Your Questions, Please

 

i-have-a-question

Greetings, Earthlings.

It’s been three or so years since I asked readers to submit questions for me to answer, so I thought I would open the call lines and ask you to submit your questions, along with $100 donations to help me reach Evangelicals throughout the world. Reason — praise be to Reason — has called me to evangelize Evangelicals, and your donations will help me take the gospel of critical thinking to the ends of the earth. Just kidding. While donations are always appreciated, what I really want is questions; your pithy, erudite questions.

If you have a question you would like me to answer, please ask it in the comment section. I will answer questions in the order they are received. You can also email your questions to me via the contact form.

This post will remain pinned to the top of the front page until August 15th, after which time it will disappear into the bowels of this blog never to be seen again

Let the games begin.

Bruce

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 61, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 40 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve 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. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Bruce is a local photography business owner, operating Defiance County Photo out of his home. If you live in Northwest Ohio and would like to hire Bruce, please email him.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so.

Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

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38 Comments

  1. Tony

    When looking back at the events when you revealed to your family and friends your loss of faith (the letter you wrote, interactions with family, close friends, etc), would you change any of the way you navigated that? If so, what and why?

    Thanks for your blog, always appreciate your writing!

    Reply
  2. ObstacleChick

    Bruce, when you were in college, I can’t remember whether you mentioned learning about the origins or canonization process of the Bible. I understand that you would have learned exegesis, but were the students taught about the process of canonization and the existence of other texts that were not included? Was there an explanation why the canonized books of the Apocrypha were excluded from protestant bible? And did you ever share any of this info with your congregations?

    Was evolution taught in your high school? If not, how did your science teachers handle questions about origins?

    Did you or your congregants ever question of why an omnipotent and benevolent deity would require blood sacrifices to atone for sins?

    I apologize if you have covered these topics before – I have read a lot of older posts but may have missed some things.

    Reply
  3. GeoffT

    What are your views on objective morality? I might say that I get a little turned off by the ‘heavy’ philosophical approaches, and like to discuss it in everyday terms. For example, ‘don’t kill’ is a pretty good starting point, but does the fact that killing is allowed in some circumstances (for example, in wartime) mean it can’t be objective?

    Reply
  4. dave

    How do evangelicals cope with the tremendous difference between the god of the old testament (e.g., (1 Samuel) telling Saul to destroy Amelek — everyone, men, women, children, goats, sheep, cattle, and other similar requests by god for mayhem) and the god of the new testament (peace, love, turn the other check, etc.). This would seem to indicate that their god is fallible in that it has apparently done a complete 180 with respect to genocide, and overall philosophy. Was god wrong then? Or wrong now? Either way, their book indicates that their god is capable of being wrong. How do they square this with inerrancy?

    Reply
  5. Geoff

    Hi Bruce. I was reading some stuff on Bill Hybles and one of the new leaders at the church addressed the congergation and told them that Bill had made some inappropriate decisions that made some women to feel as if they had been wronged. I know nobody wants to fess up to their sins and wrongdoings , it’s human nature , but come on.

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      I’ve seen a statement of late that suggests they now believe the women and regret saying they were lying.

      People have a hard time believing revered pastors can do bad things or have affairs. Remove religion from the equation and it is not hard to understand and accept that pastors can and do have consensual sexual affairs. I wouldn’t even write about such stories if it wasn’t for the moralizing and cover-ups.

      I had a pastor friend who had an affair with his secretary. He later left the ministry, divorced his wife, and married the secretary. I later found out that his wife was a lesbian and hadn’t had sex with him in 20 years. I fully “understood” the affair, as most of us would. Humans and sex makes for interesting theater. 😀

      Evangelicalism, in particular, is an exercise in denying human nature. Imagine how different it would be if Evangelicals admitted their humanness. Instead, they continue to ride the high moral plain, thinking no one will ever find out what goes on behind closed doors.

      Reply
  6. Konnie Ellis

    I’m just curious as to whether you’ve heard of the Clergy Project, and if you have taken advantage of its resources? I just thought that since you were a former pastor, and probably have several ex-pastors following your blog, this might be a good resource for you to promote from time to time. Begun by Dan Barker of FFRF, and is for anyone in ministry, not just pastors. I’m also curious to know if you listen to any atheist podcasts, or how closely you follow atheist blogs? I’m a new reader, so I apologize if you’ve addressed some of this before.

    Reply
  7. Jonathan Reed

    Sorry if you found this on another post. I had posted this else where, but I don’t think it worked.

    Hello Mr. Gerencser,

    I am writing to you after reading about a dozen of your posts. I’ve found them to be extremely interesting with a splattering of good insight. I’ll be upfront about the fact that I am a Christian. But your writing is extraordinarily clear and you have a gift of communication, so I’ve been mesmerized by your posts. I do have a bone to pick though, because personally I’ve found the claims of Christianity to be the MOST reasonable and rational world view and so I would challenge your implication that the Christian world view relies on faith while an atheistic world view relies on reason. First of all, it is interesting that the definition that you chose of atheism frames the world view in the passive; an absence of belief in God. Truly atheism is the active belief that there is no God. While you try to back out and say that you are more agnostic, the problem remains that you must define yourself by what you believe. It is simply unfeasible that someone only does not believe something. They must actively believe something. So by saying that you act as if there is no God, you admit to believe that there is no God.

    However, your problem seems worse than that, because in my estimation your own life does not agree with what you say that you believe. Let me try to prove that to you:
    As an atheist you must adhere to some core beliefs, like the catechism of atheism. If I misrepresent you here, please correct me.
    1. The world, life, and existence came to be in some other way than by a creator.
    2. The “laws” of nature are grounded in nothing, or maybe at best chance.
    3. There is no plan, no purpose, no end goal for anything.

    If you say that you believe these things, your lifestyle betrays your inconsistency. You wake up every morning believing that the way the world works today is how it worked yesterday. You live your life as if there is purpose. You make plans and delay gratification on a regular basis. All of these things would make sense if you believed that God sustains creation, that life has a purpose, but if chaos is the rule and chance is the foundation of all things, than your lifestyle is utterly inconsistent.

    I am curious how you would respond to these charges.

    Thanks for your time,
    Jonathan Reed

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      This post is about asking questions, not giving bloviating sermons that do little more than expose that you know nothing about atheism (or that many atheists are humanists). Every atheist I know — without exception — would reject the ignorant assertions you’ve made in your comment.

      If you have a specific question you would like to ask, please do so. If not, keep on moving down the road. Or better yet, spend some serious time reading my writing and that of other ex-Evangelicals-turned-atheists, then we can talk.

      I do want to answer what questions you might have — you know sentences that end in a ?

      Bruce

      Reply
      1. Jonathan

        I don’t know if you genuinely missed the question there. I can reword it to make it more clear,

        How would you respond to these charges?

        The charges being that humanism lacks the grounding for purpose. For example Friedrich Nietzsche wrote about how with secularism nihilism will inevitably follow.

        Reply
        1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

          You didn’t ask any questions, and you barely did here. Bald assertions are not questions, Jonathan. That said, I will in a future post take up the question of grounding. Or you might read my recent post on objective morality.

          Reply
  8. Charles

    Has Polly ever sung the words “polly wally doodle all day”? Heck, I thought you should have at least one easy question. You can go ask her.

    I am feeling much better. Thanks to everyone who suggested ways to pull out of my depressive episode.

    Reply
    1. Zoe

      Sounds positive Charles. <3

      Reply
    2. Brian

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ge-cNfosrMU

      Thanks for the fun song reminder, Charles!

      Reply
    3. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      I am glad things are better, Charles. I have little to offer because I can barely keep my own head above water. The best I can do is say, I understand and support you.

      I have not sung that song to Polly. 😀 She has heard, Polly want a cracker? a time or two.

      Reply
  9. Emma

    How hard was it to change the authoritarian thought patterns that you had as a pastor? Did they affect your family? How have your relationships with your family changed since you became an atheist?

    Reply
  10. Mike

    When you were a IFB preacher, what was your view of Arminianism? Some denominations believe that a person that is saved can reach a point where they lose their salvation. Would you consider yourself to be in that particular category since you were once part of the once enlightened group? Thank you considering my questions.

    Reply
  11. Paul Sunstone

    Hi Bruce,

    I’m curious how your health is holding up. I recall you had a few issues with it a while back. How are you these days? I hope all is well.

    Reply
  12. Becky Wiren

    You had the 15th as the last day. But you haven’t taken it down so I do have just one question: have you noticed if people in this rural, NW Ohio area are more or less prejudiced since you were a child? I don’t associate with a large portion of people around here. But I hear enough and of course, Trump won in this area by 2 to 1. Ugh.

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      I extended the closing date to August 15th. 😀

      Reply
  13. mary

    How do you handle fear of hell and fear of wrath? I struggle w/these from time to time-most likely because of the complete childhood indoctrination. Thanks for being willing to take the time to write this blog.

    Reply
  14. Troy

    I think I might have finally thought of a good question. This is regarding your truncated education at Midwest Baptist. Since you left early and didn’t graduate do you think that (in particular) an I.F.B. education was unnecessary to be a functional I.F.B. minister? I’d suggest that maybe there isn’t much to learn, but they imitate the traditional 4 year college to create an air of legitimacy.

    Reply
  15. That Other Jean

    I’m sorry, Bruce, but this really bugs me. Your illustration of the old lady waving her hand in the air with her underwear showing under her desk is considerably less than respectful. Have you considered replacing it with an old man with his fly unzipped?

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      I personally don’t have a problem with the gif, but I edited the graphic so it no longer showed underneath the table.

      Reply
      1. That Other Jean

        Thanks much. Being a little old lady who went back to school as an older adult, I suppose I have a stake in being taken seriously.

        Reply
  16. Julie

    I’ve been waiting for “Why I became a Calvinist part 6” for weeks! My question though is if you have any blogs or forums similar to yours that you follow or followed on your journey out of Christianity? So few of us were true believers and saved thoroughly before deconverting.

    Reply
  17. Matt Martin

    Hi Bruce

    In your IFB days did you ever encounter Peter Ruckman? If so what was/is your assessment of him?

    Cheers

    Matt

    Reply
  18. Ben Masters

    One thing I’ve wondered about those pastors who were against television (and entertainment in general [and IIRC, you were one of those pastors])– when they said that television was the destruction of America’s families, did they mean just the sexiest, most vile things on today, or television in general (the latter meaning that it was an immorality and sin, no matter how much sex or violence there was [IOW, if you were entertained at all, you were in immorality, ipso facto QED])?

    Reply
  19. Geoff

    Bruce , in your many years of pastoral ministry have you ever come across what you would consider demonic possession or any strange paranormal stuff ? Have you ever heard of anything that you would consider legitimate?. Thank You.

    Reply
  20. Charles

    Okay. I have a question, and this one is serious. Frequently, I hear Christian fundamentalists talking about the so-called “Fundamentals” of the Christian faith. However, there appears to be substantial disagreement on exactly what these fundamentals are and how many there are. Some people cite 5 fundamentals. Others cite 9 fundamentals. With the so-called fundamentalist resurgence that began with the late 1960s “Jesus Freak Movement,” it seemed like we got about 100+ more so-call “fundamentals” like the famous “6-inch rule” and many other such things. So Bruce, can you place list for us what all these “fundamentals” are and count up for us how many there are? I find it all very confusing at times. Thanks!!!

    Reply
  21. Scott

    I’ve been contemplating how xianity wrecked so much of my life (so far). Calvinism fundamentalism skewed my think on all subjects. I married way too young. I was forced to live in towns where the one true church existed. (Presbyterian Reformed). I viewed the world as evil and my own heart desperately wicked, who can know it. I had one prick tell me he was the physician of my soul (wtf!). (He tried this because I’m in the medical field). My life revolved around just a couple of narrow minded bigots of in-laws….. I could go on…. Like now having a failed marriage, and a couple of self righteous children who shun me…

    How did xianity stuff your life up Bruce and fellow readers?

    Reply
    1. Brian

      Scott, the answer to your quesion is easier if I just say, In what areas of life did Christianity not marr your life…. The point of the faith is to harm the natural self, to shun oneself in order to allow God to save and direct you. This means that you are done-for from the starting-gate and that you must kow-tow to magic Jesus forever because HEEEEEE suffered and died because of and for you. This delusional thinking is a garbage pail for everything in your life; you name it. God is abuse and the delusion of God wrecks all of life. It destroys the simple playtime of a child who must incorporate hellfire and brimstone into playtime. It destroys natural human sensuality by couching it in rigid rules and far-out requirements, no lust, no simple desire for sex, no room for natural experimentation, utter hatred of various ‘styles’ of coupling, paternalistic puke, like I said, you-name-it and Christianity fucks it up BY DESIGN. It ruins the ability to think in an critical way. And if you criticized any of it, then complete duds from Jesus come to tell you that you were never born again and never did-it-right and will be sorry.
      Christianity fucks up the physical body, the mental self, the pocketbook, the wardrobe! Christianity makes people say ludicrous things as if they were normal and everyday: God was talking to me last night and told me to tell you etc.! God-belief codifies lying and telling tall tales for profit. It ruins EVERYTHING, Scott.
      Now, there are good things about evangelical Baptists (my background) too! They have good feeds and sometimes help one another with chores and problems. The groupthink allows strangers to bond quickly and get-to-work helping each other in ways and keeping the outside world away. Team Jesus takes to their knees before going off with high-tech weapons to murder people all over the world.
      As you say, Scott, “I could go on…” Life has been so much better since I ‘graduated’ to non-belief.

      Reply
  22. Ami

    Have you ever attended a Unitarian Universalist gathering?

    I have not, although I’ve considered it out of curiosity.

    I used to work with a lady waaaay back in the early 1980s and when asked, she said she was Unitarian. The news was full of the Reverend Moon and his Unitarian crap… and the gossipy women I worked with decided that our nice, kind Marilyn was a MOONIE.

    Which of course is completely different. 😀

    So, have you?

    Reply
  23. Ami

    Oops… UNIFICATION did not make it into my question. Chalk it up to being up very late after getting up very early. And maybe a little pain keeping me awake. :::sigh:::

    Reply
    1. Grammar Gramma

      I think there is a bit of confusion here between the Unitarian Universalist Church and Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church. Per Wikipedia, the Unitarian Universalism is a liberal religion characterized by a “‘free and responsible search for truth and meaning’. Unitarian Universalists assert no creed, but instead are unified by their shared search for spiritual growth. As such, their congregations include many atheists, agnostics, and theists within their membership. The roots of Unitarian Universalism lie in liberal Christianity, specifically Unitarianism and universalism. Unitarian Universalists state that from these traditions comes a deep regard for intellectual freedom and inclusive love.” My take – it is sort of Christianity Lite.

      The Unification Church, on the other hand (often known as Moonies) is a new religious movement with its origins in Korea. Again, according to Wikipedia, “the Divine Principle or Exposition of the Divine Principle . . . is the main theological textbook of the Unification Church.” Also “The movement has had strong criticism and has attracted numerous controversies, including that of being a dangerous cult.” My take – not exactly a mainstream Christian religion.

      Reply
  24. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

    This is a test and I have failed.

    Reply
  25. Henriette

    Do you believe in free will? Can anyone escape the social religious determinism they were brought up in if they have enough courage (or any other necessary faculties)?

    Reply
  26. mary g

    bruce, how did you make the final break from belief? I still vacillate quite often and struggle w/the emotional turmoil that follows. thanks for taking time to answer the questions we are posting.

    Reply

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