Over the weekend, an Evangelical man named Charles Pentland, Jr. sent me the following email:
Sad, you turned from the faith. You’re not the only one. It won’t be long & you will believe it.
I really don’t have much to say to Charles. For the life of me, I don’t understand why Evangelicals think threatening strangers on the Internet with Hell is an effective evangelization technique. Does anyone thusly threatened immediately fall on their knees, repent, and ask Jesus to save them? Of course not. Thus, I am left to conclude that such threats are all about people such as Charles, and not the people they threaten. They have a pathological need to be right, and what better way to show their rightness than by threatening unbelievers — especially atheists — with hellfire and damnation? Evangelicals feel vindicated, thinking, “I sure told that atheist.” Instead, all they do is remind me of why I left Christianity, and why the single best decision I made next to marrying Polly was the day I said to the world “I no longer believe.”
Charles feels “sad” over my loss of faith. Does he really? I doubt it. People change their minds about things all the time. People marry and later divorce. Jesus and I were married for many years — happily so. Yet, there came a day when I realized my marriage to Jesus was over. What did I do? I filed for divorce, and fifteen years later, I am still a happy divorcee. While I lost lifetime social connections when I deconverted, I have developed new relationships with people who accept me as I am, and not for what I believe. My life is better in every way — post-Jesus. Of course, Charles likely doesn’t believe me, thinking that no one can have a good life, a satisfying life, one filled with purpose and meaning, without J-e-s-u-s. All I know to do is to keep living my “sad” life all the way to the grave. Isn’t that all any of us can do?
Let me leave Charles with the advice I give to readers on my About page:
You have one life. There is no heaven or hell. There is no afterlife. You have one life, it’s yours, and what you do with it is what matters most. Love and forgive those who matter to you and ignore those who add nothing to your life. Life is too short to spend time trying to make nice with those who will never make nice with you. Determine who are the people in your life that matter and give your time and devotion to them. Live each and every day to its fullest. You never know when death might come calling. Don’t waste time trying to be a jack of all trades, master of none. Find one or two things you like to do and do them well. Too many people spend way too much time doing things they will never be good at.
Here’s the conclusion of the matter. It’s your life and you best get to living it. Someday, sooner than you think, it will be over. Don’t let your dying days be ones of regret over what might have been.
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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