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Atheist Ex-Pastor Refutes the Claim That There is No Such Thing As an Ex-Christian

easy believism

According to Fundamentalist Christian Jimmy Randolph, there is no such thing as an ex-Christian. In an article titled Beware of the Perils and Pitfalls of Easy-Believism, Randolph shares a recent experience he had of witnessing to an atheist:

A few days ago the Lord allowed me to witness to an atheist about creation and Jesus Christ’s blood atonement for sinners. After a few minutes of going back and forth, I could see that the particular atheist I was dealing with was not interested in truth, but excuse. As I was about to end the conversation by telling the atheist that he will one day face his Creator face to face at the Great White Throne Judgment and give an account for every secret sin, the atheist interrupted me by telling me that he was “a former Christian”. Now any Bible Believer knows that it is not impossible for a born-again Christian to apostate so dramatically to the point where they could possibly become an atheist (2 Tim 2:13 KJV).  Therefore, I decided to check out his testimony in the Lord.

I asked him “how did you become a Christian?” He answered “I was raised in a society that was mostly Christian.”  I then explained to him that being raised in a Christian society does not make you a Christian any more than being raised in a garage makes you a car. So I presented the question to him again: “how did you become a Christian?” This time he answered me and said “I believed in a theistic God.” I then explained to him that the devils also believe in a theistic God and tremble (James 2:19 KJV). I presented the question to him a third time: “how did you become a Christian?”  He answered and said “I believed the bible and that prayers would be the answer” I then explained to him that Muslims also believe in prayer and that Mormons also believe the bible, but that doesn’t make them Christians. I then rebuked the atheist by telling him that according to all three cases of his own testimony, he was NEVER a Christian, only RELIGIOUS.  It was at this point were the atheist let his anger get the best of him at accused me of being radical, mean-spirited, outrageous, illogical, spreading hate, unreasonable, what’s wrong with “Christianity” today, ridiculous ideology, blah, blah, blah.

Now why would this atheist label himself as a “former Christian” when he was absolutely clueless to what a Christian was? Two words: EASY BELIEVISM. Easy Believism is a heresy that teaches that salvation or reconciliation with God is relative to the individual and NOT ABSOLUTE according to God’s word. In other words, Easy Believism teaches that an individual doesn’t have to run to Calvary’s cross as a BROKEN SINNER in need of a sinless Savior to save them from HELL. Instead, the individual can come to God self-righteously as their own mediator, in their own way, in their own time, according to their own thoughts and logic.

According to Randolph, those of us who label ourselves as ex-Christians never really understood the True Christian® gospel. Randolph thinks that ex-Christians fell prey to what he calls easy-believism. Unfortunately, Randolph has no idea what easy-believism is. Proponents of easy-believism (free grace)  — men such as Jack Hyles, Curtis Hutson, Bob Gray, Charles Ryrie, Chuck Swindoll, Charles Stanley, and Zane Hodges — believe that people are saved when they mentally assent to a set of propositional beliefs and put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ. Those opposed to easy-believism — men such as John MacArthur and most Calvinists — believe that unsaved people must not only accept Jesus as their Savior, but they also must make him the Lord of their lives (lordship salvation). While both parties believe that good works are a natural consequence of being saved, those who oppose easy-believism say that these works prove that a person has indeed been born from above.

As you can see from the previous paragraph, Randolph doesn’t understand easy-believism. I am not sure where he pulled his definition from, but it wasn’t from any of the pro/anti-easy-believism books of the 1980s and 1990s. Randolph’s inability to define and understand easy-believism renders his claim moot. Still, for the sake of argument, I will let his definition stand so I can adequately address what he writes next.

According to Randolph, there are ten ways to spot the false converts to easy-believism (grammar errors and all caps in the original):


As regular readers know, I was a Christian for almost fifty years. I spent twenty-five years pastoring Evangelical churches in Ohio, Michigan, and Texas. As many readers of this blog, I was, for many years, a devoted follower of Jesus Christ. At one time, thanks to the churches I grew up in and the training I received at Midwestern Baptist College, I preached the easy-believism gospel. However, by the mid-1980s, I realized that the easy-believism gospel generally turned people into cultural Christians who had no desire to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. So when John MacArthur wrote his Evangelical-shaking book, The Gospel According to Jesus, I quickly realized that MacArthur was spot on when it came to the lordship of Christ. From that point forward, my preaching and emphasis changed. Instead of just trying to get people to pray the sinner’s prayer, I focused on what I called the gospel of full disclosure. If people were going to become followers of Jesus, I believed they needed to know exactly what Jesus expected (demanded) of them.

So when I look at Randolph’s ten ways to spot a false convert to easy-believism, I can emphatically say that none of these things is true of me. And I expect that many of the readers of this blog can say the same.  We are living examples of the fact that people can be Christians and then walk away.  Any thorough examination of our lives reveals that we were once committed followers of Jesus. Our lives are proof that what Jimmy Randolph writes in his post is not true.

This should be the end of the discussion. I’ve presented evidence — my life — that cannot be refuted. But, this won’t be the end of the discussion because people like Randolph, when confronted with the exemplary lives of one-time Christians, will then suggest that we must still be Christians because the Bible says that the true Christian can never fall from grace or lose their salvation. Instead, we are just backslidden, and God, through chastisement or even death, will brings us back to Jesus.

While perusing the comments on Randolph’s post, I noticed that he said his definition of easy-believism came straight from the Bible.  After reading several more of his comments, I have concluded that he actually believes in easy-believism, just not the Bible-defined easy-believism that he has concocted in his head. (He also rejects lordship salvation.) In other words, he doesn’t know what he is talking about. Instead of trying to “save” atheists, perhaps Randolph should invest some money in buying several systematic theology books and doing some study on what the Bible actually says about salvation. Then, once thoroughly confused, Randolph can deconvert and become an ex-Christian who was never a Christian.

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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    I actually regard the reverse as being almost exclusively true, that proper atheism is something that will never leave you.

    Believers like to quote people who claim they ‘used to be an atheist’, the likes of Lee Strobel now or C.S. Lewis from time gone by. Yet neither of these people were really atheists. At best, they simply hadn’t considered the position properly in their minds and were ‘passively agnostic’. Atheism is a realisation, a point where the misty cloud we call religious belief lifts and you suddenly appreciate that the world makes much more sense when there is no god.

    That’s something that will never leave you; the freedom offered by human reason, especially if you’ve first had to throw away the shackles of strong religious belief.

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    Karen the rock whisperer

    This ex-Catholic gets really, really tired of the Evangelical trope about Real Christians (TM). Even you, Bruce my friend, might well believe that I was never a “real” Christian. But Catholics, Episcopalians, non-Evangelical Lutherans, and other non-Evangelical Christians have just as much real claim to the label as Evangelicals. You don’t have to be dramatically saved to live a God-driven life. You don’t have to throw yourself down on an altar to acknowledge the continuing difficulty of sin, or to believe in God’s grace. From the point of view of my training, Evangelicals spend a lot of time thrashing about, sinning and then beating themselves and begging God for forgiveness… but I was taught that God forgives sins if you sincerely repent and try your best not to sin, and the cycle of unavoidable sin (because we’re human) and reconciliation is simply part of the process of trying to follow Jesus.

    Now I don’t believe in any of that, I’m a Humanist. As a human, I’m going to make mistakes, and as one connected with fellow humans, I need to own up to my mistakes and try to fix any hurt I’ve caused. Success is minimizing the mistakes and the hurt. But it annoys the heck out of me that so many Evangelicals are so damned Holier Than Thou about Christianity. I was indeed a Christian, as much as any citizen of Scotland is a True Scotsman (or Scotswoman).

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      Bruce Gerencser

      Certainly, there was a time when I thought Catholics were non-Christians. But, I abandoned that kind if thinking about ten years before I stopped pastoring. In one church I pastored , Our Father’s House in West Unity, Ohio, we had a sign on its door that said, the church where the only label that matters is Christian. As I got older I become more ecumenical. I was even part of the local ministerial group, a choice I never would have made as a young pastor.

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      I think you’re missing the point of this article. Biblical Christians, such as Evangelical Christians and fundamentalist Christians, are not self-righteous and accusatory. They don’t act “holier than thou” just by speaking the truth and by pointing out that some professed Christians are not real Christians at all no matter how self-delusional cultural Christians are.

      A lot of false Christians and cultural Christians get really angry, offended and defensive when someone points out that their beliefs and lifestyle are not consistent with Biblical teachings about what it means to deny self, take up the cross and follow Jesus.

      There are millions of professed and hypocritical and unsaved Christians who think they can live an unrepentant sinful lifestyle (e.g. one that includes unrepentant, continuous and habitual premarital sex with a partner, casual sex/promiscuity, adultery, all other sexual sins, multiple divorces for unBiblical reasons, multiple remarriages for unBiblical reasons, watching or using porn, continually lusting after others, gossiping about others, disrespecting others, getting drunk or high, failing to share the gospel with others, practicing witchcraft, lying, stealing, coveting, using God’s name in vain, bullying others, dishonoring their parents, disobeying their parents, working on the Seventh-day Sabbath/failing to keep the seventh-day Sabbath holy, living a worldly or ungodly lifestyle, etc.).

      When you speak the truth and tell people that you cannot be a real Christian and yet act anyway you want, think anything you want, believe anyway you want or willfully and habitually disregard obedience to God’s commandments after you claim to have “gotten saved”, then the fakes, lukewarm Christians, worldly people and easy believers accuse you of being judgmental, self-righteous, holier than thou and misguided. Many false Christians want to justify their sinful lifestyle, hypocrisy and self-delusion by thinking that they can willfully disregard the Bible’s values, commandments and principles on a daily basis while simultaneously thinking that they will be saved no matter what they do, how they live, what they believe or no matter how contrary their lifestyle and beliefs are to foundational Biblical doctrines.

      There is a right way and a wrong way, a Biblical way and an unBiblical way, to practice Christianity. Many people profess to be Christian and they are not and they never really were. Cultural Christianity is rampant in people who are not truly saved and who are truly Christian at all.

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        Bruce Gerencser

        Nice sermon. 😂😂 Too bad you missed the point of this article.

        And as far as being labeled judgmental, self-righteous, and holier than thou, if the shoe fits wear it. Your comment is just that.

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        Freedomfortwo, you missed a really important sin off your list! You failed to mention farting in a public place then denying guilt when challenged. Just appalling. Now I’m off to cast a few more spells. I’m trying to stop but my membership of the Associated Guild of Witches requires it as part of their terms.

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        Freedomfortwo, your second sentence, “Biblical Christians, such as Evangelical Christians and fundamentalist Christians, are not self-righteous and accusatory”, is just wrong. As in, anyone can be guilty of this. I know you mean in general, and specifically on the issue of what constitutes genuine Christianity in adherence to the Scriptures. I totally get that. But a lot of the reasons why these kinds of dialogues go nowhere with people that evangelical Christians profess to actually want to reach, especially with the soul-saving Gospel as it were, is because they impugn motives and assign blame for disagreement and they do so based on the presuppositional truth of what they are asserting. And in a sense, I can see where that is Biblical: it is moral to believe and obey what an all-good, all-righteous God tells you, and immoral to deliberately choose not to or fail to do so.

        Most of the evangelical Christians who respond the way you do demonstrate absolutely no willingness to actually and honestly engage and listen to the other person. In my opinion, many of these same evangelicals act like they believe in themselves more than the Holy Spirit, in the power of their persuasiveness, or the ability to hard-sell when there is no interest, or what have you. I believed all the same things you express to doing so here in your comment. I was not actually open to other views, or feel any need to, and I used the Bible to justify that unwillingness and my own diagnosis of why my presentation was so often rejected and cast aside (hint: I never placed any blame on myself except in rare circumstances which usually amounted to failing to mention something I had planned to address, or having regret because I thought of a clever “comeback” response that I now had no opportunity to deliver, etc.).

        Perhaps my very first sin was having an open mind, and the second was like unto it (borrowing some KJVese), willingly listening to opposing perspectives and reasons without pre-judgment or exclusionary bias (as much as possible, anyway). I learned a lot doing that. And no question, if you go by your particular interpretation of the Bible (as best I can tell) which seems very similar to mine in the past, both things are definitely sin and will inevitably lead the erring one astray. Why? Because when an interpretation is based on “revelation” rather than “reason” then the deciding factor is not actually what you discover in life, but upon which “revelation” you place authority in order to interpret the evidence. I have learned to value reason as a result. And I have become very skeptical of “revelation” along with organized religion, though when I am smart, I generally keep my opinions to myself (so, unlike here).

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    Did you read the comments on there? It’s one big argument about what constitutes “real” salvation and therefore “real” Christianity: you have to be baptized, you have to speak in tongues, blah blah, etc. Nasty responses and name calling ensues. I placed a comment about how amusing it is that they can’t even get it straight amongst themselves and was immediately deleted, haha!

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      There are real Christians and then there are people who considered themselves to be Christian when they are not real Christians at all.

      You cannot act any way, believe any way, or live any way and still go to Heaven no matter the sinfulness of your lifestyle. Evangelical Christians speak the truth. The people who are not truly Christians can’t handle hearing the truth.

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        Bruce Gerencser

        Please point us to the objective standard in the allegedly inspired, inerrant, infallible Bible for determining who is a real or true Christian. Or admit that you have concocted your own version of “real” Christianity by which you judge others who profess faith in Christ. Further, you never responded to the actual content of this post: my response to the claim that Christians-turned-atheists were “false” Christians who embraced easy-believism.

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    Grrrrr…. this kind of low-aim dick really gets me going. I wish the prick found me in an alley and started haranguing me about what a real Christian is…. fucker.
    Bruce, you said, “I am not sure where he pulled his definition from,” and I could tell you where he pulled it from but my atheist aversion/allergy to pure preacher shit would put my health at risk so you are going to have to guess the location 😉

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    Mr. Randolph is a genuine jerk for Jesus. No grace, love or mercy in his talk with this atheist just self-righteous, pious posturing. It seems logical to me that if somebody can accept the Gospel and Jesus then they can reject him as well. I hate the “well you were never a Christian anyway” argument as much as I hate the “well you were never an atheist anyway” claim. What we have are a good number of Christians who are all 1 point Calvinists with the P of the TULIP. Even those that detest Calvinism still adopt this point into their theology. In believe one can be a devout Christian, Muslim, Mormon, Buddhist, Atheist, etc. and make a decision to leave that particular style of life behind.

    To say somebody like Bruce was never a Christian is a poor stance. From all I’ve read of his past he was 100% sold out for the Gospel. I believe I was 100% sold out to atheism and humanism in my past. I still have a healthy dose of skepticism left over from it that tends to get me in trouble, especially with church folks and church leaders who have been in church all of their lives. It’s like they have lost touch with the real world. To steal a quote, “so heavenly minded they are no earthly good.”

    If I had the chance to talk to somebody like this former Christian turned atheist, I’d try to honestly listen to him. Ask him what led him to the change. And listen. Talk with him not at him. Maybe even ask him if he ever thought he might return to Christianity or another faith. Get to know him, not beat him over the head with a theological hammer. And totally avoid the Hell card. I mean, you think you are going to scare this guy into the faith? That pretty much shuts down other people when you draw that line in the sand.

    The truth is most Christians and most atheists are more interested in a monologue instead of a dialogue. They just want to shout and argue with each other instead of listen to each other. I’ve tried to have a mind open enough that any compelling argument could lead me to another belief. I refuse to be a religious zealot who is deaf to reason and logic. I’d love to sit down and have a coffee or a beer with somebody like the atheist in this story or Bruce and just have a real conversation about life.

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      That Hebrews passage is rough, especially during my devout Calvinism phase (I’m going to borrow a term from a Christian I listened to named Richard Howe in his debate with Mike Licona on inerrancy, called “exegetical waterboarding” though I believe he also said “hermeneutical waterboarding” at one point). How do you make a text not mean what it seems to plainly say, without casting aspersion on God’s integrity, or without giving the appearance that inducing fear to produce belief is a good and moral outcome?

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    So, what does this theological giant think of this scenario?

    I have seen many people who got saved when they were children. By all accounts, they lived good lives and were active in the church. Everyone knew they were a Christian, since their works proved this. Then, this person had a crisis of some sort and they realized they weren’t really saved. They came to the altar, crying and snotting, and “got saved”. There would be much rejoicing and happiness, since this person was now truly saved. My question is this- who didn’t hold up their end of the bargain in the first salvation, God or the person? The person had all of the fruit of the spirit, walked uprightly and could pinpoint a time in their life when they accepteded (or received, for the Calvinist brethren) Jesus as their Lord and Saviour®. I’ve seen this many times, and I am one who had a second salvation experience.

    Hebrews 6:4-6 clearly states that some who have partaken of the Holy Ghost can fall away and it is impossible to again renew them to repentance. If you believe what is written and don’t play mental gymnastics, the author of Hebrews says you can become unsaved. Who failed, God or man? Is God unable to keep his elect or can man defy an all powerful God?

    Unfortunately, I know the church’s dishonest answers to the questions. We are labeled as false concerts and those that sow discord through evil questions. But, no one can deny that, while I believed, my testimony as good as, or better than, any other’s. My spiritual fruit was blooming and my service in the church was moving. No one can take that from me.

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      The funny thing is one of my seminary classes was on the book of Hebrews. You cannot believe (well maybe you can) the hermeneutical gymnastics the instructor and the text books went through on that section of Hebrews to say that it was NOT teaching you could become unsaved. We even had one small book that focused totally on that section. A plain reading seems to indicate apostasy is totally possible.

      Here’s my quandary. So say you reach the end of life Ian (and/or Bruce) and discover that God is real (I know, big hypothetical leap for you but please bare with me). Do you think a just, loving and merciful God would really toss you into a lake of burning fire and sulfur for all eternity despite the many years you joyfully served him? Or, hypothetically speaking, would he chuckle, tell you he understands, and forgive you and welcome you on in. I guess my point here is I think our picture of God is often a fearful one. We treat our earthly children better than we believe a heavenly father would treat us, and that just doesn’t jive with me. No matter how bad of a deed one of my children would commit against me, I could never condemn them to eternal suffering and pain. Anyway, I struggle with that, and I’m not sure we actually have our theology on it correct at all.

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        Michael Mock

        I don’t think there’s any sort of God (or gods) out there. I could be wrong, but if I am than I am, at least, honestly mistaken. And if God is anything like what I was raised to believe in — loving, merciful, just, all-knowing — then presumably he would understand my failure to recognize him, and not just the fact of it; my limitations and my reasoning and everything that went into it as well.

        I do sometimes find myself thinking that I have a rather better opinion of what God would be like if He existed, than what many people who are convinced of His existence think He must be like.

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          Michael Mock, absolutely love this sentence, “I do sometimes find myself thinking that I have a rather better opinion of what God would be like if He existed, than what many people who are convinced of His existence think He must be like.”

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        Randy, 2 Peter 2 and the book of Jude say exactly what is thought of unbelievers who were part of the church. Hebrews 6 talks about those who once believed. The New Testament is pretty clear on the fact that there are only two places people go when they die- Heaven or Hell. So, if I don’t believe any more, then I am not one of God’s chosen/children/followers, according to the scriptures. This means that my destination is Hell and, ultimately, the Lake of Fire, where I will burn for eternity because I wasn’t elected by God and sinned for less than 100 years (if I live a long life). That is the fate that I have waiting for me, according to Pauline Christianity. Jesus’ Christianity did allow for good works, but He also required that I believe in him (Matt 10:32,33).

        A loving and just god wouldn’t toss people to into hell for mere unbelief. He would weigh our good and evil and reward us accordingly. It is the god that Christians worship who delights in eternal punishment for less than a millennium of unbelief and evil deeds. Cain killed his brother, so he has been burning in Hell for 6,000 years. That is the god that most Christians delight in. So, I would follow a just god, but I haven’t seen evidence of him. I want nothing more to do with the god I followed for many years.

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    Benny S

    “…people like Randolph, when confronted with the exemplary lives of one-time Christians, will then suggest that we must still be Christians because the Bible says that the true Christian can never fall from grace or lose their salvation.”

    I dumbfounded by this silly theological idea. Because, if I’m still a Christian, then that mean God is permitting me, His servant, to help guide the unsaved to hell with my erroneously and falsely claimed unbelief.

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    Oh this is fun – lots of argument about what constitutes a Real Christian! It’s amusing how people are so convinced that their version is the only true-blue correct version and all others are wrong. They all have the same Bible (roughly, depending on whether you count the Apocrypha).

    I remember how it felt to be so sure that our sect’s version of Christianity was the Real Honest to Goodness Correct Christianity. Those Church of Christ folks down the street? Pretty close but wrong in not allowing musical instruments. The Methodists? Pretty close too. Pentecostal? Weirdos with their outbursts of babbling – maybe they were possessed by Satan? Catholics, Episcopalians, and Lutherans with their infant baptisms and works based doctrine? How could they even consider themselves Christian? And so on…

    Now I find the quibbling amusing.

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    Yulya Sevelova

    Jimmy Randolph is from the South, from Florida. Virulent Fundamentalism thrives in the South, it’s foundational to Southern culture. This is why someone like him can be happy seeing all this End Times stuff, Big Brother, Russia and China more dangerous than ever,etc. They just groove on all that tragedy being dished out to ” the other” after the Rapture. They really go in for that authoritarianism. American Christians, especially of that I’ll that went for Trump, are simply crazy ! And just think, like mold spores, their missionaries go all over the world replicating their cults in other countries. Sickening!

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    There is no consensus on what a True Christian is. I can ask, What is it that I can see a True Christian doing in real time that lets me know they are a True Christian? How often do they pray? How often do they do good works, and what kind of good works qualify? How often do they read their Bibles, and if they read the Bible as literature or in a mode of critical thinking instead of worshipfully, does that still count? What kind of worship do True Christians engage in? Is speaking in tongues essential or just weird? I could go on. There is no common agreement. That’s why there are over forty thousand different Christian groups and sects and many of them love to dispute endlessly.

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    MJ Lisbeth

    I held off on reading this post because, honestly, I grow weary of self-righteous haters who gaslight folks who honestly describe past experiences. Who has the right to tell you what your experience was, or wasn’t.

    I’m glad I finally read it, though. It’s nice to know that I was rescued from the perils of easy-believism (If being raised Catholic in a Catholic community where I was an altar boy who attended Catholic school doesn’t fit the definition, I don’t know what does!) when I had a nervous breakdown, I mean, accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.

    Of course, whether or not someone thinks I was a “true “ Christian doesn’t matter to me. But it upsets me when someone tries to discredit Bruce or anyone else who committed his or her life to someone or something they once believed in so fervently. If no one has the right to presume knowledge of anyone‘a past then, likewise, no one has the right to say that someone like Bruce “never was.”

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