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Tag: Independent Fundamentalist Baptist

The Indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the Lives of Evangelical Christians

indwelling of the holy spirit

What do Evangelicals mean when they say that they are “indwelt” by the Holy Spirit? The Got Questions website — the go-to place for Evangelicals when they have theological questions — defines the indwelling of the Holy Spirit this way: the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is the action by which God takes up permanent residence in the body of a believer. Simply put, when unregenerate sinners are saved/born again the third part of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, permanently moves into their lives, becoming their ever-present teacher and guide. The Holy Spirit filled the God-shaped hole in their hearts. He is an ever-present reality in their lives, even when they sin. Evangelicals can grieve the Holy Spirit by their actions, but they can’t make him move out and leave them alone. According to proponents of once-saved-always-saved, Bruce Gerencser, the Evangelical-turned-atheist is still a Christian. The Holy Spirit — also called the Holy Ghost — still resides inside of me, although he seems to be upset and pissed off about my godlessness and sinful behavior these days. 🙂

There ya have it. That’s what all Evangelicals everywhere believe about the indwelling of the Holy Spirit! Thanks for reading. I jest. The Bible says in Amos 3:3: How can two walk together unless they are agreed? While Evangelicals generally believe the Holy Spirit indwells all believers, their beliefs diverge from there. Arminians, for example, would take issue with Got Questions’ claim that the Holy Spirit takes up permanent residence in the body of believers. Arminians believe unbelievers can lose their salvation/fall from grace. Some of them believe that if a person falls from grace — looking at you Bruce — he or she can not regain their salvation. Once lost, always lost. Other Arminians think believers can fall in and out of grace, repeatedly. Years ago, when I was the manager of a Christian bookstore in Heath, Ohio, I got into a discussion with a Freewill Baptist youth pastor about the “security of the believer.” He explained his position this way: suppose he drove home on the freeway at eighty miles per hour, knowing that the speed limit was sixty-five. He knew that he was deliberately breaking the law, a violation of Romans 13:1,2:

Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers [laws, police officers, speed limits]. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.

If, in the course of speeding, he drove off the road, hit a bridge, and died, he would go to Hell. Why? Because the moment he chose to deliberately “sin” (break the speed limit) he lost his salvation.

The owner of the bookstore, who happened to be a member of the church I pastored, at the time, was also an Arminian. When I asked him at what point does a Christian lose their salvation? he refused to answer me. All he told me was that there was a “line,” and that if people crossed that line, the Holy Spirit moved out of their lives.

Further complicating matters is what Evangelicals call the “filling of the Spirit,” the “baptism of the Spirit,” or being “indued with power from on High.” Some Baptists (and other Evangelical sects) believe that once people are indwelt by Holy Spirit, that’s it. They believe that Christians have all of the Holy Spirit they will ever need. Other Baptists, especially Independent Fundamentalist Baptists, believe that not only can believers be indwelt by the Spirit, they can also be “filled” with the Spirit (or indued with power from of High). These special fillings are given to believers so they can do great exploits for God. I experienced the filling of the Holy Spirit many times, especially when preaching.

Charismatics, Pentecostals, and other Evangelical sects believe in what is called the “baptism of the Spirit.” Similar to the filling of the Spirit,” the baptism of the Holy Spirit — a one-time act or a repeated act, depending on the sect — leads to supernatural behavior: things such as speaking in tongues, healing people, raising the dead, and other acts that only God can do.

Are you confused? Let me add to your confusion. The “believers” in the Old Testament were not indwelt by the Holy Spirit. According to many Evangelical sects, the Holy Spirit had not yet been given to believers, This didn’t happen until the Day of Pentecost as described in the Book of Acts. Until then, the Holy Spirit came “upon” believers from time to time, but did not indwell them.

You will find variations of these aforementioned beliefs among Evangelicals, each with its own take on the Holy Spirit. You would think God would have spoken clearly on such an important issue, but alas he did not. One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism? Not in Evangelicalism, where the unity of believers is subservient to being right. I have no doubt that Evangelicals who stumble upon this article will stomp their feet and say, “that’s not what I believe, or what my church believes, what my pastor believes!” 🙂


Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 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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Bruce, You Are a Fool, Says a Fundamentalist Christian Woman

peanut gallery

Today, a Fundamentalist Christian woman named Brenda Moorfield left the following comment on the post titled How Dare I Badmouth IFB Evangelist CT Townsend! Says Fundamentalist Christian. My response is indented and italicized.

Both Psalm 14:1 and Psalm 53:1 read, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’”

Brenda, what’s your objective? Surely you know that the Bible carries no weight with me; that I grant it no authority in my life. I am more than happy to discuss the nature and history of the Bible with you. I think you will find that I am quite conversant in all things Bible.

So, to the Bible, as interpreted by you, saying “Bruce Gerencser is a fool,” I say, so what? Just because the Bible says something doesn’t mean it’s true. The Bible is not evidence; it is a collection of books written by primarily unknown authors that make all sorts of claims. It is up to you, Brenda, to provide evidence for these claims.

You will find that presuppositionalist arguments carry no weight with me or most of the readers of this blog — many of whom are Christians. You presuppose that your peculiar version of the Christian God is the one, true God who created the universe; that nature, conscience, and divine revelation (the Bible) reveals to everyone, without exception, this God; that all humans intuitively know this God exists; that anyone who denies these “truths” is deliberately suppressing the truth in unrighteousness. You also believe that the Bible, as divine revelation from your God, is inerrant and infallible.

I reject these presuppositions out of hand. Let me be blunt, just because you say something doesn’t make it so. As a rationalist and skeptic, I expect actual evidence for your claims; not proof texts or regurgitated Fundamentalist talking points.

Some take these verses to mean that atheists are stupid, i.e., lacking intelligence. However, that is not the only meaning of the Hebrew word translated “fool.” In this text, the Hebrew word is nabal, which often refers to an impious person who has no perception of ethical or religious truth. The meaning of the text is not “unintelligent people do not believe in God.” Rather, the meaning of the text is “sinful people do not believe in God.”

Awesome, you know how to use Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance. I find it interesting that you chose the third possible meaning of the word to make your point. The first meaning says that atheists are “stupid.” This claim — and it is a claim — is not factually supported. In general, atheists are more educated than Evangelical Christians. The more education one has, the less likely they are to believe in God; especially the Evangelical God. You commented on a post about Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) evangelist C.T. Townsend. If you are IFB or familiar with the movement, then you know IFB adherents are not known for being overly educated. The more Fundamentalist one is, the less likely they are to have a post-high school education. I don’t say this to say that Fundamentalists are “stupid.” I am saying that any suggestion that atheists, as a class of people, are stupid is a foolish and unwise claim. Are there stupid atheists? Absolutely. That said, most of the atheists I know are educated and well-read. Their atheism is rooted in knowledge and facts and a rationalist, humanistic understanding of religion and the world. That’s why we expect Evangelical zealots to interact with us on a rational, evidentiary basis. If you can do that, Brenda, I am more than happy to discuss with you anything you want. However, if you are here to quote Bible verses and preach, then I am not interested in hearing what you have to say. Yeah, I know, I have a hardened heart; I’m an apostate; I’m a reprobate.

In other words, it is a wicked thing to deny God, and a denial of God is often accompanied by a wicked lifestyle. The verse goes on to list some other characteristics of the irreligious: “They are corrupt; their deeds are vile; / there is no one who does good.” Psalm 14 is a study on the universal depravity of mankind.

Many atheists are very intelligent. It is not intelligence, or a lack thereof, that leads a person to reject belief in God. It is a lack of righteousness that leads a person to reject belief in God. Many people do not object to the idea of a Creator, as long as that Creator minds His own business and leaves them alone. What people reject is the idea of a Creator who demands morality from His creation. Rather than struggle against a guilty conscience, some people reject the idea of God altogether. Psalm 14:1 calls this type of person a “fool.”

Psalm 14:1 says that denying God’s existence is commonly based on a desire to lead a wicked life. Several prominent atheists have admitted the truth of this. Some, such as author Aldous Huxley, have openly admitted that a desire to avoid moral restraints was a motivation for their disbelief:

(Huxley quote deleted. It is irrelevant and an attempt to poison the well. I could just as easily say that Jeffrey Dahmer, Donald Trump, and David Hyles are Christians.)

Let’s see if I understand what you are saying here: atheists are corrupt, atheists are vile; atheists desire to lead a wicked life. Do you have any evidence for these claims? How many atheists do you know? How many of them have you actually talked to about their worldviews and how they live their day-to-day lives?

What you are saying to me directly is that the reasons I left Christianity and embraced atheism are because I am vile, corrupt, and have the desire to live a wicked life. (You could have quoted the “sins” in Romans 1 as well.) Evangelicals routinely accuse me of being a closeted homosexual. Their evidence? I have LGBTQ friends and I wear rainbow-colored suspenders.) Ask yourself this, Brenda. Did I immediately stop being a moral, ethical man the moment I said I was no longer a Christian? Did I stop being a loving, thoughtful husband, father, grandfather, neighbor, and friend? Did I have secret sins in my life, and becoming an atheist gave me to the freedom to lie, steal, cheat, and fuck whomever I want? Do you realize how silly this sounds?

Here’s what I know. Christianity has no corner on the morality market. You seem to forget that I was a pastor for twenty-five years. I counseled scores of church members and heard the deep, dark secrets of colleagues in the ministry. I can tell you this: Jesus is not vaccine against immoral and unethical behavior. Bible-believing Christians, who are filled with the Holy Ghost, can and do commit crimes and cause harm to others. I pastored people who committed all sorts of heinous crimes, everything from murder to sexual abuse to adultery to domestic violence, and numerous other crimes and lesser “sinful behaviors,” while not criminal, caused untold harm to their spouses and children. As far as preachers are concerned, please peruse the Black Collar Crime Series. You will find almost 1,000 stories about criminal misconduct by pastors, evangelists, missionaries, youth pastors, worship leaders, and other church leaders — mainly sex crimes. So any claim that Christians are moral or that Christianity provides morality that atheists don’t have is laughable and not supported by facts.

Further, I have been blogging since 2007. Thousands of Evangelicals have commented on my posts, sent me emails, or sent me messages on social media. By and large, their interactions with me have been caustic and argumentative. Many of these so-called followers of the Prince of Peace were hateful, vile, and nasty, threatening me with judgment, Hell, and death. Several have threatened to murder me; another threatened to assault my daughter with Down Syndrome. Others have visited other blogs and tried to attack my character. A new tactic is to seek out my family and acquaintances and try to evangelize them or play mind games. So, don’t tell me about the supposed moral superiority of Christianity. Thousands of former Evangelicals read my writing. Many of them will tell you, myself included, that we have met and know many fine people whom are Evangelical Christians. They will also tell you that Evangelicalism — especially the IFB church movement — is a poisonous tree that produces poisonous fruit. How about actually interacting with and learning from Evangelicals-turned-atheists/agnostics instead of pompously and arrogantly preaching AT them? Do better, Brenda, do better.

Belief in a divine Being is accompanied by a sense of accountability to that Being. So, to escape the condemnation of conscience, which itself was created by God, some simply deny the existence of God. They tell themselves, “There is no overseer of the world. There is no Judgment Day. I can live as I please.” The moral pull of the conscience is thus more easily ignored.

Belief in God has never stopped anyone from doing what they want to do. People do what they do — good, bad, and indifferent. All of us are as moral and ethical as we choose to be. I have murdered and raped as many people as I want. I have robbed as many banks as I want. I have sexually assaulted as many people as I want. I don’t want to, so I don’t — no God needed. If the only reason, Brenda, you are not a murderer, rapist, child molester, or thief is that you believe in God, then by all means keep believing in God. However, I suspect you know as I do that if you became an atheist today that you would be as moral and ethical today as you were when you were a Christian. People don’t suddenly become serial killers the moment they stop believing in God.

As far as accountability is concerned, I am accountable to my spouse, children, and close friends. I don’t need a magical being to keep me moral. I love my wife. I love my family. I love my friends and neighbors. And because I do, I want to be a good man; a loving man; a kind man. I am sure I frequently fail. but the bent of my life is toward love for those that matter to me.

Trying to convince oneself there is no God is unwise. The point of “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God’” is that it is an impious, sinful heart that will deny God. The atheist’s denial flies in the face of much evidence to the contrary, including his own conscience and the universe he lives in.

Most atheists don’t convince themselves against extant evidence that there is no God. Have you actually had a serious, lengthy discussion with an Evangelical-turned-atheist; a discussion where they explained to you their reasons for deconverting? I doubt it. Your comment reveals a total lack of understanding about what it is atheists actually believe and why they left Christianity.

What evidence can you provide, Brenda, for the existence of your peculiar version of the Christian God? Not A GOD, not a generic God, THE GOD, the one, true, everlasting God you worship. Since God commands you to give an answer to the hope that lies within you, please provide evidence — outside of Bible prooftexts and generic appeals to the natural world (creation) and morality (conscience), both of which can be adequately explained by science — for the existence of your particular deity.

A lack of evidence of God’s existence is not the true reason atheists reject a belief in God. Their rejection is due to a desire to live free of the moral constraints God requires and to escape the guilt that accompanies the violation of those constraints.

Sigh. (Please see Why I Use the Word “Sigh.”) You are just preaching now. I suspect that was your goal. You really don’t have any interest in reaching me with the gospel. You are more concerned with being right; more concerned with putting an atheist in his place with God’s inerrant, infallible Word; more concerned about telling fellow Fundamentalists that you sure told that critic of C.T. Townsend. There’s no compassion, concern, love, or understanding in your comment from someone who invested little to no time in understanding my story or interacting me as an equal.

I deleted your lengthy quote of Romans 1:18-25. Did you think I have never read this passage of Scripture, or that countless zealots before you haven’t quoted these verses to me? As a pastor, I preached from this text numerous times. I know what it says inside and out. I spent over 20,000 hours reading and studying the Bible during the twenty-five years I spent in the ministry. If you comment further, please refrain from prooftexts. If you have not done so, please read the comment policy — which you violated numerous times. The only reason I approved your comment is that I thought my response to you would be helpful to both Christians and unbelievers alike.

You ending your comment with Romans 1:18-25 is you saying that what you said in your comment is God speaking, not you; that if I have a problem with what you said, I have a problem with God. No, Brenda, I have a problem with you. My goal in this post is to both chastise and correct you. You could have had a thoughtful discussion with me. Instead, you wasted it.

Be well.

Saved by Reason,


Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 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.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

Black Collar Crime: IFB Pastor Terry Rudisill Accused of Taking Indecent Liberties with Children


The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.

Terry Rudisell, pastor of Cornerstone Independent Baptist Church in Lincolnton, North Carolina, stands accused of three counts of taking indecent liberties with children.

WCNC reports:

The Lincolnton Police Department says a man is accused of child sex crimes, one of which reportedly happened recently.

The department said 49-year-old Terry Wayne Rudisill was arrested Friday afternoon. He is charged with three counts of taking indecent liberties with children. 

A news release from police said one of the charges stems from a reportedly recent incident involving an 11-year-old girl, while the two other charges are tied to a girl who was 15 years old at the time.

Rudisill was jailed with a $50,000 bond. Online records show he made bail.


Rudisill’s home address was included in a news release shared with media outlets. WCNC Charlotte verified he lives next door to Cornerstone Independent Baptist Church. Google Earth data gathered in 2019 has a “Terry W. Rudisill” listed on the church’s sign as the pastor.

While Lincolnton Police have not yet confirmed Rudisill’s status as a pastor, WCNC Charlotte received confirmation from a former church member who said he was Cornertsone’s pastor. WCNC Charlotte also reached out to the church for comment and left a voicemail. 

While someone did call WCNC back from the number, they did not leave a voicemail. A follow-up phone call yielded no response.


Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 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.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

Bruce, You Are Sick and in Pain Because God is Trying to Get Your Attention

god trying to get my attention

The recent success of an interview (28,000 views) I did with Tim Mills, the Harmonic Atheist, has brought me increased attention from Evangelical Christians.

Video Link

The same happened with the Vice News interview (1.8 million views) I did two years ago.

Video Link

Media interviews I do always bring out knives, pitchforks, and pyres, but it seems, at least to me, Evangelical hostility levels have dramatically increased, so much so that I have had thoughts of throwing in the towel. So much vitriol toward an insignificant atheist. What gives? Judging by their attacks, you would think I had kidnapped their firstborn or slept with their spouse. One man, whom I have banned and blocked numerous times, is trying to get at me through family, friends, and acquaintances. Yesterday, he went after my youngest son’s transgender roommate. That didn’t go very well for this Evangelical man. He happened to run into a young man who is more than capable of handling themselves. In fact, I suspect they enjoyed eviscerating this man. Earlier this week, my youngest daughter received a cryptic email from an Evangelical man, saying that he was trying to get a hold of me. Of course, he wasn’t trying to contact me. I am one of the most accessible people on the Internet. I am but a click or two away. No, this man wanted to let me know that he could get at me and my family. Why else did he list all the publicly available email addresses for me, including several email addresses I haven’t used in twenty years?

The fact that I have a lot of serious health problems has made it easy for Evangelicals to say that these maladies are God’s judgment or God trying to get my attention. The unrelenting pain that is literally choking the life out of me is “God” trying to get my attention. Someday, hopefully not today, tomorrow, or next week, I will die. I know that I am on the short side of life; that either disease, accident, or the damn cat will one day put an end to me. I can only imagine what Independent Fundamentalist Baptists (IFB) zealots will say on their blogs and what preachers say in their sermons upon hearing reports of my demise. “Bruce knows the truth now!” “Atheist Bruce Gerencser now knows that God exists and Hell is real!” These followers of Jesus will feign sadness as they speak of my death, but they will silently say to themselves, “that God-hating, Devil-loving motherfreaker got exactly what he deserved. No one mocks my God and gets by with it. ” (Motherfreaker is a Baptist swearword. An Evangelical recently got upset with me because I used a swear word in one of my posts. I am sure you can imagine my response to him. Please see Evangelical Swear Words.) 🙂

Let me circle back around to this idea that God gave me fibromyalgia, gastroparesis, and degenerative spine disease because he is trying to get my attention; that every night I writhe in pain in bed, unable to sleep, my suffering is a message of love from the Christian deity.

What’s with God “trying” to do anything? Is he weak and powerless, unable to do what he wants? If God is not willing that any should perish, how is possible that Bruce Gerencser, a frail, broken-down biped, can thwart God’s will? Surely God can easily and effortlessly reach me at any time. “Nothing is too hard for God” and “with God all things are possible,” the Bible says. Yet, it seems that saving me is too hard for God and that it is impossible for the Big Kahuna to reach me.

If my suffering is God trying to get my attention, does this mean that if I repent and put my faith and trust in Jesus, my chronic pain and illnesses will immediately and magically disappear? Crickets are all I hear from Evangelicals. They know there is no connection between my health problems and God. None. Shit happens, and this is my shit.

I have a three-year-old redheaded grandson named Silas. He’s a handful. Silas has no fear of anything. He must be watched at all times. Our living room is small, 16’x20′. We have three lamps in the room, along with an overhead light. I HATE the overhead light. My grandkids know not to turn the light on when I am in the room. Not Silas. He will run over to the wall switch, give me a look — you know, THAT look — turn on the light, and run off. No matter what I say or do, Silas keeps flipping the switch. Mischief is his middle name, some sort of karmic payback for my own childhood mischief. If my mom were alive, she would be smiling.

Imagine if I determined to teach Silas a lesson about the overhead light. I decided that the next time Silas turned the light on I would break his arm. Boy, that would get his attention, right? This is EXACTLY what Evangelicals are saying when they say that God has afflicted me to get my attention or to teach me a lesson. What, exactly, did I ever do to God to deserve such punishment? Or is God okay with Bruce, the Evangelical-preacher-turned-atheist, and that it is Evangelicals who want to see me suffer? Sadly, many Evangelicals are sadists. Unbelievers have what they can’t have, so they rail against them, uttering threats of suffering, death, and Hell.

If I broke Silas’ arm because he kept turning on the light, I would deserve to be arrested and locked up for my crime. So it is for the Evangelical deity who inflicts suffering on finite beings. If such a deity exists, he is unworthy of our worship.


Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 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.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

A Reflection on the “Will of God”

will of god

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Romans 12:1-2)

According to the Apostle Paul, followers of Jesus prove/show what is the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God by:

  • Presenting their bodies as living sacrifices to God (which is their reasonable service to God)
  • Not being conformed to the “world”
  • Being transformed by the renewing their minds

Those of us raised in Evangelical and Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) churches heard countless sermons and admonitions about doing the will of God. We were told that the Holy Spirit lived inside of us; that he was our teacher and guide, giving us everything we need for life and godliness. We were also frequently reminded to avoid the “world” and abstain from the very appearance of evil.

Most Evangelicals believe Christians have two natures: the flesh and the spirit. There’s a constant battle between the flesh and the spirit. The only way to overcome the flesh is to crucify it, giving no place in your life for carnal, worldly behaviors or the Devil. The only way to crucify (kill) the flesh is to explicitly, and without reservation, follow the will of God.

So what, exactly, is the will of God? Typically, Evangelicals believe the will of God is known three ways:

  • The inspired, inerrant, infallible words of the Protestant Christian Bible
  • The still small voice of the Holy Spirit in their heads
  • Personal feelings/intuition

The Bible is, of course, the gold standard for knowing the will of God. While the Holy Spirit can speak to Evangelicals or prompt them to do certain things, their behaviors must align with the teachings of the Bible. One problem is that there is no singular interpretation of the Bible. Every church, pastor, and congregant interprets the Bible his or her own way, often coming up with competing and conflicting interpretations. Thus, the “will of God” ultimately becomes whatever the believer thinks it is, regardless of what other Christians might think. Most Evangelicals believe in the priesthood of the believer. Every Christian has direct access to God, no go-between like the Roman Catholic pope between the believer and God. Of course, all the priesthood of the believer does is make every Christian their own pope.

I came of age in the Evangelical church in the 1970s, specifically the IFB church movement. My pastors implored me to seek and follow the will of God. At the age of fifteen, I went forward during a revival service invitation and asked Jesus to save me from my sin. I was baptized the following Sunday, saying to the church that I was a follower of Jesus Christ. Two weeks later, I went forward again, this time to tell the church that God was calling me to preach. From that point forward, my life was a string of choices that were me allegedly following the will of God. I say allegedly because long, painful reflections after I deconverted on the decisions I made that were the “will of God” led me to conclude that the only will that I was following was mine.

I went to Midwestern Baptist College to study for the ministry, married Polly, pastored this or that church over the course of twenty-five years in the ministry because it was the will of God for me to do so. I made countless decisions, from buying cars to moving into new houses to having children, all because I believed it was the will of God to do so.

How did I know doing these things was the will of God? I prayed and consulted the Bible. If it felt right for me to do something, that meant it was the will of God. Sometimes, I would talk to colleagues in the ministry about whether I should do something. Of course, I was looking for affirmation and approval for doing what I wanted to do. I made several decisions over the years that my preacher friends said were a bad idea. They, of course, were wrong. 🙂 As most Christians would testify, if they were honest, the will of God always lined up with my own wants, needs, desires, and ambitions. Isn’t it funny how that works? It is almost as if WE are God. 🙂

My life is filled with good and bad decisions. In 1994, Pat Horner and Community Baptist Church in Elmendorf, Texas offered me the position of co-pastor of the church. I prayed on the matter for a few days before declining their offer. I believed it was the will of God for me to continue pastoring Somerset Baptist Church. Several weeks later, I was studying in my office, in preparation for the Lord’s Day. Suddenly, I had a profound spiritual (emotional) experience. I began weeping as “God” made it clear to me that he wanted me to leave Somerset Baptist and move to Elmendorf, Texas to become the co-pastor of Community Baptist. Two months later, we moved to Texas. I was certain that I was following the will of God. Seven months later found me back in Ohio, mentally and spiritually destroyed. My time at Community Baptist proved to be a disaster. (Please read I am a Publican and a Heathen — Part One.)

What I am to make of God telling me one thing one week and another thing two weeks later? Was God the problem? Of course not. God is a myth. What triggered God (Bruce) to lead me to move to Elmendorf was a series of experiences that said to me it was time for me to move on. Have you ever thought it was time to work somewhere else, date someone else, sell your possessions, buy/sell your home, have children, or get married/divorced? Live long enough and you will make a few life-changing decisions. Sometimes these decisions work out, sometimes they don’t. I have made decisions that had disastrous results. I have also made decisions that worked out well for me. Marrying Polly forty-five years ago is a decision that definitely worked out well for me. Yet, there was a period early in our marriage when its long-term success was in doubt. We could have divorced. That’s a story I haven’t told, but one day I hope to do so.

Successful and failed decisions are part of the human experience. What complicates things for Evangelicals is God. When things work out well that is considered “the will of God.” When things don’t work out, Evangelicals often blame their “flesh” or Satan. God is, of course, never to blame. God is good all the time, all the time God is good, Evangelicals are fond of saying.

It is hard to look at the decisions you have made in life and realize that the only “will” in the equations is yours. To whatever degree we have free will, we choose, we decide. The next time Evangelicals say to you “this is the will of God,” ask them how they know this. What evidence can they provide that will show a particular decision/choice was God’s will? Often, Evangelicals will simply restate that their decision was the will of God. No evidence will be forthcoming. Much like the unwashed Philistines of the World, Evangelicals make their own choices — good, bad, and indifferent.


Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 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.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

Just Remember, Evangelicals Have Answers for Every Objection to Their Beliefs

the bible rock of gibraltar

I was an Evangelical pastor for twenty-five years. I believed that the Bible was the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God — no mistakes, no errors, no contradictions, every word, straight from the mouth of God. Whenever I encountered a contradiction in my studies, I would pray and ask God to show me the truth. Often, I would turn to Evangelical books that listed alleged contradictions and refuted them. Their explanations almost always quelled my doubts. When these books didn’t, I retreated to the house of faith, believing that my understanding and interpretation was wrong; that God would one day make things clear to me; and if he didn’t, I would still love, obey, and trust him. The Bible says, “God is not the author of confusion,” so I believed that my intellectual confusion was either a ploy of Satan or my lack of understanding. God/Bible was always right. How could a perfect God write an imperfect Bible? I thought at the time.

Most Evangelicals are presuppositionalists — even if they don’t know what it means. They “presuppose” that their peculiar version of God is the one, true God; that the Bible is without error; that morality comes from their God through supernatural revelation (conscience, creation, Scripture).

Most Evangelicals have been taught various ways to overcome objections and challenges to their beliefs. Often, Evangelicals will ignore these challenges, move the proverbial goalposts, and attack those who object to their theological claims. This approach was fully displayed in my recent discussion with a Fundamentalist preacher’s kid (PK). My questions repeatedly went unanswered. Instead, she went into preaching mode, challenging the basis of my morality and understanding of facts. It was evident, at least to me, that was just repeating what she had heard from the pulpit; shallow, ineffective, contradictory apologetical arguments. Rarely are Evangelical congregants taught to “give an answer to the hope that lies within them.” Instead, they use worthless apologetics techniques such as Pascal’s Wager. Has anyone ever changed their mind after being presented with Pascal’s Wager?

Over the years, I have interacted with countless Evangelicals who think they are the ones who will win me to Jesus; that their arguments will overcome my unbelief and lead to my repenting and putting my faith and trust in Jesus Christ. Most of them quickly learn that I am not your average God-hating heathen. I am well-schooled in what the Bible says — especially from an Evangelical or Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) viewpoint. Of course, just because I know more than most Evangelicals do about the Bible doesn’t mean my arguments make any headway with them. I often find that Evangelicals have answers for every objection I raise. Not good answers, but answers nonetheless; answers they have been taught by their pastors, Sunday school teachers, or read in popular Evangelical apologetics books written by men such as Josh McDowell, Norm Geisler, Frank Turek, Sean McDowell, Gary Habermas, and Lee Strobel, to name a few. Search the Internet for “answers to mistakes, errors, and contradictions in the Protestant Christian Bible,” and you will find a plethora of sites offering up answers to any question unbelievers might ask. Not good answers, or rational, honest answers, but answers nonetheless. When forced to choose between my objections and the “answers” they learned from preachers, teachers, books, videos, and podcasts, Evangelicals almost always choose the latter. To do otherwise would mean admitting that the Bible is not without error — a fatal sin in Evangelical circles.

There have been a handful of times when Evangelicals who wanted to challenge my beliefs got far more from me than they expected; so much so that they had a crisis of faith. Several of them later deconverted, embracing atheism or agnosticism. I have found that Dr. Bart Ehrman’s books can be deadly to the faith of those who believe the Bible is without error. It is impossible to honestly and openly read Ehrman’s books and conclude that the Bible is inerrant and infallible. One might still hold on to his or her faith, but he or she cannot continue to believe that the Bible is without error. Such a belief, when confronted by the overwhelming evidence against it, cannot be rationally sustained.

That said, no amount of evidence can overcome faith. I have interacted with numerous Evangelicals who admitted that they couldn’t answer my objections to their claims. Yet, they still refused to change their minds. Instead, they ran to safety — the house of faith. In faith, Evangelicals find comfort and security. No argument can overcome faith and personal experience. When Evangelicals invoke “faith” or appeal to their testimonies, I know our discussions are over. When I throw in the towel, Evangelicals often think they won. No, they didn’t win. I have learned that no amount of evidence can overcome personal feelings and experiences. My white flag is just me saying, “I give up. You are impervious to facts. There’s no thoughtful discussion to be had as long as you appeal to your feelings.”

I have found that my most fruitful discussions have been when questioning their beliefs about the nature and history of the Bible. Inspiration is a faith claim, but asserting that the Bible is inerrant and infallible is a claim that can be rationally investigated. If Evangelicals are willing to follow the path wherever it leads, it’s impossible to maintain that the Bible is without error. The evidence against such claims is overwhelming. That said, on more than a few occasions, I have had Evangelicals come right to the point of admitting that the Bible is not inerrant and infallible, only to have them withdraw into faith. One former pastor friend of mine, upon me showing him that the King James Bible had errors in it, said to me, “I don’t care how many errors you show me, by faith I’m still going to believe the KJV is inerrant. Fast forward thirty years and this IFB pastor still believes the KJV is without error. He recently preached a series of messages that were meant to prove that the KJV — an English translation of Hebrew and Greek texts — is not only inspired, it is also inerrant and infallible. I have no doubt he will go to the grave believing the KJV is a supernatural text without one error, mistake, or contradiction. He cannot or will not entertain the idea that he could be wrong. To do so would show that he is lacking faith. And if he admits he lacks faith, his whole world would come tumbling down.


Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 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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Sounds of Fundamentalism: IFB Megachurch Pastor Jack Hyles Tells a Racist Joke and the Crowd Goes Wild

The Sounds of Fundamentalism is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a video clip that shows the crazy, cantankerous, or contradictory side of Evangelical Christianity, please send me an email with the name or link to the video. Please do not leave suggestions in the comment section.  Let’s have some fun!

Today’s Sound of Fundamentalism is a two-minute video clip of Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) megachurch pastor Jack Hyles telling an overtly racist joke in one of his sermons from the pulpit of First Baptist Church in Hammond, Indiana. (You may have to turn your device volume up to hear the video.)

Video Link


Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 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.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

Lori Alexander Believes Divorced People Who Remarry Will Go to Hell When They Die

god hates divorce

Lori Alexander, The Transformed Wife, didn’t actually say that divorced people who remarry will go to Hell when they die. Still, as I shall briefly show below, this is the logical conclusion of her beliefs about divorce and remarriage.

Recently, Alexander posted an article by David J. Stewart titled Is It Okay For a Wife to Divorce an Abusive Spouse? Stewart is an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) Christian who operates the Jesus is Savior website. I wonder if Alexander is aware that in 2011 Stewart allegedly pleaded guilty in Guam to child abuse?

Stewart stated:

Jesus plainly taught that divorce only happens… “because of the hardness of your hearts” (Matthew 19:8).

No! Leave if you must, but divorce is wrong. Marriage is a lifetime covenant. I received the following e-mail from a woman who left her husband. In a subsequent e-mail she confirmed that she had divorced him…

“I saw your website. I have a question. I am divorced. My husband and I are both saved. I am saved 24 years. He got saved when he met me. He was also an elder in our old church. Anyway, he just kind of turned on me over the years. He was hitting me and the kids. He was also both verbally and emotionally abusive. It was a hard decision, but I had to leave. My ex-husband was destroying my children’ self-esteem and self-worth, not to mention mine. Is it really such a horrible thing that I did? I really don’t think I did the wrong thing. The kids are better now, and I feel safe. Okay, my brother in Christ, please get back to me.”

I’m going to answer this woman’s e-mail with a humble heart and an understanding mind. The Word of God provides the answer to all of life’s questions, but we’ve got to search the Scriptures to know the mind of God. The woman who sent me this e-mail brings up a good point. There are many things that ought to be taken into consideration.

Certainly, abuse is wrong, plain and simple. God created Eve from Adam’s rib, the nearest thing to his heart, to be loved and cherished. A person who is in an abusive relationship has a right to leave. There’s no question about that. Some people have attempted to twist my teachings on marriage and divorce out of context, accusing me of telling women to submit to continued physical and mental abuse. I DON’T teach that and never have. What I do teach is that there are no Biblical grounds for divorce. This is not to say that a wife should not leave an abusive husband; but rather, she should not divorce him.


1st Corinthians 7:10, “And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband: But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.”

So, Biblically, if a wife does divorce, she is to REMAIN UNMARRIED. Matthew 5:32b teaches that it is adultery for a divorced woman to remarry…

“Whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.”

The focus of Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 5:32 was not upon divorce as many think; but rather, upon remarriage. It is adultery to get remarried if you divorced your spouse for any reason.

The question is not if it is okay to divorce an abusive spouse; but rather, is it okay to divorce? If you permit exceptions for which to divorce, people will ALWAYS take a foot if you give them an inch; divorcing for every reason. Although divorce is a hotly debated subject, I just believe that God made two people for each other, to spend a lifetime together, for better or worse. If your spouse is sentenced to life in prison, I think you should be there for them, not move on in your self-righteousness. You’re just as much a sinner in God’s eyes. We all deserve to burn in the fires of Hell. You cannot run from responsibilities, tragedy, heartache, and burdens. If you do, it will haunt you until you die if you have any conscience at all.


Just because your spouse goes to prison or becomes an invalid doesn’t give you a right to divorce and remarry so you can enjoy life. People have no loyalty anymore, neither to God nor their loved ones. This is what the Bible means in 2nd Timothy 3:1-5 when it speaks of people “without natural affection” in the last days. It is natural to love your spouse, family and close friends; but it will not be that way in the end times, and we are already in these times today. Jesus said in Matthew 24 that a man’s foes would be they of his own household.

Most people who file for divorce attempt to claim that Jesus allows for divorce in situations of adultery, but that is not what Jesus taught. What about all the other sins that one’s spouse may commit? Does that provide a grounds for divorce? No, not according to the Lord. Jesus taught in Matthew 18:22 to forgive, 70 times seven. Divorce is the sin of hate, unforgiveness, and hypocrisy.


Do you realize that less than one-percent of the population divorced in 1900? Recently in southern California the divorce rate skyrocketed to 75.54 %!!! [This statistic is a lie. Please read this article for accurate information about California’s divorce rate.) Most of the divorces are filed by women. Why so much divorce today as compared to a hundred years ago? There are numerous reasons; but primarily, television, women’s liberation, feminism, greedy lawyers, and a Communist agenda to destroy America’s families by rigging the court system always in favor of divorce. Marriages don’t stand a chance plugged into mainstream society. The secret to a happy marriage is to stay as far away from American culture as possible. I’m dead serious. This hellhole society in which we live today is sick, insane, and perverted.


Husbands are not allowed anymore in today’s heathen American society to Biblically “rule over” their own wives. Women in America have to a large extent become sassy, arrogant, and rebellious against masculine authority, particularly in the home. This is the Devil’s work of feminism. This is why divorce is so commonplace. This is why women have entered church pulpits all across America teaching false doctrines. This is why American society is saturated today with whorishly dressed women with imprudent character and lewd conduct.

The way most American women dress is a disgrace. Even professed Christian women dress and act shamefully. I recently visited a Baptist church in my area. Most of the women in the church were wearing pants, swinging their hips to the contemporary music while clapping their hands. It was a sad sight. And they call this “worship.” The woman in front of me was moving her hips forward and backward, and every time she went forward the slacks she was wearing revealed the outline of her buttocks. The woman next to her was wearing pants and kept swinging her hip from one side to the other while clapping. This is sinful worldliness in the church. I won’t go back. Do you know what the problem is? Apostate pastors who don’t teach their congregation holy living and are afraid to preach against the sin of immodestly dressed women. As with everything else in this sin-cursed world, the love of money is the root of all evil. You can’t even go to church anymore to escape the pollutions of the sinful world. The love of money is the reason why pulpits are silent today.


Carefully notice that the woman in the e-mail being addressed failed to mention even one negative thing about herself. Oh, she must be an angel. It is sinful pride that causes all divorces. Divorce is a sin. America is a feminist nation, and women are twice as likely to file for divorce than men. Look at World Divorce Rates and see how the evils of feminism have destroyed America’s families.

Interestingly, and sadly, all we see on the internet and in society today is talk about domestic violence; but NEVER do we hear anything about statistics on wives who refuse to obey their husbands. It is evil. IN GOD’S EYES, it is just as sinful for a wife to frustrate her husband through insubordination and disobedience as are the sins of homosexuality and witchcraft.


As a Christian, I don’t understand that mentality. I thought marriage was supposed to be about LOVE, between two people, forever. If Jesus was willing to suffer and endure the cross for our sins, then we should be willing to do the same for our own spouse. No matter what one’s spouse does, divorce should never be an option. We are living in an unforgiving, hateful, self-righteous society, which loves to sit at home in front of their TV judging everyone else as being a bigger sinner than themselves. You’d better be careful because one day you may be on TV.


f you filed for divorce, then you have sinned. If you’ve remarried, then you have also commit adultery. If your spouse remarried, then you caused even more adultery. You may find idiots out there who will tell you it’s okay to divorce; but, I am not going to help make you feel better about something you refuse to admit is wrong. If you have divorced, then you need to confess it to God as a sin, make reconciliation with your spouse as much as possible, and then move on in the Lord. If at all possible, the best thing would be for you to return to your spouse rather than remarry another (1st Corinthians 7:11). Only you know your own unique situation, and what needs to be done. God will hold YOU accountable for what YOU have done, and do (Romans 14:12). I say this with a broken heart over the sin of divorce and with a genuine concern for others. I love you in the Lord whoever you may be. No sin is so deep that it cannot be forgiven and cleansed away by Jesus’ precious blood, but the first step is to acknowledge that one has sinned.


Divorce causes emotional, physical, financial, legal, children and family and spiritual hardships. Divorce is commonplace in this evil generation. People criticize me a lot for defending abusive husbands, but that’s not my intent. I’m defending the institution of marriage. The Bible says in Jeremiah 17:9 that the human heart is wicked, desperately evil and deceitful above all else. A lot of women file for divorce because someone coaches them into doing so. People should go to jail for meddling in other people’s marriages. It’s much too easy to divorce these days.


You CANNOT show me even one Scripture in the Word of God that gives anyone permission to divorce because of abuse. And may I say, the Bible does not permit divorce for adultery either.

Here’s the problem with the no divorce/no remarriage position: everyone who divorces and remarries will go to Hell when they die. Every time they have sex, they are committing adultery. And the Bible is clear: no adulterer will inherit the Kingdom of God. There will be no divorced and remarried people in Heaven.

In a 2021 post titled What IFB Churches Believe About Divorce, I wrote:

Some IFB churches and pastors believe there are no grounds for divorce; that the exceptions granted by Jesus and Paul were given due to the hardness of man’s heart; that God’s standard is “marriage until death do we part.” While allowance was made for women leaving their husbands if they regularly beat them, separating spouses were told that under no circumstances could they divorce and remarry. They were reminded that Jesus said: Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery. In other words, remarry and you are an adulterer.

IFB luminary John R. Rice was asked, “Should A Divorced Woman Remarry Her Husband, Who Wants Her Back, Or Marry The Other Man She Is In Love With?” He responded:

She should remarry her husband. You see, when she was married first, she took a solemn vow to love, honor and obey . . . until death do us part. And the Bible clearly teaches that divorce is wrong. Even if the husband mistreated the wife (and of course all husbands and wives are human and fail in some degree), still she was his wife, she had promised to be with him until death, and God wanted her to obey her husband and love him and be true to him.

I think that if a wife will set out to obey her husband, she will find that love will increase. She will have to confess to God her sin of loving another man, and if in her heart she will honestly turn from that in repentance, then God will help her to love her husband and help the husband to forgive and love her. If things are not always easy, still the only way to happiness is to do right and have God’s blessing.

Satan always has some very attractive ways in sin. Sin is always attractive at first, but it always ends bad. The Bible says, ‘The way of transgressors is hard’ (Prov. 13:15). And, again, the Bible says in Numbers 32:23, ‘Be sure your sin will find you out.’ And Romans 6:23 says, ‘The wages of sin is death.’

First Corinthians 7, verses 10-13, says, ‘And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband: But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife. But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him.’”

Now the thing to do is to believe that God will restore happiness and that He will help straighten things out. So give Him a chance to do that.

Rice’s answer was typical of what I heard as a long-time member and pastor of IFB churches.

In 1994, I was between pastorates and Polly and our six children and I attended an IFB church pastored by my best friend. One night, I went with him on a visitation call to a church family who was having marital problems. They were seriously contemplating divorce. My preacher friend made it clear to them that God hated divorce and that there were no Biblical grounds for divorce. He said, “You have two choices. Either reconcile or separate and remain unmarried.” In his eyes, getting a divorce and then remarrying was a grievous sin and grounds for excommunication. He went on to say, “God says, if you remarry, both you and your new spouse are adulterers.”

Later, on our way home, I questioned him about his position on divorce. I asked, “if they remarry, what is it that makes them adulterers?” He replied, “the sex act.” I said, “So, every time they have sex, they are committing adultery?” My friend paused for a moment — thinking this was another one of Bruce’s famous theological traps — and then said, “Yes.”  And sure enough, he walked into one of my traps. I replied, “So, no one who is divorced and remarried is a Christian? And anyone in your church who is divorced and remarried (I mentioned several couples by name) will spend eternity in Hell?” As he pondered my questions, I reminded him that the Bible said 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.

“If, as the Bible says, adulterers will not inherit the kingdom of God,” I said, “then doesn’t that mean that divorced-remarried people — whom you say are adulterers — will NOT inherit the kingdom of God?” After a seemingly long period of silence, my friend said, “well, maybe I need to rethink my position.” Ya think?

I wonder if Alexander and Stewart will rethink their position on divorce and remarriage? I doubt it. These two peas in a pod are not known for admitting they were wrong. How could they? Filled with certainty, which breeds arrogance, Alexander and Stewart believe their “words” are straight from the mouth of God.


Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 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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Don’t Let Pastors Off the Hook for What They Say From the Pulpit

fat preacher

Thanks to churches and ministries putting sermons online, the words of many Evangelical preachers are readily available to anyone who wants to access them. Throw in books, blog posts, and other forms of media, and the public has more access to the words of preachers than at any other time in the history of mankind. I preached 4,000+ sermons during the twenty-five years I spent in the ministry. Many of my sermons were recorded on cassette tapes. However, it has been eighteen years since I preached a sermon that was recorded. I suppose it is possible that someone somewhere has a sermon tape or two of mine in a storage box in the back of their closet. I have asked former church members if they had any of my sermon tapes. If so, I would love to have them so I can put them online. Sadly, the tapes have either been discarded or recorded over with Highway to Hell by AC/DC. 🙂 Thus, I am somewhat safe from accountability for things I said in the past. All readers know about my sermons is what I tell them. They must rely on me to be truthful about the content of my sermons. That’s not the case today. Every word many Evangelical preachers say is readily available to anyone with an Internet connection.

Rarely does a week go by without conflict or outrage over something an Evangelical preacher has said in his sermon. Preachers can and do say awful things in their sermons. Evangelical preachers are known for attacks on the “world” and other Christians who disagree with them. The culture wars are verbalized Sunday after Sunday in Evangelical pulpits. Attacks on LGBTQ people, science, atheists, Muslims, liberals, progressives, and mainline Christians are common. Preachers frequently serve up advice in their sermons about marriage, sex, raising children, mental health, clothing, and all sorts of issues. In many churches, pastors are viewed as know-it-alls, God-called, Holy Spirit-filled dispensers of knowledge, wisdom, and truth. The opportunities to say something stupid, ignorant, or hateful are legion. The question, then, is whether these preachers MEANT to say what they did.

Generally, people say what they mean the first time they say it. When preachers say outlandish things in their sermons, they mean to say them. When criticism comes their way, preachers tend to either double down, explain that they were misunderstood, or on rare occasions say they were wrong. Evangelical preachers aren’t very good at admitting wrong. Typically, it’s hearers who are blamed for “misunderstanding” them. I choose to accept what they say at face value. When Evangelical preachers show themselves to be bigots, racists, misogynists, or homophobes, I believe them. They said what they meant to say regardless of how much pushback they received after fact.

These so-called men of God spend hours every week crafting their sermons. Most pastors don’t speak extemporaneously. They know beforehand what they intend to say. I was an Evangelical pastor for twenty-five years. All told, I preached 4,000 sermons. That’s roughly 15 million words. (Since 2014, I have written 5,044,326 words for this site.) Outside of innocent mistakes, every word of my sermons I meant to say. I can only remember two times when I stood before the church and said I made a mistake in one of my sermons. I meant everything I said, even if my words offended or irritated people. The same goes for my writing on this site. I carefully think about everything write. When I hit publish, I am confident that wrote exactly what I wanted to say. That doesn’t mean that I don’t make mistakes or have instances where I could have used different words. That happens, but not often. Having an editor helps me avoid bad word choices. Carolyn, when warranted, will say to me, “are you sure you want to say this?” or “are you sure you want to use this word?” Thus, when I say “Evangelicals are an existential threat to the United States,” I mean every word. Let the Evangelicals rage! 🙂

I have done a number of live media interviews over the past two years. I always try to speak thoughtfully and carefully. Sometimes, when I listen to the interviews, I find myself saying “I should have said this” or “I wish I hadn’t said that. People will misunderstand.” That’s the nature of live programming. I try my best to be honest and factual. I do, on rare occasions, make innocent mistakes. The offending preachers we are talking about in this post aren’t making “innocent” mistakes. They have every intention of being provocative, controversial, and inflammatory. That’s why they must be held accountable for what they say. And when they try to say that they were “misunderstood,” don’t believe them. When these preachers stand before their congregations and repudiate their words and admit that they were hateful, bigoted, racist, misogynistic, or homophobic and post their admissions to the Internet, then and only then will I believe and accept their mea culpas.


Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 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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Don’t be a “Stumbling Block,” Evangelical Preachers Tell Their Congregations

stumbling block

The Apostle Paul said in Romans 14:

Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.  I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean. But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died. Let not then your good be evil spoken of: For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men. Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another. For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence. It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.

Paul also says in 1 Corinthians 8:

Now as touching things offered unto idols.


As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one. Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge: for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled. But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse. But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak. For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol’s temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols; And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ. Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.

Before I talk about how Evangelical preachers use these verses to manipulate and control church members, I want to share what these verses actually mean — in context.

Paul was addressing an issue that cropped up in early Christian congregations. Church members were eating meat that had been previously offered up to pagan idols. Paul told them there was nothing inherently wrong with eating a T-bone steak previously offered up to one of the many pagan deities worshipped at that time. Mature believers knew meat was meat regardless of its provenance.

Immature believers, however, believed eating meat offered up to idols was sinful. Mature Christians eating this meat were causing them to stumble in their faith. Paul told mature believers to not eat meat offered to idols if it caused their brothers and sisters in the Lord to be offended and stumble in their walk with God.

Fast forward to 2023. A stumbling block is any behavior that causes other Christians to think poorly of you or presents a bad testimony to fellow Christians or the “world.” Evangelical preachers use “stumbling blocks” as a way to control church members’ behavior. Church rules (standards) are rigidly enforced. Congregants are reminded that participating in forbidden behaviors could cause “weak” brothers and sisters in the Lord to stumble, leading them to sin. Thus, they must refrain from certain behaviors lest weaker, immature believers (or the world, in some instances) stumble and sin.

I could give numerous examples of how the “stumbling block” theology plays out in real life, but for the sake of time, let me give readers four.

Suppose you and your family want to go to the movie theater and watch a G-rated movie. You plan to go to a multiplex that shows nine movies at a time, including R and NC-17 movies. If an immature Christian drove by the theater and saw you going into or leaving the facility, he might question whether you were watching an R or NC-17 movie. This could cause him to stumble in his walk with the Lord, so you shouldn’t go to movie theaters.

Imagine going to the local grocery store to buy beer. As you are strolling to the checkout with beer in your cart, you come upon an immature Christian who thinks drinking alcohol is a sin. Not wanting to offend such people, you should never buy beer at the grocery store.

I had a preacher friend who refused to eat at any restaurant that served alcohol. He believed that if other Christians saw him eating at a place that served alcohol, they might think he was drinking booze. Not wanting to cause his fellow Christians to stumble, he decided not to eat at any restaurant that served alcohol. My friend loved steak. Most steak houses serve alcohol. As a result, he was consigned to steak hell. He couldn’t eat at Texas Roadhouse, so his idea of a “good” steak was the packer-grade meat served by Bonanza or Ponderosa (pound-a-grossa). My friend refrained from all sorts of normal human behaviors, all because he didn’t want to offend other Christians.

Women, in particular, are subject to the “stumbling block” rule. Evangelical men are hapless, helpless horndogs who are unable to control their sexuality. Women are considered gatekeepers, tasked with keeping horny preachers, deacons, and other men from stumbling. They are reminded that they must cover up their bodies: no cleavage, no tight clothing, no short skirts, no pants that accentuate the female form. If they fail to do so, men will stumble over their dicks and try to ravage them in the pews. Thus, Sunday after Sunday, Evangelical women cover up their bodies so the minds of weak, immature men won’t be tempted to lust.

Polly and I followed the “stumbling block” rule for years. We didn’t do certain things because doing so might offend other Christians or make us look bad. Perception mattered to us. I remember when we got food stamps for the first time. We would drive to Columbus, Ohio, an hour away, so no one would see us. We took this approach to other things we didn’t think were sins. Out of sight, out of mind, we thought at the time.

The 1990s were the early days of DOS video games; games such as Commander Keen, Jazz Jackrabbit, Lost Vikings, Cosmos, and Duke-Nukem, to name a few. I am not a good game player, but I enjoyed playing the games mentioned above. Some games I wouldn’t play. Why? I was afraid that if church members saw me playing them they would think poorly of me. I didn’t want to ruin my testimony. I applied the same thinking to music. I would have loved to listen to classic rock music, but I refrained from doing so lest I caused another Christian to stumble.

Eventually, we came to the conclusion that some Christians can stumble over anything; that no matter what we did, there would always be someone offended by our behavior. This freed us to buy alcohol, attend movies, and eat at restaurants that served the Devil’s Brew. We used to not frequent grocery stores that sold alcohol or gas stations that sold pornographic magazines (yes, they actually sold them years ago). Once free of the bondage of the “stumbling block” rule, we were free to shop where we wanted and enjoy various entertainments that were previously off limits to us.

Did you attend a church that emphasized the “stumbling block” rule? Please share your experiences in the comment section.


Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 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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Context, meat to idols

Some people will trip over everything

Give examples, beards

Bruce Gerencser