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 You Can’t Believe Something Just Because Someone Else Desperately Wants You To . . .

please get saved

Evangelicals are known for pleading with non-Christians to put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ. Evangelicals have a very narrow view of the world and who will make it to Heaven after they die. Evangelicals are clear on the matter: Catholics, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Liberal Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, atheists, agnostics, humanists, pagans and, well, anyone who is not an Evangelical, will end up in Hell after death. Unless these people, by faith, repent and believe the Evangelical gospel, they are doomed for the Lake of Fire. This is why Evangelical zealots plead with non-Christians to ask Jesus to save them. Evangelicals genuinely don’t want non-Christians to be tortured by God for eternity. Well, most Evangelicals, anyway. I have received countless emails and blog comments from Evangelicals who find it quite satisfying that I will one day meet Jesus face to face and be punished for my sin. Several of them have even prayed for my soon demise. Sooner in Hell the better for Bruce Gerencser, right?

So Evangelicals beg and plead with family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers, hoping that they will be convicted by the Holy Spirit and ask Jesus to save them. Yet, despite this pathos, we unbelievers can’t or won’t embrace Evangelical Christianity. Just because Evangelicals really, really, really want us to be saved doesn’t mean that we lay reason aside and get saved. What kind of salvation would it be if we could be argued, badgered, or emotionally manipulated into believing?

You would think that Evangelicals would support the full disclosure of what becoming a Christian requires. Shouldn’t unbelievers have all the evidence and facts before deciding whether to believe? As with many con artists, however, Evangelicals frequently withhold truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Instead, evangelization targets are given just enough information — Four Spiritual Laws, The Romans Road — to get them to pray the sinner’s prayer. (Please see The Top Five Reasons People Say the Sinner’s Prayer) All the other stuff is withheld until converts can be thoroughly indoctrinated. Why not disclose everything upfront? Simple. Evangelical pastors and churches know that doing so would result in far fewer converts. Telling people upfront that they will be required to give ten percent of their gross income to the church, along with other offerings, would quickly run off most prospective Christians. Better to tell them AFTER they are saved that the church and pastor, I mean GOD, requires ten percent of their income each and every Sunday, no questions asked.

For those of us who spent years and years in the Evangelical church, this withholding of information doesn’t work. I was part of the Christian church for fifty years, an Evangelical pastor for twenty-five of those years. I know all there is to know about Christian theology and church history. I know what goes on behind closed doors, and I know where the proverbial bodies are buried. My unrepentant unbelief is not due to a lack of knowledge. I know all I need to know, and it is for that reason I reject the Christian gospel. I know there are people who really, really, really want me to believe, but I can’t. Doing so, would run contrary to what I know about Christianity in general and Evangelicalism in particular. I have weighed Christianity in the balance and found it wanting. And so it is for many of the thousands of people who read this blog.  (Please read The Michael Mock Rule: It Just Doesn’t Make Sense.)

Winning me over to Jesus requires more evidence than what Christians currently possess. I know my believing would make everyone from Polly’s parents to lurking Evangelicals happy, but I can’t violate my conscience. I know what I know, and until new evidence is presented, I will remain an unwashed, uncircumcised Philistine. (Please see the WHY page for other posts about why I am no longer a Christian.)

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.

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    But they don’t believe that, do they? Don’t they really believe that everyone who isn’t IFB is rebelling, angry at God and refusing to follow him? They can’t conceive of a world where their God doesn’t exist to everyone. They are caught up and refuse to see reality.

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    The issue of belief is one of the aspects of religion that I find most troubling. If I’m to be held to account for my beliefs, rather than for my actions, then I’m being treated unfairly. We are told that god gave us free will (that’s another issue for another time!) yet if we don’t believe in him then we are doomed. Just where is the free will in that? If the choice is genuinely between eternal salvation (assuming that’s good) and eternity in hell (assuming unpleasant) then it’s not a free choice.

    Of course, the whole thing is made much more complex for the outsider by making it so unreasonable, as the Michael Mock rule shows. I’d argue that it’s so unreasonable that no person of normal rational function could possibly believe it if they aren’t first culturally immersed in it; if it were otherwise then people from outside the Christian world would be flocking to it.

    So I’d say to an apologist, rather than trying to make me believe in one fell swoop, present me with some evidence, just one thing, that suggests your belief might be true, let me consider and challenge it, then I’ll decide whether to pursue the matter. I’ve thrown down this challenge many times and I’m still waiting.

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    I despise the Christianese word “convicted”.

    When I look back on my years in fundamentalist evangelical Christianity, I recall the feeling of bring trapped. There was so much about our condition we were taught was out of our control, such as our “sinful nature”, that God couldn’t countenance our existence except if we accepted the blood sacrifice of himself/his son, that we were then bound to be his worshipful servants for all eternity and better like it, that everything should be surrendered to his service, that our friends who were different (gay, bisexual, of other religions, etc) were evil sinners bound for hell and we shouldn’t be with them except to proselytize, that all media were corrupt, etc. Pastor Bruce out there preaching at people on the street corner was literally what we were supposed to be like under this system, and I didn’t want that for my life. As a teen, I was depressed and angry but couldn’t articulate why. As an adult I understand why.

    But really, if one truly believes all that, where is the choice?

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    I am not sure that this is true, the title of this entry, Bruce. In fact, I did as a child desperately believe what was wanted of me and feared hellfire so much that I begged to be saved, wept and shook and begged. As an adult of course it all fell apart but I would say that children born into delusionary worlds are not able to simply not-believe and instead readily adopt the wild untruths of their world, their caregivers. They know they are being harmed but the delusion demands it and preaches it with scripture! I call it child-abuse now that I am free of the delusion but I fucking believed every bit of it as a little kid and tore my fingernails out to comply! Later, as ObstacleChick has shared, I too became angry and depressed. The human body is not meant for the harm brought on by Christianity.Dear Jesus of Nazareth, I honestly think you were a fucking bully and that your father was a prick of the first order. Why couldn’t you have encouraged healthy living without telling people to sheep-up and flock behind you? You should have told your father to fuck off long before he put you on the Cross, huh? Instead of bullshitting about dying for others. You died for sick daddy, not me.

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    Maybe some of the Christian visitors can explain something to me. Why does Christianity/salvation have to be believed to be effective? It reminds me of the way Wile E. Coyote doesn’t fall down until he looks down. While that is fine for cartoons, in the real world gravity works whether you believe it or not. If we assume God, though allegedly supernatural, is as much a part of nature as something like gravity then why does it ONLY work if you believe it?

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    So how can any person who believes even one of their family or close friends is destined for eternal torture experience any happiness or peace in believing in their own salvation? Will they still have memories of their loved ones in the next life or will these relationships be wiped from their memories forever lest they cause psychic pain, which certainly can’t exist in heaven? These are logical issues with religion that along with countless others cannot be satisfactorily resolved, so are just ignored. Now that I have rejected religion I can look at these and see how crazy it all is

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