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Category: Atheism

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Atheists Are Ingrates Who Refuse to Acknowledge the Goodness of God

david j stewart

Truly, April Fool’s Day is a fitting holiday for all the Communistic, Rock-n-Rolling, Satanic, immoral, child-murdering, feminist, ATHEISTS in the world. There’s not a bigger bunch of fools on the planet.

….

When the truth is revealed, there’s no such thing as an atheist. There are only ingrates who refuse to acknowledge the goodness and omnipotent power of God. Romans 1:20 confirms that there is no such thing as an atheist. All the proof anyone needs of God is found right outside your front door, which is why on Judgment Day all professed atheists will be without excuse. I assure you that there are no atheists in Hell.

Do you know where most atheists are from? They come out of heathen State universities. Most young people profess to be homosexuals in a heathen university, which is where they are indoctrinated with that garbage. Most people decide to become atheist [sic] in some heathen school. Colossians 2:4 and 18, “And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words. … Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind.” The Scriptures warn about taking unsound advice from unsaved people.

— David Stewart, April 1st is National Atheists Day, March 31, 2021

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 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.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

One Man’s Journey From Evangelicalism to Atheism

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A guest post by John

I was born in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1968. My family moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1972 and this is where I grew up. My parents were not very religious, just enough to not go to hell. We attended a Presbyterian church sporadically through my teenage years. When I was 12, I went to a YMCA summer camp. Most of the counselors were Bible college students. One night, around a fire with other campers, I heard the gospel for the first time that I remember. It included, of course, if I didn’t believe and pray the sinner’s prayer, I would go to hell. Well, what 12-year-old wants to go to hell? So I prayed the prayer, was given a Bible, and was told to read it every day. My Presbyterian parents were wary of my newfound zeal for God and the Bible. I was in and out of church through high school and college. Sometimes I would be zealous about my faith, and sometimes not.

After college, I got a job as an assistant manager at a restaurant in 1993. Most of the servers and several of the kitchen staff were Bible school students. This restaurant did not serve alcohol, so it attracted more Christians than other places. Most of these were from the charismatic/word of faith crowd. At first, I thought they were nuts! But they grew on me after a while. I started going to a large church of this flavor, because of a girl, of course. I played trumpet in the orchestra and was really enjoying it. Eventually, I married the girl that I followed to church and wound up going to a Bible school in the Tulsa area. After graduating, I went to work for the church/ministry that was associated with the Bible school. It wasn’t perfect, but I did enjoy my time there.

A few years later, in 1999, we moved to Memphis “at the leading of the Lord” and hooked up with a similar church here. I was also doing some teaching in churches around Memphis and the surrounding area. We wound up leaving that church and helping someone else start a church in the area. I was the associate pastor and youth pastor — volunteer, of course. Ugh. I also continued to be invited to other churches to speak and was really enjoying it. Until I wasn’t. We started seeing things in many churches that were troubling so we quit going to church for a while. We began meeting other Christians in homes and people would take turns teaching. This was around 2011. After one of these Bible studies, a couple asked me about tithing. We were taught that 10% of your income goes to the church. They had very little money at the time and were feeling bad that they couldn’t tithe. I asked them to study the topic and I did the same. So, I did an in-depth study on tithing. And guess what? What I’d been taught, with limited scripture often taken out of context, isn’t what the Bible says about tithing! I was like, well shit. If I’m wrong about that, what else am I wrong about? Around this time, I started getting interested in secular Buddhism, so my cover-to-cover Bible study was put off for a couple of years.

Around 2014, I started a 2-year, in-depth study of the Bible, the history of the Bible, and the history of the church. Probably my first big revelation was that I stopped believing in hell. Then I pretty much stopped believing in heaven. Then I stopped believing in creationism/Adam and Eve. And it all starts to crumble at that point. No Adam and Eve, no original sin, no need for a savior, etc. Then learning about how the Bible was put together, well shit, it was just a bunch of men who put it together. So much didn’t fit and didn’t make sense anymore. Like many have said, the Bible made me an atheist. Also, just looking at things like prayer and my rate of “answered” prayers. I could have prayed to my cat and gotten the same results! It was about 50/50. Except in one area where I was 100%. Everyone I’ve prayed for to live, who had a terminal, untreatable condition, all died of that condition or complications related to it. Every single one. As I got further away from religion, I started to realize how far away I had gotten from critical thinking. It’s sometimes hard to look back and realize that I believed in the creation story, Noah’s flood, talking animals, demons, angels, etc. But when a person is told that these things are true from a young age, by people they love and trust, you just believe them.

My wife is still a very devout Christian, maybe more so than ever, so that’s been interesting to navigate. She knows my beliefs have changed a lot, but not the full extent of my atheism. Only a couple of people do. All of my family and wife’s family are believers. Most of my friends are believers. I’m not ready yet to come out fully. I’m not sure that I will to everyone.

I’ve noticed some interesting things since leaving my faith. The first thing that comes to mind is that nothing happened. My cats didn’t die, my car didn’t break down, my life didn’t fall apart, etc. In fact, life has gotten better since I left my faith! I’m mentally and emotionally much healthier. I went through a long depression as a believer. I prayed, I read my Bible, I made confessions, I had others pray for me . . . and it just got worse. The group of Christians I had been around were very anti-medication for this kind of thing. It got bad enough I finally went to a good psychiatrist who put me on medication that worked wonderfully! I stopped praying and started learning about how the brain works, how thought patterns are formed, how my diet affects my moods. I started meditating. These things helped me SO much more than prayer and the Bible.

Another thing that I’ve noticed is that I’m much less judgmental and definitely more open-minded. I’m just a better human. I don’t think I was ever a super judgmental asshole. But, religion certainly tainted my worldview. Everything from politics to atheism to the LGBTQ+ community to people of other faiths to music to what I read and watch on tv, and so on. I like who I am now! I never felt like I could like myself as a Christian because we are nothing without Jesus and all that shit.

So, yeah, I am enjoying life much more as an atheist. It’s so nice to not have set in stone, dogmatic beliefs. At first, it was really uncomfortable to not have those solid beliefs. But now I’m used to it and it’s very freeing. As a Christian, I always heard that we were free in Jesus. It is the “sinners” that are bound. Now I see that it is just the opposite. Religion binds you up, letting go of that shit is really what sets you free.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 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.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

The Question

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Guest post by MJ Lisbeth

Are you Jewish?”

I lied, sort of, depending on which rabbi you ask.

Almost all agree that Judaism is passed on through the female biological line. That sounds straightforward enough, but if your mother’s mother’s mother’s mother’s mother’s mother’s mother was Jewish but nobody in any part of your family has practiced the religion or participated in any of its cultures….one rabbi might say, “You’re as Jewish as Theodor Herzl,” while another might tell you you’re as goyish as Pat or Debbie Boone.

I know: I have had exactly such an experience. As I was preparing to marry a Jewish woman of Latin American heritage, I consulted with rabbis and took classes. Since I no longer considered myself a part of the Roman Catholic church in which I’d grown up or with the Pentecostal and Evangelical churches in which I later affiliated myself, but I did not yet identify as atheist or non-religious, I was willing to participate in my wife-to-be’s religion and help raise the children we planned to have in it.

The Latin American Jewish community in which she was raised, mostly in the Miami area, was more conservative, politically and socially, than the non-Hasidic Ashkenazic Jews in whose proximity I was raised and have lived much of my life. When she went to college, she “fell away” from the religion but had returned to it, if in a more mystical and ritualistic iteration, by the time she met me. So, while she didn’t want to submit to the more severe sartorial and other regulations of some sects, she felt that prayer—in Hebrew—and other aspects of the religion were important to her life.

I would realize, much later, long after our marriage ended, that for her, her faith and “spirituality” was a way of keeping her inner torment– what some would call “demons” — at bay. She seemed to think that her faith and intense prayer were a way to deal with her extreme mood swings, some of which resulted in physical attacks on me she could not remember, or so she claimed, the following day. (Do you need more proof that prayer cannot substitute for medication and therapy?) Also, I came to understand –because I would come to the same knowledge about myself—that her religiosity was a defense (or, at least, she tried to use it as such) against desires that were not approved by her family and community.

In short, both of us were trying to deal with—or not deal with—the fact that we weren’t entirely heterosexual. Oh, and in my case, that I wasn’t the man I presented myself to be, or any kind of man at all. It would have been difficult enough for her family to approve of someone who wasn’t a mensch—which, to them, meant what some would condescendingly call a “nice Jewish boy.”

So, while I told her family and the rabbis that I am Jewish, I knew well that in the eyes of some, I wasn’t truly one of them, and never could be. And, interestingly, one of the rabbis we consulted tried to discourage me from living as a Jew. For one thing, he saw that I wanted to do so at least in part for the sake of marriage and the approval of her family. He pointed out the ostracism, persecution and worse Jewish people have faced throughout history and even warned me that no matter how fastidiously I followed the ways of his religion or how well I learned Hebrew, some “in the community” wouldn’t quite accept me.

I would later learn that he wasn’t the only rabbi who tried to dissuade people from converting to, or resuming, Judaism. So, when I heard the query, “Are you Jewish?” many years later from a young bearded man in front at a sidewalk table near Brooklyn’s Grand Army Plaza, I was taken aback. Unlike Christianity, Judaism doesn’t have a tradition of evangelism. At least, they haven’t tried to bring non-Jews into the fold. But that young man was part of the only Jewish community that, to my knowledge, tries to spread its words and ways –and only to other, mainly secular, Jews: the Lubavitchers, who comprise much of the Orthodox Jewish communities in Brooklyn, Montreal, and a few other cities.

I can’t help but wonder whether that young man was more successful in his “evangelism” efforts than I was in mine as an Evangelical Christian. Some would argue that I didn’t really “have the Holy Spirit within” me because I—at least to the best of my knowledge—never “brought” anybody “to Jesus.” Likewise, I can imagine that young man chastised for his lack of faith or commitment or something for not bringing “lost” Jewish people “home.”

Of course, today, as an atheist, I don’t care whether someone thinks I am, or ever was, Jewish, Christian or of any other religion. I think my ex and her family realized that I was only “going through the motions” and would be no more Jewish than I was a man. I sometimes wonder, though, what sort of discussion or argument I could have had with that young man had I told him that I am Jewish, or had I immersed myself in the religion enough to help raise the children my ex and I planned but never had.

(In case you’re wondering: My ex remarried. Her husband was raised in a conservative Jewish community and, within five years, they would have four children whom they would raise in the religion and send to yeshivas. I also heard, from mutual friends, that they were considering a move to Israel. Oh, and I’ve gone through a long process of affirming my identity as a woman.)

Now, if anyone were to ask me whether I’m a Christian, Catholic, or Jewish, the answer to the first two would be an emphatic “no.” As for the question of my Jewishness, that would depend on how much time or energy I have for a discussion or argument. After all, someone I knew in my youth told me and the rabbi of the man she married that she was a “Jewish atheist.” The rabbi said that was entirely plausible and made no effort to convince her otherwise. I could tell that rabbi the same thing: I, like her, have Jewish heritage on my mother’s side of the family (though my relatives converted to Catholicism) but don’t believe in any “supreme” or “higher” “being.”

In the years since then, I’ve had co-workers, and have friends and friendly acquaintances, who are Muslims. Interestingly, though Islam is a proselytizing religion, none has tried to “witness” (if you’ll pardon a Christian term) to me, and most Islamic states don’t encourage proselytizing. Oh, and contrary to what some religious conservatives and grandstanding politicians would have their constituents believe, neither I nor any other atheist I know makes any effort to recruit (or, if you like, proselytize) others to our way of thinking. I guess in that sense, at least, I am as Jewish as I am an atheist!

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 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.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Why Can’t I be Like Everyone Else?

normal

I grew up in a Fundamentalist Baptist home. I spent the first fifty years of my life regularly attending Christian churches. Deeply immersed in the Christian life and way of thinking, I never doubted that I would become anything other than a Baptist preacher. I was five years old when I first told my mother that I wanted to be a preacher when I grew up. Not a fireman, not a police officer, not a baseball player — a preacher. Unlike most people, I never went through the angst of trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. From the time of my conversion at age fifteen to the moment I walked away from the ministry, I never doubted that God had called me to be a preacher of the gospel. I was what people call a true believer®. My life oozed Jesus, the Bible, and my visible, dedicated commitment to the Baptist church. While many people today question whether I was a “real” Christian, no one during my time in the ministry ever questioned that I was anything but a sincere follower of Jesus Christ. Anyone who suggests otherwise is deliberately ignoring the facts.

Yet, here I am at age sixty-four, no longer in the ministry, no longer Christian, and now an outspoken atheist and critic of Evangelical Christianity. I attended Midwestern Baptist College in the 1970s. During its sixty-plus-year history, thousands of students attended classes at Midwestern. Hundreds of men went on to pastor churches or work in some other capacity at churches or Christian educational institutions. Some men went on to be missionaries or evangelists. Women married preachers, went to the mission field, or became Christian school teachers. While Midwestern never had a large student body, its students and graduates can be found serving Jesus all across the globe. Yet, out of all these students, as far as I know, my wife and I are the only two who have publicly renounced Christianity. While I am certain other former Midwestern students are atheists or agnostics, I am unaware of their existence. Perhaps they do not want the notoriety and hassle that come from publicly renouncing Midwestern’s God. I know well the price one must pay when rejecting the tribal God. Polly and I lost dozens of friends and colleagues as a result of our public declaration of unbelief. We are estranged from family, have few friends, and are forced to live with the whispers and gossip of local Christian residents who treat us as some sort of exotic zoo animals. We willingly endure these things because we value honesty and intellectual integrity above cultural or social acceptance.

There are times when I find myself wondering why I cannot be like everyone else. I loved preaching and teaching. I loved helping others. I loved rolling up my sleeves and getting my hands dirty in the work of the ministry. Yet, despite loving these things, they were not enough to keep me in the fold. Why is it my former colleagues and the students I attended college with are able to continue believing and I am not? While it would be tempting to say that I am intellectually superior to them, I know this is not the case. It would be easy to dismiss everyone with a wave of the hand and a snide — bunch of illiterate hillbillies — comment, but I know that in doing so I would be painting with too broad a brush (a brush I wish atheists would quit using).

Perhaps there was something wrong with my faith. I have often asked myself this question. Was there something about my Christian experience that was in some way defective? I don’t think so. While I certainly can see how someone might — by taking a small sample size of my life — conclude that the blame for my faithlessness rests solely on my shoulders, but my life, when taken as a whole, reflects that I was one who truly believed in God, Jesus, and the teachings of the Bible. Yet, I am an atheist. While I doubt I will ever fully understand why I cannot be like others, I have come to a few conclusions about the trajectory of my life and how I arrived at where I am today.

I have always valued intellectual pursuit. While I spent many years bouncing from wall to wall within the Evangelical box, even within these constraints I diligently sought to know the truth. This is why I left the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church movement in the late 1980s. It is also why I became a Calvinist and then later abandoned Calvinism as I embraced more of a works-oriented social gospel. While many of my former colleagues in the ministry have never deviated from the theology they were taught at Midwestern Baptist College and other Evangelical institutions, I was unwilling to accept certain beliefs as “truth” just because it was the official doctrine of Midwestern or whatever group I was a part of. Years ago, I attended one of the monthly meetings of the Buckeye Independent Baptist Fellowship (BIBF). It was a well-attended meeting, and every preacher had on the uniform — suit and tie. Not I. I wore an ivory-colored sweater. The reason I remember this is because the host of the meeting pointed out the fact that I was wearing a sweater. He found my attire amusing, yet he thought that it was wonderful that I was unwilling to follow the herd’s dress code. Of course, I spent the remainder of the day having corncob in their ass preachers look at me as some sort of liberal compromiser. Closer friends in attendance ribbed me about dressing so casually. I think this story accurately reflects how I viewed life then and still view it today. Unwilling to acquiesce to tribal demands, I forged my own path. Friends and colleagues viewed me as double-minded, whereas all I was trying to do is be honest and follow the path wherever it led. I am, today, still on this path. Who knows where I might yet end up? 🙂

I have never been a go-along-with-the-crowd type of person. Even though I was a committed Fundamentalist, I didn’t do something just because big-name preacher so and so did. As any observer of Evangelical Christianity can tell you, there has been a tremendous amount of upheaval over the past fifty years. Up until the 1970s, the 1950s style of doing church was considered the Evangelical way of doing things. Today? It is hard to find a church that still does things — as IFB preachers call it — the “old-fashioned” way — old-fashioned meaning “the way things were done in the days of Ozzie and Harriet.” While my style of ministry and preaching changed somewhat over the years, I made these changes, most often, for pragmatic reasons. I firmly believed that churches and preachers must adapt their methodologies to the times. While bus ministries and door-to-door evangelism once yielded great numerical growth, these methods no longer work — regardless of what head-in-the-sand IFB preachers might tell you. Churches unwilling to adapt only hurt themselves, leading to attendance decline and closures.

Even as an atheist, I am resistant to following the herd. The atheist “movement” and Evangelicalism have more than a few things in common. In Evangelicalism, certain preachers are revered and considered mountaintop dispensers of wisdom and knowledge. So it is with atheists. All one has to do is look at the speaker lineup for atheist and humanist conferences. Instead of embracing the diversity of the atheist community, these conferences often become little more than the atheist version of star-powered award shows. And I get it. People are not going to fly or drive hundreds of miles to hear atheist nobodies. As with Evangelicals, many atheists seem to value the pronouncements of big-name speakers and writers over those of everyday, run-of-the-mill, garden-variety atheists. As with Evangelicals, the only way to get in the game is to play by the rules. If you are unwilling to play by the rules, you can expect to not be invited to play the game. I have accepted that this is the way things are. This is the price I pay for maintaining freedom and autonomy. A price, by the way, I am more than happy to pay.

As many of you know, I am working ever-so-slowly on a book. I think the book will be something that doubting Evangelicals and Evangelicals-turned-atheists will find helpful. As with all writers, I hope that my book will become a New York Times bestseller. One way to sell a lot of books is to get well-known atheists to write endorsements. I decided not to do this. While I know a handful of well-known atheists, most of my involvement with atheists comes through this blog and social media. I remain, to this day, a blue-collar laborer, unknown, but happy to have an opportunity to lend my small voice to the collective objection to evangelical Christianity. Knowing that I will never be asked to join the A-Team, I content myself with helping people break free of Evangelicalism’s pernicious grasp. While it would be fun and somewhat rewarding to speak to thousands of like-minded atheists, such an experience pales in comparison to helping people find their way out of the Fundamentalist maze.

I have said all of the above to provide some context for my answer to the question, why can’t I be like everyone else? I can’t be like everyone else because I am me. That is the simplest explanation. I am who I am and my life is what it is. I value honesty over conformity and independence over sameness. These values have only gotten stronger now that I am an atheist. No longer burdened by Evangelicalism’s written and unwritten code of acceptable belief and practice, I am free to be whoever, and whatever I want to be. I recognize that living my life this way might result in me not being accepted by the larger atheist community. I know there are pro-life atheists and Republican atheists who understand what I am talking about. Conformity — even among atheists — is often demanded if one wants to join a particular club. This is why atheism is so fractured. Proponents of various atheistic groups — Atheism+, mythicism, social justice, feminism, and the destruction of all religion — demand fidelity to that group’s doctrines. They are, in many ways, not much different from Fundamentalists, with their rigid codes of belief and conduct. Many atheists have a need to be part of something larger, so they are willing to surrender their intellectual autonomy to be a part of a group. I am unwilling to do so, and this is why, in the end, I cannot be like everyone else.

I am more than willing to work with atheist groups and individual atheists when their causes align with mine. However, as I learned from my battles with the proponents of Atheism+, it is all or nothing for many atheists. Either you accept the 10 Commandments of that group’s dogma or they will have nothing to do with you. This is why more than a few atheists have questioned my atheism. If I dare write something that runs afoul of the received atheist faith, as with Evangelicals, my commitment to atheism and humanism is questioned. If I suggest something that gives the hint of accommodationism, I am accused of promoting religion. I have received countless emails from atheists over the years who object to something I have written. If I say I am agnostic on the God question, the defenders of true atheism® are sure to let me know that they think I am a hypocrite and have some sort of religious hangover. While these letters used to bother me, I now understand that Fundamentalist thinking can be found in every group. There is nothing I can do about this. I am committed to being open and honest about my life and I am committed to passionately writing about my beliefs and worldview. If these things do not meet the criteria for acceptance into the atheist college of cardinals, so be it. I value personal freedom and intellectual integrity far more than I do membership in any group. If this limits me in some way, I am willing to accept that this is the price I must pay for being true to self. These traits will be valued by many, and that is enough satisfaction for me to continue preaching the gospel of godlessness.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 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.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Memo to Christians: Atheists Really Don’t Care if You Put “God Bless America” Signs on Private Property

wall of separation of church and state

Several years ago, CHARISMA reported:

An atheist organization targeted a small-town post office to demand they remove their “God Bless America” banner, but that’s not the whole story.

“Employees are free to ask God to bless America all they want on their own time. The problem comes when they ask their government employer to endorse their personal religious beliefs by plastering them on the side of the federal building,” Freedom From Religion Foundation’s Madeline Ziegler said of their campaign.

Though the Pittsburg, Kansas, post office complied with the atheist organization’s demands, residents took Ziegler’s words to heart.

According to The Morning Sun, a local fireworks shop printed 1,500 yard signs and banners, which residents plastered across the city.

“Obviously, we’re among the majority that didn’t agree with the decision to take the sign down (at the post office),” Jason Marietta, retail sales director, told The Morning Sun.

Instead of one big sign at the post office, Pittsburg  now has 1,500 across the town, marking the area for God.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation rightly objected to a God Bless America sign adorning the Pittsburg, Kansas post office. Post offices are government buildings staffed by government employees, and as such, they are not permitted to promote religion. It is time for Christians to understand that the wall between church and state defined in the Establishment Clause of the Constitution forbids government from endorsing Christianity. This is the law. Don’t like the law? Work to change it. The fact that violations of church and state have gone unnoticed for years doesn’t mean they are in some inexplicable way legal. Just because drivers routinely break the speed limit and don’t get caught doesn’t mean that speed laws are invalid.

Supposedly, U.S. congressmen know the Constitution, so it is baffling to hear U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kansas) say:

It is outrageous that some would aim to divide a community over a banner that has been proudly displayed since Sept. 11, 2001. I commend the Pittsburg community for rejecting this decision and I stand with them. The Constitution guarantees a right to freedom of religion, not freedom from religion. This banner is not only an expression of faith, but of love for country.

Expressions of patriotism, faith, and community should be welcome in our society and I have contacted USPS officials to express my concerns about their decision and to request their reconsideration. If the local post office branch is unwilling to display the banner, then I would be proud to hang it at my own office in Pittsburg.

and U.S. Representative Lynn Jenkins (R-2nd District Kansas) say:

This banner has been proudly displayed in the Pittsburg community for nearly 15 years. Should all the owners (who bought the banner) agree my office would be a fitting place to move it to, I would be honored to hang it outside of my office on Broadway Street. Since the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, this banner has been a patriotic symbol in the Pittsburg community and I would be proud to continue this great tradition.

Since these Kansas government officials and many of the residents of Pittsburg, Kansas seem to lack basic reading skills and have never taken a civics or American government class (or maybe they slept through the class), let me illustrate the issue at hand with pictures:

pittsburg kansas post office
This is the Pittsburg, Kansas Post Office, owned and operated by the U.S. Government. It is illegal to hang sectarian or religious banners on this building.
handing out god bless america signs pittsburg kansas
This is a private citizen handing out God Bless America signs to be displayed on private property. This is legal.
jakes fireworks god bless america sign
This is a God Bless America sign hanging inside Jake’s Fireworks, a private Pittsburg, Kansas business. This is legal.
god bless america sign on pittsburg kansas post office
The former is legal, the latter is illegal, thus the sign on the Post Office has to come down.

Atheists do not care in the least what signs people put on private property. Woo! Hoo! Pittsburg Christians put up 1,500 God bless America signs on private property. I don’t know of one atheist who objects to this. In fact, I suspect groups like the Freedom From Religion FoundationAmerican AtheistsAmericans United for Separation of Church and State, American Humanist Association, and the ACLU would oppose any attempts to restrict the free exercise of religion on private property. What these groups and the atheists and Christians who support them object to is the breaching of the wall of separation of church and state. The Pittsburg post office violated the law and this is the ONLY reason the sign had to come to down.

I wonder what offended Pittsburg Christians would do if these signs were hanging over the local post office:

allah bless america
baphomet bless america

I have no doubt Christians in Pittsburg would demand the immediate removal of these signs. Representative Jenkins and Senator Moran would issue press releases calling for the swift removal of these anti-American, anti-Christian signs. There is one word for such behavior, HYPOCRISY. If it is okay for a Christian sign to hang over the post office, then it should be okay for the signs of other religions to hang there too. If there is no separation of church and state, then shouldn’t any and every religion have the right to adorn government buildings with their signs?

The real issue is that Christians wrongly think that their religion deserves preference and special treatment. Decades of illegal government endorsements of Christianity are now being called into question. Christians do not like being treated in the same manner as adherents of other religions. Christians, due to a poor understanding of American history and the U.S. Constitution, think that they should be permitted to adorn public buildings and lands with sectarian signs and crèches (along with opening sessions of government with Christian prayers). It is time for Christians to realize that their religion is no longer the tail that wags the dog. The United States is a secular state, and the sooner Christians realize this the better. The separation of church and state protects not only atheists and non-Christians from government encroachment, but it also protects Christians. It is this wall of separation that protects all Americans from the theocratic tendencies of many of the world’s religions. History is clear: once the wall between church and state is breached, freedoms are lost and people die. We dare not trust any religious sect, including the fine Christians of Pittsburg, Kansas, with the keys to our republic. Too much is at stake to let even an innocuous act such as hanging a God Bless America banner on a government building to go unchallenged. Our future freedom depends on us beating back every sectarian attempt to scale the wall of separation between church and state.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 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.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Dear Evangelical Bible Smugglers and Proselytizers: Don’t Do the Crime, if You Can’t do the Time

tony baretta
Tony Baretta says, Don’t Do the Crime if You Can’t Do the Time

Many Evangelicals have a sense of entitlement. Believing that their God is the one true God, and that their religion is the one true religion, Evangelicals think they have a right to spread their beliefs to the ends of the earth. Many Evangelicals are also flag-waving, right-wing nationalists who believe the United States is a city set on a hill, shining forth the light of Christianity and democracy. Package these things together and what you have are insufferable people who arrogantly think that their beliefs and ideologies are truth and all other beliefs and ideologies are false.

With the above facts in mind, it should come as no surprise that Evangelicals are proselytizers, not only for their brand of Christianity, but also for right-wing American nationalism. As people of THE Book, Evangelicals believe they have been commanded by God to take their peculiar version of the Christian gospel to every tribe, nation, and tongue. In some corners of Evangelicalism, people believe that the gospel must be preached to the whole world before Jesus can return to earth. This is why Evangelicals are known for their missionary efforts. Thousands of missionaries have spread across the globe hoping to win the lost to Jesus. While most of the missionaries serve in countries that already have established Christian sects such as Roman Catholicism, Evangelicals view non-Evangelical Christians as targets for evangelization. Their goal is not to make everyone Christian as much as it is to convert people to their brand of Christianity.

Proselytizing Evangelicals think that every nation should have the same laws and regulations as the United States. These zealots for Jesus travel to other countries, often smuggling in Bibles and tracts, with the express purpose of preaching the gospel to those they deem lost and in need of salvation. If a country’s laws prohibit such things, too bad, the Evangelical says. I’m on a mission for Jesus and his laws are above any earthly laws. Cultural sensitivity be damned, all that matters is spreading the good news of the Evangelical gospel to the ends of the earth.

Every so often, proselytizing Evangelicals are arrested for breaking the laws of the countries they have invaded for Jesus. Most often, these countries are non-Christian, Hindu, or Muslim, nations that have strict laws prohibiting proselytizing. These countries often have laws that prohibit conversion to another religion. In some instances, Evangelicals find themselves behind bars in countries such as North Korea that prohibit religious worship.

When news of their arrests reaches the United States, Evangelicals and their supporters in government quickly claim that the people arrested are being persecuted for their faith. Demands are made for their immediate release. Few Evangelicals seem to understand the idea behind the cliché When in Rome, do as the Romans do. Sovereign states have a right to have their own laws, and it is the height of American arrogance to demand that other countries play by our rules. Yes, North Korea is a totalitarian communist state, but they are an autonomous state, and those traveling within its borders are expected to obey the law. The same can be said for China, India, and Cuba.

Evangelicals arrested for proselytizing are not being persecuted for their faith. To quote the famous fictional detective Tony Baretta, Don’t do the crime, if you can’t do the time. While their arrests are regrettable, their real crime is stupidity. Blinded by certainty and arrogance, Evangelicals think they can break laws and not be held accountable. The issue is not the justness of such laws. Every nation-state, including the United States, has unjust laws. What I find interesting is that many Evangelicals, thinking the United States is a Christian nation, reject the notion of separation of church and state. Yet, they say they are being persecuted for their faith when arrested in countries that don’t have separation of church and state. Since many Evangelicals want a theocracy, shouldn’t other countries have the right to have a different type of God rule? And if atheism is a religion, as many Evangelicals say it is (and it is not), shouldn’t atheistic states have a right to bar all non-theistic religions? Shouldn’t these countries be permitted to govern themselves according to their own religious beliefs? Shouldn’t they have the right to ban Christianity and Christian law, just as many American Evangelicals want to ban Islam and sharia law?

I have no sympathies for American Evangelicals who are arrested for breaking the laws of sovereign states. If they are found guilty and either incarcerated or executed, their punishment is not persecution. As long as Evangelicals believe that God’s law supersedes human law, then they are going to find themselves in legal trouble, not only in foreign countries, but here in the United States. Those who seized a government building in Oregon were, to the man, Christian. They and their supporters believe they are being persecuted, when in fact they are being prosecuted. Break the law and you will likely be arrested, prosecuted, and punished. This is the way it works in any nation that has laws (regardless of the rightness or morality of these laws).

If proselytizing Evangelicals arrested for their “faith” want to be true to their Christian beliefs, they should quietly and resolutely bear whatever punishment comes their way. Isn’t this what the Apostle Paul did? And as with Paul, if God wants to free “persecuted” Evangelicals, he has all the power necessary to do so. But what do incarcerated American Evangelicals do? They turn to the U.S. government for help, demanding the State Department get them out of prison. Why not just pray and wait on God?

There is real persecution going on in the world. Christians are being executed by ISIS and Boko Haram just because they have the wrong faith. I support our government’s efforts to stop such barbaric and senseless killing. But, this is not the same as what imprisoned Evangelicals proselytizers are facing. The former, in most instances, are not trying to force their faith on others. The latter evangelize non-Evangelicals with full knowledge that they are breaking the law. Their punishment is the direct consequence of their actions.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 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.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Dear Evangelical, Please Be Honest With Unbelievers

full disclosure
Graphic by Chris Slane

Evangelicals like to tell anyone who will listen that they are truth-seekers; that they are not ashamed of the gospel of Christ. But is this really true?

I contend that many Christian zealots have a hard time admitting what they really believe. Rarely, when speaking with non-Christians, do they give a full disclosure of their beliefs. Instead, they speak of the transformative powers of their religion and how Jesus changed their lives. They speak of the fruit and benefit of being a Christian. All this is well and good, but shouldn’t Christians tell the whole story when sharing with someone the wonders of Christianity? Surely they want a person to enter into the Christian religion with their eyes wide open, right?

The truth is just the opposite. Most evangelism methods teach people to focus on the gospel, to focus on Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. When a non-Christian asks questions that are not on-point, they are told to direct the person back to the main message of the forgiveness of sins and salvation in Jesus Christ. Questions and doubts are better left to another day after the person has become a Christian.

This seems to me like a car salesman selling someone a car without letting them look under the hood. The salesman extols the beauty and craftsmanship of the exterior without ever disclosing that the motor is missing. This is the way many people feel a year or so after they have been saved/converted/born again.

These new converts entered Christianity with a superficial knowledge of what it is that Christians really believe. They were told the bare minimum necessary to get them into the baptismal and church pew. If we can just get the non-Christians saved and in the church, we can then teach (indoctrinate) them the rest of the story, Christians think to themselves. No need to muddy the waters with talk about abortion, homosexuality, tithing, or any of the sundry other beliefs that Christians hold dear. All the sinner needs to know is that Heaven is real, Hell is hot, death is certain, and the forgiveness of sin is but a prayer away.

This way of evangelizing is rooted in the notion that the number of souls saved and the number of people attending church are the standard for determining success. By this standard, Jesus was an overwhelming failure. When the disciples in Jerusalem gathered in the upper room they numbered 120. Not much of a crowd after 3 years of preaching, healing the sick, and raising the dead.

Far too many Evangelical churches and pastors think the answer to reaching the masses is catchy clichés and slick advertising. If we can just get non-Christians to pay attention to us, Evangelical pastors think, then they will come to our store and check us out.  And granted, humans are quite gullible and subject to being easily swayed by flashy colors and promises beyond their wildest dreams. As much as we would like to think otherwise, advertising works. We see or hear an ad and the message becomes fixed in our minds. Sometimes it is very subtle. Now that millions of homes have DVRs and viewers are skipping advertisements, advertisers have taken to using in-show product placement. The next time you watch a TV show, look carefully for the product placements. Look behind the scene. The advertisements are everywhere.

Apple is a master at the product placement game. Virtually every TV show has an Apple computer, tablet, or iPhone prominently displayed. This annoys me to no end. I know that only a small percentage of homes actually have an Apple computer and that we are a Windows-based PC culture, yet if I didn’t know that, I would assume every home in America had an Apple computer.

Apple wants consumers to buy into their myth: that owning an Apple product is more than just owning a new piece of hardware. It is an “experience”  Forget the price. Forget everything that might be negative about the product and focus on the experience. (Full disclosure: I own an iPad Pro and iPhone.)

The bottom line is that corporations want consumers to buy their products and they use slick advertising to induce us to purchase their wares. They never mention what their product won’t do.  They want consumers to buy into the advertising hype without looking too closely at the negative aspects of their product. After all, they are well aware that they must convince consumers to want what they don’t need.

If corporations gave full disclosures with every product they sell, their sales would plummet. They know they must promote the positive and hide the negative in order to continue to sell products. So it is with Evangelical Christianity.

A belief system is far more important than buying a consumer product. A belief system is meant to permeate itself throughout a person’s life. Whether we say we are a Christian, Buddhist, Taoist, Muslim, Pantheist, Mormon, or Humanist, we should know why we are labeling ourselves in this manner. Beliefs affect how we view the world and each other. They also determine what things we value and consider important.

I deconverted almost fourteen years ago. Since then, several people I know have come out in a big way and declared themselves to be atheists, only to, a few months or years later, return to the Christian religion. The reasons for their double-mindedness are many, but the key issue is that these people did not carefully consider what it means to be an atheist. Perhaps they were just angry at God or angry at their church or pastor and in a moment they said, FINE! I reject God and I am now an atheist!  Once the anger subsided, they realized that their decision to call themselves atheists was a decision based on emotion and not fact.

Many Evangelicals come into the Christian church in similar fashion. Trouble comes into their lives: marriage problems, family problems, financial reversals, health problems, addictions, mental distress, or emptiness. They are looking for answers, meaning, purpose, and deliverance. They want their lives to be different.

And into their need steps a Christian preaching a minimalist message of a Jesus who will fix what ails you. Just, let Go and let God, people are told. Preachers and evangelizers tell them just enough to get them inside the front door of the church house. A new convert is made, glory to God!

Once inside the church,  they are then, bit by bit, exposed to the “rest” of the Christian belief system. Some new converts are appalled once they hear, as Paul Harvey would say, the rest of the story. They might say to themselves, I wish they had told me these things BEFORE I became a Christian. Others, desiring the communal aspects of belonging to a group, quickly become cafeteria Christians, believing what they want to believe and rejecting that which they find offensive.

Over time, the communal aspects of Christianity often lose their power. The new and the not-so-new converts start to see that Evangelicals aren’t any different from non-Christians. They come to understand, that for all their talk of change and newness of life, Evangelicals are quite like the rest of the human race.

Evangelicals lie, cheat, kill, steal, and commit acts their Bible says are sins at the same frequency and level non-Christians do. Simply put, they are just like everyone else (and smart is the Christian who understands this).

The pews of Christian churches are filled with people with questions and doubts about what their pastors call “truth.” Their skepticism and dubiety are never given a voice because doing so would open them up to scrutiny or charges of lacking faith. Evangelical churches and pastors demand fidelity to their teachings, and outliers or non-conformists are looked down upon, and in some cases, kicked out of the church. In many churches, it is: believe this or leave.

The ranks of atheists, agnostics, and nones are growing due to the fact that people are asking questions that they find no answers for within the Christian church. As their questions and doubts grow, so does their disaffection and estrangement from the church. Having become a Christian with a bare minimum of knowledge and understanding, they have little or no ability to find answers to their doubts or questions. Often their pastors are no help because the only answers they have are pat, superficial, proof-texts from the Bible. If all else fails, doubters are reminded that the Devil uses doubt to lead Christians astray. The antidote for doubt is faith and resting on the promises found in the Bible.

These tactics may have worked years ago, but not today. People have questions and they want answers. Real answers. Saying, God says or the Bible says, is not sufficient. As Christians listen to more and more preaching, they start to ask themselves, do I believe this? As they listen to the political and social pronouncements from the pulpit they ask, does this accurately reflect my worldview? Telling such doubters to just “faith it” will surely drive many of them into the arms of humanists, atheists, and secularists like myself.

Questioning often leads these Evangelicals to look for answers outside the church. They start reading books or searching the internet. They stumble upon blogs such as this one. They say to themselves, here’s someone who understands where we are in our lives. He understands our doubts and questions, and so do the people who comment on his posts. They might even email me or leave a comment asking for help. They find out that questions and doubts are okay, and that the most important thing is following the path of life wherever it leads.

When doubters and questioners write me, I do not try to convert them to atheism. I encourage them to read and study, offering the titles of a few books that might be a help.  I encourage them to seek out answers to their questions and doubts. Above all, I gently ask them to walk the path of life with honesty and integrity. If they will do this, I tell them, they will end up exactly where they need to be.

I try to give people full disclosure when I talk about my own life and my journey from Evangelicalism to atheism. I do not hide the negative aspects of becoming an atheist. It is important that doubters have full knowledge before they choose to number themselves among the godless. (Please see Count the Cost Before You Say I Am an Atheist)

I wish Christians would do the same. Instead of using shallow, superficial evangelism methods, Evangelicals should be honest about what means to profess faith and Christ and be a part of a Christian church. Evangelicals need to stop hiding the unsavory or harsh aspects of Christianity and the Bible. Instead, prospective Christians should be encouraged to study the history of Christianity before deciding to become Christians. Evangelical churches and pastors should make sure prospective converts are fully informed about what it means to follow Jesus, including the social and cultural prohibitions.

Christian churches are hemorrhaging people because they have failed to do this. Surely, it is preferable to have fewer, but better-informed converts, than to have pews filled with people whose knowledge of Christianity wouldn’t fill a 3×5 card.

Ignorance is rife within the Christian church. The average Christian couldn’t defend his or her beliefs if their lives depended on it. All they know is this: Jesus saved Me! Praise Jesus, when is the next fellowship dinner? Quote the Ten Commandments? Summarize the Sermon on the Mount? Defend the Trinitarian teaching on God? Give a cogent, complete defense of how a person is saved?  Not a chance.

The truth is most Christians rarely read the Bible. Their knowledge of Christianity comes from what the pastor says during his sermons.  I long ago concluded that for many Christians, their belief system is whatever their pastor believes. They live in blissful ignorance of what the Bible actually says and what the Evangelical church actually believes.

If Christian churches want to stem the tide of disaffection and departure, they must begin telling the truth. All the truth, not just a sanitized version to sell people on the notion of what Jesus can do for them.

Christianity is doing a good job making people atheists. Until they get serious about disclosing the good, bad, and ugly of the Christian faith, they will continue to make people the twofold children of Hell.

To those churches and pastors who love to blame evolutionists, secularists, and atheists for their numerical decline and loss of power, I say this: don’t blame us. It is your own fault for thinking you could continue to hoodwink people into believing without knowing. In this modern era of science, such an approach no longer works. If you want people to treat Christianity seriously, and you want people to consider joining your club, then you owe it to prospective converts to tell them the whole truth about the Christian religion. If you refuse to do this, the only blame for the empty pews rests with you.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 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.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Know-it-all Christians Write to No-Nothing Bruce Gerencser

know it all

If there is one thing that fifteen years of blogging has taught me, it is that many Evangelicals are know-it-alls. Armed with a perfect Bible and indwelt by the Holy Spirit, these super-saints have life figured out. They KNOW they are right and they KNOW non-Christians wrong. And based on having the ability to discern the thoughts and motivations of others, they stand in judgment over those who have left the Christian faith.

Take Britta, a local Charismatic pastor’s daughter (Bethel Church in Defiance). Several years ago, Britta stopped by and left a comment that revealed she knew exactly what was wrong with Bruce Gerencser, the pastor-turned-atheist. What follows is her comment and my response (indented and italicized):

All grammar and spelling errors in the original.

Hi Bruce – I think I see how you ended up here. I’ve not read all of your posts, but it seems that your path is similar to a lot of folks: entrenched in some legalistic sect (borderline cults, really), then fleeing from that absurd burden you are comforted by those espousing that “the well is poisoned” (liberals of the old mainline groups), until finally you have to ditch it all. I can’t say I blame you too much – it’s exhausting to be tossed about on every wave.

Britta read all of about fifteen posts on this site. Based on these posts, she was quickly able to discern what I was really all about. This is truly amazing, I must say. Many Christians have a magical gift of being able to pass judgment on most anybody, using the slimmest of information. Of course, this is the opposite of what the Bible teaches. Proverbs 18:13 states: Answering before listening is both stupid and rude. A Christian should never make any judgment before hearing (reading) the whole story.

But I don’t believe that you’re an athiest. Sure, you say you don’t believe in the God of the Bible, but you do believe in a god. You. Perfectly reasonable, actually. There is no other choice. I know that know other god is going to show up and pronounce himself as such — and you know it, too, despite your protestations — and so you get to stay god of your world. Tah-dah! (Atheism is really disingenuous.)

Britta evidently thinks that there is no such thing as an atheist. All people either believe in the Christian God or they are their own God. Atheists need not apply.

No matter how many times Christians like Britta assert that there is no such thing as an atheist — here we are. And our numbers are growing. Pretending something doesn’t exist doesn’t make it so.

If by God, Britta means the person in control, then yes, I am my own God. It is my life, who else would be in control of it but me?

Christians are no different. Oh, they “say” God is in control of their lives, but they, for the most part, don’t live any differently from atheists. Are Christians morally superior to atheists? The evidence suggests they are not. Day in and day out, Christians and atheists alike live their lives the best they know how. Christians are every bit as much the “God” of their world as is the atheist (contrary to what the Bible says). Christians speak about a God who is in control of everything, but then turn around and live their lives as if this God is not in control at all (except for an occasional winning touchdown or election win).

Maybe I’m being too harsh. Perhaps, despite your own time in the pulpit, you never understood the simplicity of grace. It really is foolishness to the perishing, but life to those being saved, so here ’tis, for good measure:

Britta finally gets down to what she really thinks about my life: despite fifty years in the Christian church and twenty-five years in the pastorate, I never really understood the simplicity of grace.

Of course, the unstated point here is that Britta understands what I do not. She proves her point by loosely quoting a Bible verse. It is all foolishness to me because I am perishing (lost, headed for Hell). It is life to her because she is one of the saved (or one that is being saved).

You (and me and all of us) are not perfect. A God worth worshiping IS perfect. Perfection rightly demands perfection, and since none of us can attain perfection, God offered himself in our place to be that perfection. Nothing we do merits his gift. All we have to do is accept it — that is, bend a knee and admit that we are lost without God and his gift of grace.

Britta and I agree on one thing: none of us is perfect. However, Britta’s comment betrays an arrogance found among many Christians. While their behavior may not be perfect, they arrogantly think that their interpretation of the Bible is.

Britta asserts that God is perfect. What evidence does she have for her claim? The Bible? Surely not. By examining how God reveals himself through the Bible, we humans can quickly discern that God is far from perfect.  In fact, God is quite capricious. He even changes his mind. I would think a perfect deity would get it right the first time. God fucked it up from the start. He couldn’t even get creation right.

Evidently Britta has not read the book of James. James contradicts Britta’s assertion that salvation is a free gift and that all we have to do is receive it. James says that faith without works is dead. So which is it? Faith alone? Faith plus works?

(And I should add that Britta does a poor job presenting the Christian gospel. Her presentation is incomplete, to say the least.)

It’s an easy burden — but the crank legalist won’t allow it, neither will an ersatz intellectual grasp it. I’m sorry both camps have been so hard on you. (Really, I am sorry – no snark.) It takes the Spirit of God to discern things of the spirit. I’ll pray that God will open His Word to you.

Britta betrays the true nature of much of modern Christianity. It is nothing more than good, old-fashioned Gnosticism. You see, a person can’t discern the Bible and the things of the Spirit unless the Spirit of God gives them the ability to do so. On one hand, people are told they must repent and believe the gospel, but on the other hand they are told they can’t even discern what God wants unless God gives them the ability to do so.

Britta thinks she has a special, inside track with God. She is praying that God will open up the Bible to me. What is God going to show me that I haven’t already seen?  Is there some secret message, some special code that has somehow eluded me all these years? How will I know if God opens up the Bible to me? Will I start speaking Aramaic Greek?

I wish you the best, sir…
Britta

What if “best” is where I am now? Does Britta genuinely wish me the best? Of course not. There is no “best” without Jesus (or Britta’s version of Jesus).

Next up is a comment from a young Christian named Jason. Jason commented on a post I wrote about the Bible teaching different plans of salvation. Here’s what he had to say:

I have no doubt that there are “Christians” that don’t understand a lot. Many of them, as you say, may be inclined to blindly follow. However, I don’t agree that this is true of most or any “real” Christians. Those actively reading God’s word and being involved in church groups would not follow these categories. The “Christians” you are referring to in these statements are the ones who are simply professing Christians.

Right away Jason lets me know that there are two types of Christians: professing Christians and REAL Christians. Of course, Jason is a REAL Christian. I find it interesting that every Christian who takes this approach always thinks he or she is one of the REAL Christians. Calvinists do the same. I have never met a Calvinist who didn’t say that he or she was one of the elect. Seems quite self-serving, if you ask me.

About this statement:

“Christians are confused about what salvation is. Of course this is understandable because the Bible teaches many different plans of salvation.”

I don’t quite understand what you mean by the Bible teaches many different plans of salvation. It says clearly that Jesus is the only way to God the Father in John 14:6 “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father but through Me’”. The Bible also explains in Romans 5:8 that Jesus did (sic) in our place and wiped our sin clean “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” It’s beyond me what other kind of “plan of salvation” could be.

Jason is perplexed by my statement that the Bible teaches many plans of salvation. I know that Jason has been “taught” that there is only one plan of salvation, but he might want to read the Good Book again.

In the Old Testament, how were people saved? By keeping the law.

In the New Testament, how were people saved? Paul said by faith. James said by faith and works. In Acts the early church concluded that certain works were required for Gentiles to be saved.

There are thousands of Christian sects. Each sect has its own take on salvation. Is it by faith alone? Is it by faith and works? Is it by baptism for the remission of sins? Must a person speak in tongues as evidence of salvation? Must a person persevere to the end to be saved?

Supposedly, the salvation message is so simple that even a child can understand it. If this is so, why is there so much confusion in Christianity over what is required for a person to be saved? If, as Britta says above, the Holy Spirit gives discernment, why is there so much confusion? Maybe the Holy Spirit needs to be relieved of his duties. Perhaps God should do away with the Bible and put out a Salvation FAQ. In the FAQ God should state very clearly his demands, using as few words as possible. Surely God wants everyone to know the simple gospel message, right? Oh wait, no he doesn’t, since he created some people so he could damn them, and he even makes some people spiritually deaf so they will not hear the gospel. What kind of God says to a deaf man, HEAR?

I understand that you, as a former pastor, may have been faced with many people that fell under the categories listed, but I reassure you that Christians, like myself, who, really in their hearts believe that Jesus is their savior and make that effort to learn more about Him, don’t really fit the description.

Jason wants me to know that he is not like other Christians. He is a sincere Christian®. He is a devoted Christian. He really, really believes in his heart and he makes an effort to know more about Jesus — not like those other “not real” Christians.

I am sure Jason means well. I have no doubt he sincerely believes. That said, my only advice to him is that he needs to read as many books as possible that challenge the version of Christianity he thinks is the “way, truth, and life.” Carefully read the Bible. Forget what you have been taught. What if Paul, Peter, and James really taught three different plans of salvation? What if there really are multiple Gods in the Old Testament? Instead of interpreting everything through a Trinitarian Protestant lens, let the Biblical author and text speak for itself.  When the Bible says “Let US make man in our image” don’t assume US means the Trinitarian Protestant God. Maybe it means multiple Gods. Polytheism can be found all over the Old Testament if readers will take off their Trinitarian blinders.

All Evangelicals thinks that their beliefs are right and that their God is the true God. All other Gods are false Gods. Their plan of salvation is the one that will assure them a room in God’s Heavenly Motel Six, and their interpretation of the Bible is, without a doubt, exactly as God meant it to be. Uncertainty and doubt are the tools of Satan, so through life they plod, armed with certainty, assured that their beliefs are superior to all others. Until they can at least entertain the possibility of being wrong, there is no hope for them.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 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.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Bruce Gerencser