What follows is my response to your recent comment on this site. My response is indented and italicized.
Christian means Christ Like.
I assume you are an Evangelical Christian or what is commonly called a Biblical Christian. I assume you also believe that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God.
The word Christian is mentioned three times in the New Testament: Acts 26:28, 1 Peter 4:16, and Acts 11:26. The Greek word for Christian (s) is Christianos, which means a follower of Christ, not Christ-like, as you allege. A Christian, then, is one who follows Jesus, not one who is like him. If, as Evangelicals believe, Jesus is God, is it not impossible for any Christian to be Christ-like? Further, one need only observe how Christians behave to know that if Christ is the standard for saving faith, no one is a Christian.
We are all anything but that. To strive to be Christ like means to lay aside our own foolish pride. Set aside our own differences. We are alike in that we all want to go to the heaven we have all heard of.
Are you not being prideful when you say that you have something that I don’t have, that Christians are headed for Heaven, while Bruce Gerencser, atheists, agnostics, and other unbelievers are headed for Hell?
You assume that I want to go to Heaven. Why would I want to spend eternity in a place overrun with smug, arrogant, self-righteous people who spent their lives on Earth causing division and harm? You say we should set aside our differences, but you really mean that everyone should believe in Jesus as you do. The goal, is it not, is conversion, rather than understanding and mutual agreement?
Going against the word of God is like pushing the tides of the ocean; futile.
This is only true IF one believes the Bible is a supernatural book. I don’t. I once believed as you do. However, once the Bible lost its authority, power, and control over me, I was then free to determine what my beliefs really were and how I wanted to live my life.
We need to focus on the things at hand. I do not wish ill of any person, but neither am I likely to follow just anyone.
The problem, Matt, is that you think your life and experiences are the measures of what should be the “focus on the things at hand.” In your mind, Jesus is the end-all, all that matters. However, I am an atheist. Jesus is a man who died 2,000 years ago, end of story. I categorically reject the claims Christians and their Bible make for Jesus.
I daily struggle with serious health problems. I can safely say that I am dying, that sooner rather than later, I will be no more. It is certainly possible that I could live for years, but I doubt it. My body tells me that I am running out of time. Believing this to be true, I choose to focus on what matters to me: my wife of 42 years, my six grown children and their spouses, my thirteen grandchildren, writing, traveling, and watching/listening to the Cincinnati Reds. I have no time for God, Jesus, Christianity, the Bible, or God-botherers. The only reason I am answering your comment is that I hope my answer will be instructive or helpful to readers of this blog.
I believe in the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I believe that he died and was raised from death on the third day. Not only because of my faith but also logic. Romans had every chance to debunk this as they searched high and low for the man that miraculously disappeared. Pontius Pilate had every reason to find the man that he never could. The most powerful man in the region was in dire straights trying find Jesus after his death, but never could even at the amount of men at his disposal searching.
What evidence do you have for these claims? I have ready EVERY historical reference for Jesus, and not one of them mentions these things. The Romans didn’t have to look for Jesus. They knew exactly where he was — in a tomb. You have no direct historical evidence for the empty tomb. The gospels were written decades after the death of Jesus by unknown authors. At best, these authors wrote down oral stories that had been passed down. At worst, they made shit up. How do you know which is true?
You claim Jesus resurrected from the dead. You think Jesus’ empty tomb is proof that he resurrected from the dead. However, there are other explanations, one that is even mentioned in the Bible. Perhaps, Jesus’ followers removed his body from his tomb and buried it somewhere else. Or perhaps the Romans did. Are not both of these possibilities more likely than Jesus magically resurrecting from the dead? All the available evidence tells us that dead people stay dead. Claiming that a book says a dead man resurrected from the dead doesn’t work for me. You will have to provide better evidence if you want me to believe that Jesus is still alive. How about Jesus making a personal appearance — anywhere? It’s been 2,000 years since anyone has seen Jesus. I think we can safely assume that he is dead and he ain’t coming to the family picnic.
I do not try to hate nor do I try to condemn. it is not my place to say where each one will go at the end of his time. I can say though that Jesus dealt with love not with hate. He loved the prostitute as much as the disciple, and was seen cleaning the feet from the apostles. He was a servant not acting as a worldly king, but as a divine king of the most high.
Matt, please be honest. You are a “Bible-believer.” You believe the words of the Bible came straight from the mouth of God. Thus, you know exactly where I am going when I die, right? Don’t hem and haw, own your abhorrent theology. Quit trying to paint yourself in a good light. You think anyone who doesn’t believe as you do will go to Hell when they die; that they will face eternal punishment for their sins. If I told you I was going to torture my children every day of their lives, all because they believe differently from me, would you consider me a good father? Of course not. In fact, you would call law enforcement and report me for criminal behavior. Yet, your God daily tortures billions of people and plans to torture billions more after they die. Pray tell, what kind of Father is your God? Why would anyone want to worship such an abominable deity?
It is so easy being among others saying that you do not believe. However in the dark of night being alone, how confident are you of your own mortality?
Are you not in the majority — those who believe in the existence of God? It is easy to believe in God, especially in the United States. Nothing is required of you. Your faith costs you nothing except an hour or two on Sundays and the shekels you toss in the offering plate.
People gather at sites like this because they are part of a small, often marginalized community. Try walking in atheists’ shoes before suggesting that in the still of the night we believe differently from what we do in the day. Besides, even if what you say is true, do not Christians do the same? What do Christians ponder in the dark of night? Where’s God? Why is God silent? Why, why, why? Existential questions are part of the fabric of human existence.
We all contemplate those times when by ourselves we wonder what will happen. If you feel that going into the abyss of darkness at the end of your life then what are you living for? IF there is no rhyme or reason to life then what is the purpose?
I don’t wonder about what will happen. I am sixty-three years old. I am sick, broken down, and nearing the end of life. I know EXACTLY what awaits me: death and nothingness.
You seem to suggest that non-Christians should kill themselves because they have nothing to live for. In your mind, this life is just preparation for the life to come. Perhaps you should ask yourself what YOU are living for? A mansion in Heaven? Deliverance from sin? Separation from unbelievers? Day and night worship of God? Is this what your life has been reduced to?
I have much to live for: my beautiful wife, my wonderful children, my awesome grandchildren, finishing my train layout, planting new trees/bushes, traveling to new places, eating good food, watching the Reds and Bengals, writing for this blog, finishing my book, finally publishing my first podcast, and most of all, having bowel movements that are not constipation or diarrhea. Not throwing up would be nice, too, as would making it to the bathroom without embarrassing myself.
God wants to hear from you, and wants you not to rely on yourself but Him.
If God wants to hear from me, he knows where I live. He also has my email address and cellphone number.
Question? Why did you leave this comment? To quote Astreja, “If your god wants to hear from us, mortal, then it bloody well needs to come talk to us in person instead of sending human messenger boys like you.”
Remember that being a Christian is not going to be easy, nor is it going to be without sacrifice. We all give up something to gain something more. We have to keep moving forward and keep his commandments. Loving one another is the greatest of all commandments.
Have you read my story? If you have, you know I sacrificed everything for Jesus for most of my adult life. I now know that I sacrificed my life, marriage, children, economic well-being, and health for a lie. I have lived life on both sides of this discussion. I can tell you that I am happy with where I am today — pain and suffering aside. Why would I ever want to return to the garlic and leeks of Christianity? Why would I ever want to return to the chains of bondage? No thanks. You have nothing to offer me, Matt. I am not sure what you hoped to gain by leaving this comment, other than hearing yourself talk or putting a good word in for Jesus. What possibly could you say that I have not heard (or preached) countless times before? How did you fail to understand that people like me are not prospects for Heaven, that we have no interest in what you are peddling? Yet, you commented anyway.
We live by example, we show others the way to live and love not hate. Nobody in the Bible is without sin other than Jesus. Even when we stumble he is there to pick us up. We have only to ask. Knock and the door will be opened.
Ask yourself, Matt, what example have you left for the people who will read this post? What in your behavior emulates Jesus and makes Christianity appealing to unbelievers? Can you not see that your comment comes off as little more than an Evangelical Christian masturbating in public? Your comment might have made you feel good, but all it did for me and the readers of this blog — people who know the Bible inside out, many of whom were pastors, missionaries, evangelists, and fervent believers — is remind us that Evangelical Christians are narcissists who just love to hear themselves talk. Your comment comes off as a sermon, not an honest interaction with a former follower of Jesus.
Bruce, a sinner SAVED by Reason
Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 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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