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Tag: John Piper

Responding to John Piper’s “Five Reasons Evangelical Christians Fall Away”

john piper
John Piper

John Piper recently delivered the commencement address at Bethany College and Seminary in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Titled Seventy Years Without Shipwreck, Piper humble-brags about the fact that he has been a Fundamentalist Christian for seventy years; that God has never forsaken him; that he never deconverted.

Piper begins his address by letting students know that he doesn’t like the word “deconversion.” Piper thinks the word is trendy; a word devised by Satan to mask what is really going on; a word that has no basis in reality (since, according to Piper’s Calvinistic theology, it is impossible to “deconvert”).

Piper states:

The word deconversion is not in the Oxford English Dictionary. At least, not yet. Words are created to name reality, not the other way around. But we didn’t need the word deconversion. The Bible abounds with words and descriptions of some forsaking Christ:

apostasy (2 Thessalonians 2:3)

falling away (Matthew 24:10)

shipwreck of faith (1 Timothy 1:19)

turning back from following the Lord (Zephaniah 1:6)

trampling underfoot the Son of God (Hebrews 10:29)

going out from us (1 John 2:19)

cutting off of a branch (John 15:2)

becoming disqualified (1 Corinthians 9:27)

turning away from listening to the truth (2 Timothy 4:4)

denying the Master who bought them (2 Peter 2:1)

We didn’t need a new word. My guess is that the new word deconversion came into existence so that the old, foolish, tragic, heart-breaking reality could feel as trendy as the word. How shrewd is our enemy.

The overarching premise of Piper’s address is that people deconvert not for unresolved questions about “history, science, logic, or ethics,” but because they have a deep-seated love for “darkness” and sin. Yes, the reason you and I walked away from Christianity is that we wanted to sin; that our faith precluded us from fulfilling our lusts and desires, so we divorced Jesus so we could fuck, steal, lie, cheat, and murder to our heart’s content.

penn gillette

While this argument may work with those uninitiated in Evangelical Christianity, those who spent their lives working in God’s vineyard (and coal mine) know better. There’s plenty of fucking, stealing, lying, cheating, and murdering going on among God’s elect. Murder, you say? Yes, murder. One church member I pastored murdered his infant daughter by shaking her to death. Another church member slaughtered his ex-girlfriend with a knife in a fit of rage. He is presently serving a life sentence. While neither of these men were “committed” followers of Jesus, they both professed saving faith in Jesus Christ. Besides, I personally know a number of on-fire Christians, pastors, evangelists, missionaries, and college professors who committed adultery and fornication — both heterosexual and homosexual. Piper has been in the ministry too long not to know these things. There’s no difference between how Christians live and how the unwashed, uncircumcised Philistines and Jezebels of the world live.

Piper goes on to list five ways the deconverted sin. First, they have a love for “life’s cares, riches, and pleasures. Second, they have a “love for the present age.” Third, the deconverted “reject a good conscience.” Forth, they become “re-entangled in worldly defilements,” and finally the deconverted have been led astray by the “deceitfulness of sin.”

Piper sums up his five points this way:

I don’t think you will find any exceptions to this in the Bible. The root cause of apostasy, or falling away, or making shipwreck of faith, or deconversion, is not the failure to detect truth, but the failure to desire holiness. Not the absence of light, but the love for the dark. Not the problems of science, but the preference for sin.

In other words, Piper only sees one reason for our apostasy: sin. No matter what we say, no matter how many times we tell our stories and explain ourselves, the Pipers of the world refuse to accept we what say at face value. I can only conclude, then, that Piper and his ilk deliberately lie about unbelievers and their motivations, using their apostasy to justify their theological beliefs.

Piper concludes his address by saying that Christians who deconvert were never True Christians®. Of course, he does . . .

Piper states:

We all know — you have been well taught — that God never loses any of his elect. Not one of his predestined children is ever lost. “For those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified” (Romans 8:30). None of them deconverts finally. The ship of saving faith always makes it to the haven. “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us” (1 John 2:19).

With a quote from the Bible and a wave of his arrogant, self-righteous hand, Piper dismisses millions of people who were once devoted followers of Jesus; people who loved the Lamb and followed him wherever he went; people who committed their lives to sacrificially serving the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords; people who were Christian in every possible way. I was part of the Evangelical church for fifty years, and a pastor for twenty-five years. Much like Piper, I was a Christian for a long, long time. Imagine if I dismissed Piper’s faith out of hand. After all, he has not lived a sinless life; marital problems, disaffected children, and all sorts of less-than-Christian behavior. Piper would rightly be offended if I dismissed the totality of his life, focusing, instead, on his “sins.” Maybe the good pastor secretly has hedonistic desires, and not the Christian kind that he loves to preach about.

How about we accept each other’s stories at face value? That’s what decent, thoughtful people do. When a Christian tells me their conversion story, I believe them. I expect the same treatment in return. I once was a Christian, and now I am not. But, Bruce, the Bible says ____________. That’s your problem, not mine. My past life was one of devotion to Jesus and the work of the ministry — in thought, word, and deed. It’s your thinking that needs to change, not mine. And as long as Piper and his merry band of keepers of the Book of Life continue to ignore the stories of those who have walked away from the faith, they will never truly understand why an increasing number of believers are exiting the church stage left.

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Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 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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You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: God is Behind Every Murder and Rape

john piper

Hello, Pastor John [Piper], and thank you for APJ! I write because last year someone very close to me was assaulted and murdered. At the time of the tragedy, I had not devoted my life to Christ. The pastor at the funeral service said, ‘I don’t think it was God’s plan for this to happen.’ I remember feeling so lost and angry. I gave my life to Christ a few months later. But I still don’t understand why my loved one would be murdered if God is omnipotent. Does God allow sin to roam unchecked? Does the Bible say anything about God allowing such awful sin to happen, and why? I am a new Christian with a lot to learn.

It’s difficult for me to know what the pastor at your friend’s funeral meant when he said, “I don’t think it was God’s plan for this to happen.” Maybe all he meant was that God never does anything wrong and never sins against anyone. But it’s one thing to say that God never does wrong, and it’s a very different thing to say that God does not govern or oversee or direct or control the wrong that happens in this world. If that’s what the pastor meant — that God doesn’t do that — I think he’s mistaken, because the Bible teaches from cover to cover that God does, in fact, govern all the details of the world, including the bad things that happen to us and to our friends.

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So God’s counsel, God’s wisdom, God’s purpose always comes to pass. That’s what it means to be God. Not the devil, not nature, not fate, not chance, not sinful man — nobody and nothing can thwart the plan of God.

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In other words, from the tiniest, most insignificant happening, to the largest global happenings, God governs all things.

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So, when you feel that you can’t understand why God does what he does, let your heart rest here: the worst suffering and the deepest sovereignty meet at the point of greatest love — the cross of Christ. So rest there.

— John Piper, Desiring God, Is Violent Crime Under God’s Providence? November 19, 2021

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Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 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.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

John Piper Says People Are “Ugly” Because of Sin and Satan

john piper

Recently, Evangelical Calvinist John Piper answered the following question:

Pastor John, why did God make some people ugly and unattractive? How can I accept the fact that God, though capable of making me beautiful or at least average looking, chose to create me in an unattractive manner? As an unattractive person myself, I can say life is tough for us. Our opinions and ideas are most often sidelined. We have it tough in offices and schools and colleges. I can’t express in words how difficult it is to be confident.

This is straining my relationship with God. Clearly, in the Bible there are some features described as examples of beauty. I count dozens of verses in the Bible that speak of physical beauty.

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Now I know God is concerned about what we do with our bodies. And he cares about our bodies. So why does he make some of us so unattractive?

Piper replied:

Ugliness and disfigurement have their roots in the origin of human sin. Now listen carefully, because this could be so easily misunderstood: the roots are not in a person’s particular personal sin, but the origin of human sin in Adam and Eve, which infected the whole human race. In his wisdom, God decreed that there would be physical manifestations of the horrors and outrage of sin against God. This does not mean that everyone’s disability or everyone’s disease or everyone’s disfigurement is because of their own sin.

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So, the point is that Romans 8 gives a global explanation for why there is such a thing in the world as ugliness and every form of physical misery. God brought the physical world, the bodily world, into sync, into correspondence, with the moral world. He made physical ugliness and misery correspond to moral ugliness and misery, even in some of the most godly people on the planet. Every bodily or material burden in the world should point us to the burden of sin. Every ugliness should point to the ugliness of sin and Satan.

Satan is a real secondary cause under God. He is immediately responsible for many physical horrors. Jesus said that in Luke 13:11–16. There was a woman bent over for eighteen years. So picture her: she’s probably walking at a ninety-degree angle, with horrible scoliosis. And Jesus says, “Ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed?” (Luke 13:16). So, all physical ugliness and deformity and misery points to the moral ugliness and deformity of sin and Satan.

According to Piper, physical “ugliness” is caused by inner “ugliness” — sin. Piper tries and fails to distinguish between Adamic sin and personal sin. People are “ugly” due to the sin nature all humans inherit from Adam, not because of any particular sin they have committed. However, it is impossible to separate a skunk from its smell. Sinners sin, so it stands to reason, according to Piper’s Calvinistic theology, that individual ugliness is a direct result of personal sin.

Piper also says that human “ugliness” is also caused by Satan. Note carefully what Piper says: “Satan is a real secondary cause under God.” Under God . . . Piper, a loyal, devoted member of the John Calvin Fan Club®, believes the God of the Bible is the supreme ruler over all things. Nothing happens apart from his purpose, plan, and will. Satan/Lucifer is a fallen angel who tried to overthrow God’s rule, a created being under the absolute control of God. This means that everything Satan does is decreed or permitted by God. (Read the book of Job if you doubt Satan is under God’s authority, rule, and control.) Thus, if you are ugly, it’s the Devil’s fault. Or your fault. Not God’s fault, of course. God controls everything, but he must never be held accountable for his actions. God is the playground bully who steals everyone’s lunch money and beats them senseless, but when called out on his behavior, he says, “who, me? It’s their fault, not mine.”

Piper’s God is a disgusting being, and so is he. What kind of person looks at the debility and suffering of others and says to them, “Hey, it’s your fault. Don’t blame God.”

I find it interesting that Piper never defines “ugliness” or “beauty.” It is evident the person who sent Piper the question is talking about his or her physical appearance. Is there more of a subjective standard by which to judge ourselves and others than physical appearance? How do we determine who is ugly and who is beautiful? And why do such vain, superficial judgments matter? Even the Bible says, “man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart.” Some of the most attractive people in the world have ugly hearts (minds). Piper is one such person, as are countless other Fundamentalist preachers. Think of all the hate mail I have received over the years from Evangelical Christians — hateful, nasty, judgmental emails and social media messages. I have no doubt that some of these Evangelicals are “beautiful” people, however their behavior suggests they have ugly hearts.

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Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 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.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

Evangelical Pastor John Piper Tells Christian Women to “Submit” to Domestic Abuse

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John Piper, a notable Evangelical pastor and author, is known for his Calvinistic and complementarian beliefs. Piper believes married women should “submit” to their husbands in all things, even if they physically and/or verbally abuse them.

In the short video that follows, Piper is asked whether a married Christian woman should submit to physical and/or verbal abuse. Piper replied:

“If it’s [asking her to engage in group sex] not requiring her to sin, but simply hurting her, then I think she endures verbal abuse for a season, she endures perhaps being smacked one night.”

Video Link

What a mighty and wonderful God John Piper worships and serves.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 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.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Is it a Sin for Married Couples to Have Sex During Menstruation?

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What follows is a reminder of the lengths Evangelicals go to justify or condemn certain behaviors using the inspired, inerrant, infallible Protestant Bible.

I would say that the prohibitions of sexual relations during menstruation (Leviticus 18:19; 20:18; Ezekiel 18:6; 22:10) are not demanded of us as Christians. I think that’s the implication of Romans 7:4–6, which I quoted a minute ago. [Oh, how convenient, but what God says about homosexuality in the same Old Testament is still valid and in force. Hypocrites!]

So, the question becomes: If we don’t have an absolute prohibition, what should guide us in this matter? I’ll suggest two considerations for a husband and a wife to think and pray about. One is the roots of the prohibition in the Old Testament, and the other is the path of love between a husband and wife.

Now, think with me about the roots of this Old Testament prohibition of sex during menstruation. Here are two verses.

You shall not approach a woman to uncover her nakedness while she is in her menstrual uncleanness. (Leviticus 18:19)

If a man lies with a woman during her menstrual period and uncovers her nakedness, he has made naked her fountain, and she has uncovered the fountain of her blood. (Leviticus 20:18)

Two issues, it seems, then, lie behind the prohibition: (1) uncleanness and (2) the exposure of the fountain of blood — whatever that means.

Ritual Uncleanness

Now, the term uncleanness, very importantly, does not refer to sinful impurity. We know this because no sacrifice was required in Leviticus because of this, but only washing with water (Leviticus 15:19–24). In other words, there’s no sin involved in her menstrual flow. That’s not what the uncleanness refers to. It’s not sexual or sinful impurity.

The issue was ritual purity rooted in real cleanliness. Before the more modern ways of dealing with the menstrual flow, for countless generations, menstrual bleeding was a perennial problem for women (indeed, for men too) of cleanliness. Menstrual rags were metaphorical in the Bible for filthiness. This was the word used in Isaiah 64:6: “All our righteous deeds are like [filthy menstrual rags].” It was a tremendous burden for women to have to deal with. And very likely, the issue of sexual relations was simply considered extremely unsanitary and made the whole challenge of a woman’s cleanliness even more difficult if there were sexual intercourse involved.

So, that’s my reckoning with that first word unclean and its roots. It’s the roots of the simple burden of, How do we maintain appropriate cleanliness in the community?

Fountain of Life

Here’s the second one: uncovering her fountain. This is something different than the problem of cleanliness. This is probably a reference to something sacred and profound.

The woman’s monthly cycle is a constant testimony of a woman’s glory of bearing and nurturing life in her womb. She has that potential. It shows up and manifests itself every month. Every month, she is reminded that she has the incredible potential. The welcome of life is signified every month by the building up of blood. And life is in the blood (Leviticus 17:11). Life is in the blood. It is a life-giving spring or fountain. And during the menstrual flow of blood, there is the reminder that a life did not happen this month, though it might have. That’s how much potential resides in that fountain.

And my guess is that this entire process, with all of its profound potential as the fountain of life, was simply not to be casually observed. It was not to be intruded upon. It was to be concealed. It was an indictment, when Leviticus 20:18 says, “He has made naked her fountain.” This is not a matter of cleanliness. This is a matter of sacrilege in the Old Testament. The fountain in its sacred flow is to be protected.

This is where the principle of love that I mentioned a moment ago is going to work its miracle. Here’s the guideline from 1 Corinthians 7:4: “The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.”

Which means that he has authority to have sexual intercourse with his wife during menstruation. And she has authority not to have sexual intercourse with her husband during menstruation. Which means this issue is not going to be resolved by authority [In other words, ignore the Bible.]; it’s a draw. It’s going to be resolved by love. And love will discern the deep things of the heart and the body. And if she finds sexual relations during menstruation offensive (or he does), his inclination will be to exercise self-control and love for her sacrificially, like Christ — for her sake, and really, thus, for his. And if she finds his desire for her to be very strong, she may give him that gift, or she may surprise him with some other pleasure. [of the language Evangelicals use for hand jobs and blow jobs.]

But I would say, especially to husbands: as the leader, you should take the lead in exercising self-control, which is a “fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22–23), and so bless her and win her affections, which I don’t doubt will pay dividends in the rest of the month.

— John Piper Desiring God, Is Sex During Menstruation Sinful?, August 6, 2021

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 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.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: John Piper Says Homosexuality Disgusts Him

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I am not interested in making common cause with non-Christians in my disapproval of the celebration of homosexual desires or acts. The reason is that truly Christian disapproval of sin is rooted in, sustained by, and aimed at spectacular realities for which non-Christians have no taste.

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But homosexual desires are also unlike other sins. Paul calls them “dishonorable passions” because they involve “[exchanging] natural relations for those that are contrary to nature” (Romans 1:26). Homosexual desires are different because of the way they contradict what nature teaches. I think this may be seen most clearly if we reflect on the question, What is the moral significance of the emotion of revulsion at the act of sodomy?

I’m using the word sodomy not as equivalent to homosexuality, but as emblematic of the kinds of practices involved in homosexual relations — in this case, a man’s insertion of the organ through which life is meant to enter a woman, into the organ through which waste is meant to leave a man.

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There is a natural fitness in revulsion at sodomy. In sexual relations, the penis was not made for the anus. It was made for the vagina. In sodomy, the distortion of that natural use is so flagrant as not to be a mere diversion of the male sex organ from its natural use, but a perversion of it. Revulsion is the emotional counterpart to that linguistic reality.

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The natural fitness of revulsion at sodomy corresponds to our visceral reaction at the cowardly man, the callous mother, and the dehumanized miser. It is fitting to feel a visceral aversion to these distortions of natural good. To look on such detestable manhood and such repugnant motherhood and such dehumanizing greed, and feel neutral, is not a sign of moral health. Neither is indifference to sodomy, or its celebration.

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We disapprove of homosexuality to the glory of God by assessing right and wrong by his word. We disapprove to the glory of God by honoring the way he designed the natural sexual functions of the human body. We disapprove to the glory of God by standing ever ready with eagerness to forgive as he mercifully forgave us. We disapprove to the glory of God by longing and praying for the everlasting good and Christ-exalting joy of all those whose desires and practices we disapprove of. We disapprove to the glory of God by being willing to sacrifice for others to show that God himself is a greater reward than all self-exaltation or vengeance.

— John Piper, Desiring God, Not Cock, A Peculiar Disapproval of Gay Pride, June 22, 2021

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Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 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.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

Christmas: A Plea to Evangelicals Who Evangelize Non-Christian Family Members

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Evangelical Tom “shares” the gospel with Atheist Jean

Repost from 2015-2016. Edited, updated, and corrected.

Christmas: it’s that time of year. Joy to the World. Handel’s Messiah. Cookies and fudge. Eggnog. Shopping. Evergreen trees decked with ornaments and lights. Cards. Presents. Ugly sweaters. Family gatherings. Excited grandchildren. Ah, the wonders of the Christmas season.

But there’s one aspect of Christmas hated by non-Christians, and that’s their Evangelical relatives and friends using the holiday as an opportunity to evangelize those they deem lost and headed for Hell.

From tracts stuffed into Christmas cards to Christian-themed gifts, evangelistically-motivated Evangelicals make sure that their non-Christian family members and friends know that Jesus is the Reason for Season and that unless they know The Prince of Peace, They will Have No Peace.

Even worse are those Evangelicals who make a concerted effort to talk to unsaved relatives about their spiritual condition at their family Christmas gatherings. Told by their pastors to use the Christmas season, with its focus on joy and family, as an opportunity to witness to the lost, Evangelicals make concerted efforts to put in a good word for Jesus whenever they are given the opportunity to do so.

We’ve all been there. We’re hanging out with our family at the annual Christmas gathering: eating Mom’s food, swapping childhood stories, drinking wine, laughing, and enjoying life. And out of the corner of our eye we see Evangelical Uncle Bob coming towards us. Oh shit, we say to ourselves, not THIS again. “This” being Uncle Bob snuggling up to you so he can tell you for seemingly the hundredth time that Christmas is all about Jesus, and that the greatest gift in the world is the salvation that God offers to every sinner. Sinner, of course, being you. And as in every other year, you will politely listen, smile, and think in your mind, just one time I’d like to tell Uncle Bob to take his religion and shove it up his ass. Your thoughts will remain unspoken, and after your evangelizing relative is finished extolling the wonders of Jesus and his blood, you say to him, just as you do every other year, Hey, Uncle Bob, how ’bout them Cowboys? You know that there is one thing that Uncle Bob loves to talk about almost as much as his savior Jesus, and that’s America’s team, the Dallas Cowboys.

Several years ago, Fundamentalist Calvinist pastor John Piper reminded his fellow cultists of the importance of giving non-Christian relatives prayed-over, Bible-saturated books during the Christmas season. Piper wrote:

The Christmas season is ripe for “reviving your concern” (Philippians 4:10) for the spiritual wellbeing of friends and family members. We may lament the expectations of gift-giving and the excesses of holiday spending, but we can take it as an opportunity to invest in eternity by putting God-centered, gospel-rich content into the hands of those we love.

Next to the Bible, perhaps the most enduringly valuable gifts you can give this Christmas are books soaked in God and his grace. Online articles, sermons, and podcast episodes change lives and sustain souls, but they don’t make for typical material Christmas gifts. Printed books, on the other hand, wrap well, and can be just as life-changing and soul-saving, and more.

As Christmas approaches, we wanted to remind you of our recent titles from the team at Desiring God. We’ve done our best to saturate them in the Bible and fill them with God and his gospel, and we’ve prayed over them again that they might be a means of God’s grace not only for you, but also your loved ones…

Randy Newman, Senior Teaching Fellow for Apologetics and Evangelism at the C.S. Lewis Institutesuggests that Evangelicals look for opportunities to share bits of the gospel:

I know this sounds counterintuitive. In fact, to some, this may sound like downright heresy! Some of us have been trained to “make sure to state the whole gospel” or “their blood will be on our hands.” To me, that sounds a bit like a lack of trust in the sovereignty of God. In our day of constant contact (through email, texts, tweets, etc.) we can trust God to string together a partial conversation at Christmas dinner to a follow up discussion the next day, to a phone conversation, to numerous emails, etc. Some of our unsaved family members and friends need to digest parts of the gospel (“How can God be both loving and holy?”) before they can take the next bite (“Jesus’ death resolves the tension of God’s love and his holiness.”)…

Back in the days when I was a fire-breathing Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) preacher, I encouraged church members to use the Christmas holiday as an opportunity to witness to their unsaved relatives. Hell is hot and death is certain, I told congregants. Dare we ignore their plight? Remember, the Bible says that if we fail to warn our wicked relatives of their wicked ways and they die and go to Hell, their blood will be on our hands. Despite my attempts to guilt church members into evangelizing their relatives, not one member reported successfully doing so. Most of them, I suspect, ignored my preaching and said nothing to their relatives. And those who did likely made half-hearted attempts to interject Jesus into family Christmas discussions. Regardless, not one person was saved as a result of our Christmas witnessing.

Let me conclude this post with a heartfelt, honest appeal from non-Christians to Evangelicals bent on witnessing to family and friends during the Christmas season:

Christmas is all about love, joy, peace, and family. Religion, like politics, is a divisive subject, and talking about it will certainly engender strife and resentment. I know that you think our negative response towards your evangelistic effort is the result of our sinfulness and hatred of God. What you fail to see is that our irritation and anger is the result of your unwillingness to value family more than you do Jesus. Besides, we’ve heard your Jesus shtick before. We get it: we are sinners, Jesus died on the cross for our sins and resurrected from the grave three days later. If we want our sins forgiven, we must repent of our sins and accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior. If we refuse God’s wonderful offer of salvation and eternal life, when we die, we will go to Hell. See? We heard you. There’s no need for you to keep doing your best imitation of a skipping record. If we ask you a question about your religion, then by all means answer it. We asked, and we wouldn’t have asked if we didn’t want to know. However, if we don’t ask, please keep your religion to yourself. If you truly love and respect us, please leave us alone.

If you choose to ignore our request, we will assume that you are determined to be an asshole for Jesus. While we will likely walk away from you, we might, depending on our mood, decide to give you a dose of your own medicine by sharing why we think your God and Jesus are fictitious. We might even challenge your so-called Bible beliefs. You see, we know a lot more about Christianity than we are telling. It’s not that we don’t know. We do, and we find the Christian narrative intellectually lacking. While Jesus gives your life meaning, purpose, and peace, we have found these same things in atheism, agnosticism, humanism, paganism, or non-Christian religions. We don’t need what you have because we already have it.

Most of us who are non-Christians will spend the Christmas holiday surrounded by believers. In many instances, we will be the only non-Christian in the room. While we love the Christmas season — with its bright colors, feasts, and family gatherings — contemplating the fact that we will be the only atheist at the family Christmas gathering can be stressful. We understand that Christmas is considered a Christian holiday. When Christian prayers are uttered, we will respectfully bow our heads.  When Christmas carols are sung around the hearth, we will likely join in (many of us like singing Christmas songs). We will do our best to blend in.

Please, for one day, when we are all gathered together in expression of our love for one another, leave Jesus and your religion at the door. By all means, if you must talk about Jesus, seek out like-minded Christian family members and talk to them. When talking to us, let’s agree to talk about the things we have in common: family, childhood experiences, and our favorite football team.

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Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 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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Christians Say the Darnedest Things: God Requires Christian Couples to Have Children

john piper

It is normal, beautiful, fitting, natural, and normative, according to Scripture, both explicitly and — I would say — implicitly in many places, for a married couple to have children. This was God’s plan from the moment of creation; it was part of what was “very good.” “God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.’”

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This is the whole drift of God’s word: children are a gift; children are a blessing. When they are withheld, it is a heartache — sometimes even a judgment.

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What a sadness when many modern women, shortsightedly I think, choose to forgo that blessing, while millions would literally give their right arm to have it. That’s observation number one: it’s just the way Scripture leans.

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Of course, we don’t know whether we will have a disabled child or not, who changes our lives forever. Of course, we don’t know whether a child will break our heart with unbelief. Of course, we don’t know if our child will live six hours and then die. And of course, we do know that our children will demand enormous, focused attention. We do know that to raise a child in the Lord demands spiritual desperation and prayer and focus and attention. We do know that there will be financial demands from our lifelong commitment to this child. We do know that there will be thousands of hours that you must deny yourself an immediate felt need in order to do good to this child.

But from the standpoint of God’s word, none of those possible heartaches and none of these guaranteed stresses are reasons not to have children, because the Bible does not share the modern viewpoint that the aim of life is the avoidance of hardship. On the contrary, the assumption of the Bible is that through many tribulations we enter the kingdom (Acts 14:22), and that the testing of our faith produces steadfastness (James 1:3), and that there’s joy to be found through giving ourselves away. Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).

In other words, almost all the arguments for not having children are built on a worldview radically different from the Bible’s worldview.

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There’s another problem with presuming to think that we can do more good by not having children — like, for climate change. The problem is: we simply do not know whether our child will be a debit or a credit to the human race — a curse or a blessing, a taker or a giver. We don’t know. He may be a freeloader with a big carbon footprint, or he may be the genius who invents the very means of saving millions of lives. Who do we think we are? My goodness, who do we think we are to predict that our children will be a loss rather than a gain for the world, and for the glory of Christ, whom we can believe and pray to?

We don’t know, and it’s not our business to know. Our business is to give them life and raise them up and do what we can to build into them every dream and every possibility and power and blessing for the world — and for the glorifying of God.

And my final observation is that not one couple in a thousand decides to have children by sitting down and calculating the effect of their child on global warming, or the replacement rate for the population so that thirty years from now the workforce will be big enough to sustain the aged, or whether we will certainly have enough resources to establish the child in a fruitful location. It just doesn’t happen that way — not for 99 percent of couples. And I’m suggesting it shouldn’t happen that way; we’re not smart enough for it to happen that way, and the Bible doesn’t encourage us to have children with that mindset.

— John Piper, Desiring God, Are Christian Couples Required to Have Kids? August 3, 2020

Bruce Gerencser