Evangelicalism

25 Questions for Those who say Abortion is Murder

questions

I have some questions for those who believe that abortion is murder.

  1. Does life begin at conception?  How do you know it does? Is your view based on science or is it based on a religious belief?
  2. If life begins at conception, why are you supporting an Ohio bill that makes it illegal to have an abortion once a heartbeat is detected? Does life begin at conception or at first heartbeat?
  3. Do you support the use of emergency contraception (morning after) drugs? Why not?
  4. Should a pro-life pharmacist have the right to not dispense emergency contraception drugs?  Should I be allowed to opt out of anything that goes against my moral or ethical beliefs?
  5. Is abortion murder?
  6. Do you believe murderers should be prosecuted?
  7. Do you believe that driving the get-away car makes a person just as guilty as the person who robbed the bank?
  8. Do you believe a woman who has an abortion should be prosecuted for murder? How about the doctor who performs the procedure? How about the nurse that assisted in the procedure? How about the person who drove the woman to the clinic? If you believe in the death penalty, do you support the execution of murderers?
  9. Do you use birth control pills?
  10. Should you be prosecuted for murder since birth control pills can, and do, cause spontaneous abortion?
  11. Should abortion be allowed for reasons of rape, incest, or saving the life of the mother?
  12. If you answered yes to question eleven, do you support murdering the fetus if it is the product of rape or incest?
  13. Should a fetus be aborted if the mother’s life is at risk?
  14. Do you support murdering the unborn if it saves the life of the mother?
  15. Is your viewpoint on abortion a religious belief?
  16. What passage in the Bible prohibits abortion? Does this passage define life beginning at conception?
  17. Has God ever killed the unborn?
  18. In Genesis, God destroyed every human save eight by drowning them in a flood. Were any of the women who drowned pregnant? Did God kill the fetuses they were carrying? (Kill the mother, kill the fetus.)
  19. Do you support the death penalty? Do you support war?
  20. If you answered yes to question nineteen, why do you oppose the killing of the unborn but support the killing of those already born?
  21. Why do you believe that killing the unborn is murder but consider an American bomb killing a baby 3 hours old a tragic result of war, collateral damage, but not murder?
  22. Do you support birth control being readily available in every school? Isn’t your objective is to reduce or eliminate the need for an abortion. Wouldn’t easily available, free access to birth control reduce the abortion rate?
  23. Do you believe it is better for a severely deformed child to live for a day and die than for the fetus to be aborted? If so, explain why it is better for the child to suffer needlessly?
  24. Do you believe that God is in control of everything? Does everything include children being born deformed or with serious defects that will result in a life of extreme suffering and pain?
  25. Is someone a Christian if he or she supports abortion?

My view on abortion

I do not think that life begins at conception nor do I think it begins at first heartbeat. That said, I do not support abortion on demand. Approximately 63% of abortions occur in the first eight weeks, and 89% of abortions occur in the first trimester. I do not support any law that restricts access to an abortion in the first trimester.  Once fetus viability (the ability to live outside the womb) is established, I do not support the right to an abortion except when the life of the mother is at stake.

when abortion occur

At What Time in the Pregnancy Abortions Occur

I support women having full access to reproductive services (including access to birth control), as well as school-aged girls and young women. For women who have an at-risk pregnancy, I support government-sponsored access to genetic testing and amniocentesis that will reveal severe birth defects. Better to have an abortion earlier in a pregnancy than to have a child born without a brain who will die a few moments or days after birth.

I support sex education for junior high and high school students and health education for fourth, fifth, and sixth graders. Since girls often reach menses at ages as young as ten, waiting until they are sixteen to educate them about reproduction is irresponsible and leads to unintended pregnancies. I do not support “Just say No” programs that take the “aspirin between the knees” approach and ignore the reality that most teenagers will, at some point, be sexually active. Yes, teens should wait, but they don’t, and everyone should agree that teenagers having babies is not a good idea. If we agree that this is not a good idea, then making sure they can’t get pregnant should be a top priority.

I support the radical change of adoption laws in this country.  The government should make it easy and affordable for people to adopt a child (after being thoroughly vetted). By changing the law, this will make it more likely for a woman with an unplanned pregnancy to carry the fetus to term. This would also put out of business adoption agencies, many of them Christian, that charge extortion level fees for an adoption.

3 day old human embyro

Three Day Old Human Embryo.

God, the Bible, papal decrees, or religious rhetoric have no sway over me. Showing me bloody pictures of dismembered late-term aborted fetuses also have no effect on me. I know that only 1.2% of abortions occur after the 21st week. In 2011, 1.06 million abortions were performed in the United States. Roughly 12,000 abortions were performed from the 21st week to term. Why don’t pro-lifers wave around pictures of zygotes or other pictures from the chronological time period when most abortions take place? Simple: such pictures wouldn’t excite, inflame, and manipulate the passions of the faithful like a bloody, gory picture of a dismembered fetus does.

081116

How I Answered Science Questions When I was a Baptist Pastor

intelligent design

As a Baptist pastor, how did I answer science questions? The short answer is…I didn’t.

I was five years old when my parents joined Tim LaHaye’s church, Scott Memorial Baptist Church in San Diego, California. I would remain associated with the Evangelical church for the next forty-five years, pastoring churches in Texas, Ohio, and Michigan. Whether as a church member or as a pastor, the world I was a part of was insulated from secular science. I rarely had someone ask me a science question and the reason for this is quite simple. I believed and taught others to believe:

  • The Bible is the inerrant, infallible, inspired Word of God.
  • The Bible, in most instances, is meant to be read literally.
  • Genesis 1-3 accurately, literally records HOW God made the universe and everything in it.
  • If science conflicts with what the Bible says, science is wrong and the Bible is right.
  • Questions and doubts are the works of Satan.
  • Certainty of belief is a sign of faith and maturity.

We had our own science books and scientists. My favorite Evangelical “scientists” were Henry Morris and John Whitcomb. Morris had a degree in engineering, Whitcomb a degree in theology. Even though their books contradicted accepted scientific facts, they had a high view of Scripture and accepted the Bible as the final answer to every question, so their books carried great weight in many Evangelical circles. I have no doubt that if I was still a pastor I would have taken church groups to the Creation Museum so they could see the “proof” of our creationist beliefs.

The children in the churches I pastored  were insulated from the world. Many of the children were home schooled or attended private Christian schools. Children were not encouraged to go to college, especially a wicked secular college. The highest calling for a woman was to marry a godly man and bear children and the highest calling for a man was to become a preacher or a missionary. All other vocations were considered inferior.

rod and staff science book

Rod and Staff Publishers 8th Grade Science Book

From 1983-1994, I pastored Somerset Baptist Church in Mt. Perry, Ohio. For five of those years, we operated a tuition-free, church-member-only, Christian school. We used Rod and Staff science textbooks, books that emphasized the young earth creationist point of view. Rod and Staff is a Mennonite/Amish book publisher.  My wife and I also home schooled our children. We used Rod and Staff textbooks to teach science to our younger children.

I have very little science training. I took a general science class in 9th grade, biology in 10th grade, and biology in college. My college biology class was an absolute waste of time. No lab. No experimentation. The teacher, a local pastor, read to us from a biology book published by a Christian book publisher. The only thing I remember from my college biology class (the same class my wife took) was the teacher’s lecture on not marrying outside of your class, religion, or race. He was quite bigoted and racist.

The few times I was asked a science question that challenged my creationist beliefs I replied:

The BIBLE says…

This was the answer I gave for almost every challenge to what I taught.

The BIBLE says…

THE BIBLE SAYS really meant:

This is my interpretation of the Bible, my interpretation comes straight from God, my interpretation is final, so shut up and get back to serving Jesus.

There are thousands of churches and pastors who hold similar views. We are one of the most scientifically advanced nations on earth, yet, at the same time, we are quite ignorant about basic scientific fact. We can thank religion for our collective ignorance.

081116

Dear Pastor, Do You Believe in Hell?

hell

Oh, preachers preach about it. Life is short, hell is real, or so they say. But, I am not sure they really believe what they are saying.

Baptists are noted for being hellfire and brimstone preachers. In my Baptist preacher days, I preached hundreds of sermons on hell. The altar was often lined with sinners fearing hell. I was a very, very good hell preacher.

Everyone knows that some day they will die. Many people fear what happens “after” death. It is the fear of the unknown that leads many people towards religion. Hellfire and brimstone preaching is good for the church business. If people fear hell they are more likely to buy into the salvation/heaven scenario. You don’t want to go to hell, do you? You don’t want to burn in the flames of hell forever, do you?  Scare people right into heaven, that’s the essence of the gospel preached by many Evangelicals.

I have come to conclusion that most preachers really don’t believe in hell. Preach as they might about hell, when it comes time to put their theology into practice, they cower and refuse to proclaim their hell belief.

Let me tell you a story about a man named Bob. (Bob is a pseudonym, but all the details that follow are real.) Bob was raised in a Fundamentalist Baptist home. His parents were stern, devout, Christians who helped start several local Baptist churches.

At the age of 17, Bob attended a revival meeting at the First Baptist Church. When the invitation was given Bob walked down the aisle, knelt at the altar, prayed the sinner’s prayer, and in that moment became a Christian.

A short time after this, Bob had a falling out with his family and moved out of his parent’s home. Bob never attended church another day in his life apart from an occasional funeral or wedding.

Bob lived to be 83 years old. From the time Bob was 17 until he died at age 83, he lived a life of sin and infamy.

Bob was a child abuser. Bob beat his wife. Bob was a drunk. No woman was safe from Bob’s leering eye and his groping hands.

Bob was a nasty, vulgar,  kind of drunk.

Bob raped a woman while her 12 year old son was home from school sick. He was never prosecuted because his victim was a mentally troubled family member.

Bob died recently.

Bob’s funeral was held at the same Baptist church he once attended.  His family still attends the church. The funeral was the first time that Bob had been to church in over 60 years.

The preacher mentioned what an ornery man Bob was. And then the preacher spent the next 20 minutes preaching AT Bob’s friends. The funeral service was not about Bob at all, it was all about Jesus. Maybe that was better because it was probably hard to find much good to say about Bob.

Mercifully, the preacher brought his Jesus talk to a close with an invitation to trust Jesus as savior.

Why? So they too could be in heaven some day with Bob. The Bob, who at age 17 walked down the aisle, knelt at the altar, prayed the sinners prayer, and became a Christian.

Shocking?

Hardly.

I have attended dozens of funerals over the years. I have preached a good number of funeral sermons myself. In every case, the deceased was preached into heaven. No matter how the person lived, no matter what they did, heaven was their final destination.

Baptists are known for believing in what is commonly called “once saved, always saved.”  While I no longer claim to be a professing Christian and I am quite vocal about my atheism, according to many Christians, I can’t get “unsaved”. Once saved, always saved. (also called eternal security, perseverance of the saints). God has me whether I want him or not.

According to the  preacher at First Baptist, Bob is safe in the arms of Jesus. Pity all the women he raped, abused and molested over the years. Pity all those he terrorized when he was drunk. The fire insurance Bob bought at age 17 covered everything he would ever do. This gave him immunity from prosecution for all his debauchery.

It matters not that he did not attended church in the past 60 years. He never prayed; never read the Bible. In fact, he cursed God, hated God and lived as if there is no God.

But, at age 17…well you get the gist of the story.

It is time to honest, preachers. Hell doesn’t really exist, does it? For all your hellfire and brimstone preaching, when it comes right down to it everyone makes it in. Anyone who EVER had a momentary religious experience is safe.

Preachers, if you object to what I have written, why not tell the truth about the Bobs of the world? If your God be true and every man a liar, if your Bible is true, then people like Bob are burning in hell. It seems you can quite easily tell wonderful stories about people going to heaven, why not the opposite?

Personally, I do not believe in hell. If there is any hell at all, it is here and now. But, if you claim to believe the Bible is the Word of God, then speak as if you do. Don’t pollute God’s heaven by sending any more Bobs there.

Note

This post is written from the perspective of a person who believes in heaven, hell, and the afterlife. I don’t, but in the case of Bob, I sure wish there was a hell.

081116

Preachers and The Lies They Tell About Heaven

heaven and hell

Heaven and Hell

Several years ago, 3 young Ohio boys fell through the ice on the Sandusky River and drowned. What a terrible, terrible tragedy. Two of the boys were brothers.

The pastor of the church where their funeral was held said the following: (link no longer active)

A minister has told mourners that three Ohio boys who fell through ice and died together in a river are now playing together in heaven.

This statement is restated many different ways during countless Christian funerals.

  • Granny is running around heaven now with no pain!
  • Gramps is in heaven now and doesn’t need a wheelchair to get around any more.
  • ________is in heaven and there is no more pain, sickness, disease, suffering, etc.

Here’s the problem…

Statements like these are not true.

Historic, orthodox Christian doctrine teaches that when people die, they go to the grave. They are DEAD. The body remains in the grave until the resurrection. At the resurrection those who have died will receive a new body (1 Cor 15).

So why is it that preachers lie? Why did I lie?

Sentimentality.

Families are grieving. They have lost a loved one. They want to believe there is a divine purpose, and they want to believe that life continues after the grave.

So preachers concoct grand stories about heaven and the immediate transport of the dead from earth to heaven.

Belief in the afterlife requires faith. No one has ever come back from the dead to tell us the what lies beyond the grave (if anything). Anyone who says he has is a liar.

Even Jesus himself didn’t talk about the afterlife after his resurrection from the dead. His disciples did, the apostles did, but not Jesus. He told his disciples that wherever he was they too would be some day. He never mentioned one time any of the things commonly heard in Christian funeral sermons.

Even the notion of spending eternity in heaven is not taught in the Bible. Search all you might, it is not there.

What IS taught in the Bible is that followers of Jesus Christ will live forever in God’s eternal kingdom (on a new earth). On this point the Jehovah’s Witnesses are probably closer in belief to what the Bible teaches than many Evangelical Christians.

The same could be said about hell. Those who are not followers of Jesus will NOT spend eternity in hell. The Bible doesn’t teach that. The Bible DOES teach that unbelievers will spend eternity in the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:14).

Sentimentality allows preachers, who are supposed to be guardians of Christian doctrine, to ignore what the Bible teaches in favor of telling stories to comfort a grieving family.

I understand WHY they do it but let me be clear here…

Preacher, if you can’t tell the truth when it really matters the most, how can you expect people to believe anything you say? If sentimentality allows you to ignore what the Bible teaches about heaven (and hell) how do we know that you are telling the truth any other time? Not telling the truth in hard circumstances results in a loss of credibility.

As an atheist, I have serious reservations about the notion of an afterlife. At this point in life I lack the requisite faith necessary to believe. I am of the opinion that each of us had best get to living life because it is the only one we have. That said, if you are a Christian you are bound by what the Bible teaches. As a preacher you are obligated to tell the truth. In fact you owe it to your congregants to tell them the truth, even when it is hard to do so.

06/04/16

Songs of Sacrilege: God Shuffled His Feet by Crash Test Dummies

This is the fourth 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 God Shuffled His Feet  by Crash Test Dummies, folk rock/alternative rock band from Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Video Link

Lyrics

After seven days
He was quite tired so God said:
“Let there be a day
Just for picnics, with wine and bread”
He gathered up some people he had made
Created blankets and laid back in the shade

The people sipped their wine
And what with God there, they asked him questions
Like: do you have to eat
Or get your hair cut in heaven?
And if your eye got poked out in this life
Would it be waiting up in heaven with your wife?

God shuffled his feet and glanced around at them;
The people cleared their throats and stared right back at him

So he said:”Once there was a boy
Who woke up with blue hair
To him it was a joy
Until he ran out into the warm air
He thought of how his friends would come to see;
And would they laugh, or had he got some strange disease?

God shuffled his feet and glanced around at them;
The people cleared their throats and stared right back at him

The people sat waiting
Out on their blankets in the garden
But God said nothing
So someone asked him: “I beg your pardon:
I’m not quite clear about what you just spoke
Was that a parable, or a very subtle joke?”

God shuffled his feet and glanced around at them;
The people cleared their throats and stared right back at him

It’s Time to Tell The Truth: I Had an Affair

 

silhouette of woman

It’s time for me to come clean.

I can no longer hide from my past.

The ugly, ugly truth must come out.

I had an affair.

I had a mistress.

I was intimate with my mistress for many, many years.

My wife and my children know about the affair. I am so sorry for all the hurt and damage my affair caused. That my wife and children stood by me all these years is a wonderful testimony to their love for me. I don’t deserve it.

My mistress and I carried on for a long, long time. In fact she would follow me wherever I moved: Ohio, Texas, Michigan. She was always right there for me.

My mistress is a lot older than me. She is what is commonly called a cougar.

The sex was great. The only problem was I could never satisfy her. The more sex we had the more she wanted. She was quite the nymphomaniac. I had suspicion she was having sex with other people (she was bisexual) but it didn’t matter. What WE had was special. She treated me as if I was the ONLY one.

Over the years, we made a lot of promises to each other, well-intentioned promises. But neither I or my mistress delivered on our promises.

I gave my mistress a lot of money.  She deserved it, or so I thought. Yet, no matter how much money I gave her, she wanted more. She would often tell me “prove that you love me Bruce.” So I would give her more money. I began to wonder if she was a prostitute and I was a john. My wife and children suffered because I gave so much money to her. I justified their suffering by telling myself that my affair was what gave me purpose and meaning in life. Without it I might as well be dead.

I deceived myself for a long time. I convinced myself that what my mistress and I had was real. After all, she made me feel alive. She gave me self-worth. When we were together it seemed like time stopped and we were transported into the heavens.

One day, a few years back I began to have doubts about my affair. The sex was great, but there is more to life than sex. I certainly enjoyed the company of my mistress, and boy she sure could cook, but I still felt quite empty when I was away from her.

I began to think about all the sacrifices I made for my mistress. All  the money I gave her. The loss of a close, intimate relationship with my wife and children. Was it worth it?  Since my mistress got the best of me, all my family got was leftovers. By the time I came home to them, I was too tired, too busy, and too broke to give them the time they needed and deserved.

Twelve or so years ago, I ended the affair. I sold all of the mementos of our torrid relationship. I told my mistress that I could no longer be in a relationship with her. She didn’t even get angry, or for that matter, even care. She told me “There are plenty of other people who would love to have me in their lives. Your loss, Bruce.”

So we parted ways,

I went to the doctor a few years back. I was having some discomfort. The doctor ran some tests and found out I have an incurable, sexually transmitted disease. With medicine and therapy the symptoms can be managed, but I will never be cured.

Every week or so,  I trudge to the doctor to get a shot, The shot helps to manage the symptoms, but I still  have a lot of residual problems from my 25 year affair. That’s the price you pay when you have an affair.

My wife and I, along with our children are trying to rebuild our home. The damage done by this affair is incalculable. I can only hope that, with time, the wounds will be healed.

I should warn all of you about my mistress. She is always on the prowl looking for someone new to entice.

Her name?

The Church.

repost, edited and corrected

Taking Off the Sheep Clothes — the Musings of a Wolf

wolf sheeps clothing

As my fame continues to spread across the internet, people who used to know me are finding out that I am no longer a pastor, a Christian, a believer in God, etc.  I suppose this is how it must be. If I am going to write publicly, use my real name, and talk about my life as a minister, I am going to be “found out.”

I know I am responsible for this. I choose to write what I write. I choose to be honest and direct. I choose to recount my past and present life as I understand it (and I say this because I realize others may see my life and the past differently).

I could have chosen to write anonymously. I could have made this blog (and the previous iterations of it) private. But, that’s not me. I have always been direct and open.  Rarely have I heard someone say about me “I don’t know what you mean.” In my younger years, directness and openness were better described as blunt and abusive. As a minister-in-training, I was taught to speak the truth without regard to the feelings of others.

This way of speaking my mind has served me well over the years, but it also has provided me many opportunities to apologize for the times when silence would have been the better course of action. I continue to be schooled in the fine art of shutting upwhether with the words I speak or the words I write.

Just recently, I had the opportunity to apologize to a former church member for running her family out of the church because she wore pants. Her husband asked me if I thought his wife wearing pants was a sin. In no uncertain terms I said YES! In every way this couple were fine church members, dedicated followers of Jesus. The husband drove one of our church buses. Yet, because I thought women wearing pants was a sin, the church lost a good family. How much better would things have turned out if I had said, Well that’s between you and God. But I couldn’t do so. I was God’s man and directness was the only way to speak God’s truth.

These days, I suspect my openness and directness threatens some people, especially those who have had an intimate relationship with me in the past. They would rather I leave things alone. They would rather I leave the past buried in the past. No need to talk about old times best forgottenOne former pastor friend told me that I shouldn’t talk about the past and my defection from the faith lest I cause others to lose their faith.

I can’t do that. While I don’t want to be a person who lives in the past, I realize that understanding the past is essential to my well-being in the future. If I learn nothing from the past, there can be no growth in my life in the present.  The key is not to be shackled by the past. I must learn from it, embrace it, but I must not allow the past to keep me from moving forward in my life.

It seems my “outing” is working its way down my résumé and list of family and friends. I told my wife the other day that I thought most everyone now knows about my apostasy from the Christian faith. Well, maybe my first grade teacher doesn’t know.

In First Corinthians 5, the Apostle Paul writes about it being commonly reported that there was incest going on in First Baptist Church of Corinth. Based on these common reports, Paul made a judgment about what was going on in the church. So it is with me. It is now commonly reported that Bruce Gerencser has apostatized. Sermons are even preached about me. (here, here, and here)

As many of you know. I co-pastored the Community Baptist Church in Elmendorf, Texas. I was excommunicated from the Church in 1994. Several years ago, a member of the church stumbled upon my deconversion story at John Loftus’s blog, Debunking Christianity.   Here’s the comment left by her:

So the wolf has finally taken off his sheep’s clothes. Took a while.

When the Church officials excommunicated me in 1994, they declared that I was a publican and a heathen. The Bible says in Matthew 18:

Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.

But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.

And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.  Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

My apostasy makes perfect sense to the people in San Antonio. It is simply the full manifestation of what they declared I was in 1994, a publican and a heathen. I was a wolf in sheep’s clothing (John 10:12 and Matthew 7:15) , a satanic angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:13-15) , a false prophet (2 Peter 2).

But what does this say about them? They were certain it was the will of God for me to be their pastor. Evidently, they were not as discerning as they should have been. This lack of discernment  has been a common problem for them. Prior to my excommunication, they had excommunicated 2 other pastors, and countless Church members.

I was not excommunicated for anything one might consider grounds for being booted out of a church. No stealing of church funds or screwing the church secretary. No trying to foment a church split (although I could have). No deep, dark, secret sins. No, my transgression was that I butted heads with the man who started the church. He was bull-headed, arrogant, opinionated, and temperamental and so was I. Like two little children, we both wanted our own way. Eventually, I decided I no longer wanted to play and I was excommunicated for my refusal to play.

In a church service akin to a scene from a Catholic Inquisition, I was in absentia found guilty and excommunicated, not only from Community Baptist Church, but from Christianity altogether. For a few years, I tried to resolve the conflict between me and the other pastor (Pat Horner). He rebuffed every attempt at reconciliation. I saw the conflict as a personal matter. He saw it as a matter between me and the Church and God. (Horner is no longer the pastor; Kyle White is.) In the eyes of Community Baptist Church, I am, and will always remain, a publican and a heathen. Unless I return on hands and knees to the church and repent of my sins, there is no salvation for me.

Well, that’s not going happen. I am having too much fun enjoying my life as a publican and heathen.

060416

UPDATED: Serial Adulterer David Hyles Has Been Restored

david hyles

David Hyles, present day

If you have not read The Legacy of Jack Hyles, I encourage you to do so.

David Hyles, son of adulterer Jack Hyles, once an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) pastor and a serial adulterer, has come out of the hole he crawled into (Hyles deleted his blog after it was publicized) over twenty years ago, and he telling all who will listen that he has been restored.

Restoration in the IFB movement is like a slum lord who remodels a house. The slum lord is only concerned about the rent money so he rehabs the house just enough to make it look acceptable and then he puts the FOR RENT sign in the window. Behind the paint and underneath the stained carpet is the same cockroach-infested house that existed before the slum lord rehabbed the house. So it is with restoration in the IFB church movement and in much of Evangelicalism.

David Hyles has found two preachers to help him rehab his life: Mike Johnston and David Baker. Johnston runs a ministry called Promise Ministries International Center for Biblical Studies (PMI) in Battle Creek, Michigan. PMI is a distance Bible and pastoral training ministry that focuses its efforts on people in prison.

David Baker, a graduate of Hyles-Anderson College,  is the pastor of Lighthouse Baptist Church in Columbia, Tennessee.

What kind of church is Lighthouse Baptist? A screenshot from the church’s web page will tell us all we need to know:

lighthouse baptist church columbia tennessee

Lighthouse Baptist Church, Columbia, Tennessee

David Hyles has found two pastors who hold to his dead father’s philosophies and beliefs to help him restore his life. Asking IFB pastors, especially those who hold to a perverted, truncated, cheap view of grace, to help you restore your life is like asking the town drunk to help you stop drinking.

I am all for people trying to turn their lives around. I am all for people trying to change their ways. However, I think to do so a person must own his past behavior, be honest about his actions, and not expect people to just forgive and forget.

David Hyles, by all accounts, was a serial adulterer. He had sex with numerous women in multiple churches. Some of them may have been underage. His sexual conquests are well documented. His father covered up his son’s perverse behavior and helped him get a fresh start at a new church. At the new church David Hyles repeated the same conduct that got him into trouble in the first place.

In 2007, the following expose of David Hyles appeared on The Conservative Babylon website (no longer active):

Claims to fame: Son of Jack Hyles; former Youth Minister, First Baptist Church of Hammond; ex-pastor, Miller Road Baptist Church (Garland, Texas); accused serial adulterer; divorcé; cohabitator; alleged child abuser; suspected child killer

Moral apex: As the story goes (we don’t know; we weren’t there), somebody at Hyles’s church discovered porn magazines containing ads for group sex which, they reportedly claimed, featured photos of Hyles having sex with church member Brenda Stevens (by some accounts, the daughter of a deacon). A story soon surfaced that Hyles had had extramarital sex with some 19 female members of the church.

Every one of these women was apparently stupid enough to think she was Brother Dave’s “one-and-only,” according to a voice on a taped phone conversation attributed to Dave’s wife Paula. And, as you can guess, it appears more than a few marriages where destroyed when the truth came out.

What happened next: It appears to outsiders that Miller Road Baptist threw him out, and his wife divorced him and took off with their two kids, and he started living with Stevens (out of — gasp! — wedlock) in Illinois.

Where it gets really tragic: Stevens had a small son, Brent. Dave Hyles was suspected of abusing the boy — who had suffered some eight or nine broken bones in his short life, which had never been treated. Brent was taken out of Hyles and Steven’s Illinois home and given to his biological father in Texas. Within a few months, for reasons beyond comprehension, Brent was returned to Stevens.

And then, in late 1985, 15-month-old Brent was found dead in his crib. Hyles, who had been alone with the child, claimed he found him not breathing, and called police. It has been suggested in a few online articles that Dave’s father Jack arrived before the cops did.

A coroner’s inquest into Brent’s death (at which Hyles took exercised his Fifth Amendment rights — and which the baby’s mother doesn’t appear to have attended) was apparently thwarted because the little boy had been embalmed and buried (reportedly the very next day after his death), before a proper autopsy could be performed. (An empty bottle of Actifed — for which a prescription had been filled only the day before Brent’s death — was found at the scene.)

Without any physical evidence of wrongdoing, Hyles was not indicted. The case remains open.

If those who follow the Hyles story are correct (waving at the Fighting Fundamentalists!), n the mid-1990s Hyles went to work teaching Sunday school at a Pinellas Park Baptist Church in Florida — which reportedly expelled him on charges of adultery. It’s also been reported that he was thrown out of the next church he attended (Berean Baptist Church in Orange Park, Florida), for “sexual misconduct” with three different women.

(One of those women is assumed to be church secretary Joyce Phaneuf, who appears to have been arrested for prostitution in 2003. Assuming this is the same Joyce Phaneuf, her mug shot and arrest report — which notes the tattoo on her right-upper thigh, reading “David’s Girl” — are available at everybody’s favorite finger-wagging site, The Smoking Gun.)

Just when you think it can’t get any more tragic: Hyles, it’s said, finally married Stevens and they had their own child together, a boy named Jack David. In March, 1999, when the child was five years old, Stevens was reported to have run over him with her car, killing him. According to news reports, she claimed he must have fallen out of the vehicle, and she didn’t know it….

What does David Hyles say to reports like the one on The Conservative Babylon? He ignores it and refuses to directly confirm or reject the behaviors he is accused of. Instead, in a blog page titled, David Hyles: My Story (page no longer available), Hyles writes:

Others may be reading this book merely out of curiosity. You heard of me and read many of the horrible stories about me. Now you want to know what I am going to say in defense or in explanation. I trust you will not be too disappointed, but this is not a tell all book. I have no intention of defending myself nor do I plan on trying to separate the truth from the legion of lies. I do not believe it would bring honor to God for me to try and explain what is and is not true. Explanation often leads to excuse or blame and I desperately fear that. You do not need to read about my sins. You just need to know that whatever I did do when I was away from the Father, God in His rich mercy and grace has restored me to HIMSELF. This is a book about grace. I trust that God’s grace and not my sins will be glorified.

In other words, whatever Hyles did or didn’t do, he ain’t tellin’. God has forgiven him, it’s under the blood, time to move on. Time to move on meaning, I have written a book I want you to buy.

david hyles greatest men

Jack Hyles, David Hyles, Jim Krall, World’s Greatest Men

Hyles has some sharp words for his critics:

First you are hurting the lost. Several years ago I worked with a young man who knew I was a Christian. This young man was searching. He had dabbled into several religions in his search. He respected me and began to question me about Christ. God was working in his life and I felt he was very close to accepting Christ as his Savior. Someone, in an attempt to hurt my business began circulating an email through my workplace and he received it, anonymously, of course. He never again listened to me and eventually our paths parted. I pray every day for God to save him. It was not MY sins that turned him away. No, actually it was the evil spirit of those my accusers who claimed to be Christians. He wanted no part of that.

Secondly, you are hurting the fallen. Countless Christians have seen what you have done to me and to others who have fallen and decided to just disappear rather than being restored. I believe that there have been suicides and other tragedies that could have been prevented if a fallen brother or sister had felt there was hope. You diatribes on your filthy forums serve Satan’s purpose well.

Thirdly you are hurting those who I have hurt. Please hear me on this. Every fallen pastor or Christian leaves hurting people in their sinful wake. I did. I know that. It breaks my heart. David did too and his heart was broken. There is little we can do to repair the damage. Their deliverance must come from God and it will not come from revenge or retribution. It will come only from forgiveness. Please allow God to be God and to deal with his children as He will. Stay out of it and encourage those who have been hurt to find their peace from God not from your vigilante system of internet justice.

Allow me to elaborate on this just a bit more. People who are hurt by a sinner are destroyed by bitterness. No one’s sin can destroy your life. Our loving Father would not allow that. He stands ready as a loving Father to pick you up and mend your broken heart. Sinners (and that includes us all) do bad things that affect other’s lives. For all have sinned… However, if we get them to take their eyes off of the offender and place it on the Savior they can be healed. Closure does not come from our flawed idea of justice. It comes from letting God heal us even as He deals with the one who offended or hurt us.

Fourthly you are hurting you! The manure you are hurling fails to hit me but your hands sure do smell of the filth you have no business picking up. I am sorry for the pain that makes you feel that somehow you will gain some kind of satisfaction from trying to hurt me. I wish this book could give you the peace you are lacking but I sincerely doubt it will.

Finally and most importantly, you are hurting the Father. I have news for you that is not going to please you, but here goes. GOD LOVES ME and I AM SAVED AND FORGIVEN! I fell but, you see, when a Christian falls we do not fall away from grace, we fall into it, hence the name of this book. I am in His grace and one day I will stand before Him clothed in the righteousness of His Son and not the sin of my own.  Why would you dare try and hurt the heart of God? Is it because there is unconfessed sin in your life? Are you so far from Him that you have lost the sweetness of His mercy and grace in your own life? That is sad.

David Hyles, in the manner of countless abusers before him, refuses to own his past behavior and points the finger at those who attempt to hold him accountable for what he did. Hyles thinks he has a get out of jail free card. He thinks the blood of Jesus has cleansed him from all of his past actions, and if God has forgiven him so should everyone else.

David Hyles perpetrated acts against real flesh-and-blood people, and if he is serious about turning his life around he MUST deal with the men, women, and children he hurt. Putting his past actions under the blood, cast into the sea of God’s forgetfulness, might play well in IFB churches, but here in the real world where real hurt must be atoned for, David Hyles is expected to own his past behavior, make a complete confession, and, as much as is humanly possible, make restitution to those he hurt.

It is clear from David Hyles’ blog, Fallen In Grace, (which he deleted once it was publicized) that he is still a believer in IFB doctrine. No matter what “sins” he committed, no matter how perverse his life was, because of the IFB doctrine of “once saved, always saved,” Hyles was always a Christian. No matter how many people he hurt and abused, he was always God’s child.  This turns the Christian gospel of grace on its head, and no matter what a person might have done, if he, at one time or the other, mouthed the right prayer, he is a Christian.

This is why David Hyles can reinvent himself and start fresh. As countless preachers before him, his God has hosed off the shit from his life, and he is a clean, fresh-smelling Christian. However, I suspect the people David Hyles hurt and abused can still smell the shit. Their lives were forever marred by the perverse actions of David Hyles.

I have no doubt David Hyles will convince a lot of people that he is truly a new man and that God has a wonderful, new, exciting ministry for him. Christians love a comeback story and Hyles is counting on their gullibility to make a new life for himself.

For those of us who lived through the David Hyles scandals and the Jack Hyles scandal, we are not easily fooled. When David Hyles demonstrates true acts of repentance and restitution, then people such as I might, in time, be willing to give him a twelfth chance. Based on what Hyles has written so far, he sees no need for repentance or restitution. He sees no need to make things right with those he victimized. God has forgiven him and THAT is all that matters. Because of this, I am inclined to think that David Hyles is just another disgraced IFB preacher trying to make a comeback because he needs some money.

jack hyles passion for sunday school

Just today, Bob Gray, retired pastor of Longview Baptist Temple, Longview, Texas, announced that his publishing house will soon release a book by David Hyles.  Longview, you might remember, is the church that gave David Hyles a rousing and warm welcome when he visited there a couple of years ago.

Bob Gray’s version of Christianity leaves no one beyond the grace of God. It requires no repentance or restitution. It requires no accounting of crimes committed or people defrauded. All that matters is that a sinner prays the prayer and his or her ticket for heaven is punched. According to Gray, David Hyles has a fire insurance policy that can’t be revoked.

The publishing of this book is a reminder that David Hyles, like his father, is a narcissist. Imagine if Hyles wrote a book titled, I was Wrong: My Apology to Those I Hurt. Most people would appreciate his willingness to come clean about the past (though fessing up to what might have been murder might land him in the slammer). Instead, Hyles writes a book about his father. By doing so, Hyles reminds everyone that is paying attention that nothing has changed. Ain’t God good!

Notes

Let me be clear, I don’t think David Hyles is evil personified. He is a man with a wife and a family. He has sisters and a mother. I must never forget that is he a fellow human being. But, he also has a sordid past, a past he is unwilling to deal with. His unwillingness to do so casts a long shadow over his present life. Hyles thinks that the blood of Jesus is some sort of magic potion that makes the past disappear. While that might play well in places like the Longview Baptist Temple, there are a number of people, IFB pastors and church members included, who are outraged by Hyles’ narcissistic, unrepentant behavior. To these people, men like Bob Gray are enablers who encourage people to make light of their sin. Is there no sin that carries a societal and church death penalty? In Bob Gray’s world, evidently not. A decade from now, when convicted sex offender Jack Schaap is released from the federal penitentiary, I have no doubt he will find a home at the Longview Baptist Temple. Why, he might even become a worker in the youth group, sharing, like the Apostle Paul, stories from prison.

David hyles facebook

David Hyles’ Facebook Profile Picture

You can check out David Hyles’ Facebook page here

Much of Hyles’ Facebook wall is private, but his older status updates are public. Take a few minutes to read them. I suspect you will notice, as I did, that he loves to quote himself, proving that he is a chip off of his father’s block.

David Hyles Google+ page

Several preachers are listed as friends on Hyles’ Google+ page including  Bob Gray, retired pastor of Longview Baptist Temple, Bob Gray II, current pastor of Longview Baptist, and Joel Fugate, assistant pastor Clays Mill Road Baptist Church. (Jeff Fugate’s son)

David Hyles’ mother, Beverly, has a blog

David Stewart’s defense of David Hyles

Romulus, Michigan Police Department report about one of David Hyles’ girlfriends. You can read the full report at the Smoking Gun.

Police Report for Joyce Phaneuf, a Church Secretary and Once a Girlfriend to David Hyles. Notice the Report Mentions a Tattoo, David's Girl?

Police Report for Joyce Phaneuf, a Church Secretary and once a girlfriend to David Hyles. Notice the report mentions a tattoo, David’s Girl?

David Hyles at a monument to his Dad

david hyles at monument for his dad

David Hyles, at a monument to memorializing Jack Hyles. I think the phallic design is fitting.

071816

Let’s Go Soulwinning

lets go soulwinning

Let’s Go Soulwinning by Jack Hyles

The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise. Proverbs 11:30

Soulwinning — the art, the endeavor of sharing the gospel with sinners and leading them to put their faith in Jesus Christ. A metaphor for evangelism or witnessing. (It is not a word found in the English dictionary.)

Soulwinner —  a person whose purpose, desire, and motivation is to share the gospel with sinners and lead them to put their faith in Jesus Christ. (It is not a word found in the English dictionary.)

The Bible makes it clear that every church should be a soulwinning church and every Christian should be a soulwinner.

And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. Mark 16:15

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen. Matthew 28:19-20

Matthew 28:19,20 is commonly called the Great Commission. While some may argue that the Great Commission was given ONLY to the eleven disciples, most sects and pastors think the Great Commission is a command given by Christ to every Christian.

Why is it then that most Christians never verbally share the gospel with another person? I am not talking about inviting them to church so the head soulwinner, the pastor, can preach the gospel to them. I am not talking about nonverbal, just let your light shine or any of the other excuses Christians give for not verbalizing the gospel to those who do not know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Why is it that most Christians never, one time, in a clear, concise way, share the good news of the gospel with a lost, hell bound sinner? Isn’t not doing so a direct repudiation of the Great Commission, a direct command given by Jesus to his followers?

The Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church movement has turned soulwinning into a fine art. Churches hold soulwinning conferences and clinics. These special events are used to light a fire under church members who are not soulwinners. They are also used to train members in the best soulwinning techniques. Technique matters. Dennis Corle bragged to me that he could win a soul in five minutes. According to him, all a soulwinner had to do is follow the script. Follow the script, use proper technique and you too can be a great soulwinner like Dennis Corle.

No one was a bigger promoter of soulwinning than Jack Hyles, the former pastor of First Baptist Church in Hammond, Indiana. Hyles was famous for telling stories like this:

A few years ago I was in a Bible Conference in Houston, Texas. After a morning service, I returned to my room at one of the large motels on the north side of Houston. To my surprise, the door to my room was open and I heard singing coming from the bathroom. After checking the room number with my key, I realized I was in the right room. Perhaps someone else was in the wrong room.

I hollered through the door, inquiring who was there, only to find it was the Negro maid cleaning out the bathtub. She was actually down in the tub cleaning out the ring.

I asked her if she were a Christian. She said, “Mercy, no! I am as mean as the devil.” I got my Testament out and showed her the plan of salvation. All the time she was in the bathtub. After I showed her how to be saved, she knelt in the tub and received the Saviour.

I have laughed many times about this and have jokingly said, “I guess I am the only preacher in the world who ever won a lady in a bathtub!” This is just another of the many unusual experiences that God gives to soul winners. We should be on the lookout constantly for people who need the Saviour

I have won people to Christ in train stations, in bus depots, on airplanes, in grocery stores, in barber shops, in shine parlors, in service stations, in garages, in school buildings, on ball diamonds, and in many other places. There are many hungry hearts waiting for someone to tell them the story.

You can read more of Hyles’s soulwinning stories here. (Hyles was a powerful preacher and a masterful storyteller. He was also a pathological liar.)

You can read more of Hyles’s soulwinning stories here. (Hyles was a powerful preacher and a masterful storyteller. He was also a pathological liar.)

For decades, Hyles and First Baptist Church conducted what they called Pastor’s School —  a week-long event used to motivate pastors and church leaders to win more souls. Under the leadership of John R. Rice and Curtis Hutson, the Sword of the Lord held Soulwinning Conferences all over the country. These conferences were used to encourage and motivate pastors and churches that had forgotten Jesus’s command to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.

From the 1960’s-1980’s, countless IFB churches experienced explosive growth as they went into the highway and hedges and compelled (without vampire powers) sinners to put their faith in Jesus. In the 1970’s, most of the 100 largest churches in America were IFB churches.

Today? First Baptist Church in Hammond, once the largest church in the world, no longer conducts the Pastor’s School,  The Sword of the Lord no longer holds soulwinning conferences all over the country. Based on the 2013 Outreach 100 Largest Churches List, there is not one IFB church on the list. (Many large IFB churches refuse to publish their actual attendance numbers.) Most of the IFB churches that made the Top 100 list in the 1960s-1980s are shells of what they once were. Some have even closed their doors. What happened?

In 1976, I enrolled at Midwestern Baptist College in Pontiac, Michigan. Midwestern, a small IFB college, was known for producing preachers who were great soulwinners. Tom Malone, the founder and chancellor of Midwestern, was also the pastor of nearby Emmanuel Baptist Church. Every student was required to attend Emmanuel.

For many years, thanks to its bus ministry,  Emmanuel experienced explosive attendance growth and was listed as a Top 100 church. Emmanuel saw high attendance days of over 5,000. Soulwinning was the lifeblood of the college and church. Students were required to go out soulwinning at least once a week, and each week were required to account for their soulwinning activities.

Midwestern held a soulwinning contest while I was studied there. Students competed with each other to see who could win the most souls. The winner of the contest usually won a hundred or more souls. Every student was required to participate in the soulwinning contest. One year, the college put up a big banner and chart that was used to track who was winning the most souls. In the mind of Tom Malone, soulwinning was all that mattered.

for sale sign midwestern baptist college

For Sale Sign in Front of Midwestern Baptist College

Today? Midwestern has its campus up for sale, having moved its small student body to Shalom Baptist Church in Orion Michigan. Emmanuel, a church that once bragged about being a Top 100 church is no more. As with the college, its facilities are up for sale.

for sale sign emmanuel baptist church pontiac

For Sale Sign in Main Entrance Door, Emmanuel Baptist Church, Pontiac, Michigan

What happened? Why is Emmanuel closed, Midwestern a shell of what it once was, and the IFB church movement facing steep attendance declines?

If you ask IFB pastors this question, he will likely tell you that the WORLD is the cause for the attendance decline. People love their sin more than they love Jesus. They might even point the finger at Evangelical mega churches and their slick marketing, worship bands, and relational sermons. Where they will never point the finger is at themselves. In their minds, they are the true church, preaching the true gospel. They seem unable to see that it is their theology and methods that have led to their decline.

Instead of preaching a transformative, holistic gospel, they preached decisional regeneration, also known as easy-believism. Salvation became a simple transaction between a sinner and God. Sinners were told to pray a prayer:

 

Dear Lord Jesus, Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. Come into my heart and save me from my sins. Thank you for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. I am trusting you to take me to heaven when I die. Amen.

If people prayed that prayer, they were considered born-again Christians. Millions of Americans have prayed a prayer such as this. From Billy Graham crusades and Campus Crusade outreaches to Southern Baptist churches  and IFB churches, the sinner’s prayer contained the magic words that made one a child of God. This bastardized version of the gospel filled churches with people who had no idea about  what it meant to a Christian or a member of a Christian church.

The sin of the soulwinning movement and the IFB church is that they thought that winning souls was just a matter of using the right techniques. Pastors taught church members to use certain formulas such as The Roman’s Road to lead people to saving faith. Got Questions, a fundamentalist website explains The Roman’s Road like this:

The Romans Road to salvation is a way of explaining the good news of salvation using verses from the Book of Romans. It is a simple yet powerful method of explaining why we need salvation, how God provided salvation, how we can receive salvation, and what are the results of salvation.

The first verse on the Romans Road to salvation is Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” We have all sinned. We have all done things that are displeasing to God. There is no one who is innocent. Romans 3:10-18 gives a detailed picture of what sin looks like in our lives.

The second Scripture on the Romans Road to salvation, Romans 6:23, teaches us about the consequences of sin – “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” The punishment that we have earned for our sins is death. Not just physical death, but eternal death!

The third verse on the Romans Road to salvation picks up where Romans 6:23 left off, “but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 5:8 declares, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Jesus Christ died for us! Jesus’ death paid for the price of our sins. Jesus’ resurrection proves that God accepted Jesus’ death as the payment for our sins.

The fourth stop on the Romans Road to salvation is Romans 10:9, “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Because of Jesus’ death on our behalf, all we have to do is believe in Him, trusting His death as the payment for our sins – and we will be saved! Romans 10:13 says it again, “for everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Jesus died to pay the penalty for our sins and rescue us from eternal death. Salvation, the forgiveness of sins, is available to anyone who will trust in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

The final aspect of the Romans Road to salvation is the results of salvation. Romans 5:1 has this wonderful message, “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Through Jesus Christ we can have a relationship of peace with God. Romans 8:1 teaches us, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Because of Jesus’ death on our behalf, we will never be condemned for our sins. Finally, we have this precious promise of God from Romans 8:38-39, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Would you like to follow the Romans Road to salvation? If so, here is a simple prayer you can pray to God. Saying this prayer is a way to declare to God that you are relying on Jesus Christ for your salvation. The words themselves will not save you. Only faith in Jesus Christ can provide salvation! “God, I know that I have sinned against you and am deserving of punishment. But Jesus Christ took the punishment that I deserve so that through faith in Him I could be forgiven. With your help, I place my trust in You for salvation. Thank You for Your wonderful grace and forgiveness – the gift of eternal life! Amen!”

Have you made a decision for Christ because of what you have learned through the Romans Road to salvation? If so, please click on the “I have accepted Christ today” button below.

The soulwinners were told to stay on point, reiterating the points in the soulwinning plan. If the sinner asked questions not related to salvation, the questions were to be ignored and the sinner steered back to the soulwinning plan. They were to give the sinner just enough information to get saved. Questions would be answered later after they were baptized and became a part of the church.

Think for a moment about what I have written here. Doesn’t all of this sound similar to a sales program used by Amway or some other direct marketer? Work the plan! Stay on point! Press the prospect to make a decision! Close the sale!

When I was in college, I sold Kirby vacuüm cleaners. My Dad sold them for many years and I thought, like father, like son. Every Saturday, the local Kirby office would hold mandatory sales meetings for their salesmen. These meetings were pep rallies meant to motivate salesmen to sell more vacuüm cleaners. They even sang songs with lyrics like There’s power, power wonder working power in a Kirby, sung to the tune of the There’s Power in the Blood.

The Kirby pep rallies were quite similar to that which took place at Hyles’ Pastor’s School and Sword of the Lord Soulwinning Conferences. The goal was the same: motivate salesmen to hit the street and sell merchandise. In the case of the IFB church, the merchandise was Jesus, salvation, and fire insurance.

Were you a member of an IFB church? Were you a soulwinner? Was your church an aggressive soulwinning church? Please share your experiences in the comment section.

031816

What I Found When I Left the Box

Man hiding in box

Yesterday, I wrote a post titled The Danger of Being In a Box and Why It All Makes Sense When You Are in a Box.  A commenter on Reddit asked if I would elaborate on this part:

“But is wasn’t. My mind was filled with thoughts of all the wonders I found outside the box. Things that those in my box said were bad for me; things that they were sure would ruin me. They told me that the box was all I needed. They feared I was becoming a wanderlust.

And they were right. I wandered once again outside the box, and just like before I fell down the slope of the slippery hill. This happened to me many times before I finally gave up and stayed at the bottom of the hill. When I did this,  the box I had lived in for almost 50 years no longer large enough for me. For the first time, the things I had found in the box seemed odd, peculiar, and contradictory.”

Every time I left the box I found new and wondrous things, things I had never heard about before, things I had never experienced. The box I was in for five decades was a box  whose dimensions were clearly defined. There was no guessing about the length, width, or depth of the box. Over time, the box had to be replaced. Those outside the box constantly battered the box with bats, bricks, and rocks. Sometimes, these attacks would cause gaping holes in the box and it became necessary to replace the box.

The new box was not like the old box at all. The dimensions were different and it held fewer people. Everyone in the box pretended that the box was just like the old box. An old-fashioned box, we were told. We knew the box was not like the old one, but giving the appearance that the new box was the same as the old box was more important that coming to grips with the reality that the box was different. The box keeper was adamant. He said our box was just like the first box, that the box had stood strong for 2000 years.

On one of my trips outside of the box, I found out that the box keeper wasn’t telling the truth. He was trying to preserve something that never existed. Perhaps he really didn’t know since he had never been outside the box.  I found out the box manual had errors and contradictions. People outside the box questioned whether the box manual was the correct manual. For a time, fear plagued me every time I went outside the box. I realized if the box manual wasn’t true, then everything I believed about the box was wrong. I thought, I am smart guy. How could I have been deceived for almost 50 years? Surely ALL these people in the box can’t be wrong?

As I strayed farther and farther away from the box, though, I found that there were all kinds of boxes. Every group of people had its own box, — some were religions, some were political, some were social, and some were economic boxes. I always knew there were other boxes, but I considered all other boxes but the one I was in to be false boxes.

Those of us in the box always mocked those in the atheist box. None of us actually knew an atheist, nor had we ever read a book written by an atheist, but Dr. I-Have-The-Truth told us he knew all there was to know about the atheist box and he was certain the atheist box was a false box with no bottom that led straight to hell. He told us many horrible things about the atheist box. I was glad I was not one of THOSE kinds of box dwellers.

Imagine my surprise to find out that the atheist box was nothing like Dr. I-Have-The-Truth said it was. In fact, I found out there was quite a bit of diversity in the atheist box. They argued back and forth with each other, but once they were done arguing they all went to the bar and were still friends. I had never seen such interaction before. In my box, when arguments broke out they usually ended  with one party calling  the other party not-a-true box dweller. Some of them even went so far as to leave the box and, just a few feet away, build another box. They said they were a new and DIFFERENT box, but everyone knew that the only thing different was the location of the box.

I found that I liked the atheist box. Those in the atheist box encouraged me to be skeptical of the every box. I had never heard this before. In the box I was from, we were told to never question the box and certainly to never question or doubt the box manual. The box keeper warned us that doubt led many a box dweller outside of the box never to return. We wondered, did they end up being recycled?

This new-found freedom to question and to be skeptical was quite liberating. It also caused a good bit of conflict for me. People from the box I had left were questioning whether I was ever a “real” box dweller. They said, Yes he was in the box but he never really believed the box manual. They called me a deceiver. Some even thought I was deluded. The box keeper used me as an illustration of what happens when a person becomes skeptical and asks questions

For a time, my wanderlust, while liberating, caused me a great deal of mental conflict. There seemed to be a constant tug and pull. I felt as if  I were going to be pulled apart. I heard about a man who specialized in helping people who left boxes similar to the one I was in. So I went to see him and I knew immediately that he could help with the tug and pull that was trying to tear me apart.

Over time, I began to see how the box, the box keeper, and the box manual had taken over my life to such a degree that I lost any concept of who I was. Every time I saw the specialist I reclaimed some of the self that I had lost. As this happened, I began to deal with the questions I had about the box and the box manual.

I am not sure when the moment was, but I do remember coming to a place where I felt completely free. I felt “born again.” I thought, I am a “born again” atheist. I no longer felt any pull to return to the box. Of course those in the box said “See what happens when you stay outside the box for a long time?”

Seven years have gone by since I found myself at the bottom of the slippery hill. It is hard to believe — seven years. People in the atheist box, the box I now call home told me that things would be better with time. They encouraged me to read and study. They told me “go where the data, the evidence leads you.”

Over time, I learned that the atheist box, and for that matter no box, is perfect. In every box there are arrogant, nasty, vindictive box dwellers. No box is perfect, but some boxes are definitely better than others. That’s the greatest wonder of all…I now have the  ability to freely choose the box (es) I want to be in.

I guess the best thing to say is this…I no longer feel boxed in.

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The Danger of Being in a Box and Why it Makes Sense When You are in it

man in a box

 

I was a Christian for most of my life, a pastor for most of my adult life. I was a fervent believer of the faith once delivered to the saints. I believed it, practiced it, and lived it. When I was in the Christian box, it all made sense to me. Everything I read, everything I heard, and everything I experienced, reinforced the belief that I was in the right box.

God told me, the Bible told me, my friends and family told me, and the opposition of the world told me, that I was in the right box. Every once in a while I would take one step outside the box and experience a bit of “other-boxedness.”  After every foray into the world outside the Christian box, I would return to the safety of the box.

This is the way I lived my life for  five decades. Then one day, I decided to take more than one step outside of the box. I haltingly, tentatively took a few steps, staying close enough to the box that I could run back if I needed to.

Over time, I wandered farther and farther away from the box. I found all kinds of things that were not  in the box I was in. I was confronted with data, beliefs, ideologies, facts, and practices that I had never heard of. I was uncertain about what I should make of these new-found things.

I talked to fellow box-keepers about this. They cautioned me about wandering outside of the box. Nothing good happens outside of the box, Bruce. Everything we need for life and godliness is right here in the box. We even have a manual that tells us how to live in the box.

But I continued to wander outside of the box. One day, I wandered so far outside the box that I realized, for the first time, that the box sat on a steep, slippery hill. And there were other boxes too, all of them on that same slippery hill. The first time I noticed this, I quickly retreated to the safety of the box. Then one day, I found myself far outside the box. I turned around to look longingly at the box and I slipped, and before I knew it I was slipping and sliding down the slippery hill. On this day I fought and clawed my way back up the hill and I crawled back to the box. Dirty and bruised, I was safe within the box once again. The box was my salvation.

But is wasn’t. My mind was filled with thoughts of all the wonders I found outside the box. Things that those in my box said were bad for me; things that they were sure would ruin me. They told me that The box was all I needed. They feared I was becoming a wanderlust.

And they were right. I wandered once again outside the box, and just as before, I fell down the slope of the slippery hill. This happened to me many times before I finally gave up and stayed at the bottom of the hill. When I did this, the box I had lived in for almost 50 years was no longer large enough for me. For the first time, the things I had found in the box seemed odd, peculiar, and contradictory.

When I was in the box it all made sense. It all fit. But now, outside of the box, at the bottom of the slippery hill, the things I once believed now seemed to be the strange language of an alien culture. I found myself saying, I can’t believe I actually believed _________________________.  It seems so crazy and incoherent now, yet when I was in the box it all made sense.

I can’t go back to the box I was in. As a secularist, as a person who values skeptical, rational thinking, I must always be aware of other boxes around me. Every box’s occupants say that they have the truth. Every box’s occupants want me to take up residence in their box. However, I have learned, perhaps the hard way, that living in the narrow, blind confines of a box keeps me from experiencing the world that exists outside the box. Every box’s occupants think they are unique. Their sameness cannot be seen until one is out of the box – all of the boxes.

Experiencing the world outside of the box changed me forever.  I know I still have a penchant for box-like thinking, but I revel in a life free of the constraints of any box.

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Frozen Embryos: If Life Begins at Conception

3 day old human embyro

Three Day Old Human Embryo. Why He Looks Just Like his Father.

According to anti-abortionists life begins at conception. At the very moment the sperm and egg unite, a new life is created. Anti-abortionists are intractable when it comes to their position. Life begins at conception…end of debate.

Let me tell you a story……

This story takes place at the We Make Life Possible Fertility Clinic.

Sue gave birth to a beautiful baby girl through in vitro fertilization. Her baby girl is one month old . Sue stopped by the Fertility Clinic to show off her newborn to the Clinic staff.

While Sue was at the clinic, a huge explosion rocked the place and the clinic was engulfed in flames. Later speculation on World Net Daily, suggested a supporter of Barack Obama was behind the attack.

John, named after John the Baptist, a pro-life activist, happened to be passing by the clinic when the explosion took place. John went running into the clinic hoping to perhaps save someone from the fire.

John had been to the We Make Possible Life Fertility Clinic before. His wife Patience had problems conceiving, and not wanting to wait on God to open her womb, John and Patience went to Clinic. While the treatment was successful, Patience miscarried a few months into the pregnancy.

John knew the Clinic stored hundreds of fertilized eggs (embryos) in a freezer. As he rushed into the Clinic, John saw Sue huddled in a corner with her newborn daughter trying to get away from the fire. John thought, “Surely I should save these two.”

John thought for a moment, asking himself What Would Jesus Do? Suddenly, he realized the fire was going to destroy all the frozen embryos. John told Sue and her baby Sorry, maybe Jesus will come rescue you, and he rushed to the freezer where the frozen embryos were stored. Through John’s heroic effort, hundreds of frozen embryos were saved. Sadly, Sue and her newborn daughter were burnt to death.

Who among us would fault John? After all, he acted according to the greater good. Who wouldn’t save two hundred lives at the expense of two lives?

The above story follows the logic of the life-begins-at-conception viewpoint to its illogical conclusion.  There is no difference between two hundred embryos and Sue and her baby. Life is life. It makes perfect sense for John to save the frozen embryos and not Sue and her little one. Surely John would be praised for saving the two hundred embryos, right? If the clinic is unable to reopen, perhaps the frozen embryos can be put up for adoption. After all EVERY embryo is a life.

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