Tag Archive: Evangelicalism

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Peter Jones Says We Must Return to Patriarchal Family Structures

peter jones

Christian believers must make known with care and respect that destroying patriarchy eliminates the reality of fatherhood, without which there is no family. It is also a rejection of the amazing revelation taught by Jesus regarding God as loving Father, which is at the very basis of the Christian message. Fatherhood is the basis of the success of the Western Christendom, which, with all its faults, has lasted down the centuries, based on a belief in God as Father and Creator. Rejection of patriarchy is a form of Gnosticism, since the Gnostics rejected the given-ness of creation for their own subjective views of reality. Philosopher Eric Voegelin (1901–85) noted: “All gnostic movements are involved in the project of abolishing the constitution of being, with its origin in divine, transcendent being.”

As Christians, we must show by our lives and our words that distinction-making is the objective, Twoist key to the created cosmos and is the only way to approach God the holy Creator and Redeemer. The temptation is to “self-censor” by falling silent. But to demand silence of believers is like asking the early Christians to burn incense to Caesar as Lord in an active expression of polytheism. We must show love to “non-gender” people while loving our Creator and Father first. We must explain to our Christian children the god-denying essence of “a-sexuality” while teaching them to respect every human being, since they are all made in God’s image. Christ’s love is available to all. The church must show the love of Jesus to homosexual and “a-gendered” people, even if our testimony means losing one’s job or reputation. In a time of deliberate rejection of homes and fathers, may we use our families as places of welcome for those in need. The Christian message must not be silenced, but it must be accompanied by courageous acts of love and bold expressions of care. Though this post-patriarchal culture may be unlike any we have known, it is the place where God has put us to preach the gospel with great clarity.

This utopian culture, headed for dystopia, will only be a utopia for God-denying progressives who feel called to save their world by eliminating all creational structures. It will fail. It will implode. Thus, we need to pray that God will have mercy on us, use our courageous witness to his truth, and bring about a hunger in the culture for his Word, his Will and his Honor, from which derives all human dignity. One day the final utopia will come in the marriage supper of the Lamb, where Christ the husband and patriarch will take his bride, the church, in a renewed reality that will bring eternal glory to God its Creator and Savior. In that day the concluding words of Scripture will be heard ringing throughout the cosmos from the lips of the renewed family of God:”Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created”.

— Dr. Peter Jones, Truth Exchange,The End of the Family, April 5, 2019

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Lori Alexander Glories in Ignorance

lori alexander

Women, do you know that God’s chain of authority is for our good? Yes, women are more gullible than men. Recently, my husband and I were out front with a few couples from the neighborhood chatting in the street together. Ken brought up that I had been deceived into thinking my brand new iPhone was “free” by the salesman. Then my daughter saw that we were being charged $25 more a month until the $650 phone was paid off! One of the wives said that she would have easily been deceived in this way, too, but said her husband never would have. My husband would not be either, but he was out of town and my phone broke so I needed a  new phone and they guy assured me that my monthly costs wouldn’t go up. I am wondering if the Apple sign of the bite into apple is a sign to remind their salesmen that women are more easily deceived…

Men are for our protection, women, in more than one way. God created them to be our protectors and not as easily deceived as we are. Women were created to be soft, trusting, and nurturing in order to be home and raise children. Women coming out from under the authority of men has caused chaos!

I mentioned in the chat room that I cringe every time I see women as policemen, firefighters, or in the military. They are dressed as men and act masculine but they aren’t men! They have been deceived into thinking that they can do a man’s job as good as men can but they can’t. Men are the ones who are to be in the protective roles in culture. This doesn’t make us second class citizens. It makes us women who should be thankful for their protection.

— Lori Alexander, The Transformed Wife, Are Submissive Wives Second Class Citizens?, April 9, 2019

Songs of Sacrilege: Set Your Monster Free by Quiet Company

quiet company

This is the two hundredth and fourth installment in the Songs of Sacrilege series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a song that is irreverent towards religion, makes fun of religion, pokes fun at sincerely held religious beliefs, or challenges the firmly held religious beliefs of others, please send me an email.

Today’s Song of Sacrilege is Set Your Monster Free by Quiet Company, an American rock band from Austin, Texas.

Video Link

Lyrics

Daughter, I once thought that I had angels in my room. They were sleeping on my fan while I was dreaming of you. And daughter, I once had such desire to believe that our lives had been planned out by an unseen deity, but you don’t have to waste your time holding on to beautiful lies

Daughter, I once knew that everything that I believed was good, and fair, and true, and consistent with my needs. But daughter, I am wrong almost as often as I’m right. So daughter, just be strong enough to make up your own mind, because you don’t have to waste your time, holding on to beautiful lies

Stuart the Evangelical Asks Bruce the Atheist a Theological Question

naked adam and eve

Comic by Hilary Price

The most-read post on The Life and Times of Bruce Gerencser is the post titled, Why I Hate Jesus. Written four years ago, this post is also the most misunderstood post. Many Evangelicals wrongly believe I hate the man, myth, and legend named Jesus Christ. Bound by a literalistic approach to life, they fail to see that the post is really about their religion and not a flesh and blood dead man named Jesus. As I shall make abundantly clear in an upcoming post, there are many, many, many Jesuses; that every generation of Christians shapes and molds Jesus into their own image, according to their peculiar theological, political, and social beliefs. To deny this is to deny reality. To suggest that you worship the first century Jesus and practice Christianity (Judaism) just as the Apostles did in 35 CE is ludicrous and a denial of 2,000 years of Church history. Christianity started evolving the moment Jesus called twelve illiterate men to be his disciples. These men and other followers interpreted and reinterpreted the life and words of Jesus, fashioning their own versions of Christ and what it meant to be a follower of him. This evolutionary process continues even to this very day.

An Evangelical man by the name of Stuart left several comments on the Why I Hate Jesus post. Standard Evangelical stuff. I tried to blow off his first comment with a bit of snark — suggesting I was a porn star — but Stuart was bound and determined to put in a good word for Jesus. In his second comment, Stuart wrote (in response to Zoe, a fellow Evangelical turned atheist):

I no longer believe in the existence of Santa, therefore i wouldn’t go to the trouble of creating a website explaining how i came to no longer believe in Santa, simply because it would attract attention from people who do believe in Santa. And frankly i have no appetite for engaging with such people.

Bruce, by creating this space has invited interest from the vast internet audience on the matters he discusses on this site. It would be naive to think compassionate Christians would not do their duty and offer support in the only way they know how in trying to heal the wounded or help pick up the fallen. Bruce knows that, you likely know that, so really, what else do you expect?

If i didn’t believe in something i wouldn’t waste a single moment on it. Atheists are a different breed though. They are evangelical in their denial and latent hatred of God. Personally i love engaging with intelligent people regardless of their ideology or belief. I have yet to meet ANY atheist with any meaningful grasp on theology.

But I guess when even atheism’s poster boy Dawkins is a theological illiterate there is little hope for anyone following in his footsteps.

There was only ever one Jesus, there is currently only one Jesus and there will always forever be only one Jesus. Anyone who tells you different is like an atheist – they simply fail to understand Scripture

And Bruce’s story isn’t wrong, but it is clear he has been deceived. And knowing that there are many many more like Bruce is honestly heart breaking to me.

I responded thusly:

I grew up in the Evangelical church, attended an Evangelical Bible College, and pastored Evangelical churches for 25 years. Yet, according to you, I have no meaningful grasp of Christian theology. I spent thousands and thousands of hours studying and reading the Bible, yet, according to you, I don’t have a fundamental understanding of Christian belief. Surely, you see how irrational and stupid such a statement sounds.

The real issue here is that you don’t like my interpretations and conclusions. Thus, instead of meaningfully interacting with them, you rage against Bruce, the man.

The purpose of this blog is to help people who have doubts about Christianity or who have left Christianity and are looking for support. You, my friend, are not my target audience. I let people such as yourself comment because you provide reminders to ex-Evangelicals of the arrogant, self-righteous beliefs we left behind.

Please keep preaching your gospel, Stuart. People such as yourself win more people to atheism than I ever could.

Earlier today, Stuart sent me a question: Why were the fig leaves not acceptable? I assume his question is some sort of test to see if I really know anything about Evangelical theology. What follows is my answer.

The Bible says in Genesis 3:1-7:

Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.

In Genesis 2, the Bible tells us that Adam and Eve were originally created naked, without sin, and unashamed before God. In Genesis 3, a walking, talking snake came to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and questioned the command God had given them to not eat of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. The snake — whom Evangelicals believe was Satan — said, “Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” Eve replied, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.” The snake replied, “Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” Eve looked at the Tree’s beauty and saw that it was good for food and would make her wise — the Ginkgo Biloba of the Garden. She picked a fruit from the Tree, took a bite, and gave it to Adam to eat too. And just like that, Adam and Eve plunged the entire human race into sin. Since that fateful moment, every human is born a sinner, alienated from God. Humans have no choice in the matter. We are forever doomed by a man and woman we don’t even know taking a bite from a piece of fruit. Or so the story goes anyway.

adam and eve wearing fig leaves

Immediately afterward, Adam and Eve realized for the first time that God had created them with genitals. Ashamed that they were naked, Adam and Eve gathered some fig leaves, sewed them together, and made themselves aprons to hide their genitals. Later, God came to the Garden of Eden and took a stroll in the cool of the day. Fearing God, Adam and Eve hid among the trees, hoping that God would see not see them. Alas, God, after playing a quick game of Where’s Waldo (Wally), found them. Adam said to God, “I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.” Wait a minute, I thought Adam and Eve sewed fig leaves together for aprons. Why weren’t they wearing them when God made his appearance in the Garden? Maybe the leaves caused chafing, and Adam and Eve decided to return to their natural state. Whatever their reason, God was none too happy. To the first man and woman he said, “Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?” A rhetorical question? Or did God not know? Regardless, Adam replied to God, “The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.” Ladies, want to know where Evangelical men blaming you for everything comes from? You need look no further than Genesis 3 and Adam blaming Eve for his errant fruit-eating.

talking snakes

God then turned to Eve and asked, “What is this that thou hast done?” A rhetorical question? Didn’t God know what Eve had done? Regardless, in classic Flip Wilson style, Eve responded, “The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.” In other words, the DEVIL made me do it! God, pissed off at Adam and Eve’s bad behavior, cursed all humans and cursed the earth. Ever had to pull weeds from a flower bed or garden? God’s doing. Worse, God condemned all humans to death; instead of unending life, we would now have a fixed time to live and die. And then, to put an explanation point on his anger, God killed a bunch of puppies, skinned them, and made fur loincloths for Adam and Eve. The first person to shed blood of earth was God, not man. In fact, it can be argued that God has shed more blood than all of humanity combined. Either by direct action or commanding his followers to do so, God had slaughtered millions and millions of people. Yet, Evangelicals say he is a God of love, peace, and guacamole.

Genesis 3 ends with God throwing Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden, leaving them and their progeny to fend for themselves. That is, until God got tired of having no one to play with and decided to make Abraham and some of his descendants his playthings. Or so goes the story anyway.

Stuart wants to know, “Why were the fig leaves not acceptable?” The correct answer from an Evangelical perspective is that Adam and Eve sewing fig leaves together to cover their genitals was a picture of human self-righteousness; an attempt by Adam and Eve to cover up their “sin” on their own terms. The thrice holy God would have none of that. According to a plan cooked up by him from before the foundation of the world, sin had to be atoned for with blood; that Adam and Eve’s sin could only be covered through God killing and skinning some puppies and making fur loincloths to cover their sins. The Bible says in Hebrews 9:22, 27-28:

And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission . . . And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.

The Abrahamic religions — Christianity, Islam, and Judaism — are, according to the Bible, blood cults. You can come to no other rational conclusion IF you read the Bible as most Evangelicals do — literally. Now, if you see Genesis 3 as a fictional story meant to impart a greater meaning, well anything is possible. It’s 2019, and thanks to five centuries of literalistic interpretations of a book they believe is an inspired, inerrant, infallible text written by God, Evangelicals are forced to defend all sorts of absurdities. And I get it. People such as Stuart have to preach the party line. Otherwise, they are admitting that Evangelicalism is built on a foundation of lies and misinterpretations. Without a real Adam and Eve created by God in October 4004 BCE, the Evangelical house of cards comes tumbling down. A real New Testament God-man requires a real Adam and Eve. The Last Adam needed a First Adam for the Evangelical gospel to make sense. Without original sin, there was no need for Jesus to take a thirty-three-year vacation on earth. If Adam and Eve were metaphors as liberal and progressive Christians allege, then it can be argued that Jesus was a metaphor too. Upholding what Christians will celebrate come Easter Sunday requires a literal reading of the Bible. Without it, the Christian gospel of atonement for sin and redemption makes no sense — at least to me, anyway.

Now, this hardly means that Evangelicals are off the hook. Literalism can be a real bitch. In fact, I don’t know of one Evangelical who is truly a literalist from Table of Contents to Concordance. All Evangelicals — when it suits them — spiritualize scriptures that don’t “fit” their literal reading and interpretation of the text. Evangelicals have what I call theological schizophrenia. Granted, Evangelicals try to make their peculiar interpretations mesh with one another. Countless Christian books have been written about Bible hermeneutics, systematic theology, and harmonizing the Biblical text. Try as they might, however, Evangelicals fail at this task. The Bible is an incoherent mess of contradictory texts, and if taken and believed literally, they lead to all sorts of nonsensical and harmful beliefs.

Yet, when I challenge Evangelicals to take EVERY word of Genesis 1-3 literally, they either say they do or start making excuses for while they don’t. I have challenged countless Evangelicals to let the words of the unknown author of Genesis stand on their own, and in doing so see that it is impossible to square Trinitarian Christianity with the text. In fact, honesty demands admitting that there were actually at least THREE Gods mentioned in Genesis 1-3, and that Christianity does not, in fact, rest on a monotheist foundation.

I double-dog dare Evangelical readers of this post to read the Bible as it is written, and not let theological presuppositions get in the way of what the text says. Read each book by itself and ask, “what is the author is trying to say?” Dare to ask yourself, as the talking snake asked Eve, “yea hath God said?” Just asking this question is the first step towards intellectual freedom; the first step towards freeing oneself of Evangelical bondage.

If you are an Evangelical who has stumbled upon this post, I am so glad you stopped by. Let me recommend several books you might find helpful as you weigh some of the claims I make in this post. If the Bible is “truth,” surely it will withstand intellectual investigation. Don’t take your preacher’s word for it. To quote the Good Book, seek and ye shall find . . .

Books by Robert Wright

The Evolution of God

Books by Bart Ehrman

The Triumph of Christianity: How a Forbidden Religion Swept the World

Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why

How Jesus Became God : the Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee

Jesus Before the Gospels: How the Earliest Christians Remembered, Changed, and Invented Their Stories of the Savior

Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (And Why We Don’t Know About Them)

Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth

Forged: Writing in the Name of God–Why the Bible’s Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are

God’s Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question — Why We Suffer

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.

If Jesus Paid Our Sin Debt On the Cross, Why Do We Still Owe Him?

blood of jesus

Imagine that you owed First City Bank $1,000,000 and had no way to pay the debt. Imagine that I went to the bank and paid your debt in full. Awesome guy, right? But what if the bank refused to accept my payment on your behalf unless you stripped naked, ran through the streets of your city, and told everyone that you were a low-life, dirty, piece of shit who doesn’t pay his bills? Only after you humiliated yourself before your family, friends, and community would the $1,000,000 payment be credited to your account. Would you do this?

According to Evangelicals, Jesus Christ is the Son of God — the second being in the triune Godhead. Two thousand years ago, Jesus — born of a virgin who was inseminated by the third being in the Godhead, the Holy Spirit — came to earth from Heaven to die on a Roman cross for human sin. For three years, Jesus wandered Palestine, working miracles and preaching that the Kingdom of God was coming soon. And then, at the age of thirty-three, Jesus was condemned by the Jews and the Roman government and crucified. Three days later, Jesus resurrected from the dead. Or so, the story goes, anyway.

Christians have a variety of beliefs when it comes to Jesus’ death (atonement). According to Wikipedia, there is at least nine atonement theories:

Classical paradigm, the traditional understandings of the early Church Fathers:

  • Ransom theory of atonement, which teaches that the death of Christ was a ransom sacrifice, usually said to have been paid to Satan or to death itself, in some views paid to God the Father, in satisfaction for the bondage and debt on the souls of humanity as a result of inherited sin. Gustaf Aulèn reinterpreted the ransom theory, calling it the Christus Victor doctrine, arguing that Christ’s death was not a payment to the Devil, but defeated the powers of evil, which had held humankind in their dominion.
  • Recapitulation theory, which says that Christ succeeded where Adam failed. Theosis (“divinasation”) is a “corollary” of the recapitualtion.

Objective paradigm:

  • Satisfaction theory of atonement, developed by Anselm of Canterbury (1033/4–1109), which teaches that Jesus Christ suffered crucifixion as a substitute for human sin, satisfying God’s just wrath against humankind’s transgression due to Christ’s infinite merit.
  • Penal substitution, also called “forensic theory” and “vicarious punishment,” which was a development by the Reformers of Anselm’s satisfaction theory. Instead of considering sin as an affront to God’s honour, it sees sin as the breaking of God’s moral law. Penal substitution sees sinful man as being subject to God’s wrath, with the essence of Jesus’ saving work being his substitution in the sinner’s place, bearing the curse in the place of man.
  • Moral government theory, “which views God as both the loving creator and moral Governor of the universe.”
  • Subjective paradigm:Moral influence theory of atonement, developed, or most notably propagated, by Abelard (1079-1142), who argued that “Jesus died as the demonstration of God’s love,” a demonstration which can change the hearts and minds of the sinners, turning back to God.
  • Moral example theory, developed by Faustus Socinus (1539-1604) in his work De Jesu Christo servatore (1578), who rejected the idea of “vicarious satisfaction.” According to Socinus, Jesus’ death offers us a perfect example of self-sacrificial dedication to God.”

Other theories

  • Embracement theory
  • Shared atonement theory

Most Evangelicals, believe in penal substitution, also called the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ. According to this theory, all humans are sinners, subject to the eternal wrath of God. More than 2,000 years ago, God, the Father sent Jesus, his Son, to earth to horrifically die on a Roman cross. Why? Human sin had to be atoned for. There was a sin debt that had to be paid. Without atonement, all humans would be eternally punished by God for their sins. So, according to a plan cooked up by God from before the foundation of the world, Jesus — who had supernatural powers — voluntarily allowed himself to be crucified on a wooden cross between two thieves. As Jesus hung on the cross, his Father poured upon him his wrath; wrath meant for sinful humans. Jesus, in effect, was atoning not for his own sin, but the sins of the human race. Much like a person standing at the front of a line in someone else’s stead, Jesus suffered the wrath of his Father and died on the cross in our place. The resurrected Jesus — now in Heaven — acts as a mediator between God and humankind. Without his atonement and mediation, humans would still face the eternal wrath of God. Or so the story goes, anyway.

According to Evangelicals, Jesus died for every human sin — past, present, and future. Jesus’ blood atonement covers every sin that could possibly be committed, including murder, rape, sexual assault, and farting in a crowded elevator. Humans owed a sin debt, and Jesus Christ stamped the debt PAID IN FULL.

Video Link

If what I have written above is true — and Evangelicals say it is — why do we humans owe Jesus (God) anything?  He paid our debt, end of story, right? That’s how it should be, but that’s not quite how things work if you really want your sins washed clean by the miraculous blood of Jesus. You see, the Bank of the Third Heaven® refuses to stamp your sin loan paid-in-full until you strip naked, run through the streets of your city, and tell everyone that you are a low-life, dirty, piece of shit sinner who doesn’t deserve what Jesus did on your behalf. You will have to repeat this every day of your life, up until the moment you die. Only then, after you have daily humiliated yourself for months and years, and died with praises of Jesus on your lips, will your account be zeroed out.

Evangelicals believe that Heaven awaits them after death. But even in the sweet-by-and-by, Evangelicals are required to daily, hour upon hour, prostrate themselves before God’s throne and praise him for saving them from sin. And those of us who are forever burning in the Lake of Fire — fitted by God with bodies that will endure eternal torture? We will forever wish that we too had humiliated ourselves before the world. Or so the story goes, anyway.

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.

Tales From the Appalachian Foothills: The Church Christmas Tree

somerset baptist church 1989

In July, 1983, I started a new Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church in Somerset, Ohio. I would remain the pastor of Somerset Baptist Church until March 1994. Somerset was a community of 1,400 people located in Perry County — the northernmost county in the Appalachian region. It was here that I learned what it meant to be a pastor; to truly involve yourself in the lives of others.

The membership of Somerset Baptist was primarily made up of poor working-class people. Most church families received some form of government assistance — mostly food stamps and Medicaid. In many ways, these were my kind of people. Having grown up poor myself, I knew a good bit about their struggles. I deeply loved them, and they, in return, bestowed their love on me.

From time to time, I want to share a few short stories from the eleven years I spent pastoring Somerset Baptist. I hope you’ll enjoy them. Today’s story is titled, The Church Christmas Tree.

In 1985, the congregation bought an abandoned Methodist church building five miles east of Somerset on top of Sego Hill. After months of remodeling, the sanctuary was ready to use. Built in the 1830s, the church had oak floors, colored glass windows, and a 25-foot vaulted ceiling. The building was classic for its era, one of the oldest church buildings in the county. Purchased for $5,000, the sanctuary and annex required $15,000 in improvements, including two gas furnaces to replace the coal-converted-to-propane monster in the basement. We would later install a wood/coal furnace after propane costs skyrocketed one year.

December, 1985, was our first Christmas in the new building. I decided that we would purchase a Christmas tree and put it in the back of the sanctuary. After discussing with several congregants whether to get an artificial or real tree, one man spoke up and said, “preacher, I can get us a real Christmas tree and it won’t cost us anything.” I replied, “that would be great.”

A few days later, the man showed up at the church with a huge Christmas tree in the back of his 1960s Ford pickup. The man unloaded the tree, carried it into the church, and propped up in the back corner. Proudly, he asked, “preacher, what do you think?” I looked at scrawny pine tree — 12 feet in height. I thought, “man, this tree sure is scrawny. I wonder where he bought it?” I told the man, “looks great! — a lie to be sure, but better than wounding the man’s spirit. He was so proud of doing this for me that I didn’t want to discourage him. It’s just a tree, I told myself. No big deal. “Where did you get this tree?” I asked. The man replied, “oh I went up on Route 13 and cut down one of the trees growing along the highway.” You WHAT? I alarmingly replied. “You do know that those trees are government property?” The man genuinely seemed clueless about the ownership question.  And then, without missing a beat, he replied, “well, preacher, those trees belong to God!”

This tree would be the first and last Christmas tree in the sanctuary. Two years later, I came out against Christmas and its excesses, putting an end to any sort of tree or decorations in the sanctuary. In their place, the sanctuary rang with sermons against Christmas and the excesses of the season. I am sure, compared to my guilt-inducing sermons, congregants missed the scrawny Christmas tree, regardless of its provenance.

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.

Abortion and the Religious Right

abortion right wing

The above comic, drawn by Don Addis, was recently featured on the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s website. I thought it nicely summed up attempts to outlaw abortion by Evangelicals and conservative Roman Catholics. These zygote worshiping zealots will not rest until abortion (and birth control) is outlawed and criminalized.

Are you a member of the Freedom of Religion Foundation? If not, I encourage you join with over 30,000 other freethinkers as they support and defend the separation of church and state.  For more membership information, please go here.

Black Collar Crime: Zachary Wachholz Facing Allegations of Inappropriate Behavior With Minors

zachary wachholz

The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.

Zachary Wachholz, a middle school/high school ministry volunteer at Community Bible Church in San Antonio, Texas, stands accused of inappropriate behavior with numerous church teens. Ed Newton, pastor of Community Bible, released the following statement:

In recent days, my heart was broken when I was informed that a part-time employee admitted to our executive pastor that the employee had engaged in inappropriate behavior with several minors in our youth ministry. We believe that this was limited to less than 10 victims, but clearly, even one victim is too many.

Our thoughts and prayers are with all involved in this tragedy.

We immediately notified law enforcement authorities, and the detectives limited what we can say at this time due to their ongoing investigation.

However, what I can share is that the acts involving all but one of the reported victims involved inappropriate electronic communication on electronic devices through social media platforms. One victim who was identified in the employee’s confession involved more than electronic communication. But whether it is inappropriate electronic communication or inappropriate physical contact, it is wrong and illegal and will not be tolerated at all!

Our primary concern right now is for all victims and families. They have all been contacted by our pastoral staff for the purpose of coming alongside them with love, support, counseling and prayer. Please pray for them.

The perpetrator has to remain nameless due to the ongoing investigation at this time. But, as I said, this person was a part-time employee. Prior to hiring this person, our church conducted a full background investigation, references were interviewed and numerous interviews of the potential employee were conducted. There was absolutely no reason to believe that this person posed a risk. Let there be no misunderstanding, this part-time employee was immediately fired from our staff upon learning of this information; this person has been issued a trespassing warrant, so as to prevent access onto our campus or attend any CBC related events.

In closing: This is a difficult time for the victims, the families and our church. Our hearts and prayers go out to the victims and their families. We will continue to fully cooperate with the authorities. We are praying and doing our best to provide compassionate support to the victims. Also, we are praying for the perpetrator. We ask to join us in prayer.

Community Bible is an Evangelical multi-campus megachurch.

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Christopher Cox Accused of Rape

pastor christopher cox

The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.

Christopher Cox, pastor of Long Lake Church in Traverse City, Michigan, stands accused of luring two men to his office and raping them after incapacitating them with methamphetamine and GHB.

The Traverse City Record Eagle reports:

Michigan State Police investigators interviewed a 19-year-old man who claimed Cox contacted him March 12 looking for a “drug buddy,” according to court records. Cox promised the man — who was homeless at the time — drugs and women if he came back with Cox to his home, the man claimed.

Cox gave the man meth to smoke and “CBD shots,” making the man “extremely inebriated,” according to a probable cause statement. Cox raped the man numerous times over the course of several hours that night, according to the account.

The accuser said Cox dropped him off at Safe Harbor the following morning, threatening to kill him if he told anyone about the night prior.

Records show the accuser went to Munson Medical Center where a sexual assault exam revealed bruising and redness “consistent with anal trauma.”

Mike McDonald, chairman of Safe Harbor’s executive board, said homeless people are much more likely to be victimized than the average person.

“It’s appalling to me that something like this could happen to anybody under any circumstances, especially by someone who purports to be a minister,” McDonald said.

A second man told troopers that Cox gave him meth sometime in October 2018 at Cox’s office in Traverse City — Moeggenberg did not immediately know the location. Like the account given by the other man, Cox gave the man meth and waited until he was high, drunk and incapacitated before assaulting him, despite the man’s efforts to fight him off, records show.

The man told Michigan State Police troopers that Cox stopped several hours later, claiming he had to get back to his wife and child.

“Based on what I know, I would be surprised if there weren’t more victims,” Moeggenberg said.

A search of Cox’s home and office uncovered items like lubricant, male enhancement pills, a blindfold and nylon webbing police suspect was used for bondage, records show.

They also found lighters, glass pipes, single-use syringes, meth and a substance police believe was GHB, known as the “date rape drug,” according to records. Moeggenberg said investigators also seized electronic devices. MSP’s Computer Crimes Unit searched the devices recovered during the March 18 search and uncovered “additional evidence,” according to a press release.

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Anthony Brooks Indicted on Sexual Abuse Charges

pastor anthony brooks

The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.

Anthony Brooks, pastor of Jesus House of Believers Worship Center in Florence, Kentucky, was indicted Friday on five counts of first-degree child sexual abuse.

Brooks’ church bio page states:

Pastor Anthony is the Senior Pastor of JHOB-WC Ministries located in the Cincinnati  OH / Lawrenceburg, IN. area. Pastor Anthony began ministering in the year of 1998 to lost souls in the Jackson,Ms. area.  While ministering in Mississippi, it was the year of 1999 when God gave Pastor Anthony a vision with purpose and passion. That vision is Jesus House Of Believers Ministries inc. (JHOB-WC) for a city and area that he himself had only passed though once.

God used Pastor Anthony behind the scenes to minister the restoring message of God’s love, forgiveness and grace to all man and to lead the lost to salvation though Jesus Christ. Ministering to lost souls remains the passion of Pastor Anthony today.

Shortly after Pastor Anthony began ministering to lost souls in the Jackson Ms. area, God relocated Pastor Anthony to Dallas TX. to serve in the area of inner city outreach, specializing in family & Drug counseling where he still specialize. He is also specializing in intercessory prayer leadership and training, church leadership, pastoral leadership, and church planting.  He also served in many areas of ministry, such as outreach ministry , music ministry and youth ministry just to name a few. The love and passion of ministering to lost souls allowed Pastor Anthony to serve, work and learn from some awesome men of God.  From the year of 1998 to 2014 Pastor Anthony held many leadership positions in ministry while the vision of  JHOB-WC ministry was still his life purpose, passion, and promise. On Feb 9, 2010, God spoke on His promise and vision (for Pastor Anthony to write down the vision) along with a date to birth the ministry of JHOB-WC in the very city where he and his Wife Co- pastor Kimberly Brooks and three kids are ministering this very day…

According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, Brooks was released on a $5,000 cash bond. That’s right $5,000.  The judge who released Brooks on such a low bail ought to ashamed of himself. Nothing says, “we don’t take sexual abuse seriously,” as letting alleged abusers out of jail without making them post substantial bail. I suspect Brooks got the “preacher’s discount.”  Some members of law enforcement and the judiciary have a hard time believing men of God could do such things. However, as the Black Collar Crime series makes clear, clergymen can and do take sexual advantage of children and adults. They should be afforded the same harsh treatment as the rest of us when accused of serious sexual crimes against children. Brooks is certainly innocent until proven guilty, but prosecutors don’t bring such cases before grand juries without credible evidence that a crime has been committed. And if Brooks did indeed commit these crimes, it is certainly possible that this victim was not his first. And that’s why alleged abusers should be given high enough bail to keep them behind bars until law enforcement can see if there are other victims.

The Voices of Atheism: Christopher Hitchens at His Best

christopher hitchens

Christopher Hitchens

This is the ninth 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 his 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 Christopher Hitchens. Enjoy!

Video Link