Tag Archive: Fundamentalism

How Fundamentalist Christians Ruin Christmas

candy cane

The Legend of the Candy Cane

Now that I am no longer a Christian, I really enjoy Christmas. I know this might be hard for fundamentalist Christians to believe, but I enjoy Christmas now more than I ever did when I was a card-carrying member of Club Christian®. The reason is simple. From Thanksgiving to New Year’s, there were services to prepare, food drives to coördinate, and season-themed sermons to preach. Like the Easter season, Christmas was a high-stress, lots-of-work time for me. Quite frankly, I found it exhausting. Rarely did I have the time to just relax and enjoy Christmas.

And of course, Christmas was that time of year when it was my duty to focus on and harass any relative or friend that did not know Jesus. I mean know in the fundamentalist sense. There’s Christianity, and then there’s hell is real, souls are dying, I must make an ass of myself every Christmas, Big F Fundamentalist Christianity.

Consider these words from John R. Rice, the late Fundamentalist Evangelist and editor of the Sword of the Lord:

“I still, from my armchair, preach in great revival campaigns. I still vision hundreds walking the aisles to accept Christ. I still feel hot tears for the lost. I still see God working miracles. Oh, how I long to see great revivals, to hear about revival crowds once again!…I want no Christmas without a burden for lost souls, a message for sinners, a heart to bring in the lost sheep so dear to the Shepherd, the sinning souls for whom Christ died. May food be tasteless, and music a discord, and Christmas a farce if I forget the dying millions to whom I am debtor; if this fire in my bones does not still flame! Not till I die or not till Jesus comes, will I ever be eased of this burden, these tears, this toil to save souls.”

For the John R. Rice type of Christian (and I was one for almost 20 years), Christmas can never be just about sitting back and enjoying the food, gift giving, and family re-connections. Every non-Fundamentalist family member is viewed as a hell-bound sinner in need of salvation. Desiring to make sure the heavenly family circle is unbroken, Fundamentalist Christians will diligently attempt to evangelize non-Fundamentalist family members. Instead of chatting up atheist Uncle Ricky, Bobby, or Catholic Aunt Geraldine about family and football, the souls for Jesus is my battle cry Christians will, with little delay, attempt to witness to their heathen relatives. To the Jesus-loving soul winner, putting in a good word in for Jesus is far more important than the familial bond. Having been told that Jesus came to split families asunder and that their “real” family is their fellow church members, Fundamentalist Christians will insufferably badger anyone they consider unsaved.  It matters not that Uncle Ricky and Aunt Geraldine have been witnessed to countless times before. In the Fundamentalist’s mind, this might be the day, the very moment when the Holy Spirit comes over their lost loved ones and causes them to repent of their sins and put their faith and trust in Jesus. It matters not how unlikely this is: as rare as an ivory-billed woodpecker sighting. Every breathing non-Fundamentalist Christian family member is a prospect for heaven.  And like relatives who shamelessly use family holiday gatherings to peddle Amway or Tupperware, Fundamentalist Christians will seek every opportunity to badger family members into buying a lifetime membership to Club Heaven.

Sometimes, Fundamentalist family members can become so aggressive, argumentative, and pushy that their behavior ruins Christmas. Many Christian families give a hat tip to Jesus being the reason for the season and then focus on the food, gift-giving, and enjoying each other’s company. Fundamentalist Christians see this as a betrayal of Jesus and the salvation he graciously offers to sinners. In their mind, it’s all Jesus, all the time.

I suspect some evangelizing Fundamentalists have a deep need to be perceived as right. They spend their life hearing that only Jesus gives life meaning and purpose, and that every non-Christian has a God-shaped void in his soul. They are reminded by their preachers that non-Fundamentalist Christians have horrible, miserable lives that will ultimately land them in hell. Yet, every year they can’t help but notice that their unsaved relatives seem happy. Their hell bound relatives often have great jobs, treat others well, and genuinely seem to enjoy life. Their observations should suggest to them that perhaps their view of family and the world is skewed, right? Nah, who am I kidding. Their non-Fundamentalist Christian relatives? They are all, every last one of them, blinded by Satan, unable to see the TRUTH. Until Fundamentalists dare to consider that they could be wrong, there’s no hope of them seeing their lost family members as anything more than a soul in need of saving.

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Fundamentalist Steve Van Nattan Thinks Muslims Can’t be “Real” Americans

demon of stupidity

Independent Fundamentalist Baptist Steve Van Nattan, the purveyor of a blog aptly named Balaam’s Ass, thinks Muslims can’t be “real” Americans. Van Nattan posed the question, Can a Muslim be a  good American?, to a friend of his who worked in Saudi Arabia for 20 years. What follows is his response:

  • Theologically – no, because his allegiance is to Allah.
  • Religiously – no, because no other religion is accepted by His Allah except Islam (Qur’an 2:256).
  • Scripturally – no, because his allegiance is to the five Pillars of Islam and the Qur’an.
  • Geographically – no, because his allegiance is to Mecca, to which he turns in prayer five times a day.
  • Socially – no, because his allegiance to Islam forbids him to make friends with Christians or Jews.
  • Politically – no, because he must submit to the mullahs (spiritual leaders) who teach the annihilation of Israel and the destruction of America, the great Satan.
  • Domestically – no, because he is instructed to marry four Women and beat his wife when she disobeys him (Qur’an 4:34).
  • Intellectually – no, because he cannot accept the American Constitution since it is based on Biblical principles and he believes the Bible to be corrupt.
  • Philosophically – no, because Islam, Muhammad, and the Qur’an does not allow freedom of religion and expression. Democracy and Islam cannot co-exist! Every Muslim government is either dictatorial or autocratic.
  • Spiritually – no, because when we declare ‘one nation under God,’ we are referring to the Christian’s God and not Allah.Therefore, after much study and deliberation, perhaps we should be very suspicious of ALL MUSLIMS in this country. They obviously cannot be both ‘good’ Muslims and good Americans/Canadians; they cannot and will not integrate into the great melting pot of America.
    The religious war is bigger than we know or understand. Muslims everywhere have said they will destroy us from within.

As I read this, I thought, are Fundamentalist Christians really this stupid? I know, that’s a rhetorical question. Let me show how easy it is to destroy Van Nattan’s  position on American Muslims:

Let me pose this question to you, can a Fundamentalist Christian be a good American?

  • Theologically – no, because his allegiance is to Jesus.
  • Religiously – no, because no other religion is accepted by His God except Christianity.
  • Scripturally – no, because his allegiance is to the Bible.
  • Geographically – no, because his allegiance is to heaven, to which he turns in prayer without ceasing.
  • Socially – no, because his allegiance to Jesus forbids him from being unequally yoked together with unbelievers.
  • Politically – no, because he must submit to the pastor who teaches the protection of Israel and the destruction of the world.
  • Domestically – no, because he is instructed to marry one woman at a time and beat his children when they disobey him.
  • Intellectually – no, because he cannot accept the American Constitution unless it is properly interpreted through his fundamentalist worldview.
  • Philosophically – no, because Fundamentalist Christianity, Jesus, and the Bible does not allow freedom of religion and expression. Democracy and Fundamentalist Christianity cannot co-exist! Every Fundamentalist Christian government is either dictatorial or autocratic.
  • Spiritually – no, because when we declare ‘one nation under God,’ we are referring to a our particular version of the Christian God.

Therefore, after much study and deliberation, perhaps we should be very suspicious of ALL Fundamentalist Christians in this country. They obviously cannot be both ‘good’ Christians and good Americans/Canadians; they cannot and will not integrate into the great melting pot of America.
The religious war is bigger than we know or understand. Fundamentalist Christians everywhere have said they will take back America for God, using force if necessary.

Man, that was easy.

Susan-Anne White Thinks I’m a Despicable, Obnoxious, Militant, Hateful Atheist

Susan-Anne White, a True Christian, So True She Can't Find Any Church Pure Enough For Her

Susan-Anne White, a True Christian, So True She Can’t Find Any Church Pure Enough For Her

Susan-Anne White, a resident of Northern Ireland and a fundamentalist Christian who believes homosexuality, adultery, divorce, abortion, and rock music should be outlawed, thinks I am a despicable, obnoxious, militant, hateful atheist. She’s taken to her blog to denounce me. Here’s what she had to say:

I have already mentioned the Ex-Pastor Bruce Gerencser in a previous post, and since then, I have continued to read some of the posts on his blog and posted comments when I felt it was necessary and, indeed, my duty to do so.

This man Gerencser, is one of the most despicable, obnoxious individuals I have ever encountered. He is militant, hateful atheism writ large.

He refers to himself at times as Bruce Almighty and when he does so, he adds blasphemy to his many sins. He has now made it impossible for me to post comments on his blog, so obviously, he could not handle the truth contained in my many comments. I also think it likely that I was influencing (for good) some of his regular readers and commenters so he had to silence me. He cannot silence me on our own blog however.

Before he banned me from commenting, I confronted him about his use of the designation “Ms” in reference to me, a designation I abhor. He admitted that he did this to annoy me! I asked him about his wife’s designation i.e is she referred to as “Mrs.” Gerencser or “Ms.” Gerencser. I had to force the issue to get an answer from him and what do you think he said?  “Her name is Polly.”

So there we have it. That being the case, we must assume that on their wedding day, they were pronounced “Mr. and Polly Gerencser” and that, ever since, when they receive any official letters etc, they are addressed to “Mr. and Polly Gerencser.” I think not.

Methinks the EX-Pastor is telling a fib.

Please read all the comments I posted on his blog post (link below) because some of the things he says to me and about me are violent, shocking and slanderous.

By the way, White is not banned. Her comments are moderated. She is free to pontificate and excoriate, but I must approve each comment.  As far as her latest blog post is concerned, I think it speaks for itself.

You can read White’s comments on the following posts Blog News: I Need Your Help, Why Do Fundamentalist Men and Women Dress Differently?, and An Email From a Fundamentalist Christian.

In an October 2015 blog post, White had this to say:

I have been commenting on the blog of a former Pastor turned atheist called Bruce Gerencser for a few days. He also has a Facebook page and he posted my Manifesto on it. You will notice that he made three points about my Manifesto and, taken in order, they are as follows,

1. I am a “fundamentalist crazy”
2. I live in England
3. I’m running for political office

 He is WRONG on all three!

1. I am not crazy
2. I do not live in England (I live in Northern Ireland)
3. I’m not running for political office as the election took place last May.

He also posts a comment from someone calling himself Marc Ewt who states that Northern Ireland is his home country and then proceeds to utter nonsense about NI (some of his assertions are hilarious.)

 Ex-Pastor Bruce Gerencser is gullible enough to believe that every word Marc Ewt utters is the truth and tells him that reading his comment about the state of things in Northern Ireland helps put people like “White” in context. (Note how the former Pastor refers to me as “White” not “Mrs.White” and I don’t like it.) Read the ex-Pastor’s facebook comment below, followed by the comment by Marc Ewt, followed by the ex-Pastor’s response to ignoramus Ewt…

White mentions her Manifesto. Here’s a copy of it:

susan-anne-white-manifesto

According to an April 2015 article in the Belfast Telegraph:

…Susan Anne White, who caused a stir when she stood in last year’s council elections, is now aiming to become MP for West Tyrone.

The devout Christian says her campaign will focus on moral issues including society’s “dangerous” homosexual agenda.

She also wants to outlaw rock music, saying it fuels sexual anarchy and drug use.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Mrs White, who is standing as an Independent, denied that her views were extreme.

“I don’t consider myself extreme – not at all,” she said. “It is society that has moved. Not so far in the past, most people would have shared my views.

“My views only seem extreme because society has moved away from God’s principles.”

Mrs White, who is from Trillick in Co Tyrone, is one of nine candidates standing in West Tyrone on May 7.

The outgoing Sinn Fein MP, Pat Doherty, has a comfortable 10,000-plus majority. Last May, Mrs White stood for the new Fermanagh and Omagh Council, receiving just 67 first preference votes.

Mrs White said she opposes feminism “with all her might”, and says it is to blame for the recession.

“Feminism is responsible for many of the social ills we see all around us,” she added.

“They [feminists] are responsible for the economy – they destroyed the whole concept of a family wage with the father as the bread-winner and the stay-at-home mother. They make women feel they have to be out in the workforce.”

Mrs White is also “absolutely opposed to the homosexual agenda” in today’s society. If I had the power, I would certainly re-criminalise homosexuality, along with adultery,” she added.

She said anyone involved in homosexual or adulterous practices should be jailed.

“I would stop the funding of gay pride parades and other depraved art and cultural events,” she added.

Despite her strong views, Mrs White claims she is a “true friend” to the gay community.

“I tell them the truth,” she added. “The person who is not a friend, the person who is the enemy to the homosexual is the person who pats them on the back and says their lifestyle is perfectly normal and acceptable.”

While campaigning last year, Mrs White spoke out about rock music, saying acts like Iron Maiden and Kurt Cobain promoted anarchy in society. She said she remained opposed to these and other “vulgar acts”.

“A lot of rock music is dangerous for the hearing,” she added.

“That is not the only problem with it. There is an ideology which permeates rock music and it is sexual anarchy. It is also linked to drugs.” She said rock music had “a terrible effect” on young people.

Mrs White blames the EU for much of society’s “decadence”, saying she would withdraw from Europe “tomorrow”…

Here’s a video of White making inflammatory comments about homosexuals:

Video Link

Here’s a wickedly wonderful bit of satire someone at the Waterford Whispers News wrote about White:

A MONSTER five-foot long rat has been found swimming in the Irish media for the past fortnight, and it’s looking for a good home.

The vermin, a Caucasian Christian bigot, was reported to be dwelling in West Tyrone, Northern Ireland.

It is believed to be the worst of its kind found in recent years.

Nicknamed ‘Susan’ by its minders, the rat is not believed to be physically dangerous but its spine-tingling screams have begun to upset locals.

“It just slithered out from underneath a rock somewhere,” constituent Gerry Kennedy told WWN today. “The vile yoke just sits there screaming nonsense all the time. I’ve called the local animal welfare group to see if we can get rid of it.

“Hopefully they can put it out of its misery.”

The animal is presumed to have escaped or been released by a a local Christian breeder.

Witnesses say the rodent is about the size of a dog, weighs in at 60kg, has a tartan coat and white mane and is thought to feed on those it doesn’t agree with.

Locals have called on anyone that comes in contact with the creature to just ignore it.

According to Wikipedia, Susan-Anne White is in her eighties. While it would be easy to dismiss White’s vitriol towards the human race as dementia, the fact is she is a perfect example of someone who has taken her Christian fundamentalist beliefs to their logical conclusion. White, like the late Fred Phelps and his demented family, says in public what uncounted Evangelical and Independent Fundamentalist Baptist preachers and church members say in private. I’ll give her credit for being willing to display her homophobia and bigotry for all to see. I wish more of her ilk would do the same.

White’s two posts about me generated no traffic to this site. In another post, White stated her blog readership numbers were decreasing.  I wonder why?  Like Steven Anderson, the infamous pastor of Faithful Word Baptist Church, Tempe, Arizona, Susan-Anne White has followers who think she is spot on. Not many, but a few. I hope she will continue to write and speak out about the evils of this fallen and depraved world. The more people like her talk, the easier it is for atheists like me to make a case for the bankruptcy of Evangelical Christianity.

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Wikipedia article about White

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An Email From a Fundamentalist Christian

grumpy cat

Several years ago, I received an email from a Christian man by the name of Mike Gallagher. Here’s what he had to say:

I’ve noticed in your articles that you have a bitterness toward so-called Baptists. (Hyles, Swaggart, etc.)  I’ve never considered these men to actually be true men of God. ( “by their fruits, ye shall know them”).  If I may, please allow me to state some observations; and I shall make them brief.  I will not preach to you (tho preaching is a form of communication; and in my experience people are afraid to listen to preaching because they are not secure in their core beliefs.)

1.  I perceive that what you had was religion. Sure, you knew about God and all the doctrines and teachings associated with it. (tho I can’t understand how a serious Bible student could get the doctrine of Calvinism out of it. Calvin wasn’t even a Baptist- yet he persecuted them)  You knew about the Bible and studied it and crafted sermons from it. You looked up to and deified(?) men that you admired; even mentored a few. You were also strongly influenced by them, yea, molded by them.  You had the mechanics of all what a Christian life should be – except for one thing..

2.  Relationships.  You know what they are.  You’ve had one with your wife for 37 years.  No doubt you’ve had strong friendships with others for years.  You have a  relationship with your children and grandchildren;  each one individually (I hope).

Relationships consist of 3 essential elements – Trust, Honesty, Commitment.  Long lasting relationships must consist of these.  But the One whom you have not had a relationship is – God. Sure one can study all about Him, know about Him, what men say about Him – but to know Him, ahh is different.  That’s why salvation always comes

First; it’s the actual meeting; the face to face (by faith) contact.  From that point on you get to know Him more (just as the more time you spent with your wife, you got to know her better; and your friends; and your children; etc.).  You’ve always known He was out there but always distant.  You prayed but didn’t know if He answered or not until you saw results – disappointing or otherwise.

He’s a person.  This is why prayer is a  2-way street;  not one sided.  He’s not there just to listen to you – He wants you to listen to Him.

3.  God didn’t forsake you; you forsook Him. The Bible is not a law book – it’s a guide book.  God isn’t the One who’s changed all these years (especially in our generation in America) We are the ones who have “gone astray”.  Can you HONESTLY say we are better off as a society than we were 50 years ago?

Well, I said I would keep it brief.  Hope we can become friends, Bruce. Some of the things you said about our flesh and humanity is true. The Apostle Paul had trouble with his; and David; and Peter; and Samson; and….. you get the idea. If I’m honest with myself, with others and most importantly, with God;  then I feel secure in what I believe. I don’t think that you do.  write soon, come on you know you can’t let this go without a response!

Mike

I will leave it to you to judge the merit of his letter. My response was short, sweet, and to the point:

You are kidding right? Be friends? Why would I want to be friends with someone who is a judgmental, arrogant ass that refuses to allow me to tell my own story on my own terms?

So no, I am not interested in being friends, hearing from you, or anything else. After hundreds of emails just like yours, I hope you will forgive me when I say to people like you, go to hell.

Bruce

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Email formatted to make it readable. No text was changed.

Jesus Died On the Cross to Save Us From Game of Thrones

game of thrones

That’s what fundamentalist Christian pastor John Piper thinks. In a post titled 12 Questions to Ask Before You Watch Game of Thrones, Piper answers a question from a Christian about watching Game of Thrones. Here’s the question: Pastor John, what would you say to a Christian who watches the cable TV show Game of Thrones?”

Piper responded:

…The closer I get to death and meeting Jesus personally face to face, and giving an account for my life and for the careless words that I have spoken (Matthew 12:36), the more sure I am of my resolve never intentionally to look at a television show or a movie or a website or a magazine where I know I will see photos or films of nudity…So here are 12 questions to think about, or 12 reasons why I am committed to a radical abstention from anything I know is going to present me with nudity.

1. Am I Recrucifying Christ?

Christ died to purify his people. It is an absolute travesty of the cross to treat it as though Jesus died only to forgive us for the sin of watching nudity, and not to purify us for the power not to watch it.

He has blood-bought power in his cross. He died to make us pure. He “gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession” (Titus 2:14). If we choose to endorse or embrace or enjoy or pursue impurity, we take a spear and ram it into Jesus’s side every time we do. He suffered to set us free from impurity.

2. Does It Express or Advance My Holiness?

In the Bible, from beginning to end, there is a radical call for holiness — holiness of mind and heart and life. “As he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct” (1 Peter 1:15). Or 2 Corinthians 7:1, “Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.” Nudity in movies and photos is not holy and does not advance our holiness. It is unholy and impure.

3. When Will I Tear Out My Eye, If Not Now?

Jesus said everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away (Matthew 5:28–29). Seeing naked women — or seeing naked men — causes a man or woman to sin with their minds and their desires, and often with their bodies. If Jesus told us to guard our hearts by gouging out our eyes to prevent lust, how much more would he say: “Don’t watch it!”

4. Is It Not Satisfying to Think on What Is Honorable?

Life in Christ is not mainly the avoidance of evil, but mainly the passionate pursuit of good. Remember Philippians 4:8, “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

My life is not a constrained life. It is a free life. “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13).

5. Am I Longing to See God?

I want to see and know God as fully as possible in this life and the next. Watching nudity is a huge hindrance to that pursuit. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). The defilement of the mind and heart by watching nudity dulls the heart’s ability to see and enjoy God. I dare anyone to watch nudity and turn straight to God and give him thanks and enjoy him more because of what you just experienced.

6. Do I Care About the Souls of the Nudes?

God calls women to adorn themselves in respectable apparel with modesty and self-control (1 Timothy 2:9). When we pursue or receive or embrace nudity in our entertainment, we are implicitly endorsing the sin of the women who sell themselves to this way and are, therefore, uncaring about their souls. They disobey 1 Timothy 2:9, and we say that’s okay.

7. Would I Be Glad If My Daughter Played This Role?

Most Christians are hypocrites in watching nudity because, on the one hand they say by their watching that this is okay, and on the other hand they know deep down they would not want their daughter or their wife or their girlfriend to be playing this role. That is hypocrisy.

8. Am I Assuming Nudity Can Be Faked?

Nudity is not like murder and violence on the screen. Violence on a screen is make-believe; nobody really gets killed. But nudity is not make-believe. These actresses are really naked in front of the camera, doing exactly what the director says to do with their legs and their hands and their breasts. And they are naked in front of millions of people to see.

9. Am I Compromising the Beauty of Sex?

Sexual relations is a beautiful thing. God created it and pronounced it “good” (1 Timothy 4:3). But it is not a spectator sport. It is a holy joy that is sacred in its secure place of tender love. Men and women who want to be watched in their nudity are in the category with exhibitionists who pull down their pants at the top of escalators.

10. Am I Assuming Nudity Is Necessary for Good Art?

There is no great film or television series that needs nudity to add to its greatness. No. There isn’t. There are creative ways to be true to reality without turning sex into a spectator’s sport and without putting actors and actresses in morally compromised situations on the set.

It is not artistic integrity that is driving nudity on the screen. Underneath all of this is male sexual appetite driving this business, and following from that is peer pressure in the industry and the desire for ratings that sell. It is not art that puts nudity in film, it’s the appeal of prurience. It sells.

11. Am I Craving Acceptance?

Christians do not watch nudity with a view to maximizing holiness. That is not what keeps them coming back to the shows. They know deep down that these television shows or these movies are shot through with the commendation and exaltation of attitudes and actions that are utterly out of step with the death to self and out of step with exaltation of Christ.

No, what keeps those Christians coming back is the fear that if they take Christ at his word and make holiness as serious as I am saying it is, they would have to stop seeing so many television shows and so many movies, and they would be viewed as freakish. And that today is the worst evil of all. To be seen as freakish is a much greater evil than to be unholy.

12. Am I Free from Doubt?

There is one biblical guideline that makes life very simple: “But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin” (Romans 14:32). My paraphrase: If you doubt, don’t. That would alter the viewing habits of millions, and oh how sweetly they would sleep with their conscience.

So I say it again. Join me in the pursuit of the kind of purity that sees God, and knows the fullness of joy in his presence and the everlasting pleasure at his right hand.

Is there nudity in Game of Thrones? Sure. Is it gratuitous at times? Sure. Should a Christian watch Game of Thrones? That’s up to them. Polly and I love the show and think it is one of the best dramas on TV. While we think there is a double standard at HBO when it comes to nudity, (HBO has no problem showing female frontal nudity, but rarely does so for men) this is not enough to keep us from watching Game of Thrones. We think tasteful nudity can add to a program. After all, sex and nudity are a part of the human experience.

Piper plays the classic fundamentalist card…death is coming for us and then the judgment. What will we tell Jesus about our binge watching Games of Thrones and other shows like Orange if the New Black on HBO Go?  Something tells me that many Christians aren’t listening to the John Pipers of the world.

Since I don’t think the Christian God exists, I have no worries about being judged for my TV viewing habits. I watch what I want to watch. I love some programs and hate others. I’m glad that I no longer have to feign outrage when there is a nude scene. Polly, Change the channel! But, please change it s-l-o-w-l-y. Of all the problems facing the human race, Game of Thrones doesn’t even make the list.

2005 Bryan Times Editorial by Bruce Gerencser About the Iraq War

bruce gerencser 2002

Bruce Gerencser, 2002

Published on August 25, 2005. This was written two years after I left the ministry. If you have been reading the previous editorials I have posted  you will notice in this editorial that my worldview has definitely shifted. This was written in reaction to my frustrating inability to find a church to attend that did not support the war in Iraq This was not a Letter to the Editor. I wrote it for the Community Voice editorial column on the editorial page of The Bryan Times.

There is a new fundamentalism rising up in America. While it has Christian theological overtones, it is really right-wing political extremism wrapped in the clothes of conservative Christian dogma. There was a time when politics and religion did not mix and were considered separate planes in God’s created order.  Things are much different today. Political activism from the pulpit is common. A recent front page feature article in the Columbus Dispatch about Rod Parsley, pastor of World Harvest Church in Columbus shows very clearly the agenda of this new fundamentalism. Parsley pastors a Church with over 10,000 members. The annual Church budget is in excess of $32,000,000. Parsley advocates pastors rising up to become Patriot Pastors. Theocracy is the goal.

Some would suggest that we ignore this folly and it will fade away as quickly as the Atkins Diet. Our nation has faced many well-intentioned but misguided attempts at reclaiming the culture for God. All have run their course. All have utterly failed because they attempt to use political means to gain a spiritual end.

But we can not ignore this movement because it is resulting in the death and maiming of thousands of people. Virtually every person involved in this new fundamentalism  supports the war in Iraq. They have bought into the rhetoric that the war in Iraq is a war of good vs. evil. Opposition to the war is shouted down with angry words such as traitor,  unpatriotic, liberal, etc. All discussion has ceased. Arrogant fundamentalism has usurped the right to speak for all Christians. We must always remember that one the key tenets of fundamentalism is the belief that you have the complete truth and that all other views are error. No discussion. No shades of gray. Those who hold a different view are considered the enemy.

The most dangerous factor in the Iraq war is the fundamentalist religious right. Their thinking is not much different from the fundamentalist Muslims. They believe God is on their side and that the infidel needs to be destroyed. It is no wonder that many Muslims view the war in Iraq as a religious war. America, led by a Christian President, claims to be a Christian nation. God is invoked to justify virtually everything we do.

Most of the leaders of the fundamentalist religious right have a particular eschatological belief called pretribulational premillennialism. This is the theology of the wildly popular Left Behind book series. It is a relatively modern school of eschatological thought which is first found in writings of the mid-19th century. According to  this system of thought, the world is headed toward a seven-year period called the Great Tribulation. This period of time concludes with Armageddon, at which time the thousand-year millennial kingdom of Christ will be established. Prior to the Great Tribulation, Jesus will return and rapture out all the Christians. it is important to keep this in mind when listening to the war rhetoric of the fundamentalist religious right. According to their theological system, Mathew 24 must be literally fulfilled. One of the key tenets of Matthew 24 is “war and rumors of war.“ Those holding to this theological persuasion have no impetus to be “peacemakers.“ War is inevitable, and the more war we have the closer we are to the rapture.

I am a conservative Christian. My theology and personal lifestyle practices place me squarely in the conservative Christian camp. Unfortunately, I am, along with many others, the son no one talks about. We sit silently in church while our ministers talk up war and nationalism from the pulpit. l speak for those who are Christians but who can not support the war in Iraq. I speak for those who believe that Jesus called us to be ”peacemakers.” It is not enough to believe In peace. We must actively promote peace.

Where are the conservative Churches and pastors that take a stand against war and actively promote peace? Have we become so blinded by our political agenda and fanciful eschatological interpretations that we have forsaken the Jesus who preached the Sermon on the Mount?

We should note that when justification for war is talked about, it is the name of God that is invoked. Have you noticed that no one says, “Jesus supports the War In Iraq?“ Using the generic term God invokes the Image of the wrathful God of the Old Testament. When we speak the name of Jesus we come away with a different image. We do not see Jesus as the soldier, the warrior. We see him as the shepherd, as the meek, mild-mannered, peace loving Savior of the world.

slightly edited to correct some embarrassing grammar errors

Nancy Campbell Says Christians Shouldn’t Call Their Children Kids

gerencser granddaughters

Eight of our grand kids, who recently spent the night at Nana and Grandpa’s house. What a wonderful herd of goats.

Snark ahead

Fundamentalist Christian Nancy Campbell says Christians shouldn’t call their children kids. Campbell, who operates the Above Rubies website, had this to say:

The most common word for “children” in our society today is the word “kids.” Is this a word that God has chosen to call our children? We do not see it anywhere in the Bible in relation to children. In fact, if you check the 1928 Webster’s Dictionary you will not find this word for children. “Kids” is a modern word, which has been added in later years.

I have to confess that for a long time, I also used this word. I did not like the word and never felt that it was right, but I succumbed to the trend around me. How easily we do things just because everyone else is doing them, without thinking whether it is actually the best thing to do!

However, there came a time when I was challenged. I read an article about a sheep farmer in New Zealand. This farmer had diversified into raising goats, as well as sheep, and he noticed an interesting comparison. The ewes remained close to their lambs, watching them while they fed. He noticed, however, how the goats herded their young together in one spot on a knoll of a hill and left them while they went off to forage for the day. They did not provide the same individual attention which the sheep gave to their offspring.

My mind ticked over as I read this, but before I accepted it, I thought I should check out if it was really true. I asked my father who is an authority on sheep. He was the World Champion Sheep Shearer in his younger days and has shorn over a million sheep in his lifetime.

“Yes,” he said, “Sheep will never go further than earshot from the little lambs.”

I was very challenged. Has “kids” become the accepted word for children today, because we have become a generation of “goat mothers”? Instead of staying close to their lambs, thousands of mothers drop them off at nurseries and daycare, leaving their little “lambs” to fulfill their own careers. This is “goat mothering.” No wonder we call our children “kids”!..

…After realizing all this I decided that I did not want to be part of the goat company. I did not want to impose the goat character upon my children. Our children should be different from the children of the world. I therefore made an effort to stop using the word “‘kids.” And now I hate to hear other people using it.

Let’s start a revolution and eliminate the word “kids” from our society!

I’ve got a better idea. Let’s start a revolution and eliminate crazy fundamentalists ideas from our society! I just checked an old Webster Dictionary and it didn’t have words like computer, internet, website, or blog. Using Campbell’s dictionary logic, shouldn’t Christians refrain from using a computer, accessing the internet, building a website, or having a blog?  Oh Bruce, that is stupid. Yep, it is, just like Campbell’s assertion that calling children kids is akin to saying they are goats.

In Part Two of her anti-kids-word article, Campbell lists a number of “Biblical” names parents could call their children:

  • Gifts
  • Blessings
  • Heritage of the Lord
  • Fruit of the Womb
  • Beloved Fruit of the Womb
  • Rewards
  • Arrows
  • Olive Plants
  • Sons who are Mature Plants
  • Daughters who are Polished Cornerstones
  • Signs and Wonders
  • Lambs
  • Work of God’s Hands
  • Godly Seed
  • Glory
  • Crown

Campbell forgot one…tax deduction.

Fundamentalist  Catholic Marian Horvat thinks calling children kids is vulgar:

It was in the 1960s and 1970s that a slang term began to be introduced in certain circles that were trying to be up-to-date and modern. I am talking about the introduction of the word ‘kids’ used to refer to children…

…The word is all-pervading – “Buy Big Kids or Little Kids shoes or boots.” The implication, of course, is that we are all kids – frolicking little goats that never grow up. Then there is the “Big Songs for Little Kids” – gospel music for little goats?

Even nice restaurants, museums and exhibitions have taken to using the term: “Kids’ meals available,” “Kids under 12 enter free.” Book titles justify the word for parents and offspring: we have Real Kids’ Readers, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, The Everything Kids’ Cookbook, and so on.

I realize that there will be critics who think I am overstating the ills of saying kids and not children. “There she goes again, making a mountain out of a molehill, nitpicking about what to call your kids as the world falls apart around us.”

Children, not kids, please… No, I am not just being finicky and pernickety. There are certain principles at stake in the matter.

Today we hear much about the importance of the dignity of man. At the same time, we adopt language, customs and dress that persistently reduce the dignity of men and women.

Need I recall the daily clothing of men and women – the unisex sweat suit, the tiresome blue jean and t-shirt, the perpetual tennis shoes – that diminish the dignity of men and erase differences in professions and social levels? Not to mention the immoral women’s fashions that give even teenage girls the appearance of women of the street, not children of God.

Our customs have likewise been transformed: Gone are the formal greetings, the polite address of Mr. Jones or Miss Greene, gentlemen opening doors for ladies, and so on. The list is interminable and gloomy for those – like my good Readers – who oppose the hippy Cultural Revolution of the 1960s and do all they can to oppose and fight it in the ambiences of their own homes.

But the Cultural Revolution does not just influence customs and clothing. The same leveling, vulgarizing trend has found its way into daily language, habituating a generation to accept common and egalitarian forms of speech. Men and women are addressed ambiguously as guys. Persons are said to crack up instead of laugh. They are no longer described as blushing, but turning red. Instead of distinguishing an event with an appropriate adjective, everything is cool – to the point that the word has no meaning. And children are, of course, just kids.

Young goats… Unfortunately, the term applies in many cases. Many children prance around, careen and react spontaneously to every stimulus or feeling like mountain goats, instead of well-disciplined boys and girls. Perhaps there is a lesson in the tendencies to be learned here: If you anticipate your children acting like young goats, call them kids. If you want your offspring to behave with decorum and Catholic manners, please call them children…

The damnable 1960s and 1970s, they are to blame for everything.  We baby boomers sure have fucked up the world. Children are now routinely called kids. Surely this is a sure sign of the coming goat apocalypse, a time when children who were called kids turn into zombie-like goats and cause untold havoc and destruction.  I beg parents to stop calling their children kids before it is too late!!

 

Windows 10: Is Microsoft’s Latest Operating System a Tool of Satan?

windows 10

I read and monitor a large number of Christian, Evangelical, right-wing, and bat-shit crazy blogs and news sites. Since the main focus of this blog is Evangelicalism, I do my best to be informed about what is happening in the world of God’s chosen people. Some days, it is isn’t easy and I find myself either wanting to take a long, hot mental shower or I find myself shaking my head or laughing hysterically.

This post is about a head shaking and laughing post written by Bible Believer, a fundamentalist Christian who blogs at the Galatians 4 website. He has written about me several times in the past, The IFB Pastor Turned Atheist: Those Who Fall Away and Ex-IFB Pastor Still Rejects the Word of God.  While he refuses to mention me by name in his posts, he did let his readers know that he doesn’t “post there (this blog) anymore, there are biblical precepts about preaching the gospel and getting out of Dodge and leaving the dust of your sandals when someone refuses to hear.”

Yesterday, Bible Believer wrote a post titled Watch Out for Windows 10:

Windows 8 is bad enough, I have to search for everything even to shut the computer off. Whose brain works with this nonsense? If I had time I’d strip Windows 8 off this computer and go back to 7. I shut off updates too as much as is possible but it seems some sneaks in anyway. The trojans sent to my computer never end too. This one almost got destroyed by two last week. I actually have to strip my computer completely clean at least once a year. I agree with the blogger of the link below since this commercial gave me the creeps too.

My first thought was to let Bible Believer know that the best way to not have a problem with Trojans is to stop surfing porn sites. You know, the 40th page of Google search results for porn will most likely have a few sites that will infect a computer with a virus of some sort. To all those Evangelicals who wink-wink, God be their witness, never look an internet porn, I suggest sticking to safe, reputable porn sites like youporn.

I don’t know if Bible Believer is surfing porn sites in his spare time, that five minutes a day when he is not cooking up yet another conspiratorial story about Satan, false Christians, the New World Order,  and atheists. Probably not, but what I  want to focus on is the website Bible Believer mentioned in his post, Another Voice: Revelation 18:4. Like Bible Believer, the writer behind Another Voice is a fundamentalist Christian McCarthyite who see Satan and the New World Order under every bed.

In 2012, Another Voice featured an article that alerted readers to the evils of Window 8. Of particular worry was a Microsoft Windows 8 promotional video. While the video is no longer available, here’s a screen shot of what Another Voice was so concerned about:

windows 8 eye

Most of us likely see an 8, but not Another Voice:

…The message in this second image from the same video could not be any clearer either. It is a hand-formation of a figure ‘8’ – for Windows ‘8’ of course, with, it just so happens, the infamous all-seeing-eye peering through, aka the ‘eye of Horus’.

Understanding that such obvious occult symbolism is never random but always intentional, are the ‘hidden’ messages in this Windows 8 “The World Is Ready” promo video a statement that the world is considered now ready for Horus, i.e. the Antichrist – along with the global system to monitor and control everything and everybody that comes with him – and that Windows 8 (and beyond) is going to make it happen?…

…Windows 8 is going to be shifting the masses to the cloud, and putting control of the software into the hands of Big Brother, aka ‘Horus’. The world is ready they say. Do you want your life in the ‘hands of horus’?

Windows 8 has now been replaced by Windows 10, and like Bible Believer, Another Voice sees a mysterious, hidden Satanic agenda behind the latest incarnation of Microsoft’s operating system.  This time, it’s the Windows 10 promotional video that’s the problem. (video removed from YouTube)

Are you scratching your head over this one, desperately trying to “see” the mysterious, hidden Satanic, New World Order agenda? Well, scratch no more. I’ll let Another Voice help you “see”. Look carefully at this screen shot from the video:

windows 10 phoenix

Still don’t see it? Come on, it is right in front of you! OK, take it away Another Voice:

“The future starts now…for all of us” say the would-be overlords of the would-be novus ordo seclorum (New order of the ages, often mistranslated New World Order by conspiracy theorists) …and sure enough there it is: the Phoenix – hidden-in-plain sight

For you who haven’t been part of Christian fundamentalism, I am sure the paranoia of Bible Believer and Another Voice is bewildering and hysterical. However, I understand exactly where they are coming from. When you grow up being taught that unseen forces are manipulating people and governments in order to usher in a New World Order and advance the kingdom of Satan, it’s easy to “see” conspiracies everywhere you look. Couple this with literalistic eschatological beliefs and it’s not hard to “see” Satan and evil everywhere.

The thinking goes something like this…Jesus is coming soon, and before he comes again, the world is going to become as it was in the days of Noah and the days of Sodom and Gomorrah. Just look at the recent U.S. Supreme Court legalizing sodomite marriage and the recently released videos that clearly show the Planned Parenthood is selling baby parts. Look at all the lawsuits and court rulings, almost on a daily basis, that go against the Word of God and result in Christians being p-e-r-s-e-c-u-t-e-d.  Everywhere sincere Christians like Bible Believer and Another Voice look they see the advancing kingdom of Satan and spiritual and moral darkness.  Surely,  it won’t be long before the trump of God sounds and Jesus splits the eastern sky!

While I think Microsoft and a host of other companies have taken over the world, I don’t see a nefarious plot to usher in some sort of New World Order that will enslave the masses and turn the book of Revelation into a play acted out on the world stage. What I see is the march of technology to beat of the drum of capitalism. Whether this is good or bad remains to be seen, but I do not fear Windows 10 or any other software program. They are just tools we use to work, play, and communicate.

Why I am Not Interested in a Nicer, Friendlier Christianity

truth in love

Drawing by David Hayward

I often write about the extreme right of  Evangelicalism, the end of the Evangelical spectrum inhabited by churches and sects that nice, friendly Evangelicals like to call fundamentalist nut jobs. However, as I clearly show in my post titled Are Evangelicals Fundamentalists, ALL Evangelicals are fundamentalists. Evangelical belief requires theological fundamentalism, a core set of beliefs that one must adhere to be a Christian and considered an Evangelical in good standing. Some who deny this fact are really liberal/progressive Christians living in denial. Raised in the Evangelical church and familiar with its worship and practice, these liberal/progressive Christians don’t want to abandon the only church they have ever known. Their theology puts them squarely outside of Evangelicalism, but they refuse to accept this and they dig their heels in when attempts are made to drag them into the liberal/progressive church. There’s not much anyone can do for these folks. In time, the keepers of Evangelical truth will expose and embarrass them and they will be forced to leave. For now, they play pretend Evangelical.

There’s another subset within Evangelicalism that thinks they are what I call a nicer, friendlier version of Evangelicalism. They are convinced that legalism, rules, moralizing, and the like are the problem, so they attempt to advertise their churches as places that are judgment free, places where sinners can come to find healing and deliverance. However, these nicer, friendlier Evangelicals hang on to theological fundamentalism. While their lifestyle or what they consider a sin might be different from their legalistic brethren, theologically there is very little difference between the two.

Here’s how you force a nicer, friendlier Evangelical to show their true colors. Forget this or that doctrine. Forget everything except what I share next:

Evangelical: The church I go to, First Church of the Most Awesome People in Town, is the nicest, friendliest church in town. We love everyone and I am sure if you come to our church you would feel right at home!!

Bruce: Let me ask you several questions. First, do you believe in a literal hell?

Evangelical: Yes, that’s what the Bible teaches.

Bruce: Who ends up in hell?

Evangelical: Well, I am not the judge, only God is, but the Bible does say that a person must know Jesus as their Lord and Savior to go to heaven when they die.

Bruce: So, since I am not a Christian and I refuse to acknowledge Jesus as my Lord and Savior, I will go to hell when I die, right?

Evangelical: (looks down to ground) Uh, well, um, yeah, if you don’t repent of your sins and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ you will go to hell when you die.

Bruce: How long will I be in hell? Is it like Catholic purgatory where I’ll suffer for a time and then be taken to heaven?

Evangelical: Well,uh….(long pause) if you die without knowing Jesus as your Lord and Savior you will spend eternity in the torments of hell.

Bruce: Fire and brimstone and where the worm dieth not?

Evangelical: Yes.

Bruce: Since this body I currently have would burn up if I was thrown into a pit of fire and brimstone, does this mean God gives me a new body that will withstand the torments of hell?

Evangelical: (silently praying the Rapture would happen)

Bruce: And doesn’t this mean that your God created me, killed me, and sent me to hell with a new body fashioned by him to withstand day and night torture for eternity?

Bruce: Is this the God you worship? Why would anyone want to worship such a horrible deity?

Forget all the other doctrines, this is the only one that matters. I don’t care how nice or friendly a church thinks they are, if they believe in hell then they are party to the savage, endless torture of billions of people. They might smile more or practice friendship evangelism, but the result is still the same; those who don’t repent of their sins and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ go to hell when they die. (please see We Love People and Are the Friendliest Church in Town)

The next time you run into a nicer, friendlier Evangelical, go for their jugular. Ask them point-blank if they believe in hell. Their answer (s) to this questions will tell you all you need to know. Personally, I have no interest in be a part of a group or being friends with anyone who thinks that I will burn in hell for eternity because I am not like them. This kind of thinking is no different from the thinking of the demented killers portrayed on Criminal Minds. Our God is an awesome God, the Evangelical says, and He loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life. And if you refuse to accept this, our God will some day torture you for all eternity.

Bruce, the Atheist Talks to James, the Pastor About the Bible

bible made me an atheist

Comic by my friend Mike Stanfill.

Recently, a fundamentalist Christian by the name of James commented on several of my posts on this site and on Facebook. James, a seminary trained Baptist, is convinced I hate God, hate Christians, hate the Bible, and live for the opportunity to mock and ridicule Christianity.

James describes himself this way:

I am a man “of the book.” I am a man of faith. My entire life is governed by my faith in an unseen God. Hebrews 11: 6 says “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” My entire life falls under the authority of the Word of God. No surprise there! And because my life is governed by God’s Word, I live a holy and godly life.

According to James, his entire life is under the authority of the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God. God said it, and that settles it and the real problem with atheists like me is that we refuse to bow before the power and authority of the Bible. One day, James warned, “there will be a day of reckoning and judgment by that man whom God hath appointed to be judge. And on that day, you WILL bow the knee and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord!”

I’m sure James really believes what he is saying. However, does James really govern his life by the word of God? Does he really believe every word in the Bible is pure and true? I’m sure if James reads this post he will shout from the roof tops, I BELIEVE EVERY WORD IN THE BIBLE…STRAIGHT FROM GOD’S MOUTH TO MY EAR  AND HEART!!!

What follows is how a conversation between Bruce, the atheist and James, the pastor might have gone….

Bruce: Every book, every chapter, every verse, every word?

James: Yes, all 66 books, 1,189 chapters, 31,102 verse, and 788, 258 words. (King James Bible Statistics)

Bruce: Do you think homosexuality is a sin?

James: Yes, the Bible says in Leviticus 18:22 that homosexuality is an abomination.

Bruce: So, you support the execution of homosexuals? Leviticus 20:14 says homosexuals should be put to death. And Leviticus 20:10 says adulterers should be put to death. Do you support the execution of homosexuals and adulterers?

James: Well, you see…that’s in the Old Testament, so those verses are under the Old Covenant. We are under the New Covenant now. Praise God for his grace and mercy!

Bruce: What about the Ten Commandments?

James: Yes, I think the Ten Commandments are the inviolable law of God and are valid today!

Bruce: But, they are in the Old Testament.

James: Well, you see, the Ten Commandments are the moral law of God and God’s moral law is in force today.

Bruce: All ten commandments?

James: Well, you see, the command to remember the sabbath day and keep it holy is no longer in force.

Bruce: Where does the Bible say it is no longer in force?

James: Well, you see, it doesn’t, but if you take this verse, that verse, and put them together with these verses, and then interpret it though the proper theological grid…viola! the command to remember the sabbath day and keep it holy is no longer in force.

Bruce: Hmm. I thought the Bible says, I am the Lord thy God and I change not. Doesn’t the Bible says that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever? If God is unchanging, why do his laws change?

James: Well, you see…

Bruce: Didn’t Jesus say in Matthew 5: 17, 18 – Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. It seems to me that Jesus is saying the law of God is in force (valid, authoritative) until heaven and earth pass away. I just went outside and checked…heaven and earth are still here.

James: Well, you see, the Scripture must be rightly interpreted. You are interpreting it incorrectly and that’s why your beliefs are wrong. I interpret it correctly and that’s why my beliefs are right.

Bruce: I thought you were a man of the book, that you stand upon the B-I-B-L-E!

James: I do.

Bruce: Not really. If you were a man of the book, why would you need to interpret it? Aren’t you really saying that you are a man of a certain interpretation and that your interpretation of the Bible is the authority?

James: Pfft. You are putting words in my mouth.

Bruce: Let’s move on to the New Testament.

James: (under breath) Thank you, Jesus!

Bruce: So, you consider all the commands in the New Testament to be true and authoritative?

James: Absolutely!

Bruce: According to the Christian Assemblies International website, there are 1,050 commands in the 27 books of the New Testament. According to what you said previously, do you consider all 1,050 commands and authoritative?

James: Yes, they are the Word of God.

Bruce: Do the women in the church you attend speak during the service?

James: That’s a silly question. Of course they do.

Bruce: I Corinthians 14:34 says, Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. This verse says women are not permitted to speak in the church.

James: Well, you see, you need to understand the historical and cultural context to properly interpret this verse.

Bruce: So, we are back to interpreting again. I thought you were a man of the book? Shouldn’t someone be able to pick up the Bible, read it, and understand it? If people wanted to be saved, could they just pick up the Bible, read it and understand what they need to do to be saved?

James: Absolutely! I hand out tracts with Bible verses on them. If a person reads these verses they will know all they need to know about being saved.

Bruce: Hmm…OK. Does a person need to be baptized to be saved?

James: Absolutely not! That’s works salvation. Salvation is by faith through grace, not of works, lest any man should boast. Praise Jesus!

Bruce: Doesn’t Mark 16 say he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved?

James: Well, you see…

Bruce: Does a person receive the Holy Spirit when they are saved?

James: Yes, they do. The Holy Spirit lives in every Christian. He is their teacher and guide! He is the third part of the Godhead.

Bruce: So there are three G…(stop, Bruce, stay on point) Sorry about that. If someone is saved but not baptized, do they have the Holy Spirit living inside of them?

James: Yes, but they should be baptized as soon as possible. Baptism is an outward sign of what God has done on the inside.

Bruce: Doesn’t Acts 2:38 say: Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost? This seems to say a person must be baptized before they receive the Holy Spirit.

James: Well, you see, the word “for” in the Greek is “eis” and it means “because of.” In other words, a person is baptized because their sins have been remitted, not in order to have their sins remitted.

Bruce: So, to understand the Bible you need to know Greek?

James: (silence)

Bruce: I thought a person could just read the English Bible and understand how to be saved? Now you are saying they need to understand Greek?

James: Well Greek is the original language of the New Testament.

Bruce: Wait a minute. There’s a Greek New Testament that came before the English New Testament?

James: Yes, and the Old Testament was originally written in Hebrew.

Bruce: So, which words are the pure and perfect Word of God? The English or the Hebrew and Greek?

James: (launches into long explanation about the original languages and translations)

Bruce: OK, where I can I read these original manuscripts?

James: They don’t exist.

Bruce: What do you mean they don’t exist? Doesn’t this mean your faith is in a translation written by men and not the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God?

James: Absolutely not! We can KNOW that the English Bible is the pure and perfect Word of God. God preserves his Word down through the ages.

Bruce: And you know this HOW?

James: The Bible says…

I could go on and on and on in endless directions with this fictitious dialog between James and me. As I have easily shown, James’ belief in the Bible requires him  to interpret the text, so what is really pure and perfect is not the Bible but his interpretation. Whatever translation James uses has the fingerprints of man all over it. Since the original manuscripts no longer exist, James can’t be certain that the extant manuscripts contain the exact words of God, and he can’t be certain the translation he uses contains in perfect form the exact words of God. Instead of saying THUS SAITH THE LORD, James should say, THUS SAITH THE IMPERFECT BIBLE, AS INTERPRETED BY JAMES, THE PASTOR.

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Charles Attempts to Understand the Fundamentalist Mind

god and knowledge

Several months back, I asked readers to submit questions they would like me to answer. If you would like to ask a question, please leave your question here.

Charles asked:

I know you are probably going to slam me for asking this, but it really is something I have noticed time and time and time again across my nearly 63 years of life—and I am at a bit of a loss to understand it. So, here goes:

Why do Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals believe that the sole purpose of communications media (books, magazines, newspapers, movies, television shows, blogs, etc.) is to “teach me how I should live my life” in this world. All of my semi-fundie aunts are dead now, but they grew up in rural Tennessee in the period 1910-1930. In later years, (1930s onward), they would scrape up enough money to go to a movie, and they would go with the apparent notion that Joan Crawford will today on the movie screen “teach me how I should live my life if I move to the city.”

Whenever a fundie wants to banish a book from the public library, ban a movie, or whatever, the excuse is always something along the lines of: “Well, I’m afraid this book (or this movie) is going to teach people wrong things about…”

I gotta be honest with you Bruce. I think these people are just plain nuts. For example, I saw a DVD of the movie “Lucy” recently. At no time did I insert it into the DVD player, kick back in my easy chair, and say, “Scarlett is gonna teach me how I should live my life with this movie.” If I pick up the newest Superman comic book, I never say, “Superman is going to teach me a lesson on how I should live my life.”

I am a professional anthropologist. Human culture and society are my business, but this one is a little hard to understand. On occasion, I have wondered if this is a uniquely American disease of the mind with religious roots. For example, when the first pioneers pushed westward across the Appalachian Mountains into Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee, the Bible was often the only book they owned. It was viewed as a book whose primary purpose was to “teach them how they should live their lives.” Historically, is it possible that they uncritically transferred this notion to every form of communications media that arrived on the scene?

Even nowadays, you can here fundies say, “I don’t like that short story because it does not teach a good moral lesson.” I just want to say back, “Well, maybe the author did not want to teach you a good moral lesson because he was just writing a story that he wanted to tell.”

What goes on in the minds of these people?

Here’s what I know for sure, the Christian fundamentalist operates from six presuppositions:

  • Their God, as revealed through the Bible, creation, and conscience,  is the one true God
  • The Bible is God’s divine revelation to humanity and contains everything necessary for life and godliness
  • Every person is a sinner in need of salvation
  • There is eternal life beyond the grave
  • Heaven/eternal kingdom of God is where Christians will spend eternity and hell/lake of fire is where non-Christians will spend eternity
  • This life is preparation for eternal life after death

Because Evangelicals believe the Bible is the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God, it becomes the foundation for how they view the world and live their lives (in theory anyway). This thinking permeates every aspect of their lives. It is not uncommon for Evangelicals to label themselves as “people of the book.” The Bible becomes a written oracle that speaks infallibly pertaining to life and godliness. It becomes THE truth above all others. Throw in the notion that the Holy Spirit lives inside Evangelicals as their teacher and guide, and is it any surprise that Evangelicals think the way they do?

Everything in the Evangelicals’ lives is filtered through the pages of the Bible. When they see something in the media that lines up with their beliefs, this is viewed as God giving them a life lesson or reinforcing their beliefs. Since most Evangelicals think homosexuality is a sin, they can turn to Romans 1, 2 and see that their view of the world is going to hell in a hand basket is affirmed by the Bible and recent events such as the legalization of same-sex marriage and the persecution of Christian wedding cake bakers.

Evangelicals often equate the smallest of things to God. From finding their keys to discovering a $20 bill in a pair of pants, every unexpected “blessing” is a sure sign of the truthfulness of the Bible. These “God sightings” are proof that they are on the right track and that their beliefs are true. So, when a Tim Tebow or some other sports star praises Jesus, they see the star’s words as an affirmation of their beliefs. Same goes for utterances about God at the Grammy Awards, Country Music Awards, and other show-biz award shows. Never mind that many of the singers are praising God for songs that promote debauchery and sin. All that matters is that they thanked God or their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Woo Hoo! Another God sighting!!

Evangelicals are also obsessed with eschatology. Always on the lookout for Jesus coming to rapture them away, they look for signs of his soon return (even though they are commanded not to do so). Again, this kind of thinking leads them to “see” God and signs everywhere they look. From RFID chips being the mark of the beast to mathematical formulas that predict the exact date of the rapture, Evangelicals seek out “evidence” for their eschatological beliefs. In doing so, they overlook the obvious; first century Christian expected the second coming of Jesus in their lifetime, yet here we are 2,000 years later, no Jesus. Perhaps Jesus likes his digs in heaven and is not coming back or his body lies silent in an unmarked grave outside of Jerusalem.

Evangelicals also believe God speaks to them, either through the Bible or through the still small voice of the Holy Spirit. When a person has God speaking directly to him, it is possible to see almost anything as a lesson or message from God. Spend some time on the CHARISMA website and you will come away thinking that Evangelicalism is actually an insane asylum. No belief is so far-fetched that it cannot be attributed to God. Years ago, a woman stood up in one of the churches I pastored and told a story about God appearing to her. A devout Evangelical Christian, she said God came in the night and spoke to her. Wanting to make sure it was God and not the devil, she asked for a sign. All of a sudden, she saw a blue light and she knew it was God. I thought then, as I do now, that she was confusing a blue light special at K-Mart with a visitation from God. (Note also the number of Republican candidates for President who say the Christian God TOLD them to run.)

Throw all these things in a bag and shake them up and what you end up with is a Christian version of McCarthyism. Everywhere Evangelicals look they see their God. When they pray for Grandma and she gets better they think God did it. When God doesn’t answer their prayer and Grandma dies? It’s God’s will. Either way, everything traces back to God. He is the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.

god said it

Understanding this explains why their thinking drives you nuts. As a man of science, you value evidence and facts. While you are still a believer, you do not check your brain at the door and ignorantly view the world as the Evangelical does. Evangelicals will likely say that they too value evidence and facts, but their evidence is the Bible, not what can be understood through reason, healthy skepticism, and the scientific method. When confronted with a challenge to their beliefs, the Bible and faith always win.

This is why I do not get into arguments and lengthy discussions with Evangelicals. The path always leads back to faith and THE BIBLE SAYS!  Once the Evangelical appeals to faith, there is no hope of a meaningful discussion. Just today, an Evangelical preacher “proved” to me that Jesus resurrected from the dead. How?  He quoted the Bible. In his mind, God said it and that settles it.

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Top Ten List of Religious Things I Hate


Hate is a strong word, so maybe I should title this post, My Top Ten List of Religious Things That Irritate the Hell Out of Me.

  1. Religious fundamentalism in all its form
  2. Christian nationalism and promoters of the Christian nation myth
  3. Pastors and other religious leaders who don’t practice what they preach
  4. Bible inerrancy
  5. Complementarianism
  6. Mega churches
  7. Parachurch groups like Focus on the Family, American Family Association, and Family Research Council
  8. Christian TV and Radio
  9. Nouthetic counseling
  10. Christians who refuse to let me tell my story, thinking they know me better than I know myself

There are many other things I could add to this list, but these will do for now.