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May 23, 2011

1

Every smile you fake, Every claim you stake (I’ll be watching you)

by juju2112

According to a sermon given recently by Pastor Galen Pearcy of Radiant Life Church in Bentonville, Arkansas, God is watching you all the time. You’d better watch out!

“Some people, what they want to do is […] when they get to work, you know they clock in? Well, they want to clock out with God. They’re going to leave God in the car. Because they’re things at work they’re gonna do and conversations they’re gonna have that they’d be embarrassed if they took him with them. But he’s there anyway, even if you try to lock him in the car, you’re not gonna
succeed.”

Isn’t the idea of God watching you all the time a little creepy? I mean, does he watch you while you pee? While you’re sleeping? Or while you’re having sex? I mean, if I believed that, I would be totally freaking out all the time. For example, is it possible to get an erection knowing that God is watching you and judging your every move? I’m not sure I could get it up knowing that a deity was staring at me. Then again, maybe some people are into that kinda thing. Kinda like a cosmic version of exhibitionism. Put on a good show for the big guy!

Why do people think they need someone watching them before they want do the right thing? I’ve heard Christians say that if there were no God, they would just start raping, stealing, and murdering. And the reigning opinion is that religious people are more moral than non-religious people! I just don’t see it. Is there something wrong with being good because it’s the right thing to do?

There are a couple of interesting studies on this. This one shows an inverse correlation between religiosity and societal health (measured by homicide rates, childhood mortality, STD’s, life expectancy, and teen abortions and pregnancy). And this study shows a positive correlation between atheism and lots of positive characteristics.

Now, I’m not saying that everyone should run out and be atheists (not in this section, anyway!). Everyone has their own path. I’m just saying you don’t need a big brother watching you in order to be good.

Decisions

“When you are saved, it is a decision you make with your mind. I decide that I’m going to have two scoops of vanilla ice cream. I’ve decided. I made a choice.”

What about the people who aren’t convinced that God exists? I’m not sure I see how they could just “decide” to believe. Could you just “decide” to believe in fairies? That’s sort of the predicament I’m in. It’s not like I can just pretend to believe. I’m not going to fool an omnipotent deity.

Science

“And you say, well, you know, those people who are intellectuals, many times they contradict what the word of God says. Well, it’s true, but, scientists, the more that they discover, the more they come into alignment with the word of God. They may say one thing and as they learn and as they discover more things, they come back and they have to make an adjustment. They go, “Well, we’ve made this new discovery, and so therefore, what we thought wasn’t true about the word, we find it is true. See, as they use their mind, as they use their intelligence, then they’re beginning to confirm what God’s word says.”

Yes, scientists admit when they’re wrong when new evidence comes to light. They change their views. How is this a bad thing? You have two competing views here:

1) Believe with your heart. Your emotions aren’t likely to change, so you’ll believe the same thing forever, no matter what. Maybe if a loved one dies, you might be in trouble, but maybe not! Some people just get stronger in their faith in the face of adversity.

2) Believe only things you have good evidence for. Of course, if new evidence comes to light that contradicts your views, you may have to discard a cherished belief. Oh no! But wait, don’t we want our beliefs to more closely align with reality? In that case, maybe this option is the better one?

As far as science “proving the bible”, no. No, it doesn’t. Yes, you can look up stuff online that says it does. Dig a little further. It always crumbles and falls apart when you really start looking into it. You should probably learn about how science works first, though. That’s a huge stumbling block for a lot of people.

I’d love to refute specific examples here, but the pastor didn’t give any. He just made an assertion and never backed it up. Of course, it’s a church, so what can you expect? There is no accountability for ideas in a church.

Emotion

“And they might say some words. They might repeat some words. But you know, it’s just words. Unless you’re confessing with your mouth and believing in your heart, you’re just saying some words. They’re good words. Pledge of Allegiance is good words, too. It’s not going to save you. So, we have to believe in our heart. There’s free will. And someone might drag you and someone might have you say some words, but that’s not really going to save you.”

“Sometimes it can be confusing, because the preacher says, “Okay, now you’re saved.” See, I don’t think anybody has to tell you you’re saved. Because when you’re saved, you know it. There’s something inside, there’s a transformation that takes place on the inside when Jesus comes in, and then we’ll know that we’re saved. We know that we’ve been free from sin.”

So, if you have been “saved” and you didn’t feel an incredible emotional transformation inside, you should start panicing now. You are one of those dirty “fake” Christians so many pastors preach about.

What’s the criteria though, I wonder? How would you measure your emotional reaction to being saved? What would you compare it against? How could you tell whether that amazing feeling you felt wasn’t just the relief of finally being accepted by your friends and family? Maybe you just did it for selfish reasons and you didn’t really feel Jesus in your heart like those other people did? It seems like without a proper system of measurement, there’s an awful lot of room for doubt here. Is this where some of the guilt in religion comes from? From never knowing if your love for God is enough?

“Real” Christians

“We live in a world that has cheapened God’s love and his grace, and it is an embarrassment. I’m embarrassed. Some people, everybody you know says they’re a Christian. Everybody. They don’t even know what it means! But grandma was one, and I’m part of grandma, so I’m one too. I was born in America, so I’m a Christian. They have no concept of what it means. You know, it’s really talking about being Christ-like. Being Christian is Christ-like. Are we Christ-like, or are we more like the devil? See, a lot of people are saying with their mouth one thing, but they’re living a whole different way. And they’re thinking it’s okay! […] We’ve cheapened God’s love.”

As an atheist, I’ve been told on a pretty regular basis that it is not okay to question someone else’s faith. So, on behalf of my Christian friends, how dare he question someone else’s faith! I mean, come on, he’s comparing Christians he doesn’t like to the devil! Who does he think he is? Well, okay, I guess he is a preacher. His whole job is to whip people back into their faith. But still, why aren’t more Christians upset about this kind of rhetoric? Is Christians looking at each other in a suspicious and disrespectful manner really in their best interest?

And even if he’s right about the whole emotional transformation thing, how does he know what someone feels inside? Maybe some of these people he’s talking about do feel the Holy Spirit in them. Who is he to question their feelings?

“Someone even said several years ago, “If you were arrested for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” It’s something to think about.”

The scale of the persecution complex here is just staggering. Who the hell is going to arrest someone for being a Christian in America? These people think they’re being persecuted because they can’t force Muslims, Hindus, and Atheists to say Christian prayers in public schools. In their minds, secularism is just one step away from being thrown in jail for going to church.

Audio Link:

http://www.radiantlifechurch.com/components/com_podcast/media/ConfessingandBelieving051511am.mp3

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