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Tag: Evangelicalism

Understanding My Writing Methodology

writing a letter

There’s a method behind the madness.

I have been blogging since 2007. When I first started publicly writing, I was still a Christian — barely. By then, my theology had moved leftward, so much so that I was no longer an Evangelical. Still Christian, but not “that kind of Christian.” In those days, my writing attracted Fundamentalist Christian critics such as Ken Silva, Preacher Boy (John), and others. These keepers of the Book of Life were convinced that I wasn’t a True Christian®. Eighteen months later, proving my critics right (in their small minds, anyway), I left Christianity and declared I was an atheist. My wife, Polly, also deconverted.

Whether as a Christian or an atheist, the focus of my writing has always been the same:

  • To help people who have questions and doubts about Christianity
  • To help people who have left Christianity

The content of my writing has remained constant too: telling my story — my journey from Evangelicalism to atheism — and critiquing Christianity. Five years ago, I added the Black Collar Crime series, focusing on Evangelical preachers’ sexual misconduct (and other criminal behavior).

I do my best as a writer to stay in my lane. I am not a philosopher or a scientist, so I typically don’t address these subjects. It’s not that I don’t know anything about these things — I do. However, I choose to focus on what I know well: Evangelical Christianity and the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church movement. My unwillingness to be all things to all men irritates some readers. Some atheist readers have stopped reading because I am not atheist enough or don’t write enough about atheist issues. I do, on occasion, write about these subjects, but they have never been my focus.

My writing style is an acquired taste. I will leave it up to readers to decide if that taste is fine wine or a $5.99 bottle of Boone’s Farm. Using my fifty years in the Christian church and twenty-five years I spent in the ministry as a backdrop for my prose, I write from an Evangelical perspective. I write from an insider’s perspective, someone who knows the secret handshake and where the bodies are buried. Because I write this way, first-time Evangelical readers often think I am a Christian. Oh, the shock and outrage when they find out I’m on Team Satan®. I have received emails from Evangelicals filled with praise, only to receive another email from them, upset that I am an unbeliever. Cognitive dissonance sets in. “How can an atheist know or say anything of value about Christianity and the Bible,” they think. It’s as if the moment that I left Christianity, decades of reading, study, and knowledge magically disappeared from my mind. I went from being an expert on these subjects to someone who doesn’t know anything. Of course, such thinking is absurd. I know what I know, regardless of my belief on the existence of God.

When I write a post on, say, “salvation by grace” or “being filled with the Holy Spirit,” it is not that I believe these things to be true. I don’t. I write from an Evangelical perspective. I know my writing has an “Evangelical” vibe, but remember my aforementioned purposes: to help people who have questions and doubts about Christianity and help people who have left Christianity. I want to draw Evangelical readers in, hoping to get them to critically and honestly examine their beliefs. I want them to see me as an insider who knows where they are, speaks their language, and understands their experiences.

Thank you for reading my writing. Your love and support are greatly appreciated.

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.

Questions: Bruce, What Do You Think of the Reinterpretation of Bible Verses on Homosexuality?

questions

I put out the call to readers, asking them for questions they would like me to answer. If you have a question, please leave it here or email me. All questions will be answered in the order in which they are received.

(I use the word homosexual for the sake of answering this question, knowing Evangelicals will be reading my answer. I know it is a derogatory term, as is sodomy/sodomite, used by Fundamentalist Christians, Jews, and Muslims to denigrate LGBTQ people. I rarely use it in my writing.)

Sage asked:

I personally have escaped christianity and do not consider the Christian Bible to have any useful value. But lately I have heard LGBTQ people, who still attend church, saying that the biblical prohibition on homosexuality is a misinterpretation introduced in the 20th century, and prior it was prohibiting pedophilia. What are your thoughts?

Let’s start with Leviticus 18 (in context):

Moreover thou shalt not lie carnally with thy neighbour’s wife, to defile thyself with her.

….

 Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.

Neither shalt thou lie with any beast to defile thyself therewith: neither shall any woman stand before a beast to lie down thereto: it is confusion.

And Leviticus 20 (in context):

And if a man lie with his daughter in law, both of them shall surely be put to death: they have wrought confusion; their blood shall be upon them.

If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.

And if a man take a wife and her mother, it is wickedness: they shall be burnt with fire, both he and they; that there be no wickedness among you.

And if a man lie with a beast, he shall surely be put to death: and ye shall slay the beast.

And if a woman approach unto any beast, and lie down thereto, thou shalt kill the woman, and the beast: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.

Romans 1:26-27 says:

For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature. And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

The Apostle Paul states in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11:

Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

The above quotes are from the King James Version of the Bible. It is clear from these verses that the Bible condemns homosexual sex. The Bible does NOT say that being LGBTQ is a sin. It is who a person is fucking (and perhaps how) that determines whether a sex act is sinful. Just because someone is LGBTQ, or heterosexual, for that matter, doesn’t make them a sinner. Certain sex acts do. This same interpretation is borne out in modern translations too.

Our society is far more accepting of LGBTQ people than it ever has been. Progress, right? Even among Evangelicals, we are seeing increasing acceptance of gay people. The Bible hasn’t changed; people have. Thus, to make the Bible fit what people now believe, the aforementioned verses are reinterpreted. Instead of the Bible condemning homosexual sex, revisionists say it condemns incest, sex with children, or sex with prostitutes. However, if these verses are read in context, it is clear that the Bible condemns homosexual sex (and in other places, it also condemns incest, sex with children — sometimes — sex with prostitutes, fornication, and adultery). These reinterpretations are just ways for Christians, Jews, and Muslims to have LGBTQ friends or engage in homosexual sex without feeling guilty about it. Instead of just saying the Bible (God) is wrong or outdated, Christians, Jews, and Muslims make the Bible fit their feelings and beliefs.

The Bible can be used to justify almost anything. Just reinterpret the Hebrew, Greek, or English, and viola! homosexual sex is no longer sinful. This is a sign that the Bible is losing its control over our culture. And all the atheists said, AMEN! What was sin fifty years ago is no longer sin today. Some Evangelicals no longer believe fornication is a sin — hard telling what sins will be reinterpreted or vanquished by Christians in the years to come.

For further information about how the Bible prohibitions on homosexual sex have been reinterpreted, please read the Wiki titled, The Bible and Homosexuality. You might want to take some Tylenol and Aspirin before you do.

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.

Questions: Can a Mixed Marriage Between an Evangelical and Atheist Succeed?

questions

I put out the call to readers, asking them for questions they would like me to answer. If you have a question, please leave it here or email me. All questions will be answered in the order in which they are received.

Michael asked:

Based on your deep learning and long experience, what do you see as the primary obstacle(s) in a marriage involving an evangelical (who came to the faith well after marrying) and an atheist/agnostic? And, given the scriptural warnings against such a union, how would you evaluate the chances for such a union to succeed? Thank you.

How often have you heard the statement “opposites attract”? Polly and I are very different from one another. She was a wallflower when we met, while I was, on the other hand, outgoing and talkative. Forty-three years later, Polly is still quiet and reserved, while I am, well, not that. 🙂 Over the years, an interesting thing has happened. Polly and I each developed hobbies and likes different from those of the other. But, we also developed hobbies and likes we share.

Both of us were Independent Fundamentalist Baptist Christians when we married. Twenty-nine years later, we walked hand-in-hand out of the doors of the Ney United Methodist Church, never to return. Today, I am an out-and-proud (and vocal) atheist. Polly is an agnostic who rarely talks about her unbelief. I can say this: her dislike of organized religion is much stronger than mine. I know, I know, hard to believe, but it’s true. I may be the outspoken atheist, but if I ever said to Polly, “let’s go to church today,” she would blister the paint off walls with curse words her IFB mother has never heard her say. 🙂

Our marriage has survived all these years because I am awesome. Or maybe I am delusional. 🙂 That was a joke, by the way. We share many common goals and ideals. We enjoy one another’s company. Our politics and religious views are similar. But, ultimately, it is the things we hold in common that are the glue that keeps our marriage together.

It is commonality, not differences, that typically attract one person to the other. This is why I recommend that people marry men or women who hold similar values, morals, and beliefs. Sure, all of us know couples with disparate values, morals, and beliefs who have been married for years. Such couples find a way to make things work. However, we also know numerous couples who divorced over dissimilar values, morals, and beliefs. No couple wants to spend their days arguing about politics, religion, or any of the other things that people argue about. And no couple wants to compartmentalize their lives, unable to talk with their spouse about certain things. (I deliberately paint with a broad brush. I know there are exceptions to the rule.)

I would never, ever recommend that an atheist marry an Evangelical Christian. The risk of conflict is too great. I am not suggesting that an atheist should never marry someone religious. It depends on the religion, how devout the person is, and the likelihood the person will become more religious over time. I know atheists who are married to mainline Christians. Their marriages seem to be successful and happy. Typically, the mainline Christian spouse is a universalist, so there are no worries about threats of Hell or evangelization. I have had two atheist friends die over the past two years. Both of my friends were outspoken atheists. What did their Evangelical families do after they died (one person was married, the other was not)? They ignored their final wishes and had funeral services for both of them. I have no doubt my friends were screaming and rolling over in their graves.

What about marriages where one spouse becomes an atheist or an Evangelical years later? Can such marriages “survive”? The short answer is yes. I know that some of the readers of this blog are in “mixed” marriages. They entered marriage equally yoked together as followers of Jesus. Then, years later, one of them lost their faith and deconverted. Some of the people I am talking about are “secret” atheists. Many of them even attend church on Sundays with their spouses and children.

That said, I have corresponded with numerous atheists who were/are married to Evangelical Christians. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for me to receive another email from them months or years later that says they have either separated or divorced. They either found they couldn’t make their mixed marriages work or decided that they didn’t want to spend any more time in a relationship where their significant other didn’t share their interests, values, and beliefs.

I have written several posts on this subject:

Let me conclude this post by addressing the “Scriptural warning against believers marrying unbelievers.” While I don’t care one wit about what the Bible says on anything, I do recognize that the Good Book occasionally offers sage advice. In the case of mixed marriages, the advice given in the Bible is generally sound.

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 Gerencser