Tag Archive: Rapture

How Evangelical Theology Affects American Foreign Policy Regarding Israel and the Middle East

evangelical support of Israel

President Donald Trump, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have set in motion the withdrawal of the United States from UNESCO — United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Israel released a statement today saying that they too will be leaving UNESCO. What, you ask, did UNESCO do to warrant the Trump administration’s decision to cut American ties with the organization? News reports cite UNESCO’s recognition of the Palestinian state and anti-Israel bias as the reasons for the decision to withdraw. The withdrawal will take effect on December 31, 2018.

UNESCO was founded in 1945 by thirty-seven nations, citing as its purpose “to contribute to peace and security by promoting collaboration among nations through education, science and culture.” What’s not to like, right? Remember, a new day has arrived in America. “America First,” along with the dismantling of everything accomplished during the eight years of the Obama administration, now drives domestic and foreign policy.  If President “my IQ is higher than yours” had his way, the United States would withdraw from the United Nations altogether. Much like Ronald Reagan, who also withdrew the United States from UNESCO in the 1980s, President Trump views the world through xenophobic glasses. “America First” has become “America Only.” Other countries are viewed as inferior, unable to match America’s power, prowess, and greatness. Millions of Americans rabidly support Trump’s flag-waving, national anthem-singing, pussy-grabbing Christian nationalism. Finally, white Evangelicals, KKK members, and white supremacists say, we have a president who understands the importance the CHRISTIAN God and guns; a president who “gets” the plight of white working-class Americans!

Key to understanding Trump’s decision to withdraw from UNESCO is the manner in which many Americans, especially members of Congress and presidential cabinet members and their staffs, view the State of Israel. Fueled by Evangelical theology, which I will discuss later in this post, the United States’ foreign policy is driven by the belief that Israel is God’s chosen people — a nation that must be protected and defended at all costs. Americans have strong opinions about Israel, much as they have in the current debate over NFL players kneeling during the playing of the National Anthem. Opposing Israeli policies towards Palestinians, for example, quickly leads to charges of antisemitism. On several occasions as I traverse the back roads of rural Northwest Ohio looking for photography opportunities, I have come across homes proudly flying Israel’s flag, right next to the red-white-and-blue. I doubt that the same scene can be found in Israel. Why do some Americans think that is perfectly normal to fly another nation’s flag right next to America’s flag?

The modern Jewish nation, officially called the State of Israel, was founded on May 18, 1948, and admitted as a member of the United Nations in 1949. Israel’s history, however, tracks back thousands of years to the mythical Bible figure Abraham. Genesis 12:1-7 states:

Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran. And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came. And Abram passed through the land unto the place of Sichem, unto the plain of Moreh. And the Canaanite was then in the land. And the Lord appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the Lord, who appeared unto him.

Four take-aways from this text:

  • God commanded Abram (later Abraham) to leave the country of his birth and, by faith, travel to a land that God planned to give Abraham and his descendants.
  • God promised to bless Abram and make him a great nation
  • God promised to bless those who bless Abram and curse those who curse him
  • God said all nations of earth would be blessed because of Abram moving to a new land (that new land would later be called Israel)

While Abraham did not see the fulfillment of God’s promises to him, God promised in Genesis 15:18 that his progeny would indeed inherit the land:

 In the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates

When the mythical Abram (there is no non-Biblical evidence for the existence of Abraham) was ninety-nine years old, God appeared to him, promising yet again to make him a great nation. Genesis 17:1-11 states:

And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.  And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly. And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying, As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations. Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee. And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee. And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God. And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations. This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you.

Several things to note from this passage of Scripture:

  • Abram’s name is now Abraham
  • The covenant between God and Abraham/Israel is a never-ending covenant
  • God commanded Abraham to cut the foreskin off male genitals as a “sign” of the covenant between Jehovah and Abraham (Just remember men, the next time you look at your circumcised penis, blame God, Israel, and the Abrahamic religions — Christianity, Islam, and Judaism.)

Abraham, married to Sarah, was, thanks to his wife’s infertility, childless. Sarah, wanting Abraham to experience the joys of fatherhood, gave her servant Hagar to Abraham so he could marry her and bear him a child. Hagar gave Abraham a son whose name was Ishmael. Sarah, at the ripe old age of ninety, finally conceived and bore a son named Isaac. When it came time for God to pass on his covenant, he skipped Abraham’s oldest son, choosing instead to bless Isaac. From that moment forward, there was conflict between Ismael and Isaac. The historical foundation of centuries of conflict in the Middle East rests on two brothers who couldn’t get along with each other. The same can be said for Isaac’s sons Jacob and Esau.

Keep in mind that the aforementioned Biblical “history” is what drives current Evangelical beliefs about the modern Israel, Palestine, and the Judeo-Christian war against Islam. In what other realm would mythical stories be acceptable reasons for foreign policy? Yet, that is exactly what currently drives American foreign policy as it relates to Israel, the establishment of the Palestinian state, and the prospects for peace in the Middle East.

Many Evangelical sects/pastors/churches/congregants believe that modern Israel is God’s chosen people; that the land inhabited by Israel (Isaac) was given to them in perpetuity; that Palestinian (Ishmael) land claims are baseless. President Obama was the first post-World War II president to challenge these assumptions, resulting in Obama being accused of antisemitism — the intense dislike (hatred) for and prejudice against Jewish people. Obama supported a two-state solution for the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian state, but thanks to irrational (and immoral) support of Israel’s “right” to own ALL the land given to them by God, no progress was made on this front. Israel’s abhorrent policies towards Palestinians, and America’s blind eye to behavior that would be roundly condemned if done by any other government, are driven by the belief that a land covenant made between a fictional God and a mythical Abraham is still in effect.

Liberal and progressive Christians tend to not believe that Israel has a God-given right to their land. Many of the people behind the two-state solution and attempts to broker peace in the Middle East are people of faith. Unfortunately, not many of these people of faith are Evangelical. Thanks to their literalistic reading of the Bible and their commitment to the belief that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God, Evangelicals generally believe that Israel is the Judeo-Christian God’s chosen (covenant) people; that the land grant given to Abraham thousands of years ago is still in effect today, Further, Evangelicals believe that God blesses nations who support Israel and curses nations who don’t. This blind loyalty to God’s chosen people is held by countless Christian/Jewish congressmen/presidents — either out of a commitment to Evangelical theology or political expediency — leading to unwavering military funding and support for Israel.

We in Congress stand by Israel. In Congress, we speak with one voice on the subject of Israel. (Nancy Pelosi)

Now is not the time to be picking fights with Israel in what seems to be an attempt to curry favor with the Arab world. Now is the time when the United States must stand with Israel in the global struggle against the threats posed by radical Islam. We must remember what happens when Americans and decent minded people everywhere fail to stand up to evil. The message to us is: we must do all we can to ensure the survival of the State of Israel. At a time like this, it is crucial to stress the message that a strong Israel is in the best interest of American national security. Should any of us waver in our resolve, we must let the lessons of history propel us to action. If you deal with Iran, you are not welcome to deal with the United States. Our willingness to use force is on the table. (Eric Cantor)

Israel [is] the state where Jews entered into world history again like (the Biblical) ‘nation like all other nations.’ A state where Jews took up again after two millennia the precious burden of nationhood. Like all nations, our relationship has its trials and tensions. The disagreements of the moment cannot and will not undo the bond of generations. We (Eric Cantor and I) are sending a letter signed by a large number of Members of Congress to the administration to send the message that there should be no confusion anywhere in the world that whatever differences there may be on policy, at the core, there is an unbreakable, unshakable bond between Israel and the United States. (Steny Hoyer)

Through centuries of struggle, Jews across the world have been witnesses not only against the crimes of men, but for faith in God, and God alone. Theirs is a story of defiance in oppression and patience in tribulation — reaching back to the exodus and their exile into the diaspora. That story continued in the founding of the State of Israel. The story continues in the defense of the State of Israel. (George W Bush)

I make this promise to you: My Administration will always stand with Israel. (Donald Trump)

We love Israel. We will fight for Israel 100 percent, 1,000 percent. It will be there forever. (Donald Trump)

Pat Robertson, speaking to a gathering of Jews, had this to say about how Evangelicals view Israel:

Ladies and Gentleman, evangelical Christians support Israel because we believe that the words of Moses and the ancient prophets of Israel were inspired by God. We believe that the emergence of a Jewish state in the land promised by God to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was ordained by God.

We believe that God has a plan for this nation which He intends to be a blessing to all the nations of the earth.

According to the virulent Evangelical site World News Daily:

The Jewish people have a biblical mandate to occupy and control the land of Israel.

Evangelical pastor John Hagee, the founder of Christians United for Israel (CUFI), had this to say about Israel in an introduction of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu:

He also changed the path of Christianity in America, when he asked me in 2006 if he thought American Christians could unite for Israel. Ancient Israel had Moses who led them in the desert; during the golden era they had King David, who conquered Jerusalem, and today, when there are existential threats, Israel has a champion who can confront the challenge; please welcome the prime minister…

the israel pledge

According to their website, CUFI has three million supporting members; people who support the following statement:

We believe that the Jewish people have a right to live in their ancient land of Israel, and that the modern State of Israel is the fulfillment of this historic right.

We maintain that there is no excuse for acts of terrorism against Israel and that Israel has the same right as every other nation to defend her citizens from such violent attacks.

We pledge to stand with our brothers and sisters in Israel and to speak out on their behalf whenever and wherever necessary until the attacks stop and they are finally living in peace and security with their neighbors.

Make no mistake about it, when push comes to shove, the United States will stand behind and in front of Israel no matter what that nation says or does. Donald Trump, along with many congressional Republicans, is itching to destroy Iran — one of Israel’s archenemies. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if someday Israel, at the behest of the American government, attacks Iran in an attempt to destroy its nuclear facilities. This, of course, will lead to war, and the United States will be standing at the front the battle to defend Israel’s action. Why? Because thousands of years ago a mythical God promised a mythical man that he would make him a great nation and give him a plot of land in perpetuity. And this same mythical God promised to bless the United States if she politically and militarily defends Israel and give her billions of dollars a year in aid and military support, and curse her if she didn’t.

Is it any wonder that foreigners increasingly view America as a land of religious nut jobs, enslaved to a Bronze Age religious text? My God, they think, here’s one of the most scientifically advanced countries on earth, yet their foreign policy is driven by the belief that the events recorded in the book of Genesis are real history, and not myths and fables.

As long as the Bible is given preferential and serious treatment by politicians, rational Americans should expect to see policies driven by Evangelical interpretations of the Bible. We see the same ignorance behind demands for creationism to be taught as science in the public schools, global climate change denial, anti-abortion laws, the execution of murderers, and other issues deemed “Biblical” by Evangelical leaders. At times, knowing this leads me to despair, but I remind myself that Evangelicalism is hemorrhaging Millennials, leading to numerical and financial decline. Someday, reason, not fanaticism, will triumph. Although I do not expect to see it myself, I hope my grandchildren will see a day when the Bible is finally relegated to the dustbin of human history.

As long as the Bible is given preferential and serious treatment by politicians, rational Americans should expect to see policies driven by Evangelical interpretations of the Bible. We see the same ignorance behind demands for creationism to be taught as science in the public schools, global climate change denial, anti-abortion laws, and the execution of murderers, along with any other issue deemed “Biblical” by Evangelical leaders. (sentence seems clunky, but I am too exhausted to think) At times, knowing this leads me to despair, but I remind myself that Evangelicalism is hemorrhaging Millennials, leading to numerical and financial decline. Some day, reason, not fanaticism, will triumph. Not in my lifetime, but perhaps my grandchildren will see a day when the Bible is finally relegated to the dustbin of human history.

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 60, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 39 years. He and his wife have six grown children and eleven 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.

God Plans to Kill Billions of People — Every Buddhist, Muslim, Catholic, Hindu, and Atheist

end of the world

According to Richard Schmidt, the founder of Prophecy Focus Ministries, with the worldwide flood recorded in Genesis 6-9, God killed every living thing on planet earth save Noah, his family, the animals on the ark, and the little bitty fishes in the sea::

The voice of God reached the ears of Noah declaring the most severe judgment ever proclaimed since God created the universe in a literal six-day period (cf. Gen. 1:31). God instructed Noah by providing, in exact detail, the specifications of a massive ark that would provide the only escape from guaranteed judgment. Think about it—out of millions of people, only eight survived the catastrophic judgment of the universal flood. Why were these few people the only ones that God saved?

What did the inhabitants of earth (and their puppies and kitties) do to warrant God opening up a can of whoop ass and killing millions of people? Schmidt says:

The Creator and ultimate judge of the world, made the judicial determination that the ungodly actions of the world’s population in the days of Noah forced Him to condemn the people to death.

Schmidt warns that God’s genocidal cleansing of the earth is a precursor of what God plans to do at some point in the future:

Does God have a plan that will mimic the horrific judgment of the universal flood, resulting in a massive number of people losing their lives and, worse yet, an eternity separated from God Himself? The Bible provides the answer. The facts are startling and require every person to consider very seriously their relationship with the Creator of the universe.

….

What is the lesson of Noah, the ark and the flood for those living in the present dispensation? First, God warns all people of judgment for those who refuse to hear and accept His plan for salvation. Second, God’s justice demands a reverence, or godly fear, that results in listening to and heeding God’s Word. Third, all people stand condemned to eternal punishment for refusing to accept the Lord Jesus Christ as the complete and only payment for their sin. Finally, all who come to the Lord Jesus by faith and accept God’s gift of salvation will live for eternity in the presence of God. Those who rejected God in Noah’s day suffered condemnation, and those who reject the gospel, or good news, of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ likewise stand condemned. Lesson learned or rejected? What will you do with Jesus today

The second time around, all the Christians will be raptured from the earth before God literally fulfills the horrors recorded in the book of Revelation. While Christians are busy in Heaven schmoozing with Jesus and the Apostles, untold violence, carnage, bloodshed, and death will be poured out by God upon earth’s inhabitants. Billions and billions of unborn babies, children, teenagers, and adults will be tortured and slaughtered by means best suited for an episode of Criminal Minds or a remake of Texas Chainsaw Massacre — Tribulation Edition.

Most of our planet’s inhabitants aren’t followers of Jesus, and I suspect that for those who say they are, Schmidt likely believes that many of them are not True Christians®. After all, only eight people out of millions were given a bunk on Noah’s floating zoo. Humans are just as sinful, if not more, as they were in Noah’s day (though, to be fair, I haven’t heard any reports of demonic angels having sex with human women, producing hybrid offspring).  Matthew 24:37-39 states:

But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

In other words, people were so busy sinning and living that they had no time for God. What did God expect? His only spokesman was a crazy old man who was saying it was going to rain and people needed to get on the big boat he was building in the middle of the desert.

In Noah’s day, according to Genesis 6:5-7:

And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.

God became so angry over the “wickedness of man” that he decided to do a master reset, destroying every human being except Noah, his wife, sons, and daughters-in-law. What happened to Noah’s grandchildren and great-grandchildren? Wasn’t there room for them and their toys on the Ark? What about Noah’s daughters? Were they the ones screwing around with demonic angels? So many questions.

dexter killing tools

According to many Evangelicals, we are living in the last days. We should expect Jesus to return to planet earth at any moment to rapture away the people with advanced reservations, leaving behind billions of Buddhists, Muslims, Catholics, Hindus, Atheists, Agnostics, and Pagans, along with every other non-Christian. Then God will unwrap his Dexter-like tools of torture and homicide, slaughtering everyone who doesn’t remember the date, time, and place where Jesus saved them. Billions of people will die for no other reason than having the wrong religion or being born in the wrong country. Worse yet, when God is done killing everyone, he is going to resurrect them back to life, judge them, and toss their sorry asses in the Lake of Fire. God is so bent on making non-Christians pay for all the shit that went down over the past four or so thousand years, that he plans to give the people in the Lake of Fire new bodies that will withstand being roasted for eternity. Ain’t God awesome?

Tell me, dear Christians, why would anyone ever want to worship such a moral monster? Out of fear? Is that the best the Schmidts of the world have to offer — fear God, get saved, or he is going to roast you (or drown you)? No thanks. Even if such a God exists — and he doesn’t — who would want to worship him? Is such a deity worthy of my love and devotion?

Perhaps Evangelicals love their Jonathan Edwards’ version of God. Being part of the elect — God’s special, chosen people — means God picked them over billions of other people. God made sure they were born in the right country to Christian parents who would make sure that their children didn’t have sex with demon angels, never masturbated, and sincerely asked Jesus in their heart at age twelve. (Please read Why Most Americans are Christian) Again, ain’t God awesome?

It is hard not to conclude that the Evangelical God created most humans just so he could kill them for sport. If the Calvinists are right, that God is sovereign, and nothing happens apart from his perfect plan, pray tell, how does God twice slaughtering the human race resemble anything close to a “plan”?

 

Jesus is 2,000 Years Late for Dinner

marriage supper of the lamb

According to many Evangelicals, some day real, real, real soon the son of the Christian God, Jesus Christ, is going to return to the clouds of earth and rapture away all those who believe in him. Those raptured away have written-in-blood invitations to the marriage supper of the lamb. Revelation 19:6-9:

And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.

The Church is the bride who has made herself ready for the groom Jesus. Charles Spurgeon, the great nineteenth century English Baptist preacher, said the following in a sermon about the marriage supper of the lamb:

You noticed that I read parts of two chapters before I came to my text and I did it for this purpose.The false harlot-church is to be judged and then the true Church of Christ is to be acknowledged and honored with what is called a marriage supper. The false must be put away before the true can shine out in all its luster! Oh, that Christ would soon appear to drive falsehood from off the face of the earth!  At present it seems to gather strength, and to spread till it darkens the sky and turns the sun into darkness, and the moon into blood. Oh, that the Lord would arise and sweep away the deadly errors which now pollute the very air! We long for the time when the powers of darkness shall be baffled and the pure everlasting light shall triumph over all! We do not know when it shall be —“But, come what may to stand in the way, That day the world shall see,” when the truth of God shall vanquish error and when the true Church shall be revealed in all her purity and beauty as the Bride of Christ—and the apostate church shall be put away once and for all and forever! Time rolls wearily along just now, apparently, and some hearts grow heavy and sad, but let us take courage. The morning comes as well as the night and there are good days, not so far off as we have sometimes fancied—and some of us may yet live to see times which shall make us cry, “Lord, now let Your servants depart in peace, for our eyes have seen Your salvation.” Whether we live till Christ comes again, or whether we fall asleep in Him, many of us know that we shall sit down at the great wedding feast in the end of the days, and we shall partake of the supper of the Lamb in the day of His joy and glory! We are looking across the blackness and darkness of the centuries into that promised millennial age wherein we shall rejoice with our Lord with joy unspeakable and full of glory!

A fair-minded reading of the New Testament suggests that first century Christians believed Jesus would return to earth in their lifetime. Luke 9 states:

And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away? For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels. But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God.

Matthew 10 says this:

These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.

….

And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.  But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come.

Matthew 16:27,28 adds:

For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.

The New Testament is replete with verses which intimate that the disciples and apostles believed they were living in the “last days.” They believed the end of the world was at hand. Perhaps this is why Paul told Christians it was better if they remain unmarried. The second coming of Jesus was at hand, so there was no need to become encumbered with wives and children. These early followers of Jesus were certain that their name would soon be called by Jesus, the bridegroom, and they would be seated for the marriage supper of the lamb.

It’s 2017, almost two thousand years removed from the days of Jesus and his Jewish followers. Despite their faith and messianic hope, Jesus did not return to earth. These first followers of Christ lived and died without seeing their Lord split the eastern sky. And so has every generation of believers after them. Once it became evident that Jesus was not returning in the first century, Christians began reinterpreting what the Bible says about the last days to mean an unknown (by humans) period of time. According to many Evangelical preachers, the world has been living in the last days for two thousand years. According to them, Jesus is coming soon and it could be today!

88 reasons edgar whisenant

I am sixty years old. I have lived through more than a few end-of-the-world/Jesus-is-coming scares. In the 1970s, Jack Van Impe, the walking Bible, predicted Jesus was coming before the decade’s end. In the 1980s, Hal Lindsey predicted Jesus’ return was nigh, and who can forget the end-time scare wrought by Edgar Whisenant’s 88 Reasons the Rapture Will be in 1988. Even though I preached against Whisenant’s nonsense, I vividly remember the buzz his booklets caused. On the Sunday before Jesus’ return, infrequent attendees returned to church only to hear Pastor Bruce tell them that Jesus was NOT returning any time soon. (At the time, I held a post-tribulational, amillennial eschatological viewpoint.) And sure enough, my sermon was spot on. Jesus did not return. Someone still needed to volunteer for nursery duty or to clean the church, and I still had sermons to preach and souls to save.

Since 1988, numerous Evangelical zealots have predicted the end of the world and the return of Jesus, with every prediction failing and becoming yet another example of Christian stupidity. I am sure some Evangelical readers are screaming at their computers or smartphones, JUST YOU WAIT, BRUCE. JESUS IS GOING TO PROVE YOU WRONG!  How can he? I ask, Jesus is d-e-a-d. The reason the Christian Lord and Savior has not returned is that dead people don’t come back to life. Jesus remains right where his followers buried him two thousand years ago — in the grave. Dead people don’t resurrect from the dead, neither do they ascend to the heavens so they can spend two millennia building condominiums (John 14).

Imagine me telling you that I wanted to take you out to eat real soon — I mean like tomorrow or early next week. I can’t tell you the exact date for our dinner engagement, but I will give you signs that will help you discern when to expect going out to eat with me. You are excited about the prospect of going to dinner with Bruce Almighty. Next week comes and goes without a call. You happen to run into a mutual friend who tells you, I heard Bruce mention that he was planning to take you out for dinner real soon. I am sure you would think that I would soon be calling to tell you when my limousine would arrive to pick you up. Yet your phone never rings. Our mutual friend keeps telling you, SOON, VERY SOON, BRUCE WILL CALL. Weeks turn into months, and months into years without me ever delivering on my promise. I suspect that you would eventually give up on me ever taking you to dinner.

So it is with the promised return of Jesus Christ. After two thousand years of promises, I think we can safely conclude that the marriage supper of the lamb is not going to happen; that Jesus and his followers are big talkers, promising that which they cannot deliver.

It is possible that we live in the “last days”, but these days are not those supposedly prophesied in the Bible. Reading the political tea leaves has led me to conclude that the United States has a psychopath at its helm. Donald Trump threatens North Korea with nuclear annihilation, failing to consider that once the first missile is fired the world as we know it is no more. Such insanity would certainly be the end of the human race, but the world? It will live on, perhaps devoid of life, save for a few cockroaches and Republicans. And what might make such carnage possible is the fact that millions of Americans believe that some sort of Armageddon with bring about the destruction of the planet and then Jesus will return to make all things new. 2 Peter 3:10-13 states:

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.

I have no fears about the second coming of Jesus, but I sure as hell fear Evangelicals, armed with materialistic interpretations of the Bible, who believe the end of the world is prophesied within Scripture’s pages. I most certainly fear people who think ridding the world of liberalism, false teachings, communism, evolution, and atheism is their divine calling — that Jesus has chosen them to be front line soldiers at the Battle of Armageddon or some other event divined from the Bible. These pious Bible thumpers can’t wait to be seated at marriage supper of the lamb, but before that happens God must cleanse the earth of all that offends and make all things new. I am not worried one bit about not being invited to dinner, but I sure am concerned about what happens to this planet of ours if Evangelicals get their way.

Note:

I realize that Evangelicals hold to a variety of equally insane eschatological beliefs. I am taking a general swipe at Evangelical eschatology, and not attacking any specific system of belief. Regardless of what position one holds, unbelievers are still excoriated from earth and all things are made new so Jesus and his followers can have the resplendent home promised in the book of Revelation.

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 60, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 39 years. He and his wife have six grown children and eleven 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.

Oh Jesus, Where Art Thou? Another Failed Rapture Prediction

The following graphic best describes Christian obsession with the rapture, second coming of Jesus, and the end of the world.

rapture and end of the world

Evidently, the following verses are not in some Bibles:

But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh. Matthew 24:36-44

After what I thought was another failed rapture on September 23, I received the following card in the mail, letting me know why I wasn’t taken up into the clouds by Jesus.

rapture card

 

Jesus is Coming Soon: The Antichrist and the Mark of the Beast

jack chick tract the beast

From Jack Chick tract, The Beast

Growing up in the Evangelical church, I was exposed to eschatological preaching which purported to divine the future. Based on a literalistic interpretation of the book of Revelation, Evangelical preachers tell of a day when Jesus will come to rapture (remove) Christians from the earth. After the rapture, God will, for seven years, pour out his wrath on the earth.  This period of divine slaughter and judgment is called the Great Tribulation.

During the Tribulation, the Antichrist, a powerful figure who wages war against God, will rise up and exert dominion over the earth. While Evangelicals have multiple interpretations of who and what the Antichrist is, all agree that he is one of the central figures of the Tribulation drama. According to the book of Revelation, the Antichrist will ultimately be defeated by Jesus and cast into the Lake of Fire.

Most Evangelicals believe the Antichrist is a real person. This belief has led to speculation about this or that person being the Antichrist. Some Evangelicals believe the Antichrist is alive today and could be someone such as Barack Obama or Pope Francis. What is interesting about these predictions about who the Antichrist might be is that the potential Antichrist always has political views opposed by Evangelicals. This is why some Evangelicals find it quite easy to label President Obama as the Antichrist, even more so of late since it has been reported that Obama might head the United Nations after he leaves office. (Many Evangelicals believe the United Nations will be used by the Antichrist to take over the world.)

According to many Evangelicals, during the Tribulation the Antichrist will take control of the world’s economy. No one will be able to buy or sell anything without having the mark of the Beast. The Biblical basis for this belief is found in Revelation 13:16-18:

 And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.

Prior to the modern technological era, many Evangelicals believed that the mark of the Beast was a tattoo of the number 666 on the hands or foreheads of the followers of the Antichrist. In recent decades, Evangelicals have suggested that the mark of the Beast could be some sort of bar code, a mark that can only be read by using a certain type of light, or an embedded chip. I remember one preacher who was certain that supermarket scanners were paving the way for the Antichrist and the mark of the Beast.

While the character of  the mark has changed over the years, the importance of it has not. Anyone receiving the mark of the Beast will be doomed forever. Revelation 14:9-11 states:

And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.

According to these verses, anyone who takes the mark of the Beast will face the fury of the wrath of God. Suffering and painful death await all who take the mark.

The 1970s and 1980s were the heyday for literalistic interpretations of the book of Revelation. Evangelical pastors regularly preached sermons on the end-times, featuring subjects such as the rapture, the Great Tribulation, the second coming of Christ, the millennial reign of Christ, and the great white throne judgment. Filled with illustrations from newspapers, these sermons inflamed the passions of Evangelical church goers. As the headlines changed, so did the sermons, but the focal point remained the same: Jesus is coming soon.

end of the world

After the 88 Reasons Why the Rapture will be in 1988 debacle, Evangelical passion for future events cooled. I am of the opinion that the rise of the religious right, a political movement with plans to take over America for Jesus, turned Evangelical attention from the future to the present. Instead of seeking after the kingdom of heaven, Evangelicals began to focus on building God’s kingdom on earth. Gone, for the most part, are prophecy conferences and literalistic sermons from Revelation and Daniel. Instead, pastors focus on felt-needs and personal fulfillment. There are certainly Evangelicals pastors who continue to preach newspaper headline sermons, but such preachers are on the fringes of Evangelicalism (most often found in charismatic, Pentecostal, and Independent Fundamentalist Baptist churches).

As I came of age in the 1970s, I heard frequent end-time sermons. Preachers warned that we were the last generation, those who would see the second coming of Jesus Christ. Men such as Jack Van Impe predicted Russia would invade and take over the United States, thereby ushering in the Great Tribulation. Many preachers believed that the rapture and the second coming of Christ would take place sometime between 1984 and 1988. The thinking went something like this: Israel became a nation in 1948, a generation is 40 years long, thus, at the very latest, Jesus would return to earth in 1988.

In the late 1970s, I was a pastoral assistant to Jay Stuckey, pastor of Montpelier Baptist Church, a General Association of Regular Baptist Churches (GARBC) congregation. Stuckey, as many preachers of his era, was obsessed with prophecy, the Illuminati, and numerous other conspiracies. Calls to evangelize were driven by Stuckey’s belief in the imminent return of Jesus; imminent meaning, at any moment. Forty years later, Stuckey and I are no longer in the ministry, Montpelier Baptist, a church that one time had over 500 in attendance, is closed, and those who were once obsessed with the soon-return of Jesus have turned to more earthly matters such as marriage, children, jobs, houses, and economic prosperity. While these people still tacitly believe that Jesus will someday return to earth, their lives are no longer dominated by eschatological thoughts. In other words, they grew up.

Were you once part of a church that was obsessed with the end-times? Please share your experiences in the comment section.

Note

I am well aware of the fact that Evangelicals are not in agreement about how the books of Daniel and Revelation should be interpreted. That said, it is not hard to find Evangelical blogs, websites, and news services promoting the eschatological beliefs mentioned in this post.

You can read the complete text of 88 Reasons the Rapture Will Be in 1988 here.

Shemitah: Those Crazy Charismatics and their False Gloom and Doom Prophecies

shemitah

Michael Snyder recently wrote an article for CHARISMA titled 10 Things That Are Going to Happen Within 15 Days of the End of the Shemitah.  Snyder thinks that bad times are coming soon:

Is a great shaking coming to America? An amazing convergence of events is going to take place during the last several weeks of September 2015.

Many are suggesting that this could indicate that something really big is about to happen. In fact, some vendors of emergency food are reporting shortages because so many people are stocking up on food and supplies in anticipation of what is coming…

…It all starts with the end of the Shemitah year on Sept. 13. During the last two cycles, we witnessed historic stock market crashes on the very last day of the Shemitah year (Elul 29 on the Biblical calendar)…

…On Sept. 29, 2008 (which was also Elul 29 on the biblical calendar), the Dow plummeted 777 points, which still today remains the greatest one-day stock market crash of all time in the United States.

Now we are in another Shemitah year. It began in the fall 2014, and it ends on Sept. 13, 2015.

So will we see a stock market crash in the United States on Sept. 13, 2015?

No we will not, because that day is a Sunday. So I can guarantee there will not be a stock market crash in the U.S. on that day. But as author Jonathan Cahn has pointed out in his book on the Shemitah, we have witnessed major stock market crashes happen just before the end of the Shemitah year and we have also witnessed major stock market crashes happen within just a few weeks after the end of the Shemitah year. So we are not necessarily looking at one particular date.

And this time around, a whole bunch of critical events just happen to fall in the period of time immediately following the end of the Shemitah year.

The following are 10 things that are going to happen within 15 days of the end of the Shemitah:

Sept. 14: Rosh Hashanah

Sept. 15: The Jade Helm military exercises are scheduled to end.

Sept. 15: The 70th session of the U.N. General Assembly begins on this date. It has been widely reported that France plans to introduce a resolution that will give formal U.N. Security Council recognition to a Palestinian state shortly after the new session begins…

Sept. 20 to Sept. 26: The “World Week for Peace in Palestine Israel” sponsored by the World Council of Churches.

Sept. 21: The U.N. International Day Of Peace. Could this be the day when the U.N. Security Council resolution establishing a Palestinian state is actually adopted?

Sept. 23: Yom Kippur

Sept. 23: Pope Francis arrives at the White House to meet with Barack Obama….Francis is the 266th pope, and he will be meeting with President Obama on the 266th day of the year, leading one Internet preacher to wonder if “something is being birthed” on that day, since 266 days is the typical human gestation period from conception to birth.

Sept. 24: The Pope addresses a joint session of the U.S. Congress.

Sept. 25 to Sept. 27: The United Nations is going to launch a brand-new sustainable development agenda called “The 2030 Agenda.” …

…”Unlike Agenda 21, which primarily focused on the environment, the 2030 Agenda is truly a template for governing the entire planet. In addition to addressing climate change, it also sets ambitious goals for areas such as economics, health, energy, education, agriculture, gender equality and a whole host of other issues. As you will see below, this global initiative is being billed as a ‘new universal Agenda’ for humanity. If you are anything like me, alarm bells are going off in your head right about now.”

Sept. 28: This is the date when the Feast of Tabernacles begins. It is also the date for the last of the four blood moons that fall on biblical festival dates during 2014 and 2015…

…Many have also suggested that the Large Hadron Collider “is scheduled to perform a controversial experiment in September,” but so far I have been unable to find any solid confirmation of this.

Just recently, author Jonathan Cahn released a new video in which he expressed his belief that a “great shaking is coming to America and the world.” He points to the biblical pattern of desecration preceding judgment, and he is convinced that we recently witnessed a historic act of desecration here in the United States…

Snyder makes sure he covers his prophetical ass by saying:

I am fully convinced that the months ahead are going to dramatically change life in America, but whether it happens right now or not, I am 100-percent convinced that a great shaking is coming to this nation at some point.

Snyder operates The Economic Collapse website, a site with dozens of affiliate and advertising links. While Snyder dispenses all sorts of financial advice, the real purpose of his site is to make money for Michael Snyder. While the world collapses into to chaos, Snyder wants to make sure that he has a pile of gold and silver so he can continue to live the good life. Wait a minute, I thought the rapture was imminent? No worries, Jesus is delaying his return so people like Snyder, John Hagee, Jim Bakker, and the numerous charismatic TV preachers can gather up enough wealth to make them quite comfortable in God’s new heaven and earth. Either that or these preachers of doom and gloom are the descendants of Elmer Gantry, out to fleece the flock. My money is on the latter.

Thewhoopass charismatic landscape is littered with false prophecies, yet spirit-inspired prophets continue to utter prophecies, hoping that the gullible will forget the past, fear the future and keep sending them money. Driven by fear of the unknown, well-meaning Christians buy into the what people like Snyder are selling. Sadly, for many Christians, they’ve spent their whole life fearing things that never happen.  Could the U.S. stock market collapse? Sure. Could the U.S. economy collapse resulting in massive unemployment, inflation, and poverty? Sure.  But, if these things happen, is it because of God?

Uncounted Evangelical prognosticators are certain that God is going to judge the United States because of abortion, homosexuality, the legalization of same-sex marriage, or any of a number of Sodom and Gomorrah like sins. But, here’s what I don’t understand. If God judges wicked, vile, sinful America, won’t his judgment fall on devout, sincere Christians, the very people who are watchman on the wall and standing in the gap, two of the popular descriptions for those who love what God loves and hate what God hates?  What kind of God punishes people for doing what he commanded them to do? Shouldn’t God open a can of whoopass on people like me and give the faith the keys to a Mercedes? Why punish Team Jesus?

The U.S. stock market could collapse and the global economy could slide into a worldwide recession or depression, but the reasons for this will be greed, consumption, and market manipulation. No God needed. Humanity is quite capable of plunging the world into financial chaos all on its own.

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

windows 10

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

windows 8 eye

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

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

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

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

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

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

windows 10 phoenix

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

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

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

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

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

Charles Attempts to Understand the Fundamentalist Mind

god and knowledge

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

Charles asked:

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

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

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

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

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

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

What goes on in the minds of these people?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

god said it

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

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

101716

As Seen on Social Media: Why Atheists Are Praying for the Rapture

Graphics, Memes, Quotes, and Comments I’ve spotted on Facebook or Twitter.  Today’s graphic comes from Facebook. I think it accurately describes how many atheists feel about the rapture. That great day, sometime in the near future, when every Evangelical will be raptured from the earth and taken to their reserved seat in Heaven where they will gleefully watch God savagely maim and kill the majority of the human race.

rapture

Question: Please Explain the Eschatology of the IFB Church

clarence larkin judgments

Chart from Clarence Larkin’s book, Dispensational Truth. This is chart showing the various judgments and resurrections.

To see full size (3970×1811) please click here.

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

Charles asked:

Bruce, you said “you said: “Christian orthodoxy teaches that when a person dies their body goes to the grave to await the resurrection of the just and unjust and the final judgment.” How then, could the rich man see and know Abraham and Lazarus and Abraham and Lazarus see the rich man?”

Can you explain where this “Dual Judgement” theology comes from, who originated it, and why not all fundies espouse it—like you did not espouse it in your quote above.

First, for those who may not know my entire story, I was not a fundamentalist towards the latter part of my time in the ministry. I left the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church movement in the late 1980’s. I then became an Evangelical Calvinist before becoming more liberal politically and theologically. When I left the ministry in 2005, I was aligned with the emergent church, red letter Christians, and Sojourners. My move left cost me almost all of my IFB friends and colleagues. When I became an agnostic/atheist/humanist, I lost all but two of my remaining Christian friends.

Second, when I wrote Christian orthodoxy teaches that when a person dies their body goes to the grave to await the resurrection of the just and unjust and the final judgment,” this was a reflection of my post IFB theology. I held to a post-tribulational, amillennial eschatology. One resurrection, one judgment.

Third, almost all IFB churches and pastors are dispensational, pre-tribulational, and premillennial. As such, they believe in multiple judgments. Lazarus and the rich man would have been judged before the death and resurrection of Jesus. Then there is a judgment after the rapture. This judgment is often called the Judgment (BEMA) Seat of Christ. At the end of the tribulation, there will be another judgment, and after the 1,000 year millennial reign of Christ on earth, there will be one more judgment, the final judgment of all who have not yet been judged.

Make sense? Of course not. But, it is in the B-i-b-l-e. Much of dispensational teaching is implied and inferred.

In recent years, I’ve noticed more eschatological diversity in the IFB church movement. I suspect this is due the fact that all the prophecy preaching over past 70 years has failed to materialize. After being theologically embarrassed and made out to be a fear-mongering false prophet, many IFB preachers have turned to simpler eschatological systems. I’ve even met IFB preachers who are Calvinistic and hold to a post-tribulational, amillennial eschatology. Their eschatology and soteriology have evolved, but their social fundamentalism has not. (please read Are Evangelicals Fundamentalists? to understand the terms social and theological fundamentalism)