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Larry Dixon’s Followers Dish the “Truth” about Atheist Bruce Gerencser

cant we be friends
Cartoon by Paco

Two weeks ago, I wrote a post titled, Beware of Evangelicals Coming in the Name of “Friendship.” In that post, I used the writing of Evangelical preacher and professor Larry Dixon as an example of how “friendship evangelism” is a manipulative, deceitful method used to evangelize non-Evangelicals in the name of friendship. In essence, friendship evangelism promoters encourage zealots to make fake friendships with people so they can witness to them.

Dixon, of course, objected to my characterization of friendship evangelism and his use of it to evangelize the lost. You can read his objections in the comment section of the aforementioned post. You can also read his comments on his blog. Dixon wrote two posts about me: Answering a Personal Attack: My Response to a Former Preacher Turned Atheist and Bruce’s Response (Former Preacher Turned Atheist). Nothing Dixon said in response changed my opinion of the practice of friendship evangelism. (Please see Bruce, I Want to be Your Friend — Part One, Bruce, I Want to be Your Friend — Part Two, Dear Evangelical, Here’s The Number One Reason We Can’t be Friends, and Just Remember, Evangelicals Always Have an Agenda.)

I always find interesting and amusing how Evangelicals respond to disagreements such as the one between Bruce, the Evangelical-turned-atheist and Larry, the “let’s be friends” Evangelical preacher. Not a lot of comment traffic on Dixon’s blog, but what follows is four comments readers of this site might find interesting. Enjoy!

Linn says:

It will be interesting to see if BG does reply. I’m not sure how I stumbled on his website (which also led me to your blog, which I am enjoying), but I found what he wrote very intriguing, at first. At this point, he posts seem very repetitive. I thought I might gain some insight into why people reject Jesus, but it seems more like everyone who is a Christian is either a hypocrite or believes in fairy tales. He seems to have run out of arguments. Most of my family is non-Christian. After we go through all of their arguments, it always comes down to “I don’t want to.” They do not want to admit that they are sinners before a holy God Who loves them and provided a way of escape through the death and resurrection of HIs Son.

Kenenbom says:

Well written, Larry. I’d be tempted to write this off as a lost cause, but your perseverance models the Good Shepherd.

Anonymous says:


Thank you for your persistence with him. The choices in Bruce’s’ worldview hold no consequences while choices within your worldview does. I would say either Bruce was not saved to begin with or that his buried faith will only come forth in the event of real personal crisis in his life. God is not done with him yet. What Bruce is forgetting, regardless of ones world view, is that life has a way of turning on us. Meaning illness, accidents, fear of death etc.. These things we do not wish on anyone, however unfortunately the brush with the brevity of life often can give the sinner one more chance to make things right with God. Prayer is essential at this point.

Butch says:

Dr. Dixon, I wanted to say that when Bruce makes the statement, “but could it be that you’re trying to justify your delusional need and worship of a dead man named Jesus?” it tells me that he (Bruce) does not even believe that Christ has risen and the He lives. We don’t server a dead God, but a God that is alive and loves us unconditionally. I believe that this is Bruce’s issue, and until he believes that Christ is alive, he will always be lost. What we need to do is keep Bruce in our prayers and ask our loving God to show him that he lives, and he cares!

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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    Bruce, I don’t know Larry personally but I am friend of a friend with him. I honestly don’t think he’s doing friendship with unbelievers solely for evangelism. I think he really wants to get to know them. At the same time there’s this tendency for any, well almost any, group to spend all their time with only like minded people. That’s part of why Republicans only seem to know Republicans… Dems only know Dems, Christians know Christians, etc… Perhaps that is not so true on a small town, as it seems your town in. I believe he is trying to fight this tendency. So I can’t remember how this got started but I think there are 1000’s and 1000’s of people who are much less tolerant than him.

    Where I differ with the professor, I believe is that I let you talk. Then I believe if God is talking to you He is the only one who can do His work. I leave it to Him.

    • Avatar
      Bruce Gerencser

      If Dixon is NOT befriending people for the sake of evangelizing them, he would forgo trying to evangelize people unless asked. He would be friends with people for no other reason than friendship. He wouldn’t need to teach seminars or write books about friendship evangelism if that was the case. No pointers, tips, or instructions needed.

      That Dixon became a Christian because he feared going to Hell (his words) drives his evangelistic methodology. Evangelicals genuinely believe in Hell (Dixon wrote a blog series defending his awful view of eternal punishment) and want to “rescue” poor deluded sinners who don’t know they “need” deliverance. Thinking this allows Evangelical zealots to take an end justifies the means approach to evangelism. The Apostle Paul took a similar approach when he said, “I become all things to all men, so I might by all means save some.” Deception and obfuscation is part of Evangelicalism’s DNA. I say that as someone who spent most of his life in Evangelicalism. It was only when I stood outside of the bubble that I could see how manipulative and coercive Evangelical doctrine and practice really is.

      Can anyone really be a “good” person who believes that their version of God eternally tortures anyone and everyone who worships the wrong God, believes the wrong things, lives in the wrong place, was born to the wrong parents, or has lifestyles that offend Evangelical sensibilities? (Beliefs have consequences. They also affect how we view and treat others.) I am, in every way, a good, decent, kind, loving man, husband, father, and grandfather. I don’t need saving. Yet, how does Dixon, according to his anti-human Evangelical theology, view me? You know the answer. I’ve been following his blog for years. I’ve got a good idea of what he believes. I once held similar beliefs. Dixon might put a “friendlier” face on Evangelicalism, but behind the curtain lurks abominable beliefs and practices that atheists, agnostics, humanists, and billions of non-Christians find offensive. So when Evangelicals come bearing gifts of “friendship,” we want nothing to do with their overtures. If we ever decide we want what Evangelicals are peddling, we’ll stop by one of their club locations and buy a membership. Until then, please leave us alone.

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      ‘…I honestly don’t think he’s doing friendship with unbelievers solely for evangelism…’ forgive me Sarah, but that had me LOL-ing into my coffee. Don’t you realise how utterly false that sounds to us many ex-believers here? We’ve ‘been there, done that’, some of us for decades. Every True X-tian has saving the heathen as their prime motive. And I suggest every lost soul in countries like yours and miine, the US and the UK, knows exactly what the reason is for a x-tian to suddenly want their friendship….and it’s not to widen their own horizons outside their bubble as you suggest. It’s to be The Faithful Servant Who Gets That Heathen Person Gloriously Saved. Respectfully, could you try to prise open your closed mind just a little bit? It’s great out here in the sunshine when you do and the stifling chains of faith are unshackled.

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      Dr. Larry Dixon

      Sarah, thank you for your kind words. I appreciate the point that you want God to speak to Bruce— that God “is the only one who can do His work.” Absolutely. Conviction of sin is a work of God the Holy Spirit. However, Jesus-followers are under obligation to present the gospel and to debate its truth (the book of Acts shows the early Christians working hard at “convincing” those not yet in God’s family). We convince; the Holy Spirit convicts. Again, than you for your kind comment. Larry

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        Brian Vanderlip

        Bruce said: It was only when I stood outside of the bubble that I could see how manipulative and coercive Evangelical doctrine and practice really is.

        There is a kind of ‘saved’ moment when you depart the bubble. One realizes their sincere unbelief and that it would be false to claim otherwise. What joy I felt when I finally became conscious again and said, I do not believe. What peace I felt and it has not departed. I do not ‘cycle’ the sin merry-go-round anymore. I am pleased to be able to tell the truth.
        Dr. Larry et al wish to convince me I am deluded and they pray that a spirit will overcome my delusion so that I can be a worthless person without Christ. Then Christ can do the magic meld and make me worthwhile and eternally alive. The trouble is, I am always me, always was, just plain ol’ me walking along, singing, weeping, whatever. Thanks for the offer to lie to myself, Larry but I think I’ll just tell the truth for awhile longer if you don’t mind. (And I know you don’t.)
        Finally, we cannot agree and you have said your piece and I mine. Let us try to be kind to one another and not serve eternal torture etc. into the bargain. Let’s not stand on street corners and insult our neighbors with our obligation. How about help somebody in human pain instead of being obligated to convince and ‘prey’ for their conviction. It’s rude, Larry, even when you smile and feel ever so friendly and polite.
        Could it be that agnostics/atheists are geneerally kinder to people than evangelical Christians are, Larry? I wonder if that bothers you and you would like to somehow help Christians be better than they generally seem to be?

      • Avatar
        Bruce Gerencser

        Thank you for proving the point that I have been making all along: that Evangelicals are incapable of being friends with people just for the sake of friendship; that evangelizing people is always the motivation lurking in the shadows and end game of every feigned friendship; that Evangelicals are duty bound to “convince” people; that Evangelicals are pathologically incapable of loving people as they are, where they are, and leaving them in peace; that ultimately your commitment to the Bible is more important and of more value than just being loving, kind, decent, caring human beings who see others having intrinsic value and worth regardless of their beliefs, values, and lifestyles.

        No need to respond, Larry. I’ve “heard” you loud and clear, as have most of the other readers of this blog.

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        And yet, showing compassion and kindness to your fellow man, THE WAY THEY ARE, without an agenda, would be truer and kinder. But you all just DO. NOT. GET. IT. I would think if there was a Holy Spirit, that said being would work through unconditional love. Fundies and evangelicals don’t have unconditional love, you merely want notches on your belt to show God. “See God, all the people we’ve fixed?” And yet, evangelicals have proven that they are bereft of love and compassion, and only care for their mostly white, mostly Christian, mostly wealthy, and mostly conservative neighbors.

        God forbid you all cared about (1) brown refugees, (2) LGBTQ people, (3) liberals, and anyone else not kowtowing to your ridiculous beliefs. PS–I’m not an atheist or agnostic, but the Deity I worship actually wants me to help my fellow man, regardless of race, creed, color, etc etc. Don’t see that from you all. Hypocrites, all of you.

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        To you and Sarah: Do you know what the law calls people who constantly contact, follow, and bother those who don’t want their company? Stalkers. That’s what you and your followers are, stalkers for Jesus. I am sick of being bothered by phony-baloney Christians who claim they “love” me. I am sick of those who cry saying they want to save me, and then gleefully rejoice at the thought of watching sinners burn from their safe space in heaven. I am happy. I have a good life. And I don’t need false friends like you to tell me what I need. Like Bruce said, leave us alone!

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        “I appreciate the point that you want God to speak to Bruce.”

        God has never spoken to anyone.
        God is a fictional character and a human invention.

        God is a dummy and the Christians are ventriloquists.
        You, Dr. Larry are both a puppet and a puppet-master.
        That’s how Christianity concocts its miracles.

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        Your God is a fictional as the Easter Bunny, Darth Vader and Harry Potter. Most of us here became atheists due to thought and investigation, not “we just want to sin or don’t want to go”. Stop stalking and go back to indoctrinating your own flock.

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    Sorry Dr Dixon, but your twice-repeated ‘thanks for your kind words’ and the unctious tone of your other comments here, just come across as smarmy. I was in churches for 50yrs where we were always sooo nice to newcomers so they’d want to come back to all us lovely, lovely people and put their bums on our pews every week. I’ll add the following, before others do. Hint: the holy ghost ain’t likely to do any convicting or convincing through your mouth…cos he ain’t real.
    (Think bubble coming out of my head here, how shall I end this comment? ”Hope you and Sarah have a good day” or ” richest blessings on you” or, ”may you experience more outpourings of his love for you today” or ‘thank you for reading this”…all jargon, all meaningless….)

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    Charles S. Oaxpatu

    I was going to write something long, and then remembered something I learned long ago. There is nothing you can say to people like Larry that will not be immediately thrown into a wastebasket. Whether you are a Christian like me or not a Christian, talking to people like Dr. Larry Dixon is like talking to a dead tree stump. It is a total waste of time for anyone who tries it.

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    I understand that you evangelical Christians believe that each and every human is a filthy, vile, disgusting sinner unworthy of decent treatment. Your God tells you so. Your God tells you that you must spend time and resources convincing people to acknowledge their despicable lot in life – not something they earned, by the way, but something conferred on them just for existing. And that in order to escape the deity’s throwing the sinner into eternal torture in hell – just for existing, mind you – the sinner must consider themselves a disgusting vile thing and promise fealty and enslavement in word, thought, and action to said deity. Supposedly, all humans are subject to this state of affairs, so even if someone is born in a place where there are no evangelical Christians, “they are without excuse”. I get that you evangelicals believe this – I was taught that too – but it just seemed so harsh and unjust. Sp i understand why you think you need to spread your gospel to any and all within earshot. But many people don’t want to be pestered with your message. We ask that you leave us alone. If you can’t bear to associate with filthy, vile sinners such as us, then please leave us alone when we to you that we aren’t buying your product. If you can be friends with us without constantly trying to sell us your religion, if you can enjoy us as people sharing interests, please be our friends. But don’t pester us when we say “no thank you”. It’s sad that your scriptures tell you we are not to be associated with though.

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    Karen the rock whisperer

    Actually, I have some sympathy for Larry and people who think like him. To them, Hell is real. God is real. God is the most profound of jerks, who will send people to eternal torture for being anything other than a Bible-believing Christian. Eternal torture! We humans can’t really even get our minds around what ‘eternity’ actually is. But if this is your belief, and you have a kind heart, you want to save as many people as you can.

    Then there are most of the rest of us, who either follow some other branch of Christianity, or some other religion altogether, or have no religion. We don’t believe in their Hell or their God at all, or at the very least our beliefs about those things are far different than theirs. To us, their particular Hell and their particular God absolutely don’t exist.

    It is very unlikely that we’ll convince each other to change our beliefs.

    Most of my tribe, the unbelievers, wish that evangelizing Christians (or those evangelizing any other beliefs, actually) be transparent and honest about it. We value transparency and honesty highly. Evangelizers commonly don’t value these things. Transparency and honesty might get in the way of somebody being saved from eternal torture!

    And so we go around and around. There is no resolution to this problem that I can see. I know my dear mom-in-law goes to bed at night and prays very hard for her unbelieving family members. She fears for our souls and the possibility of eternal torture for us. There is nothing we can say or do that will relieve that fear, and it makes me very sad. We’ve agreed to leave religion off the table most of the time, but there is the loneliness of the night and the fierceness of the fear.

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      Brian Vanderlip

      The merry-go-round is not at all merry when one wishes to get off and have done with the sin-spin. It makes me sad as well, Karen the rock whisperer, that I see no approach that is open to me to somehow lessen the pain of my extended family believers who are prying one another to suffer over those of us who are clearly on the other side of the door. Makes me wish I could do magic and poof, take away all that suffering. What a waste it is!
      And so, at the end of it all, I just encourage our being kind to one another, to love as best we can and be kind. That seems to me to be a starting point that is more worthwhile than ‘making-the-sale’, as the apostle seemed to suggest in being all things to all…
      And whomever the used car salesman was who invented the miserable self-hatred called ‘original sin’, well, that prick should be locked up in Ken Ham’s ark and launched for an eternal ride in the Bermuda triangle.

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      ... Zoe ~

      Karen wrote: ” I know my dear mom-in-law goes to bed at night and prays very hard for her unbelieving family members. She fears for our souls and the possibility of eternal torture for us. There is nothing we can say or do that will relieve that fear, and it makes me very sad. We’ve agreed to leave religion off the table most of the time, but there is the loneliness of the night and the fierceness of the fear.”

      Zoe: I just wanted to pull this out recognizing how many of us lived like this 24/7.

      For me and I imagine many others, we put ourselves in a state of stress, trauma, shock, fight &/or flight and other states of being when we were suppose to approach the days end peacefully and restfully.

      Instead, we have visions and or flashbacks of relatives, friends and human beings eternally tortured in this place called hell.

      Ramped up on fear our hearts race, our respirations increase or we hold our breath with fear, we get headaches, our bodies freeze with shock, we want to look the other way but we are stuck in a moment of terror.

      We can’t shut it off.

      We beg God, please don’t let my grandma and grandpa die and go to hell. Save them! Save them! Please!

      Feeling sick to our stomachs with a host of other physiological reactions to our stress, we try to sleep.

      Our tears baptize our pillows, we curl up in fear.


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    My dearest Bruce,

    When it comes right down to it Evangelicals are simply Amway salesmen!

    Ask any ex ambot as they feel free once out of the cult!

    Love your blog and PS the bible can only be traced back to the eleventh century as it was all made up by a bunch of drunken monks…


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    Yulya. Sevelova

    I teadcwith great interest the subject of friendship evangelizing. Fear is at the root of that tactic. And also, the risk that you can become really attached over time to your ‘project’s and if something happens to them, you are traumatized for life,blaming yourself, furious at this god(if you are honest)for failing you both at a crucial time. Stakes are high, stress levels are through the roof, as you ponder each failure(if you are a genuinely caring person)this can rebound on you in ways one can’t imagine). Add to this the generally toxic and arrogant American Christianity, as a culture, and the result is the disgust and loathing for Christian’s in general, I fear. Bringing on the very persecution that preachers say will happen in this country one day. Many of them want this to happen, so they are reckless in their behavior. I once heard and saw this done, years ago. I even heard on a commercial for some program,where this “family man” says his life is so easy and even boring, that he wanted to experience persecution so he could “have an adventure with Jesus, he needed a challenge”. That’s how many typical Complementairians andconservatives think. It doesn’t matter how crazy and obnoxious you are, be weird for Jesus, because persecution is inevitable. In countries where Christianity is illegal, people don’t have time for such claptrap ! American Christian’s claim to be the “cream of the crop”, when they are just an embarrassment. It took years to figure this out,until becoming a critical thinker, and looking back. If you are a nutter, keep it in your church and leave society alone,please !

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    Yulya Sevelova

    I must apologize for the above typos. Using a phone for the reading and commenting and I can’t control this autotext.

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Bruce Gerencser