Recently, Bruce sent out the bat signal for anyone, even Christians, to write a guest post. I am a Christian pastor (Church of the Nazarene) who reads Bruce’s blog on a regular basis. I became a Christian in 1985 at the age of 25 when I was baptized in a Lutheran church. I remained a Lutheran for about 19 years, when my family decided to leave. Although we were fairly conservative (as was the church), we did not leave because of what we considered approaching liberalism in the denomination. Rather, the congregation had become cold and inward-focused.
We joined a Nazarene congregation in our area. I felt a call to ministry, and took classes for 8 years before being ordained at age 55 in 2015. I pastored a church out of town for a year that was 80 miles away. I am now an associate at a Nazarene church about 9 miles away from our home. I work full-time as a house painter.
I forget how I stumbled upon Bruce’s website, but found it to be interesting. Like many, I wondered how he could have left the faith. I read many of his posts, especially those that told his story. As far as I could tell, Bruce was brutally honest about his journey. I will admit, I didn’t care for his salty language, but it is his blog and if I let it offend me, I could just drive on by. No need to correct him or ask to tone it down. It is his site, and he can post whatever he likes.
I feel no need to argue with Bruce, or analyze why he is an atheist now. I’m willing to take him at his word about his story. There is no argument that will win Bruce back to the faith. This is between God (if God exists, which I believe He does) and Bruce. Besides, I don’t think I’d come out too well in an argument with Bruce. He seems to be a capable defender of whatever he believes, whether as a Christian in the past or an atheist at the present time.
Some Christians may not like this, but Bruce has done us a service by exposing some of the hypocrisy in the church. He has also posted stories about crooked pastors. To that I say “thanks!” Too many times, the church has excused bad behavior and criminal actions, sweeping them under a rug or passing the problem on to another unsuspecting congregation.
A lot of Christians have abandoned Bruce — people he used to call friends. That is too bad. If God is love, then why do we fail to love? I’m sure someone will find some scripture to say why we should treat Bruce like a leper, a tax collector, or some kind of apostate enemy of the faith. It’s easy to want to argue with him, feel superior to him, to be smug. But what if we Christians would just take him at his word, respect him as a fellow human, and treat him as we would want to be treated? I personally know some friends of Bruce that have not deserted him. Thankfully, they still care. But too many Christians are more worried about winning an argument, about being right, than loving a person just for who he is and where he is in his life.
Sorry to get a bit preachy, but we preachers tend to get out of control at times! I do want to thank Bruce for allowing me to share a bit about why I read his blog. I hope he keeps it up, even when I have to cringe a bit when I see the Songs of Sacrilege. I believe that if we don’t read things that challenge our thinking, then we can become lazy and rigid. I’m not in danger of losing my faith by reading ”The Life and Times of Bruce Gerencser,” but it causes me to think.