Last Friday, I received the following email from David Langley, a Baptist pastor in Owasso, Oklahoma. All grammar and spelling in the original
I really thought you may have something of Wisdom, I listened to all 31 minutes out of curiosity
The video in question is the talk I gave to the Secular Humanists of Western Lake Erie on April 19, 2022.
It is not uncommon for first-time readers to start reading something I have written or start listening to one of the interviews I have given over the years and conclude that I am either a Christian or a man of “wisdom.” Alas, by the time they get to the end of the article/video/podcast, they find out that I am an atheist. Out goes the “value” and “wisdom” of my words. What possibly could an Evangelical-preacher-turned-atheist say about God/Jesus/the Bible/Christianity that is wise or valuable, right? Instead of focusing on the message, people such as Langley focus on the messenger. Instead of wrestling with the question: is what Bruce says true? all they see is my atheism (or liberalism, socialism, humanism, pacifism). Because I am not part of their in-group, my words have little to no value.
that God is Real and You may give a second thought to what you seem to be “preaching” (yourself).
I am an atheist, so I reject Langley’s claim that “God is real” out of hand. If Langley would like to discuss his claim with me, I’m game. I should warn him that I have talked with hundreds of Evangelicals about their God claims. I have yet to hear an argument that was persuasive; that would cause me to return to Christianity. Maybe Langley’s arguments would be different, but I doubt it.
Langley thinks I should give a second thought to what I am preaching. What am I preaching, you ask? Self. I am ready, now, to sigh. (Please see Why I Use the Word “Sigh”.) Here’s the title of this blog: The Life and Times of Bruce Gerencser: One Man’s Journey From Eternity to Here. The central focus of my writing is my journey from Evangelicalism to atheism. This blog is, by design, a first-person account of my life. How could it be otherwise?
Evidently, I am not supposed to talk about myself; my life; my personal experiences. Yet, I suspect that Langley uses first-person stories in his sermons. Has he ever shared his testimony with someone? Does his church have a testimony time for church members to share what God has done for them?
I simply do not understand why Langley objects to me telling my story. If I wrote an autobiography, would he be okay with that? This blog is no different.
Humanism does look like we only care about humans. So whatever we say or do cannot be wrong.
Langley reveals that he doesn’t know much about humanism. While humanism is certainly human-centric, humanists care about all sorts of things. I wonder if Langley has ever had an actual in-depth conversation with a humanist? I suspect not. (Please see Are You a Humanist?)
Langley clumsily says that humanists don’t have a moral/ethical foundation for their lives; that without God, we live immoral lives where we do no wrong. This, of course, is patently untrue. I would be more than happy to have a moral dick measuring contest with Langley, if he is interested. I think he will find I live a moral and ethical life — all without God and the Bible.
Sir I do not want to offend you I am just wanting you to know this may not be the right path.
Langley never mentions why he thinks I am on the wrong path. Is it because I am an atheist or a humanist? Is it because I have no need for God/Christianity/the Bible? Perhaps Langley can clarify why he thinks I am on the wrong path. I think I know, but I don’t want to put words in his mouth.
I too have had many around me fail, go off the other way, then I realized we are HUMAN and FRAIL.
I assume “go off the other way” means leaving Christianity. Langley attributes deconversion to human frailty. While I cannot speak for other former Christians, I can say, for myself, that human frailty had nothing to do with my deconversion. In fact, my leaving Christianity required great strength. It would have been far easier for me to remain a Christian. It is not hard to be a Christian, part of a majority culture that believes in Jesus. Langley might want to walk in an atheist’s shoes before making such generalizations.
Further, I don’t consider my deconversion a “failure.” I assume Langley values intellectualism and rational thought. Maybe not. I am an atheist today because Christianity no longer made any sense to me. (Please see The Michael Mock Rule: It Just Doesn’t Make Sense.) I weighed the central claims of Christianity in the balance and found them wanting. Langley did read three of my autobiographical posts, spending all of ten minutes doing so. Perhaps he will return to the WHY? page and actually do his homework, gaining a better understanding of my life and my deconversion from Christianity.
Do I hold HUMANS accountable, no but I do hold myself accountable.
Okay? As regular readers know, I am a big proponent of personal responsibility and accountability. Does Langley think I am blaming others for my loss of faith? I don’t know. Quite frankly, I found his email to be cryptic, and hard to understand. To the degree that certain people played a part in my deconversion, I hold them accountable. That’s how life works. That said, no one made me deconvert. I suffered a lot of trauma in my life, mostly at the hands of Bible-believing, filled-with-the-Holy-Ghost Christians. While I most certainly hold them accountable for what they did, they are not the reason I walked away from Christianity.
Please notice that I have not mentioned anything here that should offend,
Well, that’s up to me to decide, not Langley.
but with this message I am hoping that it will stir something up all those years you either preached without authority or you have left the authority that called you. thank you for allowing text messages here. have a great day.
Speaking of offense, Langley hopes that his email causes some sort of “stirring” in my life. I find his use of the word “authority” to be odd, but I suspect he means that I preached without being authorized by Christ (unsaved) or I left the authority (Christ) that called me. This, of course, is the conundrum for people such as Langley. Was Bruce Gerencser an unsaved preacher or is he a saved, but backslidden preacher? (I assume Langley believes in once-saved-always-saved, eternal security; that once a person is saved, he cannot fall from grace. Thus, I am either unsaved or backslidden.)
Langley said nothing in his email that would cause me to rethink my decision to divorce Jesus. I am not sure what he hoped to accomplish, but I thank him for emailing me.
A Sinner Saved by Reason,
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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