Tag Archive: King James Only

Questions: Bruce, How Did You Make Your Final Break From Religious Belief?

questions

I recently asked readers to submit questions to me they would like me to answer. If you would like to submit a question, please follow the instructions listed here.

Mary asked: Bruce, how did you make the final break from [religious] belief? I still vacillate quite often and struggle w/the emotional turmoil that follows. thanks for taking time to answer the questions we are posting.

As an Evangelical, I could point to the date, time, and place Jesus saved me. I know when and how I was saved because I was there when it happened. For most of my life, I had what Evangelicals call a know-so salvation. The Apostle Paul had a know-so salvation too. In his letter to a young preacher by the name of Timothy, Paul wrote:

For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. (2 Timothy 1:12)

Being a Christian, then, was all about “knowing”; about certainty of belief. The same cannot be said for my current state of unbelief. I have written tens of thousands of words about my deconversion and how I went from a preacher of the gospel to no longer believing the “truths” I once preached. I can point to the date when I attended church for the last time, and I remember the day when I said to myself (and to my wife), “I am no longer a Christian.” I can point to the 2009 letter I wrote to Family, Friends, and Former Parishioners as my equivalent of Martin Luther’s Ninety-five Theses. Yet, I haven’t had what I call a born-again atheist experience, and I don’t know many unbelievers who have.

The path from belief to unbelief is often long, arduous, and littered with stops, reversals, collisions, and a host of other things that complicate deconversion. In my case, I was part of the Christian church for fifty years. I spent twenty-five of those years pastoring Evangelical churches. Days, months, and years were spent devotedly worshiping and serving Jesus Christ. Tens of thousands of hours were given to reading and studying the Bible, reading theological tomes, praying, preaching, teaching, evangelizing the lost, and ministering to the needs of congregants. I was as deeply immersed in Evangelical church life as anyone could be. I was a sot in a religious sense, drinking in all that Christianity had to offer. Becoming an unbeliever, then, required detoxification. My mind was, and still is, filled with knowledge about Christianity, the Bible, and the experiential aspects of faith.

Unbelief is a frontal assault and challenge to a life of religious belief. For decades, I said I believed this or that. I was sure of my beliefs, having no doubt whatsoever that what the Bible said was absolute truth. It was only when I allowed agents of unbelief a seat at the table of my life that I began to have questions and doubts. These honorable, thoughtful voices of doubt and unbelief asked of me what the Devil asked of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, Yea hath God said? Answering (and continuing to answer) this question caused doubt and further questions. Questions begat questions, to use King James vernacular. This steady stream of questions ultimately led me to conclude that what Christians believed about the Bible was not true, and that the Christian narrative could not be rationally or intellectually sustained (at least to my satisfaction). I came to see that believing the Biblical story about God and Jesus required faith, a faith I did not have.

So, I can point to the last Sunday in November 2008 as the last time I attended church, but I can’t, even today, say that all vestiges of Christianity are gone from my mind and life. I suspect, thanks to my deep immersion in Christianity, that my life will never be totally and completely free of Christianity. What’s gone, though, is the hold religious belief had on my intellect; on critical thinking skills; on my thought processes. Belief and unbelief are more like two ships passing in the night. The farther I journey away from belief, the more comfortable I am with unbelief. Of course, Evangelicals will tell me that what is really happening is that my heart is growing cold and dark and that I am becoming a reprobate — one who passes a line of no return when it comes to the Christian God. I am far enough along in my journey that I can dismiss out of hand all such denunciations as the masturbatory verbalizing of people who can’t figure out my story and fear that they too could lose their faith. Feeling cornered, zealots lash out at Evangelicals-turned-atheists with cheap, shallow, worn-out apologetical arguments or turn to lambasting them in blog posts, forum comments, social media posts, and sermons. None of these things bothers me in the least now. I see such reactions from believers as their attempts to square with their theology how it is possible for such a devoted follower of Christ as myself to totally abandon the beliefs he once held dear. Baptists, in particular, have a big problem with trying to square their soteriological beliefs with my storyline. Finding themselves unable to square things theologically, they conclude, absurdly, that I am either still a Christian or I never was one.

I remember the near-constant emotional turmoil I experienced during the early days of deconversion. Long-held beliefs were demanding attention. Bible verses flooded my mind, reminding me of what happens to those who reject Christ. Christian friends and family members and colleagues in the ministry piled on in their attempts to stop me from sliding further down the proverbial slippery slope. All of these things, along with more late-night wrestlings with doubt than I care to remember, caused quite a bit of emotional upheaval.  But, over time, these things began to fade into landscape in my rear-view mirror. All I can say to Mary is this: be patient. Deconversion takes time. To quote a well-worn cliché, life is a journeynot a destination. The destination for one and all is the same: death. What matters, then, is the path we walk among the living. Here’s the advice I give on my About page:

You have one life. There is no heaven or hell. There is no afterlife. You have one life, it’s yours, and what you do with it is what matters most. Love and forgive those who matter to you and ignore those who add nothing to your life. Life is too short to spend time trying to make nice with those who will never make nice with you. Determine who are the people in your life that matter and give your time and devotion to them. Live each and every day to its fullest. You never know when death might come calling. Don’t waste time trying to be a jack of all trades, master of none. Find one or two things you like to do and do them well. Too many people spend way too much time doing things they will never be good at.

Here’s the conclusion of the matter. It’s your life and you best get to living it. Someday, sooner than you think, it will be over. Don’t let your dying days be ones of regret over what might have been.

I have found that the more I focus on the things mentioned above the less I find myself bothered by doubts and questions about the rightness of my decision to walk away from Christianity. I suspect that I will always have niggling doubts about the matter, but I no longer fear being wrong or worry about eternal damnation. As the old gospel song goes, I have gone too far to turn back now. I have weighed Christianity in the balance and found it lacking in every way. While another deity of some sort may yet appear on the horizon — and when it does I will weigh its claims as I did the claims of Christianity — I am confident that the God I once served is no God at all. Coming to this place took time, so to Mary I say, relax and enjoy the journey. You likely intellectually already know that Christianity (along with other religions) is false. All that remains is for your emotions and psyche to sync with what you know to be true.

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 61, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 40 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Bruce is a local photography business owner, operating Defiance County Photo out of his home. If you live in Northwest Ohio and would like to hire Bruce, please email him.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so.

Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

Questions: Bruce, In Your IFB Days Did You Encounter Peter Ruckman?

questions

I recently asked readers to submit questions to me they would like me to answer. If you would like to submit a question, please follow the instructions listed here.

Matt asked, “In your IFB days did you ever encounter Peter Ruckman? If so what was/is your assessment of him?”

For readers who are not familiar with Peter Ruckman, Wikipedia has this to say about him:

Peter Ruckman was an American Independent Baptist pastor and founder of Pensacola Bible Institute in Pensacola, Florida (not to be confused with Pensacola Christian College).

Ruckman was known for his position that the King James Version constituted “advanced revelation” and was the final, preserved word of God for English speakers.

Ruckman died in 2016 at the age of ninety-four. He was a graduate of Bob Jones University, and for many years the pastor of Bible Baptist Church in Pensacola, Florida. Bible Baptist’s website describes Ruckman this way:

Dr. Peter S. Ruckman (November 19, 1921 – April 21, 2016) received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Alabama and finished his formal education with six years of training at Bob Jones University (four full years and two accelerated summer sessions), completing requirements for the Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy degree.

Reading at a rate of seven hundred words per minute, Dr. Ruckman had managed to read about 6,500 books before receiving his doctorate at an average of a book each day.

Dr. Ruckman stood for the absolute authority of the Authorized Version and offered no apology to any recognized scholar anywhere for his stand. In addition to preaching the gospel and teaching the Bible, Dr. Ruckman produced a comprehensive collection of apologetic and polemic literature and resources supporting the authority of the Authorized Version of the Holy Scriptures.

The thrice married Ruckman was either loved or hated by IFB preachers. He was a man known to engender strife, believing that rightness of belief was all that mattered (except, evidently, what the Bible said about divorce). Much like their mentor, his followers are known for their arrogance, nastiness, and argumentative spirit.

peter ruckman

I first met Peter Ruckman at Camp Chautauqua in Miamisburg, Ohio — an IFB youth camp owned and operated at the time by the Ohio Baptist Bible Fellowship. I attended Camp Chautauqua two summers in the early 1970s. Attending camp was one of the highlights of my teenage years. Lots of fun, lots of girls, and yes, lots of preaching. One year, Ruckman was the featured speaker. I don’t remember much about his sermons, but I vividly remember the chalk drawings he used to illustrate his Fundamentalist sermons. Ruckman was a skillful, talented chalk artist, so he naturally used his art to “hook” people and reel them into his peculiar brand of IFB Christianity.

This would be the only time I heard Ruckman preach. I later would read some of his polemical books and commentaries and come into close contact with some of his followers. While I believed, at the time, as Ruckman did, that the King James Bible was the inspired, inerrant, infallible word of God and the only Bible for English-speaking people, I found his personality and ministerial approach (and that of his devotees) to be so caustic and abrasive, that I wanted nothing to do with him.

I would later learn that King James-Onlyism was not only irrational and anti-intellectual, but in its extreme forms it was a cult. I know a few pastors who are still devoted followers of Ruckman’s teachings.They are, in every way, small men whose lives have been ruined by arrogance and certainty of belief. The only cure I know for this disease is books written by men such as Bart Ehrman. Until they can at least consider that they might be wrong, there is no hope for them.

In 2005, I candidated at a Southern Baptist church in Weston, West Virginia. The church was very interested in me becoming their next pastor. One problem, I had preached my trial sermons from the English Standard Version (ESV) of the Bible. One of the core families were followers of Peter Ruckman. The pulpit committee asked if, out of deference to this family, I would only preach from the KJV. I told them that I couldn’t (and wouldn’t) make such a promise. The church decided I wasn’t the man for them. Such is the pernicious effect of Ruckmanism.

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 61, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 40 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Bruce is a local photography business owner, operating Defiance County Photo out of his home. If you live in Northwest Ohio and would like to hire Bruce, please email him.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so.

Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

Fundamentalist Baptist Man Tells Me I Am Following the Humanistic Teachings of Shaitan

atheism is a temporary condition

Recently, a man by the name of Todd W Frederick stopped by to comment on the post Why I Hate Jesus.  Based on the server logs for this site, Frederick read two or three posts and the comment rules page. While it is possible he read other posts, I have my doubts Frederick showed any interest in finding out who and what I am. As you will see in a moment, Frederick has already passed judgment, saying that I am headed for an eternal ass-whooping in hell.

According to Frederick’s website, he attends Rock Springs Baptist Church in Easley, South Carolina. Rock Springs Baptist is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. [Based on a mention on his business Facebook page, Frederick might attend Forestville Baptist Church in Greenville, South Carolina.]  Frederick owns Whiter Than Snow Appliances, and in 2014 he ran in the primary election for District 26 County Council. He received thirty-five percent of the vote. Fredrick is also the owner of Absolutely Beachy Hair Products — an online hair paste company. (Facebook page)

Frederick has two years of Bible training via correspondence from Victory Bible College (no active website) in Roan Mountain, Tennessee and Bethany Bible College in Dothan, Alabama. Neither institution is accredited. I can say of Bethany Bible College that their curriculum is Sunday School class level. Back in the 1980s, I thought about finishing my degree through Bethany. After receiving the first materials, I was appalled to find out how weak they were academically. There are numerous such institutions scattered around the United States, offering easy paths to undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. Some of these colleges are considered diploma mills.

Frederick and his wife Heather do what he calls “harp evangelism” through a ministry titled Upstate Celestial Strings. Frederick’s wife is an accomplished harp player:

Currently Heather and her husband, Todd W. Frederick, participate in ministry opportunities with their local Baptist Church in Greenville, SC. They also enjoy working together as a team doing  harp evangelism meetings for local Bible believing churches. Todd preaches a message from the Bible and Heather plays her harp. At UPSTATE CELESTIAL STRINGS, we echo the prayer of Psalm 71:22 with King David who stated:

“I will praise thee with the psaltery, even thy truth, O my God: unto thee will I sing with the harp, O thou Holy One of Israel.”

Frederick is unapologetically Christian; and not just any kind of Christian. He is a King James-only, Muslim-hating, pro-white (his business website says “call … to speak to a live “European-American” citizen), Donald Trump-supporting Fundamentalist Baptist. I encourage you to peruse the Whiter Than Snow Appliances website. Besides having an atrocious 1990s website design — as all of his websites do — Frederick makes it clear that he is a Fundamentalist Christian businessman interested in only doing business with Fundamentalist Christian South Carolinians. Are you gay? Don’t even think about shopping at Whiter Than Snow Appliances. The front page of its website says:

The Colours of the Rainbow do not truly represent Sodomites (aka-“gays” which actually means “merry” or “happy”). The sodomite terrorists hi-jacked the sign of the rainbow and claimed it as their symbol; yet, they do that which is why  Jehovah-Elohim destroyed the “old world” – because of sins [II Peter 2:5 –KJV], sins that the queers celebrate! They hold to the lifestyle of Sodom! The queers have tried to pervert the rainbow which is actually a perfectly good Biblical Symbol of God’s Promise to never destroy the earth again by a world-wide flood because of wickedness; such as Homosexuality. It’s sad, but the homosexual crowd does not have a clue about happiness (joy in the Holy Ghost)… just look at their suicide rate! Even attacking each other in their perverted relationships. They’re a very sad, not gay, people group.]

I am sure local LGBTQ people flock to Frederick’s appliance business. Not only is Frederick anti-gay, he is also anti- any other religion except Evangelical Christianity, and anti- any other political persuasion except conservative Republicanism. It’s fortunate that Frederick’s business is located in Fundamentalist Baptist, Evangelical South Carolina. Almost eighty-percent of South Carolinians self-identify as Christian. Frederick’s business is located in the small town of Piedmont — the home of Piedmont Bible College (a Fundamentalist Baptist institution with 740 students) — so I suspect the percentage of Christians is even higher than in larger South Carolina. Such behaviors here in Northwest Ohio — an overwhelmingly Evangelical area — would likely result in business failure. Local Evangelicals might have similar beliefs to Frederick’s, but most of them, at least to your face, are polite. (See Local Response for some notable exceptions.)

Shaitan

As I read Frederick’s email to me, I was perplexed by one line: … these unfortunate events were brought about by Shaitan of whom you are now obeying his humanistic teachings. I thought, at first, that Frederick had misspelled the word Satan. Nope. Frederick says, in a first for this site after 18,000 comments and thousands of emails, that I am following the humanistic teachings of ShaitanAccording to Wikipedia Shaitan is:

Shayṭān is a malevolent creature in Islamic theology and mythology. They are usually assigned to the category of jinn (spiritual entities). Apart from its generic designation, used with the definite article Al-, Shaitan refers to the head of shayateen, known as Iblis.

….

The term Shaytan  has the same origin as Hebrew שָׂטָן (Sātān), source of the English Satan. However Arabic etymology relates Shaytan to the root sh-t-n (distant or one who goes astray). As an adjective, it can apply to any other being. The term “Shaytan” referring to this specific creature, may either be translated as “demon” or as “devil”. In Pre Islamic Arabia this term was used to designate an evil jinni. With the emergence of Islam the meaning of ‘Shayatin’ moved closer to the Christian concept of demons.

Frederick and I, indeed, have one thing in common: both of us are following non-existent, mythical beings.

Now that you know a bit about Todd Frederick, I give you his email. I will leave it to readers to make their own judgments. I plan to un-ban Frederick so he can so respond to this post and any comments it might receive.

You reap what you sow here and in the hereafter. I was right, you are ‘Bruce Nobody’ because you are unwilling to pick fights with other cultural gods, e.g. Allah; you talk big: aren’t they imaginary, too? So just shut down your website for these whiners about baby Jesus until you and your “brainwashed” followers grow a spine and declare war on all of the followers of god(s) throughout the world, or let’s just say the gods that are worshiped in Ohio alone. Once you and your devotees to humanistic logic can offend and persuade all of those outside of your “little box” to realize they have been duped and you can “free” them, as you did for one of your female converts to atheism then  you will be “Bruce Almighty.”

Furthermore, you call my comments for you to stand up against the Quran “nasty, abusive words” yet you’re permitting your fellow infidels to run rough shod over others coming to express his or  her viewpoints. An example of this is from one of your devotees: “Bruce, how do you deal with assholes like this Charlie asswipe?” Yes, enjoy yourself while you can ‘Bruce Nobody’ even  though you are in control now as to who you can delete or block when it comes to comments and IP addresses but the time will be soon when you’ll stand before this “imaginary god” only to find that you don’t have a delete button for the terror you’ll be facing. Mock, be cocky now and talk behind people’s back when they’re unable to defend themselves and you will be reaping this, too.  Remember: Prov. 1 26 “I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh;  27 When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind;  when distress and anguish cometh upon you.  28 Then shall they call upon me, but I will  not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me:”

I know you don’t like it when the bible is used, except when it benefits your trite, empty arguments but how can ‘Bruce Nobody’ be so sure of what you’re espousing to even though all of the cultures of the world have some form of having a creation account, writings that depict the “gods were angered at the original parents…”, a universal flood and even the
evidences of antediluvian artifacts found in archeological digs in the Middle East. So shameful that you’re destroying the possibilities that your grandchildren to be able to make a conscience choice to receive god and a home in heaven because you are so spiritually sick. Just be sick for  yourself if this is what you are irresistibly drawn to but to take your family to the lake of fire with you is what’s really “nasty and abusive.”

Like it or not, the truth tells you these facts and I am now your enemy because I tell you the truth. God didn’t foreordain for you to “suffer more than Jesus did”; these unfortunate events were brought about by Shaitan of whom you are now obeying his humanistic teachings. Continue in his doctrines and you will truly understand what suffering will be but it doesn’t have to be this ending for you: Jesus suffered your sin penalty in hell, baring in his body the sins of the world; thus, making all who repent and believe on Christ to be made righteous.

God is the purest form of love: John 3:16 – KJV. Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God…

Sure makes me want to return to Christianity and following after Jesus, right? Fundamentalists such as Frederick are only interested in hearing themselves talk. Frederick doesn’t really care about my mythical soul. All he cares about is putting a word in for Jesus. Fuck the atheists, let them burn in hell, people such as Frederick think. All that matters to such people is the preaching of their peculiar version of the Christian gospel. Little do they know or care how much damage they are causing to the Christian cause. Keep preaching, Bro. Frederick. Such beliefs and practices are partly behind the overall decline of Evangelical Christianity. Frederick might “feel” good after telling the ex-Evangelical pastor Bruce Gerencser the “truth,” but his truth is poisoning a whole generation of potential Christians and church members. I don’t need to evangelize for atheism, the Fredericks of the world are doing all the soul-saving work for me. If you doubt this to be so, consider the following review left on the Whiter Than Snow Appliances Facebook page. The reviewer is a Mormon:

Todd Frederick, the owner, was professional and helpful with our new stove, I will give him that much. We need a new dryer and fridge as well and were convinced at first that we were doing business with him further until on his way out he asked what church we attended. He did not agree with the church that we are members of and proceeded to tell us why we were wrong. As if this wasn’t bad enough, he would not stop berating us about it. He was absolutely relentless with this ridiculousness. We asked him several times to leave because he had gone well past being rude to being totally disrespectful in our own home. He not only would not leave, he had the audacity to tell us that since we were renting it wasn’t even our home. I could not believe the gall of this man. My wife and I both had to walk to the other end of the house just to get away from this man hoping he would eventually leave. The most unprofessional experience I have ever encountered. The saddest part of all this is usually when something like this happens you can walk away from the individual, but how can you walk away when the offender is right in your own living room and won’t leave when asked…simply UNBELIEVABLE!

Fredrick responded:

Danny Mortimer, the Mormon missionary, just didn’t like me having some knowledge about his cult. Therefore, he has stooped so low as to smear my business. Fact is, Joseph Smith’s translations from Egyptian ancient papyri is utter nonsense and simply UNBELIEVABLE!

Here’s the true account of what occurred during the dialogue that I had with Danny Mortimer and his wife. Since Danny believes he will one day be a god, he needs to stop lying about people with whom he disagrees with. Otherwise, he will be like his brother Satan, a.k.a. in Mormon doctrine: “a spirit son of God.”

….

I simply asked Danny if he had good church to go to; he said he’s a Mormon. I said ‘I was going to invite you to Forestville Baptist Church.’ He said he attended there when he was younger but converted to Mormonism later and became a Mormon missionary. [Danny’s religion is known for challenging people themselves.] I then asked the question ‘What made you change from being a Baptist to a Mormon?’ His ans: “I studied Mormon doctrine and logically it made sense to me.” He asked me if I knew anything about Mormonism; I said ‘Yes, I studied up on Mormonism to explain what’s wrong w/ Mormon doctrine to our divorced neighbor lady w/ 3 children who were visited continually by Mormon missionaries.’ Danny asked me if I’d read the book of Mormons, I said ‘No.’ He said “You can’t speak about Mormonism until you read the book of Mormons.”

I then brought up fallacies in the Mormon doctrines, such as: How Mormons believe: “As God was, so is man and as God is, so shall man be.” Thus, they teach you can become “Gods.” They also believe that God spawns/makes “spirit babies” that are sent down to earth to inhabit human physical babies born to Mormon couples. Also teaching: each Mormon married man (even to multiple wives) will have children, being recipients of “the spirit babies.” Then after he dies, will become a “God” over his own planet, inhabiting it w/ his children and his favorite wife (who he will call up from the dead). They’ll then repopulate their planet. Thus, they will repeat the cycle that the “God in heaven is now experiencing.”’ [These doctrines are all erroneous teachings] I then asked Danny ‘Do you believe that you’ll be a “God” someday?’ To this he said “I hope so.” Then he went on to say again that I still couldn’t speak about Mormonism until I read the book of Mormon. Danny expressed anger because of the truth I was exposing about his false-religion, saying “You’re talking ‘Calculus’ when you haven’t even studied Algebra.” (Meaning: I was revealing too much about his false teachings and he didn’t like it.)

Neither Danny, nor his wife, ever once asked me to leave; instead, he asked me what I knew about Mormonism and I answered him/them. Not only are Danny Mortimer and his wife in a false religion but he’s also spreading lies about our discussion. Before I left, I told them that I also have discussed doctrinal differences with an imam (an Islamic priest) for over 2 hours (at the mosque). [Actually, I had a friendlier dialogue w/ this Imam than I experienced from Danny who exhibited much anger (being under conviction by the Holy Ghost that he’s wrong.) [I spoke w/ Danny and his wife for only about 20 minutes, making me late to church.] I ended the discussion by telling Danny that hopefully I didn’t offend him and I enjoyed our dialogue. I shook his hand and left. I’m shocked that Danny would act so child-like by ignoring our 1st Amendment Right to freedom of speech then go on and attack my business. Even the Mormons take liberties to try and make converts by incorporating opportunities into their work-a-day meetings to speak one-on-one to people they come in contact with. [Just ask anyone who has gone job hunting in Utah or Idaho.]

Jesus Christ has given the Great Commission. As a Christian, I’m to reach the lost, giving them the only hope that can bring salvation to them. The biblical Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, is that hope: Jesus Christ lived a perfect life, was crucified for our sins and was resurrected from the dead; thus, he is able save all who call upon him. Believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and you, who are sorry for your sins and repent of them, will be given the Holy Ghost. He will guide you into all truth; empowering you to live out the will of God. [You won’t become a “God.” Lucifer tried that; see where that’s gotten him.]

….

Yowzer!

bruce gerencser not afraid of hell

Todd W. Fredrick is one of those rare birds who behaves the same way in public as he does on the internet. I have concluded that Frederick does indeed have an advanced degree; a degree in passive-aggressive behavior toward people who don’t line up with his religious beliefs. I am not against Evangelicals attempting to engage me or the readers of this blog in thoughtful discussions about God, Jesus, Christianity, the Bible, human sexuality, abortion, atheism, agnosticism, and humanism. Over a million Evangelicals have stopped by this blog over the past decade. More than ninety-nine percent of them never leave a comment or send me an email. And those who do? Most of them are argumentative, arrogant, judgmental assholes. Rare is the Evangelical who acts like a decent human being. I long ago concluded that many Evangelicals believe that I am beyond the grace of God: that as one who does “despite unto the spirit of grace”  and “trods under foot the son of God,” and “considers the blood of the covenant an unholy thing” (Hebrews 10:29), I have passed a point of no return. I am a reprobate (Romans 1,2) who has committed the unpardonable sin. And since there is no chance of my return, it is okay to treat me like shit on the bottom of one’s shoes.

After a decade of such abuse, there is zero chance that I would ever reconsider the claims of Christianity — especially Evangelical/Fundamentalist/Independent Fundamentalist Baptist Christianity. Perhaps historians or archeologists will find some sort of evidence that might cause me to reconsider Christianity. Even if this unlikely event occurred, I wouldn’t return to the Christian faith. Much like an abused spouse, I would be out of my mind to return to a religion that harbors violent pathological abusers. Well, what will you say on judgement day, Bruce, when Jesus casts your sorry ass into the Lake of Fire? I will say, Jesus, many of your followers were assholes who showed me no love, kindness, or compassion. Some of them threatened to murder me, and others threatened to harm my daughter with Down syndrome. Lord, who are these people of yours? I wouldn’t want to live next door to such people, and I sure don’t want to spend eternity with them in God’s Heavenly Trump Tower®. Please, Lord, send me to hell. Let me enjoy the eternal company of Christopher Hitchens, Gandhi, my atheist/liberal Christian friends, and billions of other “sinners” who just so happened to have the wrong beliefs. I don’t like warm weather, Lord, but I will endure it as long as I don’t have to go to heaven. Thank you.

Of course, there is no heaven or hell. All we have is the here-and-now. And as a man who lives very much in the present, I plan to do all I can to suffocate the life out of Evangelical Christianity, or at the very least banish it to the fringes of American society. I hope you will continue to help me in this important task. We ARE making progress, as surveys show. The number of atheists, agnostics, NONES, and those who are indifferent towards religion continues to increase. The NONES are the fasting growing religious demographic in America. We ARE winning the battle, all praise be to Shaitan and Loki.

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 61, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 40 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Bruce is a local photography business owner, operating Defiance County Photo out of his home. If you live in Northwest Ohio and would like to hire Bruce, please email him.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so.

Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

Is the King James Bible the Inerrant Word of God?

king james bibleSeveral readers have asked me to explain the belief that the King James version of the Bible alone is the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God for English-speaking people. With this post, I hope to shed some light on what is commonly called King James-Onlyism; the belief that the only true Bible for English-speaking people is the King James version. While this system of belief is absurd and irrational, millions of Americans believe that the King James Bible is the one true Word of God. These same people, by the way, tend to be anti-evolution, young earth creationists. I grew up in King James-Only churches, attended a King James-Only Bible college, and believed, for many years, that the King James Bible was the perfect Word of God.

Engage in discussion with adherents of King James-Onlyism and you will hear all sorts of theological-sounding verbiage. Some preachers will tell you that the Bible that they use is the 1611 King James version, when in fact the version they actually use is the 1769 revision. There are numerous differences between the 1611 and 1769 editions. These alone destroy the notion that the King James Bible is inerrant. All that it takes to defeat King James-Onlyism is one error, mistake, or contradiction. Inerrancy demands perfection, and that perfection does not exist. Bruce, what about the original Greek and Hebrew manuscripts? These original manuscripts do not exist either, so there is no such thing as “inerrant in the originals.” That’s a faith claim, one that has zero evidence to back it up. Despite this fact, promoters of King James-Onlyism say that there is a pure line of Greek and Hebrew manuscripts from which the King James Bible was translated. You might hear preachers say that the underlying Greek text for the New Testament is the Textus Receptus (Received Text) or the Majority Text. All sorts of arguments are made for one manuscript family being inerrant and all others being errant, false, and Satanic. Again, remember that it only takes one error, mistake, or contradiction for the doctrine of inerrancy to collapse. This is why I promote Bart Ehrman’s books as I do. I know if Evangelicals will honestly read his books, they will be disabused of the notion that the Bible is inerrant, be it at the manuscript level or the translation level.

king james bible 2

Imagine translating a book from French to English and, when doing the translating work, you only use some extant French manuscripts for determining the meaning of certain words or terms. Wouldn’t a competent translator want to use all the manuscripts at his disposal? Why would he ever want to limit his translating work to only a few manuscripts. So it is with the King James Bible. Translators ignored numerous manuscripts, choosing instead to use previous English and Latin translations and certain Greek New Testaments as the foundation of their translation work. According to Wikipedia:

The translators appear to have otherwise made no first-hand study of ancient manuscript sources, even those that – like the Codex Bezae – would have been readily available to them. In addition to all previous English versions (including, and contrary to their instructions, the Rheimish New Testament which in their preface they criticized); they made wide and eclectic use of all printed editions in the original languages then available, including the ancient Syriac New Testament printed with an interlinear Latin gloss in the Antwerp Polyglot of 1573. In the preface the translators acknowledge consulting translations and commentaries in Chaldee, Hebrew, Syrian, Greek, Latin, Spanish, French, Italian, and German.

The translators took the Bishop’s Bible as their source text, and where they departed from that in favour of another translation, this was most commonly the Geneva Bible. However, the degree to which readings from the Bishop’s Bible survived into final text of the King James Bible varies greatly from company to company, as did the propensity of the King James translators to coin phrases of their own. John Bois’s [sic] notes of the General Committee of Review show that they discussed readings derived from a wide variety of versions and patristic sources; including explicitly both Henry Savile’s 1610 edition of the works of John Chrysostom and the Rheims New Testament, which was the primary source for many of the literal alternative readings provided for the marginal notes.

King James-Onlyism is, at best, magic and trickery. For example, one argument that King James-only believers make is that because the King James Bible has more words in it than other translations, that means modern translators are guilty of “taking away from the word of God.” After all, the Bible says in Revelation 22:18,19:

For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

Countless other similar arguments are made to defend the inerrancy of the King James Bible. Some Evangelicals take King James-Onlyism one step farther when they say the italicized helper words put in the King James Bible are inspired and inerrant too. People who believe this are often followers of the late Peter Ruckman. Ruckmanites, as they are often called, believe that the italicized words are some sort of advanced revelation from God; that God moved the translators of the King James Bible to put the exact helper words he wanted in the text. Amazing, right?

King James-Onlyism is widespread among Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) Christians. It is not uncommon to read church doctrinal statements that state unambiguously that the King James Bible is the only Bible translation allowed in the pulpit and in the various ministries of the church. All other translations are considered errant and, in many cases, Satanic.

Readers may note that I use the King James version when quoting the Bible. I do this for several reasons. First, I love the poetic flow of the King James Bible. Second, my head is filled with memorized verses from the King James Bible. I spent much of my Christian life immersed in the pages of the King James Bible. Third, I use the King James Bible in my writing because a sizeable number of visitors to this blog come from King James-Only sects, churches, and colleges. You know, when in Rome …

Were you raised in a King James-Only church? Please share your experiences in the comment section.

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 61, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 40 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Bruce is a local photography business owner, operating Defiance County Photo out of his home. If you live in Northwest Ohio and would like to hire Bruce, please email him.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so.

Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

Books by Bart Ehrman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: The King James Bible is Inerrant Says Shelton Smith

Tking james biblehis Book that I have in my hands, I read each day. When I stand to preach, I preach this Book – this is the Bible!

It is the Word of God. It is a Book so spe­cial that we treat it with the utmost respect. We hold it dear and precious to our hearts.

It is not a Book like any other books which men have written. This Book came to us in a unique way. God Himself gave it to us. When I read its message, it is not the mere musings of a sage, a prophet or an apostle. It is instead the revealed Word of God.

….

It [the Bible] is not the words of men but the Word of the Almighty God, who is the Creator of the world. The human penmen were employed of God to write His very words.

When we say it was given by inspira­tion of God, we mean that God Himself gave us His own words. That is why we use the terms verbal and plenary to describe what it is. Verbal has to do with His actual words. It is not just His ideas or concepts, but His words. When we say plenary, we mean inspired fully. It is not somewhat of God with the rest of it being man-made. It is in every sense a God-made Book.

….
Is the King James Bible the Word of God? Absolutely! Let us stop the quibbling. Either you have the Word of God or you do not. If your Bible is the Word of God, then you have something totally unique and very, very special.

What is your problem? Why do you feel the necessity to dismember, dissect and dilute the text? Why can you not just say, “My Bible is the Word of God; I believe it, I trust it and I honor it to the fullest?”

….

God has preserved His inspired Word for us. It is preserved in the Hebrew Masoretic text and in the Greek Textus Receptus. It is also preserved for us in the English in the King James Bible. What He at first inspired, the Lord God has now preserved. Therefore, when I hold the King James Bible in my hand, I hold the inspired text. It was inspired and now that inspired Word has been protected, preserved and provided for us!

….

What Is It That God Preserved? It is His Word, nothing more and noth­ing less! Remember Psalm 12:6-7 says, “The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, puri­fied seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shall preserve them from this generation for ever.”

….

Is the King James Text Reliable and Trustworthy? It is indeed! About your King James Bible you can say it is authentic, accurate and authoritative. It is God’s Word preserved for us in English. It is true and trustworthy. The inspired text has been preserved for us; therefore, it is inerrant and infallible.

— Shelton Smith, Independent Baptist, Why I Only Use The King James Bible

Smith is the editor of the Sword of the Lord — an IFB newspaper.

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Fundamentalist Woman Proud of Her Ignorance

bible thumper 4

What follows is an excerpt from a blog post written by a Fundamentalist Christian woman named Sue Botchie. Botchie has no interest in intellectual pursuit outside of reading the inspired, inerrant, infallible King James Bible.  Botchie takes great pride in her ignorance about the text and historicity of the Bible. I remember thinking this way back in my Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) days. I considered the Bible to be a flawless, perfect book. Anything that didn’t square with my peculiar interpretation of the Bible was wrong. Of course, when people challenged my assumptions and assertions, I responded, hey your argument is with God, not me.  I later learned that the God and me in this story were one and the same.

Here’s Botchie words in all their wondrous kindergarten glory:

Well, help yerself! And yeah, i know you [Bart Ehrman] went to big-time colleges, and published numerous thick books…i get that! Still, i also get the fact that, throughout the ages, smart men (men, smarter than you, who wrote volumes with quill pen AND by candle-light…) [a common false assumption that the men who translated the King James Version of the Bible were more educated and smarter than scholars today. This is patently untrue.] stayed the faith. Ya’ know, they didn’t have so much as a manual typewriter.

And yeah, reading the Scriptures does often leave a person with more questions than answers. Oh, but could it be, because the Lord is ultimate smart, and we’re all wetards! I.e., His ways, as compared to our ways…yeah, that’s one bitter horse-pill to swallow! Anyway, to go on claiming that the Lord’s Book is erroneous, is [factual, according to the information at hand, a rational conclusion reached by using critical thinking skills] to defame His character. Not smart! [How does Botchie knows Ehrman has defamed the character of her version of the Christian God? Did he tell her? Send her a text or an email?]

Call me a typical fundie moron [self reflection is good]. Have at it, fella. Frankly, i don’t give a flying royal rip what you think. In conclusion, i have ZERO respect for high-end professors who intellectually-bully  20 year-olds. My age talking, but 20 year-olds are kids.

– Sue Botchie, NoWonderPeopleWalk, Hey Bart! So ya’ think the Bible is one big error-factory, June 22, 2018

It Only Takes One Errant Word to Destroy the Inerrancy of the Bible

want truth read bible-001

According to most Evangelicals, the Bible is not only inspired (breathed out) by God, it is also infallible and inerrant. Since the Bible was written by men moved by the Holy Spirit or dictated by God, it stands to reason — God being perfect in all His ways — that the Bible is perfect, without error. Some Evangelicals take the notion of inerrancy even further by saying that the King James Bible is without error. And some Evangelicals — the followers of Peter Ruckman — take it further yet by saying that even the italicized words inserted by the translators of the King James Bible are divinely inspired. Other Evangelicals, thinking of themselves as more educated than other Christians, say that the “original” manuscripts from which English translations come are what is inerrant. Translations, then, are reliable, but not inerrant (even though pastors who believe this often lead churches that are filled with people who believe their leather-bound Bibles are without error). The problem with this belief is that the “originals” don’t exist. Over the years, I ran into countless Christians who believed that these so-called “originals” existed “somewhere” and that they safely stored “somewhere.” Recently, one such ignorant Evangelical told me that I should read the Dead Sea Scrolls. In doing so, I would see that Christianity is true. Evidently, he didn’t know that the Dead Sea Scrolls don’t mention Jesus, and those who “see” Jesus in the Scrolls are either smoking too much marijuana or are importing their biased theology into the texts. Such is the level of ignorance found not only in pulpits, but in church pews.

Is the Bible in any shape or form inerrant? Of course not. Such a belief cannot rationally or intellectually be sustained. It is nothing more than wishful thinking to believe that the Bible is inerrant — straight from the mouth of God to the ears of Christians.

Bart Ehrman recently answered a question on his blog about whether believing the Bible has errors leads to agnosticism/atheism. Here is part of what Ehrman had to say:

I have never thought that recognizing the historical and literary problems of the Bible would or should lead someone to believe there is no God.   The only people who could think such a thing are either Christian fundamentalists or people who have been convinced by fundamentalists (without knowing it, in many instances) that fundamentalist Christianity is the only kind of religion that is valid, and that if the assumptions of fundamentalism is flawed, then there could be no God.  What is the logic of that?  So far as I can see, there is no logic at all.

Christian fundamentalism insists that every word in the Bible has been given directly by God, and that only these words can be trusted as authorities for the existence of God, for the saving doctrines of Christianity, for guidance about what to believe and how to live, and for, in short, everything having to do with religious truth and practice.   For fundamentalists, in theory, if one could prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that any word in the original manuscripts of the Bible was an error, than [sic] the entire edifice of their religious system collapses, and there is nothing left between that and raw atheism.

Virtually everyone who is trained in the critical study of the Bible or in serious theology thinks this is utter nonsense.  And why is it that people at large – not just fundamentalists but even people who are not themselves believers – don’t realize it’s nonsense, that it literally is “non-sense”?  Because fundamentalists have convinced so much of the world that their view is the only right view.  It’s an amazing cultural reality.  But it still makes no sense.

Look at it this way.  Suppose you could show beyond any doubt that the story of Jesus walking on the water was a later legend.  It didn’t really happen.  Either the disciples thought they saw something that really occur, or later story tellers came up with the idea themselves as they were trying to show just how amazing Jesus was, or … or that there is some other explanation?  What relevance would that have to the question of whether there was a divine power who created the universe?  There is *no* necessary relevance.  No necessary connection whatsoever.  Who says that God could not have created the universe unless Jesus walked on water?  It’s a complete non sequitur.

The vast majority of Christians throughout history – the massively vast majority of Christians – have not been fundamentalists.  Most Christians in the world today are not fundamentalists.  So why do we allow fundamentalists to determine what “real” Christianity is?  Or what “true” Christianity is?  Why do we say that if you are not a fundamentalist who maintains that every word in the Bible is literally true and historically accurate that you cannot really be a Christian?

While I question how someone can be a Christian and not believe all that the Bible says is true (perhaps this is the result of a Fundamentalist hangover), hundreds of millions believe nonetheless. I am not, contrary to what my critics suggest, anti-Christian. I am most certainly anti-Fundamentalist, but I am indifferent to the beliefs of billions of people as long as those beliefs don’t harm others. Unfortunately, many Evangelical beliefs and practices ARE harmful, and it is for this reason that I continue to write about Evangelicalism.

Inerrancy is one such harmful belief. Believing that every word of the Bible is inerrant, infallible, and true leads people to false, and at times dangerous, conclusions. Take young earth creationism — the belief that the universe was created in six literal twenty-four days, 6,022 years ago. Men such as Ken Ham continue to infect young minds with creationist beliefs which, thanks to science, we know are not true. The reason the Ken Hams of the world cannot accept what science says about the universe is because they believe the text of the Bible is inerrant. According inerrantists, the Bible, in most instances, should be read literally. Thus, Genesis 1-3 “clearly” teaches that God created the universe exactly as young earth creationists say He did. This kind of thinking intellectually harms impressionable minds. While little can be done to keep churches, Christian schools, and home schooling parents from teaching children such absurdities, we can and must make sure Evangelical zealots are barred from bringing their nonsense into public classrooms.

Peel back the issues that drive the culture war and what you will find is the notion that God has infallibly spoken on this or that social issue. Think about it for a moment: name one social hot button issue that doesn’t have Bible proof texts attached to it. Homosexuality? Same-sex marriage? Abortion? Premarital sex? Birth control? Marriage and divorce? Prayer and Bible reading in public schools? Every one of these issues is driven by the belief that the Bible is inerrant and that Christians must dutifully obey every word (though no Evangelicals that I know of believe, obey, and practice every law, command, precept, and teaching of the Bible). Removing the Good Book from the equation forces Evangelicals to contemplate these issues without appeals to Biblical authority and theology.  As a secularist, I am more than ready and willing to have discussions with Christians about the important social issues of the day. All that I ask is that they leave their Bibles at home or stuffed under the front seats of their cars. In a secular state, religious texts of any kind carry no weight. What “God” says plays no part in deciding what our laws are. Evangelicals have a hard time understanding this, believing that their flavor of Christianity is the one true faith; believing that their infallible interpretation of a religious text written by their God is absolute truth. It is impossible to reach people who think like this.

While I at one time believed the Bible was the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God, it was not until I considered the possibility that the Bible might not be what I claimed it is, that I could then consider alternative ways of looking at the world. This is why I don’t argue about science with Evangelicals. I attack their foundational beliefs — that the Bible is not inerrant; that the Bible is not what they claim it is. Once the foundation is destroyed, it becomes much easier to engage Evangelicals on the issues they think are important. Given enough time, a patient agnostic/atheist can drive a stake into the heart of their Fundamentalist beliefs. As long as Evangelicals hang on to their “inerrant” Bibles, it is impossible to have meaningful, productive discussions with them. All anyone can do for them is present evidence that eviscerates their inerrantist beliefs. Since heaven and hell are fictions of the human mind, I am content to let knowledge do her perfect work. I know that most Evangelicals will never abandon their faith, but some will, so I am content to continue fishing for the minds of women and men. Using reason and knowledge is the only way I know of to make the world a better place. Part of making the world a better place is doing all I can to neuter Fundamentalist beliefs. Inerrancy is one such belief.

(Please see Are Evangelicals Fundamentalists?)

Want to read more about the text of the Christian Bible? Please check out the writings of Dr. Bart Ehrman.

The Sounds of Fundamentalism: The KJV Song

kjv and satan

This is the sixteenth installment in The Sounds of Fundamentalism series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a video clip that shows the crazy, cantankerous, or contradictory side of Evangelical Christianity, please send me an email with the name or link to the video. Please do not leave suggestions in the comment section.  Let’s have some fun!

Today’s Sound of Fundamentalism is a song titled The KJV. This video features clips of sermons preached by Independent Fundamentalist Baptist evangelical Phil Kidd. The song was written by Jason Cizek.

Video Link

On the Road Looking for God’s True Church

Yesterday, Polly and I took a road trip to northeast Indiana. We drove to North Webster, Indiana, made a circuitous route south of Fort Wayne, and into Ohio, landing in Defiance to buy groceries. All told, we were away from home nine hours. We had a great time, even though today my body is screaming its objections. Along the various roads we traveled, I kept my eyes open for “signs” that showed me God’s true church was nearby.

poe christian church & holy family center

poe christian church & holy family center 2

Poe Christian Church and Holy Family Center, Poe, Indiana. Poe Christian does not have a website. Based on their Facebook page, I have concluded that they are an Evangelical church.

Evidently, this is the church attended by Champions in Christ, whatever that means.

antioch lutheran church hoagland indiana

Antioch Lutheran Church, Hoagland, Indiana. Founded in 1855, Antioch Lutheran is affiliated with the North American Lutheran Church (NALC) denomination. The NALC denomination, based on a cursory search of their website, is conservative, opposed to same-sex marriage and abortion.

After reading this sign, I turned to Polly and said, In the cold winter, skip church, pour a hot cup of tea, grab a book, and wrap yourself in a blanket. Much better than a dry, crusty sermon from a Lutheran pastor.

hoagland community church hoagland indiana (1)

hoagland community church hoagland indiana (2)

Hoagland Community Church, Hoagland, Indiana. Hoagland Community does not have a website. Based on their sign, the church is Fundamental and Independent (Evangelical).

I hate to break it to the folks at Hoagland Community, countless atheists will go to bed tonight with a peace that passeth all understanding (Philippians 4:7). Unlike Christians, atheists find comfort and peace in their embrace of reality. We do not need promises of heaven, threats of hell, or never-fulfilled reservations at God’s Ramada-in-the Sky. In fact, for many atheists, believing in the Evangelical God was anything but peaceful. How can Christians truly have peace when they can never know for sure if they have offended the God who sees, hears, and knows everything? For atheists, peace comes through knowing on a given day we have lived a good life, doing what we can for the people they love.

And as far as paying attention to the “creator”? Evangelicals-turned-atheists did pay attention to the creator and that is one of the reasons they no longer believe. They looked in vain for signs pointing to the existence of this benevolent, kind, loving God.

bible baptist church grover hill ohio (3)

bible baptist church grover hill ohio (1)

bible baptist church grover hill ohio (2)

Bible Baptist Church, Grover Hill, Ohio. Bible Baptist does not have a website. (What’s up with these churches not having websites?) Unlike Hoagland Community Church, which is Fundamentalist-light, Bible Baptist is an old-fashioned fire-breathing, King-James-only Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church. According to several directories listing King-James-only churches, Bible Baptist was/is pastored by Patrick Holt, a follower of the late Jack Hyles.

Bible Baptist evidently has some sort of van ministry. Such ministries were roundly criticized by IFB luminaries in the 1970s. Vans were proof of small thinking. THINK BIG, these preachers would say, and buy a bus. Fill it, and then buy another, and another, and another. The red van pictured above must be unusable. It is filled with junk, and weeds are starting to grow around it. In IFB circles this is a sure sign of “sin” or evidence that God has withheld his blessing from the church.

Let’s Play The Evangelical Never, Ever Game

game show

The Foundations of Morality blog posted an article by David Brown that gives seven reasons why Christians should NEVER, EVER drink alcoholic beverages:

  • Drinking leads to drunkenness
  • The Bible condemns strong drink
  • In Bible times what Christians drank was sub-alcoholic, basically purified water
  • It will call others to stumble
  • It harms ours bodies which are the Lord’s
  • Alcohol is addictive
  • Believers are kings and priests separated unto God

Are you ready, contestants? It’s time to play The Evangelical Never, Ever Game.

Using David Brown’s “logic”, I can come to the following conclusion:

  • Eating food leads to gluttony
  • The Bible condemns gluttony
  • Gluttony will cause others to stumble
  • Gluttony harms our bodies
  • Eating food is addictive

Conclusion? Don’t eat food.

Wasn’t that fun? Let’s play another round.

  • Sex leads to fornication and adultery
  • The Bible condemns fornication and adultery
  • Fornication and adultery will cause others to stumble
  • Fornication and adultery harms our bodies (not really, but Christians think they do)
  • Sex is addictive

Conclusion? Don’t have sex.

Isn’t this game fun?  Feel free to continue playing the game in the comment section.

Note

David Brown is the pastor of First Baptist Church of Oak Creek, Wisconsin. You can check out his blog here. If you peruse the church’s website, be prepared to step back in time to Windows 95. The church is King James only. Brown calls himself Doctor, but I was unable to find anything that said where he earned his doctorate. Since fundamentalist Baptists are notorious for having bogus or worthless doctorates, I decided to not call Brown, Dr. Brown.

Who Determines What the Bible Says?

the bible says

2000 years.

2000 years of Jesus.

From the beginning, Christians put their oral traditions, teachings, and beliefs into writing. The Bibles used  by 21st century Christians all trace their authority back through history to Christian writings dating from around 50 CE  forward. The original writings, the first edition writings, do not exist and any claim of inspiration for the  “original” writings is nothing more than a wishful, fanciful thinking.  Every claim ever made by the Christian church rests on text of the Bible and how the church has interpreted it.  I am  aware that Christian church has been influenced by Gnosticism for most of its 2,000 year history,  but, for the most part, Christianity is a text-based religion that places the text of the Bible above personal experiences and revelations. Even when personal experiences and revelations are given weight they are almost always expected to conform to what is found in the text of the Bible.

Most Christians believe the Bible is inspired by God. They believe the words of the Bible came from God or at least represent,in fallible human form, what God wants humankind to know about God, life, salvation, death, judgment, and the afterlife. Many Christians believe every word is inspired by God and some Christians even go so far as to say that a particular translation, the King James Version, is inspired by God. Christians who hold this extreme view believe that God has preserved his Word through time and that every word of the King James Bible is from the lips of God himself.

Most Christians believe the Bible is truth. While they may not believe ALL the Bible is truth, every Christian, at some point or the other, says THIS is truth. A person who does not believe the Bible is truth is not a Christian in any meaningful sense of the word. There is a form of Christianity floating about these days that suggests a person can be a Christian and not believe the Bible.This kind of Christians says they are spiritual, but not religious. They embrace Jesus as their Savior and their guide,but often have no connection with organized Christianity. However, even the  “spiritual but not religious” Christian must, sooner or later, appeal to the Bible. Without the Bible they would have no knowledge of Jesus, the locus of their faith.

Other (most?) Christians are what I call cafeteria Christians. They pick and choose what they want to believe. Most cafeteria Christians believe in Jesus since they DO want their sins forgiven and they DO want to go to heaven when they die, but when it comes to the hard sayings of the Bible, the teachings that get in the way of the American dream and living the way they want to live, the cafeteria Christian dismisses such sayings and teachings as old, outdated relics of past that have no value or application today. Simply put, they want a Jesus divorced from anything else the Bible says. Cafeteria Christians become quite adept at explaining away anything in the Bible they disagree with.

This brings me to the point of this post. Who determines what the Bible says? Who decides what this verse or that verse says? Who is the arbiter of truth?  Who is the final authority?

Some Christians say GOD is the final authority. The Bible is God’s Word…THUS SAITH THE LORD!! These well-meaning Christians think that the teachings of the Bible are clear and understandable. Why then do they go to church on Sunday and listen to a man tell them what he thinks the Bible says? Why do they read books and commentaries written by people telling them what they think the Bible says? If the Bible is a self-attesting, self-explanatory text, why all the middlemen?

Some Christians say the HOLY SPIRIT is the final authority. God gave New Testament Christians (Old Testament believers only got a part-time Holy Spirit) the Holy Spirit to be their teacher and guide. The Holy Spirit teaches them everything necessary for life and godliness. It is not hard to see the Gnostic influence in this kind of thinking. If there is ONE Holy Spirit who teaches and guides every Christian, why is there no consensus on what Christians believe? Why does the Holy Spirit give contradictory instructions or lessons? Why are there so many Christian sects? Surely, if the Holy Spirit is on his game every sect would believe the same thing and they would become ONE body with ONE Lord, ONE faith, ONE baptism.

Some Christians are what I call red-letter Christians. They give weight and authority to the “words” of Jesus in the gospels, the words that are in red in many modern translations. With great passion and commitment they attempt to walk in the steps of Jesus. (WWJD) Unfortunately, they rarely consider whether the words attributed to Jesus in the gospels are actually his words. Jesus didn’t write any of the books found in the Bible, which, in my opinion, is quite odd.  Most Biblical scholars question who actually wrote the gospels, and many scholars have serious reservations over Matthew, Mark, Luke or John being the authors of the gospels that bear their name.  Since the gospels are, at best, stories passed down by those alive at the time of Christ and not put in written form until decades after the death of Jesus, the best a modern-day Christian can say about the gospels is that they are words written by an unknown person who recorded what someone told the writer Jesus said.

bible made me an atheistClaims that the Bible is some sort of inspired text requires faith. There’s no evidence for the claim that the Bible is inspired outside of the text itself,  Either you believe the Bible is, to some degree or the other, supernatural truth or you don’t. I am an atheist today primarily because I no longer believe the Bible is truth. While it is certainly a book filled with entertaining and thought-provoking stories, it is not, in any way, a supernatural text. While it certainly contains maxims worthy of emulation, it also contains God-approved behaviors that we moderns now consider at odds with human and scientific progress.

Every Christian belief rests not on God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit, but on the authority of a human being or a group of human beings. It is humans who decide what the Bible says. It is humans who decide what this or that verse means. Whether it is a denomination, the Pope, theologians, a pastor, or an individual Christian, it is a human who is the final authority. At best, the only thing a Christian can claim is THUS SAITH THE POPE, MY DENOMINATION, MY PASTOR, MY COLLEGE PROFESSORS OR MYSELF! Any claim that it is God speaking or leading is a matter of faith, a matter that cannot be proved empirically. In other words, you are just going to have to take their word for it,or not.

Christians need to get off their Bible High-Horse and admit who the real final authority is. The fact that there are thousands of Christian sects shows very clearly that humans are the ones with the final say on what the Bible does and doesn’t say. It is humans who preach, write books, teach theology classes, blog, and debate. God may have said, and there is no way for us to know if she did,  but it is humans who get the final say about what God actually said or what she meant to say. Every Christian statement of belief is an interpretation of the Bible. It is that person or group saying, this is what the Bible says. In other words, the person is saying I know what God said. (one of the purposes of this blog is to demonstrate that the Bible can be made to say almost anything)

Name one Christian teaching that ALL Christians agree on? Outside of the fact that Jesus was a real person, every other teaching of the so-called “faith once delivered to the saints” is disputed by some Christian sect or the other. If the Christian church was a married couple they would have long since been divorced for irreconcilable differences. Oh wait, that is exactly what has happened. The Christian church is hopelessly splintered into thousands of sects, each competing with the other for the title of God’s Truth Holder. Children in Evangelical Sunday schools learn to sing the B-I-B-L-E song. In light of what I have written above, the lyrics of the song should be changed:

The  B-I-B-L-E, yes that MIGHT be the Book for me, I SOMETIMES stand alone on the WORDS OF MEN, the B-I-B-L-E. B-I-B-L-E!!

Until God shows up in person and says yes, I wrote this convoluted, contradictory book that makes me out to be a hateful, vindictive sadist, I am not going to believe the Bible is God’s Word. If  a benevolent, loving God really wrote the Bible do you think she would have written what Christians say she did? If God had control of the writing process, do you think she would have included her unsavory side? If God was involved in putting the Bible together, don’t you think she would have proofread it to made sure there were no mistakes and that the text was internally consistent?

Instead, Christians spend uncounted hours trying to harmonize (making it all fit) the text of the Bible. They put forth laughable explanations for the glaring errors found in the Bible. Well, you know Bruce, Jesus cleansed the Temple at the start of his ministry AND at the end of his ministry! Sure he did. I wonder if Christians know how foolish some of their harmonizing attempts sound to those on the outside of the church or to someone like me who has been on both sides of the fence? Of course, according to the Bible, the various harmonization schemes sound foolish because the non-Christian doesn’t have the Holy Spirit inside of them teaching them what is true. And round and round the merry-go-round goes.

If Christians want to believe the Bible is some sort of truth and worship God/Jesus/Holy Spirit based on what it written within it pages, I have no beef with them. If they want to believe the Bible and its teachings, who am I to say they can’t.  However, when they insist everyone acquiesce to their beliefs about the Bible and God and that their peculiar belief system is the one true religion, then I have a problem. When Christians insist that the Bible and its teachings be taught to public school children or demand that their interpretation of the moral and ethical code taught in the Bible is applicable to everyone, they should expect push back from people like me. Since history gives us ample warming about what happens when any religion gains the power of the state, secularists like myself will continue to fight any attempt to enshrine Christianity as the official state religion.

Here’s what I am saying to Christians.  Take the Bible, go to your houses of worship and believe and worship as you will. However, I expect you to keep your beliefs to yourself. If I don’t ask, you don’t tell. Stop all the theocratic, God-rule talk. Stop trying to turn the United States into a Christian nation. Stop demonizing everyone who disagrees with your beliefs. In other words, treat others with decency, love, and respect. Stop being a religious fanatic who thinks everyone should hear about your version of the Christian God and embrace your peculiar beliefs.

Do you think American Christians, especially conservative Catholics and Protestants, Mormons, and Evangelical Christians, can do what I mentioned above? As today’s House of Representative attempt to defund Planned Parenthood and the recent Kim Davis debacle in Kentucky clearly show, not a chance. They will continue to push, fight, and infiltrate until they have no more soldiers to fight with. They are like a disease that is only curable by death. The good news is that this brand of Christianity is slowly dying and, in time, long after you and I are dead, the American Jesus will have drawn its last breath.

A Ruckmanite Sighting in Delphos, Ohio

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Peter Ruckman, pastor of Bible Baptist Church, Pensacola, Florida

A Ruckmanite is an Independent Baptist, 1611 King James Only, follower of twice divorced, thrice married Florida Baptist preacher Peter Ruckman. Ruckmanites believe  the 1611 King James version of the Bible is the p-e-r-f-e-c-t word of God for English-speaking people. They are generally known for having bombastic, hateful personalities. They think they are the smartest person in any room and consider Bart Ehrman an illiterate hillbilly.  Ruckmanism is quite popular in Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) churches.

You can check out Ruckman’s literary work here.

Over the weekend, Polly and I took a road trip south of here and ended up in Delphos, Ohio. As we were checking out Delphos, we stumbled across a Peter Ruckman follower or at least a person who buys signs and bumper stickers from Ruckman’s bookstore. Here’s some of the photographs I took of the Ruckmanite’s home and automobile.  I think the photographs will tell you all you need to know!

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Yes, that is the Israeli flag

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Look closely at the window and you will see a Confederate flag