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Tag: Dax Hughes

Dear Pastor Dax Hughes, Words Have Meanings

fake dax hughes
Dax Hughes, current or former pastor of Heartland Worship Center, Paducah, Kentucky. This is not actually a photograph of Dax. He objected to my use of a photo of him I found on his church’s website, so I was forced to find a replacement. This photo is actually of Jesse on the hit Evangelical show Preacher.

Dear Dax,

Several days ago, you and I had kind of a discussion on the Infected Saint blog. I say “kind of a discussion” because you ignored or refused to answer most of my comments and the questions I asked you. The focus of the discussion was a post you wrote for your public blog — “Top Ten Reasons Life is a Disaster Without Jesus.” You seemed to be shocked that people are holding you accountable for what you said in this post. Let me take a moment to school you on blogging. When you write a blog post on a public site, it is assumed that you want people to read it. I understand that your blog is not read by very many people, but for the people who do read it, what you say matters. I have a blog that is widely read, and I know that I must be careful about the words I use. If I misspeak or don’t clearly speak, readers are going to call me out, asking that I either explain my word usage or correct my post. Fortunately, I rarely have to do this because I carefully pay attention to the words I use, and when I use a particular word, it is because I mean to do so.

Several years ago, readers schooled me about my use of the words “homosexual” and “pussy.” I learned, from LGBTQ readers, that the word “homosexual” is a derogatory slur used by religious Fundamentalists to denigrate gays. When I learned this, I stopped using the word. The same goes for the word “pussy.” Several female readers emailed me about my use of the word pussy to describe wimpy, physically weak men. Since “pussy” references a woman’s genitals, my use of the word implied that weak men were like women, a connotation I certainly did not want to give. Women, contrary to what the Bible says, are anything but weak.

Dax, words have meanings. Evidently, you have not yet learned this lesson, so I hope you will allow me to take you to the woodshed over your word usage on the Infected Saint blog and in your post referenced above.

In the comment section on the Infected Saint  blog, you stated that you had a Ph.D. in ” Greek language and biblical backgrounds.” You also wrote you “have a Ph.D. in ancient languages with an emphasis on NT background.” Let me refresh your memory about what you said:

My whole education has been centered around the manuscripts and history of the Bible and its people. I know there are some discrepancies but to say it completely unravels is not where my study has taken me.

. . .

I wonder what primary sources you have studied? To do so you need to be versed in koine and Semitic languages. Are you? I have studied these primary sources. Not secondary sources that write from their bias to prove their “theory.” Honest scholarship deals with primary sources and takes years of study to be able to do so. When you have done that we can have more of a discussion on foundational issues

. . .

I don’t claim anything. I have a PhD in the are[a] and have studied this for most of my adult life. If your sources are second and third sources removed then how is that really an argument from you. Have you looked at these things directly or from internet and popular reads. That’s not true scholarship. And how can you say that about the languages if you can’t read them. Sure there are textual variants but can you question its [sic] veracity without giving an honest and careful study of DSS, P literature, Textus Receptus, Q, and many other sources?

. . .

I do explore outside some but scholarship is highly focused on an area so I study little except in my area of languages and NT. Give me a source and I will investigate this. I of course have heard of debate on it but have not read up on it

When asked what specific kind of Ph.D. you had, you replied:

Yes in Greek language and biblical backgrounds. It’s what I do. I don’t feel the burden of proof is on me with you for this reason… we don’t know each other and can’t meet face to face. Trying to argue and show things here would be fruitless. If you are ever in my area Ian would be honored to meet up with you and discuss face to face at rhisnkevel [sic].

. . .

My PhD focuses primarily on Koine Greek and ancient Hebrew. I also focused on al [sic] backgrounds of the NT writings.

. . .

Seriously? Do you not get that I have a PhD in ancient languages with an emphasis on NT background?

. . .

Accredited school. Samford University in Birmingham. My degree is legit. It’s not like a mail in or something. I had to write a dissertation and oral comps. It is in biblical languages.

. . .

Yeah this will always be your argument now. I have a doctorate and ancient languages have been my emphasis. Believe it or dont [sic].

. . .

I am Dr Hughes regardless of what you say gere [sic]

. . .

Except I do have a doctorate and not just read a bunch. I teach classes and have written a dissertation. I am not just well read.

. . .

It didn’t take some us long to figure out that you had grossly misstated and exaggerated your academic credentials; that you had, in fact, LIED about your education. Yes, you have a doctorate, but it is a D.min (doctorate of ministry). A D.min requires nowhere near the work required for a Ph.D. in Biblical languages. When asked about the subject of your dissertation, you replied, fasting. Fasting? Yes, fasting.

You deliberately lied about your academic background, and you owe it to the readers of The Recovering Know It All blog to apologize for your subterfuge. Not only did you lie, but you attempted to use your supposed John Holmes-sized academic prowess to suggest that you knew more than everyone else and that we should bow to your authority on matters concerning the Christian Bible. Here’s one (of many) examples of this:

You take me out of context. For me arguing with Ark about the veracity of the scripture and historicity of the faith it is a scholars [sic] work and not a Pastor’s work. Call it pride but I have every right to show I am qualified here and not speaking out of tradition, emotion, or uneducated bias

When the owner of the blog called you out on your lie, exposing that your academic background was not what you claimed, you chose instead to argue and obfuscate. It was only when you were finally backed into a corner that you admitted you had given readers the wrong impression about your credentials. No, Dax, you didn’t give the wrong impression, you lied. Words have meanings, and it is time you learned this.

Now let me address your recent blog post, “Top Ten Reasons Life Without Jesus is a Disaster.” When confronted about your attack on most of the human race on the Infected Saint blog, you said that people were misunderstanding what you wrote. Here’s some of what you said:

But like you said, you know I didn’t mean it [my blog post] as an insult. No way I would say it that way.

. . .

I want what is best for people and I think Christ is what they need. It is who I needed too.

. . .

Yeah but I want them to see There is more to life than what they know with their senses. That to miss out on the supernatural is disastrous. If I really believed this wouldn’t it make sense to talk this way? Be cruel to hold it only for myself.

. . .

I do care. You are always quick to question my motives but you don’t know me. I know my heart here. I care about who reads it. I care about you.

Dax, imagine if I wrote: Christians have miserable lives that are lacking meaning, purpose, joy and peace; lives that are like a perfumed dead corpse; lives that are blind, unaware, ignorant, and deceived. It would be natural for you, as a Christian, to conclude that Bruce thinks that I have a miserable life that is lacking meaning, purpose, joy, and peace; a life that is like a perfumed dead corpse; a life that is blind, unaware, ignorant and deceived.

Words have meanings, so when you write these very same words about everyone who isn’t an Evangelical Christian, you should not be surprised when non-Evangelicals view your words as hateful, mean-spirited, and unkind, especially when it is evident that you have lived your entire life within the sheltered confines of the Evangelical bubble.

Instead of admitting that your words were poorly chosen, ill-advised, and unhelpful, you doubled down and tried to suggest you were being misunderstood. You attempted to paint yourself as a loving, kind gent of sorts who only wants what’s best for people. Really? Do your words match how you want to be viewed? Of course not.

I spent fifty years in the Christian church, twenty-five of those years as an Evangelical pastor. In November, 2008, I divorced Jesus and now I am an atheist. Over the past fourteen years, I have had to deal with a constant stream of emails and blog comments from people who were just like you, Dax. Evidently, Evangelicals — whose minds are sotted with Fundamentalist theology and practice — think they can say anything and not be held accountable for what they say. I am one person, however, who intends to hold such people’s feet to the fire, exposing how their hateful, bombastic, mean-spirited, and at times, vile and threatening words are viewed by their intended targets. I also make it my mission to publicly expose Evangelical preachers, evangelists, missionaries, and parachurch leaders who think they can say whatever they want without being held accountable for what they say.

If your goal in writing your blog post was to reach non-Christians, you failed miserably. I suspect, however, that that was not your intent; that your Ten Reasons post was meant for the choir; for those who already embrace your worldview. You are used to preaching to groups where ninety-nine percent of people in attendance are already Christians. Whoo Hoo! You tell them, Brother Dax! Way to preach the Word, pastor! Little did you know that there were atheists, agnostics, and unbelievers metaphorically sitting in the audience. And now these unbelievers are holding you accountable for what you said about their lives, and the lives of their spouses, children, grandchildren, extended family, and friends. Remember Dax, words have meanings.

On the nineteenth of June, I will turn sixty-five years old. During my lifetime, I have preached thousands of sermons, taught countless Sunday school lessons, preached revivals, spoken at conferences, preached on street corners, and written thousands of blog posts. I have on more than a few occasions stepped in shit with my words, resulting in misunderstanding and conflict. On more than a few occasions I have had to apologize for things I said or explain what I meant when I said what I did. Seventeen years ago, I wrote an apology letter to the readers of the Bryan Times, apologizing for the bigoted, Fundamentalist letters to the editor I had written over the previous decade. The editor was surprised by my apology, but it was important for me to let local residents know that my past words were ill-advised, and that I now repudiated them.

There have also been times when people objected to something I have said or written, and I have stood my ground — I said what I meant to say. Years ago, when I first embraced Calvinistic soteriology, I preached a sermon on limited atonement (particular redemption). After the service, a church member gave me a note that said, Did you say what I think you said? This man was not a Calvinist, so he strenuously objected to the narrow scope of my view of the atonement. He had, in fact, heard me correctly. I said exactly what I intended to say.

While the target audience of this blog is former Evangelicals and people who are having doubts about Christianity or are trying to extricate themselves from Evangelicalism, I do have a fair number of Evangelical readers. Many of them are one-and-done readers. They read one post, object, and move on. Some of these offended Evangelicals object to me characterizing Evangelicalism as a Fundamentalist religious belief. I AM NOT A FUNDAMENTALIST, they say, thinking that their anecdotal examples will set me straight. However, I am not moved by such examples. Based on their beliefs and practices, most Evangelical sects, churches, pastors, and congregants are Fundamentalists. They might not like being called Fundamentalists, but if it walks, talks, and acts like a Fundamentalist, it is a Fundamentalist. If Evangelicals don’t want to be labeled Fundamentalists, then it is up to them to change their beliefs and practices. (Please read Are Evangelicals Fundamentalists?) This is another example of me meaning what I say when I write, “Evangelicals are Fundamentalists.” I know that not every Evangelical is a Fundamentalist, but when taken as a whole, Evangelicalism is a Fundamentalist belief system.

Dax, you are a younger man. I hope you will let this old curmudgeon (please see I Make No Apologies for Being a Curmudgeon) give you some advice. First, always remember words have meanings. Say what you mean, and mean what you say. Second, when engaging people in the public sphere — any place outside of the safety of the Christian box — keep in mind that people are paying attention to what you write and say. Choose your words carefully. It is okay to be pointed, direct, and passionate, but passion can quickly turn into bigotry and hate. Third, religion and politics are hot-button topics, so be aware of how easily your words can be misconstrued. If your intent is to write a rant or a polemic or preach to the choir, make that clear so people won’t waste their time on your post. When I responded to your post, I thought I was engaging someone who sincerely believed what he was saying. You made no attempt to respond to my critique of your post, nor did you make any effort to learn anything about my site or me as a person. This told me that you didn’t care how your words were received. Your behavior, by the way, is typical of Evangelical preachers. I can count on one hand the number of Evangelical preachers I have interacted with on my blog who proved to be decent, thoughtful, honest human beings. More often than not, these so-called “men of God,” had ulterior motives and were not the least bit interested in what I had to say. Armed with certainty and an inspired, inerrant, infallible religious text, they had a goal of slaying the Evangelical pastor-turned-atheist named Bruce Gerencser. By failing to understand that thousands of people are reading their words, these men did incalculable damage to their cause. If your goal as an Evangelical preacher is to proclaim the gospel and share the love of Christ, what you say and how you say it is vitally important. Your “Ten Reasons” post failed spectacularly in this regard. In the future, when you want to write about the miserable unwashed, uncircumcised Philistines of the world, I hope you will pause for a moment and consider how your words will be received by unbelievers. Every blog post you write is a sermon preached by you to the world.

I wish you well, Dax.

Saved by Reason,


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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According to Evangelical Pastor Dax Hughes, Life Without Jesus is Disastrous

life without Jesus

A common trait of Evangelicals is their insistence that life without Jesus is miserable, meaningless, empty, and void of happiness. Now, thanks to Dax Hughes, current or former pastor of Heartland Worship Center — a Southern Baptist congregation — in Paducah, Kentucky, we have a new word to add to the list: disastrousHughes writes:

Life without Christ is disastrous. Check your soul and you will see it is true. We all know this deep down that there is something more for us beyond ourselves and his world.

Hughes asks readers to check their souls. Fine, where is my soul? How can I access it? Is my soul like the check engine light on my car, where, when something is wrong with my automobile, the electronic control module (ECM) trips a code and causes the orange CHECK ENGINE light to appear? If the answer is yes, where is my CHECK SOUL light? Maybe the reason I can’t see it is because my soul is black like my heart.

There is no evidence for the claim that humans have a soul. Evangelicals insist that everyone has some sort of ethereal eternal soul that leaves our body when we die, only to be reunited with our body when our bodies are resurrected so we can stand before God and be judged. According to Hughes, everyone KNOWS deep down — wherever the heaven deep down is — that is there is more for us than the here and now. Sorry Dax, I don’t know any such thing. All I “know” is that life is short and then we die. I have plenty of evidence for this claim of mine. What does Hughes offer up for his claim? Assertion. That’s what Evangelicals do — they assert without proof that their beliefs are infallibly true. Filled with self-righteous certainty, zealots such as Hughes cannot imagine any other truth claim but their own. I know, based on what I can see with my eyes and understand through observation, that humans are born, live, and die. End of story. There is no evidence for the claim that life continues in some other form after death. No one, not even Jesus, has come back from the dead. After thousands of years of people living and dying, it is safe for us to conclude that when people die they stay dead. It is for this reason that I give the following advice on my ABOUT page:

You have one life. There is no heaven or hell. There is no afterlife. You have one life, it’s yours, and what you do with it is what matters most. Love and forgive those who matter to you and ignore those who add nothing to your life. Life is too short to spend time trying to make nice with those who will never make nice with you. Determine who are the people in your life that matter and give your time and devotion to them. Live each and every day to its fullest. You never know when death might come calling. Don’t waste time trying to be a jack of all trades, master of none. Find one or two things you like to do and do them well. Too many people spend way too much time doing things they will never be good at.

Here’s the conclusion of the matter. It’s your life and you’ best get to living it. Someday, sooner than you think, it will be over. Don’t let your dying days be ones of regret over what might have been.

Hughes goes on to list his top ten reasons life without Jesus is a disaster. My response in indented and italicized.

You need to be perfect to meet God’s standard and you can’t even get close by your own efforts.

There is no God so we need not worry about meeting “God’s standard” — Greek for Hughes’s personal interpretation of the Christian Bible. Humans are infallibly flawed. The best any of us can do is to love others and treat people with kindness, decency, and respect. When we behave badly, we need not seek out a mythical God’s forgiveness. Instead, we should seek out the forgiveness of those we have offended. God and religion are middlemen that complicate relationships.

You waste your whole life pursuing stuff and people that never brings you real joy and peace.

Remember, Hughes thinks life is disastrous without Jesus. Would he listen if I told him that atheists and other non-Christians have joy and peace, along with meaning and purpose? Probably not. Evangelicals are walled off from any worldview but their own. For Evangelicals, life begins and ends with Jesus, the Bible, and faith. Think for a moment about how much of life Evangelicals miss when they narrow their living down to only Jesus matters. Think of all the stuff and people they miss out on because they are busy brown-nosing Jesus. It is Evangelicals who have shallow lives, lives un-lived because of what this or that Bible verse says. In what other realm of life do we think it is okay for a bronze-age religious text to dictate the terms of life? The world would be much better off if the Bible was put on the shelf with other ancient, outdated, irrelevant books. At the very least, Christians should update the Bible so that it is applicable to the 21st century. Evangelicals need to stop trying to convince themselves that the Bible is a timeless book filled with unsearchable riches. I know that this claim is not true because I, unlike many Christians, actually took the time to read and reread the Bible numerous times. I don’t need to read it again to know what it says.

You are trying to find purpose in life without ever connecting with the only one who can give you real purpose. (It is like playing chess without the king on the board.)

*Sigh.* Hughes cannot imagine any other way of looking at the world but his own. If he could, he would notice that the majority of the human race finds meaning and purpose in life without “connecting” with the Christian God. I have no problem with people such as Hughes “connecting” with their God, but it is offensive for them to suggest that the lives of others have no purpose without becoming followers of Jesus and Hughes’ flavor of Christianity. Billions of people are a living testimony to the fact that what Hughes says here is not true. It might be true for him, but most people have no need for Jesus or Christianity. Life is good without God.

Being religious in order to clean up is about as beneficial as putting perfume and nice clothes on a corpse and calling it full of life.

Hughes is attempting to advance the claim that what true Christians have is a relationship not a religion. I hate to break it to Hughes, but Christianity is a religion made up of thousands of sects. Suggesting that Christianity is not a religion is as absurd as playing chess without a king (see Hughes’ illustration above).

Your enemy is stronger than you and can beat you down every time without divine intervention.

Who is this enemy Hughes speaks of? Satan? Carbohydrates? I assume Hughes is speaking of the Devil, another mythical being in Christianity’s panoply of myths. As with the existence of God, there is no evidence for the existence of the Devil. Saying THE BIBLE SAYS is not evidence. If Hughes has evidence for the existence of Lucifer, by all means he should share it. The existence of evil is not proof of Satan’s existence. All its existence proves is that humans are capable of doing bad things — no devil needed.

You were made to bring glory to God and you are trying to give it to someone or something else and it’s making you miserable inside.

I was made through my father and mother having intercourse. An egg united with a sperm and nine months later Bruce was born. If anyone deserves credit for my existence, they do. Mom and Dad are dead, so I can’t thank them for bringing me into this world, but I can spend the rest of life giving credit to whom credit is due. As a humanist, I believe that I should praise, compliment, and thank people who do well. When a server at a restaurant takes care of our dining needs, should we dial up the restaurant’s corporate office and thank them for the great service? Of course not. It is the cook who made our food and the server who brought it to our table who deserve credit for the quality of our dining experience.

Hughes wrongly thinks that non-Christians spend their lives being unhappy and miserable. Perhaps Hughes should spend some time talking with atheists, agnostics, and other non-Christians. I think he will find that we are, for the most part, a happy lot. Yes, chronic pain and illness make my body feel miserable, but I choose to embrace and enjoy life despite my pain.

You place all your emphasis on living it up for the 70 years or so on earth and give no emphasis or preparation for the eternity you will have left after this life.

Hughes is correct on this point. I plan on living it up until I die, knowing that this is the only opportunity I will have to do so. If not today, when? I feel sad for Evangelicals who choose to refuse themselves the pleasures of this world in the hope that they will get some sort a divine payoff after they die and enter God’s Trump Tower — Heaven Location®. Of course, dead Evangelicals will not know what they have missed out on. They will, like all of us, die, and that will be the end of the matter. They will have no chance to reflect on an un-lived life. Henry David Thoreau was right when he said, “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” I fear that many Christians will come to the end of life only to find, as Thoreau says, that they have not lived.

You are blind, unaware, ignorant, and deceived and you think you can figure out your meaning on this earth on your own.

To this point, all I can say is that the grand project of humanity is to find meaning and purpose. We need no God or religion to guide us. All that is necessary is that we open our eyes wide and walk forward, embracing the tests and challenges that come our way. If we live long enough, we will most likely learn something about ourselves, others, and this planet we share. My grandchildren marvel over Grandpa knowing so much stuff. Well, I have been walking the path now for almost sixty-five years. I would hope, by now, that I have learned a thing or three. There is much that I do not know, and I will likely run out of life before I figure out the ways of women, but I can humbly say that through hard work and diligence and hell of a lot of reading, I know a bit about this life.

I find it offensive that Hughes suggests that I and my fellow heathens are blind, unaware, ignorant and deceived, all because we reject his anti-human religious beliefs (and we reject Christianity because we have weighed it in the balance and found it wanting).

You will face a terrible judgment by the most powerful judge of all time who has overwhelming proof against you and can give the most devastating punishment and you are willing to take a chance that it will all go in your favor without any real reason to believe so except that you want it to be ok.

Hughes attempts to uses the well-worn trope Pascal’s Wager. Memo to Dax: Never, ever use Pascal’s Wager. It is a lame, dumb, stupid, ignorant, silly, and asinine argument. How can anyone know that Hughes’ deity is the right one? To be safe, shouldn’t we embrace all the religions of the world? Shouldn’t Hughes become a Buddhist, Muslim, and a Catholic just in case the one true God is NOT the Evangelical God? Better safe than sorry, right?

You think you are pretty good compared to most of the world when your wickedness just looks different than yours [sic].

I have no idea what Hughes is saying here. Do I think I am better than some people? Absolutely. Do I think I am better than everyone? Of course not. Believing so would be arrogant, especially since I know quite a few wonderful people — starting with my wife, children, grandchildren, and many of the people I have met through this blog, to name a few. The world is filled is with godless people who just so happen to be kind, loving, and compassionate. Their wonderfulness needs no deity or divine instruction. I would argue that Evangelical belief often makes Christians unkind and unloving, lacking compassion for anyone who is not like them. One need only look at the culture wars and the recent presidential election to see that many Evangelicals are mean, nasty, arrogant, self-righteous, hateful, and vile. What religious group is at the forefront of the war against LGBTQ people and same-sex marriage? What religious group is behind the anti-immigrant hatred that currently permeates our culture? Everywhere I look, I see a religion that is all about power, wealth, and control. If Evangelicalism is all about Jesus, Evangelicals might want to figure out where they left him. Evangelical behavior suggests that Evangelicals practice a do as I say, not as I do religion. As long as Evangelicals continue to wage war on those the Bible calls “the least of these,” it has nothing to offer the American people.

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

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Bruce Gerencser