We get to choose if we participate in a recession or not. Now, what do I mean by that? Well, listen, either you believe that your Father is the King—you know, just like David said, ‘In all my years, I’ve never seen the righteous forsaken nor his seed begging for bread.’ Either we believe this or we don’t. And here’s the thing: I’m standing on God’s Word that all 7,000 promises that He has for us are true.
— Mike Signorelli, pastor of V1 Church in New York City, Charisma News, Pastor: Christians Get to Choose Not To Participate in a Recession, March 25, 2020
Evangelicals desperately need to believe that their version of the Christian God has everything under control; that Jesus is Johnny-on-the-spot; that whatever is befalling the unwashed, uncircumcised Philistines of the world, True Christians® will either be exempt from what other people are facing or their God will meet their every need. This thinking is reinforced Sunday after Sunday by countless Evangelical preachers, teachers, and parents. “The Bible says in Romans 8:28, And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose,” preachers thunder. “No matter what happens, blessed God, Jesus means it for our good!” As always, God is given a pass for the bad stuff that happens in the lives of believers. God can never do bad things, thus the bad things that do happen — and EVERY Christian has bad things happen to them — are actually GOOD things! As with many things related to religion, Evangelicals deny reality. Have a loved-one contract the COVID-19 virus and die? Praise God, that’s a good thing! Never mind the fact that they left people who love them behind or died way too young or soon, God meant it for good. Since his thoughts are not our thoughts and his ways are not our ways, (Isaiah 55:8,9) and he is the potter who made and formed the clay (Romans 9), who are we to object or complain when loved ones reach their appointed time of death and die? Besides, the dead are no longer suffering and are now leisurely relaxing with Jesus, Paul, Peter, Mary, Grandma, Grandpa, and a host of other likeminded people in Heaven. (Even though the Bible does NOT teach this, most Evangelicals believe the moment a believer dies she is transported to Heaven, into the presence of Jesus and the saints.) No matter the circumstance, God is praised and glorified. Evangelicals who can no longer profess fealty, loyalty, and devotion to the “God is good all the time, all the time God is good” deity either suffer in heartbreaking agony and silence or seek out churches where people embrace reality; people who admit that bad things happen to good people; that, for one and all, shit happens. For some hurting Evangelicals, the disconnect between the “good” God and reality is so great that they leave Christianity altogether.
In the quote above, Pastor Mike Signorelli repeats a common lie promoted by Evangelical preachers. King David said in Psalm 37:25, ” I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.” Evangelicals are the “righteous” in this verse, and according to an aged David, he has never seen God’s chosen people forsaken or begging for food. To that I say, “David, you need to get out more.” Even in David’s time, God’s people suffered deprivation. Numerous Old Testament Bible verses speak to the fact that God had abandoned his people. In the New Testament, even Jesus himself says, “my God, my God, why have you FORSAKEN me?”
Reality tells us that Evangelicals suffer heartache and loss just like the rest of us do. The difference being, of course, is that unbelievers don’t expect a deity to magically rescue them or meet their needs. As an atheist, I have no promise that tomorrow will be better than today. I embrace each day as it comes, knowing that it could be my last. And someday, sooner rather than later, it will be my last day above ground. Before then, who knows what may happen in my life, and the lives of my wife, children and grandchildren? I don’t want any of the readers of this blog to become infected with the COVID-19 virus and die, but I know it could happen. A year ago, blog reader and dear friend Steve Gupton dropped dead at age fifty-one from a massive heart attack. (Please see The Suddenness of Death.) I still haven’t gotten over Steve’s death. Over the past decade, several readers have died. Others have endured awful tragedies and illnesses. Life can be, and is, a real bitch.
I know that countless Christians need the escapism that Evangelical theology provides. Life is hard and uncertain. Most people want certainty and promises of a better tomorrow and life beyond the grave. For atheists, agnostics, and other nonbelievers, all we can do is face life head-on and deal with what comes our way. Harsh, to be sure, but people who live in the present have no other choice but to embrace life as it is.
Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.
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