Evangelicalism

Rebecca Davis Worried About Her Lustful Four-Year-Old Ogling A Woman Wearing a Bikini

hannah davis sports illustrated
Hannah Davis, 2015 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Model

Repost from 2015. Edited, updated, and corrected.

Rebecca Davis works for the American Family Association (AFA). She is the assistant editor of The Stand, the official whine and outrage newsletter of the AFA. Several years ago, she wrote an eye-opening article about her 4-year-old’s propensity to lust after women in bathing suits and lingerie. While she denies that she is saying her little boy lusts, her article suggests otherwise (link no longer active):

It is almost swimsuit season. There are a number of adjectives I could use to describe my disdain for this time of year. Itsy-bitsy and teeny-weeny are two of them.

No, I’m not a prude, and no, I’m not bitter because I don’t have the perfect figure. I have never been Ms. Skinny Mini, and after having two babies and holding on to an extra 10 pounds each time, I probably never will be. But that’s not really the reason I dread swimsuit season.

Actually, summer is one of my favorite times of year. I enjoy taking our son to the pool. He begs year-round to go the beach.

But the older he gets, the more difficult it becomes to take him to the beach … to the grocery story, to the mall, even to church at times. His eyes are constantly surveying his surroundings, and many times he sees entirely too much.

Although he is only four years old, his little mind is wired to be visual. The dominant perceptual sense in men is vision. God made males that way for a reason, and I’m thankful he did.

There are a number of studies and findings that conclude male brains are more visually stimulated than the female brain. It’s a fact that my son’s actions prove true, even at such a young age.

For example, from the time he was about two years old, if we were in a store and simply walked past the lingerie section, he would point and say “Mama.” Now, it’s all I can do to keep his eyes from innocently zoning in on the window displays when we walk rather hurriedly past Victoria’s Secret.

For several months now, I have been receiving issues of Glamour magazine in the mail. I have no idea why. Somehow I became a subscriber to the magazine. (I have tried to cancel my unwanted subscription but that’s another story.) An issue came in the mail; I accidently left it facedown on the counter before putting it in the garbage can. I was in the kitchen cooking and noticed my son sitting at the counter staring at a scantily clad woman on the back cover. My heart sank.

Then it wasn’t long after that he was with me in a beauty-supply store. I was down on my knees examining some shampoo (for color-treated hair, I admit) when my son picked up a small promotional card off the nearby shelf, handed it to me, and said, “Mama, look!” The card pictured an outstretched woman in a seductive pose wearing a skimpy swimsuit. Again, my heart sank.

Let me make a very clear disclaimer at this point. My son is only four years old. In no way am I implying that his observations are sexual in nature. They are not. His reactions are natural – not lustful – responses to the way his brain is wired.

I use the above examples to show just how powerful a female’s attire can be over males of all ages.

When my son sees a woman wearing clothes that barely cover her body, be it in a picture or in person, he always asks, “Mama, why are they dressed that way?”

I’m thankful for his questions; they make for good teachable moments. I’m thankful that seeing women dressed immodestly is not the norm for him right now. I want it to stay that way, but the reality is it won’t.

So, as his mother, how can I protect him? How can I teach him to channel the wirings of his little brain through a biblical worldview? How can I keep his mind, heart and body pure for his future wife, if the Lord wills him to marry one day? More than that, how can I encourage him to live a daily life of purity out of love and honor for God?

Honestly, I don’t have the answers to all these questions. I am learning that parenting is a day-by-day journey. Some days I do it right; some days I do it wrong. But thankfully God is a God of grace and mercy.

One thing I do know is that, with my husband, we can make an extra effort to keep our son’s eyes from seeing the immodest pattern of this world by monitoring what he watches, changing the channel if need be, diverting his attention elsewhere when in public, and having open and honest dialogue with him when he does have questions about what he sees. Our aim is to always do so out of honor, never out of shame.

We can also show him the importance of modesty by the way I dress and by the way we dress his little sister.

And I can encourage you, ladies, to be intentional about what you wear (or don’t wear) to the beach or pool this summer.

If nothing else, be mindful of your appearance for the sake of my son … your son or someone else’s son.  Actually, keep all men in mind! You may have no idea what you do to them – and to yourself – when you wear a bikini or expose yourself in other ways…

In the past, I have detailed how women in Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) churches are blamed for the lustful thoughts of teenage boys. Rebecca Davis, an Evangelical, does the same. Her poor little boy already has a wandering eye, and it is up to the women of the world to keep him from lusting. He can’t help himself, Davis says, because his mind is wired for the visual. It’s just how males are. (Of course, she refuses to accept this exact same argument when it comes to homosexuality.)

I suspect most readers will think Davis’s article is ignorant and silly. And it is, but millions of Christians think like this. Taught that their sexuality must be repressed, is it any surprise that 4-year-old Evangelical boys grow into sexually dysfunctional 20-year-old toddlers? Years ago, I was the co-pastor of Community Baptist Church in Elmendorf, Texas. One prayer meeting night, a woman came up and scolded us for letting our girls sleep on the church floor with their panties exposed. That’s right, little girls sleeping with their panties exposed were a problem. I think she expected me to immediately get the girls off the floor. Instead, I curtly told her, don’t look. Were there pedophiles in the church I didn’t know about? Maybe. Was she afraid that teenage boys would see panties and lust? Perhaps. I suppose if some teenage boy lusted, it would be our four- and two-year-old daughters’ fault, right?

While Evangelicals want to point to the “world” and blame it for sexualizing everything, it is those who adhere to the sexual mores of the Bible who have done so. They are the ones who have turned a woman’s breast into a sex object that must be covered up at all times. They are the ones who focus on cleavage, legs, asses, and the female shape in general. Cover up, women are told. Hide your feminine figure. If left to people such as Davis, the human race would perish. Sexual attraction and desire are n-o-r-m-a-l and healthy. It’s the Bible that is out of step with what it means to be human. From Genesis to Revelation, God demands that humans deny their sexuality. I thought God made us sexual beings? It seems strange that he would create us with sexual desires and then say it is a sin if we act on them. Well, maybe not. This is the same God, after all, who created some of us just so he could damn us and torture us in the Lake of Fire for eternity.

So, what do you think? Will Rebecca Davis’s four-year-old son turn into a horn-dog Evangelical teenager a decade from now? If he finds himself uncontrollably lusting after women, who will be blamed? Perhaps, thanks to being taught to Just Say No, he gets the deacon’s daughter pregnant. Whose fault will this be? Again, the Bible is not the answer. Children and teenagers need to be taught the facts of life. As they get older, they need to be taught sexual responsibility. Since most church teenagers engage in some sort of sexual activity before marriage, isn’t it in their best interest to make sure they know how to use birth control? Instead of telling them THE BIBLE SAYS, how about doses of common sense and honest instruction about sex? Instead of teaching them masturbation is a sin, how about teaching them that self-pleasuring is a way to release sexual tension. Better to spank the monkey than get the deacon’s daughter pregnant.

We should pity Evangelical teen boys and men who must go through life with blinders on lest they ravage the first woman they see in tight shorts. Instead of enjoying the beauty of God’s creation, they are taught the human body is shameful and should only be uncovered in darkness after marriage. While I am not suggesting we all turn into naturalists, surely a man can be in the same room with women to whom he might be attracted and not turn into the First Baptist Rapist.

Physical attraction is normal and healthy. I am a married man, happily so for almost 42 years. I love my wife and she is my one and only. Until death do us part, I am hers and she is mine. That’s the commitment we made to one another one hot July day in 1978. Does this commitment mean we can no longer walk down the store aisle and check out the goods? Is Polly being unfaithful if she says Matt Bomer, Sean Connery, or Daniel Craig is attractive? Am I being unfaithful when I admire another woman’s beauty? Of course not. We are confident in our ability to control our sexual desires.

When I was a fifteen-year-old boy, I was standing outside Trinity Baptist Church in Findlay, Ohio with a group of Baptist Bible Fellowship preachers. I was in heaven just being around these renowned men of God. Well, preacher men are just like factory men, and when they are around their own, they will let down their guard and talk like one of the boys. One preacher made a joke about Jesus’s command, “but I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.”  He said, the first look is not a sin, the second one is. Just make sure the first look is a long one. Everyone laughed. Great advice for a sexually aware 15-year-old preacher boy, right?

Forget the Bible and religion for a moment and think about this issue from a scientific perspective. Where would the human race be if males and females were not attracted to one another? This attraction is vital to the propagation and future of our species. We can talk about inner beauty and loving someone for their mind, but the fact is, for those of us in a relationship with another, it was sexual attraction that first brought us together. There were plenty of women I could have dated while a student at Midwestern Baptist College. Why did I decide to ask 17-year-old Polly Shope out on a date? She was and is a beautiful woman, but there were other beautiful women at the college. Why was she the one? Biology? Chemistry? Fate?

Here’s what I know: every relationship begins with a look. Hmm, that’s a nice-looking man or woman. Have you ever seen couples that you wonder how they were attracted to one another? You know, the drop-dead gorgeous woman with the guy who looks like he just spent the last month homeless, living on the street. I don’t have all the answers, but I do know that sexual attraction is key to our relationship with our significant other. Yes, given time, the relationship becomes far more than sexual attraction, but few relationships start without it. (I speak broadly, knowing that people can and do enter relationships for reasons other than sexual attraction.)

Instead of asking everyone to cover up for the sake of her son, perhaps Davis should focus on helping him grow into a sexually responsible man. I wouldn’t be worrying about the things Davis seems preoccupied with for my 4-year-old son. I’d be more worried about a four-year-old plugging up the toilet with army men or Legos or sticking a kitchen knife in an electrical plug than I would a woman in a bikini causing him to have inappropriate thoughts. If Davis is concerned about the bikini effect, perhaps she should pay attention to her husband’s eyes.

Bruce Gerencser, 62, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 41 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve 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. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Are you on Social Media?

Follow Bruce on Facebook and Twitter.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so. Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

Quote of the Day: Jared Yates Sexton Explains President Trump’s Bible Stunt

trump holding bible

I’m going to provide some history of Neo-Confederate, white-identity, apocalyptic evangelicalism, what I call the Cult of the Shining City.

This is who Donald Trump was messaging yesterday with his bible stunt.

For starters, the Cult of the Shining City is not an organized group. The members, most of them, believe they’re just evangelicals. There are members with power who use them and manipulate them.

But there are millions of them, and they worship Donald Trump like a messiah.

None of this is tin-foil hat stuff. It’s not about smoky rooms. It’s the hidden history of how America’s Right has been coopted into an apocalyptic fantasy that currently threatens our safety and the safety of the world.

This is history, not conjecture. It’s how we got here.

Trump’s photo-op yesterday seemed bizarre to everyone but people who grew up in white-identity, apocalyptic evangelicalism.

This was a choreographed messaged that Trump is engaging in a holy battle on behalf of God and Christians, but also a possible call to violence.

Not every Cult of the Shining City member believes Trump is a messiah, but almost all believe he is a holy man fighting on their behalf.

The beliefs vary, but it is an apocalyptic cult that Trump has used to build his base.

To begin, we have to start with the Confederate States of America. Secession was done, in part, based on the belief that the North had violated God’s racist commandments.

They believed in “an Almighty God” who crowned white people as his champions on Earth.

The Confederate States of America was an explicitly Christian nation, in definition and practice. The society was built upon the idea that God was a white supremacist being who ordered whites to enslave lesser people.

White supremacist Christianity was the CSA’s reality.

Confederate preachers like Benjamin M Palmer warned of “perilous atheists” in the North who sought to betray the racist God’s white supremacy religion.

They preached that slavery and white supremacy were ordained by God and that the North was becoming devilish.

….

Jefferson Davis and other Confederate leaders blamed the people’s lack of faith in the racist God for their defeats, ordering days of humiliation and fasting in order to get right.

Failure was seen as God’s fury for disbelief in his white supremacist orders.

When the Civil War ended, it was seen as a reunification of culture, but the Confederate Christianity didn’t just go away. Southern preachers continued preaching that God was a white supremacist and that blacks were to be subjugated and enslaved.

It stills exists now.

One of the Southern preachers who believed in God-ordained white supremacy was Jerry Falwell, whose ministry held segregation as a Godly decree and any attempt toward equality the work of Satan.

Falwell called segregation a “line drawn by God” and warned that any attempt to desegregate or dismantle white supremacy was the work of the Devil and would draw God’s anger.

Like Confederate preachers of old.

Civil Rights protests gained the attention of Confederate Christians like Falwell, who charged that protestors were doing Satan’s work and were being “manipulated” by outside forces, including Communists and anarchists. It was a charge of spiritual war.

Despite popular history claiming Martin Luther King was beloved, he was treated like a satanic antichrist, using Christianity for nefarious purposes people like Falwell and segregationists claimed were Communist and devilish purposes.

Falwell aired his suspicions about MLK and disputed his social justice interpretation of the Bible.

To counteract, Falwell and others actively moved their faith toward hidden white supremacy through ideas of power and economic success.

All tenets of white supremacy.

The new Evangelical Right was white supremacist and Neo-Confederate in nature, but hid that prejudice behind the idea of morality and achieving success through the economic world.

Christianity was about power and profit. Fascistic pursuits behind a smiling veneer.

….

The Deep State conspiracy theory/Qanon is just New World Order, apocalyptic, Cult of the Shining City paranoia

All of it centers around white supremacy, Confederate philosophy, being challenged by evil conspiracies of Jewish interference, traitors, and minority manipulation.

In this fever dream, paranoid reality, Trump is a holy warrior, the last stand against a New World Order coup and the triumph of Satan over God in the holy country of America.

He has played this role to full effect and has been embraced as a faulty messiah.

….

Trump’s posing with the Bible yesterday was a signal that he is the holy warrior, the “chosen one” that many have called him. It’s to prepare the Cult of the Shining City followers for what they’ll see as a holy war of America, God’s chosen nation, against Satan’s forces.

Jared Yates Sexton, The Muckrake, author of the book AMERICAN RULE: HOW A NATION CONQUERED THE WORLD BUT FAILED ITS PEOPLE

Why it is Impossible to Have Meaningful Discussions with Evangelical Trump Supporters

trump holding bible

Recently, a friend of mine asked her Trump-supporting friends on Facebook to defend the violent clearing of protesters so the President — Bible in hand — could have a photo op in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church. My friend sincerely wanted to understand the thinking behind such support. (Please see Donald Trump’s Bible.)

Here’s the first response she received:

You’re assuming what you are seeing is the real story. Watch the documentary at outofshadows.org, research the 6 men that own 95% of the media outlets and explore their political alignments and NWO [New World Order] connections.

As Christians, we all know there is an enemy and he/they have a plan to create a New World Order/One World Government. It’s easy to spot who wants this simply look for their speeches. George Bush Sr., Bill Clinton, George Bush, Obama. They’ve all given speeches about the NWO. As Christians we serve God almighty, but do not be mistaken, the enemy has his servants as well in very powerful places. (Ephesians 6:12)

These riots have nothing to do with George Floyd. They have everything to do with Election 2020. If you believe otherwise, I’m sorry.

For 4 years, we’ve experienced Fake Russia Collusion, Impeachment for nothing, a Wuhan Biolab created coronavirus, and now Antifa riots all before the next election. It’s time for everyone to wake up.

What are we to do with such comments? How do you even begin to reach people who think like this? Or have they committed an unpardonable sin of sorts? This man is white, educated, and rich, so not your typical hillbilly with a sixth-grade education and a meth habit. How is it possible for someone to go so far down the proverbial rabbit hole that he loses all sense of reason?

Quite frankly, this kind of thinking scares the shit out me. Is it beyond the pale for these “patriots” to seek a “second amendment remedy,” especially if their demigod Donald Trump is not reelected? Will these Christians accept any electoral outcome except a Trump victory? What happens if Sleepy Joe — Trump’s pet name for Joe Biden — wins and the Democrats control both houses of Congress? Democrats will, most certainly, make swift work of undoing some of the damage inflicted by Trump and his lackeys. How will Evangelicals respond to these reversals?

Typically, I don’t talk politics on my personal Facebook account. In recent days, I have become so enraged over what I am seeing on the nightly news that I decided to make a couple posts about what was going on.

troops on the steps of lincoln memorial

Here’s what I wrote:

Never thought I’d see the day when a U.S. President would use active military personnel to wage war against the American people.

and

Military troops on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. This should sicken every thinking American. We see this in China and other dictatorships, not America.

My friends whom I have met through this blog generally supported my stateMy friends whom I have met through this blog generally supported my statements. Birds of a feather flock together, right? I was, however, quickly reminded of the fact that most of my friends don’t live in white rural northwest Ohio. Several local residents decided to respond to my posts. That they do so is quite strange since they never comment on anything of mine except the photographs I post from local high school sporting events. It became clear, to me anyway, that my posts hit a nerve. How dare I disparage their man with facts.

Here’s what one young 100% Trumper said:

Are you kidding me! Have you seen the city’s? [sic] It’s called LAW AND ORDER! Pretty crazy to see a Presidential candidate say he was going to DISARM America. You are worried about a President doing what he’s supposed to do, only because his name is Donald Trump. Shame on you!

I responded:

Not only do I watch the news, I grew up in the 1960s. I’ve seen a lot of history. Trump is a self-aggrandizing narcissist who only cares about his reelection. The only shame here is his behavior. You might want to educate yourself about the use of military troops on US soil. It is FORBIDDEN by law, except in dire circumstances— say, the Civil War. Trump did what he did in D.C. because Washington is not a state. It is the responsibility of the Park Rangers and D.C. police to protect government property. And even here, the militarization of the police is troubling. They’ve become soldiers instead of peacekeepers. Trump finally got his military parade. Too bad he trashed the law, Christianity, and the American people to get it.

I received no further comment from this man, save a link to a Federalist article. No discussion on the merits of my comment about the legality of Trump’s actions. Nada, zip, nothing.

This shouldn’t surprise me. I have spent most of my life living in rural Ohio — both in southeast and northwest Ohio. I know that politically I am viewed as a strange duck, a black duckling in the midst of white ducks. The same goes for my lack of religious faith. I love living in the sticks, but I am increasingly depressed by the intractable ignorance I see around me. I don’t want to come off sounding like a know-it-all liberal elitist, but damn, can’t anyone see what Trump is doing to our republic?

While campaigning for presient in 2016, Trump gleefully stated: “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters.” I thought, at the time, that statements such as this one would surely derail Trump’s campaign. Four years later, I must admit Trump was right. When it comes to his Evangelical base — especially those who live in rural states — Trump seems to be coated with Teflon. Nothing sticks to him. Not his lies. Not his policies that harm rural voters. Not his callous indifference towards the death of over 105,000 American from COVID-19. As long as Trump gives the appearance of being Christian and pro-life, Evangelicals are going to vote for him.

Waiting for Evangelicals to have some sort of come-to-reason moment is a waste of time. It ain’t going to happen. And that, my friends, is downright depressing.

Bruce Gerencser, 62, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 41 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve 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. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Are you on Social Media?

Follow Bruce on Facebook and Twitter.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so. Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

Evangelical Man Wants Me to Tell the Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing But the Truth About My Life

calvin and hobbes proving truth

Recently, an Evangelical man by the name of Roger Smoak left the following comment on Why I Hate Jesus, the most widely read (and misunderstood) post on this site:

I would be interested in knowing what Really happened? Was it your fibromalga that wasn’t healed? Was it your oldest daughter with cystic fibrosis? Was it your dad dying at an early age or you mom who committed suicide?Was it depression you faced when you quit believing and/or your wife (pastor’s child) had to choose between you and her faith? Was it all the material wealth you experienced during your pastoring where you saw pastors who appeared to worship money instead of God? If the “Western Jesus” has destroyed your belief why can’t you believe in the Jesus of the New Testament? Every day you preached did you question is this was all a farce? What happened when you finally turned agnostic and publicly proclaimed this? Were you pastoring a church? I guess just as you judge others I would like to hear from yourself, church members, family, or someone who could shed some true light on what really happened to you.

When I receive comments such as this — and I have received hundreds of them over the past thirteen years — the first thing I do is look at the site logs to see exactly what the commenter has read.

Take Roger, a South Carolinian. He read:

That’s it. Right next to the Why I Hate Jesus page is a page titled WHY? On this page is a plethora of posts that curious readers can read, and in doing so find most of their questions about my journey from Evangelicalism to atheism answered. Evidently, Roger didn’t see this page or couldn’t be bothered to look at its content.

Evangelicals tend not to be very curious, that is unless they are surfing YouPorn. Then they are quite interested in every aspect of female and male bodies. But actually reading about and investigating the life of an Evangelical pastor turned atheist? Nah, how much information does one need to judge a man the Bible says is a fool, a follower of Satan.

In 2015 post titled Curiosity, A Missing Evangelical Trait, I wrote:

Why is it that so many Evangelicals have no desire to be curious? Yes, I know many are, so don’t get your panties in a bunch if you are a curiouser-than-a-cat Evangelical, but many aren’t. I frequently get emails or blog comments from Evangelical Christians wanting to “help” me find my way to Jesus. Such people are certain that they possess the requisite knowledge and skill to win me to Jesus. They are sure that if they just befriend me, quote the right verses, soothe my hurts, or understand my pain, I will fall on my knees and fellate their God.

I was in the Christian church for fifty years. I was an Evangelical pastor for twenty-five of those years. I have a Bible college education. Surely they understand that I am not an atheist out of ignorance? Of course not, and here is where their lack of curiosity gets them in trouble. They often don’t know anything about me or this blog. Why? Because they did a Google/Bing/Yahoo search for _________________ and their search brought them to a single blog post of mine. (Or the past 90 days, 64,000+ first-time visitors have come to this site via a search engine — mostly Google.) These searchers read that one post and immediately conclude that I am a poor wayfaring waif in need of their peculiar flavor of Jesus.

When I get comments such as these, I go to the logs and see what pages they read. Usually, they have only read the pages their search brought them to. Their lack of curiosity (or laziness) is astounding, leading them to make wild judgments about me, and come to rash, ill-informed conclusions. If they would just read the About page and the WHY page they would be better informed about me and this blog. How hard can it be, right?

I suspect part of the reason Evangelicals are not, in general, known for their curiosity, is because they are one-hundred percent certain that they are absolutely right. In their minds, they worship the one, true God and this God lives inside of them. This God walks with them, talks with them, and tells them that they are his own. They have a supernatural book given to them by this supernatural God. This book contains all the answers about life they will ever need. Why should they read anything else?

When you are certain, there’s no need to think, reason, investigate, question, or doubt. When the triune God is on your team, no need to consider any other team. When your God/sect/church/pastor has declared that strawberry ice cream is the one true ice cream, no need to try Rocky Road, Mint Chocolate Chip, or any other flavor.

Simply put, no need to know anything else, when you already know all you need to know. God said it and that settled it. One true God, one true religious text, one way of salvation. The earth is 6,023 years old, created in six literal twenty-four-hour days. The Bible is the inspired, inerrant, infallible blueprint for Christ-honoring families, happy marriages, obedient children, and great sex. When the answer to every question is God, it’s not surprising to find that Evangelicals are not curious.

The good news is that more and more Evangelicals are discovering the curiosity that lies dormant beneath the surface of their lives. Once they make this discovery, they are on their way out of the closed-minded, senses-dulling prison of Evangelicalism. They will find out that science can and does explain the world they live in. Science doesn’t have all the answers, but it is asking the right questions.

Still want/need to believe in a transcendent deity or some sort of spirituality? Once free of the heaven/hell, saved/lost, in/out, good/bad paradigm of Evangelicalism, people are free to wander at will. When the fear of hell and judgment is gone, they are free to experience those things that are meaningful to them. Once the question is no longer will you go to heaven when you die, the journey rather than the destination becomes what matters.

Curiosity may kill the cat, but trust me Evangelicals, it won’t kill you.

Now let me circle back around to Roger’s comment.

From the get-go, Roger says that he thinks I am lying or withholding information. He wants to know what REALLY happened to me. Well, shit, Roger, this blog is titled, The Life and Times of Bruce Gerencser. This is a clue that says, HEY ROGER, THIS BLOG IS ABOUT THE LIFE OF EVANGELICAL PASTOR-TURNED-ATHEIST BRUCE GERENCSER!

Most readers would say that I am open, honest, and transparent about my past and present life. I have been willing to write about things that are painful and embarrassing to me. I have never wanted to paint a less-than-honest picture of my life. I watched too many preachers do just that back in my preaching days, and I see it going on still today. Sometimes, I want to scream to them TELL THE FUCKING TRUTH! Alas, Evangelicalism is built on a foundation of truth avoidance; a culture that values name, reputation, and prestige more than it does honesty and truth.

Roger goes through a greatest hits list of reasons he thinks may be the reason I left the ministry and later left Christianity (grammar corrected for readability):

  • Was it your fibromyalgia that wasn’t healed?
  • Was it your oldest daughter with cystic fibrosis?
  • Was it your dad dying at an early age?
  • Was it your mom committing suicide?
  • Was it the depression you faced when you quit believing?
  • Was it your wife — pastor’s child — having to choose between you and her faith?
  • Was it your lack of material wealth you experienced during your pastoring, especially when you saw pastors who appeared to worship money instead of God?

Let me call Roger’s statements the Seven Was-Its.

Was-It Number One: Was it your fibromyalgia that wasn’t healed?

I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 1996 — 12 years before I walked away from Christianity. During my career as a pastor, I battled chronic bronchitis, had bacterial pneumonia twice, had pleurisy several times, contracted mononucleosis — which almost killed me — and was treated for a plethora of joint and muscle problems. Not one time did I question God. I accepted being sick as God’s perfect plan for my life.

Was-It Number Two: Was it your oldest daughter with cystic fibrosis?

Actually, my oldest daughter has Down syndrome. When Bethany was born thirty years ago, my wife and I viewed her as a gift from God. We never questioned God blessing us with Bethany. Bethany having Down syndrome played no part in my deconversion.

Was-It Number Three: Was it your dad dying at an early age?

A curious reader would have found out that my dad and I weren’t close. We didn’t have an adversarial relationship, but definitely not close. I was outside the church raking leaves when Polly told me Dad was dead. We hugged, and I went back raking leaves. While I now miss my dad, his death played no part in my deconversion.

Several months ago, I had my DNA tested. I learned what I have long suspected — that Dad was not my biological father. (I plan to write about this someday.) I found that my father was a truck driver who lived in Chicago at the time. He likely met my seventeen-year-old mom while she was working at The Hub, a now-defunct truck stop in Bryan, Ohio. I have a half-brother in Michigan. Talk about messing up your ancestry tree.

Was-It Number Four: Was it your mom committing suicide?

Mom and I were close. Her suicide at age fifty-four deeply affected me. I so wish she were here today so she could play grandma to our grandchildren. (Please see Barbara.) That said, Mom’s death played no part in my loss of faith. My life with Mom certainly affected me in more ways than I can count, but not when it came to walking away from Christianity.

Was-It Number Five: Was it the depression you faced when you quit believing?

This one is almost funny. I have battled depression most of my adult life — from my early 20s. Thus, depression was the dark passenger of my life from the time I pastored my first church until today. The difference back then is that I buried my depression under a mountain of lies, prayers, and Bible verses. After I left Christianity, I sought out a secular psychologist to talk to. It was only then that I began to unwind the complexities of my life. I still battle depression today. It ain’t going away. My mental health goal is to keep from falling into the rabbit hole and having suicidal thoughts. Sometimes, I fail.

Was-It Number Six: Was it your wife — a pastor’s child — having to choose between you and her faith?

Now, this one is downright funny — and stupid. Yes, Polly is the daughter of a retired Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) pastor. Her parents have attended the Newark Baptist Temple in Heath, Ohio for over four decades. That said, Polly has never had to make a choice between her “faith” and her husband of forty-one years. I never sensed that she struggled with choosing between me and God. Sure, we left Christianity together, but that’s where the similarities end. Each of us has our own reasons for deconverting. One thing is certain, if I ever said I was planning to re-enter the ministry or start attending an Evangelical church again, Polly would like divorce me or kill me with one of her Lodge cast iron pans. Trust me on this one, my wife has zero interest in Christianity. In many ways, her feelings about the past are much stronger than mine. The only difference is that Polly doesn’t write about her feelings on a blog that is read by thousands of people.

Was-It Number Seven: Was it your lack of material wealth you experienced during your pastoring, especially when you saw pastors who appeared to worship money instead of God?

Seven strikes and you are out, Roger. For most of my ministry, I believed that living in poverty was God’s chosen path for me and my family. A good case can be made from the Bible that materialism and wealth are contrary to the teachings of Jesus and the Apostles. While I prayed for material blessing, I never questioned God’s provision. I worked my ass off, and let God take care of the details.

Roger goes on to ask, “if the ‘Western Jesus’ has destroyed your belief why can’t you believe in the Jesus of the New Testament?

These are the kind of questions that make me want to scream. Roger evidently has never read a Christian history book. He thinks that his brand of Christianity is that of Jesus, the Apostles, and the first century church, when it is, in fact, every bit as westernized as mine was in my preaching days. In fact, I suspect if Roger had met me back in the day, he would have loved my preaching and teaching.

By not being curious, Roger misunderstands the chronology of my life. Roger writes:

Every day you preached did you question is this was all a farce? What happened when you finally turned agnostic and publicly proclaimed this? Were you pastoring a church?

I pastored my last church in 2003 and left the ministry in 2005 — three years before my deconversion in November 2008. I still did some preaching, but I no longer was interested in the dog-and-pony show called the ministry. In 2005 — as a last fling of sorts — I candidated at several Southern Baptist churches in West Virginia. It became clear to me that my heart was no longer in the ministry, and neither was Polly’s. We spent the next three years trying to find a church we could call home. (Please see But Our Church is DIFFERENT! for a list of the churches we visited.) In the end, we concluded that despite the names above the doors, churches are all pretty much the same.

Roger concludes his comment by saying:

I guess just as you judge others, I would like to hear from yourself, church members, family, or someone who could shed some true light on what really happened to you.

This brings me around to the fact that Roger thinks I am lying about my past and present life. He wants to “judge” my life, and determine for himself the “real” reasons I left the ministry and later left Christianity. Roger would love to interrogate my wife and children or “someone” — whoever the hell that is — who would confirm the “real” reasons I am no longer an Evangelical pastor. Something tells me that Roger thinks he already knows the “truth” about my life. He just needs someone to authenticate and confirm his judgments.

I have decided to be brutally open and honest with Roger. I sincerely — in the name of Loki –want him to know the truth about me.

Roger, I never was a Christian. The joke is on the thousands of people I pastored. I was a deceiver, a false prophet, a destroyer of souls. I spent most of my adult life living a lie, pretending to be a follower of Jesus just so I could work 60-80 hours a week, earn $12,000 a year, live off of food stamps, drive $300 cars, and raise six children in a 12′ by 60′ foot mobile home. Instead of accepting secular employment that paid fabulously well, I chose the aforementioned lifestyle all because I wanted to be a wolf among sheep.

I know you really want to know about the sex stuff. You got me, Roger. I fathered several children with female congregants. I also had gay relationships with several deacons. Not only that, I also was a porn addict, frequented houses of prostitution, and attended all-male revues at the local strip club.

I spent five years teaching church children without pay at our Christian Academy. I taught them the Bible and the doctrines of historic Christianity. Why? I was a deceiver, an apostate.

Today, I am a crossdressing worshiper of Satan. Every Halloween, I sacrifice Christian infants to Lord Lucifer. I spend every waking hour trying to destroy God. I hate him, as I do all Christian churches and pastors.

This, I suspect, is more akin to Roger’s narrative of my life than reality. Why read, investigate, ask questions, and attempt to understand when you can read a couple of pages and render infallible, self-righteous judgment.

Let me leave Roger with a verse from the Bible he says he believes. Proverbs 18:13 says:

New International Version
To answer before listening– that is folly and shame.

New Living Translation
Spouting off before listening to the facts is both shameful and foolish.

English Standard Version
If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.

New American Standard Bible
He who gives an answer before he hears, It is folly and shame to him.

New King James Version
He who answers a matter before he hears it, It is folly and shame to him.

King James Bible
He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.

Christian Standard Bible
The one who gives an answer before he listens–this is foolishness and disgrace for him.

Contemporary English Version (my favorite)
It’s stupid and embarrassing to give an answer before you listen.

Good News Translation
Listen before you answer. If you don’t, you are being stupid and insulting.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
The one who gives an answer before he listens– this is foolishness and disgrace for him.

New American Standard 1977
He who gives an answer before he hears, It is folly and shame to him.

American Standard Version
He that giveth answer before he heareth, It is folly and shame unto him.

Douay-Rheims Bible
He that answereth before he heareth sheweth himself to be a fool, and worthy of confusion.

Thus saith the Lord.

Bruce Gerencser, 62, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 41 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve 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. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Are you on Social Media?

Follow Bruce on Facebook and Twitter.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so. Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

Evangelical Man Tells Me I Have Committed the Unpardonable Sin

unpardonable sin

Repost from 2015. Edited, updated, and corrected.

Many Christian sects teach that a person can commit what is commonly called the unpardonable sin. An unpardonable sin is an act or behavior so heinous that God will never forgive the person who commits it. Where does this teaching come from?

The Bible says in Matthew 12:31-32:

Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.

Many Christians believe the unpardonable is ascribing to Satan the work of the Holy Spirit. The context of Matthew 12 is Jesus healing a man on the Sabbath day and the Pharisee’s accusing Jesus of working by the power of Satan.

Several years ago, I received the following email from a blog reader in Canada:

Mr. Agnostic…

I will not take much of your time sir, except to say it’s people like you who nail down the authenticity of HELL. You are to be pitied, for you have spent the greater part of your life pretending to be something you never were…a CHRISTIAN. To be a Christian means to have Christ in you (via the Holy Spirit). Obviously, the spirit that fills you is a vile, demonic presence. My concern should be for your soul, but somehow I tend to believe you have committed the “unpardonable sin”, simply by your contemptible re-assessment of Christianity in general. For you, sir…my prayers may be in vain, but for all the precious souls you profess to have led to Christ, I must pray that their “salvation” is a credible one and they have not followed the abominable trail of demonic lies you have set before them in the aftermath of your own life.

Let’s see if I can sum up his argument:

  • People like me prove the authenticity of Hell.
  • I am to be pitied because I spent the greater part of my life pretending to be a Christian.
  • I am filled with a vile, demonic presence.
  • I have committed the unpardonable sin.
  • He is not concerned for me since it is too late for me to be redeemed, but he is concerned for the people I pastored. He hopes that their salvation is credible (Greek for they have the real deal like me) and that they have not followed the “abominable trail of demonic lies [I] have set before them.

The gist of the matter is this: I never was a Christian, and I am an unredeemable agent of Satan.

There is only one problem with this line of thinking . . . I don’t believe in God, and since Satan is a creation of the mythical Christian God and the Christian Bible (and Dante), I don’t believe in Satan either. So threatening me with Hell has no effect, thus proving, of course, that I am a reprobate, a man with a hardened heart, a man beyond the reach of even God himself.

Here’s my message to the reader in Canada:

Let this man’s words be a warning to all. This is what happens when you drink deeply at the well of religious certainty. He is so certain that he is right, that he thinks he has the correct, true, infallible truth; that anyone who does not follow after his God’s truth and his interpretation of the Protestant Bible is deceived and will burn forever in the Lake of Fire.

This man shall someday learn the truth, except he won’t know it because dead men learn nothing. 

Thus saith Bruce Almighty

Yes, I am mocking and ridiculing this man. He deserves it. I have no respect for people such as he; people filled with arrogance and certainty; people who live in a world so narrow and confined that I doubt Jesus himself would want to spend time with them.

Bruce Gerencser, 62, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 41 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve 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. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Are you on Social Media?

Follow Bruce on Facebook and Twitter.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so. Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

The First Appearance of the Number 13 in the King James Bible

thirteen

Recently, I stumbled upon a sermon by Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) evangelist Bill Grady, preached at Victory Baptist Church in Hartland, Michigan. Grady shared a “revelation” he heard from James Melton, pastor of Bible Baptist Church in Sharon, Tennessee. Both Grady and Melton are disciples of thrice-married KJV zealot Peter Ruckman. (Please see Questions: Bruce, In Your IFB Days Did You Encounter Peter Ruckman? and The Sounds of Fundamentalism: Peter Ruckman Shares His “Love” for Blacks.)

Melton’s “word from the Lord” had to do with the number thirteen in Genesis 1. You can view the video here: Video Link. Start at the 1:11:10 mark.

What was it that the Christian God revealed to Melton? See if you can figure out what God told Melton about Genesis 1:

1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.

And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.

And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.

And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.

And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.

10 And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.

11 And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.

12 And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

13 And the evening and the morning were the third day.

14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:

15 And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.

16 And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.

17 And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,

18 And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good.

19 And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.

20 And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.

21 And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

22 And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.

23 And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.

24 And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.

25 And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

29 And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.

30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.

31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

Did you see it? Come on, surely you can see what God “revealed” to Melton.

No?

Okay, here ya go. Notice that verses 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12 all mention God. But when you come to verse 13, God is not mentioned! OMG, what an astounding, breathtaking reveal. Imagine all the things going on in the world that God could address, but the Holy Spirit thought it important to show Melton (and Grady) that the name God is not mentioned in verse 13. And you know how “evil” the number 13 is. That’s what you get when God is missing from a Bible verse. Of course, God’s name is missing from verses 15, 19, 23, and 30 too.

Numerology — the belief in the divine or mystical relationship between a number and one or more coinciding events — is quite popular among Evangelicals. As an IFB pastor, I owned, read, and used in my sermons E.W. Bullinger’s seminal book, Number in Scripture: Its Supernatural Design and Spiritual Significance.

Bullinger had this to say about the number 13:

For this purpose we must consider the number thirteen here, and out of its otherwise proper order.

As to the significance of thirteen, all are aware that it has come down to us as a number of ill-omen. Many superstitions cluster around it, and various explanations are current concerning them.

Unfortunately, those who go backwards to find a reason seldom go back far enough. The popular explanations do not, so far as we are aware, go further back than the Apostles. But we must go back to the first occurrence of the number thirteen in order to discover the key to its significance. It occurs first in Gen 14:4, where we read “Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer, and the thirteenth year they REBELLED.”

Hence every occurrence of the number thirteen, and likewise of every multiple of it, stamps that with which it stands in connection with rebellion, apostasy, defection, corruption, disintegration, revolution, or some kindred idea.

The second mention of thirteen is in connection with Ishmael, Gen 17:25. He was thirteen years old when Abraham circumcised him and admitted him into the covenant to which he was a stranger in heart, and which ended in his rebellion and rejection.

We see it stamped upon the very fore-front of Revelation. For while the opening statement of Gen 1:1 is composed of seven words and twenty-eight letters (4×7), the second verse consists of fourteen words, but fifty-two letters; fifty-two being 4×13 tells of some apostasy or rebellion which caused the ruin of which that verse speaks.

….

THE ENEMIES OF GOD AND HIS PEOPLE as named in Scripture are generally multiples of thirteen.

Let us begin with the great enemy himself, always remembering that though we may give the English for the sake of clearness, the gematria always refers to the original Hebrew or Greek:

Satan, in Hebrew = 364 (13×28)

Satan, in Greek = 2197 (133)

“That old serpent, even Satan” (o ofiV o arcaioV…kai o SatanaV) = 2756 (13×212)

“Ha-Seraph” (Num 21:8) = 585 (13×45)

Beelzebub (with art.) = 598 (13×46)

Belial – 78 (13×6)

Drakwn (Drakon), Dragon (Rev 12:9) = 975 (13×75)

‘OfiV (Ophis), Serpent = 780 (13×60)

Murderer = 1820 (13×140)

Tempter = 1053 (13×81)

The Scape-goat = 585 (13×45)

The Lion (Psa 91:13) = 338 (13×26)

“As a Lion” (1 Peter 5:8) = 1885 (13×145)

“The Power of the Enemy” (Luke 10:9) = 2509 (13×193)

“Your adversary, the Devil, as a roaring lion” = 6032 (13×464)

Fowler (Psa 91:3) = 416 (13×32)

“Who is called the Devil and Satan” (o kaloumenoV diaboloV kai o SatanaV) = 2197 (133)

“Seven Devils” = 572 (13×44)

“Because the Prince of this world is judged” (John 16:11) = 5577 (132x33)

“When he speaketh a lie he speaketh of his own, for he is a liar” (John 8:44) = 7072 (13×544)

Want to have a numerological stroke? Just read everything Bullinger has to say about the number. Certifiably crazy.

The Bible Study website has this to say about the number 13:

The number 13 is symbolic of rebellion and lawlessness. Nimrod, the mighty hunter who was ‘before the Lord’ (meaning he tried to take the place of God — Genesis 10:9), was the 13th in Ham’s line (Ham was one of Noah’s three sons who survived the flood). Thirteen represents all the governments created by men, and inspired by Satan, in outright rebellion against the Eternal.

The phrase ‘valley of Hinnom’ (or variation thereof) occurs in 13 places in Scripture. The valley was the scene of the evil-inspired rites of the pagan god Moloch (or Molech). The practices related to this false deity received some credibility when they were knowingly allowed by King Solomon (1Kings 11:7) in order to please his non-Israelite wives.

One way Molech was appeased and worshipped was through the sacrifice of children who, placed on the red hot arms of the idol, were burned alive. The valley’s tie to fire made for an apt backdrop of the ultimate punishment unrepentant and rebellious sinners will receive in the lake of fire (Revelation 19:20, 20:9-10, 14 -15).

The longest name of a book, Thessalonians, is 13 characters.

The dragon, a symbol for Satan, is found 13 times in Revelation. Satan is behind all rebellion against God.

In Romans 1 the apostle Paul lists 23 characteristics of sinful people who have a debased or reprobate mind. The thirteenth characteristic is that they are haters of God (Romans 1:28-32).

Haman the Agagite had a decree signed on the thirteenth day of the first month that on the thirteenth day of the 12th month all Jews in the Persian Empire were to be killed (Esther 3:7 – 9).

The destruction of Jericho is stamped with the number 13, for the city was marched around for six straight days, and on the seventh day it was marched seven times, making thirteen total.

King Solomon spent a little more than seven years building Jerusalem’s temple (1Kings 6:38). He, however, spent a total number of thirteen years building a home for himself (1Kings 7:1)!

….

In Mark 7 Jesus mentions thirteen things that defile a person. They are adulteries, fornications, evil thoughts, murders, covetousness, thefts, wickedness, licentiousness, guile, blasphemy, foolishness, pride and an evil eye (Mark 7:20-23).

Imagine the countless hours spent by Bullinger and the Bible Study Website finding the meaning of the number 13 and other numbers in the Bible. Melton didn’t have to put any work into his revelation — God just whispered it in his ear.

Here’s the problem with Melton’s “word from the Lord.” First, Genesis is not the oldest book in the Bible, Job is. So Genesis 1:13 is not the first mention of 13 in the Bible.

Stephanie Hertzenberg writes:

The oldest book in the Bible is, unsurprisingly, found in the Old Testament. Most Christians would likely predict that Genesis was the oldest book in the Bible given that it details the creation of the world. If that was not accurate, then they would probably suggest Exodus or maybe theorize that Psalms or Proverbs were the first to go from an oral tradition to a written one. All of these predictions, however, would be incorrect. The oldest book in the Bible is smack in the middle of the Old Testament. It is the Book of Job.

The Book of Job is one of the lesser read books of the Bible, despite the fact that it is referenced repeatedly throughout Scripture. Unlike the rest of the Bible, Job is written not as prose or poetry but as a drama. In the book, an angel in God’s court, in some translations it is Satan, challenges God that Job is pious because he has a good, comfortable life. God declares that Job will not give up his faith and curse God despite terrible things befalling him. God accepts the bet, and Job suffers every manner of tragedy but still clings to his faith. God wins the wager, restores what Job lost and further blesses him.

The Book of Job is estimated to have been written in the time of the Patriarchs, between 1900 and 1700 B.C. The book deals with similar themes as the Babylonian work “Ludlul-Bel-Nimeqi” and is sometimes considered to have been based on the Babylonian work, but similar themes are not enough to state that one work is a derivative of the other. People have been questioning why suffering occurs for almost as long as humanity has existed. As it is, Job and “Ludlul-Bel-Nimeqi” have very different endings to the stories of their protagonists and are written in different styles. Job is a drama while “Ludlul-Bel-Nimeqi” is a monologue. Truthfully, the theme found in the two works is common enough that “Ludlul-Bel-Nimeqi” could be compared almost as closely to Ecclesiastes or Lamentations as Job. 

While the themes found in Job are common across the ancient world, the language is not. Job is written in a form of Hebrew that is even older than the ancient Hebrew that makes up most of the Old Testament. In fact, the language used in Job is not even usually referred to as ancient Hebrew. Instead, it is called “Paleo-Hebrew.” The book also contains Syriac and Arabic expressions which point to a period of time between 1900 and 1700 B.C. when the Shemitic tribes had not yet separated into speaking separate Syriac, Hebrew and Arabic dialects. Instead, they still shared a common language.

The language in which Job was written is not the only clue to its age. In addition to using a language that differs from the Hebrew used in other Old Testament manuscripts, Job also mentions several creatures and conditions that are unknown today. The phrases may refer to animals that have gone extinct or, more likely, were called by a different name in later books of the Bible. It is these currently unidentifiable and untranslatable names that have led some translators of Job to translate the animals as more traditionally mythical creatures such as unicorns. 

The age of the book of Job can also be found in what is noticeably missing from the book. There are no mentions of the covenant, the Law of Moses or the priesthood. There are not even any mentions of the Israelite people or the Promised Land. Instead, Job offers sacrifices himself for his sons without the use of a priesthood, temple or consecrated altar. His wealth is measured by the size of his herds and the amount of “qesiytah,” unique silver coins, he possesses. Both herds and silver were used as ancient systems of money between 1900 and 1700 B.C. The names of Job’s sons were also uncommon in later time periods but were common before and during the time of the patriarchs.

Exactly when the book of Job was written remains something of a mystery, but there is no doubt it is the oldest book in the Bible. While the early chapters of Genesis cover events that happened before Job, the actual written accounts of those events were not recorded until after the book of Job had already been composed. In fact, Job is over 400 years older than Genesis. This means Job is not only the sole drama in the Bible but also the oldest book by far and all the more fascinating for it.

Second, the original text of the Bible did not have verse numbers. Chapters and verses were written hundreds and thousands of years after the original writings (Wikipedia). Thus, when God “inspired” Genesis 1, there was no verse 13.

Melton’s revelation was nothing more than human pattern recognition. All of us “see” patterns. Those of us, in particular, who have OCD tendencies see patterns everywhere we look. I can be sitting in my doctor’s exam room and see all sorts of matching patterns. (Yes, I am the guy who counts the tiles on the ceiling and floor.) Melton’s “revelation” didn’t come from God. It is nothing more than Melton’s brain seeing a pattern and ascribing to it some sort of religious significance.

Bruce Gerencser, 62, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 41 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve 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. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Are you on Social Media?

Follow Bruce on Facebook and Twitter.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so. Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

The Sounds of Fundamentalism: IFB Evangelist Bill Grady and his Racist Jokes

Evangelist William (Bill) Grady
Evangelist William (Bill) Grady

The Sounds of Fundamentalism is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a video clip that shows the crazy, cantankerous, or contradictory side of Evangelical Christianity, please send me an email with the name or link to the video. Please do not leave suggestions in the comment section.  Let’s have some fun!

Today’s Sound of Fundamentalism is a video clip of Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) evangelist Bill Grady sharing his greatest racist jokes.

Video Link

Bruce Gerencser, 62, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 41 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve 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. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Are you on Social Media?

Follow Bruce on Facebook and Twitter.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so. Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

The Sounds of Fundamentalism: IFB Pastor Bob Gray, Sr. Makes a Racist “Joke”

bob gray sr
Bob Gray, Sr. retired pastor of Longview Baptist Temple, Longview, Texas

The Sounds of Fundamentalism is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a video clip that shows the crazy, cantankerous, or contradictory side of Evangelical Christianity, please send me an email with the name or link to the video. Please do not leave suggestions in the comment section.  Let’s have some fun!

Today’s Sound of Fundamentalism is a video clip of Bob Gray, Sr. retired pastor of Longview Baptist Temple, Longview, Texas. Gray had this to say in his sermon:

Gray: I need some help for this illustration.

Black teenager comes up.

Gray: Stand here. Got your Bible?

Teen: Yeah.

Gray: Yes sir?

Teen: Yes sir.

Gray: That’s what I thought you said, Obama

Video Link

Bruce Gerencser, 62, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 41 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve 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. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Are you on Social Media?

Follow Bruce on Facebook and Twitter.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so. Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

The Voices of Atheism: Dying Out Loud by Dave Warnock

This is the latest installment in The Voices of Atheism series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. Know of a good video that espouses atheism/agnosticism or challenges the claims of the Abrahamic religions? Please email me the name of the video or a link to it. I believe this series will be an excellent addition to The Life and Times of Bruce Gerencser.

Thank you in advance for your help.

Today’s video features a Freethought Matters interview of Dave Warnock. Dave is a former charismatic Evangelical pastor. Currently, Dave is battling Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

Video

Video Link

Bruce, Has Your Story Won Any Converts to Atheism?

peanut gallery

Recently, a Seventh-Day Adventist pastor emailed me and asked:

You certainly are preaching your good news still, eh? Once a preacher, always a preacher I guess. I read some of your site and I find it intriguing, if a bit … missionary … in its atheistic zeal. I’m curious if your message about your personal journey has won any converts to the atheism cause. Or did most former Christians just come to your site because they already had one foot on the way out and saw you out here? Like you, I’m sick of the lies inside the churches. But its clear I don’t hate the same set of “lies” you do. Unlike many Christian pastors, I have no interest in converting anyone and never have. I write only because I went through this same journey (and its subsequent fallout) with a fellow pastor in the Seventh-day Adventist church, Ryan Bell, and I am gathering information as to why these journeys take place at all. So thanks for taking the time to write down why you left. It actually strengthens me in staying.

I have always been passionate about whatever I do in my life. So, what might be perceived as “missionary zeal” is actually just me being me. As a writer, I believe I have something to say that matters, so I put my whole being into my work. That said, my goal has never been to be an evangelist for atheism. My target audience remains the same today as it was a decade ago: those who have questions/doubts about Christianity and those who have left Christianity. I see myself as a facilitator. My goal is to help people distance themselves from Fundamentalist Christianity. (Please see Are Evangelicals Fundamentalists?)

The letter writer asks if my story has won any converts to atheism. The short answer is yes. Numerous ex-Evangelical pastors, evangelists, missionaries, and laypeople say that my writing was instrumental in their deconversion. While this is not my goal, I am humbled by the fact that many people find my writing helpful. That thousands of people read this blog still blows my mind.

The readers of this blog are quite eclectic. While I am an atheist and an agnostic, many readers are not. Evangelicals and liberal Christians, along with atheists, agnostics, pagans, and other non-Christians read my writing. Many of them have both feet firmly planted in their religious traditions. Others do not. Questioners and doubters, along with people seriously considering leaving the fold, often find that my writing resonates with them. My words ring true.

Of course, I also attract Evangelical apologists and critics, along with Muslim and Catholic zealots. Countless Christians have sent me emails or left comments on a particular post, hoping to bring me back into the fold, deconstruct my life, or discredit my story. In my early blogging days, I thought that if I just openly and honestly shared my story apologists, zealots, and critics would, at the very least, understand where I am coming from. Those days are long gone. Instead of engaging in endless debates, I give such people one opportunity to “share” whatever it is God as laid upon their hearts. If they play well with others, I might approve further comments from them. Unfortunately, most Evangelical commenters are terrible representatives of Christ on earth. (Please see Dear Evangelical.) Even if they could mount an effective defense of Christianity, why would I ever want to be around such nasty, arrogant, mean-spirited people?

As far as the “why” of my deconversion, here’s my stock answer:

I no longer believe that the central claims of Christianity are true. I came to a place in my life where these beliefs no longer made sense to me. (Please see The Michael Mock Rule: It Just Doesn’t Make Sense.) I reject all the miraculous claims made for Jesus, from his virgin birth to his resurrection from the dead. I do believe Jesus is was a real flesh and blood human being who lived on Palestine 2,000 years ago, However, as with all humans, he lived and died, end of story.

Over the years, I have corresponded with hundreds of clergy who are either no longer believers or have serious doubts about Christianity. Our numbers are increasing daily. Why is that?

Bruce Gerencser, 62, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 41 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve 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. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Are you on Social Media?

Follow Bruce on Facebook and Twitter.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so. Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

Dear Ward

peanut gallery

Recently, a Christian man by the name of Ward left a comment on the post Dear Jesus. Instead of answering him in the comment section, I thought I would turn his comment and my response into a post.

I feel sad for you Bruce . . .

Typically, when a Christian begins a comment with “I feel sad (sorry)” or makes some sort of psychological judgment, it is a sign that the commenter is here to evangelize, correct, or excoriate. Remember, thousands of Evangelical commenters have come before you, so you bear the weight of their collective assholery.

When I read this line, I thought, why should anyone feel sad or sorry for me? All things considered, I am quite happy. I have been married almost forty-two years, have six grown children, and thirteen wonderful children. Sure, life has its difficult moments, and recent years health-wise have been challenging not only for myself, but also for my wife. Yet, in every way, my life today is better than it was when I was a follower of Jesus.

Imagine if I started a conversation with you that intimated that I felt sorry for you because you were a Christian. How would you feel and respond?

[I feel] sad for the things you endured . . .

I realize that you are basing this judgment on reading the post Dear Jesus. Unfortunately, when people only read certain posts it is easy for them to come to wrong conclusions. Yes, from my childhood forward I have endured trial and adversity. However, all in all I had a happy childhood and ministerial career. (Please see Bruce, Were You Happy in the Ministry? Part One and Bruce, Were You Happy in the Ministry? Part Two.)

[I feel] sad for the path you chosen.

Why? If you had a blog, I would never leave a comment that said I felt sad (sorry) for you because you were a Christian. In the twelve years since I divorced Jesus, I have never left such a comment anywhere on the Internet or social media. Every person is on a journey. Each of us has a story to tell — Christian or atheist. I accept at face value that you profess to be a Christian. Who am I to question your story? Unfortunately, scores of Evangelicals have attempted to deconstruct my life. I have had blog posts written about me, and several preachers have even preached sermons that suggested I never was a “real” Christian. (Please see Gone but Not Forgotten: 22 Years Later San Antonio Calvinists Still Preaching Against Bruce Gerencser.)

I am one man with a story to tell. All that I ask of Christians is that they accept my story at face value and not fling theological epitaphs my way. Unfortunately, most Evangelical commenters don’t play well with others.

Your story of lost faith sounds as familiar as many others I’ve read such as Charles Templeton.

I am not sure how closely my life tracks with that of Charles Templeton, but I am one of many Evangelical preachers who are atheists or agnostics. Our number increases daily.

I understand and agree with many of your criticisms of the American evangelical movement and the professional church, but what I don’t understand is the decision to become an atheist.

You are certainly not the first Christian not to understand why I deconverted. Usually, a refusal to read my writing or an inability to square one’s theology keeps Evangelicals from truly understanding my story. Unable to make the square peg of my life fit in the round hole of their theology and experiences, many Evangelicals just dismiss my story out of hand by saying, “Bruce, you never were a real Christian.” Or worse, they say that I am still a Christian; that I am backslidden. How about letting me tell my story and accept it as told? Why is it so hard for Christians to accept that I once was a Christian and now I am not? “But Bruce, the BIBLE says ________.” Sorry, but it is not my problem if Evangelicals can’t square my storyline with their peculiar interpretation of the Bible. There’s no question that I once was a Christian, and I am sure as hell not a Christian now.

As others I’ve read it usually revolves around the theme of “If God is good why does he allow evil?”. I can see the move to the left in a way, though politically they are no better than the right, as there is a growing leftist “evangelical movement. You said you served God from a leftist perspective for a time and I see others who maintain a sense of fulfillment in that place without rejecting God. Is it just as simple as God allowed bad things to happen in your life?

There are many reasons people walk (run) away from Christianity. That’s why I point people to the WHY page — a collection of posts that explain why I am no longer a follower of Jesus.

If I had to pick one reason for why I am not a Christian it is this: I no longer believe that the central claims of Christianity are true. I came to a place in my life where these beliefs no longer made sense to me. (Please see The Michael Mock Rule: It Just Doesn’t Make Sense.) I reject all the miraculous claims made for Jesus, from his virgin birth to his resurrection from the dead. I do believe Jesus was a real flesh-and-blood human being who lived on Palestine 2,000 years ago, However, as with all humans, he lived and died, end of story.

I want to conclude this post by responding in part to your response is Grammar Gramma.

Wow gramma you are exactly the type of person I would expect to encounter when engaging atheists, arrogant, rude, dismissive.

I hope what I have written above might cast some light on how your first comment might have been perceived by the atheists and agnostics who frequent this blog.

Why did you comment on this blog? If you believe that atheists are arrogant, rude, and dismissive, what’s the point of leaving a comment? While Grammar Gramma can speak for herself, I can confidently say that she is neither arrogant, rude, and dismissive. I suspect much like me and other unbelievers, she is weary of Christians who don’t invest the requisite time necessary to understand my story or who begin their comments with judgments or psychological analysis. Most atheists and agnostics I know are plum wore out by Christians who judge and criticize their lives instead of taking the time to truly understand their story.

I hope I have adequately answered your questions. If not, please let me know.

Bruce Gerencser, 62, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 41 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve 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. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Are you on Social Media?

Follow Bruce on Facebook and Twitter.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so. Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

What Motivated Me to Work so Hard for Jesus

working for jesus

Repost from 2015. Edited, updated, and corrected

It all started with my belief that the Bible was the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God. I considered the Bible the road map for navigating through a Satan-dominated, sin-plagued world. The Bible, along with the Holy Spirit who lived inside of me, was my God’s way of speaking to me and telling me what to do

According to how Evangelicals interpret the Protestant Bible, every person is a vile sinner under the just condemnation of God, deserving eternal punishment in Hell/Lake of Fire. The Bible also says that God graciously provides a way for us to have our sins forgiven and avoid eternal punishment. God sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to the earth to be the final atonement for our sins. Jesus Christ died on a Roman cross, and three days later rose again from the dead, conquering death and the grave. Our salvation and eternal destiny rest squarely on the merit and work of Jesus. He, and he alone, is the way, truth, and life. Through the preaching of the Word (the Bible) and the work of the Holy Spirit, God calls out to sinners, saying, repent and believe the gospel. Those who hear his voice are gloriously saved and made part of the family of God.

The Bible taught me that as a God-called, God-ordained minister of the gospel, I had the solemn obligation to preach the good news to everyone. Work for the night is coming. Leave everything for the sake of the gospel. Only one life twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ. These clichés were not mere words to me. They were clarion calls to forsake all, including my family and economic security, and follow Jesus.

Every church I attended, every youth group I was a part of, and every summer youth camp I went to, reinforced the belief that God wanted (demanded) one hundred percent of me. All to Jesus I surrender, All to Him I freely give, says the old gospel song, I Surrender All. I went to an Evangelical Bible college to train for the ministry. Every class curriculum, every professor, every chapel speaker shouted out to students:

Souls for Jesus is our battle cry.
Souls for Jesus is our battle cry.
We never will give in while souls are lost in sin
Souls for Jesus is our battle cry.

My wife went to college to get an Mrs. degree. She believed God wanted her to marry a preacher. Polly knew that she would have to make sacrifices for the sake of her husband’s call. She was taught that Jesus, the ministry, and the church came first. She was also taught that her husband was specially chosen by God to proclaim the good news of the gospel. She was encouraged to read biographies of great men and women of faith to learn how to deal with being married to a man of God. Polly and I entered marriage and the ministry knowing God had called us to a life of self-denial and devotion to the work of the ministry. Hand in hand, we embraced the work we believed God had set before us.

I consider 1983-1994 to be the high point of my ministerial career. I pastored a growing, busy Evangelical church. Sinners were being saved, baptized, and joining the church. Backsliders were being reclaimed. God was smiling on our work. Not only was this my observation, but it was the observation of my colleagues in the ministry. God was doing something special at Somerset Baptist Church.

During this time, I did a lot of preaching.  A typical week for me looked something like this:

  • Jail ministry on Tuesday
  • Nursing home ministry on Wednesday
  • Midweek service on Thursday
  • Street preaching 2-3 days a week
  • Teaching the adult Sunday school class
  • Preaching twice on Sunday

We also had a tuition-free Christian academy, open only to the children of church members. In addition to my busy church preaching schedule, I held revival services and preached at bible conferences and pastor’s fellowships. I was motivated by what I believed the Bible taught me about the work of the ministry.  I looked at the life of the apostles and thought that they were a pattern to follow. Run the race, Paul told me, I. I was totally committed to what I believed was God’s calling on my life.

Some Christians object and say “you are the one who worked yourself to death. Don’t blame the Church or God. OUR pastor doesn’t work this way. He takes time for his family. Blah. Blah Blah.” Even now, as an atheist, I find such objections lame. If the Bible is true, if what it says about God, sin, salvation, death, Hell, and Heaven is true, how dare any preacher or any Christian for that matter, treat the gospel of Jesus Christ so carelessly.  How dare any preacher not burn himself out for the sake of those in need of salvation. No time for busywork. No time for golfing with your fellow preachers.

More than a few pastors are lazy hirelings who do just enough to keep from getting fired. They pastor a church for two or three years, wear out their welcome, and then move on down the road to another church. I have no respect for pastors who defend their laziness by stressing the importance of balance in their lives. Where do they find such a notion in the Bible they say they believe? Jesus doesn’t call them to balance. He calls them to forsake all and follow him.

One of the reasons I see Christianity as a bankrupt religion is the lackadaisical approach Christians and their spiritual leaders have towards matters that supposedly have eternal consequences. Most of what goes on in the average church is meaningless bullshit. Call a business meeting to decide on the color of the paint for the nursery walls and everyone shows up. Implore people to come out for church visitation and the same three or four people show up.

Why should I take the Bible, God, Jesus, salvation, Heaven or Hell seriously when most Christians and pastors live lives that suggest they don’t. It took leaving the Christian church and leaving the ministry for me to realize that most of what I was chasing after was nothing more than a fool’s errand. Many of the ex-ministers who read this blog know what I am talking about. So much of life wasted, and for what? Too bad I had to be fifty years old before I realized what life is all about. Too bad I sacrificed my health on the altar of the eternal before I realized that there is no eternity, just the here and now.

From a psychological perspective, I understand that my type-A, workaholic personality made it easy for me to be the preacher I came to be. Whether it was pastoring churches or managing restaurants, I worked day and night, rarely taking time off for family or leisure. I still have the same tendencies, the difference now being that the list of things that matter to me is very small. Polly matters. Family matters. My neighbors matter. But matters of eternity, Heaven, and Hell? Nary a thought these days. If the Christian God exists, then I am screwed, and more than a few of the readers of this blog are too. However, I don’t think the Christian version of God exists, so I am investing all my time, money, and talent — how many times did you hear that phrase in a sermon? — on the only life I have — this one. I will leave it up to the gods and my family to do what they will with me after I am dead. Of course, depending on what happens to me after death, I could come back from the dead and write a book titled, “Heaven is for Real and Boy are the Atheists In Trouble.”

Bruce Gerencser, 62, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 41 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve 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. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Are you on Social Media?

Follow Bruce on Facebook and Twitter.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so. Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

%d bloggers like this: