I have been blogging for going on six years. When I first started blogging, I was still a Christian. I was a liberal Christian with sympathies for the emerging/emergent church movement.
In my Christian blogging days, I would get emails from people I called the Keepers of the Book of Life. These people thought of themselves as TRUE Christians. They judged every other Christian by their own personal beliefs and interpretations of the Bible.
According to these Christians, I was not a “real” Christian.
In late 2008, I deconverted and became an atheist. Of course, my deconversion was proof to the above-mentioned Christians that they were right…I was not a “real” Christian. As one Christian said, we now know who the REAL Bruce Gerencser is.
Since 2008, I have received hundreds of emails from Christians. These emails are an attempt to witness to me, chastise me, judge me, correct me, ridicule me, challenge me, feign friendship with me, preach at me, attack me, or quote Bibles verses to me.
There are a handful of emails from Christians who sincerely want to understand my story and are willing not to make any judgments about me. All of these letter writers are liberal/progressive Christians. They accept my storyline as is and make no attempt to convert me or judge me.
However, the rest of the letter writers are of the Conservative or Fundamentalist/Evangelical Christian variety. They all have one thing in common. They are CERTAIN they are right and I am wrong. They are CERTAIN they worship the one, true, and living God. They are CERTAIN the Bible is the infallible, inerrant, inspired Word of God.
They are certain that their peculiar interpretation of the Bible is absolutely correct. They never consider the arrogance of such a claim or consider their own fallibility. Armed with certainty, they become insufferable bigots who attack anyone and everything that does not fit their narrow, truncated worldview.
And here YOU are…at the contact page. You have filled out your name. Did you use your real name or are you going to be a coward like so many Christians before you and use a fake name? You have filled out your email address. Did you use your real email address or are you going to be a coward like so many Christians before you and use a fake email address?
And now, you have written out your comment. You are proud of yourself. You have put in a good word for Jesus. You have put the preacher-turned-atheist in his place. You have given him a, THE BIBLE SAYS or a THUS SAITH THE LORD. Like a proud Peacock, you think you have really done a wonderful work for Jesus. You think that Jesus will someday say to you, Well done thou good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of the Lord.
And now, you are ready to hit SEND. You pause for just a moment. Is that a twinge of conscience you have? Perhaps a doubt?
Before you hit SEND, let me talk to you for a moment.
Have you honestly taken the time to understand who I am? Have you bothered to read more than a post or two? Have you read the posts in the START HERE series? If you haven’t, how can you make a judgment about me without making any attempt to know me? Surely you know the Bible condemns such behavior?
Do you know that I was part of the Christian church for 50 years? Do you know that I was an Evangelical pastor for 25 years? Are you aware of the fact that I studied the Bible daily for over 30 years and that I preached thousands of sermons? Do you know that for the last 15 years in the pastorate I preached expositionally and that I preached over 125 sermons over 2 years from the Book of John?
You might ask, so what!! Well, here’s the so what… I know the Bible. I know it from every possible angle. Hundreds of emails from Christians, yet not one of them has told me something I did not know.
Does this sound arrogant to you? I am not concerned with how this “sounds” to you. I want you to consider the fact that I have read and studied the Bible over 20,000 hours in my lifetime. I have spent more time reading and studying the Bible than I have going to the bathroom, having sex, or eating.
I have spent 130 weeks or 2 years and 6 months, reading and studying the Bible. So, yes I know the Bible, and yes there is nothing you can tell me that I have not read or heard before. There is nothing you can say that cause me to proclaim, Wow, I never saw that before!! Dear Jesus, Save me!! I believe!!
I am an atheist because I don’t believe in the existence of gods. Am I certain? Of course not, No atheist can be CERTAIN, and unlike you, we are willing to admit we are uncertain. This is why most atheists are agnostic on the God question. We are certain that the gods in the panoply of gods created by humans are no gods at all, but…maybe there is a god who has not yet revealed itself to us. Probable? No. Possible? Sure.
When it comes to Christianity, I have weighed it the balances and found it wanting. I know the Bible is not what Christians claim it is. It is not an infallible, inerrant, or inspired book. It is an admixture of myth, legend, and history. It has great wisdom but it also has commands and teachings that must be dismissed and condemned by people who consider mercy, justice, and peace important.
I am not a Christian because I choose NOT to be one. I did not deconvert because I was angry or hurt. At the end of the proverbial day, I left Christianity for intellectual reasons. I no longer believe the claims of Christianity to be true.
If you have read what I have written above, I hope you know quoting the Bible to me will have no effect. I am an apostate, and according to the Christian Bible, I am a fool with a seared conscience. There is no hope for me since I have trampled under the blood of the covenant and hath done despite unto the spirit of grace. (Hebrews 10:29)
I don’t think the God you worship exists. Telling me I am living in denial or that there are no atheists in foxholes, will have no effect on me. I don’t think Jesus was divine, I think he was a good man who lived and died.
I don’t think there is an afterlife, a heaven or a hell. I think we make heaven or hell for ourselves and others by how we live our lives. So, knowing this, don’t bother to threaten me with God’s judgment or hell. I am immune to such things.
Perhaps you are getting ready to tell me that you are going to pray for me. Don’t bother. I don’t need your prayers and I am not afraid of your praying power. There are Christians who are praying for God to kill me…yet here I am. There are Christians who are praying that God will reveal himself to me…yet he hasn’t. There are Christians who are praying that God will save and deliver me…yet…he hasn’t. Take the hint. God doesn’t want to be bothered and neither do I.
Nothing you write in your email will make one bit of difference. I hope you understand this. After all, God frowns upon those who waste their time in foolish, unproductive endeavors. Instead of writing me an email, why not spend your time helping someone in a nursing home or local jail.
Now, if you have a question you would like me to answer, I will be glad to answer it. I will politely answer your question. Please do not take my polite answer to your question as an invitation to have an email debate with me. I am not interested, and, as one recent writer found out, when I am attacked, after I have been polite and respectful, I am liable to tell you, with words you are not likely to hear in church, what I think of you.
Perhaps you are a, let’s be friends, Christian. Sorry, I don’t want to be your friend. Let’s face it…we have nothing in common. Dozens of Christians have taken the, let’s be friends, approach with me, and, in every case, they had an ulterior motive or became upset at me because I wrote something that “offended” them.
Besides, the Bible is clear. Friendship with the world is enmity with God and you are commanded not to be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. We all like to hang out with people who think like us…so, if you really need friends, I suggest you visit any of the thousands of churches that populate the street corners of America.
Perhaps you are an armchair psychologist and you know, contrary to what I say, that I have deep emotional or mental problems. Surely, no one in their right mind would ever walk away from Jesus after they have intimately known him for 50 years. There must be a secret reason for my deconversion.
Whatever my emotional or mental state may be, you are not qualified to make any judgments on these things. I see a psychologist on a regular basis…so I am good. Really, I am…
Well, you have read all of this and you are STILL going to hit SEND, aren’t you? Like hundreds before you, you don’t care what I think. Sending me an email isn’t about me at all…it is about you. It is all about your need to be right or feel superior.
Perhaps, YOU are the one who needs to see a psychologist. Perhaps she can help you with your need to take a passive-aggressive approach to people like me. Perhaps she can help you see that your attack of me is actually you revealing that you are not as certain about your beliefs as you say you are and that you think if a person like me can fall from grace so can you.
Most Christians who hit SEND will ignore everything I have written in this letter. It doesn’t matter to them that they are causing others to look poorly on Christianity, on their Jesus. They are convinced that God is leading, directing, or telling them to hit SEND. They never consider that the voice they are hearing might be their own.
Dear Christian, I thought you might want to know these things. What you do next will say a lot about what kind of follower of Jesus you really are.