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Elizabeth Prata Reveals She’s Never Talked to an Evangelical-Turned-Atheist, But Knows They Never Were True Christians

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It’s Tuesday. A new day for Evangelical zealots to read the minds of Evangelicals-turned-atheists and tell them why they “really” deconverted, and what their “real” motivations were for abandoning Christianity. Elizabeth Prata is one such tone-deaf Evangelical.

In a post titled, Can You Be an Ex-Christian? Prata stated:

There’s no such thing as an ex-Christian. Look at 1 John-

They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.” (1 John 2:19)

John is saying here that people who ‘backslide’ and then fall away from the faith entirely, never really were saved to begin with. “They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him,” (Titus 1:16).

For many professing “ex-Christians”, it starts with apostasy, something Paul said there would be plenty of in the last days.

….

So the apostate’s progression is: profess Christ by mouth… but since there was no visible fruit to show the state of grace they were claiming on the inside, they were never really saved; fail to walk closely with Jesus by procrastinating in discipleship, bible study, prayer, and/or worship, furthering the distance between themselves and Jesus; listen to or promote destructive heresies that either they knowingly or unknowingly begin to believe, start doubting Christ’s sufficiency; doubt more, and then slide to full blown renunciation and end up in a state of atheism.

….

The end result of a Christian in name only – that is, one who claimed Jesus but never really believed – and is one who is at risk of being tempted by destructive heresies, and ultimately of apostasy. What comes next is atheism.

Atheism is a natural cul-de-sac in the road away from the cross.

….

After apostasy settles in and atheism rears its head, a person is well and truly now in the dangerous pits of despair, misplacing their burgeoning faith in something for a faith in nothing that will last forever.

I’m should just say “sigh” (please see Why I Use the Word “Sigh”), but for the sake of the children 🙂 I will respond to Prata’s awful prattle.

It’s evident Prata has never meaningfully talked to Evangelicals-turned-atheists. Instead, much as countless other Evangelicals have done, she ignores their stories out of hand, justifying her boorish behavior by quoting the Bible. Much like Joe Sperber did in his email interaction with me, (please see Joe, The Evangelical, Likens My Life to Driving Off a Cliff and Committing Suicide) Prata uses 1 John 2:19 to justify her out-of-hand dismissal of deconversion stories:

They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.

According to Prata’s interpretation of this verse — a common interpretation — Evangelicals-turned-atheists were never Christians. Why? True Christians never leave the church. And make no mistake about it, the “us” in this verse is the local, visible church, and not the invisible, universal church. True Christians go to church and continue going to church all the days of their lives. Evangelicals-turned-atheists stopped going to church, so this is “proof” that they were never Christians.

This is akin to a man who was married to a woman for fifty years before divorcing his wife. The Pratas of the world say to the man, “you never were married.” Absurd, right? The man was married, and now he’s not. No amount of revision can change the fact that the man was married for fifty years. So it is when it comes to the deconversion stories of former Evangelicals. These people were once Christians and now they are not, regardless of what the Bible says. Facts are facts. Surely, that’s a “fact” we can all agree upon.

Here’s the money quote:

So the apostate’s progression is: profess Christ by mouth… but since there was no visible fruit to show the state of grace they were claiming on the inside, they were never really saved; fail to walk closely with Jesus by procrastinating in discipleship, bible study, prayer, and/or worship, furthering the distance between themselves and Jesus; listen to or promote destructive heresies that either they knowingly or unknowingly begin to believe, start doubting Christ’s sufficiency; doubt more, and then slide to full blown renunciation and end up in a state of atheism.

According to Prata, Evangelicals-turned-atheists never had “visible fruit to show the state of grace they were claiming on the inside.” In other words, their “works” didn’t match their words. Prata confidently states “Evangelicals-turned-atheists, procrastinated in discipleship, bible study, prayer, and/or worship, furthering the distance between themselves and Jesus; listening to or promoting destructive heresies.” Does this sound remotely true to you, especially those of you who were pastors, evangelists, missionaries, youth pastors, Sunday school teachers, deacons, Christian school teachers, and Evangelical college professors? Does this remotely sound true to those of you who were in church every time the doors were open? Of course not.

I was in the Evangelical church for fifty years, and a pastor for twenty-five years. I slavishly, passionately, and devotedly loved and followed Jesus. I forsook my houses, lands, and material possessions for the “sake of the call.” I devoted my life to preaching the gospel, winning souls, and building up the people of God. I daily read and studied the Bible, spending thousands and thousands of hours immersed in the Word. I preached 4,000 sermons. For years, I was an expositional preacher. I was not perfect, sinning daily in thought, word, and deed. But, the bend of my life (to quote John MacArthur) was towards holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord. I raised my children up in nurture and admonition of the Lord. My wife and I, along with our six children, separated ourselves from the “world.” Personal holiness was important to us. We homeschooled our children, doing everything we could to train them up in the ways of the Lord. My theology certainly moderated and changed over the twenty-five years I spent in the ministry, but never strayed beyond Christian orthodoxy. Based on my story alone, it is abundantly clear that what Prata says about Evangelicals-turned-atheists is not true. I know she reads this blog, so I call on her to immediately repent and apologized to those whose character she has besmirched. Will she do so? I doubt it. Evangelicals drive cars that don’t have reverse gear. Certainty breeds arrogance, and arrogance precludes Evangelicals from admitting they are wrong.

Why do Evangelicals refuse to accept the stories of Evangelicals-turned-atheists at face value? Why do they close their eyes and plug their ears, pretending to not see and hear what is right in front of them? Why do they continue to quote Bible verses and sermonize? Why, if all else fails, do they turn to violence and torture porn, threatening Evangelicals-turned-atheists with eternal, everlasting torment in the Lake of Fire? Why do the stories of Evangelicals-turned-atheists bother them so much, often causing them to erupt in outrage? Why not just ignore those who deconvert, giving them over to Satan as the Apostle Paul did?

Here’s what I think: our stories scare the shit out of them. They know our stories ring true, yet we walked (or ran) away from God, Jesus, the Bible, and the church. And if this can happen to us, it could happen to them too. Over the years, several former church members — close friends — ended their friendships with me. Why? They found my story to be disconcerting. How is it possible that the man they called Preacher, the man who led them to Christ, baptized them, and taught them the Word of God, is an atheist? Unable to come to terms with my loss of faith, they distance themselves from me lest my atheist cooties rub off on them. One close ministerial colleague of mine, upon learning I left the faith, came to my home to beg me to reconsider. After hours of begging and pleading, it became clear to this man that I would never return to Christianity. (Please see Dear Friend.) He then begged me to NOT tell anyone about my deconversion, fearing that my doing so would lead people away from Jesus. Of course, I could not honor his request.

There’s nothing more powerful than a well-told story. This is why I am just one man with a story to tell. I write, people read, and decide for themselves whether my story rings true. Traffic numbers suggest that my story rings true for thousands and thousands of people. I receive frequent emails and comments from people thanking me for my writing. I am humbled by their kind words, reminders of the fact that my story matters. And so does yours. If you have not told your story, I hope you will consider doing so. Please contact me if you would like to share your story on this site.

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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 email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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9 Comments

  1. Avatar
    BJW

    Yes, Bruce, you scare them. And you have a blog with thousands of readers, and talk about your atheism in Youtube videos. That definitely has to scare them shitless.

  2. Avatar
    dale m.

    There is just one suggestion here that could be more helpful to Evangelicals. This is the question of whether or not one could be a true believer in J.C. Is it possible to be a true believer in the first place B4 becoming an atheist in the 2nd place ?!? This is not based on I.Q. or reasoning. Rather, it is based on E.Q.

    This is something every evangelical should be able to understand.

    Ask the most basic question.

    Did you, when you were very young, believe with all your “heart and soul”, in something mystical and supernatural a.k.a. Santa Claus ?? If you did, you instinctively know how real that belief really was.

    Then you left it. WHY ?!? And there’s your answer. It is possible to commit yourself to something deeply and then not. Most atheists have been there.

  3. Avatar
    Jaqen H'ghar

    Beth refuses to post a man’s rebuttal, “Beth, can you be an ex-wife?”. Since Beth got married to Mikey in her early 20s and divorced him in her early 40’s but had nothing (literally and biblically) to show for it, she definitely was not married. Will introduce her to Ulla on Tinder. They already shared the same Logic.

  4. Avatar
    clubschadenfreude

    so, by Elizabeth’s own claims, she’s not a Christian either. She shows no “fruits” and can’t do what her bible has Jesus promising all true believers to be able to do. She’s a fraud just like every other Christian.

    • Avatar
      ObstacleChick

      They love their 1 John 2:19 verse as it gives them permission to dismiss us as lesser-than, evil, unworthy of listening to. This is one of the brilliant tools used by some of the writers of the Bible to keep their members in the fold or to dismiss those outside it.

  5. Avatar
    Steve Ruis

    Re “True Christians go to church and continue going to church all the days of their lives. Evangelicals-turned-atheists stopped going to church, so this is “proof” that they were never Christians.” Hmm, I wonder what they would say about an evangelical who decided to go to a Catholic Church.

    I think their definition of a True Christian™ is someone who agrees with them and that alone.

  6. Avatar
    Andrew Hackman

    Yep, my mom told me this past summer that I was never a Christian.

    Apparently I faked it well for decades… so much so, that none of them ever called me on it. In fact, they had me share my testimony at churches, bible studies, and other gatherings more times than I could count.

    But, I never REALLY believed. 🙂

    • Avatar
      Kel

      Every time a Christian accuses a sincere ex-Christian of having never become a True Christian in the first place, it often backfires.

      As you said, these ex-Chritians might have been very devout and had impeccable Christian testimonies. So it is either that they were true believers who have now abandoned the faith or that the still-believing Christians are so deficient in the spiritual gift of discernment that they are constantly being deceived by closeted unbelievers and Satan. Either way, it’s a rather unflattering assessment of the Christians’ cause.

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Bruce Gerencser