Menu Close

Tag: Charisma

Do Evangelical Beliefs Lead to Mental Illness?

lisa haven
Charismatic Evangelical and Conspiracy theorist Lisa Haven

Repost from 2015. Edited, rewritten, and corrected. 

Do Evangelical beliefs lead to mental illness? Yes and no. Certainly, Evangelicals, thanks to their religious beliefs, are, to some degree, deluded. They believe things that aren’t true, but I am not inclined to think that this means they all have some sort of mental illness.  All of us are capable of self-delusion. That said, I do think some Evangelicals are mentally ill, and thanks to their beliefs, they see their illness as God giving them some sort of inside information about the world. These Evangelicals are the religious version of Mel Gibson in the movie Conspiracy Theory. Let me illustrate this with a YouTube video put out by a Charismatic Evangelical named Lisa Haven.

The following video details Haven’s belief that the United Nations is a secret front group for the nefarious New World Order. This video has already been viewed almost 270, 000 times (434,000 people subscribe to Haven’s YouTube channel). The video is 11 minutes long, but I do hope you will watch all of it. Doing so will allow you to understand what follows. Be prepared to see lots of air quotes.

Video Link  (Sorry, for some reason embedding this video causes my RSS feed to break, so you will have to view it on YouTube)

As I watched this video, I was, at first, amused, and then quite sad. I told Polly, here’s a young woman whose mind has already been ruined. Imagine, for a moment, where Lisa Haven will be 25 years from now. Will she still be, to use her words, “digging deep and finding truth . . . spread (ing) truth no matter where it lies?” Or will she be taking psychotropic drugs, wondering what went wrong? I’m sure some Evangelicals will object to me categorizing Haven, a mother of four children, as mentally ill, but any non-religious interpreter of her video would come to the same conclusion.  Remove the religious context, and Haven’s rant sounds eerily like the rantings of a crazy person.

In a video titled 18 Unsettling Predictions For 2016: Warning You May Get More Then You Bargained For!, Haven makes 18 predictions (all grammatical errors in the original):

  1. Increased crime and more terrorist threats (due to mass immigration and influx of Refugees, he [Obama] wants to bring in 10,000 alone in 2016)
  2. Rise of Islam and anti-semitism. Christianity will either stay stagnant or decrease.
  3. Economy will continue to falter, maybe even a “Global Recession.”
  4. America will becomes more third world in nature.
  5. More gun laws and restrictions will be enforced.
  6. An Increased amount of race riots and civil riots.
  7. More movement into the New World Order, Pope Francis will continue his push in this direction, likely embolden it.
  8. Increased earthquakes, tsunamis, weather activity as predicted in the Bible and the warning letter sent to FEMA by prior presidential advisor John L. Casey.
  9. More fusion centers, NSA surveillance and more suppression of truth over the Internet (things like Facebook, twitter, Google, will all work together to oust truths and suppress reality).
  10. A move in the direction of policed streets in the name of “safety.” Increased activity of military helicopters, drone activity, domestic military drills, etc. More laws will be passed promoting this.
  11. Possible World War III due to numerous rumors now transpiring with Russia, who is currently preparing for war against the United States and they want the battlefield to be Syria.
  12. Patriots, Christians, Conservatives, Libertarians, Gun Owners and Veterans will become more of a target.
  13. Activity in the Middle East will embolden! More war activity in Jerusalem, more attacks on Israel as the Bible predicts.
  14. If Obama has his way, due his clean power plan, our energy prices will increase.
  15. Increased demoralization done under the banner of “political correctness.”
  16. More technological advancements, including more movement in the direction of a global ID, Mark of the Beast style (however their goal is not to have this fully in place until 2030)
  17. World governments will become bolder in their tyrannical moves.
  18. America will either have a revival or be apathetic.

While there is a minute element of truth in some of Haven’s “predictions,” it should be clear to readers that her conspiratorial thinking is being driven by her Evangelical beliefs concerning the Bible and eschatology (future events). Over the years, I have met numerous people such as Lisa Haven. Every one of them had one thing in common: Evangelical Christianity.

In a 2015 News2morrow interview, Haven shared how she views the world:

Another one – and I just put this story out yesterday, don’t know if you saw it – we could be having a repeat of what had happened in the Soviet Union here in America. And what I mean by that, in order to silence political opposition the Soviets started labeling political dissidents as a psychiatric disorder. The official label was sluggish schizophrenia.

They started labeling people with these titles, basically silencing any opposition that they had.  When I dive through some of the information I see in America, I see some of that being mimicked here. However they’re labeling it as conspiracy theorists and that could open a whole realm. I mean, you can say bible prophecy is a conspiracy theory. You can say a certain realm of patriotism is a conspiracy theory. The term is so broadly used.

There are various reports of research being done at colleges basically studying the minds of conspiracy theorists and labeling them with personality disorders. Again, when something like that happens, I’m like “Ahh!  What is the game here?”

….

I think, what could happen, is that they’re targeting political dissidents, basically the ones that are in opposition to what they want to play out – which would be your patriots, constitutionalists, veterans, Christians. They’ve been specifically targeted on numerous documents. We were targeted on Project Megiddo. There’s the right wing extremist documentation that we have today, and the presentations that they’re giving to our military. These are some of the, quote unquote, “right wing extremists” that are being labeled and targeted.

I think the reason why they’re doing that is, when something happens with the economy and we go into chaos, they’ll have reasons to go round up those dissidents – right wing extremists, as they label a lot of us. They could say that they’re rounding them up to prevent riots, and would send them to FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) camps that they’ve set up. And they don’t call them FEMA camps – the official government term is internment camps.

….

Persecution can come in many forms. Right now there is a huge push of persecution against the reality of Christ. Right here in America! — that’s what we’re seeing starting. And that’s being turned into the lunatics that believe a lie. And part of that psychiatric diagnosis is that they are bringing in religion. So you can see what we might be headed in the future with something like that. They’re even claiming in some studies that I’ve read that it could be a medical diagnosis.

….

It’s hard to say, but I think we can push it back. We can delay it definitely. We’ve also seen the leaking of possible false flags that were planned by the government but were diverted because people in media have gotten it out. Sometimes people will say, “Oh but it never happened!” No, it didn’t – thankfully! Because it got diverted through media outlets, especially the alternative media.

The mainstream media seems to be government run. They can’t regulate the alternative media and that’s why they’re pushing that net neutrality (legislation) to put it on the lap of the FCC (Federal Communications Commission).  Now if they can silence alternative media, they can implement their plans. But it can be diverted by waking up the masses.

What is it that drives Haven’s thinking? What leads a bright young woman to think that chem trails are poisoning all of us and that drinking tea will cleanse us of its deleterious effects?  What causes Haven to abandon her youth and devote her life to chasing after black helicopters, the New World Order, and Jesus? Two things: her belief that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant, infallible Words of God and her literalistic interpretation of these words.

Haven is the poster child for what happens when someone really, really, really believes the Bible. Haven attends a Charismatic church which, week in and week out, reinforces her end-times, conspiratorial beliefs. According to Haven’s website, she is taking classes through the International School of Ministry (ISOM), an online Charismatic Bible college. ISOM is operated by Berin Gilfillan and his wife Lisa. Both have secular degrees (University of Michigan, Michigan State), proving yet again that educated people can be quite deluded.

According to a previous version of ISOM’s website:

Each Trimester of ISOM study consists of 32 teaching sessions of training. You can click on each of the blue buttons below to explore the wonderful content of those five Trimesters. They contain a total of 160 sessions of teaching from 30 renowned instructors such as Jack Hayford, John Bevere, Joyce Meyer, A.R. Bernard, Reinhard Bonnke, Marilyn Hickey, Brian Houston, T.L. Osborn and Bill Winston to name a few.

This ISOM program is tried and tested and has been used around the world by over 330,000 students with wonderful results. Now that ISOM has make-up and review classes online, it is even more friendly for use by pastors and churches. Please note, however, that ISOM is NOT focused on high theology, but on practical training and impartation.

….

Many people who previously graduated with doctoral degrees from another institution have commented on how ISOM was so impartational and so different to their previous studies. It is possible for people to start ISOM at a higher level, but not recommended as ISOM core really contains some classic content. We allow students of any age to participate in ISOM. I have graduated two 11 year old students and one 91 year old.

The Gilfillans also give pastors an opportunity to have an ISOM in their church. According to a previous iteration of the ISOM website, “ISOM is the world’s largest video Bible School and is being used in more than 15,000 locations, in 142 nations and in more than 70 languages.” The skeptic in me says, I would love to see ISOM’s and the Gilfillan’s financials. I suspect a lot of money is being made through “training” gullible Evangelical Christians for ministry. One such person is Lisa Haven.

Will Haven’s ISOM training encourage her to think critically? Of course not. The Gilfillans readily admit that ISOM ” is NOT focused on high theology, but on practical training and impartation.” In other words, all that ISOM training will do for Haven is reinforce her belief that she is called by God to expose the evil New World Order and all its attending conspiracies. Here is a list of some the classes Haven will have to take to get a degree from ISOM:

  • Foundations of the Faith
  • Supernatural Living
  • Praise & Worship
  • Fear of the Lord
  • Old Testament/New Testament Survey
  • Living by Faith
  • Jesus Our Healer, Today
  • Church-based training (or how you can start your own ISOM franchise)
  • Altar Call
  • Spiritual Breakthrough
  • Wilderness Mentalities
  • Spiritual Warfare

I have no doubt that the training provided by ISOM will only increase Haven’s conspiratorial delusions. While it would be tempting to put all the blame on Haven for her craziness, the truth is her church, pastor, parents, husband, ISOM, and hundreds of thousands of adoring YouTube followers have made Haven into the person she is today.

Is Lisa Haven mentally ill? I don’t know. I’m not a doctor, so I am not qualified to make such a diagnosis. I can say, based on the videos I have viewed, Haven does exhibit the signs of someone who is mentally disturbed. Sadly, as many former Charismatics will attest, mental illness is just a typical Sunday night worship service at the local Charismatic Evangelical church.

Unless Lisa Haven has some sort of rational epiphany, there’s little that can be done to help her. Sadly, being deluded is not a crime (even though Haven thinks she will one day be imprisoned for her beliefs). She has been taken captive by her Bible and literalistic Evangelical beliefs. She will remain imprisoned until she sees the light and comes to realize that her entire worldview is based on lies.

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.

Hey, It Ain’t My Fault, Says God

it aint my fault

Recently, CHARISMA News posted a story titled How the Holy Spirit Prepared This Woman for Her Leukemia Diagnosis. While I certainly sympathize with this woman who has a life-threatening illness, her recounting of what God told her about her affliction provides an excellent example of the schizophrenic, contradictory view many Christians have of God. Here’s what the Holy Spirit — the favorite “God” of Charismatics — purportedly said:

Here, you are about to walk through something. I didn’t do it to you. I’m not causing this. You know, a good Father doesn’t inflict pain on His children, but you’re about to walk through something. But do you trust that I’ve already been where you’re going? Do you trust that I’ve already walked the journey you’re about to walk?

As an atheist, I don’t believe in the existence of deities. Thus, when Christians say they talk to God and God talks to them, I know the only voices they are hearing are their own; and that the only answered prayers are those that are fulfilled by those doing the praying. In other words, for many people, prayer is a mental activity of great value; one that leads them to believe that their peculiar God is not only hearing their prayers, but answering them. There’s no evidence for the claim that God hears and answers prayers. Either you believe he does, or you don’t. Either you have faith, or you don’t. Any cursory examination of one’s prayer life will lead even the most devoted petitioner to conclude that either God doesn’t exist or he is indifferent to the plight of his children. If God is anything, he is like Robert Tilton. You may remember Tilton as the TV evangelist who was caught removing the cash/checks from prayer requests sent to him, and throwing the unread requests in the dumpster.

I know that nothing I say will reach Evangelicals who sincerely believe God is their best friend/buddy/lover. For such people, they just “know” that their God is listening to and talks to them (in a still small voice). They just “know” that the triune God is personally and intimately involved in their lives, even though the evidence suggests otherwise. These beliefs are reinforced weekly at countless Evangelical houses of worship, and on social media, news sites, and blogs. Everything believers hear and read tells them that their presuppositions about God, the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Ghost are true. An atheistic curmudgeon such as myself will be dismissed out of hand as a hater of God/Christianity/Christians. All I know to do is point out the contradictions and absurdities in their claims.

The woman with leukemia in the CHARISMA article believes God told her:

  • You are going to walk through “something.”
  • Whatever happens, I didn’t cause it.
  • Whatever happens, I didn’t do it.
  • A good Father doesn’t inflict pain on his children.
  • Trust me.

God could have immediately healed this woman, but he didn’t. Why? Why do Evangelicals go through untold pain and suffering, all the while believing that God loves them and has a wonderful plan for their lives; that God only wants what “best” for them?  It seems to me, that Jesus, the Great Physician has great diagnostic skills but is a miserable failure when it comes to stopping pain and delivering Evangelicals from physical afflictions. Well, except for death, anyway. The Bible says Jesus holds the keys to life and death. Based on the obituaries I read, God’s not into healing people. But, killing them? Now that’s a gig he can get into.

Evangelicals supposedly believe God is omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent. In other words, God is all-powerful and sees, hears, and knows everything. Evangelicals supposedly believe God is the sovereign creator and ruler of the universe; that nothing happens that isn’t according to God’s purpose and plan. Evangelicals supposedly believe that God is intimately involved in their lives. How do we square these commonly held beliefs with what the Holy Spirit allegedly said to the woman with leukemia?

According to the Bible, God uses pain, suffering, and loss to test, try, and chastise his children. Unless God has outsourced these things, he alone is responsible for what this woman went through, and what every Christian goes through when facing the various maladies that afflict the human race. If God is not responsible for these things, who is? And should whomever the person/being is be the God we worship? Shouldn’t worship be reserved for whoever is in charge?

The real issue is that Christians such as this woman know that believers with cancer and other dreaded diseases put God in a bad light. Evangelicals say God loves and cares for them, hears their every prayer, and promises to never leave or forsake them. It is clear, at least to me, that God is nothing, if not indifferent and negligent. Again, this woman knows how things look, so she goes out of her way to defend God’s honor and to exempt him from any culpability. God said, Hey, don’t blame me for your leukemia. I didn’t do it!

According to this woman, the Holy Spirit told her that God never inflicts pain on his children. Evidently, her Bible must not contain the plethora of verses that show a violent God raining down all sorts of pain and suffering on Christians and non-Christians alike. And if the Bible is not enough evidence, go any Evangelical church and you will find countless people in pain — be it physical or emotional. The Holy Spirit lied to this woman. Pain is very much a part of the human experience. One’s faith or lack thereof does not exempt one from pain and suffering. If God is who Evangelicals say he is, then he’s to blame for the afflictions of the human race.

The voice this woman heard in her head was her own. The Holy Spirit’s words reflect how she views God, not some message from him. At best, God “speaking” to her is a coping mechanism; a way to make sense of what she was going through. All of us find ways to deal with pain and suffering — even atheists. The difference for the atheist, of course, is that he or she lives in a world where human afflictions are explained scientifically, and not through appeals to magic. It sucks that this woman had leukemia. However, any healing that comes her way will be the result of human instrumentality, not divine intervention. For the atheist, in science we trust. While certain forms of spirituality might have a cathartic effect, when it comes to treatment, what we need are trained medical professionals, not ancient imaginary deities.

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.

Are you on Social Media? Follow Bruce on Facebook and Twitter.

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.

Does the Holy Spirit Fart?

https://schoolofthespirit.tv/

According to Jennifer LeClaire, Charismatic prophetess extraordinaire, Christians have the ability to “smell” in the spirit.  LeClaire, a huckster always looking for another way to make a buck, is peddling a course titled “Smelling in the Spirit.” Costing $59, the class aims to:

From the fragrance of God to the fragrance of demons and beyond, we do have the ability to smell in the spirit. Many don’t undertand this aspect of the gift of discerning of Spirits. Jennifer LeClaire teachers [sic] you in the School of the Seers.

According to LeClaire, God has a fragrance, and so do demons. This got me wondering about the Holy Spirit’s smell. What if the Holy Spirit farted? How would LeClaire and other sniffers “discern” God’s message from the gaseous mixture of Taco Bell gorditas and burritos emanating from their asses? Surely, this is a very important question, don’t you think?

If you are a Christian, the next time you are in church or in a crowded elevator and you smell a fart — maybe your own — just remember you might be smelling the Holy Spirit.  If you are an atheist, it’s not the Holy Spirit you are smelling, it’s Lucifer or one of his demons. What a minute, Bruce, are you saying Holy Spirit and Lucifer farts smell the same? Yep! Consider the ramifications of that thought, if you dare!

Please share your smelly thoughts about LeClaire’s “Smelling in the Spirit” class in the comment section.

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: “Rejecting Jesus Should Be the Defining Symptom of Insanity”

john burton
John “Ain’t I Cool” Burton, “Expert” on the Mental State of Atheists and All Other non-Christians

Guest Post by ObstacleChick

My brother posted this article written by John Burton from the online Charisma Magazine:

One second in the presence of God will cure the most devoted skeptic, or so the saying goes.

Continually, as I watch the world go ’round, I am utterly stunned that people go about their lives while either casually or aggressively rejecting Jesus. Do they not know what they are doing?

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34a).

Almost with intentional naivete, I wonder just why anybody would refuse such a life-altering, healing and glorious gift. Historically, people still rejected Jesus after being a witness to the resurrection. Others ignored the call to the upper room. Today, people react similarly to calls to radical surrender to the most powerful being in existence. It truly does not make sense—or does it?

….

Today, those who have not experienced true, godly, supernatural love that transforms their hearts have no option but to seek out an alternative to satisfy their needs and desires. A counterfeit.

God’s love looks and feels very different than [sic] most would presume. When someone authentically encounters the love of God, everything changes. Everything.

They haven’t heard God’s voice. “Call to me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things which you do not know” (Jer. 33:3).

The author shows incredulity at the fact that so many people reject the resurrection, the “life-altering, healing, and glorious gift” given by Jesus. He cannot comprehend how dismissal makes sense. However, he gives us a list of reasons why unbelievers repudiate Jesus/God, each reason backed up by a lovely cherry-picked Bible proof text lifted out of its context, of course. (I didn’t list every single verse in the article). The author delivers his article with no small dose of smugness, self-righteousness, and superiority. For those of you atheists and agnostics who are concerned you may be insane in the membrane like me, sit back while I give you a summary of Mr. Burton’s incredibly long book promotion infomercial regarding the reasons surrounding the insanity of the poor deluded non-believer.

“They have no grid for the presence of God.” (I Corinthians 2:14) “The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

Mr. Burton refers to overwhelming emotions he experienced at a Christian conference, surrounded by others overwhelmed by emotion and attributing it all to the presence of God. It’s not uncommon for people to be overtaken by feelings, but many of us do not attribute feelings to the presence of a deity. Sometimes we just get giddy.

“They have never experienced a miracle.” “God worked powerful miracles by the hands of Paul. So handkerchiefs or aprons he had touched were brought to the sick, and the diseases left them, and the evil spirits went out of them.” (Acts 19:11-12).

The author states that he has witnessed more wonders and miracles than he cares to mention (but you may find some in his book to which he has provided a link for purchase). He states that non-believers explain “wonders and miracles” away through natural causes. Non-believers let that pesky little thing called “evidence” get in the way of a good old-fashioned miracle story.

“True peace, joy, and freedom are absolutely foreign to them.” “You will make known to me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” (Psalm 16:11).

The author refers to seeing before and after photos of lost people who surrender their ever-loving souls to the power of Jesus and states that the “lost” cannot know freedom outside meeting and falling in love with Jesus. Because non-believers are all miserable excuses for humans and need a good Jesus-flooding to give them joy.

“They have settled for counterfeit love.”

Mr. Burton refers to another one of his books and provides a link for purchase to help readers discover how they too can hear the voice of God. One must hear God’s voice to feel that overwhelming supernatural love that is the only true love in the world, and all other types of love are counterfeit. He assures us that the voice of God is real, not a “weird, imagined sci-fi style message.” Non-believers live in radio silence and need Mr. Burton’s book so they can find the correct radio frequency to hear the authentic voice of God. Is it AM1430? Or AM1250? Better buy the book and find out!

“Dreams and visions are foreign to them.” “‘In the last days it shall be,’ says God, ‘that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.'” (Acts 2:17).

The author apparently has cool dreams all the time, and he states that God sometimes even talks to non-believers like the Apostle Paul and even *gasp* Muslims to give them an opportunity to surrender their ever-loving souls for eternity! I had a dream the other night about buying a house with an Olympic-sized indoor pool surrounded by a running track and a fully-equipped gym. But then I awakened to the reality of my treadmill, squat rack, and weight bench in the garage. Dang.

“They misunderstand the power of sin and the nature of God.”

To make a long section short, Mr. Burton tells us that sin is bad, that God will turn away from us if we sin, that we need to live in the fear and love of Jesus in order to leave our sin behind so that God can love us again. Isn’t God great? If we fear him and leave our sin, he’ll conditionally love us again! By the way, here’s the list of sins from Galatians 5:19-21: adultery, sexual immorality, impurity, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, strife, jealousy, rage, selfishness, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. Got it? Good.

“They haven’t experienced the transforming baptism of the Holy Spirit.”

I was wondering when the third member of the triumvirate would be mentioned, but here he is, the Amazing, the Awesome, the Invisible Holy Spirit! The author wants us to be baptized in the Holy Spirit rather than relying on positive thinking or going to counseling. He also wants a revival in Hollywood so that A-list stars are bathed in the power of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. I guess Justin Bieber and Chris Pratt are too few in number, and Kirk Cameron and Kevin Sorbo don’t rate as A-list celebrities.

“The Word of God isn’t alive to them.”

In summary, read your Bible, but not intellectually – especially not intellectually. Mr. Burton avers that the Bible only comes alive when we are intimate with God. I really don’t want to think about what “intimate with God” means, but it brought to mind Bruce’s Black Collar Crime series . . .

“What they see with their eyes is more real than what is invisible.”

Here we go, ladies and gentlemen, Christians’ favorite verse to explain why we need to abandon reason and evidence and just believe, damn it, believe!  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5).

“Their prayers have gone unanswered.”

Here we go with one of the loopholes for why prayers are unanswered. “We know that God does not listen to sinners. But if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him.” (John 9:31). Mr. Burton doesn’t want us to forget that it’s usually our fault if prayer isn’t answered. But don’t forget, God has his own ways that we are too foolish to understand, so God must be trusted.

“They are unconcerned about eternity.”

I don’t feel like typing out I Thessalonians 5:1-3 about the Lord coming like a thief in the night. But of course, here it is, ladies and gentlemen, the number one threat of evangelical Christians – the threat of eternity in HELL!  Surely, you didn’t think he would leave that out! That’s Christians’ greatest weapon in their arsenal, appealing to people’s fear of everlasting torment in HELL.

“God sent a strong delusion and has turned them over to a debased mind.”

Ladies and gentlemen, repent before it is too late because God will give up on you. Or maybe it’s Calvinism. I don’t know. But please know, readers, that Mr. Burton is terribly grieved when people reject Jesus.

Good luck convincing the American Psychiatric Association to include rejection of Jesus as a sign of insanity when they revise their Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5.

I came away from Mr. Burton’s article with the conclusion that he believes that if one does not accept his list of Bible verses to support the concept that one must completely surrender one’s life to God in order to escape eternal punishment in hell, one is certifiably insane. Given that, I must respectfully declare myself in the words of Cypress Hill as “insane in the membrane”.

“Insane in the Membrane” by Cypress Hill

Video Link

Charisma News Spins a Story to “Prove” a Miracle

david and toni espinoza

Charisma News, the go-to source for charismatic excess (and outright lunacy) within Evangelicalism, recently published a story pimping the Christian fantasy show, Godwinks @ PureFlix.  “Godwinks” are, according to Charisma News, miracles performed by the Christian deity. One such “Godwink” involves Toni and David Espinoza of McAllen, Texas:

Rushnell [the host of Godwinks], who tells many of these “godwinks” stories in PureFlix.com’s series “Godwinks at Pure Flix,” recently revealed the most amazing miracle story he’s ever encountered.

He told “The Pure Flix Podcast” about how Toni and David Espinoza of McAllen, Texas, were once given some truly devastating news: David, who was 50 years old at the time, suffered from a heart that was working at just 10 percent capacity, and he desperately needed a transplant.

The family turned to pray—and then something absolutely incredible happened. Listen to “The Pure Flix Podcast” at the 6-minute mark to hear Rushnell explain:

“Toni … said, ‘We are going to pray together as a family. We’re going to get our church praying, we’re going to get everybody praying,'” Rushnell recounted.

Toni soon found herself feeling convicted because she realized she was essentially praying for someone else to die in order for her husband to receive a new heart.

That’s when she totally changed her mindset and made a major adjustment to her prayer routine: She asked God to fully heal her husband.

“She had prayed that God would completely heal David [and] that he would confirm it by making it snow on McAllen, Texas, on Christmas Day,” Rushnell said.

There was only one logistical problem with Toni’s belief that God would confirm the healing with a snowfall on Christmas: it had reportedly never snowed on Christmas in McAllen, Texas. In fact, there hadn’t been snow in the area in 109 years.

But, on Christmas Eve at 11:45 p.m., Toni looked outside and saw a white coating in her backyard: it had snowed for the first time in McAllen, Texas. While some might call it a coincidence, David went back for a heart appointment three weeks later, and his physicians were stunned.

“The doctors looked at the reports, they shook their heads and said, ‘We can’t explain this, but David—you are going to live for a very long time,” Rushnell said. “It was the most amazing godwink that I think I had ever heard.”

Yes, it did snow on December 24-25 2004. However, not only did it snow in McAllen, it snowed across much of Southern Texas. According to Wikipedia:

The most noticeable, and unusual, event associated with the storm was the snowfall it produced. Much of the snow fell in southern Texas, along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, but some snow, albeit less deep, fell across southwestern and southeastern Louisiana. Any snowfall in these areas is extremely unusual, perhaps occurring once every twenty years, and these events are usually airborne flurries which melt on contact with the ground. In many places the snow stuck to the ground and accumulated to an appreciable depth. In Brownsville, Texas, snow fell to a depth of 1.5 inches (3.8 cm), the first measurable snowfall at the city in years, since the Great Blizzard of 1899.The fact that the snow accumulated overnight on Christmas Eve led to a White Christmas the next morning, something completely foreign to the region. Across all of southern Texas and in southwestern Louisiana, snow fell in places where it had not for anywhere from 15 to 120 years. Near the coast, in Corpus Christi, Texas, 5.2 inches (13 cm) of snow fell, more snow than in all previous recorded years combined. This was also the case in Victoria, Texas, where a significant 13.0 inches (33 cm) fell. New Orleans, Louisiana had its first white Christmas in 50 years. In addition to the unusual occurrence of snow inland, moderate to heavy snow was also reported over the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico. This is the first significant snow fall in Houston since February 12, 1960, when a snowstorm hit central and south Texas with eight to 10 inches of snow

This was a WEATHER event, not a “Godwink.” Science, people, science. It snowed in McAllen, Texas because atmospheric conditions were such that it snowed — no deity needed. As with most Bible-blinded Evangelicals, Toni and David Espinoza saw a miracle where there was none.

December 8, 2017, The McAllen Monitor reported yet another “blizzard,” one that left so little snowfall that weather officials could not measure it. Yes, it technically “snowed,” but here in the upper Midwest, such snowfalls don’t count. Yet, using Toni Espinoza’s logic, a McAllen resident somewhere could have claimed it as a “miracle”; that is if they had demanded God to whip out his divine penis and show it just for them on December 8, 2017.

According to the Charisma News story, it hadn’t snowed in McAllen, Texas in 109 years. I searched high and low for evidence for this claim, and all I found was the following on the National Weather Service website. It tells the WHY of the 2004 snow event:

The Rio Grande Valley of Deep South Texas experienced one of its most memorable Christmas Holidays ever. A rare combination of weather events developed in late December that produced several inches of snowfall, which in itself is quite rare in this region. However, to have snow fall on Christmas Eve and morning is a historical first according to the more than 150 years of weather data. This White Christmas is certainly one for the record books.

….

The freezing temperatures and snowfall were expected in South Texas and National Weather Service Offices were talking about the arrival of unseasonably cold temperatures prior to the holiday. Snowfall was mentioned as a possibility and as Christmas drew closer, snowfall became more likely as the weather forecast became more focused.

We need to look back to the week before Christmas in order to recap the details of this historic event. Signals from the numerical weather forecast models suggested a strong cold front and arctic air mass would move southward along the Rocky Mountains into Texas and eventually over the Lower Texas Coast. This cold front moved through Brownsville, Wednesday afternoon (12/22/2004). A second reinforcing surge of arctic air followed the initial front, dropping temperatures into the 30s and low 40s late Thursday (12/23/2004). Maximum temperatures on Friday (12/24/2004) were in the upper 30s to low 40s across the Rio Grande Valley. Widespread moderate rain covered much of the area with most locations reporting one half of an inch to nearly one inch of liquid precipitation (Figure 1, below). The cold rain began to taper off on Christmas Eve as temperatures began to fall below freezing

As the event began to unfold, the meteorologists at NWS Brownsville refined the precipitation forecast to account for rainfall changing to sleet or a rain/snow mix, and eventually changing to all snow for the overnight hours between December 24th and 25th. The first in a series of winter weather warnings and advisories – Freeze Warnings – were issued by the National Weather Service at 230 AM December 23rd. Around noon on Christmas Eve, the Freeze Warnings were upgraded to Winter Weather Advisories, which were subsequently upgraded to Winter Storm Warnings later that evening for Heavy Snow, continuing until the morning of December 25th when the snowfall finally ended.

All in all, the snowfall was greeted with joy and excitement since it has been almost 110 years since the last measurable snow fell in the city of Brownsville – and for that matter, much of the Valley.

Yes, snowfall in McAllen is a rare occurrence. Yes, it snowed on Christmas Day 2004. Yes, it has snowed since then, though not in measurable amounts. Thus, the best that can be said is that there had not been MEASURABLE snowfall amounts in McAllen in 109 years, and that this is due to climate and weather patterns, not God. I am confident in saying that there have likely been other “snowfalls” to hit McAllen besides the “blizzard” of 2017. Meteorological records only go back for 150 or so years, so it is an argument from silence to say that it has never snowed in McAllen before 2004. This story is just another example of Evangelicals desperately looking for a miracle where there is none. And as far as David Espinoza’s miraculous healing is concerned, neither Charisma News, God Winks @Pure Flix, or the Espinozas provided any evidence for the claim that David was miraculously “healed.”  People are just expected to, by irrational faith, BELIEVEWhen asked on the TODAY show about whether the chain of events was mere coincidence or divine intervention, God Winks host, Squire Rushnell, replied “You know what that shows? It shows that if you have faith and pray, Godwinks happen.” What it shows is that with faith people can and will believe almost anything. If Evangelicals want rationalists and skeptics to “believe,” they are going to have to cough up a lot more evidence than the aforementioned story.

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 61, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 40 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.

Bruce is a local photography business owner, operating Defiance County Photo out of his home. If you live in Northwest Ohio and would like to hire Bruce, please email him.

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.

Bruce Gerencser