Were all those folks converted by Paul and his minions truly convinced that to not convert meant facing a mind-bendingly long stint in a lake of fire? Or maybe that part wasn’t mentioned at first, and by the time it came up, the positive aspects of the religion had convinced the new convert that they were on the right track? I can imagine someone saying, “hey, we’re really glad you’re a member of our congregation. But what about your spouse and children? Aren’t you worried they’ll end up in the lake of fire if they don’t convert, too?”
I ask because I don’t believe most people really know how long eternity is. I don’t, and I’ve studied deep time, which has taught me how difficult it really is to think in those terms. Now, even if I could be convinced that the Christian God exists, how could I worship a being who would torture ***anyone*** that way?
Karen, I can’t remember where I first came across the following analogy, it was certainly one of the big ‘cosmology for the ordinary person’ books, but it went something like
“Imagine a ball of metal the size of the earth. A fly comes and lands on it once every million years. When the friction caused by the fly has worn away all the metal eternity still will not have begun.”
Karen, I understand what you mean about having trouble comprehending eternity. I don’t grasp it either. Even the billions of years that the earth has existed is too big for me. Maybe this is a concept the ancient writers of books of the bible were trying to capture, that some things are tough to wrap your head around, so they attributed that to their God.
It is my understanding that the ancient Hebrew and Aramaic languages had no word for the concept of “eternity.” Jesus read Hebrew and spoke Aramaic. The idea of eternity is a Greco-Roman notion, and the word for eternity first showed up in the Greek language. Th Books of the New Testament were written in Greek. One of the stupid things Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals do is to just assume—just assume—that every language on planet Earth has a word in its language that exactly matches the same thing in all of the other languages. That is not true. For example, take The Three Stooges. A typical fundie on the street just assumes that every other language on Earth has its own unique word that means exactly the same thing as stooge. The Spanish language has no unique word of its own for “stooge.” This is not a rare abberation. Numerous words in one language have no equivalent word in hundreds of other languages on this Earth. This is one key reason why the Holy Bible is not inerrant and cannot be inerrant. Jesus spoke Aramaic, and only a few short words in the New Testament are Aramaic words. The words of Jesus in the New Testament were translated from Aramaic into Greek. Because of this nonequivalence of words, something is always lost in the translation. There is no such thing as a perfect translation from one language to another because of this basic linguistic principle. We simply do not have the exact original words of Jesus because what he said in the New Testament was translated (always imperfectly) from Aramaic to Greek to English (and hundreds of other languages).
John Burton is hoarding the Kool-Aid. Yer all nuts if you don’t like this stone. You can be high as a kite too but you choose to be INSANE! Yahooooo! Pass me that drink. The more I gulp it, the thirstier I get! Thank-you Jesus!
yay! another super cool mega church preacher. they don’t realize how silly they look as middle aged men trying to mimic the youngsters. this is what is driving people away along w/us all realizing how ridiculous their message is.