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You Say You Speak for God

angry preacher

Repost from 2015. Edited, rewritten, and corrected.

Millions upon millions of voices all clamoring at the same time, all uttering the same thing . . .

God says . . .

The Bible (God) says . . .

God is leading me to say . . .

God is telling me to tell you . . .

One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism, right?

Get a Baptist and a Catholic in the same room and let them duke it out over One Baptism. Infant baptism, adult convert baptism, or both?

Father, Son, Holy Ghost and these three are one. Surely everyone agrees? Not me, says the Oneness Pentecostal or the Apostolic.

Baptism saves. It doesn’t save. No, it’s water baptism plus speaking in tongues as evidence of Holy Ghost baptism that saves.

Communion is the Lord’s Supper, Baptists say. Other Christians says it is the Eucharist. Is it really the body of Christ, is it kind of the real body of Christ, or is it a memorial? Wine? Welch’s grape juice? Pepsi and Ritz crackers?

Pre-, Mid-, Pre-wrath-, Post-rapture and tribulation.

Pre-, A-, Post-millennial reign of Christ.

Dispensationalism. Non-dispensationalism. Hyper-dispensationalism.

Calvinism.

Arminianism.

Pelagianism.

Cessationist. Non-cessationist.

The Old Testament is for today. No it’s not.

The gospels are for today. No, they’re not.

New Perspective on Paul. No, Old Perspective.

Pauline or Peterine.

The Old Testament law is still for today.

No, it’s not.

Yes, it is, but only the Ten commandants.

No, only Nine commandments, and maybe the verses on tithing. Got to pay my salary, you know.

Only the words in red matter.

Only what Paul writes matters.

Did Paul write Hebrews?

Did Moses write the Pentateuch?

God created the universe in six literal twenty-four hour days. No, a day with the Lord is as a thousand years. No, God created the earth with apparent age.

Eternal Security. No, perseverance of the saints. No, preservation of the saints.

Can a Christian lose his salvation (fall from grace)?

Can I get my lost salvation back? Yes! No! It depends!

Hell.

Annihilation.

Purgatory.

Sixty-six books in the Protestant Bible. Catholics, Mormons, and Orthodox count differently, but they aren’t Christians, so who cares how many books are in their Bible.

So when you say:

God says . . .

The Bible (God) says . . .

God is leading me to say . . .

God is telling me to tell you . . .

Pray tell, why should we believe you?

How do we know that you have the faith once delivered to the saints?

Can you even answer the most basic of questions?

What is salvation? How is a person saved?

By grace?

By faith?

By works?

By faith, plus works?

By faith, plus works, and staying true to the end?

I can choose?

I can’t choose?

God chooses me?

I choose God?

Baptism saves?

Baptism doesn’t save?

You argue endlessly among yourselves, like toddlers fighting over a toy or Donald Trump and Mike Pence fighting over a Kentucky Fried Chicken drumstick.

The Bible SAYS!

God SAYS!

Our church SAYS!

Our confession SAYS!

Our catechism SAYS!

The Pope SAYS!

The Pastor SAYS!

There is one TRUE church and it is ours, countless denominations and churches say.

With us and heaven is your home. Against us and you fry. Choose right, lest ye die and burn forever!

Your lack of unity is the indictment against you.

Your lack of a singular voice is clear to all who can see beyond the threats of Hell and promises of Heaven.

You should not then be shocked when you try to tell non-Christians that God says or the Bible says and they smile and turn a deaf ear.

Oh wait, they are deaf because God made them that way.

And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand. (Luke 8:10)

It’s God’s fault.

Bruce Gerencser, 63, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 42 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen awesome 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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22 Comments

  1. Avatar
    sgl

    and it all started day one, with paul arguing with the disciples on whether circumcision was required for new converts or not. and it’s been continuing (and changing) ever since. not only could you not get every christian today to agree, i’ll bet you couldn’t even get catholics of today to agree with second century catholics. and yet they can still claim with a straight face, that “god is always the same.”

    • Avatar
      Bruce Gerencser

      As you know, most Christians have no understanding about the history of their religion. They rely on church leaders to tell them the “truth”, rarely considering that maybe their leaders are giving them a biased, truncated history. I laugh when someone tells me that their church is just like the early church. Sure it is. 🙂

      • Avatar
        sgl

        yes. it’s been interesting to watch gary deconvert, and watching the “loving christians” become quite bitter and hateful or just silent, once it became clear he wasn’t going to become a christian again. and yet, before his conversion, he thought the hateful christians were a tiny minority. i think he’s also been quite surprised how little interest christians have in alternative points of view.

        i’ve heard similar things from other sources. patheos has a number of bloggers talking about churches dealing with same sex marriage, and stories from multiple people say they thought their church was accepting, until their own kid came out, and then they discovered just how un-accepting that church was.

        however, for those that have been outside the christian bubble for a while, it’s not a surprise at all. (of course, there’s multiple bubbles too, not just religion. there’s the white middle-class suburbia bubble, that can’t understand ferguson, etc.)

        • Avatar
          Becky Wiren

          Sgl, your talk of bubbles is interesting. Most people don’t realize they are in ANY bubble. I grew up white middle class, not upper by any means. But it was the real deal insofar as my older brother was able to work hard and become quite affluent. The rest of us siblings have had it harder but nonetheless we are (at least holding on to) middle class. But I’ve been in different bubbles so I’ve tried to look at other POVs. Now I live in white rural America, super conservative, and I’m more liberal than ever, and no longer a Christian.

          I have Facebook friends that challenged my POV on Israel and Palestine. One friend is Native American and THAT POV is, of course, pro-Palestinian. I have black friends and hear their stories. I’m sickened by the white assumption that blacks getting shot is their fault. Oh, they don’t think that’s what they are saying. But when they say, “Well, he shouldn’t have run” or “he shouldn’t have ever committed a crime” (non-capital WTF?) so well, too bad he’s dead but. Maybe it’s because I read voraciously but I seriously don’t GET IT, why people are blind. And maybe I do, as trying to look at reality is hard for most of us. I’ve moved out of those bubbles that Christianity is right, the Bible is perfect, white America is the real America, and I’m 56.

          I think all of this does relate to Christianity. The Christian Right has no clue and think the Christian Left is EVIL socialism. I know some of those Christians may in their private lives may actually help people. But I’m not counting all the millions being thrown at churches to sustain their staff, their worship, their affluence etc. Just giving at church isn’t really helping. Better to tear all the churches down and feed the hungry and house everyone. I’m ready.

          • Avatar
            sgl

            yes, people are really bad at that. however, in their defense, most people are quite absorbed by their busy lives just trying to make it thru the day. and there’s lots of propaganda by gov’ts, religions, political parties, corps, charities, etc, all specifically trying to influence them. (ever hear of “product placement?” corps pay to have their product included in movies and tv shows.)

            a much smaller part of the population has the economic breathing room to actually see thru much of the lies, but often choose to buy trinkets and baubles instead. i hold them more accountable than the average person.

            it also seems to be how the mind works, building up a mental model of the world, and all too frequently ignoring info that doesn’t fit into their mental model. do keynesian economists really seem to believe that printing money out of thin air to bail out the bankers is a realistic model of the universe and will fix the economy?

            ian mcgilchrist, psychiatrist among other things, wrote a book “the master and his emmissary” about this — i’ve watched several of his online videos talking about the results of his research, and it’s quite interesting. eg, studying people with strokes in various parts of the brain, and what impact it has on their perception.

            furthermore, there’s a theologian, maggie ross, who’s tied mcgilchrist’s work back to meditation/contemplation and silence. according to her, “beholding” is the process of giving up those rigid mental models via contemplation and interior silence. despite “behold” appearing 1300 times in the original greek and hebrew of the bible, the latest translation expunge virtually every one of them. according to her, without this background, much of the theology of the bible gets turned on it’s head. (see http://wipfandstock.com/writing-the-icon-of-the-heart.html and click “look inside” and read the introduction) (she’s one of a very few religious people who i can read and partly agree with.)

          • Avatar
            Becky Wiren

            Thanks for the link…I will look it up when I have time.

            You know, I have a friend who is Catholic and teaches little children. She is extremely busy doing all that and it makes her happy. She’s in her own bubble but…she is doing her best. She looks at the good things in her world and holds on. I don’t blame her.

          • Avatar
            Rebecca

            I agree Becky and SGL that people are definitely conditioned by their culture and experience. We all are going to reflect some kind of bias. It seems to me that it can be very difficult for people to disagree, and not assume that all who see things differently are not enemies or have malevolent motives.

            Getting to the whole political thing. I don’t think people who are politically socialist are evil by any means. Usually they are the most kind and well meaning people around. One of my own sons was supportive of Bernie Sanders. 🙂 Although, he has since changed his views.

            But, from my perspective, I just don’t see socialism as the best economic system out there to actually create and generate wealth, or to lift people from poverty. I also have concerns about that much control and authority being centered in the government. My own position is more that of a progressive libertarian.

            I could be wrong, and am definitely open to hear and explore other opinions.

        • Avatar
          John Arthur

          Hi sgl,

          You raise some very good points here. I agree with you. Most churches are not really interested in encouraging their members to examine different points of view, nor are they interested in trying to understand the variety of agnostics or atheists that exist.

          The same-sex marriage issue is not really openly discussed, even in many churches that claim to be more open and liberal. There is usually a hostile evangelical contingent in these churches. These may be a small, yet very vocal minority in such churches.

          Shalom,

          John Arthur

          • Avatar
            sgl

            hi john,

            we get trapped by our own stories too. for a very interesting and out-of-the-ordinary perspective, read the following essay by john michael greer, who is an archdruid, and practices magic. he defines magic as change of consciousness thru will, and advertising and propaganda are included in that definition. in it, you’ll see that the liberal left (whom he generally agrees with) can get caught up in their own stories/their own bubble too. (i’ve read greer’s peak oil blog, and i enjoy is writing style and persptive. however, i have read little to nothing about magic, so i can’t comment much about that. but i did find the essay to be very perceptive, despite using terminology that i don’t typically use.)

            http://www.edgeofgrace.net/2006/12/09/john-michael-greer-on-activism-magic-and-genuine-transformation/

            hence, it’s very much a human problem, embedded in the way we think, the way our minds work, not just a fundamentalist/religious right problem. it’s hard work to examine your own preconceptions, particularly ones that are deeply ingrained in your society and you’re not even conscious of them. greer, who studied the history of ideas, is pretty good about getting outside current society’s assumption, which is why i find him interesting.

            in fact, i think greer and maggie ross and ian mcgilchrist are all essentially talking about the same/similar things, but using radically different terminology, from very different traditions. yet they’re all based on human nature, which is and has been the same for a long time.

            there was a famous guy (tho not as famous as the beatles), who said “And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?”

            very hard to do in practice for anyone, not just fundamentalists.

  2. Avatar
    Monty

    It’s funny….For 4 years I was the sole drummer at The Richmond outreach center A.k.A. The ROC (Ya know, the one where Geronimo Aguilar was pastor, now getting ready for trial for sexual conduct with underage girls in Texas). I did it without pay and never missed one service save one for a vacation. twice a week i did this, not not mention outreaches and out of town visits. Drumming is a passion of mine, so i had no problem doing this, especially for “God”.
    About a year before we moved to our large facility another drummer was brought on board to “help out” (By this time I was employed at the ROC). Oddly enough, the very week we moved into our new state of the art facility, I was basically told by the band leader that my services were no longer needed (Oh, they allowed me to play maybe one song per service…After all, I was foolish to let them use my drum set so they kind of had to). The phrase the leader used to me was “God is leading us in another direction”. (actually, the pastor preferred the busier style of my replacement because the church was now shown on local and national TV). Once I took my drume set off the stage, I was barred from playing, save for when the regular drummers couldn’t make it. i was the last resort. That phrase was said to me in April of 2010.
    I have since quit that place (And drumming in churches…Hell, I quit churches period!!) last Summer. A few weeks ago, exactly 5 years later from when that quote was said to me by the band leader, I got a text from him wondering if was interested in coming to play for a service. Hmmmm…so, did “God” change his direction again? Did “God” change his mind yet again?
    Of course I declined, but it stung a little because I was good for years, then “God” decided to switch directions, then 5 years later switched again. (The point is, people use “God” as a shield to hide their bullshit).
    So the whole “I speak for god” is one I loathe.

  3. Avatar
    Monty

    I appreciate that Becky. Sadly, that’s merely the tip of the iceberg on how I was treated there. Matter of fact that was one of the nicer ways I was treated!!!!
    If ANYONE ever doubts why I GLADLY walked away, gimme a few hours and I’ll tell you the ways I was mistreated by churches…..you know, “Gods chosen people” lol!!

  4. Avatar
    Violet

    I was directed to your blog by Peter, and just wanted to leave a comment about how helpful your posts have been to me. I appreciate how you keep this blog a safe place for deconverts…your comment policy had me laughing like crazy, with the check boxes for which kind of proselytizing were being thrown at you. 😀

  5. Avatar
    April

    This is great! The mental gymnastics one has to engage in to remain a Christian are many!
    so glad to be out of the Matrix.

  6. Avatar
    ObstacleChick

    In the town where I grew up, the 2 largest churches were the First Baptist Church (Southern Baptist) and the Church of Christ. The only differences that I found were that C of C didn’t allow musical instruments in worship, and they had elders and deacons instead of just deacons. Otherwise they both believed that wrong belief sends people to everlasting torture in hell. Seriously, y’all are going to fight over a piano?

    • Avatar
      Bruce Gerencser

      When I was pastoring in southeast Ohio, the Church of Christ preachers and I would go back and forth preaching against each other. I preached several sermons about the Campbellite heresy. Taped the sermons and sent them to every Church of Christ preachers in the area. They, of course, responded in kind. Fun times, so Christlike. 🙂

  7. Avatar
    Sharon

    No wonder I was so confused for so long!

    I’ve been watching Joel Osteen some lately, and it’s interesting in that he avoids all the stuff listed and just basically works as a motivational speaker. And he’s got 52,000 people that attend there? So his model attracts people who want to believe all this happy stuff. (Can you blame them?) I’ve noticed in interviews, he avoids theology like the plague. He’s too smart to go there!

    Then there are the intellectual-type preachers who are all about correct doctrine.

    Then there are the IFB-types who love to focus on the negative-sin, hell, etc.

    • Avatar
      Bruce Gerencser

      Osteen is Evangelical doctrinally, but you would never know it from his preaching. As you astutely noted, he is a motivational speaker — and a very rich one at that.

    • Avatar
      Grammar Gramma

      I don’t watch or listen to Joel Osteen, but I wonder if he is a nonbeliever who has to keep on pretending, presenting a kinder and gentler version of Christianity than the Evangelical brand.

      • Avatar
        Sharon

        Interesting question. I don’t know, of course, but I’d think he probably is a believer. I think before his father died, he was the producer. One idea might be that his education and experience is in producing their services for television, and in connection with that he’d know about marketing, etc. He’d know what many people are hungry for? I think his father may have gone from the more traditional stuff into more positive thinking or name-it-and-claim type thing, not sure.

        He does use characters and stories from the Bible to build his messages on. And he does do the sinner’s prayer at the end.

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