An Evangelical woman named Candida left the following comment on the post titled Wasted Years, Oh How Foolish . . . (all spelling and grammar in the original):
It’s a pity you went through this Bruce. Quite sad. Abd you’re quite right about lots of people in church whose lives are as ‘wasted’ as that of those outside church. That’s a reality.
I must say though there are also countless people whose lives have been changed, transformed, made meaningful by their encounter with Jesus.
There’s a big difference between encountering Jesus and being in church. You can be in church singing about, hearing about, maybe also preaching about Jesus without really encountering or knowing Him. If you know Jesus, you have a relationship with him, like the one you have with a wife whom you love and cherish. It’s real.
Many confuse activities in church with relationship with Jesus. There’s no love like His. I pray you, and all others who have abandoned the faith experience this relationship and this love first hand.
The Lord bless you. And everyone. And us all too.
Candida read all of one post and concluded that I never had a relationship with Jesus. Boy, I’ve never heard that before! 🙂 How could Candida possibly know the depth and quality of my relationship with Jesus? She doesn’t know me. She was not a member of one of the churches I pastored. How could she possibly know that I had “churchianity,” and not Christianity? I could spend days telling Candida how deeply I loved Jesus; how I devoted my life to serving and following him; that I taught my children to do the same. Would it make a difference in how she views me? Of course not. All she sees is Bruce, the Evangelical pastor turned atheist. Since I am an atheist today, that means I never was a Real Christian®. The fifty years I spent in the Evangelical church and the twenty-five years I spent pastoring churches are dismissed with a wave of the hand. What Candida is saying, then, is that I am a liar; that what I say about myself and give testimony to is a lie. Why do Evangelicals find it so hard to take former Christians at face value? When Candida says, “I am a Christian,” I believe her. It’s her story to tell. I wish Evangelicals would grant me the same respect.
I have experienced the love of Jesus firsthand, as have thousands of readers of this blog. Much like marriages where couples fall out of love and divorce, we fell out of love with Jesus, finding that he was not the person we thought he was. And so we divorced him, seeking love in people and places we had long denied (because Jesus told us to do so): spouses, families, and self. We reconnected with humanity and nature, and in doing so we found love. Why would any of us want to return to a jealous, demanding lover?
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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