Earlier this year, Jars of Clay’s Dan Haseltine caused a bit of an uproar after he tweeted some questioning things concerning same-sex marriage. Now it appears that Gungor is the latest popular evangelical musician to be caught in the middle of a theological controversy, thanks to some interview comments and his project with The Liturgists, a group that includes people that evangelicals often find controversial (e.g., Rob Bell, Rachel Held Evans).
World Magazine sounded the alarm:
The band’s new ideas are more clearly set forth in a blog post titled, “What do we Believe?” Here the author chafes that a close friend no longer considers him a Christian: “Why? Not because my life looks like Jesus or doesn’t look like Jesus. But because of my lack of ability to nail down all the words and concepts of what I exactly BELIEVE.” Then he nails down exactly what he doesn’t believe—in Adam and Eve or the Flood. He has “no more ability to believe in these things then I do to believe in Santa Claus.”
This theological ambivalence is on display on Gungor’s latest project—a collection of EPs released under the name The Liturgists. Working with Pastor Rob Bell—author of Love Wins—and various poets, Gungor creates ambient music to accompany spoken word poems on religious themes.
Predictably, the conservative Internet blew up. Tweets were tweeted, tears were shed, and sad/angry farewells were bid. Also, from the other side, mournful recriminations against the narrow-mindedness of the aforementioned were issued as well.
I suppose I should have seen it coming. Gungor’s been buddies with Bell and recommending his books for a while, and when I saw The Liturgists’ God Our Mother EP a while back, I thought “Well, that’s just asking for some sort of reaction.” Still, despite the lack of surprise I’m feeling, it seems appropriate to reflect on some of the institutional and pastoral realities that these incidents reveal.
You can go read them at Christ and Pop Culture.
Soli Deo Gloria
Gotta be honest, this seems to be another case of someone tweaking the nose of the conservative world and using the negative/condemning reaction to confirm the correctness of their position. But that’s just me.
Ya, that could be. I will say I don’t think he sought out the attention on this one.
Perhaps. I’m just slowly becoming more cynical, though.
Maybe the controversy will move some albums or MP3 files…
Seriously, though, these aren’t doubts they are in some cases rejections of orthodoxy. It’s a whole lot more respectable to say, “I have questions about XYZ” than it is to say, “I reject what normative, creedal Christianity has taught for at least a thousand years.” What annoys me most about people like Rob Bell is that they’ve managed to make doubt somehow virtuous. It’s never presented that way in scripture. It’s something you move away from, not something you embrace. Someone else once said that only in matters of faith do we somehow think its virtuous not to know something. Would we ever go to a doctor who said, “Gee I don’t know how to help you, really…I have this education and these books…but I don’t know…more and more I’m starting to question the things I was taught. I’ll poke around…maybe try some tests or drugs, but I really am questioning the whole medical paradigm I was trained in. Maybe something will work…maybe not” How about a car mechanic who says, “Fix your car? Well I don’t know…I have some tools…but I wonder if all these manuals and books really tell me anything. How do we know your car can be fixed? What if everything I was taught in mechanic’s school turns out to be false?” Only in matters of the soul it is somehow considered noble not to know.