According to the Bible, God, in the person of the Holy Ghost, lives inside of every Christian. How the Holy Ghost pulls off being in millions and billions of places at the same time is unknown, but the Bible says that God is omnipresent, so it must be true, right? The Bible also teaches that the indwelling Spirit is the teacher, guide, and restrainer of every believer. Ponder that statement for a moment. Think of the Christians you know, and ask yourself, do they live in ways that are consistent with God living inside of them? Do their choices, decisions, and behaviors reflect that the God who promised never to leave or forsake them is an ever-present, active presence in their lives? Or, are your Christian friends and acquaintances pretty much like you and the other unwashed, uncircumcised Philistines of the “world?” That’s a rhetorical question.
People are people. On any given day, each of us has the potential to do good and bad things; each of us can bless others or cause great harm. Regardless of our religious beliefs, we are frail, feeble mortals. Getting Evangelicals to understand these facts, however, is a tall task. Everything they read in the Bible, hear from the pulpit, and read in Christian books tells them a completely different story; that they are special, unique people, who have been gloriously saved from “sin” by a virgin-born, resurrected-from-the-dead man named Jesus. It’s hard, then, for Evangelicals to see themselves as mere equals to non-Christians. Oh, they will tell you that they are just lowly, humble “sinners saved by grace,” but when you believe that the Creator of the universe is your BFF, lover, and closest confidant, it’s hard not to think you are superior to people you consider hell-bound sinners, followers of Satan, and enemies of Jesus.
Not only do Evangelicals have the Holy Ghost living inside of them, they also have the mind of Christ. In 1 Corinthians 2:14-16, the Apostle Paul wrote:
But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? but we have the mind of Christ.
Paul tells the Church at Corinth, that the natural man (unbelievers) does not receive, know, or understand the things of the Spirit of God. In fact, they can’t understand them because they don’t have the Holy Ghost living inside of them. Paul goes on to ask, “who has known the mind of the Lord?” Answer? We (followers of Jesus) have. Why? We have the mind of Christ.
Nineteenth-century Presbyterian theologian Albert Barnes writes:
There is a difference between Christians and other people. One is enlightened by the Holy Spirit, the other is not; one sees a beauty in religion, to the other it is folly; the one has the mind of Christ, the other has the spirit of the world; the one discerns the excellency of the plan of salvation, to the other all is darkness and folly. How could beings differ more in their moral feelings and views than do Christians and the people of this world? (E-Sword Bible, iOS Version)
Methodist theologian Adam Clarke writes:
[God] has endowed [Christians] with the same dispositions [as Christ], being born again by his Spirit; therefore we are capable of knowing his mind and receiving the teachings of the Spirit. These teachings we do receive, and therefore are well qualified to convey them to others. (E-Sword Bible, iOS Version)
“Well qualified to convey [the things of God] to others.” Doesn’t this describe many Evangelicals; those who frequent this blog and social media; those who believe it is their duty to spread their peculiar version of the Christian gospel wherever they go; those who believe it is their responsibility to expose heresy and promote sound doctrine; those who believe Christianity = truth and the Bible and its teachings should not only be taught in churches, but in public schools?
Currently, I follow and read almost two hundred Evangelical blogs and websites. Not all of them publish every day, but many of them do. And without fail, day after day, dozens of these sites write posts detailing what the will of God is for believers and unbelievers alike. You see, when you believe that you have an intimate relationship with the one, true God and you talk to him daily, it’s not surprising that you begin to think you are God’s mouthpiece, that your words and God’s words are one and the same. Evangelical pastors believe that they uniquely chosen, qualified, and empowered “men of God.” In some Evangelical circles, you have people who believe they are “prayer warriors” or have been given a special “anointing” from God. As a pastor, I pleaded with God to endue me with “power from on high.” I begged him to use me as did the great men of God from days of old. I wanted a life that literally oozed God and his Word. Alas, I never achieved such greatness. That did not keep me, however, from telling people what God wanted them to do. How could I do otherwise? I had a God-given duty to lead, shepherd, teach, challenge, and rebuke congregants.
If Evangelicals are saved by and through Jesus, indwelt by the Holy Ghost, have the mind of Christ, daily converse with God in prayer, and have at their fingertips the very words of God — the Bible, why is there dissension and internecine warfare among God’s chosen ones? Based on my daily reading of Evangelical blogs, websites, and social media posts, I can safely conclude that the elect are a contentious lot, willing to go to war over the silliest and slightest of disagreements. If Evangelicals have the “mind of Christ,” Jesus sure is an argumentative, judgmental, violent asshole (which, shouldn’t shock us, knowing the kind of Father he had — read the Old Testament).
Perhaps, there is another way to look at Evangelicals; that all their talk about God living inside of them and having the mind of Christ is poppycock. Maybe, just maybe, despite all their God-talk, Evangelicals are just like the rest of us. I know, my Christian friend, it’s humbling to think that you are just like me and billions of other people; that you are not chosen, anointed, or special; that your supposed superiority is a myth.
Reality can be a bitch.
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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As a teen and young adult, I always felt slightly less than my Christian peers because they were so sure of God’s plans for themselves, while no matter how much I prayed and followed the rules (and followed them I did!), I could never discern his plan for me. Now on the other side of it all, I wonder how many of them *truly* felt they knew the mind of God, and how many secretly agonized over the silence like I did.
They seem to be of 2 minds regarding the whole indwelling of the Holy Spirit thing too. They will talk about that, yet will post social media memes about not letting a few bad Christians keep you out of church. It’s almost like they know it’s BS, or partial BS.
I can see the appeal of thinking you have a real live deity living inside you – it’s almost like being a superhero!
Considering the fact that 80% of evangelicals stubbornly support the criminal, racist sex offender in the White House I am more glad than ever that I no longer have ”the mind of God.”
Superb writing, Gerencser and, yes, Christian, we are all the same humanity. Good luck with your cycle of ‘belief’. When I was able to disbelieve finally, after so long a belief, I felt so so human again, gloriously freed from the cycle. Just an ordinary old guy now and its great…. well, the being old part brings aches and strains but heck, the weekend is going to be sunny!
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Although I wasn’t raised in that toxic religious cauldron, I attended enough hellfire and brimstone revivals as a youngster to feel the heat of hell. Saying that, I never felt the spirit. I stood at the door and listened as best I could but never heard the knock. Why didn’t Jesus make the path clear to me? Could J.C. not see that I was lost? Finally I saw though the screen, hiding what was going on. Figured that it was all hokum. Never looked back.
Didn’t Jesus pray of his disciples, “That you all may be one even as the Father and I are one, that the world may know that you sent me.” He also taught that when the Spirit of Truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth.
This unity would have to be some kind of visible unity, because how are non-Christians going to recognize invisible unity. Well, the church today comprises well over 40,000 different denominations each disagreeing with some aspects of biblical hermeneutics, theology and Christian ethics. So, according to Jesus, non-Christians are justified in rejecting him
and the churches need to get their act together and unite.
There are hundreds of different Christian views supposedly coming from the Holy Spirit. Either, the Holy Spirit is doing an extremely poor job of leading the church into the truth or no such being exists. I think that the probability of the Holy Sprit’s existence is so low that it is near enough to zero to suppose that no Holy Spirit exists.
John, that’s my thought too. Church unity would at least give me pause, but as things look now, all I see is a 2,000-year-old turf war, with each sect saying that they are the WAY, TRUTH, and LIFE. It sounds like a battle between hamburger joints to me. Our hamburger (Jesus) is the best! 🙂