Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Christian musician Michael Gungor on evolution and faith beyond literalism

I don't follow contemporary Christian music, but it was hard to avoid the controversy that followed WORLD magazine's article on CCM artist Michael Gungor, which mentioned his belief in a non-literal Adam and Eve, as well as elements of his theology which the author implied were drifting from evangelical Protestant orthodoxy. Following the article, the usual fundamentalist Christian response followed, with cancellation of concerts, boycotting of his music by Christian retail chains, vitriolic tirades from Ken Ham and hate-filled comments implying less that subtly that he was bound for eternal damnation. Given that nearly 60% of young people aged 15 years and over either leave Christianity or abandon it for long periods of time, this kind of response seems almost calculated to accelerate the rate  of decline of Christianity in the US.

This is hardly hyperbole. Christianity in the US is slowly dying, a fact that this graphic from the Richard Dawkins Foundation website makes clear:

In an interview at BioLogos, Gungor reveals what catalysed his move from opposing evolution to accepting it:
BL: In your blog “A Worshipping Evolutionist”, you contrast your “anti-evolution” childhood with your current belief that the early chapters of Genesis are poetic in nature, and evolution really happened. What were the factors that influenced this significant shift in your thinking? 
MG: I started reading the science because I was trying to convince my “godless” professor that he was wrong about the age of the earth and how life came to be so diverse on this planet. Fortunately, I was raised in a way that valued good thinking, so I wasn’t afraid of what I would find...until I found it. Then it was terrifying. I thought that what I was seeing might disprove the whole Bible. What I realize now is that this rather common view of Scripture is a very reductionistic and unhealthy one that has been handed to us from modernity. There is no reason to create the sort of dichotomies that many fundamentalists create where one is forced to believe every nuance of one particular interpretation of Scripture OR reject the whole thing outright. I think these dichotomies are a big reason that so many young adults and college students choose the latter.
While I would part company with Gungor on many areas, namely his rejection of a historical Adam, he is correct to point out the spiritual danger which comes when YECs construct a false dichotomy, as the likelihood of abandoning Christianity altogether once you discover that evolution really is a fact is extremely high, if you have been told that it is contingent on YEC readings of Genesis.