Evangelicalism

One,Two,Three, Repeat After Me: Salvation Bob Gray Style

bob gray sr

Bob Gray Sr, retired pastor of Longview Baptist Temple, Longview, Texas

Bob Gray,Sr., retired pastor of the Longview Baptist Temple in Longview Texas, is a super-duper salvation-dealing machine. Gray is an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) who subscribes to the Jack Hyles Easy-Believism, cheap-grace way of evangelizing lost sinners.

I was taught this kind of evangelism while a student at Midwestern Baptist College, but I came to see that it was little more than a cheap gimmick that allows preachers like Gray to say, Look at how many people I won to Jesus. (Gray knows to the soul how many people he has won to Jesus) It promotes an empty Christianity that does a real disservice to people who take the commands and teachings of Christ seriously.

A year or so ago, Gray was in Albuquerque, New Mexico to do some preaching. While at a local Subway, Gray decided to do some soul winning. Here’s his account, which has since been pulled from his blog:

… Flew to Albuquerque, NM, and was picked up by Pastor Brent Lenetine who pastors the Gospel Light Baptist Church of Rio Rancho, NM. I will be joined by Evangelist Allen Domelee Sunday night and Monday. This is a great soul winning church!

After resting for a while I went next door to the Motel to get a bite to eat at the Subway Restaurant. I sat at a table next to a man named Bill McDermit. We joked a little bit together and after a while I went over to his table and continued our conversation. He lives alone in a house trailer and was a devout Catholic. After a few moments I presented the Gospel to him and he took me by the hand and prayed to receive Christ as his personal Saviour.

WOW! That old KJB is still preserved inspiration and is THE incorruptible seed that brings life to a dead soul! Don’t treat this issue of preserved inspiration lightly. He who sticks his head in the sand gets his behind kicked! Either the KJB is inspired or it is not! Which side of this issue are you on?

Let me summarize Gray’s testimony:

  • Gray is on the prowl for souls in Albuquerque.
  • Gray is hungry so he goes to Subway to eat.
  • He jokes around with elderly trailer-living Catholic man next to him. The joking is a pretext for what comes next.
  • After a few moments, Gray shares the Jack Hyles IFB salvation plan with him.
  • The life-long Catholic sees the error of his way, takes Gray’s hand and prays the sinners prayer. Holding the hand is important, just like the salesman giving you the pen. Hold their hand and you are more likely to close the deal.
  • In but a few moments this man goes from a headed-for-hell Catholic to a . . . uh . . . let me think . . . oh, I know! A Catholic who prayed a prayer so the busybody preacher would let him finish his sub,
  • And don’t forget that Gray uses the all-powerful King James Bible to win this man to Jesus. It has supernatural powers that perverted, Satanic, non-inspired versions do not have.

This is the bankrupt gospel preached in countless IFB churches.

What I want to know is whether Gray was wearing this:

 

christian subway tee shirt

I noticed today that Google lists this site on the first page when searching for the Longview Baptist Temple. I love cozying my apostate atheist blog right up next to IFB church websites. That way it will be easier for them to know how to pray for me.

Here’s an interesting photograph of one of Gray’s books (circa 2002?). It will tell you everything you need to know about Bob Gray, the man, the myth, the legend.

longview baptist temple soulwinning clinic manual

Bob Gray, the Man, the Myth, the Legend or the Bullshit IFB Preachers Tell Others

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Biologist Jerry Coyne Mentioned My Deconversion Story on his Blog

No, he didn’t write a post about my vast knowledge of science. That would have taken all of eight words: not much, but more than I knew yesterday. In the post, Why I Stopped Believing, I mentioned five of the books that played an instrumental part in my deconversion. Coyne’s book, Why Evolution is True, was one of the books I mentioned. The book was quite helpful when I was trying to hang on to some sort of God who created. One chapter in particular, Remnants: Vestiges, Embryos, and Bad Design, had a profound effect on how I viewed the natural world.

In a post titled, In Which I Help Deconvert Someone, and on What Works, Coyne writes:

I’ve always said that the definition of “success” in mentoring graduate students is “producing a student who can replace you.” And though I’ve had very few students, I’ve replaced myself in that sense at least three times, so I’m quite happy.

And I consider the definition of “success” as an anti-theist to be “turning at least one person away from the delusions of faith and towards the virtues of reason.”  After all, if theists can boast about bringing people to Jesus, why can’t atheists take pride in helping people go in the reverse direction?

Now I can’t claim full credit for doing that to any one person, but I claim partial credit for helping quite a few—or so they tell me. And I’ll add those partial successes up to assert that N > 1.

The latest partial convert is Bruce Gerencser [sic], a former Christian minister, who explains on his website what led to his leaving the church. As is nearly always true for the deconversion of ministers (or anyone else, for that matter), it is a long, tortuous, and complex process involving many inputs…

…But read Gerenser’s [sic] whole piece (it’s short), because he traces the roots of his apostasy back to the very virtues instilled in him by his religious parents, including a love of reading and having the courage of one’s convictions.

The other point this makes is that it’s better, if you want to advance reason, to write and publish (if you have that privilege) rather than to give lectures and have debates. That is because in the quietude of authorship, you can polish and fully express your views, and people can read them at leisure and compare them with contrary views. In a public talk, I often find that the audience comprises people who are already on my side, and have come out of curiosity or to seek affirmation. Those are both fine reasons, and, after all, we all need affirmation (except perhaps Christopher Hitchens!), but in truth I’d prefer a higher titer of opponents when I speak. But again, I prefer to write, and that’s why I wrote The Albatross (soon to be available in fine bookstores everywhere)…

You can read the entire article here.

faith vs fact

Coyne has a new book coming out in May, Faith vs. Fact: Why Science and Religion are Incompatible. You can pre order the book here. (I receive a few shekels if your order the book through this link)

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Bob Gray Peddles Lie About New American Standard Bible

For many years Bob Gray pastored the Longview Baptist Temple in Longview, Texas. After retiring, Gray handed off the franchise to his son. Longview Baptist is an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church noted for its hyper-aggressive approach to evangelism. It is also known for its staunch defense of the King James version (KJV) of the Bible. According to the Grays, there is only one true, perfect, inerrant, infallible, inspired Bible, and that is the 1611 KJV. All other Bible translations are counterfeit, tools used by Satan to lead people astray. (never mind the fact that the Grays use the 1769 version of the KJV, not the 1611)

Recently, Bob Gray Sr, posted the following graphic on his blog:

from nasb to kjv

In Gray’s mind, Frank Logsdon’s repudiation of the New American Standard Bible is proof that modern translations of the Bible are counterfeits used by Satan to lead people astray. Logsdon’s story has been repeated countless times at IFB preacher’s meetings and conferences. But, here’s the problem…the story isn’t true. In fact, is a lie.

Years ago, the Lockman Foundation, the group that holds the copyright to the New American Standard Bible, released a statement about the  Frank Logsdon story:

The Board of Directors of The Lockman Foundation launched the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE translation work in the late 1950’s following the completion of the AMPLIFIED NEW TESTAMENT.  Dr. S. Franklin Logsdon was acquainted with Dewey Lockman, president of The Lockman Foundation, prior to Mr. Lockman’s death in 1974.  Mr. Logsdon was never a member of the Board of Directors, nor was he an employee of The Lockman Foundation.  Mr. Logsdon had no authority to hire employees or translators for the Foundation, to set policy, to vote, to hold office, to incur expenses, etc.  He cannot be considered “co-founder” of the NASB, nor part of The Lockman Foundation, nor part of the NASB translation team, nor did he write the forward of the NASB.  According to our records, he was present at board meetings on two occasions — once to hear a travel report; and once to deliver an “inspirational thought.”

Mr. Logsdon last wrote to Mr. Lockman in fall of 1973 that he was moving to Florida.  Mr. Lockman replied that he was surprised and saddened by his decision to leave the area.  Mr. Lockman passed away in January of 1974, and no further correspondence was exchanged between Frank Logsdon and The Lockman Foundation.  He resided in Florida until his passing some years ago.

The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God stands forever.  Isaiah 40:8  (NASB)

The Lockman Foundation

While this statement appears on James White’s Alpha and Omega Ministries website, Dr. Jay Wile, a creationist, confirmed with the Lockman Foundation that the statement is theirs.

I will let Bob Gray know that he is spreading a falsehood. It will be interesting to see what he does.

This lie can also be found on AV 1611, Defend and Proclaim the Faith, Jack Chick, to name a few.

Pastor Olugbenga Oladejo: Missionary Position Only or You Will Go to Hell

olugbenga oladejo

Pastor Olugbenga Oladejo

Olugbenga Oladejo is the pastor of Complete in Christ Church (link no longer active) in Orton Waterville, Peterborough, England. The church’s website states, Complete in Christ Church is (link no longer active):

…an end-time church dedicated to holiness, righteousness, prayers and deliverance ministries. We are committed to going to heaven and to minister to as many souls as are ready to go to heaven. We recognise the signs of the end as explained by our Lord Jesus Christ that the love of many shall wax cold(Matthew 24) as we can see in our days. Therefore we teach sinners to repent and children of God to be ready like the wise virgins (Matthew 25).

The Lord Jesus Christ set up this church to bring his children back to the ancient landmark which must not be removed. Proverbs22:28. That is why in Complete in Christ Church we teach holiness and righteousness and abhor all forms of worldliness. We teach children of God to live holy life within and without. When you join us, our beginners class to discipleship class will show you biblical basis of holy living, Psalm15.

Our commitment to holy living is also extended towards outward appearance in our dressings as we discourage all forms of immoral dressings and bodily adornments among men and women.

Complete in Christ Church is a full deliverance ministries where prayers that move mountain are answered by our Lord Jesus Christ. Our services are always full of power of the Holy Spirit with apostolic signs and wonders. Holy Spirit will teach your hands to war, so that a bow of steel is broken by your arms (Psalm 18:34)…

According to Pastor Oladejo, any married couple that has sex in any other position but the missionary position with the man on top will not inherit the kingdom of God. Doggie style? Hell! Masturbation? Hell! Your sex life may be hot now, but use any position but the missionary position and you will end up in hell!

Here’s some of the godly sex advice Oladejo gives to married people:

The lord told me, “look, when I asked my children to get married… on their matrimonial bed, they commit a lot of immorality.” He said I should tell them that they are not going to heaven. There is an everlasting covenant. Those who break that everlasting covenant are not going to make it into heaven.

Couples who practice the woman on top… I want to repeat this, because this is the warning he gave me….When you are with your wife, the lord has made man to be the head. Not the woman. So those men who enjoy their wife coming on top of them in the matrimonial bed, the lord says they are not coming to heaven at all...

The lord told me about those who practice like a dog. The lord did not to create you to behave like a dog on your matrimonial bed. Or like a cow. Or like a chicken.”

“If you are practicing hanging with your wife [bondage], you are inventing different styles… Don’t go and be hanging your wife. Don’t go and be hanging your husband. Do not try different styles: they do sex in different styles that are contrary to god.”

“Those who masturbate. That department [of hell] is for them. Those who give lustful pleasure to the flesh. Women who masturbate. Men who masturbate… The demons will come to them.” And while the masturbator “soul will cry,” the demons  “will be laughing. And they will be happy.”

“The man should lie on top of the woman. The natural style, the one way god has given us as man and wife.”

Here’s the pastor’s video. The sex advice begins around the 6 minute mark:

Shalom Pearl Brand Asks, Where Are All the Men?

shalom pearl brand

Shalom Pearl Brand

Shalom Pearl Brand, daughter of child abuse promoters Michael & Debi Pearl, wrote an article for the No Greater Joy website about the lack of good men for all the Christian girls who are waiting for Mr. Righteous to come and sweep them off their feet. Brand writes:

When I was a young woman, the older women were always teaching me and all the other young women what it meant to be a wife, a mother, and a God-honoring woman. As I have gotten older, traveled to many churches, and talked with families, I have seen one overall theme everywhere I go. There are young women walking with God, trained from childhood to serve God so that one day they will make the best wives and mothers possible. They are ready, trained, and waiting for their man to come find them, but the men are not finding them. Why?

These girls are told to wait: He will find you… Stay home and help Mom with the kids… One day that perfect man will come along. But then he does not come and the girls become frustrated and, at times, impatient. The question I hear all the time is, “Where are the men?” Yes there are men, but few are real men—men who were raised to love God, work hard, and make good husbands and fathers. Why?

While mothers have been training their daughters to be good wives, many families stopped raising their sons to be men, instead producing overgrown boys. A large percentage of the boys/men over the last 30 years have been raised to serve the flesh. They were not raised to work; most are soft, sweet-talking, sissy boys. Some are cute and stylish, and silly girls think they are soooo good-looking. Other guys are backward, clumsy, going-nowhere types, and very uncool. But they are the same lazy, self-pleasing, big boys…

…Now as a mother with daughters, I would like to put out an appeal to all the families raising sons. Please teach them to work, love God, and be men—not big boys—so that when my daughters and other families’ daughters are grown, they can serve God through a God-fearing man. My husband and I are raising two little men of our own now. Parker is well on his way to being a man, and our new little one will soon be following in his footsteps. They say boys will be boys. I say little men will be big men.

In the comment section, a man by the name of Mike R left the following advice for properly raising boys:

There are several things parents can do to raise strong, Christian young men. It would take a book to provide a good outline, so I will only provide a few thoughts here.

  • For a young man to put his labor and effort into something, he must see that it has merit (to him, not just to you) and that it is attainable. The easiest way for a young man to recognize the benefit of work is in the physical realm. Every young man wants to be strong and God built our bodies to respond to the demands we place upon them. For a young boy, do some pushups together. Set a goal for a reasonable number just above what he can currently do. Work to attain that goal. Realize that growth takes place when you go beyond what you think possible. If a young child can do 4 push-ups with good form, then set a goal at 7. Expand the goal each time he reaches it. This applies to every area of life and it will be good for him to learn the process early. Later, include chin-ups and jumping rope. These are exercises where success is easily measured.
  • Certain good activities should be practiced daily. He should exercise daily. No, I don’t care if he wants to or not.
  • Mastering certain skills will teach the process of learning. Example: Shooting a bow, throwing knives and/or hatchets.
  • Focus on what is important. Yes, in the overall scheme of things bodily exercise profits little, but that snicker’s bar and soap operas don’t profit at all. Success in the early physical things can lead to success in other areas.
  • For school, focus on what is important. Math and science should always be a focus. He can read the history and literature on his own with little effort. Success in math requires a solid foundation and constant work. He is going to have to earn a living, and a sociology, art or history degree is almost surely not going to cut it. Boys need to work and play outside. Don’t expect a son to be a girl and want to sit in the house all the time.
  • Set goals high in every area of life and expect them to be met. A young man should be expected to excel mentally, physically, spiritually, emotionally and financially. It will take drive on his part, opportunity to practice, try and fail, pick himself up and try again. Don’t drive him into the ground, but have high expectations of success. One or more good examples would be very helpful to a young man so he readily sees what success looks like.
  • Choose the best examples of successful manhood and seek to emulate what you see. A young man can analyze another man’s life and choose to emulate a particular area or skill. Anybody that has played of lot of sports can relate to this. For example, this certain basketball player has a good cross-over dribble, so I will analyze what he does and see if I can do it. However, this approach can be applied in any area of life. Take only the best attributes and leave the bad behind.
  • Before he has to care for a family, let him practice caring for an animal. He should know that he must care for those dependent on him. If he ‘forgets’, don’t do it for him. He doesn’t eat until they are fed, watered etc. No exceptions and no excuses. If he has gone to bed and didn’t take care of his animals, get him up to finish the job.
  • Don’t pity your child. Love him abundantly, but if you pity him, you will ruin him.
  • Never reward a young man with food. Food is not used to reward good behavior or console him for a loss. You don’t want him to be a fat slug, so don’t train him to be one. If you think I am wrong here, get over it, I am not.Stock your house with material providing the best examples of manhood. Examples include the following books for young men: GA Henty novels (Examples: “For the Temple”, “Beric the Briton”, etc), Jim Kjelgaard books (Examples: “Stormy”, “Snow Dog”, etc.), “Cowboy Boots in Darkest Africa” by Bill Rice, “Boyhood and Beyond” by Bob Schultz, Boy Scout Handbook, The Sowers series, biographies of great people (Robert Boyle, George Washington Carver, etc.)
  • Provide the best scriptural teaching you can get. I would suggest audio/video/text: Mike Pearl’s material is good, Ray Comfort’s messages (Hell’s best kept secret, etc.),Christian Science – Answers in Genesis, Kent Hovind, etc.
  • Mom’s and wives, reverence your husbands. It is fine to openly acknowledge success in any area of another man’s life. However, it is your husband and your son’s dad that loves and cares for the family. Your son should spend as much time with dad as possible. Let dad teach him what he knows best.

So what do you think, readers? Is Mike R’s advice just what the doctor ordered for turning a boy into a man?

As for me, I am

laughing man

HT: Amy

Jesus is the Answer for Boy-Crazy Teen Girls

jesus is my boyfriend

In another installment in the Jesus is the Answer for Everything story, mama-hen Jennifer Case Cortez lets teen girls know that Jesus is the answer for their evolutionary, hormone-driven desire for boys:

Have you ever thought about why we girls sometimes do such crazy things for boys? We’ll go to great lengths to get their attention and compromise so many ideals to keep their attention. I’ve been thinking about why we do these things.

Being someone’s girlfriend, even being someone’s wife, will not complete you.

I think that deep inside a girl’s heart there’s an almost insatiable hunger to be desired, to be chosen. We yearn for someone to look at us and say, “You are more wonderful, more beautiful than all the other women in the world. No one else compares to you. I want you and you only.”

Simply put, we want to be loved. And being loved is a good thing! God made us to love and be loved.

Our problem is we take a good thing and make it the most important thing. Our hearts do this all the time, don’t they? Our longings can either drive us toward our God who loves us and gave Himself up for us, or they can drive us to try to satisfy those longings with things that will exploit us and leave us empty.

I’ve learned that being someone’s girlfriend, even being someone’s wife, will not complete you. Expecting a guy’s love to meet the deepest longings of your heart would be like putting water in your car’s gas tank and expecting the car to run. Your soul was not designed to be fueled by human love. Only the love of God can fill the vastness of your soul.

You were made for so much more than this world has to offer. You were made to belong to God Himself, to have fellowship with Him, to walk with Him, to know Him, and to be loved by Him.

Do you believe that? Would you ask God to help you believe it? Why does it matter what you believe? Because as long as we believe that the attention and affection of a guy can give us what we need, we’ll be vulnerable not only to heartbreak but to the suffering sin brings.

I feel like a mama hen right now who wishes she could gather every single one of you under her wings and protect you from the harms of this world. I can’t do that, but I hope you’ll hear me pointing you to Jesus, begging you to trust Him until you know these things for yourselves. Would you trust Him enough to love your heart to wholeness? Would you take a chance on Him that His love for you just might be enough for you, even if it doesn’t feel like it could be?…

Cortez, a 30-something stay-at-home mom with four children, is a writer for the True Woman website, a website dedicated to the “core aspects of what it means to be a true woman of God.”

Because people like Cortez are committed to a fundamentalist worldview, attempting to understand boy-crazy girls from an evolutionary and biological perspective is never considered. All mama-hen Cortez wants teen girls to know is that Jesus is way better than any boy.

No one bothers to ask Evangelicals how the Jesus is way better approach is working. Are Evangelical teen girls holding out for Jesus? Are they waiting for the coolest date e-v-e-r with the man of God? Isn’t it creepy for a 33-year-old man to be dating a teenager? Besides, Jesus might have been gay! Hey, there’s the answer. Evangelical teen girls should have lots of gay men for friends. That way they can have “fun” without, you know, getting intimate with a boy.

Evangelical churches, pastors, and leaders have been trying since Evangelicalism was a gleam in Harold Okenega’s eye to keep church teenagers from intimacy with the opposite sex (no need to mention gays here because there are no gays in the Evangelical church). A variation of Just Say No, Just Wait for Jesus has been a colossal failure. Why? Evolution and hormones. It really is that simple.

Instead of demanding Evangelical teenagers ignore everything their body and mind are telling them, church leaders should be talking to them about sexual responsibility, birth control, and when is it right to engage in sex. Telling them to Just Wait for Jesus is not only irresponsible, but it also leads to guilt later in life. When physical intimacy before marriage is declared a sin against God and teenagers do what teenager do, the result is fear and guilt. Why not teach teenagers how to responsibly handle their sexuality? Instead of telling them to keep an aspirin between their legs until their wedding night, how about teaching them that masturbation is a normal human response to pent-up sexual feelings?

Instead of seeing things as they are and acting appropriately and responsibly, church leaders, bound by the antiquated teachings of the Bible and Puritanical morality, demand Evangelical teenagers act against their nature.  What churches and pastors fail to understand is that nature wins almost every time. How do I know this? I was once a teenager, back in the days of free love, and so were many of my once-Evangelical friends. We know what we know, and all the moralizing in the world by people like Cortez won’t change the fact that teen girls are on the prowl looking for hunka burning love and teen boys are happy to oblige.

Both sexes need to be taught sexual responsibility. Doing so will reduce unplanned, unwanted teen pregnancies, reduce the level of STD’s, and leave teenagers with less guilt and fear to deal with later in life. Or, we can keep telling teenagers to wait for Jesus, the most awesomest, wonderfulest boyfriend e-v-e-r, girlfriend. (Last line must be read in Valley Girl voice.)

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Why Accepting Evolution is Incompatible with Christianity

bible vs evolution

As much as some people might try, it is impossible to square evolution with Christianity. Even embracing theistic evolution requires a significant amount of intellectual gymnastics in order to reach the conclusion that the Christian God is behind evolution. In my opinion, theodicy — the problem of evil and suffering —  presents an insurmountable problem for theistic evolutionists. Why would a God, any God, choose such a violent, painful, deadly way to create?

Jerry Coyne, a biologist and a professor at the University of Chicago in the Department of Ecology and Evolution, writes:

…It is in fact different from asking whether one believes (“accepts” is a better word because “believe” implies a religious-like faith) in theory of gravity or generality relativity, and the reason is obvious. The theories of gravity and relativity don’t impinge on anyone’s religious beliefs. Evolution carries implications that no other science does—save, perhaps some branches of cosmology. It implies that humans evolved by the same blind, materialistic, and naturalistic process involved in the evolution of every other species, and so we aren’t special in any numious sense. It implies that we’re not the special objects of God’s creation. It sinks the “design” argument for God—the most powerful argument in the canon of Natural Theology. It implies that we were not endowed by God with either a soul or moral instincts, so that our morality is a product of both evolution and rational consideration. It implies that much of our behavior reflects evolved, genetically-influenced propensities rather than dualistic “free will.” It implies that even if God did work through the process of evolution , He did so using a horrible and painful process of natural selection, a form of “natural evil” that doesn’t comport well with God’s supposed omnibenevolence…

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New Bethany Home for Girls: DNA Requested in Unsolved Murder Case

bossier doe and carol ann cole

Bossier Doe and Carol Ann Cole

Last week, I posted a story about a Jane (Bossier) Doe and a murder case dating back 34 years that might be connected to the infamous New Bethany Home for Girls in Arcadia, Louisiana.  You can read that post here. If you are not familiar with Mack Ford and New Bethany Home For Girls, please read Sexual Abuse in the Name of God: New Bethany Home fore Girls, IFB Preacher Mack Ford is Dead, and Teen Group Homes: Dear IFB Pastor, It’s Time for You to Atone for Your Sin.

Today, Rebecca Catalanello, a reporter for the Times-Picayune, posted to the nola.com website an update to the murder case story:

Bossier Parish detectives believe they may have a major break in the case of an unidentified woman found stabbed to death in the woods 34 years ago. And they have requested a DNA sample from a relative of a Michigan woman whose last contact with her family was more than three decades ago.

Carol Ann Cole of Kalamazoo, Mich., last called her family from what they believe was a residence in Shreveport, according to information her sister posted on a missing persons Facebook page Jan. 18.

“Our mom says she was in a girls home and ran from there,” wrote Jeanie Phelps.

Bossier detectives created a Facebook page Feb. 6 to try to generate new leads in the case they have nicknamed “Bossier Doe.” A week later, thanks to information generated there, an investigator reached out to Phelps’ friend Patty Thorington, who has used Facebook and Craigslist to try to find information on Cole for years.

“Bossier Doe fits more closely than anything we have ever found” in the search for Cole, Thorington said Wednesday (Feb. 18). But after years of false leads, Thorington said she is holding out for more conclusive evidence.

Lt. Bill Davis said detectives have requested a DNA sample from one of Cole’s relatives. The results could take weeks, he said. In the meantime, New Bethany Home for Girls has become a strong source of leads for the investigation, Davis said.

Two days after detective Lt. Shannon Mack of Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office launched the Bossier Doe Facebook page, she started reaching out to former residents of New Bethany Home for Girls after someone who was familiar with news coverage of the New Bethany school suggested it might hold some clues.

The unidentified stabbing victim was believed to have been in her mid-teens to early 20s when she was killed in late 1980. Her body was found four to six weeks later, on Jan. 28, 1981, by hunters about 40 miles northwest of New Bethany off Louisiana 157. She was fully clothed and wearing athletic socks and shoes with the name “D. Davies” written in marker on the inside — not unlike the clothing that former New Bethany residents say they were required to wear.

Davis said Wednesday that detectives have not conclusively determined that Cole attended New Bethany. Cole turned 17 in November of 1980. When Thorington learned about New Bethany, she said she posted a photo of Cole to a Facebook page for former residents to see if anyone there recognized her…

You can read the entire report here.

Putting Out a Fleece

fleece

And Gideon said unto God, If thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said, Behold, I will put a fleece of wool in the floor; and if the dew be on the fleece only, and it be dry upon all the earth beside, then shall I know that thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said. And it was so: for he rose up early on the morrow, and thrust the fleece together, and wringed the dew out of the fleece, a bowl full of water. And Gideon said unto God, Let not thine anger be hot against me, and I will speak but this once: let me prove, I pray thee, but this once with the fleece; let it now be dry only upon the fleece, and upon all the ground let there be dew. And God did so that night: for it was dry upon the fleece only, and there was dew on all the ground. (Judges 6:36-40)

Let me give you a bit of context. The Israelites, those oft sinning followers of Jehovah, disobeyed Jehovah and he punished them severely for their sin:

And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD: and the LORD delivered them into the hand of Midian seven years. And the hand of Midian prevailed against Israel: and because of the Midianites the children of Israel made them the dens which are in the mountains, and caves, and strong holds. And so it was, when Israel had sown, that the Midianites came up, and the Amalekites, and the children of the east, even they came up against them; And they encamped against them, and destroyed the increase of the earth, till thou come unto Gaza, and left no sustenance for Israel, neither sheep, nor ox, nor ass. For they came up with their cattle and their tents, and they came as grasshoppers for multitude; for both they and their camels were without number: and they entered into the land to destroy it. And Israel was greatly impoverished because of the Midianites; and the children of Israel cried unto the LORD. (Judges 6:1-6)

Jehovah impoverished the Israelites because of their sin. Modern day followers of the Christian God must really be living right because they are definitely not impoverished.

For seven years, God pummeled his followers with the judgment stick. At the end of the seven years, the Israelites cried out to God and God sent a prophet to ask them if they had had enough of his judgment.

After the prophet left, an angel came to a Israelite named Gideon. The angel and Gideon had a conversation:

Angel: The LORD is with thee, thou mighty man of valour.

Gideon: Oh my Lord, if the LORD be with us, why then is all this befallen us? and where be all his miracles which our fathers told us of, saying, Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt? but now the LORD hath forsaken us, and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.

Angel (or Lord): Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee?

Gideon: Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.

Angel (or Lord):And the LORD said unto him, Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man.

Gideon: If now I have found grace in thy sight, then shew me a sign that thou talkest with me.

God gave Gideon the sign he requested and Gideon went forth to be a messenger for God, for a while.

It seems that Gideon’s skeptical side kept getting in the way. He wanted to make sure it really was God speaking to him, so Gideon asked God to prove to him he really was God.

Gideon put a fleece of wool on the floor. He said if the fleece was wet in the morning and it had not rained (or dew covered the ground) outside he would believe what God had said.

Sure enough, the fleece was wet in the morning. Did Gideon believe God? Nope. Skeptical Gideon asked for more evidence.

Gideon reversed the fleece experiment. He said if the fleece was dry in the morning and there was dew on the ground outside he would believe what God had said.

Sure enough, the fleece was dry in the morning.

God allowed Gideon to test him multiple times. (read Judges 7 to see more of Gideon’s God tests) Evidently, Gideon had a faith that required authentication and proof.

In the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church movement I grew up in, putting out a fleece was  common practice. Putting out a fleece was a way of “testing” God or finding out the “will of God.”

Like casting lots and drawing straws, Christians use putting out a fleece as a way to make decisions. Years ago, I was looking for a job, so I applied for a restaurant management job with a company in Findlay, Ohio. They told me they had interest in me working for them and they would get back with me with their final decision. At the time, we were living in Montpelier, Ohio. We were also thinking about moving to Newark, Ohio, the central Ohio community where Polly’s parents lived. What should we do? Restaurant manager in Findlay or move to Newark?

So, I put out a fleece. I prayed, “God if you want me to take the restaurant manager job then have the company call me by ____________. If they don’t call, I will take that as a NO from you.”

The call didn’t come, so we packed everything up and moved to Newark. The funny thing? The restaurant company called a day or two AFTER the fleece deadline and offered me a good paying job. I stood by what I had divined through putting out the fleece.

Silly, I know.

Christians often use this kind of thinking without even recognizing it. Such and such will happen in their life and they take that as “proof” that God is moving and working in their life. I have heard countless prayers where a person said “I was praying for _________________ and sure enough God came though. What an awesome God we serve!”

Never mind that there are multiple explanations for _________________ happening. Even when unexplainable things happen, why is it assumed that it is God making things happen? Unexplained things are just that, unexplained.

Sadly, many Christians wait for God to work, move, come though, or bless them. As a result they are robbed of the ability to make decisions on their own. Unless they can “sense” God working they refuse to make a decision. Or they make a horrible decision because they have a feeling they call “God.”

For the non-Christian, reason, common sense, experience, and advice from others, is usually sufficient for making a decision. Sometimes, when it is necessary to make a quick decision, we have to “go with our gut.” Going with our gut is not the same as going with God. (article on Psychology Today about this subject)

How about you? Do you have any “putting out a fleece” stories to share?

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According to Byron Paulus, Fifty Shades of Grey More Dangerous than ISIS

taylor swift

Oh My God, did you see  Fifty Shades of Grey?

Byron Paulus, is the executive director and president of Life Action Ministries, a fundamentalist Christian group that seeks to “ignite Christ-centered movements of revival among God’s people that display His glory and advance His kingdom throughout the world.”

Yesterday, the Charisma News site posted an article written by Paulus  for the True Woman website. Here’s an excerpt from the article:

It’s no secret. When black and white merge, they produce grey. Every time.

There is absolute white. There is absolute black. But there is no such thing as absolute grey. The color grey has an infinite number of shades. Not just 50. And that is exactly why this Friday could go down as one of the most morally destructive days in our nation’s history.

For us as Christians, the lightest shade of grey is destructive when we know it is a matter of disobeying the Word of God or the Spirit of God.

I heard one preacher say, “It could be the most destructive day globally since Eve took a bite of fruit in the Garden.” Eve allowed her curiosity to lead her to just one bite. Satan did not tempt her with the entire tree; just a bite.

One bite hidden and not resulting in brokenness and repentance will naturally lead to many bites. Don’t fall for it. The grey pathway is paved with increasing desensitization resulting in destructive behavior. This chart is the path David took regarding Bathsheba and Uriah in 2 Samuel 11.

Even a small amount of societal grey can be destructive. For us as Christians, the lightest shade of grey is destructive when we know it is a matter of disobeying the Word of God or the Spirit of God.

Even a seemingly small area of disobedience is sin. And the wages of sin is death, in some form or fashion. Therefore, this Friday will likely be remembered by godly people not as a “grey” day in history, but a “black” day.

When it comes to desensitization to moral perversion resulting in cultural disintegration, the release of the movie Fifty Shades may be more destructive than ISIS. Why? Because at least we are still on our guard fighting against ISIS at some level. But on many fronts, we quit fighting against sin in the sexual realm.

While we vigorously defend our geographical boundaries against physical aggression of evil designed to torture and kill the human body, we passively support and even promote soul aggression of evil that tortures and destroys the mind, emotions and human spirit.

Even a seemingly small area of disobedience is sin.

We must not forget that 50 of 52 major civilizations were destroyed because of inward moral decay … from allowing white to lead to grey and then to black…

…A nation of no black and white (absolutes) will become a nation where all shades of grey are acceptable. So this Friday is not only the opening of a movie but the opening of a desensitization like that could release unparalleled sexual immorality … UNLESS …

I believe using the name Christian Grey as the lead character in Fifty Shades is not coincidental. We must not allow “gray” to describe “Christian” and thus define our lifestyles as believers. We are Christians with absolutes, not Christians without absolutes…

…The church exists to glorify a holy God, a pure God who fully understands our temptations to invite gray in as a brief house guest. Regarding Fifty Shades of Grey, do not even go on a curious search. Not even one small “bite” of curious search…

The slide downward to a gray lifestyle can be countered by praying for supernatural protection from even innocent exposure, and taking steps to avoid temptation that is fostered by curiosity. Then biblical persuasion will be the tool to continue a pathway to avoid all shades of gray…

I ask you dear reader, what kind of mental gymnastics is required to convince yourselves that

fifty shades of grey

is far more dangerous than

isis

Does Paulus really believe Christian women reading mommy porn and going to see an R rated movie is going to bring Western civilization to its knees? Or is he just trying to gin up controversy and support for the Christian women who really, really want to go see the movie but can’t because their church/pastor forbids it?

Russell Wilson, quarterback of the Seattle Seahawks, got himself in a bit of trouble this week with Team Evangelical. Russell is an Evangelical, and during the week before the Super Bowl, countless Evangelical blogs, website, and news sites, featured stories about Russell Wilson, the great man of faith. They were as proud as a peacock over having one of their own on such a prominent stage.

Imagine their outrage when Wilson tweeted:

russell wilson tweet

You can read all the tweets from outraged Christians here.

Wilson later tweeted:

russell wilson tweet 2

And, offended Christians were even more offended.

My take? It’s just a lame movie that will be forgotten about like the Passion of the Christ was when it was hailed as the greatest movie ever made.

Unlike Paulus and the horde of whining, offended Christians, I know that a book/movie like Fifty Shades of Grey, will have little to no cultural impact. A far more real threat to our culture and the world is the Muslim extremism of ISIS. Surely, anyone capable of rationally looking at the two things will conclude:

  • ISIS=big problem that could result in American military action and increased violence and bloodshed
  • Fifty Shades of Grey=mental diversion into the seedier side of life that will likely have no lasting effect on those who dare to watch

Dear Bruce, I Think You Are Still a Christian

horse

Free at Last!

I’ve blogged for seven years.

Bruce Droppings, Fallen From Grace, NW Ohio Skeptic, The Way Forward, and now The Life and Times of Bruce Gerencser.

I used taglines like A Wandering Man in a Restless World and One Man’s Journey from Eternity to Here.

Several thousand posts, tens of thousands of comments.

I write, burn out, and like the Phoenix, rise again.

It’s what I do.

When I started blogging in 2007, I was still a Christian, a liberal emergent church Christian.

I was still going to church, still reading the Bible, still trying to find to find a Christianity that mattered.

I never found it.

I did find that I was just an ass in the pew, an offering to be collected. I had talents and gifts that any church would benefit from, but I found that pastors were quite territorial and allowed no one to get near their throne.

Six years ago, after a tremendous amount of study, angst, and heartache, I finally concluded that I was no longer a Christian.

Try as I might, I couldn’t square what I knew with Christianity.

As I tried to find a stopping place on the slippery slope of reason, I found there was none.

Liberal Christianity, Unitarianism, Universalism, provided a brief respite but failed to stop my slide.

Atheism became the label that best described my belief about God, gods, and religion.

Technically, I am agnostic on the God question, but in my day-to-day life I live with nary a thought about God.

I have no need of God, a God, any God.

I am an A-T-H-E-I-S-T.

Imagine my surprise when I read an email yesterday where the writer said he believed I was still a Christian, that deep down I still have a longing for God and faith.

I thought, how can anyone read my writing and come to this conclusion?

Just because I write about and critique Christianity and Evangelism doesn’t mean that I am still a Christian.

The person who sent me the email has only been reading my writing for a few weeks. Since I just started blogging again a couple of months ago and I am re-posting some of my greatest hits, perhaps my writing gives off the vibe of a man trying to work through his beliefs about God, Christianity, and faith.

I am not…

I write because I must. No matter how many times I quit and say, I will never write again, like a moth to a flame, I am drawn back to the keyboard.

And then there’s you, the readers, the thousands who take the time to read my writing.

I have far greater reach today than I ever had in 25 years of pastoring churches.

I know my writing deeply resonates with many people and it gives a voice to their thoughts. I also know my writing angers and infuriates many Evangelicals. They write and talk about me, preach sermons about me, mention my name at prayer meeting, send me nasty and hateful emails, and leave arrogant, self-righteous comments.

The latter are going to do what they do. I can’t stop them, nor do I want to, because their anger and indignation are a reminder to me that, next to marrying Polly, the single best decision I ever made was the day I walked away from Christianity. They’ve tried bombing with email spam, using bots to leave massive amounts of comment spam, spreading rumors and lies about my story, my mental fitness, my marriage, and children, and have even threatened to kill me…yet here I am.

Those who matter to me are the readers who lurk in the shadows, laden with fear and doubt. They have questions that aren’t being answered by their pastor or church. Their eyes have been opened to what is going on around them. Are they atheists in the making? Maybe, but I doubt it, and I don’t care. My goal is facilitation, not evangelization. If I can help wanderers as they journey on, that’s enough for me.

Others who read this blog are post-Evangelical or post-Christian. They are trying to find purpose, meaning, and peace. Now that their life is no longer defined by religious belief, they are left with the task of shaping a new life for themselves. It’s not easy, and I want to do what I can to provide a safe, friendly place for them to hang out. If telling my story helps them in some small way, I am grateful.

In the Biblesee Bruce, you just mentioned the Bible and this PROVES you are still a Christian, there’s the story of the Good Samaritan, a man who helps and cares for a man beaten and left for dead along the side of the road. Religion, especially Evangelical Christianity, beats people up, often leaving them for dead along the side of the Road of Life. I want to be like the Good Samaritan, lifting up those who’ve been beaten, robbed, raped, and scarred by religion. If I have a calling, this is it.

In many ways, I am a far better man today than I ever was when I was a member of God’s exclusive club. I no longer have to view life and others through the lens of the Bible and the teachings of Christianity. I am free to live life on my own terms and embrace others as they are.

Why would I ever want to go back to Egypt, to the land of leeks, toil, and bondage? Why would I want to return to a worldview governed by the ancient writings of fishermen and sheep herders? Like the proverbial horse that escaped his corral, I am free and I have no intentions of returning to Christianity.

If some people can’t see and understand this, I am not sure what more I can do for them. They’ll just have to keep hoping that I will some day walk back into the church and say, in an Arnold Schwarzenegger voice, “I’m B-A-C-K.”

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The Evangelical Cult of Personality

church size matters

Cartoon by David Hayward, The Naked Pastor

For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. (1 Corinthians 1:11,12)

According to the Bible, the church at Corinth had become factional, with the various groups saying that they were a follower of Apollos, Cephas, Paul, or Christ. In verse 13 of I Corinthians 1, Paul asked:

Is Christ divided?

Two thousand years later, we can answer Paul’s questions with an emphatic YES! The followers of Jesus Christ have spent 2,000 years fighting amongst themselves, leading to, according to the Pew Forum, 41,000 Christian denominations throughout the world. (Wikipedia list of major Christian denominations)

Every Christian Bible has the following verses:

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! (Psalm 133:1)

By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. (John 13:35)

For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. (I Corinthians 12:13)

There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. (Ephesians 4:4-6)

These four verses alone stand as an indictment of modern Christianity with all its divisions and internecine warfare. The various Christian sects can’t even agree on basic beliefs such as salvation, baptism, and communion.  Jesus said, I am the way, truth, and the life, and almost every Christian sect thinks it has the way, truth, life market cornered. Pick the wrong sect and, according to many sects, you will miss heaven and be tortured by God in hell for all eternity.

Evangelicalism, an inherently fundamentalist religious belief, has a unique problem in that its churches are generally a blend of sectarian divisiveness, Madison Ave advertising technique, and a fan of movie star devotion to their pastor and successful Evangelical leaders. This has led to a cult of personality, similar to that which Paul was addressing in the church at Corinth 2,000 years ago.

Drive by many Evangelical churches these days and what do you see on the church sign? Almost every sign will have the pastor’s name prominently displayed. Why is this important? Why is it necessary to advertise the name of the pastor? If the church is one body worshiping the one Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, why call attention to the identity of the pastor? Why don’t churches put the names of the poorest church members on their signs as James suggests in James 2:1-4:

My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; and ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool:are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?

Isn’t giving the pastor top billing on the church sign showing the pastor undue respect? After all, Peter said in Acts 10:34 that God is no respecter of persons. God may not be a respecter of persons, but his Evangelical followers sure are. Ask Evangelicals where they go to church, and they are just as likely to say I go to Pastor So-and-So’s church as they are I go to First Baptist Church.

In the average Evangelical church, the center of attention is not Jesus, the Word, or the sacraments. The focus is on the man standing behind the pulpit. He is the man of God, God’s messenger, the pastor.  In some Evangelical churches, he is also the bishop, prophet, or apostle.  He is the main cog in the machine, without which the machine won’t run. If you doubt this, watch what happens when one of these superstar Evangelicals leaves his church. The membership inevitably declines, often because church members don’t like the new guy. Evangelicals then feel “led” to join another church so they can be “fed.” Rarely will they admit that the reason they changed churches was that they were spiritually and emotionally infatuated with the previous pastor .

A while back, I wrote a post about Evangelical pastor Steven Furtick and his new house. It is scandalous how these “profits” of God rake in millions of dollars from the churches they pastor, the books they sell, and outside speaking engagements. Even an atheist can see that these kinds of pastors are not following in the steps of Jesus. Instead of following the WWJD mantra, they are following what would a Wall Street profiteer do.

Any time I write about one of the Evangelical superstar pastors, people are sure to come along and defend him. I have attacked their god, and it doesn’t matter what the Bible or common decency says, they are not going to stand for it. Little to do they realize that their defense simply illustrates my contention that the Evangelical church is a cult of personality.

I would love to be able to say to readers of this blog that I was different when I was a pastor, but I wasn’t. My name was prominently displayed on the church sign. I was the center of attention, the main cog of the machine. People came to the churches I pastored because they loved my preaching and liked me as a person.  When I pastored a fast-growing church in SE Ohio, people would drive 30-45 minutes to hear me preach.  Our church was exciting and growing, and I was — uh I mean God — was the reason.

I am sure a Calvinistic Evangelical reader is thinking, my church is different! We focus on the WORD and not the pastor. Really? Are you sure?  How many books written by Tim KellerDon CarsonKevin DeYoungAl MohlerMark DriscollStephen Um,  John MacArthur, or John Piper do you own? Why are these names bandied about on every Calvinist blog, website, and conference?

From 2005 to 2008, I was enamored with the Emergent/Emerging church movement.  Even here, I found the cult of personality with people fawning over the likes of Brian McLarenDonald MillerRob Bell,  and Shane Claiborne, to name a few.  Even the home church movement has its own cult of personality. Who hasn’t heard of Frank Viola?

What drives the cult of personality?  Here in America, we are enamored with success. We tend to give respect to people who appear to be winners. Even in the blogosphere, we often judge the value of writers by the number of people who read their blogs and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.  We forget that these numbers say NOTHING about the person. I have to constantly guard against this. I know my blog readership numbers, page views, and subscriber numbers are growing. Does this mean that I am ”more” successful than I was years ago when a hundred people a day read my blog? Should people respect me more now that thousands of people read my writing? Of course not. A person’s success proves nothing.

size matters

For Evangelical pastors, size matters.

Within Evangelicalism, numerical success is everything. Success for a pastor is measured by the size of his penis, uh, I mean size of his church. The criteria for calling a pastor/church a success is not much different from the criteria used to judge a successful CEO in the corporate world: growing the business and maximizing profits.

The sure sign that a pastor has arrived is when he writes a book telling everyone how he achieved his success. When I was an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) pastor, almost every big-name pastor wrote a book detailing how they achieved numerical success. The subtle message was this: God is blessing me and this is why. Do you want God’s blessing? Do what I am doing!  Why is it these successful pastors never write a book years later detailing the fact that “God’s blessing” didn’t last and their penis size dramatically shrank?

American Evangelicals love their conferences. Hundreds of Evangelical conferences are held each year. Who are the speakers? Why, those who have achieved “success.” These conferences always feature big-name pastors who pastor large, successful churches. When’s the last time  Evangelical conference promoters have had a Bro. Joe, who pastors 20 people on the backside of some hill in West Virginia, come and speak at their conference? It never happens.

One of the reasons people leave Evangelicalism is the cult of personality. They become tired of everything being about the pastor or the focus being on the methods of the latest hotshot, knows-everything, successful pastor.  They sincerely thought that Christianity was all about Jesus. They found out that Jesus was just the window dressing for their pastor’s ambition. Most Evangelical churches, thanks to their leaders, have lost all sight of what it means to be a Christian. They proclaim that the Bible is their standard of faith and practice and then ignore its teachings and examples. Christianity should be about Jesus and his kingdom. From my seat in the atheist pew, it seems that Evangelicalism is all about the pastor’s kingdom and not the kingdom of the Jesus they say they follow.

Notes

Atheism is not immune from the cult of personality. We have our demigods and it shows when you see the speaking lineup for the various atheist/humanist conferences. When it comes to clergy who have left the faith, you would think that Jerry DeWitt, who is now listed on Wikipedia as a prominent member of the atheist community, was the only pastor ever to have left the faith. I am not knocking Jerry. I am pointing out that we have our own cult of personality, and the way to cure this problem is to be more diverse and to quit using the same few speakers at every conference. It is important that people be exposed to a variety of atheists, agnostics, and humanists especially those who are not as well-known as Richard DawkinsDaniel DennettSam HarrisDan BarkerDan Savage, Jerry DeWitt, et al. When groups like the Freedom from Religion FoundationAmerican Humanist Association, and American Atheists refuse to do this, they present an inaccurate view of atheism/humanism. How about featuring some working-class atheists who can’t even afford to attend the conferences? To quote the Bible, let our atheist message be confirmed through the mouths of many witnesses.

With humans, the cult of personality is prominent because of tribalism. We want to think that the successful members of our tribe are superior to others in our tribe and the leaders of other tribes. The cult of personality blinds us to our common humanity, and it causes us to devalue those who are not considered successful (however we define success).