Another Pastor Leaves the Fold

Former Evangelical Pastor, Bruce Gerencser, announced he no longer affirms Christianity, seen here. It appears that Christianity not only fails the outsider test for faith, it also fails the insider test for faith. Even Christians on the inside cannot continue to believe it!

24 comments:

J.L. Hinman said...

O yea that disproves Christianity alright. Just like when I became a Christian that disproved atheism.

one down 2 billion more to go.

did he actually become an atheist?

Walter said...

He became a Deist.

His thoughts mirror my own in a lot of ways.

Gandolf said...

I personally didnt think to much of this.
"Rod Cameron on April 5th, 2009

Are we to understand that you no longer believed while in fact you continued in the church?

If so, you were lying to us.

How can we be sure you are telling us what your real reasons are?

That said, there are too many hypocritical pastors, which is a main reaching the church is hurting.

We can be thankful you were finally honest enought to get out."

The man Cameron just doesnt consider for even one moment that Bruce might have been indoctrinated and led .Nor does it seem he allows a period of grace in making decisions.

No straight away it seems it has to be Bruce was most likely always lying ?.

And then he goes on to talk about hypocritical pastors suggesting this is what is hurting the church mainly.

Hell Cameron sure doesnt mind quickly picking up and casting the first stone does he.Suppose by this this godly man is showing good morals and virtues learned by reading the bible huh ?.

Nothing at all hypocritical about him or his actions so it seems.

Strange! Cameron has full faith in a ancient old book written years ago,yet it seems he is very untrusting of Bruce ??

Steven Carr said...

Once again the Good Shepherd makes no attempt to stop one of his sheep leaving his fold.

I'm sure that if somebody has a personal relationship with say, his wife, and announced he was leaving his wife, then his wife would at least *say* something.

But people can leave an alleged god who allegedly loves them, and this god will be as silent as the grave.

These invisible friends vanish when you stop believing in them, don't they?

Raul said...

J.L. Hinman said:
"O yea that disproves Christianity alright"
Well,noone said,that it does,so your sarcastic remark is kinda inept.

Steven Carr said...

I think Mastermind is claiming that his alleged god does not work on maintaining personal relationships, and that Jesus had the wrong end of the stick when he compared God to a Good Shepherd and Christians were like sheep.

This Good Shepherd and sheep metaphor comes from Christianity.

If you don't like it, change your religion.

Jeff Howell said...

As a former Baptist minister for 15 years, and now an agnostic, I found that this man's journey mirrored my own. To Gandolf, I would say this. If this minister was like me, he kept preaching while he was struggling because he didn't want to destroy the faith of others. He tried to be faithful to his flock while his own faith was slowly eroding. That is not hypocrisy, but compassion for other people and their views. But when he could not stomach it anymore, he clearly disavowed the faith he once held on to like breath. Been there and done that. And if he was like me, it's not that he was lying the entire time (that's ridiculous), it's that the weight of reality in regards to biblical criticism, science, and just every day life experiences broke down all his defenses. He simply was forced to stop believing in what he came to see as sheer fantasy. Some may not like that. So be it.

Bruce said...

John,

Thanks for posting the link to my letter. Nice uptick on traffic today :)

Jeff is quite right about not wanting to hurt others. I am cognizant that my decision to write this letter would cause some people be greatly troubled. Blogs are readily accessible, and I am pretty certain I have people from every Church I have pastored reading my blog.

I don't want to cause anyone to stop believing. But, at the same time, I can't live a lie either. I have never been one to keep quiet about new "truth."

Gandolf raises a question about indoctrination. I was certainly led down a certain path. I was never exposed to anything other than my particular brand of Baptist fundamentalism. My first pastor, as a little boy in the 1960's, was Tim LaHaye. (of Left Behind fame) Most of my life has been spent in a narrow, confined world.

Keep in my I lived in a world where the King James Bible was considered perfect. Learning that it wasn't was one of the early steps that led me to where I am.

While I would not call myself an atheist, or even an agnostic, I do understand quite well now how people come to that place.

I am not quite ready to say NO God but I am quite ready to say I want nothing to do with the God I have known for many years. It remains to be seen if there is another God for me. Universalism has some appeal to me.

I enjoy and profit from reading many atheist and agnostic writers becuase they seem to be able to see beyond the metaphysical arguments, the faith arguments, and they are able to rationally look at the issues concerning the Bible, religion, etc. (this is just a broad, general observation)

Raise certain issues within the Christian community and you are immediately attacked for being heterodox or down right heretical. Christianity seems to have its own don't ask don't tell policy.

While I am not an atheist, I doubt any Christian group outside of universalists would claim me. I am certain no one within Evangelicalism or Fundamentalism would.

I receive regular emails telling me that I am deceived and headed for hell. Such letters just reinforce that fact that I am on the right path.

Bruce

feeno said...

Bruce

Other than Rod Camerons comment on your letter every one else that left a comment seemed they were trying to be supportive whether they were Christians or not. 1 negative comment out of 47 isn't too bad.

I'd like to know what the ratio is from negative e-mails to positive ones? If you feel like sharing?


I remember you from when you commented about Anthony's decoversion story. The one thing that seems to be a common theme about most deconversion stories is this: Once you leave the church you can finally get on with your life.

I'm sure as a Baptist minister you've even stated from the pullpit that "ye are not your own, you were bought with a price?" Do you think your struggles were unique? The Christian life is a long and sometime tough journey.

I hope nobody is ever rude or mistreats you because of this new path you are taking, and I know you want those close to you to continue their love for you. But those that really love you will always be trying to plant seeds? (BTW, most tracks annoy me too.)

Good luck sir. Peace out, feeno

Bruce said...

Feeno,

The ratio is every bit 10 to 1 (positive to negative)OF course it is the negative ones that tend to stick out.(and get under my skin) :)

Yes, there is a certain point where you feel "stuck." You worry about your kids, grandkids, family relationships, marriage. You know if you go farther it may cause grief. So for a time you just go along.....go to Church. Say nothing. Be quiet.

But........that only works for awhile....

I was asked a few weeks ago......"can't you go to Church for the sake of family?" I said I couldn't. It would be hypocritical of me to give the appearance that I endorsed something when I didn't. Better to be known as Grandpa Bruce, the Ex preacher, Ex Christian than for my grandkids to find out some day I only went to Church to make their Grandma or Mom/Dad happy.

I have heard from enough former pastors that I think a study could be made of what is the common threads that joins all these pastors together? Different ages, denominations, personalities, education,etc yet they all walked away from what they considered a lifetime calling. What causes men (and women) to do this? What pushes them over the edge? What does this say about Christianity in general?

My wife's side of the family are all Fundamentalist Baptists. (pastors, evangelists, teachers) All in all they are silent towards us....maybe a "we are praying for you" BUT I know behind the scenes we are a hot topic of conversation.(planning a strategy of how to win us back to the fold) I am uncertain as to how to handle this aspect of the family. I love my in-laws very much. I don't want to deprive my children of their grandparents or my wife of her parents.......but I (we) also don't want to prodded, evangelized, etc. One hopes there can be life without religion being the topic of constant discussion.....

Thanks for your kinds words.

Bruce

Greg Mills said...

Bruce -- I imagine this is an exciting AND slightly nerve wracking point in life. You must be being buffeted by all sorts of feelings. Or not.

I can't know what you're feeling. But I am heartened (as I am always heartened) to see a person decide that the truth is worth too much to stick with what might be a comfortable self-deception.

That's one thing I like about blogs: occasionally they provide a day-to-day record of someone changing their minds and reaching a new truth. Hopefully blogging through your deconversion has provided a bit of a balm (like the one in Gilead!)

Welcome to free Sunday mornings!

Steven Carr said...

Mastermind still makes excuses for why the Good Shepherd of Jesus lets his flock go missing without making any effort to stop them.

That is the trouble with invisible friends. They are never there when you really need them.

Relying on God is like relying on Santa Claus to do your Christmas shopping for you. It isn't going to happen.

openlyatheist said...

I hope you, Bruce and Jeff, will make sure your stories are told. You should network w/ Dan Barker who wrote "Godless" on this very subject. Or perhaps you're already in his book??

sconnor said...

Hi Bruce,

I talked with you at Exchristian a few months back. I'm wondering if you still believe that Jesus was the resurrected metaphysical son of god who died so our sins could be magically admonished, thereby opening the locked gates of heaven for everyone to enter?

--S.

Bruce said...

sconner,

Well I seriously doubt I would ever have said what you wrote here. My understanding of Christian theology is much better than that. What you write is your spin on Christian theology.

I am at a place where I say God is.......

I am not an atheist but I am not a Christian. Perhaps agnostic is a better label, if labels must be used. Labels tend to suggest finality and I am hardly at a final state of anything.

Bruce

sconnor said...

Well I seriously doubt I would ever have said what you wrote here. My understanding of Christian theology is much better than that. What you write is your spin on Christian theology.


OK, I can appreciate that. I did paraphrase.

Here is what you said at Exchristian in your own words. Could you please address the questions in bold?

Sconnor: Do you believe in Jesus?

Yes.

1. Do you still hold to this answer? Could you elaborate?

Sconnor: Do you have any objective evidence of his existence?

Early historical record (and yes I realize that there is much debate about the early historical record) Certainly this would be a subject that would take many hours to discuss. I am not a history expert. I do do find Bart Ehrman's writings interesting.

Sconnor: Is he the metaphysical son of god?

Yes

2. Do you still believe in this? Could you elaborate?

Sconnor: I would encourage you to read more of Ehrman's work. How do you know he is the metaphysical son of god as opposed to embellished writings written over time, nothing but a legend based on perhaps a real prophet or an amalgamation of several people and several earlier legends and myths?

Sconnor: What is your definition of a miracle?

Things that can not rationally be explained.

Sconnor: .....and your "life" can't be rationally explained? Which begs the question if we can not explain it now why would a supernatural explanation suffice? When primitive man, first saw an eclipse, it would have been considered a miracle and explained in supernatural language. Point is, just, because there is no rational explanation, yet, does not mean it is a miracle, which eventually could be explained naturally.

Sconnor: Do you believe he died and then was resurrected?

Yes

3. Do you still believe in this? Could you elaborate?

Sconnor: ....and how, exactly, do you know this? Consider a devout muslim who believes muhammad to be the last prophet; who was given the final revelation from Allah -- they believe this to be true. How would your answer be different from their answer regarding the supernatural origins?

Sconnor: Did this action save us?

Us meaning all......everyone without exception. I am a universalist A good read on this is Robert Capon.

4. Do you still hold to this view as well? Could you elaborate?

Sconnor: Did this action only save true believers?

No.

5. How do you know? Could you elaborate?

--S.

Contented Man said...

Does anyone know what happened to Bruce Gerencser's blog, brucedroppings.com? It has disappeared from the web. Also, I had just made him a 'friend' on facebook and that disappeared too.

I'm concerned about Bruce. If anyone has any info, please let me know.

Thanks,

John W. Loftus said...

I see what you mean. Bruce, where are you? I hope the attention we gave you didn't hurt you. I never wanted that at all.

Be well.

feeno said...

John

Maybe your boy Anthony can get a hold of Bruce?

Good luck, feeno

Contented Man said...

John,

I learned about Bruce via your blog. His story/path is much like mine except that I was where he is today a little over 10 years ago. Bruce and I are about the same age, have similar theological backgrounds and, like Bruce, I dealt with depression much of my adult life. My depression subsided when I finally admitted that I no longer believed in god(s). Today I am happy, content... full of joy and life!

Bruce was getting quite a bit of response on his blog the past few days... I wonder if this caused him concern. One of the things that I worried about, as I was deconverting, was that I might lead others away from the faith and then turn back to the faith myself. As a result, I stayed 'in the closet' for many years and am still not completely open even today for fear of a loss in revenue. Living in a very conservative Bible-belt city, atheists are considered the lowest of the low and my business is a service/sales oriented one.

If you have any way of finding Bruce please let us know what you learn.

Gandolf said...

Jeff Howell said... "To Gandolf, I would say this. If this minister was like me, he kept preaching while he was struggling because he didn't want to destroy the faith of others. He tried to be faithful to his flock while his own faith was slowly eroding. That is not hypocrisy, but compassion for other people and their views. But when he could not stomach it anymore, he clearly disavowed the faith he once held on to like breath. Been there and done that. And if he was like me, it's not that he was lying the entire time (that's ridiculous), it's that the weight of reality in regards to biblical criticism, science, and just every day life experiences broke down all his defenses. He simply was forced to stop believing in what he came to see as sheer fantasy. Some may not like that. So be it. "

I agree Jeff ,i personally dont see it as hypocrisy at all.For once in this mans life finally being an adult he was allowed time to think and decide for himself.It seems more hypocritical to me that churches that suggest love and kindness etc all to often force beliefs on young people.

Bruce said..."Gandolf raises a question about indoctrination. I was certainly led down a certain path. I was never exposed to anything other than my particular brand of Baptist fundamentalism. My first pastor, as a little boy in the 1960's, was Tim LaHaye. (of Left Behind fame) Most of my life has been spent in a narrow, confined world."

Bruce im not surprised ! as a kid i was subjected to the very same.How can one decide on their faith honestly! when situations really give little choice?

Bruce said"Raise certain issues within the Christian community and you are immediately attacked for being heterodox or down right heretical. Christianity seems to have its own don't ask don't tell policy.

While I am not an atheist, I doubt any Christian group outside of universalists would claim me. I am certain no one within Evangelicalism or Fundamentalism would.

I receive regular emails telling me that I am deceived and headed for hell. Such letters just reinforce that fact that I am on the right path.

Bruce"

Bruce my friend i really understand and its so very sad and im so sorry this happens.As encouragement (i personally was joyful) to see and read your own children expressing their continued love for you on your blog.

Im a bit sad to read here now that you might have had to remove your blog and go quiet.While i understand fully the pressure you must surely be feeling at the present time if you happen to be reading this i just want to say even as a agnostic atheist i personally feel for you and your tough predicament and will be hoping for the best and look forward to hopefully hearing again from you some time.Even if its only to hear that you are still ok.

Kai Kaha Bruce! which in the maori traditional language of the country in which i live is a term of comfort or solace (an equivalent of "be strong - my thoughts are with you")

sconnor said..."Hi Bruce,

I talked with you at Exchristian a few months back. I'm wondering if you still believe that Jesus was the resurrected metaphysical son of god who died so our sins could be magically admonished, thereby opening the locked gates of heaven for everyone to enter?

--S."

Hi Sconnor my friend also!.Was just thinking dont we all change our minds from time to time about some things .Its good we can have room to do this huh and its also good we be given a little space to think things over fully and decide.

People (never ever) being prepared to change their minds (at all) is what worries me personally the most.People who are prepared to at least think about things seriously even if they may take some time doing it,i personally think should at least be given some credit.Its better to give folks some time otherwise its really not much different than churches shoving beliefs down our throats either is it.

John W. Loftus said..."I see what you mean. Bruce, where are you? I hope the attention we gave you didn't hurt you. I never wanted that at all.

Be well."

I fully agree John .

Anthony said...

All,

I was finally able to communicate with Bruce (via email). I wrote to him expressing concern and below is his (unedited) reply. He did give me permission to share this with others.

___________________

Anthony,

Thanks for your email.

Recent events of my blog and off the blog (email) have caused me to reconsider my "openness" in my writing. My letter to family, friends, and parishioners took on a life of its own and provoked quite a bit of discussion and controversy. Several atheist writers took my letter as a coming out and declaring I was an atheist (which it wasn't) My blog received thousands of additional hits over 2 days. I had a huge uptick in comments and I received a good bit of email.I really found most of the atheists to be very supporting, much more so than Christians that I have contact with. I did receive some negative atheist email suggesting that I needed to go all the way and quit pretending with the God is position. Add to this the comments/email from Christians chastising me for my apostasy and telling me I was no longer a Christian.........well it all was took much for me.

I usually start most days physically worn out and tired.I have fibromyalgia and I according my doctor I may have the early signs of MS. (tests were inconclusive, so far) Typing requires a lot of effort, and usually by the time I am done my hands are numb and I am quite worn out. (pretty pathetic if you ask me) Add the mental distress of recent days and I found myself over the edge. It was time........to back off. I have written a bit about my battle with depression. (most of my life) In recent days it has been the worst it has ever been. When I am depressed I tend to withdraw. I see it as a way of protecting myself. I am not sure this is the best way..........but it is the only way I know to cope.

Antony, you come from a similar background as me and I am sure you know of the mental distress that comes from leaving everything. (the loss of family, friends, connection, livelihood)

With time..........things well settle down. I am pretty certain I will not return to writing publicly (in a blog format). One of my friends warned me about being so open in my writing. When writing for a blog or anything on the Internet there is no control over what happens to your writing. My recent experience showed me I don't have the physical and mental strength to be such a public figure. Every word seems to be scrutinized and often (depending on a persons point of view) taken in a positive or negative way.

Believing God is...........leaves me in a no mans land. Heretical to the Christian and inconsistent to the atheist.

I also closed up my Internet business in recent days. I found myself unable to physically do the quality of work I expect from myself. I hope to work on the book I want to write. I also have short story spinning around in my head that I hope to write and submit to a few publications. I recently invested in some voice recognition software. I hope it will alleviate the physical stress I have with typing. (and hopefully it will make me as good of a writer as LaHaye and Jenkins in the Left Behind series) :-)

Please feel free to share this with whomever you wish. No one is to "blame." I have appreciated getting to know new people (many who are atheists, agnostics, non-theists) and I hope to develop many new friendships in the years ahead.

Please keep in touch.

Bruce

Contented Man said...

While I'm sorry that Bruce is having the problems with health and depression, I am very happy to hear he is hanging in there.

I wish him nothing but the very best regardless of where his journey leads!

Gandolf said...

Anthony thanks for the update, i was a bit worried about Bruce.Great to see you are in touch with him !.

I understand some of what he is experiencing.Ive noticed as long as you agree to believe many Christians will agree to be loving and supporting etc.As soon as this agreement changes, to often you suddenly become dirt not even worth talking too.

Ahhh the love of God !, and jesus who supposedly lovingly died on the cross for our sins.

Where would us humans really be without them huh.