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Bruce, IFB Doctrines are Biblical and Correct

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Earlier today, an Evangelical man named Mark left the following comment:

It is a shame that you you [sic] have rejected Christ as your Saviour. How could you even Pastor a church and not be saved? Yes there are lots of problems with the IFB’s, but their doctrines (except for KJV only-ism and legalistic standards and Pastor worship) to name a few, are very Biblical and correct. There is still only one way to heaven.

We all make choices in life. Mark says it’s a “shame” that I didn’t make the same religious choice that he did. He provides no evidence for why my rejection of his peculiar brand of religion is a “shame.” Would he say the same thing if I was a Catholic, Mormon, Muslim, Hindu, or Pagan? I suspect he would. Mark likely believes that there is one true God, one true religion, one true interpretation of the Bible — his.

Mark asks “how could you even pastor a church and not be saved?” Best I can tell, Mark read all of two posts on this site:

He read none of my autobiographical posts. Had he done so, he would have learned that I was part of the Evangelical church for fifty years; that I was gloriously saved at the age of fifteen; that I spent the next thirty-five years of my life devotedly following after and serving Jesus. I wasn’t an “unsaved” pastor. I was a born-from-above preacher of the gospel. I was in every way a child of God. And then, at the age of fifty, I walked away from Christianity.

I suspect that Mark is having a hard time reconciling my story with his Baptist theology. He knows that I’m an atheist, so how is it possible that I was ever a “saved” preacher? In his mind “this does not compute.” However, either I was the most cunning deceiver since Satan himself, or I once was saved and now I am not. Mark will search in vain for any evidence that suggests I was a deceiver. Talk to my wife and children. Talk to my extended family. Talk to people I pastored over the course of twenty-five years in the ministry. Talk to my former ministerial colleagues. You will not find one person who will say that they knew, at the time, that I was a deceiver; a false Christian; a tool of Satan; an enemy of God.

Mark, a Baptist, thinks once a person is saved, he remains saved — forever. Once gained, salvation can never be lost. Yet, here’s Bruce Gerencser, a sixty-five-year-old man who by all accounts, was saved, and now he is lost. How can this be? Mark thinks. Instead of reconciling the defect in his theology, Mark decides to make a fantastical claim for which he has no evidence: Bruce Gerencser never was a real Christian.

I am not certain if Mark is an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB). He recognizes several glaring theological problems, yet he thinks that IFB beliefs are correct. (Please see What is an IFB Church?) Of course, all he is saying is that IFB beliefs are not much different from those held by Southern Baptists and countless other Evangelical sects. (Please see Are Evangelicals Fundamentalists?) What sets the IFB church movement apart from a lot of other sects is their social beliefs and practices (please see An Independent Fundamentalist Baptist Hate List); their ecclesiology; their irrational belief that the King James Version of the Bible is inerrant and infallible. What Mark doesn’t mention is the high rate of sex crimes committed by IFB pastors, evangelists, missionaries, deacons, Sunday school teachers, and bus workers; crimes that are routinely dismissed or covered up. (Please see Black Collar Crime Series.)

It is hard not to conclude that, when taken as a whole, the IFB church movement is a cult. The psychological and, at times, physical harm caused by IFB churches and pastors has wounded and scarred countless people. Many former IFB church members end up needing therapy to come to terms with the harm inflicted upon them by so-called men of God.

If I were inclined to return to Christianity someday, there’s not a chance in Heaven or Hell that I would ever join an IFB church. Decades of abuse was enough for me, causing incalculable harm. My advice to anyone in an IFB church is this: RUN! There are gentler, kinder forms of faith; places where you will be loved and respected as you are.

Mark concludes his comments by saying “there is still only one way to Heaven.” Evidently, Mark has never read the Bible. The Bible actually teaches that there are numerous ways to Heaven: faith alone, faith plus works, and works alone. Further, each Christian sect has its own spin on the requirements for salvation. Which sect is right? Every sect appeals to the Bible for its theological claims. You would think that God, the alleged author of the Bible, would have made the plan of salvation clear. Instead, we find Peter and Paul arguing with each other about salvation. And then James comes along and says they both are wrong.

I am sure that Mark has been taught how to harmonize these contradictory beliefs. However, a plain reading of Scripture suggests that there are conflicting plans of salvation. Christians can’t even agree on basics such as baptism, communion, or church government. Yet, mere unbelievers are expected to pick through the conflicts and contradictions, hoping to find the faith once delivered to the saints. Maybe, just maybe, the various competing beliefs are a sign that Christianity is a manmade religion; that ancient men made it up as they went; that God, in all its forms, was created by fallible, frail humans.


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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    It’s funny how each individual Christian thinks that they’re going to church in the One True Church(TM) and all others are faulty. Until the pastor says something that the True Christian(TM) disagrees with, and then the True Christian must find a new pastor or new church that’s part of the One True Church(TM).

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Bruce Gerencser