As my readers are aware, I grew up the oldest son of a fundamentalist Baptist pastor in the 1960’s and 70’s. My father left the ministry (and God for many years) in the late 70’s, moving the entire family to Southern California. In the early 1980’s, I, my mother, and siblings joined an evangelical church. In the mid 80’s I was a “backslider”. In the late 80’s I became a liberal Lutheran. Four years ago I became an orthodox (conservative) Lutheran.
One year ago I became an agnostic.
During my stent as an orthodox Lutheran, I reached out to many of my former fundamentalist Baptist and evangelical friends to share the “true” form of Christianity with them: orthodox Lutheranism! I was a gung-ho evangelist for Lutheranism. One of those people I reached out to was a family friend whom I had always known as, “Brother Bill”. My father had “led Brother Bill to Christ” when Brother Bill was a young married man in the 60’s. Brother Bill subsequently became a fundamentalist Baptist pastor. Brother Bill has always been kind and compassionate to my parents and the rest of my family, even when we became “liberals”. I recently received a letter from Pastor Bill encouraging me to return to my fundamentalist Baptist belief system: “Only being ‘born again’ saves one’s soul, not the baptistery.”
Below is my email to him, and below that is his redacted response. I will intersperse my comments in red within the text of his response:
Dear Pastor Bill,
It was very nice to receive your letter and I very much appreciate your concern
for me and my family.
A lot has changed since we last communicated. In February 2014 I was “surfing”
the internet one day and came across the blog of an ex-fundamental Baptist
pastor turned atheist. I tried to reach out to him to bring him back to faith
in Jesus Christ. My conversation with him lasted four months. At the end of
those four months he was still an atheist…but I was an agnostic.
I no longer believe that Jesus rose from the dead. I believe he was a good man
but not a god. I also came to see that the Bible is riddled with scribe
alterations and even additions! The Word of God that supposedly would be
preserved for all eternity had not been preserved. It is not a work of God, but
a work of man. I was devastated by these findings. I loved my Christian faith.
I believed in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior with all my heart. But just as
a child may believe in Santa Claus with all his heart, once he finds out Santa
doesn’t exist, he must give up his cherished belief.
I want to make sure that you are aware of this fact: Even as a Lutheran, I
believed that I had been saved at the age of nine when I prayed to Jesus, on my
knees, to save my soul, forgive me of all my sins, and to be the Lord and Master
of my life. If Jesus really exists, and if the Bible is really true, how is it
possible that I am now 100% convinced that Jesus was not God, and that the Bible
If you would like to discuss this topic with me I would appreciate that you do
so on my blog. Below is a link to my “Deconversion Story”. You are welcome to
begin a conversation with me there on these issues.
This next link is my first post after conversing with the ex-fundamental Baptist
pastor, Bruce Gerencser. If you follow my posts after this conversation, you
will see how my faith slowly slips away over the next four months.
I really didn’t know where to begin when I received your email with the difficult news about your apostasy…. A lot of questions ran through my mind, like; I wonder what his Dad thinks…I wonder what his Mom thinks…I wonder what his wife and family think…I wonder what the Lord Jesus thinks? My mother is dead. My father is unhappy about my deconversion. He prefers I become a liberal Christian like himself. He doesn’t see why I can’t keep the “good” parts of the Bible, and throw out the “bad” parts (the Old Testament and Paul’s epistles). Sorry, I can’t do that. I’m not interested in Smorgasbord Christianity.
My wife is a non-church-attending Roman Catholic; she has never been very religious. She agrees that most of the teachings in the Bible are silly nonsense.
Actually I believe your stated position in the email is your long time thought, you just now were upfront and admitted it to yourself and others. The subconscious is a complicated thing. Who knows? You could be right, Pastor Bill.
If I might, please think of some of these reasons why your stated position is foolish and absurd;
How could Jesus be a good man if He was a liar? He told people that He was the only way to the Father….a lie if it is not so. I don’t believe that Jesus was a liar. I think he was delusional.
I believe Jesus was either a Liar, a Lunatic or Lord…or delusional. Being delusional is not the same thing as being a raving psychotic, which is what the term “lunatic” usually insinuates.
He said He was the only way of salvation….truth or a lie…. LIAR
He believed this enough to go to the cross for His belief….. LUNATIC
He actually was telling the truth and He is the only way….. .LORD
Actually, I don’t think that Jesus ever considered himself to be the Creator, or even the virgin-born, one and only Son of the Creator. I believe that Jesus thought he was the messiah, and Jews have never, ever believed that the messiah was God. The Jewish messiah would be a man. I believe that Jesus believed that he was God’s very special prophet, the messiah. I believe that the Gospel of Mark, the first Gospel written, probably reflects Jesus’ true thoughts about himself. Only in the last Gospel written, John, does Jesus tell everyone, in every place, that he is the Son of God. This looks like an embellishment, to me. I believe that the Trinity was a concept that gradually developed. I think Jesus would be shocked to know that his followers today believe that he was the Creator of the Universe.
What scribe alterations? Altered from what? What additions to what? Have you ever heard, Pastor Bill, of the Johannine Comma? I John 5:7-8 is the only passage in the Bible that clearly lays out the doctrine of the Trinity. This passage was altered by a scribe. The original passage did not say what our Bibles say today. The passage about an angel stirring the waters in the Pool of Bethesaida is an addition. It was not in the original manuscripts.The passage about the woman caught in adultery and Jesus drawing in the sand was not in the original manuscripts. A scribe added it later.The last chapter of the Gospel of Mark was given a longer ending by later scribes. The oldest manuscripts end at verse 8. There are no post-resurrection appearances by Jesus in the original Gospel of Mark. In addition to the above, there are thousands of minor scribe alterations.
The Word of God is perfect…
In the Old Testament time the trade language was primarily Hebrew…the Word preserved in primarily Hebrew. The trade language was Hebrew?? Maybe among Hebrews. The Hebrews were an insignificant people in the semi-desert lands of the middle east. Hebrew was never a trade language, Pastor Bill.
In New Testament times the trade language was primarily Greek….The Word was preserved primarily in Greek I can agree with that.
Today the trade language of the world is primarily English…the Word is preserved in that trade language for us today…English I hope that is not your justification for considering the KJV as the only Word of God, Pastor. There is no where in the Bible that says that God would preserve his word in the “trade language”. English has only been the dominant world language since the Second World War. Prior to that, for centuries, the language of trade and diplomacy was French.
Now you have to decide which English version…. Not which one is the easiest, most popular or newest but “Perfect”
Reason (Reason? Please explain.) would bring you to the KJV and that will bring you to the Christ of the cross and the empty tomb…If you want to have a discussion using only the KJV, Pastor Bill, that is fine with me. Prove to me the Resurrection using the KJV and reason.
Luke 21:33 Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away. If Jesus really did rise from the dead, proving that he is God, then this verse is true. If Jesus is still dead, just like every other human being who has ever died, then this verse is simply a first century superstition of Galilean peasants. Everything rests on the Resurrection, Pastor Bill. If you can give me good evidence for the historical, bodily resurrection of Jesus, I will return to the Faith.
You can never find peace or satisfaction in the place you are. How do you know? You can not be saved in the place you are..consider this verse; Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. John 8:24 I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins. I agree with you 100%. If the Bible is true, then salvation is only by faith. But to convince me that the Bible is true, you must convince me of the Resurrection.
To compare faith in the Lord Jesus to a child’s belief in Santa Claus is heresy and probably blasphemy…It is blasphemy…if Jesus rose from the dead and the Bible is true, and not a collection of superstitions and legends.
I am praying for you and your’s…that the light of the glorious gospel will shine unto you and you will be born again and know the peace that Jesus promise those that love Him (That love is always evidenced by obedience). I was born again, Pastor Bill. I was born again when I was nine years old. I repented of all my sins with all my heart. I prayed for Jesus to save me with all my heart. I committed my life to Jesus with all my heart. So how is that I now do not believe if your belief in “Once saved, Always saved” is true? Either salvation requires something other than faith, repentance, and belief…or eternal security is false…or it is all false.
01. If you would be correct every person you know that has died is just dead like a dog or an alley cat….money wasted of funerals for worm food and fertilizer. Yes. They are all dead, just like an animal who has died. My mother and my grandparents are dead and will stay dead for all eternity. I will never see them again. But, just because a fact is unpleasant doesn’t make it untrue. We are adults. We must accept the facts as they are.
02. Your children are headed to a Christ-less eternity
(I believe the Bible teaches that in less than 100 years both you and your family will be either in Heaven rejoicing or in Hell regretting….your choice. If your belief system is true, you are correct. I and my children will burn in Hell for all eternity. However, how many hours of sleep do you lose at night, Pastor Bill, worrying about yourself and your family burning in the MUSLIM hell, or the MORMON hell, or the hell of any other exclusivist religion on earth?? I doubt you do. Why not?
You don’t worry about the Muslim or Mormon hell because you believe that these religions are nothing but nonsensical superstitions. You believe that there is no evidence to believe that what they claim is true. Well, that is how I now look at Christianity. It is one big superstition. I don’t believe that there is any good evidence for the supernatural claims of the Bible, in particular, the Resurrection. I believe that these beliefs are based on nothing other than assumptions and second century hearsay. However, I am open to any evidence that you have that might convince me otherwise, Pastor Bill.
In Christ and Happy,