Over the weekend, I received the following comment on the post, Dear Jesus. My response is indented and italicized.
Jesus Christ lives and loves. My faith in His existence does not rest in “proof,” but if yours does, then I urge you to look at all the miracles and science that clearly attest to the reality of God and the Son.
How do you “know” Jesus lives and loves? Outside of the pages of an ancient religious text written by mostly unknown authors, how do you know anything about the life of Jesus? All of the books of the New Testament were written decades after the death of Jesus. The Gospel of John was written 60-90 years after the death of Christ. The writings of Paul were written by a man who never saw Jesus face-to-face, who seemingly knew very little about the life of Jesus. Thus, your claims about Jesus are mere conjecture, based on faith or unfounded claims made in the Bible or by preachers on Sundays.
Outside of the Bible, there’s no evidence that Jesus ever worked a miracle. Just because the Bible says he did, doesn’t make it so. Besides, if your God is such a miracle-working deity, why are there no miracles today? And before you claim otherwise, things you can’t explain don’t equal “it’s a miracle” or “God did it.”
Science “proves” what, exactly, about your peculiar version of God and Jesus, the second person in the Christian Trinity? I know of no evidence for such claims. In fact, the Bible says in Hebrews that believing God created the universe requires faith, not scientific evidence. I thought you were a Bible believer!
I’m sorry that the church has broken people and I am sorry that you were hurt by your experience with Christianity. Unfortunately, this happens to too many people because humans are imperfect. The church is imperfect. But that’s the entire point of Christianity: we are imperfect and need Jesus, who died to forgive us for our imperfections.
One thing I learned after leaving Christianity is that Christians are no different from the unwashed, uncircumcised Philistines of the world. People do good and bad things, regardless of what box they check on a religion survey. I pastored thousands of Christians over the twenty-five years I spent in the ministry. I privately listened to their secrets, to their confessions of dark, evil “sins.” I was in the Christian church for fifty years. I spent most of my adult life devotedly following Jesus Christ. I sacrificed my life, family, and economic well-being for the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. I was by any objective standard a True Christian®, one who had been born from above. Yet, I had plenty of secret “sins,” things I was ashamed of, behaviors that I prayed away Sunday after Sunday, only to do them over and over again. I may have been a “man of God,” but behind closed doors, I was every bit as sinful as my unbelieving neighbors.
If Christians are, as you suggest, imperfect, why bother with Christianity? If God living inside you as your teacher and guide doesn’t lead to a better life, why bother? It seems to me that the only selling point for Christianity is that, as the Bible says, Jesus makes you a new person, old things pass away, and all things become new. (Evidently, that verse is not in your Bible.)
Why do you refuse to use the word “sin?” Sin isn’t human imperfection. According to the Bible, Sin is a fatal disease, cancer that eats away at every human.
I did not leave Christianity because people hurt me. Had you bothered to read my biographical writing, you would have learned that I left Christianity for primarily intellectual reasons. Once I concluded that the Bible was not the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God, I was then free to re-investigate the central claims of Christianity. My faith did not survive my intense, painful — often prayerful — intellectual inquiries.
Let me encourage you to read several of Dr. Bart Ehrman’s books. Ehrman is a New Testament scholar at the University of North Carolina. After you have read his books, touch base with me and let me know what you have learned about the history and nature of the Bible. I would love to have a conversation with you about the Bible and the claims of Christianity, but only after you have done your homework.
I don’t care much of anything except this one thing: I beg you to open your heart one more time to accepting a relationship with Jesus Christ. His love is perfect and it cannot be earned by any of us, but it is freely given if you just tell Him you accept it.
Come on, be honest. You care about all sorts of things. We all do. The only difference between you and me is that you care about Jesus, and I don’t.
You make all sorts of bald assertions, without evidence. Even if Jesus is alive, sitting at the right hand of the Father, how do you know he is ready and willing to give me his “love?” Perhaps I am an apostate, or I have committed the unpardonable sin. Or, maybe, just maybe, I am still a Christian — once saved, always saved. Or, maybe the Calvinists are right, and I can’t be saved, that I am not one of the elect. So many plans of salvation. Which one is right? Wait, I know! Yours.
Heaven and hell are so very real. The war is daily. God will win. The devil is real and he is always at work, too. I rebuke Satan in the name of Jesus Christ and urge you to, as well. Please stand guard. I am willing to talk to you if you want. The day of revelation is coming and I want you to be in heaven with us. Jesus Christ loves you dearly and His heart is breaking that you don’t believe that.
Have you ever seen Heaven or Hell? If not, how do you know they are real? Have you read the Harry Potter books? Do you believe Hogwarts is a real school? Of course not. The books are works of fiction. Why can you not see that the Bible is also a fictional book, that there is no evidence for the existence of Heaven, Hell, God, or Satan?
Why would I want to talk to you? Think about it. You had the opportunity to read my biographical writing, learning why I am no longer a Christian, yet you lazily chose not to. If you had done your homework, you would have never left this comment.
Why would I want to be in Heaven with you? Think about this too. What in your comments and others I have received from Christian apologists and evangelizers would cause me to want to spend eternity hanging out with people who think worshiping and praising a narcissistic God is their idea of “fun”? No thanks. I will take Hell every time: much better crowd, fantastic BBQ, and an awesome bar. Besides, Hitchens, Hawking, and Gandhi will be there. Sweet, right?
What a pathetic deity, this Jesus of yours. He sits around Heaven, pining over those who refuse to let him save them. He has a broken heart over their unwillingness to buy what his spokespeople on earth are peddling. Let me give the dead Jesus some advice: choose better spokespeople. Better yet, Jesus knows where I live. He knows my email address and my cellphone number. If Jesus wants to heal his broken heart and have an intimate relationship with me, he knows how to get a hold of me. I won’t hold my breath.
Bruce Gerencser, a Sinner Saved by Reason
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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