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Dear Dax, Words Have Meanings

fake dax hughes
Dax Hughes, SENIOR, SENIOR, SENIOR pastor of Heartland Worship Center, Paducah, Kentucky. This is not actually a photograph of Dax. He objected to my use of a photo of him I found on his church’s website, so I was forced to find a replacement. This photo is actually of Jesse on the hit Evangelical show Preacher.

Dear Dax,

Several days ago, you and I had kind of a discussion on The Recovering Know It All blog. I say “kind of a discussion” because you ignored or refused to answer most of my comments and the questions I asked you. The focus of the discussion was a post you wrote for your public blog — Top Ten Reasons Life is a Disaster Without Jesus. You seemed to be shocked that people are holding you accountable for what you said in this post. Let me take a moment to school you on blogging. When you write a blog post on a public site, it is assumed that you want people to read it. I understand that your blog is not read by very many people, but for the people who do read it, what you say matters. I have a blog that is widely read, and I know that I must be careful about the words I use. If I misspeak or don’t clearly speak, readers are going to call me out, asking that I either explain my word usage or correct my post. Fortunately, I rarely have to do this because I carefully pay attention to the words I use, and when I use a particular word it is because I mean to do so.

Several years ago, readers schooled me about my use of the words “homosexual” and “pussy.” I learned, from LGBTQ readers, that the word “homosexual” is a derogatory slur used by religious Fundamentalists to denigrate gays. When I learned this, I stopped using the word. The same goes for the word “pussy.” Several female readers emailed me about my use of the word pussy to describe wimpy, physically weak men. Since “pussy” references a woman’s genitals, my use of the word implied that weak men were like women, a connotation I certainly did not want to give. Women, contrary to what the Bible says, are anything but weak.

Dax, words have meanings. Evidently, you have not yet learned this lesson, so I hope you will allow me to take you to the woodshed over your word usage on The Recovering Know It All blog and in your post referenced above.

In the comment section on The Recovering Know It All blog, you stated that you had a PhD in ” Greek language and biblical backgrounds.” You also wrote you “have a PhD in ancient languages with an emphasis on NT background.”  Let me refresh your memory about what you said:

My whole education has been centered around the manuscripts and history of the Bible and its people. I know there are some discrepancies but to say it completely unravels is not where my study has taken me.

. . .

I wonder what primary sources you have studied? To do so you need to be versed in koine and Semitic languages. Are you? I have studied these primary sources. Not secondary sources that write from their bias to prove their “theory.” Honest scholarship deals with primary sources and takes years of study to be able to do so. When you have done that we can have more of a discussion on foundational issues

. . .

I don’t claim anything. I have a PhD in the are[a] and have studied this for most of my adult life. If your sources are second and third sources removed then how is that really an argument from you. Have you looked at these things directly or from internet and popular reads. That’s not true scholarship. And how can you say that about the languages if you can’t read them. Sure there are textual variants but can you question its veracity without giving an honest and careful study of DSS, P literature, Textus Receptus, Q, and many other sources?

. . .

I do explore outside some but scholarship is highly focused on an area so I study little except in my area of languages and NT. Give me a source and I will investigate this. I of course have heard of debate on it but have not read up on it

When asked what specific kind of PhD you had, you replied:

Yes in Greek language and biblical backgrounds. It’s what I do. I don’t feel the burden of proof is on me with you for this reason… we don’t know each other and can’t meet face to face. Trying to argue and show things here would be fruitless. If you are ever in my area Ian would be honored to meet up with you and discuss face to face at rhisnkevel [sic].

. . .

My PhD focuses primarily on Koine Greek and ancient Hebrew. I also focused on al [sic] backgrounds of the NT writings.

. . .

Seriously? Do you not get that I have a PhD in ancient languages with an emphasis on NT background?

. . .

Accredited school. Samford University in Birmingham. My degree is legit. It’s not like a mail in or something. I had to write a dissertation and oral comps. It is in biblical languages.

. . .

Yeah this will always be your argument now. I have a doctorate and ancient languages have been my emphasis. Believe it or dont [sic].

. . .

I am Dr Hughes regardless of what you say gere [sic]

. . .

Except I do have a doctorate and not just read a bunch. I teach classes and have written a dissertation. I am not just well read.

. . .

It didn’t take some us long to figure out that you had grossly misstated and exaggerated your academic credentials; that you had, in fact, LIED about your education. Yes, you have a doctorate, but it is a D.min (doctorate of ministry). A D.min requires nowhere near the work required for a PhD in Biblical languages. When asked about the subject of your dissertation, you replied, fasting. Fasting? Yes, fasting.

You deliberately lied about your academic background, and you owe it to the readers of the The Recovering Know It All blog to apologize for your subterfuge. Not only did you lie, but you attempted to use your supposed John Holmes-sized academic prowess to suggest that you knew more than everyone else and that we should bow to your authority on matters concerning the Christian Bible. Here’s one (of many) examples of this:

You take me out of context. For me arguing with Ark about the veracity of the scripture and historicity of the faith it is a scholars [sic] work and not a Pastor’s work. Call it pride but I have every right to show I am qualified here and not speaking out of tradition, emotion, or uneducated bias

When the owner of the blog called you out on your lie, exposing that your academic background was not what you claimed, you chose instead to argue and obfuscate. It was only when you were finally backed into a corner that you admitted you had given readers the wrong impression about your credentials. No, Dax, you didn’t give the wrong impression, you lied. Words have meanings, and it is time you learned this.

Now let me address your recent blog post, Top Ten Reasons Life Without Jesus is a Disaster. When confronted about your attack on most of the human race on The Recovering Know It All blog, you said that people were misunderstanding what you wrote. Here’s some of what you said:

But like you said, you know I didn’t mean it [my blog post] as an insult. No way I would say it that way.

. . .

I want what is best for people and I think Christ is what they need. It is who I needed too.

. . .

Yeah but I want them to see There is more to life than what they know with their senses. That to miss out on the supernatural is disastrous. If I really believed this wouldn’t it make sense to talk this way? Be cruel to hold it only for myself.

. . .

I do care. You are always quick to question my motives but you don’t know me. I know my heart here. I care about who reads it. I care about you.

Dax, imagine if I wrote: Christians have miserable lives that are lacking meaning, purpose, joy and peace; lives that are like a perfumed dead corpse; lives that are blind, unaware, ignorant and deceived. It would be natural for you, as a Christian, to conclude that Bruce thinks that I have a miserable life that is lacking meaning, purpose, joy and peace; a life that is like a perfumed dead corpse; a life that is blind, unaware, ignorant and deceived.

Words have meanings, so when you write these very same words about everyone who isn’t an Evangelical Christian, you should not be surprised when non-Evangelicals view your words as hateful, mean-spirited, and unkind, especially when it is evident that you have lived your entire life within the sheltered confines of the Evangelical bubble.

Instead of admitting that your words were poorly chosen, ill-advised, and unhelpful, you doubled down and tried to suggest you were being misunderstood. You attempted to paint yourself as a loving, kind gent of sorts who only wants what’s best for people. Really? Do your words match how you want to be viewed? Of course not.

I spent fifty years in the Christian church, twenty-five of those years as an Evangelical pastor. In November, 2008, I divorced Jesus and now I am an atheist. Over the past eight plus years, I have had to deal with a constant stream of emails and blog comments from people who were just like you, Dax. Evidently, Evangelicals — whose minds are sotted with Fundamentalist theology and practice — think they can say anything and not be held accountable for what they say. I am one person, however, who intends to hold such people’s feet to the fire, exposing how their hateful, bombastic, mean-spirited, and at times, vile and threatening words are viewed by their intended target. I also make it my mission to publicly expose Evangelical preachers, evangelists, missionaries, and parachurch leaders who think they can say whatever they want without being held accountable for what they say.

More than few loudmouth Assholes for Jesus® have found out that hate speech can and does have consequences. In your case, Dax, you now have to live with the fact that when someone goes a Google search for Dax Hughes, the fifth search result is my post, According to Evangelical Dax Hughes, Life Without Jesus is Disastrous. And once this post goes live, it will also likely be first page. This is what happens when you back up your Jesus truck on an atheist’s doorstep and dump a load of shit. What do I do? I fire up my D9 bulldozer and easily push your Jesus excrement out of the way. And then I get out my power washer and clean my porch of your ill-advised, careless, offensive words. If you sincerely want to engage the six-and-one-half billion people in the world who are non-Evangelicals and who have different worldviews from your own, critique what they say and write, do not throw up straw men or stereotypes of their viewpoints.

If your goal in writing your blog post was to reach non-Christians, you failed miserably. I suspect, however, that that was not your intent; that your Ten Reasons post was meant for the choir; for those who already embrace your worldview. You are used to preaching to groups where ninety-nine percent of people in attendance are already Christians. Whoo Hoo! You tell them, Brother Dax! Way to preach the Word, pastor! Little did you know that there were atheists, agnostics, and unbelievers metaphorically sitting in the audience. And now these unbelievers are holding you accountable for what you said about their lives, and the lives of their spouses, children, grandchildren, extended family and friends. Remember Dax, words have meanings.

On the nineteenth of June, I will turn sixty years old. During my lifetime, I have preached thousands of sermons, taught countless Sunday school lessons, preached revivals, spoke at conferences, preached on street corners, and written thousands of blog posts. I have on more than a few occasions stepped in shit with my words, resulting in misunderstanding and conflict. On more than a few occasions I have had to apologize for things I said or explain what I meant when I said what I did. Ten years ago, I wrote an apology letter to the readers of the Bryan Times, apologizing for the bigoted, Fundamentalist letters to the editor I had written over the past decade. The editor was surprised by my apology, but it was important for me to let local residents know that my past words were ill-advised, and that I now repudiated them.

There have also been times when people objected to something I have said or written, and I have stood my ground — I said what I meant to say. Years ago, when I first embraced Calvinistic soteriology, I preached a sermon on limited atonement. After the service, I had a church member give me a note that said, Did you say what I think you said? This man was not a Calvinist, so he strenuously objected to the narrow scope of my view of the atonement. He had, in fact, heard me correctly. I said exactly what I intended to say.

While the target audience of this blog is former Evangelicals and people who are having doubts about Christianity or are trying to extricate themselves from Evangelicalism, I do have a fair number of Evangelical readers. Many of them are one and done readers. They read one post, object, and move one. Some of these offended Evangelicals object to me characterizing Evangelicalism as a Fundamentalist religious belief. I AM NOT A FUNDAMENTALIST, they say, thinking that their anecdotal example will set me straight. However, I am not moved by such examples. Based on their beliefs and practices, most Evangelical sects, churches, pastors, and congregants are Fundamentalists. They might not like being called Fundamentalists, but if it walks, talks, and acts like a Fundamentalist, it is a Fundamentalist. If Evangelicals don’t want to be labeled Fundamentalists, then it is up to them to change their beliefs and practices. (Please read Are Evangelicals Fundamentalists?) This is another example of me meaning what I say when I write, “Evangelicals are Fundamentalists.” I know that not every Evangelical is a Fundamentalist, but when taken as a whole, Evangelicalism is a Fundamentalist belief system.

Dax, you are a younger man. I hope you will let an old curmudgeon like me give you some advice. First, always remember words have meanings. Say what you mean, and mean what you say. Second, when engaging people in the public sphere — any place outside of the safety of the Christian box — keep in mind that people are paying attention to what you write and say. Choose your words carefully. It is okay to be pointed, direct, and passionate, but passion can quickly turn into bigotry and hate. Third, religion and politics are hot button topics, so be aware how easily your words can be misconstrued. If your intent is to write a rant or a polemic or preach to the choir, make that clear so people won’t waste their time on your post. When I responded to your post, I thought I was engaging someone who sincerely believed what he was saying. You made no attempt to respond to my critique of your post, nor did you make any effort to learn anything about my site or me as a person. This told me that you didn’t care how your words were received. Your behavior, by the way, is typical of Evangelical preachers. I can count on one hand the number of Evangelical preachers I have interacted with on my blog who proved to be decent, thoughtful, honest human beings. More often than not, these so-called “men of God,” had ulterior motives and were not the least bit interested in what I had to say. Armed with certainty and an inspired, inerrant, infallible religious text, all that mattered to them is slaying the Evangelical pastor-turned-atheist named Bruce Gerencser. By failing to understand that thousands of people are reading their words, these men did incalculable damage to their cause. If your goal as an Evangelical preacher is to proclaim the gospel and share the love of Christ, what you say and how you say it is vitally important. Your Ten Reasons post failed spectacularly in this regard. In the future, when you want to write about the miserable unwashed, uncircumcised Philistines of the world, I hope you will pause for a moment and consider how your words will be received by unbelievers. Every blog post you write is a sermon preached by you to the world.

I wish you well, Dax.

Bruce Gerencser, a sinner saved by reason

29 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Dax

    Bruce,

    First of all that is an older picture of me and I am not longer associate pastor. I didn’t give you permission to put my picture up and rather you take it down.

    As far as your story it is yours to tell. I read and appreciated hearing it. Appreciated in the sense that you lived it and I respect that.

    You wish me well at the end but you write a blog taking me to the woodshed as you say. I don’t feel your well wishes here. I would not do this to you. I would not write a blog focused on someone to criticize them. You and I are different here. Your first blog was done but this is to attack me. Plain and simple.

    As far as addressing anything you have to say… nah. Why would I? As if I could trust you to dialogue fairly and openly without attacking me? I don’t think so.

    • Avatar
      Dax

      I type from my phone and hate this app. I can’t ever edit easily. Sorry for typos. I usually type on the run on my phone!

    • Avatar
      Bruce Gerencser

      I pulled the picture from your church’s site. When I get home, I will change the photograph, but you ain’t going to like it.

      This post is not an attack. It is a rebuke of your behavior on the blog in question. Instead of accepting it as such, you choose to point fingers back at me, choosing also to continue to ignore the substance of not only the first post, but this one too.

      You could have dialogued with me on the first post, but you chose not to. I thought, okay, I’ll engage Dax on KIA’s blog. That didn’t work either. So, you can choose to paint me as disingenuous, but fair minded readers will see through your smoke screen

      I hope you will learn something from this. So far, all I see is a pigheaded Evangelical preacher who is up to his neck in shit and he still thinks everything is fine; a preacher who still can’t admit he lied.

      I do, by the way, wish you well, as I do all people. Take it or leave it, it matters not.

      Bruce

    • Avatar
      Bruce Gerencser

      You can find the photograph on your church’s PUBLIC website here http://www.heartlandworship.com/dax-hughes

      The aforementioned page lists your bio this way:

      “Dax has been the Senior Associate Pastor since May 2008. Dax and his wife, Christi, have three children: Reagan, Addicus, and Noah. His calling is to provide leadership and guidance to the staff and church as a whole. He is passionate about God’s word and is quickly becoming addicted to posting on his blog. Dax graduated in December of 2012 with his doctorate from Beeson Divinity School.”

      I hope you like my replacement. Eight plus years, and you are only the second Evangelical preacher who demanded I take down a photo of them. Hopefully, you are not like the first man. He was quite the whiny little boy.

      • Avatar
        Dax hughes

        I started as associate pastor. I like this picture much better! He looks cooler than me! I admit I used PhD interchangeably because I thought it would have more authority with Ark. I do have a doctorate and it was hard work to get it, at least for me! My dissertation on fasting is a published work and had to meet the academic qualifications to be so. It was a rigorous work. Fasting is an important concept throughout the Testaments. My study has been stepped in the languages. Like you said above to me, it matters not to me whether you believe it or not. Your choice.

        I am an evangelical but like to think outside the box. I come from a conservative church who holds to the doctrine of the SBC which I hold to.

        As long as you have a blog up about me trying to patronize and ridicule me I won’t dialogue. If you are really interested take this down and we will talk.

          • Avatar
            Bruce Gerencser

            Dax can’t bring himself to use the word LIE. He dips, zips, and zags, but one fact remains — Dax lied about his academic credentials and the nature of his studies. He only reinforces this fact by his repeated acts of self-justification.

        • Avatar
          KIA

          I admit I used PhD interchangeably because I thought it would have more authority with Ark.

          The fact that you admit it here does not say that you admit it was Wrong to do so. That is what you need to understand. It’s a bold faced lie to misrepresent yourself in order to claim authority over others that you don’t have. I wonder what your pastor would say if he were to read what you have written here and at my blog in the name of christ… might be interesting to see the reaction.

          • Avatar
            howitis

            “I admit I used PhD interchangeably because I thought it would have more authority with Ark.”

            Out here in the “real world,” claiming degrees you do not have gets you fired. It recently happened at my employer, with a newly-hired VP who claimed to have an MBA. Turns out he didn’t (started the program but never finished, in his case) and now he’s out of a job.

            Too bad it doesn’t work that way in the church world, despite that whole “Thou shalt not bear false witness” thing….

          • Avatar
            Bruce Gerencser

            Dax could have ended the discussion by saying, KIA, you are right. I lied, and I apologize for misreprenting my academic credentials and the level of my expertise. Instead, Dax continues to self-justify and people rightly wonder if he is lying about other things. I’m sure Dax is a good guy, but he really does need to learn to own his behavior. We talk a lot about owning behaviors in our family. When my grandkids do something wrong, I want them to own up to it. Don’t deflect,blame others, or deny. Whatever people might think about Donald Trump, his number one problem is that he refuses to accept responsibility for his decisions/behavior.

            As one country old preacher used to say about confessing sin, “you might as well cough it up. God knows about it already.” Dax just needs to cough it up. ?

  2. Avatar
    Carmen

    Dax has forgotten – already! – the nasty, sweeping generalizations he made (on his blog post) about anyone who doesn’t believe in HIS god? Tsk, tsk.
    Bruce, I think the replacement pic is a gem. 🙂

  3. Avatar
    KIA

    Brother bruce,
    That was and awesome post. I doubt the message will get thru though. Pride is a monster, it makes people do and say some amazing to belive things. The sheer arrogance that Dax displayed on his blog post, my blog post comments and his comments here tells us that we are dealing with a very insecure and immature man who is not used to be questioned or made to support what he is saying, and is more than willing to double down and even lie about his own credentials, AND twist scripture in ways he KNOWS even he doesn’t believe in order to bully others into silence or submission, all the while thinking that he’s safe doing so because no one that he knows or knows him will ever find out.

    The Jig is up, buddy. Brother dax, better get some lotion for the burn you got here and at my place. I hope you humble yourself with the words, admonition and rebuke or two decons who have WAY more experience in actual ministry than you. But you probably won’t. Not until you finally wake up one day and discover that you’ve been lied too also, and in turn have been lying to others. Then you may understand what we are saying, and how it feels to be in Recovery.

    Peace, Brothers bruce and dax. -kia

    • Avatar
      Dax hughes

      I would not do this to you KIA or Bruce. I would not write a blog pointed st you no matter how much I disagreed with you. Justify any way you won’t but I won’t be doing this back to either of you.

      • Avatar
        Connie

        Dax, you say you wouldn’t write a blog against either Bruce or KIA. But you did Sir, you did exactly that and now are doing your best to prop up your ego.

        I read your original post, KIA’s, and both of Bruce’s. Your assessment of life without Jesus was pure Dominionist talking points. You, without a thought, dismissed my life, my experiences, and the joy I’ve planted as nothing, a dead rotting corpse. What is wrong with you?

        But if I read your words here you weren’t attacking me…. Right Dax, right. When you are facing your Lord and Savior after death and he asks why you were so rude to him, please remember the phrases ‘what you do to the least of me you do to me’.

        Oh, for the future, here is the best way to produce credentials – hi, I’m Connie, and I have a double major in Art and Theatre from Hastings College, Hastings, NE although I’ve continued advanced studies with the School of Life.

        Short, sweet, and honest. Your replies on KIA’s blog and here are none of the above.

  4. Avatar
    Dax

    Obviously a waste of my time. You guys have all the answers. You are Neo-Gnostics. You are the elite and everyone else is stupid. Your pride is your folly and will be your ruin. i wash my hands of you. I won’t bother responding past this or reading any of your comments that are begging for justification of your own apostasy. εκδίκηση είναι δική μου

    • Avatar
      Becky Wiren

      Except you’re misusing the word Neo-gnostic. Neo-gnosticism is the doctrines of any of various dualistic sects among the Jews and the early Christians who claimed possession of superior spiritual knowledge, explained the creation of the world in an emanational manner, and condemned matter as evil. — Gnostic, n., adj.

      Bruce is an atheist, so he can’t be a Neo-gnostic. We’re a mixed bag, his followers, and I suppose you could say that if we are Christian or Jewish, we are Neo-gnostics. But the ones of us who claim to be Christians are pretty modest about it. (I’m NOT a Christian so I’m not bragging.) If Bruce has any Jewish followers they don’t talk about their religion.

      So I’m wondering why you would use this term? Words DO have specific meanings. It would have been better for you to say we are conceited. While wrong, at least the word is easier to understand and means exactly what you need it to mean. Using the term Neo-gnostic doesn’t make you look as smart as you think.

    • Avatar
      Kia

      Atheist and non Christians are neo gnostic, Brother dax? Now I know you have absolutely no freaking idea what you are talking about. Dishonest sack
      -kia

    • Avatar
      Bruce Gerencser

      Actually, we don’t. Remember, you are the one who wrote a blog post purporting to have all the answers about the lives of unbelievers. I admit I don’t know everything about Dax Hughes. I do know he recently got caught in a lie and is finding it hard to admit that he lied about his academic credentials. I do know he is another shining example of why I am glad I am not a Christian. Humility and contrition are in order, Dax. Instead, you have demonstrated prideful arrogance, refusing to own your behavior and refusing to understand how hurtful your Top Ten Reasons post was to people who are unbelievers. Based on your behavior and what the Bible says in 1 Timothy 3 about the qualifications of a pastor, I would say you are no longer qualified to be a pastor.

  5. Avatar
    Carmen

    Dax,

    You have proved that you are exactly like every other fundamentalist encountered online. You can dish it out but you sure as hell can’t take it. I suggest – strongly – that you retreat to your ‘safe spot’, in an echo chamber surrounded by other fundamentalists.

    By the way, your vague threats of hell hold no weight with non-believers. There’s no such spot, except in your (vivid) imagination.

  6. Avatar
    Grammar Gramma

    Dax, you claim that vengeance is yours. But if I recall Deuteronomy and Romans correctly, that phrase, and therefore the vengeance, belongs to God, not to you.

    • Avatar
      Brian

      Gramma Gramma, This is the ugly tool of preacher-Christianity at work. Dax can cut and paste Greek and then ascribe it all to God’s Word, with capital letters. He is just the learned messenger! That way, he is clear to savage the listener with attack upon attack, as he does throughout his last comment kiss-off. Aee, it is not him at all but God doing all the talking.
      Preacher-belief is the perfect tool for the hatred and fear Dax bears for those of us who see through his doctor of ministry armor. You too must burn eternally, Grammar Gramma…. hey, don’t blame me. I’m just an obedient servant of the ONE TRUE GOD©.

  7. Avatar
    Troy

    I love the picture juxtaposition! I would have used (Curzon) Dax from Star Trek.
    http://vignette3.wikia.nocookie.net/memoryalpha/images/6/61/Curzon_Dax%2C_Emissary.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20080328223236&path-prefix=en

    “Homosexual” should only be considered offensive if pronounced with a heavy southern accent with long accentuate vowels, otherwise it is just fine. As for Bible thumping preaching it is an interesting mix of condemning the “sins” everyone makes along with the “sins” of the “other”s, and homosexuality is a great one to use to convey that superiority of the lion share of the parishioners. (Atheists, even better!)

    As for words having meaning, if you look into the meaning of “disaster”, the etymology reveals its obsolescence in that it means “bad star” as in astrology.

    • Avatar
      Bruce Gerencser

      So true, Troy. I preached against countless sins and beliefs that were unlikely to be found practiced by congregants. It is easy to rail against homosexuality, atheism, Satanism, etc when what you are preaching doesn’t apply to anyone hearing your sermon. How about tackling the sins of church leaders? What is the one sin fat Baptist preachers never mention? Gluttony. ? Fortunately, in later years my preaching was more focused on personal conduct and spirituality. I’m sure I never lost all of Fundamentalist thinking, but for the most part forty-four year old Bruce was much less of a hypocrite than thirty year old Bruce. Growing older and being exposed to people different from myself helped to temper my dogmatism. The internet, in particular, really opened my eyes to how diverse of a world I live in. Once I left the Evangelical bubble, I found a wild, wonderful, scary world that I never knew existed.

Want to Respond to Bruce? Fire Away!

Bruce Gerencser