Why I am Not Interested in a Nicer, Friendlier Christianity

Why I am Not Interested in a Nicer, Friendlier Christianity June 27, 2019

Editor’s Note: Not all Evangelical Christians are extremists. At least that’s what they will tell you and what they believe themselves.  But you’ll learn something different if you confront them directly with their beliefs, as described below. /Linda LaScola

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By Bruce Gerencser

I often write about the extreme right of Evangelicalism, the end of the Evangelical spectrum inhabited by churches and sects that nice, friendly Evangelicals like to call fundamentalist nut jobs. However, as I clearly show in my post titled Are Evangelicals FundamentalistsALL Evangelicals are fundamentalists.

Evangelical belief requires theological fundamentalism, a core set of beliefs that one must adhere to be a Christian and considered an Evangelical in good standing. Some who deny this fact are really liberal/progressive Christians living in denial. Raised in the Evangelical church and familiar with its worship and practice, these liberal/progressive Christians don’t want to abandon the only church they have ever known. Their theology puts them squarely outside of Evangelicalism, but they refuse to accept this and they dig their heels in when attempts are made to drag them into the liberal/progressive church. There’s not much anyone can do for these folks. In time, the keepers of Evangelical truth will expose and embarrass them and they will be forced to leave. For now, they play pretend Evangelical.

There’s another subset within Evangelicalism that thinks they are what I call a nicer, friendlier version of Evangelicalism. They are convinced that legalism, rules, moralizing, and the like are the problem, so they attempt to advertise their churches as places that are judgment free, places where sinners can come to find healing and deliverance. However, these nicer, friendlier Evangelicals hang on to theological fundamentalism. While their lifestyle or what they consider a sin might be different from their legalistic brethren, theologically there is very little difference between the two.

Here’s how you force a nicer, friendlier Evangelical to show their true colors. Forget this or that doctrine. Forget everything except what I share next:

Evangelical: The church I go to, First Church of the Most Awesome People in Town, is the nicest, friendliest church in town. We love everyone and I am sure if you come to our church you would feel right at home!!

Bruce: Let me ask you several questions. First, do you believe in a literal hell?

Evangelical: Yes, that’s what the Bible teaches.

Bruce: Who ends up in hell?

Evangelical: Well, I am not the judge, only God is, but the Bible does say that a person must know Jesus as their Lord and Savior to go to heaven when they die.

Bruce: So, since I am not a Christian and I refuse to acknowledge Jesus as my Lord and Savior, I will go to hell when I die, right?

Evangelical: (looks down to ground) Uh, well, um, yeah, if you don’t repent of your sins and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ you will go to hell when you die.

Bruce: How long will I be in hell? Is it like Catholic purgatory where I’ll suffer for a time and then be taken to heaven?

Evangelical: Well, uh…. (long pause) if you die without knowing Jesus as your Lord and Savior you will spend eternity in the torments of hell.

Bruce: Fire and brimstone and where the worm dieth not?

Evangelical: Yes.

Bruce: Since this body I currently have would burn up if I was thrown into a pit of fire and brimstone, does this mean God gives me a new body that will withstand the torments of hell?

Evangelical: (silently praying the Rapture would happen)

Bruce: And doesn’t this mean that your God created me, killed me, and sent me to hell with a new body fashioned by him to withstand day and night torture for eternity?

Bruce: Is this the God you worship? Why would anyone want to worship such a horrible deity?

Forget all the other doctrines, this is the only one that matters. I don’t care how nice or friendly a church thinks they are, if they believe in hell then they are party to the savage, endless torture of billions of people. They might smile more or practice friendship evangelism, but the result is still the same; those who don’t repent of their sins and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ go to hell when they die. (Please see We Love People and Are the Friendliest Church in Town)

The next time you run into a nicer, friendlier Evangelical, go for their jugular. Ask them point-blank if they believe in hell. Their answer (s) to this question will tell you all you need to know. Personally, I have no interest in be a part of a group or being friends with anyone who thinks that I will burn in hell for eternity because I am not like them. This kind of thinking is no different from the thinking of the demented killers portrayed on Criminal Minds. 

Our God is an awesome God, the Evangelical says, and He loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life. And if you refuse to accept this, our God will some day torture you for all eternity.

**Editor’s Question**  Did you ever believe in a literal hell?  If so, what changed you mind?

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Bio: Bruce Gerencser lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 40 years. He and his wife have 6 grown children and 12 grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for 25 years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. He left the ministry in 2005 and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. He is also one of the original members of The Clergy Project, which began in 2011. He blogs at The Life and Times of Bruce Gerencser, where the above post originally appears.  It is repostedwith permission.

>>>>>Photo Credits:  “Folio 108r – Hell” by Limbourg brothers – Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Folio_108r_-_Hell.jpg#/media/File:Folio_108r_-_Hell.jpg

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Zetopan

    And of course ignorance and fear are actually their *best* arguments.

  • Robert Baden

    Raised UU. I think the Universalism was more important to my family than the Unitarianism, though I know mom was a deist. I looked at xtain universalism for a while.

  • Raging Bee

    Oh great — the OP talks about H* ll, but the censorware still blocks the word!

  • Raging Bee

    Speaking of the Bible, what, EXACTLY, does it really say about H*ll, and where does it say this? Does it really say what the evangelicals say it says? They’re known to lie and bluff about such matters, and I’ve heard claims about H*ll plausibly disputed.

  • Even worse, many (most?) Evangelical churches hold Calvinistic views – which means they believe God has created some (most?) of his creatures knowing they were doomed from eternity…!

  • valleycat1

    Try having a conversation about the eternal outlook for apostates. If salvation is an eternal done deal when one accepts Jesus as savior, why does one mere mortal’s change of opinion cancel out God’s eternal promise?

  • Raging Bee

    Yeah, they may not consciously believe such rubbish, but they kinda talk themselves into that corner when they threaten — oops, I mean reassure — their kids by saying God knows everything.

  • Raging Bee

    Most of the Christians I’ve heard from say it doesn’t: you still go to Heaven because you’ve been “saved” (“once, for all”), but God may have some words with you before he lets you through the gate. (And some say that’s what Purgatory is for, whether or not they use that name.)

  • Milo C

    Since Catholicism is my only religious membership experience, I find other churches fascinating. It’s a shame so many kept the doctrine of eternal damnation.

  • Jim Baerg

    I just can’t think of a crime bad enough to deserve eternal torture…. with the possible exception of building a dungeon in which to torture people forever.

  • Ray Dubuque

    To see how LITTLE “evangelical Christians” know of the actual teaching and example of Jesus Christ, see
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/3c3638ec829585679821af0044d0062b90fe8a1715098312a5b629da565a327d.jpg

    http://WhatWouldJesusThink.info

    Rev. R D

  • I was taught I would lose rewards in Heaven for sinning on Earth. Even now, I have Evangelicals tell me that I am still a Christian — once saved, always saved. Jesus is an abusive husband you can never divorce. Fine, I smothered him in his sleep.

  • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

    “I Lorena Bobbitted the Lawd”…a memoir…

    😉

  • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

    You left out violence and ostracism…

  • Raging Bee

    …and then actually torturing people in it…

  • Wisdom, Justice, Love

    Technically, I’d place those in the fear category.

  • Wisdom, Justice, Love

    I haven’t tried my new motto lately:
    Religion. Come for the fear. Stay for the ignorance.

  • Zetopan

    I think that your order is wrong. Many join a religion due to ignorance and then get addicted because of fear that they will be eternally tortured if they leave. Willful ignorance is of course a sacrament to those who stay since exposure to actual reality can cause doubt and that is something they simply cannot allow to happen.

    “Reason is the greatest enemy that faith has; it never comes to the aid of spiritual things, but—more frequently than not—struggles against the divine Word, treating with contempt all that emanates from God.” — Martin Luther, Table Talks in 1569.

  • Wisdom, Justice, Love

    It’s a photo finish. But I think the fear is the initializer. The first narrative is the extortion: do this or I do this. Not trying to be ageist, but most kids are ignorant to begin with. Not enough life experience to do critical thinking. That’s why even we’re young we naturally want to trust older, more experienced people, like family. Many “join” because mommy and daddy signed them up and they want to do what will be most recognized/rewarded. IMO.

  • Jim Jones

    2,000 years of everyone making it up as they go!

  • ElizabetB.

    [Apologies to any followers — I’ve been trying to get this comment through Disqus’ blockers, this time trying to avoid a word I’ve heard they have flagged : ) ]

    “Did you ever believe in a literal h*ll? If so, what changed your mind?”

    As a child, I assumed what we were taught was literally true, but in high school I developed uncertainties about everything. Skipping over a complicated path, when as a young adult I heard that, actually, “h*ll” was “being separated from God,” I wondered if I was actually IN h*ll — since I was not experiencing the responses to my thoughts that I’d been taught God gave. What helped me out of that was studying the radical grace in the Lutheran tradition…. God is grace and love, period. That was strong enough for me to quit worrying about what I thought or didn’t think about god, and try to pass that “absolute grace” idea along to nursing home residents who worried about going to h*ll, or family members heading there. (“It’s a terrible thing to know your son is in h*ll” — a horrible comment I heard) These days I’ve decided what I am is a “pan-compassionist freethinker” — I explore reality via sciences, wisdom traditions, reason, intuition, & arts, and would like to have compassion on everything & everyone — but I’m having a very hard time with our current occupant of the White House.

    Thank you for the clear thinking, Bruce!!

  • Raging Bee

    “Forward in all directions!”