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The Bankruptcy of the Evangelical Gospel

evangelical gospel

Repost from 2015. Edited, updated, and corrected.

It’s Easter.

The real reason for Easter is___________________?

Come on kiddies, you know the answer.

Easter egg hunts?

Chocolate rabbits?

Candy?

Dyed eggs?

Candy?

Candy?

Candy?

No, silly. Easter is the day we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus! Shall we talk about Christmas next? You know, the “reason” for the season. Give me my presents, Santa. Uh, thank you Jesus, for, uh, well, for something.

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

I subscribe to the One Million Moms newsletter. One Million Moms is a smelly armpit of The American Family Association (AFA). Million Mommies is what I call the female outrage wing of AFA. They focus on boycotting companies that advertise things on TV shows they think are offensive, immoral, or anti-Christian. Their website lists the current outrages and companies who have changed their ways due to a Million Mommies boycott or letter-writing campaign. (Uber, Oreo, Frank’s Hot Sauce) They are well-organized, avid letter writers, and by all accounts, obsessed with the sex other people are having.

Monica Cole is the director of One Million Moms. Several years ago, Cole sent out a weekly Million Mommies newsletter that was different from others I have received in the past. No call to action, no letters to write, no boycott, no panties in a bunch. In other words, none of the usual angst-filled Million Mommies stuff. Cole, concerned for sinners such as you and me, made that week’s newsletter all about Easter, the resurrection of Jesus, and the Christian gospel. She hoped readers would forward it on to lost friends and family members:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If people will do this they will:

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

That’s it!

Man, I am sooooo glad I did this 48 years ago. Praise Jesus, I am still gloriously, wonderfully saved! My eternal reservation is booked and I am ready to go when Jesus either calls my name or comes in the clouds to fetch me. I may be an atheist, but I sincerely prayed the sinner’s prayer. I’m good to go, right? A-w-e-s-o-m-e!

Sadly, this is the bankrupt gospel preached in thousands and thousands of Evangelical and Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) churches. It is the gospel preached by the likes of the late Jack Hyles, Bob Gray, Sr., Franklin Graham, Joel Osteen, Bethel Church Redding, Joyce Meyer, Greg Laurie, and most Evangelical megachurch pastors. It is a gospel that requires nothing more than I’ve-got-a-pulse sincerity and mental assent to a propositional set of facts. This gospel is what Deitrich Bonhoeffer called “cheap grace.”

I call this gospel the 1-2-3 repeat after me gospel. (Please see One, Two, Three, Repeat After Me: Salvation Bob Gray Style.) In theological terms, this truncated gospel is called decisional regeneration or easy believism. That I can still be considered a Christian should be offensive to every follower of Jesus, yet many people think that I am still a born-again child of God and Heaven will someday be my eternal home. I might lose some rewards, have my gym pass revoked, or my mansion might not be as spiffy as Charles Spurgeon’s, but my future is secure, all because I prayed the sinner’s prayer at age 15 at Trinity Baptist Church in Findlay, Ohio.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I may be an atheist, but I admire and respect any Christians who take seriously their faith and do their best to follow after Jesus. 

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

Matthew 22:34-40 says:

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

Jesus also had this to say in Matthew 7:

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

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

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

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

Bruce Gerencser, 63, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 42 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen awesome grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

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Rebecca Davis Worried About Her Lustful Four-Year-Old Ogling A Woman Wearing a Bikini

hannah davis sports illustrated
Hannah Davis, 2015 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Model

Repost from 2015. Edited, updated, and corrected.

Rebecca Davis works for the American Family Association (AFA). She is the assistant editor of The Stand, the official whine and outrage newsletter of the AFA. Several years ago, she wrote an eye-opening article about her 4-year-old’s propensity to lust after women in bathing suits and lingerie. While she denies that she is saying her little boy lusts, her article suggests otherwise (link no longer active):

It is almost swimsuit season. There are a number of adjectives I could use to describe my disdain for this time of year. Itsy-bitsy and teeny-weeny are two of them.

No, I’m not a prude, and no, I’m not bitter because I don’t have the perfect figure. I have never been Ms. Skinny Mini, and after having two babies and holding on to an extra 10 pounds each time, I probably never will be. But that’s not really the reason I dread swimsuit season.

Actually, summer is one of my favorite times of year. I enjoy taking our son to the pool. He begs year-round to go the beach.

But the older he gets, the more difficult it becomes to take him to the beach … to the grocery story, to the mall, even to church at times. His eyes are constantly surveying his surroundings, and many times he sees entirely too much.

Although he is only four years old, his little mind is wired to be visual. The dominant perceptual sense in men is vision. God made males that way for a reason, and I’m thankful he did.

There are a number of studies and findings that conclude male brains are more visually stimulated than the female brain. It’s a fact that my son’s actions prove true, even at such a young age.

For example, from the time he was about two years old, if we were in a store and simply walked past the lingerie section, he would point and say “Mama.” Now, it’s all I can do to keep his eyes from innocently zoning in on the window displays when we walk rather hurriedly past Victoria’s Secret.

For several months now, I have been receiving issues of Glamour magazine in the mail. I have no idea why. Somehow I became a subscriber to the magazine. (I have tried to cancel my unwanted subscription but that’s another story.) An issue came in the mail; I accidently left it facedown on the counter before putting it in the garbage can. I was in the kitchen cooking and noticed my son sitting at the counter staring at a scantily clad woman on the back cover. My heart sank.

Then it wasn’t long after that he was with me in a beauty-supply store. I was down on my knees examining some shampoo (for color-treated hair, I admit) when my son picked up a small promotional card off the nearby shelf, handed it to me, and said, “Mama, look!” The card pictured an outstretched woman in a seductive pose wearing a skimpy swimsuit. Again, my heart sank.

Let me make a very clear disclaimer at this point. My son is only four years old. In no way am I implying that his observations are sexual in nature. They are not. His reactions are natural – not lustful – responses to the way his brain is wired.

I use the above examples to show just how powerful a female’s attire can be over males of all ages.

When my son sees a woman wearing clothes that barely cover her body, be it in a picture or in person, he always asks, “Mama, why are they dressed that way?”

I’m thankful for his questions; they make for good teachable moments. I’m thankful that seeing women dressed immodestly is not the norm for him right now. I want it to stay that way, but the reality is it won’t.

So, as his mother, how can I protect him? How can I teach him to channel the wirings of his little brain through a biblical worldview? How can I keep his mind, heart and body pure for his future wife, if the Lord wills him to marry one day? More than that, how can I encourage him to live a daily life of purity out of love and honor for God?

Honestly, I don’t have the answers to all these questions. I am learning that parenting is a day-by-day journey. Some days I do it right; some days I do it wrong. But thankfully God is a God of grace and mercy.

One thing I do know is that, with my husband, we can make an extra effort to keep our son’s eyes from seeing the immodest pattern of this world by monitoring what he watches, changing the channel if need be, diverting his attention elsewhere when in public, and having open and honest dialogue with him when he does have questions about what he sees. Our aim is to always do so out of honor, never out of shame.

We can also show him the importance of modesty by the way I dress and by the way we dress his little sister.

And I can encourage you, ladies, to be intentional about what you wear (or don’t wear) to the beach or pool this summer.

If nothing else, be mindful of your appearance for the sake of my son … your son or someone else’s son.  Actually, keep all men in mind! You may have no idea what you do to them – and to yourself – when you wear a bikini or expose yourself in other ways…

In the past, I have detailed how women in Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) churches are blamed for the lustful thoughts of teenage boys. Rebecca Davis, an Evangelical, does the same. Her poor little boy already has a wandering eye, and it is up to the women of the world to keep him from lusting. He can’t help himself, Davis says, because his mind is wired for the visual. It’s just how males are. (Of course, she refuses to accept this exact same argument when it comes to homosexuality.)

I suspect most readers will think Davis’s article is ignorant and silly. And it is, but millions of Christians think like this. Taught that their sexuality must be repressed, is it any surprise that 4-year-old Evangelical boys grow into sexually dysfunctional 20-year-old toddlers? Years ago, I was the co-pastor of Community Baptist Church in Elmendorf, Texas. One prayer meeting night, a woman came up and scolded us for letting our girls sleep on the church floor with their panties exposed. That’s right, little girls sleeping with their panties exposed were a problem. I think she expected me to immediately get the girls off the floor. Instead, I curtly told her, don’t look. Were there pedophiles in the church I didn’t know about? Maybe. Was she afraid that teenage boys would see panties and lust? Perhaps. I suppose if some teenage boy lusted, it would be our four- and two-year-old daughters’ fault, right?

While Evangelicals want to point to the “world” and blame it for sexualizing everything, it is those who adhere to the sexual mores of the Bible who have done so. They are the ones who have turned a woman’s breast into a sex object that must be covered up at all times. They are the ones who focus on cleavage, legs, asses, and the female shape in general. Cover up, women are told. Hide your feminine figure. If left to people such as Davis, the human race would perish. Sexual attraction and desire are n-o-r-m-a-l and healthy. It’s the Bible that is out of step with what it means to be human. From Genesis to Revelation, God demands that humans deny their sexuality. I thought God made us sexual beings? It seems strange that he would create us with sexual desires and then say it is a sin if we act on them. Well, maybe not. This is the same God, after all, who created some of us just so he could damn us and torture us in the Lake of Fire for eternity.

So, what do you think? Will Rebecca Davis’s four-year-old son turn into a horn-dog Evangelical teenager a decade from now? If he finds himself uncontrollably lusting after women, who will be blamed? Perhaps, thanks to being taught to Just Say No, he gets the deacon’s daughter pregnant. Whose fault will this be? Again, the Bible is not the answer. Children and teenagers need to be taught the facts of life. As they get older, they need to be taught sexual responsibility. Since most church teenagers engage in some sort of sexual activity before marriage, isn’t it in their best interest to make sure they know how to use birth control? Instead of telling them THE BIBLE SAYS, how about doses of common sense and honest instruction about sex? Instead of teaching them masturbation is a sin, how about teaching them that self-pleasuring is a way to release sexual tension. Better to spank the monkey than get the deacon’s daughter pregnant.

We should pity Evangelical teen boys and men who must go through life with blinders on lest they ravage the first woman they see in tight shorts. Instead of enjoying the beauty of God’s creation, they are taught the human body is shameful and should only be uncovered in darkness after marriage. While I am not suggesting we all turn into naturalists, surely a man can be in the same room with women to whom he might be attracted and not turn into the First Baptist Rapist.

Physical attraction is normal and healthy. I am a married man, happily so for almost 42 years. I love my wife and she is my one and only. Until death do us part, I am hers and she is mine. That’s the commitment we made to one another one hot July day in 1978. Does this commitment mean we can no longer walk down the store aisle and check out the goods? Is Polly being unfaithful if she says Matt Bomer, Sean Connery, or Daniel Craig is attractive? Am I being unfaithful when I admire another woman’s beauty? Of course not. We are confident in our ability to control our sexual desires.

When I was a fifteen-year-old boy, I was standing outside Trinity Baptist Church in Findlay, Ohio with a group of Baptist Bible Fellowship preachers. I was in heaven just being around these renowned men of God. Well, preacher men are just like factory men, and when they are around their own, they will let down their guard and talk like one of the boys. One preacher made a joke about Jesus’s command, “but I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.”  He said, the first look is not a sin, the second one is. Just make sure the first look is a long one. Everyone laughed. Great advice for a sexually aware 15-year-old preacher boy, right?

Forget the Bible and religion for a moment and think about this issue from a scientific perspective. Where would the human race be if males and females were not attracted to one another? This attraction is vital to the propagation and future of our species. We can talk about inner beauty and loving someone for their mind, but the fact is, for those of us in a relationship with another, it was sexual attraction that first brought us together. There were plenty of women I could have dated while a student at Midwestern Baptist College. Why did I decide to ask 17-year-old Polly Shope out on a date? She was and is a beautiful woman, but there were other beautiful women at the college. Why was she the one? Biology? Chemistry? Fate?

Here’s what I know: every relationship begins with a look. Hmm, that’s a nice-looking man or woman. Have you ever seen couples that you wonder how they were attracted to one another? You know, the drop-dead gorgeous woman with the guy who looks like he just spent the last month homeless, living on the street. I don’t have all the answers, but I do know that sexual attraction is key to our relationship with our significant other. Yes, given time, the relationship becomes far more than sexual attraction, but few relationships start without it. (I speak broadly, knowing that people can and do enter relationships for reasons other than sexual attraction.)

Instead of asking everyone to cover up for the sake of her son, perhaps Davis should focus on helping him grow into a sexually responsible man. I wouldn’t be worrying about the things Davis seems preoccupied with for my 4-year-old son. I’d be more worried about a four-year-old plugging up the toilet with army men or Legos or sticking a kitchen knife in an electrical plug than I would a woman in a bikini causing him to have inappropriate thoughts. If Davis is concerned about the bikini effect, perhaps she should pay attention to her husband’s eyes.

Bruce Gerencser, 63, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 42 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen awesome grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

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Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so. Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

The Paranoia and Persecution Complex of the Religious Right

persecution

Originally published in 2015. Edited and expanded.

As of today, there is NO religious persecution in the United States. Every citizen is free to worship any or no God. All citizens are free to worship when, where, and how they wish. I know of no law that prohibits the free exercise of religion. The United States, when it comes to religion, is the freest nation on the face of the earth. Yet, despite the evidence, many on the religious right think they are being persecuted, and if liberals have their way Sharia law will be instituted and Christianity will be outlawed. If the socialist/communist/liberal/Democrat horde is not repelled by King Trump and his mighty army of Evangelicals, Catholics, and Mormons, Christians will be persecuted, incarcerated, and possibly killed — just as the Jews were in World War II.

Think I am kidding?  What follows is an excerpt from an article written by American Family Association (AFA) author and CIO Jim Shempert titled America’s Future: Christian Persecution. (AFA has removed the article from their site.) What graphic did AFA and Jim Shempert choose for the article?

prison camp survivors

That’s right, Shempert and AFA think that Christians will soon be treated much like the Jews, gypsies, and mentally handicapped were treated by Hitler and the Nazis in World War II.

Here’s what Shempert had to say:

…This blog is intended for the Church. If you are not a Christian, and your only goal is to tear down Christianity, you can stop reading here.

Church, Christianity is under attack all across the globe. The persecutions of the Church are definitely not the same but they all have the same root. Imagine trying to be a Christian in Iraq/Syria/anywhere south of Turkey right now… Standing for your faith will be met with loss of property, threats, beatings, and death. These are common occurrences. If you don’t believe me, I encourage you to go to Google. Type in “Middle East Christian persecution” and hit “search.” In literally half a second, Google will return to you 1.1 million articles/pages on persecution of Christians in the Middle East. To focus on a different area, go back to Google and search for “Christian persecution in Africa.” In .6 seconds, you are greeted with 2.5 million articles/pages that deal with Christian persecution in Africa.

Now, the current resident of the White House believes that the atrocities committed by Muslim terrorist groups are not indicative of all Muslim people. Here’s a potential fire starter: I happen to agree with him there. Personally, I believe the Muslim faith to be incorrect in its focus. I believe that Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life and that no man cometh unto the Father but by Him. As those Muslims must surely think that I am wrong in my focus. However, I do not think that all Muslims are terrorists, or that they are all on jihad. I also don’t believe the line that these extremist groups are not focused around Islam. I know that the resident of the White House likes to continue his crusade against Christianity by reminding us that at one time, horrible atrocities were committed by those who claim the name of Christ. His problem, and all those who claim moral equivalency, is that he is unable to call EVIL what it is: EVIL. He is able to quickly tear apart Christianity, and say that America was never a Christian nation, but he is unable to say that Islamic terrorism is evil.

I’ve had a long conversation with a friend on this, and we came to the conclusion that if any group that claims Christianity starts cutting off people’s heads while singing “Just as I am,” the first people to respond will be Christians. We will police our own. The soldiers sent to stop them will probably be Christians, at least in some part. Rest assured, the current White House, will seek great joy in touting that it is CHRISTIANS doing this. “See…they are doing it too!” A 5 year old child has more intellect and intelligence.

The point is… American is no longer a Christian nation. Those are hard words to hear. They were even harder to type. That’s not to say that it never was. America was built around Christian principles, with Christian men and women leading it. Those who claim otherwise are just repeating a Goebbels lie: “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.” The nation that I grew up in, is no more. Being viewed as an evangelical Christian now, is to be seen as a leper. “Those close minded, bigoted, judging Christians.” “Why don’t you just love? That’s what Jesus did.” (That one usually comes from someone who hasn’t opened a Bible since grade school) “Judge not, that you be not judged.” That’s Matthew 7:1 for any of you that use it. You might want to continue down chapter 7 to verses 15-20. Might do you some eternal good…

…What’s the next step for those who only want their ears tickled? To silence those who don’t! Anyone who preaches the Light, will be resisted by the darkness. Offensive words will be created to describe them and shouted over and over and over until the masses begin to repeat them. They will be chastised in the media, lose their jobs, their businesses, their property, their ability to live their lives the way they choose. The assertion that they are ignorant will be constantly repeated. Their very freedom will be threatened. Oh wait, that’s already happened…

Martin Niemoller was a pastor in Germany during the Nazi regime and also a concentration camp survivor. He is remembered most for this quote:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Ronald Reagan is by far the greatest president of my lifetime. He said, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.” Those words could never be truer than they are today. As Christians, we are at a crossroads in America. We can stand up, and let our voices be heard. We can fight at the ballot box for the rights that we were always guaranteed. Or, we can continue to allow our anti-Christian government to destroy the basic tenants of our faith. The choice is ours…

…What happens to those of us that resist? How long before we become “enemies of the State?” How long before we are sent to “camps” for re-education? Sound crazy? The German people in the ‘30’s would have said the same thing. In a few short years, millions would be imprisoned and executed for their faith…

…I live in relationship with Jesus Christ as my Savior. My life is forfeit. If it is His will that I must be sacrificed for my stand for His Name, then so be it. Even Jesus didn’t turn away from death when presented with it. He was obedient to the end.

American Christian, most of the rest of the world knows this already, from experience. But there is coming a day when to identify as a Christian in America will bring consequences…

I love it when groups like AFA use Martin Niemöller’s quote to suggest that what happened in Hitler’s Germany will soon happen here. Here’s the problem: no one has come for the socialist, trade unionist, or Jew. Yes, many on the political and religious right fight against socialism and trade unions, but no one would suggest that the religious right is persecuting socialists or union members. They most certainly are not persecuting the Jews. The religious right loves Israel — well at least until Jesus comes back to earth at the end of the Great Tribulation and slaughters all the unbelieving Jews.

We live in a free country. While I think personal liberties are under attack by corporate, military-industrial complex, and surveillance-industrial complex interests, I have no fear of being persecuted or jailed if I oppose those interests. Much like Evangelical Christians, atheists are free to write about, attack, critique, and make fun of religion. I don’t fear the government breaking my door down and arresting me for something I have written.

Unfortunately, when one lives in a country where freedom of belief and practice are ensconced in its founding documents and law, the slightest denial of freedom or the slightest inconvenience can be viewed as an attack on freedom and personal rights. The religious right thinks legalizing same-sex marriage and justice and equal protection under the law for LGBTQ people is an infringement of their religious rights. However, allowing same-sex couples to marry in no way infringes on a person’s right to believe and worship as they see fit. Legalizing same-sex marriage changed nothing for Christians.  Christians are still free to pray, read the Bible, evangelize, attend a house of worship, and — get this — forbid LGBTQ people from being members in their church. Nothing in federal or state law required churches and or clerics to accept LGBTQ members or perform their wedding ceremonies.

No clergyperson will ever be required to marry a same-sex couple. Since marriage is a secular function of law, a pastor is free to choose whom he will or won’t marry. It is the marriage license, not the ceremony, that gives a marriage legal force. This is why public officials must issue marriage licenses to heterosexual and same-sex couples alike. They are acting on behalf of the state, a secular institution. If they cannot, according to their conscience, fulfill their legal obligation to issue a marriage license to all who request one, then they should resign. Their resignation is not persecution. All of us have beliefs and moral and ethical values that might, in some circumstances, preclude us from holding certain jobs. Not being able to hold those jobs is NOT persecution.

We are less than a year away from the 2020 presidential election. The United States faces many pressing and trying issues: war, poverty, crumbling infrastructure, government debt, rampant opioid addiction, runaway medical insurance costs, etc. Instead of whining and screaming about “fake” persecution, I wish the religious right and their representatives in Congress would reach across the aisle and meaningfully try to find a solution to the pressing issues of the day.

The American Family Association, and other right-wing religious groups like them, know that their followers must constantly be poked lest they become apathetic and stop sending donations. What better way to wake people up than to scream PERSECUTION!  Until Christians realize groups like the AFA are manipulating them for political and financial gain, they will continue to be outraged every time they are told they need to be outraged. (The outrage machine One Million Moms is an arm of the AFA. Please see the 2015 report I wrote titled, Follow the Money: The American Family Association and their Support of the Gay Agenda) Until they are willing to actually think for themselves and thoroughly investigate the issues without checking in with Fox News first, there’s little hope of meaningful dialog.

“But Bruce, same-sex marriage and homosexuality is wrong!” Why? Without referencing the Bible, please defend your anti-LGBTQ position. I have yet to have someone successfully defend the prohibition of same-sex marriage and homosexuality without appealing to their religious beliefs and a sacred text such as the Christian Bible. Once religion is removed from the equation, there is no reasonable argument to be made for prohibiting same-sex couples from marrying or for permitting people to legally and freely engage in same-sex relationships.

That said, I still believe in the American political process. Christians are free to work towards a federal constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. They have the same rights and privileges as I do. Let’s duke it out in the public square. Of course, the religious right doesn’t want to do this, knowing that they would likely never get enough states to approve a constitutional amendment. So, instead, they whine and complain about PERSECUTION!

The real issue here is that Christianity is losing its preferential place at the cultural table. For most of our country’s existence, the Christian religion has been seated at the head of the table. This is natural, of course, since most Americans self-identify as Christian. However, more and more Christians are moving to the left politically and religiously, especially young adults. More and more Americans no longer have any religion. Atheism, agnosticism, humanism, secularism, religious indifference, and “none of the above” continue to increase. Like it or not, right-wing Christians must recognize that they no longer have the political and social power and clout they once had. If they don’t like this, I suggest they get busy attracting new people to their cause. Good luck with that.

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 62, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 41 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

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Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Evidently, Evangelical Bryan Fischer Has Never Had a Blow Job

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Americans who love America cannot afford to put an unapologetic and unrepentant homosexual in the White House.

The stakes are far too high to make a mistake of this magnitude. Christians who express this point of view must be prepared to endure a withering blast of hatred and Christophobia. But endure it we must. We will need to hold firm against the onslaught in conversations with our families, our friends, our neighbors, the folks in our churches, and the editors of our local newspapers.

….

Our regressive friends on the left are consumed with outrage that an adulterer now sits in the White House. But we should point out kindly but firmly that if somebody makes that point, they have made our argument for us. By their own admission, they are agreeing with us that what a would-be president does in his private life does matter and is a valid concern for voters.

We’re at an odd place in our culture right now in which the very same people who are blasting the president for sordid sexual conduct 12 years ago are lionizing and swooning over someone who is engaging in sordid sexual conduct repeatedly and proudly today.

And while adultery is sexually deviant – because it deviates from the Creator’s design for human sexuality — homosexuality is just as (if not more) deviant, since it puts body parts [mouth, anus?] to sexual uses never intended by nature or Nature’s God.

— Bryan Fischer, the American Family Association, A Homosexual in the White House Must Be Unthinkable, May 22, 2019

Fischer later said on his radio program:

It’s got to be unthinkable for us even to consider putting a homosexual in the White House as our next president. If you’re an American and you love America, you cannot afford to put an unapologetic and unrepentant homosexual in the White House.

Video Link

I wonder if Fischer is aware that the United States has already had a gay president — James Buchanan? (1857-1861)

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Who Are the REAL Americans? by Bryan Fischer

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Considerable amounts of ink and pixels have been spilled in recent months over the question of who is an American, who is unAmerican, and who is anti-American. There is an easy way to tell: Use the Declaration of Independence as your guide.

The Declaration is the most quintessentially American document ever produced. It defines in unmistakable and unambiguous terms what America stands for. Simply put, someone who affirms the truth claims of the Declaration is a true American. Someone who is indifferent to its truth claims is un-American. And someone who is hostile to its truth claims is anti-American.

….

What, then, does it mean to be an “American?” 

First, Americans believe in absolute truth. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, … ” said the founders. There is such a thing as truth, an American would say, and we believe in it, and we defend it. An American believes, as did the founders, that certain things are true and other things are false. There is none of this business of everybody having his own truth. In fact, the founders observed that there are certain truths that are so obviously true on the very face of things that they do not even require proof; they are “self-evident.”

Thus someone who is indifferent to the question of truth is unAmerican because he does not care about this fundamental American ideal. And someone who is hostile to the idea of truth, or who is hostile to the self-evident truths the founders affirmed, is anti-American because he has pitted himself against a bedrock American principle.

Second, Americans believe man is a created being, not an evolved one. The very first self-evident truth the founders embraced is that “all men are created equal,” and that there is a “Creator” with a capital “C” who has granted them certain fundamental, non-negotiable rights. In other words, an American does not believe that man emerged from the primordial glop with some kind of ancestral connection to baboons and chimpanzees. No, an American believes, as the founders did, that man has been created in the image of God and is distinct and far above members of the animal kingdom in worth, value, and dignity. Man is not just a “trousered ape” but is an entirely different order of being altogether—a being who has not just a soul but also a spirit.

….

So an American believes man is a created being. Someone who is indifferent to the question of whether man is created or evolved is unAmerican. And someone who actively opposes the concept of a Creator and the concept of man as created in God’s image is anti-American.

Third, an American believes our rights come to us from God, not from government. An American believes that such rights are “unalienable,” which means that no earthly power has the moral authority to deprive us of any single one of these rights because they are a gift to us from God.

….

So an American believes that our rights come to us from a Creator God. An unAmerican is indifferent to the question. And an anti-American vigorously contests that idea and believes that rights are a gift to us from a beneficent government rather than the Creator.

Fourth, an American believes that babies have a right to be born. An American believes that no earthly power—not Congress, not the Supreme Court, not Planned Parenthood, nor a hospital in England—has any moral or legal right whatsoever to deprive a baby in the womb or a disabled newborn of its right to live. An anti-American is someone who supports the killing of babies in the womb and tries to lock up the Americans who expose this evil. Thus they seek to deprive babies of their right to life and undercover investigators of their right to liberty.

Fifth, an American believes that bakers, florists and photographers have a God-given right to liberty, a God-given right to manage their business affairs according to the dictates of their own conscience. An American believes that he should not be required by government to do work against his will, which is slavery, or to do work that violates his own conscience, which is tyranny. An American in name only believes that such artisans should be punished, fined, put out of business or sued for everything they own. And someone who is indifferent to this issue is not a bad person; he is just an unAmerican one.

Sixth, an American believes that the right to private property is a sacred right, a gift from God, and that government is not allowed to deprive homeowners of their property or deny farmers and ranchers the use of their property (apart, of course, from the proper use of eminent domain or as a consequence of the commission of a crime). The founders would be appalled at the way in which the abuse of eminent domain and the use of environmental regulations have shredded this unalienable right. An American believes the right to private property is a gift from God. An anti-American despises this right and treats it as something that government can readily dispose of if it will serve the progressive agenda.

— Bryan Fischer, American Family Association, The Declaration Exposes Americans in Name Only, July 10, 2017

The Sounds of Fundamentalism: God Wants His Rainbow Back by Bryan Fischer

bryan fischer

This is the one hundred and fifty-second installment in The Sounds of Fundamentalism series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a video clip that shows the crazy, cantankerous, or contradictory side of Evangelical Christianity, please send me an email with the name or link to the video. Please do not leave suggestions in the comment section.  Let’s have some fun!

Today’s Sound of Fundamentalism is a video clip of Bryan Fischer expressing his outrage over LGBTQ people stealing God’s rainbow. Fischer demands its immediate return.

Fischer stated:

The rainbow is God’s. God invented the rainbow—look at Genesis 9:11-17—He invented it, it’s His thing, He put it in the sky as a promise that he would never again destroy the earth through a flood. Are you listening Al Gore? Al Gore, you do not need to worry about the planet being destroyed by floodwaters. Why? Because God has put His rainbow in the sky to let you and everybody else know, ‘I’m never going to do that again.

The LGBTQ community is using something that doesn’t belong to you. That’s cultural appropriation … You’ve culturally appropriated something that doesn’t belong to you, it belongs to God, it’s His idea and you need to give it back.

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Christians Say The Darnedest Things: Trump and Republicans Ushering in Spiritual Revival

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For generations now, the American church has been declining in both relevance and number as it sought to placate sinners rather than model holiness, call for repentance, and watch Jesus save them. The hold-hands-and-sing-kumbaya-with-culture way of doing church looked like it was modeled after the accommodate-and-yield way of doing politics (especially in the Republican Party). “Whatever we can do to keep you from getting mad” has been the mantra of both for decades.

….

Americans were drawn to Donald Trump because of his fearless tell it like it is attack on what’s plainly and clearly wrong with the nation.  That same go-along-to-get-along mentality he railed against in government has clearly trickled into the churches and found a home.  We have hope for a better tomorrow in this country because a few pastors and Christian leaders boldly stood up and said Trump’s vision for America was more in line with biblical values and our Founders intent than Clinton’s dream of open borders, taxpayer funded abortion, and gun control.

Something is going on in America and it’s not just about the president.  Republicans are now in control of the White House, both houses of Congress, and a record number of state legislatures and governorships.  Liberals in government have been telling the American people for too long to “sit down and shut up” while they tell us what we need to do and even think.  At one point in her campaign Hillary Clinton even said, “deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed.”  Mrs. Clinton wanted the government in charge of changing religious beliefs.  People are obviously fed up with it.  And the same goes for liberals and progressives in the church.  People are sick of it.

Smart churches that are experiencing growth have found that people are actually hungry for plain talk from the pulpit.  America’s parishioners are rejecting the progressive religious message just as they are rejecting the progressive political message.  They are sick and tired of being told by programmed clergy that the Bible doesn’t mean what it clearly states.

This country, as demonstrated by the 2016 presidential election, is ripe for a message of repentance, renewal, and restoration!  Someone has said that the electorate voted to make America great again and the Church should decide to make America a Christian nation again.

….

Now is the time to speak truth to power from the halls of Congress to the padded pews in the vaulted ceilings of our church sanctuaries. The Left will call it hate speech, bigotry, and a long list of words ending in ‘phobia.’ But it is crystal clear that people are ripe for straight talk on both politics and religion. We will always have a welcome and needed contingent of people calling the body of Christ to love, forgive, and accept God’s love. Thank goodness. But what we have lacked for a long time is the voice of the prophet thundering about God’s judgment on unrepented sin. Surprisingly, we find out that people actually want to know God doesn’t look the other way when we sin.

….

This may be our last chance. The political climate has actually paved the way for it. People are responding to plain talk. If our preachers will stop apologizing for what is in the Bible and start reminding people that God is both loving and holy, teaching about forgiveness and Heaven as well as God’s judgment and hell, we just might have a revival in the country. We might make America a Christian nation once again. I wonder if that might have been the real purpose in the miracle of the Trump victory?

— Ray Rooney, Jr., American Family Association, On the Cusp of National Revival?,  November 18, 2016

Tim Wildmon Shows He is Clueless About Secularism

tim wildmon

What follows is a video produced by Tim Wildmon and the American Family Association. This video purports to “explain” to Fundamentalist zealots the true nature and ideology of secular progressivism. What the video really does is show that Wildmon and his costars either know very little about secularism and progressivism or they are deliberately lying in hopes of providing yet another red meat meal for culture warriors. My money is on the latter.  This video is 3 minutes long. Enjoy!

Video Link

No Matter What God Tells You to Do, Do It!

never question god

And Samuel said (to Saul), Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king. (I Samuel 15:22,23)

 Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. (Acts 5:29)

Like all despots, dictators, and potentates, the Christian God demands his followers obey him. When he says, JUMP, the only proper response is, HOW HIGH? The Christian God has no tolerance for those who dare to disobey him. Doubts, questions, or concerns are not permitted. John Sammis’ 19th century hymn Trust and Obey says: Trust and obey, for there’s no other way To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

Those of us raised in Evangelical churches know all about obedience. Obey God. Obey your parents. Obey pastors. Obey adults. Later in life, women are told that not only must they obey God and their pastors, they must also obey their husbands. As with all cults. obedience is key to a compliant, easily manipulated group. Jim Jones, once an ardent Evangelical, commanded his followers to drink cyanide-laced Kool-Aid, resulting in the death of over 900 people — including 304 children. Evangelical pastors and Catholic priests sodomize, rape, and molest children who have been taught from a young age to implicitly obey them. Trust me, I am a pastor, are words that have caused incalculable harm to young and old alike. Taught to be obedient, these Christian sheep obey the commands of their shepherds. Once robbed of the capacity to think and reason, church members are easy prey for predator pastors and priests.

Of greater concern is the belief that God directly speaks to Evangelicals. Pastors routinely tell congregants that God spoke to them and told them to do ______________.  Church members, supposedly indwelt by the Holy Spirit, believe God directly speaks to them with an inaudible, small voice (I Kings 19:11-13).  According to the New Testament, the Holy Spirit is given to Christians to be their teacher, voice, and guide:

But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. (John 14:26)

But when they deliver you (the disciples) up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you. (Matthew 10:19,20)

Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. (I Corinthians 2:13)

But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him. (I John 2:27)

According as his (God) divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, (2 Peter 1:3a)

Consider, for a moment, that tens of millions of Americans believe that God lives inside of them and directly talks to them. This should scare us, especially considering that one of the Republican candidates for president, Ted Cruz, thinks God talks to him. Do we really want a president who hears voices in his head, thinking it is the Christian God telling him what to do? What if God tells him to launch a nuclear strike on China or Russia? Should Christians such as Cruz be anywhere near the nuclear football?

Today, Randall Murphree, editor for the American Family Association Journal, perfectly illustrated the mind-numbing, reason-killing obedience the Christian God expects from his followers. Murphree recently took a trip to Kentucky to see Ken Ham’s monument to ignorance, Ark Encounter.  Reflecting on his visit to the Ark ParkMurphree wrote:

 Answers in Genesis (noted for its Creation Museum in northern Kentucky) is building a full-scale replica of Noah’s Ark in Williamstown, Kentucky, about 30 miles south of Cincinnati. I was blessed to tag along a few days ago when AiG hosted a media tour of the Ark under construction. Wow!

We think we can imagine what it would look like, but to walk up to it in real life took my breath away – 510 feet long (more than a football field and a half), 51 feet high (4-5 stories).

AiG cofounder Ken Ham led our tour, taking us through the four levels and to the top deck, explaining how Noah could realistically have cared for two of each kind of animal on the Ark, pointing out interior framework and structure that will house 132 exhibits lining the long walkways, explaining that animals on the Ark itself will be realistic sculptures but a petting zoo will adjoin the Ark property. And there’s so much more to anticipate.

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As exciting and stimulating as the Ark was, I began to decompress on the long drive home. An unlikely metaphor came to mind – extreme sports, those over-the-top, beyond-reason, insane physical challenges people are tackling these days.

Extreme! Now, Noah was really into the extreme – extreme obedience! I thought. What he did was impossible for man. But God gave him specific directions, and Noah obeyed, giving himself fully to the calling…

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Unexpectedly I was suddenly doing some real soul searching, taking a little inventory, and considering God’s direction in my life. Sometimes I think He calls me to a task too great. How often have I not been obedient? My little Ark encounter humbles me and challenges to listen more carefully for God’s voice and be ready to demonstrate – as Noah did – extreme obedience.

Murphree says that God demands EXTREME OBEDIENCE! If God tells you to go into the desert and build a huge boat, do it!  If God tells you to move to Africa and be a missionary, do it! If God tells you to give all your money to the church or a TV preacher, do it! If God tells you to pitch a tent in your back yard and fast and pray for 40 days, do it! Whatever it is that God tells you to do, DO IT!  Any doubt or hesitation is a sin, an affront to the God who hold the keys to life and death in his hands.

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Evangelicals are frequently reminded that God only wants what is good for them. So whatever God commands, he means it for their good. God is good all the time, all the time God is good, says Evangelicals. Since God is a pillar of moral purity and virtue, Evangelicals can trust him when he tell them to do _____________.  According to the Biblical passage mentioned above, God isn’t interested in sacrifice (religious works). All God wants is for those who worship him to obey his commands. And not just the commands found in the Bible. God can, and does, command Evangelicals to do things that seem crazy to unbelievers. Better to be viewed as crazy than disobey God.

Remove religion from this story and such voices in one’s head would be viewed as a sign of mental illness. But because it involves religion, we are supposed to accept that Evangelicals do things because God told them to. Having spent most of my adult life in Evangelicalism, I understand the belief that God talks to Christians. God talked to me many times, telling me whom to marry, where to live, what churches to pastor, and whether I should buy something or give money to a religious cause. For five decades, I believed God lived inside of me. I believed God and I were best of buds. I would pray (talk) to God and he would often respond. When I needed to know what to preach or what direction to lead the church, I always asked God to tell me what I should do. And guess what? God, ever the chatterbox, never failed to tell me what he wanted me to do.

I now know, of course, that the voice in my head was my own. The God who was talking to me had red hair and his name was Bruce Gerencser. (Please see A Few Thoughts on a Lifetime of Praying to the Christian God.) No big deal right, right? Who cares if Evangelicals think God talks to them? No harm, no foul, right? I used to think so, but as I continue to write about my past life as a soldier for the Christian God, I now think otherwise. I now see how believing God talked (leading, directing, showing, moving) to me hurt my family and me. Instead of being proactive and acting as a reasonable, rational adult would, I allowed the voice in my head to keep me from acting responsibly. From selling family heirlooms and collectibles so I could use the money to “help” someone, to living in abject poverty so I could “minister” to God’s people, I know firsthand how “listening” to  the voice of God can cause untold heartache and loss.

Every month or so, we hear of stories about someone who killed or severely hurt themselves or others, all because God “told” them do it. Several days ago, a Muslim woman cut the head off a child because Allah told he to do so. I am sure Evangelicals saw this as an example of what happens when someone listens to wrong god. However, there are plenty of stories about Evangelicals hearing the voice of God and doing things such as: drowning their children, gouging out their eyes, cutting off their penis, or making the top 12 on American Idol or The Voice. I put “God told me to do it” in the search box on Huffington Post and it returned stories such as: Teacher Says ‘Higher Power’ Told Him To Attack Kid With Skateboard, Mom Allegedly Tries To Drown Son In Puddle Because Jesus Told Her To, Man Allegedly Stabs Grandma, Blames Archangel Michael, Nurse Thinks Grandmother Was Possessed, Beats Her To Death, Jesus And Mary Told Me To Kill Him Because He Is Satan’s Spawn!

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Jack Schaap, now serving a 12 year federal prison sentence for having an illicit sexual relationship with a minor girl in his church, told his young lover, “This is exactly what Christ desires. He wants to marry us + become eternal lovers!” Countless religious leaders have used similar lines to seduce women. How do we know it wasn’t God telling them to do what they did?  After all, the God of EXTREME OBEDIENCE might ask Evangelicals to do things the unsaved world might not understand. God expected the original woman, Eve, to sleep with her sons and expected Noah’s grandchildren to have sex with their sisters (or mothers). So why is it shocking to hear that sexual predators such as Jack Schaap prey on young women because God told them to do so?

The belief that God talks to you is a great way to get what you want or to justify your behavior. All Evangelicals need to do is say, God told me, and discussions are over. God is the E.F. Hutton of the universe: When God speaks, everybody listens. His voice must always be obeyed, regardless of how silly, crazy, or irrational his commands sound. While I am sure that Evangelicals will object to my extreme presentation of their beliefs, am I really being extreme, considering that the Bible is littered with stories of people doing irrational things? If an Evangelical somewhere says that God told him to move to Montana and build a compound in preparation for the end of the world, should any of us think that the man is a nut-job? Isn’t that EXACTLY what Noah did? Isn’t that what Moses did? How about the Mormons, Branch Davidians, Heaven’s Gate, or the people who took over the federal building in Oregon? All of these people have one thing in common: they believed God told them to do what they did. Either God is schizophrenic or his followers are.

Did you, at one time, believe God talked to you?  Have you ever made an important decision based on God telling you to do something? Please share your story in the comment section. I promise, I won’t call the men in white coats to come and get you.

[signoff]

The Christian God Has an Optics Problem

richard dawkins quote on the nature of god

Stacy Long, a writer for the American Family Association, admits that when taking the Bible at face value, the Christian God comes off looking more like a murderous psychopath than the loving, doting father Evangelicals say he is. Long writes:

Often we read the Bible and have a hard time making the connection between God’s role in the Old and New Testaments. How do we reconcile Jesus’ teachings of God’s love and longsuffering, of kindness to our fellow man, of redemption and sacrifice for all people with the Old Testament instruction to pillage and conquer the Canaanites with instant death for one who so much as laid a careful hand on the Ark of the Covenant with stoning an entire family because one man went astray.

The Christian God’s optics problem is one of the reasons often given for people leaving Christianity. If the Bible is taken at face value (literally), especially the Old Testament, God is a vindictive, petty, petulant, narcissistic son-of-a-bitch deity who doesn’t deserve one second of obeisance and worship. From the Father God perspective, the Christian God is a father who neglects his children, refuses to meet their basic needs, and physically abuses them when they fail to meet his exacting, perfectionist standard of living.

Even in the New Testament God has an optics problem. What kind of father allows his son to be brutally tortured for the crimes of others? While the Christian God certainly is viewed in a better light in  much of the New Testament, he returns to his Old Testament self in the book of Revelation, a 22-chapter story of God’s slaughter of the human race and the destruction of earth. Perhaps God suffers from multiple personality disorder or is schizophrenic. Perhaps from Matthew to Jude God is well-medicated and refrains from returning to his murderous ways. In Revelation, tired of the calming effects of anti-psychotic medications, God goes off his meds and makes up for lost time by slaughtering billions of people.

While Long recognizes that God has an optics problem, she attempts to rehabilitate God’s psychopathic resume by suggesting that God operates according to a different moral and ethical standards than sinful humans. Long writes:

And so, God’s ways are not our ways. But even when His ways seem strange to us – unlike what we know of Him – His ways are still the same, and He is still good.

….

So, maybe it is not so much that God’s actions are inscrutable, as our understanding of them is precarious. Not that we lack some secret key to biblical exposition, but simply because we are not God. He’s looking at the picture from a whole different angle, and what He sees may be very different from what we see. What He knows and understands may be completely unknown to us. In short, what we may misunderstand and call bad, He may call good.

Over the years, as I have attempted to challenge Evangelical beliefs by pointing out God’s immoral behavior, Christians have reminded me that it is impossible for us to judge God using human reasoning. According to Evangelicals, God’s ways are not our ways. Where do they get such a notion? Right out of the Bible:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8,9)

According to Evangelicals, God’s behavior can never be questioned because his ways are beyond human reason and understanding. In other words, God can do whatever the hell the wants because he is God. The Apostle Paul, when questioned about God choosing to save some people but not others, wrote:

For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? (Romans 9:17-21)

Simply put, Paul is saying, Shut up!  How dare you question God! God is God and he can do whatever he wants to do.

Long concludes her defense of the Christian God’s immoral behavior with the Biblical story of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus:

Take the birth of Jesus for instance. Looking at the story from a human viewpoint, it is a completely tragic affair. A girl gets pregnant out of wedlock, her fiancée is compelled to marry her against his own inclination, they are forced into an arduous journey through unfriendly terrain, they are destitute and homeless when it comes to the time for childbirth, and the whole thing ends with a lot of innocent infants being massacred and Jesus’ parents having to flee for their lives to a foreign land not knowing if they will see their home and families again. For a sad tale of a couple who really get their lives messed up, that beats Romeo and Juliet hollow. Oh, and then that baby who came into the world through so much trouble and pain ends up being horrifically executed as a criminal and denied by His closest friends. And yet, from our retrospective understanding of God’s purpose, we celebrate His birth as the sweetest, most joyous event of all time.

Long, as every Evangelical, reads the Bible selectively. When Evangelicals read the story of the conception and birth of Jesus, all they see is the wonderful babe in the manger — God incarnate who came to earth to save sinners. While rose-colored-glasses wearing Evangelicals know that there are morally perplexing and contradictory aspects of the incarnation story, they shut their minds off from reason, believing instead that their God would never do anything that was not for their good.

So then, God raping a virgin teenage girl and making her the surrogate for Jesus is okay because these heinous behaviors led to the birth of Jesus, the savior of the world. Is this not why many Evangelicals believe that there should be no abortion exceptions?  According to Evangelicals, if a woman is violently raped and impregnated by a psychopath, she still should be forced to carry the fetus to term. Why? Well, look at how things worked out for Mary. She carried her fetus to term and that fetus became a miracle-working prophet, a God-man hybrid, who was violently tortured and executed so his blood could be used to wash away our sins. Amazing and wonderful, right?

God, who is all-knowing and all-powerful, could have chosen to impregnate Mary another way (by having Joseph impregnate her and then supernaturally turning the fetus into Jesus, the son of God).  In fact, he could have provided a different method of salvation. But, he didn’t. Evangelicals often focus on the heathen ruler who massacred all the male babies in Bethlehem and the surrounding area under the age of two. What an awful, murderous man, Evangelicals say.  Wait a minute, couldn’t God have stopped Herod’s slaughter?  Shouldn’t God, who is the creator of the universe and the divine human puppet master, be held accountable for what happens on his watch?

Evangelicals argue that God cannot do wrong, and that he is morally pure.  When confronted with Bible stories that suggest otherwise, Christians rush in to defend their God from charges of immorality. I get it–the Christian narrative must be protected at all costs. If God is shown to be culpable for his behavior, why that would mean that he is not a deity worthy of human fealty, fidelity, devotion, and worship. And this is exactly what Evangelicals-turned-atheists such as I believe. Even if the Evangelical God exists, and he doesn’t, he would not be a deity worthy of our devotion and worship. We refuse to bow in worship to a God who has spent the last 6,020 years murderously working its way through human history. We refuse to bow in worship to a God who considers sickness, disease, starvation and war “good.” We refuse to bow in worship to a God who had stood on the sidelines of human history doing nothing as blood flows in the world’s streets.

I know all the excuses Evangelicals give for their God’s behavior. I used them myself in sermon after sermon, and they were little more than defenses of the indefensible. God has the power necessary to radically change life on earth, yet he does nothing. Outside of helping Granny Louise find her car keys and helping Tim Tebow keep his virginity, God is largely AWOL.  When will Christians realize that their God is not who they claim he is? Anyone with a modicum of reason and basic observation skills can conclude that the God being peddled by Evangelicals is a work of fiction.

Evangelicals are forced to ignore or reinterpret vast portions of the Bible in order to main the Christian narrative: that God is a kind, loving, long-suffering deity who desires to save people from their sins, that he is a God personally involved in the affairs of the human race, right down to giving each of us the breath to breathe. I ask, dear Christians, where is this God of yours? Outside of your minds, where can I find this God? Better yet, based on what I read in the Bible, why should I devotedly worship the Christian God? What is there about your God that deems him worthy of my love and devotion? From my seat in the atheist pew, if I knew of someone who behaved in a fashion similar to the Christian God, I would advocate for his immediate incarceration and execution. Such a loathsome creature does not deserve life. In every way, the Christian God is worse than the most vile of humans. Why would I ever want to worship such a God?

Simple, Bruce, if you don’t, God will torture you in hell for eternity after you die.

Thank you for making my point.

Monica Cole Equates Fighting Liberals with Americans Fighting the Nazis

one million moms

Monica Cole is the outrage director for One Millions Moms (OMM), a ministry of the American Family Association (AFA). Several times a week, Cole sends out emails that are meant to stir the passions of God’s mighty army of soccer moms. In today’s email, Cole equates the work of OMM with that of American soldiers fighting the Axis powers, Germany and Japan, in WWII. Cole writes:

I sometimes fear that I fail to express to you the vital and crucial role you play in the battle to promote biblical values in our nation, as well as to preserve, protect, and defend religious liberty.

Your efforts today and in 2016 are absolutely crucial in this struggle. In fact, they are more important now than ever before.

….

I sometimes think of what it must have been like to celebrate Christmas during World War II. Today I want to remind you how those on the Homefront helped our soldiers overseas defeat the Axis powers.

They did so through the many personal sacrifices, often including their own sons and daughters. In addition, they purchased war bonds, used ration coupons for everyday items like gasoline and sugar, and wrote encouraging letters to soldiers. They took part in rubber and scrap metal drives and saved cooking fat. Women took difficult manufacturing jobs traditionally held by men. They couldn’t go overseas and fight the enemy on the front-lines, so they did their part on the Homefront.

This is the role you and your fellow 1MM supporters play. You have a family to care for, a church to support, and a job to keep. I appreciate that, and I fully understand those responsibilities.

However, your sacrifice on the Homefront – through your partnership with 1MM and AFA – is essential to the outcome of our struggle. Just as our parents and grandparents scrimped and saved and sacrificed to support the troops overseas, so is your sacrifice crucial in making possible everything we do here at 1MM and AFA.

And never was your support more necessary than it is today.

Like those who came before us, we have the challenge and privilege to “remain in action throughout the war” we’re fighting …

Just as our parents and grandparents fought and died in order to pass on to us the freedoms they enjoyed, so we are fighting for our children and grandchildren. This is our mission. We’re giving of ourselves so that they can live in a nation where they are free to live by and promote Christian principles and values in every area of culture – government, public policy, the courts, education, family, business, community, and more.

And when you consider all that’s at stake in the 2016 elections, our efforts are particularly critical in 2016 because …

… Religious liberty – our first freedom – hangs by a thread.

So, please, let’s do what the “Greatest Generation” did and – putting all of our trust and faith in God – do whatever it takes to win victory over the enemies of freedom. Meanwhile we continue the fight …

Cole believes that American religious liberty “hangs by a thread.” Evangelicals, mistaking a loss of preference for the loss of freedom, have convinced themselves that they are under attack. The women of OMM think that secularists, liberals and atheists, all of whom are the servants of Satan, are concertedly working to destroy Christianity and criminalize the worship of Jesus.  Why, if Cole’s email is to be believed, Christians are being attacked just like America in the 1940s when German submarines prowled the Atlantic and Japanese planes dropped bombs on Pearl Harbor.

Reminding readers of the sacrifices the Greatest Generation made on behalf of the American war effort, Cole pleads with supporters to scrimp and sacrifice so OMM can continue to battle the evil forces of darkness. In other words, OMM needs money and they want their supporters to cut back on lattes and Redbox rentals so that the money saved can then be sent to the OMM war effort.

At the end of her fundraising appeal, Cole uses a bit of Biblical imagery in the hope that doing so will move OMM supporters to cough up more money. Cole writes:

In addition to your active participation in our projects, the two ways in which you can help 1MM and AFA most right now are through your prayers and your financial gifts. Think of Aaron and Hur holding up Moses’ arms as he prayed for victory over the Amalekites. Your prayers and your donations hold up 1MM and AFA so we can fight the enemies of Christianity and freedom.

In Exodus 17, Amalek and Israel are fighting one another. Moses tells Joshua that he plans to stand on a hill overseeing the battlefield with the rod of God in his hand, hoping to spur Israel on to victory. Like Gandalf in Lord of the Rings, when Moses raises the rod, Israel prevails in battle. When Moses’ arms weaken and he can no longer hold the rod high, Amalek prevails. Concerned that the battle might be lost, Aaron and Hur have Moses sit on a rock and they, one man on each side, hold Moses’ arms high. And sure enough, thanks to the work of Aaron and Hur, Israel defeats Amalek.

Cole uses this story to portray the American culture war. Amalek, in the guise of secularists, liberals, and atheists, is waging war against Evangelical Christianity, and OMM  is Moses, with rod held high, standing on a hill. As the battle continues, the arms of OMM become weak. If OMM doesn’t find someone to hold up their arms, the battle will be lost. Well, not really someone, but something. Something as in cash, checks and credit card donations.

Previous posts on the American Family Association and One Million Moms

Follow the Money: The American Family Association and their Support of the Gay Agenda

One Millions Moms Says a Boy is a Boy Even if She is a Girl

One Millions Moms Upset Over FOX Making the Devil Likable and Human

One Million Moms Outraged Over Women Not Wearing Underwear

One Million Moms Offended Over Old Woman Flashing Her Husband in Taco Bell Commercial

The Homophobic Hysteria of Tim Wildmon and the American Family Association

Same-Sex Marriage: Will God Answer the Prayers of the American Family Association?

The American Family Association Runs Ad That Says Only God Can Define Marriage

Tim Wildmon Says Satan Hates the United States

Fundamentalist Jeremy Wiggins: Non-Christians Don’t Believe in the Existence of Evil

evil

Writer Jeremy Wiggins, a frequent contributor to The Stand, the official blog of the American Family Association, suggests that non-Christians don’t believe in the existence of evil. Wiggins writes:

The world has a problem with evil in that it basically denies the existence of evil. Unless of course, you disagree with the world’s rejection of evil, then you are evil. Confused yet? I know I sure am.

….

Individuals commit acts of violence because of the evil within their hearts. Period. How do I know this is true? Because, without Christ, we are all evil. By refusing to acknowledge that evil exists, the world refuses to see when one religion teaches evil and another religion teaches to love one’s enemies. While the religion of Islam may teach the slaughtering of infidels, let us remember that Muslims, pagans, Buddhists, and all other people, religious or not, are going to face the judgment of God.

….

While the world may not recognize evil, we, as Christians, know it exists; it exists very close by indeed – mostly within ourselves. We recognize the inherent wickedness of man, and that no one is righteous apart from Christ. We also recognize that the only solution to the problem of evil is the blood of Jesus. His sacrifice is the only thing that stands between our eternal destination and theirs.

I don’t know of one non-Christian who denies the existence of evil. Not one. Evil exists. We know this because we observe its work and influence. What non-Christians reject is not evil in and of itself, but Wiggins’ naive, simplistic view of the world. Wiggins, wanting to absolve Evangelical Christianity of its Islamophobic tendencies and the complicity of the United States in birthing modern terrorism, says that evil is a heart problem. People commit evil acts because their hearts are wicked. Instead of attempting to understand the reasons for terrorism, Wiggins reduces the matter to one of belief. According to Wiggins, ISIS terrorists recently slaughtered Parisian concert-goers because their hearts are evil. If the terrorists would only repent of their sins and put their faith and trust in Jesus, all would be well. His argument, of course, ignores the fact that many terrorist acts  are committed by people who worship the Christian God.

Lewis Dear Christian Terrorist

Just recently Christian Lewis Dear shot up a Colorado Planned Parenthood Clinic, killing several people, including an Evangelical pro-life police officer. Surely Dear’s murderous rampage is an act of terrorism? Yet, here’s a man, Dear, filled with the Holy Spirit, committing an evil act. Should we reduce Dear’s actions to a matter of the heart? (I suspect that many Evangelicals secretly applaud Dear for doing what he did.) Or should we consider whether the recent inflammatory Planned Parenthood videos and subsequent Evangelical rhetoric and hysteria played a part in Dear’s decision to commit an act of domestic terrorism?

Wiggins, a Christian Fundamentalist, believes every person is born into this world a sinner. We don’t become sinners, we are sinners. According to Wiggins’ inspired, inerrant Bible, every person is dead in trespasses and sins. Every person is at variance with God. Every person is the sworn enemy of God, and unless each accepts this God’s Evil Solution™–the blood of Jesus–all will die in their sins and go to hell.

Taking Wiggins’ theology to its logical conclusion, every non-Christian is a potential terrorist. If, as the Bible saysthe heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it, doesn’t this mean that every non-Christian is evil? Of course, Wiggins doesn’t really believe this. No Evangelical does. Wiggins thinks certain people–Muslim terrorists (and perhaps Muslims in general)–are evil. Are there degrees of evil? Doesn’t the Bible say that God is no respecter of persons? Surely the Holy God of Evangelicalism doesn’t categorize sinners into different evil categories depending on their geographic location, ideology, and skin color? No, he doesn’t (actually he does, but I’ll leave that subject for another day), but Evangelicals like Wiggins certainly do.

While it would be easy to dismiss Wiggins’ words as the rantings of a simple-minded Evangelical, doing so misses the fact that his view has real-world implications. If terrorism is just really a matter of the heart, then the answer to the global terrorist threat is the slaughter of Middle Eastern Muslims. Kill the evil bastards, Evangelicals cry, and that will put an end to terrorism. (Oh the irony of the followers of the Prince of Peace advocating violence as the answer to anything!) Yet, despite the decade-and-a-half war on terrorism, the world is not one iota closer to eradicating terrorism.

While I have no objections to calling terrorists evil, I refuse to absolve Christian America of its own imperialistic, oil-driven terroristic tendencies. Crucial to ending the wars in the Middle East is getting Americans to understand the economic, social, political, and religious views that drive events in the Middle East. Simplistic views such as Wiggins’ reveal an ignorant understanding of how the world works. I wish everything  were as simple as Evangelicals think it is. But it is anything but simple, so we must continue to dig deeply into the reasons why a small percentage of Muslims are hell-bent on destroying Western Civilization. And while we are at it, let’s take a hard look at how the Evangelical view of the world fuels domestic terrorism. We truly cannot understand the complexity of terrorism until we are willing look at ALL the facts, not just those that line up with a literalistic, Fundamentalist interpretation of the Christian Bible.

Note

Jeremy Wiggins Bio: (link no longer active)

Jeremy Wiggins is a graduate of Liberty University with a B.A. of Religion and a Minor in Biblical Studies. A veteran of the United States Air Force, he and his wife were stationed at Nellis AFB in Las Vegas, NV, where Jeremy was an F15 Avionics Technician. He has written for the AFA Journal, One Million Dads, and has also had his work quoted in World Net Daily and Christianity Today. He has served as a guest host of AFR Talk’s Financial Issues, Nothing But Truth, Exploring the Word, and AFA Today. Since 2009, Jeremy has served at the American Family Association to help restore America’s Biblical and moral foundations.