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“False Christians” Such as I Am Never Had a Love for the Things of Christ

head not heart knowledge

Several years ago, the late Ken Silva, a Fundamentalist Baptist pastor, and discerner of all things truly Christian, posted the following quote from C.F.W. Walther on his Apprising Ministries website:

A person may pretend to be a Christian while in reality he is not. As long as he is in this condition, he is quite content with his knowledge of the mere outlines of the Christian doctrines. Everything beyond that, he says, is for pastors and theologians.

To perceive as clearly as possible everything that God has revealed is something in which a non-Christian has no interest. However, the moment a person becomes a Christian there arises in him a keen desire for the doctrine of Christ.

Even the most uncultured peasant who is still unconverted is suddenly roused in the moment of his conversion and begins to reflect on God and heaven, salvation and damnation, etc. He becomes occupied with the highest problems of human life. An instance of this kind is afforded by those Jews who flocked to Christ and also by the apostle.

What about the increasing number of atheists and agnostics who were, for many years, pastors/evangelists/professors/denominational leaders; men and women who spent years delving deeply into the Word of God?

For thirty-five years, I had a keen desire for things of Christ. I read the Bible from cover to cover numerous times. I spent thousands and thousands of hours studying the Bible. I read hundreds and hundreds of Christian books, magazines, and newspapers. I listened to countless sermon tapes, attended Bible conferences, revival meetings, and mission conferences. I did my best to put into practice all that I read and heard. Jesus was the way, truth, and life to me, the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I was as deeply immersed in the things of Christ as one could be.

In Silva’s world, only Christians who think like he did are really Christians. Silva thought that most people who profess Christianity are false professors. They professed Christ, but never possessed Christ (Christian cliché 101).

These days, I know a lot of Christians-turned-atheists. Almost every one of them was a conscientious, serious person who believed the teachings of the Bible and sincerely desired the things of Christ. To suggest these people didn’t really have any interest in the things of Christ is laughable. Most Christians-turned-atheists I know understand the Bible quite well. Of course, according to the Ken Silvas of the world, they have a head knowledge and not a heart knowledge (Christian cliché 102).

All that we ex-Christians can say is this: we know what we know. We once were saved, and now we’re not. Can’t wrap your unimaginative, dull Christian mind around this fact? That’s your problem, not ours.

Bruce Gerencser, 63, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 42 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen awesome 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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11 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Scott

    This is the one I always find fascinating. I attended a debate between Dan Barker of FFRF and a guy who was local, but has moved to Atlanta. The debate was the usual thing, however the “Christian” explicitly stated that he believed that Dan was NEVER a “true believer”, that the entire time Dan was a preacher and religious song composer he was “faking it”. Now I’ve read Dan’s book of his de-conversion and know what he went through.

    To me, it seems these guys are scared of anyone who was a preacher/pastor and has deconverted. They seem to me scared that if guys like Bruce or Dan or others can lose their faith, it could happen to them as wll.

    • Avatar
      Bruce Gerencser

      If I was faking it, I must have been the devil himself because I sure had a lot of people fooled. I find it interesting that people now KNOW I never was a Christian, but they never knew that when I was a pastor.

  2. Avatar
    Yulya Sevelova

    Bruce, I read your biography, and you seemed quite happy AS a Christian, and your parishioners actually liked you, for the most part. People who are faking it, or just struggling, are unhappy and it shows. This is why I keep looking for ironclad,absolute proof, that the Bible is just a Middle-Eastern creation myth and nothing more. I was constantly in struggle mode, contending with Christian craziness of various kinds, and disappointment with Divine failure. I’m not an atheist, but more of a ‘misotheist,’really. I hate the way the Bible god treats humans,and other living things. Reading about Lester Roloff and others like him, these “Christian schools” are nearly identical to the residential schools the Native children of the U.S. and Canada were forced to attend. Besides being beaten for speaking their own languages, and having their long hair chopped off, they were subjected to all manner of abuses like the kids in these other religious-run schools. The governments teamed with churches, in the Native situation. No surprise the Bushes got exemptions for these schools in Texas or other places. Only in the 90’s did the residential schools come to light(PBS). Small wonder conservatives hate PBS so much, right ?!

    • Avatar
      Karen the rock whisperer

      Actually, it’s much more than a Middle-Eastern creation myth. The Old Testament is the story of a particular tribe creating themselves over time. I have a book called The Bible Unearthed by Finkelstein and Silberman that discusses how last-decade archaeology makes sense of the origin and development stories of ancient Israel. As they point out, much of it is scribes making sense of their own history in a way that reinforces the beliefs they’ve developed.

      The New Testament documents the development of a new religion, spearheaded by a very charismatic preacher from Tarsus. ( I would love to hop in my Tardis and go back to hear Paul preach, alas the repair shop on Gallifrey never seems to have replaced the right part. 🙂 ) Seriously, Ehrman’s Lost Christianities gives a very interesting account of how different groups developed early Christian theologies.

      • Avatar
        Karen the rock whisperer

        I would also add, the Bible is not a modern novel, and you really have to work hard to tease a sense of time and place out of it. Finkelstein and Silberman create a wonderful, developing narrative of Old Testament times and places based on archaeology, and it’s worth a read for that alone.

  3. Avatar
    Matilda

    The Godless in Dixie blogger, Neil Carter put is very succinctly and accurately for me. He wrote that we didn’t deconvert because we were lukewarm x-tians. We jesused our socks off 24/7 and it was only with mounting horror realised we couldn’t make it work…it was all a fiction.

  4. Avatar
    ObstacleChick

    The guiding Bible verse of the fundamentalist Christian school I attended was, “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” I studied – I took it seriously. And I studied the “wrong” things – history, science – really trying to understand it all better showed me that there were a lot of things that didn’t add up. It didn’t take me long fo know I needed to get out of evangelicalism because it was too anti-intellectual. But I had to literally move far away to get out because of family pressure to attend their church, the church I had grown up in.

    My “heart” wanted me to be a good Christian, to learn and grow, but my head wouldn’t turn off those pesky critical thinking skills. Of course, hardcore evangelicals would have told me not to seek knowledge at a secular university….

  5. Avatar
    BJW

    It’s all about reverse engineering. If you were still a pastor or even just a Christian, no one would question you. I have a friend who is from an offshoot of the Way Ministry, and they believe if you have enough faith, you don’t need to die. (Heh heh.) So no matter who dies, it then means they never had the faith. I was still Christian when my friend was talking about their offshoot’s leader who died, and how he didn’t have enough faith. I told them there was no way to judge his heart. Then they admitted that they were just talking, and thought he was a fine Christian. UGH.

  6. Avatar
    Brian Vanderlip

    When one comes to freedom from fundamentalist, evangelical faith, one is faced with the challenge to take to heart how much damage one embraced, how much abuse and disdain. This has been a challenge for me and something I could not manage without a therapist, aanother view and voice acknowledging and supporting me. Now it is crystal clear to me that this kind of faith is designed to harm the self, to undermine the decency of personal boundaries and to willingly harm others as you have chosen to harm yourself. This is the great commission, to go out into all the world and preach the peace that is war against natural human existence. May the church continue to crumble and people continue to turn away from the kind of faith that uses the criminal Trump to manipulate for them, to allow them to take control of people. This they do viciously well and all the while touting the prince of peace and heartfelt love for all. It made me sick and is still a bitter taste in my mouth when I harken back to my slavery.

  7. Avatar
    dale m

    If you haven’t been nailed to a cross, don’t talk to me FAKE CHRISTIAN !?! At least that’s my response to these silly pastors.

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