This is the latest 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.
Today’s Song of Sacrilege is Talkin Anthropocalypse Blues by Scott Cook.
Last month, a 26-year-old man from Vancouver, Washington named John Allen Chau was killed by an indigenous tribe on North Sentinel Island, a small and isolated island in the Indian Sea. According to friends, witnesses, and his own personal writing, Chau made the dangerous journey to talk about Jesus with the world’s most reclusive and remote tribe, known as the Sentinelese, and convert them to Christianity. While some evangelical Christians hailed Chau as a martyr after news of his death broke, many others — evangelicals and nonbelievers alike — condemned him as naïve, reckless, arrogant, imperialistic, or all of the above.
What many missed while wrestling with the ethics of Chau’s decision, however, was a precise understanding of his likely motivation. Chau was affiliated with a Kansas City-based group called All Nations Family, which believes that missionary work is part of a 2,000-year-old game, the final element necessary to herald the Great Tribulation, the return of the Messiah and, at long last, the Final Judgment.
Far more than the desire to convert a few heathen souls to Christianity, global missionary organizations like All Nations Family, which was founded in 2000 by author and lecturer Floyd McClung, believe they are laying the groundwork for the Second Coming of Christ, ushering in the end of days, when the righteous will ascend to heaven and wicked nations will perish. For Chau, the unreformed souls of the Sentinelese people may have stood between us and the Apocalypse.
In his final letter to his parents, Chau referenced Revelations 7:9-10, which reads:
After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.
The eponymous missionary organization states on its website that it wants to “make disciples and train leaders to ignite church planting movements among the neglected people of the earth,” and “to see disciple making movements in every people group of the world so that Jesus may be worshipped by every tongue, tribe and nation.” All Nations claims to train and support 150 workers in 35 countries, each year training 3,500 people in 35 cities to plant churches among purported “unreached people.” Fairly standard stuff, so far. But their website continues: “The Lord wants All Nations to be part of finishing the Great Commission in this generation by igniting church planting movement among the unreached.”
This “Great Commission” is traditionally believed to be the final words and instructions of Jesus, when he explained to his disciples what is required before he will return to earth. Though evangelical Christians have for hundreds of years used these verses to justify global missions, ministries, and baptisms, missionary organizations like All Nations want to “finish” the Great Commission “in this generation,” without further delay. While evangelicals largely share an eschatological worldview, a gap exists between those who believe Jesus will return suddenly, “like a thief in the night,” and those who believe he won’t return until the gospel is spread throughout the world, thus preparing the ground for his reign.
y planting churches “among the unreached” (an evangelical term to distinguish any ethnic group or community that hasn’t yet been introduced to Christianity) these missionaries are willing to violate international laws and risk their own safety to fulfill Jesus’s final prophecy. Missionary organizations like All Nations are spurred into action not by social goodwill or love of humankind, in other words, but by the belief that their works will precipitate the apocalypse. (Chau is hardly the first American to be killed doing missionary work; just one month earlier, a missionary named Charles Wesco was shot and killed during a shootout between soldiers and separatists in Cameroon. Further back, five evangelical Christian missionaries who traveled to the Ecuadorian rainforest to contact the isolated Huaorani tribe in 1956 were killed by members of that tribe.)
In their statements of faith, groups like All Nations, Brooklyn-based Christ Covenant Coalition, and Colorado-based Joshua Project declare their allegiance to the evangelical manifesto called the Lausanne Covenant, which was drafted in 1974 at the First International Congress on World Evangelization in Lausanne, Switzerland. Considered to be the foundation of modern global evangelism, the authors and signatories of the 15-point document pledge to spread the gospel throughout the world, “to proclaim it to all mankind and to make disciples of every nation.”
The document goes on to declare that Christians should “reject as a proud, self-confident dream the notion that people can ever build a utopia on earth,” and that the promise of the Second Coming of Christ is “a further spur to our evangelism, for we remember his words that the gospel must first be preached to all nations.”
From time to time, I plan to post lyrics from the songs we sang in the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) churches I grew up in and pastored. Unbelievers and non-Fundamentalists might find some of these lyrics quite interesting, and, at times, funny or disturbing. Enjoy!
Today’s Independent Baptist Song is Jesus is Coming Soon by R.E. Winsett. I was able to find a video of this song being sung by The Oak Ridge Boys.
Jesus is Coming Soon by R.E. Winsett
Troublesome times are here, filling men’s hearts with fear Freedom we all hold dear now is at stake Humbling your hearts to God saves from the chastening rod Seek the way pilgrims trod, Christians awake
Jesus is coming soon, morning or night or noon Many will meet their doom, trumpets will sound All of the dead shall rise, righteous meet in the skies Going where no one dies, heavenward bound
Love of so many cold; losing their home of gold; This in God’s Word is told; evils abound. When these signs come to pass, nearing the end at last, It will come very fast; trumpets will sound.
Jesus is coming soon, morning or night or noon Many will meet their doom, trumpets will sound All of the dead shall rise, righteous meet in the skies Going where no one dies, heavenward bound
Troubles will soon be o’er, happy forevermore When we meet on that shore, free from all care Rising up in the sky, telling this world goodbye Homeward we then shall fly, glory to share
Oh, Jesus is coming soon, morning or night or noon Many will meet their doom, trumpets will sound All of the dead shall rise, righteous meet in the skies Going where no one dies, heavenward bound
Robert Emmett Winsett (January 15, 1876 — June 26, 1952 (aged 76) was an American composer and publisher of Gospel music.
Winsett was born in Bledsoe County, Tennessee, and graduated from the Bowman Normal School of Music in 1899.
He founded his own publishing company in 1903, and his first publication, Winsett’s Favorite Songs, quickly became popular among the Baptist and Pentecostal churches of the American South. Pentecostal Power followed in 1907; that year Winsett completed postgraduate work at a conservatory.
He married Birdie Harris in 1908, and had three sons and two daughters with her. He settled in Fort Smith, Arkansas, continuing to compose gospel songs, of which he would write over 1,000 in total. He became a minister in 1923, and was affiliated with the Church of God (Seventh Day).
Birdie Harris died late in the 1920s, and shortly thereafter Winsett moved back to Tennessee. He founded a new company in Chattanooga, and published more shape note music books. He remarried, to Mary Ruth Edmonton, in 1930, and had three further children.
Winsett’s final publication, Best of All (1951), sold over 1 million copies, and in total his books sold over ten million copies. His song “Jesus Is Coming Soon” won a Dove Award for Gospel Song of the Year at the 1969 awards. He has been inducted into the Southern Gospel Museum and Hall of Fame.
Guest post by Carol. For many years. Carol was a member of The Way. Today’s post is an informational article about The Way for people who may not be familiar with this religious sect. You can read Carol’s blog here.
About The Way International
The Way International is a small, fundamentalist, Bible-based organization headquartered in New Knoxville, Ohio, on property that was once the family farm of the founder, Victor Paul Wierwille. The Way is considered a cult by many former members, by most mainstream churches, and by certain secular groups. It has most always operated as home-based churches.
The Way recognizes 1942 as its commencement date and has (almost) always operated as home-based churches. Wierwille claimed that, in 1942, God audibly spoke to him, telling him that He would teach Wierwille the Word as it had not been known since the first century, if Wierwille would teach it to others.
Like some other new religions, The Way had great growth beginning in the late 1960s, through the 1970s, and into the early 1980s. In the early ’80s, as many as 20,000 people attended the then-yearly Rock of Ages festival held on the Way’s property in New Knoxville. (The Rock of Ages was discontinued in 1995, after 25 years.)
Beginning in the latter 1980s, within a few years of Wierwille’s death, The Way began to unravel due (in part) to power struggles and to the exposure of rampant sexual abuses that had started with Wierwille. The Way has survived but is a skeleton of what it once was.
The Way teaches non-conventional biblical doctrines, and in that aspect, differs from conventional Christian Fundamentalism. It is fundamentalist in that followers of The Way believe that the Bible, as it was “originally” given, is perfect and inerrant and is God’s revealed Word and Will in written form to humanity. Way doctrine teaches that there is only one proper interpretation of the scriptures.
Way followers do not believe that Jesus is God. One of Wierwille’s books is entitled Jesus Christ is Not God. However, neither do followers believe that Jesus was just another man. Rather, he is the only begotten son of God and the redeemer of mankind. Without Jesus Christ shedding his “perfect blood,” mankind would continue in an irredeemable state. The Way teaches a virgin conception but not a virgin birth. God created sperm in Mary’s Fallopian tube which fertilized one of Mary’s eggs, thus producing a human with “perfect blood.” God, who is spirit, is Jesus’s biological father, and Mary, a human, was his biological mother.
The Way teaches that a human baby is not fully human until it takes its first breath and that abortion is not murder. Upon birth, a human is only body and soul (soul being breath life and encompassing genetics). A person does not receive the spirit of God until he or she decides to become born again (also known as being saved, made whole, redeemed, or the new birth). However, children are counted as saved as long as one parent is saved. This continues until the child reaches an age of accountability, when the child is able to independently make a decision to be saved or not.
Way followers believe that a person gets born again by believing Romans 10: 9 and 10. That is, people must confess with their mouths (out loud is not necessary) that Jesus is Lord (not as God, but as Master) and believe in their hearts that God raised Jesus from the dead. To accept Jesus into one’s heart or to believe that Jesus is God does not result in a person being born again; those are counterfeit formulas. Once people are born again, they cannot, for any reason, lose their salvation. The only people who cannot be saved are those born of the seed of the serpent, the devil. The Way does not subscribe to any sort of water baptism; it is not necessary and became obsolete once Jesus was raised from the dead and ascended to the right hand of God, making the new birth available.
Way believers are taught that homosexuality happens because of devil spirit possession. But people who are gay can still be saved, even if they continue being gay, though they wouldn’t be able to attend Way fellowships if they are unwilling to change their behavior.
In the 1990s The Way began teaching that the original sin in Genesis happened when the devil appeared in the form of a beautiful woman and enticed Eve into a homosexual experience. Adam watched, or at least consented, though he didn’t directly partake in the act. By consenting he ate of the figurative fruit from the figurative tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden, and thus all humanity fell from grace and needed a redeemer. Prior to that doctrine, The Way taught that the original sin probably involved masturbation; Adam and Eve met their own sexual needs instead of each other’s. But masturbation is not considered a sin in and of itself.
Followers of The Way believe that when people die, they do not immediately go to an after-life in any form. The only human currently alive after death is Jesus Christ. All other humans remain dead and will be raised in the future either at Christ’s first “return” (which most Christians refer to as the “rapture” — The Way doesn’t use the word “rapture” but rather the phrase “the Hope”) or at the final judgments. Animals are not resurrected.
Way followers do not believe in an eternal hell-fire torment. After the final judgments, all non-believers will die the second death and cease to exist forever. The lake of fire and the devil and death will be obliterated. A new heaven and earth where all sorrow and death has ceased will then last for eternity, bringing into fruition God’s original intent in Genesis before the “fall of mankind.”
Though The Way is not part of the Charismatic movement, everyone in The Way speaks in tongues, but not spontaneously out loud during gatherings. In public Way meetings the believer is called upon by whomever is overseeing and is directed to either “prophesy” or “speak in tongues and interpret.” Speaking in tongues is mainly for the believer’s private prayer life “to build themselves up spiritually” and have a better connection with “God, the Father.” Way doctrine teaches that the nine “gifts of the spirit” referred to in I Corinthians 12 of the Bible are actually “manifestations” and that every equipped believer operates all nine of the manifestations. “All nine all the time” was a common phrase in The Way.
Way believers are not literalists. The Bible abounds with figures of speech and ancient Middle Eastern customs. A person needs some knowledge of these in order to understand the context of the Bible.
The Way is not a King James Bible-only organization. King James is the main version used in The Way because that version is what most biblical lexicons and concordances are keyed to and because the italicized words in the King James indicate that those words were added to the text. The Way references various versions in its study of the scriptures.
This is the one hundred and ninth 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 clip of Duffy Strode, the Boy Preacher on the Oprah Winfrey Show. This video is from 1988. Duffy, 10, was suspended from school for refusing to stop preaching to his classmates. Today, Ryan Duffy Strode is married with children of his own. His children have not followed in their father’s preacher boy footsteps. Based on a quick perusal of Duffy’s social media accounts, he no longer walks in the Fundamentalist footsteps of his father.
Please be aware that the following videos are heartbreaking. They are hard to watch, perfect examples of child abuse in Jesus’ name.
This is the one hundred and eighth 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 the movie A Thief in the Night, produced by Russell S. Doughten. Released in 1972, A Thief in the Night was used by thousands of Fundamentalist churches as a tool to scare and evangelize the lost. According to Wikipedia, over 300 million people have viewed A Thief in the Night. I saw this movie when it was first released, seeing it several more times in the 1970s and 1980s.
It’s been 40 years since the release of a film that wrecked havoc on the sleep of millions of souls in America and around the world, a film that combined religious themes with the chills of a horror film. No, not The Exorcist. But a year before that: Long before millions of readers were getting worried about being left behind, scores of viewers fretted about the ramifications of A Thief in the Night.
The film told the story of a young woman, Patty Myers (played by Patty Dunning), who wakes one morning to find that her husband has suddenly vanished, along with millions of other people throughout the world. The film brings to life the dispensational view of Matthew 24:36-44—one will be taken and one will be left—assuming the Rapture of believers takes place before seven years of tribulation … coming without warning, like a thief in the … well, you know. Patty faces the nightmare of a one-world totalitarian government that will usher in the coming of the Anti-Christ.
At the time, it was a radical new way of making a Christian film. There had been Christian movies before, particularly from Billy Graham’s World Wide Pictures (usually about a troubled teen who considers smoking a cigarette before being converted at a Graham crusade). But Thief was different, using the conventions of science fiction and horror—everything from the “It’s Only a Dream … or is it?” device (from every other episode of The Twilight Zone), to the paranoid “Are They With Me or Against Me?” questions (replace the Pod People of Invasion of the Body Snatchers with the Mark of the Beast people), to the End Credits with a Twist (The End??? from The Blob becomes The End Is Near). (Not coincidentally, Thief’s executive producer, Russell Doughten Jr., worked on 1958’s The Blob.) …. A Thief in the Night also introduced new audiences to the budding Christian rock music scene, featuring Larry Norman’s “I Wish We’d All Been Ready,” sung in the movie by The Fishmarket Combo. (Check out the groovy/spooky video of the song here; they’re also featured in the film’s trailer.)
The film’s budget was $60,000, a paltry sum compared to today’s indie films, rarely made for less than $1 million. Thom Rachford, one of the actors in Thief and now a vice president at Russ Doughten Films (RDF), said that to raise the money, the filmmakers prayed and asked people to invest $5,000 apiece. …. A Thief in the Night has reportedly been seen by over 300 million people around the world. Pirated copies appeared in communist countries during the Cold War, and it since has turned up on YouTube. Upon its initial release, the production company developed a program to share the gospel with viewers; RDF records show six million people made decisions for Christ through their ministry.
(video removed from YouTube)
I Wish We Had All Been Ready by Larry Norman. This Norman tune was the theme song for A Thief in the Night.
Millions of American Evangelicals believe that Jesus is going to come back some day very soon, perhaps today, and rapture them from the earth. This rapture, or catching up, is only for those who have put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ. Most of the population of the world will be left behind. (Left Behind. Hmm, that would be a great title for a poorly written fictional book series that would make its authors filthy rich.) For the Evangelical, maybe for the first time in their life, they will get to fly first class. All those who laughed at them or mocked their beliefs will be left behind as they soar through the clouds with Jesus on their way to God’s Motel 6.
After all the washed in the blood Christians are raptured, God will open a big can of whoop ass and for seven years he will pour out his judgment and wrath on the earth. (or 3 1/2 years depending on what kind of rapturist you are) By the time the Great Tribulation is over, God will have slaughtered almost every human being on the face of the earth. Awesome, right?
The rapture is a relatively new eschatological belief, dating back to the 19th century. (the history behind the belief is quite interesting) Central to rapture belief is the notion that Jesus could return at any moment. I am sure most of you have heard a preacher say that we are waiting for the imminent return of Jesus. He could come today!
Evangelicals often try to scare me into repenting. Here’s what one Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) commenter said trying to scare me with the rapture:
Time is short and HE is coming again. I would hate to see you blogging about how the Lord came and raptured the Church, and how you got left behind, because you were to busy bashing Preachers about this or that. Be a man sir, Please for all of us.
The tactic used by this commenter is used every Sunday in uncounted Evangelical churches. Jesus could return today! Are you ready? Are you saved? You don’t want to be left behind! Are you right with God? Do you want Jesus to come back and not find you busy doing HIS work, HIS work meaning doing what the preacher wants you to do. Oh, these scaremongers are earnest in their pleas, yet when the service is over they pile into their car, drive to the local 10% off if you bring a church bulletin buffet for dinner, and then return home to catch their favorite football team on the TV. You see, these preachers really don’t believe what they are saying. In fact, no one REALLY believes in the rapture and the imminent return of Jesus.
Right now, an Evangelical is reading the previous paragraph and is outraged that I would suggest that they don’t believe in the rapture. Little do they know that the very fact that they are reading this post is proof of my contention. If a person REALLY thought Jesus was coming back today, would they spend their time reading the blog of an apostate ex-Christian preacher? Of course not.
How many times have you listened to a preacher preach a humdinger of a rapture sermon imploring people to get saved because Jesus could come today, only to watch this same preacher after the service get in his car and drive down to the local Bob Evan’s for lunch? If the preacher REALLY thought Jesus was coming back today, would he be spending time eating and fellowshipping at the local Bob Evans? Of course not.
Here’s how you can tell what any Evangelical REALLY believes. Just look at how they live their life from day-to-day. Do they live like a person who is expecting the King of Kings and Lord of Lords to show up at any moment? Does their life reflect their belief that this is the generation that will see the return of Jesus? Of course not. Like the rest of us, they are busy going to work, making money, mowing the grass, painting the kitchen, washing the car, and taking a vacation. Outside of what they do on Sunday and maybe on Wednesday, they live lives that aren’t any different from the rest of us. How they live betrays what they really believe.
If the rapture could happen today and we are one day closer to the tribulation than we were yesterday, and Evangelicals really believed this, wouldn’t they would be selling their possessions and doing all they could do to evangelize the world? Instead, they are sitting in front of a computer screen ordering the latest book in the Left Behind series or some other end times fiction series. Tonight, instead of talking to their family, friends, and neighbors about the soon coming rapture, they will sit down in front of the TV and watch their favorite show or they will surf the internet, perhaps stopping by The Life and Times of Bruce Gerencser to read what the apostate preacher wrote. Their lifestyle betrays that they don’t REALLY believe the rapture is imminent.
If I believed that there was a fire coming that would burn down the homes of my family, friends, and neighbors, I would make sure everyone knew about it. It would be negligent on my part to NOT warn them of the fire to come. Yet, most Christians rarely, if ever, share their faith. Even preachers who thunder, stomp, holler, spit, and snort as they preach about the need for sinners to get saved, rarely are diligent in evangelizing others. In the 8 years I have lived in Ney, Ohio, not one Christian or preacher has knocked on my door to warn of the doom to come. They left flyers for Back to Church Sunday, their ice cream social, or their craft bazaar, but not one time have they uttered a word or left a piece of literature that warned the village atheist and his family that Jesus is fixing to come to soon.
John the Baptist went to the wilderness and preached the gospel. The Apostle Paul went from town to town preaching the gospel. The Evangelicals of today? They go from conference to conference, church meeting to church meeting, and website to website, learning how to be a fatter sheep. The world? It can go to hell, Duck Dynasty is on.