David Gushee Has Not Left Evangelicalism. He Has Left Christianity Itself.

David Gushee is a liberal Baptist theologian connected to my alma mater. At one time, Gushee wrote scholarly pieces that noted homosexuality is a sin. But over time, Gushee moved left and he “evolved” in that position. He has now written an honest and commendable piece in which he speaks an honest and indisputable truth. He says there is no common ground between those who believe homosexuality is a sin and those who do not.

I now believe that incommensurable differences in understanding the very meaning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the interpretation of the Bible, and the sources and methods of moral discernment, separate many of us from our former brethren — and that it is best to name these differences clearly and without acrimony, on the way out the door.

I also believe that attempting to keep the dialogue going is mainly fruitless. The differences are unbridgeable. They are articulated daily in endless social media loops.

He is right. That does not mean we should hate each other, fight a bloody war, etc. We should be respectful and loving of one another, even in this disagreement. My friend Andrew Walker has a real must read on Gushee’s position.

Gushee is gambling with high stakes; unreasonably high stakes in my opinion. He’s asking the church — and by extension, the global church — to repent of two thousand years of biblical teaching. He’s asking us to journey with him accepting that the church’s entire witness, including the words of Jesus himself, have been misunderstood or wrong for the entirety of church history. He’s asking us to trust him on his journey and those like him — highly educated and predominantly Western social progressives — to speak univocally for the entire church.

(See also Rod Dreher).

I have to take issue with one thing Gushee writes. He claims he is leaving evangelicalism.

I must disagree.

Gushee is actually leaving Christianity itself, despite trying to claim otherwise with a book titled Still Christian. In fact, I think Gushee will eventually be as honest about leaving the faith as he is about leaving evangelicalism. First, he accepted that homosexuality was a sin. Then he evolved on that position and tried to find common ground. Now he has decided there is no common ground and he is no longer an evangelical. The next step will be to formally acknowledge he is not a Christian. It may take time, but I have no doubt it will happen.

The reason it will happen is because to accept marriage is between more than one man and one woman and to embrace homosexuality, is to reject the teachings of Jesus himself and of his apostles. Gushee and those who hold his position are on the opposite side of 2000 years of Christendom. At some point I strongly believe they will give up the farce and decide instead of trying to convince people that 2000 years of orthodoxy is wrong and their novel interpretations of scripture are right, they’ll just declare themselves Episcopalian and call it a day.

After all, though Gushee is leaving evangelicalism, he is also leaving Anglicanism, Catholicism, Orthdoxy, and every other branch of Christianity. The few churches still claiming to be Christian while embracing homosexuality are all dying out. More than one study has concluded the last Episcopalian has already been born. Gushee’s breed of self-proclaimed Christian is becoming an endangered species headed toward extinction all while claiming to be at one with the zeitgeist.

Over time, Jesus will become a moral teacher, not God. He’ll eventually be a morality tale and not real. Biblical teachings will move from inerrancy to helpful guidelines to ancient wisdoms worth considering.

While one can claim to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and therefore we cannot judge them, there are plenty of people who claim to be Christian and reject the trinity. Rejection of the trinity is rejection of Christianity itself. Likewise, some people claim to be Christian and reject the idea of a physical resurrection of Jesus. These people are no more Christian than a muslim is a Christian.

The question is not whether one believes in Jesus or not, but in which Jesus does one believe. There is the Jesus of the Bible and the Jesus of those who find passages of the Bible inconvenient. The former can throw a punch and the latter is a weepy sissy Jesus who loves everyone and tolerates everyone except those who cling to Biblical orthodoxy and who reads Fifty Shades of Rachel Held Evans, a novella more insufferable than its namesake.

Anyone can believe in Jesus. Even Muslims believe in Jesus. It’s just not everyone believes in the real Jesus.

The real Jesus is the Logos who spoke creation into existence. He is the second part of the Godhead who divinely created the world. The Hebrew Bible uses the verb “bara,” which only applies to God himself. When men create, they do not bara. Only God does. And God divinely created humanity as male and female. That means we cannot create other than male and female and it means we cannot swap between the two. A belief in the biblical Jesus necessitates a rejection of transgenderism.

Likewise, God created marriage and made it between men and women. We do not get to change that. A belief in the biblical Jesus necessitates a rejection of gay marriage.

To believe otherwise requires traveling down rabbit holes, twisting words, and conjuring whole new meanings for words and phrases interpreted consistently over 2000 years. “Because I want it to be this way” does not make it your way and no one has yet made a convincing case that 2000 years of orthodox Biblical interpretation is wrong. They just want it to be so.

So let’s stop pretending that when one rejects the Biblical world view on sexual sin that one is just rejecting evangelicalism. No, the truth is that person is rejecting Christendom itself.

It does not make the person a worse sinner than you or me. They too are created in the image of God. We should be in prayer for them, be willing to have civic community with them, and even be willing to sit at the dinner table with them. But that does not mean we should surrender honesty for pleasantry or sit at a communion table with them. David Gushee is not leaving evangelicalism. He has left Christianity behind for a god of his own creation.

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Erick Erickson

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