Gungor, Mohler and What does Reformed mean Amymore?


Recently musician and worship leader, Michael Gungor came out about something that fundamentalist and hyper conservative Christian circles generally force people to keep buried deep in the closet or else suffer scorn, scrutiny and possibly the label heretic or worse… liberal (*imagine a loud scary conservative talk radio voice*)

No he is not gay. A few months ago Gungor revealed to the world that there are portions of the Bible that he does not read as historical accounts. After mentioning the sacred creation myth in Genesis and the story of Noah and the flood, Gungor writes,

If you try to find some value in them as stories, there will be some people that say that you aren’t a Christian anymore because you don’t believe the Bible is true or “authoritative”. Even if you try to argue that you think there is a truth to the stories, just not in an historical sense; that doesn’t matter. To some people, you denying the “truth” of a 6,000 year old earth with naked people in a garden eating an apple being responsible for the death of dinosaurs is the same thing as you nailing Jesus to the cross. You become part of ‘them’. The deniers of God’s Word.

Gungor has had a series of follow up podcasts, interviews and blog posts, including this one, stating that he does indeed believe in God, that Jesus is the Son of God and that Scripture is God-breathed. Still, many haves rushed to the blogosphere to twist his words about the meaning of Christ’s Kenosis. Ken Ham, with his limited training in science and no serious credentials in biblical scholarship, ironically rushed to point out neither Michael Gungor and his wife Lisa “is a Bible scholar nor scientist.” Ham accused them of mocking the Bible and “Bible believers.”

One comes to expects alarmist reactions like this from the usual suspects like Christian Post, Examiner or Ken Ham.  And to the general public – for much of post- church going America – it is probably not so surprising that Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary decided to jump on the bandwagon in a recent podcast of his own. In the podcast, Mohler accuses Gungor of having modern science as his highest authority, of denying the possibility of historical revelation and “shifting into theological reverse, moving right back to the last decades of the 19th century.”

But unfortunately in many Christian circles – and especially in the upside down world of the Christian blogosphere – Credobaptist, like Mohler, John Piper, John MAcArthur, Mark Driscoll, Matt Chandler or Justin Taylor are considered spokespersons for the broader reformed tradition because they self-identify with a Canons of Dort-esque understanding of election. Together with  “young, restless and reformed” folks like Collin Hansen and Kevin DeYoung they make of the face of so called “New Calvinism.” Some of the things the New Calvinism movement is most known for are:

  • Strict biblicism
  • Anti-intellectualism
  • A narrow definition of sola scriptura
  • An unyielding “complementarian” view of gender
  • A view of election in which God (either actively or passively) elects some people to eternal damnation
  • An aggressively defensive posture when it comes to penal substitution as the only “biblical” soteriology
  • A principal of non-contradiction when it comes to engagement with hard or social sciences: i.e. we can read science but if anything seems to contradict a previously held reading of scripture, nothing is up for reevaluation

As has been pointed out elsewhere, there is a lot more to the wider reformed tradition than what the New Calvinist have been offering the world. But what really chaps my hide is that these men (the leaders of their movement(s) are mostly men) do not speak for me. Mohler, T4G, TGC and the other New Calvinists simply do not, cannot speak for folks like me or for the reformed tradition as a whole. Yet when I encounter people not familiar with the ins and outs of the reformed tradition: whether atheist or agnostic friends or friends from other Christian traditions ranging from Episcopalian to non-denominational, this is the movement and these are the names that spring to mind when I tell them I am reformed. Well you can poke around this blog and find varying perspectives on the subjects above. Not a lot of New Calvinist here. But you will find men and women (many who are ordained) who are deeply reformed, committed to scripture and above all to God’s self-revelation  in Jesus.

I can not speak for everyone at TRB, but Michael Gungor I stand with you! I think others here might too!?!?

What say you? What are your feelings on the Gungor backlash? Do you find yourself identifying as reformed yet underrepresented in the often hostile world of the blogosphere and Christian publishing? Here’s your opportunity to talk back.

Towards Shalom,


7 thoughts on “Gungor, Mohler and What does Reformed mean Amymore?

  1. I’ve heard of Gungor but never heard him. I can’t think of any compelling reason to add listening to him to my to-do list. For what its worth I’ll confess here that while a number of my friends rave over Mumford and Sons I’ve never listened to them either. Anyhow I’ve only read a small bit of the give-and-take over whatever it was Gungor said, so I’ll stay out of that debate. I will confess a fondness for listening to Albert Mohler. I don’t recall what he had to say about Gungor but I do think that what he wrote about Joel Osteen this week, and Ann Coulter last month, was really good. And as to what does it mean to be reformed? I know some people who like to say that they are “reformed and always reforming.” But if that is all it means, that is nothing and will lead to disaster. That is an opportunity ripe for exploitation by Satan. I think that to be reformed means to be reformed according to the word of God. I can only be reformed as the BIble leads me, and in that opinion I think I stand with Calvin, Turretin and Bavinck, along with a good many others, even from our time.

  2. It is infuriating to me when we speak of the Reformed tradition as only the five points of the Canons of the Synod of Dort. Is that a part of it? Of course. Is that all there is? Certainly not. It’s like saying that our faith is all about war and slaughter because the first chapters of the book of Joshua are a part of the canon.

  3. Even the Canons of Dort do not claim to be everything there is to Calvinism–they self-limit to being a response to the Arminian controversy. People who understand all things Reformed according to Dort are not reading everything. The same is true, in my opinion, of folks who use Scripture (in English, generally, not in the original languages) to dismiss science and other evidence of the world. Their reading of Bible and Calvin would seem to be incomplete.

    I am guessing that I side with Gungor on this based on what I have read, and based on the behavior of those attacking him, as it doesn’t sound as if that is where Jesus would stand. And I hope I can continue to manage to be Reformed without being terribly close-minded.

  4. Anytime I write or tweet about something ‘reformed’ I always want to add #notthatkindofreformed or #notpastormarkreformed because of the horrible misunderstandings. I look forward to more posts like this to help clear the air, so to speak. I often point people to Jes Kast-Keat’s interview on RHE’s blog because it is such a beautiful and simply explanation explanation of what I love about being “reformed.” And, although I’ve never listened to them, I guess I agree with Gungor.

  5. I once got in a discussion with a former college friend, who told me that after reading John Piper’s “Desiring God” that he was now a “Calvinist”. A few moments later he told me how he had been rebaptized, because his infant baptism meant nothing, and that a Calvinist like Piper told him how important true, valid baptism was.
    When I told him that rebaptism is NOT the classical Calvinist opinion, he told me I was wrong. When I (being the seminary nerd I am), pointed him directly to Calvin’s Institutes on the Sacraments, he proceeded to tell me, “wait, that’s not a Calvinist viewpoint!”
    To which I responded, “No, it is a Calvinist view point. Yours is a Piper-ist view point, and you don’t speak for my reformed faith”.

    He told me I’m welcome at his church any time I’m ready to be “truly” baptized. Sigh…

  6. I haven’t really followed the Gungor dust-up, but with regard to belief of Scripture, I always remember what Carol Bechtel said: “Genesis explains why things are the way they are from a story point of view. Genesis is not a science textbook, but an explanation of reality. That makes it true.” I wish people could understand that.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s