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Bruce’s Response (Former Preacher Turned Atheist)

04 Mar

Some of you might have read my post back on February 28 entitled “Answering a Personal Attack: My Response to a Former Preacher Turned Atheist.” Bruce responded to my comment on his blog (see below) and I just responded to his response. Feel free to leave a comment at the end of this post if you wish. Thank you to those of you who have been praying for me during this conversation. Larry

Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

Larry: I’m trying to make the point that real Jesus-followers should deeply love others whether they come to faith or not.

Bruce: You say “whether they come to faith or not.” There’s the condition, whether you can see it or not. I’m going to befriend my neighbor without any such motivation. Last year, I had an across the fence interaction with my neighbor’s father. I had no thoughts of evangelizing him or converting him to atheism/humanism/liberalism/Bengalism. We talked like two people getting to know each other.

Larry:The thing is both of us have a worldview.

Bruce: I’ve never said otherwise. The difference being, of course, I don’t write books, hold seminars, or cajole atheists, agnostics, humanists, or Bengalites to “reach” unbelievers. I don’t make fake friendships with people so I can evangelize them or add them to my “church.”

Larry: You have a worldview, Bruce.

Bruce: Again, I never said otherwise.

Larry: And you spend hours immersing yourself in your former Evangelical world to find reasons to criticize Jesus-followers. You’re on a mission, right?

Bruce: I’m a critic of Evangelicalism, right-wing politics, and the designated hitter. I have countless Christian readers whom I never criticize. It is your religion’s beliefs, practices, and cultural/social influence I have a problem with.

My mission? To be a good father, husband, and grandfather; to love my neighbor; to work for a better tomorrow; to take outstanding photographs; to take road trips with my wife; to endure chronic pain in the hope that tomorrow will be a better day; to photograph 50+ high school sporting events a year; to cheer the Reds on to a World Series championship. You see, I have lots of interests now that I don’t have to concern myself with God/Jesus/Bible/afterlife/judgment/hell. All that matters is now, today, the moment.

Larry: I’m just saddened that you feel you must judge my motives without knowing me.

Bruce: Yet, you do the same. Snap. I write about what I read on public blogs, websites, news sites. Don’t want my critique, don’t write. Besides, do you really think I can’t “know” you to some degree through your writing?

Larry: Is any friendship with one’s concern about another’s eternal destiny automatically fake? Or do other factors make that friendship fake?

Bruce: By all means pray, be concerned, etc. Just don’t bother others with these things unless they ask. Just befriend people for the sake of who they are, and not based on their “need” to be won over to your peculiar flavor of Christianity. You wrongly think your “duty” and “right” to evangelize others trumps respecting them or accepting societal boundaries; that your fear of hell, love for Jesus, and commitment to the Bible supersedes the rights of others — especially the right to be left alone or not be bugged by Jesus salesmen.

Larry:You don’t believe in a God who is holy and that we’re in a lot of trouble. But I do. Shouldn’t I want to share that message with others?

Bruce: Religion is a personal matter. By all means share it, if asked. However, you are advocating befriending people so you can evangelize them; of using subversive means to gain a religious objective. That’s different, little more than a bait an switch.

Larry: Lost people often don’t want to be told they are lost. But I answer to a higher authority. And I need to do my “job” with love and care. If a bridge is out and yours is the car behind mine, isn’t warning you an act of love?

Bruce: Really? You are going to go with the lame “bridge” analogy? Just because you feel “led” doesn’t mean you should bug others. Instead of using fake friendships to evangelize people, how about letting your “little light shine?” You know, like publicly repudiating Donald Trump and his abhorrent anti-human policies and working to make the world a better place. So much good you could be doing Larry, but you waste your time trying to get people to join your club.

Larry: Why do you work so hard, Bruce, to prove Christians and Christianity wrong? I can’t know your inner motives, but could it be that you’re trying to justify your rejection of Jesus? Just a question. Blessings.

Bruce: No, you are making a f___ing judgment. I’ve written thousands and thousands of words about why I deconverted and why I’m a critic of Evangelicalism —a sect I think is a cult that psychologically (and times physically)harms people. Besides, “Why do you work so hard, Larry, to prove Christians and Christianity right? I can’t know your inner motives, but could it be that you’re trying to justify your delusional need and worship of a dead man named Jesus?” Your words, right back at ya, dude.

Of course, you think there are “other” reasons I’m an atheist, right? Cuz, the Bible says . . .

Only thing worse than fake friendships is refusing to let people tell their stories on their own terms. Everyone has a story to tell, and we should accept them at face value. I accept that you are a Christian. I would never question how you became one, why, or any other aspect of your “testimony.” Simply put, I believe you Larry when you say, “I’m a Christian.”

I’ve said all I can say on this matter.Maybe others will weigh in with their comments.

ReplyDr. Larry Dixon

    1. Bruce:
      You’re probably done with my responses, but allow me one more brief comment.

      1. It seems that no matter what I say, you’ve convinced I’m into conditional friendships. I’ve seen the damage done by misinformed Christians, and I’m trying to fight against that.

      2. I understand your point about simply being a friend of others. With no expectations. No message. No conditions. But Bruce, you were in Christianity for a long time. You know what the message is. You have rejected it. Forgive me, but you have no message that transcends this earthly (but important) life, right?

      3. Regarding your worldview, you challenge me for writing books, holding seminars, and trying to reach unbelievers with my worldview. Is that fair? Knowing what you know, wouldn’t you criticize me if I didn’t care to share the gospel with others? Can you give me the benefit of the doubt that I am trying to do what Jesus told me to do?

      4. I commend you for your mission of being a good father and grandfather, etc. At least we have that in common! But I’m also convinced there’s an eternity awaiting everyone.

      5. When I said I’m saddened that you felt you needed to judge my motives, I was not criticizing the research you do to combat Christianity. You accused me of fake friendships — based, I guess, on your past experiences with professed Christians. I’m fighting that same practice. Of course, you can “know” something about me by reading what I write, that’s true. But you can’t see my heart, nor I yours.

      6. I’m intrigued by your suggestion that Christians shouldn’t “bother others” with the gospel “unless they ask.” I’m so glad someone “bothered” me years ago with the gospel. I wasn’t smart enough to ask how I could be forgiven. I think if you were to ask some of my friends who are not yet Jesus-followers if I respect them or supersede their rights, you might be surprised.

      7. I certainly don’t want to be guilty of “bait and switch.” I’ve never appreciated that approach by used car salesmen. And I don’t want to be guilty of it either. But, Bruce, if the gospel is true (work with me here a minute?), then I am under obligation to love people into the kingdom if I can. Doesn’t that make sense?

      8. I thought my bridge-being-out analogy makes a good point. If you were in the car ahead of me, wouldn’t basic compassion for another human demand your warning me?

      Looks like you want to move on “to other targets.” Thanks for posting my responses, Bruce.

      Blessings. Larry

 
8 Comments

Posted by on March 4, 2020 in unbelief

 

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8 responses to “Bruce’s Response (Former Preacher Turned Atheist)

  1. Bruce Toews

    March 4, 2020 at 5:46 am

    Many years ago, before the Internet, I hosted a forum on a Canada-wide bulletin board system for disabled people. The forum was “for and about Christianity”. They wouldn’t let me do a forum for Christians only, which was fine with me, because I wanted my forum to be a vehicle, instead of a place were we just sat around typing campfire songs.

    One of the people who joined this forum was both homosexual and a non-believer. Obviously he was looking for something, or else he wouldn’t have been there. So I befriended him on this forum. Another person who joined the forum was a lawyer, whom I believe got onto the forum because he wanted to argue. That was okay, the forum was for anyone who wanted to be there. Mind you, this lawyer made the claim that you can be a Christian without believing in Jesusu, logic which I don’t understand to this day. I’ll call the nonbeliever Dave, and the lawyer Jim.

    Jim pounced on the fact that I had befriended Dave, telling Dave that my friendship with him wasn’t real, that I hated homosexuals, that my insistence that even though I disapproved of his lifestyle, I loved and cared about him, was a load of bullbleep. Jim told Dave that I had an agenda, and nothing I could say (or not say) would cause Jim to relent.I had never faced such an attack up until that time, so it rattled me, but I kept on being Dave’s friend, and doing the best I could to be and do what Jesus would want me to be and do. Was I perfect? No. Was I sincere? You bet.

    Some time after I figured out that arguing with Jim about my motives was futile, I got an e-mail from Dave, telling me that, Jim notwithstanding, he (Dave) believed my sincerity and love. I was in tears. Thanks to God, Dave got my message, and Jim couldn’t stop it. Did Dave ever become a believer? I never heard that he did, but I also never heard that he didn’t. I did hear that very shortly after Dave e-mailed me, he passed away of HIV AIDS, which I had not known he had.

    What I came to understand through that experience was that many outspoken nonbelievers, when confronted with an Evangelical believer who doesn’t fit their prejudices of pushy, bombastic and malicious, will fight using the “hidden agenda” argument. My friendship with Dave was unconditional. Had he told me he refused to listen to my message of love, peace, forgiveness, salvation and hope, it wouldn’t have changed my being his friendin the least. I thank God for bringing Dave into my life, and oddly, I even thank Him for bringing Jim into my life, because Jim taught me what kind of circular, looping-back and dead-end discussions I’d be in for for the rest of my life. I only hope that I will meet Dave in Eternity, and that Jim will be there too because God was able to reach him.

     
    • Butch Crowder

      March 5, 2020 at 9:28 am

      Bruce, Thank you for sharing your testimony. I find it very refreshing that there are people out there that, without judgment, will befriend others that are not of the Christain faith. I believe that God puts individuals in our path to show them that there is a God that loves them. You have indeed shown that with Dave and as well as Jim, even though he (Jim) was a thorn in your side. I want to admonish you to seek out others, no matter where they come from, to love them as God loves them, and to allow the Holy Spirit to work through you to be a friend to anyone that you encounter!

       
      • Dr. Larry Dixon

        March 5, 2020 at 10:26 am

        Butch: Thank you for reading my posts — and for your encouraging words to Bruce, a dear brother. Blessings. Dr. D.

         
  2. Anonymous

    March 4, 2020 at 8:20 am

    Larry,
    Thank you for your persistence with him. The choices in Bruce’s’ worldview hold no consequences while choices within your worldview does. I would say either Bruce was not saved to begin with or that his buried faith will only come forth in the event of real personal crisis in his life. God is not done with him yet. What Bruce is forgetting, regardless of ones world view, is that life has a way of turning on us. Meaning illness, accidents, fear of death etc.. These things we do not wish on anyone, however unfortunately the brush with the brevity of life often can give the sinner one more chance to make things right with God. Prayer is essential at this point.

     
  3. Dr. Larry Dixon

    March 5, 2020 at 5:26 am

    Thank you for your comment and wise advice, my friend. It’s been good for me to engage with this person, but educative. And I have nowhere else to go — except to prayer. Blessings. Larry

     
  4. Butch Crowder

    March 5, 2020 at 9:35 am

    Dr. Dixon, I wanted to say that when Bruce makes the statement, “but could it be that you’re trying to justify your delusional need and worship of a dead man named Jesus?” it tells me that he (Bruce) does not even believe that Christ has risen and the He lives. We don’t server a dead God, but a God that is alive and loves us unconditionally. I believe that this is Bruce’s issue, and until he believes that Christ is alive, he will always be lost. What we need to do is keep Bruce in our prayers and ask our loving God to show him that he lives, and he cares!

     
  5. Dr. Larry Dixon

    March 5, 2020 at 10:24 am

    Butch, thank you so much for your comment! Good arguments can take us only so far. Then there’s prayer! Blessings. Dr. D.

     

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