Tag Archive: Elijah

I Think God is Busy

mark 11 24

I recently watched The Iceman — a film detailing the life of notorious hitman Richard Kuklinski. Kuklinski, played by Michael Shannon, is suspected to have killed over two hundred people between 1946 and 1986.  One scene in the movie details Kuklinski’s murder of porn producer Marty Freeman (played by James Franco).

I am always on the lookout for mentions of religion when watching movies or TV programming. The Iceman has a poignant scene in which the Christian God plays a prominent part. Kuklinski, a lapsed Catholic, drives to where Freeman lives, planning to kill him. Let’s pick up the dialog at the point (38:27) where Freeman realizes Kuklinski plans to whack him.

Freeman calls Josh Rosenthal, the mobster who hired Kuklinski to kill him. Freeman wrongly thinks that they have worked out their differences, thus avoiding the need for Kuklinski to shoot him. Kuklinski takes the phone, has a brief conversation with Rosenthal, and says okay.

Kuklinski pulls out his gun . . .

Freeman: What the fuck’s going on?

Kuklinski: He changed his mind.

Freeman: No, no, no, Rosenthal is my best friend. I would never say anything.

Kuklinski: Not my problem.

Freeman: No, no, no, please God no. Please . . .

Kuklinski: What, you praying?

Freeman: God, please, God, please . . .

Kuklinski: You really believe that? You think God will come down and save you?

Freeman, face buried in a couch, continues to pray and weep . . .

Kuklinski: All right, I’ll give you some time. Pray to God. Tell him to come down and stop me.

Freeman gives Kuklinski an incredulous look and then goes back to praying.

Kuklinski: Our Father,

Freeman starts praying The Lord’s Prayer . . .

Kuklinski: Harder (looks at his watch)

Kuklinski: I’m not feeling nothing.

Long pause as Freeman continues to frantically pray . . .

Kuklinski: Nothing at all

Kuklinski: Harder

Freeman, exasperated, throws up his hands and says WHAT!? I . . .

Kuklinski: This is your last chance.

Kuklinski stands and moves to where Freeman is praying. Freeman turns his head, lifting his hands . . .

Freeman: No, no, no

Kuklinski: I think God is busy.

And with that Kuklinski kills Freeman with a derringer shot to the heart.

I think God is busy. Does this not reflect the feeling that millions of desperate people will have today as they pray to the Christian God, hoping that he will come to their rescue? Despite their passionate prayers to the God who supposedly holds the universe in the palm of his hand, all they hear is silence. No matter the circumstance or calamity, all Christians hear is a fast beeping sound and a recording that says, please try again later. And so these devoted followers of Jesus continue day after day, month after month, and year after year to pray to their God, thinking that someday he will bring deliverance, healing, or blessing. Yet, in the end, God fails to deliver on what he promised. He fails in every way possible, yet the faithful still hang on, believing, much like people playing the lottery, that their big prayer payout is just around the corner.

I have written a number of posts on prayer and God’s supposed care for Christians:

A Few Thoughts on a Lifetime of Praying to the Christian God

Luck, Fate, or Providence?

The Indifference of God

Don’t Thank God, Thank Me

Prayer: Explaining the Unexplainable

How Many Prayers Does it Take to Stop a Hurricane?

If the Christian God is indeed the sovereign of the universe, a prayer-answering God, and the Father of all who call on his name, he sure is piss-poor at his job. In baseball, there is something called the Mendoza Line. The Mendoza Line, named after a poor-hitting professional baseball player Mario Mendoza, is the line a hitter falls below when his batting average drops below .200. No major league batter wants to drop below the Mendoza line. The Mendoza line is the “offensive threshold below which a player’s presence on a Major League Baseball team cannot be justified, regardless of his defensive abilities. The term is used in other contexts when one is so incompetent in one key skill that other skills cannot compensate for that deficiency.” (Wikipedia)

Think of all the prayers you prayed as a Christian. How many of those prayers did God answer? None of this God answers every prayer: yes, no, later, bullshit. None of this, we won’t know until we get to Heaven how many of our prayers God answered. None of this, God works behinds the scenes, answering prayers without leaving proof of his actions. The Bible presents God as a mighty prayer-answering deity; a God who daily meets the needs of his followers. Yet, when pressed for examples of God miraculously answering their prayers, Christians are left with appealing to God meeting the more mundane needs of their lives. True, earth-shattering answers to prayers are scarce. Be honest, Christians. How many of your supposedly answered prayers can be verifiably attributed to your God? During my deconversion from Christianity, I went back over my fifty years of praying to the Christian God. I prayed tens of thousands of prayers, yet “answers” that couldn’t be explained through circumstance or human instrumentality fit on the fingers of my hands. I concluded that God was batting below the Mendoza line, so much so that I realized that he did not exist. Hanging my belief in his existence on a handful of unexplainable events was not enough for me to cling to my faith. I concluded that we live in a world shaped by randomness, natural forces, and human action — sans God.

In 1 Kings 18, we find the story of the prophet Elijah challenging the prophets of Baal to a God duel. Elijah proposed:

Now therefore send, and gather to me all Israel unto mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves four hundred, which eat at Jezebel’s table.

….

Then said Elijah unto the people, I, even I only, remain a prophet of the Lord; but Baal’s prophets are four hundred and fifty men. Let them therefore give us two bullocks; and let them choose one bullock for themselves, and cut it in pieces, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under: and I will dress the other bullock, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under:  And call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the Lord: and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God. And all the people answered and said, It is well spoken.

As can be expected, the prophets of Baal lost this God-duel. The Christian God sent fire down from heaven and consumed Elijah’s sacrificial offering. Awesome story, right (besides Elijah murdering all the prophets of Baal)?  Elijah prayed a prayer sixty-three words long. One prayer, sixty-three words was all it took for God to prove his existence and vindicate his prophet by supernaturally turning a water-drenched cow into a burnt roast! Yet, Christians will utter millions of words in prayer to their God today with nary a spark from heaven. What gives?

My favorite part of this story is when Elijah mocks the prophets of Baal, saying:

And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked.

In modern parlance, Elijah said: Where’s your God, Muslims? He must be on his smartphone talking, in the bathroom taking a shit, on vacation, or taking a nap.

Now, Christians see this story from the perspective that the one true God, the Christian God, the God of the Bible, is indeed a prayer-answering God. Yet, when pressed for similar stories from their own lives, Christians have few tales of the miraculous to share. Perhaps, then, as Evangelicals-turned-atheists have concluded, the Christian God must be on his smartphone talking, in the bathroom taking a shit, on vacation, or taking a nap. In other words, the Christian God doesn’t exist. An argument can perhaps be made for an indifferent deistic God; a deity who set everything in motion and said, there ya go, do with it what you will; a God who has no interest in what is happening on planet earth save helping Tim Tebow become a successful baseball player or telling Granny where her keys are. Christians, then, are left with looking for God in the gaps or life’s minutia. When it comes to lightning-level answered prayers, God is impotent and silent; so much so that surely Christians can’t fault atheists and agnostics when they say, prove your God exists. It is not enough to speak of an ancient man named Jesus being resurrected from the dead. There’s no evidence that such a claim is true. What’s needed is a supernatural resurrection of someone such as Abraham Lincoln or Gandhi. Does not the Bible say, nothing is too hard of God? If Elijah can demand the prophets of Baal put up or shut up, can atheists and other non-Christians not do the same? Hell, I would be happy if God just sent some quail and manna down from Heaven to feed people who are starving or use his miraculous powers to give sight to the blind and hearing to the deaf. Miraculously curing cancer would be awesome too.

What we are left with, then, absent God actually miraculously answering prayers such as those pleading for God to kill me, is to hope that he will one day take the earplugs out of his ears and actually give a fuck about what is happening on planet earth. Unlike Christians, I am not hopeful that deliverance awaits around the next corner. I have concluded that a prayer-answering God only exists in the hopes of those who believe. Without this hope, of what value is Christian faith? Preachers keep spurring the faithful on, hoping that one day God will come through. That he hasn’t suggests to me that he is a myth.

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.

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Darwin Fish, A True Prophet of God

darwin fish

Darwin Fish, yes that is his actual name. Fish is part of a church called A True Church in Oklahoma.

Recently, a man by the name of Wayne K sent me an email that contained a dare. He wrote:

Now be cautioned because there is a cultish group in America whose website called atruechurch(dot)info  – they may add your name to a list of false teachers? – probably not. I dare you write about them.

I thought, who the hell is atruechurch.info? Why should I fear them? Are they an assassination squad that whacks atheists and other nonbelievers? So, trembling with consternation and fear, I typed atruechurch.info into Firefox. What did I find? Darwin Fish. Darwin Fish, the truest Christian on earth, a fundamentalist on steroids.

I’ve known about Darwin Fish for many, many years. Fish was once a disciple of John MacArthur, trained at Master’s Seminary, and then he had a falling-out with MacArthur.  You can read Fish’s bio here.

According to Fish:

All of the religions of the world (e.g. Protestantism, Evangelicalism, Catholicism, Mormonism, JW’s, Seventh Day Adventism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Atheism, etc.) lead to nowhere but hell. Those involved in them are “unbelieving, . . . idolaters” (Revelation 21:8). Every single last one of them reject the truth of the Bible (Romans 1:18-25), and thus, the Truth of the Bible, God (John 14:6), will burn them forever in the lake of fire for hating Him so (Deuteronomy 32:39-41; Revelation 20:11-15).

If you are involved with the kind of Christianity that views Protestantism, or Catholicism, or the Orthodox church, or the “church of Christ,” or Billy Graham, or Rick Warren, or Joel Osteen, or James Dobson, or Pat Robertson, or John MacArthur, or Paul Washer, or Norman Geisler, or Tony Evans, or Greg Laurie, or Charles Stanley, or Chuck Smith, or Fred Price, or J. Vernon McGee, or Charles Blake, or Chuck Swindoll, or Gene Scott, or Harold Camping (Family Radio), or John Piper, or T. D. Jakes, or David Jeremiah, or Charles Spurgeon, or Dave Hunt, or Marvin J. Rosenthal, or David W. Cloud, or Perry F Rockwood, or Neil Anderson, or Robert Schuller, or Jack Hayford, or Benny Hinn, or Miles McPherson, or Ray Comfort, or Jim Cobrae, or Ron Luce, or Chuck Colson, or C. S. Lewis, or Hank Hanegraaff, or Paul Chappell, or Steven Anderson, or any of the like (or any of the likes on “Christian” TV or radio) as godly, you are not saved. Why? Because, you are on the broad way (Matthew 7:13; 2 Peter 2:2; 2 Timothy 4:3). You have not the characteristic of Christ’s sheep (John 10:5). And, men such as these are wells without water (2 Peter 2:17).

Fish really believes he is part of the one true church. In the FAQ section of his website he answers the question, Are you the only true church/believers?

We suggest you take a look at our Statement of Faith to understand why we say, we do not know. There was a church in Murfreesboro, TN, but that has since dissolved. Other than that, we have not yet, as of this date, found another church that is in the truth (1 John 4:6), and we have been to many. Will we find one? Actually, the real question is, will Christ find one?

Fish has what I call the Elijah syndrome. In I Kings 18, Elijah challenges the prophets of Baal to a God-Off®. Maybe you remember the story from Sunday school:

And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.

Then said Elijah unto the people, I, even I only, remain a prophet of the Lord; but Baal’s prophets are four hundred and fifty men. Let them therefore give us two bullocks; and let them choose one bullock for themselves, and cut it in pieces, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under: and I will dress the other bullock, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under: And call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the Lord: and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God. And all the people answered and said, It is well spoken.

And Elijah said unto the prophets of Baal, Choose you one bullock for yourselves, and dress it first; for ye are many; and call on the name of your gods, but put no fire under. And they took the bullock which was given them, and they dressed it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us. But there was no voice, nor any that answered. And they leaped upon the altar which was made.

And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked. And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them. And it came to pass, when midday was past, and they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that there was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded.

And Elijah said unto all the people, Come near unto me. And all the people came near unto him. And he repaired the altar of the Lord that was broken down. And Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, unto whom the word of the Lord came, saying, Israel shall be thy name: And with the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord: and he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two measures of seed.And he put the wood in order, and cut the bullock in pieces, and laid him on the wood, and said, Fill four barrels with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice, and on the wood.And he said, Do it the second time. And they did it the second time. And he said, Do it the third time. And they did it the third time. And the water ran round about the altar; and he filled the trench also with water.

And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near, and said, Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word. Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the Lord God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again. Then the fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.

And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The Lord, he is the God; the Lord, he is the God. And Elijah said unto them, Take the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape. And they took them: and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and slew them there.

This was one of my favorite passages to preach from. I Kings 18 is a story that illustrates God’s power when a person is willing to stand alone for God. Of course, I never preached on 1 Kings 19, you know the chapter that details Jezebel chasing Elijah into the hills threatening to kill him.

Of course, Elijah got the last laugh in 2 Kings 9 when, at the behest of Jehu, two or three eunuchs threw Jezebel out of a window, killing her as she hit the ground. Jehu then stomped on the body of Jezebel, leaving her corpse for the dogs to eat. When they came to bury her, all that was left was her skull, palms, and feet. Sounds like a hit series on HBO, yes?

People like Darwin Fish see themselves as a modern-day Elijah. They are THE remnant that God has left on earth to give testimony to the truth. Think about the Bible and its stories for a moment. Aren’t most of the big name characters in the Bible, men like Noah, Abraham, Elisha, Enoch, Joshua John the Baptist, Paul, and Jesus, loners who stood against Satan, false religion, and secular power?

In every community there is a Darwin Fish, a preacher who thinks he is God’s messenger, a prophet whose name is Frank/Harry/Waldo/Bruce.  If you have read the comment section of this blog over the years, you know that there are plenty of people who think they have all the answers; that God is on their side and that their interpretation of the Bible is true. Such people are impossible to reach until they are willing to see that their foundation, the Bible, is not what they claim it is.

In A True Church’s doctrinal statement, there’s a section titled Controversial Issues. Fish and A True Church believe:

  • We believe drinking alcohol in moderation is not wrong (Deuteronomy 14:26; Psalm 104:15; John 2).
  • We believe those who commit suicide go to hell (John 15:1-6).
  • We believe gambling is not wrong, but to gamble, because you are not content and want more, is sin (Hebrews 13:5).
  • We believe Scripture does not condemn masturbation. Although it is typically done in wickedness (Matthew 15:19 “evil thoughts”), it can be done in godliness (Titus 1:15).
  • We believe the Bible does not condemn slavery (1 Timothy 6:1-5), even though it is illegal in the USA (Romans 13:1).
  • We believe smoking is not condemned in Scripture, but addiction is (1 Corinthians 6:12; Galatians 5:22-23).
  • We believe most debt is ungodly (Romans 13:8).
  • We believe the Bible does not condemn polygamy (Genesis 16:1-3), even though it is illegal in the USA (Romans 13:1), which illustrates America’s idea of what is moral or not is quite twisted (Isaiah 5:20).
  • We believe there are fire breathing dragons called Leviathan (Job 41).
  • We believe during the 1000 year reign of Christ on earth (Revelation 20), God will bring back from the dead evil Levites of the past to serve in His temple (Ezekiel 44:10-14).
  • We believe sexual intercourse during menstruation is an evil practice (Leviticus 18:19-30).
  • We believe the answer to “eternal security” is both “yes” and “no” (Romans 8:31-39; 11:19-22).

This kind of thinking is the result of taking Evangelicalism/Christian fundamentalism to its logical conclusion. Perhaps Fish should be commended for really, really, really believing all that “God” wrote in the Bible. I know more than a few Christians who think like this. They may not take things as far as Darwin Fish or Fred Phelps, but they sincerely believe they are numbered with the few faithful Christians left on earth.

Note

And, in true fundamentalist fashion, there is a website that exposes Darwin Fish and his heretical beliefs. Best I can tell, the website is owned by Spurgeonite Phil Johnson, an elder at Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California and a book editor for John MacArthur.  Phil was a friend of mine back in my Calvinistic days.

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