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Tag: Salvation

Once Saved, Always Saved: Is Bruce Gerencser Still a Christian?

salvation card

Evangelicals are not of one mind when it comes to the security of the believer. Some Evangelicals believe that a saved person can fall from grace (lose his or her salvation). After a person falls from grace, some Evangelicals believe salvation can be regained through repentance and faith. Other Evangelicals believe that once a person falls from grace, salvation can never be regained.

Evangelical Calvinists believe in conditional salvation, contingent on enduring (persevering) to the end (death). Saved people persevere, unsaved people don’t. While Calvinists will wail and howl at my assertion that they preach salvation by works, their soteriology suggests otherwise.

Many Evangelicals, especially Southern Baptists, Independent Fundamentalist Baptists (IFB), and nondenominational churches, believe in once-saved-always-saved; that once a person is saved, he or she cannot fall from grace. In these churches, salvation is transactional. Once the transaction is completed, the gift (salvation) cannot be returned. A once-saved-always-saved Christian can renounce Christ and live out his days as an atheist, yet when he dies, he will go to Heaven. Salvation, then, is a marriage between Jesus and the sinner, one that can never, ever be dissolved.

At the age of fifteen, I repented of my sins and asked Jesus to save me. At that moment, I was gloriously born again. I was baptized the next Sunday, and the week after that I went before the church again, telling them that I believed God was calling me to preach. For the next thirty-five years, I was a devoted, committed follower of Jesus. My life, in every way, was Christian — as family, friends, and former parishioners can attest. Like all Christians, I sinned, sometimes grievously. Yet, the bent of my life was toward godliness and holiness. I was, to the people who knew me, a true-blue believer.

Yet, I am an avowed atheist today, disavowing everything I once believed. My present apostasy poses a real conundrum for once-saved-always-saved Christians. According to their theology, I am still a Christian. No matter what I say or do, I am going to Heaven when I die. God may punish me in this life, in the hope that I will return to him, but once I arrive in Heaven, I will receive the same heavenly benefits as everyone else. This surely has to chap the asses of Evangelicals who devoted their whole lives to Jesus, denying their flesh and worldly ambitions.

Not wanting to follow their theology to its logical conclusion, once-saved-always-saved Christians go out of their way to prove that I never was a “real” Christian; that I was a fake Christian; that I was a false prophet; that I was a tool of Satan. They will use a nit comb to go through my life, looking for any anomaly that says to them that I was never a Christian. And once they go looking, they always find what they are looking for. Thus, to these Evangelicals, I spent my whole life either deluded or deliberately deceiving everyone around me.

Is it ludicrous that I am still a Christian? Absolutely. It is absurd to think that I am Christian; that the Holy Spirit lives inside of me. What once-saved-always-saved Baptists have is a theological problem. Their soteriology demands accepting me as a fellow brother in Christ. The solution is to change their beliefs, adopting an Arminian or Calvinistic soteriology. Of course, this will never happen. To do so, would require once-saved-always-saved Baptists to admit they are w-r-o-n-g. And we know that ain’t ever gonna happen.

The plane is circling the runway, waiting to land, and then I will be dead. At that moment, I will learn who is right. Or maybe not. All of this is based on several presuppositions: the Evangelical God exists, the Bible is true, and upon death, every human goes to Heaven or Hell, based on whether or not they were saved. I reject these claims out of hand. Thus, when I die, my body will be turned to ash and scattered along the eastern shore of Lake Michigan. And if I am wrong? Well, I will remind Jesus of all the confusing beliefs Christians preach about salvation. How could I have possibly known which one was right?

And so it goes . . .

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Dear Frank, Is Bruce Backslidden or Was He Never Saved To Begin With?

rick
Rick, 1996, Our Father’s House, West Unity, Ohio

Several years ago, I received a Facebook notification about approving something Rick, a friend of mine, wanted to post to my wall. Rick is a long-time friend, former parishioner, and frequent reader of this blog. What’s interesting about his request is that he meant his message to be a private one sent to a friend of his by the name of Frank. The reason I got the notification is that he inadvertently tagged me. Here’s the message Rick sent to Frank — also a man I have known for many years.message to frank

Don’t be put off by Rick’s poor language skills. Several years ago, Rick had a major stroke. This affected his ability to write sentences. Best I can tell, the stroke has not affected his ability to study and read the Bible, nor has it affected his ability to read religious materials.

I met Rick in the late 1990s. At the time, I was pastoring Somerset Baptist Church in Mt. Perry, Ohio. Rick, a Calvinist, was looking for a Calvinistic church to attend and someone recommended that he check out Somerset Baptist. Rick joined the church, happy in knowing that he had found a man who was conversant in the doctrines of grace (the five points of Calvinism). For the next five years, I would drive two times a week — thirty miles round trip — to New Lexington to pick Rick up for church.

rick and frank (2)
Frank and Rick, 1993, Somerset Baptist Church, Sunday Dinner

One Sunday night, while on our way to the church, Rick was waxing eloquently about double predestination and whether children who die in infancy and developmentally disabled people are automatically a part of the elect — those whom God, from before the foundation of the world, has chosen to save. I told Rick, with a slight irritation in my voice, that Calvinistic Baptist great Charles Spurgeon believed such people were numbered among the elect. Rick, not the sharpest tool in the shed when it came to social cues, continued to defend God having the absolute right to eternally torture anyone, including infants and developmentally disabled people, in the Lake of Fire. I could feel anger welling. I thought to myself, has Rick forgotten that I have a developmentally disabled two-year-old daughter with Down syndrome? Doesn’t he care how hurtful his words are? I slammed on the brakes and told Rick to get out of the car. He could walk to church, I told him. I quickly cooled down, telling him, I didn’t want to hear another word from him about whether infants and developmentally disabled people are elect. Rick complied, moving on to other hot button Calvinistic issues.

Let me share another Rick memory, one that I think readers will find funny. Rick worked third shift at a residential home for the developmentally disabled — Mount Aloysius. Unsurprisingly, Rick was quite tired by the time he arrived for Sunday morning church. Try as he might to stay awake, Rick would often fall asleep. Rick snored, so the entire congregation knew when Rick was sleeping. Sunday after Sunday I watched Rick fight sleep, his head bobbing back and forth during my hour-long sermons. One Sunday, Rick bobbed his head back and then forward just as he did Sunday after Sunday. This time, however, Rick’s head traveled forward farther than he intended, smacking the pew in front of him. I stopped preaching and went to Rick to make sure he was okay. Fortunately, the only thing harmed was his pride. After the service, I told Rick that perhaps he should skip the Sunday morning service when he worked the night before. That way he could be rested and mentally fresh for the Sunday evening service. By the way, this was the only time in twenty-five years of pastoring churches that I told someone, please don’t come to church.

I haven’t been Rick’s pastor for over twenty-seven years, and the last time I saw him was in 1996 when he and Frank drove to West Unity, Ohio to attend services at a new church I had planted. Since then, I have traded a few emails with Rick, but nothing of substance.

rick and bruce
Rick, Bruce, Greg, and boy, 1993 , Somerset Baptist Church, Sunday Dinner

Rick’s message is a reminder to me that people still talk about my deconversion. People who knew me well — as Rick and Frank once did — are still trying to square the pastor they once knew with the atheist named Bruce Gerencser. In Rick’s case, he wonders if am just backslidden, or is it possible that I never was saved. I am sure Rick prefers the backslidden explanation. I am sure trying to wrap his mind around the possibility of me never being saved is too much for him to emotionally and intellectually handle. If I was never saved, this means that Rick was taught for five years by an unsaved pastor, a man he heard expositionally preach hundreds of times; preaching that he believed was empowered by the Holy Spirit. I am sure he remembers the countless hours we spent after church talking theology. I am sure he remembers my love, kindness, and compassion, and my willingness to, week after week, drive to New Lexington and pick him up so he could attend church. I am sure he asks himself, how is it possible that the Bruce I knew was never a true Christian.

The easy out for Rick is for him to embrace Arminianism with its belief that saved people can and do fall from grace. Doing so would mean that I once was saved, but now I am not. Of course, Rick’s Calvinism keeps him from believing I have lost my salvation, so he is forced to psychologically torture himself with thoughts about whether I am backslidden or was never a Christian to start with.

I wish Rick nothing but the best. I hope he will, in time, come to terms with my current godless state. I chose to be exactly where I am today. Or did I? Perhaps all of this has been decreed by God, and the person ultimately responsible for my lost condition is the divine puppet master, John Calvin’s God.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

According to Evangelical Pastor Dax Hughes, Life Without Jesus is Disastrous

life without Jesus

A common trait of Evangelicals is their insistence that life without Jesus is miserable, meaningless, empty, and void of happiness. Now, thanks to Dax Hughes, current or former pastor of Heartland Worship Center — a Southern Baptist congregation — in Paducah, Kentucky, we have a new word to add to the list: disastrousHughes writes:

Life without Christ is disastrous. Check your soul and you will see it is true. We all know this deep down that there is something more for us beyond ourselves and his world.

Hughes asks readers to check their souls. Fine, where is my soul? How can I access it? Is my soul like the check engine light on my car, where, when something is wrong with my automobile, the electronic control module (ECM) trips a code and causes the orange CHECK ENGINE light to appear? If the answer is yes, where is my CHECK SOUL light? Maybe the reason I can’t see it is because my soul is black like my heart.

There is no evidence for the claim that humans have a soul. Evangelicals insist that everyone has some sort of ethereal eternal soul that leaves our body when we die, only to be reunited with our body when our bodies are resurrected so we can stand before God and be judged. According to Hughes, everyone KNOWS deep down — wherever the heaven deep down is — that is there is more for us than the here and now. Sorry Dax, I don’t know any such thing. All I “know” is that life is short and then we die. I have plenty of evidence for this claim of mine. What does Hughes offer up for his claim? Assertion. That’s what Evangelicals do — they assert without proof that their beliefs are infallibly true. Filled with self-righteous certainty, zealots such as Hughes cannot imagine any other truth claim but their own. I know, based on what I can see with my eyes and understand through observation, that humans are born, live, and die. End of story. There is no evidence for the claim that life continues in some other form after death. No one, not even Jesus, has come back from the dead. After thousands of years of people living and dying, it is safe for us to conclude that when people die they stay dead. It is for this reason that I give the following advice on my ABOUT page:

You have one life. There is no heaven or hell. There is no afterlife. You have one life, it’s yours, and what you do with it is what matters most. Love and forgive those who matter to you and ignore those who add nothing to your life. Life is too short to spend time trying to make nice with those who will never make nice with you. Determine who are the people in your life that matter and give your time and devotion to them. Live each and every day to its fullest. You never know when death might come calling. Don’t waste time trying to be a jack of all trades, master of none. Find one or two things you like to do and do them well. Too many people spend way too much time doing things they will never be good at.

Here’s the conclusion of the matter. It’s your life and you’ best get to living it. Someday, sooner than you think, it will be over. Don’t let your dying days be ones of regret over what might have been.

Hughes goes on to list his top ten reasons life without Jesus is a disaster. My response in indented and italicized.

You need to be perfect to meet God’s standard and you can’t even get close by your own efforts.

There is no God so we need not worry about meeting “God’s standard” — Greek for Hughes’s personal interpretation of the Christian Bible. Humans are infallibly flawed. The best any of us can do is to love others and treat people with kindness, decency, and respect. When we behave badly, we need not seek out a mythical God’s forgiveness. Instead, we should seek out the forgiveness of those we have offended. God and religion are middlemen that complicate relationships.

You waste your whole life pursuing stuff and people that never brings you real joy and peace.

Remember, Hughes thinks life is disastrous without Jesus. Would he listen if I told him that atheists and other non-Christians have joy and peace, along with meaning and purpose? Probably not. Evangelicals are walled off from any worldview but their own. For Evangelicals, life begins and ends with Jesus, the Bible, and faith. Think for a moment about how much of life Evangelicals miss when they narrow their living down to only Jesus matters. Think of all the stuff and people they miss out on because they are busy brown-nosing Jesus. It is Evangelicals who have shallow lives, lives un-lived because of what this or that Bible verse says. In what other realm of life do we think it is okay for a bronze-age religious text to dictate the terms of life? The world would be much better off if the Bible was put on the shelf with other ancient, outdated, irrelevant books. At the very least, Christians should update the Bible so that it is applicable to the 21st century. Evangelicals need to stop trying to convince themselves that the Bible is a timeless book filled with unsearchable riches. I know that this claim is not true because I, unlike many Christians, actually took the time to read and reread the Bible numerous times. I don’t need to read it again to know what it says.

You are trying to find purpose in life without ever connecting with the only one who can give you real purpose. (It is like playing chess without the king on the board.)

*Sigh.* Hughes cannot imagine any other way of looking at the world but his own. If he could, he would notice that the majority of the human race finds meaning and purpose in life without “connecting” with the Christian God. I have no problem with people such as Hughes “connecting” with their God, but it is offensive for them to suggest that the lives of others have no purpose without becoming followers of Jesus and Hughes’ flavor of Christianity. Billions of people are a living testimony to the fact that what Hughes says here is not true. It might be true for him, but most people have no need for Jesus or Christianity. Life is good without God.

Being religious in order to clean up is about as beneficial as putting perfume and nice clothes on a corpse and calling it full of life.

Hughes is attempting to advance the claim that what true Christians have is a relationship not a religion. I hate to break it to Hughes, but Christianity is a religion made up of thousands of sects. Suggesting that Christianity is not a religion is as absurd as playing chess without a king (see Hughes’ illustration above).

Your enemy is stronger than you and can beat you down every time without divine intervention.

Who is this enemy Hughes speaks of? Satan? Carbohydrates? I assume Hughes is speaking of the Devil, another mythical being in Christianity’s panoply of myths. As with the existence of God, there is no evidence for the existence of the Devil. Saying THE BIBLE SAYS is not evidence. If Hughes has evidence for the existence of Lucifer, by all means he should share it. The existence of evil is not proof of Satan’s existence. All its existence proves is that humans are capable of doing bad things — no devil needed.

You were made to bring glory to God and you are trying to give it to someone or something else and it’s making you miserable inside.

I was made through my father and mother having intercourse. An egg united with a sperm and nine months later Bruce was born. If anyone deserves credit for my existence, they do. Mom and Dad are dead, so I can’t thank them for bringing me into this world, but I can spend the rest of life giving credit to whom credit is due. As a humanist, I believe that I should praise, compliment, and thank people who do well. When a server at a restaurant takes care of our dining needs, should we dial up the restaurant’s corporate office and thank them for the great service? Of course not. It is the cook who made our food and the server who brought it to our table who deserve credit for the quality of our dining experience.

Hughes wrongly thinks that non-Christians spend their lives being unhappy and miserable. Perhaps Hughes should spend some time talking with atheists, agnostics, and other non-Christians. I think he will find that we are, for the most part, a happy lot. Yes, chronic pain and illness make my body feel miserable, but I choose to embrace and enjoy life despite my pain.

You place all your emphasis on living it up for the 70 years or so on earth and give no emphasis or preparation for the eternity you will have left after this life.

Hughes is correct on this point. I plan on living it up until I die, knowing that this is the only opportunity I will have to do so. If not today, when? I feel sad for Evangelicals who choose to refuse themselves the pleasures of this world in the hope that they will get some sort a divine payoff after they die and enter God’s Trump Tower — Heaven Location®. Of course, dead Evangelicals will not know what they have missed out on. They will, like all of us, die, and that will be the end of the matter. They will have no chance to reflect on an un-lived life. Henry David Thoreau was right when he said, “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” I fear that many Christians will come to the end of life only to find, as Thoreau says, that they have not lived.

You are blind, unaware, ignorant, and deceived and you think you can figure out your meaning on this earth on your own.

To this point, all I can say is that the grand project of humanity is to find meaning and purpose. We need no God or religion to guide us. All that is necessary is that we open our eyes wide and walk forward, embracing the tests and challenges that come our way. If we live long enough, we will most likely learn something about ourselves, others, and this planet we share. My grandchildren marvel over Grandpa knowing so much stuff. Well, I have been walking the path now for almost sixty-five years. I would hope, by now, that I have learned a thing or three. There is much that I do not know, and I will likely run out of life before I figure out the ways of women, but I can humbly say that through hard work and diligence and hell of a lot of reading, I know a bit about this life.

I find it offensive that Hughes suggests that I and my fellow heathens are blind, unaware, ignorant and deceived, all because we reject his anti-human religious beliefs (and we reject Christianity because we have weighed it in the balance and found it wanting).

You will face a terrible judgment by the most powerful judge of all time who has overwhelming proof against you and can give the most devastating punishment and you are willing to take a chance that it will all go in your favor without any real reason to believe so except that you want it to be ok.

Hughes attempts to uses the well-worn trope Pascal’s Wager. Memo to Dax: Never, ever use Pascal’s Wager. It is a lame, dumb, stupid, ignorant, silly, and asinine argument. How can anyone know that Hughes’ deity is the right one? To be safe, shouldn’t we embrace all the religions of the world? Shouldn’t Hughes become a Buddhist, Muslim, and a Catholic just in case the one true God is NOT the Evangelical God? Better safe than sorry, right?

You think you are pretty good compared to most of the world when your wickedness just looks different than yours [sic].

I have no idea what Hughes is saying here. Do I think I am better than some people? Absolutely. Do I think I am better than everyone? Of course not. Believing so would be arrogant, especially since I know quite a few wonderful people — starting with my wife, children, grandchildren, and many of the people I have met through this blog, to name a few. The world is filled is with godless people who just so happen to be kind, loving, and compassionate. Their wonderfulness needs no deity or divine instruction. I would argue that Evangelical belief often makes Christians unkind and unloving, lacking compassion for anyone who is not like them. One need only look at the culture wars and the recent presidential election to see that many Evangelicals are mean, nasty, arrogant, self-righteous, hateful, and vile. What religious group is at the forefront of the war against LGBTQ people and same-sex marriage? What religious group is behind the anti-immigrant hatred that currently permeates our culture? Everywhere I look, I see a religion that is all about power, wealth, and control. If Evangelicalism is all about Jesus, Evangelicals might want to figure out where they left him. Evangelical behavior suggests that Evangelicals practice a do as I say, not as I do religion. As long as Evangelicals continue to wage war on those the Bible calls “the least of these,” it has nothing to offer the American people.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Just Pray This Prayer and You Will be Saved!

gods simple plan of salvation tract

According to Evangelicals, getting saved is the most important decision you and I can make; more important than choosing whom to marry, where to work, what house to buy, whether to have children, and should I wear brown shoes with blue pants? (And the correct answer on the brown shoes, blue pants question is NO! NO! NO! Polly tells me I am fighting a losing battle. What’s next, women wearing white shoes before Easter? Dear God, what’s the world coming to? If this attack on propriety is not stemmed, people will be wearing pajamas in public.) Check all the boxes on your bucket list, but leave the PRAY SINNER’S PRAYER box unchecked and your life is deemed worthless — lacking in meaning, purpose, and direction.

Also according to Evangelicals, life begins and ends with Jesus. He is THE way, THE truth, and THE life. He is the beginning and the end, the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last. Jesus, according to the Bible, is the great I AM. He is not only the savior of sinners, but he is also the creator of the universe. All that has been, is, and will be, emanates from God alone. This deity is the one true God. All other Gods are false gods. This means that the overwhelming majority of humans — past, present, and future — are not saved, will die unsaved, and as a result spend eternity in hell and the Lake of Fire.

Most Evangelicals believe that Catholics, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, Mormons, and anyone else who hasn’t prayed the sinner’s prayer, will end up in hell with Satan, demons, fallen angels, and Barack Obama. Saying the sinner’s prayer is the one thing above all others that matters in this life. These false religions are sending billions of people to hell because their adherents haven’t prayed the Billy Graham-approved sinner’s prayer.

Fundamentalist Geri Ungurean recently asked the question, Have You Truly Been Born Again — Or Has the Evil One Deceived You? Ungurean used the God’s Simple Plan of Salvation tract published by Robert Porter’s Lifegate, Inc. as the primary text for her post. As I will show later, Ungurean edited the tract to better fit her theological beliefs, but for now, let’s focus on what she says about how a person is saved:

If you were to die today, and God asked you why He should let you into heaven – how would you answer Him?

….

I am asking you the most important question of life. Your joy or your sorrow for all eternity depends upon your answer. The question is: Are you saved? It is not a question of how good you are, nor if you are a church member, but are you saved? Are you sure you will go to Heaven when you die?

God says in order to go to Heaven, you must be born again. In John 3:7, Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Ye must be born again.”

In the Bible God gives us the plan of how to be born again which means to be saved. His plan is simple! You can be saved today. How?

First, my friend, you must realize you are a sinner. “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

Because you are a sinner, you are condemned to death. “For the wages [payment] of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). This includes eternal separation from God in Hell.

“ . . . it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).

But God loved you so much He gave His only begotten Son, Jesus, to bear your sin and die in your place. “ . . . He hath made Him [Jesus, Who knew no sin to be sin for us . . . that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Jesus had to shed His blood and die. “For the life of the flesh is in the blood” (Lev. 17:11). “ . . . without shedding of blood is no remission [pardon]” (Hebrews 9:22).

“ . . . God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

Although we cannot understand how, God said my sins and your sins were laid upon Jesus and He died in our place. He became our substitute. It is true. God cannot lie.

My friend, “God commandeth all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30). This repentance is a change of mind that agrees with God that one is a sinner, and also agrees with what Jesus did for us on the Cross.

In Acts 16:30-31, the Philippian jailer asked Paul and Silas: “ . . . ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ And they said, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved ’ ”

Simply believe on Him as the one who bore your sin, died in your place, was buried, and whom God resurrected. His resurrection powerfully assures that the believer can claim everlasting life when Jesus is received as Savior.

“But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name” (John 1:12).

“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13).

Whosoever includes you. Shall be saved means not maybe, nor can, but shall  be saved.

Surely, you realize you are a sinner. Right now, wherever you are, repenting, lift your heart to God in prayer.

In Luke 18:13, the sinner prayed:

“God be merciful to me a sinner.” Just pray: “Oh God, I know I am a sinner. I believe Jesus was my substitute when He died on the Cross. I believe His shed blood, death, burial, and resurrection were for me. I now receive Him as my Savior. I thank You for the forgiveness of my sins, the gift of salvation and everlasting life, because of Your merciful grace. Amen.”

Just take God at His word and claim His salvation by faith. Believe, and you will be saved. No church, no lodge, no good works can save you. Remember, God does the saving. All of it!

God’s simple plan of salvation is: You are a sinner. Therefore, unless you believe on Jesus Who died in your place, you will spend eternity in Hell. If you believe on Him as your crucified, buried, and risen Savior, you receive forgiveness for all of your sins and His gift of eternal salvation by faith.

You say, “Surely, it cannot be that simple.” Yes, that simple!  It is scriptural. It is God’s plan. My friend, believe on Jesus and receive Him as Savior today.

If His plan is not perfectly clear, read this over and over, without laying it down, until you understand it. Your soul is worth more than all the world.

“For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36).

Be sure you are saved. If you lose your soul, you miss Heaven and lose all. Please!  Let God save you this very moment.

God’s power will save you, keep you saved, and enable you to live a victorious Christian life. “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, Who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Do not trust your feelings. They change. Stand on God’s promises. They never change. After you are saved, there are five things to practice daily for spiritual growth:

Pray — you talk to God.
Read your Bible — God talks to you.
Witness — you talk for God.
Join a Bible Study — You will grow in your faith.
Develop relationships with other believers – Fellowship is so important!! – source

Here is a very simple prayer for those who want to know that they have truly been saved (born again).  God knows your heart, so He knows if you are genuine when you say this prayer.

Say this to God:

“Dear Lord Jesus, I understand that I am a sinner and I ask You for forgiveness. I believe that You died on the cross for my sins so that I could receive Your forgiveness and have eternal life. I ask You to come into my life right now and become my personal Savior. From this day forward, Lord, I give you control of my life. Make me a new person and help me to live for You.  Amen”

If you said this prayer just now, I want to welcome you to the family of God!  There is nothing in this life that is as important than what you just did. And did you know that the angels in heaven are rejoicing over you at this very moment?

Pretty standard Evangelical fare:

gods-simple-plan-of-salvation

I would ask you the reader to right now stop what you are doing and take sixty seconds to pray the sinner’s prayer, thus guaranteeing your room reservation for Trump Tower — Heaven location. I’ll wait. Pray, do it now, don’t delay. Push pause on the TV remote, call a time out, and do whatever it is that you need to do to carve out sixty seconds to do soul-saving business with the Evangelical God.

Did you pray the sinner’s prayer? Great, you will now go to Heaven when you die. No more worries. Once you are saved, you can never, ever lose the golden ticket to your mansion in the sky. No sin is so bad that it is not covered by the ‘Get out of Jail Free Clause’ in your Eternal Salvation Contract — Evangelical Edition.

This kind of thinking is what leads people to conclude that Bruce Gerencser, the atheist, is still a Christian. Once married to Christ, there is nothing I can do, including blasphemy and adultery, to divorce myself from God. I will lose rewards in Heaven and I might be punished for my sins in the here and now, but there is NOTHING I can do that will separate me from the love of God.

This, my friend, is the bastardized gospel preached by countless preachers and believed by millions and millions of Americans. Is this the gospel preached by Jesus, the apostles, and the Apostle Paul? Lots of Christians think so, that is until they are confronted with people and lifestyles that offend their religiosity. Can a gay man pray the prayer, remain gay, and go to Heaven when he dies? Can an atheist pray the prayer, remain godless, and go to Heaven when she dies? Can an abortion rights activist pray the prayer, continue advocating for abortion, and still go to Heaven when she dies? Can a child molester pray the prayer, go back to molesting boys, yet still make it to Heaven? If Ungurean’s post is taken at face value, the answer must be YES!

Back in my Calvinist days, we called this system of salvation “decisional regeneration” or “one-two-three, repeat after me.” Much of the membership growth in Evangelical churches is based on the notion of people mentally assenting to a set of historical and theological propositions. Believe THIS and thou shalt be SAVED! The Bible, at least in some verses, supports this version of Christian salvation:

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation….For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.(Romans 10:9,10,13)

Sirs, what must I do to be saved?  And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. (Acts 16:30,31)

That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.(John 3:15,16)

However, in other verses, a far different plan of salvation is found. Take Jesus’ words in Mark 16:15-17:

And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues.

Wait a minute Jesus, didn’t you say:

 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. (John 6:47)

Make up your mind, Jesus.

The truth is this: Christians have spent the last two-thousand years fighting internecine wars over which and whose plan of salvation is true; whose one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism is the faith once delivered to the saints. If this post makes it into the broader Christian blogosphere, rest assured, zealots for this or that plan of salvation will set me straight on what must be done by whom to guarantee entrance into God’s eternal kingdom — which is the final home of all believers, not Heaven.

Towards the end of the Ungurean’s cut-and-paste of Lifegate’s God’s Simple Plan of Salvation, she edits the tract to better reflect her personal views about salvation and Christianity. The original tract says:

Do not trust your feelings. They change. Stand on God’s promises. They never change. After you are saved, there are three things to practice daily for spiritual growth:

Pray — you talk to God.
Read your Bible — God talks to you.
Witness — you talk for God.

You should be baptized in obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ as a public testimony of your salvation, and then unite with a Bible-believing church without delay. “Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord . . . .” (2 Timothy 1:8)

“Whosoever therefore shall confess [testify of] Me before men, him will I confess also before My Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 10:32).

Ungurean edited the copyrighted tract to say:

Do not trust your feelings. They change. Stand on God’s promises. They never change. After you are saved, there are five things to practice daily for spiritual growth:

Pray — you talk to God.
Read your Bible — God talks to you.
Witness — you talk for God.
Join a Bible Study — You will grow in your faith.
Develop relationships with other believers – Fellowship is so important!!

The original gave three things to practice daily for spiritual growth. Ungurean disagreed, so she deleted what the original said about baptism, and added two practices: Join a Bible study [not a church?] and develop relationships with other believers.

Ungurean also had a problem with the tract’s proscribed prayer. While her post leaves the original prayer intact:

“Oh God, I know I am a sinner. I believe Jesus was my substitute when He died on the Cross. I believe His shed blood, death, burial, and resurrection were for me. I now receive Him as my Savior. I thank You for the forgiveness of my sins, the gift of salvation and everlasting life, because of Your merciful grace. Amen.”

Ungurean adds a prayer of her own:

“Dear Lord Jesus, I understand that I am a sinner and I ask You for forgiveness. I believe that You died on the cross for my sins so that I could receive Your forgiveness and have eternal life. I ask You to come into my life right now and become my personal Savior. From this day forward, Lord, I give you control of my life. Make me a new person and help me to live for You. Amen”

According to Ungurean, if you pray her soul-saving version:

If you said this prayer just now, I want to welcome you to the family of God!

Did you notice the difference between the two prayers? Ungurean added: From this day forward, Lord, I give you control of my life. Make me a new person and help me to live for You. And there’s Ungurean’s out. Yes, getting saved is as simple as believing a set of historical and theological facts (what she deems as factual, anyway) and praying a prayer. But, those who are really, really saved give demonstrable evidence that their lives are controlled by God. Who decides what this evidence is? Why every Evangelical church, pastor, and congregant, that’s who. Behind all their talk about grace, most Evangelicals actually believe that truly being a Christian requires a certain way of life. Except for the grace-extremists who say that once a person is saved, he is a-l-w-a-y-s saved, (men such as Jack Hyles, Bob Gray Sr., Curtis Hutson, R.B. Thieme, and Steven Anderson believe this), most Evangelicals actually preach some sort of salvation by works. And that’s okay, because that’s what the Bible says too. In fact, the Bible supports EVERY plan of salvation.

Here are a few other posts I have written on this subject:

Are you saved? Are you sure? Can you even be certain? Or, perhaps atheists, humanists, and not-punching-my-ticket-for-heaven religions are right. What really matters is the here and now; what really matters is living life to its fullest; what really matters is reducing pain and suffering; what really matters is making sure Donald Trump and his followers don’t destroy the world.  When it comes down to it, Evangelicalism is little more than escapism. Evangelicals see the world as that which must be endured until death or Jesus returns. And while waiting for these things to happen — it could be today, MARANATHA! — Evangelicals withdraw into the safety of their Fundamentalist subculture — only leaving for work, shopping, ballgames, and making sure unsaved people live according to Evangelical interpretations of a two-thousand-plus-year-old religious text.

Let me conclude this sermon with the jailor’s question in Act 16: Sirs, what must I do to be saved? When you get the answer to this question, please let me know. Based on two-thousand years of Christian history and a myriad of books, blog posts, and sermons purporting to definitively reveal the way to salvation and eternal life, I think I can confidently say that Christians are hopelessly confused and divided about what Ungurean and her fellow Evangelical say is the most important question we will ever be asked. Until these purveyors of salvation get it figured out, what should the rest of us do? To paraphrase Solomon: eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.

Works for me.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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You Can Use the Bible to Prove Anything

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Today, a reader by the name of Chris left the following comment on the post titled The Bible Says Our Good Works Are as Filthy Rags. My response is indented and italicized.

“Evangelicals believe that humans, Christian or not, are incapable of good works; that all goodness comes from the Christian God; that works apart from God that “seem” good are actually done for the wrong motivations and reasons.”

I don’t know what “Evangelicals” believe, but this is wrong according to the Word of God.

Prooftexting deleted.

What Chris mean is this: according to my personal interpretation of the Protestant Christian Bible, this is wrong. There’s no such thing as a “right” interpretation. Every sect, every pastor, every Christian thinks their beliefs are right. That’s why I believe everyone is right. There’s no wrong interpretation of the Bible. Every sect, pastor, and Christian defends their beliefs by appealing to the Bible. How, then, do we know who is right and who is wrong?

Christians have been arguing with each other for 2,000 years. Jesus was barely dead before Paul, Peter, and James got into arguments over what constituted salvation. Who’s right? How could we possibly know?

The Bible is a hopelessly contradictory and confusing collection of books. Countless books have been written over the centuries attempting to defend this or that theological belief. Yet, there are thousands of Christian sects, each believing they hold to the “faith once delivered to the saints.” Calvinists vs. Arminians. Charismatics vs. Oneness Pentecostals. Baptists vs. Church of Christ. Over the years, I have been told by countless Christians that I am saved, I am lost, I am saved, I am lost . . . Each Christian thinks they have it figured out. Me? I’m content to pop some popcorn, grab a comfy seat, and settle in to watch the bloody internecine wars Christians are fond of fighting. The world will know we are Christians by our love, the Bible says. How is that working out?

The point that much of Christianity get wrong is that they view “salvation” as a one off thing that happens at the declaration of faith, and run from works, calling it “works based salvation” or “legalism”. No, we are supposed to have works – we are supposed to do good. But we should do those works out of love, not because we believe the works themselves make us righteous. We are told to walk as Jesus walked – and Jesus did many works. Paul is also an example to us, and who worked harder than he?

Again, Chris says much of Christianity is “wrong.” What is the basis for his assertion? His personal interpretations of the Bible — his personal opinion. There’s no such thing as absolute truth, authoritative truth. Virtually every verse in the Bible can be interpreted, explained, twisted, or contorted to fit a peculiar theological belief.

I don’t think Chris read any of my autobiographical material. Had he done so, he would have learned that my views of salvation and works evolved over the twenty-five years I was in the ministry. I was a Christian throughout, but I had various beliefs about salvation and the part good works played in the lives of believers. I can defend every position from the Bible. That’s why the Bible is such a wonderful book. You can easily make it say anything, and regardless of your beliefs, someone, somewhere is going to shout AMEN PREACHER! Keep preaching the Word!

The Bible talks against self righteousness – thinking that you’re a good person because you’ve done some good things. Your good works don’t cross out your evil – you don’t get to murder people because you’ve made charitable donations and fed homeless people.

Well, I am an atheist, so I don’t care what the Bible is for or against. Generally, I think humans are good people. I reject the Christian concept of “sin,” a tool used to cause fear and guilt so “sinners” will seek out a remedy for their “sin” through the church. Sin is the problem, salvation through Jesus is the solution, preachers say. I reject this construct out of hand.

Humans do good and bad things. As an atheist and a humanist, my goal is to be a good person: to love and help my wife, children, grandchildren, friends, neighbors, and fellow humans. Do I fail? Sure. I can be self-centered, self-indulgent, and self-righteous. When I recognize that I have failed, I try to make things right and, if possible, make restitution.

As far as I know, I have never knowingly (on purpose) been “evil.” I can look at my past life as an Evangelical pastor and conclude that some of my beliefs were evil, that they caused material harm to my family and the people I pastored. My only defense is that I did so ignorantly, that I was a product of tribal influences and indoctrination. I have spent the past fifteen years trying to atone for my ignorance. While it would be easy for me to say: Bruce, give yourself a break, you didn’t know any better, I think it is important for me to give an honest accounting of my life — past and present. My counselor told me today that I have great self-awareness, sometimes to a fault. My counselor before this one told me on several occasions, “Bruce, you are not as bad a person as you think you are.” I know he is right, but I look at what I preached and how I treated others, all in the name of God and according to the teachings of the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God. I see myself as a victim and victimizer.

Salvation by grace, through faith, takes away our need to work for salvation – as if there’s a minimum number of good things you have to do to get to heaven, or as if you have a balance sheet that needs to be in the positive at the point of death.

Again, I could easily use the Bible to refute everything Chris says. For example, Matthew 25 clearly teaches that entrance into the eternal Kingdom of God is conditioned on good works. James makes the same claim when he says that faith without works is dead, and John says that anyone who sins is of the Devil, implying that good works are essential to salvation. In fact, I argue that without good works no one is saved; that the Mennonites and the Amish are likely closer to what the Bible teaches about salvation and good works.

I agree with Chris that the Evangelical notion of decisional regeneration — that of agreeing to a set of theological propositions and praying a one-off prayer makes one a Christian — is ludicrous and contrary to the picture of Jesus and his teachings and the early church found in the Bible.

From my perspective, all that matters is how we live, how we treat others. The goal should be well-being and reducing/eliminating harm (not only for humans, but other animals, and our planet).

“Is it any wonder so many Evangelicals are downright discouraged and depressed? Being told over and over that one is a worthless piece of shit and that one’s life is n-o-t-h-i-n-g without Jesus is sure to ruin any thoughts of self-esteem. Pastors frequently remind congregants that the Bible commands them to deny self, to take up their crosses and follow Jesus.”

Sounds like you went to a terrible church, and that the pastors were shitty people who wanted a passive flock to rule over. God loves you and gives you peace.

Romans 14 (KJV)
17 For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.

I was an Evangelical pastor for twenty-five years, so I was the “shitty” pastor, pastoring terrible churches. 🙂 Theological beliefs have consequences. What does the Bible say about humans? Is there anything in the Bible that remotely promotes self-worth? Of course not. The Bible says we are vile, evil sinners, haters of God. Salvation doesn’t turn us into good people. We have no righteousness of our own. We are righteous only because and through the person and work of Jesus. The Bible says we can’t do anything without Jesus, even breathe or move. So, according to the Bible, none of us are good people, even after we are saved.

Discouragement and depression are common among Christians. For all their talk about God loving them and God giving them peace (after all, the Holy Spirit), Christians have the same struggles as the unwashed, uncircumcised Philistines of the world. The bottom line is this: Christians are human, no different from anyone else.

Don’t throw away God because the “Christian” religion is awful. You can have a personal relationship with God by His Word. I don’t go to church, and I don’t like “Christianity” – but Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.

Chris wants to claim the Christian moniker, but doesn’t go to church and doesn’t like “Christianity” — meaning Christian belief systems other than his. Christianity and the Bible are inseparably linked. The church gave us the Bible. I can’t envision someone being a Christian in a meaningful sense without the church. The Bible says that Christians should not forsake assembling together. It is through the church that believers have community and instruction in the teachings of the Bible. I was fond of saying as a pastor, “there are no lone rangers in the Bible.” Christians are meant to congregate together (and, as an atheist, I miss the sense of community I had as a believer).

That said, I understand Chris’s frustration with Christianity at large. Many of the readers of this blog, myself included, were what I call disaffected Christians. Our paths away from Christianity began when we looked at the church (collectively) and said to ourselves that there’s something wrong here. For me, my journey didn’t end there. The reason that I am an atheist today is that I came to the conclusion that the central claims of Christianity are not true. If I were to blame someone or something for my deconversion, it wouldn’t be the church. All told, I was a happy pastor who pastored wonderful people. Polly and I had a good life in the ministry. The blame, then, rests solely on the Bible and the claims Christians make from its words. Why am I an atheist? The Bible. And my secret desire to live a debauched, licentious life. 🙂 Bring on the whores, booze, and coke. Praise Satan! 🙂

Saved by Reason,

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Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

I Stumbled Upon a 2014 and 2016 “Discussion” About Me on Baptist Board

peanut gallery

Today, I found two discussions about me on Baptist Board from 2014 and 2016, respectively, while doing an Internet search on my name. What follows are excerpts from these discussions. Many of the men discussing me are Baptist pastors. Lies, distortions, attacks on my character, with a few thoughtful comments sprinkled in. Granted, these discussions are eight and six years old, so the commenters did not have the breadth of autobiographical material that is available today. Would their opinions about me have changed if they had more in-depth posts about my story to read? Maybe, but I doubt it.

Give their comments a read and let me know what you think. All spelling and grammar in the original.

Enjoy. 🙂 And for the record, Earth, Wind, and Fire is a fucking prick. 🙂

2014 — Pastor Turned Atheist

Earth Wind and Fire:

Interesting read…this guy was a Baptist pastor….so what are your thoughts?:

http://quitplayingchurch.wordpress.com/tag/bruce-gerencser/

Aaron:

Ooooh, another let’s-indict-believers-and-elevate-the-vomitus-of-the-apostate thread.

We are not commanded to live for unbelievers. We are commanded to live for the believer, specifically, the one who is weak in the faith. Willing to forgo your beer for his sake?

Revmitchell:

That is baloney. Based on what I have seen so far there is no real complaint to be made. Just someone wanting to tear down Christians and the church. Otherwise specifics could be given.  

Winman:

Ok, you will hate me of course, but this guy was a Calvinist, so that might have made a difference.

So, this guy not only converted over to Calvinism, but it also seem he converted to Lordship Salvation with it’s extreme stress on performance. This may have had a lot to do with this fellow falling away from Christianity.

He does indicate in this particular article that he and his wife having many children, believing this was obeying the Lord might have been the first crack in his faith.

Again, get mad if you want, but there is a big difference between being a Calvinist, and a non-Calvinist. If I had first heard Calvinism preached, I do not believe I would have ever become a Christian.

That said, and to be fair, this doctrine of having a “quiverfull” of children is not limited to Calvinistic Christians, and I ought to know. I have eight children myself. This seems to be what first started his discouragement with the faith.

But I could see an extreme stress on Lordship driving any person away.

Winman:

Here is his article on why he left the faith.

http://brucegerencser.net/series/from-evangelicalism-to-atheism/

Winman:

I read all four articles of how he left the faith, plus several other articles. I believe he tells us what really caused his shift in beliefs, and that was reading many, many books outside the Bible.

Interesting articles, and I do respect this fellow for his honesty.

Van:

From professing Christian to professing Atheist is a good read.

First he was not taught that turning and trusting requires a full blown comment to Christ, as our only priority rather than one of our priorities. Easy Believism claimed another young victim.

Next, he went from the frying pan to the fire, switching to 5 point Calvinism. Which again demonstrates he relied on the writings and thoughts of others (Calvinist books) rather than learning how to critically read God’s inspired word which is trustworthy and reliable and authoritative for living our lives.

Aaron:

My experience is that folks who blame Christians for leaving faith are simply making excuses for their own vices, bitterness and unbelief. Why doesn’t he just say, I don’t believe it? Why the whiny-butt-you’re-all-a-bunch-of-hypocrites rant?

Just let Bruce go. If he leaves Christianity, he never really was one.

If Adam couldn’t point at Eve, much less can Bruce point at Christ’s Bride.  

Earth Wind and Fire

Ahhhhh, didn’t you see the DONATIONS button on the right hand side of the blog?

Zaac:

I don’t understand the confusion. He was quite clear. The lives of many Christians look like the lives of the lost. What details are needed? Look at the person you think is a heathen and recognize that when the average lost person looks at the life of a person who says he is a follower of Christ, he doesn’t see anything different.

We excuse away our drinking.
We excuse away our smoking.
We excuse away what we watch.
We excuse away what we listen to.
We excuse away why we disrespect authority.
We excuse away how we support a man who rejects Jesus while purporting to still want folks to come to Christ.
We excuse away the way we dress.
We excuse away our prejudices.
We excuse away our lack of love.
We excuse away our judging outside the church.
We excuse away our gluttony…our gossipping…and our phonyness.
We excuse away our desire to win an argument as defense of the faith.
We excuse away our nastyness in how we respond to others.
We excuse away the truth and ask for unneeded examples when we well know exactly what is being talked about.

Just to name a few.

He is absolutely correct. The folks in the church look a whole lot like the folks outside the church.  

Zaac:

Because that’s what he experienced. People expect to see something different when they go to the church. And lately all they are seeing is folks whose lives look no different than their own.

I mean personally I think some of you have got the nastiest dispositions I’ve ever seen and if I were questioning my faith and encountered a bunch of folks in church who act like some of you, i could understand someone leaving.

Earth Wind and Fire:

If what? Can you convince him better than the Holy Spirit can? See Aaron views him as a reprobate……do you know what that is? Here is where ones point of view as to understanding scripture comes into play…..and I find the whole thing fascinating!

And Go Further with this……look at his wife & her present position & prospective. Then note that they were both raised up in the Fundy church……could there have been any subtle indoctrination going on there? Again utterly fascinating….. From Fundy Baptist Pastor to avowed Atheist. Track the progression……its fun.

Winman:

Here is the article everyone should read;

http://brucegerencser.net/2014/02/stopped-believing/

And here is the REAL reason he lost his faith:

The reason this fellow became an atheist is because he lost faith that the Bible was inerrant, inspired word of God.

That is why I am a King James only, because I MUST believe that God’s perfect and preserved word is in the world today. If I believed it was not, I would throw my Bible in the trashcan and live any way I want.

Now, don’t turn this into a versions debate, I am just saying I can understand this fellow’s point of view. He allowed men to convince him the Bible is not really true, and that very moment his faith failed.

Inspector Javert:

1.) I’m not interested in the carping of Christ-haters. When I was younger, I used to take the accusation and verbal vomitus against Christ’s sheep seriously.

I have since learned that The servants of Satan are constantly searching for ways to excuse their sin and attack the body of Christ. I do not believe in their intellectual honesty, and I care nothing for what they have to say against Christ’s children.

2.) This is (like most accusations against the believers) simply a “but, but, but you people are hypocrites!!” complaint.

“Hypocrisy” is the only concern of those with no morals. It provides the godless with the chance to preen themselves over their goodness since all it takes to not be a “hypocrite” is to have no morality and no moral standards whatsoever.

Call him what you will……but Ted Bundy was no “hypocrite”. He was merely a rapist and murderer.

This man is pointing out the failure of Christians to be perfect as an excuse to live a life for himself and exalt himself against the knowlege of God. Men like this are a dime a dozen…and there are probably 1,000 blogs with men just like him:

Sacrificing their children to the fires of Molech while accusing God’s people of not being perfect.

I simply rejoice that he no longer poisons the pulpit in one of God’s Churches.

Inspector Javert:

The blogger probably doesn’t really have any, that’s why.

The blogger is falling back on a commonly used excuse that he has learned will soothe his conscience. (And he knows all too often that modern Christians will fall for it and laud him for trashing them and the God they serve). He probably has nothing but generalized accusations which cannot be verified or compared nor defended against.

For every imperfect carnal Christian he knows, he can probably point to just as many who live up-standing lives which honor Christ. He won’t want to dwell on specifics….he just wants to latch onto a convenient excuse.

Were he to break down the specifics….he probably knows MANY MANY truly Godly loving wonderful Christian people. I know I do….I see them in Churches everywhere I go.

Annsni:

I think there was an even stronger reason: He was trying to make God meet HIS terms.

JamesL:

I read the article, and it seems to me that the pastor-turned-agnostic/atheist was trying to reconcile tradition with scripture, and simply couldn’t.

He was bound in the shackles of confusion, unable to answer tough questions about evil and sin, supposed righteousness that still looks very evil, carnality in a supposedly righteous saint, worldliness in so many children of God.

I could once relate to his appetite for intellectualism, love of knowledge, his love for books and appreciation for scholarly authority. He wanted to have concrete answers for life’s tough questions, and thought that men could adequately provide them.

I’ve read Bart Ehrman and Elaine Pagels, with their heavy appeals to the Gnosticism and all their empty rhetoric, and numerous other “scholars” with their pompous claims of authority on spiritual matters.

I’ll admit that those “scholars” make some compelling arguments that appeal to intellectual pride, with the feeling that one has been enlightened above all others. But in the end, they are simply shipwrecked by empty philosophy and a prideful desire to define truth by what seems right in their own eyes

Who goes to a self professed agnostic for concrete answers? By his own admission, he has no concrete answers.

What I see in that agnostic is someone who was convinced of his Christian doctrine by men, and was not firmly grounded in truth by the Holy Spirit. Then when other men came along with seemingly better rationale, he fell headlong into the same ditch.

Van:

From Easy Believism to 5 Point Calvinist to Atheist:

1) Embrace another gospel, one that values dead faith.

2) Embrace the idea that nothing we do will change the outcome of our lives.

3) Therefore embrace atheism, since nothing we do will alter the outcome of our lives.

One, two, three – its as easy as taking broccoli from a baby.

Rightousdude2:

I can’t see any rational person, especially one who came to Jesus, become an atheist. When I look into the night sky, I know, that I KNOW, that there is a creator of that massive expanse. When I gaze into a mirror and see the wonders of the human body and the miraculous things that needed to happen in order for life to exist [just the mystery and chemistry of blood, blood gases, etc.] are a marvel that tells me there is more to this life than what we see, feel, touch and assume to know!

The personality and love of God are all around us, and once a person reckons with themselves that there is a creator, and that creator is Jehovah Jireh … to turn back to empty beliefs makes me wonder if the guy ever, EVER believed beyond simple book knowledge.

In my heart of hearts …. there may be fleeting wisps of doubt [where the devil will try to whisper in my ear, our you sure. Are you REALLY sure?], but when it comes down to atheism versus God and creation, there is no other choice or option, at least for me!

In fact, with age has come wisdom, and I think the devil has about given up on me; because he got tired of asking me if I was really sure? Because each time he asked, I came up with more reasons to believe. He saw that wasn’t working! That’s the neat thing about the devil, you and temptaton! The more he tempts us, the more confident we become in our faith … because temptations [at least for me] always takes me back to square one, and once I’m there [at square one], the decision to give that temptation a boot in its red hot rear, becomes just that much easier.

Maybe that’s why he only tempted Jesus three times. Once he heard the answers, he decided that it was a hopeless battle plan.

So, IMHO, I can’t see a true believer giving way to atheism!

evenifigoalone:

I can kinda see it happening, in a way. Just going by my own experiences in the past with doubts, I mean. But in the end, God wouldn’t let me leave and I came out of those experiences more encouraged than ever before.

I tend to agree that a true believer will never be able to truly leave, but at the same time I can see how the arguments of atheism can seem very persuasive. IDK, I can see and kinda understand the thinking behind atheism, even though I’m quite sure it’s false. If I weren’t a believer and didn’t have a faith in God or experienced the things I have, I’d probably be an agnostic atheist.

Earth Wind and Fire:

Correct….he was always a reprobate but he has added whistle blowers to his resume….and now he takes donations! I find that hilarious….now he is a hypocrate with a tin cup.

jkdbuck76:

Sounds like he was not grounded and was double-minded. I’d sooner put a gun to head and pull the trigger than go to websites about debunking Christianity “for answers”. He did it to himself. If he truly is an atheist, then he was NEVER indwelt with the Holy Spirit. Bruce is gonna have to answer FOR HIS OWN ACTIONS on the dreaded Day of Judgment, and “gee, American Christians were too worldly” will not cut it. The goal is Christ, not our peers.

Here is the better thing: how many former atheists are now Christians and even pastors? Let’s focus on them. See what God has done in their lives.

Earth Wind and Fire:

The only thing he wants outa you is a donation

In 2016, is Bruce Gerencser saved?

bruce-gerencser-heaven-after-death

jppt1974:

Praying for him to go back to Christ before he leaves this earth or Jesus comes back on the white colt! To get us all. Will leave it at that!  

JonC:

While it is impossible for me to know, I suspect that Mr. Gerencser is a man who came to a particular realization prior to hearing those words “I never knew you.” The reason I say this is he presents himself as being indoctrinated rather than converted into the faith. I appreciate his honesty here because I believe it a legitimate issue in how we work with those “born into the church.”

As Christians we are, I believe, told to take the man at his words. We judge the fruit, not the heart, and are to treat him as if he is as lost as his profession indicates. We are fruit inspectors – not botanists.

JamesL:

This was posted here a year or so ago….by ? I don’t remember

Anywho…

I very much appreciate his distinction between theological fundamentalist and social Fundamentalist

he makes some unwarranted assumptions and runs with them, such as the notion that every Evangelical would agree with the idea that we are to obey everything contained in the Bible.

I know that is the right wing, fanatic, Fundamentalist, legalistic way. However, a true Evangelical who is sharing the good news of the Cross of Christ will recognize that we are not obligated to the Mosaic law.

But I appreciate the man’s candor. And I can sympathize with the fact that he was brainwashed by a fundamentalism which does not stand up to scripture

I think he was taught to have unrealistic expectations, and was not able to shake them. And that ultimately shook his faith

I think it would be very interesting to sit across the table from him, maybe a different doctrinal take would have yielded different fruit

Salty:

What is interesting is that over a period of a couple of years – he visted scores of churches – Bap, Protestants, Catholic, Mennonite – Methodist – you name it, he probably attended.

He did not find any that he felt comfortable in.

TCassidy:

agree, in this case, that we should take him at his word and treat him as an unbeliever. However, we must also remember that “by their fruits ye shall know them” in Matthew 7 is referring to false prophets. We can know false prophets by their false teaching. But it is a one way street. You cannot tell whether or not a person is saved by his fruit, or lack thereof.

TCassidy:

When a person can’t find any church he can agree with and feel comfortable in, we can rest assured the problem is not the churches, it is the person.

Tim71:

If this man is saved. Wouldn’t Hebrews chapter 12 vs 5 thru 11 apply? If you’re Gods child he going to take you to the wood shed and if you continue in disobedience he will call you home.

evangelist6589:

False convert who was a victim of the modern gospel message. Refer to Judas and a passage in the Synoptics of the many that will stand before him on the day of judgment.

This is all the more important why we must preach law to the proud and grace for the humble.  

Bro James:

Ain’t no atheists in heaven–none headed there either.

Ecumenism is alive and growing on planet Earth.

The Lord knows them that are His, and they are sealed forever.

Now what? Pray for the lost and others deluded.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

Earth Wind and Fire:

BINGO!!!!

You also notice that he is enormous! Out of that his health has been affected.

To quote my hero, Reggie Van Gleason……”Boy, are you fat!

BlueFalcon:

I prefer not to engage in the question whether he was ever really saved or not, whether he will still be in heaven or not. I have my own view, but those questions miss the point of his blog posts.

So-called deconversion is all the rage now. Several things seem to have led to Mr. Gerencser’s deconversion.

His parents’ divorce. He does not mention this as a cause or even talk about it in the linked posts. Still I would like to probe his mind to know if he thought at the time that one of his parents must have been not a true believer. Divorce is kind of like the unpardonable sin. One can do anything just about and still serve in the church unless one’s divorced.

His education at Midwestern Baptist College seems to have differed greatly from the real or critical scholars he read later, leading to disillusionment or the feeling that he was lied to or not told the truth about much of the Bible. In this sense it’s somewhat Ehrmanesqe, except that Ehrman came to his conclusion much earlier than Gerencser, probably much to Gerencser’s chagrin.

The Hyles scandal. He does not go into much detail, but reading in between the lines, if the best Christian man in the world is a damned narcissistic heretic liar, the whole thing is rigged and the fools are those who stay in the church to be preyed upon by these predators.

Many other scandals and in general the hatefulness of so-called Christians and many other adjectives to describe almost every church (over 300 apparently) since he stopped pastoring.

Readers need to read his blog for themselves. It is an indictment from an atheist who once was on the inside. Ironically, the indictment (namely points 3 and 4 above) is not unlike Jesus’ own indictment against some of the best known and on-fire churches of the first century (Rev. chs. 2-3).

BlueFalcon:

After reading a couple dozen of Gerencser’s blog posts, one conclusion is certain: Christianity as he taught and practiced is totally bankrupt and always has been, evidenced by his own words and ultimate experience of deconversion. In one post he talks about being angry at another pastor for not just having a TV (Gerencser didn’t) but watching it Saturday night when he should have been praying and preparing his message. Can you say, pharisaical? Apparently in his Baptist circles at the time all the pastors lived in separate mobile homes within earshot of each other on church property.

Gerencser has a long post on why he hates Jesus, or at least the “Jesus” construct he was taught and spent most of his life “living” for. His version of Christianity and the many pastors he depicts within that circle are, when you read his posts, picture-perfect of the biblical Pharisees, those whitewashed sepulchers, judging others but who are guilty in thought or deed of the same things for which they judge others. And it is against these hypocritical Pharisees that Jesus reserved his highest calls of condemnation. The NT Pharisees hated Jesus, so why should modern day Pharisees hate him any less? These posts on why he hates Jesus, at least, give a good idea of his version of Christianity.

Gerencser uses profanity in most of the posts I read. As an outsider looking into this man’s somewhat vulnerable posts, I wonder when this started or if he’s always been a proficient cusser. On occasion Gerencser confesses his outbursts of anger and verbally abusive language. What Gerencser has not posted much of, at least not in what I’ve read so far, are any private character flaws (he doesn’t believe in sin anymore, by the way). So on the one hand, his posts seem pretty vulnerable, but on the other, after reading them one feels like he isn’t sharing the whole truth about his inner self (not that that’s wrong — it’s his own blog, after all — but the impression he gives is that he’s baring all, when the feeling I get after reading is that he’s hiding most of his real vulnerabilities).

His main reason for deconverting is clear from other posts. He no long believed that the Bible was inerrant or inspired, and further that the God presented in the Bible was evil and not worthy of belief. Theodicy is a major problem for Gerencser. On more than one occasion he says something to the effect that if God could help his own pain or suffering or for that matter that of millions of others, he has chosen not to. That makes sense to him now, since to him God doesn’t even exist.

It is also clear from Gerencser’s posts that he is really into himself, constantly checking how often links to his blog are clicked, by whom they are clicked, how many times each person has clicked a link, etc. He really likes to state how much he likes to read, how many books he has read, etc. etc. I have and have read three of the four books by Ehrman he recommends (I’m lacking How Jesus Became God) — all of which are beginner and popular level — and even some of his he didn’t, like his The NT: A Historical Intro and The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture, which are more scholarly, especially the latter one, which is my favorite Ehrman book by far.

Gerencser seems insincere in that he says he doesn’t want to disturb anyone or keep anyone from turning from Christianity, but if the God of Christians is really as evil as he says, then Gerencser himself is pretty evil for not trying to keep every last person in the world from believing in this evil God construct that destroys the lives of anyone and everyone who may be deceived into believing in it.

Reading his blog makes me appreciate even more Francis Schaefer’s The Great Evangelical Disaster. How prescient that man was!

I may read more of his blog as I have time. He seems to think of himself as sincere. He says he deals even handedly with both atheists and Christians, but just reading the comments section one can see that the atheists are allowed to use invective cursing and all manner of ad hominem attacks against the Christians, but Christians are quickly blocked if they happen to post a Bible verse (a violation of one of his rules). So his sincerity is quite self-contrived. I will never post on his blog. I wonder though why anyone would. I take that back. I can see why atheists and former “Evangelicals” from the same swamp of damned pharisaism that he hails from, jump in for the proverbial high-fives. I’m sure these at least provide a good level of self-gratification for his efforts.

Finally, I actually approve of his blog and recommend it. It’s easy to read and actually quite helpful. It is hoped that his blog will keep as many people as possible from entering the kind of churches that he was a part of and that the numbers in those churches will continue to dwindle until they are no more. And may the true church of Jesus Christ last forever. Amen.  

John of Japan:

So you are accepting the depiction of an atheist apostate of the pastors in his “circle” without hesitation?

I don’t run in that IFB circle per se, but my wife graduated from the same Bible college, and I know some of the men who graduated from there. In fact, I knew the founding pastor, and he was a greatly used man of God. My wife’s pastor was on the board of the school for years, and he is one of the most godly men I’ve ever known and a dear friend. He is now retired from the ministry, and it is always a joy to spend time with him and his extremely sweet wife.

Frankly, I think it’s pretty silly of you to accept the word of a bitter, atheist apostate about Baptist pastors; oh, yes, and also to recommend an atheist apostate’s blog.

annsni:

I wonder if sometimes God doesn’t use an unregenerate person for a time to bring His message to people – similar to Baalam’s donkey. I would say this man was never saved – the “epiphany” seems quite suspect, IMO.

Aaron:

1Jo 2:19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Church of Christ Preacher Al Shannon Says There are Only 2 Million Christians in the Whole World

one true church

According to Church of Christ preacher Al Shannon, there are about two million True Christians® in the entire world. In a post titled Do You Have a Snowball’s chance in Hell of Being Saved? Shannon stated:

One third of the world’s population claims to be Christian (2.1 billion). Yet, only a few of those have obeyed the gospel of Christ. So few that they are nearly invisible (approximately one in one thousand or 2,034,338). Now consider this, of these few who have obeyed the gospel of Christ, only a handful of these will be saved. And if only a handful will be scarcely saved among these, imagine how hopeless it will be for those who know not God and have not obeyed the gospel of Christ.

Shannon knows EXACTLY who is going to Hell when they die:

This means every Catholic will be cast into hell. Every Baptist will be cast into hell. Every Presbyterian, every Methodist, every Adventist, every Mormon, every Pentecostal, yes and every denomination under the sun will be cast into hell. These are the ones who claim they are Christians, but have not obeyed the gospel of Christ. The other two thirds of the population of the world who know not God will also be cast into hell.

Of course, Shannon is one of the select few who will make it to Heaven. Cultists such as Shannon always think they are numbered among the True Christians®. The same goes for Calvinists. I have yet to meet a Calvinist preacher who didn’t think he was one of the elect.

I have often wished that preachers such as Shannon could die, see that there is no life after death — no judgment, heaven, or hell — and then be brought back to life to live the rest of their days knowing that everything they preached is a lie.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Bruce Gerencser