Earlier today, an Evangelical Christian named Richard left the following comment on the post titled Is it Possible to Reform the IFB Church Movement? Richard’s words are emboldened. All spelling and grammar are in the original.
Bruce, as a God fearing bible believing Christian in Michigan in the same areas you left… I want to thank you for your honesty and for being instructional to me.
Richard wants me and the readers of this blog to know that he is a God-fearing, Bible-believing Christian who lives near Pontiac, Michigan. Based on the buzz words he used, I think it is safe for me to conclude that he is a Fundamentalist.
You are an unabashed Apostate that has embraced his decision. I had left the Church and on was on the path of becoming an apostate myself when God intervened. One thing that always bothered me since then is WHY I was on the path of becoming an Apostate, and also how someone as yourself could become an apostate. You were an Enigma that contradicted my IFB upbringings of “Once Saved always saved”. It was the Bible and God’s word that showed me my error (or incomplete understanding)… 1John 2:19. and also Tares and Wheat describes your condition.
Richard recognizes that I am an unabashed apostate. Of course, I wear many other labels: agnostic atheist, humanist, socialist, pacifist, liberal, progressive, and circumcised Gentile. Richard, however, wants to focus on my apostasy; my denial of central claims of Christianity.
At one time, Richard considered people such as myself to be enigmas, people who didn’t fit in his narrow, defined theological box. However, God has since shown him the light, and now he’s arrived on this blog to set me straight.
Richard believes that I John 2:19 describes my life:
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.
The Message puts it this way:
They left us, but they were never really with us. If they had been, they would have stuck it out with us, loyal to the end. In leaving, they showed their true colors, showed they never did belong.
Wow, no Christian has never, never told me this before! OMG, I never was a Christian. Sigh. (Please see Why I Use the Word “Sigh.”) I have no idea how much of my writing Richard has read, but whatever he has read, he has concluded from it that I was never a Christian. Nothing in my story suggests that Richard is right, but why let facts get in the way of a strawman?
Your are (now) no more a mystery to me than is Judas who worked Directly with Jesus. If Judas could be an apostate, certainly someone as yourself who was fed a tainted perspective of Christianity from a dysfunctional family and controlling hypocritical “religious” leaders is possible! But both cases are the same… “They were never with us”.
Notice how Richard frames my life: I was fed a “tainted perspective of Christianity from a dysfunctional family and controlling, hypocritical religious leaders.” Richard provides no evidence for his claims. Using a nit comb, he found a few lice in my story and concluded that I am no different from Judas who betrayed Jesus. Instead of taking the time to comprehensively read my writing and interact with me personally, Richard has judged my life and found it wanting. Nothing I can say at this point will change his mind, so I won’t try, except to say, Richard, go fuck yourself.
You don’t offend me, you only prove God’s word to me to be true. You offer comfort to fellow apostates, but you also offer validation of God’s word to true believers, even if that is not your intent.
I am glad I can be of help. You also provide validation to me and the readers of this blog; that you are a judgmental asshole.
You might not know this, Richard, but many of my readers are Christians. Not your brand of Christian, but Christians nonetheless. I suppose you will consign them to the Lake of Fire too.
Bruce, consider this… If I am wrong and self deluded and you are right, I suffer no damage after I die. If I am self deceived, I still count the Peace I attribute to Jesus and Gods Grace as doing far more good in my life than what I was without it and pass onto oblivion in ignorant bliss. But If the Bible is right, if God is real, it is not the same for you. You will hear those terrible words.. “depart from me, I never knew. you” as you pass on into eternity in outer darkness where the only question left is, will you be a wailer or a gnasher…
Richard attempts to use Pascal’s Wager and miserably fails. Evidently, he wants me to pretend to be a Christian; to fake it until I make it. Richard provides no evidence for his claims, yet he just expects me to believe. Fine, I believe. Praise Jesus, I’m headed for Heaven when I die. Boy, that was easy.
Richard presupposes that his peculiar brand of Christianity is true; that it will be his God that will be on the throne of Heaven when he arrives someday. What if he is wrong? What if he gets to Heaven and finds Allah on the throne or Buddha? Better yet, what if he arrives in Heaven and finds out that atheism was the one true religion; believing in Jesus sends a person straight to Hell (also called Mar-a-Lago)?
As is common with Fundamentalists, Richard lacks curiosity. (Please see Curiosity, A Missing Evangelical Trait.) He fails to consider his own atheism or the fact that his being wrong could have real-world consequences. Richard thinks that living according to his interpretations of the Bible is preferable, even if God doesn’t exist. This is patently untrue. The Bible is inherently anti-human. Richard Dawkins was right when he described the Old Testament God this way:
The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.
This is the God Richard wants me to worship.
The New Testament God is no better. One need only ponder God offering his son as a blood sacrifice for the behavior of others and the violence he will rain down upon the earth as recorded in the book of Revelation to see that this God is unworthy of worship too.
Richard, if you are reading this, you worship an evil God. Even if he was real, and he’s not, I wouldn’t worship him.
That brings me no Joy I don’t want that for you. I believe you were made in God’s image and loved by God so much that he Died for you before you denied him. I don’t want you to end up separated from God for eternity, but it’s not up to me. You can equally find both high profile apologetics that have made arguments defending the bible and also die hard Apostates breaking apart the bible to fit their narrative… But God is the ultimate author of our (your) faith.
And I know every argument. There’s nothing new under the sun, and that includes apologetical arguments. If Richard has read my writing, he knows that I reject the central claims of Christianity. I have weighed them in the balance and found them wanting. If zealots such as Richard want to win me back to Jesus, they are going to have to come up with better evidence and arguments. Until then, I cannot and will not believe. (Please see The Michael Mock Rule: It Just Doesn’t Make Sense.)
Richard says that God is the author of faith; that if I ever receive saving faith, it will come from God. Fine. Why, then, did Richard bother to comment on this site? Why did he bother to judge my life? Surely, God knows where I live. He knows my email address and cellphone number. God can give me faith any time he wants. It’s up to him, so I’m waiting. I won’t, however, hold my breath.
Bruce, I love you and I don’t want you to die in your sin.
No, you don’t love me. You don’t even know me. Stop with the syrupy, cheap Evangelical “love.” My love is reserved for my wife, my children, their spouses, my grandchildren, my friends, and the Cincinnati Reds and Cincinnati Bengals. I love good food, traveling, and writing. I even love many of the people who frequent this blog, including my editor. But you, Richard? I don’t know you. I know nothing about you. You may be a lovable person, but based on your comment above, you are not someone I am interested in loving. Instead, I pity you. You live in a closed-off world, a world walled off from all the wonderful atheists, humanists, pagans, Buddhists, Muslims, Unitarians, liberal Christians, and LGBTQ people, to name a few, in the world. All you see is up or down, in or out, saved or lost, Heaven or Hell. My world is much broader than that; a wild, woolly, wonderful — and yes, dangerous — world.
Let me give you a piece of advice, Richard; advice I have given to thousands and thousands of people over the years:
You have one life. There is no heaven or hell. There is no afterlife. You have one life, it’s yours, and what you do with it is what matters most. Love and forgive those who matter to you and ignore those who add nothing to your life. Life is too short to spend time trying to make nice with those who will never make nice with you. Determine who are the people in your life that matter and give your time and devotion to them. Live each and every day to its fullest. You never know when death might come calling. Don’t waste time trying to be a jack of all trades, master of none. Find one or two things you like to do and do them well. Too many people spend way too much time doing things they will never be good at.
Here’s the conclusion of the matter. It’s your life and you best get to living it. Someday, sooner than you think, it will be over. Don’t let your dying days be ones of regret over what might have been.
Be well, Richard.
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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