Earlier this week, an Evangelical man by the name of Joseph McPherson left the following comments on my Facebook page:
That is not spot on theologically, or something evangelicals would say. What garbage, purposefully deceptive and slanderous tripe. I can’t imagine someone would come up with that as a pretend conversation. Sickening.It’s akin to saying, “no wonder evolutionists are so despised. Look what Jeffrey Dahmer did by murdering and cannabalizing multiple young men.”
The Life and Times of Bruce Gerencser according to you, you weren’t called to be a pastor/minister for 25 years; yet you position yourself as a person (perhaps even a sage in your own mind) worthy of a following today.
Myths to support hatred of a people group – mostly identified externally by people such as yourself and pages such as this – are not only hypocritical, they are savagely harmful and even violence-evoking to the target group.
I grew up in a conservative Christian community, attended hundreds of different churches (dozens of denominations), thousands of services; never once did I hear a sermon that spread the mythological misrepresentations of: the building being “the church,” violence against homosexuals (was speaking with someone recently and we agreed hearing maybe one or two actual sermons on Sodom and Gommorah even, and then only to do with Lot’s wife looking back and being turned to salt [her former life she had left behind]), meanness, insensitivity and violence to victims of sexual abuse, rape etc. These are gross misinterpretations of “evangelical” and/or “Christians” generally – the liberal movie meme of southern Baptist or tent preachers.
Do you believe Jesus is the Son of God Whom God raised from the dead? This is your confession of faith and whether or not you are a believer.
I”d admonish you against leaving one position of miscalling only to assume another.
Evangelicals don’t like what I have to say about their religion. My posts have been known to cause runs on Preparation H at pharmacies nationwide. Some Evangelicals are so anally agitated that they can’t even sit down. Here’s how I picture such people:
Instead of responding to my writing, Evangelical apologists either attack my character or ignorantly and stupidly assert that I don’t know anything about Evangelicalism; that my observations and critiques bear no resemblance to their brand and flavor of Evangelical Christianity.
Imagine a person watching every episode of M.A.S.H. over, and over, and over again. Imagine this person studying the intricacies of the show and its characters. Imagine this person taking classes in MASHology. Imagine this person establishing online M.A.S.H. groups and leading members in serious discussions about the show. Imagine this person retiring, yet spending hours each day keeping up on all things M.A.S.H. Imagine this man writing articles and books about M.A.S.H. And imagine this man being regularly contacted by newspapers and magazines for background information on M.A.S.H. Wouldn’t it be safe to say that this man is a M.A.S.H. expert?
So it is with me and the sixty-three years I have spent attending Evangelical churches, pastoring Evangelical churches, interacting with Evangelical clerics, reading Evangelical websites and blogs, listening to Evangelical sermons, and writing millions of words about Evangelical beliefs and practices, churches, and pastors.
I will readily admit that I don’t know everything there is to know about Evangelicalism — or anything else, for that matter — but I remain a student of the cult, and, by all accounts, I am an expert on the sect. I recognize that the Evangelical tent is quite large, but, over the years, I think I have done a good job distinguishing between the various flavors of Evangelical Christianity. To suggest that I don’t know what I am talking about is absurd. The real issue is that zealots such as Joseph McPherson don’t like my critiques of Evangelicalism or they don’t like me airing their dirty laundry, so they attack me personally or distort (lie about) my writing.
There was a time when I gave such people the benefit of the doubt, but these days I no longer do so. I have concluded they are either obtuse, blind, or liars. I’ll leave it to readers to determine which label applies to Joseph McPherson
Let me conclude this post by responding to several aspects of McPherson’s comment.
McPherson states that I said, I wasn’t “called to be a pastor/minister for 25 years.” At no time, have I ever said I was never “called.” In fact, I have said the exact opposite; that at the age of 15, I was called by God to the ministry. I made that calling known to the church I attended at the time, Trinity Baptist Church in Findlay, Ohio. At the age of 19, I enrolled in ministerial classes at Midwestern Baptist College in Pontiac, Michigan. While there, I married a beautiful pastor’s daughter. I spent the next 3 decades preaching the gospel and pastoring Evangelical churches in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. I sacrificed my family, my health, and my economic well-being, all because I believed that God had called me to be a preacher.
McPherson then says that I believe that I am “worthy” of a following today; that I consider myself a sage. Again, I have never made such claims about myself. While I am humbled by the fact thousands and thousands of people read my writing, I still wrestle with my lack of self-worth, asking myself, “why would anyone want to read this shit?” I have quit blogging numerous times over the years for this very reason. Evangelicalism did a real number on me psychologically. I lost all sense of self and worth, believing that God alone was worthy of praise and honor. It has taken a decade of counseling to even begin to repair the harm done over the years I spent attending and pastoring Evangelical churches. Even now, I don’t particularly think well of myself, and when good things come my way or people compliment me, I have a hard time seeing myself worthy of these things.
McPherson says that I am promoting myths about Evangelicalism that cause people to hate Evangelicals, and even, at times, cause physical harm. McPherson provides no evidence for his claims. If pointing out the abhorrent beliefs and behaviors of Evangelicals causes rational, thinking people to despise and hate Evangelical Christianity, that’s not my problem. Evangelicals are arguably the most hated sect in America. Why is that? Are Evangelical-turned-atheist writers such as John Loftus. Matt Dillahunty, Bruce Gerencser, and a cast of thousands to blame for how people view Evangelicals? Are the messengers really to blame? Or is the message the problem, and Evangelicals such as McPherson don’t like their religion being exposed for what it is: a sect that promotes hate and bigotry; a sect that is presently attempting to turn the United States into a theocracy.
In 2016, 82 percent of voting white Evangelicals voted for Donald Trump, and many of these same lovers of Jesus plan on voting for him again. It is Evangelicals who are primarily behind the culture war that presently ravages America. Evangelicals are overwhelmingly anti-abortion, anti-LGBTQ, anti-same-sex marriage, and anti-separation of church and state. Which sects are prominent among climate change deniers, anti-maskers, anti-vaxxers, white supremacists, and militia groups? Evangelicals. If McPherson doesn’t like my writing about his tribe, I kindly suggest he spend his time cleaning up his own back yard. Evangelicals get every bit of the criticism and derision they deserve. Don’t like it? Change your behavior. And while you’re at it, stop electing misogynistic bigots as President. “By their fruit you shall know them,” and right now all I see is dying, rotting, smelly fruit.
McPherson gives several things that he thinks I am wrongly saying about Evangelicals. First, I have never said that the “church” is the physical building. I know what Evangelicals believe about the “church.” I know quite well the different ecclesiology positions held by various Evangelical denominations and churches. That said, Evangelicals put a lot of value (and pride) in their physical church plants. It may be that the “church” meets in the building, but Evangelicals sure as hell love their multi-million dollar golden calves — built to give praise and glory to the man in the pulpit, not Jesus.
Second, if McPherson has never heard an Evangelical preacher speak disparagingly of LGBTQ people, including calling for their arrest, incarceration, and execution, I seriously doubt he’s an Evangelical. The Bible commands the execution of all sorts of people, including gays, fornicators, atheists, Buddhists, rebellious children, and other unbelievers. I encourage McPherson to keep reading this blog. He will, over time, read a number of posts about violent Evangelical beliefs; how, thanks to their theocratic tendencies, Evangelicals promote violence against those who refuse to bow a knee to their God.
McPherson asked, “Do you believe Jesus is the Son of God Whom God raised from the dead? This is your confession of faith and whether or not you are a believer.” I have no idea why this question is relevant. All I can say is this: for 50 years, I believed that Jesus was the resurrected Son of God, and for the past 12 years I have denied this claim, believing that Jesus was a Jewish itinerant preacher (rabbi) who lived and died, and is now buried in an unmarked Palestinian grave. Twelve years ago, I came to the conclusion that the central claims of Christianity were false. I continue to believe this today.
I may not know everything there is to know about Evangelical Christianity, but that my writing rings true with thousands and thousands of people suggests that my writing is spot-on.
McPherson and I traded several comments. My last response to him went unanswered:
Joseph McPherson , you said “The Life and Times of Bruce Gerencser according to you, you weren’t called to be a pastor/minister for 25 years; yet you position yourself as a person (perhaps even a sage in your own mind) worthy of a following today.”I have never, ever said this. I most certainly was called by God to be a pastor, as I have stated in numerous articles and comments.
I started writing 13 years ago. I didn’t seek out a following. I now have a large following of readers, but that was never my goal. I just wanted to tell my story, hopefully writing a book someday. That my writing resonates with Christians and non-Christians alike is humbling. In the intervening years, I have worked very hard at becoming a better writer, providing content people want to read.
I will give you the same challenge I have given to my other critics — which are legion. Don’t like what I say? Think I am lying? Think I am painting a false picture of Evangelical Christianity? Start a blog. Deconstruct my life. Dismantle my writing. Set the record straight. Or, you can just bitch and whine on social media. I suspect you will continue to do the latter.
I will make you an offer. Want to write a post for my blog? Want to tell thousands and thousands of people how wrong I am? I will gladly give you the space to write a post. Write what you want. All I ask is that you write using your real name. And, I should remind you, that your post would be open to comments by my readers. Ball is in your court, Mr. Evangelical.
I have yet to have an Evangelical critic take me up on this offer. Why is that? Maybe Joseph McPherson will grab the gauntlet and attempt to slay the atheist Philestine Bruce Gerencser. I’ll be waiting . . .
Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 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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