Some Evangelicals are polite, decent, thoughtful human beings, though I question these traits if they are voting for Trump in November. Can someone be a thoughtful human being if he or she is voting for Trump? I doubt it.
Other Evangelicals are anything but polite, decent, thoughtful human beings. They are self-centered, narcissistic assholes who show no regard for the wants and wishes of others. You will find such Jesus-lovers trolling the waters of social media and pontificating in blog and news site comment sections. One such man from Oslo, Norway is Havard Daae Rognli.
Rognli recently sent me the following (spelling and grammar in the original):
I read about your message policy, but I feel compelled to send this anyway, because for three times in a row leaders in my church has preached the filthy rags claim. To much anger for me and several other people. I googled this claim and came across your blog, and feel inspired to write to you.
I believe that the whole problem lies with us people and not with the Bible. When you state that you do not allow bible quotes in the blog you block the possibility to create possibilities for learning. Then it all just becomes a place where people empty their feelings.
Is that really what you aim for?
It makes me sad that there are so many confused people out there who misunderstands the scriptures.
Priests, pastors and spiritual leaders alike! Jesus said of the pharisees the following in MATT.22.29 ” You are in error because you do not know the scriptures
or the power of God”.
And Peter the apostle said this in 2 PET.3:15-16: “Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters.
His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort,
as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.
I believe that it is paramount that each and every person must take his/her own stand regarding the gospel message.
Just as a student can’t put the responsibility on the teacher for failing at the exam, so can’t I blame any other person if I disregard the invitation of Christ.
See ROM.2:17-24: “Now you, if you call yourself a Jew; if you rely on the law and boast in God; if you know His will and approve of what is superior because you are instructed by the law; if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of infants, because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth –
you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? You who forbid adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? As it is written: “God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”
Priests, pastors and spiritual leaders will suffer severe consequences if they lead people away from the truth by their false teachings.
Now, See the connection between Romans 10 and Acts 17:
ROM.10:16-17: “But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message?” Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ”
ACTS 17:10-12: “As soon as it was night, the believers sent Paul and Silas away to Berea. On arriving there, they went to the Jewish synagogue. Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.
As a result, many of them believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men”
It is clear that every person must – for his own integrity’s sake – examine the scriptures in order to either come to faith or disregard the message. Regarding the fifty rags- claim. This is TOTALLY UNBIBLICAL and completely taken out of context.
The proper framework for understanding the intent of passages like Isaiah 64:6 come from understanding the background and context for why it was written. The “filthy rags” in this passage does not refer to the Spirit-wrought works of the regenerate, but the outward religious grandstanding of the wicked (see Isaiah 58).
The famous John Piper said the following:
“It is terribly confusing when people say that the only righteousness that has any value is the imputed righteousness of Christ. I agree that justification is not grounded on any of our righteousness, but only the righteousness of Christ imputed to us. But sometimes people are careless and speak disparagingly of all human righteousness, as if there were no such thing that pleased God. They often cite Isaiah 64:6, which says our righteousness is as filthy rags. . . . [But] when my sons do what I tell them to do—I do not call their obedience “filthy rags” even if it is not perfect. Neither does God. All the more because he himself is “working in us that which is pleasing in his sight” (Hebrews 13:21). He does not call his own, Spirit-wrought fruit, “rags.”
And see EPH.2:8-10: “For it is by grace you have been saved through faith, and this not from yourselves; it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance as our way of life”
To claim that our good deeds are filthy in Gods sight is an abomination! God wants us to good deeds and is pleased with us!
I really hope that this does away with the filthy-rags claim!
Got all that? As you can see, Rognli ignored this site’s comment policy. Instead, he whipped out his Evangelical dick, lovingly stroked it, and then ejaculated his opinions all over his email to me.
Roglni is angry over what he believes is a misinterpretation of Isaiah 64:6:
But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
Evidently, Rognli objects to a post I wrote in 2018 titled The Bible Says Our Good Works Are as Filthy Rags:
Evangelicals believe that humans, Christian or not, are incapable of good works; that all goodness comes from the Christian God; that works apart from God that “seem” good are actually done for the wrong motivations and reasons. According to Isaiah 64:6, our works are as filthy rags, the rags, according to many Evangelical preachers, that lepers wrapped around their putrefying flesh. In other words, our good works, apart from Jesus working in and through us, are pus-filled, awful-smelling bandages. One reader told me that she heard one pastor say that the filthy rags in Isaiah 64:6 were the rags used by menstruating women. Gross right? That’s the whole point — to make people see and believe that “their” good works are filthy and vile before the thrice-holy God.
This kind of thinking, of course, causes great psychological damage to people who, with good intentions, try to be loving, kind, and help to everyone. Be overheard “bragging” about your good works and Sanctified Sally or Pastor Blowhard will most certainly rebuke you for taking credit for what Jesus did. Evangelicals are beaten coming and going when it comes to good works. They are reminded of the fact that the Bible says, faith without works is dead and work while it is yet day, for the night is coming when no man can work. Congregants are castigated over their lack of devotion and commitment to Jesus and their lack of shining-in-the-light-of-day good works. And what happens when they change their ways and start working day and night in Jesus’ vineyard? They are warned about taking credit for their works or finding satisfaction in helping others. Pastor Blowhard thunders from the pulpit, Jesus alone deserves all the praise, honor, and glory for our good works. Without him, our works are but filthy rags.
Is it any wonder so many Evangelicals are downright discouraged and depressed? Being told over and over that one is a worthless piece of shit and that one’s life is n-o-t-h-i-n-g without Jesus is sure to ruin any thoughts of self-esteem. Pastors frequently remind congregants that the Bible commands them to deny self, to take up their crosses and follow Jesus. It is this notion of denying self that lies at the root of so much of the damage done by Evangelical preachers. Self is viewed as something that must be crucified, put to death. The Apostle Paul repeatedly told first-century Christians of the importance of crucifying the flesh. Paul also talked about Christians presenting their bodies as living sacrifices to God. This thinking has led countless Evangelicals to deny themselves not only material gain, but normal, healthy human emotions.
Somewhere along my life as a Christian, I died. My life was swallowed up by God, Jesus, the church, and the ministry. I lost all sense of who was Bruce Gerencser. It took me several years after walking away from Christianity to reconnect with self, with my emotions. I was shocked to find how buried my life had become under the weight of living for and serving the divine taskmaster, the Christian God; the deity who demanded everything from me and gave me little in return. No matter how hard I worked in Jesus’ coal mine, I still felt vile and dirty. How could it be any other way, right? I was a sinner, and my only saving grace was Jesus, not any of the good that I had done. I remained, as Isaiah 64:6 says, a dirty, vile, pus-filled rag.
Did your pastor or other church leaders use Isaiah 64:6 as a weapon to destroy your self-worth and good works? If so, please share your thoughts in the comment section.
Rognli notes that I do not allow Bible quotes in the comment section, then ignores my request and quotes numerous Bible verses. He’s got a point to make, and he not going to let decency and respect stand in the way of him making it.
Rognli thinks I am, along with the readers of this blog, ignorant of the teachings of the Bible. He has stopped by to be our teacher and our guide into all truth. Rognli seems to not know that I was a college-trained Evangelical pastor for 25 years; that I spent 50 years in the Christian church. Many of the readers of this blog have similar resumés. We really don’t need Rognli to “teach” us anything. We are quite educated Biblically and theologically. If Rognli would like to play the Bible Knowledge Dick Measuring Game, let’s have at it. I think Rognli will find the I am more than up to the task, as are many of my readers.
Rognli believes that people are confused about what the Bible teaches — priests, pastors, and spiritual leaders too. Rognli is not only rude, he is arrogant. Such is the nature of certainty. Rognli is certain his peculiar interpretation is right. He cannot imagine any other interpretation but his. Besides, Fundamentalist Calvinist John Piper agrees with him. Little does he know how unpopular Piper is with me and readers of my writing.
I will leave it to readers to wade through Roglni’s exegesis and interpretation of Isaiah 64. I am sticking with the Bible, and it seems clear, at least to me, that it says our goods works are as filthy rags before God — especially those of the unwashed, uncircumcised Philistines of the world. And based on my decades-long interaction with Evangelical churches and pastors, it is clear that church members are frequently reminded of how vile they are before the Lord; that the only thing standing between them and the wrath of God, the father, is the shed blood of Jesus; that Christians sin daily in thought, word, and deed; that Evangelicals commit sins of commission and omission; that the only difference between Christians and non-believers is their mental assent to a set of propositional “facts.”
And finally, it’s Tuesday. I am in pain, still recovering from gallbladder surgery, and depressed over the fact that the Cincinnati Reds seem incapable of hitting the ball and playing error-free baseball. Why should I care one wit about Havard Daae Rognli’s interpretation of the Bible?
I also want to mention that Rognli made no effort to read anything on this site. He read The Bible Says Our Good Works Are as Filthy Rags post, the Dear Evangelical page, and the Commenting Policy page. No need to find out anything about me. Rognli was on a mission for God. Mission Accomplished! Something tells me Rognli got more than he bargained for.
Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 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.
You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.
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