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Tag: Letter to the Editor

1986-1995: A Look at My Writing as an IFB Pastor

letter to the editor

What follows is a small sampling of the letters to the editor of The Zanesville Times Recorder I wrote between November 1986 and January 1995. These letters should forever put an end to the notion that I was never a True Christian®. These letters also should help current readers understand why former congregants and colleagues in the ministry are so troubled and upset by my defection from the one true faith. The contrast between then and now is glaring.

Personally, I find these letters embarrassing, but I publish them today to help readers better understand my journey from Evangelicalism to atheism. (Please see From Evangelicalism to Atheism.)

November 13, 1986

TEXTBOOK READING CASE BADLY REPORTED

To The Editor:

I have for some weeks now very carefully read the articles presented for public reading in The Times Recorder. I have particularly paid attention to those that deal with religion in general and fundamentalist Christianity in specific.

I am of the opinion that The Times Recorder is extremely biased in its reporting of fundamentalist activities. Case in point: the Tennessee textbook-reading book court case. While I certainly do not agree with all of the values these Christians held in regard to some of the books they wished banned from their schools, I believe they have a right to decide what or what not their children are to be exposed to in school.

Remember, children belong to their parents, not the state! Opponents say the state has a compelling interest. Why not have enough compelling interest to make sure kids can read and write? Parents have a right, to mold their children in the religious and ethnic values they see fit. Many will say then remove your children from the public school system and put them in a private school. This is exactly what many Christian parents have done, but even then the state tries to exert control. We are a nation founded on freedom. Why not allow fundamentalist parents to exercise that freedom by keeping their children from reading books they feel are offensive?

I feel that The Times Recorder in its reporting of this issue has tried very hard to present only the liberals’ point of view. When the fundamentalist point of view is presented it seems it is always presented in a negative, scornful, dumber-than-a-ridge-runner way.

How about some unbiased reporting and truly delved into why these parents believe the way they do? How about finding out what those in Muskingum County feel on the Issue? People have the right to know both sides of an issue. It’s time that newspapers begin presenting it.

Bruce Gerencser
Somerset Baptist Church

January 25, 1988

EDUCATION CHOICE IS PARENTS’ RIGHT

To The Editor:

I am writing to express my view on the recent article regarding the contemplated jailing of a Toledo couple for home schooling their children without Wood County school board approval.

It is a sad day in America when parents do not have the opportunity to choose how to educate their children. Studies show that children taught in a home school or Christian school environment consistently test higher than their counterparts in the public school. So the issue cannot be educational quality.

The real issue is control. The state, through its government sponsored schools wants to control our children. They feed our children a daily diet of humanistic philosophy and teaching.

They are taught there is no God, no authority and no absolutes. Is it any wonder our country is in the shape it is? We are products of our teaching.

We are told much of a person’s character is formed in their early years of life. He who gets the children when they are young will usually get them for life. For the humanists to further their cause, they must control the educational system. Thus, the reason for the case in Toledo.

I applaud this couple for standing up for their right to educate their children. They will be children who I am sure will know that there is a God, that there is authority and that there are absolutes. That is the only hope for America.

Bruce Gerencser
Somerset Baptist Church

July 5, 1989

THERE IS PRIDE IN FLAG-WAVING

To The Editor:

I am writing to express my view in regard to the recent Supreme Court decision dealing with flag burning.

It is appalling to think that we have come to the point in this country where we are even discussing whether or not it is acceptable to burn the American flag. Previous generations would roll over in their graves if they could bear the discussion going on today.

We live in the greatest country in the world. We are a nation founded as “One nation under God.” The flag of the United States of America represents that “One nation under God.” It is a great honor to be born in this country. We are the freest country that has ever graced the pages of history.

Our flag represents that freedom. Those who want to desecrate our flag should be given a one way ticket to Beijing, China. Let’s see how they like freedom Chinese style.

I would also like to suggest that Sen. Howard Metzenbaum be given the first ticket. He is a disgrace to this country and the State of Ohio. If he is personally against flag burning, then let his voting record reflect that. It sounds to me like Sen. Metzenbaum wants to have it both ways, and that is not possible.

It seems to me the issue is patriotism or left wing liberalism. Which will it be? As for me I’m with the countless throngs of people who still revere and honor “Old Glory.” I’m proud to be a flag waving American.

Bruce Gerencser
Somerset Baptist Church

November 7, 1989

STORY ABOUT RALLY FULL OF HALF-TRUTHS

To The Editor:

I am writing to express my disgust over the liberal reporting by The Times Recorder as exhibited in the article entitled, “Abortion Rallies Have Large Turnout,” which appeared in the Monday, Oct. 30, edition of The Times Recorder. The article is full of half-truths and it is evident the writer of the article is pro-choice. I had the privilege of attending the Rally of Hope, a pro-life rally on Saturday, October 28. It will go down as one of the highlights of my life. It’s too bad The TR chose not to give more newspaper space to this event.

Now to the article. It is statistically proven that most Republicans are pro-life. I thought it was ironic, you were able to dig up one Republican at the pro-choice rally that was for abortion. As a Republican, I assure you, most Republicans are pro-life. Thelma Moore does not represent the sentiments of most Republicans.

I also thought it was noteworthy that the article did not mention that Gov. Celeste participated in the pro-choice rally. Are you afraid to let the local citizens know that our governor is for killing innocent unborn children?

Finally, the article only printed half of Mr. John Willkes comments. It will be noted that his comments were in reference to how a survey can be tainted by the questions asked.

The rest of the statistical quote was “69 percent of Americans believe there should be laws to protect the lives of the unborn?” I wonder why this statistic was left out. Could it be that indeed America is a Pro-Life people?

Bruce Gerencser
Somerset Baptist Church

November 10, 1989

SATAN ALIVE IN OUR WORLD

To The Editor:

I am writing in response to the editorial on Halloween by Dave Claypool. Mr. Claypool seems to doubt the reality of a person called Satan (or the Devil). The Bible says in I Peter 5:8, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.”

One only has to look around our country and see pornography, AIDS, homosexuality, abortion, divorce, rampant drug and alcohol abuse, child abuse, and many other signs of decadence,. to know that the Devil is alive and well. He desires to destroy our families and our country. One way he accomplishes this is by getting people to believe his actions are harmless. Such is the case with Halloween.

Halloween is the High Holy Day of the Satanic Church. You will find that clearly stated in the “Satanic Bible,” by Anton LaVey. Halloween has always had its roots in the occult and satanism.

Mr. Claypool may call objectors to Halloween, zealots, but at the least, we are not blinded to the devices of Satan. Mr. Claypool may, in satirical humor, mock those who believe Halloween is Satanic; but someday, each of us will draw our last breath in this life. Then we will see if there is a real Satan and who has been blinded.

Bruce Gerencser
Somerset Baptist Church

January 31, 1990

MORAL APPROACH IS MISDIRECTED

To The Editor:

I am writing in response to the letter written by Kenneth Prior in the Jan. 19, issue of The Times Recorder.

The purpose of my letter is not to debate the issue of the group called “Strike Force.” I personally have a problem with those types of ministries and the Jesus Christ they portray.

My issue of contention rests with the statements about the assemblies held at various schools. It was discussed, but not Jesus Christ.

Morals without Jesus Christ are nothing but self-righteous acts.

The permanent solution to drugs, booze, sexual pressures, etc., is a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. The public school system for 25 years has been teaching a situational morality without God and the Bible.

The Result? A nation of young people that have little, if any, moral values.

Drugs, premarital sex, booze drinking, abortion, and venereal disease are all on the upswing among our young people. First-time occurrences of many of these things mentioned now occur with our elementary-aged children. Why? Morals without Jesus Christ and the Bible.

What this country needs is less Hollywood religion and more old-fashioned Bible preaching. An assembly on morals without a clear presentation of Jesus and the Word of God is like an automobile without tires. It is useless and it’s not going anywhere.

Bruce Gerencser
Somerset Baptist Church

October 8, 1990

GOOD QUESTION FOR CHRISTIANS

To The Editor:

This is in response to the article on Armageddon in the Sept. 30th Times Recorder.

While I would agree with some of the facts, I disagree wholeheartedly with much of the article. The Bible teaches the world as we know it is headed down a path that leads to destruction.

The final event that takes place on that trek is the Battle of Armageddon. When sin has been destroyed and the Lord Jesus Christ vindicated, God will bring into existence a new heaven and a new earth.

His people, those who have been born again, will live for eternity in the new heaven and new earth. Those who reject Jesus Christ and his salvation will spend their eternity in the lake of fire.

Prior to the end, God will pour out his wrath on this earth in a period which is commonly called the tribulation. My point of disagreement with the article is the issue of Christians being absent from the earth while God judges it.

This is nothing more than “pie in the sky” thinking. God’s people will face persecution and death during the tribulation, God’s people have always faced trial. Why should this generation of weak, carnal, and loose-living Christians be any different?

During the tribulation, God intends to purify His Church. It is time for Christians to WAKE UP!

A lost world needs to see a Christianity that really matters. We have had enough Bakkers and Swaggarts. The world needs to see a holy people who love God and obey His Word. Is God’s closing in on Armageddon and the tribulation?

While most preachers are too busy building their kingdoms on this earth, I intend to be on the street corners of our communities proclaiming a message of repentance! There are still some of us who believe in preaching “REPENT, for the end of the world is at hand.”

But this message is not only for lost sinners, but for Christians also. Luke 18:8 says, “When the Son of cometh, shall He find Faith on the earth?” I would suggest that is a good question for each Christian to answer.

Bruce Gerencser
Somerset Baptist Church

February 2, 1991

BIBLE IS CLEAR TRAINING GUIDE

To The Editor:

I am writing in response to an article ‘entitled “Controlling Your Household Tyrants,” written by Ron Smitley of Six County Inc.

From the tone of the article I can see Dr. Spock lives on.

God did not leave child training to chance. He gave each of us a clear guide for training children, and it’s the Bible.

The problem is many so-called experts have called the teachings of the Bible outdated. They would even suggest the Bible teaches child abuse. But is that the case?

The Bible teaches sexual abstinence before marriage. Planned Parenthood and public school sex education programs teach children safe and responsible sex. Result? Rampant venereal disease and pregnancy. Who shall we blame?

The Bible teaches homosexuality is a gross perversion. The liberals of the day call it an alternative lifestyle. Result? AIDS. Who shall we blame?

The Bible teaches marriage for life with monogamy inside the marriage. Society says live together, get a divorce if you are not happy, etc. Result? Broken homes, venereal disease and abused children. Who shall we blame? I could go on and on.

The Bible says in Proverbs 22:15, “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.” I will agree with Smitley on one point, we DO have tyrants in our homes. The reason? No Biblical discipline.

A parent who loves their children will spank them if they rebel against their authority. (Which is, by the way, a God given authority.) Proverbs 13:24 says, “He that spareth his rod hateth his son; but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.”

The hope of America rests in its families. We need to get back to Bible-based family practice. It is the only way!

Bruce Gerencser
Somerset Baptist Church

April 10, 1992

CHILD ABUSE LIST COULD BE FAULTY

To The Editor:

I am writing in response to the article on the secret child abuse record, which appeared in the March 30 issue of The Times Recorder.

If the statistics quoted are to be believed, 10 to 20 percent of all adult Ohioans are on this list. Are we really to believe 600,000 Adults in this state are suspected Child abusers? Either the statistics are incorrect or the method by which one ends up on this list is faulty.

Granted, child abuse is a serious problem. In 15 years of pastoral ministry I have seen my share of cases. I have no objection to those who have been convicted of bonafide child abuse crimes, being placed on a list.

But I have a sneaking suspicion many on this “McCarthy Era” list are guilty of nothing more than good discipline practices.

The official philosophy of the Ohio Department of Human Services, the state teachers’ unions, and the different departments that offer help to children, is that of no corporal punishment. According to them, to paddle a child, for any reason, is child abuse. Several other states are trying to pass laws that will outlaw all forms of corporal punishment.

Our schools in Ohio have removed corporal punishment as a means of discipline. Result? Read the newspaper and see the mayhem in the public school system.

Educators blame it on the family structure. Perhaps this is true, but who suggested to this generation’s parents that they discard time-tested, God-mandated forms of child discipline? We must lay the blame at the feet of social workers, educators, liberal ministers, and mental health workers who bought Benjamin Spock’s line on discipline. The result of all this is a Society that is in rebellion to all authority including God’s!

The only thing Spock’s book is good for is paddling a rebellious child. OOPS! I better not say that. Some liberal bureaucrat might turn my name in to the DHS list keepers.

May we ever be reminded to: Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. Prov. 22:6. That training includes proper child discipline.

Bruce Gerencser
Somerset Baptist Church

August 31, 1992

DEMOCRATS ARE AT ODDS WITH GOD

To The Editor:

I am writing in response to recent articles dealing with President Bush’s comments about Bill Clinton’s views of God and religion.

Bill Clinton and Albert Gore are Democrats in the truest sense. They try to pass themselves off as conservative, family-oriented politicians, but such is not the case. To be a Democrat is to be a liberal. While there may be good, conservative people in the Democratic Party, the official party stance is a liberal one. President Bush has every right to call Bill Clinton into question in regards to his views of God and religion.

The official Democratic line is pro-abortion, anti-capital punishment, expanded social programs, and pro-homosexual. This and many other issues puts the Democratic Party in direct opposition to the Bible, which then puts them at odds with God.

While I am not so naive to believe that being a Republican and a Christian are synonymous, the Republican Party does stand for many things that are right. I am a Republican not because of George Bush, but rather because of what the party stands for. Pro-life, pro-capital punishment, and social programs that help people (and not enslave them) are some of the reasons for being a Republican. These are Biblical values.

I have my concerns about the Republican Party. My fear is that they are just a few years behind the Democrats. This is evidenced in their courting of the homosexual vote. Instead of openly courting the homosexuals, better time would be spent passing and enforcing sodomy laws. God declares that homosexuality is a perverse sin.

Bill Clinton and Albert Gore both claim to be Baptist and Christian. Their views are incompatible with true Christianity, and as far as them being Baptists, I am ashamed that they would number themselves with those who for the most part oppose what they hold to politically. The Baptist churches which Clinton and Gore are members of should speedily exercise church discipline and remove these men from their church rolls. They have no right to the name Baptist, let alone the name Christian.

Bruce Gerencser
Somerset Baptist Church

January 15, 1993

CHOICE OF CHELSEA’S SCHOOL SHOWS CLINTON’S HYPOCRISY

To The Editor:

I am writing to express my views in regards to Bill Clinton’s decision to put his daughter in a private school. While I am an ardent advocate of private education, I believe Mr. Clinton shows utter hypocrisy in his decision.

We should remember, just months ago, Mr. Clinton ran on a platform of anti-school choice. He strongly believes that children should be educated in state schools. Unless of course it is your child and then you do what is best for the child. Mr. Clinton needs to practice what he preaches. If public education is so wonderful, why not enroll your daughter in the Washington, D.C., city schools?

No, Mr. Clinton knows that the D.C. schools are for the most part juvenile detention centers. Crime, violence, guns, etc. are commonplace. I wouldn’t want to educate my children in that environment either. Where are the teacher’s unions, now? Or do they know, like Mr. Clinton, the true shape of many of our school systems.

I am one parent who has determined to provide my children with a private, religious education. As progressive education, coupled with an amoral society, moves in force in our local communities, we can expect to see the same problems here that they face in Washington, D.C.

I trust Mr. Clinton will see what a hypocrite he has been. I don’t condemn him for doing what is best for his daughter. My prayer is that each of us will be allowed to do the same. For my family it is to send them to a non-chartered, non-tax supported Baptist school that teaches Bible morals, ethics, and doctrine. If Mr. Clinton has a right to choose, so should we!

Bruce Gerencser
Somerset Baptist Church

February 5, 1993

HOMOSEXUALITY PERVERSE SIN

To The Editor:

I am writing to express my views in regards to the issue of homosexuals in the military. It is an admitted fact that homosexuals have long existed in the various branches of the military. The issue is whether or not their conduct or lifestyle should be given sanction.

This issue is much deeper than whether or not homosexuals can serve in the military. It clearly is a moral issue. If we have not, as yet, become a paganistic, amoral society, then it would do us well to address the morality of this issue. Is homosexuality moral?

For those who hold to the Bible being their standard of morality, homosexuality is indeed a perverse sin. While adultery and fornication are grievous sins as well, homosexuality goes beyond them in the fact that it goes against nature (Romans 1)God made man and woman to have distinctive roles. The very core of homosexuality goes against ALL that God intends. Bible believers reject the notion that homosexuals are born that way. Homosexuality is a lifestyle choice.

I would implore Congress to override the intentions of the Clinton administration and ban homosexuals from the military. Their lifestyle is incompatible with the rigor and order of military life. To those caught in the web of homosexuality I would beg them to turn to Christ in repentance and I believe they will find a Savior who will not only forgive them but will also deliver them from the deep sin they are in (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Bruce Gerencser
Somerset Baptist Church

April 11, 1993

CHRISTIANS MUST MAKE JUDGMENTS

To The Editor:

I am writing in response to the letter by Doug Allen in The Times Recorder April 1. Mr. Allen’s views show very forcefully what is wrong with professing Christianity.

As Christians, we have been called to a life of holiness and commitment. We are to love what God loves and hate what He hates. We are to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. But today, the salt has lost its savor and the light has gone out.

Mr. Allen equates those who make Biblical Judgments with those who hate and spew forth bitterness. Who is judging now, Mr. Allen? I have no hatred or bitterness in my heart toward others. My desire is to reach the sinner man with the gospel of Christ. My desire is to imitate my Lord in his love and compassion for sinners. But that DOES NOT mean we throw Bible truth and judgment to the wind.

People who take the view of Mr. Allen and claim to be Christians are in direct violation of the Scripture. We are to judge righteously and properly. To do so means making judgments about the society we live in. Contrary to the opinion stated by Mr. Allen, we ARE to speak for God. If His people do not speak for Him, who will? God gave us the Bible, which we must proclaim to our generation. It’s repent or perish!

Finally, I would say that perhaps the root problem is a theological one. Mr. Allen suggests that the only difference between a Christian and all others is a sincere prayer. This thought is the core of Arminianism and is utterly false. True Christianity is a turning from sin and an embracing of Christ by faith. It is the adopting of a new life in Christ in which Christ becomes the Lord and Savior of a person. Anything less will not avail. Some people are sincere and certainly some even pray but that is not true Christianity.

Bruce Gerencser
Somerset Baptist Church

May 26, 1993

JESUS CHRIST IS THE ONLY HOPE

To The Editor:

I am writing in response to the May 19 letter by William Lacy. Mr. Lacy shows the demeanor and character of a man who rejects God and His infallible truth, the Bible. His letter is filled with distortions and inaccuracies.

First, he would have us believe that those of a “fundamentalist” persuasion do not think for themselves. While there are those who are “closed-minded,” and who would argue that Mr. Lacy himself doesn’t have a very closed mind, most Christians think for themselves. We wrestle with the truth of the Scripture. Some of the greatest thinkers in history have been Christians. I would gladly allow Mr. Lacy to look over my library. He will find books by men of education and stature.

Secondly, Mr. Lacy takes the approach that all who say they are Christian are indeed one. Not so! The Bible does not teach a salvation of many different roads all leading to one place. There is one hope of salvation and that is in Jesus Christ.

Such is the case on the moral issues Mr. Lacy brings up. There are not two ways to look at ANY of the issues he raises. It is not what man says, but God. It is of little concern to me that most denominations advocate abortion and homosexuality. The Bible declares both to be wicked and that is sufficient for me. The problem today is that what is called Christianity in America, for the most part, is false religion.

Mr. Lacy would have you believe that Christians believe they are not accountable to civil government. Sure we are, as long as that government rules in a righteous manner. The law of God is sufficient for any society. It is when civil government attempts to become god that conscientious Christians must object and stand against their government. We will either be ruled by God’s law or man’s law.

Bruce Gerencser
Somerset Baptist Church

July 9, 1993

OUTRAGED AT HISTORY REWRITE

To The Editor:

I am writing to express my outrage at the deliberate attempt to rewrite American history as attempted on the Mini Page June 28. The issue, which is mainly for children, featured Thomas Jefferson as the main subject. In among many historically correct facts were at least two blatant distortions of history.

The first dealt with the quote from the Declaration of Independence. It is remarkable that two important words, Creator and unalienable, were left out. They talk about being endowed with rights, but who did Jefferson say endowed us with those rights? Their Creator! The proof that this is a deliberate misrepresentation rests in the fact that all other phrases left out in the context of the quote were represented with ellipses. Such was not the case with the omission of “their Creator.” The word unalienable was also deliberately left out. The politically correct would have us believe that the government endows people with rights, which at any time can be taken away. Hogwash! Men are endowed by their Creator with unalienable rights, rights that cannot be taken away by man. The foremost of these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Daily our government continues to encroach in the areas of our unalienable rights.

I would also note in passing that the part in the Mini Page dealing with religious freedom paints a very biased and skewed view. It shows the symbols of the supposed five major religions in America. Would the writers of this article have us believe that these five religions were in existence when Jefferson wrote his various thoughts on religious freedom? The 18th century of America was a century dominated by Christianity. No Buddhists, Hinduists or Islamics and very few Jews. Let’s at least paint an accurate picture. Next we’ll be reading articles from these historical reconstructionists that the doctrine of separation of church and state as practiced today was what Jefferson meant when he wrote of the issues of government and church separation. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Bruce Gerencser
Somerset Baptist Church

December 9, 1993

GOD HATES SIN AND SINNERS

To the Editor:

I am replying to the Dec. 3 letter written by J.D. Kimple. Mr. Kimple accuses me of being uninformed and of using rash generalizations. The truth of the matter is that Mr. Kimple has bought into the government line about AIDS. We can quote statistics galore but they prove nothing.

The largest percentage of those having AIDS is homosexual. Yes, it has spread to the heterosexual population, but the issue is still the same. Heterosexuals are getting AIDS for the most part because of immoral sexual practices. Show me two people who were virgins when they married and were faithful to each other and now they have AIDS. There is no such case. Morality and fidelity and the only cures for AIDS.

As to God being a kind, loving God, yes, he is. I am thankful for his saving grace. But God also hates sin. God punishes sinful men for their wicked practices. The old cliche “God hates the sin, but loves the sinner” is not in the Bible. God hates sin and those who do it. Man must flee from the wrath of God. Only then will man find love and forgiveness. God saves men out of their sin and does not leave them in it. God’s view of homosexuality is summed up in the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. Mr. Kimple is not questioning my religious convictions, but rather the word of God. Let God be true and every man a liar.

Bruce Gerencser
Somerset Baptist Church

November 15, 1994

ALL LIFE IS PRECIOUS

To The Editor:

Recent news reports have touted a new test that can be used for detecting Down Syndrome a month earlier than before. This new test is called Chorionic villus sampling, or CVS. Prior to this new test, amniocentesis was the primary method used to detect Down Syndrome while the child was still in the womb.

We are told that women over 35 should have this testing done to determine whether or not their child has Down Syndrome. What is not being said? That the only reason for this type of testing is so an abortion can take place if the test comes back postitive. Now we can kill the unwanted Down’s child at 10 weeks instead of 16 weeks. Our nation continues down the path of decadence, murdering those who don’t fit the accepted criteria of life. God help us.

All life is precious. It is the gift of God. Who are we to determine what is “quality” or “acceptable” life? God never gave us that right. Some would argue that the over 35 mother would like to know if she is carrying a Down’s child. When the test came back negative she would then be relieved. Why does it matter? If abortion is not the issue then it does not matter if the child is Down’s. But abortion is the issue, and we continue our killing ways.

God will hold us accountable for how we treat the innocent and the helpless. As a parent of a Down Syndrome child, I thank God for allowing us the privilege to have our daughter. Yes, there are those difficult moments, but the precious moments far outweigh the difficult ones. We wouldn’t trade our daughter for all the money in the world. May God help each of us to view life as precious. May we stand against anything and anyone that depreciates human life. From the womb to the grave we uphold the sanctity of life.

Bruce Gerencser
Frazeysburg

December 16, 1994

RAZE THE STRUCTURE

To The Editor:

The issue of school prayer will prove to be one of the hottest topics of 1995. Newt Gingerich and other ardent right wing Republicans plan on making it one of the first topics addressed in 1995. I guess we should feel excited that the Republicans are trying to get God on our side again. If we can just get prayer back in the schools, then America will have the favor of God

Please don’t do God any favors. For the first time in my life, and I am sweating as I write this, I agree with the liberal, card-carrying, ACLU members. Let’s keep prayer out of school. Do we really think, that a moment of prayer, at the start of the school day, is going to make a difference in our society? I think not By the time the politicians and the courts get done with what type of prayer will be acceptable, it will certainly not resemble anything that would be pleasing to the God of the Bible.

Christian parents are naive if they think that a momentary prayer at the start of the public school day will keep their children safe from the onslaught of humanistic instruction. Instead, Christian parents need to ask themselves if their children belong in public schools in which everything the Bible teaches is held up to question and ridicule. We can put our heads in the sand, Christians, but when we come out of our hole, the fact still remains: the public school system is bankrupt and no place for Christians to educate their children.

Yes, I am aware of the fact that there are fine Christian educators in the public school system, and they are to be commended for their diligent effort, but the Titanic is sinking and it is time to man the lifeboats.

Do you want prayer, real prayer in school? Then put your children in a school that believes the Bible and which encourages, by teaching and action, students to pray to the God of the Bible. Or perhaps, like some of the rest of us, home school your children. Prayer is always legal in the home school.

My main objection about school prayer has nothing to do with the school itself. It is time that Christians and churches quit being hypocrites. We want the public schools to practice what we are not practicing ourselves. The average Christian prays less than five minutes a day. Churches have prayer meetings in which nobody prays. Are we concerned about America? Then let’s pray. Let’s make our churches houses of prayer again. Religious leaders continue to clamor about the need for revival The precursor to every great revival is prayer. The New York revival of 1858 came forth from a small prayer meeting. Thousands were converted. Moral change was effected. But today, where are the cries of mourning coupled with prayer and fasting?

It is time to be honest. School prayer is just new paint on the outside of a dilapidated, soon to collapse structure. Oh, it may look nice for a while, but the building is sure to collapse. We don’t need any more paint Instead, let’s raze the structure and build it again.

People of prayer. That is what America needs. When we become a people of prayer, we will not have to worry about school prayer. When Christians determine to walk according to the teachings of the Bible, the public school systems will either change or their buildings will be empty.

It’s time to quit blaming the devil, the Democrats, or Bill Clinton, and instead put the blame where it belongs. We, as Christians, have forsaken our duties and responsibilities. We are to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world, but we have become a salt that has lost its savor and it’s pretty dark out there.

Bruce Gerencser
Frazeysburg

January 4, 1995

SHOOTINGS ARE WRONG, BUT SO IS ABORTION

To The Editor:

We find in the news again the report of another abortion clinic shooting. First, the paper was filled with articles on Paul Hill the Presbyterian minister recently convicted of murder in Florida. Now, I am sure we will be fed a continued diet of stories about John Salvi, the purported Boston abortion clinic shooter.

Paul Hill and John Salvi committed horrible acts; acts that God does not condone. God, in his unalterable moral law, declared “Thou shalt not kill.” The end never justifies the means, and the killing of abortion clinic workers will never bring an end to abortion. These two men are murderers and must face the consequences of their sin.

Sometimes men and women can become so committed to “the cause” that they lose sight of moral rightness. Instead any action becomes justified as long as it serves the cause. In the end, Paul Hill and John Salvi must answer to God.

But just as killing abortion clinic workers is murder, so is the aborting of babies. People who work in abortion clinics are employed in the killing fields. They, by their employment in such places, lend their support to the killing that goes on in the name of a “woman’s right to choose.”

While I feel sorry for the Nichols family who lost their daughter, Lee Ann, in the recent clinic shootings, let us not forget that Lee Ann Nichols was a willing participant in the killing fields. She may have only been a receptionist, but she knew what went on behind closed doors. Her brother was quick to quote the Bible and decry his sister’s murder, and rightly so. But his sister has blood on her hands also.

Lee Ann Nichols wanted the world to be more civilized. Abortion will never make us more civilized. Abortion, for any reason, devalues the worth of a human life. Human life is now nothing more than fetal tissue to be tossed away at a woman’s whim.

There is only one answer to this problem. Man must obey his God. And Jehovah God said “thou shalt not kill.” It is time that we figure out God really meant what He said.

Bruce Gerencser
Frazeysburg

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.

2006: Two Op-Eds I Wrote, Warning of the Dangers of Nationalism

american nationalism
Cartoon by Nath Paresh

In 2006, I was still a Christian, I self-identified as an emerging/emergent pastor. As you will see, my liberal/progressive political views were quite developed by this time. I was far from the ranch, so to speak. For my Evangelical critics at the time, it came as no surprise to them that I embraced atheism two years later.

May 2006 Op-Ed for the Bryan Times (slightly edited):

Throughout the history of the Christian church, it has been commonly believed that state and church, both ordained by God, operate on separate, yet equal planes of authority. This is commonly called the “separation of church and state.” History painfully reminds us of what happens when state and church are joined together. This union always results in the death of many people and the authority of both the state and the church being compromised. Adolph Hitler would not have been successful during World War II without the joining of church and state together. The church lost her moral authority when she became complicit in the Aryan teachings and programs of the Nazi regime. Yes, there were those who stood against Hitler and his murderous minions, but, for the most part, the German church remained silent. As a result, the world was plunged into war and millions of people suffered and died. This is but one example of many that could be pulled from the pages of history. I am using it because it is “current” history and one that can readily be researched.

The world owes a great debt to the United States for her willingness to stand against Germany and her attempt to rule the world. The United States stood on solid moral footing and she is to be commended for her courage and sacrifice. With such a great moral stand also comes a great challenge; to remain humble in the light of great victory. Coming out of World War II, the United States had the approval and appreciation of the world. Sixty years later the United States is now viewed as an imperialistic superpower that is intent on dominating and taking over the world one nation at a time. How did this happen?

Pride! One-word answer. Pride! Reinhold Niebuhr, shortly after the end of World War II said this:

We are indeed the execution of God’s judgment yesterday. But we might remember the prophetic warnings to the nations of old, that nations which become proud because they were divine instruments must, in turn, stand under the divine judgment and be destroyed……If ever a nation needed to be reminded of the perils of vainglory, we are that nation in the pride of our power and our victory.

As the post-September 11, 2001 era continues, there is an increasingly ugly, nationalistic pride that is rising up in the United States. This errant pride is seen in our nation’s actions in Iraq and in the continued saber-rattling against Iran. Strong traces of it can be viewed in the current debate going on in the United States over Mexican immigration.

A clear distinction needs to be made between patriotism and nationalism. According to Michael Dyson in his book titled Pride, “Patriotism is the critical affirmation of one’s country in light of its best values, including the attempt to correct it when it is in error. Nationalism is the uncritical support of one’s nation regardless of its moral or political bearing.” Sadly, much of what is called patriotism in the United States is actually prideful, sinful, nationalism.

As in Germany during World War II, this errant nationalism is graphically on display in churches everywhere. Christian theology has been wedded with political ideology and given a healthy baptism of flag-waving nationalism and the result is that the church in the United States has abandoned her call to follow Jesus. Far too many churches, including an unhealthy number of churches in this area, have become pawns in a political chess game. Such churches have lost their prophetic voice. Where is the voice calling out for justice and mercy? Where is the voice calling out for peace in the name of the Prince of Peace?

The flag-waving nationalism on display in many churches needs to stop. Ties with liberal or conservative political agendas need to be broken. The war in Iraq and Mexican immigration need to be viewed through the teaching of Jesus instead of a political party’s platform. It is time to repent.

Over the past 36 months, I have visited a good number of churches in the northwest Ohio area, including churches in Indiana and Michigan. I have yet to hear one critical word concerning the War in Iraq. I did hear numerous words promoting the war, and sometimes I was almost certain that I was hearing a public service announcement from the defense department. Why are the pulpits of so many churches silent on this crucial issue? Even churches that come from the “peace” denominations are strangely silent or even go so far as to promote war, in direct contradiction to their church doctrine. I realize I can not make absolute judgments when I only visit a church once or a few times, but overall the silence is deafening.

It seems that many churches are requiring allegiance to the State and her war policy as a test of fidelity to Jesus. If one dare raise a voice of objection, immediate questions of salvation and love for country are raised. Coward, un-American, unsaved, liberal, and military hater are some of the kinder words hurled at those who, in Jesus’ name, oppose war. In spite of the name-calling, lovers of peace must continue to stand for peace. It is the LEAST we can do. Churches and ministers must be prodded and cajoled, and if need be, shamed into returning to being prophetic voices in the world. Instead of allowing political agendas to control the voice of the church, the clear and emphatic teachings of Jesus must set the agenda. It is time to stop the debates about “just war” (which is nothing more than political ideology wearing theological clothes) and return to doing what Jesus commands us to do; love our enemies and be a people who actively promote peace.

May 2006 Op-Ed for the Defiance Crescent-News (slightly edited):

Every time Christians gather together for communion, it is for the purpose of memorializing the death of Jesus. The death of Jesus on the cross has many theological implications: redemption and sanctification among many others. The death of Jesus also has political implications. His death, along with his resurrection from the dead, proclaimed a new Kingdom, the Kingdom of God. Who, and all that Jesus did, challenges the politics and agendas of every generation. There is a new King in the world, and Jesus is his name.

Last Sunday, many churches took time to briefly mention Memorial Day. Some churches had full-blown patriotic rallies, complete with the presenting of the colors and taps. Others sang a few patriotic songs and said a quick prayer for those who have died in our nation’s wars. Some took time to honor church members who are serving or had served in the Military.

I always prepare myself for what “may” happen in church on our nation’s various national holidays. I would prefer that churches not meld worship of God and nationalism together, but I have come to the place where I can tolerate it in short doses. Interjecting nationalism into our worship of God diminishes the focus of our worship, and can, if we are not careful, suggest that Christianity and American nationalism are one and the same.

In many sermons, we will hear that Christians need to view the sacrifice of war in and of itself, separated from its theological and political implications. An attempt is made to link the sacrifice of war with the sacrifice of Jesus. Jesus laid down his life for others and in war we are called on to do the same.

It is unwise to connect the sacrifice of Jesus and the sacrifice of war. Jesus was the guiltless dying for the guilty. In war, there are no guiltless parties. It is also impossible to divorce the sacrifice of war from its theological and political implications. War ALWAYS has such implications.

My prayer is that churches will stop being agents for the political agendas of the Republican and Democratic parties. Instead of giving public service announcements for the defense department, churches would be truer to their calling if they proclaimed what Jesus said about peace and loving our enemies. I am still waiting to hear a sermon anywhere that takes seriously the claims and teachings of Jesus concerning peace and as a result, declares the war in Iraq to be contrary to Christian teaching. Instead of wrangling about “just war” I hope and pray churches will wrangle with the implications of “thou shalt not kill,” “love your enemies,” and “blessed are the peacemakers.”It is certainly proper and right to quietly remember those who have died during our nation’s wars. Some died defending freedom, others died for a political agenda, but all died as Americans and we should remember them. We should also take time to reflect on the awfulness of war and the danger of a nation with unchecked arrogance waging war against all who cross her path.

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.

Letter to the Editor: The Rotting Corpse of American Capitalism

letter to the editor

Letter submitted the editor of the Bryan Times on August 18, 2020

Dear Editor,

Jerry Bergman’s latest letter to the editor about Karl Marx, Marxism, and atheism would be hilarious if it wasn’t for the fact that his distortions of history are believed by millions of Evangelical Christians. Marxism, socialism, and atheism are the new boogeymen used by preachers to foment outrage and fear among the faithful. Worse yet, many of these same preachers tell congregants that Donald Trump, a fascist, is the only thing standing between them and the socialist/Marxist horde taking over America.

Bergman takes one line from Marx, using it to paint a distorted view of 20th-century history. Here’s the rest of the quote:

“Religious distress is at the same time the expression of real distress and the protest against real distress. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. It is the opium of the people. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions.”

As readers can see, Marx’s view of religion is more nuanced and complex than Bergman suggests.

Marx believed that religion provides a fantasy of sorts for the poor and disenfranchised. Economic realities prevent the poor from finding happiness in this life, so religion promises them happiness in the life to come. This Faustian bargain chains the poor to the rotting carcass of immoral American capitalism. It is only when the poor and disenfranchised see beyond the false promises of eternal life and heavenly prosperity that they see their only hope of a better tomorrow rests in casting off the chains of religion and resolutely standing against the political and social status quo.

It is clear to anyone who is paying attention that American capitalism is a failed economic system. Is Democratic Socialism the answer? Maybe. One thing is certain: capitalism is not the answer. Once Trump and his robber baron cronies are voted out of office in November, we can then begin anew to not make America great again, but to make her more fair, equitable, and just for all Americans.

Bruce Gerencser
Ney, Ohio

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.

Evangelical Pastor Ron Adkins and THE Agnostic

letter to the editor

Originally published in 2010. Edited and corrected.

In August 2010, I wrote the following letter to the editor of the Defiance Crescent-News. It was published on August 10:

Dear Editor:

Attempting to formulate a reply to the responses to my letter to the editor has left me with quite a quandary. In 500 words I must respond to issues that deserve far more treatment than I can give them. Every letter writer committed the same error as Jack Palmer.

They assumed a priori that everyone believes in the Bible, their God and their version of Christianity. According to them, it is self-evident that the Christian God is the true God. They base their assertion upon the Bible, and therein lies the problem. They believe the Bible is the inspired word of God. I suspect most of the letter writers also believe the Bible is inerrant.

I do not believe the Bible is a supernatural book. The Bible is a manmade book of spiritual writings. It is rooted in a nomadic and agrarian economy that no longer exists. The last book of the Bible was written 1,900 years ago. While certainly the Bible has some value in the 21st century, it is not a book that should be used as a divine road map for life nor as a rulebook for governing society.

The Bible is best suited for use in tribal worship, cultural events and acts of personal piety. In other words, our society is far better off if the Bible is relegated to the same shelf as the great classics of the past.

Because I do not believe the Bible to be the divine truth, threats of divine retribution and judgment have no meaning to me. They did at one time. I was a student of the Bible for over 33 years, attended a Christian college and pastored evangelical churches for 25 years. As an agnostic, I have a humanistic worldview. It is a worldview that focuses on the here and now rather than eternity and a mythical home in heaven.

With all the suffering in the world, time spent pining for a mansion in the sky seems scandalous. The responses to my letter make it very clear to me that no two Christians agree on anything. Every letter writer espoused a different form of Christianity. Every letter writer has their own version of God and what constitutes a right, saving relationship with that God. This shows me that there is no such thing as Christianity (singular) in America.

Instead, what we do have is multiple Christianities, with every Christian picking and choosing what they want to believe from the Bible and then making God into their own image. Christians continue to use Pascal’s Wager with unbelievers to no effect. I would reverse the challenge and ask Christians, What if this is it? What if there is no heaven or hell?

What if you’ve spent your entire life seeking an eternal destiny that doesn’t exist? A life wasted that could have been spent enjoying the here and the now? A life wasted that could have been spent living and loving rather than trudging through a wicked world in search of a heaven and eternal reward that does not exist? We each have one life. This is it. Love and live. 

Bruce Gerencser
Ney

What follows is my response to one of the Christians — an Evangelical pastor — who wrote to the paper to object to my letter.

The Sunday (August 2010) edition of the Defiance Crescent-News has the first, of what I am sure will be many more, letters to the Editor concerning my recently published rebuttal letter.

My youngest son asked me today if anyone has ever written a letter to the editor in support of my views about religion. I laughed and said No. As far as I know, I am the only person who has written to the newspaper and said “I am an agnostic.” (Some days I wonder, “what was I thinking”?) I hope my willingness to stand up and be counted will encourage others to do so. I know I am not alone. I have received their letters and email. They fear what might happen to them socially or economically if their agnosticism or atheism were made public. Their fears are well-grounded and I would not encourage anyone to take the same path as I have.

My children have to live with the fact that their dad is “the man who writes in the newspaper.” They have to field questions like “are you related to Bruce Gerencser”? If they answer yes, what often follows is a queer look, a look that says I want to tell you what I think or I want to ask you a question or two. Usually, once my children affirm their connection to me, a nervous silence ensues. It’s like, the questioner, all of a sudden, finds out he has been working alongside a spawn of Satan.

The first letter to the editor response I want to deal with is written by Ron Adkins, pastor of the Ney and Farmer United Methodist churches. I know Ron personally. Our family attended the Ney church for a number of months, and it was the last church we ever attended. One might say our last experience proved to be the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back (though we met many wonderful people at the Ney church).

Ron is a young man. This is his first pastorate. (Ron later moved on to a different denomination, though he still lives in the area.) Prior to this, he was a professor at Ohio Christian University. Ohio Christian University is a Fundamentalist institution affiliated with the Churches of Christ in Christian Union. (I am sure Ron will chafe at the Fundamentalist label, but he also knows what my response is to that. Please see Are Evangelicals Fundamentalists?)

Ron has pastored the Ney/Farmer churches for about 2 years. When I asked him what his philosophy of ministry was, he told me it was “loving on people”. Evidently, as you shall see from his letter, that “loving on people” doesn’t include me. Some of what Ron writes in his letter reflects personal, private discussions he and I had during the time we attended the Ney church. One could object, saying “I told you that in private” but one thing I know about preachers, “don’t tell them anything you don’t want others to know.”

From reading Ron’s letter to the editor, I think it is safe to assume that my rebuttal letter upset some people in his church. Here I am, almost two years removed from attending Ney United Methodist Church — we left the last Sunday in November, 2008 — and I am still causing trouble. I realize my letter put Ron in a no-win situation. He is a great guy and he doesn’t like conflict. The last thing he needs is to tangle with Bruce. But my heresy demands an answer, so Ron penned a reply to my letter.

As you shall see in a moment, Ron tries to avoid making this personal. He never calls me by name. Instead, he calls me THE agnostic. Since the is a definite article and I am the only agnostic that has written to the paper, it is safe to assume that THE agnostic = Bruce Gerencser.

Now to Pastor Adkins’ letter. Ron’s letter appears as normal type. My response appears as bold italics.

To the Editor:

I have been averse to reading the latest letter to the editor from the agnostic because I personally find agnosticism trite for two major reasons.

Let’s get one thing out of the way right away. Ron is writing about my letter, and since I am the only agnostic who has written to the newspaper, he is directing his response to me and what I have written. Of course, his greater objective is to cheer on the faithful. 

My response is personal. I guess I could hide my response target by saying I am responding to THE pastor, but, I am not one known for such subterfuge, so I want to make it clear that my response is directed to Pastor Adkins and his letter to the editor. I do hope that the faithful will be challenged and forced to ask hard questions about Christianity and the Bible. I also hope my fellow atheists and agnostics will be encouraged to continue on the path of intellectual freedom.

I am amused somewhat that Ron considers agnosticism trite, yet he expends quite a bit of verbiage in his attack of the agnostic view. Perhaps it was not as trite as he thought is was.

First, agnosticism is predicated on the premise of skepticism concerning the existence of God. The agnostic doubts the absolute truth about God (although some may believe in a First Cause), yet states an absolute truth by claiming God does not exist and that the answer is a humanistic worldview. If consistent, the agnostic would doubt his own statements, and furthermore, would doubt his own doubt that God does not exist, thus resulting in the probability that God could exist.

I don’t believe I have ever said God does not exist.  I am, after all, an agnostic. In fact, Ron might be surprised to know that I have quite a bit of room in my agnostic worldview for a god (or gods) — much to the consternation of some hard-core atheists. (I would no longer make this statement now.) I am fairly certain that the gods which man has created so far are not gods at all. I cannot state categorically or infallibly –I’ll leave that to the Pope — there is NO God. Even Christopher Hitchens does not say there is No God. 

The best answer, the best philosophy of living, in my humble opinion, is humanism. With humanism, the focus is on reality, the here and now. Surely, Ron, the history major that he is, knows that many humanists have a spiritual or religious dimension to their beliefs. But the humanist always comes back to what he can see and know. The humanist does not have the time to spend on pining about a future in heaven, the rapture, and the many other supposed events in the future that preoccupy and keep Christians from engaging a suffering and dying world. 

What is humanism? The best statement I have found comes from the Humanist magazine:

Humanism is a rational philosophy informed by science, inspired by art, and motivated by compassion. Affirming the dignity of each human being, it supports liberty and opportunity consonant with social and planetary responsibility. Free of theism and other supernatural beliefs, humanism thus derives the goals of life from human need and interest rather than from theological or ideological abstractions, and asserts that humanity must take responsibility for its own destiny.

Christians often prop up the straw man of absolute truth. Everyone believes in absolute truth, they claim.  Evidently Ron needs to meet a few real agnostics and atheists before he claims such a thing.

Personally, there are many things I believe to be true or factual. Based on what knowledge and information I have at hand, I have concluded that certain things are true. I know that the earth revolves around the sun and that the earth is not flat. I am relatively certain the science behind these claims is true. If I were left with only the absolute truth of the Bible, I would have to ignore what science teaches and I would be forced to accept that the sun revolves around the earth and the earth is flat (among countless other incredible, yet false. claims found in the Bible).

Ron writes of the absolute truth of God, and by God, let’s be clear, Ron means the Evangelical Christian God. Where does one find this absolute truth? The Bible. Ah, finally a concrete piece of information we can weigh in the balances. And that is exactly what I have done. I have weighed the claims of the Bible in the balances and found it wanting. 

I find the claims made by academics such as Bart Ehrman and Robert Price to be compelling. I find Richard Wright’s book The Evolution of God to be a fascinating alternative story to the monotheism of orthodox Christianity.

My agnosticism rests squarely on the belief that the Bible is not what it claims to be and that it is not inspired, divine truth. At the end of the day, it all boils down to the Bible. If I do not accept the claims of the Bible, or the claims of what churches, denominations, popes, or pastors say the Bible says, then I cannot believe in the God that the Bible presents.  I may still believe in a god but not the god of the Christian Bible. 

Ron, I am sure, will appeal to nature and conscience as proof for God, but I would counter: how can one necessarily conclude that the God who gave us nature and a conscience is necessarily the Christian God? Would a person not initiated in Christian thinking come to the conclusion, by looking at nature, that there is a God and that that God is the triune God of the Christian religion? Doubtful. In fact, I can say impossible. 

Second, if then, the agnostic is not a true agnostic, because of the self-defeating premise, then there is another motivation behind his self-proclaimed agnosticism.

Answered above, so I assume this makes moot the next point Ron makes. But Ron gets personal (divulging a bit of inside information about me) in what follows so I want to deal with it.

I have found that agnostics, who are not true agnostics, typically are angry at God because God does not operate the way they think God should operate. At other times they are angry because they have not received what they wanted from God. Like the undisciplined child who is angry at a parent using their only means of power, knowing they are powerless, will proclaim, “I hate you!” Nothing could hurt a parent more, and they know this.

The agnostic stands before God and proclaims in anger, ”You don’t exist!” Isn’t it interesting then that humans, created beings, desire God to act the way they perceive God should act? Furthermore, I find it pathetic to claim a humanistic worldview in which there is nothing, or no one, greater than ourselves to rely.

Anger. Ron, is right about my anger, but he is wrong about the focus of my anger. 

The Christian God, the God of Ron Adkins does not exist. Why would I be angry at a fictional being?

No, my anger is directed towards organized religion.  My anger is directed at Evangelical Christianity. I am angry over what was taken from me over the 25 years I spent in the ministry. I am angry over the wasted time and effort spent “doing church.” I am angry over my own selfish ambitions and my attempts at building a kingdom in my own name (as all pastors do; after all, why is their name on their church’s sign?).

I am angry over what the ministry and the church did to my wonderful wife and children. I am angry over countless parishioners whose lives are now shipwrecked because they drank from the well of organized religion.

Yes, I am angry and it feels good. For 33 years I lived in denial of my emotions, serving a God who was no god at all, a god that demanded self-sacrifice and self-denial. It feels good to be out from under such a burdensome weight.

Ron may consider humanism pathetic, and I might be tempted to say back at ya, but what humanism provides for me is reality. It is rooted in the common humanity we all share. I no longer have a need to pray, fast, tithe, and attend church. What humanism demands of me is doing. It demands of me the very things Jesus spoke of in the Sermon on the Mount. Humanism calls me to be fully human in an imperfect, marred world. It calls me to use what talents I have for the betterment of my fellow man.

Becoming an agnostic and a humanist has forced me to admit that most of the supposed altruistic works I did as a pastor had an ulterior motive. I didn’t love people for who they were. I loved them because I wanted Jesus to change them. If Jesus changed them then they would become a part of the church I pastored. End result? Bigger attendance and bigger offerings. (Trying to get a pastor to admit this is nigh impossible.)

It is an exhilarating experience to truly love people as they are. 

Last, I would like to briefly answer the question which became the title for the agnostic’s editorial, “Writers espoused different views.”

I am glad of one thing, Ron used the word last. I despise the use of the word “lastly.” Ron gets 1 brownie point for using “last” instead of “lastly.”

I hope Ron is aware that the newspaper determines what the letter title is. I have been writing letters to the editor, op-ed pieces, etc. for over 28 years and I have yet to write my own title.

First, let me give some advice to all of those wonderful Christians who have been troubled by THE Agnostic. Remember an agnostic asks questions based on skepticism. Don’t feel as though you are in a corner. The quote at hand read, “Every letter writer has their own version of God and what constitutes a right, saving relationship with that God. This shows me that there is no such thing as Christianity (singular) in America”.

Truth is an objective fact expressed in a subjective way. It is obvious that one comes to the truth of Christianity or more generally religious truth, differently than one would come to scientific truth. God is not an object to be observed. God has made himself known. Faith, therefore, is a response in obedience, the thing agnostics hate.

I find Ron’s statement here astounding. Ron writes “Truth is an objective fact expressed in a subjective way.” Ron certainly believes the Bible is absolute truth.  I would love to know if he really, really, believes the Bible is absolute truth (I have my doubts). Ron, without any evidence, believes that what the Bible teaches is an objective fact. The Bible is true because it says it is.

How does one know this? Through a subjective experience, God has made himself known. How do we know that? Because the Christian says so. Because Ron says so. Ultimately, then, it is a matter of faith.

If it is a matter of faith, why do so many Christians try to “prove” the truth of Christianity? Why do they attempt to use scientific methods to prove the veracity of the claims the Bible makes?

If it is a matter of faith, then why write letters to the editor attempting to discredit and refute my rebuttal letter? Would it not be better to rest in the belief that the God of faith, through the Holy Spirit, will take care of things? Surely God can take care of one lowly, insignificant, pimple-on-the-ass agnostic named Bruce?

Ron might be surprised to know that I still have faith. I have faith in the gods I can see, my fellow human beings. In my Christian days, I put my faith in a God whom I said was always there, but quite honestly I never really could find him. God was all-knowing and all-powerful. He was supposedly intimately involved in the minutia of my life, yet when it came to things that mattered — matters of life and death — God was nowhere to be found. 

I would assume that Ron considers his weekly sermons to be subjective in nature? After all, he is preaching absolute truth in a subjective manner, yes? I don’t know of any preacher who would embrace such a claim, especially an Evangelical preacher. After all, the preacher is the man of God who speaks the infallible Word of God to the people of God. Not much subjectivity there.

I find no conflict in the different responses to the agnostic because the different individuals have expressed their belief and experience (“Pascal’s Wager”) in the one, absolute God in different ways. Faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and the Savior of the world is truth and is experienced by individuals.

Ron is being disingenuous here OR his two years in the Methodist church have worn down his Evangelical resolve. I realize he is preaching to the choir here, but any cursory reading of the letters written in reply to either of my recent letters will reveal full-blown heresy. Is Ron suggesting that subjective heresy is fine as long as it is done with the right intention? If so, it is time to give all the heretics of the past a place at the orthodox table once again. Each of them had sincere intentions. They loved their version of Jesus. Welcome, Brother Pelagius!

It is clear for all who are willing to see . . . no two Christians have the same version of Christianity. Christianity for most Christians is akin to going to a buffet, taking what you want, and leaving the rest. I don’t have a problem with this approach, but I would, at least, like Christians to admit it. They speak of orthodoxy and common belief, but such singularity does not exist except in denominational or church confessions or theological texts. Real-world experience tells me that all Christians believe what they want to believe and ignore the rest. (Any righteous men out there that want to offer their virgin daughter to the men of the city as righteous Lot did?)

This is why all Christians can describe some kind of personal experience, or relationship, with God through the Holy Spirit. Christian faith is an assent and obedience to the revelation of God.

On this point, I  agree with Ron. It is all about the revelation of God. In other words, it is ALL about the Bible. As I have said time and time again, there is no Christianity without the Bible. I am an agnostic because I reject the truth claims of the Bible. I reject its claim that it is a supernatural, divine book that reveals God to humankind. It is a fallible book written by unknown men thousands of years ago.  Certainly, the Bible has much to offer in way of personal spiritual guidance, but it is just a book, and it has no authority in my life. It has as much authority, and is just as inspired, as the writings of Mark Twain. (And no Christian can prove otherwise because the doctrine of inspiration is presupposed and cannot be empirically proved.)

Ron knew I was heading down the slippery slope towards agnosticism. Surely he can recall our discussions about the Bible. He, at one time, read my blog. Yet, when I stopped attending his church, that ended our interaction. Evidently, his time was better spent rescuing those who wanted rescued.

Yet, one would think that over the course of two years, in a town of 325 people, Ron or someone from the church would have stopped by and looked in on us. As I have struggled with debilitating neurological problems, problems Ron was well aware of, one would think that a visit might be in order. How can we help? Is there anything you need? One never knows what love and kindness might accomplish.

As is always the case . . . why spend time helping people who have no intentions of joining the happy band. If their ass is not in the seat, why bother?

There are six churches within a few miles of the home where my family and I reside. Prior to my recent coming out as an agnostic, our family would have been a great catch for any church. We are clean-cut, clean-livers. We look like Christians. We are talented. We have skills that any church would be grateful to use. We are loyal, faithful people. We are loving and kind. We are great non-Christian Christians.

But, not one pastor, one church leader, one church member, ever knocked on our door to invite us to their church. Even after we visited four of the six churches, no one bothered to try to befriend us and love us as Jesus would.

No, the truth is . . . no one gave a shit.

And then one day . . . neither did we.

Here are some of the other responses to my August 2010 letter to the editor:

August 2010

I cannot help but wonder what would make someone who has read the Bible (assuming the entire Bible from cover to cover), attended a Christian college (attending a Christian college does not make one a Christian) and been an evangelical pastor change his mind and become an agnostic humanist.

Richard Dawkins in his book, The God Delusion, contains a chapter entitled “The Poverty of Agnosticism.”

Dawkins is a renowned atheist, and you are probably wondering why I quote an atheist to make a point. In the said chapter he discusses many points concerning agnosticism but I would like to point out two items of interest. First he observes there is an “agnostic spectrum,” varying degrees of agnosticism, ranging from one — “I believe in God but have a lot of questions concerning his existence” — to seven — “I do not believe in God, period.”

Second, he also mentions two types of agnosticism — a temporary agnosticism in practice and a permanent agnosticism in principle. I wonder where Mr. Gerencser stands.

If he was once enlightened and has fallen as far as agnosticism, then there is still hope. The next step is apostasy on which the Bible is very clear. If he has sincerely studied the Scriptures then he knows what I am referring to (Hebrews 6). If not, then he should, perhaps, rethink his position. And, yes, I know his position on the inerrancy of scripture. However, the Bible is as relevant today as it was then.

Bob Palczewski
Defiance

August 2010

In answer to Bruce Gerencser’s letter in Sunday’s paper, he says he is an agnostic and no longer believes.

He said that at one time the Bible had meaning to him and that he pastored an evangelical church for 25 years. Evangelical churches should evangelize. What did he preach? Did he tell them that God sent His sinless son Jesus to die for our sins? John 3:16. He did. Did he ever truly accept Christ as his Lord and Savior? None of us ourselves will ever be good enough. You cannot prove to me that the Bible is not the inspired Word of God that tells us in Romans 10: 9-10 that if we believe and confess with our mouth the Lord Jesus that we will be saved.

Gerencser asked, What if there is no heaven or hell and we Christians have wasted our lives? If he is right and I am wrong, I have not lost anything. But if I am right and he is wrong, he has lost everything, his soul.

My husband is 85 and I am 82, and neither of us regret the almost 50 years of volunteer service for the Lord. For 13 years we sang Gospel and ministered with our young family in churches and the migrant camps. Last year after my husband’s bypass surgery and 34 years in the jail and prison Ministry we left it to devote more time to visiting and ministering in our local rest home.

If Gerencser thinks Jesus is not real, he should read our book. He says that we should live and love life. This has not been easy because we supported ourselves in our small businesses. But after 64 years of marriage we are still living and loving, thanks to Calvary.

Gertrude Hitt
Archbold

August 2010

In response to Bruce Gerenscer’s letter of June 20, I am one of those right-wing nuts and Christian Republicans that are dominating Ohio. I am proud to be a Christian. I will tell anyone anytime what I believe, but I won’t make you listen if you choose not to.

God gave us all a choice. What Jack Palmer said in his column on June 10 was the truth. He believes what he says. He has a right to say it. Bruce Gerencser has a right not to believe it, that is his choice. The last time I looked we in America have freedom to say what we want to say. That means we have the same rights as Gerencser has. I thank God for Jack Palmer. We need more like him.

God doesn’t leave us. I am thankful for that. The proof is when you feel Him yourself. God didn’t just save my soul, he saved my life. If I didn’t’ have God, I would not be here this day.

God’s heart breaks because of all the suffering in the world. It goes back to unbelief and the choice He made available to us, and when we choose the wrong way.

Gerencser said he gave thanks to his parents and all the others in his life. If it weren’t for God, he wouldn’t have them in the first place, so I thank God for my family.

Gerencser talked about being on the boat, but you can’t abandon ship unless you were on it to begin with. I hope and pray that one day Gerencser will get back on board.

No one is going to get rid of God no matter what he or she says or does. God answers me so gently in a soft and loving tone, saying “I am with you always, you will never be alone.”

Rose Molnar
Defiance

August 2010

I am writing in response to Bruce Gerencser’s letter to the editor in the June 20 Crescent-News. Gerencser stated in his letter that he wanted “to give credit to whom credit is due.” Well, I too would like to do that.

First, I am thankful to live in America where I have the privilege of writing a letter to the editor to express my opinion. Thank you to The Crescent-News for setting aside a page in your paper to print even those I may disagree with.

Many, many thanks to my parents and husband for working so hard to provide for us. In addition to those Gerencser gave thanks to, I would also like to thank the farmers who provide the food our nation enjoys. Also, a big thank you goes to those serving in the military, past and present, who are willing to sacrifice their lives in order to help protect our nation.

However, I realize that God is the one who actually provides all these. He gives good health in order to do the work. He gives knowledge to the doctors, teachers, counselors, etc. so they can help others. God provides the sunshine and rain the farmers need in order to produce their crops.

Everything we have or do not have comes from God. So, thank you dear God for all these, but most of all I thank you for my home in heaven.

Connie Elston
rural Oakwood

August 2010

Since Bruce Gerencser asked the question, let’s get it answered. Say I believe in a religion and I follow its tenants. I am good to my neighbors and strangers, help the homeless, donate to charities and do the best that I can. Now, when I die if there is nothing, then what exactly have I wasted?

And, if there is something after death, then I will be rewarded for my good works and remembered far longer then Gerencser ever would be. People will remember Mother Teresa or Billy Graham far longer than Gerencser. If you live for today like Gerencser wants and when you die, if there is a creator, you have to stand before the creator and explain why you did not believe and tried to get others to do the same. Somehow I don’t think that saying “whoops, my bad” is going to cut it.

But my other question would be while Gerencser claims to have been a pastor for 25 years and since being an agnostic is one step above being an atheist, as both of them deny the existence of a deity according to every encyclopedia and dictionary out there, is Gerencser now freely admitting that he was living a lie and that his whole life before becoming agnostic was a fraud?

And, if he was a pastor, then what about all the people he was supposed to lead? Is he now admitting that he deceived them as well? And, why bother becoming a pastor in the first place if you were just going to turn your back on your chosen religion, especially one that he has never mentioned? Something about his claim just does not sound correct.

Daniel Gray
Defiance

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.

December 2002: Nuclear War and the Prince of Peace

letter to the editor

“I am against war, against violence, against violent revolution, for peaceful settlement of differences, for nonviolent but nevertheless radical changes. Change is needed, and violence will not really change anything: at most it will only transfer power from one set of bull-headed authorities to another.”

Thomas Merton

“Technically I am not a pure pacifist in theory, though today in practice I don’t see how anyone can be anything else since limited wars (however ‘just’) present an almost certain danger of nuclear war on an all-out scale. It is absolutely clear to me that we are faced with the obligation, both as human beings and as Christians, of striving in every way possible to abolish war.” 

Thomas Merton 1961

“Nonviolence seeks to “win” not by destroying or even by humiliating the adversary, but by convincing him that there is a higher and more certain common good than can be attained by bombs and blood. Nonviolence, ideally speaking, does not try to overcome the adversary by winning over him, but to turn him from an adversary into a collaborator by winning him over.”

Thomas Merton 1968

“Perhaps peace is not, after all, something you work for, or “fight for.” It is indeed “fighting for peace” that starts all the wars. What, after all, are the pretexts of all these Cold War crises, but “fighting for peace”? Peace is something you have or you do not have. If you yourself are at peace, then there is at least some peace in the world. Then you share your peace with everyone, and everyone will be at peace. Of course I realize that arguments like this can be used as a pretext for passivity, for indifferent acceptance of every iniquity. Quietism leads to war as surely as anything does. But I am not speaking of quietism, because quietism is not peace, nor is it the way to peace.”

Thomas Merton 1966

I wrote the following on Christmas Day, 2002. At the time, I was a Christian pastor. As you can see, I had wandered far from my Evangelical roots. This was published the next week in The Bryan Times.

Dear Editor,

What a wonderful and beautiful Christmas Day! The ground is blanketed with six or so inches of snow and all is peaceful and quiet. There is nothing more beautiful than a crisp winter morning after an overnight snowfall. This wintry scene causes me to reflect on the glory of Christmas Day and the meaning of it. Christmas is about redemption. Christmas is about Jesus the Son of God taking on human flesh, and being born of the virgin Mary in the city of Bethlehem. Jesus came into the world at the appointed time to bring redemption to all men. He came to proclaim peace and justice for all. He is called the Prince of Peace. Later in His life, Jesus would declare that peace and justice were to be character traits of those who profess to be followers of Him.

It is thoughts of peace and justice that now begin to cloud my mind on this Christmas Day. Jesus came to bring peace, yet there is no peace. Jesus came to bring justice, yet there is no justice. Those who claim to be His followers show little concern for peace and justice. It seems they are all too busy with eating, drinking, and being merry to concern themselves with such weighty notions of peace and justice. But, concern ourselves with them we must.

I have been reading of late the Social Essays of the Catholic monk, Thomas Merton. These essays were written at the height of the cold war and the Vietnam War. I am amazed at how timely Merton’s essays are for today, though they were written 40 years ago. In his time, Merton had to constantly battle censors within the Catholic Church who attempted to silence his anti-war message. Merton was quite creative in the ways he got his message to the public. His voice still speaks loudly today.

Merton’s essays on nuclear war, unilateralism, and preemptive war should be required reading for all Americans. Merton reminds us of the lunacy of the notion that a nuclear war can be fought and won. Once the buttons are pushed, the world as we know it ceases to exist. Thoughts of non-defensive, unilateral, preemptive war, Merton reminds us, are immoral and should be condemned by all Christians.

Today, America sits on the precipice of nuclear world war. We have become the big bully who thinks he can get his way by bluffing and threatening. Every once in a while, the bully even whips some weakling to show who is the toughest. Such is the case with Iraq. But now we have added North Korea to our list of nations we are intent on bullying. Unfortunately, North Korea does not quiver and shake at our threats. They well remember an America who could not defeat them during the Korean War. Since then, the North Koreans have added nuclear and biological weapons to their arsenal. According to recent newspaper reports, the North Koreans are quite willing to use what weapons they have to defend themselves.

What troubles me the most in all of this is the silence emanating from the pulpits of America. It seems the only voice that is heard is from warmongers such as Jerry Falwell. Does he, and those like him, speak for the rest of us? The German Church silently sat by while Hitler put into force the plans and programs that would later give us World War II and the Holocaust. Now, the clergy of America sit by silently as George Bush and Company put into force programs like the Patriot Act and the Homeland Security Act. George Bush threatens war and destruction on any nation that opposes him. Our insane notion of national superiority, coupled with immoral capitalistic greed, is leading us down a path that is certain to have catastrophic results, yet nary a word is heard from our pulpits.

The Scriptures are clear, Christians are called to be people of peace and justice. We are to be peacemakers. It is absurd to suggest, as George Bush does, that by waging war we will have peace. War always begets war, and history bears this out. Only peace begets peace. It is time for all nations, including America, to lay aside and destroy ALL weapons of mass destruction. Our nation needs to repudiate its doctrine concerning preemptive first strikes against other nations. The world needs to know that America will be a peacemaking nation that desires peace and freedom for all men. While we must leave space for defensive war or even what the theologians call “just war,” we must forsake attacking and killing others just because we do not like their government structure or way of life. Muslims have a right to live as they live without America interfering in their affairs. It is time we stop exporting Western civilization as the answer to the world’s problems. Better for us to concern ourselves with our own moral, ethical, and civil failures than trying to fix the problems of the world.

Fifty or so years ago the phrase “better dead than Red” was coined. Unfortunately, that philosophy is still alive and well. The proponents of this notion believe it is better for us all to be dead than to have any government or civilization than the one we have now. We had best think about the reality of such a notion because when the nuclear bombs start falling, it will be too late. The Reagan/Bush Star Wars notion of missile defense will not save us once the bombs start to fall. It will only take a few bombs to render this world unlivable. Those who survive will wish they had not.

It is not too late. Voices must be raised in opposition and protest to the war policy of the Bush administration. Protesters must make their voice heard via letters and public protest. Conscientious men and women in the military must say “I will not” to their leaders who want to slaughter them on the altar of political and economic gain. Politicians must get some backbone and be willing to stand up to the warmongering hawks on Capitol Hill. They have been raised up “for such a time as this!”

Bruce Gerencser
Alvordton, Ohio

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