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A Former Parishioner Asks: Please Help Me Understand Why You Stopped Believing

why

Originally posted April 2015. Edited, updated, and expanded.

A former parishioner asks:

I just don’t understand how you could just decide you don’t believe any longer. I as you know am a Christian and I could never or would never lose my faith in God, but if I did I would like to think that it would be some type of horrible thing that happened to me to cause me to lose my faith in God. I am not judging you  I am just curious as to what happened to cause you to question and then lose your faith. You were such a good preacher, I learned so much from you I just don’t understand what happened. Please help me to understand.

I am quite sympathetic to those who once called me pastor/preacher. I know my deconversion causes them great pain as they attempt to reconcile the man of God they once knew with the atheist I am today. In some cases, the pain and cognitive dissonance is so great that they can’t bear to write or talk to me. One former pastor friend, the late Bill Beard, told me that I should keep my deconversion story to myself lest I cause others to lose their faith. (Please read Dear Friend.)

I try to put myself in the shoes of former parishioners. They listened to me preach, interacted with me on a personal level, and considered me a godly man. Perhaps I won them to Christ or baptized them or helped them through some crisis in their life. Maybe I performed their wedding or preached the funeral of their spouse, parent, or child. My life is intertwined with theirs, yet here I stand today, publicly renouncing all I once believed to be true; an atheist, an enemy of God. How is this possible, the former parishioner asks?

The email writer asks if some horrible thing happened to cause me to lose my faith. The short answer is no. Eleven years removed from deconverting and fourteen years since I preached my last sermon, I can now see that there were many factors that led me to where I am today. As with all life-changing decisions, the reasons are many. I could point to my disenchantment over the deadness, shallowness, and the emptiness of Evangelicalism; I could point to my loss of health and the poverty wages I earned pastoring churches. I could point to how fellow pastors and parishioners treated me when I left the ministry and later began to question my faith. (Please read Dear Family, Friends, and Former Parishioners.) I could point to my knowledge of lying, cheating, adulterous pastors. I could point to my anger towards those who readily abandoned me when I had doubts about the veracity of Christianity. I could point to the 100+ churches we visited as we desperately tried to find a church that took seriously the teaching of Jesus. (Please read But Our Church is Different.) I could point to the viciousness of professing Christians, people like my grandparents, who put on a good front but were judgmental and hateful towards my family and me. (Please read Dear Ann.) I could point to my bitter experience with Pat Horner and Community Baptist Church in Elmendorf, Texas. (Please read I Am a Publican and a Heathen.) All of these things played a part in my deconversion, but the sum of them would not have been enough to cause me to walk away from Christianity.

Several years ago, I wrote a post titled Why I Stopped Believing. I think an excerpt from this post will prove helpful in answering the question of why I no longer believe:

Since I never made much money in the ministry, there was no economic reason for me to stay in the ministry. I always made more money working outside of the church, so when I decided to leave the ministry, which I did three years before I deconverted, I suffered no economic consequences. In fact, life has gotten much better economically post-Jesus.

Freed from the ministry, my wife and I spent several years visiting over a hundred Christian churches. We were desperately looking for a Christianity that mattered, a Christianity that took seriously the teachings of Jesus. During this time period, I read countless books written by authors from a broad spectrum of Christendom. I read books by authors such as Thomas MertonRobert Farrar CaponHenri Nouwen, Wendell BerryBrian McLarenRob BellJohn Shelby SpongSoren Kierkegaard, and NT Wright.  These authors challenged my Evangelical understanding of Christianity and its teachings.

I decided I would go back to the Bible, study it again, and determine what it was I REALLY believed. During this time, I began reading books by authors such as Robert Wright Elaine Pagels and Bart Ehrman, These three authors, along with several others, attacked the foundation of my Evangelical beliefs: the inerrancy and infallibility of the Bible. Their assault on this foundation brought my Evangelical house tumbling down. I desperately tried to find some semblance of the Christianity I once believed, but I came to realize that my faith was gone.

I tried for a time to convince myself that I could find some sort of Christianity that would work for me. Polly and I visited numerous liberal or progressive Christian churches, but I found that these expressions of faith would not do for me. My faith was gone. Later, Polly would come to the same conclusion.

I turned to the internet to find help. I came upon sites like exchristian.net and Debunking Christianity. I found these sites to be quite helpful as I tried to make sense of what was going on in my life. I began reading the books of authors such as John LoftusHector AvalosRobert M. PriceDaniel DennettChristopher HitchensSam HarrisJerry Coyne and Richard Dawkins.

I read many authors and books besides the ones listed here. I say this to keep someone from saying, but you didn’t read so and so or you didn’t read _______. So, if I had to give one reason WHY I am no longer a Christian today it would be BOOKS.  My thirst for knowledge — a thirst I still have today, even though it is greatly hindered by chronic illness and pain — is what drove me to reinvestigate the claims of Christianity and the teachings of the Bible. This investigation led me to conclude that the claims of Christianity and the teachings of the Bible could not rationally and intellectually be sustained. Try as I might to hang onto some sort of Christian faith, the slippery slope I found myself on would not let me stand still. Eventually, I found myself saying, I no longer believe in the Christian God. For a time, I was an agnostic, but I got tired of explaining myself, so I took on the atheist moniker, and now no one misunderstands what I believe.

The hardest decision I ever made in my life was that day in late November of 2008, when I finally admitted to myself, I am no longer a Christian, I no longer believe in the Christian God, I no longer believe the Bible is the Word of God. At that moment, everything I had spent my life believing and doing was gone. In a sense, I had an atheist version of a born-again experience. For the past eleven years, I have continued to read, study, and write. I am still very much a work in progress. My understanding of religion and its cultural and sociological implications continues to grow. Now that I am unshackled from the constraints of religion, I am free to wander the path of life wherever it may lead. Now that I am free to read what I want, I have focused my attention on history and science. While I continue to read books that are of a religious or atheist nature, I spend less and less time reading these. I still read every new book Bart Ehrman publishes, along with various Christian/atheist/humanist blogs and publications, and this is enough to keep me up to date with American Christianity and American atheism/humanism.

For a longer treatment of my path from Evangelicalism to atheism, please read the series From Evangelicalism to Atheism.

If I had to sum up in two sentences why I no longer believe I would say this:

I no longer believe the Bible is an inspired, infallible, inerrant, God-given text. I no longer believe as true the central claims of Christianity; that Jesus is the virgin-born, miracle-working son of God, who came to earth to die for our sin, resurrected from the dead three days later, and will someday return to earth to judge the living and the dead.

The email writer comes from a Baptist background. A conundrum for her is to theologically square my past with the present. There is no doubt that I was a Christian for fifty years. I was a devoted, sincere, committed follower of Jesus. I preached to thousands of people during the twenty-five years I spent in the ministry. Not one parishioner or colleague in the ministry ever doubted that I was a Christian. I was far from perfect, but I was, in every way, a believer.

Those who say I never was a Christian make a judgment based on their theology and not by how I lived my life for fifty years. Baptists must do this because they believe that a person, once saved, cannot fall from grace. The doctrine of eternal security/once-saved-always-saved/perseverance (preservation) of the saints requires them to conclude I am still a Christian or I never was. The few former parishioners and colleagues in the ministry who are Arminian in belief have no problem explaining my trajectory from Evangelicalism to atheism. I once was saved and I fell from grace.

Here’s what I know: I once was a Christian and now I am not. For those who once called me pastor/preacher, they should know that when I was their shepherd I was a Christian. What good I did and what benefits my ministry brought them came from the heart of a man who was a devoted follower of Jesus, a man who loved them and wanted what was best for them. Those experiences, at the time, were real. While I have written extensively on how I explain my past and the experiences I had, former parishioners should content themselves with knowing that I loved and cared for them. While I had many shortcomings, my desire was always to help others. This desire still motivates me to this day.

Much like the Israelites leaving Egypt and heading for the Promised Land, so it is for me. My Promised Land is atheism, agnosticism, and humanism. While I will always have great fondness for many of the people I once pastored, I will never return to Egypt, the house of bondage. Christianity and the ministry are distant sights in my rearview mirror. While I will always appreciate the love and approbation of the people I once pastored, I am not willing to “repent” of my atheistic beliefs. My mind is settled on the nature of the Bible and the claims of Christianity. I fully recognize that billions of people find value, meaning, and purpose in religion, but I do not.

I have no desire to cause believers to lose their faith. I am just one man with a story to tell. Over the past eleven years, I have not even once tried to “evangelize” believers in the hope that they will lose their faith and embrace atheism. Yes, I do write about Evangelicalism and atheism, but people are free to read or not read what I write. If they have doubts about Christianity or have recently left Christianity, then my writing is likely to be of some help to them. If they write me asking questions or asking for help, I do my best to answer their questions and help them in any way I can. Over the years, hundreds of such people have written to me. Have some of them deconverted? Yes, including pastors, missionaries, and evangelists. But, deconversion has never been my goal. Instead, I view myself as a facilitator, one who helps people on their journey. It’s their life, their journey, and I am just a signpost along the crooked road of life.

Former parishioners need to understand that Bruce and Polly Gerencser are the same people they have always been, except for the Christian part. We are kind, decent, loving people. We love our children and our grandchildren. We strive to get along with our neighbors and be a good influence in the community. We are now what we were then: good people.

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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83 Comments

  1. Avatar
    mikespeir

    I hate that question. Almost never are they really looking for your answer. And never will your reasons be good enough.

    Kudos for spelling “Arminian” without an “e,” BTW. 😉

    • Avatar
      Bruce Gerencser

      I always spell Arminian correctly. Anyone who spells it with an E never was an Arminian or a Calvinist. 🙂 Same goes for those who spell Calvinism as Calvanism.

      I think this person genuinely wants to know. I agree that most questions like this have an ulterior motive, but when it is a former parishioner asking, I try to answer their questions. I owe them at least that.

  2. Avatar
    Ami

    You’ve once again inspired a post. Which will show up on my blog eventually. 🙂

    When I was a Christian, I did everything I was supposed to do. I witnessed to all my friends at school. And more than one of my teachers. I prayed. I sat with church friends and sang Jesus songs (loudly) during our lunch breaks on the lawn in high school. I wore a necklace that said, “Jesus Never Fails” everywhere I went. I attended all the church services. I sang solos in all the churches my parents dragged me to. My vocal talent wasn’t mine, after all, it was HIS. I reached out to God at all times.

    And I never heard from him. Ever. Not once. NEVER felt anything.

    For me, that’s the reason I don’t believe. After all I did for about 25 years to find him, he wasn’t there. Still isn’t, of course.

  3. Avatar
    Daniel Wilcox

    Bruce you concluded by saying, “We are kind, decent, loving people…and be a good influence in the community.”

    I have no doubt that you are still the encourager and kind person you were back when you were a Christian. Maybe you can now be even a better person because you aren’t confined in the straitjacket of doctrine.

    I do struggle sometimes with a few of your ‘rough edges.’

    A few days ago, I had decided not to write a comment about one of your troubling past posts, but it’s sticking in my ethical teeth like a piece of Nebraska beef, so here goes:

    How do you square your statement above “kind, decent…good influence”
    when you publish stuff
    like this:
    “So take your cock out
    Shove it in my ass
    Fuck me until you come…
    Fuck me in the ass…
    “Let’s cherry-pick the part about losing my cherry…”
    etc.

    What troubles me is that song leers and dehumanizes while it is teaching it’s anti-religious message.

    As a retired literature teacher, I’m a big fan of satire, even biting satire (one of my favorite satirists is Kurt Vonnegut).
    Plus, I do see how this drastic song shows so vividly the hypocrisy and delusion of religion.

    It is my opinion that the lyrics are very anti-humanistic and
    demeaning. They remind me of all the obscenities I had to endure in world literature and on the job, especially when I was a trucker.

    Furthermore, I’ve never seen the worth of our generation’s obsession with the ‘f’-word. Keep in mind
    that besides growing up fundamentalist Baptist, I’ve lived in Haight-Asbury, met
    Allen Ginsberg and written a school essay on his poem, “Howl,” went “on the road,” etc.

    And I no longer a Christian, haven’t been for several years. So I’m not questioning this from a religious point of view, or from a conservative outlook.

    My question: Isn’t there dissonance between humanism and such a lyric?

    • Avatar
      Bruce Gerencser

      The Songs of Sacrilege series is reader driven. As long as the song meets the criteria ” If you know of a song that is irreverent towards religion, makes fun of religion, pokes fun at sincerely held religious beliefs, or challenges the firmly held religious beliefs of others, please leave the name the song in the comment section or send me an email” I will post it.

      Personally, most of the songs I have posted so far are not the type of music I listen to.

      I have a different view of language than you do. I think curse words can and do have a place, if one is so inclined to use them. Take the F word. In my day, the word fuck was slang for sexual intercourse. While it is still used that way today, most usage has no sexual connotation. I read an article last night in Rolling Stone that talked about the use of the word cunt. Cunt has a different meaning in Australia, according to the person being interviewed, than it does in the U.S.

      I use curse words from time to time in my writing. I use them judiciously, and make no apology for using them. Same goes for my speech. While I don’t swear like a sailor, it is not beyond me to be watching a ballgame and holler at the ump, complete with expletives. For some reason, they never hear me. 🙂

      Bruce

  4. Avatar
    dale mcinnes

    I was pretty deeply into Christianity more because of the culture and ignorance that surrounded it. I became a “disbeliever” by my 14th birthday. The only term available was “atheism”. Did not go over very well with my parents/ grandparents. That aside, I had to ask myself why religion survived so long in human history and why it is so prevalent today. Also, I have a bone to pick with the concept of “atheism”. I do not feel comfortable with religion or atheism. I believe atheism is the all purpose cleanser to wipe the infection of religion off one’s “soul”. But I find that this wonderful “bleach” has its own toxicity. I believe it does quite an injustice to science and reason. It has its short commings the least of which it denies secular science its ultimate future. I was once asked if I don’t believe in God or an afterlife, how can I believe in continuing on in such an empty vaccuum without justice or salvation ? Where do you find meaning ? My response shocked them. It was worse than being an atheist. Atheism, I told them was only the half way mark. If there is no God, we will continue to pass the torch of reason and knowledge to future generations as they ultimately become gods. If there is no afterlife, they will create one through the manipulation of space-time. In short. I am a “Q”. Neither atheist nor religious. I believe if you desire something bad enough, all true believers will work to make it happen. Free enterprise ALWAYS beats the socialistic concept of being handed everything from above. Religion is “unamerican”. A belief in secular science is about as “american” as you will ever get. I believe in a God, an afterlife, the supernatural “manipulation of cosmic laws to create new laws of Nature” as well as I.D. “advanced organisms capable of changing both their “internal and external environments” solely through the power of science and technological engineering. None of these concepts belong to religion. Only science works to make these things a reality. This is how we make religion irrelevant. Not through atheism. My 2 cents.

  5. Avatar
    Mark

    I tell people that Christianity and Evangelical thinking ruined/stole a good 18 years of my life. It caused me to stay in an abusive marriage and I didn’t learn to make good decisions on my own. I would rather go to hell than serve a god that led me to that. Not that that will happen…

  6. Avatar
    Ken

    I am also an atheist and former Catholic Deacon. Many of us look for cause and effect, like one thing caused one effect. I think, that instead of cause and effect there are many preconditions that lead us to where we are at any given moment. Life is movement, it is change, it is an evolution a Hegelian and Marxian type of change. Most people won’t understand this as they are cause and effect people. when one changes one becomes what one was not before yet at teh same time one brings part of what one was with them. i loved officiating at weddings while I was a Catholic clergy. I miss that part. My change of no longer being clergy has now prevented me from performing weddings. I have changed, evolved, so now i am working on becoming a humanist, or non-religious officiant at weddings for those not wanting a religious service but want more than a wedding by a magistrate. No change is an evolution not a magic wand “poof your an atheist”.

    • Avatar
      Bruce Gerencser

      Ken,

      Thanks for commenting.

      I know, for me personally,I carried many things from my years in the ministry into my relationship with atheism. I still have a pastor’s heart, desiring to help others. It’s impossible for anyone who has spent a significant time in a belief system to just push all that aside and start afresh. These brains of ours…they don’t let go of things easily. 🙂

      I’ve had atheists, especially those who were never religious, take me to task for being too friendly and accommodating to religion. They want me to be a flaming atheist zealot, but it’s just not who I am. I prefer to provide a safe place where discussions can take place without someone getting attacked for saying the wrong thing. When I started to deconvert, my story was posted on ex-Christian. Great site, BTW. Well, there were some hardcore atheists that didn’t like where I was in my life, my waffling agnosticism and my unwillingness to condemn all religion. They were quite brutal. I learned from this experience that religion has not cornered the asshole market.

      Bruce

  7. Avatar
    Chad

    Thank you, so much.

    I graduated with an MA from a conservative evangelical seminary (I would have gotten the MDiv, but couldn’t stand the Hebrew professor). I served for a decade in various lay leadership positions at a semi-megachurch in west michigan. I loved the staff and the people dearly (still do, with some at least). No major event happened. I started questioning, and I committed myself to intellectual integrity. I stopped singing during worship services, but sat and listened. Finally, one Saturday, I realized that I could no longer attend services, as it was a tacit implication that I was “one of them,” a believer. Maybe if I was an outsider at that church it would have been different, but…

    Anyways, I wanted to thank you for your words. Helpful to me this Saturday morning.

    • Avatar
      Bruce Gerencser

      Chad,

      Thank you for the kind words. If I can do anything to help, please let me know.

      I have many fond memories of the 25 years I spent in the ministry, but, like you fond memories are not enough to keep me in the pew. It was hard to let go of a lifetime of work, achievement, and friends. There are times I miss certain aspects of church and the ministry, but I like where I am now.

      Bruce

  8. Avatar
    Jaisen

    Bruce,

    From a quick read of your article it sounds as if you were in it for all the wrong reasons to begin with. I say that not to belittle your story, it’s just the impression I got. I don’t wish to argue, just recommend a few things. If you ever again have a yearning to know Jesus again, start at the beginning, not the 1500’s. Read the writings of first, second, third, etc., century Christians, e.g., St. Ignatius of Antioch, St. Polycarp, St. Justin, St. Irenaeus and others. True orthodoxy and orthopraxy resides in their writings. One of my favorite current authors is Scott Hahn; I highly recommend him. Peter Kreeft comes highly recommended as well. And if you ever again go in search of a church that takes seriously the teachings of Jesus, you’ll find a spiritual home like none other in the Catholic Church. Her doors are always open to you and yours. May God bless you on your journey!

      • Avatar
        Jaisen

        Bruce,

        Thank you for your kind, intelligent, well thought out reply. If I may reply (somewhat in jest), which of the 45,000+ divided Protestant denominations who are incapable of doing anything in one accord, let alone praying, should I credit for churning out money hungry, calumnious atheists? Please keep the bloviating to a minimum—I’d hate to miss anything relevant due to speed reading.

        • Avatar
          Becky Wiren

          You keep pointing to Protestentism as if it is solely flawed among Christendom. Don’t get me wrong, if you are Catholic and content, that’s your concern. But pretending that Catholicism doesn’t have huge problems, is putting a blindfold on your face. By the way, plenty of sites pop up on Google when searching for atheist former Catholics.

          • Avatar
            Bruce Gerencser

            My reply to Jansen was meant to be snarky and dismissive. Anyone who starts his comment with an attack of my character deserves no respect from me. His comment reflects he is a part of the fundamentalist wing of the Catholic Church with views that are similar to those found in fundamentalist Protestantism.

            If I was still a Christian, I would never, ever become a Catholic. The reasons are many, but my snarky answer to Jaisen is one of them.

            Maybe I’ll go read the Church Fathers as Jaisen suggested. Oh wait, you mean like when I read them when I was a Pastor? 🙂

            His comment is a reminder that fundamentalism is found, to some degree, in EVERY religion.

          • Avatar
            Jaisen

            Actually, I only said one thing regarding Protestantism, Bruce being the case-in-point. Not sure to what else you’re referring.

            “But pretending that Catholicism doesn’t have huge problems, is putting a blindfold on your face.”

            I never said it didn’t. But one thing I can say is that the Church doesn’t promote things that are anathema to biblical teaching as various denominations so proudly do.

            And Bruce, your snarky and dismissive attitude is a clear indicator of the type of man you are, not my interpretation of your original article. Which, by the way, wasn’t a judgement but just the impression I got from YOUR own words. And I can’t help it if you read the Church Fathers and didn’t understand that they were Catholic. Perhaps you should re-read them? Clearly you weren’t doing something right if snarky, dismissive atheist is the conclusion you’ve landed on.

          • Avatar
            sgl

            from your original post:
            “you were in it for all the wrong reasons to begin with”

            a shoot from the hip character assassination of bruce, despite your protestations to the contrary

            “True orthodoxy and orthopraxy resides in their writings.”
            “a church that takes seriously the teachings of Jesus, you’ll find a spiritual home like none other in the Catholic Church”

            demonstrating that you think you and your church have the one true religion, and everyone else got it wrong. almost every sect makes the same claim. while this is “suggestions in a non-aggressive manner”, it’s also rather haughty. anyone who’s read church history, or read about the inconsistencies in the bible, or the scholarship of how the bible came to be, would label those statements as rather bold to say the least.

            “Apparently Bruce thinks pedophilia is limited to one religious or even non-religious affiliation. ”

            “blaming the church for the flaws of men is an appropriate response to my inviting you to read something you may not have read before? Aside from the obvious calumny and bigotry … ”

            ahh, yes, the “get out of jail free” card; all flaws are due to fallen men, but somehow it’s still the true church. while pedophilia is certainly not limited to one religion or institution, it’s the catholic church that has covered this up for *decades*, and continues to stonewall any reform. hardly an institution that “takes seriously the teachings of jesus.” sorry, but pointing this out is not bigotry, it’s speaking truth to power. the fact that you continue to believe in the church, and probably continue to tithe, and not hold your leaders accountable, is why the problem persists. and why bruce and many others will take them or their adherents seriously when they claim moral superiority.

            so, at every turn, all you’ve done is blame bruce (or me, or atheists), and have not once accepted any criticism of your church or yourself. and you’ve made excuse after excuse for your behavior and the church’s behavior. a more appropriate, (perhaps christian) response, would have been to apologize for jumping to conclusions, admit that the church has some serious moral failings that bother you also. hence, i’m done talking with you. if bruce wants to let you continue to comment, that’s his choice.

        • Avatar
          sgl

          Jaisen, you may think your comments are original and insightful, but every few weeks, someone exactly like you comes by, and drops nearly identical comments. imagine a school teacher, and the number of times they’ve heard the same excuses for why the homework wasn’t done. imagine a lawyer or judge hearing the same excuses for how the check was lost in the mail. well, that’s bruce’s blog when people like you drop by, make a shoot-from-the-hip observation based on no reading of his story and rigid stereotypes about atheists.

          as i understand it, in peace negotiations and marriage counselling, one of techniques is to require each side to state the position of the other side (not agree with it, just state it) in a fashion that the counter party says “yes, that is an accurate statement of my position.” because too often, the different sides don’t actually understand the other side, and are too busy arguing to actually listen. this technique forces them to listen.

          the fact is that bruce and many of the readers here understand your position very well, since many/most were strongly religious, often for decades. yet you do not understand bruce’s or anyone else here’s position at all. and from your tone, it’s very clear you have no interest in learning about anyone else’s position and how they arrived at it.

          hence, despite the fact that you think you’re a special little snow flake with just the exact pearls of wisdom that bruce needs, in fact you’re merely a dot in a blizzard of wanna-be apologists that drop by, spout predictable platitudes from an extremely small bingo-card of religious propaganda, and then expect ooohs and ahhhs of adoration for you enlightening us. sorry, but you’re boring and predictable and frankly obnoxious. the fact that you can’t see this only makes it even more a waste of time for all of us.

          • Avatar
            Jaisen

            SGL,

            Here’s Bruce’s first reply to me, a first time reader:

            “When priests stop molesting boys and diddling teenagers let me know.”

            Bruce’s second, passive aggressive sub-comment to me:

            “My reply to Jansen was meant to be snarky and dismissive.”

            Apparently Bruce thinks pedophilia is limited to one religious or even non-religious affiliation.

            I admitted that I quickly read his long, fluffy blog and that what I said was just the impression I got from quickly reading his own words (such as there not being enough money for him in ministry). I kindly made some suggestions in a non-aggressive manner and wished him well, yet the above comments were the bigoted responses I received. No invite to read more of his articles to broaden my brief view of his position, no equivalent suggestions to purvey to understand what led him where he is now, no olive branch to lure me along his own “enlightened” path. Just the same old tired, worn out, divisive atheist hyperbole. With such a brief and hateful introduction, now I can affirmatively say thank goodness this man is no longer a pastor with such a horrible attitude towards those with different views. That’s the kind of Christian who gives us all a bad name and drives people away from faith, including themselves (obviously). But at least you all have each other to wallow in your bigotry and hate-filled vitriol together.

            As for your own reply to me, change my name to yours at the top and ditto, pal. You guys can pretend to be all intellectually superior and further isolate yourselves all you like, but don’t expect any respectful crosstalk when that’s all we ever get from you. My apologies for wasting your time; a four paragraph response to someone you know nothing about filled with such judgmental presumptions kind of speaks otherwise, but hey, whatever floats your boat. And FYI, the Church and all of Christendom have been dealing with your type and your shallow arrogance for over 2,000 years now, but do feel free to let us know when YOU come up with something original.

          • Avatar
            Bruce Gerencser

            I gave your comment the respect it deserved. As Sgl pointed out, you are just the latest in a long line of Christians that have left a comment like yours. Forgive me for not wanting to waste my time responding to someone who has no interest in what I have to say. The only thing unique about you is that you are Catholic. Most Christian commenters are Evangelical.

            So, you focused on the one statement about there being no money in the ministry, yet ignore the fact I was in the ministry for 25 years. Seems to the unbiased reader that the poverty didn’t keep me from doing what I thought God called me to do.

            As far as sexual child abuse: yes, other sects have a problem too, but none to the degree of the Catholic Church. If I were a Catholic I wouldn’t let my male children out of my site while celebrating the mass.

            I assumed you know how to read and navigate a website, so I didn’t offer any other posts to you. Besides, you made no effort to read any of the links referenced in this post. Perhaps there are no fingers on your hands.

            As to your comment being a desire to engage in thoughtful discussion…you are kidding, right? You insult me, don’t read anything else I’ve written, and tell me the Catholic Church is waiting for me to come home. You have no interest in thoughtful discussion and I have no interest in reading any more of your comments.

            Good news. You comments have provoked me to add to my writing schedule a post about why I could never be a Roman Catholic. I am sure my Catholic sons and daughter in laws will appreciate you stirring me up.

          • Avatar
            Jaisen

            Bruce,

            Apparently you’re not familiar with the concept of speed reading. Typically, it results from being in a hurry and having little time, hence my not reading any of your other linked articles. As they say, “common sense isn’t so common.”

            So, blaming the church for the flaws of men is an appropriate response to my inviting you to read something you may not have read before? Aside from the obvious calumny and bigotry (which continued in your recent reply), that’s some serious rash judgement on your behalf and even more revealing of your character. So I suppose you could say I unknowingly gave your poverty comment the respect it deserved now that such things have been revealed.

            However, my original post wasn’t intended to be an attack on your character, but wow, I’m not sure how you pastored anything that long with such thin skin! And seriously, how could your comment about poverty not stick out to me like a sore thumb? As believers we’re called to poverty of spirit and worldly possessions, two things you clearly have no desire for. That’s a rather obvious advantage of the priesthood–being more concerned with God rather than the things of this world and the flesh. But that’s neither here nor there; that deeper theological virtue/significance didn’t even occur to me until you got so butthurt about it.

            It’s truly odd seeing such an entitlement mentality from a man of the previous generation. I suppose that’s a manifestation of such self-interest, among the other obvious things. I read your rather lengthy post out of curiosity, not fealty. So I’m sorry, I don’t owe it to you to read anymore. I’m honestly not all that interested anymore after your passive-aggressive rants against my imaginary assault on your character and your continued antagonizing sarcasm.

            Again, it wasn’t my intent to ridicule your past, and my invite to explore the Church and the writings of her fathers was sincere. I offer you my deepest apologies for causing you such a spike in your blood pressure, inadvertently “stirring you up.” Be sure to have your Catholic sons and daughter-in-laws come on here and read the uninformed, bigoted, vitriolic, anti-Catholic, hyperbolic comments about their faith that you spill so freely on unsuspecting passersby. While it’ll be unwise coming from someone who has gone their entire life without fully comprehending it, I’ll wait with bated breath for your post about Roman Catholicism, as I’m sure they will as well. Do remember though, you are just the latest in a long line of atheists that have made comments like yours. But I have the utmost confidence that it’ll be a real call to interfaith communication.

            Peace be with you.

          • Avatar
            Bruce Gerencser

            Here’s your original comment:


            From a quick read of your article it sounds as if you were in it for all the wrong reasons to begin with. I say that not to belittle your story, it’s just the impression I got. I don’t wish to argue, just recommend a few things. If you ever again have a yearning to know Jesus again, start at the beginning, not the 1500’s. Read the writings of first, second, third, etc., century Christians, e.g., St. Ignatius of Antioch, St. Polycarp, St. Justin, St. Irenaeus and others. True orthodoxy and orthopraxy resides in their writings. One of my favorite current authors is Scott Hahn; I highly recommend him. Peter Kreeft comes highly recommended as well. And if you ever again go in search of a church that takes seriously the teachings of Jesus, you’ll find a spiritual home like none other in the Catholic Church. Her doors are always open to you and yours. May God bless you on your journey!

            You started off with saying I was in the ministry for the wrong reasons. You never bothered to show enough curiosity to read any of my biographical writing. If you had, you might have learned that I know a fair bit about poverty and living a life of poverty. Instead you made an assumption about my character, one that has continued through every one of your comments. Sgl tried to help you out, but you saw his comment as an attack and rejected it.

            Second you assumed I, as a lifelong Protestant, hadn’t read the Church Fathers, when in fact I have read them. Why not ask instead of assume? I’ve even read Scott Hahn. Again, if you had bothered to be the slight bit curious, you would have learned that Thomas Merton and Dorthy Day are two of my favorite authors. At one time, John Michael Talbot was one of my favorite musicians. We used his songs in our worship services.

            Third, you came peddling the same shit that every fundamentalist before you has peddled. The my church is the true church, my church has the true teaching, bullshit. I have heard this spiel hundreds of times over the years. Again, you would have known this if you had bothered to read the ABOUT section or the COMMENT RULES. Like those who have come before you, you have no interest in who or what I am and your only desire is to put in a word for the one true Church.

            Now if you want to engage me in a discussion on whether your church with its opulent buildings and palaces takes seriously the teachings of Jesus, let me know. Let me know if you want to discuss the church’s rampant sex scandal, its opposition to equal civil rights for gays, its opposition to birth control and abortion, its prohibition of women in the priesthood…shall I go on? Plenty to discuss when you trot out the lie that Catholic church takes seriously the teachings of Jesus.

            Now, I’ve indulged you far too long. I will approve no further comments of yours. I am sure you can find other atheists who might be interested in your caterwauling.

            Bruce

          • Avatar
            Jaisen

            Hey, that’s fine if you don’t want to publish my comments there, Dear Leader. If I were in your shoes I’d hate for my readers to see me get owned by a guy who’s only been a Catholic for two weeks, too. Gotta love you socialist liberals with your self-proclaimed, vast open-mindedness, tolerance and hatred of censorship (or is that just libertarians?). You can even smell the hypocrisy through the internet!

          • Avatar
            Bruce Gerencser

            Nice try, Jaisen. But by all means tell everyone you “owned” me. That is what Jesus would do, right? If your goal was to be a witness to the love and historicity of the Roman Catholic Church, you have failed miserably. Your comments were deleted because I told you that I would not approve any further comments. You said your piece, exposed your Jesus for all to see, time to move on.

            This blog is not a democracy. I am god and I have rules that I expect commenters to abide by. Unfortunately, you have showed that you can’t play well with others, so you have been banned. I rarely ban people. Currently, out of the thousands of people who read this blog, I have banned two people, you and fundamentalist by the name of Matt. You two should get together since both of you think you are part of the one true church.

            Bruce Gerencser

          • Avatar
            Jaisen

            Yeah, Bruce. You really got me! Glad I could expose you and your self-glorifying narcissistic need for censorship to prove your tolerance and open-minded enlightenment. Ban me, delete my posts as you said you would. As of right now you can’t even stick to that promise. Seriously, don’t flatter yourself anymore than you have already. It’s really just gross at this point. Enjoy your isolation, but do try to pull your head out to take a breath once in a while. It makes it much easier to “play well” with the grown-ups. ; )

  9. Avatar
    dale mcinnes

    Bruce. This is a bit touchy but, I’m going to say it anyway. The secular world needs to stop divesting its time, energies and resources attacking religion. We need to turn the tables on religion by providing more spiritual needs than religion could ever hope to provide. We need to tear a page from early christianity by adopting all the relevant pagan traditions and change their meaning to better align them with secular ideology. It worked for them [in less than 2 centuries], AND,
    we have the internet today. I feel “atheism” is taking the same track as judaism did 2000 years ago. They did not want to adopt the strengths and traditions of their main enemy .. pagan Rome. Today, Jews are a very small religion. The jews that went with the majority view (pagan christians) ultimately were far more adaptable. In order to bring your enemy on side with your beliefs .. one has to build a bridge made of your enemy’s traditions to allow them to cross comfortably to your side. Atheism is not doing this. A new dialogue is neccessary. My 2 cents.

    • Avatar
      Bruce Gerencser

      Dale,

      There are atheists whom have adapted the approach you mention here. I do not criticize them, but it is not for me. That said, if there was a Unitarian-universalist church nearby, my wife and I would probably attend. We miss the social aspects of church. That said, losing that social structure has forced us to spend a lot more time with each other one on one. This has greatly improved our marriage. Not that it was bad before, but our lives were spent helping others and this caused us to neglect self and our marriage. Putting God first meant putting those I love second. This was a big mistake, one I warn young pastors about every chance I get.

      Bruce

    • Avatar
      Troy

      This is an interesting idea, but a bit misguided. As for attacking religion, you’re right it is a mixed bag, and education rather than attacking (with the implied belittling that goes with it.) after all we hope to have them on our side eventually. Also ignore anyone over 30. Sure some in this age group will find their way, but the young are actually already at least becoming indifferent already. As for spiritual needs, that’s tough but in reality there is a diverse pool of services available, since there are so many religions and holidays themselves aren’t going away. In reality there will always be religion. The goal should be enough plurality to demand and recieve political clout. An analogy would be how quickly the policital class got in line for gay marriage the minute approval hit 50%. With polictical clout the United States should be able to return to its secular roots

  10. Avatar
    dale

    Jaisen.

    The church IS the flaw of men. Men who write the stories contained in the bible then, say it is the actual word of some god. Now THAT’S ARROGANT !! And to think that Bruce somehow, in leaving the ministry, lost all recollection of what he preached or taught is astounding !! No one could possibly be a minister that long and still be admired and/ or shocked by his congrgation. Trying to convince Bruce to re-believe is absurd. Let me put it to you this way .. When you finally realised that Santa Claus was based on mythology, did you ever attempt, just once, to re-believe in that magic god-like being ?? Because this is what you’re asking Bruce to do. Do you not understand this ?? Bruce .. has .. matured. He’s .. an .. adult .. now. He has given up his child-like beliefs. I don’t possess the anger that Bruce has pent up inside him because I personally didn’t go through as much shit as he has. Dealing with grown adults possessing child-like beliefs from the stone-age must be supremely irritating.

    Look at me. I find no problem with the scientific “concept” of god-like beings or even an afterlife [time-travel]. It is religion that has politicised and denigrated these concepts and brought upon itself such well deserved derision. Jaisen. After thousands of years, you need to let science and technology take over and explore these possibilities. Remember. Science is NOT a philosophy. It is simply the best damn tool we know of to probe Nature [creation]. Kick off the shakles of religion and set yourself free. Come and explore creation with us. Leave the stone-age.

    My 2 cents.

  11. Avatar
    Becky Wiren

    It never fails, does it, Bruce? A person comes onto your blog, claiming to know the TRUE church, and expressing himself oh so nicey nice. But when you rebuff him, he (or she) gets all mean, upset, and nasty. Not ONE of these people has turned the other cheek to try to convince you of your error. And this guy got snotty and then mean pretty quick. And he is also obviously totally self oblivious. But then, he probably considers all of us doomed. Never mind that you have Christians and other theists here along with the “doomed” agnostics and atheists. But he didn’t read enough to know that. Instead, he’s put me WAY off the Catholic Church, even though I know good people in that church. What a horrible witness!

    • Avatar
      sgl

      well, maybe he’ll try logging in from work. an employer worried about potential lawsuits from the actions of homophobic employees, particularly ones using work-time to propagate their screeds, might find this of interest.

      • Avatar
        Bruce Gerencser

        I think he either owns a trucking business or works at one. He’s from Florida,

        If he is tech savvy, he can easily get around the block, but I don’t mind blocking more IP addresses. 🙂

  12. Avatar
    dale

    Bruce.

    One can go on fighting philosophy with people on a 1 to 1 basis in religion but, a fellow comrade and I have a better idea. Challenge the Vatican directly. We have both spent years studying the “miracles” portrayed in the old and new testaments. We are becoming firm believers in these “miracles” already. We can actually show that many of these happened while some were politically inspired. I’m thinking that it would be a great idea to go to the Middle East to the
    original locations where these “miracles” presumably took place while using stone-age and copper-age technology to pull them off in front of arabs living there today just to see what they personally think of these “miraculous” feats. Contained in that DVD would be how the ancients pulled off these breathtaking “miracles” with such precision using prehistoric technologies. I know how to do a great many of these flawlessly. But I have also learned to do even more spectacular ones never recorded in the bible. It would be like showing little kids how Santa [Mom and Dad] with his reindeer actually came to their house, ate the cookies and milk while leaving the gifts that they prayed for under the tree. The Vatican’s power lay not in its $ 95 billion/yr tithes, its properties and cathedrals but in the belief and sponsorship of its 1.1 billion adherents. I’m not advicating pulling the church down but rather I’m advocating an internal revolution to replace Jesus the Christ with Charles Darwin the Emancipator as head of that organization. Think about it. It goes something like this ;

    If you believe in the biblical miracles because you can’t perform them yourself then, most likely you are a follower .. a religious person.
    If you don’t believe in the biblical miracles because you think of them as completely absurd and by such have no intentions of attempting to duplicate them then, you’re most likely an atheist.
    However. If you really believe in biblical miracles because you can actually perform them yourself then, you are most likely an ancient “prophet” that has mastered a gimmick flawlessly to bring attention to yourself since your livelihood depends upon it. The modern term for prophet ?? Try “magician” in an evangelical church whose “gimmicks/ miracles” are required for their profession.

    I’m running out of pennies but will throw in another 2 cents.

    My 2 cents

  13. Avatar
    Nancy

    Just want to say thank you for your honest descriptions of why you no longer believe. I’m in the process of deeply questioning my Christianity, and find it so helpful to hear about others’ journeys.

  14. Avatar
    MJ Lisbeth

    If the things I’ve learned from reading and other experiences hadn’t destroyed my belief in religion and a just God, the President’s non-acquittal would have. The only people involved in the President’s trial who showed their fealty to their beliefs, in my opinion, were Nancy Pelosi and Mitt Romney.

    If any people in this country—aside, perhaps, from Muslims and Jews—can claim to be persecuted for their religious beliefs, they are among them. Ironically, their tormentors will be among the first to cry that they’re being persecuted.

    A former Catholic and Evangelical here.

  15. Avatar
    Karen the rock whisperer

    I was raised Catholic. On my way out of Christianity, I tried to find a “truer” form, and spent a couple (three? less than four) years attending a nondenominational Evangelical church. I didn’t know it was Evangelical, didn’t know anything about Evangelical Christianity, but the people were decent and I was searching.

    The people were friendly enough, I suppose, and I didn’t expect anything better given the undiagnosed depression that was eating at me. They actually held my husband and I at arm’s length because we didn’t have children and I was an engineer. Waaay too much feminism, or egalitarianism, or something.

    The church had no senior pastor, only an associate pastor. It owned two houses for its pastors, a reasonable ranch-style house and a hovel. The pastor and his family lived in the hovel. The ranch-style house stood empty. There was no effing way that church was going to afford (or even needed) two pastors. That really began to offend me after we made friends with the associate pastor and his family. He and his wife were both very committed to their ministry. She had to work, which the elders seemed to frown upon, but even with her earnings the family was quite poor. The parishioners, on the other hand, were mostly comfortably middle-class.

    That associate pastor was eventually priced out of the job. He and his wife could not raise their children properly in the expensive area where we all lived, and took an associate pastorate in a semi-rural area. I later learned a bit of gossip saying that the elders had been unwilling to pay the associate pastor more because it was easier to force him into leaving than to fire him. His biggest sin, in their eyes, was demanding more transparency in the way the church handled its money. Too many people were writing checks on the church’s accounts without any accountability about what they were spending the money on.

    When the associate pastor left, we did too, and briefly attended a different nondenominational church. There, I was tagged to babysit the young children instead of attending the service one morning, and told that all young married women had to take turns at that job. It was one I was singularly unfit for. Then, the church decided it needed a new building (I never understood why) and was going seriously into hock. Husband and I were told firmly that we would now pay monthly dues and what they would be. Meanwhile, the emphasis on the sin nature of humans, piled on in every sermon, was pushing my depression to dangerous levels. One Sunday, as I cried from hopelessness after the service, my husband declared that church was bad for me and we should not go back. (His theology had already shifted to atheism, though he hadn’t expressed that to me, and he was engaged with religion mostly for my sake. He decided that day that he was harming me rather than supporting me.)

    In hindsight, it was one of the kindest gifts my husband ever gave me. I ultimately got my depression treated, and ended up re-thinking many depression-fueled beliefs. That in turn led (along an admittedly winding path) to my current provisional lack of belief in any deities. (Provisional: awaiting evidence. So far I haven’t seen any.)

  16. Avatar
    Brian Vanderlip

    Hmmm, same-old same-old with believers coming at Bruce Almighty looking for a little chink of light so that they can see Jesus lead him out of his dark, bloggy ways.
    As I get older and my heart starts to protest sometimes, I begin to wonder if all the labels really speak to the heart of this human matter. There is no true belief as there is no true unbelief, only attempts to express, usually honestly express, the human condition. When we hold up Science as the best path of choice, we don’t condemn those who believe in a God or Gods. Why then do we end up butting heads with the likes of Jaisen again and again, a generic word-go-round that often ends with growling at the mouth of the cave. Would that Christianity in its evangelical zeal could understand that condemning one another gets us nowhere at all and in as much as the Bible supports that Judgement, the Bible proves itself to be designed to harm humanity, not assist it. The pernicious teachings of original sin, the eternal damnation, the very idea that people become sheep…. these are fundamentally sick, harmful directions for bipeds.
    I don’t know what to do with my thoughts and feelings when in the company of soldiers. I do not want to be a soldier but sometimes, triggered, I blast away. As Bruce suggests, after the years pass in unbelief and you look back, you cannot but marvel at how deep the head can disappear into the rabbit-hole. The rabbit-hole is real. God is as real as the rabbit-hole. In this regard, I believe and say quietly to the dark, Help thou my unbelief… But perhaps there is no end-point in these matters as long as we breathe on. Perhaps its a circular dark and light, a wandering hike. I am so far past the Christian belief that their entreaties about eternal damnation and God’s true love just strike me as very odd. They remind me of Wonderland. Alice, is that you?

  17. Avatar
    ObstacleChick

    My husband and I both traveled different roads and both ended up becoming atheists. His road made a lot of sense – he wasn’t thoroughly indoctrinated into religion, and his interest in science and math led him to conclude that there aren’t gods. I, on the other hand, was thoroughly indoctrinated into evangelicalism in both church and school, and my process was slow and painful. We have been watching “The Handmaid’s Tale” on Hulu, and he commented last night that he doesn’t get why there are so many people in the world who still believe in gods and religions and try to force it on others. In 2020 humans have enough knowledge to know better.

  18. Avatar
    Kiew Sieh Jin

    hi mr gerenser,

    but isn’t humanism just christianity without God? i mean, humanists say that human beings matter, just like Christians do. (for Christians, it because we’re created in God’s image). And humanists say that we should try our best to do good, again just like Christians do…

    it seems to me that atheism leads, not to humanism, but to nihilism. where everything is meaningless; humans aren’t worth anything much, really, just another animal; and nothing’s really right or wrong, so just do whatever you like. am i right?

    • Avatar
      Astreja

      There are Christian humanists as well as secular ones, but humanism breaks from Christianity in one critical way: It has no concept of Original Sin, and does not consider humans to be innately evil, fit only to be tortured forever.

      Meaning is not something that can be externally imposed on someone. Either you feel that you have meaning in your life or you don’t, and the duration of that life has very little to do with it. We give ourselves and others worth by seeing worth in ourselves and others.

      I am a humanist, and I have a profound sense of right and wrong. I do not do “whatever I like” on a whim. I strive to be reasonable rather than self-indulgent, and if there’s a chance that my actions might affect others I strive to be a good neighbour.

      Your misunderstanding of humanism is tragic in the extreme. Hopefully it isn’t deliberate misrepresentation on your part, because that would be an egregiously poor “witness” for your beliefs, and something that you should be deeply ashamed of.)

      • Avatar
        Kiew Sieh Jin

        hi astreja,

        did i misunderstand humanism? i said that it was like christianity, except without God (and as you pointed out, the doctrine of original sin, etc. etc.). here are some of the things you wrote about humanism:
        – humanists see worth in ourselves and others. check, christians do that too.
        – humanists have a profound sense of right and wrong. check, christians do too. (in general for both groups of people)
        – humanists don’t do whatever they like on a whim. check, ditto for christians.
        – humanists strive to be reasonable, not self-indulgent. check, christians do the same.
        – humanists strive to be good neighbours. check, that’s one of the two greatest commandments for christians (as i’m sure you’re aware) – love your neighbour as yourself.

        so, yes, i stand by what i said, that humanism is like christianity, holds similar values to christianity, with the big difference that humanism (or at least atheistic humanism) jettisons the concept of God and various other christian doctrines, some of which you have mentioned.

        what i said in my comment, though, was that atheism doesn’t lead logically to humanism. humanism is (in my view) an attempt to hold on to the values and the morality of chrisitianity without the foundational beliefs which supported those values and morality. atheism, rather, leads logically to nihilism. we are all the products of random chance and blind physical processes, there is no deeper meaning to life, etc. Yes, humanists see worth in themselves and others. But under atheism, that ‘worth’ is merely a human construct, as real as harry potter (or, from an atheist point of view, Jesus Christ). humans actually aren’t worth anything. they are just collections of organic molecules which behave and react in a certain way. those of us who aren’t vegans slaughter chickens and cows for our sustenance. under atheism, humans are just another animal; there is no difference between, say, the holocaust and the chicken farms of KFC. in fact, under atheism, as far as i can see, there is no real right or wrong. whatever we perceive as ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ are simply things which are beneficial or unbeneficial to our survival as individuals or as a community, which we have therefore evolved to feel approbation or aversion towards.

        please, please understand, i’m not saying that you hold these positions as a humanist or an atheist. i’m sure you don’t. you sound like a nice enough person, and you’ve made it clear in your comment that you have a keen sense of morality. i’m not saying that this is your position, but i’m saying that it would be your position if you took your atheism to its’ logical conclusion.

        • Avatar
          Bruce Gerencser

          Atheism is not a philosophical/moral/ethical position. Atheism is simply and fundamentally a belief about the existence of deities. Atheism doesn’t “logically” lead to anything.

          Humanistic values are derived from many sources, including religions; or better put, humanists hold similar moral and ethical beliefs as religionists. To that I say, so what? Are you to seriously trying to argue that Christianity—which flavor?—is the foundation of (all) morality and ethics? All one needs to do is show one or more moral/ethical beliefs predate Christianity to render your argument absurd.

          Further, there is no such thing as “Christian” morality. Again, all one needs to do is show that Christians hold all sorts of subjective, adaptive, changing moral beliefs to render this argument absurd.

          Or, perhaps you are arguing that the Bible — an errant, fallible, contradictory text if there ever was one — is the foundation of morality and ethics? If so, you are even on worse ground. First, the Bible requires interpretation. Whose interpretation is right? Mine, yours, the pope’s, a particular sect? Second, the Bible is littered with immoral behavior by God and his followers. If the Bible is the objective standard for morality/ethics, Loki help us. Besides, humans predate the Bible/Christianity by thousands of years. What was our moral/ethical foundation then? Let me guess, God-given conscience? Oh, I’d love to have the discussion with you.?

          My statements are meant to cut through your bullshit and false claims about atheism and humanism. Please make whatever point you think you need to make. Painting atheists/humanists/non-Christians as morally and ethically inferior to Christians is offensive at every level. Please take a different approach. Boil your argument down to what it is you really came to say (and how it is applicable to the post you are commenting on). And if you haven’t done do, please read the commenting guidelines for this site — especially how they relate to Christian commenters.

          I was in the Christian church for 50 years. I was an Evangelical pastor for 25 of those years. My thinking/morality/ethics/behavior all have been deeply influenced by Christianity and the Bible. Again, so what? All of us are products of our cultural, tribal, and environmental influences. Humanism allows me to jettison previously held Christian moral/ethical beliefs I now consider immoral/unjust. I find the Humanist Manifesto III, for example, to be a good summary of the humanist worldview, humanist ideal, and humanist morality. Not extensive, nor conclusive, but certainly superior to the Ten Commandments. My moral/ethical beliefs continue to change and evolve. The same can be said for “Christian” morality and ethics too.

          Besides, as an atheist, I don’t believe in the existence of the Christian God. I reject the claim that Jesus — as God — is our law giver. He was a fallible, frail, “sinful” man, just like the rest of us. He lived, he died, end of story. I am of the opinion that the central claims of Christianity can’t be rationally sustained. The Bible is nothing more than a collection of ancient religious texts largely written by unknown human authors. At best, the Bible is a written record of how certain men understood their world. Quite frankly, the world would be better served if we jettisoned the Protestant Bible, Catholic Bible, the Torah, and the Koran. So much of what is found in these books either has no relevance for today or promotes beliefs thoughtful, rational, moral,people find immoral and harmful.

          So, pick your poison, Kiew Sieh. Again, if you haven’t read the commenting rules, please do so. Christian commenters are on short leashes. I do want you to say whatever it is you want/need to say. Just get to it . . .

          Bruce Gerencser

          • Avatar
            Kiew Sieh Jin

            Hi Mr Gerenser,

            positions of belief do have logical conclusions. if i believe that it’s wrong to lie, the logical conclusion is that i’ll try my best not to tell lies. You’ve called out christians and churches for not living out the logical conclusions of their beliefs; i remember reading that you visited hundreds of churches and couldn’t find a single one which took the teachings of Jesus seriously, in your evaluation (which is think is a serious indictment of christians and churches, but not necessarily the belief system itself. e.g. te belief, ‘it is wrong to lie,’ i’d hold that that belief is true, even though i find that christians and atheists alike do tend to lie even though they believe that it’s wrong. their failure to live out the truth doesn’t mean it’s not true).

            i’d say that the character of God – defined as the morally perfect being, you can argue that the Christian God isn’t that if you want, but i’ll just use the word ‘God’ nonetheless – is the grounds of the existence of actual, objective moral values. please note, i’m not saying you can’t know right from wrong without God; you can. neither am i saying that you can’t do what’s right without God; you can. So no, atheists/humanists are not morally inferior to Christians in any way. what i’m saying is that if God doesn’t exist, then those moral values which we know and practice aren’t really right or wrong. they’re just personal preferences, or instincts and feelings which we’ve evolved to have because they’re beneficial for survival.

            in my view, though, there are things that are actually, really, objectively right and wrong. For example (thinking of an extreme example here to get the point across) it’s objectively morally wrong to torture a person for fun. it’s not just that there are bad consequences to the action, or that i dislike it, or that it’s evolutionarily disadvantageous, or that there’s a consensus that it’s wrong – it’s actually, objectively wrong. i feel this very strongly, but under atheism i can’t see any good reason to believe that my feeling – my moral intuition, if you would – is correct. whereas under theism, there is good reason to believe that our shared (i assume it’s shared, correct me if i’m wrong) moral intuition is correct.

            how is this applicable to the post i’m commenting on? well, i just stumbled upon your blog. as i read various posts, the burning question for me was ‘Why did Mr Gerenser lose his faith?’ and this post answers that question. So as i understand it, it was a gradual process of questioning and doubting which led you to the conclusions you now hold. it seemed (and seems) to me, though, that those conclusions are not finished; you have stopped halfway. or to put it in other words, as i’ve mentioned before, you have not followed atheism to its logical conclusion – nihilism – but have stopped at humanism, keeping the ‘good things’ of christianity while throwing out God and etc. So i just wanted to point that out.

            thanks for giving me the latitude to make comments as i have. there’s much more that we could talk about, really, so much that you’ve said that i haven’t responded to, but i wanted to be as brief and to the point as you requested (‘just get to it…’) If i’m given the chance, maybe the conversation can continue. we could go on discussing atheism, humanism, and nihilism, and when this topic is exhausted there are many others we could move on to. but if that is not to be, i’ve been blessed by our brief, online encounter, and i wish you all the best. =)

          • Avatar
            Bruce Gerencser

            You are making claims that you have provided no evidence for: the existence of the Christian God; that said God is the ground of human morality; that the Bible is a supernatural text that contains objective, eternal moral truth; that Christians have objective morals. (among other presuppositions you assert without evidence).

            Further, you continue to falsely claim that atheism leads to nihilism. It doesn’t, and you have provided no evidence that proves otherwise. You need this claim to be true for your worldview to make sense. As an atheist, and a former Christian, I’m telling you that atheism and nihilism and atheism and humanism are different things.

            You are trying to read your worldview into my story. Sorry, that won’t work. I started and stopped with atheism because there was no other place to go. As I said previously, atheism is simply a belief about the existence of deities. That’s it. That you suggest otherwise reveals your refusal to see things as they are. It was/is humanism, not atheism, that provides me a moral and ethical foundation.

            As far as torture is concerned. Sure that you want to go there? God, the Father tortured Jesus on the cross, yes? What a moral monster is a father who tortures his own son (or daughter).The Bible is replete with stories of God torturing men, women, children, babies, fetuses, and animals. Is God immoral? Why are you holding God to a different standard than humans? I would argue that humans are far more moral than the Bible God — for which we should be very glad. Imagine what kind of world we’d live in if Christians behaved like their God.

            Richard Dawkins describes the Bible God this way:

            “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”

            I agree.

            As far as objective vs. subjective morality is concerned. I think all morality is inherently subjective — including Bible morality. That said, I don’t engage in such discussions. They never amount to anything, and usually generate a lot of heat, but little light.

            As you hopefully can see, I am asking you for evidence you cannot provide. That’s the nature of presuppositionalism. I reject your presuppositions, and without evidence for your God/Bible/morality claims, we have little to talk about. Saying, “it just is” or __________ “logically” leads to ________, won’t fly with the atheist, non-Christian readers of this blog.

            Bruce

          • Avatar
            Kiew Sieh Jin

            Hi, Mr Gerencser (just realised that i misspelt your name earlier, sorry),

            beliefs do have logical conclusions, though. if i believe that it’s wrong to lie, the logical conclusion would be that i try my best to tell the truth. to live coherently, how one lives should be coherent with what one believes. you’ve called out christians and churches for not living out what they claim to believe – i remember reading that you visited hundreds of churches, yet by your evaluation not a single one took the teachings of Jesus seriously. To me, this is a serious indictment of christians and churches, but not neccessarily of christianity. (take for example, the belief, ‘it is wrong to lie’ – i think that this is true, and even though atheists and christians alike tend to tell lies, their failure to live out the truth does not mean it isn’t true.)

            you ask if i’m pointing to Christianity or the Bible as the source of objective morality. Not at all. what i’d suggest is that God’s character, with God defined as the morally perfect being (you may want to argue that the Christian God is not that, but i’ll just use the term ‘God’ anyway, if you don’t mind), is the grounds and the source of objective morality.

            you see, the thing is that my moral intuition tells me that some things are really, objectively, right or wrong. to think of an extreme example to get the point across, let’s consider the proposition, ‘It is morally wrong to torture a person for fun’. i’d hold (and i hope that you would agree with me) that this statement is true, and that such torture is actually, objectively, morally wrong. it’s not just my subjective preference, or unbeneficial, or having negative consequences, or evolutionarily disadvantageous, or agreed upon by consensus. it’s just plain wrong. Now, under atheism, i cannot see any reason to believe that my moral intuition is right. but under Christianity, i do have good reason to believe that it’s correct.

            i hope that you can see, i am not saying that atheists/humanists are morally superior or inferior to christians. we have a (generally) shared morality; we agree broadly that it’s wrong to lie, steal, kill, etc. The question that i am considering is not “who is morally superior?” It’s “What is morality anyway?” is it just a human concept? a social construct? an evolved set of instincts and feelings? or is it something that is objectively, actually, true and real?

            how is this applicable to the post i’m commenting on? well, i just stumbled upon your blog, and as i read some of your posts, the burning question in my mind was ‘Why did Mr Gerencser lose his faith?’ and this particular post answered that question. So, as i understand it, it was a gradual process of doubt and questioning which brought you to the conclusions which you hold today. it seems to me, though, that those conclusions are not finished; in other words, you have not brought your atheism to its logical conclusion. you have stopped halfway at humanism, maintaining the ‘good bits’ of Christianity while discarding what you see as the ‘bad bits’ – the existence of God, truth of the Bible, etc. If you follow atheism to its logical end, though, you would arrive, not at humanism, but at nihilism – all is meaningless, all is worthless. so i just wanted to point that out.

            thank you for giving me the latitude to comment as i have. there’s much more i could have said, things you’ve mentioned that i haven’t responded to, but i wanted to be as brief and to-the-point as you have requested (‘just get to it…’). If you’re willing to continue the conversation, we could continue to discuss atheism, humanism, and nihilism; and once this topic is exhausted, there are any number of other topics we could move on to (bible, hell, Jesus, etc). but if it’s not to be, i’ve been blessed by our brief online encounter, and i wish you only the very best. =)

        • Avatar
          JW

          One thing you could consider asking/testing, Kiew Sieh Jin, is: what percentage of atheists would actually self-identify as nihilists? If you are truly seeking a sincere answer–and your argument is not merely anti-atheist rhetoric as such arguments sometimes are–then you may be able to find some satisfactory statistics on it.

          Not sure myself if there are any strong peer-reviewed studies on the matter, but a quick Google search suggests that the answer is “Not very many at all.” Mostly, I’m seeing arguments against the idea that nihilism is a requirement or an end point.

          • Avatar
            Kiew Sieh Jin

            Hi JW,

            thanks for your suggestion. but really, knowing what percentage of atheists self-identify as nihilists wouldn’t prove or disprove my suggestion that the logical end of atheism is nihilism, any more than knowing what percentage of christians actually live true to what the bible says proves or disproves that the Bible is true.

            the question is one of logical connection, not one of statistical expression.

          • Avatar
            JW

            On the contrary, statistical evidence can be useful as it provides a means to confirm whether an idea is correct or not. You postulated a theory, one that is even testable. If you do not test it–or go so far as to ignore evidence that contradicts the theory–then you have not made a logical argument.

            At first I thought perhaps you were making a slippery slope argument or affirming the consequent, but actually it’s simpler than that. You just seem to be asserting that p –> q and decided that real world evidence (percentage of atheists that actually are nihilists) didn’t matter to the validity of your argument. This isn’t very convincing.

          • Avatar
            Kiew Sieh Jin

            Hi JW,

            yes what i’m talking about is logical connections. what happens in the real world doesn’t necessarily disprove it.

            example: Jesus taught us to love one another.
            logical conclusion: Christians follow Jesus, therefore they should be the most loving people.
            reality: some Christians are loving, but many (sad to say) are hateful, judgmental, backstabbing hypocrites.

            so you see, in the example above, that the statistical reality of how Christians behave doesn’t disprove the logical connection between Jesus’ teaching and how they ought to behave.

            similarly, for the argument i’m making:

            If atheism is true, there is no God.
            logical conclusion: we are all here by accident, we will be here for a moment and then disappear forever. in Shakespear’s words, life ‘is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
            signifying nothing.’ there is no greater meaning or purpose to our existence.
            reality: the crushing despair and depression of nihilism is unlivable, and therefore people avoid it, choosing instead to construct their own meaning and purpose; one of these illusory constructs is called Christianity, another is called Humanism, and there are many others.

            the whole of the above depends on that first hypothetical clause, ‘if atheism is true’.

            you don’t seem to see the logical connection between atheism and nihilism, and i don’t know how to explain it in clearer terms than i already have. so i guess we’re at an impasse here. shall we let the matter rest, and just agree to disagree?

          • Avatar
            Bruce Gerencser

            First, your definition of atheism is wrong. Let me educate you:

            Atheism is in the broadest sense an absence of belief in the existence of deities. Less broadly, atheism is a rejection of the belief that any deities exist. In an even narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities. Atheism is contrasted with theism, which in its most general form is the belief that at least one deity exists.

            Second, just because your God doesn’t exist, doesn’t mean we are here by “accident.” All it means is that the Christian God is not the Creator/First Cause/Divine Power. Science continues to investigate the origin of the universe. We may yet find a deity of some sort behind everything, or, perhaps, an advanced alien species. Who knows, right? Yet, you claim with great certainity and infallibilty to “know” who created the universe, when, where, why, and how; that all this exciting scientific information is found in an ancient religious text that says the universe was created 6, 023 years ago by a polytheistic deity.

            Third, that you cannot comphrehend or understand how and why atheists, agnostics, and other non-Christians find meaning and purpose in their lives is your problem, not ours. You deliberately refuse to accept the explanations given to you, choosing instead to keep repeating yourself over and over. Please stop. You are embarrassing yourself.

            Fourth, the reason we refuse to see the connection between atheism and nihilism is because there is none. You are the one lacking understanding on this issue. No matter how many times you say “atheism leads to nihilism,” the fact remains, it doesn’t.

            I hope you are sensitive enough to see that you are wearing out your welcome. You have said your piece. Your bullshit arguments have been discredited and rejected. If you don’t have anything else, let me suggest that you move on. I am not sure what you hoped to accomplish, Kiew Sieh. I am not a “dumb” atheist, and neither are the readers of this site — many of whom are Christians, pagans. You are not the first apolgist to stop by and “wow” us with their arguments. Like you, they failed.

            I wish you well.

            Bruce Gerencser

          • Avatar
            JW

            Yeah, we’re at an impasse here, in part because I’m not a great communicator and in part because what I’m actually trying to dispute here is your claim that you are making a LOGICAL argument. I’ll try again by breaking your argument down into components. Given the way the conversation has gone there’s probably not much point anymore, but anyway:

            Atheism –> not God: This statement is not valid, as Bruce and others have tried to point out. This is a misunderstanding of atheism.

            not God –> Nihilism / no meaning: One possible outcome, but does not necessarily follow. This is a pretty big problem with your argument, and indicates a lack of imagination. Why MUST there be no meaning if there is no God? Why MUST people adopt Nihilism in this case?

            No meaning –> unlivably crushing despair and depression: Not true. This is flat-out a false claim. For one thing, there are actual Nihilists out there, and there is no rule saying they have to be in despair or depressed. Perhaps you should try to understand Nihilists better, in addition to Atheists?

            Avoid despair –> must construct meaning: Again, does not necessarily follow. See: actual Nihilists. Further, this assumes that one only constructs meaning in order to avoid despair. Again, this indicates a lack of imagination. Why not consider the possibility that people construct meaning / adopt morals simply because they intrinsically enjoy doing so? Or just that some people try to be the person they idealize just because they want to? Why are you so certain that people adopt “meaning” just to avoid despair?

            All the above –> logical connection between Atheism and Nihilism: No. For an argument to be (logically) strong, it must both have valid premises, and the conclusion must follow from the premises. Several of your premises are invalid, and the others just don’t necessarily follow. They may/do have explanations that you simply couldn’t imagine.

            Additionally, you seem to keep arguing that evidence shouldn’t matter because people don’t live up to ideals. You should know that this is a terrible argument.

            If you’re going to argue that Atheism logically leads to Nihilism, and the people who identify as Atheists do not in the majority also identify as Nihilists, then that should at the very minimum act as a giant, flaming, red flag that something’s not working with your argument. Your argument is useless for predicting what people actually are, and you haven’t proven that it indicates what they SHOULD be. You might as well try arguing that because Atheists reject the claims of Theists, then they logically should believe that the Moon is made out of Swiss Cheese. Who knows, reality could be strange and that may even be a more useful/predictive argument than yours.

            But then again, I’m just repeating myself here as well…

          • Avatar
            JW

            Oh, I just thought of a more complete example:

            Atheists reject the claims of Theists. The human mind abhors a vacuum and cannot simply believe in nothing. “The Moon is made of Swiss Cheese” is something. Therefore, Atheism logically leads to the belief that the Moon is made of Swiss Cheese.

            Hopefully that helps illustrate why you can’t just string a bunch of statements together and result in a logical argument. Logic isn’t that simple.

        • Avatar
          Astreja

          Value itself is a human construct, and it is always subjective — even if it did come from a god, it’s merely the god’s opinion.

          The “logical conclusion” of atheism is not nihilism. Atheism is simply a lack of belief in deities. The logical conclusion of my atheism is that I do not believe that gods exist — in fact, I’ve never been able to cultivate religious belief. My mind simply doesn’t work that way.

          Something for you to ponder on the subject of nihilism: I see eternal life as meaningless, because by definition there is no end point and therefore no “point to it all.” In contrast, finite human lives are precious to me because they are fragile and all too short.

  19. Avatar
    Brian Vanderlip

    Greetings KIEW SIEH JIN, Thank-you for explaining your position. I think you have made your point, though it is not logical by any means I can apply to it. The only sense it makes comes from your ‘belief’ in God and that morality was inserted in humankind by a magic figure. We differ, we humanists from that view. What is suggested by some of us is that humanity has developed over time the necessary tools to survive in the world and one important one involves many of the things you have listed along with Astreja. I see the parallel quite clearly but your supposition, “humanism is (in my view) an attempt to hold on to the values and the morality of chrisitianity without the foundational beliefs which supported those values and morality…” falls flat as a pancake without any proof that this entitiy (God) imposed it all, inserted it into our makeup. Humanists value humanity perhaps more than Christians because they hold to the human and do not abdicate reason and logic as a rule. Christianity is abdication of the human in that it presumes humankind is born evil and in need of correction. You turn away from us, Mr. Jin, and prefer a belief, it seems. Still, you care deeply for others as humanists do; that you have already stated.
    What if God was one of us, sir? A stranger on a bus trying to make his way home..? (That for me, kind of speaks to the humanist view.) I’m sure you would assist him if he needed that help, yes? And I hope that would be enough for you, that genuine humanism, caring for others (and thereby self) without then informing God the stranger on the bus that he is going to hell unless he admits he is evil and fallen.
    It’s a sick idea, as I see it, Mr. Jin. And what is the logic that allows you to suggest that humanism is based on the worthless value of people? That makes no sense to me at all. Is it because a book suggested to you that this is so? If we are so worthless and evil, why do we care for one another and practice altruistic behaviours? So we can prove we are headed for nihilism? That life is meaningless? I would suggest that a belief in a magic man in the sky suggests nihilism more than humanism ever did. Wars are fought for Gods not people and it is humans who have stated that there is no winner in war. No human winner. The sanctity of life is paticularly keen regarding humanity because of evolution, the interest of humans to survive. You on the other hand insist that we are rotten and have no hope unless we follow God. That is evangelical Christian belief, correct? By the way, when you suggest God, do you mean Buddha or Mohammed or Jesus or the three in one and the one in three? Or is it one of the original Greek Gods? Is it one particular deity of the plus two thousand hamanity has known?

    • Avatar
      Kiew Sieh Jin

      hi Brian,

      i can agree with you that “humanity has developed over time the necessary tools to survive in the world” and one of those tools is morality. in other words, we developed morality via evolution. my argument, however, is that while we may have arrived in morality by that way, morality is more than that. when i say, to use an example i used in another comment i made above, the ‘it is morally wrong to torture a person for fun’, i don’t just mean that it’s evolutionarily advantageous. even if we could’ve somehow evolved differently, into beings which didn’t think that such torture were wrong, it would still be wrong.

      the question i’m talking about isn’t how we know what’s right and wrong, or how do we develop a sense of morality. it’s the question of what moral values actually are. are they just statements of subjective preference? are they community consensus on what kind of behviour is acceptable or not acceptable? or are they actually, objectively true things?

      Brian, you said, ‘Christianity is abdication of the human in that it presumes humankind is born evil and in need of correction.’ This is not exactly correct. Christians believe that human beings were created in the image of God, that we are in some ways like Him, that we reflect His glory. Yes, we do need correction because we’ve chosen to reject God and go our own way, and yes, some christian denominations have a very dim view of human nature (‘total depravity’, the Calvinists call it). but as a whole, the christian view is slightly more balanced than that.

      You also said, ‘What if God was one of us, sir? A stranger on a bus trying to make his way home..?’ That’s a beautiful thought, Brian, and parallels what Jesus himself said in Matthew 25:40 – ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

      Brian, you characterised my position as, ‘humanism is based on the worthless value of people?’ surely i never said such a self-contradictory thing. i said that both humanism and christianity affirm the worth and value of people. In Christianity, human beings are worthy and valuable because, as i mentioned earlier, we’re created in the image of God. in fact, God considered us so worthy and valuable that He was willing to become one of us and die on the cross for us in order to save us (at least, that’s what Christians believe). so human beings are of great worth and value, in the Christian belief. what is the basis for human worth and value, though, if atheism is true? aren’t human beings just a collection of organic molecules? aren’t human beings just another specie of animal? that’s what i was saying.

      as for what i mean by ‘God’ – i would suggest that God is the Creator. he is immensely powerful, must be so to have been able to bring the world into existence; also immensely intelligent, as we can discern when we look at the incredible complexity and intricacy of the world He has created. and He is morally perfect, the grounds and source of objective moral values. I also believe that the Christian concept of God comes closer to this God than any other religion does; but of course, like so many other things i’ve said here, that is debatable.

      • Avatar
        Sage

        Ok, I was remaining silent while watching you twist and turn to try to convince us that christian morals are no different that humanist morals.

        But here is the real life reality. I, as a non-binary person, find it much easier to be accepted by humanists, wiccans, Buddhists, atheists, non-religious,, anarchicsts, punks, and many more- basically people who do not hold christian moral values, than I ever have with any (yes..any) christian moral believer. This includes not only professing christians, but also people,who use christianity, and its morals, as a reason to bully, control, enslave, and commit genocide, such as Fearless Leader trump (please don’t argue about genocide, it’s all through the bible, so just don’t start).

        Humanists didn’t make laws to eradicate me, but christians have done this in the past and still do it today. Humanists don’t call me perverted, sick, sinner but christians do. Humanists don’t damn me to a life of eternal torture but christians do. Humanists don’t care if I work in their business but christians do. Humanists don’t tell me that they can’t serve me in their business but christians do. Humanists aren’t afraid I will recruit their children to be like me, but christians do. Humanists don’t get upset at me or confront me in a public restroom but christians do.

        Humanists and many others accept me as I am, but christians will invariably begin to “help me correct my ways”. So if christian morals are the basis for humanist morals, then why are christians constantly wanting to change me. I am every bit as moral as a christian, yet somehow I need changed.

        I haves escaped from my christian abuse but I still deal with the fallout. I deal with christian moral attitudes every day. They are the ones that go the opposite direction when they see me coming, or hurriedly leave when I appear next to them, or look me up and down with that “what is wrong with you” look on their face. The christian moral crowd are the people I actually fear, because they are the one most likely to do me harm.

        Fortunately I meet enough non christian moral people who will compliment my eyeliner, or nail color, or my style and let me know that I am a human who is accepted. I will take that over anyone with Christian moral values.

      • Avatar
        Brian Vanderlip

        KIEW SIEH JIN, hello again… I’m afraid you are resting your perspectives on fantasy wishes. Every reference to so-called objective reality regarding right and wrong is based in wishful thinking, certainly not logic. You can cite intuition if you like but it proves nothing.
        In the sixties, my dad had a conviction/intuition that playing sports on Sunday was just plain wrong and did not honor God so we were forbidden to play and told to spend Sundays doing something like reading the Bible. Later, my Baptist preacher father decided that it was really not such a sin to watch sports on Sunday. Is this a trivial example? Not at all… It is the practice of extreme belief and not just Christian belief. And let me say that it was a form of ‘torture’ for kids to be isolated from play as a kid and to be told that suffering like that was a good thing. You might say that I trivialize torture but I would say that children probably have a better knowledge of the reality of torture than most adults. Adults teach children to torture mostly by torturing them! I worked with two Korean girls in Asia, helping them with conversational English. They had to endure this after school hours, go home and set up at the dinner table for two hours with me. They hated it because they wanted to play after school but the parents were so driven to discipline them that the kids had no choice in the matter. I tried very hard to play games with them, write poetry and have fun rather than stab away at grammar and syntax. Still it was a kind of ‘torture’ for them, a daily grind of education that dominated their lives.
        You do not allow your mind to look at God without the abdication I have spoken of… You infer that it is not balanced regarding Christianity but I would suggest that if you walked out of the Christian bubble, it would appear more balanced than believing that a God allowed his son to be tortured to death, that in causation, God did the torturing himself as the all-powerful, all-seeing magic monster. There is no way around the fact that God was/is a vicious entity. But it requires that you read your Bible yourself and look at the choices God made. You will see that this ‘human construct’ was developed by humanity to cope, that this invention for coping has been a tool over the ages not to do good as it doube-speaks but to harm self and others. Nevertheless, I support your human choice to abdicate self and hate your fallen nature, to look to top-God to save you. That is your choice. But please don’t continue to repeat your wishful thinking here among people who have been Christians and have run for their lives. We know exactly what you are saying and we choose, No. Is it possible for you to leave us be and not condemn us to the eternal suffering of the great commission and finally the long long burning?

  20. Avatar
    katherinewandell

    Hi there I read all your posts. I felt compelled to let you know what I think. First, there is no way we are here by accident or big bang. God is real. You can see there is design and order. In fact He is the one holding your body together (Laminin). From what I read I think you did truly trust Christ for salvation, but the ministry was a heavy burden to you that after years of serving in, left you feeling as if it wasn’t worth it. You mentioned how little you were paid among other things and that life has “been better” since you stopped following Jesus.

    You know the truth, God does not change. Our views can change and our hearts as well. When you first heard truth as a young man you believed it with gladness and trusted in it, in what? In God’s word. After leaving the ministry you read many books…did you search the good book? God’s Book? You said you were seeking the truth of Christianity, did you draw nigh to the Lord? No, you drew yourself to man’s ideas and opinions and found in them the validation of your doubts about your faith.

    What did that do? It caused you to drift further away from God, further and further until you could not see him anymore, like a boat disappearing into the horizon. God did go anywhere or cease to exist because your view changed from the boat. He will always wait for you. I pray you will seek him again in this life, either way you’ll know the truth after death. This entire Chapter of the Bible is what God has to say about knowing the truth and then forsaking it. I hope you’ll read it

    2 Peter 2

    But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.

    And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.

    For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly;

    And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly; And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked:
    (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;) The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:

    But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities.
    Whereas angels, which are greater in power and might, bring not railing accusation against them before the Lord. But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption; And shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the day time. Spots they are and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you;

    Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children: Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; But was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man’s voice forbad the madness of the prophet.

    These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever.
    For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error.
    While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage. For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.

    For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire

    • Avatar
      GeoffT

      “ First, there is no way we are here by accident or big bang.”

      Katherine, this is nothing more than an assertion, speculation based on incredulity. What you actually mean is that it’s beyond your comprehension, so you have invented a way to circumvent attempts to try and solve the problems. Do I know why there is something rather than nothing? No, of course not, and nor do you. Do I know the answer to any of the other big questions? No, of course not, and nor do you. Having said which, science has made giant strides in understanding the beginnings of the universe, information that is inaccessible to most of us.

      So I can understand why you might want to believe in God, it makes life so much easier than having to think for yourself. That doesn’t make your beliefs true.

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    ... Zoe ~

    I’m not sure why it is that a Christian thinks they can start a sermon with a lie. As you mentioned Bruce, you have evidence that she did not read “all” of your posts. I guess it is okay to lie if it is for the cause of Christ?

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    ... Zoe ~

    It appears that Katherine believes she has the gift of discernment and she has discerned that you are unfamiliar with 2 Peter. I don’t think Katherine has read “all” your posts Bruce. 🙂

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    William

    I had a ministry for a while where homeless and people temporarily down in their luck would often come. I would buy them some simple clothes, made sure they had somewhere to sleep. I like to think that that they wouldn’t just remember me as a Christian but as someone who helped them when at times no one else would.

    It’s not just about the religion i am sure there are many ex active Christians who did good, such as yourself Bruce from reading your posts and your story. The catalyst was the bible, but good was still often done! 🙂

Want to Respond to Bruce? Fire Away!

Bruce Gerencser