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My Response to an Evangelical Counselor Who Wants to “Help” Me

helping bruce

Today, I received the following email from David Blair Corbett, a licensed Canadian Evangelical counselor, and a pastor. You can check out his website here. Corbett wanted me to know that he is an authority figure. He listed all his degrees and qualifications: BSc, MSW, RSW, Ordained – CFCM (Canadian Fellowship of Churches and Ministers retired). Corbett also let me know that he knows he can “help” me.

Here’s what he had to say:

Hey Bruce,

I’ve read a bit of your writings on the net this morning here in *******. You are of similar age to me and I have *** adult children and a dear wife of *** years (in November). I still work full time in a 35 year old private practice I created to help people out of what I refer to as “performance-based churchianity”.

I am a licensed and registered psychotherapist (Masters in Clinical Social Work since 1987) and am a retired minister, ordained and commissioned to pastoral counselling.

Your story shared online saddens me deeply. I have worked with a significant number of men with similar narratives to mine and yours (the church became “the mistress”). I’m so sorry to hear your story and even sadder that such a deception of performance-based “trying to live for Jesus” was able to destroy your faith. I came close to losing my trust in God, I know what it feels like to make “churchianity” my mistress.

If you want to correspond, it’d be a real pleasure to talk openly with you.

Dear Dave,

I don’t want to correspond with you, and the reasons I don’t will become clear in a moment. I am direct and plain-spoken so I hope you will not be offended by what I say. I know you came to this site to “help” me, but it is you who actually needs help. I hope you will learn the lesson I am about to teach you, and that you will never, ever contact complete strangers on the Internet, offering them unsolicited advice.

You say that you read a “bit” of my story. You, in fact, read a minuscule bit of the 4,000+ posts on this site. Based on the server logs, you read the following posts:

I say “read,” but perhaps a better word is “skimmed.” According to the server logs, you were on this site all of four minutes — the time it takes to eat a ham sandwich — before you composed your email and clicked send. You did spend more time on this blog after emailing me. Maybe you had the aforementioned posts open in tabs and you went back to read them. I want to give you the benefit of the doubt, but more than a few counselors have come before you, each with their own offer of “helping” me, each as incurious as you are.

You clicked on the WHY? page. You had the opportunity to read thirty-two posts, the From Evangelicalism to Atheism series, and/or read/listen/watch thirteen interviews I’ve done in recent years. What did you do? You skimmed two posts and sent me an email. Here’s what your God has to say about this: Answering before listening is both stupid and rude. (Proverbs 18:13)

Much like many Christian drive-by armchair therapists, you made a snap judgment about my past and present life without doing your homework. You wrongly assumed that I was always an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) preacher. I wasn’t. You wrongly assumed that the theology I had at twenty-one was the same theology I had at fifty. It wasn’t. As a result, you built in your mind a caricature of Bruce Gerencser, a false picture of who I am as a person.

You seem to suggest that if I had the “right” theology; the “right” view of God; the “right” soteriology; the “right” understanding of the works-grace paradigm I wouldn’t have deconverted. Or maybe you are subtly saying I never was a Christian to start with. Regardless, since you made no effort to understand my back story, you have no idea why I left Christianity and why I am an atheist today. While there is certainly an emotional component to my loss of faith, the primary reasons for my deconversion are intellectual. The bottom line is this: I am no longer a Christian today because I came to see that the central claims of Christianity are not true. They no longer make sense to me (Please see The Michael Mock Rule: It Just Doesn’t Make Sense). Regardless of how one might view my experiences and beliefs as a pastor, one salient fact remains: Christianity is built on a foundation of myths and lies. The Bible is not inerrant or infallible, virgins don’t have babies, dead people don’t come back to life, and all the miracles attributed to Jesus are fictional stories. I see no evidence for the existence of the Christian God of the Bible.

I left Christianity in November 2008 — almost fourteen years ago. I have found writing to be quite therapeutic. My goal has always been to tell my story, hoping that others might find strength and encouragement. I want readers to know that this is a safe place for them; a place to tell their own stories; a place safe from the Daves of the world. Thousands of people read my writing every day. I am humbled by this fact; that in my brokenness people still think I have something to offer them. (And it goes without saying that I am blessed to have so many wonderful people offer me love, kindness, and support.) At the same time, I have received thousands of emails, social media messages, and comments from Evangelical Christians. Nasty, vile, hateful, violent, judgmental people; people who, like you, want to “help” me. Prooftexts, sermons, personal attacks, assaults on my character. Threats of judgment and Hell. Death threats. Attacks on my wife and children. If you want to “help” people, Dave, try helping your own. I don’t need your help.

Had you bothered to do a bit of reading, you would have learned that I have been seeing a licensed secular counselor (a psychologist) for over a decade. Snap, Dave, did it ever dawn on you that I might be seeing a counselor already? Of course not, because you see the desired outcome for me as a return to Christianity. My counselor, instead, desires for me wellness and happiness — no deity needed. I deliberately sought out a counselor who was not religious (in the Evangelical sense). Hard to find here in rural northwest Ohio, but fortunately, for me, my mental health needs have been well served by two secular counselors over the past decade.

My story “saddens you.” I suggest you seek out a competent secular counselor to help you with your sadness. Would it matter to you if I said that Iife is better for me in every way since I walked away from Christianity? Or are you one of those Christians who can’t imagine someone having a good life apart from your peculiar understanding of the Bible God? There’s nothing you could offer me, Dave, that would entice me to return to Jesus. Besides, if your God really exists, he knows where I live. He knows my email address and my text number. No need to send the Daves of the world to “help” me. I have no desire to return to the leeks and garlic of Egypt. I am quite happy in the Promised Land, a place where I am loved and accepted as I am.

Dave, you overstepped by emailing me. If you didn’t know that then, I hope you do now. Maybe you meant well. There’s no way for me to know since I don’t know you (nor do I want to know you). One thing is for certain: you know nothing about me. You should never have sent me your email. But you did. Hopefully, you have learned the lesson I tried to teach you today. Dear brothers, don’t ever forget that it is best to listen [read] much, speak little . . . (James 1:19).

Bruce Gerencser, ABC, RFD, OCPD, Thrice Ordained, Circumcised

After writing this post, I saw that you followed me on Twitter. What’s next, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Tiktok? Are you a stalker? I know what you are up to, Dave. You might want to check out these posts:

You also might want to read what I have written about Christian counseling:

One more thought, Dave. Your introductory letter states the following:

Institute of Basic Life Principles (Basic and Advanced) and it’s Advanced Training Institute and Medical Training Institute of America (Dr. Bill Gothard) – many years of the week-long 32 hr. Basic Seminar and two times through the Advanced, we also homeschooled with them for 8 years.

Bill Gothard? Really? I’m speechless. Well, not really. I am quite familiar with Gothard, having pastored numerous people who were infected with BLP and ATI thinking. Oh, and my grandfather, a devout Fundamentalist Christian was a big Gothard fan too. He nagged me for years about attending one of Gothard’s seminars. No thanks. John was a violent drunk and a child molester BC (before Jesus), and a mean, nasty, violent man with Jesus. No thanks. (Please see Dear Ann and John.) You would have known these things had you bothered to do your homework.

You might want to check out my interaction with another Evangelical counselor, a judgmental ass if there ever was one. Please see Dr. Bill Clark Makes All Sorts of Claims About My Life, But Provides No Evidence for Them.


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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  1. Avatar

    Oh, FFS! Not another lazy-minded evangelical who claims to be a psychological professional but hasn’t a fucking clue about boundaries.

    Mr. Corbett, you should be deeply ashamed of yourself. Bugger off.

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    Oh Bruce, I think this take-down post is one of your best ever, it’s intelligent , comprehensive, succinct and wonderfully snarky. Made me smile at the start of the day!
    I’d love to ask Dave what ‘performance based churchianity’ is. Does you free folks so they can embrace ‘performance based christianity’ instead? So many x-tians I know already ‘perform’, as in outwarding appearing the perfect x-tian individual or family whilst horrors and abuses lurk below the surface! And Gothard!!!!!!! Nuff said about your lack of credibility if you follow that monster who caused untold misery to thousands.
    (And, Bruce, sorry to hear your holiday didn’t work out, hope you recover from the bad patch it caused you soon.)

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    This counselor seems to be violating some kind of code of ethics. He wants to “help” you back into Christianity. He isn’t acting as a real counselor but as an evangelist. From what has happened to you, Bruce, on this blog, shows me that people like this counselor are acting in very bad faith. And yet they think they can “help” people back into the constraints of fundamentalism.

    • Avatar
      Bruce Gerencser

      His counseling methodology: “Honesty and willingness to participate with God and me in this ministry process are required to obtain good results.”

      Wow, right? That’s a red flag 🚩 for anyone but a devout Christian.

      • Avatar

        He has a preconceived idea of what is necessary for counseling, an idea that includes his god. And I’m going to guess that it is his flavor of god. No, he doesn’t seem very ethical at all.

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      Good job, Bruce! You clearly gave him what he deserved. I hate that kind insincere, “I just want to help,” which usually prefaces some kind service or product or religious offering for sale.

  4. Avatar
    Brian Vanderlip

    As I read your response to this fellow, it reminded me for some reason of conversations I have heard over the years among Christians. One good place to pick this talk up is via the prayer-meeting, the men’s group especially, or any serious Christian social gathering. Picture the believers comfortably cradled by their easy chairs as they discuss their views of those they have been made aware of by God who are in need of saving. There is such caring, such love of the lost as they sit talking. There is only one answer to all life’s needs, one door and only one and so the discussion compassionately allows all the silly secular resistances and denials while waiting to share the one truth to the lost. Sheesh.
    Hey lost guy: The Christian does not want you to be free and clear in what you want and need for your life unless the want and need is the one true savior. These people do not care about you: They care about something they refer to as your eternal soul. They are just being nice to you so they can explain your doom and how they want to help you.
    Bruce, your suggestion for this fellow to see a secular counsellor is dead on! But why would this guy care about himself enough to be challenged into looking at his life choices. He has already covered all that over with his preaching and MSW work for Jesus. He stands apart from (he thinks) churchianity but does he wish to deepen his human experience and consider more than his conviction as a believer? No. It’s about your relationship with Christ, Bruce, not the churchianity! Surely you see that! 😉
    I wish this type of rigid-cage thinking would be willing to expose itself to somebody like Gabor Maté and use his experience and knowledge to uncover the pain they have buried in Jesus-addiction, how they hide in belief and call it coming into the light.

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    Bruce, great response. This guy just wants to convert you to what he considers the correct Jesus flavor. I can’t see any other color for all the red flags in his missive.

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    MJ Lisbeth

    Bruce, sometimes I think folks like him are just using algorithims and picking up “keywords.”

    Schad and Obstacle are right–He, like others, wants only to convert you to his brand of Chrisrianity to validate his own sense of self.

  7. Avatar

    It seems Dave’s very brief study of Bruce led him to an interesting conclusion : “the church became ‘the mistress'”. While that certainly WAS the case, I’m laughing that anyone would believe THAT alone would lead one to atheism.
    My second observation is this, was Dave offering his services for free?

    Then I also wonder this, what IS “performance-based churchianity”? It reminds me of a plot point in Star Wars : Episode 8, where Luke Skywalker becomes disillusioned with “The Force” by way of an overdose of force. Luke may have wanted isolation, but he never became a “Force atheist”.

    Once the absurdities we are taught as children become understood as the absurdities that they are, it is impossible to ever go back to that way of thinking again. Once you see the zipper on the Big Foot costume, you can never unsee it. That is quite distinct from the harried pastor who has no “me” time.

  8. Avatar
    Bruce Gerencser

    Just think, you will have spent your whole life harassing people and spreading violent torture porn. And for what? You will one day die, to be remembered no more. You will have wasted your life on a lie, on nothing. Such a tragedy.

    I am not concerned in the least about death. In fact, some days I wish it would hurry up and end my suffering. So, subtle threats about “death” don’t work with me. How about trying decency, kindness, and love — you know, the fruit of the Spirit? Because as things now stand, all I see is a mean, vindictive, petty man who was likely seriously harmed at some point in his life.

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    Aw, I see Revival Fires was here and deleted. What a lovely guy, to care so much about others he spends his time threatening them with hell. He only gets a thrill out of people burning forever. These are the types that rationalize themselves into an insurrection, or will kill their liberal neighbors, while patting themselves on their backs. Just lovely.

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    Yulya Sevelova

    Ah, I see Reviled& Fired has emerged from Grandma’s basement again, to leave some droppings. I was thinking about the treatise that David Corbett left. Having been schooled in the failed theology of Bill Gothard, disgraced founder of ATI, and BLIP, this automatically disqualifies Corbett to counsel anyone. Even if he means well. I’ve heard too many people recount they and they families endured, because of Gothard’s doctrines-this from a man who never married or had kids of his own, at that ! Ugh ! Just Ugh, this American Christian madness. I’m sorry your vacation was cut short, Bruce. Be glad you didn’t visit Yellowstone, at least.

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      @Yulya Sevelova
      His degrees are from public accredited universities in Canada and the United States. But my question to Bruce is finally answered about dual accreditation. Any Christian counselor, even if schooled and accredited in secular counseling, will automatically be disqualified. It’s like a flat earther who also has secular accreditation in geology. They are mutually exclusive and adversarial, the sole purpose is to lend credibility to that which is incredulous.

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    Dave needs some serious help. I actually feel sorry for people who are so delusional, I grew up with them.

    And ‘revival fires’
    “You know like a father who sexually abuses his children, yet tells them he “loves” them.”
    Which perversion are you referring to? The rape of a teenage girl by ‘God’? or some other perversion?
    If there were a god, s/he is absolutely the most abusive asshole in the universe.

  12. Avatar
    Bruce Gerencser

    Corbett’s goal as a counselor:

    “Metanoia is a Greek work that means “change of mind” – this is my goal, to see people cooperate with God and others to repent or make a change of mind. To renew one’s mind and not be pressured into the World’s way of living and to understand and address the effects of the flesh on Christians is the core of my goals. (Romans: Chapters: Twelve and Eight)”

    From Corbett’s Facebook page

    • Avatar

      So he doesn’t actually want to understand where other people are coming from, or meet their needs – he wants to remake them into cookie-cutter Christians. Quelle surprise.

      If that asswipe actually has professional certifications that didn’t come from a Bible college and/or diploma mill, he needs to lose those certs and be kicked out of the counselling profession for life.

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    Michael Mock

    Seriously, my dude, what is wrong with you? Why do you lack faith in God’s love and mercy? Have you considered getting some counseling yourself?

  14. Avatar

    It is sad that folks like this guy Corbett will never realize that there is SO MUCH wrong w/ their belief system. In their minds, if/when someone finds reasons to exit xiantiy, there is always something wrong w/ the person who leaves. Many times those who stay in the box of religion, typically resort to the “no true Scotsman” fallacy. We never were “true believers” because we didn’t do Jesus THEIR way. :/ The whole system is set up to discourage critical thinking & questioning. Just goes to show you that guilt and manipulation of people has been going on for a very long time. I am so glad you got FREE Bruce! I know you continue to help others who struggle w/ getting their minds FREE of the religious trap. I know you get a LOT of hate coming from the “true believers”. Too bad they can’t fathom that they could actually be wrong!

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    Brian Vanderlip

    As I continue to read Revival Fire’s ‘Comment Deleted’ it helps me recall that this is just what the evangelical has done to his own genuinely human self, deleted it, found it unpalatable and not belonging or valued by him at all. This is a natural outcome for people when they choose to be victimized by the fables suggesting they are essentially evil and unable to help themselves. They slippery-slope into getting churched where their self-loathing is codified, hymned and ofering-plated! What a dirty business it all is….

  16. Avatar

    Just for grins, I googled (judgmental ass) “Dr. Bill Clark Valleydale Christian Counseling.” Bruce’s blog post comes up ABOVE his business listing, just before his Focus on the Family listing, and right after the posts marked “Ad.” So, right at the top. I smirked.

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Bruce Gerencser