David Gushee

May 16, 2017

Evangelical Break-Up: David Gushee Is “Done Fighting”

Popular Christian columnist David Gushee has officially split from the American Evangelical movement and explained why he is “on the way out the door” from Evangelicalism. Formerly a liberal Baptist, he said he wished Evangelicals well but that he was “done fighting with them.”

In his column for Religion News Service (RNS) on May 9, Gushee voiced fundamental disagreements with Evangelical theology, especially a perceived lack of “LGBTQ inclusion” among Evangelicals.

“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,” Gushee wrote. He added he thought it was “best to name these differences clearly and without acrimony” upon leaving Evangelicalism.

Yet, he seemed pessimistic about resolving these differences. He said he expected further dialogue would be “mainly fruitless” since the “differences are unbridgeable.”

Perhaps most indicative of these “unbridgeable” differences involved Evangelicals’ understanding of human sexuality. Gushee said he planned to add an epilogue to his previously published book Changing Our Mind about how Evangelicals ought to consider embracing progressive values regarding homosexuality. He noted that “common ‘evangelical’ modes of reading Scripture and undertaking moral discernment will never lead to a fully inclusive posture toward LGBTQ persons.”

Gushee elaborated on his appraisal of Evangelicals on Twitter. Responding to a critic, he said that Evangelicals “continue to read only those six passages in the Bible as if that is all that is relevant to this issue.”

In his RNS column, Gushee also announced that he had finished the manuscript for a memoir entitled Still Christian: Following Jesus Out of American Evangelicalism describing his journey out of Evangelicalism. The forthcoming book is due for publication by Westminster John Knox Press in August.

Indeed, Gushee’s journey has been a long one. He once held a more orthodox position on human sexuality, co-writing a textbook that stated: “Homosexual conduct is one form of sexual expression that falls outside the will of God.” In an op-ed published by The Washington Post in November 2014, he summed up his multi-year journey, explaining that “my moral position has shifted.”

He cited his “growing contact with LGBT people, especially fellow Christians” as playing a key part in this shift. “The fact that one of these LGBT Christians is my dear youngest sister, Katey, has made this issue even more deeply personal for me than it would have been,” he acknowledged.


13 Responses to Evangelical Break-Up: David Gushee Is “Done Fighting”

  1. James Gibson says:

    Who, exactly, are “Those who continue to read only those six passages in the Bible as if that is all that is relevant to this issue?” Certainly not any of the “evangelicals” I know and respect. A biblical sexual ethic is rooted in the doctrine of creation, and you can’t articulate that doctrine without beginning, literally, “In the beginning. . .” Evangelicals and everyone else of orthodox persuasion utilize the whole corpus of Scripture in their arguments. I’m quite certain Gushee knows this, but he won’t admit it because 1) it undermines his entire argument and 2) it doesn’t fit the caricatured “evangelical” of his fictional theological universe.

    • 22044 says:

      Well stated!

      • Eriberto Soto says:

        Thank you James!! His hobby horse argument does not hold to fact!! I am sure he has read other competent scholars who argue beyond the six passages!!

    • Richard Bell says:

      “Evangelicals and everyone else of orthodox persuasion utilize the whole corpus of Scripture in their arguments.”
      You are right (and Gushee is wrong), but the arguments made by Christians of orthodox persuasion are fallacious and their conclusion that Christian marriage is properly for heterosexuals alone is false.
      I offer you an essay that proves, from Scripture interpreted strictly in accordance with ordinary techniques, that God wills the Church celebrate homosexual marriage just as it celebrates heterosexual marriage. My essay specifically refutes all the arguments supposed to be based on the whole corpus of Scripture. Distinguished Protestant theologians and public intellectuals have read my essay and critiqued it, but not one has shown any of its reasoning to be unsound.
      Is your mind even slightly open on the question of God’s will for marriage? If it is, send a request to rsbell@ameritech.net and I will reply with a digital copy of my essay. (Send a serious request only; I want readers of my essay to give me, in return, their severest criticism of it.)

  2. Lynne Johnson says:

    Good bye~ Your blasphemy won’t be missed by those who believe in the unadulterated Word of God. It is your “audience” who is blessed by your departure.

  3. Linda P says:

    Agree with James’ comment. Besides if you’re going to simply count verses for something, “thou shalt not kill” is only in there twice and we still consider it important. Of course it too is represented throughout the Bible.
    Sexuality began with Adam & Eve. Not killing began with Cain and Able. Both quite early in the scheme of things.

  4. David says:

    As someone who left the liberal church, I can attest to the proximity of LGBT persons as having no real impact upon my decision. Biblically, there is great intellectual dishonesty in the progressivist position, duplicity within the LGBT church community, and decisions to endorse LgBT politics must be placed in the context of a general culture that is slipping into sexual anarchy— with theologically progressivist enabling being no insignificant factor. One may wish Gushee well, but I fear it will not end up well in the slightest.

  5. Neil Simpson says:

    “Those who continue to read only those six passages in the Bible as if that is all that is relevant to this issue.”

    That’s a petty lie. The entire book couldn’t be more clear. The Bible couldn’t be more clear. Bible-believing Christians & even 2/3 of pro-gays can see that.

  6. Neil Simpson says:

    ““The fact that one of these LGBT Christians is my dear youngest sister, Katey, has made this issue even more deeply personal for me than it would have been,” he acknowledged.”

    Oh, so if someone you love is devoted to a particular sin then it no longer becomes a sin? Indeed.

  7. Gregg says:

    There was a time when “sola scriptura,” “sola fide,” and “sola gratia” were the issues that defined reforming Christians. Today it seems to be women’s ordination, gay marriage, and abortion-on-demand. “Here I stand. I can do no other.” Really!?!?

  8. Mike Ward says:

    Kudos to him for being honest about what he is. At least he isn’t like Jim Wallis or Tony Campola or any of the others who keep the description “evangelical” and act like the speak for some portion of evangelicals.

  9. Chris says:

    “He noted that “common ‘evangelical’ modes of reading Scripture and undertaking moral discernment will never lead to a fully inclusive posture toward LGBTQ persons.””

    Well, yeah. Any reading of Scripture will do this.

  10. Matthew Wittenbrook says:

    Thanks Gushee. I’ve never heard of you before so maybe this comment won’t matter. You’ve underscored why I’m leaving the Evangelical church as well only for different reasons. Evangelicals were created by arguing about interpretations of scripture vs what has been taught orally since the beginning of the world-wide church. Jesus didn’t pray “Father be with them and make sure they argue about everything written down.” He prayed “Father let them be one.”

    You can argue about correct interpretation but you can’t argue with what has been plainly taught by the orthodox christian (east and west) concerning homosexuality. I don’t hate them but I’m not going to be smoothed talked into giving up the treasure that my spiritual fathers and mothers have passed down either.

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