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Tag: Charismatic

Sounds of Fundamentalism: Evangelical Evangelist Todd White and His Acolytes “Heal” People

todd white

The Sounds of Fundamentalism 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 Evangelical evangelist Todd White and his acolytes “healing” people. White is the president of Lifestyle Christianity University in Watauga, Texas

Enjoy! 🙂

Video Link

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 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.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

Pacemaker Miraculously Dissolves and Disappears

The Revival Hub is a Charismatic Christian ministry located in Holiday City, Ohio, 20 minutes from my home. According to the church’s Facebook page, they are in the midst of a protracted revival meeting. Souls are being saved and their peculiar God is working miracles in their midst. One such miracle is a woman’s pacemaker being dissolved and disappearing from her chest. Now that’s quite a miracle, right? Of course, no evidence is provided for this claim. No medical reports, no scans, just the claim of miracle-working apostles, Pete & Alice Garza, and their mark.

Video Link

You can watch other fantastical “miracles” here.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 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.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

Did Evangelical Sara Witten Mistake a Hearing Aid Whistle for God?

hearing aid whistle

I spent the first fifty years of my life attending church. During my Independent Fundamentalist Baptist days, I attended or led four church services a week, plus revivals, mission conferences, Bible conferences, and sundry other meetings. Over the years, I have heard fellow church members speak in tongues, audibly praise Jesus, fart, belch, snore, or say AMEN (for the fart)! 🙂 One of the more annoying sounds I heard in church was the high-pitched sound made by improperly adjusted hearing aids. This whistle can be quite annoying, especially when the person wearing the hearing aids can’t hear it. Not once did I mistake this sound for the presence of God in our midst.

Yesterday, CHARISMA News, the official record for all things Charismatic, published an article by Sara Whitten titled Year of the Whistle. Whitten’s bio states she is an:

author, speaker, equipper and founder of Arrows of Zion Ministry. She and her husband are pastors for the youth at Impact Christian Fellowship in Kerrville, Texas. Sara is a prophetic writer that has been featured on Elijah List, Spirit Fuel, Charisma and more. She hosts Hear God Everyday on Charisma Podcast Network, a podcast with tools to help amplify the voice of God amidst the noise of everyday life. Sara also co-founded One Spark International, an organization that sponsors Bible-based training and education in unreached and restricted nations in order to see the gospel reach all people groups. She is also an active part of groups that train and invest in professionals wanting to use their business or marketplace skills to transform unreached nations for the kingdom.

Last Sunday, Witten was attending church when she “heard” the Christian God:

As I was worshipping at church last Sunday, the presence of the Lord felt heavy in the room. I felt the Lord whisper, “Blow! I am breathing now.” I pursed my lips and exhaled. To my shock, from somewhere else in the room came a loud whistle. For a moment, I even stopped to make sure it wasn’t me.

Throughout the rest of the worship set, even over the loud music, an intermittent whistle would sound. God said, “This will be known as the year of the Lord’s whistle.” The word “whistle,” as we know it today, actually is derived from an old Norse word “hvīsla” meaning “to whisper.”

I cannot hear the word “whisper” without thinking of Elijah in 1 Kings 19. He was hunkering in a cave, waiting to meet the Lord. First, a wind that literally shattered rock whipped through the mountains. Then the earth quaked. Then a raging fire broke out. Through all of these, Elijah waited.

Then came a whisper and, at the sound of a whisper, Elijah came out. In America, amidst the spiritual ripping winds, earthquakes and fires, God is about to release a “whisper” to call the Elijahs out. This year, the new level of warfare that has kept people in their caves is going to usher out a group of Elijahs that have been in the hidden place, waiting for the word of the Lord.

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A new level of knowing His voice and returning with a passion to His written Word is going to break out like a whistle.

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In a rapid movement of God, there is going to be a “pushing past” obstructions and a spiritual opening. God is summoning and decreeing, and He is “blowing the whistle” on the enemy. Enough is enough. As I turned to the Scriptures for references to whistling, I was stunned. Zechariah 10:8 (NIV) reads, “I will signal (whistle) for them and gather them in. Surely I will redeem them: they will be as numerous as before.”

This verse occurs amidst a chapter that is a resounding call to prayer. Their world, at the time, was riddled with confusion as people worshipped idols, wanted to choose their own truth and morality and squandered their potential at fruitfulness. In response, God said, while crying out in prayer, that He would answer them, give them back the governing authority they had lost, help them overcome their enemies and restore peace and faith in their own country.

As this same thing happens in our world today, God’s promises are the same. Isaiah 5:26 also mentions whistling, saying, “He lifts up a banner for the distant nations, he whistles for those at the ends of the earth. Here they come swiftly and speedily!” This verse is somewhat unsettling. The people in this passage were “wise in their own eyes,” not wanting to listen to the Lord but thinking their own way was best.

Just as mayhem ensued and the Lord whistled to the nations, God then raised up Isaiah to be a source of clarity and for his own people. Just as with Elijah, the calamity came with a new prophetic release. Psalm 9:2-7 also speaks of whistling and reads in the Message translation: “I’m whistling, laughing, and jumping for joy; I’m singing your song, High God. The day my enemies turned tail and ran, they stumbled on you and fell on their faces. You took over and set everything right; when I needed you, you were there, taking charge. You blow the whistle on godless nations; you throw dirty players out of the game, wipe their names right off the roster. Enemies disappear from the sidelines, their reputation trashed, their names erased from the halls of fame. God holds the high center, he sees and sets the world’s mess right.”

We see in this passage both a whistle for joy and a whistle of justice. With one whistle, injustices that have been allowed to continue are called out and taken down. As I prayed into this year, I see a year of shaking as “whistles” are blown to bring justice where there has been neglect for the Lord. I also see a year of “whistles” awakening and quickly moving people out of places of hiddenness or immobility and into new, individual roles, as they prophetically carry the voice of the Lord into all sectors of society.

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In this next year, God is pouring the oil of anointing and healing on the mountains of society. Media, government, family, entertainment, ministry, education and business are going to receive anointing and healing where the thief has beaten and stripped them. Just as in 1 Kings 19, don’t fear when the “wind rips through the mountains,” the earth quakes or fires rage. Wait for the whistle. Then listen for the prophetic whisper of the Lord.

Throughout the worship service, Witten heard a “whistle,” even when the band was banging out the latest “Jesus is your Boyfriend” praise and worship song. Witten immediately assumed the “whistle” she heard was God speaking to her. Not feedback from the church’s AV equipment. Not from a hearing aid. Not from the HVAC system. Nope, G-o-d. The creator of the universe took time out from his sovereign rule of the universe to intermittently whistle to a woman with “supernatural” hearing.

simpsons worship god

Witten provided no evidence for her claim. All she would need to do is provide a recording from the church service. Of course, Witten will likely say that God was “whistling” to her alone, not the congregation, so no such evidence exists. Of course not . . .

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 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.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

I’m Thinking About Returning to Christianity

bruce gerencser repents

Did the post title get your attention?

Several years ago, I pondered ways to generate income. I thought, I can’t be a porn actor or stripper, but maybe I could return to what I know — preaching and pastoring churches. What do you think, dear readers? Should I tell Jesus, sorry Dude, I was wrong. I repent of my evil blog posts and reaffirm my membership in the One True Faith®? I know, Lord, that the calling of God can never be taken away, so I plan to start a brand-new church in sinful, dark Defiance, Ohio. There’s lots of Christian churches in Defiance, Lord, but none of them is pastored by a man with a testimony such as mine. Imagine, Lord, what I can do for Y-O-U!

Perhaps the Lord will tell me that there are enough churches in Defiance. While I certainly would be disappointed, I know there are other “opportunities” for me in the Lord’s vineyard. How about a traveling evangelistic ministry, Lord?

A former charismatic pastor by the name of Jim is a dear friend of mine. He and I have a lot in common, including a lifetime spent loving, worshiping, and serving a fictional deity. Jim now lives in Arizona, but I have had thoughts about how he and I might be able to make a lot of money by putting our past ministerial skills to work. I thought, we should get a big tent, a trailer to hold the tent and ministry essentials, and an expensive motor home to pull the trailer and provide creature comforts for Jim and Bruce — two humble, suffering servants of JESUS.  On the side of the motor home we could put life-size pictures of Preachers Jim and Bruce, along with the name of our scam, I mean ministry — (please leave possible ministry names in the comment section).

Off we would go, night after night, telling our stories of deliverance from godlessness. Jim, having the gifts of healing and exorcism, could lay hands on people, delivering them from atheistic demons. I, having the gift of helps, could pray for people, all the while sticking my hand in their purses and back pockets. Oh, sorry sister, I didn’t mean to give you The Donald®! Throw in a hot worship band with a sexy female leader in leather pants — why, I bet we could be rolling in cash in a matter of weeks! After each night’s show, uh I mean mighty move of God, Jim and I could go back to the motor home and talk about what great deeds our God hath done. One for me, one for you. One for me, one for you.

Does anyone doubt that preachers Jim and Bruce could successfully fleece the flock? I know I don’t. I guarantee you that either of us could dust off our Bible, put on our Sunday-go-to-meeting clothes, go to an Evangelical church and preach a soul-saving, sin-chasing, bringing-down-the-Shekinah-glory sermon that would leave parishioners praising our anointing and begging us to preach again (in many ways, good preaching is like good sex — always keep them begging for more). We know how to look the part, play the game, and put on our “Christian” veneer. The skills honed over a lifetime didn’t disappear the moment we said we no longer believed. If women can fake orgasms, I am quite certain Jim and Bruce can fake being filled with the Spirit.

Lest a handful of readers miss that this post is Bruce in snark-modeNo, I am not considering a return to Christianity. That ship sailed and fell off the edge of Ken Ham’s flat earth. Christianity, in all of its forms and nuances, is firmly in my rearview mirror. While it saddens me to leave so much cash on the table, I know that integrity, honesty, and truth matter more than money. I will continue to be an itinerant preacher of secularism, humanism, and skepticism, regardless of whether it pays well. In this regard, I am no different from the Evangelical Bruce Gerencser. The message and helping people are far more important than making a buck. Yes, I need more money . . . I’m thinking . . . how about a stripper Santa Claus. What do you think, Polly? Women stuffing twenties in my g-string? Tis the reason for the season, I say. 🙂

Snark-off.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 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.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

Bruce, You Are Misrepresenting Evangelicals

whining evangelical

I am often accused by readers of misrepresenting Evangelicals in my writing; that my descriptions and criticisms of Evangelicalism don’t apply to a reader’s sect, their church, or to them personally. I have heard, more times than I can count, Evangelicals say: my church is different, my pastor is different, my denomination is different, my college is different, I’m DIFFERENT, DIFFERENT, DIFFERENT! While it is certainly true that not all Evangelicals are the same, often the alleged differences are little more than the differences between ice cream flavors. Same basic ingredients with different flavors and toppings. Evangelicals can whine, bitch, moan, and complain about my writing, but the fact remains that I was part of the Christian church for 50 years, an Evangelical pastor for 25 of those years, have Evangelical family members — including pastors, evangelists, and missionaries — and closely follow the machinations of the Evangelical community. I am confident that I have a good handle on Evangelical beliefs and practices.

Over the years, I have perused the doctrinal statements of numerous Evangelical sects, churches, and parachurch organizations. The agreement I find in these documents allows me to conclude what it is that Evangelicals believe. Add to that the fact that I pastored six Evangelical churches, and I think I have a good handle on the “faith once delivered to the saints.”

But, Bruce, Evangelicals don’t agree with one another one a host of theological beliefs! I understand that, but such differences are tangential to the cardinal doctrines all Evangelical profess to believe. Thus, Charismatics speak in tongues, Baptists don’t. Holiness Christians believe in entire sanctification, Baptists don’t. Some Evangelicals are Calvinists some are Arminians, and others are Calminians. Evangelicals are all over the place when it comes to eschatology and ecclesiology. Some believe baptism is required for salvation, others don’t. The list of differences is extensive. See, Bruce, you are proving my point! No, actually, I am not. If you look underneath these peripheral differences — often called “distinctives — you find unity of belief:

  • The inspiration, infallibility, and inerrancy of the Bible
  • The sinfulness, depravity of man
  • The deity of Christ
  • The virgin birth of Christ
  • The blood atonement of Christ for man’s sin (usually subscribing to the substitutionary atonement theory)
  • The resurrection of Christ from the dead
  • The second coming of Christ
  • Separation from the world
  • Salvation from sin by and through Christ alone
  • Personal responsibility to share the gospel with sinners
  • Heaven and Hell are literal places

Anyone who claims to be an Evangelical yet denies one or more of these cardinal doctrines is Evangelical in name only. The fringe of the Evangelical tent is littered with pastors, professors, and congregants who hold all sorts of liberal/progressive Christian beliefs, yet refuse to own what they are. And I get it. Towards the tail end of my ministerial career, my beliefs were definitely not Evangelical. Yet, Evangelicalism was home. It was all that I had ever known. I couldn’t bring myself to abandon my metaphorical family, even though I was liberal/progressive belief-wise. Even today, 12 years removed from walking away from Christianity, I still, at times, miss my family. Not Jesus, not the ministry, but the social connection I had with many loving, wonderful people. 

Often, Evangelicals think I am misrepresenting them when I have the audacity to claim that Evangelicals are Fundamentalists. This argument alone has led all sorts of objections from Evangelicals who scream from rooftops, I AM NOT A FUNDAMENTALIST! However, as I show in my post, Are Evangelical Fundamentalists? Evangelicals are inherently Fundamentalists both theologically and socially. There’s simply no way to be an Evangelical and not be a Fundamentalist.

Well, Bruce, I don’t care what you say, I am an Evangelical, and I am not a Fundamentalist! You can self-identify any way you want, but just because you do so doesn’t change the fact that your theological beliefs and social practices are Fundamentalist. If you walk, talk, and act like a Fundamentalist, you are one. 

I get it. Evangelicalism is the most hated religious group in America. Thoughtful, kind, generous Evangelicals hate what Donald Trump and his merry band of culture warriors have done to our country. However, is the answer to stay on the deck of the Titanic as it rolls into the sea? If you are truly not a Fundamentalist, then join up with sects and churches that reflect your progressive/liberal beliefs and practices. Stop enabling the Evangelical monster. Let it die the death it so richly deserves.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 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.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

The Voices of Atheism: Dying Out Loud by Dave Warnock

This is the latest installment in The Voices of Atheism series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. Know of a good video that espouses atheism/agnosticism or challenges the claims of the Abrahamic religions? Please email me the name of the video or a link to it. I believe this series will be an excellent addition to The Life and Times of Bruce Gerencser.

Thank you in advance for your help.

Today’s video features a Freethought Matters interview of Dave Warnock. Dave is a former charismatic Evangelical pastor. Currently, Dave is battling Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

Video

Video Link

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?”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 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.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

COVID-19 Infections and Deaths Expose Faith Healers as Frauds

elmer gantry
Is Your Pastor an Elmer Gantry? Are You Sure? How Can You Know?

Cable and satellite TV subscribers are “blessed” to have numerous explicit Evangelical channels to watch. These channels are dominated by Charismatic faith healers, many of whom are fabulously rich. Con artists, the lot of them, their goal is fleece the flock while pretending to heal them of everything from cancer to cavities. As the Coronavirus pandemic sweeps the world, infecting and killing people of every race, religion, and social status, I have noticed that these faith healers seem impotent, unable to heal anyone of the virus. Bill Johnson, pastor of Bethel Church in Redding, California, a renowned fake healer, revealed his powerlessness over COVID-19 by cancelling all in-person worship services at his church. Johnson even shut down the church’s Healing Rooms, going to online healing instead. Why is that?

All across the world, Evangelical faith healers are powerless over COVID-19. Oh, they keep praying, anointing people with oil, and performing magic tricks, but their marks still get sick, and in some instances die. Their helplessness exposes for all the world to see the bankruptcy of faith healing. Rational, skeptical people have always known this, but I suspect that true-blue Charismatic believers are beginning to wonder if these so-called men of God are little more than modern Elmer Gantrys and Sister Sharon Falconers.

The Coronavirus pandemic also exposes Jesus himself as a fraud. Again, rational, skeptical people have always known that the miracle-working Son of God was a fraud; that the miracles recorded in the Bible are works of fiction. Yet, 2,000 years later, Charismatic (and Pentecostal) Christians still believe that Jesus, through the hands and prayers of Holy Ghost-filled preachers, can and does heal them. After all, Jesus did say to his disciples:

And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give. (Matthew 10:7-8)

Just before allegedly ascending to Heaven, Jesus said to his followers:

And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. (Mark 16:15-18)

Jesus’ brother James had this to say:

Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms. Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. (James 5:13-15)

These Bible verses seem clear to me: preachers, evangelists, missionaries, and even common, every day Christians are empowered by God to heal the sick. Why, then, are they powerless when it comes to healing people of COVID-19?

It is obvious, at least to me anyway, that faith healers are frauds; that for all their supposed supernatural power and faith, they are unable to heal anyone from COVID-19. Will the Coronavirus pandemic be the seismic event that finally exposes these preachers for who and what they are: money-grubbing frauds? Will devoted Charismatic and Pentecostal Christians finally pull back the curtain and see that the divine wizard is but a man? Will they put their checkbooks away and let these so-called anointed prophets starve? I want to think that this is finally the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back. I really, really, really want to believe that Charismatic and Pentecostal believers will be drawn to the light of reason and science. However, the Coronavirus pandemic will eventually fade into the fabric of human history, and when it does, faith healers will come up with a new shtick to rob Christians of their money. Perhaps if God would infect Kenneth Copeland, Jim Bakker, Bill Johnson, TD Jakes, Todd Bentley, Benny Hinn, Rodney Howard-Browne, Paula White, Pat Robertson, and others like them with COVID-19 and let them die horrible deaths while hooked up to respirators, maybe then believers would see the light.

I don’t wish COVID-19 on anyone, but a bit of karmic justice might put an end to the control faith healers have over so many people. Did you attend a Charismatic or Pentecostal church? Did you really believe faith healers could deliver you from your afflictions? If yes, what caused you to change your mind? Please leave your heavenly thoughts in the comment section.

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Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 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.

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Is This Story Proof That God Heals People with Cancer?

becky dvorak

Becky Dvorak, an alleged prophetic healing evangelist, recently detailed a report of a miraculous healing from skin cancer:

Is God able and willing to heal skin cancer? Is skin cancer greater than God? Most of my readers immediately respond with the correct answer, “No!” while others do not know Him as healer, so in all honesty, they are not sure which is greater. And then there are many who say He is able to do anything, but perhaps, He is not willing to heal skin cancer or any disease for that matter. But I am here to testify to you that our God is both able and willing to heal all who come to Him.

….

Let’s look at a modern-day healing and be encouraged that we serve a living God who is both able and willing to heal us today.

On Oct. 10, 2019, Liberty submitted a prayer request on behalf of her father. She wrote: “My dad had prostate cancer years ago; [he] had a botched operation and lots of radiation therapy. Last week his doctor told him he had skin cancer. I need people to believe with me that his body is completely restored in the name of Jesus. We are not believing the lie of the enemy. Thank you.”

responded to her request on Oct. 17, 2019. “Liberty, in the name of Jesus, I renounce this cancer lingering in his body. I curse it at its root and seed and command it to die off at the seed and dry up at the roots and be completely gone from his body, never to return again. I command every cancerous cell and tumor to be gone in Jesus’ name. I say, ‘Body be healed, be strengthened and be made whole for the glory of God, amen.'”

Liberty wrote back on Nov. 11, 2019, with this wonderful praise report: “Becky, I want to thank you and give all the glory to God for my dad’s healing.

“The doctor had taken a biopsy from his face, he was told it was skin cancer. The following tests showed NOTHING, I think they were surprised because they even took an X-ray of it to make sure. He is all clear and will remain that way in Jesus’ name. Thank you, Lord, for Your mercy.”

Our God is able and willing to heal skin cancer, or whatever deadly disease that is attacking you and your loved ones.

Is this really a miraculous healing? Did God interrupt his daily routine of helping elderly saints find their car keys to heal this woman’s father from skin cancer? The short answer is no. Evangelicals — especially Charismatics and Pentecostals — are so desperate to prove that their God is real that they will grasp at the slightest bit of “evidence” to “prove” that their God is the Great Physician — a God who answers prayers and heals the afflictions of his chosen one.

According to the woman telling Dvorak about her father’s healing, her dad had prostate cancer. Her father had failed prostate surgery and went through radiation treatments. Years later, her father had a lesion that his doctor suspected might be cancer. The doctor biopsied the lesion and it wasn’t cancerous. Woo hoo! right? Ain’t God wonderful. The biopsy coming back negative was, in the minds of Dvorak and this woman, proof that God can and does heal cancer. Case closed?

Of course not. I am a fair-skinned, redheaded man who stupidly subjected his skin to all sorts of ill-treatment — including more sunburns (some with blisters) than I can count. Over the past decade, I have been diagnosed with skin cancer three times. I had a basal cancer lesion removed from my nose, basal cell cancer on my lower lip treated with a chemotherapy cream, and a squamous cell lesion removed from my hip. I have also had numerous precancerous lesions removed. I am so used to having precancers frozen with liquid nitrogen that I don’t even flinch when the doctor freezes lesions on my face, arms, and back. Polly watches in horror, thinking these treatments must really, really, really hurt. Yeah, having my skin sprayed with liquid nitrogen hurts, but as with blood draws, injections, and cortisone shots, I have gotten used to the pain.

Every six-months, I dutifully go to my dermatologist’s office. There’s always something that needs to be frozen or scraped away. On occasion, the doctor will say, “Hmm, that looks interesting. We better have that biopsied.” In other words, “Bruce, that might be cancer, so we better take a tissue sample and have the pathology lab look at it.” More often than not, the biopsies come back negative — no cancer. Did God “heal” me? Of course not. My doctor, knowing my track record and knowing that it is likely I will get cancer again, errs on the side of caution. Better safe than sorry, especially if melanoma is lurking in the shadows. Basal cell and squamous cell cancers tend to grow slowly, and if treated early rarely cause death. Melanoma, on the other hand, is a deadly cancer that can quickly metastasize and lead to death. I want my doctor to be proactive, even it means biopsying lesions that come back negative.

The woman said her father’s biopsy showed NOTHING. This is, of course, not true. His biopsy showed that the lesion was not cancerous. Big difference between this and “nothing.” I also question whether the x-ray was related to the lesion on her father’s face. It is far more likely that the doctor wanted to make sure the prostate cancer hadn’t returned or spread to other parts of the body. I can’t think of a circumstance where an x-ray would be needed for a lesion on the face. I am sure there may be, but I am not aware of one.

This story, as with all other reports miraculous healings, fails to rise to the level of a miracle. The results are easily explained with science and common sense — no God needed.

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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Bruce Gerencser