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Why Most People Become Christians

conversion

By Neil Robinson, who blogs at Rejecting Jesus

I’d be interested to know, of those of you who are no longer Christians, what led you to become one in the first place.

There are thousands of websites and books that argue philosophically for the validity of Christianity, presenting their evidence for the resurrection and generally taking an intellectual approach to promoting the faith.

I’d be very surprised if this ‘evidence’, which is poor at best, and Christians’ philosophical arguments lead anyone to Jesus/God/faith.

My own experience is that conversion is an emotional experience. As a teen I listened to speaker after speaker at the YMCA I attended tell me how their sins had been forgiven and how getting to know Jesus had given them a great sense of peace and purpose. I originally went along to the Y, as we called it, to meet friends, play table–tennis and drink coffee while listening to the jukebox. I had no idea I was a sinner, nor that I needed forgiven, but I liked the enthusiasm – they said it was ‘joy’ – that the speakers conveyed. I thought too I could maybe do with a sense of purpose though I was, as a fifteen-year-old, quite happy drifting along relatively aimlessly.

The persistent drip feed of what Jesus could do for me (and others) was persuasive. It sowed the seed, as the Christian cliché has it. It took a lively young American evangelist from Arthur Blessitt Ministries to convict me. Jesus had turned his life around and he was on his way to Heaven. Denying Jesus, he said, was to crucify him all over again. So I prayed the sinner’s prayer and gave my life to Jesus too.

Nowhere in any of this was there anything philosophical; no ’proof’ of the resurrection; no explanation of how the Bible was the Word of God. All the talks were appeals to emotion: how I could feel forgiven, how I could know love, joy, and peace, how I could live forever after I died, up there with God in Heaven.

All the rationalisation came later, like it always does. Psychologists tell us that the intuitive part of the brain makes decisions ahead of the rational part, which seeks to catch up afterwards, supplying the reasons why the decision we’ve made is a good one. We’ve all done it when we’ve bought that item we don’t really need and have justified it all the way home. Religious conversion follows this pattern.

The thinking mind only becomes involved afterward, hence ‘post hoc rationalisation’. We then become complicit in our own indoctrination: Bible study (both group and individual), listening to sermons, learning from more mature Christians, worship (all those song and hymn lyrics reinforcing the mumbo jumbo), reading Christian books, immersing ourselves in the complexities of the religion. This is how it’s always been. As Paul puts in 1 Corinthians 3:2, we move from milk to meat as we delve further into ‘the mysteries of Christ’. Or, more accurately, we become more deeply indoctrinated.

But all of this comes later. The emotional experience is first, as it was for Paul, C S. Lewis (who described it as being ‘surprised by joy’), George W. Bush, and millions of other converts. In my Christian days, I personally ‘led people to the Lord’ by ‘sharing my testimony’ (I’ve still got the jargon!) and can assure you, those involved felt the Holy Spirit with a profound intensity. Only kidding. They became pretty emotional.

I know of no one who became a Christian by assessing the evidence for the resurrection, reading Paul’s theobabble, or analysing the central claims of Christianity. I suppose there might be some who, like Lee Strobel, insist they ‘came to faith’ this way. But faith and rational analysis are incompatible. When the writer of Hebrews (11:1) says: ‘faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,’ he is oblivious to the fact that there isn’t any ‘evidence’ of unseen spiritual ‘things’. There are only our own feelings and emotional confirmation bias.

So that’s how it was for me. How was it for you?

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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When Democrats Sound Like MAGA Supporters

tinfoil hat

Supposedly, Democrats are (generally) people of science and reason. Conspiracy theories and cultism are largely the domain of the MAGA wing of the Republican Party. That is, until a man tried to assassinate ex-president Donald Trump. I am shocked by how many of my fellow liberals and progressives have turned into conspiracy theorists. They think that the attempted assassination of Trump was a false flag; a staged event. In their minds, the whole event was political theater orchestrated by the Hollywood actor Donald Trump.

Imagine, for a moment, how many people would have to be involved in the attempted assassination for it to be a staged event. Right up there with fake moon landings and a flat earth. Do you realize how absurd such thinking is?

Please stop. There’s enough crazy in the world without adding to it.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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No, God Didn’t Protect Ex-President Donald Trump’s Life

trump assassination

Over the weekend a twenty-year-old man perched on top of a building with a semi-automatic assault rifle attempted to assassinate ex-president Donald Trump. The shooter failed in his attempt, grazing Trump’s ear, wounding one bystander, and killing another.

Evangelicals, who are largely members of the MAGA cult, believe Trump was chosen by God to be the forty-seventh president of the United States. Worse, many Evangelicals think Trump won the 2020 presidential election; that Democrats stole the election. Eight out of ten voting white Evangelicals voted for Trump in 2016 and 2020, and recent polls suggest that they will vote for him again in November. No matter how many pussies he grabbed, how many women he sexually assaulted, or how many crimes he committed, Evangelicals are convinced that Trump is God’s man for such a time as this. As a result, Evangelicals see God’s providence in keeping a bullet from killing Trump. Evidently, God’s providence didn’t apply to the fireman, a family man, killed at the rally. All Evangelicals seem to care about is their cult leader.

God, of course, did not protect Trump’s life. Trump is alive for one reason and one reason alone; the shooter missed. The fireman is dead for one reason and one reason alone: the shooter didn’t miss. Trump was lucky. Sadly, the fireman was not.

“God protected Trump” is a faith claim, for which Evangelicals cannot provide a shred of evidence. If you believe in a hands-on personal deity who numbers the hairs on our heads and is the giver and taker of life, it stands to reason you believe God providentially kept Trump from having a permanent headache. However, until Evangelicals provide evidence for the existence of God, I am going to say that Trump is one lucky son-of-a-bitch.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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It is Time to Cut Off Military Aid for Israel’s Genocidal War Against the Palestinian People

destruction in gaza

By Brett Wilkins, used with permission from Common Dreams

As the Biden administration pushes Congress to approve an additional $18 billion arms sale to Israel even as it wages what much of the international community considers a genocidal war against the people of Gaza, Palestine defenders on Friday urged U.S. senators to support an effort by Sen. Bernie Sanders to block weapons transfers to the key Middle Eastern ally.

The Biden administration is urging congressional lawmakers to sign off on the sale of a package involving as many as 50 McDonnell Douglas F-15 fighters, as well as munitions, training, and other support, to Israel. The sale cleared a key hurdle last month when two holdouts—Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.), the ranking Democratic member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), the top Senate Foreign Relations Committee Democrat—agreed to support the transfer.

If given final approval, the sale would be one of the largest to Israel since it began its nine-month assault on Gaza in retaliation for the Hamas-led October 7 attacks. More than 137,500 Palestinians have been killed, maimed, or left missing by Israel’s onslaught, which is the subject of both an International Court of Justice genocide case and International Criminal Court Prosecutor Karim Khan’s bid to arrest Israeli and Hamas leaders, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Hamas Chief Yahya Sinwar.

The Biden administration has approved billions of dollars in U.S. military aid and more than 100 arms sales to Israel since October. This, atop the nearly $4 billion Israel already got from Washington annually.

“While much of the media is focused on the drama of the U.S. presidential election, we must not lose sight of what is happening in Gaza, where an unprecedented humanitarian crisis continues to get even worse,” Sanders said Friday.

“Nine months into this war, more than 38,000 people have been killed and 88,000 injured—60% of whom are women, children, or elderly. The full toll is likely higher, with thousands more buried beneath the rubble,” he continued. “Nine in 10 Gazans—1.9 million people—have been driven from their homes.”

“Many people have been displaced four or five times, and most do not have homes to return to, with more than 60% of residential buildings damaged or destroyed,” he added.

“Israel continues to restrict the entry of [United Nations] humanitarian aid trucks into Gaza, prevent the entry of key humanitarian items, and obstruct aid workers’ access to many areas,” the senator noted. “These restrictions have prevented aid organizations from setting up a sustained, effective response.”

Sanders stressed:

Yet, in the midst of this horror and violations of international law, the United States continues to send billions of dollars and thousands of bombs and other weapons to support this war. We, as Americans, are complicit.

We must end our support for Netanyahu’s war. Not another nickel to make this horrific situation even worse. I intend to do everything I can to block further arms transfers to Israel, including through joint resolutions of disapproval of any arms sales. The United States must not help a right-wing extremist and war criminal continue this atrocity.

Palestine defenders backed Sanders’ effort.

“Every single senator should be supporting Sen. Sanders upcoming joint resolution of disapproval against an $18 billion weapons giveaway to Israel, which would further enmesh and implicate the U.S. in Israel’s genocide against Palestinians in Gaza,” Institute for Middle East Understanding policy director Josh Ruebner said on social media.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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It is Past Time for Us to Have a Frank Discussion About President Joe Biden

joe biden inauguration
joe biden inauguration

By Marilou Johanek, Used with permission from Ohio Capital Journal

This presidential election year was never going to be a breeze for Ohio Democrats running in front-line races. The National Republican Congressional Committee homed in on three Democratic-held seats in the state held by vulnerable incumbents Marcy Kaptur (Toledo) Emilia Sykes (Akron) and Greg Landsman (Cincinnati). Its GOP counterpart in the U.S. Senate made unseating Ohio’s incumbent Democrat in the U.S. Senate, Sherrod Brown, a singular priority to take back the Republican Senate Majority.

Plus, Ohio may not be Alabama-red but it’s getting there. It is a bellwether state no more. Democratic candidates face an uphill battle from the get-go to win the hearts and minds of Ohioans. Add in the potential drag on electoral success from the marquee Democrat at the top of the party ticket in 2024 and the path to winning for down ballot Dems gets exponentially harder.

That prospect has hung like the sword of Damocles over key U.S. House and U.S. Senate campaigns waged by Democrats in Ohio and across the nation all year. But today the fear of impending defeat is even more acute as the party grapples with the imploding candidacy of their presumptive presidential nominee. 

Far from effectively communicating a persuasive reason for reelection or forcefully prosecuting a case against his dangerous opponent, President Biden is the gift that keeps giving — to MAGA Republicans. They’re over the moon with the good fortune of the felon they’re fielding to recapture the White House.

Who knew a criminally convicted, twice impeached ex-president who incited a violent insurrection against his own government in a failed coup attempt would have a cakewalk back to power? Not with that rap sheet, which also includes adjudicated rapist and business fraudster. Yet here we are.

Biden is easy prey for ridicule and perceived weakness. What is dispiriting for many to watch will only get worse. The incumbent president, who has spent a lifetime in honorable public service, has already been reduced to a caricature. A muddled old man joke. From now until November pro-Trump operatives will unleash a torrent of clips from Biden’s June 27th disastrous debate performance everywhere people scroll

If you thought the president’s flubs and frailties were mocked on Tik Tok before the debate — and they were wall-to-wall brutal — just wait. Ohio Democrats know what’s coming if Biden remains in the race. What his cadre of aides and advisors tried to keep under wraps about the advancing infirmity of their aging boss is now front and center with Democratic voters and the broad coalition of pro-democracy Americans Biden needs to win. 

The panic of that electorate is palpable. They don’t want to lose their country to a vengeful authoritarian promising dystopian Project 2025 rule. They want a warrior who will fight like hell to preserve the Republic. But rank and file Democrats, Never Trumpers, and independents are not persuaded Biden can meet this existential juncture in American history.

Maybe they can still be convinced if the pervasive distraction of Biden’s cringey senior moments is mitigated. But abiding anxiety about the 81-year-old’s performative strength as a candidate has long been No. 1 on voters’ list of concerns with the octogenarian. Attempts to spin away Biden’s frailty as trivial was always an exercise in futility.

Nobody in flyover America was fooled. People saw their parents or grandparents in Biden’s shuffle and inaudible whispers — someone who had simply succumbed to the march of time. But ordinary voters, who may or may not have put their faith in Biden in 2020, were uniformly gobsmacked by how completely Biden clocked out of a presidential debate he initiated to jumpstart his reelection campaign. 

In the weeks since, millions more have seen what cannot be unseen; an elderly, incoherent, astonishingly tepid candidate unable to land a rhetorical punch against a serial liar and coup plotter. It’s past time for the tough conversations on Biden the Democratic Party ducked in January. Voters deserve a reckoning about the diminished candidacy before it’s too late.

But Ohio Democrats on the campaign trail are still ducking what needs urgent, forthright debate, still settling for the path of least resistance. For the most part, Brown continues to dodge what many Ohio voters can’t get past yet asserts “there must be a resolution so that we can get back to talking about the choice in this election.” Kaptur largely prefers to be supportive and silent about Biden’s future. Sykes has also stayed mum on Biden.

Only Landsman was candid about whether Biden should remain in the presidential race. “He could be an American hero, Joe Biden, and say look, I’ve gotta step down,” the Cincinnati congressman told CNN. He hoped the president would use the time before the Democratic convention “to prove us all wrong” but conceded, “it’s becoming increasingly more likely this is maybe just too high a hill for him to climb.”

Why is Landsman an outlier on what is obvious and distressing to constituents worried sick about saving democracy? Why, as Axios reported, were Ohio’s presidential delegates instructed “NOT to respond to reporter calls at this time” (about the albatross killing the president’s odds of winning) per the “ODP [Ohio Democratic Party] and the Biden campaign”?

Not responding to a five-alarm fire belies the profound danger of letting a free and democratic America go up in smoke. To play it safe?

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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My Heart Goes Out to You, or Please Try My Flavor of Ice Cream

ice cream flavors

Well-intentioned Evangelical Christians read this blog and come to the conclusion that what I lack is love from compassionate, caring Christians.

They assume that there is no love in Fundamentalist Baptist Christianity. They assume Fundamentalist Baptist Christianity is all hate and law, and no grace.

Their assumption is quite wrong. I met many loving people in the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church movement, and Evangelicalism at large. Their love may have been conditioned on my fidelity to their brand of truth, but they loved me nonetheless (and I loved them too).

My wife’s parents were Fundamentalist Baptist Christians, yet they loved me still.

So a lack of love is not the problem.

I tend to distrust people who tell me upfront about how loving they are. Such people are similar to a car dealer who tells you how honest he is or a doctor who tells you how proficient he is. Why do these people NEED to tell me this?

Often, those loving Christians prove to be anything but loving.

Many people think my defection from Christianity was an emotional decision. Certainly, there was an emotional component, but my decision was primarily and ultimately an intellectual one.

The compassionate, caring, loving Christians want me to try their flavor of ice cream. Their flavor is different. It’s not like all those other flavors.

After all, THEY are special and want me to be special too.

So, let me ask the compassionate, caring, loving Christians a few questions.

  • Can I deny the Bible is the Word of God and still be a part of your church?
  • Can I question whether God exists and still be a part of your church?
  • Can I deny the Trinity and still be a part of your church?
  • Can I tell everyone at church that Hell is a medieval fable and still be a part of your church?
  • Can I pass out books by Bart Ehrman and Richard Dawkins at church and still be a part of your church?
  • Can I espouse universalist beliefs and still be a part of your church?
  • Can I openly affirm pro-LGBTQ, pro-abortion, pro-drug, pro-sex worker views and still be a part of your church?

The compassionate, caring, loving Christians want to convince me that their church is different; that it is special.

But it isn’t.

They know it, and so do I.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Curiosity, A Missing Evangelical Trait

curiosity

Why is it that so many Evangelicals have no desire to be curious? Yes, I know many are, so don’t get your panties in a bunch if you are a curiouser-than-a-cat Evangelical. I frequently get emails or blog comments from Evangelical Christians wanting to “help” me find my way back to Jesus. Such people are certain that they possess the requisite knowledge and skill necessary to reclaim the famous Evangelical-turned-atheist Bruce Gerencser for Jesus. They are sure that if they just befriend me, quote the right Bible verses, soothe my hurts, or understand my pain, I will fall on my knees and call on the name of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

I was in the Christian church for fifty years. I was a pastor for twenty-five of those years. I have a Bible college education. Surely they understand that I am not an atheist out of ignorance, right? Of course not, and here is where their lack of curiosity gets them in trouble. They often don’t know anything about me or this blog. Why? Because they did a Google/Bing/Yahoo search for _________________ and their search brought them to a single blog post of mine. They read that one post and immediately decide that I am a poor wayfaring waif in need of their peculiar brand of God/Jesus/Christianity.

When I get comments such as these, I go to the logs and see what pages they read. Usually, they have read only the page their search brought them to. Their lack of curiosity (or laziness) is astounding, and leads them to make wild judgments about me, and come to rash, ill-informed conclusions. If these people would just read the About page, the WHY? page, or the Dear Evangelical page, they would be better informed about me and this blog. But they don’t. Why is that? 

I suspect part of the reason Evangelicals are not, in general, known for their curiosity is that they are 100% certain they are absolutely right. In their minds, they worship the one, true God and this God lives inside of them in the person of the Holy Spirit. This God walks with them, talks with them, and tell them that they are his own (from the hymn In the Garden). They have an inerrant, infallible supernatural book given to them by this supernatural God. This book contains all the answers about life that they will ever need.

When you are filled with certainty, there is no need to think, reason, investigate, or doubt. When the man upstairs is on your team, no need to consider any other team. Why be a lowly Reds fan when you can be a Yankees fan? When your church has declared that Moose Tracks ice cream is the one true ice cream, no need to try any other ice cream.

Simply put, there’s no need to know anything else when you already know all you need to know. God said it, I believe it and that settles it for me, the Christian ditty goes. One true God, one true religious text, one way of salvation. The earth is 6,027 years old, created in six literal 24-hour days. The Bible gives the blueprint for having a Christ-honoring family, a happy marriage, obedient kids, and awesome missionary position sex — but only to try to catch up with the Duggars. When the answer to every question is “God” or “the Bible says,” it’s not surprising to find that Evangelicals are not, by nature, curious.

The good news is that more and more Evangelicals are discovering the curiosity that lies dormant beneath the surface of their lives. Once they make this discovery, they are on their way out of the closed-mindedness and senses-dulling prison of Evangelicalism. They will find out that science can and does explain the world they live in. Science doesn’t have all the answers, but it is asking the right questions.

Still want/need to believe in a transcendent deity or some sort of spirituality? Once free of the Heaven/Hell, saved/lost, in/out, good/bad paradigm of Evangelicalism, people are free to wander at will. When the fear of Hell and judgment is gone, they are free to experience those things that are meaningful to them. Once the question is no longer “Will you go to heaven when you die?” the journey, rather than the destination, becomes what matters.

Curiosity may kill the cat, but trust me Evangelicals, it won’t kill you.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Is There Only One Plan of Salvation?

saved or lost

To hear many Evangelical preachers tell it, salvation is a transaction between God and humankind. Humankind is wicked, vile, and sinful, unable to do good and headed for eternity in the Lake of Fire. God, in his infinite wisdom, made a way for us to have our sins forgiven. Once we avail ourselves to this super-duper sin-erasing way, we have a ticket to Heaven that cannot be canceled. The moment we pray to Jesus and ask him to forgive us of our sins and come into our lives, one of Heaven’s angels puts a door hanger on a room in the Father’s House that says RESERVED.

Countless American Christians have prayed the sinner’s prayer and are certain that when they die, they will wake up in Heaven. They have successfully pulled the handle on God’s Salvation Dispensing Machine® and down the chute came a Fire Insurance policy that guarantees payment upon death. It is the only insurance that pays off to you AFTER you die.

Eternal security, also known as once-saved-always-saved, is a central tenet of many an Evangelical preacher’s soteriology. Once in the family, you can never leave the family. God’s family is like the mob, once you are in, you are in for life. What better thing to offer sinners than a guaranteed home in Heaven that costs them nothing more than a few heartfelt words?

Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior. In Your Name. Amen

The Bible says in Romans 10:9,10,13:

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Arminians — those who believe you can lose your salvation — object to the doctrine of eternal security. According to their theology, Christians can and do lose their salvation. Good works are necessary to maintain one’s salvation.  Calvinists also object to the doctrine of eternal security. They emphatically believe that a person must persevere, hold on until death. And if they don’t, this is proof that they were never really Christians.

Based on what I have written above, this means that someone such as myself, a reprobate, a denier of God and his offer of salvation, a man who once was saved, who once followed Jesus is either:

  • Still saved because once I was saved, I can never lose that salvation
  • Unsaved because I lost the salvation I once had
  • Never was saved

Over the years I have had numerous Christians tell me that one of these three statements is an accurate description of my present state. All of them are quite certain that they are 100% right about my standing with God and where I will end up when I die.

Every Christian sect would agree that salvation and eternal destiny are THE most important issues every person must decide. Amos 4:12 says, PREPARE to meet thy God. Surely then, God has made the whole salvation thing crystal clear, right? Nope.

Take the aforementioned verses in Romans 10:9,10, 13. It seems clear that belief = salvation = eternity in Heaven.  John 10:28 says:

And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.

and 1 John 5:13 says:

These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.

and Hebrews 8:38, 39 says:

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

These are the verses on which once-saved-always-saved believers hang their hats. Of course, Arminians and Calvinists both have arguments and rebuttals to the once-saved-always-saved interpretations. I once heard an Arminian preacher explain John 10:28 this way:

No man can pluck you out of God’s hand but you can jump out by yourself.

The point I am trying to make is that the whole notion of Christian salvation is hopelessly convoluted, complex, and contradictory. Right now, Evangelical preachers reading this post are:

jumping man

They are certain that THEIR soteriology, THEIR plan of salvation, is the right one. As I have stated numerous times, the Bible teaches multiple plans of salvation, with each plan contradicted by other Bible verses. Let me illustrate this. We already know what the once–saved-always-saved preacher says. Are there verses that contradict his salvation plan?

Hebrews 3:12-14 says:

Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end;

This passage seems to be quite clear. A brother (brethren) can have an evil heart of unbelief and walk away from God. He will only have salvation and eternal life if he is steadfast to the end.

Can a person, for a time, fall away, and then come back to Jesus? Is it possible for someone such as I to repent of my sin, renounce my atheism, and return to following Jesus? Countless Evangelical preachers would say, YES! It’s never too late. As long as you are a living, breathing soul, you can be saved.

But wait a minute!

billy mays

Doesn’t Romans 1 and 2 talk about people who can’t be saved, people who have been given by God over to a reprobate mind? Isn’t it too late for them? And what about the Jews? John 12:37-40 says:

But though he (Jesus) had done so many miracles before them (the Jews), yet they believed not on him: That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.

God blinded the eyes and hardened the hearts of the Jews so they would not understand and be converted. In other words, these Jews couldn’t be saved. Does this no-salvation-for-you only apply to Jews alive during the days Jesus walked the streets of Galilee and Jerusalem? Evangelicals argue endlessly over the Jews and whether they can be saved or even need to be saved.

Now, if I can, let me land this plane. Consider a few passages from the Book of Hebrews.

Hebrews 6:4-6 says:

For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.

As a Christian, I was once enlightened and I tasted of the heavenly gift. I was made a partaker of the Holy Ghost, tasted the good word of God and the powers of the world to come. I am now an atheist and I have repudiated all that I once said I believed. According to Hebrews 6:4-6, it is IMPOSSIBLE for me to ever be saved again. Why? Because I make a mockery of Jesus’s atoning work on the cross.

The writer of Hebrews reiterates this in Hebrews 10:29-31:

Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Granted, theologians and preachers of every persuasion have explanations for the multiple, contradictory plans of salvation. Many will dismiss the Hebrews quotes with a wave of the hand, saying, these verses apply to the Jews, not us. Others will open their sect’s systematic theology book, turn to the section on soteriology (the doctrine of salvation), and “prove” that any salvation scheme but theirs is wrong and will likely lead to eternal damnation and hellfire.

Here’s my point. If Christian theologians and preachers can’t agree on something as basic as salvation, what hope is there for those not trained in theology? How can people, without the preacher telling them, read the Bible and find out for themselves the way to Heaven?

From cover to cover, the Bible is a convoluted, contradictory mess. Try as theologians and preachers might to “harmonize” the Bible to fit their respective theological systems, they remain unable to simply answer the question, what must I do to be saved? (Acts 16 and Mark 16) Even with the passage that asks the question what must I do to be saved? Christian preachers argue amongst themselves over whether salvation requires baptism.

All I have detailed here is evidence that the Bible is very much a human-made book. Surely, if the Bible is inspired, inerrant, and infallible as many Christians sects and preachers believe, one would think that the manner in which someone is saved, how one comes into right standing with God, would be clear. It’s not.

Let me finish this post with Bruce Gerencser’s salvation plan:

Live well, do good works, and die. The only heaven and hell you will experience in this life is what you and your fellow human beings create.

Straight from the mouth of Bruce Almighty, written down on this inspired, inerrant, and infallible page. Thus saith Bruce.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Geoff Toscano Responds to Eminent Evangelical Scientist Dr. David Tee

dr david tee's library
Dr. David Tee’s Massive Library

Recently, I published a post titled Stop the Presses! Preeminent Evangelical Archeologist PROVES Evolution is False. Meant to be snarky, the post quotes Evangelical preacher Dr. David Tee — whose real name is David Thomas Thiessen. (Theissen has started using yet another name, D. David Thiessen, for his YouTube channel.)

Thiessen wrote:

Over the years, we [I] have written more than enough articles proving that the theory of evolution is not true. 

….

Evolution is what anyone decides it to be and then changes the physical evidence to fit their particular version.

….

The Bible has the theory of evolution beat no matter how you look at this issue.

Geoff Toscano, a long-time reader of this blog and a personal friend replied:

Oh brother, I’ve wasted at least 5 minutes of my life reading Tee’s article! Just when I thought the fool couldn’t get any more stupid, he proves me wrong, once again! The irony is that he accuses evolutionary scientists of creating fairy stories along the lines of Hansel and Gretel, when it’s actually a book of fairy tales that he seeks to defend.

He misses the most basic understanding of why evolution must be true, and that is its explanatory power. Take away all the evidence we have in terms of DNA, the fossil record, variation, adaptation, and so on, and still we have the explanatory power. Evolution provides an explanation of features we observe in every life form that special creation cannot begin to approach. It explains biodiversity, vestiges and atavisms, bad design (if god designed humans then he did a terrible job!), and especially the manner in which life forms seem strangely to conform to their varying environments. An educated person cannot deny evolution: they are mutually exclusive.

Thiessen refuses to comment on this blog, choosing instead to “answer” comments on his site. Of course, Thiessen refuses to let people comment on his blog, nor does he have a contact page. You can, however, email Thiessen at kinship29@yahoo.com.

Titled Responding to Comments 4, Theissen “answered” five comments from this site. He had this to say to Geoff:

The person missing the point is the quoted commentator. Explanatory power means absolutely nothing. There is nothing to support the ‘explanatory power’. If you remove the made-up evidence, then the explanation makes no sense.

Also, explanatory power is not exclusive to evolution. Any alternative can have the same explanations credited to it. In fact, creation has the exact same explanatory power with one exception. Creation has all the evidence supporting it.

Like the late George Carlin, the commentator is judging God from only seeing humans and creation from the results of the fall and corruption that entered in at Adam’s sin. he did not and cannot see humans and creation as God created it.

God did a perfect job, but sin and corruption ruined what he did. The quoted commentator should blame evil not God. He also says that creatures adapt to different environments.

We have yet to see humans adapt to living underwater and fish to living out of water. Those are different environments. Moving to a different place on the dry surface of the Earth is not moving to a different environment.

It is simply moving to different weather patterns and temperatures. Nothing needs to change for adaptation to take place in that situation. Also, we have not seen one person adapt to the environment on the moon or in space. They still need protective gear to live.

This fact proves evolution false.

Geoff sent me a response to Thiessen that follows below. Geoff responds to Thiessen’s reply to him and several other commenters.

David Tee’s first comment makes no sense. I pointed out the explanatory power of evolution, and he countered with “There is nothing to support the ‘explanatory power’. If you remove the made-up evidence, then the explanation makes no sense.” He either didn’t read my comment properly or he didn’t understand it. Explanatory power IS the evidence so his reference to other evidence for evolution being made up is irrelevant. For example, the laryngeal nerve is explained perfectly by evolution, but makes no sense in his creation beliefs. That is the evidence, end of story.

As for his nonsense about humans adapting to living under water, he gets to be equally silly. Animals adapt to their environment, humans included. Life originated in the sea, then slowly started to move out of it onto dry land many millions of years, perhaps billions, of years ago. Animals that emerged evolved until they were able to live on the land without recourse to water. This explains why humans still have vestiges of gills (tail bones also, I might add). He’s also ridiculous in saying that different parts of dry land on Earth do not represent different environments. Really? Arctic versus the Sahara Desert? They aren’t just different weather patterns or temperatures, they require adaptation in a way almost as great as leaving the sea.

His point about not adapting to living in space or on the moon? (Ignoring that we’ve been able to access space for only a very few decades, whilst evolution requires thousands of years to make significant differences on the scale required). He really knows nothing about evolution. In fact, this comment is perhaps the most stupid I have ever seen from a creationist! It’s precisely because we haven’t adapted to such hostile conditions that we are unable to live in them! Should we be forced through circumstances one day to live on the moon then our bodies would adapt to the conditions, especially the gravity, but it’s unlikely we would ever be able to adapt to the lack of oxygen, which is essential for human existence, indeed all life (there are apparently tiny multi cells that exist without oxygen in parts of the ocean, but these aren’t relevant to Tee’s point). Plus, of course, we’d need water. There are technical ways of producing these but then we’d be adapting the environment to us. We can do this because we’ve evolved to be able to do it!

He says there are thousands of Christian biologists who reject evolution. False, there are almost none. Stephen Meyer of Discovery Institute is the only seemingly qualified scientist who makes the claim and he’s not a biologist. Michael Behe, who really formalised Intelligent Design, has since retreated and I think has either reverted to accepting evolution or at least gone very quiet. The thing is there are always outliers. People who are anti-vaxxers, or moon landing deniers, flat earthers, and many others can appear to be carrying some kind of qualification to lend them credibility. Even so, they remain outliers. They aren’t taken seriously by the scientific community, not because the scientific community is conspiring against them, but because the scientific community exists only because it is historically the only method whereby humanity progresses. Science works (and I define science widely in this regard, to include all methods of reasoning), where faith does not. Faith recently murdered a small child in Australia, a child who had every right to depend on her parents and other guardians for protection, but who was betrayed because her protectors thought the power of God was greater than the power of medicine.

Tee claims that unbelievers seek to exclude God from their work. Ignoring the fact that a very large proportion of scientists are themselves religious believers (though it is a much lower proportion than that found in other areas of life) the fact is that science excludes nothing, not even God. The point is that good science leads where it leads. Isaac Newton was a great scientist, but he was also a fervent believer. When he constructed his theory of gravity it was hailed as, rightly, one of the great scientific achievements of all time. Even so, he knew there was a small error for which he couldn’t account, so he attributed this to God keeping ultimate control of his creation. He was wrong because he didn’t know, and at the time couldn’t possibly have known, of relativity, something Einstein demonstrated centuries later. So God figured in the thinking of one of the greatest scientists of all time, but unfortunately God proved not to be the answer. If God is ever the answer, then science will discover this, it won’t be through faith.

On top of this, many attempts have been made by science to ‘find God’. There have been four peer-reviewed studies that have attempted to establish whether prayer is of any benefit in assisting ill patients to recover. Three indicated it provided no benefit greater than chance, whilst one suggested there may even be negative benefit. Indeed, every aspect of supernatural claim has been carefully investigated by science. Miracle claims, so-called paranormal events, weeping statues, hauntings, exorcisms, NDEs, etc., all have been studied and no evidence of anything other than perfectly natural explanations has ever been found.

Matt Ridley’s main claim to fame is that he was chairman of the bank that initiated the financial collapse in the UK in 2007 (a full year before Lehman Brothers failed) and had to give evidence to a Parliamentary Committee that wanted to know where he was whilst all this happened. He admitted that he didn’t really involve himself, rather it was his name that was important to the bank (he is actually Sir Matt Ridley, and part of a wealthy landowning family). He’s written some good science books aimed at children, but he’s verging on denialism in much of what he writes. His religious beliefs, however, are irrelevant to his science writing.

It is easy to conclude that Tee is simply delusional (which he undoubtedly is) but it’s much more than that, and I think he has to be regarded as an outright liar. He keeps insisting that there’s no evidence for evolution. He’s simply wrong. Evolution is supported by more evidence than any other branch of science. It is now such a vast subject that it has to be subdivided for study purposes. No serious scientist in the world denies it, and certainly no biologists, whether religious believers or not. He insists the bible is true, in the face of all the evidence that proves it is not, other than in minor, trivial, ways. Most believers, and certainly most religions, have come to terms with the realisation that evolution is a stark fact. 

Tee yet again demonstrates the impossibility of his ever having obtained a legitimate doctorate. I’ll go further and allege that he’s never passed any formal academic examination in his life. It’s significant that he chooses to limit his reply to the comfort of his website, protected from comments, and certainly not daring to risk direct interaction on Bruce’s forum.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Honest Reflections From an Evangelical Pastor: It Was Never About Saving Souls

bruce gerencser street preaching crooksville ohio
Bruce Gerencser, street preaching, Crooksville, Ohio, with his young son Jaime.

Let me share a dirty little secret with readers about Evangelicals who are actively involved in what is commonly called “public evangelism.” Door-to-door evangelism, street preaching, handing out tracts, standing on street corners with Bible verse signs — why do some Evangelicals do these things? Is the grand goal to win as many souls as possible before Jesus returns to earth? Is the notion that Hell is hot and death is sure what drives these evangelizers to make a public spectacle of themselves? Is everything they do driven by a love for the lost souls? Surely, these people are True Christians, right? The overwhelming majority of Evangelicals never verbalize their faith to someone else. Yet, these zealots go out of their way to confront non-Christians with their peculiar version of the Christian gospel. Surely, they are the “real” Christians of our day, right? 

I was an Evangelical pastor for 25 years. I spent my formative years in churches that were quite aggressive evangelistically. I attended Midwestern Baptist College in Pontiac, Michigan in the 1970s. Midwestern was known for producing soulwinning pastors, evangelists, and missionaries. As a pastor, I certainly followed my training, using the techniques I was taught to harass as many people as possible for Jesus. Yet, despite my on-fire, aggressive soulwinning efforts, few people asked Jesus to save them as a direct result of my efforts. Yes, hundreds of people were saved after listening to me preach, but the number of people saved outside of church services was few. You see, the goal of such efforts was not to win souls, as much as it was:

  • To be seen as a prophet by the community; to be seen as one willing to publicly take a stand for Jesus
  • To be seen as a preacher different from and superior to the other preachers in town; I was the one who cared for their souls, not their pastors
  • To be seen in the same light as the Apostle Paul and other first-century Christians; to say to the communities where I pastored that my churches were the real deal, cut from the fabric of the churches found in the Bible
  • To be seen as being “right,” right about God, Jesus, salvation, the Bible, and New Testament Christianity

Most Americans don’t want to be bothered by Fundamentalist evangelizers. Let me share a soulwinning story from years ago that I think aptly illustrates this fact. One Saturday, Greg Carpenter (Please see Dear Greg.) and I were knocking on doors in Junction City, Ohio. At the time, I was the pastor of Somerset Baptist Church in Mt. Perry. It was a bitterly cold Ohio winter day, but warm on the inside with love for souls, we started going door-to-door, looking for people who would let us share the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) gospel with them. We finally came upon a young woman who was willing to “listen” to us. She wouldn’t invite us inside, so we stood on her porch as Greg attempted to win her to Jesus. I still can picture in my mind this woman today. She had no coat on, yet there she stood freezing her ass off as Greg took her through whatever evangelism plan we were using that day. When Greg asked her if she would like to ask Jesus to save her, she said yes! Greg led her in the sinner’s prayer, and the woman was wonderfully and gloriously saved. We heard the angels in Heaven rejoicing over another lost soul being rescued from the clutches of Satan. 

After praying the sinner’s prayer, the newly-saved woman closed the door and we went on our way looking for more victims, er, I mean, lost souls. She was the only soul that was saved that day. Later attempts to get the woman to be baptized and attend church proved futile. You see, the only thing she got saved from on the cold winter day was Greg and Bruce. She just wanted to shut her door and be left alone. 

Winning this woman to Jesus fueled our pride, reminding us that we were doing a great work for the Lord of Lord and Kings and Kings. We were, in fact, bugging people who didn’t want to be bothered. But, since when have Evangelical zealots cared about what non-Christians thought? I didn’t. I was a God-called preacher of the gospel. I was determined to tell others the “truth” even if they didn’t want to hear it. 

“I told them, Lord! The results are up to you,” I told myself. Yep, I sure told them. Part of the deconversion process for me was coming to terms with why I did what I did as an Evangelical pastor. I concluded that I deep down really didn’t care if souls were saved. “That was God’s business,” I thought. This was especially the case after I became a five-point Calvinist. What was most important to me was looking the part; being perceived as a man of God who loved sinners and would go to great lengths to win them to Jesus. 

During the eleven years I was the pastor of Somerset Baptist, over 600 hundred people made a profession of faith in Christ. Some Sundays, the altar was lined with people getting saved and getting right with God. Success was measured by altar response. Yet, few of these “converts” became active, long-term church members. 600+ conversions, yet attendance was, at its highest, a little over 200. 

Why were so many people saved under my preaching, yet I failed so miserably in my soulwinning efforts outside of the church? I was passionate both inside and outside of the church. Why the disparate numbers? First, people were attracted to my preaching. By all accounts — just ask former congregants — I was a skilled, winsome preacher. Sunday after Sunday, my sermons were well received. (Well, there was that mess of a sermon from Hosea. Hell, I didn’t even know what I was talking about.) People drove for miles to hear me preach. I believe this affection for me personally drove the high number of conversions. Once outside of the church, I took on the traits mentioned above. I was more concerned about being a prophet, a beacon of rightness than I was helping others. The good news is that over time I lost my zeal for winning souls, choosing instead to engage people relationally. I suspect Calvinism played a big part in how I viewed the eternal destiny of other people. I left the soul-saving up to God. I just expositionally preached the Bible and left the results up to God. I can count on one hand the people who were saved during the seven years I pastored Our Father’s House in West Unity, Ohio. Congregants — most of them, anyway — loved me, I loved them back, and we all were quite content to let the world go to Hell. This post is me being brutally, openly honest about my life as an Evangelical pastor. I am sure that my critics will see what I have written here as more proof that I wasn’t really a Christian; that I was a false prophet. To that I say, whatever. I suspect what I have written here will resonate with a lot of Evangelical preachers. They know, deep down, that I am telling the truth.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Bruce Gerencser