Today, I received a comment from a Christian man named Keith that stated, in part:
Thus, since so much crock comes out of the pulpit (and always has), you have to read the Bible for yourself. And, pray for yourself and your family. I do both.
My hope is that one day you’ll be able to separate the religious crap you were taught (and taught yourself), from the core truth of Jesus (you might have to vomit some, my guess), and find your way back to Jesus Himself.
What is the core truth of Jesus? Where can we find this truth? The Bible, right? All we have is the Bible, a collection of sixty-six books written thousands of years ago primarily by unknown men. All we know, then, about Jesus comes from a fallible, internally contradictory, religious text written by fallible men. Why should I give this text any weight or authority? What value is the Bible and its teachings to me or my family? If I never read the Bible will my life be less in any way?
In his comment, Keith mentioned his blog, The Myth Machines: Truth Unshackled. I perused his blog, reading a dozen or so posts, hoping to understand him better. The best I can tell is that Keith is a disaffected Evangelical, a Black man who is disgusted by much of what he sees in churches today. I suspect he thinks that as a pastor I was just like the clerics he has problems with. It’s too bad Keith didn’t bother to read my autobiographical writing. (Please see Why?) He would have quickly learned that I am not the straw man he has constructed in his head.
Keith says I need to read the Bible for myself. Uh, that is exactly what I did for most of my adult life. As a pastor, I spent over 20,000 hours reading and studying the Bible. What does Keith think I missed? He doesn’t say. My core beliefs were Evangelical and orthodox in every way.
There is no Jesus for me to come back to. I deconverted because the central claims of Christianity no longer made sense to me (please see The Michael Mock Rule: It Just Doesn’t Make Sense). First, I believe the Christian deity is a myth. Second, I don’t think Jesus was divine, born of a virgin, did any of the miracles attributed to him, or resurrected from the dead. Jesus lived and died, end of story. Third, I reject the notion that there is life after death. Just like Jesus, we live and die, end of story.
Jesus is a ship that has sailed on a one-way trip, never to return. No amount of Bible reading is going to change my mind. I know what I know. No one can say that I didn’t do due diligence when it came to the claims of Christianity. I have weighed them in the balances and found them wanting.
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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Mene mene tekel upharsin…Bible. the writing on the wall, interpreted by Daniel to mean that God had weighed Belshazzar and his kingdom, had found them wanting, and would destroy them: Dan. 5:25.
But we’re not supposed to apply such criticism to the Bible! Tsk. 😉
Same old, same old that we know so well. An assertion that most churches preach erroneous doctrine, most x-tians except Keith himself, live by false doctrines and until the whole x-tian church (all 40,000+ denominations?) come round to accepting MY TOTALLY CORRECT personal interpretation of the bible, they’re all wrong and all doomed.
Screwtape’s advice to Wormwood on how to de-rail a x-tian’s faith seems to fit here. ‘Make him more and more nit-picky over doctrine till he moves further and further away from his fellow-believers and becomes a church of one person cos no one else has his purity of doctrine.’ I get the vibe that Keith might well fit that description.
exactly. there are so very many churches of one in christianity.
“So much crock cones out of the pulpit” – you got that part right, buddy. If you had just stopped there instead of invoking your own personal Jesus, we would have been on the same page.
Bruce has read the bible. I’ve read the bible. It’s nonsense. No matter how many times you read nonsense, it will never become true. Nothing magical happens when you read that silly collection of books.
I prayed not to lose my faith. Surprise, your imaginary god was a no-show. I’ve had dozens if not hundreds of christians claiming to pray for me to agree with them over the past 30+ years. gee, your bible promises that true believers will have any prayer answered with what is asked for, no substitutions or excuses, and answered quickly. They’ve all failed, showing that there are three possibilities: 1. your god loves me as I am; 2. your god doesn’t think you are a true believer; 3. your god is imaginary.
I read your honest response. You are obviously more honest than the straw men pastors I have encountered in the past, so I never thought to put you in that category.
I don’t have the luxury of deconstructing, since I have experienced too many personal miracles to leave Jesus behind. Also, as a convert from Buddhism, I have seen the other side.
Is the Bible filled with contradictions and errors? First, every history book of any length is filled with contradictions and errors. The Bible is no different. It was written by men, and we are full of personal biases. Even Jesus admits that much.
So, why should be follow the Bible? Why should we follow Einstein, who made errors in this theories? Why should be follow Darwin, who stole his theories from his Grandfather Erasmus, and from Alfred Russell Wallace, and claimed them as his own?
No. The errors in the Bible are the fault of man. The biased interpretations over centuries, along with God’s somewhat accommodation of our failures over the years. Its called “grace”.
You are free to believe as you wish of course. You’ve been lied to so much in your life, you certainly have plenty of reason to be a skeptic. And I am free to pray for you, since I insist on holding onto my belief in Jesus.
God Bless you Bruce…
Buddhism isn’t “the other side.” It’s a major religion with spiritual beliefs. Sure, Buddhists may not believe there is a divine being, but generally believe in pantheism, which is still unprovable theology. And eternal life through reincarnation. Atheism is the other side from Buddhism, Christianity, and any other religion that exists. (PS–I’m not an atheist.)
PS–stop being condescending to Bruce. It’s not nice, and it doesn’t make you look better.
Keith, I disagree with a few things you say.
The bible isn’t a book of history, it’s a mixture of several genres including folklore, myth, and metaphor. Whilst any book, inevitably, has errors the bible is in a class of its own, having more contradictions than there are words (I struggled to get my head intuitively round that but it’s true).
Einstein wasn’t wrong, he just wasn’t complete. His theories have been refined, not rendered incorrect.
Darwin was certainly aware of the work of Wallace, and Erasmus had vague ideas of evolution that influenced him, but Darwin properly has credit for the theory because he was the person who massively observed it in the Galápagos Islands and actually documented it into a very comprehensive form.
From a theological perspective, the Bible 📕 is internally contradictory. That’s why there are so many sects and interpretations. Keith believes all sorts of things that are heterodox or even heretical, yet he is certain he is absolutely 💯 right. How can we mere mortals know which sect/church/pastor has the truth? You would think God would have made sure everyone is preaching the same thing. 😈
You’ve experienced miracles? Have you any documentable, verifiable proof that would hold up in a court of law? See, we’ve all heard that BS numerous times and so far zero evidence. Nothing that would hold up, nothing that could not rationally be explained. Did Jesus help you find your lost car keys?
How do you know I’ve been lied too?
Feel free to p-r-a-y away. I just don’t want to hear about it. Thousands of Christians have prayed for me. Some have even prayed for their deity to kill me. Yet, here I am, unrepentant and godless. So much for the power of prayer.
“So, why should be follow the Bible? Why should we follow Einstein, who made errors in this theories? Why should be follow Darwin, who stole his theories from his Grandfather Erasmus, and from Alfred Russell Wallace, and claimed them as his own?”
why do christians lie about others so much? Alas, for Keith, Einstein didn’t claim to have the magic truth and didn’t say that anyone who didn’t agree should be killed/tortured forever.
as for experiencing miracles, I call BS. It’s always a christian claiming how special he is and how he gets special prezzies from his god. Funny how this god never helps amputees, burn victims, kids who are starving, etc.
“Is the Bible filled with contradictions and errors? First, every history book of any length is filled with contradictions and errors. The Bible is no different. It was written by men, and we are full of personal biases. Even Jesus admits that much.”
oh dear, that’s not what the bible says it is.
Wouldn’t it be so much easier to ask Jesus to find Bruce? He knows how many hairs Bruce has on his glorious body, yet we aren’t involving him in this logistical nightmare?
Keith,American Christians are crazy. For the most part. This is why you have a problem with the pastors or ministers running Christianity here. Since not going to church anymore,life really is less crazy in some ways. The country has become crazy by now, because of 42 years of Neoliberalism. It’s no longer a safe place to be. This nuttiness is from the Pilgrims,Puritans,and the Doctrine of Discovery, which was used to justify slavery and genocide from 1492 to the present. In fact,the Papal Bulls of that century have NOT been revoked and are still active ! The Popes ignore requests to formally renounce the Bull(****). Seen a lot of crazy making over the decades. To save their sanity, people have fled the churches to the point that they are called” nones.”. The above is why it’s so hard to find a sane pastor without major issues.