Why Evangelicals Can’t See People as They Are

sinner

Why Evangelicals Can’t See People as They Are

Evangelicals believe that people are either saved or lost. Every human being, past and present, fits into one of these two categories. There’s no middle ground, no choosing to follow a different path. Either you are a follower of Jesus or you are a follower of Lucifer. Either you are a child of God or you are a child of Satan. According to Evangelicals, most of humanity falls under the lost category. Muslims? Lost. Buddhists? Lost. Catholics? Lost. Humanists? Lost. Shintoists? Lost. Many Evangelicals believe that some of their own tribe is lost too. Calvinists, in particular, are fond of condemning everyone to the Lake of Fire except for the elect — whom all happen to be worshipers of John Calvin.

Evangelicals also believe that all humans are inherently sinful. People don’t become sinners, they are born that way, thanks to Adam and Eve’s fall into sin in the Garden of Eden. Thus, every human being is either a saved sinner or a lost sinner. God says it, end of discussion, or so Evangelicals think anyway.

These facts make it impossible for Evangelicals to see people as they are. Instead of judging people according to their character and behavior, Evangelicals measure them by what the Bible purportedly says about the human condition and human behavior. Many Evangelicals believe that unsaved people can’t truly love or do good works. Why? True love and good works require a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. While unsaved people might “love” others and do what seem to be “good” works, they have selfish, ulterior motives (as if Evangelicals can’t have selfish, ulterior motives). Only born-again, bought-by-the blood, filled-with-the-Holy-Ghost Evangelicals can love and do good works that are pleasing to God. Does what Evangelicals can see with their eyes validate these beliefs? Of course not, but it matters not. The standard for judgment is the Bible, not what can be seen with the eyes and heard with the ears. This is why many Evangelicals believe that I am hiding some sort of secret sin; that the reason I became an atheist is that I wanted to freely indulge my sinful nature. I may keep these things hidden in this life, but someday I will stand before the thrice holy God and in “This Was Your Life” fashion, the Evangelical God will expose my sin for all to see. Some Evangelicals can’t wait to see on judgment day what I have been hiding. Boy, are they going to be disappointed!

The next time an Evangelical tries to befriend you, ask him to tell you honestly what he thinks about you as a person and how you live your life. Not wanting to offend you, many Evangelicals will go out of their way to keep from telling you the truth. Evangelicals figure if they can just make a connection with you, they will eventually be able to say what God thinks about you. Remember, Evangelicals believe they should love what God loves and hate what God hates. Thus, in their minds, they see things as God sees them. After all, the Bible says in 1 Corinthians 2:16 that Evangelicals have “the mind of Christ.” Based on what I know about Evangelicals, I can confidently say that if Evangelicals have the mind of Christ, Jesus is one warped, sick motherfucker.

Sadly, Evangelicals live in a narrow, truncated world that lacks the fullness and wildness found among the unwashed, uncircumcised Philistines of the world. Instead of accepting, loving, and enjoying people as they are, Evangelicals are forced to judge everyone according to their peculiar interpretation of the Protestant Bible. As an atheist, I am free to accept people as they are. I am friends with Christians and heathens alike. Our beliefs rarely perfectly align. I even have a few friends who voted for Donald Trump. I don’t understand how they could do this, but they did. I still have several Evangelical friends. They love posting Christian memes on Facebook, some of which are directly aimed at me, or people like me. I choose to ignore these memes, opting instead to focus on the things we have in common: family, grandchildren, and a love for good food. I could respond in kind, but I choose not to. I just want to love and appreciate them as they are, even if they can’t, deep down, do the same for me. I will always be, in their minds, a dear friend who needs saving. I would love to “save” them too, but at their age, I am content to let them go to the grave with their mythical Jesus.

When Evangelicals see homeless people, they don’t see people in need of housing or mental health care. The homeless are people who are dead in trespasses and sins; people who need the salvation and forgiveness of sins offered only through the Evangelical Jesus. The same could be said of every person struggling with bad choices and behaviors: prostitutes, alcoholics, drug addicts, and preachers, to name a few. Their personal, individual stories matter not. Every life must be filtered through what the Bible says. Thinking this way keeps Evangelicals from seeing people as they are; from enjoying their fellow bipeds, warts and all. The world is filled with audacious, colorful, strange people; people who can and do add much to our lives. Over the past decade, thanks to this blog, I have had the privilege of meeting countless people from all sorts of nationalities and backgrounds. As a Christian Fundamentalist, I lived in a closed-off, black-and-white, homogenous world where I rarely, outside of my evangelistic duties, ran into people different from me. This way of living gave me a stilted, false view of the world. It was only when I began meeting people different from me that my worldview began to expand. As many former Evangelicals can attest, it took actually meeting people different from me: i.e. gays, liberals, people of color, to cure me of bigotry, racism, and homophobia.

As long as Evangelicals view the world through Bible-colored glasses, they will never see people as they are. We face many serious trials in the coming months and years. Successfully tackling these issues requires a willingness for each of us to embrace the differences of others. I’m game, are you?

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 62, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 41 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

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5 Comments

  1. ObstacleChick

    One of the most important things I have done as a parent is exposing my kids to as many different people from different backgrounds as possible. I still remember the day when it dawned on my daughter that our friends Mr. D and Mr. J were a married couple just like mom and dad – she must have been about 7, and we responded, yes they are. She said, oh ok and that was the end of that.

    It’s sad knowing that many of the evangelicals I grew up with – people who were friends – would cast me as a bad person and as a project if they knew I am an atheist now.

    Reply
  2. MJ Lisbeth

    Some years back, I had an Evangelical Christian student who took it upon herself to “win” my soul.

    She cheated. I reported her. She begged me to withdraw my report on her: In her view, cheating was justified because it was for the purpose of getting the degree she needed to do “what the Lord called” her to do.

    Thankfully, we were in a city-funded community college, so the academic integrity committee didn’t buy her argument. She was expelled but allowed to re-apply after a year. I don’t know whether she did. Whatever she did, I’m sure she saw it as persecution for her faith.

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      A good example of “the end justifies the means” thinking.

      Reply
  3. Kris

    I remember years ago myself and an evangelical young lady ( she was 22 and I was 23) were having some very intense moments that lead to some rather intense things nearly happening. When she changed her mind at the last second I was kind, understanding and non judgmental about it all. I didn’t tell anyone. She later told me I treated her with kindness that she thought only Christians could do. That floored me.

    Many years later when I was 32 I was introduced to another evangelical woman who was 28. I am deadly seriously when I say within a few hours we were sleeping together. We slept together a few times and she wanted me to start going to her church with me. I told her not interested, then we slept together again. Eventually she told me she could not see me anymore as I was a sinner. I just laughed.

    I went to Baptist school as a kid before I moved to Georgia and one young lady who knew me from the school rather liked my personality a lot to say the least after we started talking again via FB. Let’s just say I got to know her very very well when I traveled back up there.

    I am always amused when evangelicals want to discuss morality and ethics with me. If anyone is curious I married a Pagan. Her sister still regularly tries to convert her but has not yet tried to save my soul. I am not sure if I should be relieved that I don’t need to deal with that or upset she thinks so little of me that she won’t try to save me from hell 🙂

    Reply
  4. Dave

    So true, Bruce. I think back at my Christian days and the burden my beliefs placed on me. Everything I thought and everyone I met had to be filtered through my Christianity. I could never be truly me. No I always had to be a witness for Christ and if I faltered I could cost someone eternal life. I was always evaluating others beliefs and if they weren’t like mine they were unsaved. For years I endured this until I slowly realized that my religion was just as I saw all other religions-total bullshit.

    Reply

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