Yesterday, I had a brief, unproductive — aren’t they all? — email interaction with an Evangelical man named Joe. Joe wrote to complain about a video I posted titled Ten Reasons Why You Should NEVER Celebrate Halloween:
I read your comments about Halloween and Awaken L.A. church. I am a member of the church and do not hold to what the video teaches. It does not represent the church at all. Most members haven’t even seen the video. I loved Halloween as a child and had loads of fun going door to door collecting candy. Personally I see no harm in dressing up and “trick or treating”.
The only harm I could see would be a small child idolizing Killers and dressing up like them (Freddy Krueger for example). As a child we dressed up as hobos, pirates, etc with your occasional “dracula”– but it was a fun time. Children will make up their own minds one day– we don’t need to force them not to trick or treat, or be afraid of one-day a year.
I just wanted to add those comments as your article appears to label our church as some Cult-like group which it is not. The Halloween video is the product of one over-zealous member of the church with little wisdom or real understanding. As I said I hadn’t even seen this video until you posted it.
Thank you for contacting me.
This video is on the official YouTube channel for Awaken L.A. If it doesn’t represent the official position of the church, then the video should be removed. I suggest you ask church leadership why the video is on the church’s channel and if it represents the official position of the church. You may have a different opinion, but that doesn’t mean your pastor (s) or church does.
Have a good week.
Thank you. I will talk to our Pastor.
Joe then sent me this email:
I read “Bishop’s Roulette”. One question: if the “majority” of people think as you do in America, how can Donald Trump be elected again? Or is your math just a bit off?
I didn’t respond to this email. Maybe MJ Lisbeth, the author of the Bishop’s Roulette article, will answer Joe in the comment section.
And then he sent me this email:
I read your blog about Midwestern Bible College. You mention you are the only one you know who became an atheist. It reminded me– out of all the students who attended my graduating class at Canoga Park High School here in California, only ONE has driven off a cliff to his death.
Really? I mean, really? For fuck’s sake, are you trying to say that me leaving Christianity is akin to someone driving off a cliff to kill themselves?
Do better, Joe, do better.
I promise no more messages (unless it’s OK with you) but I am very curious about you.
Have you ever read the book by Jean Messlier the Roman Catholic Priest who served his whole life in the Catholic church and then died? I’ve forgotten the Title of his book, but Voltaire loved it.
After he died they found his memoirs and he pronounced his atheism clearly. I read the book and found it to be fascinating. It was hard to believe he had spent his life as a priest if he never really believed any of what he was teaching.
I thought “is that possible”? Then I saw your story. Preach for 50 years then become an atheist? 2 years maybe, but 50 years?? But then I realized that 1 John 2:19 does not have a time limit to it. It simply says “They went out from us to show that they were NEVER really of us”. Pretty clear– no time frame given.
I know you “believe” you were once a truly born again person–sanctified and saved. But 1 John 2: 19 shows that when one goes forth and denies the faith they are “showing clearly” that what they claim is simply not true.
Is that possible though? I think Jean Messlier proves it can be so. Messlier had “left” the church in spirit many years earlier. He only stayed because the church was his whole life. When he died though he revealed his heart.
I know my quoting 1 John 2:19 might anger you. But is is right there in the Bible.
I would be interested in corresponding a bit with you if possible. Dan Barker wrote a book called “Losing faith in faith”. Interesting title actually. Not “Losing faith in Jesus”– no, its “Losing faith in faith”. It speaks VOLUMES. I would just be interested in asking you some questions. I find deconverts to be fascinating.
It’s impossible to have a meaningful discussion with someone who refuses to accept my story at face value; someone who can dismissively wave away my life with a quote of a Bible verse.
Fact: I once was a Christian and now I am not. Your inability to square that with your theology is your problem, not mine.
You say you are a Christian. Imagine if I said, “no you are not.” Right here in Harry Potter 6:66 it says you never were a Christian. Imagine me dismissing your story out of hand. No matter what you said, I replied, Harry Potter 6:66 says . . .
I hope you understand and appreciate how offensive your line of questioning really is.
Let me add, your comment betrays a lack of imagination, a lack of understanding of theological systems other than yours.
I accept your story Bruce. I really believe you believe you were truly a Christian. A true Christian believes the Word of God. And perhaps you “used” to believe it. One is “born again” by believing the Word. But what if one in reality never really believed it? Intellectually they held to it– but from the heart they always doubted?
Is that possible? Yes– it is. For example: Jehovahs Witnesses intellectually assent to the Word. But they are not “born again”. They follow “the letter” but not “the Spirit”.One could be a Jehovah’s Witness for 50 years and not be truly “saved”. Yes–its possible.
Jehovah’s Witnesses are sincere. But they are sincerely wrong. Because I AM a Christian I believe the Word. And it says in 1 John 2:19 that those who abandon the faith were never really of the faith– or they wouldn’t LEAVE it. There is no Harry Potter 6:66 in reality. But there IS a 1 John 2:19. And I believe it is God’s Word. I don’t dismiss your story. It’s real. It’s just that what you state is fantasy– you never were a true Christian. By leaving the Faith you PROVE that to be true.
Yes. To me leaving Christianity is like driving off a cliff. To have been SO close to Heaven and then turn back like those in Hebrews 6:4-6 is insanity. Being the “only one” from your school to become an atheist is no badge of honor. The people in Hebrews 6:4-6 are rare. But I would not want to be one of them. That’s for sure.
I did not respond to his last two emails. Why bother, right?
Another fruitless conversation with an obtuse, tone-deaf Evangelical Christian. Joe says he is interested in “understanding” the stories of people who leave Christianity, but this simply is not so. He just could not bring himself to understand my story at “face value,” — as factually true. Instead of accepting as true that I once was a Christian, Joe says I might have thought I was a Christian, but the Bible says otherwise. His mind is closed off from any worldview or belief system but his own. This is what Fundamentalism does to a person, robbing them of the ability to see things as they are. By any objective standard, I was a Christian, a child of God, one who was born from above. I pastored thousands of people over the years and was friends with numerous Evangelical pastors, missionaries, evangelists, and other church leaders. Not one person EVER said, “Bruce Gerencser is not a Christian.” Either I was a master of deception, deceiving thousands of people into believing I was a follower of Jesus, or I was who and what I said I was.
No matter what I say, Joe knows better. Why? The BIBLE says . . .
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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Comment from Joe in 3…2…1….
Just kidding who knows if he will respond. That being said, I really do wish they would stop throwing verses at us thinking that we actually care what it says. The idolatry of this one book with fundies clearly clouds their judgement and reasoning skills
And he kept quoting the Bible to an atheist! Good grief, atheists, agnostic, non-religious, and non-Christians do not GAF what is in the Bible. It’s impossible for Joe to have a particle of empathy for those who aren’t like him.
Quoting a holy book, any holy book, at an atheist (that is, one with a thought-out position of unbelief) just makes us shrug and not take you seriously.
Them: The Bible says, “The fool in his heart says there’s no God.”
Me: Of course it does. Any institution set up to steal your money will tell you that you’re a fool for not believing in whatever it is they’re selling.
Although , you, “Joe” are quoting the BIble to an atheist, I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you still recognize historical and empirical facts.
To wit: I haven’t read Messlier’s book. But, having been raised a Catholic and having some acquaintance with French history, I know that, for many men, the priesthood was the only way out of poverty and into education, at least in some fashion. Someone who leaves the priesthood is basically dead in the eyes of the Church—and in a conservative Catholic society, which France was in his time. Not everyone can live as a pariah or outcast.
About the possible re-election of Trump (or the election of someone like Ron De Santis): Trump lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton in 2016 but became President because of the Electoral College. The same thing could happen again: The EC gives as much power to a state like Wyoming—with about as many people as the New York City Borough of Staten Island, most of whom are Republicans—as much power as New York State, which has more people than Wyoming and all of the states that border it (all of which, with the exception of Colorado, are solidly Republican). Granted, some Republicans are pro-choice, but most people vote for their party rather than an issue. And almost all people who are “one issue” anti-choice voters are Republicans.
Of course no one questioned you WHEN you were a believer. But I’m sure many of those same people would question you NOW that you have renounced your faith.
I knew a guy once who sent letters to SURFER magazine. He would talk about the best beaches to surf. His walls were covered with posters of surfers. He wore surfer garb and sunglasses, and even spoke the surfer language, calling everyone “dude”. The one problem that few knew though is that he didn’t own a surfboard and had never been surfing.
There are “believers” like that. They talk the talk but in reality they don’t really know the Lord at all. 1 John 2:19 describes them. They LEAVE, renouncing the faith, thus showing they were never REALLY believers at all. That’s what 1 John 2:19 teaches.
LOL. You expect a believer NOT to use the Bible when addressing your “former” belief? The Bible IS the reason Christians believe. You have LEFT the faith I still hold dear. I was born again in 1973– almost 50 years ago– and my faith is stronger NOW than when I first believed.
When I think of people like Bruce I can’t help but to think of the JUDGMENT SEAT OF CHRIST. What sadness and embarrassment on that day for Bruce. He mocks now–but in his heart he KNOWS he will see Jesus face to face.
I do not wish wrath upon Bruce. I don’t hate Bruce. That day belongs to God. I don’t know how God will judge on that day. But 1 John 3 says there is the possibility some will “shrink back in shame” on that day. And that is very sad. To have been so close, and then to have turned back!! Many will cry out “why did I do that!!??” on that day. It’s not too late to turn around and repent. God loves everyone and would far more want to reward someone than look upon them in grief and sadness.
But if that is your choice there is not much I can do is there? Yes– renouncing Christianity is like driving a car off a cliff. I hold to that analogy.
I’ll leave it to others to respond to your masturbatory sermon.
“When I think of people like Bruce I can’t help but to think of the JUDGMENT SEAT OF CHRIST. What sadness and embarrassment on that day for Bruce. He mocks now–but in his heart he KNOWS he will see Jesus face to face.”
So, you know what I think? Do you have some sort of magical 🧙♂️ ability you use to discern what it is people really believe (in their non-existent hearts) and what their true motives really are?
“LOL. You expect a believer NOT to use the Bible when addressing your “former” belief? The Bible IS the reason Christians believe.”
What, you can’t carry on a rational conversation without quoting the Bible? Every Evangelical commenter gets one opportunity to say whatever they want. Anything, quote the gospel of John, recite your pastor’s sermon, or post a review of the the latest video you watched on Youporn. Say whatever you want to say. But, you only get one opportunity to do so. Play well with others —- not your strong suit —- and you will get more opportunities to comment.
I have no tolerance for proof texting, nor do most of the readers of this blog. The Bible can be used to “prove” anything. I know the Bible better than you do, so there’s no need to regurgitate it to me. I know what the Bible says inside and out. What could you possibly say that I don’t already know? Hint, the answer is nothing.
You think Bruce was like a non-surfing faux surfer? Your analogy breaks completely down. Whereas the non-surfer didn’t surf, Bruce did minister to people, preach sermons, give up a life of ease and actually live in near poverty for Christ, etc. You just can’t stand it because if Bruce was saved, but now no longer believes, it means it could HAPPEN TO ANYONE. So you have no reason to empathize and accept Bruce’s word, as it could potentially invalidate your beliefs. Can’t have that happen, eh? Instead, why don’t you decide to follow what the real truth is. There are plenty of Christians who used to be closed-minded, who opened their minds and stayed Christian, just not a fundie. But most Christians are afraid of the ultimate truth that the beliefs they have chosen are wrong. I know, I used to be one. (BTW, I am NOT AN ATHEIST.) And having to satisfy a cruel, burning forever in Hell god certainly is motivating in one way. It motivated too many of you to be cruel and unkind, and claim it is “love.” You pat yourself on your back for your good witnessing, while actually hating all of us non-fundies.
If there is one thing you can count on from a Christian, it is that they judge everyone while claiming they do not judge. However, You can’t say someone has fallen short without some level of judgement,
Also, your surfer analogy…um…what? I know someone who calls into football talk shows, reads endlessly online or follows podcasts. They even have jerseys of their favorite players and wear them regularly. They attend every game, every local event, they even talk all the time about how “we” are having a good season, placing themselves right there as if they have anything to do with the team. Their rooms, cars, house, and workplace are covered with team logos.
There is a word for that….fan. All sports have fans. Even surfing has fans. Perhaps those who are fans of surfing realize he is not a surfer. I mean, there is a surfer subculture, so what if he enjoys that vibe? And why on earth would you judge (there’s that word again) him? Is it really any of your business?
The problem is that Christian’s just can’t keep quiet and move on. Even if I say “not interested” they persist. Why? Because they have judged me as not Christian. Christians even judge other Christian’s as not Christian enough. The judgement is constant and never ending. Yet Christian’s lie to themselves, claiming they don’t judge, because no one want to be accused of judging others.
Novel idea here..go live your life and leave others alone. Mind your own business. Stop trying to control others.
Gregor Mendel, the nineteenth century monk who established the science of genetics, said that he joined his monastic order so he wouldn’t have to struggle to make a living. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gregor_Mendel
Bruce— I’m not sure why you would call my post “masturbatory”. I don’t find the thought of you tanding before Jesus on that day as “exciting” if that’s what you mean.
I simply state that it is taught that we shall ALL appear there one day. I am very capable of carrying on an intelligent conversation. Though I have learned through time that one can be VERY intelligent and yet have no wisdom. Many atheists fall into that category: extremely intelligent people, but possessing no wisdom at all.
A guy can be a rocket scientist and not have the slightest idea how to raise his children or treat his wife. Some of the wisest people who ever lived were slaves. The majority never went to one class in school, and yet they learned how to deal with life and to sing joyfully despite their profound mistreatment at the hands of their masters.
If you asked them if there was a God most of them would say “yes” immediately. Many old spirituals were based on what they would sing. They were considered to be animals by slave owners, and thought to have no intelligence. But wisdom is different than intelligence. Most atheists appear to be intelligent, but it is sad to see their lack of wisdom.
Your comments are preachy. Much like masturbation, your comments are all about you. They make you feel good but the rest of us say, “get a room.”
“ yet they learned how to deal with life and to sing joyfully despite their profound mistreatment at the hands of their masters.”
OMG. You really think people who were kidnapped, left to rot in slave ships, sold, beaten, raped, abused, maimed, forced to breed, who had families torn apart and who lived in unimaginable conditions under constant threat of injury or death were joyful and learned to deal with it????
This is just completely inappropriate. No one “learns” to deal with this. No one. They had no choice. Why would you choose such a horrible part of human history as an analogy??? There is nothing good in slavery. Not one thing. And to use it to prove some point (which, by the way, is judging someone again) is horrible, at best.
Here is my challenge to you. Go to Washington DC and visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture. This might help you rethink slavery and your concept that slaves were joyful and dealing with slavery.
unsurprisingly, all Joe has are impotent threats. He finds he must lie about others and then try to pretend his sadistic fantasies will come true. Such a petty little fellow.
I also love the adulation of slaves. Joe would never want to be one, but he tries to lie about how “wise” they were. He’s just a hypocrite.
Joe: The Bible IS the reason Christians believe.
Me: The Bible as a whole is not textually consistent (it contradicts itself in many places). It has major glaring errors regarding science and both our knowledge of written and archaeological history. There is no compelling evidence for the existence of a miracle-working Jewish preacher in the early part of the current era, and certainly no documentation of anyone coming back to life. (I’m not a mythicist, per se, a human named Yeshua might have generated a following as he pottered around Palestine in the third/fourth decade CE. It’s the miracles and death and resurrection part that needs backup, and it doesn’t exist.)
So, if the Bible is the reason you believe, then you have chosen to not educate yourself on, or ignore, a whole lot of issues with your precious text. I’m aware that there’s a verse somewhere that says that without first having faith, God won’t grant us the ability to understand, or some such weaseling. Weaseling never convinced any rational thinker.
I would also argue, based on the Christians in my family, that the Bible is not the primary reason they believe. Their reasons for believing are many, but tend to boil down to, they were raised Christian, they are comforted by the idea of a God who loves them and looks out for them, and they get a sense of having more control over their lives through prayer. We have complicated brains that work for us at their own pleasure, life is difficult or at least has difficult patches for most of us, and it’s a whole lot easier to look into the void if you can believe that it really isn’t a void, that there is a guide, that there’s a big payoff in the end.
I will never tell anyone that they’re wrong to believe whatever they believe, unless those beliefs harm others or they think their beliefs give them license to pester those of us who don’t believe the same way. When you refused to take Bruce’s story at face value, Joe, you wandered into the pestering category.
😂😂😂 Who didn’t see this one coming? Revival Fires ❤️❤️❤️❤️ Joe’s comments. 🐦 of a feather 🪶 flock together. At least Joe has a bigger vocabulary than Revival Fires. 😂😂😂
All praise be to Satan, my Lord and Savior. I call ☎️ on the Lord of Darkness to afflict Revival Fires with hemorrhoids. May he constantly feel arse pain and judgment for his vile, nasty 🤮 behavior. May he learn that there is one Lord, Beelzebub. Or is it Lucifer? Or Satan? Or the Devil? Or Slewfoot? So many damn names. 😂😂❤️❤️😂😂
Sorry, but I don’t fit into any of your categories above. Does that mean I am saved by your lights? (Of course I’m not from your POV, because I’ve made fun of your lack of love, lack of empathy, lack of general humanity.) It turns out you only want other people to be robots, not fully human.
Karen– thanks for the post. I’ve heard many arguments about the Bible being full of contradictions, etc. And also that it has completely changed over hundreds of years.
But then they find the DEAD Sea Scrolls and there is an almost entirely complete version of Isaiah which is VERY Close to the translations we have today. Errors in spelling appear, etc. But the text and meaning are almost identical after 2000 years to what we read today.
Some people say that the chapters and verses in the Bible are not divinely inspired, but I think otherwise (just my opinion of course). But think of this fact: there are 66 books in the Bible: 39 in the Old Testament, and 27 in the New Testament. These are all written by different people. Was there a conspiracy to produce 27 books in the New Testament? Why do I ask that?
Because the book of Isaiah has (66) chapters. 39 chapters are basically filled with Law, Judgment, and wrath. Chapter 40 begins with “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people says your God”. Chapter 40 through 66 (27 chapters) are full of Grace, Kindness and forgiveness.
So you have a Bible divided into 39 books of the Old Testament and 27 books of the New Testament. In the middle (not exactly–I am not saying that) there is (1) book, consisting of 39 chapters of judgment, and 27 chapters of Grace. Coincidence? Did all 40 writers of the Bible “conspire” to make this happen? “Hey—let’s make it so one book of 66 chapters mirrors the WHOLE BIBLE of 66 books”. Really? I seriously don’t think so. Is the Bible inspired and put together by God? Yes– it definitely is.
I will make you the same offer I’ve made to numerous Evangelicals over the years; people who believe the Bible is inerrant and infallible. I will buy you one of Dr. Bart Ehrman’s books and have it shipped to your home, free of charge. Ehrman is at NT scholar at the University of North Carolina.
He has written numerous books on the nature and history of the Bible. His books will disabuse you of the notion that the Bible is inerrant, infallible, without errors and contradictions. I encourage you to do your homework.
As far as chapters and verses are concerned:
The chapter and verse divisions did not appear in the original texts; they form part of the paratext of the Bible. Since the early 13th century, most copies and editions of the Bible present all but the shortest of these books with divisions into chapters, generally a page or so in length. Since the mid-16th century, editors have further subdivided each chapter into verses – each consisting of a few short lines or sentences. Esther 8:9 is the longest verse in the Bible. Sometimes a sentence spans more than one verse, as in the case of Ephesians 2:8–9, and sometimes there is more than one sentence in a single verse, as in the case of Genesis 1:2.
Early manuscripts of the biblical texts did not contain the chapter and verse divisions in the numbered form familiar to modern readers. In antiquity Hebrew texts were divided into paragraphs (parashot) that were identified by two letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Peh (פ) indicated an “open” paragraph that began on a new line, while Samekh (ס) indicated a “closed” paragraph that began on the same line after a small space. These two letters begin the Hebrew words open (patuach) and closed (sagur), and are, themselves, open in shape (פ) and closed (ס). The earliest known copies of the Book of Isaiah from the Dead Sea Scrolls used parashot divisions, although they differ slightly from the Masoretic divisions. (This is different from the use of consecutive letters of the Hebrew alphabet to structure certain poetic compositions, known as acrostics, such as several of the Psalms and most of the Book of Lamentations.)
I have quickly and easily — Google is your friend — shown that your beliefs about the Bible are factually wrong.
What will Joe do? Double down? Or admit he was wrong?
Let me know if you want the book. You will have to provide me with your mailing address. No Evangelical has ever taken me up on this offer. I wonder why that is?
Joe, a quick perusal of any large bookstore will show you many book series — for example, in the science fiction / fantasy section — where the original author wrote one book, and then other authors wrote more books based on the original story.
That’s all the Bible is, a collection of stories that expanded over time, building upon material in the earlier stories. Absolutely no divine input required.
Bruce– sure. I’ll take a copy. I don’t really want to give my address out here. Where can I forward it? I’ve read several other books that try to prove the Word is fallible. None can truly do so. If they could the Bible wouldn’t be the most popular book in the world.
Welp, it seems like a waste of time and money to send you a book if can’t at least consider the possibility that you could be wrong. Inerrancy and infallibility are minority positions in Christendom, typically the positions held by Evangelicals.
Open your mind, Joe. Truth is your friend.
“None can truly do so. If they could the Bible wouldn’t be the most popular book in the world.”
hmm, so as soon as the number of qur’ans exceeds the number of bibles, then Joe must become a Muslim per his own argument.
Reviled Dumpster Fire, I believe with 100% conviction that hell is fictional. The idea of a god deliberately torturing sentient beings for eternity is ridiculous – and rather slanderous to any gods that might actually exist.
Why do you insult your god in such a horrible way? Because you read it in a book? I think you need to go to the library and get better reading material.
BJW—- My analogy was bad. What I was “trying” to convey is that one can go through all the motions of being a Christian but never really be one. Like those in Matthew 7:23 who cast out demons and did miracles, but Jesus says “I never knew you”. Meaning they were never really believers. I guess my surfing analogy failed.
“What I was “trying” to convey is that one can go through all the motions of being a Christian but never really be one. Like those in Matthew 7:23 who cast out demons and did miracles, but Jesus says “I never knew you”. Meaning they were never really believers.”
Say, Joe, did you ever consider the possibility that Jesus was referring to you?
Bruce— I seriously have read MANY books. I mentioned the one by Jean Messlier. I’ve read books by Robert Ingersoll and Joseph Lewis. I mentioned Dan Barker. I’ve read Voltaire also. I’ve read a lot of books by atheists. I have also studied many different religions also. And I have a rather vast knowledge of Cults. All of these things fascinate me. But my faith in Jesus Christ just grows stronger. And I believe astronomy and science are beginning to show real proof that there is a God. Even DNA is proving that each of us is entirely unique. Is there a God? Most definitely.
How about a contemporary scholar who is an expert on the history and nature of the Biblical text?
All this reading and you’re still a Fundamentalist. Hmm . . . I sense . . .
Or as one would say in pig Latin, Ighsay
“And I believe astronomy and science are beginning to show real proof that there is a God. Even DNA is proving that each of us is entirely unique. Is there a God? Most definitely.”
of course, Joe has no evidence of his belief here or of his belief in the nonsense in the bible. Alas, DNA is a thing that screws up quite often, so evidently Joe’s god is incompetent. That people are unique is no evidence for any god. Joe is just one more Christian liar who claims how much he supposedly “knows” but he can’t support those claims.
As for his claims here: “My analogy was bad. What I was “trying” to convey is that one can go through all the motions of being a Christian but never really be one. Like those in Matthew 7:23 who cast out demons and did miracles, but Jesus says “I never knew you”. Meaning they were never really believers. I guess my surfing analogy failed.”
We know that Joe is going through those motions and he’s not a Christian either. He can’t do what ol’ Jesus Christ promised. Joe is a fraud per his own bible.
“Vile comment deleted”. Revival, you didn’t say “hallelujah” did you?
You sure you want to hitch your wagon to Revival Fires, Joe? He regularly posts vile comments, torture porn, depictions of anal sex, and other patently offensive stuff. If he was a member of one of the churches I pastored, we would have kicked him out. He’s a vile piece of shit who revels in psychologically terrorizing people. But, hey, he loves Jesus. 😂😂
Astreja—. Isaiah didn’t expand over time. The same Isaiah we have today is in the Dead Sea Scrolls Isaiah scroll. That’s why God preserved it for 2000 years. Time is coming to a close so God is giving every evidence that He is in control. We can accept it orvreject it.
Oh for fuck’s sake, Joe. The Internet is your friend.
Joe, I’m not making a statement about how Isaiah may or may not have changed over the years. What I’m saying is that the authors of many other scriptures had obviously read Isaiah and used it as source material for their own writings. It is not too much of a stretch to call the Gospels fan fiction that was based on Isaiah and other Old Testament books.
There is nothing the least bit supernatural going on here. Some archaeologists went to Qumran and discovered copies of scriptures that were probably well known and frequently copied. There are even older documents written in cuneiform on clay that are considerably older, and that have nothing to do with the Bible.
As for time coming to a close, I don’t think so. Humanity may do something execrably stupid that gets a lot of us killed, but the Earth itself, and at least some of its life forms, is going to be here a bit longer – several billion years longer, in fact. And I’m quite certain that your imaginary friend cannot control anything at all, and won’t be bailing you out if the shit hits the fan. Your destiny is identical to mine – death and eternal insentience. Make the most of the life you have now rather than hoping for a do-over in heaven.
Neil—no. Jesus knows me for sure. He called me by name and continues to work in my life. I have not renounced the faith as His Spirit has sealed me for redemption. But I do pray to remain faithful— but also knowing that it is He who keeps me. Matt. 7:23 is mainly referring to false teachers and “miracle workers” who have used His name to fleece the church. They are men without the Spirit who have wormed their way into churches.
I don’t believe this refers to Bruce. I think he sincerely served the church. He wasn’t trying to rip people off. But the fact is that the Bible does teach that you can be “enlightened” without truly having been saved. “He that endures to the end will be saved” is not a challenge to remain faithful— it is a statement of fact. Those who continue as Christians without turning back PROVE they are redeemed. Those who turn back or renounce the faith PROVE “they were NEVER of us” as John the Apostle states.
“Jesus knows me for sure.”
That’s about what I expected you to say.
“Matt. 7:23 is mainly referring to false teachers and “miracle workers” who have used His name to fleece the church.”
There are many such people today. The churches today are riddled with corruption. They have abandoned the Jesus of the gospels, and reinvented a Jesus who is more to their liking.
I doubt he loves Jesus if he really is posting that kind of stuff. I don’t know anything about him, but thanks for the warning!
Oh, he loves Jesus with all his heart. So said all the preachers featured in the Black Collar Crime series.
Sage— I expected a reply such as yours. I never said slaves were “happy”. I said they had “joy” in the face of great trial. Where do you think songs like “Swing low sweet Chariot” came from? Because of the horrors they faced they put their faith in God. If ANYONE had a reason to hate God it was them. But the majority of them loved God and believed God would one day set them free.
Your horror that I would speak of slaves when I refer to WISE PEOPLE surprises me. Your OMG only leads me to believe you are one of those people who believes happiness is a “right” in America. But it isn’t. The Constitution says the “PURSUIT of happiness” is a right, not happiness itself.
Please use the same name on all your comments.
Doubling down still does not make what you said proper. I mean, you could have chosen some poor family struggling with the dust bowl, or the families struggling in WV where I grew up, but instead you choose the abhorrent era of slavery. The impact of slavery continued far beyond its existence and still influences society today. But your take is “oh we got some good songs and those people gained wisdom and learned to deal with it.” I am willing to bet they would give up wisdom, music, and dealing with it if they could have avoided that evil institution.
I think using slavery to prove wisdom, or happy music , or closeness god show you really have no understanding of the horrors. The only other option is that you believe slaves were better off since they gained wisdom and found god. I hope,the latter is not the case.
I would be remiss if I did not point out the judgement included here…yet again. Perhaps one should listen first and leave judgment alone. When you judge, you have already determined you are right and others are wrong.
Also..why do you keep baselessly judging people. You speak of wisdom, yet ignorantly assume you know anything about me. How you read OMG and twist it into a claim for a right to happiness is beyond me. You know nothing about what I believe, live, or do and should not be so bold as to assume.
One more thing….pursuit of happiness is in the Declaration of Independence.
Joe, you said that slaves were happy aka joy, and that you try to lie is always hilarious. now, considering that your god did nothing for slaves and demanded that they never seek their freedom, you are quite right, slaves should hate this god. But humans often put their trust in liars and failures when finding that their self-worth is caught up in those lies. It’s very intoxicating to make believe that some magical being agrees with you and will do anything for you. Then when it doesn’t, you find you need to make up excuses why.
Those are called apologetics.
Bruce– will do. Thanks!
So Elon Gilud is the end all? I’m supposed to believe what he says? Why should I?
Hi, Joe. Since you seem to be at least somewhat civil and genuinely interested in why someone might leave the faith, let me offer you a couple of pointer for talking to unbelievers and former believers:
1 Don’t bother quoting the Bible to us. The Bible is not independent evidence for the truth of Christianity; it’s just Christianity written down. Quoting from the Bible to prove something is basically just asserting that something is true because Christianity says it’s true. Also, most of us — ex-Christians in particular — know the Bible quite well.
2 The “You were never a true Christian” line (sometimes phrased as “You were never Born Again”) is never going to fly. Nobody here is going to buy that, no matter what metaphor you use. You’re going to tell me that Bruce managed to pastor all those churches for all those years, preaching sermons and bringing souls to Jesus, and somehow nobody noticed that he lacked the indwelling of the Holy Spirit? More to the point, none of us are going to believe it because it directly conflicts with our lived experience.
2a The only versions of “You were never a Christian” that make any possible sort of sense are the ones that… how to say this… pretty much require us to place the blame on God. For example: let us argue that I was never truly a Christian. I never received the Holy Spirit and thus was never Born Again, and so even though I accepted Christianity and believed its tenets completely and unquestioningly, I wasn’t a Christian. But in that case, I have to assume that the reason I wasn’t truly a Christian is because God didn’t deign to extend His grace to me. I have asked for it; I have prayed for it; I have begged God with all the humility and repentance I have in me. And I have nothing. My only possible conclusion if that were the case is that God either didn’t create me with enough capacity for humility and repentance to please Him, or else He knows I asked and doesn’t care. Either way, not my fault; and also not, I think, very good theology since it kind of flies in the face of God being all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-benevolent.
3 Warning/threatening us about Hell isn’t going to get you anywhere either. (In your defense, you seem to lean a lot more towards the “warning” side of that.) Depending on what sort of Christianity we came out of, we may have had more or less anxiety about possibly winding up in the lake of fire, but as a general thing former believers get over that sooner or later. And frankly, the idea of an eternal hell casts serious doubt on the idea of God’s justice, let alone His mercy.
4 Pointing out that we’ll all eventually face God’s judgement (with or without the “and then you’ll be sorry” addendum) doesn’t do much, either. If we believed that was likely, we’d be doing something about it already. But in general, former believers have already concluded that no, it probably doesn’t work that way. And even if it does, that doesn’t sound like something to fear — not to me. First of all, I don’t believe there’s an afterlife. After careful consideration, I’ve concluded that our conscious awareness is a result of our physical bodies, and ceases when we die. But I would be thrilled to be wrong about that; I like being aware. I like being alive. So discovering that there’s an afterlife would be a welcome — if profound — surprise. As for the judgement of God? Why should I fear that? Certainly not because I’m an atheist. If God does exist, and I somehow have failed to perceive and/or recognize Him, where’s the sin in that? What harm have I done to God? No, if God exists and is even half of what I was raised to believe, then He understands perfectly why I don’t think He exists, and He understands it in perfect love and perfect compassion.
So… yeah. You want to understand how and why someone could lose their faith, I’ll be happy to try to answer. It’s a whole process, and it doesn’t always end with someone leaving the faith. But first you’re going to have to accept that despite what the Apostles apparently thought about the matter, it’s something that really can happen.
Okay, those were supposed to numbered points but apparently the WYSIWYG ate that bit of formatting. Oh, well.
Thank you so much for your post. I greatly appreciate your civility when posting, and your well defined explanation of your deconversion.
Often deconverts, angry at my perceived pronouncement of knowing their intentions and how they think, proceed to to do the same thing, immediately “labeling” me, and announcing I am a “hypocritical evangelical”. Often they are quite harsh and go on the “attack”.
Someone once said “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result”. I have visited deconversion boards before, and here I am again possibly expecting a different result. It’s insane.
Discussions with most deconverts are like a Dutch boy painting– painting a painter painting a painter painting a painter. A point is discussed and you use an analogy. The analogy is then attacked. So you respond to the attack. The response is attacked–and so on ad nauseum. The original point is lost and all that is left is argument.
Take the post I made on slavery in an attempt to show there is a difference between intelligence and wisdom. To the deconvert that point is lost– they are so into calling me either self-righteous or filled with OMG’s that I would use slavery to make a point that the original thought fades into obscurity. It doesn’t matter WHAT I post now in defense– any thought I make will be shot down or imputed.
So I appreciate posts like yours. Michael, I have to admit that deconversion confuses me. But I also realize that passages like Hebrews 6:4-6 have no firm interpretation. Is it speaking of true Christians? Or of superficial “confessors” of the faith, “enlightened” but not saved? E Or even of unbelievers? We really don’t know.
1 John 2:19 seems to imply that a “believer” who renounces the faith, or “leaves” the faith SHOWS they never were a believer at all. And I am prone to interpret Hebrews 6:4-6 as those who have been awakened, possibly joining a church, who then leave Christianity for good never to return. But my interpretation could be wrong. I have to say I DON’T KNOW when it comes to deconversion.
Bruce has been very cordial on this blog. I apologize for judging anyone. I will leave that to God. But I truly hope you all know that I mean sincerely as a Christian that the thought of you standing before Jesus and having “missed out” is intensely sad. I know some of you think that I rejoice in the thought of Christ-rejecters “frying”, but that simply holds no truth.
Deconversion will always intrigue me. I’m thankful that there are those like you Michael who are civil and understanding. It forces me to admit “I just don’t know” when it comes to deconversion. I will continue to try to understand
Bruce– I first approached you. You were correct in saying that. I posted about Halloween, never intending to join a blog. But I got “hooked”. Thank you for allowing me to make my points. You could have deleted me. So thank you!
I wanted to make two corrections to my post: I meant impugned not “imputed”. Secondly I meant to say “saddening”not “sad” when speaking of the thought of all of you before Christ at the judgment.
poor Joe, he’s failed. I do love the claim of being sad about us during “judgement”. Now, if this happens, there would be only a few possibilities of the result:. this character would realize that atheists doubt for good reason and would have no problem with that or this character is just a petty twit like Joe and there is nothing good about worshipping it out of fear. In either case, I retain my self-worth. Joe ends up nothing more than a sycophant to a tyrant.
If you truly want to understand deconversion, then you have to actually listen, without judgement, and without assuming you have the only answers. The fact that you keep quoting scripture to prove yourself right and others wrong seems to show you are more interest in “saving them” than understanding them.
You also like to overstate things. You claim my response to your abhorrent slavery post is filled with OMG. You might want to actually reread that post a little closer, then explain how a single OMG qualifies as “being filled with”. Not to mention using this post to once again judge me, only to follow it up with an apology for judging.
You are quite skilled at gaslighting. Someone takes offense to your analogy, and point out how it fails, then you respond by claiming they are the problem and they need fix their views. That is classic gaslighting – when someone questions you, attack them and try to belittle them. You even carry it over to a different post, praising one poster while belittling the other. Now Michael,is the “good” deconvert and Sage is the “Bad” deconvert.
I clearly understood the point you were making. I even gave you ways to make the same point without using slavery. But it appears you are so determined to defend yourself and your analogy that you justify any type method to dismiss Sage. I have called you out as judgemental. I haven’t attacked you personally, I’ve attacked your analogy. You respond by attacking me personally, belittling me, gaslighting me, dismissing me and hope that doing so will destroy my point, or leave me unable to argue with you
Trust me, it would be very clear to you and anyone else reading if I attacked you personally. Ask anyone who reads this board regularly. There would be no question and I would never deny it.
And yes, I will continue to respond to your posts directed at me or this topic of slavery. Honestly, your defense of your analogy seems to be based in either bigotry or ignorance. I have no reason to believe it is bigotry, (I call out bigotry in this blog quite often, and am not very nice to bigots) so it seems your stand is based on ignorance. Instead of attacking me, spend time truly understanding the unspeakable horrors of slavery and how it impacts people,to this day. You claim to be a person who wants to learn and understand, so go out to learn and understand.
Trust me if you spend 1 hour in the African American museum in DC, you won’t view slavery as a way to make a point about good things that came from it. Only cold, hateful people can leave that museum unaffected.
Wow. How strange. I posted something that was not in the least offensive and it was deleted, yet a post entirely offensive to me is allowed to remain in full. Or is it because I thankedcBruce for not deleting me so he decided to? There are some unusual personalities here. lol. But I guess that’s a good thing.
Let the whining begin.
I said to you:
“Joe, it’s time for you to say whatever you want to say and move on. Pick a post, any post, and say whatever you want to say. After that, you are done.”
You did so, and now you are done. I will approve no further comments by you. Unlike some readers who see you as a “nice” Evangelical, I’ve found your comments to be tone deaf and patently offensive. Yes, you are more polite than Revival Fires, but that’s a fucking low bar. In the end, you continued to not accept our stories at face value, continued to dismiss our lives out of hand, continued to suggest we are all headed for Hell. Worse, you continued to beat us over the head with the Bible, especially 1 John 2:19. You made factual misstatements, for which I and others corrected you. You ignored these corrections.
I’ve been clear on my position: if you think I’m going to burn in Hell for who and what I am, you are not a good person.
If you are offended by my revealing how you engage people, and refusing to let you manipulate the dialog to your advantage, and ignore your own lack of education on slavery and it’s horrors, than that is your problem, not mine.
Maybe you are offended that someone points out your flaws and does not let you manipulate them? Offended that some does not let you control the conversation to your liking? Any case, you are the one who should look inward.
And I thought I was being nice…
Sigh, I mean double sigh, triple sigh, quadruple sigh. Look at Revival Fires playing all nice so Joe will think I’m lying about him. Such is the behavior of a sociopath.
“Almah (עַלְמָה ‘almāh, plural: עֲלָמוֹת ‘ălāmōṯ, from a root implying the vigour of puberty is a Hebrew word for a young woman of childbearing age; despite its importance to the account of the virgin birth of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew, scholars agree that it has nothing to do with virginity but is taken by many to refer rather to a woman who has not yet borne a child.It occurs nine times in the Hebrew Bible.”
“Of the Twelve Apostles to hold the title after Matthias’ selection, Christian tradition has generally passed down that all of the Twelve Apostles except one were martyred, with only John surviving into old age. However, only the death of James, son of Zebedee is described in the New Testament. (Acts 12:1–2)
Matthew 27:5 says that Judas Iscariot threw the silver he received for betraying Jesus down in the Temple, then went and hanged himself. Acts 1:18 says that he purchased a field, then “falling headlong he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out”.
According to the 18th-century historian Edward Gibbon, early Christians (second half of the second century and first half of the third century) believed that only Peter, Paul, and James, son of Zebedee, were martyred. The remainder, or even all, of the claims of martyred apostles do not rely upon historical or biblical evidence, but only on late legends.”
as usual, RF is here wanking off with his sadistic fantasies that will never come true.
@Michael Mock summed it up really well.
As an evangelical, I was taught that we could KNOW that we were saved and BE ASSURED that we were saved through faith in the grace of God. Dine. End of story. According to those teachings, I was saved. Period. Now I no longer believe in the validity of the evangelical Bible (there are several different collections that Christian sects refer to as “the Bible” but for ease of conversation, I will speak of the 66 book version that evangelicals use and that I grew up with). I no longer believe in the existence of the Christian God and his cohorts Jesus and Holy Spirit, nor in angels, demons, Satan, or any other invisible spirit. Referring to the Bible, or the Quran, or any other religious text as a source of Truth is no more meaningful to me that referring to Harry Potter books, or Shakespeare’s works, or Stephen King’s works. Heaven and hell are also things I no longer believe – so threatening me with judgment from a deity doesn’t resonate and will likely generate a typical Generation X response of “whatever” from me. That same response would be given to someone from any religion who threatened me with their particular group’s Scary Punishment That Awaits Nonbelievers. Frankly, IDGAF.
https://www.mansfieldnewsjournal.com/story/news/2022/05/02/former-richland-county-ohio-priest-banned-catholic-church/9614003002/ I’m sorry if this is getting off the subject somewhat, but a one-time priest of the diocese of Toledo was recently barred from public ministry because of credible allegations of sexually abusing minors. There was a similar article in another newspaper about the former priest by the name of Nelson Beaver being removed from public ministry. It was in the Bryan Ohio newspaper, but I believe I would either have to log in to an existing account to read the article or pay for a subscription to read the article. I don’t have an existing account to the Bryan times and I’m too cheap to pay for one.
As sure as the sun comes up in the morning, give Evangelicals enough rope and they will reveal their true beliefs and character. I’ve seen it over and over and over again. Joe Sperling is the latest example of this.
As time went on and he got pushback from readers, his pronouncements became more aggressive. This is one of the reasons I typically only give Evangelicals one opportunity to comment. Joe wasn’t Revival Fires — a fucking low bar if there ever was one — so I extended to him commenting privileges. And sure as the sun comes up in the morning . . . 😂
I finally asked him to make one last comment and move on. Do you think he could do that?
Tonight, he sent me two emails. Here’s what he said:
“I’m not whining. All you had to is ask. However from now on when someone mentions Bruce G. I’ll think of a little kid sticking his fingers in his ears and running to another room to avoid hearing things he doesn’t like. lol. See ya later.“
“I’m sending from here in case the other didn’t go through. I’m not whining Bruce. All you had to do was ask. I’ll always remember you though as a little kid shoving his fingers into his ears and running away because he is hearing things he doesn’t like. lol. You are too much ha ha.”
Evidently, he thought I needed to gear this twice. I know I’m a little slow these days 😂😂
Well, you can probably figure out how I responded:
Go fuck yourself, Joe. You said your piece. I have no interest in talking with you further.
Let’s see if you can respect boundaries.
And sure enough, Joe emailed me a-g-a-i-n:
“Seriously— what makes you believe you can say something like that to someone and it’s totally OK? Is this how you normally address people you disagree with? I’m actually flabberghasted. Unbelievable.
I guess you’ll use this now with your laughing emojis. That’s cool. Be my guest. See ya.”
No, I’ll just tell you again, Joe, fuck off 🍆🍆🍆🍆. Second request, don’t contact me again.
He sent me yet another email:
“Go f&$&#k yourself Joe? Really? For quoting 1John 2:19? And then you put up your own article where you allow someone to quote it once again? OK— carry on. I feel no need to curse you back. God bless you.”
Once again, Joe, fuck off. Third request, please do not contact me.
And the emails keep coming:
“Can I have your permission to quote you? I’m writing a chapter for a book on abnormal psychology and your statement would fit in well. They ask to get approval first though. I probably wouldn’t include the four purple thingies, but your statement would work great as a segue into the next chapter. Let me know. And thanks!”
“No, I’ll just tell you again, Joe, fuck off 🍆🍆🍆🍆. Fourth request, don’t contact me again.
You are officially being a passive aggressive bully.
Thank you for proving exactly the kind of man you really are; someone who has no regards for boundaries; someone who thinks he can control how people respond to him.”