by Bruce Gerencser cross posted from his blog The Life and Times of Bruce Gerencser
Now that I am no longer a Christian, I really enjoy Christmas. I know this might be hard for fundamentalist Christians to believe, but I enjoy Christmas now more than I ever did when I was a card-carrying member of Club Christian®. The reason is simple. From Thanksgiving to New Year’s, there were services to prepare, food drives to coördinate, and season-themed sermons to preach. Like the Easter season, Christmas was a high-stress, lots-of-work time for me. Quite frankly, I found it exhausting. Rarely did I have the time to just relax and enjoy Christmas.
And of course, Christmas was that time of year when it was my duty to focus on and harass any relative or friend that did not know Jesus. I mean know in the fundamentalist sense. There’s Christianity, and then there’s hell is real, souls are dying, I must make an ass of myself every Christmas, Big F Fundamentalist Christianity.
Consider these words from John R. Rice, the late Fundamentalist Evangelist and editor of the Sword of the Lord:
“I still, from my armchair, preach in great revival campaigns. I still vision hundreds walking the aisles to accept Christ. I still feel hot tears for the lost. I still see God working miracles. Oh, how I long to see great revivals, to hear about revival crowds once again!…I want no Christmas without a burden for lost souls, a message for sinners, a heart to bring in the lost sheep so dear to the Shepherd, the sinning souls for whom Christ died. May food be tasteless, and music a discord, and Christmas a farce if I forget the dying millions to whom I am debtor; if this fire in my bones does not still flame! Not till I die or not till Jesus comes, will I ever be eased of this burden, these tears, this toil to save souls.”
For the John R. Rice type of Christian (and I was one for almost 20 years), Christmas can never be just about sitting back and enjoying the food, gift giving, and family re-connections. Every non-Fundamentalist family member is viewed as a hell-bound sinner in need of salvation. Desiring to make sure the heavenly family circle is unbroken, Fundamentalist Christians will diligently attempt to evangelize non-Fundamentalist family members. Instead of chatting up atheist Uncle Ricky Bobby or Catholic Aunt Geraldine about family and football, the souls for Jesus is my battle cry Christians will, with little delay, attempt to witness to their heathen relatives. To the Jesus-loving soul winner, putting in a good word in for Jesus is far more important than the familial bond. Having been told that Jesus came to split families asunder and that their “real” family is their fellow church members, Fundamentalist Christians will insufferably badger anyone they consider unsaved. It matters not that Uncle Ricky Bobby and Aunt Geraldine have been witnessed to countless times before. In the Fundamentalist’s mind, this might be the day, the very moment when the Holy Spirit comes over their lost loved ones and causes them to repent of their sins and put their faith and trust in Jesus. It matters not how unlikely this is: as rare as an ivory-billed woodpecker sighting. Every breathing non-Fundamentalist Christian family member is a prospect for heaven. And like relatives who shamelessly use family holiday gatherings to peddle Amway or Tupperware, Fundamentalist Christians will seek every opportunity to badger family members into buying a lifetime membership to Club Heaven.
Sometimes, Fundamentalist family members can become so aggressive, argumentative, and pushy that their behavior ruins Christmas. Many Christian families give a hat tip to Jesus being the reason for the season and then focus on the food, gift-giving, and enjoying each other’s company. Fundamentalist Christians see this as a betrayal of Jesus and the salvation he graciously offers to sinners. In their mind, it’s all Jesus, all the time.I suspect some evangelizing Fundamentalists have a deep need to be perceived as right. They spend their life hearing that only Jesus gives life meaning and purpose, and that every non-Christian has a God-shaped void in his soul. They are reminded by their preachers that non-Fundamentalist Christians have horrible, miserable lives that will ultimately land them in hell. Yet, every year they can’t help but notice that their unsaved relatives seem happy. Their hell bound relatives often have great jobs, treat others well, and genuinely seem to enjoy life. Their observations should suggest to them that perhaps their view of family and the world is skewed, right? Nah, who am I kidding. Their non-Fundamentalist Christian relatives? They are all, every last one of them, blinded by Satan, unable to see the TRUTH. Until Fundamentalists dare to consider that they could be wrong, there’s no hope of them seeing their lost family members as anything more than a soul in need of saving.
Spiritual Abuse Survivor Blogs Network member, Bruce Gerencser blogs at The Life and Times of Bruce Gerencser He writes from the unique perspective of having been a pastor for many years and having seen it all in churches. His journey out of being a true believer and pastor has been an interesting and informative one.
Bruce Gerencser spent 25 years pastoring Independent Fundamental Baptist, Southern Baptist, and Christian Union churches in Ohio, Michigan, and Texas. Bruce attended Midwestern Baptist College in Pontiac, Michigan. He is a writer and operates The Life and Times of Bruce Gerencser blog. Bruce lives in NW Ohio with his wife of 35 years. They have six children, and ten grandchildren.
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