Yesterday, a Fundamentalist Christian man named Joe Boie sent me two identical messages after reading several posts about Midwestern Baptist College (the institution I attended in the 70s) and its founder Tom Malone. Boie also read the post Why I Hate Jesus. Afterward, he sent me the following message — twice. My response is indented and italicized.
Dear Bitter Bruce:
What makes you think I am bitter? Have you ever changed your mind? Do you believe the same things you believed years ago? All I have done is change my mind about God/Jesus/the Bible/Christianity. I am a person who values openness, integrity, and honesty. Would you rather I lie about my loss of faith? Maybe you think I should keep my atheism to myself. Do you share your faith with others? Do you try to persuade people of the truthfulness of your beliefs? Why should Evangelicals be able to share their stories, but not atheists?
I suspect the real issue for you is that my story troubles you; that you can’t wrap your mind around a long-time Evangelical pastor leaving Christianity and becoming an atheist; that you can’t square my story with your peculiar theological beliefs. So instead of wrestling with those things, you choose to attack the messenger.
You come off as a smug, arrogant asshole. Do you attend an IFB church? Some of the worst “Christians” I have ever met are IFB pastors, evangelists, and church members. What was your goal in emailing me? What did you really hope to accomplish?
Now that you are old and ailing and see in the news in front of our face the fall of America, do you think it faults the preachers?
I am not sure what my age or health has to do with anything. I suspect you are a right-wing Christian. Did you vote for Donald Trump? If so, I’m sure you think the United States is falling headlong into the proverbial abyss. However, I don’t see things that way. We live in a time of great transformation and change. As a liberal and socialist, I see Trumpism and most of the Republican Party as an existential threat to the future of our Republic. Does this mean America is falling? No. Changing? Yes. Falling? No.
Evangelical preachers are directly to blame for the rise of Trumpism, fascism, and Christian nationalism. Many of them have stopped preaching the gospel, trading faith for raw, naked political power.
Now all these prophetic signs, Mideast accords, a vaccine that resembles the mark? Is that just coincidence.
What prophetic signs? There are none. A vaccine that resembled the Mark of the Beast? Seriously? Have you not read what the Bible says about the “Mark?” I suspect you are a Bible literalist. If so, please show me one verse in the entire Bible that remotely mentions COIVD-19 and vaccinations. Of course, I already know that there are no verses that say such things. None. Nada. Zip.
You whine and pine about people, I agree ole bitter Bruce. People are horrible. In the car business , we lose hope in humanity.
All I do on this site is critique Evangelical Christianity and tell my story. How about you interact with what I have written instead of making false assertions about my character?
I agree: some people are “horrible.” Please look in the mirror.
By the way, I have bought four new automobiles from local Ford dealerships — Moats Ford and Jim Schmidt Ford. I have had great experiences with both.
There is no way for us to understand that Love of Christ to die for a sinner.
Sure there is: use your brain. Carefully examine the claims of the Bible. I came to the conclusion that the claims of the Bible didn’t make any sense. (Please see The Michael Mock Rule: It Just Doesn’t Make Sense.) If you have not read any of Dr. Bart Ehrman’s books on the history and nature of the Bible, I highly recommend them. Ehrman is a renowned New Testament scholar at the University of North Carolina, the author of numerous books on the Bible.
Those at the foot of the cross were saying the same thing you have said.
Really? What evidence do you have for this claim? Where can I read what people said at the foot of Jesus’ cross? I looked at what the Bible says people said while Jesus was dying. I found no correlation between their words and what I write on this blog.
Ole Bitter and sick Bruce.
What an astute (look that word up in a dictionary, if you have one) statement, Joe. I’m sure you are proud of yourself. Too bad your words reflect nothing of the love and compassion of the Jesus you speak of. What in your emails would incline me to return to Jesus? Why would I want to be a part of Joe Boie’s religion, a man who shows me no respect? That’s why I think you are associated with the IFB church movement in some way. Such behavior is the norm, almost expected.
I do commend you for not explicitly threatening me with Hell, but I suspect your repeated mention of my poor health is a subtle “you will soon burn in the Lake of Fire, Bruce” threat. I bet you were even smiling when you wrote “ole bitter and sick Bruce,” picturing in your mind your version of God torturing me forever for what I wrote on this site.
May you find some sweetness this Christmas
I happen to love Christmas — far more than when I was an Evangelical pastor. Awesome time. Our fresh tree is already up and Christmas music wafts through the air. We are currently shopping for gifts for our thirteen grandchildren. In eighteen days we will gather with our family for food, fun, and fellowship — all without Jesus. Our time together will be sweet indeed.
and know that that same Jesus is coming again and if you are saved you are still saved.
I am confident that Jesus is not coming again. He’s dead. He’s been dead for almost 2,000 years. Much like my mother, father, biological father, and grandparents, Jesus is dead and he ain’t showing up for Christmas dinner — though all of them are certainly invited. (Well except my mom’s father and wife, John and Ann Tieken. Please see Dear Ann.)
Welp, I was “saved” for forty-five years. Or thirty-five years, depending on what salvation date is used. I was in the Christian church for fifty years, an Evangelical pastor for twenty-five years. I was in every way a devoted follower of Jesus Christ. (Please see Why?) And now, since November 2008, I am not. I no longer believe the central claims of Christianity are true. I no longer believe the Bible is the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God. I am not, in any way, a Christian. I realize this poses a problem for you as a once-saved-always-saved Baptist. You find it impossible to square my story with your theology. So, I was either never saved (an absurdity) or I am still a Christian — albeit backslidden. I hope you realize how absurd it is to say that I am currently a born-again Christian. Your inability to line up my story with your theology is not my problem.
God help me because I could end up just like you.
I have lived a good life, Joe, including the decades I spent in the ministry. I could think of worse people to end up like. Have you met Joe Boie?
You don’t mean this. There’s nothing in your email that suggests you are wishing me well. You see me as an enemy, a false prophet, a follower of Satan. Your wish for me is judgment and Hell, or in your kinder moments, repentance and a groveling return to faith in Hay-zeus. I am content to wish you well, Joe. May the triune god of reason, skepticism, and humanism bring to your home joy, peace, and spiked egg nog.
Saved by Reason,
Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.
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