by Bruce Gerencser cross posted from his blog The Life and Times of Bruce Gerencser
I received Michael and Debi Pearl’s No Greater Joy magazine in today’s mail. In an article titled, Watching Bible Prophecy Fulfilled, Michael Pearl details the so-called prophecies found in Ezekiel 38, 39. Evangelicals like the Pearls believe that this passage of Scripture predicts the establishment of the Jewish state and a war in the Middle East prior to the rapture of the church and the seven-year Tribulation.
As Pearl was unpacking his theories about the future, he told the story of a Church of Christ preacher who had written a book in 1946 attacking the premillennial view of future events. The author of the book reminded his readers that “for premillennialism to be true, the Jews would have to occupy their ancient land of Israel.” The author believed such a claim to be absurd, yet in 1948, Israel became a nation. Pearl remarked, never doubt your Bible, no matter how far-fetched it seems.
Spend any amount of time around Evangelicals and you will find out that they have many—to use Pearl’s term—far-fetched beliefs. Evangelicals believe that the Bible is a supernatural book written by a supernatural God. While this God used human instrumentation to write the Bible, its authors, empowered by the Holy Spirit, wrote down exactly what God wanted written. The Bible, then, contains the very words of God.
Once people buy into the myth that the Bible consists of the words of God, it is easy to get them to believe the most outlandish of beliefs. No matter how crazy these beliefs might sound to non-Evangelicals, Christians accept them as God-uttered truth. No amount of reason or common sense will persuade them to believe otherwise. A world created 6,020 years ago in six literal 24 hour days? Noah building a big boat in the middle of the desert and a flood destroying the entire human race save eight? Fallen angels having sex with human women resulting in hybrid children? A virgin woman being impregnated by God so she could give birth to a baby who was one hundred percent God and one hundred percent human? This same baby, as an adult, healing the sick, raising the dead, turning water into wine, walking on water, dying and coming back to life three days later, walking through walls, and ascending back to heaven, promising to return in the future? All of these fantastical claims, and more, are believed by Evangelicals. Remember, never doubt your Bible, no matter how far-fetched it seems.
Ask Evangelicals if they think the foundation stories of religions like Mormonism or Scientology are absurd, they will, to a man, say yes! Yet, Evangelicals seem incapable of seeing their own beliefs in the same light. This is due to the fact that Evangelicals have been indoctrinated, often from the cradle to the grave, in mythic Christianity. Every Sunday, Evangelicals gather together to hear a supposedly educated man remind them that the Christian myths are true. Evangelicals are expected to swallow every fantastical Bible story hook, line, and sinker. As fishermen know, let a catfish swallow a hook, and it is almost impossible to retrieve the hook without killing the fish. So it is with Evangelicals. Once they have swallowed the hook of Bible literalism, it is almost impossible to deliver them from God said it, I believe it lunacy.
The only hope for people locked up in the Evangelical padded room is for them to have doubts about the veracity of the Bible. Once Evangelicals dare to entertain the thought that the Bible might not be what their preachers say it is, they are opening the door of their mind to skepticism and reason. Preachers fear church members who dare to doubt, knowing that the path out of the church is paved with questions and doubts. Preachers remind church members that Satan caused Adam and Eve to doubt the words of God. When tempted to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, Adam and Eve reminded the serpent that God had commanded them not to eat the fruit. Satan replied, yea, hath God said (in perfect King James English)? Adam and Eve ignored the words of God, ate the fruit, and plunged the human race into sin. See what happens when you doubt the words of God?, the Evangelical preacher says. NEVER doubt your Bible, no matter how far-fetched it seems.
This is why Evangelical leaders consider authors like Bart Ehrman dangerous. Ehrman, like Satan in the Garden of Eden, says to readers, yea hath God said? Ehrman, a University of North Carolina New Testament scholar, confronts Evangelical readers with evidence that thoroughly and completely destroys the notion that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant, infallible words of God. Focusing on the New Testament, Ehrman exposes ignorant Evangelicals to the facts about the transmission and history of the Biblical text. This evidence is so overwhelming that honest Evangelicals are forced to admit that the Bible is not what preachers claim it is. While it is certainly possible for Ehrmanated-Evangelicals to hold on to some semblance of Christianity, they will never view the Bible is the same way again.
When Evangelicals stop by this blog to challenge this Evangelical-preacher-turned-atheist, I always ask if they have read any of Bart Ehrman’s books. Invariably, their answer is no. Often they see no need to read his books. Their pastors have either told them to stay away from Ehrman’s books or they have read their favorite fundamentalist bloggers post about Ehrman’s heretical beliefs. No need to investigate further. Since truth is always wasted on a closed mind, I rarely engage Evangelicals who refuse to read Ehrman’s books. Long time readers have watched me tell Evangelical zealots to read Ehrman and then we will talk. Few do so, preferring to remain safe and secure in the Evangelical bubble. Until they are willing to entertain doubts and questions about the Bible, there is no hope for them. Until Evangelicals are willing to reject the irrational parts of the Bible, the parts Michael Pearl calls far-fetched, they will remain enslaved to their literalistic interpretations of God’s perfect words.
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 eleven grandchildren.
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