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True Christians

one true religion

Dr. David Tee, whose real name is Derrick Thomas Thiessen, is a Christian Missionary & Alliance trained preacher. As Evangelical preachers are wont to do, Tee has cobbled together his own peculiar version of Christianity and what it means to be a True Christian®. I have read enough of Tee’s posts to know that he can, at times, promote heretical beliefs — heretical when measured by core Evangelical beliefs about salvation by grace. There are times when it seems he is preaching salvation by works — a soteriology that can certainly be justified with the Bible (as all soteriologies can).

In a post titled Can Christianity Help With Politics? Tee posits that “There are many benefits to having true Christians run governments.” Tee goes on to give his definition of a True Christian®:

By true Christians, we mean those that correctly follow Christ.

According to Tee, a True Christian® is someone who “correctly” follows Christ. What does it mean to “correctly” follow Jesus? What does Tee mean when he uses the word “correctly?” I assume he thinks a person must believe and do certain things to be a True Christian. I know he believes transgender people can’t be True Christians®, but Evangelical preachers who rape and sexually molest children are just True Christians® who need to humbly say “my bad, Jesus.”

Tee has made it clear that he is absolutely certain he is right in doctrine and deed. No one can correct him, especially unwashed, uncircumcised Philistines such as Bruce Gerencser. The moment I deconverted, I magically lost everything I know about the Bible, theology, and Christianity. Evidently, Gawd gives a Men in Black mind wipe to Christians the moment they deconvert. Of course, this is absurd.

There’s no such thing as True Christianity®. According to Pew Research, there are about 2.4 billion Christians in the world; 279 million in the United States. I suspect these numbers are grossly inflated, but we can conclude from them there are a lot of Christians in the world and in the United States. I live in rural northwest Ohio — the land of God, Trump, and Guns. God said humans can’t hide from him. Even in the depths of Hell, he is there. I feel the same way about Christianity. While American Christianity is in decline, there are few places I can go to escape Jesus and his merry band of followers. They are like a rash you can’t get rid of. (I am primarily speaking of Evangelicals and conservative Catholics. When I go out to dinner with the pastor of the local United Church of Christ, my rash magically goes away.)

Put one hundred Christians in a room and ask them to define core Christian beliefs and you will get a plethora of answers. You will find disagreement on salvation, sin, baptism, communion, creation, and other beliefs. Yet hardcore Fundamentalists such as Tee are certain that their beliefs and practices are straight from the mouth of God; that their interpretations of the Bible are absolutely right; that their beliefs are the standard by which all (alleged) Christians are measured.

These disagreements and internecine wars over what constitutes a True Christian® are a sure sign that Christianity is a human invention, or whatever Christianity might have been has been so obscured and adulterated by 2,000 years of organized Christianity that its essence has been lost.

Jesus told his followers that there were two great commandments: love God with all your heart, soul, and might, and love your neighbor as yourself. Pray tell, where can such a Christianity be found? Where can we find a preacher or church that takes seriously Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount or his words in Matthew 25? From 1995-2002, I pastored Our Father’s House in West Unity, Ohio. I remember telling the congregation that Christianity (and the world) would be better served if we focused our energy on living out the teachings of Jesus found in the Sermon on the Mount; that we had become distracted from the essence of faith.

As Evangelicals and conservative Catholics wage unholy war against anyone and everyone who is different from them, I wonder if they stop to consider that maybe, just maybe, in their attempt to “Christianize” the world they have lost all sense of what it means to truly be a follower of Jesus (or a decent human being)?

As I have said countless times in my writing, certainty breeds arrogance. When Evangelicals are certain that their versions of God and Jesus are the right ones, and their interpretations of the Bible are infallible, there’s no way to reach them. But, Bruce, you were a Fundamentalist, and now you are not! Certainly, that is true, but it wasn’t until I entertained the possibility that I could be wrong that my mind was open to the possibility of change. Until then, I was certain I was right. Change is hard, and unless we humble ourselves before our own ignorance, we will never know how much we don’t know.

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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12 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Ben Berwick

    Love the picture! I’ve often said that there’s as much evidence proving the existence of Greek and Roman pantheons as there is for the Abrahamic religions, and I should have left room for a mention of the Egyptian pantheon too!

    The fundamentalist (not without irony, given the general disdain the religious right tends to hold for government interference) spoke of having romantic relationships be responsible (whatever that means), and that children would be raised with the ‘right’ discipline, but how would any of this be enforced? Sounds to me like people would have less freedom under this ‘Christian’ ‘democracy’, and we all know if someone like Tee were involved in government, persecution of those opposing his world view wouldn’t be far away.

  2. Avatar
    Ben Berwick

    It’s his usual waffle isn’t it? I particularly ‘loved’ the bare-faced lie here, in reference to transgender people:

    [quote]This is not true. Transgenders can become true Christians but they have to give up their sins, their false thinking, and their false gender identity, that is if God has not turned them over to evil as Romans 1 warns everyone.[/quote]

    He says transgenders can become Christians, but if they have to give up their gender identity, that’s basically saying they cannot be trans and still be a true Christian, which is exactly the point you made. Trust him to be obtuse about it.

    • Avatar
      MJ Lisbeth

      How can you be Christian–or anything else–if you aren’t who you are. You can’t be anything if there’s no “you” there.

      It’s one of the few pieces of wisdom I can impart to anybody.

  3. Avatar
    bob

    To know a person’s religion we need not listen to his profession of faith but must find his brand of intolerance.
    ~Eric Hoffer, The Passionate State of Mind, aph. 215 (1955), quoted from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

    One of the most constant characteristics of beliefs is their intolerance. The stronger the belief, the greater its intolerance. Men dominated by a certitude cannot tolerate those who do not accept it.
    ~Gustave Le Bon, Opinions And Beliefs (1911)

  4. Avatar
    GeoffT

    Mr Tee lies in every sentence he writes by referring to himself in the plural. I’m sure he’ll attempt to explain this by something like being inhabited by the holy spirit, but it doesn’t excuse his mendacious arrogance.

    He says at the end of his screed that there’s lots of evidence for the existence of both god and Jesus. He’s wrong, as usual. There is none whatsoever for any form of god, other than crude induction (which just as easily proves the existence of Thor), and the tiny amount for Jesus ‘proves’ only that there was probably a preacher/rabbi on which the myth was based. I’m not surprised Tee doesn’t allow comments: he’d be obliterated.

  5. Avatar
    clubschadenfreude

    amazing how all of these christians who insist every other christian is a heretic, etc is sure they are the only ones who “correctly follow christ”.

    Poor Derrick, per his own bible, he isn’t one of them, him being unable to do what good ol’ Jesus promised to all of his true believers.

  6. Avatar
    ObstacleChick

    Most people think they are right/correct. When I was a fundamentalist, I thought I was right, though I felt really uncomfortable with some of the teachings. As I was deconstructing from fundamentalism, I thought that many facets of fundamentalism were wrong and that I was right. As I slid into progressive, liberal Christianity, I thought I was right again. And when I took an almost-decade-long hiatus from Christianity, I didn’t know what was right, but I thought Christianity might be wrong. Then I started digging into atheism, humanism, history of Christianity, anti-racism, learning about how white Christian nationalism and racism are intertwined and how they’re intertwined with GOP/Conservative politics, and I am constantly examining what’s right and wrong. I still think I am right, at this moment, but I am definitely open to new evidence and arguments in a way that I wasn’t when I was a fundamentalist Christian or even a progressive Christian. But I recognize that I can still fall into the familiar feeling of certainty if I am not careful. I practice every day examining the other side(s) of an argument in order to weaken my fundamentalist-trained certainty muscles.

    • Avatar
      Troy

      @OBSTACLECHICK
      Perhaps recognizing not only that you’re wrong but capable of being wrong is a character building experience. Not only have you broken out of the cage, you realize that there are likely other cages that still exist.

  7. Avatar
    Steve Ruis

    The idea of attacking other Christians as not being True Christians began before Christianity had solidified in the third-fourth centuries CE (included documented use in the early 100’s CE). So, this tactic has been in use for over 1700 years and at this point in time, every Christian denomination has been labeled as being formed by or of “not True Christians.” So, now it is a feeble tactic used only by weak sister Christians who can’t argue otherwise. “You will know them by the tools they use.” (Proverbs 7-11)

  8. Avatar
    MJ Lisbeth

    I have said this in other comments and posts: If we have a “Christian” government, it will have the same problem as every theocracy in history: Every member of the ruling religion thinks his/her/their interpretation of the faith or word is the correct one. Anyone who deviates is an apostate and, therefore, a traitor.

    Back in my Libertarian days (part of which coincided with my Evangelical period), I came into contact with Gary North, who was married to the daughter of R;J. Rushdoony and continued the latter’s project of merging education, economics and politics with their version of Christianity. (I think of it as Calvinism if Calvin had smoked crack.) They thus believed that the country’s legal system should be based on the laws in Leviticus and Deuteronomy. Following that, I would be executed, by stoning for, well, simply existing.

  9. Avatar
    John S.

    Bart Ehrman’s book “Lost Christianities” is a good read on this topic. He writes about several variations which existed in the early centuries of Christianity.

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Bruce Gerencser