Two worlds, forever separate, that of Mercy Culture Church, and that of Albert Einstein. Where do you fall, on one side or the other? With the Pastor at Mercy Culture, or like me with Albert Einstein?
An American Kingdom
Our beliefs are firmly rooted in Scripture, and they guide every decision we make and every action we take as a church. We believe Jesus is the Son of God.
We believe The Bible is the Word of God.
We believe in the Trinity. THere is only one God and that He is eternally existent in three persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We believe in biblical marriage
because God our Creator established marriage as a sacred institution between one man and one woman.
Pacing up and down the aisles were the ushers, the parking attendants, the security guards, the greeters, the camera operators, the dancers, the intercessors, all of them praying, whispering, speaking in tongues, inviting into the room what they believed to be the Holy Spirit – not in any metaphorical sense, and not in some vague sense of oneness with an incomprehensible universe. Theirs was the spirit of a knowable Christian God, a tangible force they believed could be drawn in through the brown roof, through the cement walls, along the gray-carpeted hallways and in through the double doors of the sanctuary where they could literally breathe it into their bodies. Some people spoke of tasting it. Others said they felt it – a sensation of warm hands pressing, or of knowing that someone has entered the room even when your eyes are closed. Others claimed to see it – golden auras or gold dust or feathers of angels drifting down.
That was the intent of all this, and now the first 1,500 people of the day seeking out those feelings began arriving, pulling in past fluttering white flags stamped with a small black cross over a black “MC,” in through an entrance where the words “Fear Go” were painted in huge block letters above doors that had remained open for much of the pandemic. Inside, the church smelled like fresh coffee.
“Welcome to Mercy,” the greeters said to people who could tell stories of how what happened to them here had delivered them from drug addiction, alcoholism, psychological traumas, PTSD, depression, infidelities, or what the pastor told them was the “sexual confusion” of being gay, queer or transgender. They lingered awhile in a communal area, sipping coffee on modern leather couches, taking selfies in front of a wall with a pink neon “Mercy” sign, or browsing a narrow selection of books about demonic spirits. On a wall, a large clock counted down the final five minutes as they headed into the windowless sanctuary.
Inside, the lights were dim, and the walls were bare. No paintings of parables. No stained glass, crosses, or images of Jesus. Nothing but the stage and the enormous, glowing screen where another clock was spinning down the last seconds as cymbals began playing, and people began standing and lifting their arms because they knew what was about to happen. Cameras 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 were in position. The live stream was on standby. In the front row, the 85-year-old retired pastor of the church this used to be secured his earplugs.
What happened next was 40 nonstop minutes of swelling, blasting, drum-pounding music at times so loud that chairs and walls seemed to vibrate. The huge screen became a video of swirling clouds, then a black galaxy of spinning stars. The spotlights went from blue to amber to gold to white. A camera slid back and forth on a dolly. Fog spilled onto the stage. Modern dancers raced around waving shiny flags. One song melded into the next, rising and falling and rising again into extended, mantralike choruses about surrender while people in the congregation began kneeling and bowing.
A few rows back, the pastor stood with one hand raised and the other holding a coffee cup. And when the last song faded, a worship team member walked onstage to explain what was happening in case anyone was new.
“The Holy Spirit is in this room,” he said.
Now everyone sat down and watched the glowing screen. Another video began playing – this one futuristic, techno music over flash-cut images of a nuclear blast, a spinning planet, advancing soldiers, and when it was over, the pastor was standing on the stage to deliver his sermon, the essence of which was repeated in these kinds of churches all over the nation:
“The Bible could not be true, ” Albert Einstein
EINSTEIN was raised by secular Jewish parents, and attended a local Catholic public elementary school in Munich. In his Autobiographical Notes, Einstein wrote that he had gradually lost his faith early in childhood: I came of entirely irreligious (Jewish) parents—to a deep religiousness, which, however, reached an abrupt end at the age of twelve. Through the reading of popular scientific books I soon reached the conviction that much in the stories of the Bible could not be true. The consequence was a positively fanatic orgy of freethinking coupled with the impression that youth is intentionally being deceived by the state through lies; it was a crushing impression. Mistrust of every kind of authority grew out of this experience, a skeptical attitude toward the convictions that were alive in any specific social environment—an attitude that has never again left me, even though, later on, it has been tempered by a better insight into the causal connections.
It is quite clear to me that the religious paradise of youth, which was thus lost, was a first attempt to free myself from the chains of the ‘merely personal,’ from an existence dominated by wishes, hopes, and primitive feelings. Out yonder there was this huge world, which exists independently of us human beings and which stands before us like a great, eternal riddle, at least partially accessible to our inspection and thinking. The contemplation of this world beckoned as a liberation, and I soon noticed that many a man whom I had learned to esteem and to admire had found inner freedom and security in its pursuit. The mental grasp of this extra-personal world within the frame of our capabilities presented itself to my mind, half consciously, half unconsciously, as a supreme goal. Similarly motivated men of the present and of the past, as well as the insights they had achieved, were the friends who could not be lost. The road to this paradise was not as comfortable and alluring as the road to the religious paradise; but it has shown itself reliable, and I have never regretted having chosen it.
Einstein expressed his skepticism regarding the existence of an anthropomorphic God, such as the God of Abrahamic religions, often describing this view as “naïve” and “childlike”. In a 1947 letter he stated, “It seems to me that the idea of a personal God is an anthropological concept which I cannot take seriously.” In a letter to Beatrice Frohlich on 17 December 1952, Einstein stated, “The idea of a personal God is quite alien to me and seems even naïve.”
On January 3, 1954, Einstein sent the following reply to Eeric Gutkind: “The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish.”