I spent fifty years in the Evangelical church. During half of those years, I pastored Evangelical (mainly Baptist) churches in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. I have pastored thousands of people over the years, many of whom were loving, kind, thoughtful followers of Jesus. I also pastored more than a few Christians who were nasty, vile, hateful people; men and women who viciously attacked me and lied about me after we had a falling out. I suspect my experiences with church members track with the experiences I have had with the unwashed, uncircumcised Philistines of the world. In any tribe or group, you have some good people and others who are not.
The late 80s and early 90s brought us the advent of the Internet. Over the past thirty years, the Internet has become an integral part of our lives. I’ve met scores of people from all over the world thanks to the Internet. Social media allows me to meaningfully interact with family and friends, which never would have been possible before the Internet. Yet, thanks to my blog, social media, and YouTube, I have been exposed to countless Evangelicals who feel it is their duty to attack me and my family. Just today, there’s a Jesus-loving man, who after I blocked him on Facebook has taken to sending hateful, Bible verse-filled messages to my children. Another person signed up for a fake Instagram account in my name and is now sending messages to my followers. Over the past couple of days, I’ve been receiving unwanted emails from an Evangelical man. I can’t respond to him because he uses a plethora of fake email accounts. These things, and others, happen all the time. I find myself asking, have Evangelicals always been this way, or has the Internet pathologically changed them? Trumpism and QAnon are largely Evangelical groups. A large percentage of the January 6th insurrectionists were Evangelicals. Many of the members of militia groups such as the Proud Boys and III Percenters are Evangelicals. The culture war that currently engulfs the United States is largely driven by Evangelicals (along with Conservative Catholics and Mormons). Evangelicals are behind rolling back sixty years of social progress. Their goal is to return the United States to the 1950s.
There was a day when Evangelicalism was largely a revivalistic, pietistic sect; people who believed in the strict separation of church and state; people who believed that preaching the gospel and evangelization was the God-ordained way to foment social change. Today, Evangelicals have largely abandoned these things, selling their souls instead for political power. Evangelicals will not rest until they have taken America back for God, and enthroned the Bible as the law of the land. We see this happening, in particular, as Evangelicals try to take over our public schools.
Evangelicalism is now considered one of the most hated sects in America. The news is filled with stories about pastors committing sex crimes, having affairs, and generally living non-Christlike lives. Evangelical megachurches in particular have become temples of entertainment and excess, churches pastored by men who are multimillionaires, wear $1,500 tennis shoes, and live in mansions.
What the hell has happened to Evangelical Christianity? Or has it always been this way?
The Bible says in Matthew 7:16-20:
Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
The Bible says the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit — who allegedly lives inside of every Evangelical — is: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. I have had interactions with thousands of Evangelicals on my blog and social media over the past fifteen years — a large sample size. I have discovered that the fruit of the Spirit is nowhere to be found in the lives of most of these flag-waving, Jesus-loving, Bible-worshipping Evangelicals. There seem to be few Evangelicals who take seriously Jesus’ teachings in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). Why do so few Evangelicals care one whit about what Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount?
Evangelicalism is numerically dying, but they have become a sick, rabid dog who will rip your throat out. While Evangelicalism will eventually self-destruct, it will likely cause much damage and harm before it does. I suspect that personal attacks on this site and social media will continue, becoming shriller and more hostile. While Christ-like Evangelicals certainly exist, their words and actions are drowned out by the vile, hateful, violent words and behavior of other believers. Why would anyone want to be an Evangelical Christian?
Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 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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