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.
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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
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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?
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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].
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My PhD focuses primarily on Koine Greek and ancient Hebrew. I also focused on al [sic] backgrounds of the NT writings.
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Seriously? Do you not get that I have a PhD in ancient languages with an emphasis on NT background?
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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.
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Yeah this will always be your argument now. I have a doctorate and ancient languages have been my emphasis. Believe it or dont [sic].
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I am Dr Hughes regardless of what you say gere [sic]
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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.
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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.
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I want what is best for people and I think Christ is what they need. It is who I needed too.
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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.
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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