Yesterday, I received several emails from Richard “Rich” Schmidt, pastor of Union Grove Baptist Church in Union Grove, Wisconsin, and the operator of Prophecy Focus Ministries. Carolyn, my editor, responded to Schmidt’s emails. I am no longer able to promptly respond to every email (and social media message) I receive. I appreciate Carolyn stepping in and helping me with my correspondence.
I do want to respond to one of Schmidt’s ill-informed judgments of my life and that of my wife. Schmidt stated:
I wrongly assumed that Bruce was an unconverted evangelical Lutheran or other liberal denomination or group. Unfortunately he is an unconverted former pastor of what would be classified as Bible believing churches. According to the now three blogs of his I have read, he has been inundated with well meaning Christians attempting to keep him from the inevitable destiny of Christ rejecters. You already know exactly what I mean.
The only reason I wrote you is deciding whether or not to cite him in my works highlighting people like Bruce who played church for years, and now have decided to fully expose themselves with their true beliefs. Wolves in sheep’s clothing are all too prevalent.
I will never use his name, as giving credence to him would be endorsing his current folly. Maybe, just maybe, Bruce and his faithful wife will one day remember what they taught years ago, turn to the Lord Jesus, and keep themselves from a horrible eternity. Based on his failing health, that reality is all too close. Remember: For by grace are you saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Over the past thirteen years, I’ve been told more times than I can count that I was never a True Christian®; that I was a fake Christian; that I was a follower of Satan; a false prophet. Unable to square my story with their peculiar theologies, Evangelicals dismiss my life out of hand. Doing so requires Evangelicals to put their hands over their eyes, blinding them to what is right in front of them: a well-lived Christian life, a man who devotedly followed Jesus and the teachings of the Bible. Over the course of the fifty years I spent in the Christian church and twenty-five years in the ministry, not one family member, friend, church member, or colleague in the ministry ever said of me, “Bruce is not a Christian.” Not one person saw what Schmidt “sees” after reading a handful of posts on this site. Amazing, right?
Schmidt ignorantly believes that I spent much of my adult life “playing at church.” What evidence does he have for his claim? None. First, he doesn’t know me. Second, there’s nothing in my writing that remotely suggests that I was anything other than a serious, dedicated Christian. Schmidt knows this, but he needs some sort of explanation for my story, so he makes one up.
When a person tells me he is a Christian, I accept his testimony at face value. Schmidt says he is a Christian, and I believe him. Who better knows his life than him? Why, then, can’t he extend to me the same respect? Why do Evangelicals have such a hard time accepting people who are different from them; people whose journeys are different from theirs?
What did Schmidt hope to accomplish by emailing me? Did he really think quoting Ephesians 2:8,9 would bring me to my knees in repentance and faith? Did he really think threatening me with Hell would cause me to tremble in fear at the prospect of going to a mythical Lake of Fire after death? Did he really think insulting Polly and me would lead to our return to the One True Faith®?
Polly and I haven’t forgotten that which we were taught and believed years ago. How could we? As long as Rich Schmidt and his fellow Fundamentalist preachers continue to preach at us, we are reminded of why we left Christianity. Why would we ever want to return to the leeks and garlic of Egypt? No thanks.
Previous article about Rich Schmidt
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.
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