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Hello Bruce, I’m a “Nice” Evangelical

hell

Repost from 2015. Edited, updated, and corrected.

Several times a month, I get emails from Evangelicals who want to let me know that they are not like “other” Evangelicals. They want me to know that there are Evangelicals who are nice, polite, decent, kind, and respectful people. That’s great, their mothers taught them well. However, these “nice” Evangelicals aren’t really as nice as they would have me believe. They desperately want to be viewed in a good light, thinking if I just knew that there are “nice” Evangelicals, I would fall on my knees and call to Jesus to save me. As if my entire deconversion hangs on how I was treated while I was an Evangelical pastor.

When I am feeling up to it, I respond to the “nice” Evangelical’s email with a few questions. Questions like:

  • Do you believe that humans are inherently “sinful”; that humans are broken and in need of fixing?
  • Do you think believing in Jesus is the only way for people to have their sins forgiven?
  • Do you believe there is one true God, and that all other deities are false?
  • Do you believe the Bible is an inspired, inerrant, infallible text?
  • Do you believe that a person must be saved/born again/become a follower of Jesus to go to Heaven when he dies?
  • Do you believe that a person who is not saved/born again/a follower of Jesus goes to Hell when he dies?

The answers to these questions will quickly reveal that the “nice” Evangelical is no different from Fred Phelps, Pat Robertson, Steven Anderson, Jack Hyles, Jack Schaap, Bob Gray, Sr., Bryan Fischer, James Dobson, or Franklin Graham. The “nice” Evangelical and the nasty/hateful Evangelical, both share the same beliefs. The former comes in a nicer, more pleasing package, but inside the package are the same abhorrent, vile beliefs.

Sometimes, a “nice” Evangelical will be coy about his beliefs. When pressed on the question of God torturing non-Christians in Hell/Lake of Fire for eternity, he often replies that he leaves such things up to God. A “nice” Evangelical want me to know that he doesn’t judge, he just unconditionally l-o-v-e-s others. However, if he believes the Bible is the inspired, inerrant Word of God, then he already knows what God says on the matter. Fact: non-Christians will go to Hell when they die. Fact: atheists, agnostics, secularists, and humanists will go to Hell when they die. Fact: most of the readers of this blog will go to Hell when they die. Fact: most of my Facebook friends will go to Hell when they die. Fact: most of my Twitter followers will go to Hell when they die. Fact: and, to make it quite personal, Bruce and Polly Gerencser and most of their children will go to Hell when they die.

The “nice” Evangelical, if he is truly a Bible-believing, Jesus-loving Evangelical, is boxed in by his beliefs. There is one God — the Christian God; one way of salvation — Jesus; and Hell awaits all of those who reject him. This is why I respect someone like the late Fred Phelps more than I do a “nice” Evangelical. Phelps just tells non-Christians how it is. He makes no effort to hide his beliefs. The forwardness of such Evangelicals allows me to know exactly where I stand with them. No need for us to play the pretend-friend game or make nice with each other.

Sometimes, “nice” Evangelicals will take a psychological approach. They view me as one who has been wounded by the nasty, hateful, judgmental Evangelicals. They read a few of my blog posts and determine that I have been hurt in some way, and that this is the reason I am not a Christian. In their minds, they think if they are just really, really, really nice to me that I will be overwhelmed by their niceness and fall in love with Jesus all over again. Since “nice” Evangelicals think Jesus is w-o-n-d-e-r-f-u-l, they can’t imagine someone NOT wanting to become a follower of Awesome Jesus. A “nice” Evangelical sees Jesus patiently knocking on the door of my heart, pleading for me to let him in. Isn’t this the same Jesus who says that if I DON’T open the door, he is going to torture me for eternity in a lake that burns with fire and brimstone, a place where the worm dieth not? Isn’t this the same Jesus who will fit me with a special body after death so that no matter how severely he tortures me I can never die?

While there is certainly a truckload of harm and hurt in my Evangelical past, the reason I am not a Christian is because I do not believe the central claims of Christianity to be true. I don’t believe the Bible is an inspired, inerrant text. I don’t believe Jesus was God, virgin-born, a miracle worker, or resurrected from the dead. I don’t believe God created the world, nor do I believe in “sin.” Simply put, I reject everything one must believe to be a Christian. No matter how “nice” an Evangelical is to me, I do not buy what he is selling. Salvation requires faith, a faith I do not and will not have.

Look, I am glad that many Evangelicals are nice people. I am glad they treat me and others like me with kindness, decency, and respect. Their behavior certainly makes the world a better place. That said, I suspect their behavior is a reflection of their tribal training and culture more than it is their Evangelical beliefs. I am glad someone taught them to be decent, thoughtful people. I do, however, wish they would stop wasting their time by trying to “nice” me to Jesus. I have no interest in Jesus, and I think their time would be better spent teaching Evangelicals how to behave in public. As blog comments, news articles, blogs, social media,  and personal emails show, there are a lot of Evangelicals who don’t the first thing about the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. Instead of trying to save people who don’t want to be saved, “nice” Evangelicals should spend their time getting fellow Evangelicals saved.

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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10 Comments

  1. Avatar
    John Arthur

    Hi Bruce,

    Nice Evangelicals should try getting themselves “saved” rather than trying to tell other people what to do. Most them them don’t follow a “God” of compassion, mercy and loving kindness and as none of them accept that such a ‘God’ (if he/she/’it exists,) should trump both the OT and NT.

    To believe in hell (eternal torture) is not compatible with compassion, mercy or kindness and is a concept designed to produce fear. How can ‘sins’ committed in finite time by finite people justly require eternal torture?

    Shalom,

    John Arthur

  2. Avatar
    dale M

    It’s like getting letters every day by Nazi sympathizers who try to convince us that while they believe in Mein Kamph, they’re not like those other nasty Nazi’s who gassed millions of people. Those aren’t “good” Nazis. The “real” Nazi concentrates on building an enlightened Reich where there are no “crippled” or “sick” people. Where everyone is strong and healthy! Where everyone basks in the purity of our race as outlined by our Lord … our Fuhrer, in the perfect word of Mein Kamph.

    Been there. Done it. Seen it. Not impressed.

  3. Avatar
    BJW

    There was a point where I might have ended up in an evangelical/fundamentalist church in Bryan. But the reality is, none of those Christians I encountered wanted to go to any trouble at all. And I still believed I was a Christian too. I don’t know, since I was still a tepid Christian, they may not have felt like working too hard.

    I’m just not sure how loving evangelicals are. Robert Jeffries said Christians should pray for Biden and accept him as president, and then removed the video until we are “sure” Biden will be president.* So, I posted his video before he took it down, and made a comment about how an evangelical made it! My aunt, a member of the Church of Christ, said she was proud to be an evangelical etc. And would pray for Biden and me too! Within the compass of her beliefs she is a loving person, but she supported Trump and is probably a racist. sigh So I’m jaded about evangelicals.

    I’m sure, all or almost all of the legal actions have no basis in fact, at least 16 have been dismissed, and unless there is a military coup Biden is going to be president. .@greg_doucette on Twitter has been explaining all the contingencies, and unless our country is going to have a civil war, etc etc, Biden is the man.

  4. Avatar
    ObstacleChick

    Sure, a lot of evangelicals are nice, at least on the surface. But their belief that I (and others like me) are filthy, dirty, disgusting sinners deserving of eternal torture in hell just for existing is an abhorrent anti-human belief. I try to remind myself that they were terrified into that belief as children. And then I read research data on evangelicals’ measure on racism and how they support very punitive individualistic policies, and i am reminded that they aren’t so nice. They’re more like the white-washed sepulchres that Jesus spoke of.

  5. Avatar
    Yulya Sevelova

    Interesting post about the friendly Evangelicals. Most are not friendly at all, and consider people who are not upper- class to be garbage. In my town, they oppose anything done for middle-class or working- class people, building affordable housing,etc. There’s a high death rate among the homeless locals, found along the tracks or behind buildings. I went to City Council meetings before COVID, and heard these Evangelicals on the Council pontificate how mean they are and encouraged the police to rough up the homeless, many of whom are seniors living in their cars because of the housing shortage. Yes, for some insane reason, they go in for punitive policies. And they wonder why people don’t like them.

  6. Avatar
    Dave

    Bruce, you recently responded to my question regarding whether Christians ever ask god to abolish hell. I would like to hear a “nice Christian’’ say that the concept of eternal torture is abhorrent and he prays regularly that their god not allow such a place to exist. They would be even nicer to state they would have no room in their heart for a god who would not hear such a prayer

  7. Avatar
    anynameleft

    Always wondered about the masses of so called ‘christians” who have the old testament ( God of Vengeance) 10 commandments as the basis of their crusade while purposely ignoring the 7 beautitudes laid out by their supposed savior in expressing new manifestation of god a one of love, not wrathful.
    One would think that someone who claims to follow mythical jesus would take the word of the foundation of christianity rather then the precpts laid out by one of the cornerstones of the old testament and Judaism.
    Ah but cognitive dissonance is never a problem with the purposfully blind and ignorant.

  8. Avatar
    dale M

    Anynameleft … I think you’re missing the point. Christianity is a follow up to the O.T. and Judaism. Christians also ignore the other Commandments by accepting only 10 of them. The Catholic Church accepts only 9. But there are some 640+ Commandments that I last counted. No mention of these at all. After centuries of brain-washing, even non-Christians believe there are only 10. Its become a meme. Jesus himself believed he was put on this Earth to bring people back to the O.T. The N.T. is just a group of books proposing just how he would do this. The world wanted to go forward, not backward. He lost most of his disciples because of this. All, except his core, left him.

  9. Avatar
    anynameleft

    DALE M…
    With nothing but a Catholic school eduction and some extra reading to base comments on I was told that The mythical son of the mythical father brought a new “God of Love” as a break with the O.T. “God of Wrath”.
    That the sermon on the mount was in a large part a repudiation of the old vengeful teachings that, in part, justified genocide, extreme punishment for minor infractions, wlking away from Kosher food rules and a myriad of other restrictions and “commandments” ( Widow must marry the Brother of dead husband) .
    Building a “history” upon the O.T. was one thing to base new value system upon old precepts is a different matter. To see so called christians spouting all O.T. testament tripe while ignoring N.T. teachings negates any claim to so following the so called savior of the new testment.
    Alas I fear if this discusion were to last much longer we would end up discussing how many fantasy creatures could dance on the head of a pin.

  10. Avatar
    dale M

    ANYNAMELEFT … More to the point, we would be arguing “cultural Christianity” v.s. “scholarly Christianity”. The cultural Christianity is the thing that creates 1,000+ sects. I think I’m above that but, the scholarly teachings are indeed best left to the scholars themselves. Most are secular and archaeologists in their own right. Their’s is a science. The Phd matters after their name. Bruce has been saying this for years. Far be it for me to even question that.

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