Evangelical Christians are infuriated over the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage. Granting U.S. citizens equal protection under the law and affording them the same civil rights heterosexuals have is seen as an affront to God, the Bible, and true Christians everywhere. As a result, a handful of Christian government officials are refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, claiming doing so would violate their religious beliefs.
Should government officials be required to violate their religious beliefs in the execution of their duties? They serve the public, and when they walk in the door of their respective place of duty, what God, the Bible, or their pastor has to say has no authority or relevance. The United States is a secular state, and the highest court in the land has determined that marriage laws discriminating against same-sex couples are unconstitutional. Every government official is duty bound to obey the law, and if they can’t they should either quit, be fired, or removed from office.
Evangelicals and their counterparts in the Catholic and Mormon church have at their disposal all the means necessary to undo same-sex marriage. If they feel the Court acted unjustly, the proper recourse is to work towards a constitutional amendment that establishes marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Empty threats of second amendment remedies, secession from the union, and Sodom and Gomorrah-like judgment from God change nothing. If Christians want real change, a return to Ozzie and Harriet’s 1950’s, then they should work to amend the Constitution. They won’t do this, of course, because they know they don’t have sufficient numbers to overturn the Supreme Court’s decision.
Why is it Christian government officials issue marriage licenses to adulterers and fornicators, but draw the line at same-sex couples? The Bible sure has a lot to say about adultery and fornication, yet these “sins” are routinely ignored. Only homosexuals and same-sex couples are singled out for discrimination and abuse. Why is this?
This question is not hard to answer. Having spent the first 50 years of my life in the Evangelical church, 25 years as a pastor, I know firsthand the rampant hysterical bigotry and homophobia within Evangelicalism. Evangelicals are now known as the religion of hate, and every time people like Franklin Graham, Tim Wildmon, Al Mohler, Ken Ham, or James Dobson open their mouth, the public is reminded of this fact.
Evangelical: Well, if they didn’t know the Lord they probably went to hell.
Evangelical: Well…some of them might have trusted Jesus just before they died. I don’t know their hearts. God is the judge.
Bruce: It is likely the plane passengers were Muslim. Most likely the last word on their lips was ALLAH. Do Muslims go to heaven when they die?
Evangelical: Only if they believe in Jesus.
Bruce: Muslims do not believe Jesus is the way, truth and life.They do not believe salvation is found in Jesus Christ. So, did the Muslim plane passengers go to hell when they died?
Evangelical: I am not their judge. It’s between them and God.
A lot of Evangelicals are increasingly uncomfortable with what the Bible says about hell. According to inspired, inerrant Word of God, all non-Christians go to hell when they die. They will be tormented day and night for eternity. All Muslims, Buddhists, agnostics, and atheists will burn forever because of their rejection of Jesus Christ. Many Evangelicals even add Catholics, liberal Protestants, and universalists to the thou shalt burn list.
Let me remind readers what the Bible says about hell (collated from several Christian websites):
A place of weeping and gnashing of teeth – “And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 25:30).
A place of darkness – “Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 22:13).
A place of torment – “And in hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom” (Luke 16:23).
A place of sorrow – “The sorrows of hell compassed me about; the snares of death prevented me;” (2 Samuel 22:6).
A place of everlasting destruction – “Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;” (II Thessalonians 1:9).
A place where humans are tormented with fire and brimstone – “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8).
A place where fire is not quenched – “Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:44).
A bottomless pit – “And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit” (Revelation 9:2).
A place of no rest – “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” (Revelation 14:11).
A lake of fire – “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death” (Revelation 20:14).
A place of hopeless of unsatisfied desires – “And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame ” (Luke 16:24). The rich man wanted water but could not get any.
The Bible, as interpreted through the lens of Evangelicalism, is very clear on the matter of hell and why people end up there after they die. Even those who have never heard about Jesus Christ will burn in hell forever. It’s their fault for not knowing, even though no one ever told them about Jesus. According to the Calvinist, before God created the first human he decided where each of us would bunk when we die. The elect go to heaven, the non-elect go to hell.
According to the Evangelical score card, the overwhelming majority of people, past, present, and future, end up in hell when they die. This is God’s righteous judgment of those who did not repent of their sins and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Wait a minute, what about the people who lived before the birth of Christ? Where did they go when they died? Let the explaining and theological gymnastics begin.
Yet, when it comes right down to it, when confronted face to face with someone such as I — a person who once professed Christ, who once preached the gospel of Christ — many Evangelicals have a hard time telling me I’m headed for hell. They convince themselves that I am just confused or backslidden. They are certain the Holy Spirit will straighten me out and in no time I will be back preaching at First Baptist Church of Somewhere.
For some people, particularly those who are Christian friends or former parishioners, the notion of Bruce Gerencser going to hell is quite preposterous. A few of my friends have told me they find my defection from Christianity quite unsettling. If I can fall away then anyone can fall away. If I am headed for hell, will they be next?
I’ve attended many funerals over the years. I have only been to one funeral where the preacher had guts enough to say that the deceased went to hell. In every other instance some anecdotal story was told to give the living the impression that the deceased was now in heaven with all his dead loved ones (please read Dear Pastor, Do You Believe in Hell?). No matter how vile or evil the person was, he went to heaven when he died. People can live most of their lives as atheists, but because they asked Jesus into their heart as a child, they go to heaven when they die. What a sweet deal, right?
Do you believe the Bible is the Word of God? Do you believe it is truth? Do you believe that salvation is found only in Jesus Christ? Do you believe Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life? If so, it’s time for you to be honest about what you believe. It’s time to speak the truth. It’s time to own what the Bible says.
If what the Bible says about salvation, heaven, and hell is true, then these claims are also true:
All Muslims are headed for hell
All Buddhists are headed for hell
All agnostics are headed for hell
All atheists are headed for hell
All who have not trusted Jesus Christ as their personal savior are headed for hell
All who reject the truth claims of the Bible are headed for hell
All Catholics are headed for hell
All liberal Protestants are headed for hell
All universalists are headed for hell
All homosexuals are headed for hell
Bruce, YOU are headed for hell
If you are not willing to consign to hell most of the billions of people who have lived on this earth, then it is time for you to stop saying you believe the Bible is truth; that you believe that Jesus is the only way of salvation. Just remember, once you admit that you only really believe certain parts of the Bible, you have started down a slippery slope that could lead you to where I am today. Then you too will be headed for hell, just like me.
I write this post as a challenge to my Christian readers, friends, and former parishioners. What do you really believe? Do you really think I’m headed for hell? Do you really believe God will fit me with a special fireproof body so he can torture me for eternity? Don’t try to evade the question by saying things like, I don’t know your heart or only God knows for sure. If one can know from the Bible what salvation is, then certainly it seems people should be able to know if they don’t have it. And if they don’t have salvation, they are certainly going to hell.
How many times do I need to read a book until I know its contents?
I know the Bible from cover to cover
50 years in the Christian church
25 years as a pastor
Thousands of sermons
Thousands of hours spent reading and studying the Bible
What are you going to tell me that I do not already know?
I am not an atheist because of ignorance, I am an atheist because of knowledge
You have faith
Call me a fool
A false prophet
But don’t insult me by suggesting that there is something I don’t know about Christianity, God, Jesus, or the Bible, and if I just had THIS knowledge, I would then see the light, repent, and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.
Will you “hear” what I have written here?
Of course not
I wish I could test out of this class you think I need to take
If you have ever played Monopoly, you know how important it is to have a “Get Out of Jail Free” card. You never know when you might need to play the card.
Every Christian, regardless of the sect, gets one “Get out of Jail Free” card. This card is also known as the blood of Jesus.
According to Christian teaching, the bloodof Jesus cleanses a sinner from their sin. The Bible says in Hebrews 9:22-28:
And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission. It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.
Ephesians 1:7 says, In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.
Through the bloodof Jesus sin is atoned for; through the blood of Jesus is the forgiveness of sin. Baptist readers of this blog have sung the old church standard, Nothing But The Blood, many times:
What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus; What can make me whole again? Nothing but the bloodof Jesus.
For my pardon, this I see, Nothing but the bloodof Jesus; For my cleansing this my plea, Nothing but the bloodof Jesus.
Nothing can for sin atone, Nothing but the bloodof Jesus; Naught of good that I have done, Nothing but the bloodof Jesus.
Refrain sung after every verse
Oh! precious is the flow That makes me white as snow; No other fount I know, Nothing but the bloodof Jesus.
Exactly what does the bloodof Jesus do for the sinner? It covers, erases, does away with their sin. According to 2 Corinthians 5:17:
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
Through the bloodof Jesus, a sinner becomes a new creature (creation), old things pass away and everything becomes new. In an instant a sinner, no matter how wicked and vile they are, can have the slate wiped clean.
God, through the bloodof God (Jesus) ,forgives and forgets. Perverts, wife beaters, tax cheats, thieves,murderers, Josh Duggar, Dennis Hastert, Ted Haggard, Jim Bakker, and Newt Gingrich are quite happy to find out that the bloodof Jesus provides for them a “Get Out of Jail Free” card. The blood-cleansed sinner can shout from the mountaintop, Free, Free, Free at Last! In a moment, all their past transgressions are “under the blood.” Psalm 103:12 says:
As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.
A popular Christian song, My Sins are Gone, pretty well sums up the Christian’s feeling about the bloodof Jesus and their sin:
You ask me why I’m happy so I’ll just tell you why Because my sins are gone And when I meet the scoffers who ask me where they are I say my sins are gone
They’re underneath the Blood on the cross of Calvary As far removed As darkness is from dawn In the sea of God’s forgetfulness that’s good enough for me Praise God! my sins are gone
When blood–bought Christians are confronted by those they have hurt in the past they often say, that’s under the blood. This means, sorry God has forgiven me for that sin and I am not accountable for it any longer. PRAISE JESUS!!
My mother was sexually molested as a child by her father. He later became a washed in the blood, fundamentalist Christian who never missed an opportunity to remind everyone that Jesus could forgive them of every sin! My mother confronted her father over what he had done to her as a child. His reply?
That’s under the blood,God has forgiven me!
My mother, in a fit of rage, let him know that SHE hadn’t forgiven him. But, that didn’t matter. As long as the bloodof Jesus had paid her father’s sin debt, no further confession or restitution was needed. He went on to live the Christian good life, never one time saying to my mother, I am sorry. My grandfather was a mean son-of-a-bitch before he became a Christian and he was a mean son-of-a-bitch after his sin debt had been cleansed by Jesus’ blood.
What about sins committed AFTER a person becomes a Christian? Each sect has their own plan for renewing the “Get Out of Jail Free” card. Catholics use the confessional and transubstantiation to free themselves of responsibility for their sins. The bloodof Jesus covers everything, including molesting children. Baptists use daily prayer and the church altar as places where a Christian can appropriate the bloodof Jesus and get a fresh start. The Bible says in First John 1:9:
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
No matter what the Baptist has done, absolution is only a prayer away. Do the same sin tomorrow, no problem, just pray and start over again. I know some of the more pious among the Baptists will object and say that when a Christian confesses their sin they are to forsake it, but personal experience and observing Baptists for many years tells me that do the same sin tomorrow, no problem, just pray and start over again, is typically how Baptists handle their “sin problem.”
As an atheist, I don’t have a “Get Out Of Jail Free” card. When I do bad (I don’t believe in the Christian concept of sin) things there is no God to excuse me, so I must own my actions and, if possible, make things right. Granted, my sin list is much smaller now. Once I was set free from the shackles of God’s law, Biblical law, or whatever the hell the pastor says is sin law, I was finally able to begin freely living my life . No bloodatonement needed. No catchy songs about the bloodcovering all my transgressions.
Every day, I make decisions that affect how I live my life and every day I have the choice to live a decent, honorable life. Every day, I come up short and it is in those moments that I must say, I am sorry and, if needed, make restitution.
For my mother, one I’m sorry would have covered a multitude of sins. Too bad Jesus and His bloodgot in the way.
In the 1960’s, the Gerencser family moved to California, the land of promise and a pot of gold at the end of every rainbow. Like many who traveled west, my parents found out that life in San Diego was not much different from the life they left in rural NW Ohio. Like in Ohio, my Dad worked sales jobs and drove truck. For the Gerencser family, the pot of gold was empty and three or so years later we left California and moved back to Bryan, Ohio.
While moving to California and back proved to be a financial disaster for my parents, they did find Jesus at Scott Memorial Baptist Church in San Diego, a fundamentalist church pastored by Tim LaHaye. Both of my parents made a profession of faith at Scott Memorial, as did I when I was five years old. From this point forward, the Gerencser family, no matter where we lived, attended a fundamentalist Baptist church.
Not only were my parents fundamentalist Baptists, they were also members of the John Birch Society. While in California, my Mom actively campaigned for Barry Goldwater, and later, back in Ohio, she campaigned for George Wallace. Right wing religious and political beliefs were very much a part of my young life, so it should come as no surprise that I turned out to be a fire-breathing right-wing Republican and a fundamentalist Baptist preacher.
If the Baptist church taught me anything, it taught me to hate Catholics. According to my Sunday School teachers and pastors, and later my college professors and colleagues, the Catholic church was the whore of Babylon, a false church, the church of Satan and the Antichrist. I was taught that Catholics believed in salvation by works and believed many things that weren’t found in the Bible. Things like: purgatory, church magisterium, Pope is the Vicar of Christ, transubstantiation, infant baptism, confirmation, priests not permitted to marry, praying to statutes, worshiping the dead , and worshiping Mary. These things were never put in any sort of historical context for me, so by the time I left Midwestern Baptist College in 1979, I was a certified hater of all things Catholic.
In 1991, something happened that caused me to reassess my view of Catholics. My dogma ran head-on into a Catholic that didn’t fit my narrow, bigoted beliefs. In 1989, our fourth child and first daughter was born. We named her Bethany. Our family doctor was William Fiorini. He operated the Somerset Medical Clinic in Somerset, Ohio, the same town where I pastored Somerset Baptist Church. Dr. Fiorini was a devout Catholic, a post Vatican II Catholic who had been greatly influenced by the charismatic revival that swept through the Catholic church in the 1970’s and 1980’s. He was a kind and compassionate man. He knew our family didn’t have insurance or much money and more than a few times the treatment slip turned in after a visit said N/C. (no charge)
Bethany seemed quite normal at first. It wasn’t until she was sixteen months old that we began to see things that worried us. Her development was slow and she couldn’t walk. One evening, we drove over to Charity Baptist Church in Beavercreek, Ohio to attend a Bible conference. The woman watching the nursery asked us about Bethany having Down Syndrome. Down Syndrome? Out little girl wasn’t retarded. How dare this woman even suggest that there was something wrong with our daughter.
Bethany continued to struggle, reaching development stages months after infants and toddlers typically do. Finally, we went to see Dr. Fiorini. He suggested that we have Bethany genetically tested. We took her over to Ohio State University Hospital for the test and a few weeks later, just days before Bethany’s second birthday and the birth of our daughter Laura, we received a phone call from Dr. Fiorini. He told us the test results were back and he wanted to talk to us about them. He told us to come to his office after he finished seeing patients for the day and he would sit down and talk with us about the test results.
The test showed that Bethany had Down Syndrome. Her Down Syndrome features were so mild that the obstetrician missed it. Here we were two years later finding out that our oldest daughter had a serious mental handicap. Our Catholic doctor, a man I thought was a member of the church Satan built and headed for hell, sat down with us, and with great love and compassion, shared the test results. He told us that many miscarriages are fetuses with Down Syndrome, and that it was evident that God wanted to bless us with a special child like Bethany. He answered every question and treated us he would a member of his own family.
This Catholic didn’t fit my narrow, bigoted picture of what a Catholic was. Here was a man who loved people, who came to an area that had one the highest poverty and unemployment rates in Ohio and started a one doctor practice. (he later added a Nurse practitioner, a nun who treated us when we couldn’t get in to see the doctor) He worked selflessly to help everyone he could. On more than one occasion, I would drive by him on the highway as his wife shuttled him from Zanesville to Lancaster, the locations of the nearest hospitals. Often, he was slumped over and asleep in the passenger’s seat. He was the kind of doctor who gave me his home phone number and said to call him if I ever needed his help. He told us there was no need to take our kids to the emergency room for stitches or broken bones. He would gladly stitch them up, even if we didn’t have an appointment.
Dr. Fiorini wasn’t perfect. One time, he almost killed me. He regularly treated me for throat infections, ear infections, and the like. Preaching as often as I did, I abused my voice box and throat. I have enlarged adenoids and tonsils and I breathe mostly through my mouth. As a result, I battled throat and voice problems my entire preaching career. One day, I came to see Dr. Fiorini for a-n-o-t-h-e-r throat infection. He prescribed an antibiotic and told me to take it easy. He knew, like himself, I was a work-a-holic and would likely ignore his take it easy advice. Take the drug, wait a few weeks, and just like always I would be good as new. However, this time it didn’t work. Over the course of two months, as I got sicker and sicker, he tried different treatments. Finally, he did some additional testing and found out I had mononucleosis; the kissing disease for teens, a deadly disease for a thirty four year old. Two days later, I was in the hospital with a 104 degree fever, a swollen spleen and liver, and an immune system on the verge of collapse.
An internist came in to talk with my wife and I. He told us that if my immune system didn’t pick up and fight there was nothing he could do. Fortunately, my body fought back and I am here to write about it. My bout with mononucleosis dramatically altered my immune system, making me susceptible to bacterial and viral infection. A strange result of the mononucleosis was that my normal body temperature dropped from 98.6 to 97.0. I lost 50 pounds and was unable to preach for several months.
Once I was back on my feet, Dr, Fiorini apologized to me for missing the mononucleosis. I was shocked by his admission. He showed me true humility by admitting his mistake. I wish I could say that I immediately stopped hating Catholics and condemning them to hell, but it would be several years before I finally came to the place where I embraced everyone who called themselves a Christian. In late 1990’s, while pastoring Our Father’s House in West Unity, Ohio, I embraced what is commonly called the social gospel. Doctrine no longer mattered to me. Moving from a text oriented belief system, I began to focus on good works. Tell me how you live. Better yet, show me, and in the showing, a Catholic doctor taught me what it really meant to be a Christian.
Here’s a story from New Zealand that perfectly reveals how clueless many Christians are about how their beliefs are perceived by others. I guess if you have always been the playground bully, you have no concern for the little guy. In this story, a Catholic man, who has no problem with Christian crosses, gets upset when his Hindu neighbors erects a statute of Shiva: (link no longer active)
A religious spat has broken out between two neighbours in rural Auckland after one erected a 6.4m statue of the Hindu god Shiva.
Ravin Chand told the Herald on Sunday that he installed the 30-tonne religious effigy so that he and his family could pray to it.
But neighbour Bryce Watts, a Catholic, said the marble statue was “bizarre” and “offensive”.
“Religiously and culturally it’s a bit insensitive to us and I can’t believe they’re able to do this. Part of our property looks at it and it’s part of a religion we don’t agree
“I don’t see why we should have it poked down our throats in such a big way.”
It took Chand more than a week to assemble the statue and he defended it saying it was part of Hindu culture. “It’s just that the size is a bit bigger,” he said.
Asked why he had mounted the giant deity, Chand said: “Do you need a reason to pray? I don’t think so.”…
…Chand said the correct council consent and geo-technical inspections were completed beforehand. But Watts said he was not informed about the proposed statue, and said it was “bizarre” it could be erected without any consultation with neighbouring properties.
“They’ve let it go ahead to be built without consulting us, and we’re probably the most affected here because everywhere we go on our property it’s kind of there.”
Watts said he had complained to Chand but there was little else he could do because the Auckland Council had already consented to it being built.
“I’ve been to the council and asked about it and evidently it was within their rights to do it and it doesn’t need a permit, even though it’s a 6.4m-high concrete statue.
“It’s 10m from our boundary which is within the rules where you can build a building. It’s like, ‘bad luck, if you don’t like it, it’s your problem’. I find it really hard to believe in this day and age that this can happen.”
Chand said Watts had phoned his wife – but was the only person to complain. “Everybody else who has gone past has stopped and admired it,” he said.
“[Watts] compared it with ‘me putting up a [Nazi] swastika next door to you’. I said, ‘Well if you want to put it up, feel free to put it up. Nobody can stop you from doing that, it’s your property.’
“I’m not bothered. I haven’t got time for people like that.”
Chand added there were many churches in the area, but no one complained about them…
Here’s the money quote:
“Religiously and culturally it’s a bit insensitive to us and I can’t believe they’re able to do this. Part of our property looks at it and it’s part of a religion we don’t agree. I don’t see why we should have it poked down our throats in such a big way.”
Funny, I’ve had that same feeling about Evangelical Christianity.
My wife and I worship nature. We bought our home and land eight years ago. When we bought it, it had two spacious old trees, a large peony patch, a flaming azalea, and a few flower bulbs. Each spring and fall we have planted trees, bushes, flowers, and bulbs. We plan to turn our yard into an Atheist Garden of Eden. Now, our neighbors may not like what we have planted. Perhaps our newly planted trees and bushes blocks their view of our house. Should we give one moment’s thought to their like or dislike? Of course not. As long as we respect property lines and conform to zoning and constructions standards, what we do is no ones business but ours. If one our neighbors wants to put up a gawdy statue of the virgin Mary that’s none of our concern, and they shouldn’t care one bit about what we do with our yard. Live and let live, right?
Now, we don’t really worship nature, but you get my point. Christianity may deeply influence the culture we live in, but once we cross our property line, we have entered the Kingdom of Hitch and our God demands we help clean the air by planting trees, bushes, and flowers. We gladly comply because our God richly blesses us with wondrous colors and beauty. While the Catholic might find beauty in a tortured man nailed to an old rugged cross, Polly and I find beauty in the ebb and flow of the natural world. Like the Christian, we can sing, Our God is an Awesome God.
Memo to Christians. Invoking Hitler or the Nazi’s is always a bad idea.
I should also note that we did take our neighbors into account when we determined what type of trees to plant. Since we spend days each fall raking up leaves from trees on properties not our own, we wanted to make sure we did not add to our neighbors workload by planting trees that would deposit leaves on their property.
I don’t plan to approve or post any further comments from Jaisen.
From a quick read of your article it sounds as if you were in it for all the wrong reasons to begin with. I say that not to belittle your story, it’s just the impression I got. I don’t wish to argue, just recommend a few things. If you ever again have a yearning to know Jesus again, start at the beginning, not the 1500’s. Read the writings of first, second, third, etc., century Christians, e.g., St. Ignatius of Antioch, St. Polycarp, St. Justin, St. Irenaeus and others. True orthodoxy and orthopraxy resides in their writings. One of my favorite current authors is Scott Hahn; I highly recommend him. Peter Kreeft comes highly recommended as well. And if you ever again go in search of a church that takes seriously the teachings of Jesus, you’ll find a spiritual home like none other in the Catholic Church. Her doors are always open to you and yours. May God bless you on your journey!
Thank you for your kind, intelligent, well thought out reply. If I may reply (somewhat in jest), which of the 45,000+ divided Protestant denominations who are incapable of doing anything in one accord, let alone praying, should I credit for churning out money hungry, calumnious atheists? Please keep the bloviating to a minimum—I’d hate to miss anything relevant due to speed reading.
Actually, I only said one thing regarding Protestantism, Bruce being the case-in-point. Not sure to what else you’re referring. “But pretending that Catholicism doesn’t have huge problems, is putting a blindfold on your face.” I never said it didn’t. But one thing I can say is that the Church doesn’t promote things that are anathema to biblical teaching as various denominations so proudly do.
Sgl tried to help Jaisen:
Jaisen, you may think your comments are original and insightful, but every few weeks, someone exactly like you comes by, and drops nearly identical comments. imagine a school teacher, and the number of times they’ve heard the same excuses for why the homework wasn’t done. imagine a lawyer or judge hearing the same excuses for how the check was lost in the mail. well, that’s bruce’s blog when people like you drop by, make a shoot-from-the-hip observation based on no reading of his story and rigid stereotypes about atheists.
as i understand it, in peace negotiations and marriage counselling, one of techniques is to require each side to state the position of the other side (not agree with it, just state it) in a fashion that the counter party says “yes, that is an accurate statement of my position.” because too often, the different sides don’t actually understand the other side, and are too busy arguing to actually listen. this technique forces them to listen.
the fact is that bruce and many of the readers here understand your position very well, since many/most were strongly religious, often for decades. yet you do not understand bruce’s or anyone else here’s position at all. and from your tone, it’s very clear you have no interest in learning about anyone else’s position and how they arrived at it.
hence, despite the fact that you think you’re a special little snow flake with just the exact pearls of wisdom that bruce needs, in fact you’re merely a dot in a blizzard of wanna-be apologists that drop by, spout predictable platitudes from an extremely small bingo-card of religious propaganda, and then expect ooohs and ahhhs of adoration for you enlightening us. sorry, but you’re boring and predictable and frankly obnoxious. the fact that you can’t see this only makes it even more a waste of time for all of us.
Here’s Bruce’s first reply to me, a first time reader:
“When priests stop molesting boys and diddling teenagers let me know.”
Bruce’s second, passive aggressive sub-comment to me:
“My reply to Jansen was meant to be snarky and dismissive.”
Apparently Bruce thinks pedophilia is limited to one religious or even non-religious affiliation.
I admitted that I quickly read his long, fluffy blog and that what I said was just the impression I got from quickly reading his own words (such as there not being enough money for him in ministry). I kindly made some suggestions in a non-aggressive manner and wished him well, yet the above comments were the bigoted responses I received. No invite to read more of his articles to broaden my brief view of his position, no equivalent suggestions to purvey to understand what led him where he is now, no olive branch to lure me along his own “enlightened” path. Just the same old tired, worn out, divisive atheist hyperbole. With such a brief and hateful introduction, now I can affirmatively say thank goodness this man is no longer a pastor with such a horrible attitude towards those with different views. That’s the kind of Christian who gives us all a bad name and drives people away from faith, including themselves (obviously). But at least you all have each other to wallow in your bigotry and hate-filled vitriol together.
As for your own reply to me, change my name to yours at the top and ditto, pal. You guys can pretend to be all intellectually superior and further isolate yourselves all you like, but don’t expect any respectful crosstalk when that’s all we ever get from you. My apologies for wasting your time; a four paragraph response to someone you know nothing about filled with such judgmental presumptions kind of speaks otherwise, but hey, whatever floats your boat. And FYI, the Church and all of Christendom have been dealing with your type and your shallow arrogance for over 2,000 years now, but do feel free to let us know when YOU come up with something original.
Sgl tries to help Jaisen again:
you were in it for all the wrong reasons to begin with”
a shoot from the hip character assassination of bruce, despite your protestations to the contrary
“True orthodoxy and orthopraxy resides in their writings.” “a church that takes seriously the teachings of Jesus, you’ll find a spiritual home like none other in the Catholic Church”
demonstrating that you think you and your church have the one true religion, and everyone else got it wrong. almost every sect makes the same claim. while this is “suggestions in a non-aggressive manner”, it’s also rather haughty. anyone who’s read church history, or read about the inconsistencies in the bible, or the scholarship of how the bible came to be, would label those statements as rather bold to say the least.
“Apparently Bruce thinks pedophilia is limited to one religious or even non-religious affiliation. “
“blaming the church for the flaws of men is an appropriate response to my inviting you to read something you may not have read before? Aside from the obvious calumny and bigotry … “
ahh, yes, the “get out of jail free” card; all flaws are due to fallen men, but somehow it’s still the true church. while pedophilia is certainly not limited to one religion or institution, it’s the catholic church that has covered this up for *decades*, and continues to stonewall any reform. hardly an institution that “takes seriously the teachings of jesus.” sorry, but pointing this out is not bigotry, it’s speaking truth to power. the fact that you continue to believe in the church, and probably continue to tithe, and not hold your leaders accountable, is why the problem persists. and why bruce and many others will take them or their adherents seriously when they claim moral superiority.
so, at every turn, all you’ve done is blame bruce (or me, or atheists), and have not once accepted any criticism of your church or yourself. and you’ve made excuse after excuse for your behavior and the church’s behavior. a more appropriate, (perhaps christian) response, would have been to apologize for jumping to conclusions, admit that the church has some serious moral failings that bother you also. hence, i’m done talking with you. if bruce wants to let you continue to comment, that’s his choice.
Apparently you’re not familiar with the concept of speed reading. Typically, it results from being in a hurry and having little time, hence my not reading any of your other linked articles. As they say, “common sense isn’t so common.”
So, blaming the church for the flaws of men is an appropriate response to my inviting you to read something you may not have read before? Aside from the obvious calumny and bigotry (which continued in your recent reply), that’s some serious rash judgement on your behalf and even more revealing of your character.
My original post wasn’t intended to be an attack on your character, but wow, I’m not sure how you pastored anything that long with such thin skin! And seriously, how could your comment about poverty not stick out to me like a sore thumb? As believers we’re called to poverty of spirit and worldly possessions, two things you clearly have no desire for. That’s a rather obvious advantage of the priesthood–being more concerned with God rather than the things of this world and the flesh. But that’s neither here nor there; that deeper theological virtue/significance didn’t even occur to me until you got so butthurt about it.
It’s truly odd seeing such an entitlement mentality from a man of the previous generation. I suppose that’s a manifestation of such self-interest, among the other obvious things. I read your rather lengthy post out of curiosity, not fealty. So I’m sorry, I don’t owe it to you to read anymore. I’m honestly not even interested anymore after your passive-aggressive rants against my imaginary assault on your character and your continued antagonizing sarcasm.
Again, it wasn’t my intent to ridicule your past, and my invite to explore the Church and the writings of her fathers was sincere. I offer you my deepest apologies for causing you such a spike in your blood pressure, inadvertently “stirring you up.” Be sure to have your Catholic sons and daughter-in-laws come on here and read the bigoted, vitriolic, anti-Catholic, hyperbolic comments about their faith that you spill so freely on unsuspecting passersby. While it’ll be unwise coming from someone who has gone their entire life without fully comprehending it, I’ll wait with bated breath for your post about Roman Catholicism, as I’m sure they will as well. I’m sure it’ll be a real call to interfaith communication.
Peace be with you.
Yes, I admitted it was a “shoot from the hip” impression. Solid work, Captain Obvious. Oh and thanks for the advice on proper Christian response, but no thanks. That’d be like taking advice from a mouse on how to be a good lion.
If I didn’t believe the Church teachings and authority were absolute, I wouldn’t be there. That would just make me another watered down hypocrite. See, that’s the difference between an opinion and a conviction, the subjective and the objective. If I wanted a watered down version, I’d return to one of the countless sects who work tirelessly to reinvent the wheel while pretending the first 1,500 years of Christianity doesn’t exist. But hey, anyone who’s ever read about the inconsistencies of the Bible might understand that it’s not a book, but a collection of books, hence the supposed inconsistencies.
And yes, flaws come from the failures of men. The Church doesn’t flaunt those things in pride parades or preach them from the altar as do various liberal churches from their pulpits. The Church is not a man; someone so great at pointing out the obvious should clearly be able to see that. Nor does the Church sit idly by ignoring the failings of past men in her ranks. Clearly you can read, so maybe you could peruse some current, relevant articles on the matter. And yes, implying that the Church teaches, promotes, advocates or accepts such deplorable acts is both bigoted and ignorantly ill-informed. I thought atheists were supposed to be champions of freethinking, not false witness? Thanks for correcting my belief.
If you care to understand the failings of men, meditate on the sins of Adam, Cain, Abraham, David, and especially Judas Iscariot. For the sake of argument, if you believed in an all-knowing God, does logic not tell you that He knew what these people would do but used them as an example of the failings of men anyway, both pre- and post-Church establishment, in an effort to signify those who would try to infiltrate yet fail (Judas)? And yet, Judas’ office was filled, apostolic succession was implemented, the primacy of Peter was obvious, and the Church remains, despite the failures of men.
Also, while I did apologize for my haste, why should I apologize for an accurate conclusion? And yes, I admit that many men and women have failed the Church. The Church, however, has not failed us. Hence the 2,000 year old unchanged doctrine, dogmas and theology. Some of us prefer an unchanging truth, some an evolving truth. But by nature, only one is the Truth.
I started off saying you were in it for the wrong reasons based on your own words. That doesn’t mean you didn’t believe you were in it for the right reasons (that would be a character attack), but whatever those reasons were, look where they led you. Which doesn’t mean you can’t be led back, but your present circumstances are what they are. I make no judgement of your apostasy, heresies or blasphemies; that’s for you and God to sort out. Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
And while I appreciate SGL’s heartfelt approach to “help” me with his ad hominem laced sarcasm, I’m clearly not the one heading or following some sort of self-help group; not my thing. I prefer to surround myself with those who challenge and build me up, not wallow with me in the various miseries of life. But hey, to each his own. Here’s looking at you, SGL:
“Frank, honest, open, and passionate discussion about religion, Christianity, and Evangelicalism is encouraged and welcome. However, I do expect atheists not to attack, badger, or denigrate people who still believe in God.”
I appreciate that you’ve read Hahn, Merton, Day and the Church Fathers, but again, I didn’t know that until I was not-so-gently corrected. No need to get your feelers wrapped around the axle. I guess my actual assumption would be that you didn’t comprehend them. Which is correct based on your current view of things. Here’s a more approachable response:
“Jaisen, I invite you to check out this blog and this article and this book about why I’ve come to said conclusions. Perhaps they’ll shed a little light on my reasons, past and present. If you ever have the hankering to walk away from your faith, the doors of atheism are always open to you.”
(See, you wouldn’t have sounded like such a bigoted, closed-minded, crotchety old internet warrior that way, and we might have pursued a somewhat meaningful dialogue.)
I never once said anything about “my one true church”. I don’t prescribe to such Protestant personalization lingo (neither does the Bible). The Church isn’t mine. Jesus isn’t mine. Salvation isn’t mine. They belong to everyone. So I guess one of us truly is big on assumptions, but it isn’t me, my friend. I invited you to explore and experience “the” Church; her doors are open to all.
Now if I wanted to engage someone on the theological or financial practices of the church, it wouldn’t be with someone who has no grasp or comprehension of her place in the world and how she came to be. Personally, I prefer solid food to milk. But if I wanted to discuss megachurches bashing opulent palaces from the pulpit, all the while surrounded by endless empty rooms on weekdays with all the homeless in their cities, multi-millionaire televangelists, and prosperity preachers applying their teaching to the people of Ethiopia, then maybe I’d ask you. Surely you have something insightful to say about such practices after so many years being surround by or included in those groups. However, I have no need of discussing such fruitless institutions because common sense tells me they are just that.
Nor do I prescribe to such fallacious logic as equal rights for gays when they’ve had the same right to marry as the rest of us all along: one woman, one man. It’s their choice not to do so. I refuse to advocate such relativistic ideas of murdering your own children before they take their first breath, or going against God’s will to procreate by urging young women to unnaturally poison themselves with a pill a day while preaching against polluting “Mother Earth.” I’ve never been a fan of such hypocrisies, especially cheering on science that promotes things it can’t objectively verify or recreate (evolution, the Big Bang, the gay gene, etc.) while overtly deriding and denying biological science that clearly shows life begins at conception, as well as how the climate changes and there isn’t squat we can do about it. (Duh.) Not to mention being a self-professed liberal, socialist father of someone with Down Syndrome, two ideologies that openly advocate dismembering such persons before b irth. But it’s a free country, you can put your “faith” in whatever you like and still call yourself a “freethinker”.
As for women in the priesthood, I follow the teachings and the precedents set by Jesus and his Apostles, as does the Church. As I said in my original post about orthodoxy and orthopraxy, it can be found in one place, which is why I’m there. I went searching for right teaching and right practice just like you. I found them. My faith is bigger than mere misinterpreted symbolism or junk science. You’re always welcome to come experience it as well, but I find it’s best experienced without the litany of pretexts.
As a side note, to know who you are you have to embrace where you come from:
“Unfortunately, there are many people, Evangelical/Fundamentalist Christians in particular, who have a hard time playing well with others. They often use a passive-aggressive approach towards me and the non-Christian people who frequent this blog. This kind of behavior will not be tolerated and will result in a permanent ban.”
“Please do not confuse my directness and pointedness with me attacking you or your religion. This is a grown-up blog, so crying that I offended you or “attacked” your religion will fall on deaf ears.”
Should I petition you to ban yourself from this blog, or should I just take the personal attacks and denigration of my faith (shit, as you call it) from you and your like-minded, dictator-like followers…like a grown-up?
Hey, that’s fine if you don’t want to publish my comments there, Dear Leader. If I were in your shoes I’d hate for my readers to see me get owned by a guy who’s only been a Catholic for two weeks, too. Gotta love you socialist liberals with your vast open-mindedness, tolerance and hate of censorship (or is that just libertarians?). You can even smell the hypocrisy through the internet!
Thanks for your comment. Clearly you’re confused. First, I’m not an adherent to Islam who’s goal is to return the entire world to the 7th century (the Stone Age). Second, easy on the Sci-Fi channel, buddy. Seriously, those are some interesting and imaginative, dare I say child-like ideas you shared, but none of them go together. Third, I’m not sure what the average reading comprehension level is for Bruce’s reader’s, but the last thing I was trying to do was evangelize him or help him “re-beleive”. I simply stated that if he ever had a desire to know Jesus again (see my original post), the doors of the Catholic Church would always be open to him. Personally, I went to Mass several times without reverencing the cross or the Eucharist, so I know from personal experience that you can explore an idea without adhering to it. I like to call that “open-mindedness”. It’s a crazy concept, I know. Fourth, perhaps you could write an expose on liberals politicizing and institutionalizing religious matters to fit their skewed versions of Christ’s teachings, aka, relativism, and how that isn’t a legitimate form of Christianity. Finally, I’m actually a big fan of Santa Claus. Not the man as you know him to be though, but as Saint Nicholas, the guy who punched the first heretic in the face at the First Council of Nicaea in a.d. 325. Ah, the good old days!
Yeah, Bruce. You really got me! Glad I could expose you and your self-glorifying narcissistic need for censorship to prove your tolerance and open-minded enlightenment. Ban me, delete my posts as you said you would. As of right now you can’t even stick to that promise. Seriously, don’t flatter yourself anymore than you have already. It’s really just gross at this point. Enjoy your isolation, but do try to pull your head out to take a breath once in a while. It makes it much easier to “play well” with the grown-ups. ; )
You get what you give. Please do point me to where I said I knew “the TRUE church” or where I tried to convince Brucey Bruce of his error. Best of luck with that. Do enjoy Mr. Goebbels’ censored blog. (If you’re reading this, he thinks he got me again. They’re so cute at that age.)
Love, The truth hurts
Instructive? Well in that case, you’re welcome. It’s flattering to know you’re patiently waiting to approve or delete my comments so you can say, “Aha, gotcha.” It’s almost…biblical.
Well-played there, Saul Alynski. “Oh no! Someone has different values than us, we have to destroy them to show them how much more open-minded we are than them!” Silly hypocrites.
Nothing different than a heterosexual marriage? Well, besides the fact that there’ll be no communion with God later on or any procreation (a commandment, not a suggestion), there’s also zero complimentarity. Sure, it fits. But that doesn’t mean you should stick it there. Apply that logic to a cigar cutter sometime.
And clearly, the difference between attending a Hindu marriage and a same-sex “marriage” is that homosexuals aren’t trying to change the definition of a Hindu marriage, which is why it’s a direct attack on Christian marriage. One would think someone who spent 25 years in ministry could understand such a simple concept. But I guess that explains why you’re no longer there.
But seriously, how much more demeaning to women and human life could it be? Seriously, a vagina that brings forth another human being is somehow EQUAL to some guy’s stinky anus? You’d have to be a real nut job liberal to believe that garbage.
However, if you prefer wiping someone else’s excrement off of your manhood even though you courteously gave them an enema beforehand, more power to you. That’s your business. Just don’t pretend you’re something you’re not or that marriage is yours to profane. Being a homosexual doesn’t make you a sinner, nor is it any different than any other sin. It’s the act of sticking your penis in another man’s stink hole that makes you a sinner. Go try that BS with Islamic marriage and find out who the real bigots are when they toss your ass off the top of a building or hang you in a public square.
While I enjoy giving you something to do, I do not appreciate you polluting my comments. You may be the dictator of this blog, but when your precious liberal government takes over the internet that’s all gonna change, mister.
All jokes aside, yep, that’s the man I am. Speaking the ugly truth no matter how bad it may be. Nothing I said is untrue. Sure, the wording is a bit colorful, but I was just taking it down to the level of the playing field that I’m on. It’s a great way to avoid being called a lying, censoring, hypocrite. Which is much more than I can say for yourself, Mr. Goebbels.
Please step down from your hypocritically judgmental high horse and explain for me how describing the birds and bees of homosexuality (or rather the birds and the birds) is mean, hateful and vicious. Perhaps I could show you the aftermath of an abortion and you could say the same thing about me while highfiving the abortionist who did it. That’d be rich.
You do understand how the homosexual act works, right? The penis is repeatedly inserted into the place only meant for removing bacteria ridden human waste, and then they say, “Love is love!” And poof, a unicorn is born 9 months later.
But seriously, from the female perspective, how do you feel about so many people like Brucey Bruce who devalue your female anatomy and worth by proclaiming your vagina to be equal to a man’s anal sphincter? Do you agree or disagree with them?
(Bruce, don’t act like you didn’t at least giggle a tiny bit before you went all Goebbels on this comment.)
Nice skunk analogy. This blog smells like hypocritical censorship and someone who speaks from experience. That would actually explain a lot about Dear Leader’s homosexual devotion. How about a blog explaining what it’s like being part of the 54%, Brucinda?
Of course you hate Jesus. You spent 25 years as a false teacher imitating John Calvin instead of Him, dishonoring His mother and denying the divinity of His body and blood. Reinventing the wheel and recreating His image without any authority, and then wondering why it didn’t work out. And then it’s supposed to be some great surprise that you “lost the faith” and that other “fundies” act exactly as you do now, only still attached to the evangelical mold that you propagated for so long. Is it really a great surprise to you that you were filled with grace at baptism (the other two didn’t count by the way, clearly), only to watch that grace diminish over the years through your denial of the priesthood, confession and Eucharist, leading to this obvious and glaring state in which you find yourself? It’s clear as day to me. Even the demons believe and shutter. Yet even still your pride reigns in you, the same pride that yelled at Catholocism from the pulpit for years now yells hysterically, “You’re attacking my character!” That same pride that led you away from Jesus tells you that you know who He is now better than ever and you’re going to pollute everyone else’s idea of Him, just from a different pulpit. All the while pretending it’s not your intention to tear down anyone else’s faith. Can you smell the hypocrisy? Pride truly is the root of all evil. However, the only unforgivable sin is to go to your grave denying the Trinity and all that it entails, not the sin of homosexuality (another false teaching you no doubt helped to spread). As I said before, the doors are always open to you. Grace can always be restored. You may hate the Jesus that you helped create, but the real Jesus still loves you.
P.S. This Jesus you speak of sounds a lot like every liberal and socialist of the Democratic Party. Which reminds me, aren’t you all three?
Nothing I said was vitriolic, Bruce. If the truth is vitriolic to you, then maybe a good dose of self-examination is in order. *Pro-tip: We do that before receiving the sacrament of reconciliation.
Yeah Bruce, I’m no match for your ability to press a “delete comment” or “ban user” button on the internets! Your intellectual prowess is far too superior for the likes of me! My prayers go out to those questioning or doubting folks who stumble upon your snares. And of course I keep reading; even Catholics need entertainment! I rather enjoy your reverse-shaming tactics–they teach you that trick at seminary?
“And you are lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I am going to vomit you from my mouth.”
Poor fella, those buttons aren’t working anymore. Here’s an idea, instead of hiding behind your keyboard, how about addressing the points I made? No? Well…I guess that’s just the kind of man you are! You’ve brought shame upon your fundamental atheist church, good sir! Sound familiar?
Careful, Bruce. Carmen might call you nasty. She’d probably call you a coward as well if she could see the rest of my comments which you so conveniently delete. Super comeback, by the way. Way to bring your A-game.
To be clear, are you referring to what assholes do at the physiological level, or at the more emotional, liberal worldview? I’m sure you’ll have a great answer as you’ve clearly cornered that market.
Oh, I get it. You only want to have a dialogue with people who think at your level. No room for dissent or alternate opinions. Roger that. Enjoy your “open-minded, free-thinker” society. Or would that be “me-thinker”? Doesn’t matter. Have a hypocritical day!
Aww, Beckers. Bruce is pretending he’s open-minded while deleting my comments, editing them to make him look smarter, etc., aka, hypocritical to free thought. I never said anyone was lost on here in any of my comments, but hey, you stated the problem there when you said, “I have to assume that…” While you’re welcome to your assumptions and putting words in my mouth, it doesn’t make your assertions any less false. It’s really just par for the course at this point. Bruce’s opinion of how Christians should act is not only irrelevant, it’s also the reason why so many leave: We’re not called to be pandering, politically correct, over-feminized beta-males who won’t stand up for the teachings of Christ. THAT is why so many people lose their faith, because it simply does not work that way. Bruce will delete this comment because he doesn’t want any of those questioning and doubting folks to wonder onto his blog and find somebody actually saying something that makes sense. That’d be bad for business.
The Bruce does not like to appear too predictable, so the Bruce abides.
Exciting! Will this upcoming post be about how the judgmental Dear Leader doesn’t like to be questioned or challenged?! Or about how if you stop by Bruce’s corner of the internet to invite him to your church and wish him well you’ll be derided and disparaged (against Dear Leader’s comment rules I might add)?! I’ve yet to see your thoughtful reply to Mr. Ed up top addressing his heresies and omission of Matthew 28:19; will it be about how I should undermine my own convictions by respecting the heresies of others?! I’m sure whatever the topic it’ll be super intellectually stimulating without a thread of truth about anything I’ve said, or the fact that I’ve simply responded to you and your antagonizing readers with the same lack of respect shown me. Not to mention any attempt to correct you (you REALLY hate that!) or your libel will show up as “Comment Deleted.” Can’t wait!
*The sarcasm in this comment is in no way an endorsement of the author of this blog’s hypocritical views of other’s convictions.
Bruce. Wow. You’ve figured me out. I didn’t know you were such a huge fan of my work on the Daily Show. I’m flattered! And what is with the truck driver comments?
But seriously, you like to point fingers and accuse me of things I haven’t done. I may have been a bit frank with you, but let’s be honest, you get what you put out there. Yes, I was very much surprised at your first reply to me as I was very polite; hardly a pulling down of the pants and claiming imminent domain on your living room floor. I also thought I was interacting with an adult who might have some interesting insights based on where you’ve been and where you are now. I even had a couple of theological questions, exercises as you call them, that I was hoping to throw your way regardless of your position. You can’t pretend you’re all polite and thoughtful based on your initial reply to me and breaking your own blog rules by allowing others to attack me; your actions speak otherwise.
I never said anyone was wrong or attempted to push my views on others. Anything definitive I’ve said towards you was meant solely for you. Clearly it doesn’t take much to rile you up, which was the goal. As I said, you get what you put out there. Sure, I could’ve just been the better man and let your childish, libelous comments stand alone. I probably should have because it’s been a colossal waste of time typing out responses only to have them deleted so that you can control the narrative and paint me to be the foot stomping fundamentalist beating up on the atheist.
Sure, I’d love to have a meaningful dialogue with Ed about unitarianism as it’s not something I’ve ever studied. Or with David, to explain the empty facade you’ve created for me. Both of them seem like reasonable human beings. However, you are Bruce and you are god of this here blog and unless you agree with what’s being said and how it’s being said, it’s not happening. So what would be the point in trying, am I right?
And to answer your question, I respect the office of the Pope, and yes, I do respect the current Pope. I doubt he has time to worry with the thoughts and actions of every individual in the world, but as you can clearly see by glancing over your comments section, he wouldn’t be able to read my comments in context: You’ve deleted most of them, creating a pretext. So your point is moot. The Pope doesn’t claim to be the thought police as so many anti-Catholics claim anyhow. Hell, he’d have to battle with you for that position!
Let’s ask you a similar question. I assume you respect your Catholic children? I wonder if they read your comments about their faith what they would think? I wonder if they’d think you’re the polite and thoughtful interfaith communicator you claim to be? I suspect they’d be disappointed to say the least.
No hard feelings, Bruce. I wish you well, too. As I said at the end of my very first post, may God bless you on your journey. (And yes, I know it’s silly to you because you don’t believe in God, but that doesn’t make Him any less real for me or the billions who think otherwise.)
Christianity, especially in its fundamentalist expressions, teaches that every human is a sinner in need of redemption. Sin is the problem and Jesus is the solution. From Adam and Eve forward, we humans have faced the consequences of sin. Every problem the human race faces can be reduced to our sin against God. Calvinist. Arminian, Mormon, and Catholic, all agree that the stain of sin has ruined the human race and only the blood of Jesus can wash that stain away.
When asked if some sins are worse than other sins, Christians will likely say no. Sin is sin, in God’s eye, they say, but are they really being honest when they say this? Take David Lane, a political activist and founder of the American Renewal Project. In a recent Charisma interview, Lane stated:
“Sin is sin, whether it is homosexuality, adultery or stealing candy bars at the local 7-Eleven. God gave us the recipe in 2 Chronicles 7:14. We as Christians must understand that. He will forgive us and heal our land, but only if we humble ourselves, pray and turn back to Him. I wholeheartedly believe in prayer, and that’s what it’s going to take. Our only hope is in Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”
According to Lane, “homosexuality, adultery or stealing candy bars at the local 7-Eleven” are all the same in God’s eye. Really? If that is so, why haven’t I heard of any Christian outrage over adultery or stealing candy bars? I checked out the American Renewal Project website, looking for action alerts, feature articles, or campaigns against the sin of stealing candy bars. I found none.
The truth is, Evangelicals, Mormons, and conservative Catholics, have raised the sin of homosexuality to a sin above all others. In their minds, it is the sin above all sins, the one sin that will destroy the United States and bring the judgment of God. These prophets of God, who seem to be profiting nicely off of America’s sin problem, need to stop with the “sin is sin” schtick. No one is buying it.
Look at the message of the above graphic. When’s the last time you’ve seen a graphic, read an Evangelical news article, or heard a sermon that said: Stealing a Candy Bar is a Perversion! Repent or Burn, You Choose! I suspect your answer is never or not since Sister Judith’s Sunday school class in 1968.
I spent fifty years in the Christian church. As a child and youth, I never heard one sermon about the sin of homosexuality. Not one. In fact it was well into the 1980’s before I started hearing sermons about fags, queers, and sodomites. Why all the sermons and outrage now? Simple. Homosexuals, as a class, want the same civil protections and rights that heterosexuals have. They want equal protection under the law. They want to be treated fairly and justly. Most of all, they want to love who they want, without the government telling them they can’t.
And it is these demands that have Evangelicals, Mormons, and conservative Catholics upset. Why can’t the homos stay in the closet, they screech. Everything was fine, before THOSE PEOPLE wanted the same rights as everyone else, says the local Baptist preacher, forgetting that his ancestors made similar statements when opposing equal rights for blacks. Fearing the gay horde, they express their outrage couched in Bible verses and pronouncements from God, but in doing so they unwittingly expose the homophobia and bigotry that lies just under the surface of much of American conservative and fundamentalist Christianity. The problem isn’t sin; it’s homophobia and bigotry. It’s preachers who are afraid to find out how many of their church members are actually gay or bat from both sides of the plate. It’s evangelists and conference speakers who are afraid that their supporters will find out that they have a man in every city. As scandal after scandal has reminded us, those who roar the loudest against a particular sin are often doing that which they condemn.
The next time some lying Evangelical like David Lane tells you “sin is sin, whether it is homosexuality, adultery or stealing candy bars at the local 7-Eleven”, ask them for proof of their claim. From my seat in the atheist pew, all I see is wild eye homophobia and bigotry and lots of candy bar thieves.