Biblical Inerrancy Part 2: My Thoughts on Michael Gungor’s Thoughts
Just when I began writing on Biblical Inerrancy last week the blog-o-sphere began heating up with the news that Michael Gungor had been getting raked over the coals because of comments he made questioning the literal understanding of some of the Bible’s more..uh… science stretching sections.
In fact as soon as the news started flying of Gungor’s “heresy” the Dove award winning band was uninvited from an upcoming concert at a Baptist church. (I was thinking what you were thinking, “what were the words ‘Gungor’ and ‘Baptist’ doing in the same sentence to begin with?”)
But the Gungor “controversy” highlights a much more interesting issue; an issue that will be at the forefront of Christianity in the coming years. And it’s this:
“What is our Belief really supposed to be… and does our Belief help establish Christ’s Kingdom on Earth?”
Sadducees, Pharisees, and Essenes
When Jesus walked the earth, 1st Century Judaism was represented by a number of different sects such as the Essenses, the Pharisees, and the Sadducees. Interestingly enough these sects all had the same sacred scriptures yet somehow came to different beliefs and understandings regarding them.
Which meant they were human…
The Pharisees believed in a resurrection of the dead and the existence of angels…the Sadducees didn’t. The Essenes believed in a much more monastic and communal lifestyle in order to be in God’s will…the other groups didn’t. Add to that the Jews believed God was to be worshiped one way and their Samaritan cousins were convinced that same God was supposed to be worshiped another way.
However whenever Jesus was asked which of these “beliefs” was the correct belief to hold he always seemed to overshoot the question with an answer that hinted that what God actually cared about what completely outside their religious understanding. The answer also seemed to announce a paradigm shift in where God was taking his people.
In John 4 when the Samaritan woman asked Jesus if they were supposed worship in Jerusalem (what the Jews believed) or on a particular mountain (what the Samaritans believed) Jesus responded:
“believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem...a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”
John 4: 21, 23-24
These two groups used to fight, argue, and malign the other’s faith over the issue of where God was supposed to be worshiped. This “belief” was was extremely important in each group’s eyes. If they were wrong on where we are supposed to worship God then it becomes a slippery slope calling into question the foundations of their faith and religion.
In their eyes this was what was essential and important!
And yet, as the Samaritan woman at the well discovered, following Christ and going where God was taking his people would mean laying aside the “beliefs” of the “tribe”.
Michael Gungor, who came from a fundamentalist background himself, is experiencing the joy of leaving the “tribe” to enter a kingdom.
He’s emulating generations of previous believers who dropped their nets, their tools, and their identity to run after the One who simply says;
Gungor is, unfortunately, also facing the persecution that comes from leaving a tribe. Tribal mentality is an insecure mentality. When one of its own walks away it heightens the fear and anxiety in the rest of the clan. In a pre-enlightenment culture poor Gungor would have been tortured and killed for his heresy.
Fortunately, these days he must stoically suffer the wail of fundamentalist bloggers and canceled concerts at certain churches…but hey…its progress!
Real Bible Inerrancy
In the coming years I see real Bible Inerrancy as this; “Is our belief shaping us into the image of Christ?” Is our belief creating a world where the prayer of Jesus, that God’s Will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven, is realised.
Whether someone believes
* Jonah lived in a whale’s belly for 3 days
* Noah really did build an ark and was saved by a flood
* Adam and Eve were literal people
has little bearing on whether they are kind and loving to their neighbour.
The things that Jesus said were important!
For the record…I do believe in these Old Testament events. I happen to believe in Adam and Eve as well as Noah. I realise that science makes them suspect and I appreciate that. But having said that, my faith also doesn’t rest on the affirmation of 3000 year old events that none of us can really know anyhow!
What my faith does rest on is the Way Jesus taught that proclaims an alternative way of ordering society. A Way which rooted in unconditional love, mercy, and forgivness.
To be truly guilty of Biblical Inerrancy you have to live a life at odds with the Way that Jesus taught.
And here is the issue an episode like Gungor’s comments and subsequent fallout highlights:
Fundamentalist Christianity doesn’t advance the Kingdom of God so much as it simply adds members to its tribe.
In many ways Fundamentalist Christianity works in opposition to the Way of Jesus. It focuses on creedal conformity rather than conforming to Christ.
In fact following in the Way doesn’t make “sinners” angry…it makes religious people angry.
Gungor is following in the Way of Jesus and people in the “tribe” are getting angry.
And that’s a “literal Biblical” event if I ever saw one! 🙂
I’ll leave you with a quote from Michael Gungor himself. In his personal blog he gives a word of encouragement to those still caught in the huddle of the tribe:
But listen, huddle people… I’m for you. I really am. And I’m with you. I was raised in the huddle. Some of the best people I know are in the huddle. But you don’t need to be so afraid. You don’t need to repress your intellectual ability to ask questions and seek truth in order to stay in the shadow of the huddle. Because, let me tell you something, there is light outside. In fact, God is both inside and outside of your huddle.
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