Evangelicalism

The Bankruptcy of the Evangelical Gospel

evangelical gospel

It’s Easter.

The real reason for Easter is___________________?

Come on kiddies, you know the answer.

Easter egg hunts?

Chocolate rabbits?

Candy?

Dyed eggs?

Candy?

Candy?

Candy?

No,silly. Easter is the day we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus!

I subscribe to a number of Evangelical newsletters and blogs. Some days, I want to pull my hair out or bang my forehead on the table as I read about the latest threat to modern civilization or the persecution American Christians are facing because they have to treat gays like they are human. I laugh, cuss, and shake my head, but I must continue to wade through the bovine waste river if I plan to be an informed and literate writer. It’s my cross to bear.

I subscribe to the One Million Moms newsletter. One Million Moms is an arm of The American Family Association (AFA). Million Mommies is what what I call the female outrage wing of AFA. They focus on boycotting companies that advertise of TV shows they think are offensive, immoral, or anti-Christian. Their website lists the current outrages and companies who have changed their ways due to a Million Mommies boycott or letter writing campaign. They are well-organized, avid letter writers, and by all accounts, sexually frustrated.

Monica Cole is the director of One Million Moms. Cole sent out the weekly Million Mommies newsletter today. It is different from others I have received in the past. No call to action, no letters to write, no boycott. In other words, none of the usual Million Mommies stuff. Cole, concerned for sinners like you and I, made this week’s newsletter all about Easter, the resurrection of Jesus, and the Christian gospel. She hopes readers will forward it on to lost friends and family members:

If you know of someone who is not saved, please pass this on to them. Share the greatest gift of all with them: a relationship with Jesus Christ and eternal life. Also, share this with your brothers and sisters in Christ so they may use this to share with others. God commands that we share the gospel with others. We need to help one another become passionate followers of Jesus Christ.

What I found interesting is how Cole explains the gospel and salvation, Here’s what Cole thinks the gospel is and what a sinner should do to find salvation:

Resurrection Sunday is a time to Rejoice! Jesus paid a debt for us that no one else could ever pay so that we could be in heaven with Him for eternity. God gave the perfect sacrifice, His only Son, and if we believe in Him, then we will be forgiven and saved from our sins.

To be saved, you must believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for EVERYONE’S sins, including your own, and receive Him as your personal Savior so that one day you can be with our Heavenly Father. If you believe Jesus died on the cross to save us from our sins, you will also need to admit you are a sinner – as we all are. Romans 3:23 KJV says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” If you have never confessed your sin and belief in Christ, take time to do it right now. Jesus is the only way to be saved from your sins and receive eternal life.

On the third day, he rose again from the dead. This is the Good News that Christians celebrate: His Resurrection! He is ALIVE! And one day our Savior will return. He, and only He, sets us free from our sins! “Jesus saith unto him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.’” John 14:6 KJV

The birth of Jesus is wonderful, but the resurrection is even more exciting. It is the finale to the Christmas story. Jesus accomplished what he came for. Jesus’ last words before dying on the cross were documented in John 19:30 as, “It is finished.” He knew that all was now completed and that Scripture would be fulfilled. To suggest that more needs to be done to earn your way to heaven is the same as saying Jesus died for nothing. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast.”  Ephesians 2:8-9 KJV

Nails were not what held Jesus to the cross. Jesus had the power to come down from that cross, but He knew this is what had to be done for His believers to be saved. He died on the cross for you and me because of His love for us. He loved us that much! “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16 KJV

According to Cole, to be saved, one must believe and do the following:

  • Admit that Jesus died on the cross for their sins
  • Admit that they are a sinner
  • Receive Him (Jesus) as their personal Savior

If a person will do this they will:

  • Be saved from their sins
  • Receive eternal life
  • One day live with the Heavenly Father

That’s it!

Man, I am sooooo glad I did this 43 years ago. My reservation is booked and I am ready to go when Jesus either calls my name or comes in the clouds to get me. I many be an atheist, but I sincerely prayed the sinner’s prayer. I’m good to go, right?

Sadly, this is the bankrupt gospel preached in thousands of Evangelical and Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) churches. It is the gospel preached by the likes of Jack Hyles, Bob Gray, Billy Graham, Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer, and most Evangelical mega church pastors.  It is a gospel that requires nothing more than sincerity and mental assent to a set of facts.

I call this gospel the 1-2-3 repeat after me gospel. In theological terms, it is called decisional regeneration or easy believism. That I can still be considered a Christian should be offensive to every follower of Jesus, yet many people think that I am still a Christian and heaven will someday be my eternal home. I might lose some rewards or my mansion might not be as nice as Charles Spurgeon’s, but my future is secure, all because I prayed the prayer.

By stringing a bunch of Bible verses together, many Evangelical churches and pastors have reduced the Christian gospel to meaningless drivel. Being a Christian should meaning something.  Isn’t  the essence of the Christian gospel following after Jesus? Can someone really be a Christian if they aren’t following Jesus, if they aren’t committed to believing and practicing his teachings?

Part of the problem is that there are at least four plans of salvation in the Bible. In the Old Testament, salvation was procured through keeping the law and blood sacrifice. In the New Testament, we have the gospel of Jesus, the gospel of Paul, the gospel of Peter, and the gospel of James. Each of these New Testament gospels is different from the others, and this is why there are so many Christian sects. Which gospel a sect, church, or pastor emphasizes determines what a person must do to be a Christian.

Here in the 21st century, the gospel of Paul rules the salvation roost. Some sects, churches, and pastors try to merge Paul’s gospel with the others, resulting in a hybrid gospel. But, if being a Christian means following Jesus, shouldn’t HIS gospel be the one preached in Christian churches? Why do so few churches preach Jesus’s gospel? Why do they focus on Paul’s gospel and doctrine and not Jesus’s gospel?  Could the reason be that Jesus focused on how a person lives and not what a person believes?

Take the sermon on the mount. Did Jesus preach anything remotely similar to Monica Cole’s gospel or the gospel that will be preached at countless Christian churches this Sunday? He did not. Jesus preached a gospel of works, a gospel that callsed on people to forsake their nets, family, and everything they held dear and follow after him. Jesus didn’t say to those gathered on the mount to hear him: say you are sorry for your sins and promise to believe in me after I die on the cross. He didn’t ask Jews to ask Jesus into their heart or walk down the aisle and make a public profession of faith. Compare what Jesus preached in Matthew 5-7 with what is preached in the average Evangelical church. The contrast couldn’t be starker. Jesus called to people and said follow me. Evangelicals call to people and say, believe these facts, pray this prayer.

I think the sermon on the mount is Jesus’s manifesto. He wanted to make sure people understood what it meant to be his follower. Any casual observer of Evangelicalism can see that the gospel preached by Jesus does not remotely resemble what is preached in many Evangelical churches. And it’s not just an Evangelical problem. Mainline and Catholic churches birthed generation after generation of nominal, name-only Christianity. What we really have in America is cultural Christianity, a Christianity that bears little resemblance to its founder.

In Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus is quite clear about the essence of his gospel. Notice what he said:

When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: and before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

Sheep and Goats. Saved and Lost. Everlasting Punishment and Life Eternal. All determined, not by what a person believes, but by how they live. Evangelicals have all kinds of explanations for this passage of scripture. It’s a difficult, complex passage, they say. Doesn’t seem that way to me. A literal reading of the text makes it clear: what separates the sheep/saved from the goats/lost is their works. Surely Jesus meant what he said, yes? Why all the ‘splaining and excuses? Why all the theological gymnastics?  Yes, Jesus contradicts Paul, but aren’t Christians followers of Jesus, not Paul?

The late Keith Green, an Evangelical from the Jesus People era, sang a song about Matthew 25. I still remember the ending: the only difference between these two groups of people is what they did and did not do!

I may be an atheist, but I admire and respect any Christian who takes seriously their faith and does their best to follow after Jesus. 

There are many mainline, progressive, and liberal Christians who think the essence of Christianity is loving God with their heart, soul, and mind and loving their neighbor. After all, Jesus did say that the law and prophets, the entire Bible at the time, hinged on two commands: love God, love humanity.

Matthew 22:34-40 says:

But when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together.Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Jesus also had this to say in Matthew 7:

Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.

I think I speak for many atheists, agnostics, and non-Christians when I say, if the Christianity on display in America remotely resembled Jesus’s gospel, I suspect we wouldn’t have much to complain about. If Evangelicals focused on loving God and love humanity, the world would be a much better place. Instead, they focus on right beliefs, right morals, and right politics, and the result is what we see everywhere we look: hateful,mean, judgmental assholes who have no tolerance for any belief or way of life but their own. It is THIS Christianity that most of us find offensive.

Notes

No one should take this post as me saying that if Christianity was ______________, I would become a Christian. I think the historical foundation of Christianity is false and I can not envision a way of looking beyond what I know in order to “believe.”  That said, I do admire people who take serious the teachings of Jesus and do their best to love others. I can say the same for any religion or worldview. The proof of its value is determined by the works  of those who claim that particular religion as their own.

Keith Green? I am of the opinion that if he was still alive he likely would have left Evangelicalism, thoroughly disgusted with what it has become.

Songs of Sacrilege: Thank You God by Tim Minchin

This is the twelfth installment in the Songs of Sacrilege series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a song that is irreverent towards religion, makes fun of religion, pokes fun at sincerely held religious beliefs, or challenges the firmly held religious beliefs of others, please leave the name the song in the comment section or send me an email.

Today’s Song of Sacrilege is Thank You God by Tim Minchin, a British-born Australian comedian, actor, and musician.

There is a comedy bit for the first 5 minutes. the song begins at the 5:25 mark.

Video Link

Lyrics

I have an apology to make
I’m afraid I’ve made a big mistake
I turned my face away from you, Lord

I was too blind to see the light
I was too meek to feel Your might
I closed my eyes; I couldn’t see the truth, Lord

But then like Saul on the Damascus road,
You sent a messenger to me, and so
Now I’ve have had the truth revealed to me
Please forgive me all those things I said
I’ll no longer betray you, Lord
I will pray to you instead

And I will say thank you, thank you
Thank you, God
Thank you, thank you
Thank you, God…

Thank you, God, for fixing the cataracts of Sam’s mum
I had no idea, but it’s suddenly so clear now
I feel such a cynic, how could I have been so wrong?
Thank you for displaying how praying works:
A particular prayer in a particular church
Thank you Sam for the chance to acknowledge this
Omnipotent ophthalmologist

Thank you, God, for fixing the cataracts of Sam’s mum
I didn’t realize that it was so simple
But you’ve shown a great example of just how it can be done
You only need to pray in a particular spot
To a particular version of a particular god,
And if you pull that off without a hitch,
He will fix one eye of one middle-class white bitch

I know in the past my outlook has been limited
I couldn’t see examples of where life had been definitive
But I can admit it when the evidence is clear,
As clear as Sam’s mum’s new cornea
(And that’s extremely clear! )

Thank you, God, for fixing the cataracts of Sam’s mum
I have to admit that in the past I have been skeptical
But Sam described this miracle and I am overcome!
How fitting that the sighting of a sight-based intervention
Should open my eyes to this exciting new dimension
It’s like someone put an eye chart up in front of me
And the top five letters say: I C, G O D

Thank you, Sam, for showing how my point of view has been so flawed
I assumed there was no God at all but now I see that’s cynical
It’s simply that his interests aren’t particularly broad
He’s largely undiverted by the starving masses,
Or the inequality between the various classes
He gives out strictly limited passes,
Redeemable for surgery or two-for-one glasses

I feel so shocking for historically mocking
Your interests are clearly confined to the ocular
I bet given the chance, you’d eschew the divine
And start a little business selling contacts online

Fuck me Sam, what are the odds
That of history’s endless parade of gods
That the God you just happened to be taught to believe in
Is the actual God and he digs on healing,
But not the AIDS-ridden African nations
Nor the victims of the plague, nor the flood-addled Asians,
But healthy, privately-insured Australians
With common and curable lens degeneration

The story of Sam’s has but a single explanation:
A surgical God who digs on magic operations
No, it couldn’t be mistaken attribution of causation
Born of a coincidental temporal correlation
Exacerbated by a general lack of education
Vis-a-vis physics in Sam’s parish congregation
No it couldn’t be that all these pious people are liars
It couldn’t be an artifact of confirmation bias
A product of groupthink,
A mass delusion,
An Emperor’s New Clothes-style fear of exclusion

No, it’s more likely to be an all-powerful magician
Than the misdiagnosis of the initial condition,
Or one of many cases of spontaneous remission,
Or a record-keeping glitch by the local physician

No, the only explanation for Sam’s mum’s seeing:
They prayed to an all-knowing superbeing,
To the omnipresent master of the universe,
And he quite liked the sound of their muttered verse.

So for a bit of a change from his usual stunt
Of being a sexist, racist, murderous cunt
He popped down to Dandenong and just like that
Used his powers to heal the cataracts of Sam’s mum
Of Sam’s mum

Thank you God for fixing the cataracts of Sam’s mum!
I didn’t realize that it was such a simple thing
I feel such a dingaling, what ignorant scum!

Now I understand a prayer can work:
A particular prayer in a particular church
In a particular style with a particular stuff
And for particular problems that aren’t particularly tough,
And for particular people, preferably white
And for particular senses, preferably sight
A particular prayer in a particular spot
To a particular version of a particular god

And if you get that right, he just might
Take a break from giving babies malaria
And pop down to your local area
And fix the cataracts of your mum!

Tennessee:Making the Bible the State Book and Teaching Bible Basics to Elementary Students

holy bible

Evidently, the enlightenment hasn’t made it to Tennessee. The legislature in the Volunteer state is considering a bill that would make The Holy Bible® the official state book.

Here’s the text from HB 615:

AN ACT to amend Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 4, Chapter 1,relative to designating the Holy Bible as the official state book. BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF TENNESSEE: SECTION 1 and 2. Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 4, Chapter 1, Part 3, is amended by adding the following language as a new section:

The Holy Bible is hereby designated as the official state book.

This act shall take effect upon becoming a law, the public welfare requiring it.

Senate Bill 1108 says the same thing.

According to a Americans United for Separation of Church and State action alert, SB 1108 will be heard by the Senate State and Local Government Committee on March 31st and HB 615 will be heard on April 1st by the House State Government Subcommittee.  Americans United had this to say about the bills (link no longer active):

The Establishment Clause in both the U.S. and the Tennessee Constitutions requires the government may not convey a message that a particular religious belief is preferred. Officially designating the Holy Bible, a specifically Judeo-Christian religious text, as the official state book would place the State’s seal of approval on the Holy Bible and undoubtedly demonstrate the State’s preference for Christianity.

These bills could cause Tennesseans who do not subscribe to the Christian faith to feel like outsiders in their own state. The state should instead adopt a state book that makes all Tennesseans feel equally welcome in their state.

No need for further commentary from me. I agree with Americans United.

According to WBIR, (link no longer active) Tennessee lawmakers have delayed making the Bible the official state book; not out of concern over offending non-Christians, but because designating the Bible as the state book “cheapens” The Holy Bible®. Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, R-Collierville stated:

“We’re being asked to make the Bible, any Bible, any version of it, an object, like the state reptile. Like the raccoon, the salamander, the nut, the fish. I think it’s demeaning. I think it reduces the Holy Bible from scripture to a politically correct history book.”

Sen. Steve Southerland, R-Morristown, the sponsor of the bill, wants Tennessee residents to know that he isn’t out “to cultivate adherence to religious (practices) or aid in religious devotion.” Southerland, wink wink, just wants to “memorialize the role the book has played on Tennessee history.” Sure Steve, sure.

According to Southerland:

“The Bible is something to everyone. And each time you read it, it might mean something to you. Everyone has the right to agree or disagree, is one of the good things about the Bible. We’re not saying you have to take it and read it, it’s just giving recognition to it.”

In other Tennessee Bible news, parents in the Grundy County School District are upset because the school board ended a Bible study program designed to teach elementary school children “Bible basics”. According to the Christian Examiner:

Parents and other supporters are gathering signatures to petition the Grundy County School Board to renew a voluntary Bible study program which taught their children Bible basics at elementary schools in this district which is located between Nashville and Chattanooga, Tennessee.

The Grundy County School Board ended the program in March but not on its own initiative. The Freedom from Religion Foundation, a Wisconsin-based anti-Christian group that claims 21,500 members nationwide, complained that the program of instruction was “pernicious.”

FFRF complained that a “missionary was allowed to prey on a captive audience” that was “young and vulnerable.”

Many parents, however, announced they were only too happy for “Bible Man” Horace Turner to “pray” for their children and pass along some Bible basics that support what is being taught in the home.

According to the Grundy County Herald, the school board consulted with Alliance Defending Freedom and the Christian Law Association.

Board Chairman Tim Spicer said both groups were “surprised and thankful” the program existed this long without objection, and suggested to him simple adjustments could be made that would allow it to continue.

“The simplest way would be to make it an after school program just like any other club or activity,” Spicer said. “The second option is to have what is called ‘release time’. With this, parents would sign permission slips allowing their children to participate in Mr. Turner’s program during school hours.

“The catch is that the program must be conducted off school grounds,” Spicer added, “and someone other than the school system would have to provide transportation.”

I am sure that local Christians will turn this into yet another example of persecution. It really must be rough trying to be a Christian in Tennessee. (Please read previous sentence with the snarkiest voice possible)

According to the Pew Research Religion and Public Life Project, 51% of Tennesseans are Evangelical, twice the national average.

tennessee religion

78% of Tennesseans believe the Bible is the Word of God and 52% attend church on a weekly basis. Tell me again, why is it important for Grundy County School elementary students to be taught “Bible basics”? Aren’t they getting enough of The Holy Bible® at home and at church? Or is this more about making sure that everyone understands that there is only one God in Tennessee and his name is Jesus.

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Pastor Billy Ball Says Using Birth Control is a Sin

faith baptist church sign

Faith Baptist Church, Primrose, Georgia, Billy Ball, pastor

Billy Ball pastors Faith Baptist Church (Sons of Thundr), an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church in Primrose, Georgia. Ball and the church are noted for their hatred of Sodomites and abortion. The Southern Poverty Law Center lists Faith Baptist as a hate group. As I was perusing the church’s website, (link no longer active) I came across a booklet Billy Ball wrote on the subject of birth control. Here’s some of what Ball had to say:

Do you remember when there was very little difference, if any, between common sense and what the Bible had to say? Well, today the phrase “common sense” seems to be a means of justifying ourselves in satisfying our own selfish plans and living a lifestyle contrary to the life of faith!

The above statement at face value is innocent. As a matter of fact, it is very true in some areas of our lives. There are many things in life for which we should certainly plan, and I believe the Scriptures would even support us in doing so. However, there are also some things in life which God wants us to trust Him with totally. His plan for bringing human life into this world would certainly be placed in this category, if anything would.

Now, let’s think for a moment about this thing called birth control. Even the term itself sounds odd to the ear. Birth control, controlling birth, no matter how you say it, the key word is still control. You will find as we continue on with this study that, Scripturally, the only control that God gives a man or woman concerning birth is the decision to marry or not to marry. Beyond that, the Bible teaches that birth control belongs to God.

I challenge you to search the Scriptures for this ideology that man is to control birth. The only person who ever made an attempt in the Scriptures to control birth was judged in doing so. Other than that one example, the Bible is silent concerning others who held this belief…

…There was a time when people understood that when you got married, you expected children to be the normal, natural result of this union. As a matter of fact, marriage itself was considered by most people to be “starting a family”. So, yes, plan, if you are a Christian! Plan to get married and receive God’s gift of children. Or, on the other hand, plan to stay single if you do not desire children at this time. As far as I see in the Bible, there is no other legitimate way of controlling birth…

…So then, if the Bible teaches us that children are a gift from God, and a reward from Heaven; and if we know that God killed the only Scriptural example of those who support this heresy. And if we also understand the fact that if a man knoweth to do good and doeth it not, it is a sin unto him. James 4:17, KJV “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin”. Then based on the above argument alone, can we honestly say that birth control falls under the realm of personal liberty? Please explain how and where, by any stretch of the imagination, that any Christian can use the Bible to justify birth prevention as a personal liberty that is acceptable to God…

…”That’s the reason we have so much welfare now!” Yes, believe it or not, that is one of the common statements made by the modern day birth control advocates. However, this statement is actually a copout for not talking about the real issue regarding a lot of the welfare problems, which is abstinence. A good portion of those people should not be having sexual relationships anyhow! Sex, in the Bible, was reserved for those who were legally married. All other sexual behavior was, and still is, forbidden by the Scriptures…

…We are so used to implementing our “plan B”, while knowingly disobeying God’s “plan A”. So, instead of using man made birth control to solve the unwanted expense of unwanted children across this country, we should repent of the fornication and adultery that refers us to our “plan B” in the first place. That, my friend, will drastically reduce the dollars spent on those who don’t want to take responsibility for their lifestyles.

But to blame the welfare problem on those who let God decide how many children they have in a responsible Christian way is at best ridiculous! This is the same argument used for fixing your pet!…

…”It’s my body, so it’s my choice.” Now we really begin to see the thinking behind the birth control movement. If this statement sounds all too familiar, it is because you’ve heard it before from the abortion crowd. You see, the driving force behind the abortion proponents is this humanistic idea that we are our own gods and that we have the right to make our own decisions about our life and how we use our body. However, as Christians, our attitude should be that we are not our own, but that we have been bought with a price. I Corinthians 6:20 “For ye are bought with a price:”. The rest of that verse says “therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s”. Preventing children can never glorify God!

Now, please tell me how birth control, by any stretch of the imagination, can glorify God? You will say, “But preacher, we’re not talking about a baby, but a seed!” Exactly! But, did you know that the Greek word from which we get the word seed is the word sperma? This is where we get our word sperm. So, if the baby is a gift from God, according to Psalms 127, then the sperm also is God’s gift. God gave you the sperm to be used to bring offspring into the world. Now, we do know that there is a difference between the sperm and the baby after conception. But we must also realize that the potential for life is found in the God-given seed. Therefore, this shows that it is a very serious thing to interfere with His seed in any way.”

Ball wants readers to know that his booklet is straight from the Bible, an unassailable source of perfect truth, but only if it is a King James Bible. Ball wrote:

I know that there will be many who disagree with the contents of this booklet. However, as with any literature which I have written, I challenge any and all to take a King James Bible and Scripturally refute it. I’m still waiting!…

…It is disturbing to see the extent to which humanism has entered into our congregations. The sad part is, however, that many so called preachers will simply discount this teaching as “much to do about nothing.”…

…Finally, let me say that our church and my family have personally suffered for our stand on this clearly taught Bible issue. We know, however, that sound doctrine is about the only thing some men will not endure in these last days…

Poor Bro. Billy, persecuted just because he wants to keep women chained to the bed, submissive, ready, and willing for their husbands to come home and impregnate them. While Ball is not as eloquent as many of the spokesmen for the Quiverfull movement, his views are one and the same.

faith baptist church members

Faith Baptist Church, Primrose Georgia, members street preaching, calling on sodomites to repent

brandon wright crossroads baptist church

Brandon Wright from Crossroads Baptist Church, Zirconia, North Carolina, supporting Billy Ball after he was arrested for street preaching without a permit

Notes

According to a 2012 news article, Faith Baptist Church has about 130 members (link no longer active).

Wikipedia states the church is IFB. Several other news reports say it is Southern Baptist.

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The Sodomite Suppression Act or Let’s Kill All the Gays

sodomy sickest sin on earth dennis corle

Book written by Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) Evangelist Dennis Corle

Matt McGlaughlin, a Huntington Beach, California Christian Fundamentalist, has submitted a ballot initiative calling for all known Sodomites (homosexuals) to be executed. Yes, you read that right. Finally, a Christian willing to publicly state what many of the followers of Jesus think: that homosexuals are an abomination to the Christian God and don’t deserve to live. According to the Christian Bible:

If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them. Leviticus 20:13

But Bruce, that’s from the Old Testament and that law no longer applies. Well, you might want to let God know. God said,  “For I am the Lord, I change not…”  Isn’t Jesus (God) the same yesterday, today, and forever? If God approved of executing homosexuals thousands of years ago, what makes you think he wouldn’t approve of it now? Did God go through sensitivity training or did he find out that David, the man who loved God with all his heart, had a thing for Jonathan?

It looks that the State of California has pulled McGlaughlin’s ballot initiative. Fortunately, I was able to find a copy of it on the San Diego Gay & Lesbian News website:

a) The abominable crime against nature known as buggery, called also sodomy, is a monstrous evil that Almighty God, giver of freedom and liberty, commands us to suppress on pain of our utter destruction even as he overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah.

b) Seeing that it is better that offenders should die rather than that all of us should be killed by God’s just wrath against us for the folly of tolerating wickedness in our midst, the People of California wisely command, in the fear of God, that any person who willingly touches another person of the same gender for purposes of sexual gratification be put to death by bullets to the head or by any other convenient method.

c) No person shall distribute, perform, or transmit sodomistic propaganda directly or indirectly by any means to any person under the age of majority. Sodomistic propaganda is defined as anything aimed at creating an interest in or an acceptance of human sexual relations other than between a man and a woman. Every offender shall be fined $1 million per occurrence, and/or imprisoned up to 10 years, and/or expelled from the boundaries of the state of California for up to life.

d) No person shall serve in any public office, nor serve in public employment, nor enjoy any public benefit, who is a sodomite or who espouses sodomistic propaganda or who belongs to any group that does.

e) This law is effective immediately and shall not be rendered ineffective nor invalidated by any court, state or federal, until heard by a quorum of the Supreme Court of California consisting only of judges who are neither sodomites nor subject to disqualification hereunder.

f) The state has an affirmative duty to defend and enforce this law as written, and every member of the public has standing to seek its enforcement and obtain reimbursement for all costs and attorney’s fees in so doing, and further, should the state persist in inaction over 1 year after due notice, the general public is empowered and deputized to execute all the provisions hereunder extra-judicially, immune from any charge and indemnified by the state against any and all liability.

g) This law shall be known as “The Sodomite Suppression Act” and be numbered as section 39 in Title 3 of the Penal Code, pertaining to offences [sic] against the sovereignty of the state. The text shall be prominently posted in every public school classroom. All laws in conflict with this law are to that extent invalid.

Previously, McGlaughlin attempted to get an initiative on the ballot that would require the King James Bible be used as a textbook in California public schools.

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Americans Love Walkers More than They Love Jesus

walking dead zombies

Last Sunday, the National Geographic Channel showed the movie Killing Jesus, a TV version of Bill O’Reilly’s book of the same name. According to Neilson, 3.7 million viewers watched Killing Jesus, giving National Geographic its highest total viewership ever. This means that about 1.25% of Americans watched Killing Jesus. According to Wikipedia, as of February 2015, the National Geographic Channel is available “to approximately 86,144,000 pay television households (74% of households with television) in the United States.” It seems that most of the people who could have watched Killing Jesus didn’t.

On the same Sunday, the season finale of The Walking Dead attracted 15.8 million viewers. Even the Talking Dead after-show garnered almost 8 million viewers. According to the Futon Critic, “THE WALKING DEAD” ENDS SEASON FIVE WITH ALL 16 EPISODES RANKING AMONG THE TOP 20 ENTERTAINMENT TELECASTS IN ADULTS 18-49 THIS BROADCAST SEASON.”

Based on the numbers, it’s pretty clear that Americans love Zombies a lot more than they love Jesus.

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Duck Dynasty Patriarch Phil Robertson, in His Own Words

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I like Christian Fundamentalist Phil Robertson. Why? Because he is willing to say out loud what many Evangelical/Fundamentalist/Conservative Catholic Christians think or say in the safe confines of their churches.

Here’s Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson in all his glory:

“I’ll make a bet with you. Two guys break into an atheist’s home. He has a little atheist wife and two little atheist daughters. Two guys break into his home and tie him up in a chair and gag him. And then they take his two daughters in front of him and rape both of them and then shoot them and they take his wife and then decapitate her head off in front of him. And then they can look at him and say, ‘Isn’t it great that I don’t have to worry about being judged? Isn’t it great that there’s nothing wrong with this? There’s no right or wrong, now is it dude?’ Then you take a sharp knife and take his manhood and hold it in front of him and say, ‘Wouldn’t it be something if this [sic] was something wrong with this? But you’re the one who says there is no God, there’s no right, there’s no wrong, so we’re just having fun. We’re sick in the head, have a nice day.”

“Have you ever heard this many lies coming out of Washington D.C. since you’ve been on the earth? Have you ever heard more? You say where in the world is it coming from? They champion perversion, they champion murder, aborting their children and they are champions of lies. I mean I’m listening to them and thinking, ‘dude, what?’ ‘Yeah, this bunch here, they’re the kind that clings to their guns and their Bibles,’ I’m thinking, yeah, we may need them.”

“It seems like, to me, a vagina — as a man — would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.”

“Everything is blurred on what’s right and what’s wrong. Sin becomes fine. Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men. Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers — they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.

“We murder each other and we steal from one another, sex and immorality goes ballistic. All the diseases that just so happen to follow sexual mischief… boy there are some microbes running around now.”

“Now to me either it’s the wildest coincidence ever that horrible diseases follow immoral conduct, or it’s God saying, ‘There’s a penalty for that kind of conduct.’ I’m leanin’ toward there’s a penalty toward it.”

” I am just reading what was written over 2000 years ago. Those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom. All I did was quote from the scriptures, but they just didn’t know it…

“Jesus will take sins away, if you’re a homosexual he’ll take it away, if you’re an adulterer, if you’re a liar, what’s the difference? If you break one sin you may as well break them all.”

“Women with women. Men with men. They committed indecent acts with one another. And they received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion. They’re full of murder, envy, strife, hatred. They are insolent, arrogant God haters. They are heartless. They are faithless. They are senseless. They are ruthless. They invent ways of doing evil.”

“Why do they murder and why do they hate us? Because all of them … 80 years of history, they all want to conquer the world, they all rejected Jesus and they’re all famous for murder. Nazis, Shintoists, Communists and the Mohammedists. Every one of them the same way.”

“From one man God made all nations of men. We all came from the same dude, and I don’t know what color he was.”

A good woman is “hard to find. Mainly because these boys are waiting until they get to be about 20 years old before they marry ’em. Look, you wait till they get to be about 20 years old, they only picking that’s going to take place is your pocket. You gotta marry these girls when they’re 15 or 16, they’ll pick your ducks. You need to check with mom and dad about that, of course.”

“I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I’m with the blacks, because we’re white trash. We’re going across the field. … They’re singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, ‘I tell you what: These doggone white people’ — not a word!

“They’re (homosexuals) full of murder, envy, strife, hatred. They are insolent, arrogant, god haters, they are heartless, they are faithless, they are senseless, they are ruthless, they invent ways of doing evil.”

“We never, ever judge someone on who’s going to heaven, hell. That’s the Almighty’s job. We just love ‘em, give ‘em the good news about Jesus — whether they’re homosexuals, drunks, terrorists. We let God sort ‘em out later, you see what I’m saying?”

“All you have to do is look at any society where there is no Jesus. I’ll give you four: Nazis, no Jesus. Look at their record. Uh, Shintos? They started this thing in Pearl Harbor. Any Jesus among them? None. Communists? None. Islamists? Zero. That’s 80 years of ideologies that have popped up where no Jesus was allowed among those four groups. Just look at the records as far as murder goes among those four groups.”

“God says, ‘One woman, one man,’ and everybody says, ‘Oh, that’s old hat, that’s that old Bible stuff’ and I’m thinking well, let’s see now. A clean guy, a disease-free guy, and a disease-free woman, they marry and they keep their sex between the two of ‘em, uh, they’re not gonna get chlamydia and gonorrhea and syphilis and AIDS. It’s, it’s safe.”

“Our founding fathers started this country and built it on God and His Word, and this country sure would be a better place to live and raise our children if we still followed their ideals and beliefs.”

“I love all men and women. I am a lover of humanity, not a hater. … I have been immoral, drunk, high. I ran with the wicked people for 28 years and I have run with the Jesus people since and the contrast is astounding.”

“We’re Bible-thumpers who just happened to end up on television. You put in your article that the Robertson family really believes strongly that if the human race loved each other and they loved God, we would just be better off. We ought to just be repentant, turn to God, and let’s get on with it, and everything will turn around.”

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Hey Girls, What Jesus Gives is Way Better Than What Your Crush Gives You

Here’s the latest from Paula Hendricks, a writer for the Lies Young Women Believe website. Have a mushy crush on a hot boy, girlfriend? Are you blown away by his attention and all the gifts he gives you to let you know he cares? Well, Jesus is way, way b-e-t-t-e-r.

According to Hendricks, Jesus gives girls:

  • Life
  • Breath
  • Food
  • Water
  • Coffee
  • Himself
  • Forgiveness of sins
  • Peace
  • His perfect righteousness
  • Eternal, never-ending life
  • and more and more and more…

Hendricks asks, what are you looking to your crush to give you that Christ can’t give you?

In others words, girlfriend, Jesus is w-a-y better than any crush or boyfriend.

Except he’s not. Jesus is a fictional, feel good crush that will do when one is between relationships, but Jesus is no match for a tender kiss, a warm embrace, or making love. Simply put, Jesus doesn’t have a penis.

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Dear Bill Maher, Stop Saying Creationists Believe the Earth is 5,000 Years Old

bill maher

Polly and I regularly watch Real Time with Bill Maher on HBO. Real Time, along with John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight and Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show, highlight the important news stories of the week, giving them a comedic twist. Sometimes, when these shows focus on American religion, especially Evangelical Christianity, I am often irritated when they play loose with the facts. Bill Maher, by far, is the worst.

Maher loves to bash creationists. I am all for him doing so, but I wish he would not distort their beliefs when he does. As an atheist and a critic of religion, Maher has the responsibility to speak accurately when critiquing, attacking, or ridiculing creationist beliefs. Look, they make it easy for us, so the least we can do is represent their beliefs accurately.

Over the years, I’ve heard Bill Maher repeatedly say creationists believe the earth is 5,000 years old. I know of NO creationist who believes this. None. Nor do I know any who think the earth is 10,000 years old. Adding another zero doesn’t make their belief any more rational or scientifically correct. Creationists are literalists. They believe the book of Genesis is a science and history textbook. When the Bible talks about Adam living  930 years, Noah living 950 years, Abraham living 175 years, David living 70 years, and Jesus living 33 years, creationists believe these ages are factual. They also believe the genealogies found in the Bible are factual. This is why James Ussher, a 17th century Church of Ireland archbishop,  was able to add up the ages and genealogies and conclude that the God created the universe on October 22, 4004 BC.

According to Wikipedia:

The chronology is sometimes called the Ussher-Lightfoot chronology because John Lightfoot published a similar chronology in 1642–1644. This, however, is a misnomer, as the chronology is based on Ussher’s work alone and not that of Lightfoot. Ussher deduced that the first day of creation began at nightfall on Saturday, October 22, 4004 BC, in the proleptic Julian calendar, near the autumnal equinox. He elsewhere dates the time to 6 pm. Lightfoot similarly deduced that Creation began at nightfall near the autumnal equinox, but in the year 3929 BC.

Ussher’s proposed date of 4004 BC differed little from other Biblically based estimates, such as those of Jose ben Halafta (3761 BC), Bede (3952 BC), Ussher’s near-contemporary Scaliger (3949 BC), Johannes Kepler (3992 BC) or Sir Isaac Newton (c. 4000 BC). Ussher’s specific choice of starting year may have been influenced by the then-widely-held belief that the Earth’s potential duration was 6,000 years (4,000 before the birth of Christ and 2,000 after), corresponding to the six days of Creation, on the grounds that “one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Peter 3:8). This view continued to be held as recently as AD 2000,six thousand years after 4004 BC.

The universe then, according to creationists, is 6,019 years old not 5,000 years old. I sent Maher an email and a tweet about his inaccurate date. He did not respond.

Here’s why this matters. We who think the universe is 14 billions years old often criticize creationists for playing loose with the facts. I know, the difference between 6,019 and 5,000 is just 1,019 years, but we should do our best to accurately represent our enemy.  If atheists and scientists are going to do battle with creationists, then the least they can do is know what their enemy believes,  Far too often, atheists say things about Evangelical beliefs that are not true.  They read a meme or see something on Facebook or Twitter and they assume that what they read is correct. We make ourselves look bad when we misstate our opponents beliefs.

Signs of Religious Persecution in Defiance County, Ohio

war against christianity

The overwhelming majority of Americans self identify as Christian. Here in rural NW Ohio, I suspect  there are few non-Christians. The number of public atheists I know number three. That’s right, three.  Christianity is on full display everywhere one looks. Churches on every street corner, Christian radio and TV stations, Christian book stores, Christian coffee houses, and business signs with the ichthys (fish) symbol, all testify to the fact that America is a Christian nation and rural NW Ohio is God’s Country.

Christians are free to start new churches and worship anyway they please. No matter how crazy their beliefs and practices are, there is no government or private agency  keeping them from practicing their form of crazy. From strict liturgical churches to snake handling Baptists, there is a flavor of Christianity for everyone. Christian sects, churches, religious institutions, and pastors are given special tax benefits, from real estate and sales tax exemption to the clergy housing allowance. Christian churches are considered by many to be dispensers of morality, and when bad things like a school shooting, tornado, flood, or hurricane hits a community, local Christian clergy are called in to calm fears and let everyone know God is still on the throne.

Someone visiting from another country would likely be amazed at the religiosity of Americans. I doubt they would see any signs of religious persecution, especially if they hail from a country where there’s real persecution. Thanks to fear mongering and lying  by Evangelical preachers, Catholic prelates and priests, Mormon bishops, Christian parachurch leaders, Christian college presidents and professors, Christian TV and radio programmers, and Fox News hosts, many Christians believe they are being persecuted by liberals, secularists, socialists,communists, abortionists, homosexuals, and atheists. The annual War on Christmas® has now morphed into the War on Christianity®.

There is not one shred of evidence to back up the claim that there is a concerted effort to persecute American Christians and keep them from worshiping their God. From my seat in the pew, I see government at every level bending over backwards to accommodate Christians. As a nation, we value religious freedom so highly that we grant sects, churches, and each Christian special privileges. There is no other nation on earth that has more religious freedom, yet many Christians still think they are being persecuted. Why is this?

Here’s my take. When people live in a country that values personal rights and freedom, especially religious freedom, they tend to see small accommodations or denials as frontal assaults on their rights and freedom. When groups like the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), American Humanist Association (AHA), American Atheists (AA), or the ACLU demand that Christians abide by the Constitution and the separation of church and state, Christians see this as personal attack on their faith.

Let me give a local example of this. Recently, the ACLU of Ohio sent nearby Edon Northwest School District a letter about the school district’s core values statement found in the front of the student handbook:

core values edon northwest school district

Graphic from The Friendly Atheist

Here’s what the Toledo Blade had to say:

The American Civil Liberties Union sent a request today to a Williams County school district to stop what it calls its “sectarian policies and practices that violate the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.”

The letter to the Edon Northwest Local School district, which is near the Ohio-Indiana border, cites the school system’s student handbook, which references “Christian values,” and what the ACLU says is a practice of inviting ministers to pray at mandatory school assemblies. John Granger, interim superintendent who joined the district in January, said he has not witnessed some of the incidents referenced by the ACLU, but that if the allegations are true, the district should make changes.

”This has already been settled by the United States Supreme Court,“ Mr. Granger said. “I would make a recommendation to the board of education that if we are in violation of the law, we should stop.”

The district’s website includes a copy of the student handbook, and the first page lists the district’s “Core Values.”

As we strive to achieve our Vision and accomplish our Mission, we value…” the handbook states, with “Honesty and Christian values” as the second entry.

The ACLU letter claims ministers attended assemblies before the Thanksgiving and winter holidays, and that students need parent approval to opt out of the events.

“These reports also allege that the ministers pray aloud, ask the students to join in the prayer and recite homilies concerning upcoming holidays,” the letter states.

The ACLU in its letter, signed by ACLU of Ohio’s Legal Director Freda Levenson and staff attorney Drew Dennis, recognizes that Mr. Granger is new to the position and the started before his arrival in the district.

“We now take this opportunity to make you aware of the unconstitutionality of the described practices, and request that you investigate them and bring an end to them immediately,“ the letter states…

I have no doubt that local Christians are outraged over the ACLU’s demand that the Edon Northwest School District abide by the establishment clause and the separation of church and state.I am sure they see this as a sign of religious persecution. It’s not. This kind of stuff has been going on in rural schools since the days I roamed the halls of Farmer Elementary in the 1960’s. The difference now is that groups like  FFRF, ACLU, AHA, AA, and Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AU) are paying attention to what is going on in the schools and government and are willing to litigate any violation of the Constitution.

Today, Polly took me on a short nineteen mile drive on Route 18 between Defiance and Hicksville. The following pictures succinctly illustrate the religious climate in rural NW Ohio. They tell the story far better than I could.

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The Faith4Freedom signs litter the rural NW Ohio landscape. According to their defunct Facebook page, 20,000 of these signs were printed and distributed in Ohio and Michigan. This is primarily a Catholic endeavor. Based on the lack of activity on their Facebook page, Twitter account, and a no longer available website, I assume that local Catholics have lost their religious freedom and are living in nearby catacombs. Once the black anti-Christ, Barack Hussein Obama, is divinely removed from office, they will no longer fear persecution and return to the safety of Facebook, Twitter, and the internet.

What Kind of Christian Are You?

hell

This will be a short post.

I am often accused of lumping all Christians together.

I’m not like those nasty, hateful, judgmental Christians who comment on your blog, says the Good Christian.

Fair enough.

But, let me ask one question.

When I die, will I go to heaven or hell?

Well, that’s up to…stop it.

When I die, will I go to heaven or hell?

I reject your God, Jesus, salvation, and Bible.

I reject the notion that Jesus was God, was crucified, and resurrected from the dead three days later.

With my whole heart, I reject every teaching that is central to what it means do be Christian.

I reject the Christian concept of sin. I have no need of atonement, redemption, or salvation.

So, I ask again, When I die, will I go to heaven or hell?

How you answer this question determines what kind of Christian you are.

heaven and hell

Heaven and Hell

The Phelps clan, with all the viciousness of a starving rabid dog, screams that I will go straight to hell when I die and I will be tortured by God in a place where the worm dies not and the fire is not quenched. 

How about you, Christian friend? What say ye?  When I die, will I go to heaven or hell?

You can be the nicest person in the world, but if you believe that nonChristians go to hell when they die, you are not really any different from the Phelps clan. 

If you answer my question with the word hell, then you are just like the nasty, hateful Christians you say are “bad” Christians. You may wear fashion designer clothes, smell great, and have the best smile money can buy, but if your answer to my question is hell, then you are no different from the trailer park trash Christians you say aren’t part of your family. 

Virtually every Christian sect believes eternal punishment awaits an atheist. I am an atheist, proudly so. I ask you, When I die, will I go to heaven or hell?

Your answer tells me all I need to know. 

It really is that simple.

 

 

Millions of People are Christian so Christianity MUST be True

one true religion

One of the arguments Evangelical Christians use to “prove” the exclusivity of Christianity is this:

 “Bruce, millions of people are Christians. Surely, they can’t ALL be deluded and deceived.”

This seems to make sense, doesn’t it? The sheer number of Christians makes it highly unlikely that Christianity is untrue, right? However, history is replete with examples of people sincerely believing things that were later found to be untrue. Millions of people have been slaughtered by zealots sincerely committed to a belief that was untrue.

In the political realm we see this all the time. President Lyndon Johnson lied about the Gulf of Tonkin incident that drew us into the Vietnam War. President George Bush and his lackeys lied about weapons of mass destruction and used this lie to start a war with Iraq. Adolph Hitler, a Christian man, along with his fellow Nazis, spun a lie about the Jews and the superiority of the Aryan race. Germans embraced this lie, resulting in the death of millions of people. In each of these illustrations the lie was believed by the masses.

What does Christianity offer to people? It purports to answer the “big” questions of life, especially the question of life after death. There is no question that Christianity gives hope, meaning, and purpose to millions of people. However, just because millions of people find hope, meaning, and purpose in Christianity doesn’t necessarily mean it is true.

Christianity is an exclusive religion. Some sects within the Christian tent (i.e. Catholicism) claim exclusivity for their particular sect. Some churches take this exclusivity a step further and claim that they are one of the few true churches. (i.e. Darwin Fish, A True Prophet of God)  A Christian is a follower of Jesus and his teachings. At some level the Bible must be embraced as truth. Otherwise, how can a person know they should follow Jesus or what the requirements are to be a follower?

Since Christianity is an exclusive religion, all other religions are considered false. All other gods are no gods at all. According to the Christian, their God, the God of the Bible, the God who reveals himself through creation and conscience, is the one true and ever existing God.

It is this certainty about God, the Bible, sin, salvation, and life after death that draws millions of people to Christianity. On April 5th, millions  will gather together to proclaim their belief in a God-man named Jesus. In him they find the forgiveness of sin and life eternal. Surely, the sheer magnitude of the worldwide Easter gathering stands as proof that Christianity is true!

There’s just one BIG problem with this seemingly insurmountable “fact.” There are other sects that have millions of worshippers too. There are millions of Hindus, Muslims, Jews,and Buddhists who believe their God is the true God or one of the many gods in the universe. Take a look at the numbers for the major religions of the world:

top 15 religions in the world

Let’s play fill in the blank:

Millions of people are __________.(fill in with one of the above religions) Surely, they can’t ALL be deluded and deceived, right?”

 I hope you see that the number of believers/followers doesn’t necessarily mean a religion is true. It is quite possible for a religion to be totally manmade and yet have millions of adherents. This is easily proved.

When I think of a manmade religion, I can think of no better example than Mormonism. Joseph Smith invented the Mormon religion, yet 15+ million people are practicing Mormons. There are over 29,000 Mormon congregations in the world and over 88,000 Mormon missionaries go from place to place making disciples for their God. Surely, this is proof that the Mormon religion is the one truth faith and the Mormon God is the one true God, right?

Wikipedia gives a concise summary of the how the Mormon religion started:

Mormonism originated in the 1820s in western New York during a period of religious excitement known as the Second Great Awakening. Founded by Joseph Smith, the faith drew its first converts while Smith was dictating the text of the Book of Mormon from golden plates he said he found buried after being directed to their location by an angel. The book described itself as a chronicle of early indigenous peoples of the Americas, portraying them as believing Israelites, who had a belief in Christ many hundred years before his birth. Smith dictated the book of 584 pages over a period of about three months saying that he translated it from an ancient language “by the gift and power of God”. During production of this work in mid-1829, Smith, his close associate Oliver Cowdery, and other early followers began baptizing new converts into a Christian primitivist church, formally organized in 1830 as the Church of Christ. Smith was seen by his followers as a modern-day prophet.

Smith later wrote that he had seen a vision of God the Father and Jesus Christ in spring 1820 in answer to his question of which denomination he should join. Sometimes called the “First Vision”, Smith’s vision of God the Father and Jesus Christ as two separate beings was reportedly the basis for the difference in doctrine between Mormonism’s view of the nature of God and that of orthodox Christianity. Smith further said that in answer to his prayer the Lord instructed him to join none of the existing churches because they were all wrong. During the 1820s Smith reported having several angelic visitations, and by 1830 Smith said that he had been instructed that God would use him to re-establish the true Christian church and that the Book of Mormon would be the means of establishing correct doctrine for the restored church.

Mormonism is a wonderful example of American entrepreneurship. Founded on the lies/delusions of Joseph Smith, they are now one of the largest religions in America. There is no truth to their founding story, yet millions of people believe it. This is clear evidence that it is possible for millions of people to believe something and it be totally false.

How do you know that Christianity is any different from Mormonism or any of the other religions of the world?  As I have clearly shown, the number of people who believe is not proof that any particular religion is true.