This past month conservative protestants have been strongly criticizing Gungor, but on the other hand Christians including Evangelicals, ave been clamouring for solidarity with those who are being driven out before the Islamic State (previously called ISIS). Criticism is nothing new, and neither is a desire to stand in solidarity with suffering Christians. However, the responses to both of these things that the conservative members of the Church have recently expressed reflect an untenable dichotomy between the treatment of those people we want to be Christian and those are who actually are Christian.
Gungor recently disclosed that he does not believe in a seven day creation and in this month criticism of Gungor has been increasing after articles by major Christian news outlets such as World Magazine. Specifically Michael Gugor said that
I have no more ability to believe, for example, that the first people on earth were a couple named Adam and Eve that lived 6,000 years ago. I have no ability to believe that there was a flood that covered all the highest mountains of the world only 4,000 years ago and that all of the animal species that exist today are here because they were carried on an ark and then somehow walked or flew all around the world from a mountain in the middle east after the water dried up. I have no more ability to believe these things than I do to believe in Santa Clause or to not believe in gravity. But I have a choice on what to do with these unbeliefs. I could either throw out those stories as lies, or I could try to find some value in them as stories. But this is what happens…
And in response to this, several Christian news outlets have responded with articles titled “Gungor drifts from biblical orthodoxy” or “Gungor trusts science more than the Bible.” And reading these articles I have come away with a sense that these people, in large, do not regard Gungor as properly Christian. Perhaps you agree, I certainly know that I would have at some point in the past. I have no doubt that the people who penned these articles, and by extension the organizations that present them, truly believe that without the Bible there is no Christianity, and that if the Bible is not taken at its face that Christianity is being compromised. Indeed, when looking for churches, these are the very same people that also say to look for a “bible-believing church.” They are holding true to their convictions, and with cancelled appointments and internet backlash, many people stand in opposition to Gungor and how he has handled his doubts about the Bible.
In contrast, the Church and the Church on the internet have been standing in solidarity with those Christians besieged in Iraq. The very same news organizations have put out articles like “Risking Genocide” because the Islamic State has and will continue to persecute those who claim Christ with things as extreme as crucifixion itself (which hearkens back to the way Japanese Catholics were persecuted in the Tokugawa era). To that end people on the internet, on facebook have been using the islamic letter “ن” (n) which has been used to mark Christians in Iraq, as a symbol of solidarity. In this event, which recently included the excecution of James Foley, who was a deeply devout Catholic, the church, both liberal and conservative; catholic, protestant and orthodox; and all other christians of all stripes and sizes have held true to the command of Christ to be one in John 17.
These responses stand in stark opposition to each other, and the opposition is even more poignant when you consider that many of the same people that oppose Gungor have also said that Christians in Iraq are not Christian at all. This can be seen in the popular Evangelical apologetics website Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry which has denounced the Catholic Curch as “not Christian” as have many other strongly conservative Evangelical ministries and churches. And the truth of the matter is, 99% of those being assaulted in Iraq are Catholic or Orthodox or Syriac (which separated before the divine and human natures of Christ were reconciled properly according to the traditional view and so define Christ’s nature differently than you or I do) and which also do not accept a 6,000 year ago creation event. I ask this question then to those who might otherwise condemn Gungor, “Are you willing to condemn Gungor who is closer to you in terms of theology and practice of faith than the Christians in Iraq who before this you might have said were not Christian at all?”
We as Christians have a duty to uphold our convictions, but let us at least be consistant in them. I for one am not willing to say that these Christians in Iraq at not Christian because they too call upon the name of a triune God and Jesus Christ our Lord, and sure we might have our disagreements, but I am willing to stand in solidarity with them, much as I stand in solidarity with Gungor against the unfounded attacks against his character and struggle with doubt against a doctrine that many Christians across time and culture have also questioned. Let us as Christians express charity in our disagreements with each other.
(images taken from US Army, and Gungor)