Repost from 2015-2016. Edited, updated, and corrected.
Why is it that so many Evangelicals have no desire to be curious? Yes, I know many are, so don’t get your panties in a bunch if you are a curiouser-than-a-cat Evangelical. I frequently get emails or blog comments from Evangelical Christians wanting to “help” me find my way back to Jesus. Such people are certain that they possess the requisite knowledge and skill necessary to reclaim the famous Evangelical-turned-atheist Bruce Gerencser for Jesus. They are sure that if they just befriend me, quote the right Bible verses, soothe my hurts, or understand my pain, I will fall on my knees and call on the name of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
I was in the Christian church for fifty years. I was a pastor for twenty-five of those years. I have a Bible college education. Surely they understand that I am not an atheist out of ignorance, right? Of course not, and here is where their lack of curiosity gets them in trouble. They often don’t know anything about me or this blog. Why? Because they did a Google/Bing/Yahoo search for _________________ and their search brought them to a single blog post of mine. They read that one post and immediately decide that I am a poor wayfaring waif in need of their peculiar brand of God/Jesus/Christianity.
When I get comments such as these, I go to the logs and see what pages they read. Usually, they have read only the page their search brought them to. Their lack of curiosity (or laziness) is astounding, and leads them to make wild judgments about me, and come to rash, ill-informed conclusions. If these people would just read the About page, the WHY? page, or the Dear Evangelical page, they would be better informed about me and this blog. But they don’t. Why is that?
I suspect part of the reason Evangelicals are not, in general, known for their curiosity is that they are 100% certain they are absolutely right. In their minds, they worship the one, true God and this God lives inside of them in the person of the Holy Spirit. This God walks with them, talks with them, and tell them that they are his own (from the hymn In the Garden). They have an inerrant, infallible supernatural book given to them by this supernatural God. This book contains all the answers about life that they will ever need.
When you are filled with certainty, there is no need to think, reason, investigate, or doubt. When the man upstairs is on your team, no need to consider any other team. Why be a lowly Reds fan when you can be a Yankees fan? When your church has declared that Moose Tracks ice cream is the one true ice cream, no need to try any other ice cream.
Simply put, there’s no need to know anything else when you already know all you need to know. God said it, I believe it and that settles it for me, the Christian ditty goes. One true God, one true religious text, one way of salvation. The earth is 6,023 years old, created in six literal 24 hour days. The Bible gives the blueprint for having a Christ-honoring family, a happy marriage, obedient kids, and awesome missionary position sex — but only for the purpose of trying to catch up with the Duggars. When the answer to every question is “God” or “the Bible says,” it’s not surprising to find that Evangelicals are not, by nature, curious.
The good news is that more and more Evangelicals are discovering the curiosity that lies dormant beneath the surface of their lives. Once they make this discovery, they are on their way out of the closed-mindedness and senses-dulling prison of Evangelicalism. They will find out that science can and does explain the world they live in. Science doesn’t have all the answers, but it is asking the right questions.
Still want/need to believe in a transcendent deity or some sort of spirituality? Once free of the heaven/hell, saved/lost, in/out, good/bad paradigm of Evangelicalism, people are free to wander at will. When the fear of hell and judgment is gone, they are free to experience those things that are meaningful to them. Once the question is no longer “will you go to heaven when you die?” the journey, rather than the destination, becomes what matters.
Curiosity may kill the cat, but trust me Evangelicals, it won’t kill you.
Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen 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.
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