Yesterday, I received the following email from an Evangelical Christian named Kelli Ritter. My response follows.
Hello Bruce, do you really believe that a God that created you a human has to reveal Himself to you to be real?
God didn’t create me, so there’s that. Just because Genesis 1-3 says God created everything doesn’t mean he did. That’s a claim. If you want me to accept and believe your claim, you must provide evidence to support your claim. That’s how the real world works. People make all sorts of claims — including people from my own tribe — that are not true. They are free to believe whatever they want — including religious beliefs such as yours that I consider irrational and lacking in empirical evidence.
Religion is best served when people recognize that religious beliefs are based on faith, and not science. Either someone has faith, or they don’t. In my case, I don’t. If God wants me to believe in him and embrace the central claims of Christianity, he must give me verifiable reasons to believe. So far, no reasons have been forthcoming. Instead, all I see is an ancient tribal religion — a blood cult. Currently, Israel and Palestine are at war over what verses in the Old Testament allegedly say about land given to the Jews thousands of years ago. Thousands of people have died, and for what? A myth. There’s no evidence for the existence of Abraham (or Moses), yet Jews and Palestinians alike are willing to die over words spoken by a mythical deity to a mythical tribal leader. My God, it’s 2023, yet people are dying over interpretations of the Bible.
If salvation is the end-all, it seems to me that God would be clear about the matter. He’s not. Christians can’t even agree on the basics: salvation, baptism, communion. Talk to a hundred Christians and you will find just as many beliefs about God, the Bible, and salvation. Who is right? You? The Catholics? The Baptists? Which Baptists? The Presbyterians? The Mormons? 2,000 years of nonsense and confusion. You would think God would want to settle this once and for all. Instead, according to you, he deliberately hides from us and obfuscates what should be clear to all of us.
God doesn’t require you to believe in Him for Him to be real.
While that certainly is true, I must believe in him to be saved and have life eternal. Religion can and does have value. Religion need not be true for people to benefit from it. Religion — including your flavor of Evangelical Christianity — has helped countless people, but that doesn’t mean it’s true. Religion can and does have a placebo effect. If that’s what gets you through the night, so be it. I just don’t happen to need a mythical religion and God to have meaning and purpose in my life.
And He couldn’t anyways because God is so holy and perfect that seeing that kind of perfection would kill us instantly.
God could reveal himself by actually involving himself in the affairs of the human race and creation at large. As things now stand, there’s no evidence that God is involved in our lives at all. At best, he is a deity who created the universe and then said, “There ya go boys and girls, do with it what you will.”
The world looks exactly as it should without the existence of God. We are on our own.
He doesn’t hide himself to play games of believe or non belief. God hides Himself because in our fallen state we can not see His form and live. That’s why He sent His Son. So we would know everything He said from the beginning was true.
How do you know what the Bible says about Jesus is true? Again, you are making all sorts of claims — without evidence.
God’s hiddenness, in my opinion, is an insurmountable problem for Christian apologists. If God wants me to “know,” he knows where I am. He can call, text, or write me or stop by and invite me out to lunch. Instead, all I hear is silence. Well, that and the droning, preachy words of Christians like you.
God doesn’t want your religion and Christianity isn’t a religion although it’s classified that way. Christianity is a relationship with God.
Christianity is a religion, and you embarrass yourself by saying otherwise. While certainly there is a relationship aspect to Christianity, you can’t disconnect it from the fact that Christianity is a 2,000-year-old religion comprised of tens of thousands of sects with countless (and often contradictory) beliefs and practices. The Bible says there is “one Lord, one Faith, and Baptism,” yet history suggests this verse is untrue. If Christians can’t figure out what is “true,” how can they expect the unwashed, uncircumcised Philistines of the world to do so?
God saved us from Himself. God has saved us for Himself . And God has saved us by Himself through Jesus Christ. If Jesus really did do all the things the Bible says He did and He really did rise from the dead, then our quest for God stops with Him. If you’re searching for evidence you will never find evidence for God except in scripture.
Well, let’s talk about the Bible, then. You make all sorts of claims and assumptions about the Bible. I am confident I can show you that your claims are false; that the Bible is an error-filled, contradictory ancient religious text; and that its words are largely irrelevant. If you haven’t read any of Dr. Bart Ehrman’s books about the history and nature of the Bible, I encourage you to do so. His books will disabuse you of the notion that the Bible is inerrant or infallible. I will gladly ship one of his books to you, without cost.
When you read the word daily it has a power in it and it starts to reveal things to you. Heavenly things. And it is an amazing feeling to be revealed things from heaven. I hope that you will consider my words and consider Jesus Christ more seriously your spirit depends on it. I will be praying for you. God bless.
I daily read the Bible for most of the first fifty years of my life. As a pastor for twenty-five years, I spent over 20,000 hours reading and studying the Bible. I can’t imagine there is much of anything left to learn. The Bible is no different from any other book. With so many new, interesting books to read, why spend your lifetime reading the Bible over and over and over again? That said, I have done my homework, and I am more than happy to discuss the Bible with you.
I found your words annoying, little more than a sermon. On my contact page, I ask people NOT to send me preachy emails like yours, yet you ignored my request and emailed me anyway. Why is that? Why do feel the need to seek out a complete stranger on the Internet and preach at them? What did you hope to accomplish? You didn’t say one thing that I haven’t heard countless times before. Thousands of Evangelicals have come before you, each thinking the Holy Spirit was leading them to email me. If God wants to “reach” me, I wish he would stop sending arrogant, preachy people like you (that’s sarcasm) and contact me directly.
I don’t have a “spirit.” I have a body that is broken, frail, and dying, but no soul, spirit, or other magical entity. Do you have any evidence for the existence of the “spirit?” That’s a rhetorical question. I know the answer is no. Your religion teaches you that you have a spirit or a soul (depending on whether you are bipartite or tripartite), but provides no evidence for their existence apart from a handful of Bible verses.
Thank you for taking the time to contact me. Let me know if you are interested in receiving one of Bart Ehrman’s books.
Saved by Reason,
Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 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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