What It’s Like To Be Preached To

I’m sure the vast majority of you out there do not have deeply religious family members preaching to you.  Unfortunately I’m not so lucky.  I wish family events and holidays could revolve around catching up with one another, sharing stories, and just enjoying one another’s company.  But with my family everything, and I mean EVERYTHING revolves around religion.

As time goes on, I’ve grow to hate religion more and more, and everytime I’m preached to it just grinds away at me.  I love them all and they’re all very precious to me, but at the same time I really wish they’d never talk about religion with me, or feel it their duty to “witness” to me about Jesus and how He works in their life.

With family members it’s such an awkward situation because you love them and don’t wish to fight or argue with them.  You want to get along and have a nice holiday celebration together.  I’m fine with them being religious and believing what they want to believe; to each their own.  But when they start preaching to me, start looking down and insulting the way I live, pronounce that the things I value most in life are completely worthless, and look down at me like I’m some sort of lost sheep, how am I supposed to endure it with a smile?

All of my family members are ministers, so they’re all very passionate about Christianity.  When my aunt and uncle came down for a wedding just the other day, I got busy with some other things and wasn’t able to spend much time with them.  If you guys want to see firsthand what it’s like to be preached to by religious family members, just read this email my uncle sent me.  I don’t think he’d mind me posting it up here as its obvious intent was to witness to me about Jesus and share his own experiences as to why Christian doctrine is true.  That being the case, he can witness to us all.

As you read this email, you can see that he has no respect for science and evidence.  He doesn’t even think that way.  There’s one thing he says in this email which I find completely baffling.  He says to himself, “What is the truth”, and then he asks God to tell him.  He begins to hear a voice, but it’s faint and small in the beginning.  Eventually he follows it and it shows him the deep truths of this world.  Then he tries to relate to me how he once went through some troubling experiences and just couldn’t determine what the truth was.  Thankfully God starting talking directly to him and now all of that is in the past.

It’s all so odd.  I’m a man of science and reason.  I look for arguments based upon empirical evidence and I don’t accept his arguments as anything more than this own head talking to him.

You’ll notice that everything he argues is emotional.  It’s not about science and reason, nor is there any attempt at examining all the evidence, and demanding proof for every belief.  It’s the complete opposite.  Everything is about faith. We’re told that the ultimate truths of this universe cannot possibly be understood with our rational mind, and you have to believe crazy things in order to have a relationship with the all knowing ruler of all.  The deepest truths of our universe appear crazy to men because God wanted to make the wise men of this world humble. God gave us a mind but never expected us to use it, nor apply it to understanding the world.

I agree with Albert Einstein when he said,

One may say the eternal mystery of the world is its comprehensibility.
– Albert Einstein

I quit my belief in Christianity many many years ago because it doesn’t make sense, and there’s mountains of scientific evidence showing that what the Bible says is a bunch of nonsense.

But though at the start of this email he makes it sound like he’s open to hearing a different perspective, just a short moment later he’s making it abundantly clear that he feels all human knowledge worthless, or at the very least, secondary to revelation from God.  At that point you can’t argue because it all becomes arbitrary personal revelation.  He could care less about experiments in genetics proving, beyond doubt, that evolution is true.   He’d argue back with scripture.  He quotes scripture after scripture because to him, scripture is truth.  There’s no room to argue.  This isn’t a debate.

He goes on and on about faith healing and miracles he’s seen happen.  I don’t believe these things happened.  The “dead” man on the ground probably had just fallen asleep, and I’m sure there’s plausible explanations for all the so-called miracles he’s claiming.  When I was growing up he visited our church and prayed for people, including myself, and I never saw a single miracle.  There’s always all these miracles happening, but us critical thinking people never seem to witness them.

Throughout the email he prophesies revelations that God has given him.  I won’t go on further; you can read the letter for yourself.  Now just imagine having to experience this sort of thing in person; it’s Christmas time, you’re opening gifts, eating dinner, sharing quality time with your closest family members, and then you’re cornered in the kitchen and the conversation goes something like this (and yes, this sort of thing happens near every holiday for me)…

Dear Jason,

It was good to see you at the wedding.  I really wanted to spend some time with you while we were visiting. I understand you love to read a lot and have studied the great philosophers and scholars. I also love to study great men and the views of others. I have spent tens of thousands of hours studying the Bible and what others have written about it. No doubt you also have seen the vast differences of views.   Finis J. Dake is one of my all-time favorite scholars, especially with the insight that there was a pre-adamic race that existed between Gen 1:1 and Gen 1:2. (I have all 18 of his books in my library along with hundreds of others). That certainly fits in with the view that this world is about 4 to 6 billion years old and that man as we know  was created  when God recreated the world 6,000 years ago after Lucifer’s rebellion.

As you probably know I received my doctorate in 1999. I am looking forward to my next PhD in education next year. While that and $1.00 will get one a cup of coffee at most places it’s somewhat  of an accomplishment that will give one a platform to speak since one usually wants  credentials of who and what one knows. I mention this to you because of your background and what I have to briefly share with you.

I grew up in a family that brought me to church as early as I can remember. I went through some very difficult times during my teens.  While I believed in Jesus and loved Him, I never really found that “personal relationship” that others talked about. It’s still really difficult to talk about some of the hurts and disappointments I experienced during those years.

It wasn’t until I was 23 that I asked the Lord, Who’s right? I concluded that since I was Baptist that I believe as a Baptist that I was right. But, I could have just as well been raised a good Catholic. The Lord didn’t answer the question overnight. But it was from that time things begin to happen which had a profound effect on me.  I traveled around the world twice and learned many things about people and demon activity. I met missionaries and explored how many people saw life. I attended many schools and eventually became a Pastor and Bible College President.  There are so many things to put into one letter.

There are many voices in the world. Obviously, not everyone can be right even though they feel  they are.

It took a long time for me to find the God of the Bible. However, since that time I have pressed in to understand how the Kingdom of God works. I literally spent years studying on the subject of faith alone. God began to reveal Himself first through the scriptures and then by the still small voice. Now many times while I’m studying in my office He comes in and talks with me about what I’m studying.  Many times the Lord awakens me in the night to share insight for Sunday’s sermon.  I’ve witnessed the Love that God has for his people on many occasions. I can’t begin to tell you how much He wants His people to know Just how much He really does Love them. He says to tell them “I WANT THEM TO KNOW I LOVE THEM SO, AND I HAVE SO FROM THE START”

I’ve witnessed many miracles that Jesus has done over the years. I’ve seen folks who were deaf instantly healed, folks with crippling arthritis instantly healed, one lady’s face which was drawn up as the result of a stroke instantly healed so that she screamed as she looked in a mirror when she saw how the Lord had healed  her. I’ve seen the blind instantly receive their sight. I’ve seen countless people delivered from all kinds of bondages.  Connie and I have had all nine gift’s of the spirit operate through us at one time or another. I’ve witnessed two people raised from the dead. One was a lady who died in a Sunday morning service  while I was preaching. Another lady came forward to tell me she had passed away. I left the pulpit and went to her to picked her up out of the place she was slumped over and commanded her spirit to return to her body.  Within minutes she came back to life and the crowd gave God great praise.

Another time my mother called me and told me that my step-father had died. I jumped in car and drove across town to find him lying on the floor in the den. I prayed and commanded his spirit to come back into his body in the Name of Jesus. Within minutes he was alive.

Another time a Black woman in our church with 12 children who herself had never learned to read or write came up in the prayer line. She brought a bible and said that she wanted to be able to read it and that she believed that Jesus would give her the gift of reading the Bible. We prayed and I told her to open her Bible and begin to read.  She opened the bible and began to read never having been able to read before. The crowd went wild. The strange thing is she can only read  the Bible. Even today she can’t read any other books. You see, she got exactly what she asked for…..to read the Bible.

Many times folks who were childless would come for prayer. Usually within six weeks they would report the wife was pregnant.  One time a couple came who had experienced one miscarriage after another. We prayed and in less than a year a healthy baby boy was born. He is a teenager today.

I’ve witnessed hundreds perhaps thousands of miracle after miracle that Jesus has done in our presence over the years. I’m afraid that I have forgotten many of them .

Mark 16:15-20

15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;

18 .They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.

19 So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.

20 And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.

I’ve include a passage which I believe explains why so many people have a hard time believing in miracles today especially when miracles should be common place in the church.

1 Cor 1:17-31 Today’s English Version

17 Christ did not send me to baptize. He sent me to tell the Good News, and to tell it without using the language of human wisdom, in order to make sure that Christ’s death on the cross is not robbed of its power.

Christ the Power and the Wisdom of God

18 For the message about Christ’s death on the cross is nonsense to those who are being lost; but for us who are being saved it is God’s power. 19 The scripture says,

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise

and set aside the understanding of the scholars.”

20 So then, where does that leave the wise? or the scholars? or the skillful debaters of this world? God has shown that this world’s wisdom is foolishness!

21 For God in his wisdom made it impossible for people to know him by means of their own wisdom. Instead, by means of the so-called “foolish” message we preach, God decided to save those who believe. 22 Jews want miracles for proof, and Greeks look for wisdom. 23 As for us, we proclaim the crucified Christ, a message that is offensive to the Jews and nonsense to the Gentiles; 24 but for those whom God has called, both Jews and Gentiles, this message is Christ, who is the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For what seems to be God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and what seems to be God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.

26 Now remember what you were, my brothers, when God called you. From the human point of view few of you were wise or powerful or of high social standing. 27 God purposely chose what the world considers nonsense in order to shame the wise, and he chose what the world considers weak in order to shame the powerful. 28 He chose what the world looks down on and despises and thinks is nothing, in order to destroy what the world thinks is important. 29 This means that no one can boast in God’s presence. 30 But God has brought you into union with Christ Jesus, and God has made Christ to be our wisdom. By him we are put right with God; we become God’s holy people and are set free. 31 So then, as the scripture says, “Whoever wants to boast must boast of what the Lord has done.”

Jason, the Lord has told us that a great revival is coming to the US and we are to be taking part in it. He has told us that it will be similar to what I have described above. Connie and I are now buying an additional house in ——. We think you will really like it. We will be traveling back and forth to Baton Rouge by plane several times a month. We also will be holding meetings around the US, etc

I am looking for another pilot to fly with me (Jet or Turbo-prop rated). Do you know of anyone that may be interested in traveling cross-country on a regular basis?  They will need to be able to stay overnight with us at times.

Connie and I have things to share and something to give to you when we see you again.

Be Blessed,

Uncle Richard

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5 Responses to What It’s Like To Be Preached To

  1. Joshua says:

    Short time reader, but a big fan of your blog. And after reading this post, I decided to leave my first comment.

    Right off the bat I’m sorry you have to deal with being preached to so often. Personally I’m one of those few people who are lucky enough to have freedom in my family in regards to beliefs with majority of my cousins, aunts, uncles, friends and even my father being catholic. I could only imagine how frusterating that must be for you.

    But that’s beside the point. I wanted to make a small interesting note on your uncle’s email to you. After thinking over how faith is entirely based on belief and thoughts without fact, and attempting to prove to a religious person using arguements such as evolution tends to be fruitless, I was a bit surprised to find this near the beginning of your Uncle’s email.

    “There are many voices in the world. Obviously, not everyone can be right even though they feel they are.”

    Then again I suppose he considers his religion a fact based on miracles. But even still I find his way of thinking difficult to understand, especially when you apply his own words to his beliefs.

    Anywho, I apologize for my poor grammar. I absolutely love the blog and enjoy constantly learning new ideas as you share your research and studies. Take care of yourself!

  2. Hi Joshua,

    Yes, it’s very strange indeed. The mindset of the deeply religious is very hard to understand. I’m not sure exactly what “truth” means to him, but as I said in the post, to him, whatever truth we can come to on our own isn’t worth much.

    He says, “Obviously, not everyone can be right even though they feel they are.” yet all of his own beliefs about truth are exactly that — feelings that he cannot be wrong. The ultimate “truths” of the universe, to him, are all of this nature. They’re felt, not understood.

    He talks about faith, but it’s strange that he has no faith in himself. All of his faith is dependent on Jesus working through him. I don’t think he’d condemn medical science, as he himself has went to the doctor many times. I don’t think he’d even deny that we have knowledge as to how the body operates. But I’m not sure whether or not he understands the root causes of human sickness. He seems to attribute it all to demonic activity; once you cast out the demon the body starts to operate properly again.

    Listening to him, he sounds like a man of power, walking around using these spiritual powers to heal the sick and give sight to the blind. The thing is, these very beliefs are the things that keep humanity powerless. People used to flock in droves to the temples to get prayed for, hoping to receive a miracle from heaven. Unfortunately God was stingy and let most of us die in misery. But then medical science came along, and now people go to the doctor. Most of the diseases people died from in the past are now cured easily with medicine. As for those sicknesses which still bother us today, if we’ll put more money into researching the cures, science will take care of those too. There will come a time in the future when medical science will conquer every sickness and disease and it’ll be interesting to see if people continue to be religious at that time.

    To a large extent, I think people are religious because they fear death and find themselves in situations in which they feel themselves powerless to overcome. They also live such boring and empty lives, the thought that their life and destiny ultimately depends on them is a scary thought. But as mankind becomes more powerful as a species, and we’re no longer subject to the cruelties of nature in the same degree we are now, I think religious beliefs will slowly fade away. It’ll become irrelevant.

    But there’s more to this than material prosperity. Lady Gaga is filthy rich, but she’s still empty. She recently said in an interview that, “I believe in God because there has to be something greater than myself.” Sadly, she doesn’t realize that there’s always been the infinite universe all around her. Instead she forms an image of a powerful man-like deity and asks It for meaning in her life. It’s very anthropomorphic. She’s unaware of the infinite universe around her. People no longer think the Earth the center of the universe but still think that God is a man and focuses all “His” (notice that God is a male father figure) attentions on our affairs.

    As humanity has come to put more faith in itself, progress has resulted. When we’ve turned to deities and our imaginations, progress has always stopped. What’s hard though is to believe in ourselves when everything around us is falling apart. We’ve attempted to form a better world and we’ve failed many times. Every time we fail, we lose confidence in ourselves and we become more prone to turning back to religion. But as people are seeing more and more technological progress, less and less are putting their faith in God, and more and more are believing in science.

    Uncle Richard may be right about an upcoming revival in Christian belief. I’m sure as our economic systems fail us, and more and more people lose their homes in foreclosures, and more and more people lose their jobs, thrown into poverty, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of these folks turn to religion for comfort.

  3. Joshua says:

    Thanks for the reply!

    This has definitely helped me just why people cling to the idea of God so desperately. The belief of a strong, loving supernatural being looking out for you must be very comforting. If there really was an all knowing creature telling you what’s right and wrong as well as taking the time to take care of you, there’d be very little to worry about.

    But another thing that confuses me about religion (more catholicism since I’m more familiar with it) is even though they do believe that God’s word is absolute and unwavering, the churches seem to change God’s demands when problems arise.

    Examples of this is would be the standards of the roman catholic inquisition with torture forced upon anyone who didn’t see eye to eye with their beliefs, as it was God’s wish. But with change of morals and ethics catholics no longer torture, nor call it a mistake of God’s (I may be incorrect about this though, so corrections would be appreciated).

    Another more recent change in ethics and morals within the church is the stand on pedophilia between priests and the children going to church, only fairly recently has the pope decided that this is a bad thing to be happening. Yet they say that God doesn’t make mistakes, and that these men are chosen and guided absolutely by God.

    And with that, I want to quickly comment on something you said about your Uncle.

    “I don’t think he’d condemn medical science, as he himself has went to the doctor many times. I don’t think he’d even deny that we have knowledge as to how the body operates. But I’m not sure whether or not he understands the root causes of human sickness. He seems to attribute it all to demonic activity; once you cast out the demon the body starts to operate properly again.”

    This is a common thought among most of my catholic family and friends I know, so I can pretty easily assume with you that your Uncle truely does think like this. But after going back into his email, I found another bit of information on what he believes.

    “18 For the message about Christ’s death on the cross is nonsense to those who are being lost; but for us who are being saved it is God’s power. 19 The scripture says,

    “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise

    and set aside the understanding of the scholars.”

    20 So then, where does that leave the wise? or the scholars? or the skillful debaters of this world? God has shown that this world’s wisdom is foolishness!

    21 For God in his wisdom made it impossible for people to know him by means of their own wisdom. Instead, by means of the so-called “foolish” message we preach, God decided to save those who believe.”

    Shouldn’t this mean that all curing of illness and “miracles” belong solely in the church? Unless I’m reading it wrong, it sounds a bit hypocritical that the church is against any change and wisdom as the word of God is absolute, yet when society and science grows they turn around and explain that it was all apart of God’s plan all along but somehow still not making them “foolish” in their own words.

  4. Timothy Fairman says:

    It’s so sad how you are preached at. I disagree with you on religious issues but I have never preached at you because I know how it turns people away. I’m a supporter of free thought because that is the only place I’ve actually seen people truly follow religion. Raising people from the dead? That made even me question his validity. I feel for you.

  5. Hey Joshua,

    When church doctrine changes with changing times, I suppose they would argue that their interpretation of scripture has changed, yet the word of God has always been true. I’m with you though. Times change and the church always changes along with it. God seems to change his mind quite often – even on very large issues.

    Apparently for quite a long time, upon death decent folks found themselves in purgatory. If enough money was donated to the priests at the funeral their soul could be prayed up into heaven. However with time, the pope and others felt that purgatory did not exist, so they wrote up an announcement that purgatory has never existed.

    Though the church changes with the times, it’s always lagging behind and holds so many back with it. To quote one of my favorite philosophers,

    “I say quite deliberately that the Christian religion, as organized in its churches, has been and still is the principal enemy of moral progress in the world.”
    – Bertrand Russell

    You mentioned torture. I think religious zealots would still be burning non-believers at the stake if they could. It’s just that today they no longer have the power to do so; we’re protected by our governments. If you don’t believe me, just read history. They always have in the past. Religious folk still do all over the world. Human nature hasn’t changed. The only thing that has changed is we now have constitutional rights protecting freedom of religion and speech.

    If you think about it, it is a rational course of action if you really believe in the Bible. Non-believers go to hell for all eternity, so if a person is going around spreading ideas and beliefs which undermine Christianity, they must be stopped for the eternal welfare of people’s souls. If they won’t stop spreading their heretical beliefs, they need to be silenced, imprisoned, and possibly killed.

    When the church had more power, this same mindset led to a complete intolerance of any belief (such as scientific papers) which went against established doctrine. Galileo was imprisoned simply for publishing what he found when looking out of a telescope he built. He had shown that the Earth is not the center of the universe and they wouldn’t stand for any of that. He also showed that Jupiter has moons orbiting it.

    As for miracles, it seems that different church denominations have varying beliefs regarding whether or not miracles still happen. The Catholic church will still acknowledge certain miracles, and many protestant churches teach that miracles are possible. Other denominations won’t acknowledge miracles. It all depends on the particular denomination.

    If you literally believed the Bible, word for word, then I suppose going to the doctor would represent a lack of faith on your part because, after all, God will heal you if you only have faith in His miracle working power. When a person is not healed, God is never held inept, but a lack of faith is always assumed. People blame themselves and walk into the doctor’s office in shame. When a mindless pathogen enters your body and starts replicating itself, that’s not something to feel guilty about. You also shouldn’t feel guilty over masturbating, but so many Christians feel guilty every time they do so.

    That’s one thing that’s particularly nasty about Christian faith – guilt. Believers can feel so much guilt that it’s almost pathological. The smallest sin, such as getting angry with a loved one, is enough to condemn you to eternal hellfire. After doing so you fall to your knees and beg for forgiveness. Then your loving father says, “It’s ok. I love you and have always loved you.”

    Imagine if that happened in real life. Imagine some cult group with a leader where every little thing a follower did wrong led them his room, begging for forgiveness. We’d say, “This is ridiculous.” But when it comes to religion, this insanity is considered a form of humility.

    It’s a healthy thing to feel guilt, but your level of guilt should correspond to the gravity of the offense. If you did something terrible, you should feel terrible about it. If what you did was minor, you shouldn’t be killing yourself over it.

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