Recently, an Evangelical man by the name of John sent me a short email that said:
Bruce, guess someone really hurt you to make you so bitter. I’m sorry that happened to you. I am confused as to why you blame a Good [sic] you don’t believe in for all your issues?
As to faith, i guess in 100 years we’ll both know who made the right life choices.
John is one person in a large breed of Evangelicals who have supernatural discernment skills, enabling them to psychoanalyze people they have never met. John stumbled upon this site, read a few posts, and then passed judgment on my life: “Bruce, [I] guess someone really hurt you to make you so bitter.” Long-time readers know I have repeatedly answered this false assertion. I am not bitter, though after being told by 6,666,666 Evangelicals that I am, I’m starting to feel bitter. Not really. The Johns of the world are little more than pesky gnats buzzing around my head on a hot, humid Ohio summer day. A quick swat or clap of the hands, and the offending gnat is no more.
Let me repeat once again for the Johns who might be lurking in the shadows: no one hurt me. (Please see I Wish Evangelical Christians Would Quit Treating Me Like an Abused Puppy.) I didn’t leave the ministry and Christianity because someone or a church hurt me in some way. Yes, there is an emotional component to my deconversion, but the ultimate reason for my loss of faith is that I no longer believed the central claims of Christianity. (Please see The Michael Mock Rule: It Just Doesn’t Make Sense.) Anyone who bothers to read the posts on the WHY page knows this. Unfortunately, the Johns of Christendom can’t be bothered with doing their homework, nor can they be bothered with making a good-faith effort to understand my story. I am not asking John to accept the reasons I left Christianity. All I want him to do is accept my story at face value. Surely, that’s not too much to ask.
John says, “I’m sorry that happened to you.” Sorry, WHAT happened to me? Nothing happened to me. Unlike some of the people who frequent this blog, I wasn’t sexually molested by a pastor, evangelist, missionary, or priest. There’s no deep, dark secret in my life that “explains” my loss of faith. At the end of the day, the reasons for my divorce from Jesus stem from the Bible and its teachings. I weighed the teachings of Christianity in the balance and found them wanting.
John, as is common among Evangelical critics, thinks I blame the Christian God for all that has befallen me. I am an atheist, so it would be absurd for me to blame God, any God, for my past and present experiences. John likely misunderstands my writing, which is a common problem when people don’t take the time to understand the purpose of this blog. I will often write from the Evangelical perspective; from the perspective of Bruce Gerencser, Evangelical pastor. Thus, when I write about God not answering my prayer, I write from the viewpoint of a devoted follower of Jesus Christ. It is that man who dares to question God and his indifference towards him. Atheist Bruce doesn’t believe God answers prayer. How could he, since God doesn’t exist?
John says, “As to faith, I guess in 100 years we’ll both know who made the right life choices.” John is being disingenuous. He doesn’t question which of us is right; he knows he is. That’s why he wrote to me. He knows that his “faith” is that which the Bible says has been “once delivered to the saints.” I have yet to meet an Evangelical who wasn’t cock-sure that he was right; that his theology and interpretation of the Protestant Christian Bible perfectly align with truth as revealed by his God. Granted, I am certain that the claims of Christianity are false. Not because a deity or guru told me they are. No, I am convinced of this because I thoroughly and exhaustively studied both sides of the God question. I carefully examined Evangelical beliefs such as the inspiration, inerrancy, and infallibility of the Bible and the virgin birth and resurrection of Jesus from the dead, and concluded that such beliefs are false.
John is certain that eternal bliss awaits him, and eternal damnation awaits me. He’s certain that once I die, I will then know how wrong I was; that as the flames of Hell torment my God-created fireproof body, I will scream and shout, JOHN WAS RIGHT! Except John isn’t right, and unfortunately, when he dies, he won’t find out he was wrong. John will just be d-e-a-d, end of story. Neither of us is going to know how right or wrong he was because we will no longer walk among the living. It will be left to our family, friends, and acquaintances to render final judgment on our lives. John and I will go the way of all men — to the grave. In time, we will be but a distant memory in the minds of our loved ones, a footnote in human history, forgotten by those who promised they wouldn’t.
John says, “in 100 years.” I don’t know about John, but I don’t have 100 years left to live. Thanks to decades of chronic health problems and chronic pain, I doubt that I have a lot of years ahead of me. Most of my life is now in the rearview mirror, speeding by as I crawl to the finish line. I have no illusions about the future. The ugly specter of death is stalking me, and someday, sooner than later, I will meet my end. And when I do, I hope I leave behind the testimony of a well-lived life.
About Bruce Gerencser
Bruce Gerencser, 62, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 41 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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