Split Second Decisions

To the fundamentalist, life is a series of tests wherein the Christian is confronted with a temptation or decision that in an instant may weigh him in the balance and find him wanting. One wrong move, one little slip, or the smallest of infractions may send even the most committed fundy’s life hurtling out of control and leave him destroyed, useless, and more than likely dead in some horrible fashion.

The result of this belief results in some astounding acts of post hoc thinking, wherein the a preacher looking back upon the events will declare that it was Wednesday the 24th of June at 4:30 p.m. when little Tommy decided to skip the mid-week service and thereby sealed his fate to die in a freak cement mixer accident two days later. I mean it’s obvious, right? How could we fail to draw the obvious conclusion that one small slip can meet with unimaginable consequences?

Yet, those who study risk can tell you that almost inevitably no disaster is the result of a single decision. It takes a confluence of events compounded by multiple bad choices and usually involving more than one person’s actions to end up with a truly horrific outcome. Unfortunately, those kinds of stories just don’t have the same clear cut relationship of action to consequences that the fundy craves.

A lingering glance, a wrong word, a flare of temper, a resistance to authority, a hair out of place, or a simple act of defiance and the hammer of God’s wrath will fall upon the hapless person and smash them to bits. It’s a wonder that while walking on this precarious tightrope of sanctification that the fundy has any time to care about anybody or anything other than himself.

139 thoughts on “Split Second Decisions”

  1. Wow! Amazing last sentence!

    You’re right: living your life anxiously weighing everything you do in fear lest a wrong choice will cause God to RUIN you is all-consuming. The guilt and self-absorption leave little room for compassion for others. Also if you see someone else having a hard time, it’s probably a result of a sin THEY committed, thus they deserve it, and thus you are not obligated to help. 🙁

    I love that the angels kept telling people to FEAR NOT!!! Fear hath torment, but perfect love, resting in God’s love for us instead of picturing Him as a vindictive executioner just waiting to get us, casts out fear!

    1. Yes, the last sentence was definitly good.

      For the uber-fundamentalist spirituality is not giving to the poor or visiting the widows in their affliction, it is looking out for number one. If you slip up, you’re more spiritual friends will shun you like a leper or descend upon you like wolves. 🙁 There is not enough time and far to much risk in helping out a brother less spiritual then you, lest his unspirituality be contagious.

      And PW, everything you said in your first paragraph reminded me of the Pharisees. The similarities seem endless. 😯

  2. “a preacher looking back upon the events will declare”
    This statement is what produces man worship. Soul liberty, priesthood of the believer, the Holy Spirit and everything else go out the window when you start down this path, I know….

  3. If something bad happens to me, it’s a trial. God is doing a special work in my life. If something bad happens to you, you are in the depths of sin. Only the fundy Managawd knows the difference.

  4. If your post on Fundy logic is correct ( Which I believe is.) why in the world do we even need Jesus? Who needs a Savior? It’s all about what WE do right? It’s all about OUR decisions, OUR actions, OUR performance. To me the IFB world smacks of some of the worst humanism I have ever encountered. Like Luke said, Thank God I am free!

    1. Because Jesus, who loved us enough to endure torture and death to save us from every sin we committed up until the second we prayed the sinner’s prayer, is just waiting for us to commit one more tiny sin so He can say, “Screw it, you’re on your own!” Of course, you might get a chance to renegotiate your eternal salvation if you find a church aisle to walk down before the sword of judgement falls. Limited time offer! Operators are standing by!

  5. There are some things I really appreciate about The Pilgrim’s Progress, but I can’t help thinking that a lot of the superstition in this way of thinking may come from that book. One wrong step off the path and – WHAM-O! Something very, very bad is bound to happen. If it doesn’t happen immediately, it will sooner or later so keep your eyes peeled! It’s a chilling way to look at life as well as God; ignoring the beautiful picture of the Loving Shepherd who risks his life to find that one wandering sheep and bring him/her back to the way.

    Also…is it just me or does the guy in the picture bear a striking resemblance to Cary Grant? 🙂 Perhaps it is from some long lost footage of North by Northwest??

    1. Just think, he wrote Pilgrims Progress while sitting in jail for 12 years for not getting a preachers license. He could have gotten the license, walked out of jail on the first day and WHAM, hit by a cement truck. Figure that out.

      1. What, Bunyan had a time machine? Who knew? Seriously, NewJohn, I don’t grasp your point. Is it defending his imprisonment? It’s true that without the gaol time, we probably would not have Pilgrim’s Progress. As Darrell implies, we really need to leave these subjunctive questions up to God.

        1. Der_Berater, Follow the subject. The point is the paradox. Here he is doing right and spends 12 years in jail. If we do right isn’t everything hunky dory? It’s only when we step out of line that the cement truck comes, WHAM. Or does the cement truck come on the just and the unjust? Oh fundamentalist preacher, it can’t be both ways at a convenience.

        2. I apologize for using the “Cement Truck” illustration with John Bunyan as the formula for Cement was lost from 400 AD until the 18th century. Please substitute cement truck with manure truck.

    2. Pilgrims Progress was the start of my journey our of fundyism. I was reading it, and came to the man in the cage. Guilt took over me – I thought I was him! A professor, constantly refusing to believe he could be free, sitting in a cage of his own doing because of worldly pleasures and desires. I have never read past there (actually, I think I read a bit past there where Christian actually gets to the cross), but that man in the cage had me terrified that God had given up on me and my addiction and sin and that I was stuck in the cage, unable to repent and believe because God had locked me up and thrown away the key.

      That started my voyage out of fundamentalism. I don’t know about the rest of the book. Never got up to it.

  6. I remember sermons like that in my youth group growing up. The gist of it always was “one wrong choice and you’ll completely miss God’s will for your life. You’ll go to the wrong school, marry the wrong person, end up in a heathen job, etc” He even illustrated it by having one teen represent God walking towards him, while the pastor illustrated how making the “wrong decision” makes your path go in a completely different direction. I still remember that dumbfounded and nervous feeling as I watched the pastor and “God” walk right past each other. 😯 I realize now it completely underestimates the power of God to work in our lives and have “all things work for good” and also take into account our desire to please Him even if we make a bad decision.

    1. I heard a fundy preacher ripping on the teens about how they need to be sooooooo carful about what they watch, listen to, how they dress etc.

      I know many teens make bad decisions and get their lives off track but I also know that many teens grow up. Maybe we should trust them a little more.

      1. I wonder how many teens are turned off by preaching that portray a vindictive God instead of a compassionate one who has poured out His anger toward sin on His Son. I wonder how many teens get discouraged, feeling that they’re already doomed for one sin so they might as well go completely overboard.

        I’d like to hear more preaching about the love, grace, and Jesus Christ Himself. Saw this on FB: “FALSE: The more & more I obey God the more He will love me.
        TRUE: The more & more I understand how deeply loved I am by God in the gospel the more & more I will want to obey Him.”

        1. Scripture says that God’s “gentleness hath made me great,” that “the love of Christ constraineth us,” and that “the goodness of the Lord leadeth to repentance.” I agree with “pastor’s wife” that my love for God is what makes me *want* to be good! When I have the proper view of God, I see myself for who I am (a sinner saved by His grace and deeply loved by Him!) and then there is no room for pointing the finger. When I know what God has saved me from, how can I criticize the next person? By the same token, let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water… the Scripture is clear that there are things that please God and things that do not please God. And there are times the Spirit will lead us to exhort/encourage another brother or sister. But my motives must truly be to *restore* that person; not to attack… and I don’t believe that is the case with many out there who seem to *thrive* on exhortation! *** ❗ That said, quite honestly, I think it’s more beneficial to LIVE THE DIFFERENCE than to attack the “fundies” we disagree with ❗ *** 😛

      2. I know a man who grew up in a Christian family and was the proverbial “good kid” – obeyed all the rules, was president of his youth group, etc. He got saved while in college! He now teaches that, instead of giving the kids a list of rules to obey, the adults should just make sure every kid is right with God, and the rest will take care of itself.

    1. I’ve heard that in a different form. It was more like this:

      “Sow a thought, and you reap an act;
      Sow an act, and you reap a habit;
      Sow a habit, and you reap a character;
      Sow a character, and you reap a destiny”

      So in other words, your life is miserable because of that stupid thought you had years ago.

        1. Hmm…I did go to PCC, but I don’t remember if he preached this. It was quoted a lot in my youth groups though.

    2. For the want of a marker
      The doctors lost their place
      For the want of a cut-line
      They couldn’t lift his face
      For the want of a facelift
      His ratings dropped
      Then the sitcom folded
      Then the network flopped

      For the want of a cough drop
      The musher’s throat went hoarse
      For the want of direction
      The huskies went off course
      Then the sled got snowbound
      It took some time to free ’em
      Now they’re on display
      Inside the British Museum

      These examples are from that great Fundy band, the Newsboys in their song “Its all who you know”

  7. I love the “6 ft. under the ground” illustrations or what God will do to you if you leave Bible College. I remember boarding the plane after leaving PCC and its ordained “umbrella of authority” against my pastor’s wishes and thinking to myself, “Wow, this plane is not going to crash. I can actually make my own decisions.”

  8. Its not just you who is affected if you do the wrong thing. If you make the wrong decision it can cause a chain reaction that will seep down through the generations.

    Apparently people yet to be born have no free will and will be chained to your bad decision. 🙄

  9. So if we can miss “God’s will”, then we surprise Him in some way, right? And if He can be surprised by what we do, then I’m thinking His sovereignty isn’t all it’s cracked up to be? Follow my logic?

    C.S. Lewis said it well when he noted that God is present everywhere at all times and sees our future choices in His “present” and has already accommodated them. He loves us completely even knowing what we will do.

    A.W. Tozer noted that no skeleton can come rattling out of our closet to surprise God. His love for us doesn’t change with His knowledge of us.

    That’s the toughest thing for a fundy to accept him/herself … that God has COMPLETELY accepted us and our living a holy life is to be in joyous response to that, not because He is ready to smack us down at any moment.

  10. Yet another post illustrating exactly why I had to leave Fundyism behind. My “false steps” do not decrease God’s love for me, and God left me here on this planet not to judge those around me for their failings in life but to love them as He loves them.

  11. I heard the pastor of the fundy church I used to attend while I was in Bible College say “When a family leaves this church their kids go straight to the devil! And if they tell you otherwise they are lying!”

    Make whatever comment you want

    1. Another mouthfull of BULL GIPP from an ignorant despot who is more concerned with his ministry than the things of God. Over on the furum there is a posting about “The Danger of Loving a Theological System more than Jesus,” and this statement from some so-called M-O-g shows a love of power and his ministry more than Jesus as well.

    2. What a small view of God. God can’t guide and guard this family except under the auspices of this one particular church?

      What huge pride (as Don pointed out).

      And what a miserable lack of love. God does not delight in the destruction of the wicked. Sometimes the dire warnings of pastors seem expressed with more gleeful self-satisfaction than with sorrowful concern for the wellfare of others.

    3. When hubby and I left the mecca of all things IFB the pastor where we worked told us that if we left we would lose all influence, end up divorced, bitter and a presby within 2 years.(Apparently being a presby is something horribly evil?? I never knew)
      Its pushing on two years…and he makes a horrible fortune teller!

    4. I heard the exact same thing from my fundy pastor in CA. At the time, I was on my way out the door and had been in contact with others who had already left and knew their families. The pastor was the liar, and this was merely another one of his scare tactics used to block the exit door.

        1. Yeah, I agree about the site. I always feel guilty when someone gets on and basically says, “Stop criticizing. Just live for Jesus and stop attacking the IFB.” But Jesus always called out the Pharisees. I think it’s right to point out false teaching. And I know it helps to know that I’m not alone. I also love to read about the true Gospel and the freedom we have in Christ!

        1. @Jason B
          “Usedtobefundy: I think we went to the same church”

          It is nice to have a witness, if you know what I mean. Current members have “convenient” memories or just refuse to see it.

          The Kool-Aid is very strong there.

        2. Me too… I’m thinking back to super authoritative legalist who scratched off a piece of the desert over 25 years ago lol.

        3. Yes, Jason B. That is the place.

          Soli Deo Gloria – Although that super authoritative legalist has redefined the word “legalist” claiming he is not one cause legalism only applies to justification.

          But I know better now.

    5. What is interesting is that this sort of junk would only work in a situation of cult-like control. The people still faithfully attending the Last Hope For Mankind Baptist Church would themselves be ostracized if they continued to have fellowship with those who departed. Hence, their fate is generally unknown, and the Man of god can almost make up whatever he wants to about them. Even if all appears to be going well, everyone is told the departed are ‘far from the Lord’.

  12. Again you have hit a grand-slam homerun with this one, right out of the park.
    I am astounded at the accuracy of Americanized Bunker theology found in this post. Where you point out the risk study and the multitude of factors that have to line up in order to bring about such a horrific outcome, I think about the mythological god of the fundie bunker. He is in control of everything and he plots and schemes his petty revenge on all those who dare to diss him, and he gleefully plans and prepares massive retribution against those who fail his tests in any way… so that his false prophets will have vivid sermon illustrations with which to instill the fear of this tin god into the sheeple.

    I once walked that path and now find the stench and the fecal matter that I was walking through yet lingers in my thoughts and actions. It is easy to see why so many turn away from the true God when this pusstulous ooze is presented as truth about God.

    1. “He plots and schemes his petty revenge on all those who dare to diss him, and he gleefully plans and prepares massive retribution against those who fail his tests.” — sadly, this is the picture that many churches portray of our loving, compassionate God. I’d like to ask them to reread Jonah, again and again, and find the heart of God who gently corrected his prophet. Jonah said, “Isn’t this what I said, LORD, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.” But God gently taught him a lesson and added, “Should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?”

      We (I’m saying “we” because I’m not so far out of fundamentalism that I still see this tendancy in myself) are so sure of our own self-righteousness that we love the image of the God of retribution, destroying His enemies. But we need to humbly acknowledge our sinful state apart from Him and rejoice that He is a God of mercy, and then share this loving, forgiving Saviour with others.

  13. “It’s a wonder that while walking on this precarious tightrope of sanctification that the fundy has any time to care about anybody or anything other than himself.”

    It’s a convenient situation for his leaders. The good fundamentalists are too fearfully focused on their own tightropes to deal with the philosophically and morally questionable things the leaders of their movement have gotten away with.

  14. I don’t think I have read even one SFL post that I could not relate to. It’s like you grew up beside me, Darrell…!

    Yeah, we were always one hair away from hell on earth (and possibly, in the afterlife as well).

    What was worse to me than that, however, was the fact that I could be responsible for sending someone to hell.

    I remember one story that really flipped me out at the time. I think it was a traveling preacher or missionary who told it, and I’m probably not the only one who has heard it. The gist of the story was that a missionary was a couple minutes late to catch a train that was (I think?) going up a mountain to a remote location where a little girl was ill. The child died, unsaved (and you can guess where she went). Conclusion was that the missionary was responsible because he had missed the train.

    I was completely horrified. Had my lateness ever sent someone to eternal damnation? Had I maybe even sent multiple people to hell and didn’t even realize it? I remember looking around covertly afterwards and being unsure how the people around me could sit there and not freak out like I was on the inside.

    I’m so glad I came to a fuller understanding of saving grace and God’s sovereignty later on. I’m not sure how people who believe in that kind of eternal responsibility even sleep at night.

      1. I think this comes from when Paul said he didn’t want to have anyone’s blood on his hands because he’d failed to tell them. I haven’t studied the implications of his statement.

        1. One pastor said that his grandfather had a recurring dream of being at the last judgment. Every person who came through that he should have witnessed to and who did not receive Christ because he failed to give them the gospel, he was required to push over the cliff into the Lake of Fire.

        2. I think that Pastor read too many chick tracts. You said “push over THE cliff”, not “push over A cliff”, which is a pretty good picture of what happens at the end of every chick tract. Someone gets pushed over the big cliff that sits before God’s throne.

    1. That is just awful. I’ve heard that argument used to justify not having children/babies in the service. “They might distract a guest from hearing the gospel message and consequently not get saved”. What a horrible thing to put on a kid’s shoulders. 😕 If God is powerful enough to show his glory and love through nature, I’m sure He can reach out to the lost despite a crying baby.

      1. I remember a single missionary lady who came to “present her ministry” (no she didn’t preach, why would you say that) and quoted a poem called “I know someone in hell” basically it was to guilt everyone for all the people they have not witnessed to whom they could have. For one thing, I have no idea what she was there to do, and if her speaking to us was an example of her teaching I hope she never made it to the field

        1. Yes, I’m not looking forward to the next “soul-winning” push message.

          I’m afraid I’ll go over the edge into full-blown insanity if I get too many more guilt trips.

    2. Our youth group was told that if we were not nice to each visitor, they could end up leaving, never hearing the gospel, going to hell without Christ – and it would be our fault.

      👿

  15. don’t forget that if you come forward for an invitation but don’t make good on your commitment, you could be guilty of lying to the holy spirit and might be struck dead like annanias and sapphira! or at least that’s what an evangelist threatened us with one time at BJU…

    1. A fundy pastor did a number on one of my children during the Lord’s Supper. He always made a big deal of searching your heart for any hidden sin. He went on about Annanias and Sapphira and you too could be struck dead if you take the Lord’s supper when you have unconfessed sin. It took us hours to deprogram our child.

        1. Is your husband OCD, or am I thinking of somebody else? I used to have the same problem with communion and I think some of it was due to my OCD coupled with the guilt and scrutiny.

        2. If only sinless people could take communion, there would be no communion.
          Do you think there was no one with unconfessed sins at the Last Supper? Jesus specifically said this was not the case, in so many words.

        3. I am still scared crapless to take communion. before we took “The Lord’s Supper” we would read 1st Corinthians, the part where Paul warns about what could happen. I escaped the maddness of IFB, but i am still scared. those warnings were pretty scary and it takes a while to shake off the fear.

        4. I am also terrified of taking Lord’s Supper. Every time we have to sit and search our hearts after hearing about how we could get sick and die if we take communion unworthily, it just about gives me panic attacks. What a guilt trip, and what a horrible way to terrorize a child! 😈

      1. Ohhh snap! I forgot. I still do that sometimes.

        “Dear God, please forgive me for everything I’ve done since LAST time I asked you…okay…I’m not precisely sure when that was…okay WAIT. Should I be more specific?”

        A nightmare.

        1. Communion is a major flashback trigger for me . . . Those same words automactically start running through my head when I hear it’s time for the Lord’s Table. It freaks me out and I usually try to just not be in church for it.

      2. Man, I know exactly where you’re coming from there. That is probably my favorite thing about being away from Fundy-U Florida: being away from man-centered, guilt-ridden communion. I remember my less mature days of sitting in my chair almost sweating as I tried to remember and be properly remorseful for all my transgressions.

        I very much enjoy the Christ-focused communion at my current church. In the first communion I had at my current church, one of the deacons passing out the elements was smiling. It was a small thing, but made a huge impression on me. I actually went up to him afterwards and thanked him.

        1. In 1 Corinthians 11, when Paul talks about taking communion “in an unworthy manner” he doesn’t mean we have to be worthy of Christ’s body and blood before we receive it. If we were worthy, we wouldn’t need it!

          He says, “Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgement on himself.” The Corinthians’ problem at the Lord’s Table was not unconfessed sin. Read the whole passage on the Lord’s Supper, verses 17-34. They were eating and drinking like it was just another meal. (I could go out on a limb and say like it was just crackers and Welch’s, or like it was just a symbol. But even when I believed it was just a symbol, I do not think I was receiving it in an unworthy manner as long as i did it in remembrance of Him.)

          How do you know whether you are receiving the bread and the cup in a worthy manner? Are you a sinner? Do you remember that Jesus died for you? Then come on down!

        2. Papa Bear,
          Yes indeed.

          I can never tell if that passage (1 Cor. 11) is purposefully misinterpreted in order to control people though fear or honestly misunderstood with the convenient by-product of controlling people though fear.

          I do know that the truth sets us free from that fear.

        3. I believe the “not discerning the Lord’s body” in 1 Cor. 11 is referring to fellow believers. In the larger context Paul seems to be scolding the Corinthians for being so self-centered and inconsiderate of one another. They’ve missed the whole point of the “union” part of communion–union with Christ and everyone He’s united with. Seems that a focus on oneself during communion is what Paul was trying to correct!

  16. I remember making sure I prayed before going to bed every night and mentally going through my day to make sure I ‘confessed” all my sins so I wouldn’t screw up my life because of those bad decisions. I guess if something happened before I went to bed I was just SOL. 🙂

      1. It does, but it was actually very much fundy Baptist. It was constantly hammered into us to “keep short accounts with God.” I wasn’t so much worried about “losing my salvation” (although I did go forward a few times to make sure), as I was about having to stand before God and be ashamed.

    1. I did the same thing as a scared little girl.I would lay in bed wide awake unable to sleep,trying to remember and repent of “every idle word” or thought. If I should die before I wake.

    2. Yes. I remember going to bed scared witless that if I missed confessing something, I’d die in my sleep … usually thinking someone would break into our house and kill me.

      Thanks, Baptists. Sheesh.

    3. I used to be scared to death that God would be unable to hear me pray to Him if I did not confess my sin. It was liberating to realize that God can hear you and will still love you even if you don’t confess every little sin. For me now confessing is more like me apologizing to God because I did something I know was wrong and disregarded Him. It’s a reminder that I can’t be perfect but God doesn’t need me to be and has already forgiven me.

    1. I recall having a late-night debate with someone about whether thinking about killing someone is the same as killing that person. I said that while both may be wrong, there’s a pretty big whoppin’ difference between them, because in the first instance, nobody dies.

  17. Is this decision-making process restricted to fundamentalism? Pretty sure I remember freaking out about this as a teenager, and I grew up on the borderlands between fundy and non-fundy churches.

    If I went to the wrong college or chose the wrong major, I wouldn’t get the one job that God intended me to have, and then I wouldn’t marry the man God intended for me, and I wouldn’t have the kids he intended for me. It was a wonderful day when I realized what God’s ‘sovereignty’ was all about.

  18. Anyhow, this sort of thinking always reminds me of ‘Ever After’, when the Prince asks if there there is only one person he’s supposed to marry:

    Then let’s say God puts two people on Earth and they are lucky enough to find one another. But one of them gets hit by lightning. Well then what? Is that it? Or, perchance, you meet someone new and marry all over again. Is that the lady you’re supposed to be with or was it the first? And if so, when the two of them were walking side by side were they both the one for you and you just happened to meet the first one first or, was the second one supposed to be first? And is everything just chance or are some things meant to be? (IMDB website)

  19. You will never scare some into loving you. We grow to love someone because they love us warts and all.

    “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us”

  20. I’ve been the pianist at church for as long as I can remember. It’s really fun, but last year I needed to miss a few Sundays. I was playing Dutch Blitz at a Pairs and Spares Sunday School Class outing and broke my thumb. It’s a good thing it happened on a Thursday night so I could see the doctor on Friday and get it all bandaged up. When we met at the church on Saturday for visitation, I showed Pastor Backlow my hand and said that I may not be able to play on Sunday morning, but that my cousin (her name is Soli) would sub for me. I also said that I may have to be out for 6 weeks while my hand heals.

    He said, “Sister, if you forsake the gift God has given you, He may take it from you permanently! You may lose that hand! Or both! Don’t turn away from the gift God has given you!” I was confused, so I told him that Soli didn’t need to be paid and was happy to volunteer. He was okay with my not playing then. I still got to sing in the choir but had to hold my hand up by my head otherwise it would throb and hurt when I held it by my side. The Associate Pastor made sure to tell everyone, during announcements, that I was doing that for medical reasons and not because of Pentecostalism.

  21. I’m so thankful that Christ is my righteousness, and that he already suffered the punishment for my sin.

    “Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.” Romans 10:4

    “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1

  22. Right on, Darrell. I have seen this played out in a thousand ways. People walking in fear through their lives because of a misunderstanding of Who God is and what He is doing. We always forget that redemption and the plan of God is not about us – it is about Him.
    – If it is all about God, then He gets the credit for reaching down to undeserving sinners. Sanctification is a process, and God is not giving up on us through that posses. Of coarse people are not going to be perfect – that’s why it’s grace.
    – However, if it is all about us, then if we slip and fall, it’s all over. Misunderstanding salvation and grace, many are acting as if they are shouldering the weight of the righteousness God has placed upon them. Because it is all about men, it is entirely performance based, and entirely pragmatic. If a person fails to be an asset to the ministry, he/she is worthless (something we never are in God’s eyes).

    In short, the fundy has created God in his own image. It is not that God is of a petty nature that seeks to destroy and condemn more readily then redeem, but the fundy is – so the god of the fundy is. That is why the hammer of judgment is seen as always ready to fall if someone takes the Lord’s Supper without remembering to beg forgiveness for the cookie they stole from grandma’s pantry last month.

      1. “God in the hands of angry sinners” is a rather perfect description of fundamentalist legalism.
        According to this school, God can do anything and knows everything, so God made a lot of really picky rules, and then created us in such a way that we’d never keep all the rules, and now delights in coming up with really wicked and brilliantly cruel punishments for the infractions God always knew we would commit (because God knows the future, too). Of course, this God could stop us from doing wrong (since God can do anything), but then God wouldn’t have the fun of retribution.

        This strain of fundamentalism seems to exist in all the major religions (Christianity, Juadaism, Islam, Hinduism, etc.). It’s a minority faction in each of them, but powerful through its fanaticism.

        A couple of years ago, I read “Foreskin’s Lament,” by Shalom Auslander. It’s an artfully-written deconstruction of the Orthodox Jewish version of this psychopathically vindictive God.

  23. What about the 8 year old girl who looks “seductively” at a 40 year old man and “tempts” him beyond what he can bear? Then, the “fundy” church has the audacity to lay blame on her and keep the event hush-hush. After all, we cannot humiliate the man or make the fundy church look bad. If only she would have not tempted him with her knee, she wouldn’t have caused this shame and guilt to be placed on herself…

    1. A two-year-old girl seduced me today. She kept peeking at me and giggling. Finally, I gave in to temptation. I waved at her and smiled. I waved at her mother, too (who was with her at the time). Then I went back to what I had been doing.

      I can resist anything, except temptation.

  24. I’ve been “out” of fundy-land for a couple of years now and i still wonder if “god is punishing me” for having left, everytime something bad happens.

    When I was little, my mother told me, “Now suppose you lie, maybe I won’t find out. But God will know, and God will punish you. So, maybe the punishment will be that, if you want to go to the zoo, it will rain, so you can’t go.” Or something along those lines. Suddenly, God was punishing all the time, and I was trying to remember what I had done wrong. 🙁

    1. You just reminded me of that scene in A Christmas Story after the fire dept freed Flick from the flagpole, and he wouldn’t give up who dared him. The teacher said “Those who did know their punishment.” Except in fundyland, there’s no way to know your punishment…until after you get it!

      1. In Fundieland they look for a crime to fit your punishment.
        Break you leg? That’s what you get for dancing!
        Lose your job? You should have tithed on the gross and not the net?
        😉

        1. Last summer I volunteered through a catholic organization and spent the summer working with a bunch of nuns at a homeless shelter.
          In the course of this summer, I broke my hand.
          of course, this is was because I was using my hands to aid the papists…

  25. seriously, lets stop putting this movement into the comfortable parentheses of “type of Christian church.” Orange robes, tambourines, shaved heads, vacant stares, chanting, alienated families. That’s where this tripe needs to reside in our conscience. If you are still in one or are flirting with the MOG concept or are just having fun making fun of your fellow cult members, stop. The PTSD in this thread is palpable. Get yourself and your kids out of this, now.

  26. It stands to reason that a religion that teaches that you can get instant salvation by merely repeating a prayer would also teach that you can suffer catastrophic pain by any apparently inconsequential decision or action.

  27. I just re-read this post, and the comments, and am sitting here with tears rolling down my cheeks for the pain that these people have inflicted on so many of us. Life is truly difficult enough without increasing the burdens needlessly. I’m two-and-a-half years into detox, and this post feels like I got hit by a cannon at close range. I mean, I’m not looking to be “normal” (whatever that entails) but it would be nice to not freak out whenever something like this post acts like the way back machine.

    1. Susan, consider the flip side: There are many, MANY of us who escaped the Hell On Earth of funnymentalism and are now TRUE Christians. We love people unconditionally, including you. We don’t judge people by their actions, but instead see all problems as simply manifestations of the temptations, addictions and shortcomings we all suffer.

      In short, we’re all in this together.

  28. There’s an Orthodox view of the Christian life that can be summed up as “falling down and getting up.” This here–it’s more like “falling down and being sat on while someone kicks you in the ribs and tells you gleefully that God’s monster truck will be rolling over you any minute.”

  29. I left “the fundy circle” not terribly long ago. I left because their tradition-turned-gospel, salvation-not-about-works-but-we-constantly-talk-about-works antics forced me to make some decisions about my convictions. Superficial as it may be, music was part of my decision to leave.

    With everything I just said in mind, I’m amazed at the amount of hypocrisy among church members of fundy congregations, and this post is one “hypocrisy” issue. How many fundy preachers have stood before their congregation and proudly proclaimed that, only by the grace of God, they were proud “that [on] Wednesday the 24th of June at 4:30 p.m. when [he] decided [NOT] to skip the mid-week service and thereby [seal] his fate to die in a freak cement mixer accident two days later.”

    But how many people in the congregation *actually* believe that? How many people *actually* believe, after saying “AMEN!”, that if they were to make one wrong “out-of-God’s-will” choice, that would be it? It would be all over? If they were to have gone to that party back in 1984 with their worldly friends from work (because that’s the only place to actually meet worldly people for the fundy) then they’d have lost their virginity, gotten so drunk that they’d have become an alcoholic, and someone would have to have an abortion.

    No one believes that. Just like few in my fundy church believed “outside” music was inexcusable, very few took Frank Garlock to heart, and quit their horrible country music addiction.

    This was a great post, and hit the nail on the head, but to further your point Darrell, few in the fundy circle *actually* believe it – and therein lies the hypocrisy. Fundies, who don’t believe the majority of what comes out of their preachers mouth, continue to support the man and his poor theology through the passing of the offering plate with a soft velvet bottom.

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