Bruce Gerencser has noticed this blog and he has dubbed my judgments regarding his life “misguided and naïve.” I didn’t exactly expect him to be pleased with everything I write here, but I cannot address his concerns if he has nothing more than sweeping generalizations to make.

As a result of this notice, his fan club have made a point of peppering this new-born site with derogatory comments, questioning my intelligence, my motives and my temerity. More than one commenter has made the accusation that Bruce’s posts must’ve shook my faith in order for me to dedicate a blog to hashing through his journey. This is a ridiculous non sequitur, of course; Those who know me likewise know that I deeply care for those who have fallen from the faith and that I am keenly interested in why people fall away, partly because most of my generation likewise abandoned the faith of our youth and, unlike myself, very few returned.

I seek to understand, because I wish to do what I can to prevent this from occurring in future generations, and to understand the fallen so that I might help them reclaim return, God willing.

Of course, I expected backlash and misunderstanding when I began this endeavor, so I’m hardly surprised. Our decisions have consequences, as Bruce learned when he sent a series of letters explaining his new-found apostasy to his friends, family and former parishioners. Or perhaps he didn’t learn this lesson. I dunno. Judge for yourself.

You see, Bruce Gerencser’s fourth post in the My Journey series, Letter To My Friends, Family And Former Parishioners Update, is something of a pity party:

“Almost two years ago I sent my friends, family and former parishioners a letter concerning my decision to deconvert from Christianity. I wish I could say my letter was well received. I wish I could say that people told me they supported my decision. I wish I could say I have been treated in a kind and respectful manner.

But I can’t.”

I thought he reactions to his letter were predictable enough: One guy drobe 3 hours to talk him out of it. Others wrote letters and emails, either attempting to change his mind or condemning him. Some apparently gossipped behind his back.

I personally cannot stand gossips. Why there should exist the level of pervasive gossip within Christendom when the Bible plainly condemns it is beyond me. Granted, I cannot recall the last time I heard another preacher mention it. Nor can i recall the last time I heard of a minister putting a mmeber under church discipline for spreading rumors and gossip. The general impression we get is that it’s something of a necessary evil.

The Bible has a completely different view of gossipping. Leviticus 19:16 forbids it with an all-too-familiar “Thou shalt not…” Proverbs 26:20 pretty much sums up why the Church should refuse and condemn gossip when they hear it:

“Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no tale-bearer, the strife ceaseth.”

Wanna know why a lot of churches aren’t united? Wanna know why a lot of them are full of strife and back-biting? Because they’ve a gossip among them, usually more than one. My advise is to resist the Devil and watch him [or her] flee from you. If we made churches less inviting to gossips, well, let’s face it: most gossips like to stir up trouble and watch what happens, but it’s no fun without a fan club to appreciate it. Our actions have consequences; likewise, our lack of action where it concerns these gossips has consequences as well. As we mentioned when commenting on Bruce’s 2nd post, Bruce admitted the following:

“This is one of the reasons I ultimately rejected the Christian faith.

I couldn’t square my day to day experience in the Church with:

A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. John 13:34, 35

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! Psalm 133:1

Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: John 17:2-22

Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. 1 John 4:7

It was anything but love and unity.”

This ought to give us reason enough to commit ourselves to preventing gossip in our churches, starting with stopping our own mouths.

Nevertheless, I think Bruce has missed the point that his own actions have consequences. No man is an island. Yet he pretends as if his decision should not affected anyone except himself. For example, he gives the following illustration of the woes that have befallen him since he made his decision public:

“Last Christmas, the patriarch of the family, a pastor of 40 plus years, was intent on confronting me about my apostasy. I am grateful my mother-in-law quashed his plan to confront me. It would have been ugly. I mean ugly, ugly.

My wife decided that we would not do Christmas at her parent’s home any more. The stress and undercurrent are such that it is impossible to “enjoy” time with the family during the Christmas holiday.

Did you notice I said my wife decided?” [empasis his]

He pretends as if his wife made the decision to spend Christmas without their family to avoid the strife his decision had created of her accord. She made the decision because his decision had consequences for her and her relationship with him and her family. She was forced to deal with the backlash his decision resulted in. Not him. I get a bit ruffled when I see grown men abdicating responsibility for their own actions, yet this has become common for many in America, especially those of the Baby Boomer generation. Nothing is ever their fault. It’s always someone else’s. Everybody else’s reactions to their narcicism is always unexpected and unreasonable.

For example, Bruce laments that he had hoped that his letter would be well-received and that folks would support him in his decision. Why? Why would he reasonably expect that?

He knew their beliefs, for he helped instill some of them. He knew that they believe that Bible-denying, Christ denying apostates go to hell. If he knew them at all, he should have expected those whom he taught and those he labored alongside to feel betrayed, at the very least. He should have expected them to feel they should try to convince him otherwise if they loved him at all. By stating that he did not wish them to try and convince him he was wrong, he was asking for their apathy, not their love. Apathy can sit by and allow someone to destroy themselves; love cannot!

Our decisions, actions and inactions have consequences. If the church could make this simple revelation, we could actually begin being the church God always intended. Why do I say that? Because meekness, a fruit of the Spirit no less, is the ability to put other people’s best interests and needs above your own. Jesus and Moses [no push-overs, mind you] were exemplars of meekness, according to the Bible. I submit that it is impossible to display or actualize meekness if you cannot fathom that what you do affects others. Personal accountability is absolutely essential for genuine meekness, and genuine unity.

God bless,

Preacher

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Comments
  1. Anthony Harvey says:

    You should be glad that some Bruce supporters added to your pathetic little blog. Otherwise, it would be completely empty.

    And it IS pathetic. Your animosity toward this man is doing nothing to further your mission, which I assume is to try to persuade people to think the same as you do about christianity. Why don’t you instead give your reader(s) some evidence of why your beliefs are true? If you had such evidence, it would be a whole lot more persuasive than running down a retired ex-pastor who has a small blog following but is not otherwise greatly influential. One might assume you’re jealous …

    in addition to being too much of a coward to own up to your dirty work, “Anonymous Pastor.”

    That is all. I won’t be back here. Your blog isn’t worth reading.

    • Preacher says:

      Anthony,

      I hold no animosity against Bruce. I admit that some find me as blunt as a bag of hammers and about as subtle as a chainsaw when it comes to my criticisms of, well, anything. Stained-glass mores have taught men to be nice rather than good, so that they do not recognize something as good unless it is nice and cannot recognize evil if it’s cloaked in nicety.

      As for your insinuation that I am jealous of Bruce’s blog traffic, my other blogs [which do provide evidence for the claims of Christianity] are doing quite nicely. The reason I’ve decided to complete this project anonymously for now is to concentrate on the issues and arguments that are raised as we examine his journey.

      If you suppose that cowardice is the only motive possible for posting anonymously [even if only for the moment], then you live in a world densely shielded from reason.

      -Preacher

  2. Yes I have noticed it and I wish you well. Others can judge for themselves the propriety of what you are doing. I don’t have any intention of reading any more of your misguided, ignorant deconstruction of my life. If you hoped to get a rise out of me you will be sadly disappointed.

    I am sending all your track backs to the spam folder where they belong. I have no intention of allowing my blog’s high ranking to be used to help your blog.

    I hope you will try real hard to write something original. So far you are not much better than a scraper…..

    Again, I wish you well. I won’t comment further. That said, I can ‘t control what others do.

    Bruce Gerencser (see this is what a real name looks like)

    • Preacher says:

      Bruce,

      If I was hoping to get a rise out of you, this mean-spirited comment would have made my day.

      Like it not, I see value in some of the things you have brought up in your blog, though I obviously do not agree with your final conclusions. Like you, I fell away from the faith. In my case, I had decided how I felt about church, but had ignored the question of whether the Bible was true and whether God existed. While I was fully immersed [to use a good Baptist phrase] in church culture, to the point where I sang, preached and taught in church and all the rest, so that I was as Christian as the next fellow, I was not saved.

      Years later, I truly know Him in who I have believed. I am truly saved. No power of hell or scheme of man could convince me otherwise, for I truly know Him – not just about Him.

      As odd as this may sound [especially in light of the fact that your Journey serves as the focus for this blog], this blog isn’t really about you. It’s about what we can learn from your journey, your insights and your mistakes, but it’s not about you. I changed the link in this post to a trackback link as a courtesy to you, so that you would be aware that the post existed.

      I remain anonymous [at present] despite your taunts. I have my reasons. Rest assured that when the time is right, I’ll let everyone know who I am.

      -Preacher

      btw, when you wish someone well but insult them throughout the rest of the comment, you’re being facetious and hypocritical. Try being a bit less contradictory. Just sayin’.

  3. Though I’ve never met Bruce I consider him a friend and appreciate only what I can only call the heart felt expressions of a man who finally popped out the other side of a death cult as borne of the other Abrahamic religions seeing reality and now faces the ignorant scorn of people like you who will ignore the sun in the sky if the voice in your head told you to has now been scorned for daring to look in an objectable manner at the world around him. Loser!

    • Preacher says:

      So you’re saying it is better to suffer the scorn of enlightened fellows like you?

      Honestly, I really don’t hear voices in my head. I’m sorry if you do.
      ;]

      I simply have submitted my will to a Bible authenticated as God’s Word via the miracle of fulfilled prophecy and the undeniable evidence that Christ rose bodily from the dead.

      I hold no animosity toward Bruce, though I can understand why he takes issue with this blog. I think his journey has instructive value. While I do not agree with all of his conclusions, I do feel that many of his observations about the church and how it fails to live up to the Scriptures in many areas are pretty much accurate.

      -Preacher

      btw, I realize that I don’t yet have posting rules, but I’m going to edit comments for obscenity obviously. Make a note of it in the future.

  4. Aram McLean says:

    Just think of all the worthwhile reading time you’re missing out on when you spend so much time on your blogs about one book, while reading this one book over and over (and other books which are about this one book).
    What Christians and other religious people fail to realize is that they’re not risking nothing by believing in a God who is going to put over half the world in hell. In fact you’re missing out on this life, right now.
    Sure you can say that a life in Jesus is so much better than a life without, but all that shows me is that you haven’t got past your own convictions. You say you left the faith for a time, but then came back. I imagine it felt good to come back because you stopped trying to think and instead focused on the answers all being provided for you, nice and tidy like. To default back to indoctrinated beliefs is a proven psychological good feeling. But it’s also a trick to the psyche.
    Life isn’t nice and tidy and there are no final answers. The key is to keep learning and striving forward, not simply living in a box surrounded by like-minded people.
    I get that it feels good to think you have it figured out. And that your future is assured. This is what all religious people of every gild feel, to the same if not greater degree than you. Yet you would easily, almost casually, brush their beliefs aside as untrue. Just as they would yours.
    And herein lies the rub. If you were born in Iran, you would likely be a Muslim right now. And depending on the doctrine you were encased in, you may well have blown yourself up to kill Christian dogs, all the while convinced that that you were on your way to paradise.
    See, I have travelled through most of the world. I have lived in many countries. And as much as you think you are right because you FEEL it in your soul and all that, so does the rest of the world feel about their culture’s beliefs.
    This is simple psychology, and yet so many people fall for it.
    It’s kind of ironic, because when I left the faith it was very difficult, but I had too many questions it couldn’t answer. And for a long time I held on to it in my deepest parts. A silent prayer here. A quiet fear there. This is most natural. A part of me did think, ‘well, if I feel this way, maybe it is true?’, but I didn’t give in.
    Finally, literally years later, the penny dropped and I saw religious beliefs for what they truly are. Ancient and, in some cases, modern, teaching and legends and myths, passed down through the generations from a time of superstition and ignorance. It was an incredible feeling to see the people worshipping and realize quite clearly that they were simply engaging in a form of mass hypnosis. My heart leapt in my chest at the intensity of my eyes being opened to the repression of the religious ways, and I felt, well, I felt born again. For real.
    All right then Preacher, carry on. Rehash your one book over and over till your old and feeble. I’m off to read some Emerson, or heck, maybe Guns, Germs, and Steel. That’s such a fascinating book, so incredible to read about our human history and…oh, wait, it’s no good to you. Your world stops at 6,000 years ago. Never mind.
    Cheers Preacher. I honestly feel sorry for you and the belief you remain trapped in. Probably even more than you could possibly feel for me, damned as I may be. Having my eyes fully open is an amazing thing. I truly wish you could experience it.
    Sincerely yours,
    Aram McLean

    • Aram McLean,

      Just think of all the worthwhile time you’re missing out on when you spend so much time on other people’s blogs pontificating about how you are so much better than them. You’re missing out on this life, right now, which is a shame because you’ve traded this small window of time for an eternity of hell.

      Sure you can say that a life without Jesus is so much better than a life with Him, but all that shows me is that you’ve never really known Him. To quote Chesterton, Christianity hasn’t been tried and found wanting; it has beenfound difficult and left untried. For your information, it was difficult to come back to the faith because I had stopped trying to think for so long as an agnostic, accepting all the pat answers my fellow atheists and agnostics provided for me, nice and tidy like.

      No, life isn’t nice and tidy, but if you propose there are no final answers, then you propose that the final answer is that there are no final answers – and thus conmtradict yourself! The key is to keep learning and striving forward, not simply living in a box surrounded by like-minded atheists.

      I get that it feels good to think you have it figured out. And that your future is assuredly not heaven or hell. This is what all religious people of every gild, including atheists, feel, to the same if not greater degree than you. Yet you would easily, almost casually, brush everyone else’s beliefs aside as untrue, all the while telling yourself you’re really so enlightened.

      If I were born in Iran, there is no way to determine whether I would be a Muslim right now, short of a crystal ball. Folks choose to be atheists and Muslims in Christian nations as much as they choose Christianity in Muslim nations. To deny this, to insinuate that people are the sum of their sociological niches is to presume that free will does not exist, which makes your smug assertions about your “choice” ridiculous drivel. And if you suppose we have no choice, you hypocritically waste your time posting the superiority of your choice over anyone else’s. Yet deep in your little, black heart, you know that free will exists and that some choices are better than others.

      As much as you think you are right because you FEEL it in your soul and all that, so does the rest of the world feel about their culture’s beliefs. Only one of us can be right concerning whether God exists or not.

      Your assertion that Christianity can be summed up as “ancient and, in some cases, modern, teaching and legends and myths, passed down through the generations from a time of superstition and ignorance” speaks to the fact that you were a part of Christian culture but that you never knew Christ. If you had known Him, you never could have left.

      But carry on, Aram, carry on. Find some other blog to spew your atheist drivel on to help you convince yourself that you are right, after all. Meanwhile, I’m off to read the very revelation of God Himself, supernaturally authenticated by fulfilled prophesy and the miracle of the Resurrection of Christ. It’s such a fascinating book, so incredible to read about our human history and… oh, wait, it’s no good to you. In your omniscience, you know that God does not exist, so the Bible must be wrong about so many things. Never mind.

      Cheers Aram. I honestly feel sorry for you and the belief you remain trapped in. Probably even more than you could possibly feel for me, damned as you are. Having my eyes fully open is an amazing thing. I truly wish you could experience it. But enjoy the darkness while it lasts.

      One day, every knee will bow and confess the Lord Jesus. Including you. But it will be too late.

      Think about it,
      Rev Tony Breeden

      • Maleekwa says:

        Regardless of what you think you are trying to do here, that response isn’t what I would consider Christ-like. It seems like you are just trying to win points with your fellow believers than to do any real good. Your belief system teaches that you should shake the dust off of your feet and pray for your enemies, rather than stalk them and try to deconstruct their life.

        Whether you realize it or not, you are doing more harm for your cause than good. The actions of you and people like you convince me more and more that your worldview is totally divorced from reality.

        • Malweeka,

          When you say that you don’t think my response was very Christ-like, which Christ are you comparing me to? The Christ of the Bible and the stained-glass gentle Jesus some of us were taught to follow have little in common. The stained-glass Sunday School version would never call people snakes, or pretty tombs full of corpses, or hypocrites. The Sunday school version would certainly never create a weapon and threaten people with it, tossing people out of the church. But the Christ of the Bible did these things. Like the prophet Elijah [on Mt. Carmel], Christ Jesus even used sarcasm when addressing Nathaniel’s pretension. I doubt the Jesus of the Bible would even be allowed in many churches.

          I wasn’t trying to win points with my fellow believers. Rather my intention was simple, and I think Aram got it: To show that his argument could be quite easily turned on its head.

          I do pray for Bruce and I have shook the dust from my sandals [that is, I am not trying to convince him any further. It's obvious he doesn't want to listen to anyone anyway]. I’m not stalking him and I am reading his posts and making my own conclusions because he challenged me to. Point in fact, he wrote the following in response to a comment I left on his blog:

          “Hundreds of people have come before you and they fared no better than you will now. Read what I write and come to your own conclusions. I don’t owe you or anyone else an explanation, justification, or defense. I am quite open in telling my story. When you have actually read it then,maybe, we will talk. I suspect you, like all those who have come before you, won’t take the time to do this, so I hope you will forgive me for not bothering to answer your accusations and innuendo.”

          If you think I’m doing more harm than good, well, I’m sorry you feel that way. My intention is not to attack Bruce Gernecser. To the contrary, I think that many of the observations he makes about the church are valid and deserved to be discussed and explored, though I obviously disagree with any conclusions he made from those observations that there is no validity to Christianity.

          Regards,
          Rev Tony Breeden

  5. Aram McLean says:

    cheers Tony,
    Thanks for the laugh :)

  6. Tony,

    I don’t think it is appropriate to accuse someone of being responsible for their family problems because of their beliefs.

    The problem between Bruce and his wife’s family does not appear to be Bruce’s fault. It seems like the problem comes from the intolerance from people in his wife’s family who want to be ugly and confrontational with someone because of their religious faith.

    Anyone who looks at history can see that there has been countless wars and untold suffering because of people’s disagreements about the nature of God. I have little respect for people who believe in a God that would take us back to those kinds of wars.

    - Sam

    • Sam,

      By what standard do you judge that it is inappropriate to accuse someone of being responsible for their family problems because of their beliefs? From what I’m reading, Bruce dropped this bombshell on his family and then abdicated responsibility for it by saying everyone was free to make their own decisions. Baby boomers…

      The problem is that you’ve painted bruce out to be this sweet fellow who simply wrote a letter expressing his views and asking folks to accept him, when in actuality he told these guys that he had done the research, was soooo much smarter than anyone else and their religion was just bunk. Oddly enough, he also knew that these folk, many of whom he had helped to instill such beliefs in, would want to show him the error of his ways, if they loved him at all… for such folk as he once was also believe that a Bible-denying, Christ-denying apostate will go to hell, and they could never wish this for him! You characterize his family as intolerant, but if Christianity is true and hell is real, they were showing concern rather than the apathy he was requesting. Your characterization of them as just wanting to be ugly and confrontational because of their religious beliefs is just reductionist. Who in the blazes just wants to be ugly and confrontational? Your understanding of the social dimensions at play here are underdeveloped.

      You last few comments are a bit off topic. You seem to have committed a giant non sequitur. Your comment seems to beg the question of whether the true nature of God can be determined, and seems to equate conviction of religious belief with war-mongering. Like atheists don’t commit genocide.

  7. Tony,

    This conversation is best continued on my own blog. Please send me an email and I will post it there.

    - Sam

  8. therivernilejordan says:

    If God is more powerful than Satan (like the bible teaches) then why has Satan been sooo much more successful at blinding the minds of people from simple logic, then God has been at opening their minds to it?

    I ask this question for a very simple reason: it seems to me that the crux of the matter can be summed up in a tidy little question: “Is it true?” No one is asking *that* question: everyone is instead asking, “Is it tolerant? Is it nice? Is it compassionate? Is it comfortable?” Those things are important, but truth trumps all of them.

    Christians say, “Jesus is the only way to heaven”. The world responds, “How intolerant! How inconsiderate! How exclusive!” No one bothers to ask the simple, “Is it true?” Because if it’s true, then – in the light of eternity – it would seem grossly irresponsible to put tolerance, inclusitivity, and political correctness ahead of a shameless evangelization of the world that “God so loved”. Basically, the question is – did Christ rise from the dead? If he did, and if he is indeed Lord, then it really is of no consequence whether his followers have an annoying tendency to approach non-believers in a way that makes them uncomfortable or confronted. IF it’s true, then where you and I spend eternity will not be determined by how smart we were, or how well we sought the answers out for ourselves, or how innovative and original we were. Existence is not a 3rd-grade self-expression project. IF the bible is true, where we spend eternity will not be changed by whether evangelists were likable people or not (Romans 3: “You rightly point out that the Jews were not faithful to the Word that was revealed to them. But does that invalidate the Word? No! It doesn’t matter if all failed to obey it. Let God be true and every man a liar – the Word is still true!”). They could be dumber than a bag of hammers. They could have more blind spots about their hypocrisy than anyone else. That doesn’t change the fact that IF Christ is Lord and they have put their trust in him, they will be saved, and everyone else, regardless of manners, and basic human decency, won’t be. I’m not making this stuff up; I’m simply pointing out what the bible says. Yeah it’s pretty offensive. But that’s what worries me – why are people more concerned about whether the bible is offensive than they are about whether it’s TRUE?

    If this God of the bible exists, and I suspect he does, then why isn’t he helping people see the glaringly obvious error of their ways?

    • The answer is that He does. Romans 1 and 2 notes that He has clearly revealed Himself in nature and in moral law, so that they are without excuse. Of course, the heart of man is desperately wicked and at emnity with God… and this brings up an important point: Satan is not a lesser counterpart to God. Satan is not omniscient [he has no idea what's going to happen next, despite his scheming], he is not omnipotent [he was not allowed to touch Job until God allowed it and even then God placed limits on what he was allowed to do! Neither can he create anything, so his resources are limited] and he is not omnipresent [unlike God, he can only be in one place at a time; furthermore, he has about 1/3rd of the heavenly hosts who fell with him, so God has twice as many angelic servants as he]. With limitations like this, it is a valid question to ask why Satan is “winning” [he isn't; God has already been declared the victor]. The answer is that most of his job, if we may call it that, is already done for him. Satan tempts and seeks whom he may [yes, he needs permission] devour. Most of the work is already done for him by man, who is already rebellious against the will of God.

      God of course does help people see the glaring error of their ways, but in a way that preserves free will. As Pascal puts it, He gives us too much evidence to ignore and too little to be sure. Furthermore, he has sent His Word, His Son, the prophets, the Law [which shows us our need for salvation], the Gospel preached by the Church, and the grace to believe if we are willing. What else can He do and still preserve the free will of man?

      Good question,
      Tony

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