Greetings, earthlings and residents of other galaxies.
It’s been a while since I asked readers to submit questions for me to answer, so I thought I would, once again, open the call lines and ask readers to submit their questions, along with $66.66 donations to help me reach Evangelicals throughout the universe. Reason — praise be to Reason! — has called me to evangelize Evangelicals, and your donations will help me take the gospel of critical thinking and skepticism to infinity and beyond. Just kidding. While donations are always appreciated, what I really want are questions; your pithy, short, erudite questions. Please try to ask questions that you think I haven’t answered before.
If you have a question you would like me to answer, please ask it in the comment section of this post. I will answer questions in the order they are received; that is unless you are a bigly donor. Readers who shower me with cash, checks, gold bullion (ouch), Bitcoins, and restaurant gift cards just might be moved to the front of the line or be sent a 13×19 glossy photo of me pole dancing at the Big Bear Strip Club — “might” being the operative word. (Long-time readers who know and understand my humor, sarcasm, and snark know whether I am speaking factually. Everyone else? Keep on dreaming of Bruce Almighty swinging on a brass pole wearing only his shorts, suspenders, and wingtips.)
You can also email your questions to me via the contact form.
Please do not answer the questions. In the past, well-intentioned commenters have answered the questions, making my responses moot. Once I answer the questions, feel free to give your own answer.
Let the fun begin.
Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 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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Big Bear Strip Club….hmmm…I’m leaving that alone.
I personally have escaped christianity and do not consider the Christian Bible to have any useful value. But lately I have heard LGBTQ people, who still attend church, saying that the biblical prohibition on homosexuality is a misinterpretation introduced in the 20th century, and prior it was prohibiting pedophilia. What are your thoughts?
History is replete with different types of religious beliefs, why is this do you think? Are humans programmed to believe in a superior deity(ies)? Is the mind hardwired to explain things through magical ways? Are rituals to please a God(s) just another form of gambling, hoping to strike it lucky? Or is it just a throwback to our heightened imagination pre-agricultute as a defense mechanism when we really had to be afraid of the dark?
Hope OK to comment on a question you’re asking Bruce. On the hillside behind my house are the remains of Bronze Age hut circles. It’s a harsh, unforgiving, atlantic coastal site in Wales. As I walk there, I think of the grimness of life. One drought and water disappears. One flood and your crops growing sparsely on rocky land, die. One storm or unseasonal activity and the shoals of fish you need to dry over winter, fail to arrive, or the seabirds don’t nest on the cliff one year so no eggs or meat. Folk must surely have looked out at that oncoming thunderstorm or other inexplicable weather event and decided a malevolent being greater than themselves needed to be appeased. Sacrifice your one sheep or that winter store of dried fish and nothing happened, kill a virgin maybe and the storm ceased, so, voila, that ‘deity’ was finally happy with you and needed more from time to time to keep him/her/it looking favourably on you!
The dominant religion tends to attract the intellectual class. The druids for instance of the bronze age you mention. Christianity has attracted some of the greatest minds, and entertwined with philosophy, medicine. For Christianity it no longer attracts the same thinkers as it used to, which I think is a sure telling of its decline.
Matilda, that seems quite likely to me. Religion is a way to explain the inexplicable. Today, we have science–ways to explain things that rightly terrified our ancestors, so fear and appeasement of a power so much greater than yourself makes less sense to a lot of us.
It may be, but we’d be wrong I think to suggest that people didn’t apply science in the past. There was the science of alchemy, astrology, the ‘ether’. A lot has been disproven so much of it is now labelled as false or a pseudo science. I wonder if it might be something to do with our imagination, I wonder why we evolved it…
Ancient humans had survival skills we know nothing about. A TV documentary puzzled how huge Standing Stones got from one side of a scottish island to another – like Easter Island statues did too. Logs for rolling broke, as did ropes. Archeologists on the programme were baffled.A local man passed by – this may have been staged – but he said he had a distant memory of locals using seaweed. Bucketfuls were collected, placed under the Stones and they slid easily across the island.
Hey Matilda that’s so cool so clever and ingenious 👍
I’ve got a few thoughts related to the evolution of brains like ours. But I’m going to do what I’m told for once and sit on my hands until Bruce has given us his!
Of course people in the past sought explanations for things they didn’t understand. A lot of them were wrong, of course, including–in my opinion–religions. That doesn’t mean they were stupid, only that they didn’t have the tools to discover the right answers. I’m sure people in the future will correct our errors, too.
Okay, here’s one for you: Can you recall how far back you decided to acknowledge your worthlessness? Was there an event or feeling that stays with you illuminating the knowledge you garnered, convincing you that you required ‘saving’? Some people say it was the Bible, the Bible says etc. but for me it was nightmares of hell, awful feelings of doom. I was just a youngster and went running to my mom. I had been preached at of course and had been told by adults that we are all bad without Jesus…. I guess it was all that input that build up in me and grew night horrors. And of course seeing how important it was to my mom and dad. What about you, Bruce?
As part of a minority group in my home country, I feel that religion, in this case Christianity, provides me with a sense of belonging. It helps since a lot of people of my own ethnicity are Christians, too.
Even after I started questioning my Evangelical faith – though I won’t consider myself an atheist – I can still feel a surge of (“Christian”) zeal when confronted with Evangelicals’ “tribal enemies” or unfamiliar situations (people with different religions, etc.). Strangely, I am never bothered by online atheists though 😂. Probably because they never threaten me with their version of Hell.
My question is: as a humanist, do you still experience this “tribal pull” when you see unfamiliar people with different customs or religions? Especially if they seem threatening.
Off-topic from your question, Kel, but the first part of your comment reminded me: I think I speak for Bruce when I say that this is why he does not try to “evangelize” people to atheism. If someone derives a sense of community or comfort from their religion – whether Christianity or another version – he is happy for them and would never try to urge them to leave their religion. It is when religions are harming their members that he believes those members should perhaps consider re-examining their beliefs and perhaps moving away, either to a less stringent religion or sect, or beyond.
I have a quick one that you surely will already have answered somewhere but I just can’t recall – It’s clear that you are a particularly singular fellow Bruce but in your time (maybe most likely through this blog) have you come across any other people that were also once evangelical/fundamentalist PREACHERS for any length of time before deconverting and becoming agnostics/atheists? Or are you as unique as you seem??
Would you perhaps write some about your dad, Robert. Maybe tell some stories about growing up and your thoughts/ feelings now. Just curious. Thanks for your time.
Have you ever read the book Six Thousand Country Churches? It was written by two sociologists around the year 1919. It talked about how the people in Southeastern Ohio were badly served by the local preachers. The authors were Gifford Pinchot and Charles Otis Gill. The book talked about the low moral standard of the people of southeastern Ohio despite the churches having been around for about 100 years in that area. This book is online at Project Gutenberg.org. The book also stated how poorly the rural preachers were paid for their work at that time period.
I have not. I will take a look at the book. It sounds interesting.
Since it is your decision to walk away from the faith, why can you not let evangelicals make their own decisions?
Your evangelizing comment proves me right by the way
TheologyArchaeology, we’ll quit when religious fundamentalists of all stripes quit. Their lies cannot be allowed to go unanswered. If you don’t want to keep getting hit BACK, you’ll have to learn not to make the initial hit.
Hi there, sorry I haven’t been diligent about opening your emails; stuff happens. I’m just curious, awhile back I told a story here about how I was unsatisfied about how the church explained where Cain got his wife. My Sunday school teacher was clearly flabergasted when I asked her this when I was 12. Did any kids ask you this question when you were a minister, and how did you handle the delicate subject matter? I was unhappy bebause adult Bible classes refused to even discuss this. If there were no other people than Adam’s family, then incest was the only explanation, right?
Have you ever read “When Prophecy Fails”? It’s a study of millennialist movements. This book was the final nail in the coffin of my Christian belief. It was clear to me,after reading that book, that the first Christians, disappointed that their messiah had failed, doubled down on their belief in him in spite of that. They were sincere, but sincerely deluded. Also, when are you going to discuss that 10-40 geography or whatever you call it? I’m waiting. 🙂
I have not. I do plan to write on the 10/40 window. Unfortunately, I can’t say when. I have over-promise and under-delivered. 🙁
Hi, Bruce. I do have a couple of questions : do you know your ethnic background from your biodad,the truck driver,like having a DNA test,as some diseases are inherited. The second question is, since you wrote of your mother’s ordeals in relation to her progenitor ( he doesn’t deserve the title ” dad” or ” father”, even- did your two grandmother’s know that he was molesting her over the years,did she try to get help with getting away from him from other family members, and did any one consider calling the police on him( Teiken)? You appear to have some German/ English ancestry, though I could be wrong. It’s too bad you never had the chance to speak to your real father,to see if he was a good guy or not. People not knowing who their real fathers are/were is more common than I realized,even in the Era of ” yesteryear.”. It’s certainly true in my mother’s case. We needed to know his inherited disorders,but we don’t. My grandmother withheld everything she knew, out of sheer spite !
What became of the several dozen (hundreds?) of dead people who were reanimated and popped back out of their graves when Jesus died? Did they have to back to work? Re-register in order to start paying taxes again? When they died a second time was someone else’s body in their old grave necessitating them to find new ones? Were any of them ever interviewed?
I think you know the answer to these questions. 🙂 I do hope to write about the zombie apocalypse some day.
Hello, Glenn Wood. At times, I have wondered why in the Bible this thing with several resurrected people was just a deadpan,one – paragraph wonder ! Why wasn’t there any details or comments for such an outlier of an event ?? Sexual attitudes and conduct got far more attention !
I have a question, Bruce: What were your (and your congregants’) relationships like with more liberal churches in the towns where you preached?
Related to questions others are asking, when you were fully in the fold, sold out, dedicated to the Trinity, did you ever feel any discomfort when you read things in the Bible that didn’t make sense or add up? Like, where did the children of Adam and Eve get their mates? Or about the dead that supposedly resurrected in the Easter Story in Matthew’s version? Or did Noah’s offspring all procreate with their siings and cousins? (And why if it took so long for Noah and his sons to build the Ark there were no grandchildren running around during that time – or were those kids horrible reprobates too?) Were you a “God said it, I believe it, that settles it” kind of guy? You mentioned that you actually would study and prepare for your sermons, so you must have seen all those issues and more…you’re a smart guy.
Bruce, did you ever meet any truly lovely fundamentalist/evangelicals…besides yourself? That is, people that loved their fellow man and actually tried to follow that directive to care about the sinners, and not to just preach and be power mad?
Hello, Bruce and Polly, are you still traveling on your vacation or have you returned to New yet ? How are you both doing ?
I meant ” Ney”, of course ! Sorry for the phone typo .
Hey Bruce, hope you’re feeling OK,
I’m kinda curious to know if you’ve had more than just evangelicals on your case – have other branches of Christians tried to win you over to their flock, and have Muslims, Jews and others tried to convert you?
Ninety-nine percent Evangelical, with a few Roman Catholics, Muslims, and Greek Orthodox sprinkled in. One Messianic Jew too.
I’ve listened to a few of Rolfe Barnard’s sermons. Do you think he was truthful with all of his sermons or do you think he was prone to lying for Jesus. I’m referring to one sermon where he talked of being opposed by seven deacons of one Baptist church and Rolfe Barnard praying to God to either convert them or kill them. According this sermon by Rolfe Barnard all seven deacons who opposed him all soon died.
I am wondering if you have an opinion on Bart Ehrman’s criticism of the Gospels. He makes the point that Jesus does not declare himself as God in the synoptic Gospels, which is different from the Gospel of John. From reading/listening to his debates and lectures, it seems to me that he forgets about the oral tradition of Christianity, which we can still see in the Catholic church.
It seems to me that the Gospels were not intended to be read as a standalone, but to compliment the oral tradition: Jesus does not declare himself God, which does not mean that he didn’t, but that the Gospels were to be read as a part of hearing the stories passed on about Jesus.
Hmmm… I realise this is maybe not the sort of question that would make an article, but I’m just wondering what you think about it.
Great question! I am not familiar with the Christian oral tradition – I was raised with Sola Scriptura. I’m also wondering if this supposed oral tradition also contains the markings of oral tradition or a detailed account of chains of witnesses (“apostolic succession” put into words, so to speak).
So far, I’m only familiar with some variations of “These saints received their teachings from so-and-so.” For instance, St. Polycarp was supposed to be a disciple of St. John the Evangelist.
In relation to that, I read a translation of the earliest Buddhist Pali Canon and they contained so many repetitions of verses. However, with each repetition, a new word or concept is added to the already long chain of words. This is supposed to aid in memorisation. I guess this testifies to the canon’s earliest incarnation as an oral tradition.
In the case of Islamic tradition with regards to the sayings of the prophet, every saying begins by establishing a long chain of witnesses.
I wonder if Christian oral tradition contains such elements too.
Hi Kel, Wikipedia has quite a good article on it https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sacred_tradition
For myself, I was brought up a Catholic, became irreligious, then had an evangelical conversion in a Calvinistic church, I later went on to believe in salvation for all rather than the elect. Well I have had a bit of experience in different branches of Christianity I suppose.
The idea of the Pope is that his position carries on from Peter who was the head of the apostles. Oral tradition was a large part of the beginning of the church and continued, not least because many of the people back then were illiterate. The Gospel of Luke was not written by Luke, but it was based on his accounts. You can see this in the quality and intellectualism of the writing (Luke being a physician and highly educated).
It’s true that Catholics tend not to read the bible, but by and large they know the stories from the bible, the crucifixion, the key players in the Old Testament. Evangelicals would say they rely on faith and works, but does the bible really not mix the two together? Semantically Calvinism mixes the two together due to judging someone by their fruits. Also worth noting is the Catholic tradition of carrying on the use of Latin, from Christians in Rome from the 4th century. Like I say, a lot of tradition there and Catholicism (and this is not a defense of Catholicism or any religion), and Catholicism is probably the closest there is to the early Christian faith due to the mixture of written and oral traditions, along with it’s succession going back to the start.
I will try to answer your question in an upcoming post. The Wiki is filled with assertions for which we have little or no evidence. What I read is a plethora of theological claims, rather than evidence. It assumes Catholicism was the early church, when in fact early Christianity (pre-Paul) was decidedly Jewish, and considered a subset of Judaism. The early church wasn’t Catholic anything. Further there were competing sects of Christianity. What if the Gnostics were True Christianity, or one of the other sects? We must remember that it is likely Jesus only had 30-120 followers at the time of his death. Jesus was not an effective, successful preacher (he got himself killed, after all).
The exponential growth of Christianity did not occur until 300 years after Jesus’ death. When Constantine wedded the Roman state with Christianity, the church began to grow like wildfire. But, were Constantine’s and Jesus’ Christianity one and the same? Where does Paul’s Christianity come into play or the other Christianities found in the Bible? The Catholic Church wants to claim precedence, authority, and succession where there is none.
If I have the time, I will devote an article to these questions.
Cool. 😎 I am a million miles away from an expert but I would say that Catholicism shows influence from Roman hierarchy structures making it a bit more formal but that Gnosticism shows influence from external sources such as Platonism. From the perspective of an influence of formality vs an influence of Greek thought/philosophy, possibly even Buddhism, my amateur money would be on Catholicism being more consistent.
I did think of a couple of questions that might make good blog posts.
#1 Do you think your parents passing away at a young age made it easier to announce your atheism and on the other side of thing Polly’s parents were both alive until recently do you think this made her less vocal about it? (And I know writing that letter announcing your departure from religion was not easy, but pleasing parents is something that is qualitatively different)
#2 You often speak of your ill health, while I hesitate to ask it because I love you as a friend, do you want to blog to continue after you die or would you like it to die with you?
I’m sorry for all the death and doom and gloom but that’s what popped into my head. Hopefully my next inquiry will be more cheerful.
Do you ever search online about some of the prior graduates of Tom Malone’s bible college to see what they are doing now? Another question is did Tom Malone follow any OSHA rules at the college? What i mean by that comment is that a few months ago the Bible Broadcasting network has a program called Conference pulpit. A few months ago I listened when they featured some of his sermons online. After a few minutes I had to stop listening. That was not because anything he said actually bothered me. It was just his voice was so loud I could not keep on listening. What i Meant by the OSHA remark is did they had ear plugs available whenever he did any talking to the students.
how did you handle the fear of hell even though you came to realize it’s all fake? do you ever have moments where the teachings all come rushing back in?
Hey Bruce – I grew up in fundamentalism, but in the holiness (Nazarene) franchise. After reading all you have said about IFB churches I have come to think that my fundamentalism, while being legalistic and judgmental – in some ways more so because of its perfectionism – was of a kinder, gentler variety. I’d love to hear your take on this.
Two questions (I don’t speak English well, I can make mistakes)
Have you ever heard of Paul Washer? he is one of the highly regarded true Christians, so to speak, very radical. He probably claims that atheists don’t exist. Maybe the point is that everyone knows in their heart that God exists, but suppresses that truth.
The Bible says that people refused to believe in God’s wisdom, so God made salvation foolish, and in fact it seems that salvation through the cross is absurd. So can this be considered as evidence for the Gospel, and thus as evidence for the existence of God? It seems what the Bible says is right …
Is there any explanation? I would like to know how you see it, because after leaving Christianity I have different thoughts ….
I hope you don’t mind if I reply to your question. I think you made a very interesting point and I hope Bruce would touch on this issue.
I’ve heard of Paul Washer, he is quite popular in the Calvinist circle I used to be in. But even then, I’ve found at least one Calvinist who disagrees with him and think he’s not a “true Christian”. Other denominations which do not accept Calvinistic tenets most probably think he’s a heretic. One person’s true Christian is often another’s deluded heretic. I feel Evangelicals, especially of the Calvinistic variety, like to think that the truth of their version is self-evident from the Bible. But a lot of other Christians believe differently.
And this argument that God deliberately makes salvation foolish is a classic one. It was put forward by the Apostle Paul himself when he said that the cross is a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Greeks. Church Father Tertullian apparently thought that the sheer absurdity and impossibility of the Resurrection is proof that it actually happened and that Christianity is correct. I think we can never completely disprove this line of argument. Especially in a Calvinistic worldview, God can do anything, including deliberately creating humans for the sole purpose of them being damned in hell for God’s eternal glory (i.e. reprobation).
However, this argument about the wicked suppressing the truth (per Romans 1) and God making salvation difficult/foolish can be applied to many things besides the Gospel too. Christians dislike it whenever their opponents make an appeal to relativism when trying to argue against Christianity. You can’t reply to every question with, “What’s true for you is true for you, what’s true for me is true for me.” Because how can then you be sure of the validity of the idea of relativism itself? Apologists say unbounded relativism/skepticism is a universal acid.
But then, this argument that “everyone knows deep down in their heart that Christianity is true” is also a universal acid in some ways. It can be applied to numerous supernatural claims besides the Gospels.
Muslims also think in a similar way. Every new convert is regarded as a “revert” since everyone was truly born as a Muslim but later receive false guidance (through other religions etc.). I don’t think we can completely disprove this either. One apologist I read tried to disprove the idea of reincarnation through logic. However, one Buddhist monk said that if you practice Buddhism sincerely enough, the reality of reincarnation will slowly dawn on you. What if deep down we secretly know that Buddhism is true, but ignorance and past misdeeds/unskilful conducts cloud our access to the truth?
Sorry for the ramblings, that was a very good question that got me thinking. I hope Bruce can make a post on that in the future.
thank you very very much for your answer. however, as far as Paul Washer is concerned, in his sermons you can see that he is not inventing and that he cares about the truth, he talked quite convincingly about how he was converted. He was fasting and asking God for proof of His presence or existence (I don’t remember exactly what it was anymore), and suddenly he saw a fire from heaven, crouched in fear on the floor and heard an ambulance. This has always puzzled me … and worried me – because if this is true, the biblical God is real, and therefore eternal hell, and there is no choice but to convert to avoid a terrible fate …. Can anyone explain this ? Has anyone heard this testimony of his conversion?
Aurel, even if you assume Washer is 100% truthful, it only means he himself is convinced that he has seen these things. And just because another person is 100% convinced, doesn’t mean that person convinces me. I prefer reality, science experiments, measurements, math…things that can document reality. Now, don’t get me wrong. I have still a belief in a (possible) deity, even to the point where I pray and hope at times that a god exists. But…I can’t prove it, so I don’t require anyone else believes. Frankly, it is how we treat our fellow man that matters, and not just by having visions and signs. (Isn’t there something about these things not being a necessary manifestation of God?)
Now, I want you to think of all the people who act, who act convincingly, many of who are paid huge sums of money to act well. Seeing an excellent performance of someone’s feelings also is not any kind of proof. I don’t know, but I suspect some of the very best and most profitable actors are religious leaders, who have a lot to lose if they are wrong, especially money but also power and prestige.
So, I feel you were touched by this Paul Washer and his account of conversion. But just because he acted so honest and impressed and amazed, actually doesn’t mean anything. Doesn’t prove anything, doesn’t not prove anything.
It doesn’t matter how sincere Washer sounds, Aurel – he could still be lying through his teeth, or he could be afflicted with a psychological condition that causes hallucinations.
I do not find the existence of the god of the Bible to be plausible, and I do not believe in heaven or hell. Therefore, the chance of me converting is zero.
Thanks for your reply.
I have no doubts that Washer is sincere, but he’s not the first person who’s sincere about his belief and has offered a spiritual experience to back it up.
St. Francis of Assissi is claimed to have received the miraculous sign of stigmata – the wounds of the Lord Himself – in his very body. And he was apparently very sincere about his Catholic faith, notwithstanding our understandable suspicions towards any kinds of hagiography. But any Protestants would just dismiss this out of hand because “(my pastor’s interpretation of) the Bible says it couldn’t have happened”.
What about the claimed miracles of Eucharist? Or Mary’s apparitions? What if all these are signs that Protestants are indeed heretics?
I’m not Catholic, but you could easily make an argument for Catholicism out of sincere spiritual experience (if they’re sincere in the first place, that is).
I’ve also come across a talk show programme catered to Muslims, where they invited Islamic converts from other faiths, including Christianity, to talk about their conversion experience. I’m pretty sure they’re sincere too.
And the Buddhist monk, whom I referred to before, described his experience of nimitta, or signs in Sanskrit. He said he witnessed how the walls of the room where he was staying at peeled off and revealed the nothingness behind them. He took it as confirmation for the Buddhist principle of the inherent impermanence behind everything.
Buddhists have their miracle stories too, and these include the descent into various levels of Buddhist hells. A Thai monk named Phra Malaya was supposed to have travelled through different hells and seen the numerous tortures their denizens must endure. A bit like Dante, or rather, like Evangelical (Charismatic) preachers who claim to have visited Hell. What if the Buddhists are right?
I’m by no means free of hell-related doubts and anxiety. But I think it is a very bad idea to base our faith entirely on the supposed sincerity of somebody else’s experience, which we can never completely disprove to begin with. The game was rigged from the start.
As for me, I’m trying to be as sincere as I could. If God is omniscient, he can see through all my ruse anyway. He will know if I believe just because I want to escape Hell, and not because I want to, as Calvin said, “offer [Him] my heart, promptly and sincerely”.
You wrote: “But I think it is a very bad idea to base our faith entirely on the supposed sincerity of somebody else’s experience, which we can never completely disprove to begin with.”
So true. If The Black Collar Crime series has taught me anything it is this: men with supernatural testimonies of faith and demonstrable good works in their lives molested, assaulted, and raped children. Further, I was a pastor for twenty-five years. I counseled countless Christian individuals, couples, and families; people who had wonderful, powerful testimonies of faith. Yet, behind closed doors their lives were very different — I mean awful (sometimes criminal) behavior.
Just because someone says something doesn’t mean it’s true. Further, just because someone acts moral, ethical, “Godly,” in public, it doesn’t follow that their private life matches their public life.
As far as Paul Washer is concerned, all I know is what he says in his sermons and writes in his articles. Based on that . . . Well, read my mind. 😂😂
Kel, Exactly, in other religions you can also say that miracles happen, but when it comes to Marian miracles or St. Augustine Christians, I can tell you that they were deceived by Satan because that’s what the Bible says … actually, I have a problem with the Bible. It seems to confirm many things, e.g. the Tower of Babel has been found somewhere (unless this archeology is false?), Situations such as with heretics or deception are described in the Bible that it will be and it is so, and doubts are lacking understanding and not being born again and not being a Christian ……. therefore I have concerns, I left my faith a long time ago. But the fears returned, and again – the believer could answer that the Holy Spirit is trying to convince me, but what I read (apologetic articles) discourages me even more from God and fills me with fear and doubts …
Thanks for answers
Paul Washer is a Fundamentalist Christian — an Evangelical Calvinist. If anything, Washer is a cultist. I know several of his close friends personally — Tim Conway, in particular.
What do you mean when you say Washer is a “highly regarded true Christian”?
Do you still believe the Bible is authoritative and true?
What is your opinion of atheists?
Paul Washer is a dick. I am more interested in what you think and if I can help in any way.
thank you for your answer, by saying that he is “true Christian” I mean that he is rather what it says in the Bible and that he condemns false Christians, that is, the type of believers you blog about frequently – they consider themselves Christians, but however, they are hypocritical, for example. Washer condemns it. I read somewhere that he doesn’t like “labels” and doesn’t call himself a Calvinist, but his sermons show that he probably really is. As for whether I believe the Bible is true, I don’t know. Hope it isn’t. That’s why I’m here to find out from experienced people like you. My deconversion started “quietly” just by listening to Paul Washer’s sermons, because in my church people spoke rather gently, about hell very rarely, hardly at all, and then suddenly I heard such a sermon … it surprised me because I heard about free grace and unconditional love, and then about the radical need for sacrifice and high cost for Jesus, I was torn … (this is not my main reason for abandoning the faith, but it contributed to leaving Christianity). And after a long time, I was organizing materials related to faith, and I was meeting different people, and the fact that I gave up my faith because I did not want to change or sacrifice for God can be explained that or I had never been a believer, so what now? maybe I will never be again, since then I couldn’t be? or that I couldn’t stand sound science and turned my back on my faith. I got to know freedom after leaving church, so it’s hard for me to come back. However, I have guilt and fear ….
Thanks again for your reply. I understand it can be difficult and the fear of hell can be crippling. I myself am not completely free of it.
But, in my humble opinion, even if you decide to convert to a particular branch of Christianity because of the fear of Hell, the problem will re-surface in the future. Especially with Washer’s brand of Christianity, you’ll second guess yourself everyday whether you’re an elect or reprobate.
Yes, the Bible talks about people being deceived, but how can you be absolutely sure that it is the Catholics or Eastern Orthodox who are deceived, and not the Protestants or Evangelicals? If you had been a Catholic before, wouldn’t you be more scared of the possibility of Marian apparitions being true? In fact, I found ex-Catholics online who were anxiously asking other people to help them “disprove” the Miracle of Fatima. (By the way, one of the signs was simultaneously witnessed by many people, unlike Washer’s personal account/vision which had essentially one witness.)
And they would come back again and again for the same reassurance. This time, it would be about Eucharistic miracles, next time it would be about the next Marian visitation, etc.
For every powerful preacher like Paul Washer, I’m sure you can find an Eastern Orthodox priest or monk or saint who is equally, if not more, pious and committed to their faith. And they still think that Evangelical theology is misguided. And that people like Paul Washer is a false teacher.
There was also a Catholic saint called St. Peter Damian who had a reputation for being an exceedingly holy church reformer in the midst of church corruption. He wrote a book condemning the supposedly widespread practice of homosexuality amongst the clergy at the time. He was definitely not a hypocrite, he stood for what was perceived as Christian morality. If we follow the same logic, don’t you think there is a likelihood that the Holy Spirit was working within him and that he was a true Christian? And that the Catholic Church is correct?
As for the Tower of Babel being discovered, I haven’t heard of the news. But I know that there is an existing town in India called Sakissa (in the Pali language), where, it was said, Sakyamuni Buddha descended from heaven after teaching the Dhamma to the gods. Unlike the Tower of Babel, it didn’t have to be identified or discovered. Would you consider this as proof that Buddha Gotama/Sakyamuni Buddha did descend from the heavens?
I think my point is, uncertainty is the fact of life. We can’t be absolutely sure about everything, especially when it involves supernatural claims. Even if we believe the Bible or Christianity to be true, we can never be absolutely sure that our version is the right one. So, I don’t think we will ever be able to say, 100%, that Paul Washer or his version of Christianity cannot be true. But the catch is, the same thing applies to other sects of Christianity or other religions. Once one is aware of the diversity of religious claims, Pascal’s Wager will start turning into an infinite regress.
I hope this is helpful. Again, I’m no expert, but this is my take on the issue.
The fact that I doubt Christ’s eternal message of salvation is proof to the believer the message is true. The point to be considered here is the phenomenon known as ‘conspiracy theory’. Study the psychology of that theory and it is clear that the story told supports itself no matter what proofs or observations are proferred in response. Because we feel convinced in our own hearts, we simply use contrary attitudes as fodder to feed our belief. “You are suggesting it is not true because you are indwelt by the devil!” See my point?
No matter how convincing you are with reasoned questions and observations, your direction is contrary to the deeply felt conviction in the believer. The Devil is second only to God, you see…. ( And on and on it goes…)
Here’s what I feel/see/surmise these days: When the flames crest the hill to west of my home and I feel the heat from a mile away, my body says “RUN!” My heart says believe in the Lord your God with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding!”
But the flames are hot and British Columbia is on fire! I feel it burning me and I run. Faith in God saves not one tree on fire and certainly not tens of thousands…. The Bible seems true sometimes, here and there, like life seems true, here and there. What is really true is the fire, the heat on flesh, the running to survive. The three who walked through fire melted in it. I know this because I have felt big forest fire flame. It’s just my experience though…. and the Devil is stronger than anyone but God, right? Pass the offering plate.
I just read your post about your relationship with your father. I must say that I admire your transparency in reflecting upon these painful memories. My question is: Do you think it is possible that your relationship with your earthly dad contributed to you ultimately abandoning the notion of a loving Heavenly Father?
Samantha, It is unusual that Bruce could turn away from the true love God who offered his son to torture and death and who could have in his three on three power righted all that was wrong. How could Bruce do such a thing. Christ spoke a truth that Christians don’t like to hear: Father, why hast thou forsaken me?
It’s an important question to ponder. Children abused in every way you can imagine and more have to endure the same suffering as they ‘die for your sins’ today one, tomorrow another. Why, Samantha, do you feel this must go on and on? Forsake all and follow the pie in the sky. But remember as the preacher Carlin told us, ‘ God has problems with money!!! Pass that plate.
What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow 🙂
For the European swallow – 24 mph. 😉
Thank you 😂😂
You mentioned on a recent post that your website costs 135 dollars a month to run. It is a little daunting to me as someone who is getting started on running a website.. What are the reasons for the high costs and what advice would you give those of us who want to start a website? Thank you.
I’m curious too, since I have my blog on WordPress and it’s free. I do know that ad appear on it, but for the functionality that I need, it’s okay.
Thanks for sharing such an amazing and informative blog.
I have had a few questions that have been burning inside of me for the longest time about Christianity. I know that you’re not really into it anymore nowadays, but considering your experience, I would like to get your input. I have a few other questions which I may include one per reply.
My first question is, what is God to you? Also, when you were actively involved in the church, what, how, and where did you see God as? To give some examples, is God a bearded man in the sky watching us (as silly as that sounds)? Is he Invisible, Risen? Lively or Unlively? What about when praying to him (as in Jesus)? Do you think he was listening to your words?
I understand that this may be a difficult question to answer as some of it may be indescribable. I have not grown up in a religious or church-going family but I want to know the full picture of it how it all works so to say.
Thanks a lot!
so, bruce, what did you think of my former chrsitian sect, the Presbyterians?
Here’s a (hopefully) interesting question! I once heard a theory that Jesus might have been an alien, which would explain how he was able to do some of the things attributed to him. What are your thoughts on supernatural phenomena actually being extraterrestrial in origin?
Hey Bruce. This has probably been asked a few times. If so, feel free to point me to a post where you have answered this one. Why do you think that so many Christians feel the need to write to you about the error of or ways? Whether it’s trying to lure you back to Christianity, berate you in some way for whatever reason, tell you how wrong you are, etc. I seriously doubt that you will ever hear anything that will make you go back to that mess. Like when I was a Christian, drinking the holy koolaid by the gallon, no one could have said anything to me to make me an atheist. It wasn’t until I started questioning things in the Bible and looked into all this stuff. Then I found others to help me along the way. Anyway, would love to hear your thoughts on all the Christians that write to you.
Bruce – you probably have seen this as it is quite old. Very funny!