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Blood Washing the Past

blood of jesus

Anyone raised in the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church has likely sung numerous times the hymn There’s Power in the Blood. The lyrics reinforce the IFB belief that the forgiveness of sin, any sin, is but a prayer away. According to 1 John 1:9, if a Christian confesses his sin to God, he will find instantaneous forgiveness. This is only possible because of the atoning blood of Jesus. Through the shed blood of Jesus on the cross, the sinning and confessing sinner’s transgressions are washed away, never to be remembered again. Sing with me now (shouting the word power):

Would you be free from the burden of sin?
There’s pow’r in the blood, pow’r in the blood;
Would you o’er evil a victory win?
There’s wonderful pow’r in the blood.

There is pow’r, pow’r, wonder-working pow’r
In the blood of the Lamb;
There is pow’r, pow’r, wonder-working pow’r
In the precious blood of the Lamb.

Would you be free from your passion and pride?
There’s pow’r in the blood, pow’r in the blood;
Come for a cleansing to Calvary’s tide;
There’s wonderful pow’r in the blood.

Would you be whiter, much whiter than snow?
There’s pow’r in the blood, pow’r in the blood;
Sin-stains are lost in its life-giving flow;
There’s wonderful pow’r in the blood.

Would you do service for Jesus your King?
There’s pow’r in the blood, pow’r in the blood;
Would you live daily His praises to sing?
There’s wonderful pow’r in the blood.

No matter what Christians do, the blood of Jesus washes their sin away. Many Evangelical sects believe that any sin committed BS — before salvation — is forgiven and forgotten once a person is saved. One pastor I know refuses to do background checks on church workers because crimes committed before the super-duper blood of Jesus washed away their sins are remembered by God no more. And if God doesn’t remember the sin, why should we?

Another man, an evangelist, was accused of having sex with minors. He refused to talk about his past, claiming his past behavior is under the “blood.” Unfortunately, there are allegations that he continued to prey on minors after Jesus washed away his sin. But, don’t worry, forgiveness is but a prayer and a blood-washing away. Young girls can rest easy, at least until the blood of Jesus loses its power and the evangelist seeks out new potential victims to molest. Why is it that a Jesus’ blood transfusion is only temporary? If he is who Evangelicals say he is, shouldn’t his miraculous blood protect children from Christian sexual predators? Evidently not. (Please see the Black Collar Crime Series.)

Consider how amazing the blood of Jesus is. No matter what Christians do, no matter how heinous their behavior is, a quick prayer to Jesus asking for forgiveness will unleash the sin-cleansing power of the blood of the Lamb. This supernatural blood allows Evangelical Christians to escape accountability for bad behavior. Just pray, Evangelicals are told, secretly confessing the sin to God, and forgiveness will be granted. This is no different, by the way, from what goes on in Catholic confessional booths. No matter the crime, Jesus will forgive. Even repeat offenders can find forgiveness if they sincerely plead for the blood of Jesus to be applied to their sin-darkened hearts. Dear Lord Jesus, please forgive me for watching porn. I know this is a sin. I ask you to forgive me and wash away my sin. In Jesus’ name, Amen. Two nights later . . . Hey Jesus, it’s me again, Pastor Billy Bob. The devil got a hold of me and I looked at porn again. I’m so sorry for my sin. I ask you to forgive me and wash away my sin. In Jesus’ name, Amen. A week later, Hey Jesus, it’s me again . . .

And so it goes. Evangelicals sin, feel guilty, pray for forgiveness, promising, with fingers crossed behind their backs, that they will never, ever sin again. Rather than being held accountable for bad behavior, Evangelical sinners are given get-out-of-jail-free cards to be used any time they “sin.”

Those of us who are agnostics or atheists have no way for our bad-behavior slate to be wiped clean. All we can do is admit what we did and make restitution. In some instances, we’ll carry the stain of our “sin” until we die. Unlike Evangelicals, we acknowledge that bad behavior can and does have lasting consequences.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen 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.

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      Bruce Gerencser

      The notion of sin is a religious construct, one that I wholeheartedly reject. There’s good and bad behavior. I do my best to treat others well and when I don’t I try to make things right. Much of life is made up things that are neither good or bad, they just are. It’s religion that categorizes every human behavior. Those behaviors considered sin require expiation, penance and forgiveness. Righteous behaviors are the result of God working in and though us, and he alone should be praised. This is a warped way of looking at the human experience,

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    All we can do is admit what we did and make restitution. In some instances, we’ll carry the stain of our “sin” until we die. Unlike the Evangelical, we acknowledge that bad behavior can and does have lasting consequences.

    Not quite, unless in your ‘making restitution you are including our learning to love ourselves (for a change). Ugly Christianity learns you up from top to bottom to self-loathe. It was Bruce G who drove the nails into Jesus’ hands and was the reason God had to kill his OWN son! You miserable prick! So. after turning away from woo-woo (self-harm) we don’t easily look in the mirror and say, Well now, that little job is finished and I can carry on unscathed. We have to learn to love ourselves, to do what we can for ourselves and others. This is the part that is lifelong, I think. We begin finally to take responsibility for our lives and the lives of those around us without passing the buck.

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    “And so it goes. The Evangelical sins, feels guilty, prays for forgiveness, promising, with fingers crossed behind his back, that he will never, ever commit the sin again.”

    And then there’s this nagging voice in your head which tells you what you already know: i.e. that you will probably do it again and that makes your confession quite invalid. If you’re asking for God’s forgiveness half knowing that you’ll ‘sin’ again next week or next month, you’re already feeling guilty and bad for the inevitable fall from grace that will no doubt happen again…. And so the loop continues and is never ending (much like eternity itself).

    Oh by the way: I know the song too in my native language: check it out

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    When I realized that Christianity was just another blood sacrifice religion not unlike other ancient blood sacrifice religions, that was the straw that broke the camel’s back and I was DONE. Granted, it took me until I was about 37 years old to realize that – years and years of indoctrination and normalization of killing to stone for “sins” will do a lot to shut off critical thinking.

    I always HATED that song, by the way. Hated it. “POWR, POWR” – I thought it was poorly crafted by the composer that they didn’t match the syllables of the lyrics to the beat of the music, instead truncating a syllable. Ugh. Plus the blood message grossed me out.

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    MJ Lisbeth

    Now, it’s been a few decades, i mean years, since I took a course in formal logic. So please forgive me–for using such a religious term as “forgive” and if my logic is faulty as I posit the following: Believing that one drop of Jesus’ blood is enough to wash away all of your priors makes perfect sense if you also believe that every sperm is sacred.

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    Even as a Christian, even believing in salvation only through Christ, I just couldn’t understand how an almighty God required the death of his Son to save us. He’s God, why couldn’t he just fix us? After all, he is all knowing and all powerful and all loving blah blah blah. Christians ignore that there is no unconditional love from their god.

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    MJ Lisbeth

    BJW–“There is no unconditional love from their god.” If people understood this, no one would become a Christian. And only the vengeful and hateful could remain Christians.

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    MJ Lisbeth

    My previous comment was intended as a response to “Monty”.

    If Jim BaKKKer were to blame anyone other than himself, it should’ve been his accountants–or maybe his lawyers. Then again, if he really, really believed in Jesus as much as he claimed he did, he might not have employed such folks.

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    another post that drove straight to the heart. i cannot stand sacred music anymore. we went to church so much i had all of the song memorized by my teens. now i find them disturbing and emotionally tough to hear. just the thought of going to church makes me literally ill. dh cannot understand it, but he knows it is real and stopped forcing us to church years ago. even when he was dying, dad kept pushing church. glad he felt comforted and i went along and lied to him so he could be comfortable. but i know logically his life is just gone. sad that he squandered it on the church and ministry. mom thought the platitudes and crap she got on face book were so great. but these people had not contacted them in years. it boggles my mind.

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    The whole washed in the blood thing has always been strange to me. As a kid, I remember hearing this and wondering who wants that, its disgusting!! Then, Carrie came out -although I couldn’t see it until I escaped to college – and ever since, washed in the blood brings back that movie image. Then, as I grew older, I wondered why, exactly, blood had anything to do with anything. Wasn’t Jesus death and resurrection the event that leads to forgiveness. But then I read about Jesus forgiving people before he died, and I thought…hey…wait…so if he can do that while human, then why all this other crap?

    Reference MJ’s logic class, and here I am years later, a lost cause for christianity.

    I remember sitting in my fathers churches at altar call time, and guessing which person would go up, again, this week, to confess yet another occurrence of sin. I could generally guess who it would be – some being weekly. I always wondered why they kept doing this, over and over, because they obviously didn’t mean it.

    But it was convenient for me. I mean, preachers kids had to be properly saved. But I understood how it worked. I could do the thing I wanted to do, as sinful as it was, THEN pray for forgiveness after. All I had to do was avoid dying (or the rapture, but since we were post-trib, i was fairly safe there). But it lead to a lifetime of guilt.

    But I am over that, and fine with being my non-christian self and don’t have to pray for simply existing.

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    Barbara L. Jackson

    The whole lamb and blood thing came from when the temple existed in Jerusalem and lambs were sacrificed.

    This is what they are not telling you is that the New Testament was influenced by the Old Testament. The sacrifice of lambs or goat’s kids far back into when humans were living as pastorals, meaning they herded animals and moved around rather than having agriculture.

    Thank you
    Barbara L. Jackson

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