This is the one hundred and eighty-second installment in The Sounds of Fundamentalism series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a video clip that shows the crazy, cantankerous, or contradictory side of Evangelical Christianity, please send me an email with the name or link to the video. Please do not leave suggestions in the comment section. Let’s have some fun!
Today’s Sound of Fundamentalism features a video clip of atheist-turned-Evangelical Howard Storm talking about an out-of-body experience that took him to hell. Storm spins a fantastical story, yet he thinks atheists are the ignorant ones? Storm says if atheists will just ask Jesus if he is real and sincerely ask him to come into their lives, he will indeed show us that he is real and come into our lives. Go for it! atheist friends.
This is the one hundred and eighty-first installment in The Sounds of Fundamentalism series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a video clip that shows the crazy, cantankerous, or contradictory side of Evangelical Christianity, please send me an email with the name or link to the video. Please do not leave suggestions in the comment section. Let’s have some fun!
Today’s Sound of Fundamentalism features a video clip from a Christian man who says he died, his soul went to hell, Satan laughed at him, and then, drum roll please, Jesus swooped down and saved him. The man in the video says several times that he knows people won’t believe him, but what happened is true! His proof? Cuz he says so.
Mark Virkler, an Evangelical pastor and founder of Christian Leadership University — an unaccredited online institution, recently wrote an article for CHARISMA titled, Tell-Tales Signs You Have Bought Into ‘Satan’s Truth.’ Virkler, who sports a “Dr.” in front of his name, believes that the biggest problem facing Christians today is that they use wrong approaches for determining truth. I suspect the word “truth” means something different to Virkler from what it does me, but that aside, I totally agree with him about Christians using wrong tools and methodology for determining what is factual and true. Unfortunately, the recommendations I would make to Christians, Virkler rejects, believing they are the Satanic tools used to lead Christians astray.
Virkler begins his post by listing several approaches to truth that he has abandoned — supposedly for the “truth” he is going to reveal later. Virkler, at some point in his life, abandoned:
If dad said it was true, it was true.
If my teacher said it was true, it was true.
If my college professor said it was true, it was true.
If science said it was true, it was true.
If one or several double-blind studies said it was true, it was true.
If my doctor said it was true, it was true.
If my interpretation of the Bible said it was true, it was true.
If reason and logic said it was true, it was true
If my senses told me it was true, it was true.
According to Virkler, rationalism and humanism are methods Satan recommends to Christians as they search for “truth.” Virkler writes:
Figure it out yourself! Satan offered Eve his approach for discovering truth: You don’t really need these walks with God every day (in other words, you don’t need revelation knowledge or direct encounter with God), for “you can know” (see Gen. 3:5). That temptation has developed into two false philosophies for knowing:
“You” = Humanism: “Life centers in man’s human capacity” “Know” = Rationalism: “Life centers in man’s reasoning capacity”
Following is an excerpt from John G. Lake’s article, The Power of the Name:
“In the beginning, man’s spirit was the dominant force in the world. When he sinned, his mind became dominant. Sin dethroned the spirit and crowned the intellect. But grace is restoring the spirit to its place of dominion. When man comes to realize this, he will live in the realm of the supernatural without effort.”
Rationalism and humanism are two false gods I worshipped and followed during the early years of my Christian life.
It was a tremendous battle to defeat these two false gods, as they were deeply entrenched in my life through my culture, my education, my natural disposition to be a thinker as well as my “Christian training” which taught me to work hard to keep God’s laws.
What, you might ask, does Virkler recommend in the place of humanism and rationalism? I am so glad you asked! Are you ready, boys and girls? Drum roll, please! Virkler recommends walking with God under the leadership of the Holy Spirit. That’s right. Just let God lead the way and “truth” will be yours! Imagine a college student buying into Virkler’s logic. No need to study, no need to prepare. Just pray and follow the Holy Spirit’s leadership when you take your finals. God will show you the way!
Virkler sums up his God-approved approach to truth this way:
The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth, guides you into all truth (see John 14:17; 16:13).
So the Bible is clear: it is the Holy Spirit Who will guide us into all truth. It’s amazing how I had diminished the work of the indwelling, illuminating Holy Spirit and replaced His work with my mind, my theology, my brain and my understanding of Scriptures. I now set aside my false gods of humanism, rationalism and biblicism and honor what Jesus has said and modeled in Scripture. It is the Holy Spirit Who is continuing to reveal all truth to me. Everything the Holy Spirit reveals will be compatible with Scripture, even though it may not be detailed in Scripture.
Notice carefully what he says: the Holy Spirit … will guide us into all truth. Not some truth; not just Biblical truth; not just Christianity-related truth; no, he believes a mythical being who supposedly lives inside every Christian guides believers into A-L-L TRUTH — if they let her, anyway. Christians, then, don’t need reason or critical thinking skills. All they need is Jesus and his ghostly buddy, the horn player in the three-piece band, the Holy Spirit.
Virkler’s nonsensical (and dangerous) approach to truth (facts) is embraced by millions of American Evangelicals. Instead of using the brain the good Lord supposedly gave them to intellectually, rationally, critically, and skeptically study a matter, Christians just pray, maybe read God’s answer book, and trust that a non-existent poltergeist will lead them to all truth.
Does anyone think by taking these classes (and I assume all the undergraduate Bible courses) that a recently minted Doctor is prepared and qualified to counsel anyone more than a pet hamster? Of course not. In fact, I seriously doubt this training qualifies a person to counsel said hamster. Now, with all that Holy Ghost power at his disposal, I suppose he could try to raise old George, the hamster, from the dead. Now THAT would be entertaining!
According to Virkler, his educational approach differs from that of the “world.” Instead of teaching students knowledge, Christian Leadership University trains students to sense God and live in the Spirit. Students are expected to NOTindependently use their minds. Get your mouth off the floor. I am not exaggerating here:
We have a choice when we come to learning: We can eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, or we can eat from the tree of life. Both trees were present in the Garden of Eden. One was forbidden and one was allowed. We were forbidden to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil and encouraged to eat from the tree of life.
What is the tree of knowledge? What is the tree of life? May I suggest that the tree of knowledge is the independent use of our minds, where we try to figure out for ourselves what is good and what is evil. Even if we use the Holy Scriptures in our pursuit of this knowledge, we can still run amuck. The Pharisees did. Paul did. But then he learned that he needed the revelation of the Holy Spirit to help him interpret Scriptures
As I was perusing Christian Leadership University’s website, I came across a local connection on their faculty page, “Dr.” Karen King. King pastors New Beginnings Ministry in nearby Fayette, Ohio. King actually has a degree from Defiance College — a nearby accredited institution. All her post-graduate work and degrees, however, came from — you guessed it — Christian Leadership University (CLU). This is a common ploy by such institutions. Faculty members may have undergraduate degrees from accredited institutions, but their post-graduate degrees all come from CLU. Some CLU professors have done all of their post-high school work through Christian Leadership. Virkler has a bachelor’s degrees from Roberts Wesleyan College, but his two post-graduate degrees come from unaccredited Bible colleges.
Virkler will likely argue that human accreditation means nothing; that it falls under the humanistic, rationalistic approach Satan uses to deceive people. I would argue that CLU owes its students an education, one that teaches them critical thinking skills; one that values knowledge. Instead, students are taught to value supernatural revelation and God whispering in your ear. Is it any wonder that it is almost impossible to reach and reason with people who have been infected with this kind of thinking? Gnostic at its core, CLU teaches students that they possess an inside track with God; that the Holy Spirit will give them special knowledge and understanding, none of which the educated people of the world possess. Want to see what this baby looks like when its full grown? Take a look at Bethel Redding. No belief or practice is too extreme. When objectivity, rational thinking, skepticism, and critical thinking are deemed unimportant, why, anything is possible.
About Bruce Gerencser
Bruce Gerencser, 61, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 40 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.
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.
[Billy Graham] is a hundred percent devoted. The Lord sees his heart, gives him a tremendous ministry, and who do you think is sitting in the background going, ‘I have to do something about this, this guy is sold out, I have to do something’? Who do you think is sitting in the background doing that? The devil, right?
So, in 1942, that is when Billy Graham’s ministry really takes off, and who do you think was born in 1942? Stephen Hawking. Stephen Hawking comes from a long line of atheists—his father and all these people—so I believe the devil said, ‘OK, this guy was just born and I’m going to use this guy. This guy is already primed to accept my message that there is no God. He is already primed for it, he is going to be awash, immersed in atheism all his years as a child, I’m going to take over this guy’s life.
I believe Stephen Hawking was kept alive by demonic forces. I believe that it was the demonic realm that kept this man alive as a virtual vegetable his entire life just so he could spread this message that there is no God.
If you were an Evangelical in the 1980s, you surely remember the Satanic ritual abuse hysteria that swept through many churches. The following was published on the Christian Nightmares website — a must read site if you are interested in the bat-crazy stuff found in more than a few Evangelical churches, denominations, and colleges.
From Joel Huschle: “Here are a few handouts I was given in a college class in the late 80s. We were also told that many of us were likely victims of Satanic Ritual Abuse and to seek out therapists who are trained to detect it.”
For Sale Sign in Main Entrance Door, Emmanuel Baptist Church, Pontiac, Michigan
The Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church movement is a subset under the broad banner of Evangelicalism. IFB pastors and congregants tend to be theological, political, and social extremists. While their theological beliefs differ little from garden variety Evangelicals, how they engage and interact with the broader religious and secular cultures sets them apart from other Evangelicals.
Millions of Americans attend IFB churches. Millions more attend IFB-like churches affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. In the late 1960s through the early 1980s, many of the largest American churches were IFB congregations. As our society moved leftward socially and morally, IFB pastors and institutions dug in their heels and refused to adapt or change. Thinking the methods they used were timeless truths that must be religiously practiced, IFB churches hemorrhaged members, losing them to churches that were not as intolerant or extreme. By the 1990s, once-filled megachurch auditoriums were empty, resulting in more than few IFB churches filing for bankruptcy or closing their doors.
In the mid-1970s, my wife and I attended Midwestern Baptist College in Pontiac, Michigan. Midwestern was started in the 1950s by Alabamian pulpiteer Tom Malone. Malone pastored nearby Emmanuel Baptist Church, which at the time was one of the largest churches in America, boasting thousands each week in attendance. Midwestern was never a large college, but the institution was noted for turning out preachers and church planters. By the late 1980s, Midwestern and Emmanuel Baptist were in serious numerical and financial free fall. Eventually, Emmanuel closed its doors and Midwestern became a ministry of an IFB church in Orion, Michigan.
What happened to Emmanuel Baptist continues to happen to IFB churches today. IFB pastors, with few exceptions, are Biblical literalists who refuse to believe anything that contradicts their Fundamentalist interpretations of the Bible. IFB pastors, to the man, believe the Bible is the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God. Some pastors even go far as to say that only the King James Version of the Bible is the Word of God; that other translations are the works of Satan. Literalism and inerrancy are considered cardinal doctrines of the faith. This has resulted in IFB pastors and churches believing all sorts of absurdities. IFB pastors are, without exception, creationists. Most of them are young earth creationists, believing that God created the universe in six twenty-four-hour days, 6,022 years ago. Bible stories meant to illustrate greater spiritual truths are often taken literally, resulting in IFB adherents believing, among a host of absurdities, that the earth was destroyed by a universal flood 4,000 or so years ago, the sun and moon stood still (Joshua 10:13), and all humans trace their lineage back to two people — Adam and Eve. Their commitment to literalism forces IFB pastors to defend fantastical things. If the Bible says it, it’s true. End of discussion!
While there is some eschatological diversity within the IFB church movement, literalism demands that pastors believe and teach that the events recorded in the book of Revelation will one day literally take place. Most IFB church members believe that the return of Jesus to earth is imminent. A wide, deep apocalyptic river runs through the IFB church movement, leading to an extreme love and devotion to God’s chosen people, Israel. President Trump’s plan to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capitol is sure to excite IFB preachers — yet another “sign” that the return of Jesus is nigh. That this move could ignite the entire region and lead to war, is of little concern to IFB preachers. They believe that things must continue to get worse; that Jesus won’t come back to earth until the world stage is set for his triumphal return. This means that a war of epic proportions must occur, ending in Armageddon. While IFB preachers might not admit it out loud, I am certain many of them would welcome nuclear war, believing that such a war will make the world ready to embrace first the anti-Christ and then later Jesus when he returns to earth on a literal white horse to defeat the anti-Christ and Satan.
IFB pastors and churches are politically right-wing. If a survey were conducted with IFB adherents, I suspect surveyors would find that church members overwhelmingly voted for Donald Trump, and are anti-abortion, anti-LGBTQ, anti-same sex marriage, and very much in favor of returning prayer and Bible reading to public school classrooms (even though many of them either home school or have their children enrolled in Christian schools). In earlier years, the IFB church movement believed there was a strict separation of church and state. Today, many IFB pastors and churches no longer believe the wall of separation exists, and that the United States is a Christian nation — a country chosen by God. This thinking can be traced back to the late 1970s when IFB megachurch pastor Jerry Falwell, along with Paul Weyrich, started the Moral Majority. Since then, scores of IFB pastors have used their pulpits to advance certain (almost always Republican) political policies and candidates.
Bruce, I thought this post was about why IFB preachers (and many within their congregations) don’t have peaceful, contented lives. It is, but I felt it necessary to show how IFB pastor think and view the world before explaining why so many of them lack peace and contentment in their lives. If the IFB church movement is anything, it is anti-culture. IFB pastors see themselves as prophets or watchmen on the walls, warning all who will listen that God is real, the Bible is true, and hell awaits all those who reject the IFB way, truth, and life. IFB preachers think it is their duty to wage war against Satan and the enemies of God. I can only imagine how hysterical IFB preachers are over LGBTQ acceptance, same-sex marriage, and the increasing prominence of atheism. Anything that challenges their beliefs must be refuted and turned back. Add to this the internecine warfare IFB churches are famous for, and it should come as no surprise that pastors find themselves constantly battling the “forces of darkness and evil.” Every dawn brings a new day with new battles that must be fought. Not only must IFB preachers wage war against Satan, cults, false Christianity, liberalism, and secularism, they must also fight against those in their own movement who want to make IFB churches more “worldly.”
The battles, then, never end. Day in and day out, IFB pastors are in fight mode. And those who are not? They are labelled compromisers and hirelings who are only concerned with money and prestige. Is it any wonder then that IFB preachers rarely have peaceful, contented lives? Their lives are in a constant state of turmoil. Satan and the world are pushing against their beliefs and values at every turn. Not fighting back is considered cowardly, a betrayal of everything IFB believers hold dear. Go to any town in America where there is an IFB church and ask mainline pastors how they view the local IFB pastor and church. In most instances, mainline pastors will say that local IFB churches have extreme beliefs and seem to thrive on controversy. IFB pastors are viewed as outliers on the fringe of Christianity — haters and dissemblers who have no tolerance for anyone but those who adhere to their narrow beliefs and practices.
Separation from the world and separation from erring Christians is a fundamental doctrine within IFB churches. This too leads to never ending angst and stress. Concerned over encroaching “worldliness,” IFB pastors often have long lists of rules (church standards) congregants are expected to follow. (please read The Official Independent Baptist Rulebook) While the rules vary from church to church, they are meant to inoculate church members from becoming infected with “worldly” ideas. The Apostle Paul, writing to the Church at Corinth, said:
Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. (2 Corinthians 6:14-17)
1 John 2:15-17 states:
Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.
Verses such as these fuel IFB separatist beliefs and practices. The world is evil and must be, with few exceptions, avoided at all costs. This is why IFB pastors and institutions are the forefront of the Christian School and home school movements. What better way to avoid worldliness than to wall off families and children from the influence of “worldly” schools?
I am sure that many, if not most, IFB preachers would disagree with me when I say they don’t have peaceful contented lives. However, I would ask them to consider whether their constant battles against sin, worldliness, liberalism, and compromise have robbed them of the goodness, peace, and contentment life has to offer; that constantly being at odds with not only the “world,” but also fellow Christians, is bound to exact an emotional toll. Thinking you alone stand for God, truth, and righteousness requires constant diligence lest compromise and “worldliness” creep in. Aren’t you tired, preacher, of being constantly at war with everyone and everything around you? Maybe it is time for you lay down your weapons of war and rejoin the human race. Countless former IFB pastors and church members have done just that. Tired of the constant turmoil and unrest, they finally said, ENOUGH! and walked away. Most of them found kinder, gentler forms of faith, and a handful of ex-IFB believers have embraced agnosticism or atheism. Scary, I know, but not having to constantly be on guard lest Satan gain the advantage is worth the risk of judgment and hell. I am sure God will understand. A wild, wonderful world awaits those who dare to lay down their Fundamentalist beliefs and walk away. If you are ready to say ENOUGH! and want help plotting a life of peace and contentment, I would love to help you do so.
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.
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.
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.
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”?
Warning! Lyrics may contain offensive, vulgar language.
This is the one hundred and fifty-second installment in the Songs of Sacrilege series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a song that is irreverent towards religion, makes fun of religion, pokes fun at sincerely held religious beliefs, or challenges the firmly held religious beliefs of others, please send me an email.
We’re standing here by the abyss And the world is in flames Two star crossed lovers reaching out To the beast with many names
He is He’s the shining and the light without whom I cannot see And He is Insurrection He is spite He’s the force that made me be He is Nostro Dispater Nostr’Alma Mater He is
We are hiding here inside a dream And all our doubts are now destroyed The guidance of the morning star Will lead the way into the void
He is He’s the shining in the light without whom I cannot see And He is Insurrection He is spite He’s the force that made me be He is Nostro Dispater Nostr’Alma Mater He is
He is He’s the shining and the light without whom I cannot seeAnd He is Insurrection
And He is Insurrection He is spite He’s the force that made me be He is He’s the shining in the light without whom I cannot see And He is The disobedience that holds us together He is Nostro Dispater Nostr’Alma Mater And we are falling over the precipice
This is the one hundred and fifty-sixth installment in The Sounds of Fundamentalism series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a video clip that shows the crazy, cantankerous, or contradictory side of Evangelical Christianity, please send me an email with the name or link to the video. Please do not leave suggestions in the comment section. Let’s have some fun!
Today’s Sound of Fundamentalism is a video clip of the 1989 Evangelical film, “Hell’s Bells: The Dangers of Rock and Roll Music.”
The film examines the relationship of rock music to sex, violence, suicide, drug use, rebellion, miscegenation, the occult, and other activities considered immoral by biblical theology. The film portrays various lyrics and visual imagery in rock music and rock stars as evidence that it is satanic or anti-Christian. It also alleges that perceived hidden messages and satanic backmasking exist in several examples of popular songs and music culture. The music in the documentary is music produced prior to the 1990s.
This is the one hundred and fifty-fifth installment in The Sounds of Fundamentalism series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a video clip that shows the crazy, cantankerous, or contradictory side of Evangelical Christianity, please send me an email with the name or link to the video. Please do not leave suggestions in the comment section. Let’s have some fun!
Today’s Sound of Fundamentalism is a video clip of the 1982 Evangelical film, “Rock: It’s Your Decision.”
Jeff Sims is a teenage Christian in conflict with his parents over his love for rock music. His mother has him see his local youth pastor and has him placed under contract to give up rock music for two weeks, and research whether or not it’s good for him as a Christian. Jeff takes him up on his deal, and within a week he becomes increasingly fanatical and ends up alienating everyone in sight. The film ends with him giving a sermon about what he has “researched” about rock music, giving a list of several songs and bands and why they are “satanic” and “occultic”, and that they are promoting sinful vices such as premarital sex, drug abuse, and even goes as far as to spring forth his homophobic views in connection with the music by saying that “some of them are admitted homosexuals”. He then shatters a record against the podium and declares, “I’ve made my decision, what’s yours?”
Jeff Sims is the designated “hero” of this piece of propaganda, but by today’s standards (even by 1982’s standards) many interpret Jeff’s story as less of a movement against sin, and more about the tragic tale of a boy twisted by the controlling fundamentalists (his parents and youth pastor) in his life who ends up turning into a bigoted, hateful, religious fundamentalist jackass whose perceptions on life are heavily warped, and ultimately ends up driving away everyone who cared about him. When he does disown rock music from his life, he tries to force everyone around him to do the same and dumps his friends for listening to the genre. Even when he yells at his own mother for watching soap operas thinking they are evil, the movie still wants you to root for this guy. Alternately, since fundamentalist religion obliges people to be less tolerant of beliefs unlike their own, then Jeff, from a fundamentalist perspective, doesn’t become a jackass at all, but a wide-eyed idealist and his insistence on forcing his views on other people isn’t twisted or inappropriate behavior, but rather Jeff trying to warn his loved ones about the impending traps that will send them to hell. Some viewers (like the Agony Booth reviewer) have even interpreted Jeff as being a deeply closeted homosexual. The audience is meant to see his close friends, Marty and Melissa, as antagonists trying to tempt Jeff back into his old ways, but they make some valid points about him becoming fanatical as he repeatedly tries to push his new lifestyle choices on them and others. Melissa seems pretty justified in being angry with Jeff for canceling his plans to go to a rock concert with her (plans made three months in advance for her birthday) because of a deal with his youth pastor he made only recently. Threatening to take another guy to the concert may seem a bit harsh, but she does apologize for it later. Later, Jeff gets angry with Marty for playing rock music at a party he was hosting in his own house. Yet we’re expected to take Jeff’s side earlier when he refuses to let Melissa listen to a rock station when he’s giving her a ride in his car.
Recently, yet another Evangelical zealot stopped by to let me know what he thought of me. Enjoy!
You are a disgrace to your country, family and yourself! I know that you hate too hear it but… you were NEVER, EVER, Saved! Your god is your belly!
You are the most selfish person that I never met! You desperately need to really get Saved! Fall down on your face and beg Jesus Christ for Forgiveness! Repent! Get Baptized! Join a Fundamentalist Christian Church! You are a slob, and have been your entire sad life! Get out of the wagon and help the rest of us pull it!
Give back the money that you stole: pretending to be a “pastor”! I Will be praying for you, but your family, really needs the prayers much more! How can you look your children in the face! You are SATANIC for the misery that you have caused them!
A common trait of Evangelicals is their insistence that life without Jesus is miserable, meaningless, empty, and void of happiness. Now, thanks to Dax Hughes, associate pastor of Heartland Worship Center in Paducah, Kentucky, we have a new word to add to the list: disastrous. Hughes writes:
Life without Christ is disastrous. Check your soul and you will see it is true. We all know this deep down that there is something more for us beyond ourselves and his world.
Hughes asks readers to check their souls. Fine, where is my soul? How can I access it? Is my soul like the check engine light on my car, where when something is wrong with my automobile the electronic control module (ECM) trips a code and causes the orange CHECK ENGINE light to appear? If the answer is yes, where is my CHECK SOUL light? Maybe the reason I can’t see it is because my soul is black like my heart.
There is no evidence for the claim that humans have a soul. Evangelicals insist that everyone has some sort of ethereal eternal soul that leaves our body when we die, only to be reunited with our body when our bodies are resurrected so we can stand before God and be judged. According to Hughes, everyone KNOWS deep down — wherever the heaven deep down is — that is there is more for us than the here and now. Sorry Dax, I don’t know any such thing. All I “know” is that life is short and then we die. I have plenty of evidence for this claim of mine. What does Hughes offer up for his claim? Assertion. That’s what Evangelicals do — they assert without proof that their beliefs are infallibly true. Filled with self-righteous certainty, zealots such as Hughes cannot imagine any other truth claim but their own. I know, based on what I can see with my eyes and understand through observation, that humans are born, live, and die. End of story. There is no evidence for the claim that life continues in some other form after death. No one, not even Jesus, has come back from the dead. After thousands of years of people living and dying, it is safe for us to conclude that when people die they stay dead. It is for this reason that I give the following advice on my ABOUT page:
You have one life. There is no heaven or hell. There is no afterlife. You have one life, it’s yours, and what you do with it is what matters most. Love and forgive those who matter to you and ignore those who add nothing to your life. Life is too short to spend time trying to make nice with those who will never make nice with you. Determine who are the people in your life that matter and give your time and devotion to them. Live each and every day to its fullest. You never know when death might come calling. Don’t waste time trying to be a jack of all trades, master of none. Find one or two things you like to do and do them well. Too many people spend way too much time doing things they will never be good at.
Here’s the conclusion of the matter. It’s your life and you’ best get to living it. Someday, sooner than you think, it will be over. Don’t let your dying days be ones of regret over what might have been.
Hughes goes on to list his top ten reasons life without Jesus is a disaster:
You need to be perfect to meet God’s standard and you can’t even get close by your own efforts.
There is no God so we need not worry about meeting “God’s standard” — Greek for Hughes’s personal interpretation of the Christian Bible. Humans are infallibly flawed. The best any of us can do is to love others and treat people with kindness, decency, and respect. When we behave badly, we need not seek out a mythical God’s forgiveness. Instead, we should seek out the forgiveness of those we have offended. God and religion are middlemen that complicate relationships.
You waste your whole life pursuing stuff and people that never brings you real joy and peace.
Remember, Hughes thinks life is disastrous without Jesus. Would he listen if I told him that atheists and other non-Christians have joy and peace, along with meaning and purpose? Probably not. Evangelicals are walled off from any worldview but their own. For Evangelicals, life begins and ends with Jesus, the Bible, and faith. Think for a moment about how much of life Evangelicals miss when they narrow their living down to only Jesus matters. Think of all the stuff and people they miss out on because they are busy brown-nosing Jesus. It is Evangelicals who have shallow lives, lives un-lived because of what this or that Bible verse says. In what other realm of life do we think it is okay for a bronze-age religious text to dictate the terms of life? The world would be much better off if the Bible was put on the shelf with other ancient, outdated, irrelevant books. At the very least, Christians should update the Bible so that it is applicable to the 21st century. Evangelicals need to stop trying to convince themselves that the Bible is a timeless book filled with unsearchable riches. I know that this claim is not true because I, unlike many Christians, actually took the time to read and reread the Bible numerous times. I don’t need to read it again to know what it says.
You are trying to find purpose in life without ever connecting with the only one who can give you real purpose. (It is like playing chess without the king on the board.)
*Sigh.* Hughes cannot imagine any other way of looking at the world but his own. If he could, he would notice that the majority of the human race finds meaning and purpose in life without “connecting” with the Christian God. I have no problem with people such as Hughes “connecting” with their God, but it is offensive for them to suggest that the lives of others have no purpose without becoming followers of Jesus and Hughes’ flavor of Christianity. Billions of people are a living testimony to the fact that what Hughes says here is not true. It might be true for him, but most people have no need for Jesus or Christianity. Life is good without God.
Being religious in order to clean up is about as beneficial as putting perfume and nice clothes on a corpse and calling it full of life.
Hughes is attempting to advance the claim that what true Christians have is a relationship not a religion. I hate to break it to Hughes, but Christianity is a religion made up of thousands of sects. Suggesting that Christianity is not a religion is as absurd as playing chess without a king (see Hughes’ illustration above).
Your enemy is stronger than you and can beat you down every time without divine intervention.
Who is this enemy Hughes speaks of? Satan? Carbohydrates? I assume Hughes is speaking of the Devil, another mythical being in Christianity’s panoply of myths. As with the existence of God, there is no evidence for the existence of the Devil. Saying THE BIBLE SAYS is not evidence. If Hughes has evidence for the existence of Lucifer, by all means he should share it. The existence of evil is not proof of Satan’s existence. All its existence proves is that humans are capable of doing bad things — no devil needed.
You were made to bring glory to God and you are trying to give it to someone or something else and it’s making you miserable inside.
I was made through my father and mother having intercourse. An egg united with a sperm and nine months later Bruce was born. If anyone deserves credit for my existence, they do. Mom and Dad are dead, so I can’t thank them for bringing me into this world, but I can spend the rest of life giving credit to whom credit is due. As a humanist, I believe that I should praise, compliment, and thank people who do well. When a server at a restaurant takes care of our dining needs, should we dial up the restaurant’s corporate office and thank them for the great service? Of course not. It is the cook who made our food and the server who brought it to our table who deserve credit for the quality of our dining experience.
Hughes wrongly thinks that non-Christians spend their lives being unhappy and miserable. Perhaps Hughes should spend some time talking with atheists, agnostics, and other non-Christians. I think he will find that we are, for the most part, a happy lot. Yes, chronic pain and illness make my body feel miserable, but I choose to embrace and enjoy life despite my pain.
You place all your emphasis on living it up for the 70 years or so on earth and give no emphasis or preparation for the eternity you will have left after this life.
Hughes is correct on this point. I plan on living it up until I die, knowing that this is the only opportunity I will have to do so. If not today, when? I feel sad for Evangelicals who choose to refuse themselves the pleasures of this world in the hope that they will get some sort a divine payoff after they die and enter God’s Trump Tower — Heaven Location®. Of course, dead Evangelicals will not know what they have missed out on. They will, like all of us, die, and that will be the end of the matter. They will have no chance to reflect on an un-lived life. Henry David Thoreau was right when he said, “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” I fear that many Christians will come to the end of life only to find, as Thoreau says, that they have not lived.
You are blind, unaware, ignorant and deceived and you think you can figure out your meaning on this earth on your own.
To this point, all I can say is that the grand project of humanity is to find meaning and purpose. We need no God or religion to guide us. All that is necessary is that we open our eyes wide and walk forward, embracing the tests and challenges that come our way. If we live long enough, we will most likely learn something about ourselves, others, and this planet we share. My grandchildren marvel over Grandpa knowing so much stuff. Well, I have been walking the path now for almost sixty years. I would hope, by now, that I have learned a thing or three. There is much that I do not know, and I will likely run out of life before I figure out the ways of women, but I can humbly say that through hard work and diligence and hell of a lot of reading, that I know a bit about this life.
I find it offensive that Hughes suggests that I and my fellow heathens are blind, unaware, ignorant and deceived, all because we reject his anti-human religious beliefs (and we reject Christianity because we have weighed it in the balance and found it wanting).
You will face a terrible judgment by the most powerful judge of all time who has overwhelming proof against you and can give the most devastating punishment and you are willing to take a chance that it will all go in your favor without any real reason to believe so except that you want it to be ok.
Hughes attempts to uses the well-worn trope Pascal’s Wager. Memo to Dax: Never, ever use Pascal’s Wager. It is a lame, dumb, stupid, ignorant, silly, and asinine argument. How can anyone know that Hughes’ deity is the right one? To be safe, shouldn’t we embrace all the religions of the world? Shouldn’t Hughes become a Buddhist, Muslim, and a Catholic just in case the one true God is NOT the Evangelical God? Better safe than sorry, right?
You think you are pretty good compared to most of the world when your wickedness just looks different than yours [sic].
I have no idea what Hughes is saying here. Do I think I am better than some people? Absolutely. Do I think I am better than everyone? Of course not. Believing so would be arrogant, especially since I know quite a few wonderful people — starting with my wife, children, grandchildren, and many of the people I have met through this blog, to name a few. The world is filled is with godless people who just so happen to be kind, loving, and compassionate. Their wonderfulness needs no deity or divine instruction. I would argue that Evangelical belief often makes Christians unkind and unloving, lacking compassion for anyone who is not like them. One need only look at the culture war and the recent presidential election to see that many Evangelicals are mean, nasty, arrogant, self-righteous, hateful, and vile. What religious group is at the forefront of the war against LGBTQ people and same-sex marriage? What religious group is behind the anti-immigrant hatred that currently permeates our culture? Everywhere I look, I see a religion that is all about power, wealth, and control. If Evangelicalism is all about Jesus, Evangelicals might want to figure out where they left him. Evangelical behavior suggests that Evangelicals practice a do and I say, not as I do religion. As long as Evangelicals continue to wage war on those the Bible calls “the least of these,” it has nothing to offer the American people.