Dr. David Tee, who is neither a doctor nor a Tee, recently decided to let the readers of his blog know why the Evangelical-pastor-turned-atheist Bruce Gerencser deconverted. Tee, whose legal name is Derrick Thomas Thiessen, has blamed all sorts of things for my loss of faith, but now he has decided that “books” are my problem; that if I had only read the “right” books I would still be a Christian.
Thiessen is not alone in his assertion. One former church member told me that books were my problem; that if I would just start reading the Bible again, all would be well. I had a preacher friend, who prided himself in not reading anything except the Bible, tell me that I needed to get rid of my library and just read the King James Bible. He proudly was an ignorant man of one book. He was certain that if I would just start reading the Bible again, my faith would return.
Here’s what Thiessen had to say (all spelling, grammar, and punctuation in the original):
BG [Bruce Gerencser] often complains that we write about him more than any other topic. That is not true, of course, as we rarely write directly about him. We do write about what he has said on his website, which is totally different.
However, this article is about him directly as he is an example of what not to do. While we are writing mainly for pastors, missionaries, and church leaders, what happened to BG can also happen to the layperson in the congregation.
These words apply to you, your children, and your friends as well. Protecting your faith is essential if you want to hear those treasured words, ‘Well done thou good and faithful servant’. But BG did not protect his faith and he is no longer part of God’s family.
The way that he did that was to open his mind and heart to unbelievers. Here is was, a pastor for 25 years, knowing and preaching the truth for 4000 sermons, yet he still let evil take him down. Instead of following the Bible correctly and discerning between right and wrong words, true and false teaching, he may have slowly let false teaching destroy him.
The Bible tells us that the secular world does not have the truth and lives in a dark world. They truly have nothing to offer the believer. When we were young it was said that the church was about 10 years behind the secular world and that statement applied to a variety of issues.
What we have seen in the last 40+ years is that the church seems to be equal to the secular world in adopting sinful teaching. We are not talking about the use of technology in the sermons although that should be dispensed with, we are talking about accepting secular psychological ideas for counseling, theology, as well as life in general.
When that happens we are not shining our light unto a dark world and not only do we put ourselves as Church leaders in jeopardy, we are doing the same for our congregations. Sadly, BG led his family to destruction as well as many people he can through his website and interviews.
He came to this fallen state by doing the following:
“I decided I would go back to the Bible, study it again, and determine what it was I REALLY believed. During this time, I began reading books by authors such as Robert Wright, Elaine Pagels and Bart Ehrman, These three authors, along with several others, attacked the foundation of my Evangelical beliefs: the inerrancy and infallibility of the Bible. Their assault on this foundation brought my Evangelical house tumbling down. I desperately tried to find some semblance of the Christianity I once believed, but I came to realize that my faith was gone.”
Instead of going to God like Billy Graham did when he felt the call to ministry, BG went to unbelievers. he opened the door to his destruction by ignoring what the Bible says about evil men and accepting their words over God’s.
Evil will use a variety of people to try to take you down. It can be through books, movies, t.v. shows, sexy men and women, as well as questionable situations. having God protect you is the way you need to run the race and finish the course.
“During this time period, I read countless books written by authors from a broad spectrum of Christendom. I read books by authors such as Thomas Merton, Robert Farrar Capon, Henri Nouwen, Wendell Berry, Brian McLaren, Rob Bell, John Shelby Spong, Soren Kierkegaard, and NT Wright. These authors challenged my Evangelical understanding of Christianity and its teachings.”
There is no instruction in the Bible to challenge your faith. Jesus simply said ‘ye shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free’. Both Paul and Peter warned us about false teachers, false prophets, and that evil men go from bad to worse.
What those verses are telling us is that we do not need to challenge our faith but look for the truth. What we do is put all authors into their proper categories. Is he or she a true Christian writing the truth or are they bringing a different gospel and are false teachers, etc?
That is the question every church leader needs to ask when reading books from all types of authors. if you are in doubt about an author, find their biography and read up[ on their beliefs. That information will help you make the correct determination and how you should be viewing their words.
Non-Christian authors may provide insight into how non-believers think and believe, but that is about all they have to offer a believer in Christ. They do not offer any insights on how to live life because they oppose God who has given us his instructions on how to live life.
We follow God over man, something BG failed to do.
“I turned to the internet to find help. I came upon sites like exchristian.net and Debunking Christianity. I found these sites to be quite helpful as I tried to make sense of what was going on in my life. I began reading the books of authors such as John Loftus, Hector Avalos, Robert M. Price, Daniel Dennett, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, Jerry Coyne, and Richard Dawkins.”
This is another thing that should not have been done. Instead of going to Christian websites for help, he went to those who left the faith. What we do not read in his words is if he asked for evidence to support the words of those former Christians and atheists?
He does ask for evidence from Christians yet nothing seems to be asked from those people he read. He simply took their word for it and started down his slippery slope. What BG also did wrong was what Deut. 21:21 says:
“Then all the men of his city shall stone him to death; so you shall eliminate the evil from your midst, and all Israel will hear about it and fear.”
Instead of moving away from those evil people, he embraced them and their words. Disobeying God has consequences and BG has certainly paid for his disobedience. Also, like Bill Mahr who cherry-picked the believers he would highlight in his film Religiosity, BG cherry-picked the churches he would visit:
“I tried, for a time, to convince myself that I could find some sort of Christianity that would work for me. Polly and I visited numerous liberal or progressive Christian churches, but I found that these expressions of faith would not do for me. My faith was gone.”
Liberal and progressive Christianity is not Christianity and should not be given the label of being Christian. Why not go to true Christian churches and get the truth? This action sounds like what Bill Mahr did, and that was to protect his atheism, not find the truth.
BG seems to have wanted to deconvert and went to places that would help him do just that. When in doubt, you do not go to unbelievers or those who bring a different gospel. You go to true believers who have love, compassion, and wisdom and tell you the truth.
As Sodom, Gomorrah, Noah’s Flood, and the Tower of Babel are examples of what not to do, so are the life and decisions of BG and every other former Christian. Keep your eyes on Christ and you will never fail.
According to Thiessen, when I began questioning my beliefs, I should have ONLY read books by Evangelical authors. Evidently, he forgot that I had already read these books. I know what Evangelicals believe and practice, inside and out. Why would I waste my time reading books that repeated the same apologetics arguments over and over again? I know all I need to know about Evangelical Christianity.
I am still on a journey of discovery, following the path wherever it leads. I will become a Christian once again if and when I am presented with evidence to warrant me doing so. My “conversion” will take new evidence, not the same-old-shit-new-day stuff. Of course, Evangelicals don’t have new evidence. Their religion is a closed system of thought. Evangelicals pride themselves on allegedly having the same beliefs that Jesus and the apostles had 2,000 years ago. Of course, they don’t actually have the same beliefs, but they think they do. Evangelicals would know better if they bothered to read books outside of their peculiar rut, but such reading is discouraged and, at times, condemned. Thiessen is the norm in Evangelical circles, not the exception.
There’s much I could say in response to Thiessen, but I will refrain from doing so. I have no idea why he decided to use an eight-year-old post, Why I Stopped Believing, to continue his deconstruction of my life. He makes numerous false statements, including “cherry-picking” the churches Polly and I visited after we left the ministry. Here’s a list of the churches we visited. As you will see, we attended a variety of churches and sects; everything except IFB churches. No need to visit IFB churches since that was our background. Most of the churches were Evangelical theologically, though no church was off limits. We were on a journey, willing to follow the path wherever it led. Sadly, Thiessen is stuck in the religion of his childhood, holding on to his tribe’s deity. Now a senior citizen, Thiessen has no real-world experience with any other religion or system of belief but his own. He does not know what he doesn’t know.
Thiessen says I wanted to deconvert, that I was looking for a way out of Christianity. Nothing in my story remotely suggests that this claim is true. In fact, the truth is the exact opposite. I did everything possible NOT to deconvert. I wanted to keep believing. However, I value truth over “want.” I became an atheist because I had no other choice.
Thiessen is free to show what I have “missed” about Christianity, but I am confident no evidence will be forthcoming.
Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.
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