Menu Close

Amish Sheep in Southeast Michigan

Last Sunday, Polly and I took a short road trip to Homer and Albion, Michigan. We had been to Homer years ago. One of the photographs I took in Homer of our youngest daughter Laura won a local photography contest. Polly thought a return to Homer might provide an opportunity for me to take another award-winning photo. The weather God didn’t help me much, so Homer was pretty much a bust, but I took a lot of other pictures as we traveled the rural  roads of SE Michigan that I think are keepers.

We were delighted to stumble upon a small Amish community. This community is quite poor compared to their brethren in the eastern Indiana. Some of the houses were quite rough, in need of repair. Some were downright dumpy. One oddity was seeing sheep tethered or chained in the ditches in front of many of the Amish homes. I suspect that they were using the sheep to “cut”  the weeds and grass along the ditch line. What follows are photographs of several of the sheep that took time out from their grazing to pose for me.

sheep michigan 5

sheep michigan

 

sheep michigan 3

sheep michigan 4

sheep michigan 6

Notes

Slogan on Homer water tower? Homer is Home *sigh*

Cost for one year at Albion College? $51,000

Percentage of Albion residents who are black? 30% What made me look this stat up? A lot of churches with crazy sounding Pentecostal names that are typically found in bigger cities.

Favorite find? Whitehouse Nature Center, operated by Albion College. Will definitely have to return and walk the trails.

If God is Love, He Has a Funny Way of Showing It

gumby

God is a lot like Gumby. He can be twisted and shaped into virtually any form a person wishes.

Take the God is Love crowd.

They stop by, read my writing, and are horrified to find that I think God is a God of judgment, wrath, hatred, and violence.Where did I e-v-e-r get such an idea?  Perish the thought, Bruce. God is a God of love. God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life. God would n-e-v-e-r do anything to hurt you, Bruce.  He has your best interest in mind. Look at how much God loves you…he sent his son Jesus to die on the cross for your sins. Isn’t that awesome?

No, it is not awesome. Blood atonement is quite violent and revolting and I see no love in the act. What I see is a righteous, holy God who hates sin and those who do it. I see a God quite willing to destroy the human race because they don’t keep his commands. I see a God who, for some perverse reason, sent himself to die on a cross, so his hatred of sin and those who do it could be assuaged.

You see, I have read the Bible. ALL OF IT. I take what the Bible says at face value. Yes, the Bible presents God as a God of love. However, the Bible also presents God as a righteous,holy, vengeful, hateful God who doesn’t think twice about using violence to get his point across. God is the meanest son-of-a-bitch on the block. Cross him and you are dead, right Uzzah? (2 Samuel 6)

As I look at the world today, I see no evidence of this God of love. Look at his supposed followers. Do they evidence love to the world? Hardly. They fuss and fight amongst themselves. They split and divide over the silliest of things. Where is the love Christians? If you can’t get it right, how can you expect worldlings like myself to embrace the God is love notion?

I much prefer a world where God is Dead. I don’t have to look for surreal, existential answers to the issues facing the human race. I don’t have to manipulate a religious text to get a satisfactory explanation for what I see and read with my eyes. Humans are the problem and humans are the solution; no God needed.

I don’t need God to experience and know love. I have a wife, six children, 3 daughter-in-laws, and ten grandchildren. Through them I experience and know love. As a Christian would say of God, they are ALL I need.

It is enough to live and die, knowing that I have been loved by others.

Does Evangelicalism Encourage Weakness and Passivity?

hopeless without God

Recently, Aliyah Burton, a homeschooled 14-year-old, wrote a guest post for the Lies Young Women Believe website. Titled, Does the Maker of the Stars Want to Use You, the post reveals a troubling aspect of Evangelical thinking about how to live life. Burton wrote:

My heart has been hurting a bit these days because I know I have so much inside of me that needs to change. I don’t know how God’s going to work it all out. Things like pride, resentment, and arrogance build up in me, reminding me I’m still so broken.

I have these conversations with God, telling Him I have nothing left that’s any good at all. I probably sound a little like this: “I gave you all I thought you wanted. . . . Wait, what was that? . . . You want everything? Even the worst parts?” I run and hide, sometimes, from the God who made me.

I still wonder about this: Does He really want to see my brokenness? Does He really want to do something with me? Have you ever felt like that?..

I read God’s Word because I know He’s not going to take my excuses for an answer. I know He’s going to keep reassuring me as He did to Jeremiah . . .

“I know you”

“I have still chosen you.”

“I’m the One who made you this way, don’t you think I know how to use you?”

The way he said it made me laugh, but this truth rang clear to me: God is in charge, not me. Yet my itty-bitty human brain seems to think the Maker of the stars needs my permission to work in and through me.

I read God’s Word because I need to be reminded that He wants to use me, even when it doesn’t feel like that could possibly be true…

My initial response was one of sadness. Here’s a bright 14-year-old girl and she has already lost her ability to think rationally. Not only has she surrendered her ability to reason and think, she thinks the Evangelical God talks to her.

Here’s a girl sitting in her bedroom sad over the fact that she is not the person God wants her to be. She is plagued by pride, resentment, and arrogance, knowing that these things are a reminder of how broken she is. Ponder this thought for a moment. Here’s a girl who already thinks she is broken. That’s what the Evangelical teaching on original sin does to a person. It makes them see themselves as broken and in need of repair. And who can repair them? No one but God. This girl has been taught that she is helpless and hopeless without God, unable to do anything on her own.

Does she really have a pride, resentment, and arrogance problem? Only she can answer that, but I suspect that her angst is fueled by the preaching and teaching at her church and her home school education. Minor character flaws are blown up into transgressions against a thrice-holy God. If she really does have a pride, resentment, and arrogance problem, then she need not passively, obediently wait for God to fix her.  She is not weak, nor broken, and it is within her power to change her ways. Prideful? Stop! Resentful? Stop! Arrogant? Stop!

Far too many Evangelicals go through life thinking they are helpless, broken people who need God’s help to do anything. This kind of thinking makes them weak and passive, always waiting for God to forgive them, deliver them, show them a better way, or give them strength. Instead of relying on self, they are taught to rely on a non-existent God who supposedly never leaves them or forsakes them and sticks closer to them than a brother. They are reminded that the Bible says:

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. (Proverbs 3:5,6)

They are also reminded that Jesus said in John 15:5:

I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

Evangelicals are told, You can’t do ANYTHING without Jesus. He is your strength. The very breath you have comes from him. Don’t trust your own reasoning, don’t trust the reason of any mere human. Trust God, lay your life at his feet, and let him direct your life. Remember, Jesus said we are to deny self. We don’t matter. Jesus is the end all. Jesus taught us to pray, God’s will be done on earth as it is heaven. Not our will, but his.

This is why uncounted Evangelicals are waiting for God to change them, correct them, or show them what to do. Marriage problems? Out of work? Health problems? Job problems? Conflict with children, spouse, coworker, neighbor, or friend? Financial trouble? Just wait and let God show you the way. Just wait and God will return your phone call. Just wait and God will use his mighty wonder-working power to conform your life into the image he wants it to be. And while they are waiting, life continues to move forward. Waiting on God becomes an excuse, a way of sidestepping personal responsibility, a way of ignoring character flaws.

Every one of us are responsible for our own behavior. There’s no God fix coming for what ails us. If it is important to us to be good, to treat others with decency and respect, then we will do what’s necessary to make these things happen. I have little patience for the prayers of the helpless. They have been neutered by religious teachings that have robbed them of their will. Taught to deny self, they trust in a deity that has no power to help them. The only person that can change ME is the person staring at me in the mirror.

Note

I am not against waiting, thinking, or meditating before making a decision. Haste is just as bad as passivity. When I need to make a decision or change something in my life, I try to give the matter careful consideration. But, when I act, it is me acting, not some outside source of power. As a humanist, I recognize that the buck stops with me and my fellow Homo sapiens.

Songs of Sacrilege: Has Anybody Seen JC? by Jeff Ollerhead

This is the twenty-third 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 Has Anybody Seen JC?, sung  by Jeff Ollerhead, a singer–songwriter from Liverpool, England. Best I can tell the lyrics are of unknown origin. The song has numerous verses as the lyrics below show.

Video Link

Lyrics

Chorus
Has anybody seen J C
J C, J C, J C, J C.
Not since Easter Sunday,
Riding on a Donkey.
Has anybody seen J C
J C, J C, J C, J C

Virgin born, head of thorn
Resurrects the dead at dawn

That J C, he’s divine
Changes water into wine.

Virgin Mary, She’s the most
She’s been fucked by the Holy Ghost

Cleans up temples it is said
Raises spastics from their bed

J C, He’s so cool
Boogies across my swimming pool

Took three loaves and five fish
Feed five thousand piece of piss

Lots of songs, raises cheers,
In the charts two thousand years

Holes in hands, Holes in Feet,
Carries his cross down the street,

Holy Ghost, He’s the most,
Gets them pissed on wine and toast,

Banished fear and gave us hope,
Went one better than the Pope,

Love he gave, faith he took,
Still the Worlds best selling book,

Save our souls, fun we poke,
Sorry God its just a joke.

J C stands five foot nine,
Plays scrum half for Palestine.

Arms out wide, feet are tied,
It’s hard to boogie when your crucified.

Songs of Sacrilege: My Head Hurts, My Feet Stink, and I Don’t Love Jesus by Jimmy Buffett

This is the twenty-first 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 My Head Hurts, My Feet Stink, and I Don’t Love Jesus by Jimmy Buffett, an American singer–songwriter.

Video Link

Lyrics

Chorus
My head hurts, my feet stink, and I don’t love Jesus.
It’s that kind of mornin’,
really was that kind of night.
Tryin’ to tell myself that my
condition is improvin’ and if I don’t
die by Thursday I’ll be roarin’ Friday night.

Went down to the snake pit,
to drink a little beer.
Listened to the juke box,
oh, it’s comin’ in clear.
All of a sudden I wasn’t alone
pickin’ country music with old Joe Bones.
Duval Street was rockin’,
my eyes they started poppin’!
Because there she sat at the corner of the bar,
as I broke another string on my old guitar.
Someone call a cab.
Lady won’t you pay my tab?

Chorus

Got to get a little orange juice,
And a Darvon for my head.
I can’t spend all day,
Baby, layin’ in bed.
I’m goin’ down to Fausto’s
to get some chocolate milk.
Can’t spend my life in your sheets of silk
I’ve got to find my way
Crawl out and greet the day.

Chorus

Songs of Sacrilege: Jesus Saves by Slayer

This is the twenty-first 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 Jesus Saves by Slayer, an American thrash metal band from Huntington Park, California.

Video Link

Lyrics

You go to the church, you kiss the cross
You will be saved at any cost
You have your own reality
Christianity

You spend your life just kissing ass
A trait that’s grown as time has passed
You think the world will end today
You praise the Lord, it’s all you say

Jesus saves, listen to you pray
You think you’ll see the pearly gates
When death takes you away

For all respect you cannot lust
In an invisible man you place your trust
Indirect dependency
Eternal attempt at amnesty

He will decide who lives and dies
Depopulate Satan’s rise
You will be an accessory
Irreverence and blasphemy

Jesus saves, no need to pray
The gates of pearl have turned to gold
It seems you’ve lost your way

Jesus saves, no words of praise
No promised land to take you to
There is no other way

Why Evangelical Christians Believe the Bible is the Words of God

bible word of god

Let it therefore be held as fixed, that those who are inwardly taught by the Holy Spirit acquiesce implicitly in Scripture; that Scripture carrying its own evidence along with it, deigns not to submit to proofs and arguments, but owes the full conviction with which we ought to receive it to the testimony of the Spirit. Enlightened by him, we no longer believe, either on our own judgement or that of others, that the Scriptures are from God; but, in a way superior to human judgement, feel perfectly assured—as much so as if we beheld the divine image visibly impressed on it—that it came to us, by the instrumentality of men, from the very mouth of God. We ask not for proofs or probabilities on which to rest our judgement, but we subject our intellect and judgement to it as too transcendent for us to estimate.  (John Calvin)

I wish Evangelicals would be honest about this instead of trying to “prove” the Bible is true, reliable, accurate, scientifically correct, historically precise, etc, etc, etc.

Evangelicals believe the Bible is the words of God  because the Holy Spirit tells them it is. The Bible is truth because God tells them it is. Their belief is a matter of faith. If it is not, then they are guilty of using circular reasoning; the Bible is truth because the Bible says the Bible is truth.

Evangelicals embarrass themselves and their religion when they attempt to “prove” that the Bible is truth. One either accepts the claims of the Bible as truth or they don’t. It has always been about faith.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good report. Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh. By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. (Hebrews 11:1-6)

I am an atheist today because I do not have the requisite faith necessary to believe that the Bible is a supernatural book written by a supernatural God. I do not have the requisite faith necessary to believe that the Bible is in any way truth or God’s message to humankind. While I can competently discuss, argue, and debate the intellectual reasons why I think the Bible is an errant, fallible work of men, the reason I am not a Christian is because I am unwilling to set reason and rationality aside to accept, by faith, that the Bible is an authoritative text straight from the mouth of Jehovah.

You Never Were a Christian

daniel finke

One of the ways that Evangelicals dismiss my life and current beliefs is to say that I never was a Christian, I was a false Christian, or I was Christian in name only.

I thought Christians have been given a spirit of discernment. I thought Christians are filled with Holy Spirit. I thought the Holy Spirit is their teacher and guide. I thought the Bible gives Christians everything they need to know concerning life and godliness. If these things are true, how is it then that NO ONE, not one single person, ever suggested that I was not a real Christian until I openly said I was an agnostic? I was part of the Christian church for fifty years. I preached my first sermon at age fifteen and for the next thirty-five years I was a committed, devoted follower of Jesus. I spent twenty-five years in the ministry, pastoring churches and helping thousands of people. I prayed, read and studied the Bible, witnessed, tithed, attended public worship services, and tried to pattern my life according to the teachings of the Bible and the life of Jesus. I sacrificed my life for the sake of the gospel. I willingly lived a life of self-denial, accepting poverty wages so churches could have a full time pastor. This was my life, yet according to some Christians, it was all a charade, a game, or the work of a man inspired by Satan and possessed by demons

A pastor on Facebook said that he could discern the true Christian from the false Christian. I replied that I did not believe he had any such gift. I told him my family and I could put on our Sunday best and come to his church and I could preach for his congregation and EVERYONE would think the Gerencsers are a wonderful Christian family. Perhaps my older children could come along with us and bring their guitars so we could lead the church in a divine, inspiring time of praise and worship. I bet people would even remark that they “felt” God’s presence and that the Gerencsers are a godly example of how a family should be.

I’ve been telling my story online for more than seven years. Uncounted Christians have told me that I never was a Christian. Some of these deniers were close friends and colleagues in the ministry. Why do they say I never was a Christian?  By saying this, they are able to ignore the glaring truth that they have no discernment and that the Holy Spirit did not warn them I was a sheep in wolf clothing. This also allows them to avoid the hard theological questions that arise when trying to square my life with their beliefs.

It’s easy to say, in hindsight, I never was a Christian. Why is it no one spotted my deception while I was their pastor? Was I just a great con artist, an Elmer Gantry? Think about this for a moment. For twenty-five years, I was able to successfully con seven churches, thousands of people, and dozens of colleagues in the ministry. Does anyone really think I could pull this off if I were not a Christian?

Here’s the truth, like it or not: I was a Christian and now I am not. I don’t care how you square this with your theology, you know and I know that I was a true-blue, washed-in-the-blood, sanctified, Holy-Ghost-filled, Bible-believing, sin-hating Christian. Jesus was my one and only, the passion and love of my life. I was willing to die for him if need be. If I wasn’t a Christian then nobody is.

bruce gerencser 1991
Bruce Gerencser, 1991, Somerset Baptist Academy. Surely everyone can see from this picture that I was a real Christian. 🙂

I am sure someone will ask why this matters to me? If God doesn’t exist and the Bible is fairy tale, why should I care whether someone thinks I was a Christian? Imagine, for a moment, that you were a star baseball player in high school. At age eighteen, you were signed to a minor league contract by the New York Yankees. You worked your way through the Yankees minor league system, finally making it to the major leagues at age twenty-three. For the next fifteen years, you played outfield for the Yankees. At the age of thirty-eight you retired. Fast forward to age sixty. You are having a discussion with someone and they tell you that you never were a baseball player. You may have had a ball glove, a bat, and a uniform, but you never were a “real” baseball player! Would you be offended by this? Would it be OK for someone to dismiss your life on the baseball diamond? Of course not. The fact that you were a baseball player from the time you were a child to age thirty-eight was a very important and real experience for you. Tens of thousands of people KNOW you played baseball, yet there are a handful of deniers who are sure you never, ever played the game. While fans are certainly free to discuss and debate how good a player you were, how well you played the game, or if your play helped the Yankees win, but saying you never were a player is irrational.

Yet, this is exactly what some Christians do. They deny I was ever what I said I was. They take a knife to my life and cut huge portions of it away and toss it in the garbage. While this might help them avoid the hard questions my life requires them to answer, the evidence for me having once been a Christian is overwhelming, making their denial  ludicrous and irrational. I wonder if the real issue for deniers is that my shocking deconversion forces them to consider that they too could fall from grace, that they too could one day be numbered among the godless.

021916

Same-Sex Marriage: The Sky is Falling and God is Going to Kill Us All

gay marriage

As regular readers know, I read and monitor a number of right-wing Christian websites and blogs. Some days, it is hard to do. Of late, the hysteria over same-sex marriage has resulted in uncounted Bible thumpers making pronouncements of doom and judgment.  Filled with homophobic rage and bigotry, these false prophets are doing all they can to cause the faithful to fear. The gays are coming, the Gays are coming, these modern-day revolutionaries cry out, ignorant of the fact that the gays have always been among us. The only difference now is that gays no longer fear what the religious-right can do to then. Out of the closet they came and they have no intentions of returning.

The real issues aren’t homosexuality or same-sex marriage. Evangelicals, Mormons, and conservative Catholics are losing their seat at the head of the cultural table and they don’t like it. Relegated to the back of the room, little more than an afterthought, they whine, scream, and complain that nobody is paying attention to them. They blame secularism, atheism, and liberal Christianity for the rise of homosexuality in America, but the real blame rests on their shoulders. Thirty or so years ago, the religious-right traded piety and holiness for political power. Instead of being the salt of the earth and the light of the world, they decided to wage a war against any and all who oppose their morals, ethics, and beliefs. Instead of being counter cultural, the religious right decided to assault their fellow citizens and force them to believe in their God and obey the teachings of the Christian Bible. What is now happening is that secularists, atheists, humanists, liberal Christians, and even Evangelicals and Catholics, are pushing back, realizing that if the religious-right gets their way on same-sex marriage they will not be satisfied until the Bible is enshrined as law and the Christian flag flies of the U.S. Capitol. In others words, theocracy is their goal.

What follows is a handful of the hysterical statements made by those warning that God’s judgment is coming if the Supreme Court legalizes same-sex marriage. Enjoy!

Fox News commentator Todd Starnes, speaking at Germantown Baptist Church, Memphis, Tennessee:

“I believe there is a war on religious liberty in the United States of America. And this war is not targeting people of the Muslim faith, it’s not targeting people of the Jewish faith or the Hindu faith or the Buddhist faith. This war on religious liberty is targeting people of the Christian faith.”

Former candidate for President Alan Keyes:

“The United States Supreme Court may presently make a decision discarding marriage as an unalienable (natural) right. By defect of reason and respect for the Constitution, the decision will return the people of this country to the condition of constantly impending war characteristic of the human condition when and wherever the just premises of government are abandoned.

A decision degrading the natural right of marriage, endowed by the Creator, to the status of a fiat right, fabricated by government, will be unconstitutional on the face of it, because it disparages an antecedent right, retained by the people, which disparagement is explicitly prohibited by the U.S. Constitution’s Ninth amendment. Under present circumstances, the decision will also invite conflict on account of the openly flaunted prejudice of two of the justices participating in it..

…If the United States Supreme Court presumes to impose any redefinition of marriage on the states, respectively, or the people, without addressing the issue of unalienable right it involves, with reasoning that respects God-endowed right (which is the logic by which the American people asserted, and still claim to possess and exercise, sovereign authority over themselves), the Court’s decision will be an attack on the very foundation of constitutional government, of by and for the people of the United States. It will be a high crime and misdemeanor that effectively dissolves the just bonds of government between and among the states, and among the individuals who compose the people of the United States. It will therefore be just cause for war.

Like the Dred Scott decision that heralded the onset of the first Civil War, the Court’s action will bring the nation to the brink, whence “nothing but confusion and disorder will follow. …” If the justices do not tread carefully, their temerity could very well set in motion the death throes of what is still supposed to be their country. “Forbid it, Almighty God!”

Evangelical broadcaster Rick Wiles:

“Now the communists rule this nation and everywhere communism takes control, they go after the churches and they kill the pastors and they demolish the church buildings and they reeducate the church children. That’s what’s coming to America. It’s already started.”

“We are at the end of the road as a nation. If the Supreme Court dares to defy Almighty God one more time, I’m telling you it will be the last time.”

“I believe I am speaking under the unction of the Holy Spirit. I’m telling you there will be swift, sudden and devastating consequences for the United States of America. America will be brought to its knees, there will be pain and suffering at a level we’ve never seen in this country. The word that I hear in my spirit is ‘fire.’ I do not know if it refers to riots or looting or war on American soil or a fireball from space. I simply know that a sweeping, consuming fire will come across the United States of America and this country will be charred and burned.”

“Life may change radically in 60 days. I’m talking about the fast-moving, radical homosexual movement that has captured control of the American political system, the corporate world, the news media, the entertainment industry and the educational system. This is a takeover and it is anti-God, it is anti-Christ. The same-sex marriage case before the U.S. Supreme Court is not about same-sex marriage, it is about the criminalization and the elimination of biblical Christianity in the United States of America.”

“Brace for impact if it goes against God’s divine order of marriage…”

Institute on the Constitution leader Michael Peroutka:

…Now to attempt to change that which is eternal and forever fixed by the Creator is to do nothing less than make the claim that you are God. This is very wrong and very dangerous, and the Supreme Court of these United States is now considering taking this very same dangerous step.

While there are many conclusions that can be drawn as we witness this cultural degradation, one comes most immediately to my mind. When a culture discards the Word of God as the standard for what is right and what is wrong, and relegates these determinations to fallen men, the results are as predictable as they are terrible.

In the time of the founding of America, when a Biblical worldview was predominant in the American people, this connection between following the commandments and peaceable existence was clearly known, easily understood and evidentially experienced in the American culture. Undoubtedly, living prosperously by living righteously is what Jefferson meant when he used the phrase “pursuit of happiness”.

Psalm Two warns that when the judges and the rulers of the earth throw off God’s law and take it upon themselves to make their own rules for right and wrong, they will be dashed to pieces like a rod of iron striking a clay pot.

Regrettably we seem to be setting ourselves up for this very lesson. Unless our government officials start obeying God and stop “playing god,” this is a lesson we will experience fully…

Liberty Counsel chairman Matt Staver  “urged the owners of an Oregon bakery who were fined for violating the state’s non-discrimination law when they denied service to a gay customer to refuse to pay the fine in an act of civil disobedience against an “unjust law.”:

“If the government wants to come in and put Rosa Parks on the back of the bus, Rosa Parks shouldn’t move to the back of the bus. If they are wanting to take Christians and put you on the back of the bus because of your faith, you shouldn’t voluntarily walk to the back of the bus.”

“There is nothing historically or throughout our long history of Judeo-Christianity that says that someone who’s got dark skin can’t marry someone who’s got white skin or lighter color skin. That’s never been rooted in our history, that’s never been rooted in natural law, that’s never been rooted in millennia of human history. Marriage is objectively, to use a philosophical term, ontologically, the union of a man and a woman. If you can’t get that right, good grief, how can you be a judge on any court?”

Rick Joyner, executive director of Morningstar Ministries:

The “abomination of desolation” that was prophesied by Daniel, Jesus, and the first century apostles could have been translated “the abomination that desolates.” Because homosexuality is referred to as an abomination in Scripture, and its impact on Western culture is so quickly and profoundly desolating the moral fabric of Western civilization, it is to be expected that many will start to consider this “the abomination that desolates.”

Who could have dreamed just two decades ago that we would have major cities celebrating “Days of Decadence” with all manner of perversions being performed and flaunted openly in our streets? Who would have thought that such a moral and religious nation could fall so quickly to the ultimate national depravity spoken of in Isaiah 5—calling what God calls “good,” “evil,” and what God calls “evil,” “good,” while the dishonorable are honored and the honorable are dishonored? Is that not precisely what has happened to America in just the last generation?

The meltdown of morality in our military could be happening even faster. Just a few years ago, the U.S. military was such a bastion of morality and integrity that adultery was considered grounds for dismissal because one’s vows had been broken. “Don’t ask, don’t tell” was the handwriting on the wall that a devastating change was coming. But who could have foreseen the pace of the desolation of our military since homosexuality was openly allowed in the ranks? It moved quickly from everyone having to accept it, to everyone having to celebrate it if you expected any further promotions, to now being forced out if you do not celebrate it.

Christians are now openly discriminated against, if not persecuted, in the U.S. military. Not only are some of the best and brightest leaving the military, they are no longer choosing it as a possible career.

The same is taking place throughout government services on all levels, as well as corporations, education, and the media, as was once the case for a long time in arts and entertainment. Now, with a single Supreme Court decision it could be that Christians, Muslims, and Jews that honor their books as the word of God will not be able to “buy, sell, or trade” in America without the constant threat of losing your business, or your position and livelihood, because of an offended homosexual.

Even if this is not “the mark of the beast,” it will be for those who are now losing what they, in some cases, have given their lives to build, because they would not compromise their religious convictions in order to buy, sell, or trade. If the Supreme Court decision falls the way it is expected to, we can be sure that very soon every Christian in America will have to make a similar choice between obeying the Word of God or this beast.

Matt Staver, Rick Santorum, Kenneth Blackwell, Steve Deace, Bradlee Dean, John Eidsmoe, Joseph Farah, E.W. Jackson, Rods Parsley, Paige Patterson, Andrew Sandlin, Ed Young, Larry Tomczak, Jerry Prevo, Janet Porter, Tim Lee, Richard Land, Peter LaBarbera, Phil Burress, William Boykin, Robert Jeffress, Tim Wildmon, Don Wildmon, Mike Huckabee, Franklin Graham, Harry Jackson, James Dobson, and a cast of thousands, signed the Pledge in Solidarity to Defend Marriage:

We stand together in defense of marriage and the family and society founded upon them. While we come from a variety of communities and hold differing faith perspectives, we are united in our common affirmation of marriage.

On the matter of marriage, we stand in solidarity. We affirm that marriage and family have been inscribed by the Divine Architect into the order of Creation. Marriage is ontologically between one man and one woman, ordered toward the union of the spouses, open to children and formative of family. Family is the first vital cell of society, the first government, and the first mediating institution of our social order. The future of a free and healthy society passes through marriage and the family.

Marriage as existing solely between one man and one woman precedes civil government. Though affirmed, fulfilled, and elevated by faith, the truth that marriage can exist only between one man and one woman is not based on religion or revelation alone, but on the Natural Law, written on the human heart and discernible through the exercise of reason. It is part of the natural created order. The Natural Law is what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., referred to as a higher law or a just law in his famous Letter from Birmingham Jail.

Marriage is the preeminent and the most fundamental of all human social institutions. Civil institutions do not create marriage nor can they manufacture a right to marry for those who are incapable of marriage. Society begins with marriage and the family.

We pledge to stand together to defend  marriage for what it is, a bond between one man and one woman, intended for life, and open to the gift of children.

The institutions of civil government should defend marriage and not seek to undermine it. Government has long regulated marriage for the true common good. Examples, such as the age of consent, demonstrate such a proper regulation to ensure the free and voluntary basis of the marriage bond. Redefining the very institution of marriage is improper and outside the authority of the State. No civil institution, including the United States Supreme Court or any court, has authority to redefine marriage.

As citizens united together, we will not stand by while the destruction of the institution of marriage unfolds in this nation we love. The effort to redefine marriage threatens the essential foundation of the family.

Experience and history have shown us that if the government redefines marriage to grant a legal equivalency to same-sex couples, that same government will then enforce such an action with the police power of the State. This will bring about an inevitable collision with religious freedom and conscience rights. The precedent established will leave no room for any limitation on what can constitute such a redefined notion of marriage or human sexuality. We cannot and will not allow this to occur on our watch. Religious freedom is the first freedom in the American experiment for good reason.

Conferring a moral and legal equivalency to any relationship other than marriage between a man and a woman, by legislative or judicial fiat, sends the message that children do not need a mother and a father. As a policy matter, such unions convey the message that moms and dads are completely irrelevant to the well-being of children. Such a policy statement is unconscionable and destructive. Authorizing the legal equivalency of marriage to same-sex couples undermines the fundamental rights of children and threatens their security, stability, and future.

Neither the United States Supreme Court nor any court has authority to redefine marriage and thereby weaken both the family and society. Unlike the Legislative Branch that has the power of the purse and the Executive Branch which has the figurative power of the sword, the Judicial Branch has neither. It must depend upon the Executive Branch for the enforcement of its decisions.

As the Supreme Court acknowledged in the 1992 decision of Planned Parenthood v. Casey, its power rests solely upon the legitimacy of its decisions in the eyes of the people. If the decisions of the Court are not based on the Constitution and reason, and especially if they are contrary to the natural created order, then the people will lose confidence in the Court as an objective arbiter of the law. If the people lose respect for the Court, the Court’s authority will be diminished.

The Supreme Court was wrong when it denied Dred Scott his rights and said, “blacks are inferior human beings.” And the Court was wrong when Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote in Buck v. Bell, “three generations of imbeciles are enough,” thus upholding Virginia’s eugenics law that permitted forced sterilization. Shamefully, that decision was cited during the Nuremburg trials to support the Nazi eugenic holocaust.

In these earlier cases, the definition of “human” was at issue. Now the definition of “marriage” is at issue. The Constitution does not grant a right to redefine marriage — which is nonsensical since marriage intrinsically involves a man and a woman. Nor does the Constitution prohibit states from affirming the natural created order of male and female joined together in marriage.

We will view any decision by the Supreme Court or any court the same way history views the Dred Scott and Buck v. Bell decisions. Our highest respect for the rule of law requires that we not respect an unjust law that directly conflicts with higher law. A decision purporting to redefine marriage flies in the face of the Constitution and is contrary to the natural created order. As people of faith we pledge obedience to our Creator when the State directly conflicts with higher law. We respectfully warn the Supreme Court not to cross this line.

We stand united together in defense of marriage. Make no mistake about our resolve. While there are many things we can endure, redefining marriage is so fundamental to the natural order and the common good that this is the line we must draw and one we cannot and will not cross.

Rabbi Jonathan Cohn:

 It is April 29, 2015. Two hundred and twenty six years ago this day, George Washington readied himself for the first ever presidential inauguration, to take place the following day, the day America as we know it came into existence, with a president’s hand resting on the Word of God. That day would conclude with America’s first government gathering in prayer to dedicate the nation’s future into God’s hands.

A century and a half earlier, another seminal event took place on the same day. On April 29, 1607, the voyagers of the Susan Constant, the Discovery, and the Godspeed, gathered together in prayer at Cape Henry to set a wooden cross in the sands of Virginia Beach, and dedicate the new civilization to the will and purposes of God.

America’s biblical foundation would be reaffirmed over and over again by its forefathers, from the Pilgrims of the Mayflower, to the Puritans of Massachusetts Bay, to the leaders of the first American colonies who declared publicly and in writing that the new commonwealth had come into existence solely for the glory and purposes of God.

No historian can rewrite that. No president can expunge it. And if a thousand angels swore on a thousand bibles that this was not the case, it would in no way alter the fact – that this American civilization was conceived, established, dedicated, and founded on a biblical cornerstone; America was brought into existence for the will and purposes of God.

On this night, over two hundred years ago, George Washington held in his hand the first ever presidential address. In that address was a prophetic warning: It was this:”the propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself hath ordained.” In other words, if America should ever turn away from God and His ways, if it should ever disregard His eternal rules of order and right, then His blessings, the smiles of Heaven, would be removed from the land.

It was an ancient warning. It had been given in Hebrew words by the prophets to the kingdom of Israel. But Israel turned away from God and disregarded His eternal rules of order and right.

They drove God out of their government, out of their public squares, out of their culture, and out of the lives of their children. They worshiped idols and served other gods. They celebrated immorality and persecuted the righteous. They lifted up their children on the altars of foreign gods. And the blessings of God were removed from the land and replaced with judgment.

It is two and half thousand years later, and America has made the same mistake. We, too, have turned away from God. We, too, have driven Him out of our government, out of our public squares, out of our culture, and out of the lives of our children. We too have profaned the sacred and sanctified the profane. And we, too, have killed our most innocent, over fifty five million of our unborn children, and our collective hands are covered with blood. What we were warned never to do, we now have done.

And now we gather in the city named after the one who gave that prophetic warning. And yesterday, in this city, in the building that sits across from this hill, the justices of the Supreme Court took up their places on the bench to decide whether America should strike down the biblical and historic definition of marriage. The very fact that such an event took place is, in itself, a sign that the America of Washington’s warning is here and the day of which he warned is now.

We have become a civilization in spiritual schizophrenia, a nation at war against its own foundations. The Supreme Court opens its sessions with the words: “God save the United States and this Honorable Court.” But if then this honorable court should overrule the word of God and strike down the eternal rules of order and right that Heaven itself hath ordained, how then will God save it?

Supreme Court Justices, can you judge the ways of God? Can you, with manmade verdicts, overrule the eternal laws of God? There is another court, and there is another judge. And before Him, all men and all judges will give account. If a nation’s high court should pass judgment on the Almighty, should you then be surprised if the Almighty should pass judgment on that court and that nation.

In the Book of Jeremiah, it is written: “Has a nation ever exchanged its gods… Yet my people have exchanged their glory for that which cannot help them.” Let us not pretend as to what we are now doing. We are doing exactly that which Israel did on the altars of Baal. We are exchanging our God for idols, our light for darkness, and our glory for that which cannot save us. Are we ready to risk that which comes on the other side of that exchange, the day when the blessings of Heaven are removed from the land?

We began with a word from the president of our nation’s first days. So I now speak a word to the president of our nation’s most recent days. Each time I have spoken here, I have asked a question. Now I will answer it. “Mr. President, with all respect that is due, ‘What happens if one assumes the presidency by placing his left hand on the Word of God, and then, with his right hand, enacts laws that war against the very same Word of God on which he laid his hand? Such an act invokes the judgment of the Almighty.

To swear an oath on the Word of God in which it is written “Defend the weak” and “Do not murder,” and to then to not defend the weak, to not protect the unborn from harm, but, instead, to advance their murder, is to invoke the judgment of the Almighty.

To swear an oath on the Word of God, in which it is written, “Do not cause your brother to stumble,” and then to seek to force those who uphold the Word of God to transgress the Word of God, by partaking in the killing of the unborn and the celebration of sin, is to invoke the judgment of the Almighty.

And to swear an oath on the Word of God, in which it is written, ‘Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people,” and then to take part in leading a nation away from “the eternal rules of order and right that Heaven itself hath ordained,” and against the very Word of God on which you laid your hand to swear that oath, is to invoke the judgment of the Almighty.

When the leaders of ancient Israel turned away from God, when they abolished His precepts, and broke His covenant, they did so in the shadow of Moses, whose voice cried out to them in warning.

“Mr. President, when you address the nation from this house, look up. Look up above the Senators and Representatives, above the Supreme Court Justices, and above the invited guests – and you will see a face – the only full visage on that wall – looking back at you. It is the face of Moses.

And if that face could speak, it would say this: “No king can overrule the laws of God, no order can annul the order of God, and no judgment of man can stand against the judgments of God. Invoke not His judgment. But choose life. And lead in the way of repentance. Invoke the grace of God, that He might have mercy on this land.”

We have come to a most critical moment. As Elijah stood on top of Mount Carmel and cried out to Israel in its hour of decision, in between two altars and two gods, his voice now cries out to America and says to us, “Choose you this day whom you will serve.” Seventy years ago, the Chaplain of the United States Senate, cried out in the same voice, and said to this nation, “If the Lord be God, then follow Him! But if Baal, then follow him… and go to hell!”

Tonight, America stands at the crossroads.  And as Elijah came to the summit of Mount Carmel to make a declaration, we have come this night to Capitol Hill to declare… that our God… is not Baal. Our God… is not Molech. Our God… is not government. Our God… is not money. Our God… is not power. Our God… is not pleasure. Our God… is not political correctness or any other manmade thing.

We have come to this hill to declare… that there is only one God – And He is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He is the God of Israel and of all nations. And He alone is the Rock upon which this nation has come into existence.

And from this high place we make this declaration: We will not bow down our knees to Baal. We will not bow down our knees to political correctness. We will not bow down our knees to a morality that is as shifting as wind swept sand. We will not bow down our knees to the laws and precepts of rebellion or to the sacred cows of moral apostasy. We will not bow down our knees to the idols of man. We will not bow down to Baal.

We will bow down our knees only… to the Lord our God, come what may, and we will have no other gods before Him.

For some trust in chariots, and some trust in princes, some trust in supreme courts, and some trust in white houses, some trust in governments, and some trust in wall streets, some trust in powers, and some trust in idols.

But we will trust in the name of the Lord our God, in the name above all names, above all kings, and above all powers. We will trust in the only name given by which we can be saved.

We will trust in the name of Yeshua Ha Mashiach, Jesus the Messiah, the King of all kings, the Lord of all lords, the Judge of all judges, the Light of this World, the Glory of Israel, the foundation stone upon which this nation came into existence, and the only answer, the only chance, and the only hope America has, that it might once again shine with the light of the fire of the presence of the glory of the Living God … and not … go to hell!

Atheist Bruce Gerencser Discovers the Church That Jesus Built

For Immediate News Release

Evangelical pastor turned atheist, Bruce Gerencser, recently stumbled upon a breathtaking find that is sure to excite Christians worldwide. For centuries archaeologists have scoured the Middle East looking for the church that Jesus built. While the Roman Catholic church claims to be the church that Peter built, get back to the purity of the early church Christians continue to look for THE church that Jesus built. And today, that church has been found. Not in Palestine, not in Jerusalem, not in Rome, and not in Salt Lake City. The church that Jesus built, you know, the one true model #1, has been found in Harlan, Indiana.

church that Jesus built

Note

Lest anyone doubt that this is THE church that Jesus built, the Church of Christ at Harlan  website says that they are “THE body of Christ in Harlan.” It makes perfect sense: THE body of Christ is THE church that Jesus built and it all can be found in Harlan, Indiana, population 1,634.

 

 

 

In His Own Words: Jaisen, the Catholic

catholicism

Regular readers know that a Catholic commenter by the name of Jaisen, real name Jason Jones, has left comments on Please Help Me Understand Why You Stopped Believing, Should a Christian Attend a Same-Sex Wedding?, and Why I Hate Jesus.  I have deleted a number of his comments, after warning him that I would do so. Finally, I banned him, blocking his IP address at the server level. So he could continue to leave comments, he spent much of today using an IP service that gives him a new, unblocked IP address. I banned about 10 IP addresses.

I did approve several  comments, thinking that his vitriol would be instructive. Jaisen objected, saying that by doing this I have presented a skewed, incomplete picture of him. He’s right, so here is all his comments, in all their glory, for ever and ever, Amen. Consider this post to be The Last Will and Testament of Jaisen, the Catholic ©. (almost 5,000 words)

I don’t plan to approve or post any further comments from Jaisen.

Bruce

Comment 1

From a quick read of your article it sounds as if you were in it for all the wrong reasons to begin with. I say that not to belittle your story, it’s just the impression I got. I don’t wish to argue, just recommend a few things. If you ever again have a yearning to know Jesus again, start at the beginning, not the 1500’s. Read the writings of first, second, third, etc., century Christians, e.g., St. Ignatius of Antioch, St. Polycarp, St. Justin, St. Irenaeus and others. True orthodoxy and orthopraxy resides in their writings. One of my favorite current authors is Scott Hahn; I highly recommend him. Peter Kreeft comes highly recommended as well. And if you ever again go in search of a church that takes seriously the teachings of Jesus, you’ll find a spiritual home like none other in the Catholic Church. Her doors are always open to you and yours. May God bless you on your journey!

Comment 2

Thank you for your kind, intelligent, well thought out reply. If I may reply (somewhat in jest), which of the 45,000+ divided Protestant denominations who are incapable of doing anything in one accord, let alone praying, should I credit for churning out money hungry, calumnious atheists? Please keep the bloviating to a minimum—I’d hate to miss anything relevant due to speed reading.

Comment 3

Actually, I only said one thing regarding Protestantism, Bruce being the case-in-point. Not sure to what else you’re referring. “But pretending that Catholicism doesn’t have huge problems, is putting a blindfold on your face.” I never said it didn’t. But one thing I can say is that the Church doesn’t promote things that are anathema to biblical teaching as various denominations so proudly do.

Sgl tried to help Jaisen:

Jaisen, you may think your comments are original and insightful, but every few weeks, someone exactly like you comes by, and drops nearly identical comments.  imagine a school teacher, and the number of times they’ve heard the same excuses for why the homework wasn’t done.  imagine a lawyer or judge hearing the same excuses for how the check was lost in the mail.  well, that’s bruce’s blog when people like you drop by, make a shoot-from-the-hip observation based on no reading of his story and rigid stereotypes about atheists.

as i understand it, in peace negotiations and marriage counselling, one of techniques is to require each side to state the position of the other side (not agree with it, just state it) in a fashion that the counter party says “yes, that is an accurate statement of my position.”  because too often, the different sides don’t actually understand the other side, and are too busy arguing to actually listen.  this technique forces them to listen.

the fact is that bruce and many of the readers here understand your position very well, since many/most were strongly religious, often for decades.  yet you do not understand bruce’s or anyone else here’s position at all.  and from your tone, it’s very clear you have no interest in learning about anyone else’s position and how they arrived at it.

hence, despite the fact that you think you’re a special little snow flake with just the exact pearls of wisdom that bruce needs, in fact you’re merely a dot in a blizzard of wanna-be apologists that drop by, spout predictable platitudes from an extremely small bingo-card of religious propaganda, and then expect ooohs and ahhhs of adoration for you enlightening us.   sorry, but you’re boring and predictable and frankly obnoxious.  the fact that you can’t see this only makes it even more a waste of time for all of us.

Comment 4

Here’s Bruce’s first reply to me, a first time reader:

“When priests stop molesting boys and diddling teenagers let me know.”

Bruce’s second, passive aggressive sub-comment to me:

“My reply to Jansen was meant to be snarky and dismissive.”

Apparently Bruce thinks pedophilia is limited to one religious or even non-religious affiliation.

I admitted that I quickly read his long, fluffy blog and that what I said was just the impression I got from quickly reading his own words (such as there not being enough money for him in ministry). I kindly made some suggestions in a non-aggressive manner and wished him well, yet the above comments were the bigoted responses I received. No invite to read more of his articles to broaden my brief view of his position, no equivalent suggestions to purvey to understand what led him where he is now, no olive branch to lure me along his own “enlightened” path. Just the same old tired, worn out, divisive atheist hyperbole. With such a brief and hateful introduction, now I can affirmatively say thank goodness this man is no longer a pastor with such a horrible attitude towards those with different views. That’s the kind of Christian who gives us all a bad name and drives people away from faith, including themselves (obviously). But at least you all have each other to wallow in your bigotry
and hate-filled vitriol together.

As for your own reply to me, change my name to yours at the top and ditto, pal. You guys can pretend to be all intellectually superior and further isolate yourselves all you like, but don’t expect any respectful crosstalk when that’s all we ever get from you. My apologies for wasting your time; a four paragraph response to someone you know nothing about filled with such judgmental presumptions kind of speaks otherwise, but hey, whatever floats your boat. And FYI, the Church and all of Christendom have been dealing with your type and your shallow arrogance for over 2,000 years now, but do feel free to let us know when YOU come up with something original.

Sgl tries to help Jaisen again:

you were in it for all the wrong reasons to begin with”

a shoot from the hip character assassination of bruce, despite your protestations to the contrary

“True orthodoxy and orthopraxy resides in their writings.” “a church that takes seriously the teachings of Jesus, you’ll find a spiritual home like none other in the Catholic Church”

demonstrating that you think you and your church have the one true religion, and everyone else got it wrong.  almost every sect makes the same claim.  while this is “suggestions in a non-aggressive manner”, it’s also rather haughty.  anyone who’s read church history, or read about the inconsistencies in the bible, or the scholarship of how the bible came to be, would label those statements as rather bold to say the least.

“Apparently Bruce thinks pedophilia is limited to one religious or even non-religious affiliation. “

“blaming the church for the flaws of men is an appropriate response to my inviting you to read something you may not have read before? Aside from the obvious calumny and bigotry … “

ahh, yes, the “get out of jail free” card; all flaws are due to fallen men, but somehow it’s still the true church.  while pedophilia is certainly not limited to one religion or institution, it’s the catholic church that has covered this up for decades, and continues to stonewall any reform.  hardly an institution that “takes seriously the teachings of jesus.”  sorry, but pointing this out is not bigotry, it’s speaking truth to power.  the fact that you continue to believe in the church, and probably continue to tithe, and not hold your leaders accountable, is why the problem persists.  and why bruce and many others will take them or their adherents seriously when they claim moral superiority.

so, at every turn, all you’ve done is blame bruce (or me, or atheists), and have not once accepted any criticism of your church or yourself.  and you’ve made excuse after excuse for your behavior and the church’s behavior.  a more appropriate, (perhaps christian) response, would have been to apologize for jumping to conclusions, admit that the church has some serious moral failings that bother you also.   hence, i’m done talking with  you.  if bruce wants to let you continue to comment, that’s his choice.

Comment 5

Bruce,

Apparently you’re not familiar with the concept of speed reading. Typically, it results from being in a hurry and having little time, hence my not reading any of your other linked articles. As they say, “common sense isn’t so common.”

So, blaming the church for the flaws of men is an appropriate response to my inviting you to read something you may not have read before? Aside from the obvious calumny and bigotry (which continued in your recent reply), that’s some serious rash judgement on your behalf and even more revealing of your character.

My original post wasn’t intended to be an attack on your character, but wow, I’m not sure how you pastored anything that long with such thin skin! And seriously, how could your comment about poverty not stick out to me like a sore thumb? As believers we’re called to poverty of spirit and worldly possessions, two things you clearly have no desire for. That’s a rather obvious advantage of the priesthood–being more concerned with God rather than the things of this world and the flesh. But that’s neither here nor there; that deeper theological virtue/significance didn’t even occur to me until you got so butthurt about it.

It’s truly odd seeing such an entitlement mentality from a man of the previous generation. I suppose that’s a manifestation of such self-interest, among the other obvious things. I read your rather lengthy post out of curiosity, not fealty. So I’m sorry, I don’t owe it to you to read anymore. I’m honestly not even interested anymore after your passive-aggressive rants against my imaginary assault on your character and your continued antagonizing sarcasm.

Again, it wasn’t my intent to ridicule your past, and my invite to explore the Church and the writings of her fathers was sincere. I offer you my deepest apologies for causing you such a spike in your blood pressure, inadvertently “stirring you up.” Be sure to have your Catholic sons and daughter-in-laws come on here and read the bigoted, vitriolic, anti-Catholic, hyperbolic comments about their faith that you spill so freely on unsuspecting passersby. While it’ll be unwise coming from someone who has gone their entire life without fully comprehending it, I’ll wait with bated breath for your post about Roman Catholicism, as I’m sure they will as well. I’m sure it’ll be a real call to interfaith communication.

Peace be with you.

Comment 6

SGL,

Yes, I admitted it was a “shoot from the hip” impression. Solid work, Captain Obvious. Oh and thanks for the advice on proper Christian response, but no thanks. That’d be like taking advice from a mouse on how to be a good lion.

If I didn’t believe the Church teachings and authority were absolute, I wouldn’t be there. That would just make me another watered down hypocrite. See, that’s the difference between an opinion and a conviction, the subjective and the objective. If I wanted a watered down version, I’d return to one of the countless sects who work tirelessly to reinvent the wheel while pretending the first 1,500 years of Christianity doesn’t exist. But hey, anyone who’s ever read about the inconsistencies of the Bible might understand that it’s not a book, but a collection of books, hence the supposed inconsistencies.

And yes, flaws come from the failures of men. The Church doesn’t flaunt those things in pride parades or preach them from the altar as do various liberal churches from their pulpits. The Church is not a man; someone so great at pointing out the obvious should clearly be able to see that. Nor does the Church sit idly by ignoring the failings of past men in her ranks. Clearly you can read, so maybe you could peruse some current, relevant articles on the matter. And yes, implying that the Church teaches, promotes, advocates or accepts such deplorable acts is both bigoted and ignorantly ill-informed. I thought atheists were supposed to be champions of freethinking, not false witness? Thanks for correcting my belief.

If you care to understand the failings of men, meditate on the sins of Adam, Cain, Abraham, David, and especially Judas Iscariot. For the sake of argument, if you believed in an all-knowing God, does logic not tell you that He knew what these people would do but used them as an example of the failings of men anyway, both pre- and post-Church establishment, in an effort to signify those who would try to infiltrate yet fail (Judas)? And yet, Judas’ office was filled, apostolic succession was implemented, the primacy of Peter was obvious, and the Church remains, despite the failures of men.

Also, while I did apologize for my haste, why should I apologize for an accurate conclusion? And yes, I admit that many men and women have failed the Church. The Church, however, has not failed us. Hence the 2,000 year old unchanged doctrine, dogmas and theology. Some of us prefer an unchanging truth, some an evolving truth. But by nature, only one is the Truth.

Comment 7

Bruce,

I started off saying you were in it for the wrong reasons based on your own words. That doesn’t mean you didn’t believe you were in it for the right reasons (that would be a character attack), but whatever those reasons were, look where they led you. Which doesn’t mean you can’t be led back, but your present circumstances are what they are. I make no judgement of your apostasy, heresies or blasphemies; that’s for you and God to sort out. Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

And while I appreciate SGL’s heartfelt approach to “help” me with his ad hominem laced sarcasm, I’m clearly not the one heading or following some sort of self-help group; not my thing. I prefer to surround myself with those who challenge and build me up, not wallow with me in the various miseries of life. But hey, to each his own. Here’s looking at you, SGL:

“Frank, honest, open, and passionate discussion about religion, Christianity, and Evangelicalism is encouraged and welcome. However, I do expect atheists not to attack, badger, or denigrate people who still believe in God.”

I appreciate that you’ve read Hahn, Merton, Day and the Church Fathers, but again, I didn’t know that until I was not-so-gently corrected. No need to get your feelers wrapped around the axle. I guess my actual assumption would be that you didn’t comprehend them. Which is correct based on your current view of things. Here’s a more approachable response:

“Jaisen, I invite you to check out this blog and this article and this book about why I’ve come to said conclusions. Perhaps they’ll shed a little light on my reasons, past and present. If you ever have the hankering to walk away from your faith, the doors of atheism are always open to you.”

(See, you wouldn’t have sounded like such a bigoted, closed-minded, crotchety old internet warrior that way, and we might have pursued a somewhat meaningful dialogue.)

I never once said anything about “my one true church”. I don’t prescribe to such Protestant personalization lingo (neither does the Bible). The Church isn’t mine. Jesus isn’t mine. Salvation isn’t mine. They belong to everyone. So I guess one of us truly is big on assumptions, but it isn’t me, my friend. I invited you to explore and experience “the” Church; her doors are open to all.

Now if I wanted to engage someone on the theological or financial practices of the church, it wouldn’t be with someone who has no grasp or comprehension of her place in the world and how she came to be. Personally, I prefer solid food to milk. But if I wanted to discuss megachurches bashing opulent palaces from the pulpit, all the while surrounded by endless empty rooms on weekdays with all the homeless in their cities, multi-millionaire televangelists, and prosperity preachers applying their teaching to the people of Ethiopia, then maybe I’d ask you. Surely you have something insightful to say about such practices after so many years being surround by or included in those groups. However, I have no need of discussing such fruitless institutions because common sense tells me they are just that.

Nor do I prescribe to such fallacious logic as equal rights for gays when they’ve had the same right to marry as the rest of us all along: one woman, one man. It’s their choice not to do so. I refuse to advocate such relativistic ideas of murdering your own children before they take their first breath, or going against God’s will to procreate by urging young women to unnaturally poison themselves with a pill a day while preaching against polluting “Mother Earth.” I’ve never been a fan of such hypocrisies, especially cheering on science that promotes things it can’t objectively verify or recreate (evolution, the Big Bang, the gay gene, etc.) while overtly deriding and denying biological science that clearly shows life begins at conception, as well as how the climate changes and there isn’t squat we can do about it. (Duh.) Not to mention being a self-professed liberal, socialist father of someone with Down Syndrome, two ideologies that openly advocate dismembering such persons before b
irth. But it’s a free country, you can put your “faith” in whatever you like and still call yourself a “freethinker”.

As for women in the priesthood, I follow the teachings and the precedents set by Jesus and his Apostles, as does the Church. As I said in my original post about orthodoxy and orthopraxy, it can be found in one place, which is why I’m there. I went searching for right teaching and right practice just like you. I found them. My faith is bigger than mere misinterpreted symbolism or junk science. You’re always welcome to come experience it as well, but I find it’s best experienced without the litany of pretexts.

As a side note, to know who you are you have to embrace where you come from:

“Unfortunately, there are many people, Evangelical/Fundamentalist Christians in particular, who have a hard time playing well with others. They often use a passive-aggressive approach towards me and the non-Christian people who frequent this blog. This kind of behavior will not be tolerated and will result in a permanent ban.”

Also:

“Please do not confuse my directness and pointedness with me attacking you or your religion. This is a grown-up blog, so crying that I offended you or “attacked” your religion will fall on deaf ears.”

Should I petition you to ban yourself from this blog, or should I just take the personal attacks and denigration of my faith (shit, as you call it) from you and your like-minded, dictator-like followers…like a grown-up?

Comment 8

Hey, that’s fine if you don’t want to publish my comments there, Dear Leader. If I were in your shoes I’d hate for my readers to see me get owned by a guy who’s only been a Catholic for two weeks, too. Gotta love you socialist liberals with your vast open-mindedness, tolerance and hate of censorship (or is that just libertarians?). You can even smell the hypocrisy through the internet!

Comment 9

Dale,

Thanks for your comment. Clearly you’re confused. First, I’m not an adherent to Islam who’s goal is to return the entire world to the 7th century (the Stone Age). Second, easy on the Sci-Fi channel, buddy. Seriously, those are some interesting and imaginative, dare I say child-like ideas you shared, but none of them go together. Third, I’m not sure what the average reading comprehension level is for Bruce’s reader’s, but the last thing I was trying to do was evangelize him or help him “re-beleive”. I simply stated that if he ever had a desire to know Jesus again (see my original post), the doors of the Catholic Church would always be open to him. Personally, I went to Mass several times without reverencing the cross or the Eucharist, so I know from personal experience that you can explore an idea without adhering to it. I like to call that “open-mindedness”. It’s a crazy concept, I know. Fourth, perhaps you could write an expose on liberals politicizing and institutionalizing religious matters to fit their skewed versions of Christ’s teachings, aka, relativism, and how that isn’t a legitimate form of Christianity. Finally, I’m actually a big fan of Santa Claus. Not the man as you know him to be though, but as Saint Nicholas, the guy who punched the first heretic in the face at the First Council of Nicaea in a.d. 325. Ah, the good old days!

Comment 10

Yeah, Bruce. You really got me! Glad I could expose you and your self-glorifying narcissistic need for censorship to prove your tolerance and open-minded enlightenment. Ban me, delete my posts as you said you would. As of right now you can’t even stick to that promise. Seriously, don’t flatter yourself anymore than you have already. It’s really just gross at this point. Enjoy your isolation, but do try to pull your head out to take a breath once in a while. It makes it much easier to “play well” with the grown-ups. ; )

Comment 11

Becky,

You get what you give. Please do point me to where I said I knew “the TRUE church” or where I tried to convince Brucey Bruce of his error. Best of luck with that. Do enjoy Mr. Goebbels’ censored blog. (If you’re reading this, he thinks he got me again. They’re so cute at that age.)

Love,
The truth hurts

Comment 12

Instructive? Well in that case, you’re welcome. It’s flattering to know you’re patiently waiting to approve or delete my comments so you can say, “Aha, gotcha.” It’s almost…biblical.

Comment 13

SGL,

Well-played there, Saul Alynski. “Oh no! Someone has different values than us, we have to destroy them to show them how much more open-minded we are than them!” Silly hypocrites.

Comment 14

Nothing different than a heterosexual marriage? Well, besides the fact that there’ll be no communion with God later on or any procreation (a commandment, not a suggestion), there’s also zero complimentarity. Sure, it fits. But that doesn’t mean you should stick it there. Apply that logic to a cigar cutter sometime.

And clearly, the difference between attending a Hindu marriage and a same-sex “marriage” is that homosexuals aren’t trying to change the definition of a Hindu marriage, which is why it’s a direct attack on Christian marriage. One would think someone who spent 25 years in ministry could understand such a simple concept. But I guess that explains why you’re no longer there.

But seriously, how much more demeaning to women and human life could it be? Seriously, a vagina that brings forth another human being is somehow EQUAL to some guy’s stinky anus? You’d have to be a real nut job liberal to believe that garbage.

However, if you prefer wiping someone else’s excrement off of your manhood even though you courteously gave them an enema beforehand, more power to you. That’s your business. Just don’t pretend you’re something you’re not or that marriage is yours to profane. Being a homosexual doesn’t make you a sinner, nor is it any different than any other sin. It’s the act of sticking your penis in another man’s stink hole that makes you a sinner. Go try that BS with Islamic marriage and find out who the real bigots are when they toss your ass off the top of a building or hang you in a public square.

Comment 15

Bruce Almighty,

While I enjoy giving you something to do, I do not appreciate you polluting my comments. You may be the dictator of this blog, but when your precious liberal government takes over the internet that’s all gonna change, mister.

All jokes aside, yep, that’s the man I am. Speaking the ugly truth no matter how bad it may be. Nothing I said is untrue. Sure, the wording is a bit colorful, but I was just taking it down to the level of the playing field that I’m on. It’s a great way to avoid being called a lying, censoring, hypocrite. Which is much more than I can say for yourself, Mr. Goebbels.

Comment 16

Beckers,

Please step down from your hypocritically judgmental high horse and explain for me how describing the birds and bees of homosexuality (or rather the birds and the birds) is mean, hateful and vicious. Perhaps I could show you the aftermath of an abortion and you could say the same thing about me while highfiving the abortionist who did it. That’d be rich.

Comment 17

Beckers,

You do understand how the homosexual act works, right? The penis is repeatedly inserted into the place only meant for removing bacteria ridden human waste, and then they say, “Love is love!” And poof, a unicorn is born 9 months later.

But seriously, from the female perspective, how do you feel about so many people like Brucey Bruce who devalue your female anatomy and worth by proclaiming your vagina to be equal to a man’s anal sphincter? Do you agree or disagree with them?

(Bruce, don’t act like you didn’t at least giggle a tiny bit before you went all Goebbels on this comment.)

Nice skunk analogy. This blog smells like hypocritical censorship and someone who speaks from experience. That would actually explain a lot about Dear Leader’s homosexual devotion. How about a blog explaining what it’s like being part of the 54%, Brucinda?

Comment 18

Bruce,

Of course you hate Jesus. You spent 25 years as a false teacher imitating John Calvin instead of Him, dishonoring His mother and denying the divinity of His body and blood. Reinventing the wheel and recreating His image without any authority, and then wondering why it didn’t work out. And then it’s supposed to be some great surprise that you “lost the faith” and that other “fundies” act exactly as you do now, only still attached to the evangelical mold that you propagated for so long. Is it really a great surprise to you that you were filled with grace at baptism (the other two didn’t count by the way, clearly), only to watch that grace diminish over the years through your denial of the priesthood, confession and Eucharist, leading to this obvious and glaring state in which you find yourself? It’s clear as day to me. Even the demons believe and shutter. Yet even still your pride reigns in you, the same pride that yelled at Catholocism from the pulpit for years now yells hysterically, “You’re attacking my character!” That same pride that led you away from Jesus tells you that you know who He is now better than ever and you’re going to pollute everyone else’s idea of Him, just from a different pulpit. All the while pretending it’s not your intention to tear down anyone else’s faith. Can you smell the hypocrisy? Pride truly is the root of all evil. However, the only unforgivable sin is to go to your grave denying the Trinity and all that it entails, not the sin of homosexuality (another false teaching you no doubt helped to spread). As I said before, the doors are always open to you. Grace can always be restored. You may hate the Jesus that you helped create, but the real Jesus still loves you.

P.S. This Jesus you speak of sounds a lot like every liberal and socialist of the Democratic Party. Which reminds me, aren’t you all three?

Comment 19

Nothing I said was vitriolic, Bruce. If the truth is vitriolic to you, then maybe a good dose of self-examination is in order. *Pro-tip: We do that before receiving the sacrament of reconciliation.

Comment 20

Yeah Bruce, I’m no match for your ability to press a “delete comment” or “ban user” button on the internets! Your intellectual prowess is far too superior for the likes of me! My prayers go out to those questioning or doubting folks who stumble upon your snares. And of course I keep reading; even Catholics need entertainment! I rather enjoy your reverse-shaming tactics–they teach you that trick at seminary?

Comment 21

Carmen,

“And you are lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I am going to vomit you from my mouth.”

Comment 22

Poor fella, those buttons aren’t working anymore. Here’s an idea, instead of hiding behind your keyboard, how about addressing the points I made? No? Well…I guess that’s just the kind of man you are! You’ve brought shame upon your fundamental atheist church, good sir! Sound familiar?

Comment 23

Careful, Bruce. Carmen might call you nasty. She’d probably call you a coward as well if she could see the rest of my comments which you so conveniently delete. Super comeback, by the way. Way to bring your A-game.

Comment 24

To be clear, are you referring to what assholes do at the physiological level, or at the more emotional, liberal worldview? I’m sure you’ll have a great answer as you’ve clearly cornered that market.

Comment 25

Oh, I get it. You only want to have a dialogue with people who think at your level. No room for dissent or alternate opinions. Roger that. Enjoy your “open-minded, free-thinker” society. Or would that be “me-thinker”? Doesn’t matter. Have a hypocritical day!

Comment 26

Aww, Beckers. Bruce is pretending he’s open-minded while deleting my comments, editing them to make him look smarter, etc., aka, hypocritical to free thought. I never said anyone was lost on here in any of my comments, but hey, you stated the problem there when you said, “I have to assume that…” While you’re welcome to your assumptions and putting words in my mouth, it doesn’t make your assertions any less false. It’s really just par for the course at this point. Bruce’s opinion of how Christians should act is not only irrelevant, it’s also the reason why so many leave: We’re not called to be pandering, politically correct, over-feminized beta-males who won’t stand up for the teachings of Christ. THAT is why so many people lose their faith, because it simply does not work that way. Bruce will delete this comment because he doesn’t want any of those questioning and doubting folks to wonder onto his blog and find somebody actually saying something that makes sense. That’d be bad for business.

Comment 27

The Bruce does not like to appear too predictable, so the Bruce abides.

Comment 28

Exciting! Will this upcoming post be about how the judgmental Dear Leader doesn’t like to be questioned or challenged?! Or about how if you stop by Bruce’s corner of the internet to invite him to your church and wish him well you’ll be derided and disparaged (against Dear Leader’s comment rules I might add)?! I’ve yet to see your thoughtful reply to Mr. Ed up top addressing his heresies and omission of Matthew 28:19; will it be about how I should undermine my own convictions by respecting the heresies of others?! I’m sure whatever the topic it’ll be super intellectually stimulating without a thread of truth about anything I’ve said, or the fact that I’ve simply responded to you and your antagonizing readers with the same lack of respect shown me. Not to mention any attempt to correct you (you REALLY hate that!) or your libel will show up as “Comment Deleted.” Can’t wait!

*The sarcasm in this comment is in no way an endorsement of the author of this blog’s hypocritical views of other’s convictions.

Comment 29

Bruce. Wow. You’ve figured me out. I didn’t know you were such a huge fan of my work on the Daily Show. I’m flattered! And what is with the truck driver comments?

But seriously, you like to point fingers and accuse me of things I haven’t done. I may have been a bit frank with you, but let’s be honest, you get what you put out there. Yes, I was very much surprised at your first reply to me as I was very polite; hardly a pulling down of the pants and claiming imminent domain on your living room floor. I also thought I was interacting with an adult who might have some interesting insights based on where you’ve been and where you are now. I even had a couple of theological questions, exercises as you call them, that I was hoping to throw your way regardless of your position. You can’t pretend you’re all polite and thoughtful based on your initial reply to me and breaking your own blog rules by allowing others to attack me; your actions speak otherwise.

I never said anyone was wrong or attempted to push my views on others. Anything definitive I’ve said towards you was meant solely for you. Clearly it doesn’t take much to rile you up, which was the goal. As I said, you get what you put out there. Sure, I could’ve just been the better man and let your childish, libelous comments stand alone. I probably should have because it’s been a colossal waste of time typing out responses only to have them deleted so that you can control the narrative and paint me to be the foot stomping fundamentalist beating up on the atheist.

Sure, I’d love to have a meaningful dialogue with Ed about unitarianism as it’s not something I’ve ever studied. Or with David, to explain the empty facade you’ve created for me. Both of them seem like reasonable human beings. However, you are Bruce and you are god of this here blog and unless you agree with what’s being said and how it’s being said, it’s not happening. So what would be the point in trying, am I right?

And to answer your question, I respect the office of the Pope, and yes, I do respect the current Pope. I doubt he has time to worry with the thoughts and actions of every individual in the world, but as you can clearly see by glancing over your comments section, he wouldn’t be able to read my comments in context: You’ve deleted most of them, creating a pretext. So your point is moot. The Pope doesn’t claim to be the thought police as so many anti-Catholics claim anyhow. Hell, he’d have to battle with you for that position!

Let’s ask you a similar question. I assume you respect your Catholic children? I wonder if they read your comments about their faith what they would think? I wonder if they’d think you’re the polite and thoughtful interfaith communicator you claim to be? I suspect they’d be disappointed to say the least.

No hard feelings, Bruce. I wish you well, too. As I said at the end of my very first post, may God bless you on your journey. (And yes, I know it’s silly to you because you don’t believe in God, but that doesn’t make Him any less real for me or the billions who think otherwise.)

What is an IFB Church?

ifb

One of the common search phrases that bring people to this site is What is an IFB Church?  Here’s my answer to this question.

I stands for Independent

The  local, visible church is an independent body of believers who are not associated or affiliated with any denomination. The pastor answers only to God, and to a lesser degree the church. The church answers to no one but God. Most IFB churches oppose any form of government involvement or intrusion into its affairs. While some IFB churches have deacon boards or elders, almost all of them have a congregational form of government.

F stands for Fundamentalist (or Fundamental)

The independent church is fundamentalist in its doctrine and practice. IFB churches are social and theological fundamentalists. (see Are Evangelicals Fundamentalists)  Fundamentalists adhere to an external code of conduct. Often this code of conduct is called church standards. The Bible, or should I say the pastor’s interpretation of the Bible, is the rule by which church members are expected to live. IFB churches spend a significant amount of time preaching and teaching about how God the pastor expects people to live.

IFB churches are also theological fundamentalists.  They adhere to a certain and specific theological standard, a standard by which all other Christians and denominations are judged. Every IFB pastor and church believes things like:

  • The inspiration, infallibility, and inerrancy of the Bible
  • The sinfulness, depravity of man
  • The deity of Christ
  • The virgin birth of Christ
  • The blood atonement of Christ for man’s sin
  • The resurrection of Christ from the dead
  • The second coming of Christ
  • Separation from the world
  • Salvation from sin is by and through Christ alone
  • Personal responsibility to share the gospel with sinners
  • Heaven and hell are literal places
  • Hierarchical authority (God, Jesus, church, pastor, husband, wife)
  • Autonomy and independence of the local church

I am sure other doctrines that could be added to this list, but the list above is a concise statement of ALL things an IFB church and pastor must believe to be considered an IFB church.

B stands for Baptist

IFB churches are Baptist churches adhering to the ecclesiology and theology mentioned above.  Some IFB churches are landmark Baptists or Baptist briders. They believe the Baptist church is the true church and all other churches are false churches. John the Baptist baptized Jesus, which made him a Baptist, and the first churches established by the Baptist apostles were Baptist churches. Churches like this go to great lengths to prove their Baptist lineage  dates all the way back to John the Baptist, Jesus, and the Apostles. (see The Trail of Blood by J.M. Carroll)

Other IFB churches and pastors believe that Baptist ecclesiology and theology are what the Bible clearly teaches. They grudgingly admit that other denominations “might” be Christian too, but they are quick to say why be a part of a bastardized form of Christianity when you can have the real deal.

Some Southern Baptist churches are IFB. They are Southern Baptist in name only. It is not uncommon for an IFB pastor to pastor a Southern Baptist church with the intent of pulling them out of the Southern Baptist convention.  Because of this, it is not uncommon for Southern Baptist churches to reject resumes from pastors with a IFB background. Area missionaries warn churches about pernicious IFB pastors who desire to take over churches and pull the churches out of the convention.

Other posts about the IFB

Let’s Go Camping: Understanding Independent Fundamentalist Baptist Camps

Tony Soprano Would Make a Good Independent Baptist Preacher

Independent Fundamentalist Baptist Lingo:A Guide to IFB Speak

IFB Doctorates: Doctor, Doctor, Everyone’s a Doctor

The Jonathan Nichols Story: Growing Up Gay in the IFB Church

An Independent Baptist Hate List

The Official Independent Baptist Rulebook

The IFB River Called Denial

The Legacy of Jack Hyles

From Evangelicalism to Atheism Series