I recently received the following email from an Evangelical man named Jeff.
I read the seven articles associated with “My Journey” and “Dear Evangelical” on your web site.
Thank you for your honesty and integrity regarding your spiritual walk.
I’ve been a believer in Christ since I was a young child, and God has richly blessed me with a close relationship to him.
Therefore reading your articles produces a deep sadness in me because I can see that you’re missing out on the most important relationship that any human being can have.
One of the first things that popped into my mind while reading your articles was something I’ve believed a long time: “Anything that can be done without Jesus Christ is not Christianity.” You obviously have a significant intellect and great desire to learn and teach. Reading widely and accumulating knowledge is a worthy pursuit, as are many other pursuits. Many worthy endeavors, including all types of theological efforts, can be pursued without a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ. Learning about someone does not mean that you have a love relationship with him/her.
Another quick comment relates to basic statistics. While I’m more than impressed at all the churches you’ve visited, please remember “sample size”. When performing statistical calculations it’s always important to consider sample size, or the number of statistical samples you have with respect to the entire population. If there are about 350,000 churches in the USA and you visited 100 of them, then your sample size is 100/350,000, which is less than 0.03% — an extremely small sample size. Thus when you claim something to the effect that all churches are the same, your sample size is so small that you have no credible basis for such a statement. I personally know some churches where the emphasis is the person of Jesus Christ above all else.
In none of the articles I read did I see any indication of the Holy Spirit’s work in your life. Awareness of your sin and belief in the forgiveness of your sin by Christ’s atoning sacrifice were not mentioned.
Penultimately, although I try to not tell people that they “should” do something, because you claim to be a voracious reader I have a few suggestions, if you have any appetite for spiritual wholeness:
• Books by pastors Ray C. Stedman, Dave Roper, John Piper, and Ray Ortlund
• Articles and books by apologists William Lane Craig, John Lennox, and C.S. Lewis
• Web site reasons.org (the authors of which present credible challenges to some of your claims)
• Short videos by Frank Turek
Lastly, one inescapable fact for me is that because the material universe is so amazingly complex there is no logical explanation for all of it to have come about by mere accident (randomness and mutation). I can’t imagine how so many clever/complex things could come about accidentally.
Where do I begin? It’s clear that Jeff doubts whether I was a True Christian®. Over the past decade, I have received countless email and blog comments that have asserted the same: that I was never a Christian; that I was deceived; that I was a wolf among sheep. Making these baseless assertions allow my critics to dismiss my story out of hand. It allows them to toss me aside into the reject bin that’s filled with countless other people who went to church but never knew the saving grace of Jesus Christ.
The problem with this argument, of course, is it that is absurd; little more than a wild conspiracy theory. I spent fifty years in the Christian church. Twenty-five of those years were spent pastoring Evangelical churches in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. During this time, I came into intimate contact with Evangelical congregants and ministerial colleagues. I also was close to a number of Evangelical evangelists, missionaries, and college professors. My life was surrounded by professing Christians. Not only that, but I married into a family of Evangelical preachers. My wife’s father was a pastor, as was her uncle. Polly had cousins who were pastors, evangelists, and missionaries. Yet, according to some Christian zealots, I had all of these people fooled. Not one of them — all of whom were indwelt by the Holy Spirit — discerned that I wasn’t a Christian. Not one. My critics will search high and low and not find one person willing to say, I doubted Bruce Gerencser was a Christian. In fact, what they will find is people willing to testify of my commitment to Jesus and my resolve to follow his teachings. I was in every way a lover of Jesus. I had an intimate, loving, and fulfilling relationship with Him, and was, myself, indwelt with the Holy Spirit.
Bruce, you are now an atheist. You don’t believe the Christian God exists, so why does it matter to you that people accept your confession of faith as true? What I want from people is for them to accept my story at face value. When I write about the past, I focus on what I believed at that time. Yes, I was worshiping a myth, but in my mind, I believed I was worshiping the one true God. In my mind, I believed that Jesus had saved me from my sins and called me to be a preacher of the gospel. I believed that the Bible was a supernatural text inspired by a supernatural God. I believed God, in the person of the Holy Spirit, lived inside of me. All of these beliefs were nonsensical, yet, at the time, I believed them with all my heart. Thus, I find it offensive when some Evangelicals dismiss my testimony of faith with a wave of the hand, saying that I never was a Christian. All I am asking is that people accept my story as it is and not try to read their personal judgments, opinions, and theology into my story. When the Jeffs of the world tell me they are Christians, I accept that what they are telling me is true. That’s how human interactions work. We respectfully allow others to tell their own stories. After all, who knows his story better than the person telling it, right?
I found Jeff’s email to be polite, yet littered with passive-aggressive attempts to cast doubt on my past Christian faith. Jeff focuses on my astute study habits and book reading. Worthy pursuits, says Jeff, but one can learn many things about Jesus, yet not have a love relationship with him. Hint, hint, that’s you Bruce. I was a student, an intellectual, but I never truly loved Jesus, Jeff suggests. How does he determine this is so? What criteria does he use to determine that I never truly loved Jesus? Did I say the wrong words when I asked Jesus to save me? Did I belong to the wrong sect? What was it in my writing that led Jeff to conclude Jesus and I never had an intimate relationship? Or is the real issue that my story makes Jeff uncomfortable; that the implications of my loss of faith casts doubts on some of his beliefs?
Most Christians, except those of Pelagian persuasion, believe that true faith is evidenced by good works. James makes this clear when he says:
What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. (James 2:14-26)
I am more than happy to compare good works with Jeff or any other Christian. Not only did I have a credible profession of faith and orthodox beliefs, I also showed I was a follower of Christ through my works. Again, anyone and everyone who knew me as a Christian would testify that I was a true-blue child of God. This is why so many people find my loss of faith so disconcerting. If Bruce could lose his faith, they think, why anybody can.
Jeff goes on to cast more doubt on my past faith by saying, “In none of the articles I read did I see any indication of the Holy Spirit’s work in your life. Awareness of your sin and belief in the forgiveness of your sin by Christ’s atoning sacrifice were not mentioned.” Jeff read all of seven articles out of 2,722 posts — little more than a rounding error. Perhaps Jeff should invest time in truly getting to know the subject of his criticism. What Jeff has done so far is akin to someone reading the first seven chapters of Matthew and then saying they have read the Bible. Without fail, the sharpest critics of my life are those who can’t be bothered to read more than the first chapter or two of my autobiography.
For the sake of giving Jeff a thorough answer, let me address what he believes are omissions in my story. I believed that I was a broken, wretched sinner who deserved eternal punishment in the Lake of Fire. I believed that my sins separated me from God and that only through the atoning work of Jesus Christ on the cross could I be forgiven from my sins and be reconciled to God. At the age of fifteen, I came under conviction and the Holy Spirit revealed to me my sinfulness and need of salvation. I repented of my sins and asked Jesus to save me. From that moment in 1972 until November of 2008 — thirty-five years — I wholeheartedly believed that Jesus was my Lord, Savior, and King. While my theology changed over the years, I never lost sight of the centrality of Jesus Christ in my life. He was THE way, THE truth, and THE life. As far as the work of the Holy Spirit in my life, my good works speak for themselves. My devotion to preaching and teaching the Bible and evangelizing the lost was known far and near. I “felt” the presence of the Holy Spirit in my life. I “felt” the Holy Spirit leading and directing me throughout my life. It matters not that I now believe that these things were the machinations of my mind, and not the work of a mythical, invisible Spirit. At the time, I believed and that’s what matters when trying to determine the truthfulness of my story.
Finally, I want to address Jeff suggesting I read books by this or that author, check out this or that website, or watch apologetical videos. Here’s what I said to him in my brief response to his email:
Up until I deconverted, I read every book John Piper wrote. I’m familiar with his writings and his teachings on Christian hedonism. I read a lot of books by authors who focused on inward spiritual development. My library had over one thousand books. I read authors from the 16th century to the current era. I hope you are not seriously suggesting that if I read this or that book by one or another author that I would miraculously see the light. Give me credit for doing my homework before leaving Christianity. While there were psychological components to my deconversion, the ultimate reasons were of an intellectual nature. I came to the conclusion that the Bible was not what Christians claim it is. I also came to see that Christianity just doesn’t make sense. See :
https://brucegerencser.net/ 2017/04/the-michael-mock-rule- it-just-doesnt-make-sense/
https://brucegerencser.net/ 2018/07/questions-bruce-are- you-certain-christianity-is- false/
Many ex-Christians, including myself, spent agonizing weeks, months, and years trying to hang on to their faith. The more we read and studied, the more doubts and questions we had. None of us wanted to leave Christianity. Speaking for myself, why would I ever want to leave all that I had ever known? Why would I want to leave the foundation upon which my life, marriage, and family was built? Why would I want to leave the social connections I had built over five decades? Why would I want to lose all of my friends, men and women I had known for much of my adult life? Why would I want to leave a job that I personally found meaningful and fulfilling?
One need only read my letters: Dear Family, Friends, and Former Parishioners and Dear Friend, to literally feel the angst and raw emotion in my decision to abandon all I knew and held dear. I suspect that many of the readers of this blog have similar testimonies.
Come November, it will be ten years since I walked out the back door of the Ney United Methodist Church, never to return. Since then, scores of Evangelical apologists have stopped by to “educate” me about the faults in my testimony of faith. I have, by now, heard it all. There are no new arguments for Christianity forthcoming. All Christian authors do is repackage the same old, tired, worn out arguments in books with new titles. If new evidence for Christianity is someday found, I will honestly and openly look at it and determine its worthiness. Until then, I am confident that I have thoroughly investigated the claims of Christianity. I am confident that my rejection of Christianity is intellectually sound.
After I responded to Jeff’s email, he sent me the following:
Given that engaging in internet dialogue is limiting, I thought a useful response would be for me to briefly document my personal situation if I were to “deconvert”.
If I Were to Deconvert from Christianity …
- I would become lonely because I would lose my closest, constant companion.
- Death would become a great unknown because the one who had conquered death would be dead.
- I would become unloved because the one who had known me most deeply me would be absent.
- I would lose the sweet communion with my Master.
- I would tumble into despair because my purpose for my life would be obliterated.
- I would become overburdened with guilt because my sins and failures would persist
- My hope for a better future would dissipate because no one would be preparing a better place for me.
- I would become fearful because I would lose my defender who had shielded me from attacks.
- I would become stoical because my emotions would be stunted.
- Beauty would become meaningless because I would lose the one who is beauty’s very essence.
- Making decisions would be fraught with fear because I would lose my personal guide.
- Temptations would become irresistible because the one holding me accountable would be gone.
- I would lose my hope of receiving deep, honest, lasting joy because my joy-giver would be absent.
- I would become mean because the one who had comforted my deepest hurts would be gone.
- Trials would become unbearable because my trial-bearer would be gone.
- If I lost my relatives and friends, I would be important to no one.
If I Were to Deconvert from Belief in God …
- My life would be devoid of meaning and significance because my life would be little more than the result of purposeless, random accidents (otherwise known as biological mutations).
- My standard for morality would vanish; morality would be determined by whoever had power over me.
- My understanding of the beginning of life would disappear.
- My understanding of the beginning of space and time would disappear.
- My desire to perform altruistic acts would be quenched.
- My mind would likely burst from a most unsettling conundrum: lacking a transcendent creator, the only other explanation for my existence would be neo-Darwinian evolution, which is illogical and untenable, leaving the question of my identity painfully unanswered.
- I would lose my part in the greatest story ever told.
- I would lose my ability to intervene through prayer on others’ behalf to God.
- My prospect for the end of the world would become fearful because it would depend on mankind’s actions instead of the will of the one who created it.
- My worldview would become nonsensical because the multitude of fine-tuning aspects of the universe would become inexplicable, impossible coincidences instead of evidences of a loving creator.
With so much to lose, how could I ever “deconvert”?
All I can say to what Jeff has written is *sigh.* Perhaps others will want to address Jeff’s false (and offensive) caricature of unbelievers. If I believed these things to be true, I too would live in hopelessness and despair. However, all that Jeff has done is show us how a Christian Fundamentalist views life and the universe. Presuppositions abound. Remove them, and everything looks gloriously and wonderfully different. There is life post-Jesus, of that I am sure. I have written countless posts about purpose and meaning, and how atheists/agnostics/humanists/unbelievers can and do find meaning and purpose in the present precisely because they have no need of religion. Jeff’s not interested in learning about these things because in Jesus he has all that he needs. Jeff married the first girl he ever dated, and now he judges all other marriages by his. He lacks the experience necessary to make such judgments of others. For him to suggest that his peculiar interpretation of an ancient religion and its text is the prescription for happiness, love, and fulfillment is beyond arrogant. Such is the nature of Evangelical Christianity. Evangelicalism is all that Jeff has ever known. Until he experiences life outside of the box, there’s not much hope for him. A wild, wonderful world awaits Jeff if he dares to scale the walls of his intellectual and psychological jail and escapes. He’s not ready to do so today, but there’s hope. You see, I once was a Jeff. And if I can find new life in reason and humanistic principles, I know Jeff can. With God — err, I mean intellectual inquiry — ANYTHING is possible!
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.
“Lastly, one inescapable fact for me is that because the material universe is so amazingly complex there is no logical explanation for all of it to have come about by mere accident (randomness and mutation). I can’t imagine how so many clever/complex things could come about accidentally.”
“My worldview would become nonsensical because the multitude of fine-tuning aspects of the universe would become inexplicable, impossible coincidences instead of evidences of a loving creator.”
Both of these are arguments from ignorance. Your correspondent has looked around him, seen things he doesn’t understand, and invented a god as an explanation. After countless thousands of years (long pre-dating the Christian era) we have refined our approach to gods, they have become ever so more sophisticated, and, as Jeff mentions, there are many apologists out there (though how anyone can take seriously the few he refers to, especially Frank Turek, is quite beyond me). That means that discussion of the issues can appear reasonably high brow, perhaps even offering occasional seeming instances of logic, and so, for example, ontological arguments began to be dreamt up.
The trouble is that no matter how much talk gets manufactured it never turns into real evidence. Those lists of things that Jeff says he benefits from are total bullshit; you can be happy, contented, have good relationships, and be moral without religion or belief in god (indeed I’d argue that morality is superior without god being part of the equation). Ultimately any kind of religion, and presumably Jeff would be dismissive of all others but his own, is a man made construct, trying to make sense of a world without doing the hard work of looking for real answers. The words religion and superstition are, in fact, interchangeable.
Am I the only reader who gets their first caffeine-fix of the day and says ‘Ooh good, a new peanut gallery post?’ And I read the …tired….old….arguments… and say ‘Not again’. It has struck me recently how arrogant fundies are. They think they’re the designated adult for the rest of humanity. They have an inalienable right to put the rest of us straight. Anecdote: Visited elderly fundy relative in a 6-bed ward in hospital. He knew he’d been ‘put there for a purpose’ so tried to engage the 5 other patients in soul-winning conversations. Since 2 were on kidney dialysis and very sick, I thought he was inappropriate and intrusive. He asked me to bring his bible, so I said why not read it online. (OK so he’s been reading it in print for 60yrs), but it was obvious he wanted to be seen reading it, he more or less said so. I wanted to say that there was a guy opposite who was reading a golf magasine but I didn’t see staff and patients rushing over to his bed, begging to know how to join a golf club! He tried to get the phone numbers of 2 other patients as he constructed a scenario for their lives that had no foundation in reality, they were frail, lonely elderly men he could visit, befriend and slam with the gospel..he ignored the fact that family members visited them. We are all guilty of lacking self-awareness sometimes but it seems fundies have that deficiency by the ton! Another great deconstruction of a simplistic and arrogant fundy’s letter to you Bruce.
My turn this time . . . *sigh*.
I actually feel sorry for Jeff. In his description of what he fears his life would be like if he deconverted, I see someone who needs to believe in myths in order to not face adulthood by learning to cope, ask for other humans for help, learning new skills, and accepting that sometimes things happen and we can’t change them but must learn to adapt. I see someone who is uncomfortable saying “I don’t know” so relies on God of the gaps for explanation. Someone who needs a big bad deity daddy to make sure he doesnt do bad things. Someone who lacks confidence in his abilities as a human. Someone who desperately wants to believe in magic and miracles when evidence for such is scarce to nonexistent. This makes me sad for religious people.
it must be exhausting. while you were a pastor, all the non believers and questions. and now, all the evangelicals doubting who you were then, and who you are now. keep up your great work
What Obstacle Chick said up there. ^^
I can’t imagine being the quivering little flower Jeff thinks he’d become if he didn’t have his Big Daddy Sky Pilot flying him around.
I’ve always been struck by how fearful Christians are. They are literally afraid of everything. Hence the reliance on papa. Most of the time, I just feel sorry for them all.
It’s a sick relationship, dependence. Never being able to grow or go on your own. Can’t imagine.
Hello again, Bruce.
Unfortunately my statement about the limitations of internet dialog has been validated by your comments and those of the commenters.
I apologize to you if you think I was trying to characterize the spiritual aspect of your life. I am unable to look into your heart. There is no way I could claim to know where you are in your spiritual walk, and I never intended to claim what kind of a person you are.
I never claimed to have read all of your articles. I stated how many I did read so that you would know the context for my comments. What I wrote was in response to your seven articles, no more.
When you say “in Jesus he has all that he needs”, that’s true. When you say “Jeff’s not interested in learning about these things” (how atheists/agnostics/humanists/unbelievers can and do find meaning and purpose), how do you know?
In my second response I talked about my beliefs; does that make me arrogant? Furthermore I never mentioned unbelievers.
Lastly, I didn’t find much love among the commenters. Seems like they enjoyed criticizing me without addressing my specific beliefs.
By writing you I never intended to start an argument. I don’t want to make any negative remarks regarding you or the commenters. I merely wanted to present a brief, incomplete picture of where I am spiritually and state some of the issues that preclude me from deconverting.
I haven’t found anyone else who’s alive and who loves me as Jesus does. My life without him would not be “A wild, wonderful world”; it would be hell on earth. I can’t imagine “escaping” from the arms of my transcendent and personal lover.
“We were born for the Love of God. If we do not find it, it were better for us if we had never been born.” —Justice Hugh Black
Your lack of reading more articles shows a lack of curiosity on your part. If you are going to pass judgment on someone (and that is exactly what you have done) you ought to at least make an honest attempt to read about their life. Proverbs 18:13 says “ Spouting off before listening to the facts is both shameful and foolish.”
Your emails reveal a mind nailed shut by Evangelical dogma. That’s why I said you weren’t interested in learning how “atheists/agnostics/humanists/unbelievers can and do find meaning and purpose.” I judged you by your words, and your words reveal that you have gotten your information about unbelievers from Evangelical preachers/apologists, and not unbelievers themselves.
You wrongly assumed that I was interested in reading about your beliefs. I’m not. I would never go to Christian websites and send the owners emails espousing atheism. Yet, you had no qualms doing so here. Why is that? Did you really think you could “reach” me with an email or two? Did you really think you were going to say something I haven’t heard before? What was your end-game, Jeff? Why did you feel it important to “to present a brief, incomplete picture of where I am spiritually and state some of the issues that preclude me from deconverting?”
Personally, I find the erotic nature of your words about your love relationship disgusting. You say life without your lover Jesus would be “hell on earth” and it would be better if you had not been born. How can you possibly know this since you never experienced life without your fuck buddy Jesus beside you in bed? It’s all you know, so how can you possibly know what lies beyond the safety of the Evangelical box? You lack real world experience, Jeff.
As far as the readers of this blog are concerned, they are a diverse lot. In fact, a number of readers are Christians, though few are your flavor of Christianity. Over the years, I have posted hundreds of emails from people such as yourself. Same shit, new day. I suspect their response to you is reflected in their weariness of dealing with Evangelicals on a day-to-day basis and reading their utterances on this blog.
There are lessons to be learned here, Jeff, if you are paying attention.
Have you read any of Bart Ehrman’s books? If not, I encourage you to do so. I think you will find his books a direct assault and challenge to your beliefs about the nature of the Bible. Knowledge is the goal, and surely any belief you might have can stand challenge, right?
If you need to cling to the side of the pool, then do so. That is fine. As for me, I enjoy swimming in the great pool of life. Sometimes I float, other times I dog paddle, and sometimes I even sink. But when I sink, I resurface and breathe that wonderful gasp of air that I would have no idea about if I hadn’t sank in the first place.
Tammy, I love your analogy.
I do too Tammy! And Jeff, just reading ‘I can’t look into your heart’ or ‘your spiritual walk’ are a real turn off, trite old tropes and meaningless fundy jargon. Many of us here -and I’m using jargon in the hope you will have a little empathy – (maybe that’s too much to ask of you…??), we ‘walked with the lord’ for decades, like Bruce, we worked our socks off 24/7 for our faith…and then had a damascene conversion moment/month/year..It…Does…Not…Work. It’s fiction so now we have found the truth and it has set us free. It’s a wonderful life! So, more jargon, pray on brother, that your witness will bring Bruce and all his readers back to your sheepfold…shriek at the ceiling for the next ten years if that’s what turns you on….but it ain’t gonna achieve a single thing!
@Karen and Matilda:
Thank you. My analogy is exactly how I felt about leaving my Christian faith behind. The whole wide world opened up the instant I stepped away: it was both scary and exhilarating at the same time. And I haven’t regretted a second of it.
After reading your initial email and then your later comment, I wanted to share a thought with you which you may or may not have considered.
When it comes to Christianity, there are a lot, and I mean a lot of varying ideas of what it means to be a Christian. I have met a lot of Christians over the years who all had varying ideas on the nature of God, baptism, salvation, end times, and essentially differing interpretations over every line of scripture. While I did meet a few people who merely professed God while living like a heathen, I met plenty who were seeking God with all their heart, soul, and strength. What I could not figure out was why all these people who were seeking to know God kept coming to vastly different conclusions about what the Bible actually taught. If we are being honest, most of these people thought groups who thought differently about doctrine were indeed going to hell. Does is not strike you odd that people who seem to be genuinely seeking the Christian God are not arriving to the same conclusions about anything?
My point is, you claim to be walking with Jesus and he loves you so much, but how do you know that? I am certain you believe it to be true because you feel it. You feel it in your heart; I did as well during my time in Christianity. The problem is, everyone else who you disagree with also feels this same internal confirmation. Mormans, JW’s, or any church of X you run into.
Do you know what I prayed for most as I was starting to deconvert, for Jesus just to take one hour out of his day to speak with me one on one, and explain to me what true Christian doctrine was, and what it meant to walk the Christian life. I am sure you know what happened, nothing. I find it odd that for a being who supposedly loves me indefinitely was unwilling to honor such a request. Even more odd that the Bible consistently states that those who seek God will be rewarded, and God wants to be sought, yet he would not even honor this small request. How in the world does this qualify as love. Let me tell you something Jeff, if I had absolute authority over your life and was given the task of judging you to determine your eternal fate, I would meet you face to face, answer all your questions, and ensure you knew exactly what was expected; and Jeff, I don’t even know who you are.
At the end of the day, there may be some nugget of truth to Christianity, but nobody knows what it is. We can all tell ourselves we figured it out and that we are in God’s back pocket, but we are lying to ourselves to make us feel better.
I said the sinner’s prayer hundreds of times, I repented, I asked for forgiveness, I prostrated myself, I did everything I could to understand who God was and what he wanted, and I got nothing. At the end of the day, I assumed he was not there or did not care. If he doesn’t care, then God is not love and the book of John can hit the shredder. After reading Bart Ehrman, Richard Carrier, Robert Price, Dan Barker, and David Fitzgerald, I figured he is probably not there.
I get your position, I was terrified of thinking my worldview was wrong. It is literally everything you are. It is how you define the world around you. Changing all of that is one of the most difficult things I ever did. Though for the first time I believe I am on the path to understanding the world for what it really is. Do not get me wrong, I am still open to it. I am open to anything that is substantiated by evidence. If God came down and finally gave me my hour, I would change my mind and move out with my marching orders. That being said, I am not holding my breath.
One last piece on your comments in general, and relating to my previous comment that there may be some nugget of truth to Christianity….even if there is, you may not know what the truth is because God sent you a lying spirit. Read the Bible again, it says multiple times that God sent a deceiving spirit to variou characters and gives people over to delusions. How do you know you are not one of those deceived? That mindset actually made it easier for me to investigate the claims of Christianity. I always questioned whether or not I was believing/doing the right things. It was this self doubt that kept me reading, studying, and seeking to realizing I was not getting anywhere….just more questions.
Lastly, you should decide if Christianity is true because it stands on its own merit, not how it would change how you feel or see the world. I was stuck in that thinking trap for a while as well but I learned that I still had values, love, empathy, compassion,etc., without looking to an overlord.
Sorry for any typos or grammar mistakes. I am on my phone and I always goof when typing out something to this length.
One other thing. Many of the responses to his original email (I can only speak for myself, of course) came from former believers. We DO live without some sort of magical being. And we’re just fine, thanks.
Not that Jeff *really* gives a rat’s ass.
His “Lastly, I didn’t find much love among the commenters.” was humorous.
I reserve my love/respect for those who have earned it. I’m not bound by some imaginary being to love everyone.
Bruce, you’re right. He came to convert you. He thought that with his single brilliant email formulated after tangentially brushing up against your life, he could miraculously do what 50 years of immersion in a multidenominational gospel and preaching same for 25 years had somehow failed to do in his humble opinion… Actually convert you into a real Christian. Because Jeff’s magical powers of rhetoric and persuasion are just that irresistible. Jeff, you ARE arrogant. .In fact your behavior is the very definition of narcissism.
Jeff, I assume you include me in the group of commenters from whom you didnt receive love. My statements were about your beliefs, and about the beliefs I held when I was a fundamentalist evangelical Christian. I started that I feel sorry for you, and I do, as I feel sorry for others who believe as you do and sorry that I too was limited by a world view that cast me as a perverted sinner, a broken human, someone whose worth can only be found in the saving grace of Jesus. The belief that I can do nothing on my own and if I tried, the fruits of my labor would be nothing but dirty rags (menstrual or leprous depending on your interpretation). I believed the world was a scary place filled with evil demons fighting with Angels for supremacy, for people’s safety, and for the future of the earth itself. We were taught that on the end the Good Guys would win, but in the meantime if it was God’s will, we were but collateral damage.
Now I understand that people make choices. Some choices are for good, some are not. People are complex creatures. I see beauty in a world which will be vastly different 10 million years from now – that was vastly different 10 million years ago. In a universe whose size and age are greater than I can comprehend, I am ecstatic that I am here now and can learn about and enjoy this earth and the parts of the universe we know about. I am in awe that I can see starlight from stars that may no longer exist today. I am in awe that I was able to have healthy children and can see them grow – that our brain chemistry and electrical impulses can fire in ways that produces thoughts, memories, images, communication.
All without a deity, especially the vindictive, mean brute of the Jewish and Christian scriptures. Why would I wear worship the horrific deity that allegedly demanded blood sacrifices, that ordered the wholesale slaughter of infants and children, that wiped out all save a few in a flood, that condemns all who don’t believe the right way to ETERNITY in hell?
Jeff, I feel sorry for you, and if you think that sentiment is lacking in love, I apologize. My heart aches for you, as I am sure yours aches for me that I reject your deity and you believe I will suffer eternity in torment and damnation.
We won’t change your mind on an internet forum, but I ask that you read one book by Bart Ehrman- any one – with an open mind. (Though you probably think I am speaking as an agent of Satan to tempt you astray). Knowledge is freedom. Don’t close your mind to it.
Pingback:Truth, Flips, Impeaching Clinton, California Excuses, Term Limits – FairAndUNbalanced.com
Interesting testimony by Tony Breeden who talks about Bruce and things they had in common. They’ve had some of the same struggles. The end is quite different from where Bruce has ended up. Mr. Bredesen has recognized something that many do not.
You will find few Tony Breeden fans here. He started his blog as an attempt to deconstruct my life. In doing so, he puts words in my mouth, judges my motives, and denies me control of my own narrative.
In the end, he concludes that I never was a Christian; an absurdity to be sure. I have little respect for people who refuse to let me tell my story on my own terms (and accept it at face value).
Okay, I went to that post and this person is condescending a paragraph in! Not in the least interested in his blog although I kept reading and reading and reading. I’m not sure that there are real parallels between you and Tony Breeden. These types of Christians just can’t leave you alone, can they?
Hello, Bruce and everyone. I found the older blogs and began reading them, so much to read ! Requires using my charger a lot,lol. I recently went to Breeden’s site, and it’s true, he missed much of Bruce’s biography info. Another thing is, he’s from the Deep South– they’re rigid in their thinking processes. I haven’t looked up the specific verses yet, been a long time since I bothered, but the Bible does mention backsliding, which believers will do. In one verse it mentions the ” great falling away” before the rapture happens. In another, Jesus says “Will I find faith when I return to Earth?”. Something for Breeden to ponder. So, the blanket statement that you,Bruce were never saved at all, don’t hold water. They assume that being in a backslidden state is a very bad and precarious place, which is only true IF the Bible can’t be disproved conclusively. And for Jeff, I say here that Bruce did as you once did. No one is pressuring you to de- convert. Many who are regular readers aren’t atheist, and are still Christians,in all states of growth or being,one might say. Stereotypes don’t apply to this situation.
New King James Version
Pray for the lost.
Matthew 6:5. Stop making a public spectacle of your prayers and do them in private.