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Category: Evangelicalism

Reacting Against the Inevitable

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Guest Post by MJ Lisbeth

This year’s Easter/Passover/Ramadan season has been interesting. For one thing it’s the second such holiday cycle during the COVID-19 pandemic. For another, it witnessed two developments that, at first glance seem contradictory.

The first: A Gallup poll revealed that fewer than 50 percent of Americans identify themselves as members of a church, synagogue, mosque or other religious institution. That is the smallest proportion since 1937, when Gallup first asked the question and 73 percent claimed to be so affiliated.

The second: Arkansas’ state legislature overrode Governor Asa Hutchinson’s veto of a bill that would bar transgender girls from participating in school sports program and would keep health-service professionals from providing transgender-related health care to minors. Similar legislation is on the table in other states, and in others even more draconian measures are under review: Health care professionals who help young trans people get the care they need could face long prison sentences and the revocation of their licenses and certificates.

Although those two developments seem at odds with each other, it actually makes perfect sense that some states are trying to keep young transgender people from affirming themselves at the same time more Americans are dissociating themselves from churches.

Why is that?

Any time a major cultural or societal change is underway reaction to it can be fierce and even violent. Think of the Counter-Reformation, or the way cops and everyday citizens—let alone Klan members—tried, brutally, to resist the Civil Rights movement.

The bad news is, of course, that reactionary people and movements foment fear and hatred, and inspire or even embolden haters to all manner of violence, including murder. The silver lining, if you will, is that the virulence of their reaction is a sure sign that they are ultimately on the wrong, and losing, side of history.

At the dawn of the Civil Rights movement, for every white American who participated in a lynching or cross-burning, there were many more who accepted or rationalized Jim Crow laws as well as other, subtler kinds of discrimination. They might not have chased a black kid off their block, but they didn’t want the same black kid to date, let alone marry, their kid. They knew, deep down, that change was needed but “the time wasn’t right.”

Slowly, such people became aware of their own deeply-held, and often unconscious, assumptions and realized there was no rational basis for them. Moreover, they came to realize that the American system of apartheid was not only unjust and irrational; it benefited no one. The Loving decision not only righted a wrong; it aligned with the Constitution and simply made logical sense. The social order would not be broken by people marrying people of “different” races any more than it would be when members of those “different” races—or faiths or gender identities– entered schools, professions and neighborhoods that, previously, had been off-limits to them.

So, racist beliefs could no more be defended than rigid ideas about gender roles, identities and hierarchies with science, logic or law. The Loving decision deemed that “miscegenation” laws violated the Constitution; four and a half decades later, Robert Shelby, a conservative Republican judge in Utah, would declare that state’s laws defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman as unconstitutional (a pivotal moment, I believe, in the fight for marriage equality). In a similar vein, Asa Hutchinson—a Republican– vetoed an anti-transgender youth bill because, he said, its restrictions were “government overreach.” By the time those actions were taken, people had come to realize that gender identity and sexual orientation cannot be legislated or medicated away, and that racial purity is a myth at best and a lie at worst. (The human race began in Africa. That’s Anthropology 101.)

Those events, of course, have everything to do with Americans’ loosening relationship to churches and such: Nearly all of organized religion—especially Evangelical Christianity—is predicated on racial/ethnic hierarchies and rigid gender identities and roles. It’s pretty difficult to tell a woman to submit herself to a man, in her home or in a church, when she’s running a business or graduating at the top of her law school class. Even if it were possible or even feasible, there just isn’t any rational reason why a woman should stand back if she knows better about something than her male spouse or colleague—or why she should align herself with an institution where she is, at best, a second-class citizen and, at worst, a mere incubator.

Those who benefit from such systems of oppression are, of course, not happy to see the edifices that hold them up being dismantled, brick by brick, or eroded. They also worry that people, especially the young, are not interested in upholding those structures or institutions. The young make up a large portion of the religiously unaffiliated (“nones”), Gallup found.

It means that, deep down, religiously affiliated and reactionary folks know they aren’t going to find replacements for themselves among their children. So, they know that whatever they feel the need to do, they’ll have to do more of, with more intensity, for as long as they can. Their behavior will become more extreme, and they will do whatever they can to hold to their notions of gender, marriage, family and society. That means forcing those notions on everyone else through irrational prohibitions. The only way to get people to support such bans is to stoke their fears by invoking stereotypes, junk science and outright lies. And the only way to enforce those bans is through force. What I have just described culminated in Donald Trump’s judicial appointments: He chose jurists who oppose what most Americans want, including safe and legal access to abortion, the right to marry whomever they wish and to live in accordance with whatever they know to be true about themselves.

Those judicial appointments, the law Asa Hutchinson tried to stop and other retrograde actions and policies are thus part of a reaction against the inevitable: the secularization of the United States of America. Somehow it’s fitting that they came together during the Easter/Passover/Ramadan season.

Bruce Gerencser, 63, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 42 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen awesome 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.

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.

My Response to Matt, An Evangelical Christian

peanut gallery

Dear Matt,

What follows is my response to your recent comment on this site. My response is indented and italicized.

Christian means Christ Like.

I assume you are an Evangelical Christian or what is commonly called a Biblical Christian. I assume you also believe that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God.

The word Christian is mentioned three times in the New Testament: Acts 26:28, 1 Peter 4:16, and Acts 11:26. The Greek word for Christian (s) is Christianos, which means a follower of Christ, not Christ-like, as you allege. A Christian, then, is one who follows Jesus, not one who is like him. If, as Evangelicals believe, Jesus is God, is it not impossible for any Christian to be Christ-like? Further, one need only observe how Christians behave to know that if Christ is the standard for saving faith, no one is a Christian.

We are all anything but that. To strive to be Christ like means to lay aside our own foolish pride. Set aside our own differences. We are alike in that we all want to go to the heaven we have all heard of.

Are you not being prideful when you say that you have something that I don’t have, that Christians are headed for Heaven, while Bruce Gerencser, atheists, agnostics, and other unbelievers are headed for Hell?

You assume that I want to go to Heaven. Why would I want to spend eternity in a place overrun with smug, arrogant, self-righteous people who spent their lives on Earth causing division and harm? You say we should set aside our differences, but you really mean that everyone should believe in Jesus as you do. The goal, is it not, is conversion, rather than understanding and mutual agreement?

Going against the word of God is like pushing the tides of the ocean; futile.

This is only true IF one believes the Bible is a supernatural book. I don’t. I once believed as you do. However, once the Bible lost its authority, power, and control over me, I was then free to determine what my beliefs really were and how I wanted to live my life.

We need to focus on the things at hand. I do not wish ill of any person, but neither am I likely to follow just anyone.

The problem, Matt, is that you think your life and experiences are the measures of what should be the “focus on the things at hand.” In your mind, Jesus is the end-all, all that matters. However, I am an atheist. Jesus is a man who died 2,000 years ago, end of story. I categorically reject the claims Christians and their Bible make for Jesus.

I daily struggle with serious health problems. I can safely say that I am dying, that sooner rather than later, I will be no more. It is certainly possible that I could live for years, but I doubt it. My body tells me that I am running out of time. Believing this to be true, I choose to focus on what matters to me: my wife of 42 years, my six grown children and their spouses, my thirteen grandchildren, writing, traveling, and watching/listening to the Cincinnati Reds. I have no time for God, Jesus, Christianity, the Bible, or God-botherers. The only reason I am answering your comment is that I hope my answer will be instructive or helpful to readers of this blog.


I believe in the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I believe that he died and was raised from death on the third day. Not only because of my faith but also logic. Romans had every chance to debunk this as they searched high and low for the man that miraculously disappeared. Pontius Pilate had every reason to find the man that he never could. The most powerful man in the region was in dire straights trying find Jesus after his death, but never could even at the amount of men at his disposal searching.

What evidence do you have for these claims? I have ready EVERY historical reference for Jesus, and not one of them mentions these things. The Romans didn’t have to look for Jesus. They knew exactly where he was — in a tomb. You have no direct historical evidence for the empty tomb. The gospels were written decades after the death of Jesus by unknown authors. At best, these authors wrote down oral stories that had been passed down. At worst, they made shit up. How do you know which is true?

You claim Jesus resurrected from the dead. You think Jesus’ empty tomb is proof that he resurrected from the dead. However, there are other explanations, one that is even mentioned in the Bible. Perhaps, Jesus’ followers removed his body from his tomb and buried it somewhere else. Or perhaps the Romans did. Are not both of these possibilities more likely than Jesus magically resurrecting from the dead? All the available evidence tells us that dead people stay dead. Claiming that a book says a dead man resurrected from the dead doesn’t work for me. You will have to provide better evidence if you want me to believe that Jesus is still alive. How about Jesus making a personal appearance — anywhere? It’s been 2,000 years since anyone has seen Jesus. I think we can safely assume that he is dead and he ain’t coming to the family picnic.


I do not try to hate nor do I try to condemn. it is not my place to say where each one will go at the end of his time. I can say though that Jesus dealt with love not with hate. He loved the prostitute as much as the disciple, and was seen cleaning the feet from the apostles. He was a servant not acting as a worldly king, but as a divine king of the most high.

Matt, please be honest. You are a “Bible-believer.” You believe the words of the Bible came straight from the mouth of God. Thus, you know exactly where I am going when I die, right? Don’t hem and haw, own your abhorrent theology. Quit trying to paint yourself in a good light. You think anyone who doesn’t believe as you do will go to Hell when they die; that they will face eternal punishment for their sins. If I told you I was going to torture my children every day of their lives, all because they believe differently from me, would you consider me a good father? Of course not. In fact, you would call law enforcement and report me for criminal behavior. Yet, your God daily tortures billions of people and plans to torture billions more after they die. Pray tell, what kind of Father is your God? Why would anyone want to worship such an abominable deity?


It is so easy being among others saying that you do not believe. However in the dark of night being alone, how confident are you of your own mortality?

Are you not in the majority — those who believe in the existence of God? It is easy to believe in God, especially in the United States. Nothing is required of you. Your faith costs you nothing except an hour or two on Sundays and the shekels you toss in the offering plate.

People gather at sites like this because they are part of a small, often marginalized community. Try walking in atheists’ shoes before suggesting that in the still of the night we believe differently from what we do in the day. Besides, even if what you say is true, do not Christians do the same? What do Christians ponder in the dark of night? Where’s God? Why is God silent? Why, why, why? Existential questions are part of the fabric of human existence.

We all contemplate those times when by ourselves we wonder what will happen. If you feel that going into the abyss of darkness at the end of your life then what are you living for? IF there is no rhyme or reason to life then what is the purpose?

I don’t wonder about what will happen. I am sixty-three years old. I am sick, broken down, and nearing the end of life. I know EXACTLY what awaits me: death and nothingness.

You seem to suggest that non-Christians should kill themselves because they have nothing to live for. In your mind, this life is just preparation for the life to come. Perhaps you should ask yourself what YOU are living for? A mansion in Heaven? Deliverance from sin? Separation from unbelievers? Day and night worship of God? Is this what your life has been reduced to?

I have much to live for: my beautiful wife, my wonderful children, my awesome grandchildren, finishing my train layout, planting new trees/bushes, traveling to new places, eating good food, watching the Reds and Bengals, writing for this blog, finishing my book, finally publishing my first podcast, and most of all, having bowel movements that are not constipation or diarrhea. Not throwing up would be nice, too, as would making it to the bathroom without embarrassing myself.


God wants to hear from you, and wants you not to rely on yourself but Him.

If God wants to hear from me, he knows where I live. He also has my email address and cellphone number.

Question? Why did you leave this comment? To quote Astreja, “If your god wants to hear from us, mortal, then it bloody well needs to come talk to us in person instead of sending human messenger boys like you.”

Remember that being a Christian is not going to be easy, nor is it going to be without sacrifice. We all give up something to gain something more. We have to keep moving forward and keep his commandments. Loving one another is the greatest of all commandments.

Have you read my story? If you have, you know I sacrificed everything for Jesus for most of my adult life. I now know that I sacrificed my life, marriage, children, economic well-being, and health for a lie. I have lived life on both sides of this discussion. I can tell you that I am happy with where I am today — pain and suffering aside. Why would I ever want to return to the garlic and leeks of Christianity? Why would I ever want to return to the chains of bondage? No thanks. You have nothing to offer me, Matt. I am not sure what you hoped to gain by leaving this comment, other than hearing yourself talk or putting a good word in for Jesus. What possibly could you say that I have not heard (or preached) countless times before? How did you fail to understand that people like me are not prospects for Heaven, that we have no interest in what you are peddling? Yet, you commented anyway.


We live by example, we show others the way to live and love not hate. Nobody in the Bible is without sin other than Jesus. Even when we stumble he is there to pick us up. We have only to ask. Knock and the door will be opened.

Ask yourself, Matt, what example have you left for the people who will read this post? What in your behavior emulates Jesus and makes Christianity appealing to unbelievers? Can you not see that your comment comes off as little more than an Evangelical Christian masturbating in public? Your comment might have made you feel good, but all it did for me and the readers of this blog — people who know the Bible inside out, many of whom were pastors, missionaries, evangelists, and fervent believers — is remind us that Evangelical Christians are narcissists who just love to hear themselves talk. Your comment comes off as a sermon, not an honest interaction with a former follower of Jesus.

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Bruce, a sinner SAVED by Reason

Bruce Gerencser, 63, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 42 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen awesome 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.

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.

Is the Bible a “Simple” Book?

bible made me an atheist

Evangelicals love the Protestant Christian Bible. Evangelicals believe that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God. Every word in the Good Book is straight from the mouth of God. Thus, when seeking “truth,” where do Evangelicals turn? The Bible. 2 Peter 1:3 states:

According as his [God’s] divine power hath given unto us [Christians] all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue.

Through the Bible, the Holy Spirit, and conscience, God gives to Christians everything that pertains to life and godliness. Unbelievers, of course, lack this knowledge and understanding. Their minds have been darkened by the God of this world, Satan. While unbelievers have the intellectual ability to read, their depravity keeps them from truly “knowing” what the Bible says.

I was in the Christian church for fifty years. I spent twenty-five years pastoring Evangelical churches. I read the Bible from cover to cover numerous times, spending tens of thousands of hours studying its pages. I had a deep, passionate love for the Bible. As a pastor, I preached over 4,000 sermons — all from the Word of God. I am not bragging, then, when I say that I know and understand the Bible.

According to many Evangelical apologists, I don’t really “know” the Bible. The moment I said I was no longer a Christian, all my Bible knowledge magically disappeared — Ă la a Men in Black mind wipe. This argument is absurd, ranking right up there with the belief that I am still a Christian. Why do Evangelicals refuse to accept that I “know” the Bible? Simple. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 2:14:

But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

Let me translate this verse for you:

Unsaved people do not understand the things of the Spirit of God [the Bible] To unbelievers, the Bible is a foolish book. Its teachings cannot be understood by non-Christians because the Holy Spirit does not live inside of them as their teacher and guide.

If, as Evangelicals allege, the Holy Spirit lives inside [where?] of every Christian, why are so many [most?] believers ignorant of the Bible’s teachings? Why are there so many Christian sects, each with its own interpretations of the Bible? Why can’t Christian churches and pastors even agree on the basics: salvation, baptism, and communion?

Ephesians 4:4-6 says:

There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

This text tells us that there is:

  • One body [church]
  • One Holy Spirit
  • One hope
  • One Lord
  • One faith
  • One baptism
  • One God and Father

Pray tell where can we find what these verses speak of? Sectarianism, division, and internecine warfare abound. It seems, then, that having the Holy Spirit living inside of you doesn’t do much, if anything, knowledge-wise. Ask one hundred Christians a theological question, and you will be given one hundred answers. I have written numerous posts over the past thirteen years detailing the various Christian systems of beliefs and hermeneutics. All roads better lead to Heaven. If not, a lot of Christians are going to land in Hell when they die. Why? Wrong beliefs. Evangelicals love to preach up salvation by grace, but what really matters is right beliefs. It is right beliefs that determine one’s eternal destiny, not faith or grace. Believe the wrong things, and you are going to fry.

atheists read the bible

Now to the subject of the post: is the Bible a “simple” book? Based on what I wrote above, you would think that that answer to this question is no! Understanding the Bible requires God living inside of you. This same God darkens the minds [hearts] of unbelievers so they cannot understand the Bible’s teachings. Unless God, through regeneration, gives unbelievers faith, it is impossible for them to savingly believe and understand the Bible. Or so Evangelicals — especially Calvinists — say, anyway.

Yet, many Evangelicals encourage unbelievers to read the Bible. “The Bible is so simple, even a child can understand it,” evangelizers say. Often, unbelievers are told to start reading the gospel of John (never mind the fact that this gospel contradicts Matthew, Mark, and Luke in numerous places). “Just read John, and God will reveal himself to you!” If the Bible is such a “simple” book, why do preachers and theologians own countless books that tell them what the Bible says? If the Bible is such a “simple” book,, why do pastors attend BIBLE colleges and seminaries? It seems to me that the Bible is anything but “simple.”

Most Evangelical laypeople (and many pastors) believe the Bible is a “simple” book. Pastors reinforce this false notion in their sermons. Many churches encourage congregants to follow daily Bible reading schedules such as Our Daily Bread (most Christians never read through the Bible one time). These reading schedules present Christians with a truncated, sanitized reading of the Bible. I quite certain that none of these pastor-approved Bible reading schedules covered Ezekiel 23:18-21 (The Message):

I turned my back on her just as I had on her sister. But that didn’t slow her down. She went at her whoring harder than ever. She remembered when she was young, just starting out as a whore in Egypt. That whetted her appetite for more virile, vulgar, and violent lovers—stallions obsessive in their lust. She longed for the sexual prowess of her youth back in Egypt, where her firm young breasts were caressed and fondled.

The New Living Translation (NLT) renders Ezekiel 23:18-21 this way:

In the same way, I became disgusted with Oholibah and rejected her, just as I had rejected her sister, because she flaunted herself before them and gave herself to satisfy their lusts. Yet she turned to even greater prostitution, remembering her youth when she was a prostitute in Egypt. She lusted after lovers with genitals as large as a donkey’s and emissions like those of a horse. And so, Oholibah, you relived your former days as a young girl in Egypt, when you first allowed your breasts to be fondled.

Imagine the discussion during family devotions (another practice Evangelicals love to talk about but rarely do) over this passage of Scripture. “Mommy, what does it mean to have genitals as large as a donkey’s and emissions like those of a horse?”

The Bible is many things, but “simple” it is not. That’s why Evangelicals should invest time in actually reading and studying the Bible. Doing so is a good way to turn people into atheists.

Bruce Gerencser, 63, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 42 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen awesome 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.

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.