Yesterday, I responded to a long comment from an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist Christian named Gary Richards. (I have since learned that his real name is Gary MacKay.) You can read my response to MacKay here.
As is my custom, I sent MacKay an email with a link to my post. MacKay responded to my article today with what follows. My response is indented and italicized. All spelling and grammar in the original
It was a nice try Bruce, we both know that anyone can defend any which way side they want to but there is only one truth.
Much like Dr. David Tee, MacKay thinks there is one truth — his. This is a common trait among IFB adherents. Believers are encouraged to be certain in their beliefs, even though they lack sufficient education and knowledge about a given subject. They know what they know, but they don’t know what they don’t know. Certainty breeds arrogance. I’m right, you’re wrong, end of discussion, the thinking goes. That’s why it is almost impossible to have a profitable discussion with an IFB Christian. MacKay didn’t come to this site to engage is thoughtful discussion. He was here to preach and condemn.
MacKay’s behavior doesn’t surprise me. Scores of like-minded people have come before him. MacKay is deeply immersed in IFB culture. He thinks it is normal to preach AT people who disagree with you, uttering threats of judgment and eternal damnation. At some level, I feel sorry for the MacKays of the world. I was once just like them. I understand firsthand the cost of needing to be right all the time. It is a wearying way to live.
Sure, yeah, at age 15 you started, went to IFB schools, started churches & preached for all those years yet this goes on with so many and as you know Christ will say on that day “I never knew you”.
MacKay continues to delegitimize my story, suggesting that I was a fraud, just like so many other preachers today. He reminds me that one day I will stand before Christ and be cast into utter darkness.
He is alluding to Matthew 7:21-23:
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
As a proponent of IFB soteriology, MacKay believes that a person is saved by assenting to a set of theological propositions; that once a person is saved, good works play no part in the believer’s continuing salvation. Of course, I was saved in the IFB way. The difference, of course, is that I actually believed good works matter. I actually believed that faith without works is dead; that Christians will be judged one day, not on their mental assent to Bible facts, but by their works. Jesus made this clear in Matthew 25, and James made it clear that believers show their faith by their good works.
MacKay’s bankrupt gospel is why IFB churches are filled with people who think they have no obligation to love their neighbors as themselves; that nothing they say or do will keep them out of Heaven. Such people, if there really is a God, as portrayed in the Bible, are in for a rude awakening someday. My reading of the Protestant Christian Bible suggests that God really does care about how believers live; that good works matter.
In your case you just plain walked away and are essentially an anti-christ. If you really had fruit of your salvation & the Holy Spirit put His seal on you we both know you wouldn’t be where you are today. They must have left out the part that works can’t save you while you attended your education.
MacKay didn’t read any of my autobiographical writing, so he really doesn’t know or understand my story. Had he bothered to read my story, he would have learned that I didn’t one day, out of the blue, walk away from Christianity. I spent several years agonizing over my beliefs, worried that I was losing my faith. I desperately want to remain a Christian. After all, I had been part of the Evangelical church for fifty years. I pastored churches in three states for twenty-five years. My whole life and that of my family revolved around loving, following, and serving Jesus. I was all in, as were Polly and our children (not that they knew anything different). Walking away from all that I ever knew was hardly inconsequential. I shed many a tear over what was lost, much like someone who went through an acrimonious divorce.
According to MacKay, I am an anti-Christ. His goal is to demean and slander. He returns to his claim that I never was saved, and then adds that I never understood the Christian gospel. MacKay knows better — where can I take the gospel test? — but he’s not interested in interacting with me fairly and honestly. All that matters to him is discrediting me, painting me as an anti-Christ, false prophet, and tool of Satan. All MacKay has done is reveal to fair-minded people that he is a “tool.”
I have a hard time believing that you actually get death threats or any threats at all by Christians, possibly by those that were in your same situation where you were pushed into a Christian lifestyle & never given a choice to truly choose. There are many such as yourself that got hold of the wrong spirit as you yourself demonstrate & profess. This has always been even though as we ramp up to that day there is more & more as we have been told. It isn’t a surprise. I would like to think there is hope for your surrender to Christ even though your work is Satanic & has led many astray, but even though, Paul was forgiven & became the apostle to the gentiles.
MacKay concludes his screed by calling me a liar; that my claims of death threats or any threats at all are lies, lies, lies, and more lies. Long-time readers know firsthand the threats I have received over the years. One IFB believer threatened to slit my throat; another threatened to assault my daughter with Down syndrome; and still others have said they are praying for my sudden, painful death. Then there are the repeated, often daily, threats of Hell and eternal torture, with loving Christians hoping I drop dead today. I have even received threats from IFB preachers. These experiences are, sadly, not rare. They are a reminder of the rotten, violent underbelly of Evangelical Christianity, and, in particular, the IFB church movement.
That MacKay thinks I am lying? I simply don’t care. I know what I know. I hope he never has to experience what I have experienced at the hands of so-called followers of the Prince of Peace.
MacKay concludes with an orgastic fervor, saying I got ahold of the wrong spirit; that I am Satanic. You know what is interesting? MacKay made no attempt to evangelize me. He made no attempt to lead to the right path. He made no effort to share the gospel with me. Why is that?
Gary is right about two things. First, I have led many people astray. By telling my story and helping people who have questions and doubts about Christianity, I have helped people see that there is a better day. I don’t evangelize people. My objective has never been to win souls to Loki. If anything, my goal has been to show people that there are better expressions of the Christian faith than the IFB cult. Do I want the IFB church movement to die off? Absolutely. So many good people have been psychologically harmed, and, at times, physically harmed, by IFB beliefs and practices. There are kinder, gentler expressions of Christian faith for people who truly want a faith that practices the two great commandments: loving God and loving your fellow man.
Do some people who come in contact with me lose their faith? Sure, but I never push people to deconvert. All I am is a storyteller; a facilitator. I simply don’t care all that much about what people believe as long as those beliefs don’t cause harm to them or their families. MacKay’s beliefs materially harm people, so I make no apology for opposing, with what little strength I have left, the IFB church movement.
Second, MacKay claims I got ahold of the wrong spirit. On this account, he is absolutely right. The spirit of whiskey, that is. 🙂
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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Dear Gary MacKay, ‘…Certainty breeds arrogance. I’m right, you’re wrong…’ I nearly commented those very words in response to your first missive. I know, cos, mea culpa, I was the same, and I think Bruce would probably admit to that too…..I was arrogant for five decades, only my way to jesus, my baptist interpretation of the bible was the right one and I had to tell every other professing x-tian or, unlike me – and you – they’d be tortured forever. (Whilst an omnibenevolent god and we correct believers looked on and delighted in their eternal indescribable agony.) I leave with you a perfect comment from Neil Carter. ‘We didn’t de-convert cos we were the lukewarm x-tians of Rev. ch3. On the contrary, we jesus-ed our socks off 24/7 for years and it was with mounting horror that, after much agonising internal debate and with great reluctance, we realised it was all a fiction, it didn’t work, it made no sense.’ Mr MacKay, I urge you to part those heavy IFB curtains, just a chink, begin to let the light of reason in…..try it, you won’t regret it….it’s wonderful to step out of darkness into the sunshine of reason and non-faith!
Is it ironic that many Christian, even those that Gary supports, would say he doesn’t really know god because they know, as he does, there is one truth, and he needs to admit he is wrong and stop lying?
Is it doubly ironic that he quotes the goat story, not realizing that Jesus was directing the goat story at the pompous, overly religious, rule bound, one truth people of his day?
I don’t expect him to understand this irony, because, ironically, his belief in one truth keeps him from understanding the actual truth about a one truth belief system.
And as for this claim of Bruce being satanic, I think Gary should keep that label in reserve for those of us who haunt these pages and are far more evil and dark that Bruce. I am an apostate fallen preachers kid who accepts their status as an abomination. In some peoples opinon, I hold so much power and influence that I can seduce many people and make them fall under my will. It’s so much power that countries make laws to try to block my power and existence.
Sorry Bruce, I just don’t think you have what it takes to be satanic. But be proud you are accused, because it only shows that Mr One Truth really doesn’t see the true danger. Just like in that story about goats.
“I never push people to deconvert.” One of the reasons I read your blog, to gain a different perspective and not be pressed to change or judged that my faith is silly or wrong or fruitless. I appreciate that.
hmm, seems that Gary forgot the part that his god hates liars and lies.
One thing I remember being hammered home over and over is the insistence that we can KNOW FOR SURE that we have THE TRUTH, THE WAY, THE LIFE and ASSURANCES of salvation. Fundamentalist evangelicalism is a system of perceived certainty, and its adherents tend to become dogmatic in most aspects of their lives. (As I learned to understand myself and how my brain works, it made complete sense why I was so uncomfortable in fundamentalist evangelicalism. My brain simply does not work in binaries or certainties. Give me any topic, and my brain will view it from 3-5 different angles. I have trouble making decisions on the spot simply because my brain has to go through so many permutations of possibilities. Once I make a decision, I am secure that it’s correct – but when presented new evidence my brain starts calculating again).
It’s quite difficult to have an actual conversation with people steeped in dogma. Gary has convinced himself that he KNOWS what he KNOWS and that it’s the unwavering TRUTH. Bless his heart, but he’s going to stay in his secluded bubble surrounded by like-minded people and will rant and rail against anyone who is different. I am assuming he prefers not to travel in order to limit interaction with THOSE people whom he has labeled as anti-Christ or Satanic. I’m surprised he ventured to encounter any sites on the internet that aren’t like-minded.
Gary MacKay is an heir to the settler mentality of the 1600-1700’s. The hysteria and mean nature of that culture never went away in Tennessee. How else could someone like John Perry get away with his crimes against children and not see a day in jail ? The Fundamentalism in those states down there is so entrenched and virulent,for centuries. I’ve been reading a fictional book,” Demon Copperhead,” by Barbara Kingsolver. It’s written in such a way as to evoke the vibe of Appalachian everyday life. MacKay would rather ignore the fact that believers can leave Jesus ,if they choose to. There are warnings not to do it,of course. Jesus said no man take someone out of his hand, but again one can simply jump out of his hand, especially if they are like so many people who grew up with abusive Fundy parents and they quit the church and faith,as soon as they were too big to hit anymore. Crazy churches often drive people away,often for good. Lots of former members became too offended to ever return, and so, some still kept the faith but dumped the church and it’s culture. Some ended both altogether. I FB holds onto people through fear. As does Pentecostalism. Happens everyday,and Mackay isn’t unusual at all,and that’s unfortunate.
People like Mr. MacKay instill both anger and sympathy in me. Anger obviously because of how they hurl accusations without evidence (and against their own religious screed if they would pause to think about it), condemnation for crimes that only exist in their narrowly preferred interpretation of a shared religious text, but primarily for their sheer nastiness.
My sympathy rises because I know they can’t help themselves. I used to think and believe the same way, though I don’t think my behavior ever rose to these levels of unpleasantness (I was a tepid evangelist) – maybe it did and I was blind to it just as Mr. MacKay is (I give them the benefit of doubt and assume they are blind to it). I don’t know if indoctrination can be considered a mental illness, but it is a lot like one. Mr. MacKay has been taught, as I was, that there can be no alternative to the black and white, us versus the world, we win in the end theology of his faith. Evangelical fundamentalism is locked into a self-confirming worldview that “you are with or against us” and “if you are against us you were never with us”. Considering any other possibility collapses the whole house of cards because it means that anyone might fall away and that horrifies the faithful. I understand this. I am still reeling from the loss of a worldview I held for decades.
My sympathy erodes very quickly when these self-professed followers of the Prince of Peace habitually behave in the very ways their Jesus condemned when lashing out at the religious authority of his era. The irony of this was already pointed out by a previous commenter.
I wouldn’t lose any sleep over Gary (not that I believe anyone actually would). I think what disturbs me more than his self-righteous tirades is his lack of mastery of the basics of what (I’m assuming) is his native language. Why do so many of these fundies write as if they barely survived 5th grade composition class? Listening to them pontificate is like listening to little children try to convince of why they should be allowed to do something “all by themselves” for the first time. I’m not even convinced that someone like this can even comprehend the archaic language used in their beloved KJVs.
I am going to reiterate something I said in a comment on another post: For most of us who once believed, our current non-belief is not as flippant as folks like Gary seem to believe. We didn’t simply discard our faith as if it were an item of clothing that no longer fits our tastes, let alone our bodies. Most of us–I include myself–did everything we could to hold on. We prayed, studied, did all of the good works we could and attended church whenever it was open. We asked; the answers never came. We opened our hearts; the wind whistled through them.
If people need to call us reprobates or other names they don’t really understand to make themselves feel stronger in their own faith, I’ve no problem with that. But I wish that they–I include the likes of Gary–would have enough personal decency, if not respect for us as fellow humans, to keep themselves from gaslighting us and simply being so damned smug about their faith.
In MacKay’s world, I walked in the door one day and said to Polly, my wife of 45 years, “I’m divorcing you,” and then walked away with nary a thought. Does that sound remotely true? Well, I was “married” to Jesus for 50 years. Our divorce was painful beyond measure. There was not one thing that was easy/fun about leaving Christianity. I can only imagine the pain and heartache if I “divorced” Polly. So it was with Jesus. Of course, I’d never divorce Polly. Well, maybe if I caught her in bed with three young men. But then, I might just say, “may I join?” 🤣🤣
I think I’ll write a post on the subject. 🤣❤️
MacKay, you self-righteous asshole! How dare you presume to know Bruce’s experience better than Bruce itself.
Are you upset because it brings your salvation into question? Because it raises that possibility that you too can lose your faith? Believe it – it does happen, and it can indeed happen to you.
And I hope that it does happen to you – because only then will you be able to fully appreciate what Bruce went through when his faith crashed and burned.
Bruce himself. (signs self up for remedial proofreading course)
Gary MacKay forgets about all those scriptures regarding backsliding ! Christians often do this, and bad church experience can trigger it. It’s not the only reason for it, there’s many causes. All one has to do is Google ” backsliding.”. I’m amazed that the fanatic Mackay never brought up this fact. It shows that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about,after all. Seeing the posts here and there about Hale, there’s a lot of ghoulish relish over this person entering Hell and burning right now. The parents won’t answer questions, and this itself is a red flag. But the truth will come out eventually. It’s inevitable. This subject of salvation,and the IFB makes me wonder how these issues were handled in that obviously dysfunctional family. ( And who the hell is Elliot?)😗
Elliot is a South Korean Christian incel who is permanently banned from this site. He is a hateful bigot; a misogynist; a homophobe. Other than that, he is a nice guy. He occasionally finds ways to comment, but I delete them. He will NEVER be permitted to comment on this site again. Ever.
Thank you for the bio on the South Korean incel,Bruce. I was curious,and with regards to Christianity in South Korea, cults are very active there,big time ! Their offshoots made it to L.A. Elliot might be a member of one of those Christian cults.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uPoBouinitE Why did Gary Mackay not try to evangelize Bruce Gerencser? Sadly, the answer is all too obvious. Gary Mackay must have listened to this sermon at one time in his life, and Gary Mackay drew the obvious conclusion about Bruce Gerencser. The lights have went out on the road to hell. I’m being sarcastic.