Several months ago Dove award winning musical artist Gungor stated in a blog that he was not a biblical literalist. For those who are unsure what that means, simply put, it is someone who does not believe that the bible should be taken literally. In the blog he referenced the Noah narrative and did not think much about it after the blog went up.
As time spun on, his blog gained traction and became a central discussion point for the evangelical church at large, showing up in Christianity Today, Charismanews, Christian Post and multiple online forums and discussion. Seeing a Gungor is a Christian band that predminitly plays at church sponsored events, be began finding himself ever so slightly loosing his audience with churches who did not share his view of scripture. As churches began to back out of their concert dates Gungor thought it would be a good time to speak to the issue and share his view.
You can read his blog post at gungormusic.com/2014/08/im-with-you/
So whats the bog deal that has even caused the most un-witty theological guitar strummers to come out of their basements and begin dialoging over this issue. It is because Gungor holds a position of prominence and influence within the evangelical circle. Many of his songs have been sung in churches and he is considered a stand out leader with his Dove Award Status in the realm of Christian music. Here is why I believe what Gungor has said is a big deal, and my attempt to underscore the importance of how we approach the bible.
WHAT WE BELIEVE EFFECTS EVERYTHING
Sadly I am not with Gungor on this issue and the above post reveals a great deal regarding not just a view of scripture, but of God himself. If you and I attempt to “speak into” the bible and determine what is good and what is true and what is false, then where does our right to speak into the authoritative text end? Does it end with Noah or could we go even earlier, say to Genesis chapter three and say, well the Adam and Eve narrative really is just a story, man really isn’t sinful, we are actually champions of the earth. Or does it end with Jesus resurrection. If people site “science and rational thinking” as the basis for which we determine what is a myth and what is literal, then what do you do with the Son of man? It is far less a leap to believe that God instructed an arc to be created to house all the animals than it is to believe that a virgin got pregnant with God, that he died for the sins of everyone who ever lived and was raised from death.
As Christians we believe that God wrote a book to man, not that man wrote a book about God.
As Christians we believe that God wrote a book to man, not that man wrote a book about God. To say that the Genesis narrative is a myth is to call the author of Genesis a liar. Jesus himself supports the Noah narrative in the gospel (Matthew 24:38). So Jesus (God) would also be a liar for furthering the tale. If Jesus is a liar then he is obviously not without sin so he could not be God, but a real egotistical sicko telling everyone in the world to put their faith in him. Not only is Jesus the only person to refer back to the flood, but so does the author of Hebrews in chapter 11. How funny is it that the author of Hebrews says it was by faith that Noah trusted God and built the ark. In the same chapter it mentions a laundry list of Old Testament notables and their works of faith. We we have to nix Noah off the list because we deem it to not fit with science and reason, then we also have to nix a considerable number from the book of Hebrews. Peter also references Noah in his writings (2 Peter 2). Christians are people of faith.
Science reveals a great deal of our faith but it does not stand in contrast to it when you remember that there are exclusions to the rule. You and I live in a world governed by the laws of nature. They are literal restraints on our body. You can not fly, you fall. You can not walk through a brick wall, you would get hurt. Jesus is the exception to these laws. Jesus ascended into heaven (he flew away). Jesus when with his disciples after his resurrection walked through walls. We forget that the God we serve is not bound to constantly work in the same parameters that you and I live in. He is the creator of the perimeters and he gets to choose if he would like to bend them, alter them, work outside them. Getting some animals in a wooden ark, not that big of a deal for the one who made everything.
The problem with this view (non-literalist) is that it throws into question everything. It leads people to become like Thomas Jefferson who went through the entire bible with a pair of scissors chopping out every miraculous occurrence in the bible. Stories like a serpent speaking, a donkey talking, a whale swallowing a man whole, seas splitting a people walking on dry sea bed floors, chariots of fire, men walking on water, a virgin getting pregnant, dead people being raised back to life, Jesus ascending into heaven, all gets tossed out also because it does not meet our logic or scientific reason.
Since we did we ever expect our puny three pound fallen brains serve as the judge for what we have been told is to judge us?
There are stories in the bible. Jesus told stories to serve a purpose. But when stories are being told we are told that they are stories. Never in the Genesis narrative, or in creation, or in Jonah or Job (narratives that are similarly contested) are we told they are stories with a point. No, they are historical and factual events.
It’s not just the idea that matters, but the very words as well.
Some have said that they believe the bible and feel that what is most important is the idea that is being shared. This is only partially correct. The doctrine of verbal plenary inerrancy speaks to this very issue. That not just the ideas of God are clearly communicated to us, but are the words that have been chosen to be used to us. The early church fathers new knew and for that reason treasured the word, were careful to make sure it was read as it should be. As the bible was passed down from generation to generation there was incredible detailed care given to the transcribing of the text to ensure not just the ideas were carried along but also the words as well. Jesus himself says this in Matthew 5:18, that not a single dot or stroke of the pen will disappear from the law until it is all accomplish. There are further instruction later in the bible to not alter it.
If we begin taking Gungors approach to scripture (which is becoming increasingly popular and is in no way a new view) who determines what is myth and what is not. The obvious danger is that Jesus gets lumped in with the Leprechaun seeking his pot of gold at the end of the rainbow while riding on his unicorn.
The one admirable thing is that Gungor is not passively sharing his views in a sheepish manner. This is something he firmly believes, heralds and in now seemingly evangelizing for. So any with views like this give short answers in a passing interview and never give any sort of clarity to their though or reasoning. I appreciate that he has taken the time to not only fully disclose his thoughts, but to even go as far as to engage with others on a level such as this.
I pray this is an issue that you consider your position on. If Scripture, when plainly stated as the Noah account is intended to be read as literal, and is referenced as literal by other biblical authors, then we should take it that way. We believe this to be true. We may doubt, but in our doubt we ask Jesus to help us with our unbelief. If we believe these are fairy tails with good meanings, then we are on something more than a slippery slope, we stand not on the solid word of God, but mans speaking into the word of God, and a landslide is about to take place underneath us.