Thank you for reading The Life and Times of Bruce Gerencser in 2019. Readership numbers were up over last year, and I hope this will continue in 2020.
Over the coming months, I hope to:
Change and update the site theme
Update broken links
Update and refresh Facebook page and Twitter
Finish off orphan series
Update and expands and repost some of the posts from 2015
Continue to write about Evangelicalism, the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church movement, and clergy crime (Black Collar Crime series)
Sometime, sooner than later, I must make a decision about what to do with the daily digest mailing list. Over the past two years, MailChimp has increased the cost of its service by 40% (25% rate increase last month) over the past two years. While the raw subscriber numbers show 931 subscribers, the metrics show that less than 10% of subscribers read one or more posts on any given day. It is likely that I will move the mailing list to Automattic’s Mailing list service via Jetpack. Readers may have to re-subscribe, and I am sure that a few readers will be pissed off by the move. Sorry about that . . .
Health willing, I hope 2020 is the best year ever for this blog. Your kindness and support are appreciated.
I have decided to reestablish my Twitter account. I plan to post links from this site to my Twitter feed. If you have a Twitter account and are so inclined, I would appreciate it if you would FOLLOW me @BruceGerencser.
Warning! Snark and cursing ahead. You have been warned.
Yesterday, an Evangelical woman by the name of Margo left several comments on Facebook detailing why I never was a Christian. I responded to her several times, but to no avail. I tried to get her to read the posts on the WHY? page and read several of Dr. Bart Ehrman’s books, but she would have none of that either. Her mind was made up: Bruce Gerencser, the one-time Evangelical-preacher-turned-atheist is not now nor ever has been a Christian. At this point, I told her to fuck off. If someone can’t at least give me a hearing or make any attempt to understand my story, I have no time for them.
What follows are two of Margo’s comments/messages. My response is indented. All spelling and grammar in the original. Enjoy!
One who professes Faith in Jesus Christ.. becomes a preacher of the Living Word of God… only to become an atheist and secular-humanist. //// Heres what I believe—- one who does this was never saved.
I have written many times about the absurdity of the “you were never saved” argument. First, it flies in the face of all objective evidence from the twenty-five years I spent in the ministry. Everything about my life said that I was a devoted follower of Jesus Christ. My doctrine was orthodox as was my practice. I devoted virtually every waking hour to Jesus, studying the Bible and praying every day. I genuinely cared about my congregation. I made sure their spiritual and material needs were met. I evangelized the lost and attempted to restore backsliders. Ask anyone who knew me at the time, and they will without hesitation testify that I was a Christian. Nothing in my conduct and habits said to those who knew me best — family, congregants, colleagues — that I was anything but a man who took his faith seriously. To suggest, then, that I was never a Christian is absurd.
Think for a moment about the level of deception that I would have had to use to convince thousands of people I was a Christian. The same can be said for my relationships with colleagues in the ministry. These men heard me preach, prayed with and for me, broke bread with me, and knew my secrets, yet not one of them ever had doubts about my faith.
“Why does this matter to you?” you might ask. “You don’t believe in God, so who cares, right?” Sure, but the issue here is her attempt to invalidate my story. Each of us has a right to his or her own story. I refuse to let Evangelical zealots control my storyline. I refuse to let them use their peculiar theology to define who/what I am and who/what I was in the past.
Why? Because truly born-again believing Christians.. no matter what, remain so.
This is a classic example of allowing theology to trump personal observation and knowledge; of faith trumping reason. And I get it. When you believe the Bible is God’s inspired, inerrant, infallible Word, it colors your thinking and how you view others. In Margo’s mind, I can’t be a born-again Christian because I no longer believe; and if I now am an atheist that means I never truly believed in Jesus.
I explain the absurdity of this argument this way: there was a day/time when Jesus and I were married. Our marriage lasted almost 50 years. But, there came a time when I no longer loved Jesus or followed his commands and teachings. Not wanting to be in a loveless relationship, I divorced Jesus. Lots of Christians lose their faith and walk away. Granted, it’s not common for someone of my age and ministerial experience to do so, but it does happen. I know of numerous men who labored in God’s coal mine for decades, only to lose their faith. Christians can pretend all they want that we don’t exist — but we do, and we are not going away.
If in the “real” world a man and woman can get married and later divorce, so it is with those of us who were once the Brides of the Bridegroom — Jesus. Does a divorce negate the past? Of course not. I once was married to Jesus and now we are divorced. Nothing I can do now will erase the memories/experiences Jesus and I shared — even if he was a figment of my imagination.
“But, Bruce, THE BIBLE SAYS!” I don’t care what a critic “thinks” the Bible says. The Bible can be made to say anything; to prove anything; to justify anything. What matters is how a person lives, and my life as an Evangelical pastor measures up to the lives of holy and zealous Christians such as Margo. Even now, as an atheist I do my best to live a moral and ethical life. I’m not perfect, but I do want to treat others well. Is that not the essence of Christianity: to do good to other people? Did not Jesus say that the second tablet of the Law was summed up thusly: to love your neighbor as yourself? I am not bragging here as much as I am saying that I am a decent, kind, loving human being, one who does his best to make the world a better place. Sadly, far too many Christians are focused on eternity, so much so that they ignore what is going on right in front of them.
No matter how tough life may become.. one still knows God is at the helm.//// However, there are true Christians who get down in their boots via the toils of life.. and claim to no longer believe.. and/or have lost their faith. Those types are still saved. ///// What you have done is not that.
When Christ saves the believer,.. he then, SEALS the believer for the day of redemption. In His own ways.. He knows who is whom.. from the instant one hears the Word and truly believes or not. You are no different than those of whom “make a profession of faith in Christ”.. but, sometime down the line.. convert to Islam or Judaism or Hinduism. Those who do such things were never saved.
Margo subtly alleges that something happened in my life — “the toils of life” — to cause me to walk away from Christianity. Instead of “enduring,” I gave up, or so she thinks, anyway. Never mind that my deconversion story has many levels of complexity. Never mind the anguishing tear-filled hours I spent studying the Bible, praying, reading books, and talking to my spouse, hoping that I could somehow, some way hang on to my faith. None of this matters. Margo’s interpretation of the Bible says that I never was a Christian, end of story. E.F. Hutton has spoken.
You’ve taken it a step or two further.. as you enjoy the secular-humanistic ‘doctrines of demons’… and claim to be an atheist. No true born-again believer would ever do such things.
Yet, according to my story, one did. And I know scores of other preachers who have followed similar paths. I may be following “doctrines of demons” now, but years ago I earnestly battled Satan. Filled with the Holy Ghost, I waged war against powers and principalities. This was, of course, a war against a pooka named Harvey, but I sincerely believed I was wrestling angels of darkness. A belief does not have to be grounded in reality for it to affect a person’s life. This is true of all sorts of beliefs, including religious ones.
I don’t need a crystal ball to tell me the future… my future in Jesus Christ. I’m a born-again believing Christian. Not perfect. Just perfect in Christ. Seems YOU Have taken passages of scripture out of context.. and using that as an “excuse” to ‘hate Jesus.’
What Scripture did I take out of context? Is it even possible to take Scripture out of context? The text can literally be made to say almost anything. The Bible teaches several different plans of salvation, yet Margo has determined her plan of salvation and her interpretation of Scripture is the standard by which ALL believers and unbelievers alike will be judged.
For the record, I don’t “hate” Jesus. Why would I waste my time hating a man who died 2,000 years ago? This would be like me hating Julius Caesar or any other historical figure. I am generally not a hater to start with, and I most certainly have never, ever hated an ancient religious figure who lived and died two millennia ago. If I was truly going to hate someone, I’d focus my hatred on the orange-haired toddler currently sucking the life out of our Republic. There’s a man worth hating. “But, Bruce, you wrote a post titled, Why I Hate Jesus. See, that PROVES you hate the Son of God.” “Did you read the post?” If you did, you know that what I hate is the Evangelical characterization of Jesus, not the actual man. My hatred is focused on the Jesus of Evangelicalism, not the flesh and blood man buried in an unknown grave in the Middle East.
Heaven and Hell
Keep going down this path.. and you WILL end up in Hell. And yes…. Hell does exist. Christ taught on Hell plenty. Satan loves self-pity.. and “victims” of whatever he can use to take you to Hell. Hes not choosy. I hope you swallow your pride… and repent. ……..Sincerely, Margo
Ah yes, there’s nothing like being threatened with an imaginary Hell. I have been threatened with Hell more times than I can count. Margo says Hell exists, yet If I asked her for proof of this claim, all she would say is, THE BIBLE SAYS! Well, let’s stick with the Bible. It says Hell is in the bowels of the earth. Surely, we should be able to scientifically determine the existence of Hell. Yet, there’s no scientific evidence for its existence. None.
The only hell I believe in is the one created by and for humans. We make our own hell on earth, and the same goes for heaven. My goal in life is to minimize hell and maximize heaven for everyone. Well, almost everyone. I do have a short list of people I would love to banish to hell. Oh the delight of seeing them tortured day and night with looping video reruns of Donald Trump’s speeches.
Margo signs off with a sanctimonious “sincerely.” Sincerely? Really? Sincerely, my ass. There’s nothing sincere about Margo’s sermons. Sincerity demands decency and respect, none of which have been displayed by Margo. In her mind, I’m just another atheist she has set straight; another false prophet exposed; another notch on her gospel six-shooter.
I’m so sorry…. did you miss the part about Hell not being a threat but, one of God’s promises?
No, Hell is a threat; an idle threat, but a threat nonetheless. Without the threat of Hell and the promise of Heaven, Evangelical churches would empty out overnight. If there’s nothing to fear and nothing to gain, why bother, right? What else would motivate people such as Margo to seek out complete strangers on the Internet and attempt to deconstruct their lives? What has she gained by contacting me? What has she gained by commenting on my Facebook page? Did Margo really think that she could say anything that would cause me to change my ways? Perhaps, Margo just needs to hear herself talk; that her faith is bolstered by going after unbelievers. If God himself — he knows where I am, 345 E Main St, Ney, Ohio 43549 — can’t affect change in my life, what possibly could Margo do?
You are still an apostate and unrepentant atheist because YOU CHOOSE TO BE. In fact, satan owns your mind. And if you desire to press the matter, God can turn you over to a reprobate mind…. IF thats not already where you are.
Margo steps in it here. If I chose to be an atheist, can’t the same be said for me choosing Jesus/Christianity forty-seven years ago? Can’t the same be said for me voluntarily walking away from Christianity?
Margo, warns me that God could give me a reprobate mind if I keep rebelling against him. Too late. I am already a first-class reprobate. My God, I am a Cincinnati Bengals fan. Is there anything more reprobate than that?
I can fuck off better than the rest. The devil loves a pity-party. Good luck w that… and enjoy Hell. Or repent. Its your own immortal soul that you seem to give a single care about. You will go to Hell because you’ve chosen Hell.
I willingly choose Hell. If that means getting away for eternity from people such as Margo, sign me up, Mr. Devil. let’s party, Mr. Beelzebub. Who in their right mind would want to spend every waking minute genuflecting before Jesus? Not I!
I love good fucking, by the way.
I’M HARDLY A PASSIVE CHRISTIAN. You are not the golden standard by which all things are judged. My “brand” of Christianity is THE BRAND of Christianity. Gods brand. Biblical and sound.
It is refreshing to see a Christian actually admit that their religion is exclusionary; that his or her beliefs are the gold standard; that their life is the standard by which truth faith is measured. Usually Christian zealots try to hide their arrogance, but not Margo. She needs to write a book that details what is exactly required for someone to saved. The Bible is oh-so contradictory, so a concise statement as to the requirements for salvation would be greatly appreciated. Since Margo’s beliefs are TRUTH, no need to write theological books or fund Bible colleges. Just read her book and you will know all you’ll need to know! Think of all the money and time that will be saved. Think of all doctrinal fights that will be avoided. Finally, after 2,000 years of internecine warfare, Margo, the Christian has appeared on the scene to set the record straight.
Maybe as a preacher, you misused scriptures that you’ve taken out of context, yes? Maybe you’ve led many to Hell. I have no clue. Maybe you were a wolf in sheeps clothing. Maybe you “became a Christian” for all the wrong reasons? You’ve listened to demonic sermons about making money by charlatans selling blessings? And it didn’t work for you so, you’re flying the coop?
My theology was Evangelical and orthodox. I suspect Margo would have loved me back in my preaching days. I was a man of THE Book. I preached expositional sermons, making sure that I didn’t stray from the clear meaning of Scripture.
Did I lead many people to Hell? Of course not, since Hell doesn’t exist. And in the temporal realm, the here and now, I did all I could to lessen the hell on earth experienced by believers and unbelievers alike. I deeply cared about the welfare of others. I was not passive in putting my faith into action. My prayers had feet on them, not wings. I believed in putting into practice that which I said I believed. I wasn’t perfect, but I damn sure tried to be.
I became a Christian because preachers told me that I was a wicked, vile sinner in need of salvation. Isn’t that the point every Evangelical comes to? I saw myself as a sinner and Jesus as the solution to my sin problem. There’s nothing in my testimony that suggests I believed a false gospel.
The comment about listening to “demonic sermons about making money by charlatans selling blessings” makes no sense to me. I worked for and lived on poverty wages, yet I did so willingly. Why would anyone live the way I did if I didn’t truly believe?
Was I a wolf in sheep’s clothing? Of course not, but Margo has to believe I was for her delusional narrative of my life to be true. I was a deceiver, a liar, a false prophet deceiving the masses. For Margo, believing this is the only way my story fits in her theological box. Not my problem. Perhaps, she needs to get out more and experience the wonderful diversity life has to offer.
I don’t need to read a bunch of excuses as to why you’ve made such an asinine decision.
Translation: I’m not going to read the suggested posts/books. Yet, Margo wants me to listen to her and give her sermon careful thought. Why should I when she doesn’t respect me as a person and accept at face value my story?
I know the simple Gospel of Jesus Christ. And I am very much a human being. Done all my homework.
Margo hasn’t, of course, done ALL her homework. She didn’t read the posts I asked her to read, and in failing to do so, she judged me without sufficient knowledge. She made no attempt to “know” me, yet she rendered judgment anyway. And in doing so, she violated the clear teaching of Scripture: He [or she] that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him. (Proverbs 18:13)
The devil has you by the nose. Hes your master. You were a false-“convert”.. never were a born-again Christian. Just a pawn for satan. Not a damn thing “irrational” about my thinking.
Bam! Bam! Bam! She loves giving it to me, doesn’t she?
There’s nothing irrational about believing virgins have babies and dead people come back to life? Even the Bible admits that the many of the stories of the Bible seem fantastical. That’s why believing them requires suspending rational, skeptical inquiry — also known as faith.
Atheists always want everyone to know how “smart” they are. You’ll not be hearing from me again.
Well, many atheists are quite smart, or at the very least quite educated about religion. In my case, I know what I know. I didn’t magically lose a lifetime of theological knowledge the moment I said I was an atheist. Has Margo not done the same here? “Look at everything I know,” she is saying. She knows who is saved and who isn’t. Margo knows all sorts of things about my life that she can’t possibly know. Why? She doesn’t know me. Margo read a couple of blog posts, and she thinks she now has sufficient evidence to render judgment. Granted, reading the posts on the WHY? page likely wouldn’t have changed Margo’s mind, but at the very least she would have a better, more nuanced understanding of Bruce Gerencser. And that’s all I ask any of my critics to do. Give my writing an honest reading before you pass judgment.
My favorite line in her comment was this: “You’ll not be hearing from me again.” All praise to Loki for such a wonderful blessing.
Saved by Reason,
After publishing this post, I intended to send Margo a link to the post in case she wanted to respond. Unfortunately, she deleted all her Facebook comments and blocked me from contacting her.
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.
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I didn’t even make it through a week before finding a lot of really good Jesus-ified quotes. My personal favorites are the pumpkin quote and the one in which the writer believes that Jesus/God prevented all sorts of awful atrocities before they happened. Let me know your favorites and your thoughts in the comments!
“Have you prayed about it as much as you’ve talked about it?”
OC: Can Christians stop talking about praying? Why can’t they just go pray in private? That’s what Jesus would do . . . he even said so.
“Being a Christian is like being a pumpkin. God picks you from the patch and brings you in (John 15:16). Then washes all the dirt off of you. (2 Corinthians 5:17). He opens you up and scoops out all the yucky stuff. He removes the seeds of doubt, hate, and greed, etc. (Romans 6:6). Then he carves you a new smiling face (Psalm 71:23). And he puts his light inside you to shine for all the world to see (Matthew 5:16).”
OC: . . . And when Halloween is over, you sit on the front porch and rot until someone throws you in the garbage.
“You don’t have to please others. Just do what God wants you to do, because at the end of the day, it is only He who can satisfy your heart. Not the approval or applause of other people.”
OC: I kind of like it when other people applaud. . . and I haven’t heard God applaud. He’s pretty silent. Silent God.
“He who counts the stars and calls them by their names is in no danger of forgetting his own children.” – Charles Spurgeon
OC: Nah, he doesn’t forget him, he just lets awful things happen to them.
“Trust me, I know what I’m doing — God”
OC: God, you sure have a terrible way of showing it — hurricanes, cancer, children being abused, accidents that you could have prevented . . .
“When you pray be sure that you also listen. You have things you want to say to God. But He also has things He wants to say to you.”
OC: He needs to speak up — I never could hear him. Maybe he should have sent me an email.
“I believe the time is coming when we will not be able to take our Christianity as casually as we do now.” – A.W. Tozer
OC: I wish they’d all take it so casually that it would just go away. . .
“Have you ever stopped and wondered what God has done in your life that you aren’t even aware of? Maybe He healed you before you even knew you were sick. Perhaps He saved you from a fatal car crash that never happened. I have felt like God has protected me more times than I count, so I can only imagine how many times He has rescued me when I was unaware that I was even in danger. Take a moment to thank God for protecting you. He is always watching over you and He’s there for you even when you don’t realize it. What an awesome God we serve!”
OC: And your evidence that these sicknesses or illnesses that almost happened but didn’t happen because GOD intervened is what? That’s like me saying, oh, I almost won the lottery but then I didn’t because of the devil. Or sin. Or something.
“Simply believing in the existence of God is not exactly what I would call a commitment. After all, even the devil believes that God exists! Believing has to change the way we live.”
OC: Well, I’m an atheist and I don’t believe in the existence of either God or the devil. But just for the sake of argument – what is it about the existence of God that would provoke me to change the way I live? Fear of retribution? And you think that’s a good motivation?
“Dear God, please: Teach me. Keep me. Hold me. Help me. I want to be better than I was yesterday. Tomorrow is a new day! Repent and get closer to Jesus!”
OC: If I have a goal I want to achieve, I design or find a plan that lays out the steps I need to do in order to reach that goal. Reaching the goal is not always guaranteed, but the process of completing each step helps me to gain the skills or knowledge necessary to potentially reaching a goal. Never have I achieved a goal by sitting back, repenting to God/Jesus, and asking him/them to do all the work.
Here are some fun religious quotes I found this week from my acquaintances on social media.
“When it’s not in God’s time, you can’t force it. When it is God’s time, you can’t stop it.”
OC: I recall that the Bible says that with God, a day is as 1,000 years and 1,000 years is as a day. I’m supposed to hang around for 1,000 years to see which it is? Wouldn’t it make sense if I took some action on my own?
“We must stop compromising the word of God to appease men, and begin guarding what was entrusted to us. Which is the absolute and infallible truth of God. – Adam Cappa”
OC: Because it’s just SOOOOOOO clear in the Bible what is the infallible truth of God.
“Be patient, everything is coming together – God”
OC: Another exhortation for me to hang around for a day or 1,000 years or whatever . . .
“Dear Jesus, help me to surrender my anxiety today, to quiet my mind and stop striving, so that I may see that You are God. Thank You!”
OC: Because seeing God is way better than seeing a therapist and taking Prozac.
“Trust Jesus when everybody seems to be getting a miracle but you. When you feel forsaken and yet remain faithful, you are the miracle. — Beth Moore, The Quest”
OC: Yet another exhortation to do more Jesusing for a day or 1,000 years instead of actually making a plan and taking action.
“If you want God to close and open the doors, let go of the door knob. — TobyMac”
OC: I’m seeing a trend among these quotes . . . sit back and don’t do jack.
“He turns coal into diamonds, sand into pearls, worms into butterflies. He can turn your life around too. — TobyMac”
OC: Translation: we humans are lesser, yuckier things that need Jesus to make us into something better.
“One day there will be no going back to life as usual. One day there will be no more night and no more dying of any kind. The sea and the grave, death and Hades will have given up their dead and the righteous Judge will have assigned final destinies (Rev. 20:11-15). When that eternal day comes I suspect we who were saved from our sins by the blood of Christ will ponder this life and wonder how we ever really called it ‘being alive.’ — Beth Moore, The Quest”
OC: What she really wants to say is that all the SAVED will be partying it up in heaven and saying na-na-na-na-boo-boo to all the unsaved who are suffering eternal torture in HELL for not believing the correct doctrines.
“There is power in the name of Jesus to break every chain that binds you!”
OC: Or you could just hit the weight room a little more often. . .
“Stop listening to every dysfunctional thought and tell your mind to align with the word of God.”
OC: Because there isn’t anything dysfunctional in the Bible, the Word of God, no-sir-ee Bob!
Here is a sampling of some of the posts I have seen this week from Christians on social media. Feel free to add your own thoughts in the comments!
“If God could close the lions’ mouth for Daniel, part the red sea for Moses, make the sun stand still for Joshua, open the prison for Peter, put a baby in Sarah’s arm and raise Lazarus from the dead, then He can certainly take care of you. Have faith in Him.”
OC: You do realize those are myths, right?
“God is still trying to write your story. Quit trying to steal the pen.”
OC: Yeah, because I totally want an invisible deity to make decisions for me.
“God has a reason for allowing things to happen. We may never understand His wisdom, but we simply have to trust His will.”
OC: I don’t have to.
“The motto ‘Be yourself’ has become Satan’s counterfeit to God’s ‘Be holy as I am holy’.”
OC: If by “holy,” you mean that I get mad and order my followers to kill all the people in a land I don’t like and steal their virgins as wives, or to smash infants against rocks because I don’t like the people in that land, or that I send she-bears to kill some children who taunted my favorite prophet, I think I would rather pass on holiness and be myself. I don’t do those things.
“God will put you in positions you didn’t even apply for.”
OC: God, the original abuser, leading clergy by example.
“I have learned that spiritual discontentment is a gift from God. When God is leading you somewhere different or changing you…He puts this thing in our hearts that force us to get quiet before Him so that we can hear the next steps. It makes you want to do whatever it takes to get to that next place as He is moving & stirring your heart. It makes you adjust locations, friendships, relationships, jobs & churches. Don’t be scared of this tugging because God is LEADING your life. You’re in the most beautifully uncomfortable place. Flow with Him. – Heather Lindsey”
OC: Or it could just be heartburn and you need to take some Alka-Seltzer.
“I want to take time today to thank God for all that He has done for me. He sent the rain for dry thirsty land. He sent the grain to feed hungry man. He sent the birds to sing in the tree. But when he sent JESUS he sent him for ME.”
OC: Because I need me some JESUS in my life!
“In a world where right is wrong and wrong is right, we can run to the Bible whenever we’re unsure what to think or do.”
OC: Because the Bible is so incredibly clear in its message and has no contradictions whatsoever.
“Faith means obeying God, even when all my questions aren’t answered.”
OC: Because nothing makes more sense than going into a situation without having answers, facts, or data.
“Life is fragile, handle with prayer.”
OC: Because handling with care is inferior to handling with prayer.
Most of the time when I check my social media accounts, I can be sure to find at least one post by fundamentalist evangelical Christians that either elicits an eye roll or a chuckle from me. Here are some good ones from this week, along with my comments.
“To pray ‘Thy Will be done’ I must be willing, if the answer requires it, that my will be undone.” – Elisabeth Elliot
OC: Bruce has written quite a few posts concerning Christians’ interpretation of the answers to prayer. If one prays for something that doesn’t happen, then the Christian says, “It wasn’t God’s Will.” If one prays for direction between option A and option B, the Christian usually just chooses what he or she wants to do. If it works out, then Yay! the Christian successfully understood God’s Will. If it doesn’t work out, then it was a “lesson from God”.
“Don’t worry. God’s never blind to your tears, never deaf to your prayers, and never silent to your pain. He sees, he hears, and he will deliver.”
OC: Yeah, that’s what makes him such a jerk – he sees and hears but he doesn’t actually deliver . . . just ask all the victims of every natural disaster EVER. Oh, yeah, the “God’s Will” thing again . . . it’s a mystery, isn’t it?
“Christ offends men because his gospel is intolerant of sin.” – Charles Spurgeon
OC: Judgmental blowhards like Charles Spurgeon and name-your-favorite-evangelical-pastor offend me with their incessant talk of sin, hell, and damnation for everyone whose interpretation of the gospel doesn’t match theirs. They offend me with their assumption that everyone is filthy and pure evil until they say the magic words and *poof!* Jesus makes it all better. They offend me by offering me a “choice” between saying the magic words to become a slave to Jesus but escaping the eternal flames of hell, or not saying the magic words and facing an eternity of torture – just for existing. They offend me with their insistence that I must vote a certain way, dress a certain way, act a certain way, give money a certain way – THEIR way.
“We are sent to bless the world, but we are never told to compromise with it.” – A. W. Tozer
OC: Because Jesus needs SOMEBODY to be judgmental and to fight the culture wars. Omnipotence only goes so far with the Trinity . . .
“Drunk Lot impregnated his daughter, who bore Moab, whence came Ruth, the great-grandmother of David. Christ’s own bloodline preaches his will to save even the most messed up of families.” – Chad Bird
OC: I’ll let you guys comment on this one . . .
“Parents who know how to repent in front of their kids give them a greater gift than a Harvard education.” – Scotty Smith
OC: I’d rather have the Harvard education instead of watching my parents pray to Jesus and consider themselves (and me) worms all the time. But that’s just me, and education is what led me down the road to atheism, so there is that.
“When you realize God’s purpose for your life isn’t just about you, He will use you in a mighty way.” – Dr. Tony Evans
OC: I like to be able to make my own choices, to choose my own purpose, to have autonomy as much as possible in my life. It’s worked out pretty well so far. I guess I could just sit here and let God repurpose me. Nah . . .
“Pray, then let it go. Don’t try and manipulate or force the outcome. Just trust God to open the right doors at the right time. Amen.”
OC: The principal of our local high school tells the students every day to CONTROL WHAT YOU CAN CONTROL. The point is to teach students to assess which aspects of a situation are in their control and which aspects are out of their control. Then students are encouraged to act on the aspects that are in their control. Sitting around and waiting for an invisible and silent deity to manage a situation is poor advice.
What Christian messages have you seen on social media this week? Please share with us in the comments!
Here is a sampling of some of the posts I have seen this week from Christians on social media. Feel free to add your own thoughts in the comments!
“If you neglect to instruct (your children) in the way of holiness, will the devil neglect to instruct them in the way of wickedness? No; but if you will not teach them to pray, he will curse, swear, and lie; if ground be uncultivated, weeds will spring.” John Flavel
(OC: While it is true that it is our parental duty to teach our children so that they can grow up to be self-sufficient law-abiding citizens, there isn’t a “devil” going around trying to teach our kids to be evil.)
“The gospel is simple to understand: 1) Jesus died on a cross 2) Jesus was buried 3) Jesus rose on the 3rd day 4) Jesus saves man from their sin 5) You must be born again That is a simple gospel, now let’s tell it to the world!”
(OC: This simplification of the gospel message still makes absolutely no sense. Honestly, what came to light for me was that without the fear of hell part, I read it and thought, um, OK, whatever. Just because you tell me I just be “born again” without any explanation of what that means or why, I just think you sound nutty.)
“Prayer is the most important conversation in your day. Talk to God before you talk to anyone else.”
(OC: Yeah, it’s totally more important for me to talk silently in my head at the ceiling before communicating with real live human beings who are important in my life. Now, if Christians are using this as their version of reminding themselves not to be assholes first thing in the morning, maybe that’s OK.)
“Beautiful Jesus, thank you for taking my place.”
(OC: Jesus, your Dad condemned all humanity to suffer eternity in hell because supposedly a couple of ancestors 500 generations ago ate a piece of fruit. So your Dad had to morph himself into you so you/he could be killed and fake-die because you/he can’t really die being immortal, and if I believe the right way about you/him I won’t spend eternity in hell because of mad Dad.)
“What God knows about us is more important than what others think.” Tim Tebow
(OC: So that’s why, Tim, you had to make a big freakin’ deal about kneeling at your NFL games? Because God was too dumb to know anything about you otherwise?)
“Do you know that nothing you do in this life will even matter unless it is about loving God and loving the people he has made?” Francis Chan
(OC: I wish more Trump-loving evangelical Christians realized that they needed to love people – and to show their love for people through assisting the less fortunate – rather than trying to legislate their ideas of morality on the rest of the nation.)
“Faith is not about everything turning out okay. Faith is about being okay no matter how things turn out.”
(OC: While there are times we need to accept what we cannot control, there are other times when we can control outcomes if we take certain actions. Just sitting around passively taking whatever happens in life is not a good way to live.)
Many of my relatives and friends from my Evangelical days are prolific in posting their religious views on social media. I’d love to ask them how many converts they think they’ve gotten from their posts. From what I can tell, they get “likes” from those who agree with them in their echo chamber while the rest of us just roll our eyes and scroll by.
Here are some highlights from this week.
Religion: If I obey, I’m accepted. If I’m good, God will love me. People: Good and bad Focus: What I do or don’t do Produces: Pride and despair Motivated by fear
Gospel: I’m accepted so I obey. I’m bad and Jesus loves bad people. People: Repentant or not Focus: What Jesus did Produces: Humility and confidence Motivated by love
“I don’t follow a ‘religion’, I follow something infinitely superior — the Gospel! I’m a bad bad person and Jesus loves me anyway because I was repentant and accepted the fact that I was so incredibly bad that Jesus/God had to become human, die, and be resurrected to prevent himself/God/Jesus/Holy Spirit from damning me to eternity in hell if I humble myself and admit how utterly bad I am. Now I’m confident I won’t go to hell. Because love. Because Jesus committed suicide for us, but not really because himself/his dad could raise people from the dead. So don’t call me religious.”
We must never rest until everything inside us worships God – A.W. Tozer
“We’ve gotta worship God all the time to make sure we keep him happy. Because if God ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. Yay God!”
The modern world demands that we approve what it should not dare ask us to be tolerated – Nicolas Gomez Davila
“My inspiration of the Holy Spirit (aka, what my pastor tells me) from the Bible assures me that gay people should not have equal rights to straight people; that women should be submissive to their husbands, fathers, pastors, etc., and should stay home and take care of babies and homes whether they want to or not; that people who do not believe the way I do are apostates and going to burn in hell for eternity; that my religious freedom demands that I be allowed to discriminate against all these apostate sinners. Why? Because Jesus! And you shouldn’t ask me to be tolerant of other people’s beliefs, because they’re wrong — Jesus/my pastor told me they are wrong.”
But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me – 2 Timothy 4:17
“I got scared and my mommy wasn’t there so I thought real real hard and remembered this Bible verse. And then I was able to go do adult stuff. Yay Lord!”
The meek man is not a human mouse afflicted with a sense of his own inferiority. Rather he may be in his moral life as bold as a lion and as strong as Samson, but he has stopped being fooled about himself. He has accepted God’s estimate of his own life. He knows he is as weak and helpless as God has declared him to be, but paradoxically, he knows at the same time that he is in the sight of God of more importance than angels. In himself, nothing; in God, everything. That is his motto. He knows well. – A.W. Tozer
“My God is an abuser and I am his abused subject. He declares that I am weak and worthless without him. I believe that I am a worthless piece of garbage because he tells me so. But one of himself/his beings became human and committed fake suicide and rose from the dead because he can do stuff like that because he is omnimax so that he wouldn’t have to send me to eternity in hell just for existing if I repented hard enough, believed the right things, and said the right things. Yay God! Isn’t he awesome? Now I’m worth something because he said I am. And you’re a worthless piece of garbage if you don’t believe the right things.”
Satan tries to limit your praying because he knows your praying will limit him. – Toby Mac #SpeakLife
“I believe in a whole mess of supernatural beings that I can’t see. God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, angels, demons, Satan/Lucifer/Devil, Beast, Anti-Christ — they’re all totally real, y’all, and they are out there doing battle. It’s like Harry Potter (but not, because we all know Harry Potter is totally demonic because witchcraft) except you can’t see them and they’re totally all around us and all. And the Bad Guys try to control us and lead us astray and all, and the Good Guys just want us to follow them and do the right thing and not be led into temptation. Yay Good Guys! And I think that if I think hard enough in my head about the supernatural sphere or say words out loud to the supernatural sphere, that the Good Guys will hear me and will get their swords going even harder to defeat the evil old meanie Bad Guys!”
Feel free to craft your own creative responses or to share your own experiences from this week with Christians on Social Media!
It’s only Tuesday and it already has been one whale of a week. I have lots of “good” stuff to share with readers, so I hope fattening up on turkey, pumpkin pie, and dressing doesn’t get in the way of me sharing the wealth. What follows is a screenshot of a message I received on Facebook from a racist, bigoted, Trump-loving man who thinks I am a sick, fat fuck. His words are typical of Trump’s hardcore devotees. No need for me to comment further. I will let his word speak for themselves.
What follows is a discussion between an atheist friend of mine and an Evangelical. I no longer engage in such discussion on social media, choosing to focus on my blog, but the following discussion reminds me of the discussions I once had with Christian zealots on Facebook and Twitter. In just but a few comments, the Evangelical trots out an interesting version of Pascal’s Wager, threats of judgment and hell, with a zesty seasoning of you are angry and bitter to round out the discussion.
Earlier today, I stumbled upon the Facebook wall of a Fundamentalist Christian woman my wife and I attended church with in the late 1970s. After reading her loved-filled words about liberals, Democrats, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama, I took a few screen clips to share with readers of this blog. Enjoy.