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Tag: Blood of Jesus

Evangelical Zealot Tries to Evangelize Us with a Picture of Bloody Jesus

bloody-hands-of-christians

Last Saturday, Polly and I, along with our daughter Bethany, celebrated my sixty-fourth birthday at Club Soda in Fort Wayne, Indiana. We had a delightful time. The food was awesome, as was our sever. I have zero complaints about the restaurant itself. We will certainly visit Club Soda again in the future.

As we were waiting for our entrees, a man came up to our table and complimented Polly and Bethany on their matching red-checked dresses. A little weird, right? And then he proceeded to compliment me on my hat and suspenders. Starting to be really weird now. I smiled, said thanks, and asked, “you are bullshitting us, right?” I thought, this guy is acting like someone who wants to sell us something. Sure enough, he did.

After assuring me he wasn’t bullshitting me, he whipped out his smartphone and showed us a picture of a bloody Jesus, with a caption that said, ” I Paid it All for You.” After putting in a quick word for Jesus, this man changed the subject, telling us about his job as an event planner and parking lot manager (including the parking lot Club Soda uses). We continued to smile outwardly, and once he came up for air, I told him to have a nice day. And with that, he walked away to speak to one of the restaurant managers.

I later talked to one of the managers about this man. He told me that he saw the man make a beeline to our table, thinking it was weird. The manager told me that we were the only people the man talked to. Evidently, I laughingly said to myself, “the Holy Ghost must have led him to talk to us.” I shared a bit of my story with the manager, telling him that I was an atheist, an Evangelical pastor for twenty-five years. He profusely apologized for the man’s inappropriate behavior. later told him, “Jesus is paying our check tonight.” 🙂 After all, the caption on the bloody Jesus picture said, “I Paid it All for You.” Surely, that included dinner, right? The manager and I had a good laugh.

After the manager left our table, Polly and I shared what we thought of the bloody-Jesus lover’s attempt to evangelize us. Bethany, our daughter with Down Syndrome, said: “I hope that guy doesn’t come back, he’s creepy.” Spot on, Bethany, spot on.

There’s no scenario where this man’s behavior was appropriate. He showed no respect for us nor our personal space. As is common with Evangelical zealots, they have no regard for social boundaries. Recently, an Evangelical commenter on this site told me that it didn’t matter what I thought of his bad behavior, going so far as to tell me that he was my friend regardless of whether I wanted to friends with him. In his mind, the Holy Ghost led him to me, and whatever he said about me personally was straight from the mouth of Jesus himself. If I didn’t like it, tough shit.

My grandfather, John Tieken (please see John), was an in-your-face evangelizer. Never mind the fact that he molested my mother as a child. Never mind that he had a violent temper. Never mind that he beat the shit out of me as a child for dismantling an unused rotary telephone stored in his garage. Never mind that he was a manipulative, judgmental prick (as was his wife) — please see Dear Ann. John was a Jesus-loving Fundamentalist Baptist. He and Ann attended Sunnyvale Chapel in Pontiac, Michigan, but make no mistake about it, Sunnyvale was Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) in everything but its name.

John publicly embarrassed me more times than I could count. One Sunday, he stood up after I had finished preaching and told the congregation what was wrong with my sermon content. At my mother’s funeral (she committed suicide), John decided to give his own sermon after my eulogy (imagine how hard it was for me to even do my mother’s funeral), discrediting much of what I said. John and Ann would take us out for dinner when they visited us in southeast Ohio. We hated going out to eat with them, but did so out of a misguided belief that we should ALWAYS show them respect. That and the fact that we NEVER got to eat out at a restaurant as a family.

We knew that if we went out to eat with my grandparents, John was going to embarrass us with his evangelizing efforts. Typically, John would force our server to “politely” listen to his presentation of his version of Evangelical gospel — a bastardized version of what the Bible actually taught. I, too, was an evangelizer, but I understood social boundaries. Not John. He went after servers like sharks and blood in the water. I am sure John wondered why I never harassed servers when we went out to eat. Had he asked (and he never asked me anything), I would have told him that there was a time and place for everything, including witnessing.

The man who flashed the bloody picture of Jesus (think of how traumatizing that could have been if a young child had been with us) and put in a word for Jesus needs to learn how to respect others. As long as he thinks that all that matters is evangelizing sinners, he will continue to harass people and violate social boundaries. I wonder how he would have felt if the roles were reversed? Suppose he was eating dinner with his wife and family at Club Soda. Suppose I went to his table and started preaching to him about atheism and skepticism. Suppose I showed him a picture of a bloody Jesus with a caption that said, “Ha! Ha! Ha! Jesus Died for Nothing.” Why, he would have been outraged and demanded that I leave him and his family alone. How dare I interrupt their meal! He might even have told the manager I was harassing them and ask that I be told to leave the restaurant.

The cranky curmudgeon (please see I Make No Apologies for Being a Cranky Curmudgeon) in me want to eviscerate this man where he stood. Polly later told me that she was surprised I didn’t do so. He deserved getting what is popularly called the Bruce Gerencser Treatment®. I didn’t do so because I didn’t want to ruin the wonderful time we were having out on the town.

The manager later comped us a dessert. As with the rest of our meal, this dessert was awesome. Once this post is published, I plan to send Club Soda’s owner/general manager a link to the article. I hope that they will call the man’s employer and let them know about his ill-bred behavior. I don’t want the man to lose his job, but someone needs to tell them that there are certain lines you don’t cross.

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Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen 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.

You can contact Bruce via email, Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Blood Washing the Past

blood of jesus

Anyone raised in the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church has likely sung numerous times the hymn There’s Power in the Blood. The lyrics reinforce the IFB belief that the forgiveness of sin, any sin, is but a prayer away. According to 1 John 1:9, if a Christian confesses his sin to God, he will find instantaneous forgiveness. This is only possible because of the atoning blood of Jesus. Through the shed blood of Jesus on the cross, the sinning and confessing sinner’s transgressions are washed away, never to be remembered again. Sing with me now (shouting the word power):

Would you be free from the burden of sin?
There’s pow’r in the blood, pow’r in the blood;
Would you o’er evil a victory win?
There’s wonderful pow’r in the blood.

Refrain:
There is pow’r, pow’r, wonder-working pow’r
In the blood of the Lamb;
There is pow’r, pow’r, wonder-working pow’r
In the precious blood of the Lamb.

Would you be free from your passion and pride?
There’s pow’r in the blood, pow’r in the blood;
Come for a cleansing to Calvary’s tide;
There’s wonderful pow’r in the blood.

Would you be whiter, much whiter than snow?
There’s pow’r in the blood, pow’r in the blood;
Sin-stains are lost in its life-giving flow;
There’s wonderful pow’r in the blood.

Would you do service for Jesus your King?
There’s pow’r in the blood, pow’r in the blood;
Would you live daily His praises to sing?
There’s wonderful pow’r in the blood.

No matter what Christians do, the blood of Jesus washes their sin away. Many Evangelical sects believe that any sin committed BS — before salvation — is forgiven and forgotten once a person is saved. One pastor I know refuses to do background checks on church workers because crimes committed before the super-duper blood of Jesus washed away their sins are remembered by God no more. And if God doesn’t remember the sin, why should we?

Another man, an evangelist, was accused of having sex with minors. He refused to talk about his past, claiming his past behavior is under the “blood.” Unfortunately, there are allegations that he continued to prey on minors after Jesus washed away his sin. But, don’t worry, forgiveness is but a prayer and a blood-washing away. Young girls can rest easy, at least until the blood of Jesus loses its power and the evangelist seeks out new potential victims to molest. Why is it that a Jesus’ blood transfusion is only temporary? If he is who Evangelicals say he is, shouldn’t his miraculous blood protect children from Christian sexual predators? Evidently not. (Please see the Black Collar Crime Series.)

Consider how amazing the blood of Jesus is. No matter what Christians do, no matter how heinous their behavior is, a quick prayer to Jesus asking for forgiveness will unleash the sin-cleansing power of the blood of the Lamb. This supernatural blood allows Evangelical Christians to escape accountability for bad behavior. Just pray, Evangelicals are told, secretly confessing the sin to God, and forgiveness will be granted. This is no different, by the way, from what goes on in Catholic confessional booths. No matter the crime, Jesus will forgive. Even repeat offenders can find forgiveness if they sincerely plead for the blood of Jesus to be applied to their sin-darkened hearts. Dear Lord Jesus, please forgive me for watching porn. I know this is a sin. I ask you to forgive me and wash away my sin. In Jesus’ name, Amen. Two nights later . . . Hey Jesus, it’s me again, Pastor Billy Bob. The devil got a hold of me and I looked at porn again. I’m so sorry for my sin. I ask you to forgive me and wash away my sin. In Jesus’ name, Amen. A week later, Hey Jesus, it’s me again . . .

And so it goes. Evangelicals sin, feel guilty, pray for forgiveness, promising, with fingers crossed behind their backs, that they will never, ever sin again. Rather than being held accountable for bad behavior, Evangelical sinners are given get-out-of-jail-free cards to be used any time they “sin.”

Those of us who are agnostics or atheists have no way for our bad-behavior slate to be wiped clean. All we can do is admit what we did and make restitution. In some instances, we’ll carry the stain of our “sin” until we die. Unlike Evangelicals, we acknowledge that bad behavior can and does have lasting consequences.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen 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.

You can contact Bruce via email, Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

The Christian “Get Out of Jail Free” Card

blood of jesus

If you have ever played Monopoly, you know how important it is to have a “Get Out of Jail Free” card. You never know when you might need to play the card.

Every Evangelical, regardless of the sect, gets one “Get out of Jail Free” card. This card is also known as the blood of Jesus.

According to Evangelical dogma, the blood of Jesus cleanses sinners from their sin. The Bible says in Hebrews 9:22-28:

And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission. It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others;
For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.

Ephesians 1:7 says, In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.

Through the blood of Jesus, sin is atoned for; through the blood of Jesus is the forgiveness of sin. Baptist readers of this blog have sung the old church standard, Nothing But The Blood, many times:

What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

For my pardon, this I see,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
For my cleansing this my plea,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Nothing can for sin atone,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
Naught of good that I have done,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Refrain sung after every verse

Oh! precious is the flow
That makes me white as snow;
No other fount I know,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Exactly what does the blood of Jesus do for the sinner? It covers, erases, does away with their sin. According to 2 Corinthians 5:17:

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

Through the blood of Jesus, a sinner becomes a new creature (creation), old things pass away and everything becomes new. In an instant, a sinner — no matter how wicked and vile he is — can have his slate wiped clean.

God, through the blood of God (Jesus), forgives and forgets. Perverts, wife beaters, tax cheats, thieves, murderers, Josh Duggar, David Hyles, Ted Haggard, Jim Bakker, and Donald Trump are quite happy to find out that the blood of Jesus provides for them a “Get Out of Jail Free” card. The blood-cleansed sinner can shout from the mountaintop, Free, Free, Free at Last! In a moment, all their past transgressions are “under the blood.” Psalm 103:12 says: As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.

A popular Christian song, My Sins are Gone, pretty well sums up the Evangelical’s feeling about the blood of Jesus and his sin:

You ask me why I’m happy so I’ll just tell you why
Because my sins are gone
And when I meet the scoffers who ask me where they are
I say my sins are gone

They’re underneath the Blood on the cross of Calvary
As far removed As darkness is from dawn
In the sea of God’s forgetfulness that’s good enough for me
Praise God! my sins are gone

When blood-bought Evangelicals are confronted by those they have hurt in the past, they often say, “that’s under the blood.” This means, “sorry, God has forgiven me for that sin and I am not accountable for it any longer. PRAISE JESUS!!”

My mother was sexually molested as a child by her father. He later became a washed-in-the-blood fundamentalist Christian who never missed an opportunity to remind everyone that Jesus could forgive them of every sin! My mother confronted her father over what he had done to her as a child. His reply?

That’s under the blood, God has forgiven me!

My mother, in a fit of rage, let him know that SHE hadn’t forgiven him. But that didn’t matter. As long as the blood of Jesus had paid her father’s sin debt, no further confession or restitution was required. He went on to live the Christian good life, never one time saying to my mother, I am sorry. My grandfather was a mean son-of-a-bitch before he became a Christian, and he was a mean son-of-a-bitch after his sin debt had been cleansed by Jesus’ blood. (Please see John.)

What about sins committed AFTER a person becomes a Christian? Each sect has its own plan for renewing the “Get Out of Jail Free” card. Catholics use the confessional and transubstantiation to free themselves of responsibility for their sins. The blood of Jesus covers everything, including molesting children. Baptists, on the other hand, use daily prayer and the church altar as places where believers can appropriate the blood of Jesus and get a fresh start. The Bible says in First John 1:9:

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

No matter what the Baptist has done, absolution is only a prayer away. Do the same sin tomorrow? No problem, just pray and start over again. I know some of the more pious among the Baptists will object and say that when Christians confess their sin, they are to forsake it, but personal experience and observing Baptists for many years tells me that do the same sin tomorrow, no problem, just pray and start over again is typically how Baptists handle their “sin problem.”

As an atheist, I don’t have a “Get Out of Jail Free” card. When I do bad — I reject the Christian concept of sin — things there is no God to excuse me, so I must own my actions and, if possible, make things right. Granted, my “sin” list is much smaller now. Once I was set free from the shackles of God’s law, Biblical law, or whatever-the-hell-the-pastor-says-is-sin law, I was finally able to begin freely living my life. No blood atonement needed. No catchy songs about the blood covering all my transgressions.

Every day, I make decisions that affect how I live my life, and every day I have the choice to live a decent, honorable life. Every day, I come up short, and it is in those moments that I must say, I am sorry, and, if needed, make restitution.

For my mother, one I’m sorry would have covered a multitude of sins. Too bad Jesus and His blood got in the way.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen 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.

You can contact Bruce via email, Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

It Only Took One Drop of Jesus’ Blood to Save Us

blood of jesus

Recently, I listened to a southern gospel song by the Mark Trammel Quartet titled, One Drop of Blood. The premise of the song is this: it only took one drop of blood to save our souls.

Video Link

Ray Boltz, a contemporary Christian artist, also sang a song titled, One Drop of Blood.

Video Link

The premise of Boltz’ song is the same: it only takes one drop of blood to save us from our sin (and defeat Satan). Is this notion of human salvation only requiring one drop of blood theologically correct? Was all that was required of Jesus the equivalent of blood glucose level test finger stick? Why all the savagery and violence if all that was required was a boo-boo on Jesus’ leg?

Lurking behind the “one drop of blood” idea is the belief that Jesus’ blood was magical, unlike human blood. This idea was popularized years ago by Fundamentalist radio preacher M.R. DeHann in the book, The Chemistry of the Blood. DeHaan wrote:

It is not Eve’s blood which flows in the veins of mankind but ADAMS. That is why it is ADAM’s sin and not Eve’s which all men inherit. Sin is in the blood, and transmitted in the blood of man and in the flesh. Since the LIFE is in the blood according to the Scriptures, and the wages of sin was death, sin affected the blood of Adam and caused him to die. Because sin is a disease of the blood, it can be cured by the application of sinless blood, for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul. As the first Adam’s sin corrupted the blood of the entire human family, so the pure sinless blood of the last Adam makes atonement for the sin of the world. “For without shedding of blood is no remission . . .” “It is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.” It was not  Eve’s sin which affect us although Eve sinned before Adam did. It was the SIN of ADAM which brought death upon the whole race because it is ADAMS blood that transmits original sin and it is for this reason we are not called the SEED OF THE WOMAN but we are ADAM’S SEED. ONLY  Jesus is called the Seed of the woman, because He was born of a woman without one drop of human blood in His veins, and thereby could avoid the sin of Adam which is only transmitted through the blood which the male contributes to his offspring. Jesus could have a human body, but one drop of Adam’s blood would have made Him a sinner just as you and I. There was then only one remedy for SIN and that was sinless blood and only one could supply this, even the sinless Son of God.

….

The blood of the Lord Jesus is sinless blood, and since it is sinless, it is incorruptible, for sin brought corruption, and where no sin is there is no corruption. In our next message, we shall point out how the blood which flowed in Jesus’ body was sinless and how He escaped having one single drop of Adam’s human blood within Him. Every drop of blood which flowed in Jesus’ body is still in existence just as fresh as it was when it flowed from His wounded brow and hands and feet and side. The blood that flowed from His unbroken skin in Gethsemane, the blood that was smeared about His back as the cruel, weighted thongs cut through His flesh as the flagellator scourged Him, the blood that oozed out under the thorny crown and flowed from His hands, His head, His feet was never destroyed for it was incorruptible blood.

….

Although the body of the Lord Jesus Christ lay in the tomb in death for three days and three nights, no corruption had set in for that body contained incorruptible blood. Lazarus being dead only one day more was said by his sister to be STINKING with corruption, but this one saw no corruption because the only cause of corruption, SINFUL BLOOD, was absent from His flesh. That blood, every drop of it, is still in existence.

….

After Christ had made the atonement, He arose from the tomb, and then as the eternal High Priest, ascended into heaven to present the blood in the Holy of Holies where God dwells, and that blood is there today pleading for us and prevailing for us. The priest in the Tabernacle never spoke a word. All he did was PRESENT THE blood, and that was enough. MAYBE there is a golden chalice in heaven where every drop of that precious blood is still in existence, just as pure, just as potent, just as fresh as two thousand years ago.

….

How wonderfully God prepared for the virgin birth of His Son. When He created woman He made her so that no blood would be able to pass from her to her offspring. That blood is the result of the male. Since Adam was the federal head of the race, it is HIS BLOOD which transmits Adam’s Sin. In order to produce a sinless man and yet be the son of Adam, God must provide a way whereby that man would have a human body derived from Adam but have not a drop of Adam’s sinful blood. Right here is the scientific biological reason for the sinlessness of the Man Christ Jesus. Some have tried to answer the question, “How could He be sinless and yet born of a woman?” by making Mary the “Immaculate Virgin.” That, however, does not answer the question of how JESUS was sinless since it is through the male that the bloodline runs.

Not only is this a scientific fact, but it is plainly taught in Scripture that Jesus partook of human flesh without Adam’s blood.

….

Conception by the Holy Ghost then was the only way the Virgin Birth could be accomplished. Mary contributed the body of Jesus and He became the “seed of David according to the flesh.” The Holy Spirit contributed the Blood of Jesus. It was sinless blood. It was Divine blood. It is Precious Blood for there has never been any other like it.

….

There is a Second and a more potent reason still. The blood was God’s only purchase price of redemption. When man sinned, something happened to his blood, for “the life . . . is in the blood.” Instead of incorruptible and, therefore, deathless blood, Adam’s blood corrupted through sin and became subject to death. To redeem this DEAD sinner, life must be again imparted. The only remedy for death is LIFE. This life is in the blood and so blood must be furnished which is sinless and incorruptible. Now none of Adam’s race could do this. For in “Adam all died.” “All have sinned and come short.” The angels could not furnish that blood for they are spirit beings and have neither flesh nor blood. There was only one, yes, ONLY ONE, who could furnish that blood, the virgin-born Son of God, with a human body, but sinless supernatural blood, inseminated by the Holy Ghost. In a previous message we showed scientifically that every drop of blood in an infant’s body is the contribution of the male parent, while the mother furnished all the flesh of that little body. Jesus’ body was of Mary; His blood was by the Holy Ghost. This sinless, supernatural blood was the only price of redemption God could accept, without violating the integrity of His holy nature. Death can only be banished by life. A blood transfusion must be performed and provided.

….

This is not one millionth as wonderful as what God did nineteen centuries ago. Then there was one Man who gave ALL His sinless blood on the Cross of Calvary. There a BLOOD BANK was opened and into that bank went the blood of the Lord Jesus. It suits every type, avails for everyone and is free to all who submit to its “transfusion” by the Holy Spirit. All you need to do is apply for it by FAITH. We must add chemicals to the blood in our blood banks to preserve it, and then it eventually deteriorates just the same, but no preservatives need be added to His Precious blood, for it is INCORRUPTIBLE and sinless. Not one drop of that blood was lost or wasted. It is INCORRUPTIBLE.

DeHaan, a medical doctor, founder of the Radio Bible Class, and co-editor of the monthly devotional guide Our Daily Bread, believed that the blood of Jesus was not human in nature, but some sort of supernatural blood given to Jesus through Eve by the power and agency of the Holy Spirit. Got all that? I suspect that it is this thinking that lies behind the idea that our salvation only requires one drop of Jesus’ blood.

In the 1980s, John MacArthur, pastor of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, got into a brawl with Bob Jones University and numerous Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (among others) preachers over his claim that it was Jesus’ death, and not his blood that was necessary for our redemption. Man, it was a wonderful time. I heard numerous sermons about MacArthur’s liberalism and apostasy — ironic since MacArthur remains a hardcore Fundamentalist to this day. MacArthur and his critics went back and forth for years on the matter, leading MacArthur loyalist Phil Johnson to write the following:

Does John MacArthur “deny the blood of Christ?”

….

No, it is not true, and it never has been. The allegations are ridiculous—perhaps originally based on a thoughtless misunderstanding, but now clearly fueled by a deceitful malevolence.

The controversy was originally ignited by a supposed “news” item written by Bob Jones, Jr. in the April 1986 issue of Faith For The Family (a Bob Jones University-sponsored magazine). Jones quoted some remarks MacArthur had originally made in a live Q&A session at Grace Community Church sometime in the early 1970s. MacArthur’s comments had been transcribed and published in the May 1976 issue of the Grace Church newsletter “Grace Today.” The Jones article cited the comments without any documentation, and without noting that they were from a ten-year-old source.

In the BJU article, Jones quoted MacArthur as saying, “It is not His bleeding that saved me, but His dying.” Jones then cited Hebrews 9:22 (“without shedding of blood is no remission”) and intoned, “MacArthur’s position is heresy.”

On June 13, 1986, MacArthur wrote to Bob Jones III, complaining that the magazine had taken snippets of his remarks out of context and deliberately made them seem sinister. MacArthur assured the magazine’s editors that he absolutely affirms the necessity of the shed blood of Christ for atonement and explained that the point he was trying to make in the quoted excerpt was merely that the saving efficacy of Christ’s blood is not because of some property in the blood itself, but rather because Christ had poured it out in death as a substitute for sinners.

….

Plainly, MacArthur was not denying that Christ literally shed His blood. He was not denying that the literal shedding of blood was a necessary aspect of the atonement. His only point was that the efficacy of Christ’s blood lies not in some property of the blood itself, but rather in the fact that Christ shed it in death, and such a death was the price of atonement for our sin.
Moreover, if the blood of Christ is in any sense “eternally preserved” in heaven, it would be in the glorified body of the risen Lord, not in a bowl or a vial where it is perpetually offered or literally applied to sinners in some way.

After an exchange of correspondence in which MacArthur thoroughly and carefully explained his original remarks, Jones wrote on October 16, 1986, saying, “I believe the position [MacArthur] has taken in this matter is a heretical position, and all the correspondence in the world is not going to affect my convictions on that point.”

Nonetheless, BJU officials soon began trying to downplay the controversy. They were clearly embarrassed by some of the squalid half-truths that were beginning to circulate among fundamentalists. They also now had a file of correspondence from MacArthur clarifying his position, making it clear that he was orthodox. Even Jones, Jr. declined to give any rational or biblical reasons for continuing to regard MacArthur’s view as “heresy.” But he was obstinately committed to his original verdict, and by his own admission, “all the correspondence in the world [was] not going to affect” his thoughts or public statements on the matter. Instead, BJU as an institution attempted a quiet retreat from the fray.

Look again at the point MacArthur was attempting to make in the first place: When Scripture speaks of Christ’s “blood,” the expression is normally a reference to His sacrificial atoning death, not the actual red and white corpuscles. And the vivid language in our hymns about the cleansing ability and “wonder-working power” of the blood and “a fountain filled with blood” is not meant to be taken literally. There is no magical or mystical cleansing property in the red fluid, and there is no container of blood in heaven that is somehow literally applied to sinners. Such language is meant to speak of Christ’s sacrificial atonement—just as when Paul spoke of “the preaching of the cross” he had in mind the death of Christ, not the literal wooden instrument on which the Savior died. We’re not to think a piece of wood is the point of our preaching. What happened on that cross is what is efficacious for our salvation, not some magical power in the wood itself. Similarly with the blood of Christ: it is the violent pouring out of blood in Christ’s sacrificial death that saves us, not some supernatural property of the fluid itself—just what MacArthur said in the first place.

The obvious truth of all that has escaped a few militant fundamentalists who have no clear concept of the biblical notion of blood atonement, but who revel in labeling anyone who is not part of their group a heretic. They continue to insist that MacArthur is actually denying the efficacy of Christ’s blood.

My take, at the time as a young IFB preacher, was that MacArthur was right: that it was the death of Jesus and not his blood that provided salvation for sinners; that yes, Jesus shedding his blood was essential to salvation, but without his death — also known as three-day vacation — the shedding of his blood was in vain. Now, I didn’t utter out loud or preach about my agreement with MacArthur. Doing so would have been ecclesiastical and personal suicide. (Please see I Wish Christians Would be Honest About Jesus’ Three Day Weekend)

In a 1988 letter to his followers, MacArthur wrote:

Clearly, though Christ shed His literal blood, many references to the blood are not intended to be taken in the literal sense. A strictly literal interpretation cannot, for example, explain such passages as John 6:53-54: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

It would be equally hard to explain how physical blood is meant in Matthew 27:25 (“His blood be on us, and on our children”); Acts 5:28 (“[You] intend to bring this man’s blood upon us”); 18:6 (“Your blood be upon your own heads”); 20:26 (“I am innocent of the blood of all men”); and 1 Corinthians 10:16 (“The cup of blessing . . .is it not the communion of the blood of Christ?,” KJV).

Clearly the word blood is often used to mean more than the literal red fluid. Thus it is that when Scripture speaks of the blood of Christ, it usually means much more than just the red and white corpuscles—it encompasses His death, the sacrifice for our sins, and all that is involved in the atonement.

Trying to make literal every reference to Christ’s blood can lead to serious error. The Catholic doctrine known as transubstantiation, for example, teaches that communion wine is miraculously changed into the actual blood of Christ, and that those who partake of the elements in the mass literally fulfill the words of Jesus in John 6:54: “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

Those who have attacked me seem to be espousing the same kind of mystical view of the blood that led the Catholic Church to embrace transubstantiation. They claim that the blood of Christ was never truly human. They insist on literalizing every New Testament reference to Jesus’ blood. They teach that the physical blood of Christ was somehow preserved after the crucifixion and carried to heaven, where it is now literally applied to the soul of each Christian at salvation.

We are not saved by some mystical heavenly application of Jesus’ literal blood. Nothing in Scripture indicates that the literal blood of Christ is preserved in heaven and applied to individual believers. When Scripture says we’re redeemed by the blood (1 Pet. 1:18-19), it is not speaking of a bowl of blood in heaven. It means we’re saved by Christ’s sacrificial death.

In the same way, when Paul said he gloried in the cross (Gal. 6:14), he did not mean the literal wooden beams; he was speaking of all the elements of redeeming truth. Just as the cross is an expression that includes all of Christ’s atoning work, so is the blood. It is not the actual liquid that cleanses us from our sins, but the work of redemption Christ accomplished in pouring it out.

MacArthur believed that behind the venomous attacks from Fundamentalist preachers was DeHaan’s “miracle blood” teachings found in the book The Chemistry of the Blood. IFB preachers are noted for their rabid hatred of Roman Catholicism. MacArthur does a good job of connecting the “supernatural” blood belief of DeHaan with that of Catholics and their belief in transubstantiation — where communion wine and wafer actually become the literal blood and body of Jesus. That said, MacArthur and his followers have plenty of their own absurd beliefs in connection with the blood of Jesus. While MacArthur says that many of the Biblical mentions of Jesus’ blood are metaphorical in nature, it is, last I looked, through Christ’s bloody sacrifice, death, and subsequent resurrection from the dead, that the elect (MacArthur is a Calvinist) are washed from their sins. The whole notion of original sin and our need of salvation is absurd. The squabble between MacArthur and the “miraculous blood of Jesus” crowd is just Kabuki theater. The bigger issue is that Evangelicals of all stripes continue to debase their fellow humans, demanding they submit to the teachings of an ancient blood cult lest their vengeful God torture them in Hell for eternity.

I am left wondering what Christian Mark Trammel would say to Christian Ray Boltz about “one drop of blood” saving humans from their sins. I assume Trammel, an Evangelical, believes homosexuality is a sin. Boltz, an out-and-proud gay man, does not. (Please see Evangelicals and the Gay Closet: Is Ray Boltz Still a Christian?) I wonder, “which” drop of the blood of Jesus saved whom? Is it the same miraculous blood that saved Trammel that saved Boltz? Or does being gay disqualify someone from the application of Jesus’ blood? Must Botlz repent of his “sin” in order to have one drop of the blood of Jesus applied to his sin account? Or is Jesus cool and okay with LGBTQ people worshiping him? I guess we will never know since we all we are left with are the ancient contradictory writings of the Bible. When it comes to the blood of Jesus, YMMV (your mileage may vary).

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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Who Is Billy Graham, and Why Should I Visit His Library?

billy graham 1951
Billy Graham, 1951, when he was still associated with the Sword of the Lord

Guest post by ObstacleChick

Recently, my New Jersey-based family took a trip to North Carolina for a long weekend to celebrate my birthday. We flew into Charlotte, rented a car, and traveled about an hour and a half west to our destination. My son, having visited Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina several months prior while visiting colleges, wanted to play our favorite highway game in the South – “count the Jesus signs.”  The rules are simple: merely spot an overtly Christian billboard or other sign not part of a church campus.

It didn’t take long for us to see a sign featuring a picture of a Bible and the message “Who is Jesus? Read Matthew’s Gospel 855-FOR-TRUTH.” This is a professional billboard that you can find on Gospel Billboards offered by Christian Aid Ministries. According to its website, CAM is a religious charity organization for Amish, Mennonite, and Anabaptist groups and people to provide physical aid and to spread their version of the gospel to different sites around the world. As I researched CAM, I came across this article regarding an investigation of a CAM aid worker who was indicted for 7 felony charges of gross sexual imposition and seven misdemeanor charges of sexual imposition. There is an investigation regarding whether 2 CAM managers knew of the sexual abuses for several years yet allowed this individual to continue to “minister” to those in need. (Please see Black Collar Crime: Mennonite Aid Worker Jeriah Mast Accused of Sex Crimes and Black Collar Crime: Mennonite Aid Worker Jeriah Mast Pleads Guilty to Sexually Abusing Minors)

We saw several more signs our first evening of driving, including a series of white wooden crosses with a different message on either side and elaborately floodlit so that they were visible at night. Apparently, these crosses are the work of Henry “Hank” Vegter, a Saluda, NC based Baptist pastor.

Here are some of the messages:

  • Jesus Paid It All
  • Blood Secured Redemption
  • Jesus Saves From Sin
  • Jesus Died For Sinners
  • Jesus’ Incorruptible Blood

My family thought it was funny when I told them that “Jesus Paid It All” is a common hymn, and I sang it for them. As my husband and kids have rarely ever attended an evangelical church service, they are always amazed at my wealth of knowledge regarding hymns, evangelical Christian messages and doctrines, and those doctrines’ implications for current politics.

My son was excited to spot the small yellow “Thank You Jesus” sign in a yard, as he recalled seeing dozens of them in North Carolina several months ago. One morning, we counted a dozen of these signs within a 30-minute time period. These signs were the brainchild of a North Carolina teen who wanted to spread the gospel. (Please see Thank You Jesus Signs.) These signs may be purchased to fund the 503(c)3 organization whose mission is to spread the gospel. In addition to the signs, one may purchase magnets, bracelets, and garden flags.

At the end of our trip, on our drive back to the airport in Charlotte, we saw more Christian signs. One from Gospel Billboards spurred a discussion. “The Bible: Wisdom, Correction, Truth” was the message, and I pointed out that the creators of the billboard probably wanted to say “Discipline” instead of “Correction” but most likely realized that “Discipline” might be off-putting to potential converts. I asked my husband and completely nonreligious kids what they thought when they saw that sign, and their reactions included ambivalence and rejection. We saw two billboards listing John 3:16 in full, but because the verse is so long and the font was difficult to read, my son had trouble catching the whole message, thus negating the purpose of the advertisement. Fortunately for all involved, my years of early childhood indoctrination ensured that I was able to recite the verse in its entirety.

At the Charlotte Douglas International Airport, we saw several signs that encouraged people to visit the Billy Graham Library. My daughter asked, “Who is Billy Graham, and why should I visit his library?” I explained that Billy Graham was a Christian evangelist who spent decades touring the world spreading the message of Christianity. My husband mentioned that Billy Graham was fairly free from scandal, unlike Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart and a host of other evangelists who quite publicly used their ministries for personal gain. My kids were fairly unimpressed.

If my mother or grandparents were still alive, they would be horrified that my kids know very little of Evangelical Christianity or its vaunted icon Billy Graham. My mom was “saved” at a Billy Graham crusade in Nashville in the mid-1950s. My grandmother rarely watched television, but she ALWAYS watched the televised Billy Graham crusades. I have a very vague recollection of attending a Billy Graham Crusade in Nashville in the 1970s, as a group from our church rode our church bus to the downtown Municipal Auditorium for the grand event. I wasn’t “saved” there as I resisted “going down front” for altar calls as long as I was able to avoid doing so.

Whenever I visit the South, I am reminded of the familiarity of Evangelical culture but am very much put off by it. My kids find the culture curious, and we are all bothered by the “Blue Laws” that affect us as malls and stores aren’t open until after church hours. And that was another question from my kids – how long does church last on Sunday? My response was that it depends. The truly devout attend hour-long Sunday School, followed by a worship service, and some churches have a coffee hour or some other “fellowship” after the service. They were both glad that they were not required to attend church services, and instead able to enjoy other activities.

Do you live in an area where there are a lot of religious road-side signs? Do you live in an area with blue laws? Are you nonreligious or casually religious but living in a religiously saturated area?

Bruce Gerencser