A seventy-seven-year-old Evangelical man recently sent me the following email (his remarks are in italics, mine are in bold font) :
I will try to be spiritually pragmatic. And please accept this as genuine.
Genuine as opposed to what? I know you read the Comment Policy and the Dear Evangelical page, so I am at a loss as to why you would email me. You could have read some of the posts on the Why? page, but you chose not to. Instead, you read several articles and came to a “genuine” conclusion about my past and present spiritual condition.
Proverbs 18:13 says: If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.
Were you born again or was your Christian experience based on emotion and or philosophical psychological reasoning?
Yes, I was born again (born from above). I was, in every way, born again just like you. Would you like to whip out your born-again and compare it to mine so we can see who has/had the “real” born-again experience?
I remember the date, time, and place when Jesus saved me. I understand theologically what it means to be born again, and I suspect my born-again experience had an emotional/psychological component just like yours.
I ask because in my years I have seen a great deal of ‘make believe’ in Christendom based on emotion. The charismatic movement has been a very effective in making emotion THE primary motivation in many lives. I wonder if you had been recruited that way, or similar?
No. I was a part of the Christian church for fifty-years. I was an Evangelical pastor for twenty-five of those years. I think it is safe for me to say that I know what it means to be born again. Not only that, but hundreds of people were saved under my ministry and I personally led numerous people to Christ. I was a born-again pastor who took seriously my responsibility to lead sinners to faith.
I see the wheels turning in your mind as you try to square my story with your peculiar theology. I know that I once was a Christian and now I am not. Whether or not that fits your theological box matters not.
You would know this verse and it certainly seems applicable to your actions and mindset… “They left us, but they were not part of us, for if they had been part of us, they would have stayed with us. Their leaving made it clear that none of them was really part of us” (1st John 2:19).
Ah yes, time for a proof text or two so you can dismiss my story out of hand. I never was a Christian, according to you. If I had been, I would still be a Christian. I do hope you realize how absurd a thought this is. It’s akin to you saying I was never married even though I have evidence to the contrary. If I divorce my wife, that means we were never married. Of course we were married once upon a time. I have a marriage certificate and a lifetime of experiences that prove we were married. Just because we divorced doesn’t me we were never “really” married!
I take your profession of faith at face value. I would ask that you do the same for mine.
If this is the truth of the matter I have doubts you will be influenced now with any appeal to take a second look at the person of Jesus of Nazareth and his ministry. He said we MUST be born again. Being born again is of the spiritual realm not of any emotional, philosophical or psychological betterment.
Again, been there, done that, and lived it for most of my life.
Please read the posts of the Why? page. You might find some of these posts helpful:
I also encourage you to read The Michael Mock Rule: It Just Doesn’t Make Sense.
Our ‘fleshly’ existence cannot be improved by such effort for in reality our ego is still self centred; the universe revolves around ‘us’. As a Christian I must admit it still does, but I modify it a little by saying ‘my’ universe revolves around me.
Being born from above is a spiritual dimension yet within the confines of our human experience, and the two are generally at war with each other.
I am almost 77 and have fought this battle for 50 of those years. Ego has softened in my old age and spiritual warfare has quietened down to the occasional skirmish, consequently peace and joy tend to reign more often than not. O that I had learned the lessons earlier in life.
There is a great deal more to the Christian life than peace and joy, but that is another and even weightier matter.
Yes, according to the Bible, there is. Been there, done that. What more can I say?
Let me conclude by asking you a few questions: what did you hope to accomplish by contacting me? I would NEVER go to a Christian blog and email the owner about the falsity of Christianity. What, in your long life, suggests to you that this is appropriate behavior? It’s boorish and rude. Did God “lead” you to email me? If so, how do you know it was God leading you and not your ego? Have you contacted other atheist writers? If yes, how many of them repented and put their faith and trust in Jesus?
I hope you will thoughtfully ponder your reasons and motives for contacting me. Most of all, I hope you will think about whether this is a profitable way to engage atheists. Trust me, it’s not. I know the Bible inside and out. What could you possibly say that I haven’t heard before — often countless times? I have carefully weighed the claims of Christianity and found them wanting. There’s no argument you could make that would ever lead me back to the cuddly arms of Jesus. I’m not trying to be arrogant here; I’m just telling you how it is. Thousands have come before you, and to the man they have failed at their soul-saving mission.
I wish you well.
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.
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