As noted in my last post, Bruce Gerencser’s second post in the My Journey series, My Testimony, dealt with, in part, how he came to the conclusion that the Bible was neither inerrant nor inspired and how that affected his other theological views.

His third post in the series, A Letter To Family, Friends and Former Parishoners gives further insight into how he came to doubt the veracity and ultimate authority of the Word of God:

“I know some of you are sure to ask, what does your wife think of all of this? Quite surprisingly, she is in agreement with me on many of these things. Not all of them, but close enough that I can still see her standing here. Polly is no theologian, She is not trained in theology as I am. She loves to read fiction. I was able to get her to read Bart Ehrman’s book Misquoting Jesus and she found the book to be quite an eye opener.”

The most obvious insight we gain from this quote is that Bruce is a fan of Bart Ehrman. Ehrman is another sad case of fundamentalist-turned-apostate. He’s written several books which attempt to destroy the credibility of the New Testament Scriptures. In a Washington Post article called The Book of Bart, we gain insight into how Ehrman studied at Moody, Wheaton and finally Princeton Theological Seminary. Princeton is of course a hotbed of liberal theology. One may as well get their theology from the local skeptics society. It is little wonder that while at Princeton that his doubts began, as his studies under liberal Bible haters began to reveal that “the Bible simply wasn’t error-free.” The article relates how Ehrman finally began to doubt the Bible was God’s inerrant, inspired Word:

“He wrote a tortured paper at Princeton that sought to explain how an episode in Mark might be true, despite clear evidence to the contrary. A professor wrote in the margin:

“Maybe Mark just made a mistake.”

As simple as it was, it struck him to the core.”

As a result of his liberal theological studies at Princeton, Ehrman ultimately lost his faith. [By the way, this is a FAIL for any institution claiming to teach theology]:

“Ehrman slowly came to a horrifying realization: There was no real historical record. It was, he felt, all incense and myth, told by illiterate men and not set down in writing for decades.”

Liberal theology is simply apostasy and hersey with a more polite label. Jesus spoke of such when He said:

“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.” Mathhew 23:15

Likewise, 2 Timothy 3:7 speaks of those who are ever learning but never able to come to the knowledge of truth. Why would this be? Maybe because the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge and these professors, making no difference between the holy and profane, treat the Bible like a human document rather than the Word of God. In other words, the go about criticizing the Bible as if it were a fallible Book which came about by the will of pre-scientific men and, shock and surprise, they confirm their own presuppositions.

And then they in turn convince others to abandon the faith and accompany them cheerfully on the road to hell. When Bruce exposes his wife to the false teaching of Ehrman,  I can’t help but point out that this Eve giving Adam the forbidden fruit in reverse.

How many times does the Bible warn us to beware of false teachers? Let us remember that just because someone has a title or a doctorate and appears outwardly like one of the flock of God doesn’t mean that this person isn’t a ravening wolf inside. We need to remember that respect of persons can blind us to the knowledge of God.

Likewise, the desire to appear knowledgeable can be a snare. Bruce certainly displays a bit of intellectual pride when he warns his friends, family and former parishioners:

“Here is what I don’t want from you:

• Attempts to show me the error of my way. Fact is I have studied the Bible and read far more books than many of you. What do you really think you are going to show me that will be so powerful and unknown that it will cause me to return to the religion and politics of my past?

In Bruce’s defense, he fell for the self-same temptation that tripped up Eve. Gensis 3:4-6 relates the following:

“And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.”

Note that part of the temptation for Eve to disobey God’s command not to eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil was that she desired to be wise, but she did not begin with the fear of the Lord; rather, she began with accepting the denial of God’s Word.

God bless you,

Preacher

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Comments
  1. Xcntrik says:

    Wow, I will have to admit that it is really not shocking to see a preacher lying about other people. It is your job after all.

  2. Preacher says:

    How exactly am I lying?

  3. Wisdom: The soundness of an action or decision with regard to the application of such experience, knowledge, and good judgment. (Webster)

    Knowledge: Information and skills acquired through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject. (Webster)

    So when you say that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge” I near-instantaneously want to disregard everything I have read that you have written in this article. Fearing the lord? A person we aren’t sure exists except through faith? Allow me to once more show a definition:

    Fear: An unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.

    Likely to cause pain or threat? Hmmm…threats of eternal damnation and pain (Hell), allowing Satan to interfere to satisfy a gnawing doubt in this so-called god’s stomach (Job), there are just too many factors that make me wonder about such things. Respect through fear is not proper respect, in my experience (Army, Navy). As for the Eve thing…I could never understand why this god would make a fruit that contained so much knowledge…why did he create it? To test his experimental children? Wherefore he decided to check for errors and found them…oops, so much for quality craftmanship! I wish you well in your future endeavors, even if they are that of slandering people’s name because they didn’t follow your religion until the end.

    • Preacher says:

      I didn’t say that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge. That comes directly from the Word of God. Shoot the messenger much?

      You’ve picked a definition of fear that does not match the Biblical meaning of the term. I suspect you did this as a result of your own misotheistic bias.

      God did not set up a test to check for errors. He gave Adam and Eve an authentic choice to either choose His Will or believe the lies of Satan and reject His Will. Free will is impossible without real consequences. The choice to reject God, who is light, life, love, truth, etc, is to embrace the opposite: darkness, death, hate, error, etc.

      As CS Lewis put it: In the end, there are only two types of people: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, “thy will be done”.

      • Thomas Watson says:

        Please explain the bible’s definition of fear. I was raised to be Christian buts few years ago underwent my own journey as well, much like Bruce. If God is real, I suspect he will not punish me, as that is a human response, not a god-like-being-that-created-the-universe-and-EVERYTHING response. We cannot begin to fathom what such being would think or react. I will, however, listen to what you have to say so I can better understand psychologically why you believe such things.

        • Preacher says:

          The Biblical definition of fear is more of a deep reverence. The meaning of the verse is that we hold God as our ultimate starting point.

          If you suspect God will not punish you for rejecting Him and that God cannot be fathomed, then you have begged the question of whether the Bible is the supernatural revelation of God.

  4. John Arthur says:

    Hi Preacher,

    The Pharisees are more like modern Fundamentalists than liberals. They search the scriptures because they think that in THEM they have eternal life. But many Fundamentalists simply do not love others and therefore they do not really follow Jesus. I see so much dogmatism and hatred expressed by Fundamentalists on the internet..

    You pretend to have empathy with Bruce’s story but you try to denigrate him .Where is your compassion, mercy and loving-kindness? You claim that he is prideful when he was making a factual statement. Perhaps if you understood many of the Fundamentalist comments that are on his blog you might see their biblical illiteracy and their lack of compassion and why Bruce made the claim that he did.

    Writing under a pseudonym is cowardly. Why are you so afraid to be identified? It is easy to attack others under a pseudonym like “preacher”. It appears to me to be very unChrist like.

    Shalom,

    John Arthur

    • Preacher says:

      John Arthur,

      While [generally speaking] hyper-fundamentalists like Bruce used to be would be more like the Pharisees of Jesus’ day, this does not mean that this verse can only be applied to hyper-fundamentalists. The sad fact is that if hell is real and people go there by rejecting Christ, Bruce’s efforts to convince people of godlessness is an example of the truth of the verse referenced.

      The purpose of this blog is not to attack Bruce but to learn from his journey. Unfortunately, Bruce did make some mistakes and I do point them out. I speak the truth with love, but I speak the truth nonetheless. A truer opposite of love is apathy, for it would allow a man to believe whatever he chose without comment even if it meant his friend’s destruction. By the way, where is your compassion, mercy and loving-kindness when you insinuate that I only hold the positions I hold due to ignorance, and likewise rebuke me when you suppose I am wrong? You appear to have a double standard, sir.

      My anonymity is temporary. It is not motivated by cowardice. Once my true identity is revealed, that will become very apparent. I merely wish the arguments to speak for themselves for the while.

  5. Lynn says:

    Why do you think the Bible is the Word of God?

    • Preacher says:

      Because the Bible itself makes this claim and then authenticates it’s claim to supernatural revelation via fulfilled prophecy and the miracle of Christ’s resurrection.

  6. Hazel Duncan says:

    I think it’s really shameful of you to distort Bruce’s experience as fodder for your obviously biased blog. I doubt if you have ever spent any amount of time seriously researching the history of your own religion and THINKING outside the confines of the bible and apologetics which are written with the purpose of keeping the sheep under control. Every time I see examples of closed-minded preachers like you, it reinforces all over again why I am so glad to have worked my way out of that belief.

    • Preacher says:

      Hazel,

      Forgive me for pointing out that you have no idea who you’re talking about. I have researched the history of my own religion. I’ve not only thought outside the confines of the Bible and apologetics, I actually rejected Christianity for almost a decade. I returned only after subjecting the Bible and Christianity to critical scrutiny. I cannot deny that the extreme probability of Christ’s resurrection and the miracle of fulfilled prophecy authenticate the supernatural authorship and the message of the Bible.

      If you suppose I’m close-minded for returning the faith I once rejected, then I judge you by the same standard and note that you are close-minded for supposing everyone ought to reject Christianity and be done with it.

      Furthermore, I have no intention of distorting Bruce’s journey. Rather we will learn from it and perhaps see where he went wrong… and even what he got right.

      You seem to have abandoned the faith but kept the judgmentalism many folks reject Christianity for.

      -Preacher

  7. DagoodS says:

    Preacher,

    Out of curiosity, what methodology did you use when subjecting the (Protestant, assumably) Bible to critical scrutiny? For example, what method did you utilize to determine what phrases were theopneustos and what phrases were not?

    Thanks.

    • Preacher says:

      I examined alleged Biblical errors and contradictions to see if reasonable explanations could be found. I examined the evidence for probability of Christ’s resurrection. I examined claims of fulfilled Biblical prophecy to determine whether the Bible had been supernaturally authenticated.

      I assumed that the Bible was meant to be understood [perspecuity], so I employed normal rules of grammar for comprehending the text rather than taking a woodenly literal approach.

      Since the Bible claims to be true from the beginning, I assumed that any unanswerable error I encountered in my critique would invalidate the Bible as being in any way God-breathed; conversely, if it passed my critique, I had no grounds for applying this quality of inspiration selectively.

      Please note that I supply this answer to give you perspective on myself and my appraoch as we examine Bruce’s journey and draw insight from his observations and experiences. This blog’s purpose is not to defend the Christian faith, per se. If you wish to debate, you’ll have to go elsewhere.

      -Preacher

  8. John Arthur says:

    Hi Preacher,

    I did not acuse or insinuate that you are writing from ignorance. I just do not think that the quote from Bruce’s letter that you used implies pride but was simply a factual statement to which you have attributed pride.Bruce does know the bible better than most of the Fundamentalist comments that reach his blog. If you have read these comments and still believe that it is pride on Bruce’s part, then you and I have come a different conclusion.

    You say that your anonymity is temporary and I hope this is true. You claim that you merely wish to let the arguments speak for themselves. I am deeply puzzled as to why this prevents you identifying yourself now. Have you written comments on Bruce’s blog, previously and is this why you don’t want your identity to be known yet?

    Shalom,

    John Arthur

    • Preacher says:

      John Arthur,

      You and I have come to a different conclusion, but let me explain why. Bruce may know the Bible more than many, but his remark assumes that he knows it better than anyone to the point that nothing will persuade him he is mistaken.

      With respect, I am not ready to fully discuss why I remain anonymous, except to again note that I wish the arguments to speak for themselves.

      -Preacher

  9. DagoodS says:

    Preacher,

    Thank you for the response. While you indicated what you did–you failed to indicate what method you used (with one small exception I will address in a moment.) I appreciate what you did—I am looking for the method you used.

    1000’s of scholars have examined the probability regarding historicity in Christ’s resurrection—yet have come to very different conclusions regarding the same. Simply stating you did so does not illuminate how you did so. 1000’s likewise have examined claims of fulfilled biblical Prophecy, and have come to different conclusions—again the methodology being different.

    It is why I asked for methodology—not what you did.

    Second, the Bible is comprised of many individual books (as you know.) Nowhere in the Bible does one book affirm the truthfulness of all the others, so alleging “the Bible claims to be true from the beginning” (which it does not explicitly state, by the way) is begging the question by first assuming the Bible is true, and then proving the Bible is true by its own words. Like my saying “Everything I state in this blog comment is true.” We know everything I say is true because it is in my blog comment. And my blog comment is true because everything I say is true.

    See the problem we see?

    Thirdly, you indicated “normal rules of grammar” that I found curious. Where does the Bible indicate it must follow such rules? And where did you find the “normal rules of grammar” for Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek, but outside the Bible? Is the Bible subservient to exterior standards—i.e., linguists determination of grammar in dead languages?

    Fourthly, the one (partial) method you indicated was reviewing alleged biblical errors and contradictions to see if “reasonable explanations could be found.” What you failed to state was, “reasonable…to whom?” Again, 1000’s of scholars have varying positions on inerrancy, yet each find their own position “reasonable.” I would presume you do as well. Stating such is not very illuminating–how did you determine the explanations were “reasonable”? What standard and/or criteria did you use?

    It is not so much I am looking for your defense of the Christian faith…look…you are claiming Bruce Gerencser’s approach to the Bible is inaccurate, and propose your own approach is more accurate. You referred to “my critique” as you reviewed the Bible. If you are going to criticize someone else’s method, it should be little surprise your own method will come under scrutiny. I am attempting to see if it is better than Bruce Gerencser’s, or merely your substitute for his because you do not prefer his.

    • Dagwood,

      I have always been a fan of the sandwich that bears your name.

      I respond thus:

      Firstly, your statements that “1000s of scholars have” done this and that are sweeping generalizations. We of course know that not all assessments are equal. The majority opinion is that of orthodoxy. Liberal theology has always sought to discredit the Bible and its claims and they have always been answered. If you care to be specific I may demonstrate this, but who can answer such sweeping generalizations?

      Secondly, in the book of Psalms, the Bible states, Thy Word is true from the beginning. Likewise, the Apostle Paul wrote that All Scripture is God-breathed, while the Apostle Peter noted that no word of prophecy ever came by the will of men but men of God spoke as the were moved by the Holy Ghost. So the Bible does claim to be utterly true throughout. Furthermore, since the issue is whether the Bible is the ultimate authority or human reason, it is hubris to state that one must prove from human reason alone whether the Bible is the ultimate authority or not; that would be begging the argument, wouldn’t it?

      Thirdly, the Bible admonishes folks in several verses to study the Word of God and to meditate on it. This would not be possible unless it were comprehensible by normal rules of speech and grammar. This is simply logical inference.

      Fourthly, my definition of reasonable is simply that: reasonable. I give the Bible the same benefit of the doubt I would any other historical source or treatise, until proven otherwise. There is a tendency amongst critical scholars who doubt the Bible to confirm their own biases. When I reviewed the evidence, I had plenty of questions and challenges I required an answer for. The answers I found were more than satisfactory. In fact, no argument was fatal to the Bible unless I presumed from the outset that the Bible was false!

      Fifthly, I have not criticized Bruce’s methods. Since he’s never revealed them, how could I? Instead, I have examined his arguments. I advise you to do the same of me.

      Regards,
      Tony Breeden

  10. DagoodS says:

    Rev. Tony Breeden,

    Again, thank you for the reply. After posting my last comment, your identity was revealed; I therefore researched articles you had written on your other blogs, links on facebook, etc. This provided me the opportunity to examine your arguments.

    I am uninterested in continuing our conversation (although…again…I do appreciate your taking the time to respond to what I said. Had I known you would post my comment and reply, I would have written this sooner.)

    This will come across as intellectual snobbery…because it is, I guess. I am looking for more in conversations with Christians. A certain level of intelligence, knowledge and/or self-reflection. I can discuss all day with Christian pastors who rely upon Strobel or McDowell in their apologetics; I am looking for those who read and understand the difficulties presented in works written by Dr. Wallace, or Dr. Licona or Dr. Bauckham, or N.T. Wright, etc. Those who are willing to engage with Dr. Ehrman, or Dr. McGrath or Dr. Carrier, based upon the arguments—not the person’s theological position. Those who understand methodological impact and necessity for consistency.

    I enjoy conversing with those who are cognizant of the various positions on the Synoptic Problem, or Documentary Hypothesis, or authorship, or the grammar of 2 Tim. 3:15-17. Who have read the Second Century Christian works, understanding the historical implications. (Not to mention Lucian, Josephus, Tacitus, Suetonius, Cassius Dio, Philo, etc.) Alas, such people are rarer than hen’s teeth. Still, I believe my time is better spent there.

    Please understand, you appear quite satisfied with your own study—that is great for you! It is just not enough for me.

    Further, I am extremely wary of moderated forums. It is your right to operate comments as you deem fit—you are welcome to moderate. Likewise, though, it is my right to choose not to continue commenting under such parameters.

    Thank you, and may you continue to find peace.

  11. Timothy says:

    I cannot say that I agree with you on any of this. When you use terms like “liberal christianity” and “apostasy” I wonder about your Christianity. I am one of those “liberal theologians” who thinks that Jesus can be for anyone. My view of God can be supported by scripture as much as yours. We could argue on scriptural grounds until the “day of Jesus’ return”. I wonder, however, if we could agree as followers of Jesus to believe that Jesus’ grace and mercy change us today for a kingdom that exists today and transforms the world today? Imagine what the world would be like if everyone looked at the “other” as not merely an “apostate” or “heretic” but a “child of God”.

    • Pastor Tim,

      I’m not sure what they taught you in seminary, but the Bible does make a minimum requirement of belief upon those who are saved, so Jesus is not for everyone. For example, you must believe that God exists and that He rewards those who diligently seek Him; therefore bothy the atheist and the agnostic cannot be legitimately called Christians until they repent of their doubt and unbelief.

      The fact that you put ‘the day of Jesus’ return’ in quotes bothers me a bit. Just to make sure we’re both on the same page: Do you affirm the literal, physical, historical death and resurrection of Christ Jesus of nazareth?

      -Tony

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