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.”
Those who continue to read only those six passages in the Bible as if that is all that is relevant to this issue. For more, see the book. https://t.co/CpnhzB7i79
— David Gushee (@dpgushee) May 9, 2017
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.