David Langley, an Evangelical pastor in Owosso, Oklahoma, sent me the following email after reading the post titled My Response to Evangelical Pastor David Langley:
Thank you for your speedy reply. Not expected but grateful. A wise man once said; “…electricity is real, but you can’t see it.” This is what you are saying I guess. Albert Einstein stated “I believe in Spinoza’s God “. He did not believe in a personal God who concerns himself with fates and actions of human beings, a view which he described as naive. He clarified however that, “I am not an atheist”, preferring to call himself an agnostic, or a “religious nonbeliever.”
No, what I am saying is this: there is no evidence for the existence of a God, especially the Christian deity. Is it possible that someday a deity of some sort might make itself known to us? Sure. Unlikely, but possible. So that’s why I am an agnostic atheist. Practically speaking, I live my day-to-day life as an atheist. The only time I think about God at all is when writing for this site or doing an interview for other sites or news organizations. Life is too short to spend much time thinking about mythical beings.
Langley then sent me a lengthy response, to which I shall reply below. :
Well then we are both at a conundrum about our communication. You say one thing I say another. That’s fine left as it is you would agree.
All I did is explain my beliefs. What should I have said, instead? In the world I live in, disagreements are common, frequent, and encouraged. Is that not the case for Pastor Langley?
After lengthy reading most of your site, (10 minutes you calculated me).
Based on the server logs, Langley read less than 30 of the 4,588 published posts on this site. This means Langley read .00654307 percent of my posts — definitely not “most of your site.” Nor do the logs suggest he spent a lot of time reading my writing. Granted, he could have multiple IP addresses, but even then, it would take weeks and weeks and weeks and weeks to read “most” of my posts. I will leave it to Langley to explain his words. Perhaps he is “evangelistically speaking” — a method used by preachers to exaggerate church attendance, offerings, salvation decisions numbers.
You are a very prolific writer as seen on your web site. Maybe this web crawler will show a different time that I spent reading.
Yes, I am a prolific writer, much like I was a prolific preacher back in my preaching days (4,000 sermons). This blog is my job. I spend a significant amount of time each week reading Evangelical blogs, websites, and social media accounts. Since this site focuses on three things: my journey from Evangelicalism-to-atheism, critiquing Evangelicalism, and exposing criminal behavior by Evangelical preachers through the Black Collar Crime series, it is important for me to do my homework before writing a post.
I have been blogging for fifteen years. All told, I have written millions of words. I am a writer. This is what I do. The issues I write about matter to me, as they do the thousands of people who read my work. I make no apology for being “prolific.” Because I AM prolific, I am going to call out Evangelicals who say they have read most or all of my writing.
You certainly tore into my small paragraph, taking several paragraphs to break down every statement.
Okay? I am going to do the same with Langley’s latest email to me. What? Doesn’t he want me to respond? Maybe not. Rarely does a week go by when I don’t publicly respond to Evangelicals who email me or message me on social media. Again, doing so is my job. As far as “tearing” into Langley, he really should read more of my writing. I definitely didn’t give him the full “Bruce Gerencser Treatment®.” 🙂
From your side of the fence you did a great job too. You are not the only person that I have come in contact with as I am 68 years old. I have been preaching/pastoring for 35 years.
I assume there are a few words missing in the “you are not the only person that I have come in contact with” sentence. I assume he means “atheist” or “Evangelical-turned-atheist.”
I cannot say that I will continue in our correspondence. Couple reasons. If I were to be out Soul Winning and ran into to you there would be no argument, attack, preaching, etc. as you have stated many have come after you on the web site. Thus you set some rules and guidelines.
By the way our childhood’s are not so far apart. We all have a past. We don’t choose our parents they say. The other reason is that you would do the same thing as we are doing through this communication, and I would respect you and move on. There would be no attack, no preaching, no disrespect at all. So do not look for much more than you have been given. You obviously do not want to take up all your precious time with this type exchange.
I am more than happy to continue interacting with Langley, as I am every person who contacts me. As far as this site having contact and commenting guidelines, I have these things in place because of the nasty, hateful emails, comments, and messages I receive from Evangelicals — especially Independent Fundamentalist Baptists (IFB). Preachers, by the way, are the worst. They alone would be reason enough for me to reject Christianity,
It is just so odd to me when people say that they can know there is no God! Really.
Here’s the thing, I never said this. I made it clear to Langley that I am an agnostic atheist (as most atheists are).
Now, if the question is whether I believe the Bible God exists, I can confidently say “no.” I cannot, however, say with certainty that no deity of any sort exists. Doubtful? Yes. Probable? No. And that’s why I live my day-to-day life as an atheist (as does my wife). God is not part of my life in any way outside of my writing and speaking engagements.
That’s like taking a gamble on your life and everyone you win over to this thinking. I am sure you hae heard it all before; “What if you are wrong?” and the other one goes like; “To live the Christian life is not a bad way to live.”
Sigh. (Please see Why I Use the Word “Sigh”.)Here comes Pascal’s Wager, a terrible apologetic if there ever was one. Besides, Langley, doesn’t practice what he preaches. If he did, he would also be a Muslim, Jew, Mormon, and Hindu. Langley never asks himself, “what if I am wrong”? If he did, he would cover all his bases. Instead, he presupposes Christianity to be true.
As far as the “Christian life” not being a bad way to live, I couldn’t disagree more. As an atheist and a humanist, I am free to love, respect, and befriend everyone — I mean REALLY love and respect them — including LGBTQ people. Evangelicals are known for what? “Othering” people; neatly putting people into two categories: saved-lost, saint-sinner, Heaven-Hell, in-out. I prefer a world where freedom and choice are paramount; where the humanistic ideal reigns supreme.
As an unwashed, uncircumcised Philistine, my life is better in every way post-Jesus. Why in the world would I ever want to return to the garlic and leeks of Egypt? Since there is no Hell (or Heaven) I can’t think of one good reason to get up on Sunday and go to church. Besides, I already go to church, three services of the week: Church of the NFL.
So far I have seen the Bible proven wrong. In fact there seems to be many Historians that has proven much of it. Along with many great Scientists, whether they were believers or not there is proof from both sides in that field.
I will make Langley the same offer I have made to other people who tell me “the Bible has never been proven wrong.” The inerrancy and infallibility of the Protestant Christian Bible cannot be rationally, historically, or scientifically sustained. Langley has spent most of his sixty-eight years of life in the Evangelical bubble. His understanding of the Bible has been shaped and molded within the safe confines of the bubble. (Please see The Danger of Being in a Box and Why it Makes Sense When You Are In It and What I Found When I Left the Box.)
If Langley happens to read this post, I would like to offer him a free copy of one of Dr. Bart Ehrman’s books on the history and nature of the Bible. Ehrman is a New Testament scholar at the University of North Carolina. I will gladly buy the book for Langley and have it shipped to his home in Oklahoma. I have made this offer numerous times over the years. Not one Evangelical preacher has accepted my offer. Some Evangelicals have read Ehrman’s books after I recommended them. Some of them later deconverted. (Jim Elliff says, Avoid Bart Ehrman, He Could Cause You To Lose Your Faith!)
So with that said I will wait for your response and not sure if it will warrant mine. You have said in this second answer already something that makes me believe that you do not know for sure about something.
Quote: “Is it possible that some day a deity of some sort might make itself known to us? Sure. Unlikely, but possible.”
I lack certainty on most things in life. I have confidence based on knowledge, probabilities, and lived experiences, but “certainty”? That is the realm of Evangelicals who are certain about all sorts of things, even though knowledge, probabilities, and lived experiences suggest they shouldn’t be.
As far as God and the central claims of Christianity are concerned, I am confident that my beliefs are correct. Langley hasn’t said anything that would cause me to change my mind or doubt my present beliefs. I have interacted with thousands of Evangelicals over the years. It’s been years since I have heard a novel argument, proving that Solomon was right when he said “there’s nothing new under the sun.”
You will have to read your email to me to understand. Of course you were correcting me so it may appear that you do not want to learn from anyone but Teach what you either believe, feel, or just aren’t sure of so you reject it.
I am always open to learning new things. However, Christianity is founded on the Bible. I spent thousands and thousands of hours reading and studying the Bible. It’s not a magical book, as Evangelicals claim, providing new information every time you read it. I have done my homework. Do I know “everything”? Of course not. But, I am confident that I understand the Bible, complete with its errors and contradictions. Langley is free to enlighten me, but I suspect, as readers shall see below, that he has no new light to offer.
Moral lives do not make an Eternity difference they just make a Moral life. When life ends then the question and subject you and have had will be up to you, but BEFORE DEATH you cannot do anything AFTER DEATH, which you are stating yourself. I say there are two, Hell or Heaven. To go to Hell do nothing. To go to Heaven one must Trust in the Lord Jesus Christ by Confessing our Sin asking God to Forgive us and believing that Jesus alone saved us by His death on the cross, his shed blood.
Ah, here comes the sermon, the soulwinning appeal. Does Langley think I have never heard these things before? Or did he feel led by the Holy Spirit to say them? Or, perhaps his words are for the lurkers and doubters who read my writing?
Besides, Langley is a Baptist. Once saved, always saved, right? If that’s the case, I am still a born-again Christian, and when I die, I will go to Heaven. Or, will Langley say I never was a “real Christian”? I will have to wait to see how he responds.
I certainly understand all of what you said about Christian, Church People Hurt the worst in those 35 years. Been there too sir.
Langley actually knows very little about my life. His comment reveals that he has read very little of my autobiographical material. Had he done his homework, he would have learned that “hurt” played almost no part in my deconversion. I have chosen not a be Christian because I weighed the central claims of Christianity in the balance and found them wanting. (Please see The Michael Mock Rule: It Just Doesn’t Make Sense.)
I just have to say “forgive me” Jesus suffered more than anyone at the hands of the human race and he was a human at the time, proven by Historians you well know, He was real just you and I have two points of view on these things it seems.
Yes, Jesus was real, but he was also, according to the Bible, God. We have no idea what he actually felt or experienced. After all, God was able to impregnate a Jewish teenager, so it is possible that Jesus’s death was for show. Regardless, Jesus suffered for all of six or so hours. He most certainly did not “suffer more than anyone.” I have battled chronic illness and unrelenting pain for years. I know suffering. I would gladly trade Jesus’s suffering for mine if it meant I would not suffer afterward. I know scores of people who would do the same.
All Langley and I can say is that Jesus was a Jewish man who lived, died, and is buried in an unknown grave somewhere in Palestine. Just because the Bible says something doesn’t mean it is true. The extant evidence suggests that Jesus was some sort of itinerate preacher who attracted, at most, a couple of hundred followers before he died. There’s no evidence, outside of the Bible, for the resurrection of Jesus or the miracles attributed to him. You would think Jesus would have made the front page of the Jerusalem Press a time or two, but he didn’t. Surely first-century historians would have been raving about his mighty works, yet they said almost nothing. Maybe, just maybe, the claims Christians make for Jesus are false.
Thank you again for the communication.
Sinner saved by Grace of God
Unworthy but Grace was given
And as you have stated, trying to live a moral life, love family, love wife of 49 years
Praying that your health improves.
I will skip responding to Langley’s benediction. I do want to address his last sentence: “praying that your health improves.” Had Langley read my autobiographical material, he would have known that my health will not be improving; that I am slowly dying; that I have three kinds of days: less bad, bad, and really, really, really bad. I am sure Langley meant well, but offering up empty platitudes to people with incurable diseases is not helpful. Even more so when they are unbelievers.
If you are an Evangelical Christian, please read Dear Evangelical before sending me an email. If you have a pathological need to evangelize, spread the love of Jesus, or put a good word in for the man, the myth, the legend named Jesus, please don’t. The same goes for telling me your church/pastor/Jesus is awesome. I am also not interested in reading sermonettes, testimonials, Bible verses, or your deconstruction/psychological evaluation of my life. By all means, if you feel the need to set me straight, start your own blog.
Two words: please don’t.
A Sinner 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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