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The Four Marks of a False Convert According to Jordan Standridge

elmer gantry 1960
Elmer Gantry, played by Burt Lancaster (1960), preaching on the evils of evolution

I was a part of the Christian church for fifty years. I made a public profession of faith at age fifteen, attended an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) college in the 1970s, married a preacher’s daughter, and spent twenty-five years pastoring Evangelical churches in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. In 2008 I left Christianity, declaring that I was no longer a believer. Since then, Evangelical family members, former congregants, ministerial colleagues, and countless Evangelical zealots have tried to square my story with their peculiar theologies. Some people think I was a true Christian, but fell from grace. Others think I am still a Christian — saved, but backslidden. And then there are those who think I was a false convert; that I never was a Christian; that I spent most of my life living a lie. What better way to dismiss my story out of hand than to say that I was a fake, a fraud, a deceiver.

Jordan Standridge, an Evangelical missionary in Italy, recently wrote an article detailing four characteristics of a “false convert.”

Writing for The Cripplegate website, Standridge stated:

Over the years I’ve seen that one of the most powerful moments in a new believer’s life is the realization that there is such a thing as a false convert. The sudden realization that salvation is not dependent on a prayer, a baptism or family history propels true believers to a whole other dimension in their walk with Christ. They begin to examine themselves properly (2 Cor 13:5), they become more evangelistic, they care more about theology and they appreciate being at church so much more. Understanding the fact that false converts are a reality is so important for those who call themselves Christians.

As we saw last week, there are few things more disappointing than when someone from our church walks away from the Lord. Especially when you’ve spent countless hours not only teaching and discipling that person, but you have shared a myriad of hours of ministry with him.

….

Of course, no amount of time spent discipling people is wasted time, but there is a sense in which we want to use our time wisely and be able to water where the grass is green, rather than spend our time watering dead grass. Is there a way to tell? Is there a way to be able to recognize the sheep from among the goats in this life? Well, Simon had four red flags that Luke points out in the short story of Acts 8:9-24 which we can apply to all false converts. These don’t encompass all the red flags, but they are a helpful start. So, here are four characteristics of a false convert.

They are man-centered

In other words, they like to be exalted by others. They are all about seeking attention and wanting to be noticed.

….

False converts don’t truly love God and don’t care if He ultimately receives the glory from their life; rather, they are simply after the cheap thrills of recognition and attention. A lack of love for God’s glory shows up in a lack of evangelism, and a lack of speaking about God at all. Those who are man-centered only care about how God can affect them and improve their life and aren’t interested in picking up a cross to follow Christ (Luke 9:23).

They are not devoted to Jesus 

Simon seemed to just go through the motions in Acts 8. As we’ve already seen, he was simply after holding on to his influence and adapting to what the culture around him wanted. Most people in his cult were giving their lives to Jesus, and so, in order to fit in, he also sought to accept Christ. He didn’t truly love Jesus, he simply wanted Jesus to give him what he ultimately sought– the desires of his carnal heart. He completely misunderstood salvation. I mean, he did it all:  he believed, was baptized, and followed Philip.

But, as we know, salvation is not actions, but rather, it is a heart change that God does to a person.  Ultimately it takes Peter one conversation to realize that this man hadn’t truly been saved. False converts completely misunderstand salvation and think that it is through their actions that they are saved. They might say that salvation is not through works with their lips, but their hearts declare something completely different. They don’t truly love Jesus in their hearts and are only after the benefits of what Jesus can bring to their life.

They have a selfish attitude

This is where Simon’s motives become clear. Acts 8:18-19 shows us Simon’s heart. He offered Peter and John money to be able to have the Holy Spirit and do the miracles that they were doing. Of course, this is silly to us and shows us a deep misunderstanding of how the Holy Spirit works. But, if we go beyond the surface, we will notice an even greater red flag.

Notice why he wanted the spiritual gifts. He wanted spiritual gifts so that he could be noticed and feel good about himself. He had completely selfish reasons for them. But, a simple reading of the New Testament will teach us that spiritual gifts are only given to us to be able to serve those around us. Their only goal is to serve the other members of the Church.

Today, so many churches promote certain spiritual gifts as more important than the others, and they also encourage those in their congregations to experiment with spiritual gifts that were not intended for them. Even if they do so unintentionally, they are setting up their congregations to see spiritual gifts as a way to promote themselves in front of the eyes of the church. This is a complete misunderstanding of spiritual gifts and it shows a love-of-self that is dangerous at best.

Christ, on the other hand, teaches his disciples that in order to be great one must be willing to serve. He then, through the Holy Spirit, gifted each member of the church with spiritual gifts intended to bless the whole body. The Christian life is a life of self-sacrifice, each Christian is called to put selfish desires to death and be willing to put the interest of others above their own (Gal 5:13).

They misunderstand repentance

Ultimately, Simon showed a lack of understanding of what repentance is. First of all, he got rebuked by Peter. Peter exposed his heart’s intentions and called him out on his sin. Simon’s response is telling. He cared about what Peter said, but not because he displeased his Savior, but because he was concerned about the consequences. He didn’t want what Peter said would happen to Him. This is worldly sorrow. Look at his response, “Pray to the Lord for me yourselves, so that nothing of what you have said may come upon me.”

Not only was he more worried about his consequences, but he also misunderstood how repentance works. He asked them to pray for him. Repentance is a constant desire to be pure in front of God. Repentance doesn’t need others to intercede for them, but, instead, it is the act of a person who humbles himself before his Father and requests forgiveness and desires to change. And this doesn’t just happen at the moment of conversion. This is continual each and every day.

….

Jesus’ parable of the unforgiving slave (Matt 18:21-35) teaches a simple fact, and that is if you are unwilling to forgive, then you probably haven’t truly experienced grace. You could also say that someone who doesn’t repent of sin after he becomes a Christian probably isn’t a Christian. A Christian’s humility doesn’t go away at conversion, but rather continues on into his sanctification. As his love for Christ increases, his hatred for sin will increase as well, and it will show itself in a desire to admit sin and continue to repent daily.

On the other hand, false converts hate confrontation. They close up and defend themselves, or, better yet, attack back in order to keep the confronter at bay. They can’t possibly believe that they could have sinned in some way. False converts are prideful and don’t ever own up to sins that they have committed. In other words, they are blind to their sin.

Of course, this must have been eye opening to the early church. Most churches would be ecstatic to have a guy like Simon proclaim Christ and join the church, and maybe Philip was blinded by this as well. But, Simon had all the wrong motives in coming to Christ, and, even though it wasn’t evident at first, his true colors came out in time. Having someone walk away can be extremely painful, but each time it happens, we can be thankful that God has changed our hearts and given us new life. I think that when false-converts walk away, we are also more likely to value the seasoned saints in church around us who have been so faithful to follow Christ for so many years, and who have said, perhaps thousands of times, no to the world and yes to Christ.

Standridge believes True Christians® can ferret out false converts in their churches. False converts:

  • Are man-centered
  • Are not devoted to Jesus
  • Have selfish attitudes
  • Misunderstand repentance

I know scores of people who Standridge would label false converts. However, his four characteristics of a false convert don’t ring true. Standridge is looking for easy explanations to explain the mass exodus from Evangelical churches. Pastors, evangelists, missionaries, elders, deacons, youth directors, worship leaders, and other committed followers of Jesus are walking (or running) out the back doors of churches never to return. How does Standridge explain an increasing number of Evangelical clergy and church leaders who are embracing atheism, agnosticism, or non-Abrahamic religions? Are they all “false converts”?

Instead of addressing the stench arising from Evangelicalism’s corpse, Standridge uses worn out tropes to marginalize and dismiss people who once loved and served Jesus with all their heart, soul, and mind. I challenge Standridge to carefully read my story and see if he can find a whiff of his “four characteristics of a false convert.”

Stories such as mine and yours remain a conundrum for Evangelicals. Our testimonies suggest that we were once followers of Jesus, and now we are not. We once loved God and his church, and now we don’t. We once believed the Bible was the Word of God, and now we don’t. We were, in every way, true converts, and now we are not.

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.

Listen to My Speech for the Atheists of Florida Monthly Meeting

atheists of florida speech

I had the honor of speaking at the monthly meeting of the Atheists of Florida this past Sunday, August 29, 202 After my speech, I answered questions from the crowd. Several friends and family members attended the meeting, including some of you. Thank You! for your support.

My speech is now available on YouTube.

Video Link

My speech is available on the following podcast services:

Apple

Audible

Google

Spotify

For other podcast services, please search for “Free2Think.”

I apologize in advance for my leaning to the right/left in parts of my speech. One explanation: pain, awful pain. I did what I could.

Let me know what you think.

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, You Are a “Quitter”

bruce gerencser curmudgeon

Recently, an Evangelical preacher had this to say about me:

Yes, we called BG [Bruce Gerencser] a quitter as that was a common theme throughout his life. He quit on high school, college, his church, Jesus, and, as we see. anything to do with Christian behavior towards others.

When they quit, they spend their time hiding from God, and the truth no matter who brings it across their path. They are all the same and if you want to understand why Jesus said not to cast pearls before swine, it is because they will trash and reject it without using an open mind.

This so-called man of God, a defender of the One True Faith®, loves to call me a “quitter.” According to him, “quitting” is leaving. This preacher is my age, and I know he has, using his definition, “quit” a few times himself. This man has combed through my life with a nit comb, finding every time I left _________, seeing this as proof I am a quitter. In his mind, a “quitter” is a failure; one who has failed to run/finish the race (as determined by this preacher).

As a ministerial student at Midwestern Baptist College in Pontiac, Michigan — an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) institution — I heard countless sermons on “quitters.” Dr. Tom Malone, the chancellor of Midwestern, was famous for lambasting quitters in his chapel sermons. Other chapel speakers did the same. The message was clear: don’t be a quitter; God doesn’t use quitters; your life will never amount to anything; you are a failure if you quit.

One chapel speaker, “Dr.” Charles Whitfield, even called me out personally for quitting. I had dropped his hermenuetics class, and that — for some inexplicable reason — infuriated him. While he didn’t mention me by name, the details of his harangue made it clear who he was talking about.

Infamous IFB pastor, the late-Jack Hyles, wrote a poem titled “Don’t Quit.” It said:

When the cup is turned to wormwood,
And the wormwood turns to gall;
When your walking turns to stumbling,
And the stumbling to a fall;
When you’ve climbed above the mountains,
Yet the Alps rise rough and tall;
DON’T QUIT.

When the path ahead is crooked,
And the road’s too rough to tread;
When the best upon the table
Is replaced by sorrow’s bread;
When you’ve crossed some troubled waters,
Yet a Marah’s just ahead; (Exodus 15;16)
DON’T QUIT.

When the vultures have descended
And disturbed your downy nest;
When sweet fruit has changed to thistle,
While the thorns disturb your rest;
When a deep to deep is calling,
And when failure seems your best;
DON’T QUIT.

When the Lord has cleansed the table;
Then He takes away the fat;
And the best wine has been taken,
Till you find an empty vat;
When another fills the throne room
Where once you proudly sat;
DON’T QUIT.

When your health is feeling sickly,
And the medicine tastes bad;
When your fellowship is lonely,
And your happiness is sad;
When your warmth is getting colder,
And in clouds your sunshine’s clad;
DON’T QUIT.

When you find your wins are losses,
And that all your gains are lacks;
When ill things never come alone,
And your troubles run in packs;
When your soul is bruised and battered
From the Tempter’s fierce attacks;
DON’T QUIT.

Be not weary in well doing,
For due seasons bring the grain;
He who on the Lord hath waited
Shall never run in vain;
The just man falleth seven times,
Yet riseth up again;
DON’T QUIT.

We left Midwestern in early 1979. As we were loading up our Uhaul trailer, preparing to move to my hometown, Bryan, Ohio, a dorm roommate of mine stopped by and pleaded with me not to “quit,” saying, “God will NEVER use you!”

Seven years later, Dr. Malone was preaching at the Newark Baptist Temple in Newark, Ohio — an IFB church pastored by Jim Dennis, Polly’s uncle, a 1960s Midwestern grad. (Please see The Family Patriarch is Dead: My Life With James Dennis.) My father-in-law, a 1976 Midwestern grad, proudly told Malone about the church I was pastoring; how fast it was growing; how souls were being saved under my ministry. Before starting to preach, Malone recognized several notable preachers in the crowd — a common practice at IFB conferences and preacher’s meetings. Malone told the crowd I was in attendance, saying, “If Bruce had stayed any longer at Midwestern, we would have ruined him.” Everyone laughed, and I took his words as validation of the work I was doing for God.

With these things in mind, let me circle back around to what the aforementioned preacher said about me:

[Bruce] quit on high school, college, his church, Jesus, and, as we see. anything to do with Christian behavior towards others.

This preacher mentions five things I have done and experienced in my life that justify him calling me a “quitter.” I want to respond to each of these things, showing the context behind these events. I will then add a sixth point.

High School

Did I graduate from high school? No. My parents divorced when I was fourteen. Two months later, both of them remarried. Mom married her first cousin, a recent parolee from the Texas penal system. Dad married a nineteen-year-old girl with a toddler. In the spring of 1973, hoping to avoid bill collectors, Dad had a household goods auction, packed up our clothing and meager belongings, and moved us to Tucson, Arizona. After finishing tenth grade at Rincon High School in Tucson, I hopped a Greyhound Bus and moved back to Bryan, Ohio to live with my mom. Two months later, I moved to Findlay, Ohio so I could attend Findlay High School and Trinity Baptist Church, both of which were places of happiness, security, and safety for me. After living with a church family in Mount Blanchard for a couple of months (and attending Riverdale High School) I started living with Gladys Canterbury, a matronly woman at the church. I became a ward of the court so Gladys could receive money for keeping me and I would have medical, dental, and vision insurance. I was sixteen.

In May of 1974, weeks before I turned seventeen, I decided to move back home. I missed my mom. Knowing that Gladys (and the church) would not allow me to move, I secretly planned my escape. For a week, I would, unknown to Gladys, stay home from school and plan my move. Finally, the day arrived. Mom pulled into the driveway of Gladys’s southside home, got out of the car, and helped me load my few worldly possessions into her car. Ninety minutes later, I was back home, ready to enroll for my senior year at Bryan High School.

As a student at Findlay High, I didn’t miss one day of school. In fact, I got out of school every day at 11:30 am, and walked or rode my bike to my job as a busboy at Bill Knapps on West Main Cross St. I would work the lunch shift and then sit in the side dining room eating my employee meal — man, I loved their burger basket — and then working on my homework. Afterward, I would work the evening shift. I worked 25 or more hours each week.

In August of 1974, Mom and I went to Bryan High so I could enroll for school. Two weeks later, the school called to inform us that Findlay High was denying me credit for eleventh grade; that I would have to enroll as a junior, not a senior. Findlay High said that because I missed the last two weeks of school, they were denying me credit for my junior year. Never mind the fact that I never missed a day of school up until moving home. Never mind the fact that I was a good student. Mom and I consulted a local attorney, David Newcomer. We thought at the time, “surely Findlay High School can’t do this.” Newcomer told us that we could sue the school, but it would take years to settle such a lawsuit.

Livid over the prospect of having to retake eleventh grade, I “quit” school. My dear friend Dave Echler had also quit school. This certainly played a part in my decision to quit. Mom pleaded with me not to drop out of school, but after seeing my mind was made up, she signed the necessary form so I could quit.

Yes, I am a high school dropout, but a “quitter” in the sense that this Evangelical preacher is using the word? No.

College

Polly and I married in the summer of 1978, between our sophomore and junior years. Polly started attending Midwestern while she was a senior at Oakland Christian School. Polly was one smart cookie, a pretty cookie, a sexy cookie, okay, a “Godly” cookie too. 🙂 Polly, who would soon graduate second in her class, was permitted to attend Midwestern the second half of her senior year.

After getting married, Polly and I moved to an upstairs apartment on Premont St. in Waterford Township. In September, we started classes at Midwestern, excited that we were halfway through college. In less than two years, Mr. and Mrs. Bruce Gerencser would move to a town somewhere in the United States and start a new IFB church, planning to spend our lives winning souls to Christ and teaching Christians the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God. Remember what they say about best-laid plans?

We planned to wait until we were out of college to have children. But, unfortunately, “God” had other plans. Six weeks after we married, Polly informed me that she was pregnant. That’s what you get when two young, immature virgins marry, having little information about how “things” work. Eschewing birth control pills and condoms, Polly used an ineffective spermicidal foam.

Polly cleaned the homes of a Bloomfield Hills rabbi and their daughter, that is until brutal morning sickness made that impossible. I worked a full-time job at Deco Grand, making parts for GM’s diesel motors. Keep in mind, we were carrying a full load of classes at Midwestern, along with attending church three times a week and fulfilling the required evangelism requirements for students. I also taught Sunday school and held church services Sunday afternoon at a drug rehabilitation center in Detroit.

In January 1979, I was laid off from my job at Deco Grand. I had not worked there long enough to draw unemployment. Unable to find employment that would allow us to stay in school, we decided to drop out for a semester, hoping to reenroll after our son was born in May. We went to the school to talk to “Dr.” Levy Corey about dropping out. We thought Corey, one of our favorite preachers would understand. Instead, he counseled us NOT to leave school. “Just trust God. He will provide,” Corey said. Several weeks later, behind on the rent and facing threats of having our utilities shut off, we decided to leave Midwestern and return to Bryan. We lived, for a time, with my sister. I took a job with General Tire, and when they moved me to third shift, I “quit” and took a union job at ARO. I made $8 an hour, with superb insurance. When Jason was born in May, we didn’t pay a dime.

One month after we moved to Bryan, my sister’s pastor, Jay Stuckey, offered me an unpaid job as his assistant. I worked my ass off helping the church grow, reaching a high attendance of 500 our last Sunday there.

Yes, I didn’t graduate from Midwestern. But, was I a “quitter” in the sense this Evangelical preacher uses the word? No. Life happens, and after Polly got pregnant and I was laid off, we did what we could to keep a roof over our head and the lights on. We may have left college, but we spent twenty-five years serving congregations in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan.

Churches

This preacher writes as if I pastored one church and then quit. Instead, I pastored seven churches. One church I pastored for eleven years, another for seven. I also worked as my father-in-law’s assistant for two years, growing the youth department to fifty students (over half of the church’s Sunday attendance). I also pastored four churches for short periods of time. (Please see What Happened to the Churches I Pastored?) Interestingly, every one of these pastorates was seven months long. I know, odd, right?

Was I a “quitter” in the sense that this preacher is using the word? Of course not. Pastors leave churches all the time. The reasons for doing so are many. Sure, some of my departures were acrimonious. Could I have done better or been more patient? Absolutely. I have never denied that certain character traits of mine made it difficult for me to work with bullheaded, argumentative, controlling church members. I warned the last church I pastored, Victory Baptist Church, a Southern Baptist church in Clare, Michigan, that I would not fight with them. Five months later, my hope for love, joy, and peace turned into ugly, soul-killing warfare. I left this church for the sake of my mental health. I was burned out, tired of endless conflict and pettiness. Did I “quit”? No, I resigned. You know, like people do when they leave a job for another one. Wait until this preacher finds out how many jobs I have worked over the years. 🙂 I have an advanced degree in leaving jobs and finding another. Could I have done differently? Sure. But a “quitter”? Nope.

Jesus

Did I “quit” on Jesus? Perhaps the real question is this: “did Jesus quit on me”? Did the church quit on me? Did my family, former parishioners, and colleagues in the ministry quit on me after I left the ministry and later left Christianity? Or maybe, just maybe, I decided that the central claims of Christianity weren’t true; that Jesus was not virgin-born, did not work miracles, and lies buried in a grave somewhere near Jerusalem. Or maybe, just maybe, I decided the Bible was not the inerrant, infallible Word of God; that the Bible is littered with mistakes, contradictions, and errors. Or maybe, just maybe, I visited 125 Christian churches and concluded that the teachings of Jesus were nowhere to be found; that churches were social clubs instead of places that ministered to the “least of these.” Or maybe, just maybe, I divorced Jesus. Having given him thirty years to show up and reveal himself, I decided that Jesus wasn’t walking through the door. Wanting to move on in my life, I divorced Jesus and entered a polyamorous relationship with reason, skepticism, and common sense.

To Jesus, I say, “Here I am, Lord. You know where I live. Show up on my doorstep, invite me to lunch (and pay the bill), and show me your miracle-working power, and I will believe.” I suspect Jesus ain’t coming to my house and hanging out. How can he? He’s dead.

Christian Behavior

This Evangelical preacher thinks I have “quit” on “anything to do with Christian behavior.” Of course, I have. I’m not a fucking Christian. “Language,” Bruce. Fuck off, asshole. 🙂 That said, I am a loving, kind, thoughtful person. Ask Polly, our six children, or our thirteen grandchildren. Ask my lifelong friend mentioned above. The only people who think I am a bad person are those who can’t square my story with their theological beliefs. Unable to do so, they attack my character. Those who matter to me know what kind of man I am. I am confident that Bruce, the Atheist is a far better “Christian” than this Evangelical preacher. I don’t go to Christian blogs or websites and attack their owners. I have NEVER engaged Christians outside of this blog or on social media after they have left a comment.

I make no apology for operating this blog. I make no apology for what I write. Have I become less polite and longsuffering towards Evangelical zealots? Guilty as charged. (Please see I Make No Apologies for Being a Curmudgeon.) After thousands of emails, blog comments, and social media messages from Evangelicals, I am tired of their attacks and character assassinations. I try to ward off their emails, comments, and messages (please see Comment Policy and Dear Evangelical), but they continue to harass me anyway. The contact form for this site states:

If you would like to contact Bruce Gerencser, please use the following form. If your email warrants a response, someone will respond to you as soon as possible.

Due to persistent health problems, I cannot guarantee a timely response. Sometimes, I am a month or more behind on responding to emails. This delay doesn’t mean I don’t care. It does mean, however, that I can only do what I can do. I hope you understand.

To help remedy this delay in response, my editor, Carolyn, may respond to your email. Carolyn has been my editor for five years. She knows my writing inside and out, so you can rest assured that if your question concerns something I have written, Carolyn’s response will reflect my beliefs and opinions — albeit with fewer swear words.

I do not, under any circumstances, accept unsolicited guest posts.

I am not interested in buying social media likes, speeding up my website, or having you design a new blog theme for this site.

I will not send you money for your ministry, church, or orphanage.

If you are an Evangelical Christian, please read Dear Evangelical before sending me an email. If you have a pathological need to evangelize, spread the love of Jesus, or put a good word in for the man, the myth, the legend named Jesus, please don’t. The same goes for telling me your church/pastor/Jesus is awesome. I am also not interested in reading sermonettes, testimonials, Bible verses, or your deconstruction of my life. By all means, if you feel the need to set me straight, start your own blog.

If you email me anyway — and I know you will, since scores of Evangelicals have done just that, showing me no regard or respect — I reserve the right to make your message and name public. This blog is read by thousands of people every day, so keep that in mind when you email me whatever it is you think “God/Jesus/Holy Spirit” has laid upon your heart. Do you really want your ignorance put on display for thousands of people to see? Pause before hitting send. Ask yourself, “how will my email reflect on Jesus, Christianity, and my church?”

Outside of the exceptions mentioned above, I promise to treat all correspondence with you as confidential. I have spent the last fourteen years corresponding with people who have been psychologically harmed by Evangelical Christianity. I am more than happy to come alongside you and provide what help I can. I am not, however, a licensed counselor. I am just one man with fifty years of experience as a Christian and twenty-five years of experience as an Evangelical pastor. I am more than happy to lend you what help and support I can.

Thank you for taking the time to contact me.

Yet, Evangelicals send me emails anyway. I am grateful that what I have written above on the contact page has warded off many blood-sucking vampires. But, I still get lots of emails from fangers (shout out to True Blood fans). Further, zealots ignore my commenting policy. After I ban them, they continue to try to comment. Take Elliot. While he has stopped trying to comment or email me, he had tried to access this site 386 times since July 9, 2021 — more than six times a day. Elliot can’t read this, but maybe someone will tell him, Nah, baby, Nah.

Have I ever gone too far when responding to arrogant, nasty, self-righteous Evangelicals? Yes. Readers who have been with me since 2007 — looking at you Michael, Zoe, and Andrew — remember my oh-so-famous response to Iggy of Montana. Iggy told me that he “knew me better than I knew myself.” After a contentious back and forth, I blew up. Scorched earth time. Some people will say I have gone too far when I rewrite the deleted comments of the Evangelical preacher who thinks I am a quitter. (He is permanently banned, yet he still tries to comment, ignoring my commenting policy.) Other people love my rewrites. Sometimes, humor is all you have left when dealing with smug bullies.

Death

I am sick. Really, really sick. I have fibromyalgia, gastroparesis, and osteoarthritis. In late July, I wrote a post titled Health Update: I’m F**ked:

Over the past four months, I’ve had excruciating pain in the middle of my back, left side, and under my left arm, into my shoulder, and down my arm. The pain is so severe that it affects everything I do. Some days, I can hardly use my left arm (and I’m left-handed)

I had X-rays. Normal. CT scan. Normal. And now an MRI of my thoracic spine. NOT normal. I have:

Disc herniation (T7,T8)

Disc herniation (T6,T7)

Central spinal canal stenosis (T9/T10, T10/T11)

Foraminal stenosis (T5,T6)

Disc degeneration/spondylosis (T1/T2 through T10/T11)

Facet Arthropathy throughout the spine, particularly at T2/T3, T3/T4, T5/T6, and T7/T8 through the T12/L1 levels.

Hypertrophic arthropathy at T9/T10

Every day is a struggle. Some days, I wonder if I can go on. So far, my reasons for living (my family, writing, and the Cincinnati Reds) give me the strength to live another day. There might, however, come a day when I can no longer endure the pain. And when that day comes, I may choose to end my life. Am I “quitter” for saying, “I’ve had enough. I can’t bear the pain any longer”? I am sure that If I take the death with dignity path, the Evangelical preacher who is the focus of this post will likely write a post that says, “Bruce Gerencser, The Quitter is Dead. Now He Knows Hell is Hot, God is Real, and I’m Fucking Right.” I hope the readers of this blog will give him a collective middle finger. I hope you will tell people that Bruce Gerencser was a survivor, that he did what he could. Finally, I will leave it to my family, friends, and the people who have walked the path with me to measure my life, to give testimony of how the “quitter” Bruce Gerencser made a difference in their lives. (This last section is not a plea for help. This is just me talking out loud with my friends.)

This Evangelical preacher means for the word “quitter” to be a pejorative term; to cause psychological pain. What he calls “quitting,” I call life. A well-lived life? That story is still being written.

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.

Your Invitation to Hear My Speech for Atheists of Florida This Sunday

atheists of florida speech

I have the honor of speaking at the monthly meeting of the Atheists of Florida this Sunday, August 29, 2021, at 5:00 pm (EDT). This event is open to the public. After my speech, there will be a Q&A time.

If you are interested in attending, here’s the link for the Zoom meeting. The room will be open at 4:45 pm. I hope to see some of your smiling faces on Sunday. No eggs or tomatoes allowed. 🙂

My speech will be available afterward as a podcast and YouTube video. I will post those links when they are available.

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 Will Happen to This Blog After You Die?

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.

Troy asked:

#1 Do you think your parents passing away at a young age made it easier to announce your atheism and on the other side of thing Polly’s parents were both alive until recently do you think this made her less vocal about it? (And I know writing that letter announcing your departure from religion was not easy, but pleasing parents is something that is qualitatively different)

#2 You often speak of your ill health, while I hesitate to ask it because I love you as a friend, do you want to blog to continue after you die or would you like it to die with you?

I don’t think the physical state — alive or dead — of our parents played much of a part in how Polly and I announced our loss of faith in 2008. If anything, our personalities determined our response. A story from our days at Midwestern Baptist College in Pontiac, Michigan, might best explain this. Not long after I expressed my romantic interest in Polly, we walked to an elevated drainage cover situated in the field outside of the dormitory. Sitting down, exactly six inches apart, (Please see Thou Shalt Not Touch: The Six-Inch Rule.) we “talked.” Well, I should say I talked. Polly quickly learned that her new love interest loved to talk, and talk, and talk, and . . . I learned that the beautiful dark-haired girl who would become my wife two years later was bashful, rarely saying a word. I thought, “does this girl EVER talk”? 🙂 Our personalities are very different. While I have won Polly over to my talkative side — at least when she’s around me — she’s still shy around people she doesn’t know. She’s content to let me be the talker in the family, even when I wish she would speak up. After forty-three years of marriage, we accept that we are who we are, comfortable in our own skins. Dammit, Polly, will you PLEASE tell your mother ____________? 🙂

This aforementioned story best explains how each of us announced our defections from Christianity. I wrote Dear Family, Friends, and Former Parishioners and started a blog. Polly? She said nothing, not then and not now. I suspect that people at her place of employment still think Polly is an Evangelical pastor’s wife. The people who work for her know that she is not a Christian, but outside of them, she has not shared her story with anyone. And she’s fine with that. And so am I.

Polly’s Fundamentalist Baptist parents (Dad died in 2020) know we left Christianity. They know we are agnostic atheists. However, we have NEVER had one conversation with them about our loss of faith. And we likely never will. That’s been the MO of our relationship with Polly’s parents from day one (which I will cover one day in a post).

Now to Troy’s second question. Troy is a good friend of mine. While we have never met face to face, we have become close over the years through this blog and Facebook. So I accept his question as coming from a heart of love and concern. If “Dr.” David Tee asked me this question, I would hear, “Hey godless motherfucker. What going to happen to your blog after God strikes you dead and you end up in Hell?”

Troy knows that I am in poor health. Tee does too, but he’s a heartless prick, so fuck him. 🙂 Troy knows my days are numbered, as do I. I hope to live for five or ten more years, but my body tells me that the hourglass of my life is running out. Knowing this, I have had thoughts about the future of this blog. Do I want it to live on after my death? Will Polly be able to maintain this site after my demise? One of my children? I don’t know.

I know I don’t want Polly to be saddled with the costs of maintaining this site — roughly $125 a month. I know that once I am gone, readership numbers will drop, as will donations. That’s just the facts of the matter. We live in a “what have you done for me lately” world. When Bruce Almighty is turned into ashes, I hope people will mourn my loss. However, I know that readers will move on. No new content, no reason to come to The Life and Times of Bruce Gerencser blog.

My thoughts are this: I need to leave behind detailed instructions on how to move this to a cheaper (and slower) web hosting service. Or, if given time before I die, I will do this myself. This would reduce costs to less than $20 a month, leaving Polly to decide later if she wants to delete this site. Die! Die! My Darling! (Polly will understand this movie reference.)

I’m not sure how I feel about being memorialized after I kick the bucket. That said, I know my writing may help others after I go over the rainbow in the sky (I’m running out of synonyms for D-E-A-D). It will be left to Polly and my family to decide the future of my “ministry.” Maybe it would be nice if this blog outlived me for the sake of my grandchildren. DO IT FOR THE CHILDREN, BRUCE! 🙂 I want them to “know” my story, to read and understand my life. (Most of them were born after I left the ministry. They have no idea that Grandpa was once a Baptist preacher.) Of course, if I finished my damn book, I could autograph copies for my thirteen reasons to get up in the morning. Okay, nineteen reasons — though I can hardly even get off the couch these days when my six oh-so-awesome kids come to visit me to see how soon they will be collecting their inheritance. 🙂

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