I have taken to reading Bruce Gerencser’s blog. Bruce is a former pastor who left the pastorate in 2003, the church in 2008 and theism in 2011. He is an open and vocal antitheist who has no problem attacking Christianity, the church and individual believers.
You might ask why I would read such a thing? Because I think a lot of Bruce’s criticisms are valid. Most of what I have read involves frustrations that I identify with. As I’ve told people before, I am an atheist who just can’t get past Jesus. If I had to judge the Savior by his disciples and the organizations they have built, I would be an antitheist as well.
You might ask if I have ever tried to persuade Bruce about the error of his ways? The answer is absolutely not. Any attempt to “persuade” Bruce would be entirely for my own benefit, to assuage some sense of outrage that he has turned on “my” faith. That is just balderdash and bravado.
Bruce has made a very personal and difficult decision, and I would much rather that he be openly antitheist than to try to pretend as if he still believes something that he does not. When I read some of the things that believers say in the comments on his page, I feel as if I need to apologize to him for their brashness and sometimes downright rudeness.
It is interesting to note that the apostle Paul’s greatest condemnation is not on those who leave the faith (though he mourns for them) but for those who claim to adhere to the faith and do not practice basic charity (1 Timothy 5:8). Often, when we take a person’s departure from the faith personally, we act in a manner that dishonors the very Christ we claim to be following.
So, I read Bruce’s blog. Sometimes the things he says upset me. Sometimes, I find myself asking, “Yeah, why do Christians do/believe that?” Sometimes, I just shake my head.
I like reading atheists and antitheists. I always have. In high school, I read Nietzsche. In college, it was Sartre, Darwin and Huxley. In adulthood, I read Dawkins and Ehrman. About the only one I have found unreadable is Christopher Hitchens. Gerencser and John Scalzi are recent online finds.
I’ll never stop reading atheists because I never want to be complacent. I never want to find myself comfortable in my faith, insulated from all that can go wrong in Christianity (and trust me, there’s a lot of valid issues that these people bring up).