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Bruce, Your Writing Suggests That in Your “Heart of Hearts” You Still Want to be a Christian

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Repost from 2015-2016. Edited, updated, and corrected.

No matter how many times I tell people that I am not a Christian, I have no interest in Christianity, and there is a less-than-zero chance that I will return to Christianity, some Evangelicals remain convinced that I am either a backslidden Christian or I harbor deep in my heart of hearts (wherever the hell that is) the desire to return to Christianity. Dealing with such people remains one of my biggest frustrations, mainly because they refuse to hear what I am saying and accept the telling of my story at face value.

Several years ago, one Evangelical man said that he just knew that I was still a Christian because I capitalized the words God and Bible in my writing. Other Evangelicals read my writing and see in it a man who still wants to believe in God and reclaim his faith. For the life of me, I can’t figure out what they think they see. I told one man that he misunderstood how and why I write. My use of Evangelical verbiage and argumentation often leads people to think I am still a Christian, when, in fact, all I am doing is using language that readers, both current and former Evangelicals, are familiar with. I have found that this approach is quite effective in reaching Evangelicals where they are. My use of common Evangelical words reflects not only my long, deep immersion in that culture, but also my desire to engage Evangelicals on their own turf. The fact that I mention particular Evangelical beliefs should not be construed by anyone as me wanting to return to Christianity. I don’t.

Some Evangelicals take a psychotherapy approach, divining from my writing that I have some sort of deeply hidden desire to still be a Christian. I know that many Evangelicals think they have the “supernatural” gift of discernment, but I am here to tell them, as I once heard an old-time preacher say, that their discerner is broke. When I mention that I can understand how someone might come to believe a deistic sort of God created the universe, Evangelicals read into it that I have some sort of longing to believe in God. I don’t. All I am saying is that I understand how someone might come to a different conclusion from mine.

I am not sure what more I can do to help Evangelicals understand that I am the proverbial horse who has left the barn — I ain’t coming back. Perhaps I concern myself too much with obtuse Evangelicals who refuse to accept things as they are. I get it. Bruce Gerencser returning to the fold would be a big story, and the Christians involved in my reclamation would be rewarded and praised for bringing such a hard case back to God. However, this is never going to happen. Even if I were inclined to reconsider some sort of religious belief, it most certainly would not be Evangelical Christianity. That ship sailed and fell off the end of the earth. Once free of the cult, why would I ever want to return?

When Christians share their conversion stories, I accept what they say at face value. I don’t believe, for a moment, that a God “saved” them or that they were “sinners” in need of “saving,” but I do accept that their stories are, to them, real and meaningful. I am not an atheist evangelist out to convert Evangelicals to atheism. In the thirteen years since I deconverted, I have, not one time, attempted to turn a Christian into an atheist. I have, however, engaged and talked with hundreds of Evangelicals who have questions and doubts about Christianity. I try to give them the facts their pastors often hide from them out of fear that, if they told the truth about the Bible, the pews would empty overnight. When asked, I share my story, much like Christians do during testimony time at their church. I am just one man with a story to tell. That my story resonates with thousands of people is not my fault. Perhaps Evangelical church leaders should take a close look at their beliefs and practices and how these things are causing people to abandon their churches, and, in many cases, their faith.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

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.

You can contact Bruce via email, Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

33 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Connie

    Self reflection is not a trait I’d readily associate with Evangelical Christians.

    As you’ve said before Bruce, the Evangelical is only nice as long as they believe they have a chance at snagging a trophy soul for the church. You have my sympathy for being a favored target. That must increase the ‘interesting’ factor of life.

  2. Avatar
    Matlda

    Yes, I was about to say the same thing as Connie, you would be such a trophy-convert. The agent of that could dine out on it for years, write books, go on speaking tours and receive a zillion brownie points in heaven for it. I bet that it is the fantasy/delusion of many fundies who just know it’s gonna happen at their hands.

    • Avatar
      dale m.

      Mikespeir ….. That’s because Christian evangelicals have been programmed from birth. Only the most courageous can break that program. They are trapped from within. The church owns them, controls them, controls everything they see, hear, touch, feel. They’re like robots! Imagine trying to convince Nazis that Jews aren’t out to persecute them! That just the opposite is true. Every giant empire will eventually meet its end. Why stop it? Let it happen. Unfortunately, they will drag everybody through to a blood soaked war. And when it ends, we will be wondering how such a 2,000 year empire of evil like that ever got started. Then we move to prevent it from ever happening again.

  3. Avatar
    Sirius Bizinus

    I run into this same issue when some Christians interact with me on my blog. Within the first year of me realizing I wasn’t a Christian anymore, it got under my skin. Nowadays I wish Christians would hear themselves when they say such things. They’re implying they can read minds, sometimes through the Internet.

    Some days, it’s tough dealing with Christians who will say anything just to project themselves onto others. If it was relating to any other subject (politics, favorite television shows, sports teams, etc.), that person would be considered rude. But since it has to deal with belief in cosmic deities, they think it’s okay.

  4. Pingback:Bruce, Your Writing Suggests You Still Want to be a Christian – FairAndUNbalanced.com

    • Avatar
      Bruce Gerencser

      *sigh*

      So glad you stopped by to let us know that your flavor of ice cream is the one true ice cream. Now take your ice cream truck and keep on moving down that narrow, straight road you mentioned on Facebook.

      Blessed be the God of reason, forever and ever, amen.

      • Avatar
        David Collins

        Sir, you claim you are not evangelizing for atheism. However, by posting these reports of alleged christian molesters, you are in fact, evangelizing for atheism, otherwise, you would also post stories of molesters from other beliefs. I don’t see that you are publishing reports of any muslim molesters, or atheist molesters, or hindu molesters, or Democratic party molesters, or any molesters from any other groups. No, you focus only on professing christians, because you want to harm the Church of Jesus Christ and more particularly Him and cause others to abandon the faith or never become a believer to begin with. You know what you are doing. So, you see, you are in fact, a liar. And, that would make you the son of you know who…

        • Avatar
          Becky Wiren

          David. Bruce isn’t denying that atheists or people of other religions do bad things. But he was an IFB preacher, so now his burden is to show reality as it is. And so WHAT if he is trying to show the bad side of fundamentalism? It is obvious to all of us that it is pretty bad, whether we were in it or not. You’re just making yourself look bad with your accusations.

        • Avatar
          Becky Wiren

          Oh, and also, telling him he’s the son of Satan? WE DO NOT CARE WHAT YOU BELIEVE. We are not afraid of Satan. Now, if you came to this blog and decided to be kind, loving, dare I say Christ-like, we would be having a completely different conversation. But your type is only into condemning others.

        • Avatar
          Bruce Gerencser

          Funny that you are more concerned with my posting the reports than you are the reports themselves. Evidently preachers molesting children doesn’t bother you as much as an atheist making the public aware of such vile things.

          This blog focuses on Evangelicalism–as I told you on Facebook. I can’t be all things to all men, so I don’t try. I focus on Evangelicalism because it is the dominant American religion and one that I am most familiar with. If, through my writing, someone leaves Evangelicalism, good for them. However, I do not evangelize. I don’t go to Christian blogs/Facebook pages and leave atheistic comments/sermons(unlike you).

          That you impugn my character says more about you than it does me. I’m quite proud of the fact that my writing causes hemorrhoidal inflammation for people such as you.

  5. Avatar
    David Collins

    Looks like I struck a nerve with you Bruce. Truth has a way of doing that to antichrist agenda driven people like you.

    • Avatar
      Bruce Gerencser

      Davey, my man, I hate to disappoint you, but you are little more than a buzzing gnat swarming around my head on a warm summer day. Smack, end of annoyance.

      I presume, by now, you have read the comment rules. Please act accordingly.

  6. Avatar
    David Collins

    Bruce. I notice in your blogs you have one concerning a molesting Catholic Priest. So, I caught you in another false statement. You said you are only concerned with reaching evangelicals. But, then you undermine that assertion by your Roman Church priest blog. So, I am proven right again. You are on the warpath against Christianity, the Church and Jesus Christ. Why not tell the truth Bruce? Why maintain the facade of honesty when you are not being honest?

    • Avatar
      Bruce Gerencser

      The focus of my blog is Evangelicalism — like 99% of my posts. On occasion I write about other things:Sports, photography, politics, family, technology, and yes priests who rape/molest children. That you would rather impugn my character than understand what should be easily understood by anyone with a fifth grade education, reflects poorly on you and the Christ you say you serve. By all means, keep commenting. Your words are preaching a far louder sermon than any atheist could preach.

  7. Avatar
    David Collins

    Bruce, the more you attack and deny, the more you prove my assertions. I wonder why you can’t see that.

    And, laughably you resort to the time dishonored atheist reaction of attacking the intellect of those with whom they disagree. Atheists cannot be gracious. They ALWAYS resort to personal attack of the intelligence of the Christians, alleging by implication that intelligence and intellect are a contradiction to belief in Jesus Christ, the Lord and Savior of all, Who is God.

      • Avatar
        Geoff

        A few comments come to mind when I read what David Collins posted.

        Firstly, you’d find it hard to post crimes committed by atheists, not because they don’t commit them, but because they don’t publicly identify their ‘worldview’. People who portray themselves as morally superior, which religious leaders do and atheists don’t, are rightly cannon fodder when it comes to these sorts of crime.

        I’d also argue that the environment in which religious leaders seem willingly to put themselves leads to a greater propensity to commit these particular types of crime. People have instincts, especially of a sexual nature. God, if he existed, presumably built these instincts into people with the intention of letting them enjoy themselves, within certain limits. Allowing consenting adults to do as they please in private appears a perfectly sensible moral code that covers all bases. Adults, consent, and private are the important words. Limit the rights of individuals to act in accordance with their varied instincts and you create an environment in which people are unable to help themselves in certain situations. The height of irony has to be the Roman Catholic church, which requires every one of its adherents to reproduce as often as possible, puts all sorts of artificial, and immoral constraints on sexual behaviour, yet insists that its own leaders remain celibate!

        No wonder these types of crime proliferate in religious circles.

        • Avatar
          Justine Valinotti

          Geoff–When I looked at the ceiling of the Sistene Chapel, I laughed. Why? A church (Roman Catholic) that professes a strong anti-gay stance has, in its most iconic house of worship, some of the most homoerotic imagery one can conceive.

          Of course, you have to wonder what Julius II was thinking when he hired Michelangelo to paint it. I mean, Michelangelo is one of the greatest artists who ever lived, and I’m sure Julius appreciated that. But, did he know about, shall we say, Michelangelo’s extracurricular activities? If he did, well, more power to him. If he didn’t, I guess ignorance is bliss–or, at any rate, his ignorance is our bliss!

      • Avatar
        Brian

        You cannot reason, nor often truly experience the phenomenon known as dialogue with the all-knowing such as this David Collins. That is fine for us as adults but always remember that these bipeds can procreate and they often have children they keep captive and bombard with this utter mindfuck talk. The harangue, blame, shame and punish them for their sweet, gentle Jesus. They ‘save’ them. Such a sad torture for innocent children. It is truly a testament to humankind that we can survive such horror as youngsters and come the ass-end of it still able to care for ourselves and others.

  8. Avatar
    Bruce Gerencser

    I made David Collins this offer on Facebook:

    David Collins, second request, “So, here’s your chance. Give me your top five questions/challenges and I’ll answer them on my blog. No more bullshit from you, David. This is your one and only chance. Take it or go fornicate with yourself. “

  9. Avatar
    Suzanne

    Now who’s the coward, David? You accused both Bruce and I of cowardice, yet you turned around and deleted all your crap on Bruce’s Facebook page. But I have screen caps. NOTHING disappears fully on the internet.

  10. Avatar
    William

    I left the faith because it became impossible to reconcile key parts of the bible with science. I think I genuinely believed, and it reminds me of the scripture which says that the heart is deceitful above all things, who could know? On reflection, who indeed, certainly not I.

  11. Avatar
    dale m.

    Like a blind man, once you have left the evangelical darkness and stride into the light, it is impossible to desire to be blind again.

  12. Avatar
    Lesley

    I had never encountered Evangelicals/Christian Fundamentalists before until I read their blogs here on WordPress. I was very soon depressed by their constant judgemental toxic preaching of Hellfire and Brimstone. After breaking free from them and about three months of not reading their hateful and skewed views of God and how we should all be living our lives (according to them), I am feeling much better – like a great weight has been lifted from me. I dread to think how I would have ended up had I not made the break.

  13. Avatar
    Obstaclechick

    How in the world could this person think that you, Bruce, still believe in the white evangelical Christian deity? They must not have read your work extensively – or read it with their own lens instead of reading it as you wrote it. Why can’t they just leave you alone to tell your own story without trying to twist it into their own interpretation? (Rhetorical statement, I know why they do…..)

  14. Avatar
    Emersonian

    Atheists are huge hairy bald dudes? Is Mr. Clean an atheist? Or Dwayne The Rock Johnson?

    I don’t get why Evangelicals think atheists (or any non-christian) spares them the least bit of thought. We’re not trying to “destroy god’s truth” by not believing their version of it, any more than we’re trying to destroy rotini pasta at the supermarket by buying spaghetti instead. Or opting for no pasta at all.

  15. Avatar
    Karen the rock whisperer

    This notion that deep inside ourselves is a desire for a deity, might actually be true for some people. Maybe even for most people. I’d sure like a shot at an afterlife, and a supernatural friend to help me through this life. I’d settle for peer-reviewed evidence for any deity to be published in a top-tier science journal.

    What I have is this reality, this life, this body, and the choices they offer me. I refuse to believe without good evidence, and no religion has any. So, I play the hand I have, and call it a life lived as best I can.

  16. Avatar
    Yulya Sevelova

    David Collins, I have a really great subject for the Black Collar series, regarding 215( so far) bodies of children found in a mass grave, on the property of one of those vile institutions, a Residential Religious School set up to indoctrinate Native children. They suffered every kind of abuse one can imagine !! Only in the Nineties did the truth of these so- called ” schools ” come to light,once some Native/ First Nations survivors begin suing the schools and governments. Why ? Because there was collaboration between the religious organizations and governing bodies to hatch this plan to erase Native cultures , about 1890 on up, both in the U.S. and Canada. Most recently, on the Kamloops Reserve in Canada. All major religions are guilty of oppressing children in some fashion. Though Bruce has focused on what he knows about in the Christian culture,as this was his personal experience. It’s not about giving those other religions a ” free pass” as you claim. And no less, since Christianity has unique claims of the highest of standards, it’s reasonable to hold them/ and you, to those standards ! It won’t do any good to defend Catholic heroes, like Columbus and the Conquistadors who came right after him. Ditto the Pilgrims and Puritans, because their secrets are outed, thanks to their own old documents and the Internet ! Are you really outraged by stories about wicked- wicked acts with children çommitted by priests and ministers, convicted in court by now, who’s deeds you call ” alleged?”. Those incidents should outrage and embarrass you, not their exposure . This series is a service to the community, to protect kids. And validate the experiences of the survivors. Your attitude sounds like Europe from the Dark Ages. Very much like the settlers of that period. Who promoted death at every turn ! 💀💀 P.S. Indian Country Today is a great source for info on this horrid chapter from the Western history, if you’re interested.😰

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Bruce Gerencser