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Tag: Heaven

One Reason Among Many That I Love My Wife

text conversation

How do I love thee? let me count the ways . . .

Every day, Polly, without fail, texts me when she arrives at work. The screenshot above is of a text conversation we had several years ago.

I love the last text from Polly, “I’d go to hell and back with you!” — complete with two smileys, signifying that her words are meant in a humorous way. We can’t, of course, go to Hell and back. There is no hell. Hell and Heaven are mythical places used by preachers to keep congregants in line. In classic carrot-and-stick fashion, preachers promise congregants Heaven if they will play by the rules, and Hell if they don’t.

While there is no such thing as Hell, it is an apt metaphor for many of the things Polly and I have experienced over the past forty-seven years. We started dating in the fall of 1976 and married the summer of 1978. In July we celebrated our forty-fifth wedding anniversary. Polly and I have had a wide range of experiences as a married couple. Good times, hard times. Heaven, Hell. I can look back over our lives together and see we have experienced a fair bit of Hell in our lives: Poverty. A child born with Down Syndrome. Church strife. Severe health problems. Disagreements with parents and extended family. Loss of faith. We have had extended periods as husband and wife when we wondered if would ever stop raining; if the sun would ever shine again; if life would ever return to “normal.” Yet, through it all, we persevered; and in that sense we have indeed been to Hell and back. No matter the circumstance, with stoic determination, we hung on, hoping (and praying) for a better tomorrow. And as sure as Marjorie Taylor Greene will say something stupid, better times did come our way.

I could list numerous reasons why I love Polly, but the one reason that stands above all others is that when I have descended into Hell, she has been right beside me, and when I emerge from the pit into the sunshine of a better day, she is still there.

Forty-five years ago, Polly and I stood before friends and family at the Newark Baptist Temple and recited the following vows:

Groom: I, Bruce, take thee, Polly, to be my wedded Wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part, according to God’s holy ordinance; and thereto I give thee my troth.

Bride: I, Polly, take thee, Bruce, to be my wedded Husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love, cherish, and to obey, till death us do part, according to God’s holy ordinance; and thereto I give thee my troth.

Till death do us part. The hells of life have certainly left us scarred, but we have endured. Every day presents us with new challenges, but hand-in-hand, Polly and I meet them together. And if we must, yet again, descend into Hell for a time, we know we will make it because we have one another. To each other, we are friends who will be there through thick and thin.

Polly and Bruce Gerencser, Wedding July 1978
bruce and polly gerencser 2023 2

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Did You Know Some Dogs, Cats, and Hamsters Go to Heaven After They Die?

dogs reading the bible

I am sixty-six years old. I spent fifty years in the Evangelical church. I pastored Evangelical churches in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan for twenty-five years. I have spent the last decade writing about Evangelicalism. You would think, by now, that there is nothing Evangelicals could say or do that I have not heard or seen before. Surely, Solomon was right when he said, “there’s nothing new under the sun.” Well, Solly boy, you are wrong.

Several years ago, Evangelical author and preacher Randy Alcorn decided to answer a question about animals in Heaven. Evidently, more than a few Evangelicals are stressed out over whether Rover or Fido will go to God’s Heavenly Trump Hotel® when they die. Here’s what Alcorn had to say:

Look at Genesis 1 and 2, and the highlight of all creation built up to is people. But right before people came animals. Those living beings, the first living beings that God made, animals. And it’s magnificent and wondrous that the first responsibility God gave to human beings along with to be fruitful and multiply and fill the Earth was to manage and care for animals. Adam named the animals. With the Flood, God makes a covenant not only with people but with animals. This is stated again and again in Genesis 6 through 9 and the Flood account. What we find in Isaiah 65 is the wolf and the lamb—and he specifically calls this the New Earth, so this is not just the Millennium. This is the New Earth. In verse 25 of Isaiah 65, ‘the wolf and the lamb shall graze together, the lion will eat straw like the ox,’ and then in Isaiah 11, it’s got leopard, goat, calf, cow, bear, ox, lion, cobra. When God remakes the earth, why would he not remake it with animals? Well, we know He will for sure because of these passages that have animals on the new earth, but also because Romans 8 says the entire creation has fallen. Creation fell on the coattails of human beings. So animals suffer death because humans sinned, and humans suffer death. But it says in that passage that not just human beings but the entire creation—well then, who does that leave that has suffered on this earth? Animals will experience the resurrection of the sons of God. So since some animals who have suffered [and who are] alive in this lifetime on this fallen earth will … be raised, which animals will those be? I think the most logical answer to that would be—and wouldn’t it be just like a loving God to do this for His children—that He will bring back those precious pets that He has entrusted to our care. We have a golden retriever named Maggie, we had a dalmatian named Moses, [and] we had a springer spaniel before that named Champ. Those dogs are very real to me and I anticipate actual reunion with them in heaven. By the way, I didn’t use to believe that, until I spent those two or three [years] studying Scripture intently every day on that subject. The Bible changed my mind on that subject.

NOW I have heard everything!

First, Alcorn spent two or three years studying this issue? Really? Surely, he using hyperbole (or lying). How long can it take to read and study the relevant passages of Scripture? Not long, surely no longer than an afternoon in the study with a Bible and a good bottle of scotch. I suspect that Alcorn wants people to know that he really, really, really studied this issue before he opened his mouth and added to the canon of nonsense for which Evangelicals are known.

Second, one of the biggest weapons atheists have in their arsenal is the fact that the Christian God allows innocent animals to suffer. Unlike humans who are sinners, animals stand blameless before God — except when they pee on God’s white shag carpet. The sheer violence and brutality in the animal kingdom are sure signs that either the Christian God is a psychopath who gets off on suffering, is indifferent towards suffering, or doesn’t exist. I will take door number three.

Alcorn likely thinks that he is somewhat answering this challenge by saying that “some” animals will go to Heaven after they die. Animals aren’t sinners, nor can they repent and ask Jesus into their heart, so why does Alcorn assert that only “some” animals” will make it through the Pearly Gates? Simply put, Alcorn believes that only animals (pets) owned by Christians will inherit the Kingdom of God. In Alcorn’s mind, God is an awesome dude. He loves his bleating sheep so much that he would never eternally separate them from their pets. Alcorn leaves unsaid the flip side of his argument: that the pets of unsaved people will go to Hell when they die. You can’t have Heaven without Hell, right? Or so Evangelicals have been saying f-o-r-e-v-e-r.

Imagine being a dog or cat at the local animal shelter. You want to go to a good home, to be adopted by a loving, caring family. But now you have to worry about your prospective family’s religious beliefs. Choose wrong and you will be an eternal hotdog on a stick. Choose right and you will never have poop in an uncleaned cat box again.

Third, Alcorn doesn’t mention non-dog pets. Will Christian-owned snakes, pot-belly pigs, hamsters, gerbils, cats, horses, raccoons, squirrels, birds, lizards, and fish go to Heaven when they die? Or do Calvin’s doctrines of election and predestination apply to pets too; that only dogs chosen from before the foundation of the world will be saved from the wrath to come?

So many questions . . .

I can imagine Evangelical churches starting pet-centric evangelistic ministries.

Deacon Bob and Preacher Billy are out and about in the community knocking on doors. They come upon the home of an atheist who just so happens to own 666 dogs.

Knock Knock

The atheist cracks the door open, holding back with his foot numerous dogs who want to escape or hump Preacher Billy’s leg.

Atheist: Can I help you?

Preacher Billy: Hello, my name is Billy, and this is Bob. We are in your neighborhood today knocking on doors. We would like to share the good news of the gospel with you and your dogs.

Atheist: My dogs? (saying to himself, these nutters are crazier than the Jehovah’s Witnesses)

Deacon Bob: Yes, after three years of intensive Bible study, we have learned that dogs too can go to Heaven when they die!

Atheist: Really? (saying to himself, these two guys have brain damage)

Preacher Billy: Yep. According to God’s inspired, inerrant, infallible Word, some dogs go to Heaven when they die!

Atheist: Some?

Preacher Billy: Yes. Their salvation is contingent on their owner being a Christian. If their owner is, uh, you know, an atheist like you, they will go to Hell when they die. Surely, you want your dogs to run the golden streets of the New Jerusalem for eternity, right? Please, Mr. Atheist, ask Jesus to save you.

Just pray this prayer: Dear Baby Jesus, I know I am a sinner. I know you died on the cross to save me and my dogs. I ask you to come into my heart right now and save me, and take me and my dogs to Heaven when we die! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Atheist: Sorry, Dude, but there’s no God, no Heaven, no Hell.  When my dogs die, I put them in a hole in my backyard. End of story.

Deacon Bob: Blasphemy! (Holding up an oversized rawhide bone) Come out from him, Satan!

The atheist derisively laughs, opens the door, and turns 666 dogs on Preacher Billy and Deacon Bob. These men of God flee into the night, shouting, “Someday you’ll be burning in Hell with all your dogs! And then you will know we were right!”

The next day Preacher Billy and Deacon Bob are nowhere to be found. Late that day, the local newspaper reports that the two were chased by a horde of demon-possessed dogs and plunged over a cliff to their deaths (much like the Bible story about the Maniac of Gadera).

Moral of the story: beware of atheists and their dogs. 🙂

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Bob, the Saved Rapist

barbara gerencser 1978
Mom and Bruce, Rochester, Indiana, 1978

Bob was my mom’s brother-in-law. Married to my dad’s sister, Bob was a rough-and-tumble truck driver and dirt-track race-car driver. Bob’s parents were devout Fundamentalist Baptists. Bob was raised in the church, and at the age of seventeen he walked the sawdust trail at a revival meeting and asked Jesus to save him from his sin. According to Independent Fundamentalist Baptist theology, Bob was now an eternally saved child of God.

After high school, Bob left home and abandoned the Baptist faith of his parents. Over the next six decades, Bob lived as if God did not exist. In every way, he lived as the unwashed, uncircumcised Philistines of the world. He was a booze-drinking skirt chaser known for sexually harassing and assaulting women. Female family members knew to steer clear of Bob lest they find themselves a target of his sexual advances. Age didn’t matter to Bob, and more than a few teen family members endured his touches, squeezes, and other demeaning behaviors.

Women got “used to” Bob’s sexual assaults. Viewing him as harmless, they would recount to me, “Oh, that was just Bob being Bob.” It was the 1960s and 1970s, after all, and that’s just how men were, I was told. As I will share in a moment, Bob was anything but harmless.

In early 1969, we lived east of Farmer, Ohio in a farmhouse owned by my dad’s sister and brother-in-law. I was in the sixth grade at Farmer Elementary School. One day, I was home from school sick. I spent the day in bed recuperating. In the early afternoon, Bob pulled into the drive. I figured he was there to see my mom, so I stayed in my room. A short time later, Bob left and I heard my mom calling my name. She was crying, saying that Bob had just raped her. She asked me to go to the neighbor’s house and call someone (I can’t remember who). I did, but no one ever came to our home.

You see, Mom had mental health problems — lots of problems. This meant, of course, in the minds of “healthy” people, she couldn’t be relied on to tell the truth. Bob was well-known in town. Bob would never rape anyone. Yes, he was a “little” too friendly with women, but, hey, that was just “Bob being Bob.” A few months later, we moved to Deshler, Ohio. Mom never talked about Bob after that. I suspect that she buried the rape deep in the recesses of her mind, right next to memories of her father repeatedly sexually assaulting her as a child.

Bob died a few years ago. His funeral was held at First Baptist Church in Bryan, Ohio. Bob’s parents helped start this congregation and were pillars of the church for decades. I attended First Baptist as a teenager. I went to Bob’s funeral, wanting to see what kind of send-off the once-saved-always-saved Baptists would give Bob, the Saved Rapist. The pastor, John MacFarlane, gave a sermon that spoke of the night sixty years prior that Bob had been gloriously saved, and that he was now in Heaven with his mom and dad. The pastor never mentioned that Bob hadn’t darkened the doors of the church since the 1960s and he, in every way, lived a life of debauchery. The pastor cared more about protecting the memory of Bob’s parents than he did telling the truth. I have seen this behavior countless times over the years: degenerate people preached into Heaven, all because they mentally assented to a set of theological propositions. And therein lies the vulgarity of once-saved-always-saved soteriology. It’s the same theology that says I am still a Christian, and that no matter what I say or do I will go to Heaven when I die. Just pray the right prayer, believe the right things and Heaven is yours!

As the funeral service went along, I found myself becoming increasingly angry. I wanted to rebuke the pastor for his lies. I wanted to scream at the congregation for their willful ignorance of what kind of man Bob really was. Most of all, I wanted to be my mom’s voice. Not a mile away, Mom lay silent in her grave. Oh, to bring her to life again so she could give testimony to what Bob did to her! On that day, I so wished that there was a Hell. If anyone deserved endless torment, it was Bob. Alas, there is no Hell, so the only satisfaction that comes from Bob’s death is that no other woman will ever have to suffer the indignity of being sexually assaulted by him. I wish Mom had been alive to see Bob meet his end. Unfortunately, fifteen years prior, Mom turned a Ruger .357 on herself, pulled the trigger, ripping a hole in her heart. Her beautiful, tragic life instantly came to an end at age fifty-four, due in no small part to men who saw her as an object of sexual desire and gratification, and not as the thoughtful, intelligent — and yes, beautiful — human being she really was.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Will There be Any Women in Heaven? Hint, the Answer is No!

philippians-3-20Caution! Snark ahead! You have been warned.

One of the more bizarre beliefs found within the confines of the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church movement is that there will be no women in Heaven. That’s right, ladies, there will be NO females in Heaven. The thinking goes something like this: God, the father is male and Jesus is male. In Heaven, Christians will receive perfect resurrected bodies just like that of Jesus. Thus, everyone in Heaven will be a thirty-three-year-old male. This means, of course, that God promotes and supports Transgenderism for women. Time to get your male on, ladies. Prepare now for eternity in Heaven as a m-a-n.

The late Peter Ruckman, a noted IFB preacher and defender of the King James Bible, had this to say about women in Heaven:

This means that every saved woman in the body of Christ is indwelt by a MAN, at least as far as sexual designations are concerned. Someday, the saved woman will be fashioned “LIKE UNTO HIS GLORIOUS BODY” (Philippians 3:21). (Bible Believers’ Bulletin. May 1986, page 3)

This would mean that every saved woman in the body of Christ will eventually become a THIRTY-THREE AND ONE-HALF YEAR OLD, SINLESS MALE (Phil. 3:20-21). She would be a perfect replica of the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29). (Bible Believers’ Bulletin. May 1986, page 3)So up in Heaven, ladies, you are going to be a 33 1/2-year-old male just

like your Saviour. If that seems odd or peculiar or distasteful to you Christian ladies, just remember that you have a man living inside of you (1 Tim. 2:5 cf. Col. 1:27), and that your destiny as a child of God is to be conformed to that man’s image (Romans 8:29). (The Book of Luke: The Bible Believer’s Commentary Series, page 636)

Since every Christian in the Body of Christ has a MAN inside him (or her) (Colossians 1:27; John 1:12) and is PREDESTINED to be conformed to the image of that man (2 Corinthians 4:4; Romans 8:29; 1 John 3:1-4; Philippians 3:21), there is no question at all about the future state of every Christian in the Body of Christ, except in the minds of Hebrew and Greek professors and the “vast majority of conservative, Bible-rejecting blockheads.” The believer will appear in glory as a 33-year old sinless male. (22 Years of the Bible Believer’s Bulletin Vol. 1 “The AV Holy Bible” page 110)

Moreover, everyone in heaven is a male…The woman is a “womb-man,” a man with a womb.
(The Books of First and Second Corinthians: The Bible Believer’s Commentary Series, page 343)

The indication is that the only people who get a glorified body like Jesus Christ are people in the Church Age. The only people who get a 33-year-old sinless [male, see p. 596] body are people saved in the dispensation of grace. All others get their eternal life by partaking of a tree, and they go into eternity male and female, exactly like Adam and Eve were before they fell. (The Book of Revelation: The Bible Believer’s Commentary Series page 587)

Is it any wonder then, that in IFB churches that hold such views, women are lorded over by misogynistic men who think God has given them the right, duty, and responsibility to lord over the fairer sex?

My question is whether there will be women in Hell? I wasn’t able to find any IFB preacher taking up this subject, but I did find a few words from their fellow misogynists in Islam. The Islam Question and Answer site says:

Praise be to Allah.

It was narrated from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) that women will form the majority of the people of Hell. It was narrated from ‘Imran ibn Husayn that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “I looked into Paradise and I saw that the majority of its people were the poor. And I looked into Hell and I saw that the majority of its people are women.”

(Narrated by al-Bukhari, 3241; Muslim, 2737)

With regard to the reason for this, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was asked about it and he explained the reason.

It was narrated that ‘Abd-Allah ibn ‘Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “I was shown Hell and I have never seen anything more terrifying than it. And I saw that the majority of its people are women.” They said, “Why, O Messenger of Allah?” He said, “Because of their ingratitude (kufr).” It was said, “Are they ungrateful to Allah?” He said, “They are ungrateful to their companions (husbands) and ungrateful for good treatment. If you are kind to one of them for a lifetime then she sees one (undesirable) thing in you, she will say, ‘I have never had anything good from you.’” (Narrated by al-Bukhari, 1052)

It was narrated that Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri (may Allah be pleased with him) said:

“The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) went out to the musalla (prayer place) on the day of Eid al-Adha or Eid al-Fitr. He passed by the women and said, ‘O women! Give charity, for I have seen that you form the majority of the people of Hell.’ They asked, ‘Why is that, O Messenger of Allah?’  He replied, ‘You curse frequently and are ungrateful to your husbands. I have not seen anyone more deficient in intelligence and religious commitment than you. A cautious sensible man could be led astray by some of you.’ The women asked, ‘O Messenger of Allah, what is deficient in our intelligence and religious commitment?’ He said, ‘Is not the testimony of two women equal to the testimony of one man?’ They said, ‘Yes.’ He said, ‘This is the deficiency in her intelligence. Is it not true that a woman can neither pray nor fast during her menses?’ The women said, ‘Yes.’ He said, ‘This is the deficiency in her religious commitment.’”

…..

And Allah knows best.

For Fundamentalist Baptist and Muslim women alike, Hell is their religion, and Heaven is getting as far away from it as possible.

No matter what women say or do in IFB churches, they will always be considered second-class citizens; inferior to men because the Bible says that women are weaker than men and more prone to emotional silliness. Women can’t be preachers, teachers of adults, elders, deacons, or political leaders. According to some IFB preachers, women just aren’t suited for such jobs. God wants women to submit to their husbands and pastors, and busy themselves with house-cleaning, cooking, fucking their husbands at will, raising children, and working in the church nursery. For these women, their husbands are their bosses, and it’s their duty to submit to them as unto the Lord. Ponder that thought for a moment. How does Jesus want you to submit to him? With love, commitment, and strict obedience. In patriarchal homes, there is a strict order: Jesus, pastor, husband, wife, children, and the dog. Upsetting this order, according to preachers of complementarianism, brings God’s judgment. No marriage is a good one without it being perfectly aligned with God’s order for the church and home. Or so preachers say, anyway.

Some IFB women endure such treatment for the sake of their children. It is not uncommon to see IFB women divorce their husbands once their children are out of the house. I suspect other women take the he that endureth to the end shall be saved approach. They willingly suffer being misused and abused, believing that God will reward them in Heaven for their sacrificial obedience.

But what if Peter Ruckman and his fellow misogynists are right; that women will be turned into men once they arrive at the pearly gates? Think about that fact for a moment, ladies! Imagine spending your life putting up with shit from men, only to find out when you get to Heaven that God hates you too and plans to turn you into a thirty-three-year-old man. Isn’t God’s plan wonderful?

My advice to IFB women is this: RUN! Flee the mind-numbing, psychologically damaging preaching of IFB pastors. If need be, tell your IFB husband that he has two choices: FLEE or separation/divorce. Life is too short for women to give it all up to the wants, whims, needs, and desires of religiously motivated men. There’s no Christian Hell or Heaven awaiting, ladies, so now is the time to make for yourselves your own heaven and hell on earth; hell for the men who demean you and heaven for yourself and those value you as people.

I shall wait for God’s anointed ones to show up and object to what I have written here. The BIBLE says ___________, they will say, and in doing so they will prove, yet again, that the Bible can be used to prove almost anything; that Peter Ruckman with his belief that there will be no women in Heaven is just as credible and believable as Christians who suggest otherwise. Evangelical Christianity is, in effect, a paint-by-number board without numbers. Believers can freely use — thanks to the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God — whatever colors they want to paint their picture. How dare anyone suggest that their particular picture is not a representation of True Christianity®.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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I See That Hand

raised hands

Originally written in 2018

I’m lying in bed on my right side, with my left arm and hand extended straight up, hoping to relieve some of the pain in my arm. (I would later learn that herniated discs in my upper spine were causing the arm pain.)

Polly walks in and says, “I see that hand!”

(Polly’s mom is having surgery on Thursday and she’s driving to Newark to care for her mom for a day or two.)

I reply, sarcastically, “you should go to your mom’s on Wednesday so you can go to church with her.”

(Polly’s mom attends an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church where the pastor asks non-Christians to raise their hand if they would like prayer. To each raised hand he replies, “I see that hand.”)

With all the might of a scorned Baptist preacher’s daughter, Polly says, “HELL NO!”

I reply, “actually you should be saying HELL YES! If you don’t want to be saved you are saying YES to HELL!”

Polly laughs and says, “uh, huh, once saved, always saved!”

I reply, “that’s right….”

And we both have a hearty laugh, safe in knowing that no matter how much we mock God or deny his existence, we still get to go to Heaven when we die. Sweet, right?

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Songs of Sacrilege: I Hope I’m Stoned When Jesus Takes Me Home by Charlie Worsham

charlie worsham

This is the latest 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 I Hope I’m Stoned When Jesus Takes Me Home by Charlie Worsham.

Video Link

Lyrics

I hope I’m stoned when Jesus takes me home
Flying high through those clouds
Knowing I don’t have to ever come down
I’m rolling up a J
Just in case today’s the day
I hope I’m stoned when Jesus takes me home

I believe he put it down here for all of us to use
A little piece of heaven to take away your blues
I know I’m far from perfect and I’ll call a sin a sin
But I feel closer to the Lord every time I breathe it in

Hope I’m stoned when Jesus takes me home
Flying high up through them clouds
Knowing I don’t have to ever come down
I’m rolling up a J
Just in case today’s the day
I hope I’m stoned when Jesus takes me home

I can’t wait to talk to Moses ’bout the Red Sea and the plagues
Bend Jonah’s ear to hear about livin’ in a whale three whole days
Get ol’ St. Pete to show me the pearly gates and the golden streets
Well, you can bet I’ll be good and ready to sit down at the feast

I hope I’m stoned when Jesus takes me home
Flying high up through them clouds
Knowing I don’t have to ever come down
I’m rolling up a J
Just in case today’s the day
I hope I’m stoned when Jesus takes me home

I bet Bob Marley’s mansion has a garden in the back
And he’s growin’ somethin’ special, some celestial homemade hash
We’ll sit down on his porch, we’ll listen to the angel band
‘Til then, I’ll sing “I’ll Fly Away” with a fat one in my hand

I hope I’m stoned when Jesus takes me home
Flying high through those clouds
Knowing I don’t have to ever come down
I’m rolling up a J
Just in case today’s the day
I hope I’m stoned when Jesus takes me home

Yeah, let’s roll ourselves a J
Just in case today’s the day
I hope I’m stoned when Jesus takes me home

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Evangelical Apologist Dismisses Atheists by Saying, “I’ve Read the Last Chapter of the Bible — We Win!”

god wins
god wins

Several weeks ago, I watched a YouTube video of an Evangelical apologist dismissing arguments atheists make against Christianity. He said Christians shouldn’t bother answering atheist objections. Why? “I read the last chapter of the Bible, and we [Christians] win!”

First, this apologist provided no evidence for why we should believe anything the Bible says. He claims the Bible is the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God, but what evidence does he offer up for his claims? None. He’s a presuppostionalist, so he thinks he has no obligation to defend his claims. In his mind, the Bible says it is God’s Word — end of discussion. Atheists KNOW this to be true. They just suppress the truth in unrighteousness. Or so apologists say, anyway.

Second, the book of Revelation — the last book of the Bible — is a widely disputed book among Christians. Church fathers debated whether it should even be part of the canon of Scripture. Many Christians believe that Revelation is allegorical history, fulfilled centuries ago. Evangelicals tend to read Revelation literally. Thus they see the book as a chronology of human history, much of which has not yet been fulfilled. Evangelicals really do believe that the events recorded in Revelation will literally come to pass, and soon (even though their lived lives suggest otherwise).

Third, when this apologist says “we win” what does he mean? He means that God has slaughtered everyone on the face of the earth. He means that ninety percent or more of the humans who have ever lived on the face of the earth will be suffering endless torture in the Lake of Fire. Saying “we win” is his way of laughing in the faces of all those who challenged his Fundamentalist beliefs. “Ha! Ha! Ha! motherfuckers, I was right. Bring me a stick and some marshmallows.”

If this apologist really believed what Revelation says about the future of his unsaved family, neighbors, and friends, along with billions of non-Christians, he would spend every waking hour pleading with sinners to get saved. Instead, he spends his time making YouTube videos and arguing with atheists.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Why Would Anyone Want to Spend Eternity in Heaven?

rewards in heaven

Heaven. No one knows if it is real or where it is located. Even the Bible is sketchy about Heaven’s exact location. When asked to point to where Heaven is located, Evangelicals typically point to the sky and say “up there.” A popular song taught to Evangelical children years ago went something like this:

10 – 9 – 8 – 7 – 6 – 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1 Blastoff.
Somewhere in outer space, God has prepared a place
For those who trust Him and obey….
Jesus will come again, although we don’t know when.
The countdown’s getting lower every day.
10 and 9, 8 and 7, 6 and 5 and 4.
Call upon the Saviour while you may……
3 and 2 coming through, the clouds in bright array.
The countdown’s getting lower every day.

Somewhere in outer space . . . but where? The James Webb Telescope can look deep into space:

Webb has the capacity to look 13.6 billion light years distant—which will be the farthest we’ve ever seen into space. This image of the galactic cluster known as SMACS 0723 contains thousands of galaxies, some of which are as far away as 13.1 billion light years. (A single light year is just under 6 trillion miles.) Since light takes a long time to travel so far, we are seeing the galaxies not as they look today, but as they looked 13.1 billion years ago.

As of today, the Webb Telescope has not spotted “Heaven.” Yet, Evangelicals, much like Fox Mulder of X-Files, say “The truth [Heaven] is out there.” I am inclined to think that the belief in the existence of Heaven (and Hell) is a relic from our pre-scientific past. Until the Webb Telescope sees the “Welcome to Heaven” sign far, far away, I am inclined to believe that Heaven is a myth.

For the sake of this post, I will assume Heaven is real; that Evangelicals go to Heaven after they die, and everyone else goes to Hell. Talk to enough Evangelicals and you will find that the promise of Heaven is their primary religious motivator. Fearing death and punishment from God, Evangelicals profess fealty to Jesus Christ, hoping that when they die, God will give them a deluxe room in Heaven. Clergymen go to great lengths to promise their congregants that there will be a divine payoff after death if they will believe, obey, and tithe.

The Bible mentions the word Heaven 691 times; 414 times in the Old Testament; 277 times in the New Testament. Some of the verses use the word Heaven to mean the atmosphere or God’s kingdom on earth. Few verses describe in detail the Heaven Evangelicals think they are going to after they die. It seems preachers just expect church members to take their word for it, even though none of them knows any more about Heaven than their members.

Instead of exegeting the Bible verses that mention a far, far away Heaven, I thought I would conclude this post talking about what Evangelicals believe Heaven will be someday.

One of the great selling points of Heaven is that you will get to see your Christian loved ones after you die. Heaven will be one big family reunion. Cue Johhny Cash, Will the Circle Be Unbroken?

Video Link

The problem with this idea is that the Bible says that there will be no males or females in Heaven; that its residents will be androgynous beings much like angels.

Many Evangelicals believe that they will see their beloved pets in Heaven. Building on the idea that the Bible says that God will one day give Evangelicals the desires of their hearts, it stands to reason that Heaven will contain pets, automobiles, firearms, televisions, and porn. 🙂

Most Evangelicals will live 60-80 years on earth. They will live good lives, fulfilling lives. Yet, when they get to Heaven, everything changes. Sure, there will be no sickness, pain, suffering, sadness, atheists, humanists, pagans, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Catholics, Buddhists, indigenous people, LGBTQ people, Democrats, liberals, socialists, or any of the other people they consigned to Hell in this life. David Tee will be there. Revival Fires will be there. Pedophile preachers will be there. My violent, abusive grandfather will be there. My uncle who raped my mother will be there. “Salvation is by grace, through faith,” Evangelicals say. Not works, G-R-A-C-E. Thus, serial abuser David Hyles will be there, praising Jesus that he doesn’t have to pay for his crimes. Entrance to Heaven requires one thing and one thing alone: sincere belief in a set of theological propositions. Pray the prayer, and you too can have a room in Heaven after you die. Think about all the vile, nasty, hateful Evangelicals you have met over the years or read about on the pages of this blog. They will all be in Heaven; you won’t.

Thinking that they have won the lottery, Evangelicals believe a wonderful life awaits them after they die. The Bible suggests that Evangelicals — the only people in Heaven — will spend eternity in Heaven doing one thing: worshipping and praising God (Jesus). 24-7; they will be praising the narcissistic lamb of God. Maybe there will be arts and crafts and roller skating in Heaven, but one thing is certain: Evangelicals will spend the bulk of their time praising Jesus for his three-day weekend thousands and millions of years before. (Please see I Wish Christians Would be Honest About Jesus’ Three Day Weekend.)

Heaven sure sounds like Hell to me.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Quote of the Day: A White Young Earth Creationist Evangelical Goes to Heaven

evangelicals-heaven

And I had this dream about a white creationist evangelical (WCE) who died and showed up at the gates of heaven.

Peter: “Why should God let you into heaven?”

WCE: “Who are you? Where’s Jesus?”

Peter: “I’m his representative. You know, the rock on which he built the church. You have to talk to me first and I need you to answer the question: Why should God let you into heaven? Keep in mind this is ‘Final Jeopardy.’” 

WCE: “I trusted Jesus as my savior, and I know Adam and Eve were real people. No Adam, no Jesus, you know.” 

Peter: “Did you feed the hungry?” 

WCE: “Well, I opposed abortion. I happily intimidated young women who were at the abortion clinic for an abortion. I showed up for anti-abortion protests, and I attended rallies in Washington D. C. to put pressure on the Supreme Court. A leaked draft on the day of my departure from Earth indicated that the Supreme Court was going to vote to abolish abortion. Oh, how I would have loved to have been there for that glorious moment of sticking it to the liberals!” 

Peter: “Calm down. This is not really a place that’s big on a lot of excitement and loud talking. Did you give water to the thirsty?” 

WCE: What do these questions have to do with getting into heaven? Look, I upheld the honor of God by opposing gay marriage. Gays are an abomination to the Lord. And I really hammered all those radicals who didn’t understand that boys should be boys and not transgender persons. I defended the bathrooms of America with all my heart.” 

Peter: “Did you know that I once thought Gentiles were an abomination to the Lord. Then, in a dream, God said to me, ‘What God has made clean, you must not call profane.’ What a jarring idea. When I went to the church council in Jerusalem, my fellow apostles and I had a real argument about this idea. And then, we decided to accept Gentiles. Do you think that applying the Jerusalem Church’s solution to inclusion could have been a good model for dealing with gays? Ok. Sorry for the rant. I have another question. Did you show hospitality to strangers?” 

WCE: “I did if they were godly people: you know, anti-abortion, anti-gay, anti-science, anti-history, American patriots. But immigrants? No! I was part of the Minutemen who patrolled our southern border to keep all those criminals out of our country. I don’t understand this ‘snowflake’ need to pamper illegal immigrants. You have to stand up for your rights, and our rights as true Americans are threatened by these criminals – our values were endangered. So of course I didn’t show hospitality to them. As a good Christian I defended nationalist, heteronormative, sexist, ablest, racist, and classist power because that’s what God demanded.” 

Peter: “Did you clothe the naked?” 

WCE: “Is this some kind of sex question. Why do you want to talk about ‘nekkid people?’ Have you no shame? This place is not a nudist colony, is it? Are there a bunch of free-love hippies wandering the grounds? Look, I protested the way women dressed so sensuously. Disgraceful, I tell you, disgraceful.”   

Peter: “Did you care for the sick?”

WCE: “I wrote letters and signed petitions against Obamacare.” 

Peter: “Did you know that the legislation was actually called the Affordable Health Care Act. Almost everyone favors ‘affordable.’ Everyone is in favor of ‘health,’ and who would ever oppose ‘care’? Did you forget that Jesus was a healer, the ‘great physician’? Do you remember the story of the man left for dead on the Jericho Road and the stranger who paid for his emergency room, hospitalization, and rehab? Again, did you care for the sick?” 

WCE: “Why are you telling me all this Bible stuff? What’s that got to do with heaven? I was trying to stop socialism, man.” 

Peter: “Hmmm. Well, did you visit the prisoners?” 

WCE: “I stood up for law and order, capital punishment, and long sentences for drug offenders. Lock’em up, I say. I opposed BLM, CRT, ‘wokeness,’ and all those liberal socialists in Congress. The Dems are demons, I tell you, and they are in the sex slave business with children. Ungodly.” 

Peter: “You have quite the resume. What else did you do?” 

WCE: “I was a true patriot who defended the flag, the Pledge of Allegiance, prayer in schools, ‘In God We Trust,’ and ‘one nation under God.’ I would have sent those professional ballplayers to prison for kneeling during the national anthem. I gave money to David Barton, a godly man trying to destroy the First Amendment to the Constitution. He really looks great in that red, white, and blue suit! Speaking of the glorious red, white, and blue, where’s the American flag?  Why isn’t it flying over this place?

Peter: “I should warn you that you seem to be conflating Americanism, nativism, sexism, and racism with Christianity. Is there anything else you would like to add?” 

WCE: “Well, I did my part to keep the world addicted to fossil fuels. I tried to help people to see that women must be submissive to men. And I supported all the efforts to rewrite American history to get rid of those liberal notions of systemic racism.”

Peter: “You really have quite the resume.”

WCE: “Thanks! And there’s more. I tried to help people see that God created the world in six literal days, and that evolution is a lie of the devil. And since the public schools – the devil’s playground – are infected with evolutionism, I have worked to convince parents to send their children to fundamentalist schools, where they will be taught a biblically consistent curriculum, and where they will learn the truth about six-day creation and the 6000-year-old universe.”  

Peter: What are you talking about? God gave you a brain, and this is the drivel you come up with?

WCE: “Oh, my, I forgot one of the most important of causes. I supported the Second Amendment to the Constitution. I believe in God and guns, lots and lots of guns. By the way, where are the armed guards, and why don’t you have a wall? My pastor told me that God loves walls, and that there was a huge wall in heaven, but I only see open spaces. Look, I know the line is getting long behind me, so let me sum up. God should let me into heaven because I believe in God, guns, the Bible, male superiority, and heteronormative white society. I believe in keeping America for real Americans, real patriots. I believe in the 4th of July as a Christian holiday, and the Pledge of Allegiance as the church’s creed. And I can’t wait to join the QAnon chapter here in heaven!”

Peter: “Oh my. Well, you can go through the door on the left. It’s a sort of holding pen for applicants with muddled answers. I will get back to you in a few million years with a final decision. In the interim I will register you for some remedial classes in science, history, and the Bible. Have a nice eternity. I need a break.”  

— Dr. Rodney Kennedy, Righting America: A forum for scholarly conversation about Christianity, culture, and politics in the US, A White Creationist Evangelical Arrives at the Gates of Heaven, May 16, 2022

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Only Those of Us Who Believe in Heaven Have Hope

stairway to heaven

My wife, Polly, and I were talking about death: about how we are the youngest of the older adults in her family; that we could have a spate of deaths over the next decade. Polly’s parents are in their 80s and her surviving aunts and uncles are getting up there in age too. (Since I wrote this post in 2017, Polly’s father died, as well as several of her aunts and uncles.) Death comes for one and all. Sooner, and not later, death will come knocking on our doors and say it’s time to go. We will be permitted no protestations, given no second chances. For me personally, at that moment I will have written my last blog post, watched my last Reds game, and hugged and loved my family for the last time. Death brings an end to everything but the memories we leave behind in the minds of those who loved us or called us friend.

The permanence of death is one of the reasons men invented Gods, the afterlife, Heaven, and Hell. Most people have a hard time believing that this life is all there is. Believing that humans are somehow, someway superior to other animals or are their deity’s special creation, people hope life continues after death. For Christians, the Bible promises them if they worship the right God, believe the right things, and live a certain way, that one day their God will resurrect them from their graves, give them new bodies that will never suffer, age, feel pain, or die, and grant them title to a mansion in a New Heaven and a New Earth. Those of us raised in Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) churches likely remember the song, Mansion Over the Hilltop:

I’m satisfied with just a cottage below
A little silver and a little gold
But in that city where the ransomed will shine
I want a gold one that’s silver lined

[Chorus]

I’ve got a mansion just over the hilltop
In that bright land where we’ll never grow old
And some day yonder we’ll never more wander
But walk on streets that are purest gold

Tho’ often tempted, tormented and tested
And, like the prophet, my pillow a stone
And tho’ I find here no permanent dwelling
I know He’ll give me a mansion my own

I’m satisfied with just a cottage below
A little silver and a little gold
But in that city where the ransomed will shine
I want a gold one that’s silver lined

I’ve got a mansion just over the hilltop
In that bright land where we’ll never grow old
And some day yonder we’ll never more wander
But walk on streets that are purest gold

Tho’ often tempted, tormented and tested
And, like the prophet, my pillow a stone
And tho’ I find here no permanent dwelling
I know He’ll give me a mansion my own

Video Link

This song perfectly illustrates the view of eternity held by millions and millions of Christians. Life is viewed as little more than a preparation time for death and moving into new digs in the sweet by and by. Atheists, on the other hand, place great value on this life, on the here and now, because this is the only life we will ever have. Once we draw our last breath, we will either be turned into ashes or worm food.

I woke up to find Polly in something of an agitated mood — an uncommon state of mind for her. Her IFB mother had called earlier in the morning to let her know that her elderly IFB preacher uncle was in the hospital. He had to have emergency surgery to remove 12 inches of his bowel that had turned septic. Polly told her mom about the conversation we had last night about how everyone is getting old and dying. Polly mentioned to her mom that our oldest son had been looking at some old family photographs and said of one photo, sixty-six percent of the people in this picture are dead. Polly’s mom replied, well you know, only those of us who believe in Heaven have hope.

That’s been Mom’s approach of late, to begin every sermon one-liner with well, you know, reminding her daughter that what she plans to say next Polly already knows. Out of respect for her mom, Polly says nothing, but I fear the volcano is rumbling and will someday erupt. Polly said to me, this is what I should have told her: Those of us who don’t believe that shit don’t have to worry about getting into Heaven or worry about did we pray the prayer, believe the right things, or do the right things. If Polly actually said these things to her mom what would cause the most offense and outrage is that Polly said the word shit. 🙂 Imagine the outrage if it became known that Polly can, on occasion, use the F word. I am sure that her salty speech would be blamed on her continued corruption at the hands of Satan’s emissary, Bruce Gerencser.

I have no doubt that Mom is feeling her mortality and she wants to make certain that she will see Polly again in Heaven after d-e-a-t-h. You know, the whole unbroken family circle thing. While Polly understands her mom’s angst and wishfulness, she does find the mini-sermons irritating and offensive. Mom likely thinks, with death lurking in the shadows, that she needs to put as many good words in for Jesus as she can; that repeating Bible Truths® will turn back her daughter’s godlessness and worldliness; that if just the right words are spoken, the Holy Spirit will use them to pull Polly kicking and screaming back to the one true IFB faith. Now THAT would be entertaining!

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Bruce Gerencser