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Forgiveness and Giving Credit to Whom Credit is Due

blood of jesus

Those raised in Evangelical churches are taught that they should ALWAYS give God/Jesus the credit/praise for EVERYTHING. Well . . . not everything. Just the “good” things that happen in your life. The “bad” stuff that happens is attributed to Satan, demonic influence, sin, the flesh, God tempting/testing you, or “hell if we know.” And when things turn around for you? Praise Jesus! Look what HE has done! Lesson to be learned? God must be praised, honored, and given credit for EVERY good thing that happens in your life and absolved of any culpability for anything bad. God is like a man who beats the shit out of his wife while telling her, “I love you.” Every Friday he comes home from his work at the local automobile plant and dutifully hands his wife his check, providing for his wife’s and children’s every need. This violent man expects to be praised for all the “good” he does for his family and expects his wife to ignore the pain, physical harm, and psychological terror he has inflicted upon her.

My wife, Polly, and I love to take day road trips. We plan to take one tomorrow. While our travel distance has been curtailed due to my health, there are still places in northwest Ohio, northeast Indiana, and southern Michigan we have not explored. We set a maximum travel distance: two-and-a-half hours, make sure I have extra narcotic pain medication and muscle relaxers, check the weather report, and off we go. Sometimes, we have a specific destination in mind, and other times we drive to the north, south, east, or west. And occasionally, we turn our trips into a game (i.e., making all left turns). Fun times. We have been taking such trips for thirty-five years. Our children have many “fond” memories of Mom’s and Dad’s day trips to Kentucky, West Virginia, Maryland, Indiana, Michigan, and all over Ohio. And then there was that trip to Charlotte, North Carolina and BACK in one day (sixteen hours). That’s a story for another day. 🙂

Now to the point of the above paragraph. 🙂 We have explored some communities that have smartly developed, clean downtown areas. If you judged such cities and villages by how their downtowns looked, you would conclude that these communities are exciting, vibrant places to live. Yet, if you drive a few blocks in any direction from downtown, you find rundown houses and urban decay. I won’t mention any communities by name where we found this to be true. Years ago, I mentioned that Columbus, Indiana had a wonderful downtown area, but not far from downtown? No so nice . . . Based on the emails I received from residents of Columbus, you would have thought I said their town was a war zone. (That would be the blocks surrounding downtown Detroit, by the way.) Columbus, Indiana is a wonderful community to live in, but that doesn’t change the fact that there’s a huge difference between downtown and the blocks surrounding it.

Okay, now I will get to the point of my geography and urban planning stories. I am like the old preacher I heard say when talking about the length of his sermon. “I’m like a plane circling the airport. I could land at any time.” 🙂

Jesus and his relationship with those who follow him are like the clean, smartly developed downtowns mentioned above. Ain’t Jesus awesome! Praised Jesus! All honor, praise, and glory to Jesus! Yet, just blocks away are rundown homes, blight, and poverty; people struggling to make it to another day. All Christians want to talk about is their downtowns, while just out of view are lives and circumstances that belie the “victory in Jesus” notion of life.

I grew up in an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) home. After my parents were saved in the 1960s, we started attending church every time the doors were open. Dad was a deacon, Mom played the piano (until she had an epic mental breakdown in front of the congregation), and the Gerencser children obediently sat next to their parents (no sitting with friends for them). Our family sang hymns, prayed prayers, read the Bible, and praised Jesus for his grace, mercy, kindness, and love. Yet, life at home was very different. Mental illness, affairs, and neglect. Oh, the Gerencsers praised Jesus, but behind the scenes he was nowhere to be found.

After my parents divorced and quickly remarried other people: a recent Texas penal system parolee for my mother and a nineteen-year-old girl with a toddler for my father, they stopped attending church. My siblings had no interest in church (ages fourteen and eleven), but I got saved, baptized, and called to preach. Church became my family, my safety net. From that time forward, I was a true-blue Christian. I attended every church service, conference, and revival. I skipped school so I could attend preacher’s meetings. I worked on a bus route and went on visitation. I actively participated in youth group. My family may have abandoned Jesus, but not I. I was all in. I didn’t swear, listen to rock music, smoke, drink alcohol, take drugs, or engage in premarital sex. I even eschewed masturbation, though, to be honest, I often failed. Raging hormones, no sex; well, that sexual energy had to go somewhere. It was the 1970s, but you wouldn’t have known it looking at my life.

Off to college in the 1970s, and on to pastoring seven churches in three states. Outwardly, I was a wonderful Christian and pastor, yet I was quite human behind the scenes. I was temperamental, exacting in my expectations of others. I hid my “sins,” and when deep, dark periods of depression plagued me, I hid them from everyone except those closest to me. But, of course, you can’t hide the “truth” from your spouse and children.

In public, I effusively praised the name of Jesus, giving God credit for my preaching and ministerial successes. No matter how hard I worked, Jesus always got credit for what I did. When congregants complimented me on sermons I had spent hours constructing, I deflected their praise, giving God all the praise, honor, and glory. When the one church I pastored grew from sixteen people to two hundred, God was the reason for the attendance growth. When “good” things happened in my life, I always genuflected to Jesus. When I was “blessed” by someone else, I thanked Jesus for answering my prayers and meeting my needs. The person helping me was just a means to an end, used by God to bless me. And when “bad” things happened in my life? I was to blame. Or Satan. Or the flesh. Or sin. Or me failing a test from God. Or perhaps it was God purifying my life. Regardless, God got the praise for everything good that happened in life, and I was to blame for everything bad.

In 2008, I left Christianity. I am now an atheist and a humanist. Embracing the humanist ideal has forced me to reevaluate how I view and treat others; how I view my own life. Taking God out of the equation changes everything. Rejecting the religious concept of “sin” and atonement forced me to take a hard look at my moral values and ethics. As an Evangelical Christian, I had it drilled into my head that I had to forgive everyone. And I mean everyone. My grandfather’s wife sexually molested my brother and me. Forgive her, my former Evangelical beliefs say. My grandfather and his wife outwardly loved Jesus. Everyone thought they were supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Christians. Yet, behind closed doors, they were nasty, judgmental, hateful, manipulative people. (Please see Dear Ann and John.) Forgive them, my former Evangelical beliefs say. My uncle raped my mother (please see Barbara), yet John MacFarlane, the pastor of First Baptist Church in Bryan, Ohio, preached him into Heaven at his funeral (please see Dear Pastor, Do You Believe in Hell?) Forgive him, my former Evangelical beliefs say. I recently wrote about my non-relationship with my father. (Please see Questions: Bruce, How Was Your Relationship with Your Father? and Questions: Bruce Did Your Bad Relationship with Your Father Lead to You Leaving Christianity?) Forgive him, my former Evangelical beliefs say.

I have had an acrimonious relationship with my mother-in-law for forty-five years (and I still love her). She did everything in her power to keep her oldest daughter from marrying me. No matter what successes I have had over the years, Mom has never let me forget that I am “less than.” Mom believes that Polly could have done “better. Though left unstated, I am sure she thinks that if Polly had married someone else, she would still be a Christian; that everything “bad” that has happened in our married life is my fault.

We had it out with Mom and Dad sixteen years ago. (A story I will tell another day. So many stories, so little time — literally.) Polly’s parents had come up to Bryan for Thanksgiving. One thing turned into another, and they left our home in a huff. Mom and Dad later called to “apologize” for their behavior. During our conversation, Mom told me two things I have never forgotten: “Bruce, we always knew you were ‘different'” and “Bruce, you never forget.”

Setting aside the “different” accusation (I plead guilty), I want to focus on the claim that I “never forget.” First, that’s not true. Trust me, at my age, I forget things all the time — frustratingly so. But, I do have a long memory. Second, people see me as a writer, but what I am is a storyteller. I have shared countless stories with the readers of this blog, with many more, Loki-willing, to come. (My favorite David Foster Wallace quote? Don’t let the truth get in the way of telling a good story.) Sunday, I will be giving a speech for the Atheists of Florida (please see Your Invitation to Hear My Speech for Atheists of Florida This Sunday). I don’t plan to deliver a lecture or defense of atheism. That’s not my calling in life. I am, at heart, a storyteller.

Over the years, I have had Evangelicals get upset with me over how I have portrayed them in a post; particularly pastors and churches from my past. I typically tell them that if they don’t like what I am saying about them, they should have treated me better. Don’t want to be portrayed as an asshole, don’t act like an asshole. Or, don’t piss in a writer’s corn flakes. He might serve them up to you the next day.

As a follower of Christ, I had to give God credit for the good that happened in my life and forgive everyone who hurt me or treated me like shit. As a humanist, I have a far different view of life and people. With no God to concern myself with, I no longer have to give a deity credit for the good in my life or accept blame for everything bad that happens in my life. Instead, I give credit to whom credit is due. When Polly cooks an awesome meal, I praise her, not God. When my grandchildren make the honor roll, I congratulate them for their diligence and hard work, not God. When my children do well at work, I don’t praise Jesus. They did the work, and they, alone, deserve credit for their success. When my physicians successfully treat me, I thank them, not a fictional deity. When cashiers/servers/repairmen take care of me, I typically call them by their names and say, thank you! I want them to know that I am giving them credit for their work and service.

The same goes for forgiving people. My Evangelical upbringing demanded that I forgive people no matter what they did to me. Generally, I am a loving, kind, and forgiving person. Doubt this? Ask Polly or my children. Even when it comes to my one son who stole my pain medications three times, I still love and forgive him. Imagine taking a drug away from your parent that he needs to live. Imagine letting your parent needlessly suffer from horrible pain. That’s exactly what my son did to me. Yet, I forgive him (and put my meds somewhere else when he is at our home).

That said, I have no obligation to forgive everyone who has harmed me. Take my grandparents. I booted them out of my life and that of my family twenty-plus years ago (my younger children and grandchildren have never met them — their loss). They were bad people. Everyone around them may have thought they were wonderful Christians, but I knew better. John and Ann were abusers, experts in gaslighting and passive-aggressive behavior. Worse, John was violent. He repeated sexually molested my mother as a child. When called to account for his crimes, John refused to apologize, saying his “sins were under the blood [of Jesus].” Should I “forgive” them for their bad behavior, regardless of whether they atone for their “sins”? Nope. John died from cancer years ago, and Ann is suffering in a nursing home. Do I care? Nope. I might have been there for them had they not been pieces of shit. But, they reaped what they sowed.

Want me to love and forgive you? Do better. Be a decent human being. Treat me with respect. If you can’t do that, don’t expect me to treat you well. Evangelicals often attack me, saying awful things. I mean a-w-f-u-l things. Yet, when I give them the Bruce Gerencser Treatment®, they are outraged that I didn’t treat them better. Sorry, but in my worldview, assholes are given the comeuppance they so richly deserve.

What say ye, dear readers? How do you handle forgiving people now that you are not a Christian? Do you still praise Jesus for the “good” in your life? Or do you give credit to whom credit is due? Please leave your pithy comments and psychological analyses in the comment section. Thanks for commenting!

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

You can contact Bruce via email, Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.

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

Bruce, You Are a “Quitter”

bruce gerencser curmudgeon

Recently, an Evangelical preacher had this to say about me:

Yes, we called BG [Bruce Gerencser] a quitter as that was a common theme throughout his life. He quit on high school, college, his church, Jesus, and, as we see. anything to do with Christian behavior towards others.

When they quit, they spend their time hiding from God, and the truth no matter who brings it across their path. They are all the same and if you want to understand why Jesus said not to cast pearls before swine, it is because they will trash and reject it without using an open mind.

This so-called man of God, a defender of the One True Faith®, loves to call me a “quitter.” According to him, “quitting” is leaving. This preacher is my age, and I know he has, using his definition, “quit” a few times himself. This man has combed through my life with a nit comb, finding every time I left _________, seeing this as proof I am a quitter. In his mind, a “quitter” is a failure; one who has failed to run/finish the race (as determined by this preacher).

As a ministerial student at Midwestern Baptist College in Pontiac, Michigan — an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) institution — I heard countless sermons on “quitters.” Dr. Tom Malone, the chancellor of Midwestern, was famous for lambasting quitters in his chapel sermons. Other chapel speakers did the same. The message was clear: don’t be a quitter; God doesn’t use quitters; your life will never amount to anything; you are a failure if you quit.

One chapel speaker, “Dr.” Charles Whitfield, even called me out personally for quitting. I had dropped his hermenuetics class, and that — for some inexplicable reason — infuriated him. While he didn’t mention me by name, the details of his harangue made it clear who he was talking about.

Infamous IFB pastor, the late-Jack Hyles, wrote a poem titled “Don’t Quit.” It said:

When the cup is turned to wormwood,
And the wormwood turns to gall;
When your walking turns to stumbling,
And the stumbling to a fall;
When you’ve climbed above the mountains,
Yet the Alps rise rough and tall;
DON’T QUIT.

When the path ahead is crooked,
And the road’s too rough to tread;
When the best upon the table
Is replaced by sorrow’s bread;
When you’ve crossed some troubled waters,
Yet a Marah’s just ahead; (Exodus 15;16)
DON’T QUIT.

When the vultures have descended
And disturbed your downy nest;
When sweet fruit has changed to thistle,
While the thorns disturb your rest;
When a deep to deep is calling,
And when failure seems your best;
DON’T QUIT.

When the Lord has cleansed the table;
Then He takes away the fat;
And the best wine has been taken,
Till you find an empty vat;
When another fills the throne room
Where once you proudly sat;
DON’T QUIT.

When your health is feeling sickly,
And the medicine tastes bad;
When your fellowship is lonely,
And your happiness is sad;
When your warmth is getting colder,
And in clouds your sunshine’s clad;
DON’T QUIT.

When you find your wins are losses,
And that all your gains are lacks;
When ill things never come alone,
And your troubles run in packs;
When your soul is bruised and battered
From the Tempter’s fierce attacks;
DON’T QUIT.

Be not weary in well doing,
For due seasons bring the grain;
He who on the Lord hath waited
Shall never run in vain;
The just man falleth seven times,
Yet riseth up again;
DON’T QUIT.

We left Midwestern in early 1979. As we were loading up our Uhaul trailer, preparing to move to my hometown, Bryan, Ohio, a dorm roommate of mine stopped by and pleaded with me not to “quit,” saying, “God will NEVER use you!”

Seven years later, Dr. Malone was preaching at the Newark Baptist Temple in Newark, Ohio — an IFB church pastored by Jim Dennis, Polly’s uncle, a 1960s Midwestern grad. (Please see The Family Patriarch is Dead: My Life With James Dennis.) My father-in-law, a 1976 Midwestern grad, proudly told Malone about the church I was pastoring; how fast it was growing; how souls were being saved under my ministry. Before starting to preach, Malone recognized several notable preachers in the crowd — a common practice at IFB conferences and preacher’s meetings. Malone told the crowd I was in attendance, saying, “If Bruce had stayed any longer at Midwestern, we would have ruined him.” Everyone laughed, and I took his words as validation of the work I was doing for God.

With these things in mind, let me circle back around to what the aforementioned preacher said about me:

[Bruce] quit on high school, college, his church, Jesus, and, as we see. anything to do with Christian behavior towards others.

This preacher mentions five things I have done and experienced in my life that justify him calling me a “quitter.” I want to respond to each of these things, showing the context behind these events. I will then add a sixth point.

High School

Did I graduate from high school? No. My parents divorced when I was fourteen. Two months later, both of them remarried. Mom married her first cousin, a recent parolee from the Texas penal system. Dad married a nineteen-year-old girl with a toddler. In the spring of 1973, hoping to avoid bill collectors, Dad had a household goods auction, packed up our clothing and meager belongings, and moved us to Tucson, Arizona. After finishing tenth grade at Rincon High School in Tucson, I hopped a Greyhound Bus and moved back to Bryan, Ohio to live with my mom. Two months later, I moved to Findlay, Ohio so I could attend Findlay High School and Trinity Baptist Church, both of which were places of happiness, security, and safety for me. After living with a church family in Mount Blanchard for a couple of months (and attending Riverdale High School) I started living with Gladys Canterbury, a matronly woman at the church. I became a ward of the court so Gladys could receive money for keeping me and I would have medical, dental, and vision insurance. I was sixteen.

In May of 1974, weeks before I turned seventeen, I decided to move back home. I missed my mom. Knowing that Gladys (and the church) would not allow me to move, I secretly planned my escape. For a week, I would, unknown to Gladys, stay home from school and plan my move. Finally, the day arrived. Mom pulled into the driveway of Gladys’s southside home, got out of the car, and helped me load my few worldly possessions into her car. Ninety minutes later, I was back home, ready to enroll for my senior year at Bryan High School.

As a student at Findlay High, I didn’t miss one day of school. In fact, I got out of school every day at 11:30 am, and walked or rode my bike to my job as a busboy at Bill Knapps on West Main Cross St. I would work the lunch shift and then sit in the side dining room eating my employee meal — man, I loved their burger basket — and then working on my homework. Afterward, I would work the evening shift. I worked 25 or more hours each week.

In August of 1974, Mom and I went to Bryan High so I could enroll for school. Two weeks later, the school called to inform us that Findlay High was denying me credit for eleventh grade; that I would have to enroll as a junior, not a senior. Findlay High said that because I missed the last two weeks of school, they were denying me credit for my junior year. Never mind the fact that I never missed a day of school up until moving home. Never mind the fact that I was a good student. Mom and I consulted a local attorney, David Newcomer. We thought at the time, “surely Findlay High School can’t do this.” Newcomer told us that we could sue the school, but it would take years to settle such a lawsuit.

Livid over the prospect of having to retake eleventh grade, I “quit” school. My dear friend Dave Echler had also quit school. This certainly played a part in my decision to quit. Mom pleaded with me not to drop out of school, but after seeing my mind was made up, she signed the necessary form so I could quit.

Yes, I am a high school dropout, but a “quitter” in the sense that this Evangelical preacher is using the word? No.

College

Polly and I married in the summer of 1978, between our sophomore and junior years. Polly started attending Midwestern while she was a senior at Oakland Christian School. Polly was one smart cookie, a pretty cookie, a sexy cookie, okay, a “Godly” cookie too. 🙂 Polly, who would soon graduate second in her class, was permitted to attend Midwestern the second half of her senior year.

After getting married, Polly and I moved to an upstairs apartment on Premont St. in Waterford Township. In September, we started classes at Midwestern, excited that we were halfway through college. In less than two years, Mr. and Mrs. Bruce Gerencser would move to a town somewhere in the United States and start a new IFB church, planning to spend our lives winning souls to Christ and teaching Christians the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God. Remember what they say about best-laid plans?

We planned to wait until we were out of college to have children. But, unfortunately, “God” had other plans. Six weeks after we married, Polly informed me that she was pregnant. That’s what you get when two young, immature virgins marry, having little information about how “things” work. Eschewing birth control pills and condoms, Polly used an ineffective spermicidal foam.

Polly cleaned the homes of a Bloomfield Hills rabbi and their daughter, that is until brutal morning sickness made that impossible. I worked a full-time job at Deco Grand, making parts for GM’s diesel motors. Keep in mind, we were carrying a full load of classes at Midwestern, along with attending church three times a week and fulfilling the required evangelism requirements for students. I also taught Sunday school and held church services Sunday afternoon at a drug rehabilitation center in Detroit.

In January 1979, I was laid off from my job at Deco Grand. I had not worked there long enough to draw unemployment. Unable to find employment that would allow us to stay in school, we decided to drop out for a semester, hoping to reenroll after our son was born in May. We went to the school to talk to “Dr.” Levy Corey about dropping out. We thought Corey, one of our favorite preachers would understand. Instead, he counseled us NOT to leave school. “Just trust God. He will provide,” Corey said. Several weeks later, behind on the rent and facing threats of having our utilities shut off, we decided to leave Midwestern and return to Bryan. We lived, for a time, with my sister. I took a job with General Tire, and when they moved me to third shift, I “quit” and took a union job at ARO. I made $8 an hour, with superb insurance. When Jason was born in May, we didn’t pay a dime.

One month after we moved to Bryan, my sister’s pastor, Jay Stuckey, offered me an unpaid job as his assistant. I worked my ass off helping the church grow, reaching a high attendance of 500 our last Sunday there.

Yes, I didn’t graduate from Midwestern. But, was I a “quitter” in the sense this Evangelical preacher uses the word? No. Life happens, and after Polly got pregnant and I was laid off, we did what we could to keep a roof over our head and the lights on. We may have left college, but we spent twenty-five years serving congregations in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan.

Churches

This preacher writes as if I pastored one church and then quit. Instead, I pastored seven churches. One church I pastored for eleven years, another for seven. I also worked as my father-in-law’s assistant for two years, growing the youth department to fifty students (over half of the church’s Sunday attendance). I also pastored four churches for short periods of time. (Please see What Happened to the Churches I Pastored?) Interestingly, every one of these pastorates was seven months long. I know, odd, right?

Was I a “quitter” in the sense that this preacher is using the word? Of course not. Pastors leave churches all the time. The reasons for doing so are many. Sure, some of my departures were acrimonious. Could I have done better or been more patient? Absolutely. I have never denied that certain character traits of mine made it difficult for me to work with bullheaded, argumentative, controlling church members. I warned the last church I pastored, Victory Baptist Church, a Southern Baptist church in Clare, Michigan, that I would not fight with them. Five months later, my hope for love, joy, and peace turned into ugly, soul-killing warfare. I left this church for the sake of my mental health. I was burned out, tired of endless conflict and pettiness. Did I “quit”? No, I resigned. You know, like people do when they leave a job for another one. Wait until this preacher finds out how many jobs I have worked over the years. 🙂 I have an advanced degree in leaving jobs and finding another. Could I have done differently? Sure. But a “quitter”? Nope.

Jesus

Did I “quit” on Jesus? Perhaps the real question is this: “did Jesus quit on me”? Did the church quit on me? Did my family, former parishioners, and colleagues in the ministry quit on me after I left the ministry and later left Christianity? Or maybe, just maybe, I decided that the central claims of Christianity weren’t true; that Jesus was not virgin-born, did not work miracles, and lies buried in a grave somewhere near Jerusalem. Or maybe, just maybe, I decided the Bible was not the inerrant, infallible Word of God; that the Bible is littered with mistakes, contradictions, and errors. Or maybe, just maybe, I visited 125 Christian churches and concluded that the teachings of Jesus were nowhere to be found; that churches were social clubs instead of places that ministered to the “least of these.” Or maybe, just maybe, I divorced Jesus. Having given him thirty years to show up and reveal himself, I decided that Jesus wasn’t walking through the door. Wanting to move on in my life, I divorced Jesus and entered a polyamorous relationship with reason, skepticism, and common sense.

To Jesus, I say, “Here I am, Lord. You know where I live. Show up on my doorstep, invite me to lunch (and pay the bill), and show me your miracle-working power, and I will believe.” I suspect Jesus ain’t coming to my house and hanging out. How can he? He’s dead.

Christian Behavior

This Evangelical preacher thinks I have “quit” on “anything to do with Christian behavior.” Of course, I have. I’m not a fucking Christian. “Language,” Bruce. Fuck off, asshole. 🙂 That said, I am a loving, kind, thoughtful person. Ask Polly, our six children, or our thirteen grandchildren. Ask my lifelong friend mentioned above. The only people who think I am a bad person are those who can’t square my story with their theological beliefs. Unable to do so, they attack my character. Those who matter to me know what kind of man I am. I am confident that Bruce, the Atheist is a far better “Christian” than this Evangelical preacher. I don’t go to Christian blogs or websites and attack their owners. I have NEVER engaged Christians outside of this blog or on social media after they have left a comment.

I make no apology for operating this blog. I make no apology for what I write. Have I become less polite and longsuffering towards Evangelical zealots? Guilty as charged. (Please see I Make No Apologies for Being a Curmudgeon.) After thousands of emails, blog comments, and social media messages from Evangelicals, I am tired of their attacks and character assassinations. I try to ward off their emails, comments, and messages (please see Comment Policy and Dear Evangelical), but they continue to harass me anyway. The contact form for this site states:

If you would like to contact Bruce Gerencser, please use the following form. If your email warrants a response, someone will respond to you as soon as possible.

Due to persistent health problems, I cannot guarantee a timely response. Sometimes, I am a month or more behind on responding to emails. This delay doesn’t mean I don’t care. It does mean, however, that I can only do what I can do. I hope you understand.

To help remedy this delay in response, my editor, Carolyn, may respond to your email. Carolyn has been my editor for five years. She knows my writing inside and out, so you can rest assured that if your question concerns something I have written, Carolyn’s response will reflect my beliefs and opinions — albeit with fewer swear words.

I do not, under any circumstances, accept unsolicited guest posts.

I am not interested in buying social media likes, speeding up my website, or having you design a new blog theme for this site.

I will not send you money for your ministry, church, or orphanage.

If you are an Evangelical Christian, please read Dear Evangelical before sending me an email. If you have a pathological need to evangelize, spread the love of Jesus, or put a good word in for the man, the myth, the legend named Jesus, please don’t. The same goes for telling me your church/pastor/Jesus is awesome. I am also not interested in reading sermonettes, testimonials, Bible verses, or your deconstruction of my life. By all means, if you feel the need to set me straight, start your own blog.

If you email me anyway — and I know you will, since scores of Evangelicals have done just that, showing me no regard or respect — I reserve the right to make your message and name public. This blog is read by thousands of people every day, so keep that in mind when you email me whatever it is you think “God/Jesus/Holy Spirit” has laid upon your heart. Do you really want your ignorance put on display for thousands of people to see? Pause before hitting send. Ask yourself, “how will my email reflect on Jesus, Christianity, and my church?”

Outside of the exceptions mentioned above, I promise to treat all correspondence with you as confidential. I have spent the last fourteen years corresponding with people who have been psychologically harmed by Evangelical Christianity. I am more than happy to come alongside you and provide what help I can. I am not, however, a licensed counselor. I am just one man with fifty years of experience as a Christian and twenty-five years of experience as an Evangelical pastor. I am more than happy to lend you what help and support I can.

Thank you for taking the time to contact me.

Yet, Evangelicals send me emails anyway. I am grateful that what I have written above on the contact page has warded off many blood-sucking vampires. But, I still get lots of emails from fangers (shout out to True Blood fans). Further, zealots ignore my commenting policy. After I ban them, they continue to try to comment. Take Elliot. While he has stopped trying to comment or email me, he had tried to access this site 386 times since July 9, 2021 — more than six times a day. Elliot can’t read this, but maybe someone will tell him, Nah, baby, Nah.

Have I ever gone too far when responding to arrogant, nasty, self-righteous Evangelicals? Yes. Readers who have been with me since 2007 — looking at you Michael, Zoe, and Andrew — remember my oh-so-famous response to Iggy of Montana. Iggy told me that he “knew me better than I knew myself.” After a contentious back and forth, I blew up. Scorched earth time. Some people will say I have gone too far when I rewrite the deleted comments of the Evangelical preacher who thinks I am a quitter. (He is permanently banned, yet he still tries to comment, ignoring my commenting policy.) Other people love my rewrites. Sometimes, humor is all you have left when dealing with smug bullies.

Death

I am sick. Really, really sick. I have fibromyalgia, gastroparesis, and osteoarthritis. In late July, I wrote a post titled Health Update: I’m F**ked:

Over the past four months, I’ve had excruciating pain in the middle of my back, left side, and under my left arm, into my shoulder, and down my arm. The pain is so severe that it affects everything I do. Some days, I can hardly use my left arm (and I’m left-handed)

I had X-rays. Normal. CT scan. Normal. And now an MRI of my thoracic spine. NOT normal. I have:

Disc herniation (T7,T8)

Disc herniation (T6,T7)

Central spinal canal stenosis (T9/T10, T10/T11)

Foraminal stenosis (T5,T6)

Disc degeneration/spondylosis (T1/T2 through T10/T11)

Facet Arthropathy throughout the spine, particularly at T2/T3, T3/T4, T5/T6, and T7/T8 through the T12/L1 levels.

Hypertrophic arthropathy at T9/T10

Every day is a struggle. Some days, I wonder if I can go on. So far, my reasons for living (my family, writing, and the Cincinnati Reds) give me the strength to live another day. There might, however, come a day when I can no longer endure the pain. And when that day comes, I may choose to end my life. Am I “quitter” for saying, “I’ve had enough. I can’t bear the pain any longer”? I am sure that If I take the death with dignity path, the Evangelical preacher who is the focus of this post will likely write a post that says, “Bruce Gerencser, The Quitter is Dead. Now He Knows Hell is Hot, God is Real, and I’m Fucking Right.” I hope the readers of this blog will give him a collective middle finger. I hope you will tell people that Bruce Gerencser was a survivor, that he did what he could. Finally, I will leave it to my family, friends, and the people who have walked the path with me to measure my life, to give testimony of how the “quitter” Bruce Gerencser made a difference in their lives. (This last section is not a plea for help. This is just me talking out loud with my friends.)

This Evangelical preacher means for the word “quitter” to be a pejorative term; to cause psychological pain. What he calls “quitting,” I call life. A well-lived life? That story is still being written.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

You can contact Bruce via email, Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.

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

My Final Response to “Dr.” David Tee

dr david tee

“Dr.” David Tee/Theologyarcheology, aliases for Evangelical preacher David Thiessen, first commented on this blog on October 30, 2020. Tee responded to a post I published in 2016 about his anti-science views. In addition, I posted some of his comments from another site where he refused to say where he got his doctorate. He responded:

I do not expect unbelievers to understand or handle anything God says or what I say properly and with the way they would like to be treated. Also, I do not remember saying those things or even posting here. As far as I am concerned unless there is verifiable evidence that I wrote those words, I am sure someone else wrote them

If I did write them then I am sorry they sounded so brash BUT I do not respond to people who demand that I must jump through their hopes in order to be heard. You do not like my words on MY website that is your choice but at least be honest, open minded, and have a little bit of character when you address them.

And so it began.

Over the past year, Tee has posted numerous inflammatory, hostile, and ugly comments, some of which I have deleted. He has called me weak, a quitter, and a liar. He has gone out of his way to disparage me, attack my character, and inflict emotional pain. After pleas from my wife and other readers to ban Tee, I finally did so. Tee knows he is banned, yet he continues to comment, knowing I will have to read his comments before deleting or editing them to make him look like the asshole he is. Usually, I can block such people at the server level to prevent them from accessing this site. Unfortunately, Tee either uses a VPN or other software that gives him a new IP address every time he visits this site. This renders any block on my end impossible.

My friend Ben Berwick, who blogs at Meerkat Musings, has had numerous run-ins when Tee. Ben is much more patient and longsuffering than I am. Tee is known for defending sexual predators such as Ravi Zacharias and Bill Cosby, even attacking their victims. Several days ago, Tee wrote a post titled, Does Age Make a Difference? In this post, Tee, a supposed follower of a God-man who said “suffer the little children to come unto me,” says that children who have been raped and subsequently become pregnant MUST be forced to carry their zygote/fetus/baby to term. Tee categorically rejects any grounds for abortion, even in cases of rape and incest.

In a post titled Pregnancy and Abortion, Ben took Tee to task for his views on children, rape, and abortion. In typical fashion, Tee posted this comment:

I am not rebutting. I do not need to , your false information is exposed very clearly. Plus, you forget, I do not post according to your rules or regulations. I post according to God’s.

You have no real authority nor do you have any real support for your views. They are all on you and very subjective. Also, I am not going to be drawn into an internet fight. You have said your piece, I have said mine and that is where it will end.

Typical Tee. I even gave this so-called man of God an opportunity to write a post for this site:

By all means, David, make a rational defense of the inerrancy and preservation of the Bible (they go together) — not by quoting Bible verses, but by making sound intellectual arguments. Shit, David, I’ll even post your defense on this site.

Of course, I know you won’t take me up on my generous offer. The inerrancy and inspiration of the Bible can’t be rationally defended.

Tee immediately accepted my offer, saying:

Okay. It will have to wait till next week though as I am noy [sic] home. Had to travel for my father-in-laws [sic] funeral

Eighteen days later, no post from Tee.

I have written about Tee several times:

David Tee Says I Am Envious and Jealous of Evangelical Churches

David Tee Says I’m a Quitter and Have Nothing to Offer People

Evangelical Zealot “Dr.” David Tee is Infatuated with Bruce Gerencser

Evangelicals Fantasize About Bruce Gerencser

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: The Bible Records the “Exact” Words of Jesus

NO COMMENT: When Science and the Bible Conflict, Bible Right, Science Wrong

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Secular Scientists are Con Men

It is clear, at least to me, that my writing gets under Tee’s skin. He has written several posts about me:

They Think They Have the Truth

We Call Them Quitters

General Comments

Applying Scripture

Inside the Mind of an Atheist

Don’t be a Young Peter

Yesterday, Tee wrote another post featuring yours truly, complaining about how I and other people on this site have treated him. So here’s a guy who personally attacks me (and others on this site) and shits on my doorstep, and he whines about how he’s treated. Really? Here’s what Tee had to say (note that he refuses to spell out my name):

What BG has done in this post provides evidence that those who turn away from Christ or have never believed, have nothing better to offer anyone than what Christ offers.

We use our website name a lot when posting on other people’s forums simply because it is the one that comes up when we make our comments. We do not think anything of it as people can come here and talk to us if they want to get more information. But here is the post as it is short and provides an example of how believers are treated by those who claim to have a better way:

Thank you for reading and commenting on this blog. Today, we reached 35,000 comments. I planned to make a big deal over who left comment number 35,000. Unfortunately, that commenter was “Dr.” David Tee/David Thiessen/Theologyarcheology. Dammit, bad karma or God sending me a message, right? 😂Tee is banned from this site, but I do edit his comments and show them as deleted. Hopefully, he will have stopped commenting before we reach 40,000.

We italicized the keywords. If BG was better than Christians and had a better way to live, he certainly does not show it in this special event for him. It wouldn’t matter who made the 35,000 post, he would celebrate the person and his achievement as planned.

But since it was us, he scrapped those plans and instead did some terrible things to our posts in that and other articles we commented on. Here are a couple of examples:

Nah, nah baby. When will you respect others and play by the rules? You know, like you demand with the Bible. Had to get the plunger for this comment, but it’s gone.

and

“Dr.” David Tee/David Thiessen/TheologyArcheology, demand a dick measuring contest between me and Bruce Gerencser, the John Holmes of atheism. I know this is a fight between a brad and railroad spike, but I want to be “nailed.” just like the dead Jesus.

Obviously, that person has a lot of hatred for us and Christ. He doesn’t operate out of any other emotion or feeling. Oh, and he has said we are banned from his website. All we did was tell him that he quit and he had no right to criticize believers who were still running the race.

It is amazing to see how quitters think they are better than those who are still trying to do what Jesus said and leave this earth with their faith intact. They are the ones missing out, not those who struggle against the temptations, the abuse, the criticism, and other roadblocks placed in their way.

Those of us who do continue, do not feel superior to those that quit or do not believe. That is something the latter two groups read into the attitude of those who believe.

We do not understand why BG is so upset. It was not like he advertised the fact that he was getting close to this milestone. Nor did we do anything to beat anyone else out of receiving that nice honor. We did not even know anything about it.

So why be so upset that he has to treat someone in this sinful manner. We do not care if he likes us or not but BG needs to stop saying his way and his decision is better than those who humble themselves and decided to follow Christ and his teaching.

He has proven that it is not. Leaving your faith is not a smart move to make. Especially with everything you are giving up. You may win temporal peace and no attacks from evil but those are minor when it is compared to what God can do to you.

This kind of treatment is par for the course for us over the years. It has not just come from unbelievers and those who have turned away from being a Christian. We get it from Christians as well. We are still wondering why we got banned from Worthy forums.

….

We do not hate BG and are saddened by two things: #1. he walked away from the faith and #2. he is very ill. He could have been used greatly by God but he took his eyes off of Jesus and was destroyed by evil.

….

Note that Tee feigns care for me, about my declining health. Yet, one of his comments I edited (which he quoted above) originally said:

So do I win a prize? How about $1 for every comment preceding mine 🙂 At least you read the comments. When will your last day on earth be?

Tee has subtly made death threats before, couching them in Bible verbiage. Why didn’t he quote his original comments? Simple. They would paint him in an unflattering light. Why doesn’t he follow this site’s commenting policy? Did he miss the Bible lessons on respecting others?

I make no apologies for my responses to David Tee. (Please see I Make No Apologies for Being a Curmudgeon.) He’s an asshole for Jesus, a hateful man who relishes attacking my character and inflicting emotional pain. I will continue to delete and/or humorously and profanely edit every comment Tee tries to post to this site. When people search for Theology Archeology, TheologyArcheology, and “Dr.” David Tee, Google returns results for this site and Ben Berwick’s. Thoughtful, caring, kind, compassionate Christians will then know exactly what kind of man former Christian Missionary Alliance preacher David Thiessen really is. As a pastor, if I had a congregant who behaved as Tee behaves on the Internet, we would have disciplined him and excommunicated him from the church. Such people give Christianity a bad name. In my book, anyone who defends sexual predators is no Christian at all. (Tee believes in decisional regeneration. Say the right words, believe the right things, and you are saved — good works optional.) Tee may have mouthed the sinner’s prayer long ago in an Evangelical church, but somewhere along the way, he lost what Christianity is all about: loving God and loving your fellow man.

Update

David Tee’s response to this post. Please see the comments below for excerpts from his post and my brief response.

What do you think about “Dr.” David Tee’s latest post? Please leave your pithy thoughts in the comment section.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

You can contact Bruce via email, Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.

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

Your Invitation to Hear My Speech for Atheists of Florida This Sunday

atheists of florida speech

I have the honor of speaking at the monthly meeting of the Atheists of Florida this Sunday, August 29, 2021, at 5:00 pm (EDT). This event is open to the public. After my speech, there will be a Q&A time.

If you are interested in attending, here’s the link for the Zoom meeting. The room will be open at 4:45 pm. I hope to see some of your smiling faces on Sunday. No eggs or tomatoes allowed. 🙂

My speech will be available afterward as a podcast and YouTube video. I will post those links when they are available.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

You can contact Bruce via email, Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.

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

35,000 Comments

Thank you for reading and commenting on this blog. Today, we reached 35,000 comments. I planned to make a big deal over who left comment number 35,000. Unfortunately, that commenter was “Dr.” David Tee/David Thiessen/Theologyarcheology. Dammit, bad karma or God sending me a message, right? 😂Tee is banned from this site, but I do edit his comments and show them as deleted. Hopefully, he will have stopped commenting before we reach 40,000.

Thank you helping to turn this blog into a community. ❤️

Bruce Gerencser