Recently, I received a one-link email from a Christian man named John Roden:
Sigh, Angelfire. So 1990s. The link Roden sent me was to a page detailing his testimony. I perused Roden’s testimony, concluding that he has bought into the Calvinistic gospel of sovereign grace. His main page revealed a plethora of articles on Calvinism.
I replied to Roden, asking him “What’s your point in sending me a link to your alleged conversion story?”
Roden fired back:
My heart goes out to you, dear friend, for I was once also hardened against the truth as you are at this time. Yet God was pleased to be merciful to me, and I pray that while reading my testimony of the grace of God and the Scriptures quoted and referenced therein, God might be pleased to also grant you repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21).
Friend, you may laugh, and say there is no such place as Hell, but I would caution you to weigh seriously the dying words of Thomas Paine, the renowned American author and infidel whose book, Age of Reason, exerted considerable influence in his day against belief in God and in the Bible. When he came to his last hour before death in 1809, Thomas Paine cried out,
“I would give worlds, if I had them, that Age of Reason had not been published. O Lord, help me! Christ, help me! O God, what have I done to suffer so much! But there is no God! But if there should be, what will become of me hereafter! . . . If ever the Devil had an agent, I have been that one!”
Then, my friend, consider the last words of Voltaire, the noted 18th Century French infidel and talented writer who wrote much in his day against the Bible. He said of Christ, “Curse the wretch!” He once boasted, “In 20 years Christianity will be no more. My single hand shall destroy the edifice it took 12 apostles to rear!” However, the physician who attended him in his final moments before death said he cried out desperately:
“I am abandoned by God and man! I will give you half of what I am worth if you will give me six months life. Then I shall go to Hell; and you will go with me. O Christ! O Jesus Christ!”
Contrast the tragic death scene described above with the last words of Dwight L. Moody (1837-1899), the American evangelist who spoke these words with joy as he was about to enter eternity:
“I see earth receding; heaven is opening. God is calling me.”
David Brainerd, whose remarkable evangelistic work among the American Indians still inspire the people of God who read about him, was heard to whisper at the moment of death,
“He will come, and will not tarry. I shall soon be in glory, soon be with God and His angels!”
Saul of Tarsus was one of the worst enemies of the Lord Jesus Christ, yet God was merciful to this one who–like you–hated Him. Saul–after his conversion–became known as the Apostle Paul, who wrote 13 epistles of the New Testament. The story of his miraculous conversion may be read in Acts 9.
A sinner who also received mercy
(Titus 3:5, Ephesians 2:4-10),
Sigh. (Please see Why I Use the Word “Sigh”.)
First, Roden ignored my requests on the Contact page, showing disregard and disrespect towards me. If someone asks you not to contact them and you do it anyway, you are being disrespectful. Roden likely thinks “God” told him to contact me. I guess rudeness is okay if you are hearing voices in your head.
Second, Roden ignores the fact that I was an Evangelical pastor for twenty-five years, a Calvinist for many of those years. Does he actually think that quoting Bible verses at me will actually make any difference? Does he really think me reading his testimony will cause me to fall on my knees and confess that Jesus is my Lord and Savior? Not a chance. I wonder if he bothered to read any of the posts on the WHY? page. I suspect not.
Third, Roden deliberately used alleged quotes by Thomas Paine and Voltaire that have no basis in fact. (Please see The Vindication of Thomas Paine by Robert Ingersoll and The Fantasy of the Deathbed Conversion by Lawrence Krauss.) All one has to do is consult God (Google) to learn that these quotes are apocryphal, lies, or in dispute. Like many Evangelicals, Roden mines the Internet for quotes that prove his point: that atheists die screaming for God and Christians die peaceably praising the dead Jesus. Having watched a number of faithful followers of Jesus die, I can tell you that very few of them had Jesus’ name on their lips when they drew their last breaths. Some of them were fearful, despite all the Bible promises they heard over the years. And some died without saying a word, as their brains and hearts shut down. There’s literally nothing that can be learned from the words uttered by people on their deathbeds. To Roden I say, stick around, I hope to have quite a sermon for people on the day I slip out to the crematorium. Maybe Polly will record it so everyone will know what the infidel and apostate Bruce Gerencser had to say when dying.
Before I could respond to Roden’s email, he fired off another missive from God:
While there were apostates from the Christian faith in the apostolic era–and in our day such as yourself–there are also notable converts to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ from atheism. One such is Lee Strobel. Are you familiar with his story, and his book, “The Case for Christ“?
A sinner who received mercy
P.S.–Another book you might consider investigating is “Evidence for the Historical Jesus: Is the Jesus of History the Christ of Faith,” by Gary Habermas.
Sigh. Apologists always bring up Strobel. His books are apologetical pablum. His atheist claim has been widely disputed. And even if he was, so what? What does his conversion prove? Very few atheists convert to Evangelicalism. Even fewer atheists, who were once Evangelical Christians, return to Christianity. It happens, but not very often. And even if it does, so what? If Roden wants to look at statistics, he might want to look at the increasing number of people who are leaving “Biblical” Christianity. the fastest growing “religion” in America is the NONES — people who have no interest in organized religion. Roden might want to consider why this is happening. One can only hope that Roden looks in the mirror.
As far as Habermas is concerned, color me unimpressed. I wonder if Roden agrees with Habemas’ reductionist view of the gospel? I don’t need to read another book. I’ve likely read more theological tomes than Roden. I know all I need to know. I remain unconvinced that the central claims of Christianity are true. I am more than happy to look at new evidence for Christianity, but I don’t expect any to be coming. Christianity is a dead, text-based religion. Anyone who can read can find out all they need to know about Christianity.
Roden is a Calvinist. Why all the verbiage and book recommendations? Isn’t it up to God to save me if I am one of the elect? Why the need for middlemen like Roden? God knows my email address, cellphone number, and where I live. He can reach me at any time. No need to send Christian assholes to slip me a message from Jesus. I’m waiting 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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