Dear Jesus

Jesus

Painting by Jessie Kohn

Dear Jesus,

I’m sixty-two years old, and there has never been a moment when you were not in my life.

Mom and Dad talked about you before I was born, deciding to have me baptized by an Episcopal priest. They wanted me to grow up with good morals and love you, so they decided putting water on my forehead and having a priest recite religious words over me was the way to ensure my moral Christian future.

A few weeks after my birth, Mom and Dad gathered with family members to have me baptized. I was later told it was quite an affair, but I don’t remember anything about the day. Years later, I found my baptismal certificate. Signed by the priest, it declared I was a Christian.

Jesus, how could I have been a Christian at age four weeks? How did putting water on my head make me a follower of you? I don’t understand, but according to the certificate I was now part of my tribe’s religion: Protestant Christianity.

I turned five in 1962. Mom and Dad decided to move 2,300 miles to San Diego, California, believing that success and prosperity awaited them.

After getting settled, Mom and Dad said we need to find a new church to attend. Their shopping took them to the growing Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) congregation pastored by Tim LaHaye. It was here that I learned that my tribe had a new religion: Fundamentalist Christianity.

I quickly learned that our previous religion worshipped a false God, and my baptism didn’t make me a Christian at all. If I wanted to be a True Christian®, I had to come forward to the front of the church, kneel at the altar, and pray a certain prayer. If I did these things, I would then be a Christian — forever. And so I did. This sure pleased Mom and Dad.

Later, I was baptized again, but the preacher didn’t sprinkle water on my forehead. That would not do, I was told. True Baptism® required me to be submerged in a tank of water. And so, one Sunday, I joined a line of people waiting to be baptized. I was excited, yet scared. Soon, it came time for me to be dunked. The preacher put his left hand behind my head and raised his right hand towards Heaven. He asked, “Bruce, do you confess before God and man that Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior?” With a halting child’s voice, I replied, “Yes.” And with that, the preacher, with a hanky in his right hand, put his hand over my nose, dunked me in the water, and quickly lifted me up. I heard both the preacher and the congregation say, “Amen!”

Jesus, the Bible says that the angels in Heaven rejoice when a sinner gets saved. Do you remember the day I got saved? Do you remember hearing the angels in Heaven say, “Praise to the Lamb that was slain! Bruce Gerencser is now a child of God. Glory be, another soul snatched from the hands of Satan?”

After a few years in California, Mom and Dad discovered that there was not a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, and our family was just as poor in the Golden State as they were in dreary, flat rural northwest Ohio. And so we moved, a process that happened over and over to me throughout the next decade — eight different schools.

As I became more aware and observant of my environment, I noticed that Mom and Dad had changed. Mom, in particular, was quite animated and agitated over American social unrest and the war in Vietnam. Mom and Dad took us to a new church, First Baptist Church in Bryan, Ohio — an IFB church pastored by Jack Bennett. We attended church twice on Sunday and on Wednesday evening.

I attended Bryan schools for two years. Not long after I started fourth grade, Mom and Dad decided it was time to move yet again. This time, we were moving to a brand new tri-level home on Route 30 outside of Lima, Ohio. It was there that I started playing basketball and baseball — sports I would continue to play competitively for the next twenty years. It was also there than I began to see that something was very wrong with Mom. At the time, I didn’t understand what was going on with her. All I knew is that she could be “Mom” one day and a raging lunatic the next.

I was told by my pastors, Jesus, that you know and see everything. Just in case you were busy one day and missed what went on or were on vacation, let me share a few stories about what happened while we lived in Lima.

One night, Mom was upstairs, and I heard her screaming. She was having one of her “fits.” I decided to see if there was anything I could do to help her — that’s what the oldest child does. As I walked towards Mom’s bedroom, I saw her grabbing shoes and other things and violently throwing them down the hallway. This was the first time I remember being afraid . . .

One day, I got off the school bus and quickly ran to our home. I always had to be the first one in the door. As I walked into the kitchen, I noticed that Mom was lying on the floor in a pool of blood. She had slit her wrists. I quickly ran to the next-door neighbor’s house and asked her to help. She quickly summoned an ambulance, and Mom’s life was saved.

Mom would try again, again, and again to kill herself: slitting her wrists, overdosing on medication, driving in front of a truck. At the age of fifty-four, she succeeded. One Sunday morning, Mom went into the bathroom, pointed a Ruger .357 at her heart, and pulled the trigger. She quickly slumped to the floor and was dead in minutes. Yet, she never stopped believing in you, Jesus. No matter what happened, Mom held on to her tribe’s God.

Halfway through my fifth-grade year, Mom and Dad moved to Farmer, Ohio. I attended Farmer Elementary School for the fifth and sixth grades. One day, I was home from school sick, and Mom’s brother-in-law stopped by. He didn’t know I was in my bedroom. After he left, Mom came to my room crying, saying, “I have been raped. I need you to call the police.” I was twelve. Do you remember this day, Jesus? Where were you? I thought you were all-powerful? Why didn’t you do anything?

From Farmer, we moved to  Deshler, Ohio for my seventh-grade year of school. Then Mom and Dad moved us to Findlay, Ohio. By then, my parents’ marriage was in shambles. Dad never seemed to be home and Mom continued to have wild, manic mood swings. Shortly before the end of ninth grade, Dad matter-of-factly informed me that they were getting a divorce. “We don’t love each other anymore,” Dad said. And with that, he turned and walked away, leaving me to wallow in my pain. That’s how Dad always treated me. I can’t remember a time when he embraced me or said “I love you.” I would learn years later that “Dad” was not my biological father. I wonder, Jesus, was this why he kept me at arm’s length emotionally?

After moving to Findlay, Mom and Dad joined Trinity Baptist Church — a fast-growing IFB congregation pastored by Gene Millioni. After Mom and Dad divorced, they stopped attending church. Both of them quickly remarried. Dad married a nineteen-year-old girl with a baby, and Mom married her first cousin — a recent prison parolee. So much upheaval and turmoil, Jesus. Where were you when all of this was going on? I know, I know, you were there in spirit.

Mom and Dad may have stopped going to church, but I didn’t. By then, I had a lot of friends and had started dating, so there was no way I was going to miss church. Besides, attending church got me away from home, a place where Dad’s new and improved wife made it clear I wasn’t welcome.

One fall weeknight, I sat in church with my friends listening to Evangelist Al Lacy. I was fifteen. As is the custom in IFB churches, Lacy prayed at the end of his sermon, asking, “with every head bowed and every eye closed, is there anyone here who is not saved and would like me to pray for them?” I had been feeling under “conviction” during the sermon. I thought, “maybe I not saved?” So, I raised my hand. Lacy prayed for those of us who had raised our hands and then had everyone stand. As the congregation sang Just as I am, Lacy said, “if you raised your hand, I want you to step out of your seat and come to the altar. Someone will meet you there and show you how you can know Jesus as your Lord and Savior.” Much to the surprise of my friends, I haltingly stepped out from my seat and walked to the front. I was met by Ray Salisbury — a church deacon. Ray had me kneel as he took me through a set of Bible verses called the Roman’s Road. After quizzing me on what I had read, Ray asked me if I wanted to be saved. I said, “yes,” and then Ray said, “pray this prayer after me: Dear Lord Jesus, I know I am a sinner and I know you died on the cross for my sins. Right now, I ask you to forgive me of my sins and come into my heart and save me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.” After I prayed the prayer, Ray said “AMEN!” “Did you really believe what you prayed?” I replied, “yes.” “Then you are now a child of God, a born-again Christian.”

The next Sunday, I was baptized, and the Sunday after that, I went forward again, letting the church know that you, Jesus, were calling me to preach. I was all in after that. For the next thirty-five years, Jesus, I lived and breathed you. You were my life, the sum of my existence.

At the age of nineteen, I enrolled in classes at Midwestern Baptist College in Pontiac, Michigan. It was here I received training to become a proper IFB pastor, and it was here I met the love of my life, a beautiful dark-haired preacher’s daughter. We married during the summer between our sophomore and junior years. We were so excited about our new life, thrilled to be preparing to work in God’s vineyard. We planned to graduate, go to a small community to start a new IFB church, buy a white two-story house with a white picket fence, and have two children: Jason and Bethany, and live happily ever after. However, Jesus, you had different plans for us. Do you remember what happened to us? Surely you do, right? Friends and teachers told us that you were testing us!  By early spring, Polly was six months pregnant and I was laid off from my machine shop job. We were destitute, yet, the college dean told us, “Jesus, wants you to trust him and stay in college.” No offer of financial help was forthcoming, and we finally had to move out of our apartment. With my tail between my legs, I packed up our meager belongings returned to Bryan, Ohio. I had failed your test, Jesus. I still remember what one of my friends told me, “If you leave now, God will NEVER use you!”

What did he know, right? After moving, I quickly secured secular employment and began working at a local IFB church. For the next twenty-five years, I pastored Evangelical churches in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Jesus, you were my constant companion, my lover, friend, and confidante. I sure loved you, and I believed you loved me too.We BFF’s, right?  Sometimes, I wondered if you really loved me as much I love you. Our love affair was virtual in nature. We never met face-to-face, but I believed in my heart of hearts you were the very reason for my existence. When I doubted this, I attributed my doubts to Satan or to me not praying hard enough or reading the Bible enough. I never thought for one moment, Jesus, that you might be a figment of my imagination, a lie taught to me by my parents and pastors. I was a true believer. That is until I wasn’t.

At age fifty, I finally realized, Jesus, that you were a myth, the main character of a 2,000-year-old fictional story. I finally concluded that all those times when I wondered where you were, were in fact, true. I couldn’t find you because you were dead. You had died almost 2,000 years before. The Bible told me about your death, but I really believed that you resurrected from the dead. I feel so silly now. Dead people don’t come back to life. Your resurrection from the dead was just a campfire story, and I had foolishly believed it. I guess I shouldn’t be too hard on myself. Everyone I knew believed the same story. All of us believed that the miracles attributed to you, Jesus, really happened; that you were a virgin-born God-man; that you ascended to Heaven to prepare a mansion for us to live in after we die.

It all seems so silly, now, but Jesus, I really did believe in you. Fifty years, Jesus. The prime of my life, I gave to you, only to find out that you were a lie. Yet, here I am today, and you are still “with” me. My parents, pastors, and professors did a good job of indoctrinating me. You are very much “real” to me, even though you lie buried somewhere on a Judean hillside. Try as I might, I can’t get you out of my mind. I have come to accept that you will never leave me.

You should know, Jesus — well, you can’t know, you are dead — that I spend my days helping people get away from you. What did you say, Jesus? I can’t hear you. I can hear the voices of Christians condemning me as a heretic, blasphemer, and hater of God. I can hear them praying for my death and threatening me with eternal damnation in the Lake of Fire. Their voices are loud and clear, but your voice, Jesus? Silence.

Always silent, Jesus. Why is that?

If you ever want to talk to me, you know where I live. Show up at my door, Jesus, and that will be a miracle I can believe in. Better yet, if you can help the Cincinnati Bengals win their last six games, well, I just might rethink your existence. Not going to happen, I know. The Bengals are going to bungle their way to an 0-16 record.

If you can’t help my football team win a few games, Jesus, what good are you? It’s not like I am asking you to feed the hungry, heal the sick, or put an end to violence and war. That would require you to give a shit, Jesus, and if there’s one thing I have learned over the past sixty-two years, it is this: you don’t give a shit about what happens on earth. We humans are on our own, and that’s fine with me.

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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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53 Comments

  1. Brian Vanderlip

    Somehow, some way, people survive horrendously brutal reality. They not only do that but they also help others day by day. They don’t require obedience, subservience, or even that we agree with them: They just give, knowing as a loving parent knows, that giving is natural living, human. Thankful today, for your writing, Bruce. In Monterey for a few days and have no keyboard but this phone to comment. This heartfelt truth post has deeply touched me.

    Reply
  2. ObstacleChick

    This was beautiful, Bruce. Sad, touching, vulnerable. I wish Jesus had been an actual powerful being who could have helped you.

    Reply
  3. William Taber

    I feel like a born-again atheist. We are all born without religion. Then many of us are indoctrinated by the tribe into a religion they were taught, to praise a god they were taught surely exists, who was righteous and good and will watch over and guide us.

    If we are lucky enough, our critical thinking reveals that the story is highly unlikely. that the evidence against such a “truth” is evident all around us every day, that the path to righteousness is to treat others as we would like to be treated. It seems so simple, and yet so perfect. If everyone did so, we would have a perfect world.

    Indeed, if god existed as all knowing, all powerful, and all benevolent, he would surely bless us all with that one wisdom. But he did not, and will not, and therefore the invention os his existence is revealed to be a fraud. I am born again – the atheist I was originally.

    Reply
  4. Sean

    Powerful and creative way to tell your story. I might borrow a version of your idea someday (don’t sue me). You have a gift for writing, because I felt a hint of your boyhood pain, fear, and anxiety–a major accomplishment considering decades have passed since much of it happened. It struck me that so many of us reach out to what ends up being an unreal and messed up concept of God to alleviate our pain and to dispel uncertainty. About midway through your story, a spontaneous thought came to mind: Bruce is trying to inflict on God what he experienced. After finishing the story, I decided to send this reply, in the remote chance it speaks to you.

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Oh it “spoke” to me, Sean, but not in the way you imagined. What I hear you saying is that I had a messed up concept of God — but you don’t , you have a “right” God — and I inflicting my past experiences on God. So which is it ?Do I have a messed up concept of God or do I have a right concept of God, and I’m just pissed, trying to inflict the pain I’ve experienced on God.

      You do know I’m an atheist, right, so this post, much like the Why I Hate Jesus post, should be taken allegorically, metaphorically, poetically, mixed in with real life experiences.

      Jesus wasn’t there, of course, because he couldn’t be — he is d-e-a-d.

      Reply
  5. Sean

    Bruce,
    Hoping this reaches you before my previous message. I read the posting/commenting rules after sending the message and hope my thoughts did not sound preachy or implied that I felt “led” to message you. Well, I guess I did feel led, though! Anyway, I meant it respectfully and hope it came across that way. I enjoyed reading your story and plan to check back again sometime. And if you decide against posting the comment, I respect that. In fact, I wrote it to you, not for the sake of commenting. In Chris . . . oops. God ble . . . oops. Peace out, Sean

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      You said what you wanted to say, end of discussion.

      Reply
  6. Mike

    Bruce, Are you familiar with the song “AND WHEN I DIE” by BLOOD, SWEAT,and TEARS? Some of the lyrics;
    “Troubles are many,there as deep as a well
    I swear there ain’t no heaven,but I pray there ain’t no hell
    Swear there ain’t no heaven, but I pray there ain’t no hell
    But I’ll never know by living,
    Only my dying will tell.”
    You sure have had, and continue to have, you’re share of troubles in life.
    I have followed your blogs since around 2011. I love to read. Your writing of your experiences in life have been helpful to me in sorting out my own experience within the IFB church. I very well may have been in a church service with you during one of Jack Hyles Monday/Tuesday appearances at one of the Washington County Ohio IFB churches in the early/ mid 1980’s. You address events and issues that are pretty much off limits in the churches I’ve been a part of. For that I thank you. Many things have troubled me in the IFB church. I am unable to discuss those troubles with IFB pastors or my “brothers & sisters” in Christ due to the IFB Church sub culture ( gossip,rebellious attitude,influenced by the devil,been selfish or not reading the Bible enough and not praying enough, I think you know how it goes), but I can read your blog posts.
    So again, Thank You, Bruce, for being open and honest.
    As the song lyrics go, “Troubles are many…” . We all have our troubles . You’ve been a help to me with some of my troubles. Best wishes to you and your family.
    *I’m also a Cincinnati Bengals fan. I really don’t believe Jesus cares one way or the other about the Bengals won/loss record. I’ve been watching that franchise self destruct since 1970.:-) There’s always next year.

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Thanks, Mike.. I’m not familiar with this song.

      And you are a Bengals fan. “Watching the franchise self-destruct” pretty well explains all things Bengals. At least the Reds give me hope from time to time😀

      Reply
  7. MJ Lisbeth

    Bruce, this is a testament to the damage indoctrination into a fairy tale does to us. But it also reveals what true
    “redemption” is: Freedom from lies, freedom to the truth. Thank you!

    Reply
  8. Melissa A Montana

    So sad, and it brought back so many memories of my childhood. Thanks for sharing, Bruce.

    Reply
  9. Sean

    Bruce, I meant I often have a messed up image of God, let alone anyone else. In your story, you had walked the aisle, repeated prayer for salvation, etc., and years later concluded Jesus was dead. So, you had been reaching out to what you now consider nothing, or praying to a dead man you honestly thought was alive.

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      If you read my writing (and based on the logs this is the only post you read), you know that I had many versions of God as a Christian. You seized on one version of God and judged accordingly. The bigger picture you should have seen in this post is the fact that Christians say/the Bible says/preachers preach that Jesus is always present; a friend who sticks closer than a brother; promises to never leave or forsake us, when, in fact, Jesus is no different from Baal in 1 Kings 18 — AWOL.

      This post is the musings of an old man; a man who has experienced a bit of life; a man who has see known pain, suffering, and loss. This man concluded that God was nowhere to be found when it mattered. And therein is the question that Christian apologists have failed to answer (at least to my satisfaction): why is there evil in the world and why is there pain and suffering.

      Humanist Bruce looks back at his life and says, “shit happens.” All any of us can do is learn from our experiences. Suffering and heartache should makes us more loving and compassionate. Jesus may be AWOL, but I don’t have to be.

      Reply
      1. Zoe

        Bruce: ” Jesus may be AWOL, but I don’t have to be.”

        Zoe: So true Bruce. So true.

        Reply
  10. Sean

    This is the only article of yours I’ve read, but I intend to read many more. You express yourself clearly and powerfully, and I truly respect that. If nothing else, I hope, selfishly, to benefit from learning how you think, reflect, and relate. Thank you for responding and letting me visit.

    Reply
  11. Steve Ruis

    I rejected my religious training when I was 13, sixty years ago, and I find your letter above heart wrenching. I also laud your bravery in posting your story so others can read it and realize that they are not alone.

    Thank you.

    Reply
  12. fivehundredpoundpeep

    thanks so much for this, I relate to all of it. Do you ever think about how trauma may bring people into religion especially fundamentalism? Is this a topic you ever have written on? Trauma especially early and extreme stressors can make people more vulnerable to religion. I deconverted at 10 years old from the Catholic church, never believed it, out and with the UUs by 17. I have examined my life and asked how in the hell did those fundies get a hold of me in my early 30s? Moving to a rural area, being so sick with one medical problem that took over 17 years to get diagnosed , seeing too much, my life in shambles, I fell for the biggest trick in the book, believing God would help me. What a joke that was.

    https://fivehundredpoundpeeps.blogspot.com/2018/09/the-psychological-harms-of-bible.html

    My conversion in, was definitely trauma driven as I converted in three weeks after almost dying in the hospital and losing my most of my hearing. I too like you thought Jesus would help, comfort and guide me. Christians always get nasty here to deconverts and tell us things like “Oh you think you can make demands of God!”, like I expected God to give me a suitcase full of 50s and 100s, instead of just showing up to offer some of those biblical promises like “caring” or even giving a damn. If I die and find out I was ‘wrong’ and some celestial monster wants to cast me into hell, I will say to it’s face, “Well where the hell were you before?” “Always Silent” sums things up well.

    Reply
  13. John Roberts

    Very moving and powerful. Thank you

    Reply
  14. Edwidge Sejour-Gonzalez

    Hi Bruce 🙂

    I tripped onto your site via a post you wrote about something I was researching.

    You should know that I am a believer– though completely unfamiliar with the Fundamentalist-something-or-other (seems like that’s a good thing)– even after reading a few of your sincere, very well-written and funny posts. 🙂

    Your honest story is touching and heart-breaking, and I can CERTAINLY appreciate how and why you’ve come to the place where you are. Although my story isn’t as devastating as yours, I can actually relate.

    I too left Christianity/”Churchianity” (it, tragically, can be pretty hard to find Him there)– but NOT Him.

    Untethered from all nonsense, I’m freer than I’d been previously to live like the Savior. (not throwing out the proverbial baby with the astoundingly stinky bathwater)

    Before I go on, please know that I have NO intention of discounting you, your experience, your heart or present vantage point by … telling you you’re wrong; preaching to you; quoting Bible verses to you; evangelizing you (whatever that means); charging you with Biblical ignorance; or even telling you that God still loves you.

    Why? Because you don’t want to hear it— and I truly respect that.

    I’m not going to pray for you– not here anyway 😉

    I’m not going to tell you that you were never a “Christian” (nor that you should even aspire to be, by our Western understanding of the term) and that you’re going to hell; neither will I tell you that you’re “saved” and can never be “un-saved” (So, you’ve really gotten that?)

    Similarly, telling you that you’re a false prophet, a wolf in sheep’s clothing … that you’re angry, bitter, hurt, fat, have a meaningless life, etc. would be quite the exercise in futility, for if you are these things, it’s my humble opinion you know it, and yet you stand where you stand. If you are not these things, my self-assured declarations to the contrary would accomplish what exactly?

    Finally, I am deeply sorry that people have wished for you to burn in hell (whether you believe in it or not is of no consequence) or that God would kill you.

    I do happen to know you’ll die, lol, but when and what you’ll find then, I do not know. And, of course, I know nothing about you beyond what you’ve chosen to share.

    It is my hope that YHVH will come to you directly. The heart He touches personally is the heart that abides.

    But I will say no more, nor will I write again, only because, like I said, my landing on your site was unintentional in the first place.

    You will find my email address is real, lol, but should you decide to write back, I only ask that you please show me the same courtesy I’ve shown you, which is to say … respecting your path and unbelief while holding fast to my belief.

    Warmly,
    E

    Reply
    1. ... Zoe ~

      Edwidge Sejour-Gonzalez January 27, 2020 at 9:04 pm

      “Before I go on, please know that I have NO intention of . . . ”

      Zoe: And then Edwidge goes on quite intentionally hitting all the marks like a pro. Nope. Edwidge is not one of those Christians. Nope. He’s a better Christian.

      Edwidge: “It is my hope that YHVH will come to you directly.”

      Zoe: But remember,

      Edwidge: “I have NO intention of . . . Why? Because you don’t want to hear it— and I truly respect that.”

      Zoe: Yet you made sure he heard it Edwidge. Respect? Hardly.

      When all is said and done you still lay out your own brand of believer evangelism. Not any different than any other Christian believer including those fundamentalists you’re unfamiliar with that comes along hoping they’ll lay down their sincerity and Bruce will take the bait.

      Why you can even email me Bruce like he hasn’t had that offer a kazillion times before.

      Edwidge: “You will find my email address is real, lol, but should you decide to write back, I only ask that you please show me the same courtesy I’ve shown you, which is to say … respecting your path and unbelief while holding fast to my belief.”

      Oh and by the way Bruce, if you do chose to take up my cross and email me, please try and respect me like I’ve respected you.

      Edwidge you show no sign of respect at all. You don’t even seem to realize it.

      Reply
      1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

        Thank you, thank you , thank you, for saying exactly what I wanted to say, but had no energy to do so. 😀😀

        Reply
        1. ... Zoe ~

          You are most welcome. 🙂

          Reply
  15. kay derrick

    dearest bruce,
    your life, your story very much affected me. but i need to tell you something. Jesus is real. I know Him personally. I have spoken to Him. And you will meet Him one day soon. The gospel that “if you know Christ, you will be safe, healthy, and rich” is a false gospel. Its a prosperity gospel. To know Christ is to suffer. I have suffered, I will suffer. Millions around the world suffer and die. This world is broken and fallen and sinful. Jesus is the answer to that. And I want you to know that I love you Bruce. I am going to pray for you and pray that Jesus does come knocking on your door, and soon. And when He does, you need to tell everyone, OK? Your words don’t scare me away or make me hate you or want you to go to hell. I have doubted God too. But its because I wanted not to believe. I didn’t want God to be in control. I thought I could be my god. But you are no more of a sinner than I. I have done and said and thought horrible things. Jesus didn’t come to save the healthy perfect ones, he came for you and me.
    XO,
    K Derrick

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      sigh

      Reply
    2. Astreja

      Kay, I don’t know how you managed to do it, but after reading your post Christianity is even less appealing to me than it was five minutes ago.

      You hit a lot of spots on my Believer BINGO card: Telling a total stranger that you love him; seeing this gorgeous little blue world as broken; claiming you know a real-life Jesus.

      Oh, and Buddhism set the gold standard regarding the problem of suffering, nearly 500 years before the first Christian-sighting. Here’s the funny thing: It provided an elegant, non-superstitious solution to the problem, one that doesn’t involve long-weekend human sacrifices and knock-down-drag-out wars between good and evil. Hint: It’s a “path” of specific behaviours to rein in one’s desires and gain mastery over one’s own thinking processes.

      The Stoics came up with an even more elegant solution: Focus your energies only on things you can control.

      Christianity is a complicated, convoluted “cure” that has to create bogus problems like “sin” so that it can pretend to solve them.

      Reply
    3. John Arthur

      So you talk to an invisible person that you call Jesus. Which of the over 40,000 versions of Jesus do you talk to? If you say the bible Jesus, then there are over 40,000 different interpretations of the bible Jesus. So what makes you think that your version of Jesus is the correct one?

      If Jesus is dead then it won’t matter how much you pray for people, Jesus won’t be able to hear you.

      You say that you don’t hate Bruce or want him to go to hell, but you seem to believe in the concept of hell. Only a barbaric savage would torture people by putting them in flames forever to suffer unspeakable torture for finite “sins” committed in finite time by finite persons.

      The concept of “sin” is a religious construct. We are all fallible human beings so forget the rubbish that is often called sin and practice compassion, tender mercy and loving-kindness. Don’t hate yourself, or cause others to hate themselves, by talking about “sin”, Dead people can’t “save” anyone but human kindness can inspire, uplift and ennoble human persons and heal broken relations, not rabbiting on about “sin”.

      Reply
  16. Aloha

    I felt the same way when I turned about 45, woke up one day and thought what was I thinking? That day I went out with a friend and ended up going to a little book store, the owner opened my eyes to a whole new way of thinking. Thank you for writing this and for your web site!

    Reply
  17. Han

    If I had that life you had, I would not be a Christian also. Thank you for telling your story.

    Reply
  18. Bobby

    Incredible story! I feel for you! I’m not being sarcastic but it’s hard to say I’ll pray for you. But I will pray for you!

    Reply
    1. Grammar Gramma

      You don’t need to pray for any of us, Bobby. It does absolutely no good, but if it makes you feel better, go ahead. We’re good without gods here – any gods.

      Reply
    2. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      You do realize telling me that you are “praying” for me is, at every level, offensive. Imagine if I worshiped the Cat God and you didn’t. Imagine if I decided to offer up kittens in your name as a sacrifice to the Cat God. Would you be offended? Want to pray for me, have at it. No need to comment on my blog to tell me. Just make your prayer sacrifice without telling me. Your God will know and so will you. Isn’t that all that matters? You know this, yet you feel the “need” to try me that you are praying for me. Look, everyone masturbates, but I don’t want to know about it. Keep your “pleasure” to yourself.

      Reply
      1. Drmom

        I always wonder what comfort the Christians think they are bestowing when they tell me they are praying for me. Not asking, let alone following through, what they might give or do to help ease our distress. It’s like listening to a politician make another empty pledge; it sounds like brass. Or the opposite of the admonition to not make a show of prayer. Don’t get the logic…

        Reply
  19. Rico

    The stories all add up the same and deconversion is tough!!! I started doubting 9 years ago while in the middle of major missionary work in the slums of Jamaica. Unfortunately/fortunately, however, I saw so much suffering and tragedy where a simple God intervention would have made things right and NOTHING happened!!! The indoctrination is powerful. Here I am, 67 years old, and still going back and forth on this topic. Ultimately, however, practical advice and actions are what count. I continue along those lines. My wife is still an ardent believer and I am still well-known in ministry circles so I cannot just come out and shout my agnosticism and secular humanism. So I still have to walk a fine line while, however, listening to the platitudes that don’t work!!! Believers shouting about the Jesus Covid Vaccine!!! Are you kidding me!!! When is the last time we heard of somebody with heart trouble, just praying it away!!! They go to the cardio-thoracic surgeon but they congregate without a mask because Jesus is going to protect them from the virus based on Psalm 91. Enough of that foolishness and the other foolish theological points that simply don’t add up. Keep up the good work.

    Reply
  20. WARD W KELLY

    I feel sad for you Bruce, sad for the things you endured, and sad for the path you chosen. Your story of lost faith sounds as familiar as many others I’ve read such as Charles Templeton. I understand and agree with many of your criticisms of the American evangelical movement and the professional church, but what I don’t understand is the decision to become an atheist. As others I’ve read it usually revolves around the theme of “If God is good why does he allow evil?”. I can see the move to the left in a way, though politically they are no better than the right, as there is a growing leftist “evangelical movement. You said you served God from a leftist perspective for a time and I see others who maintain a sense of fulfillment in that place without rejecting God. Is it just as simple as God allowed bad things to happen in your life?

    Reply
    1. Grammar Gramma

      Ward, apparently you didn’t read much of Bruce’s blog before your god compelled you to feel sorry for Bruce. If you had checked out the posts on the “Why” page – particularly the one entitled “Why I Stopped Believing” – you would have found the answer to your questions. You would have learned that one of the foundational beliefs of Bruce’s Evangelical Christianity was that the bible was the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God, and he preached the same for many years. For health reasons, he left the ministry after about 25 years. At some point, he began to read Bart Ehrman and other authors, who challenged his Evangelical understanding of Christianity and its teachings. He began to realize that the bible is NOT the inspired, inerrant and infallible book he had believed it was. Once he shed his belief on infallibility, the rest of his beliefs about Christianity followed. It was a slow 3-year slide, during which time he studied the bible yet again, looking to solidify his beliefs. But the more he read, looking for answers, the more he realized that his faith was gone.
      You asked if his loss of faith is just as “simple” as some god allowing bad things to happen in his life. I would suggest to you that no one’s loss of faith can be called “simple,” and it is dismissive and disparaging of you to suggest otherwise. Plenty of regular readers of this blog will tell you they fought tooth and nail to hang onto their faith, once they started questioning it. But ultimately, they were unable to escape the truth that there is no god.
      Go away, Ward, and don’t come back until you have read all the posts on Bruce’s “Why” page. Oh, and a word to the wise (of which I suspect you are not one): don’t comment on a blogger’s life until you have explored the blog enough to understand where the blogger is coming from. The answers are usually right there.

      Reply
    2. Astreja

      Atheism isn’t a choice, Ward. It’s an observation. It’s a shift in perspective, largely involuntary, driven by an inability to reconcile religious concepts with the real world.

      Reply
    3. John Arthur

      Some people deconvert because they read the bible through thoroughly. Some of it seems to be written by very bloodthirsty, violent, and very ignorant savages who created god in their own likeness. e.g. The command of Yahweh, through the so-called prophet Samuel, for Saul and the Israelite army to kill all the Amalekites (including little children and babies for something the Amalekites are supposed to have done to Israel about 400 years beforehand. This is a command that is a command to murder defenseless children and babies who had absolutely no responsibility for what is alleged to have happened previously.

      As an Evangelical, how do you, Ward, square this with Jesus’ alleged statement “Let the little children come unto me, for such is the kingdom of heaven? How do you square it with Jesus’ word that we are to love our enemies and that God is kind (compassionate) to those who are considered to be ungrateful and wicked? How can it be ever kind to kill little children and babies?

      Reply
  21. WARD W KELLY

    Wow gramma you are exactly the type of person I would expect to encounter when engaging atheists, arrogant, rude, dismissive. I read all of Bruce’s story and that was why I asked him some questions because I interested in his transformation. I did not quote scripture or preach, I just asked questions because I didn’t find his story complete for my understanding. If you wish to continue hurling invectives be my guest I will not engage back. If Bruce chooses not to engage I will move on. For all you know I could be one of the persons on a three year path as you say, and you have chosen to represent atheists in the same manner as some Christians did Bruce. Not a good look.

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      You do know you leave a record of the pages you view on a website? So, you saying “I read all of Bruce’s story” is not quite accurate. The WHY page has a number of posts that should answer every question you might have. That said, I plan to answer your original comment in an upcoming blog post.

      You started your first comment with “I feel sad (sorry) for you.” For future reference, this is not a good way to engage former Christians.

      Reply
    2. Brian Vanderlip

      “Wow gramma you are exactly the type of person I would expect to encounter when engaging atheists, arrogant, rude, dismissive.”
      WARD W KELLY, when you realize that you have unrealistic expectations like the one above, perhaps it would be more useful to understand that they are YOUR preconceived feelings. It is not uncommon for Christians to have been drilled by ignorant believers to view those who do not believe as arrogant, rude and dismissive. Remember that this is how Christians ‘love’ others in America, by pointedly dismissing those not in the Bible-camp as interpreted by the local preacher. (Your query to Bruce is one that comes passing through this blog fairly often and quite often in sheep’s garb. It is your choice to read through the blog and see for yourself but you don’t do that because you are maybe interested in something else than what it is that you state outright…. Perhaps the engagement you seek is in reading Bruce’s extensive writing rather than reacting in truly generic mission form.

      Reply
  22. WARD W KELLY

    Yes you are correct I did not read every post but I did read your story and it was interesting. I look forward to your blog post. As far as feelibg sorry for you, I can’t help that it was my true emotion. Thanks for responding will check back on your post.

    Reply
    1. Brian Vanderlip

      WARD, we cannot help what we feel as human beings but we do have a choice to examine our own hearts and minds, to reflect a little and perhaps read further to garner more understanding. The big Belief does not encourage this kind of deepening. It is harsh and committed to harming self and others. You are born useless, and have a choice to give up the bag of shit you are by coming to Christ. Many of us here on this blog did exactly that, WARD and then realized later what a crock it all was and is… read some more and feel as sorry as you like but read.
      -old man son of a Baptist preacher

      Reply
  23. WARD W KELLY

    There is volumes of writing on this site, what would you suggest?

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Start here: https://brucegerencser.net/why/

      Reply
  24. WARD W KELLY

    I understand your defensiveness as no doubt you have had trolls. I am not here to disrespect anyone unless they disrespect me. My story is not like Bruce’s, and I’d be happy to share if anyone is interested, yet I have had an interest over tbe years in people’s perspectives who have abandoned the faith. I am not interested in the stories of those who were baptised as a child, but I’m interested in someone like Bruce who served in the church for years. Again I have not quoted scripture, nor preached just inquired. I read Bruce’s story and was intrigued. I left the site as I didn’t want to happen what is happening. But as I pondered what I read I felt compelled to come back. If you folks don’t want me here just say so I’ll leave.

    Reply
  25. WARD W KELLY

    Got it Bruce I did not read all those links I will check those out. Thanks

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)
  26. carnationcat

    Like most commenters (probably), I came here randomly, but when a blogger is such a good writer, telling the unique story of his life–and we all have one–one keeps reading. At least I do…plus all the comments! I’ll be back to read more later. In the meantime, I will be thinking about you and your story, but I won’t be praying for you. 🙂 I hope you don’t mind if I say how sad it was to read about your mom and your dad. Your mom especially. I can’t imagine anything worse for a child to experience, related to his mother, than the things you had to see and feel.

    Why do we readers feel compelled to comment? (Actually, I think most don’t, but…whatever.) I think it’s just what makes us human. If someone opens up to express such deep things in their heart, it’s a very cold listener or reader who doesn’t want to acknowledge it with some kind of response. Thank you for writing, and for being patient even with the responses you don’t like. I know the frustration of trying to explain myself to people who don’t understand and probably never will, and it makes me mostly stop trying. I admire you for “putting yourself out there.” 🙂

    Reply
  27. Roger Smoak

    OK you were right. I did not bother to read the WHY? Just because I didn’t ; I wish you had not become so hostile in your response. I really wasn’t trying to upset you though I definitely did. I also read your Dear Jesus which took me back to some of my earlier questions. Too bad you feel you need to justify why you don’t believe in Jesus because of your past hurts. To say you don’t believe the Bible to be the inerrant Word of God is one thing but to not believe in the Resurrection of Christ has sealed our discussions. Since you definitely gave your opinion on what you thought I wanted to hear, meaning you had already judged me, I will only say that I don’t sense this free happy life in your words. If your “Evangelical” walk was so miserable I’m surprised you made it as long as you did. Seems like something was missing between you and Jesus all those years. Anyway I wish you well but if the Resurrection did not happen then our preaching is useless and so is our faith. I hate that you have reached this point.

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Again, you assume to “know” things about me you cannot possibly know. You still don’t get it. Oh well, I tried.

      Reply
    2. Astreja

      Roger, I think that believing in the Resurrection is childish and gullible in the extreme — and that your preaching (especially here, of all places!) is useless.

      And if you can play mind-reader games, so can I. “Seems like” you’re protesting to stave off your fear that your own faith isn’t doubt-proof.

      Finally, you came here to Bruce’s site and implied that he was lying about his own experiences. You earned the hostility, fair and square. Own it.

      Reply
    3. J W

      One thing I take away from your comments, Roger Smoak, is how they confirm just how useless, detrimental, and–increasingly in my opinion–disgusting faith is. Instead of seeking truth, you just try to assert your faith on reality, whether that faith is about gods or something less grandiose such as your faith about why someone might have become an atheist, or the nature and extent of their past beliefs (eg: “something missing”). Faith just seems to lead one astray, further and further away from truth about the world, other people, God, or anything else for that matter.

      Reply
  28. Martijn Linssen

    Dear Bruce,

    I stumbled onto you via Twitter, yesterday or the day before, I think. Great post, I replied on Twitter – without any reference LOL. And you said “Thank you Martin”

    I’ve caught up now, read your Why, Hate Jesus, Dear Jesus, the letters, and the 4-post story of unbecoming – I had to swallow at your age being 5 when you did that thing. You never could have won, or done anything else. I never had a chance to not be raised Roman Catholic, and with the benefit of hindsight that has been one of the lesser evils really. I’m really glad I wasn’t in your shoes, I fear I would have gone in the same direction – we’re all made and maintained by our environment

    It’s amusing to see that you still want to do the right thing, even though you’re fully aware that such is something fairly to completely different, perhaps even opposite at points, to what you considered the right thing years or even decades ago.
    But that’s the thing, the bait: in the core, religions and spirituality are alike, and about doing the right thing – with all your heart, and mind. It’s only when you dig deeper where you find “other stuff”

    Thank you, and well done, you’re beautiful. I’m quite sure you won’t go to heaven, but it looks like you’re having a fine one around you right now

    Cheers,

    Martijn Linssen

    Reply

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