David Gushee

May 17, 2017

4 Top Responses to David Gushee Leaving Evangelicalism

Columnist David Gushee announced he was leaving the American Evangelical movement last week. He cited “incommensurable” and “unbridgeable” doctrinal differences with Evangelicals, particularly about “LGBTQ inclusion,” as his reason for his departure.

Gushee’s announcement in his column for Religion News Service (RNS) on May 9 sparked reactions among top Evangelical thinkers. Many appreciated his upfront presentation of his beliefs and agreed with his assessment that human sexuality represents a watershed issue of Evangelicalism. Yet orthodox Evangelicals emphasized that staying true to biblical standards on human sexuality needed to remain a core tenant for faithful Christians.

Indeed, orthodox Evangelical commentators had some salient points to make in reply to Gushee. Since their own words express their thoughts best, here are highlights from the responses by four prominent Evangelicals:

Erik Erickson, Blogger, The Resurgent:

“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.”

Andrew Walker, Director of Policy Studies, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC):

“I appreciate Gushee’s candor and agree with him: The dividing line between those who align with biblical and historical teaching around sexual ethics and those who do not, is incommensurable. This is not a debate about eldership versus congregational authority, or internecine squabbles on how the end times will occur. This is about what the true church confesses. This is about truth and error. This is about eternal destiny.”

Rod Dreher, Senior Editor, The American Conservative:

“The center is not holding because there is no longer a center on this issue, and in truth, never was. Be grateful, at least, for the clarity David Gushee brings to the conflict. Which side are you on? You must decide. You do not and must not hate those who reach the opposite conclusion. But you must not pretend that we can share a church, unless one side is prepared to keep its views on the matter quiet, and stand down from contesting the issue within the church.

Denny Burk, President, The Council on Biblical Manhood & Womanhood (CBMW):

“Gushee is absolutely right about this. We have ‘incommensurable differences’ and the differences are indeed ‘unbridgeable.’ On the one side are the traditionalists who believe that homosexuality is a sin. On the other side are the revisionists who believe that homosexuality is not sinful. The differences between the traditionalists and the revisionists go right to the heart of what it means to be a Christian.”

21 Responses to 4 Top Responses to David Gushee Leaving Evangelicalism

  1. Jeff Rudloff says:

    I would be willing to bet that either (1) he personally struggles with same-sex attraction or (2) he has a close personal friend or family member who does. People who make this choice are often struggling with the stress of affirming Biblical truth and thus, in their mind, “condemning” someone they deeply care for OR affirming the loved one and abandoning the Word. When emotion rules, the latter is almost always the result.

    • Margaret Gallagher says:

      He mentions having a lesbian sister.

    • Katie says:

      Yes, his sister is a lesbian. But, his book of acceptance was not written because of that fact. His change of heart happened before she ever came out. His change of heart started in the church. Read his book again.

  2. Gerald says:

    All we have to stand on is God’s Word.
    It’s totally without error .
    The Word absolutely calls homosexuality sin , old and new testaments.
    Really this is about people disagreeing with God.
    What is the problem?

    • Katie says:

      Gerald, if you actually read the book, there is a chapter written on the word homosexual relating to the translation of the Bible. It is a compilation of two words which the meanings of are guesses at best. The Bible was not written in English, it’s translated from ancient texts, therefore there IS a realistic possibility of human error in translation. Some of you obviously haven’t read changing our mind, and it really shows in your comments. Some of you have read it, but clearly with a predisposed opinion and bias. You all need to read it again, but without bias and ask yourselves questions as you read it. David Gushee did not write this about personal opinion, he wrote this because he saw a divide in his churches, he saw a problem that he was previously oblivious to, he saw a problem that he did not understand. So as a scholar, he researched to learn more. He had interactions with lgbt Christians within his congregation, and in his travels. He asked the tough questions, he went against everything he believed to understand the other side, the rejects, the unaccepted, the shunned. His newly discovered stance on how to welcome the lgbt community in church was but a small fraction of why he has disassociated from evangelicalism and more to do with how the word evangelical essentially means rich, white, and conservative. He doesn’t skip over the parts of the Bible that teach grace, mercy, love, peace, etc to jump straight to you’re condemned! You’re going to hell! Imagine that, a preacher that doesn’t act as a judge! And no, he is not abandoning his faith. He has done a lot of soul searching. And the requirement for being a Christian is outlined in John 3:16.

  3. Jeff, you are right — at least on the 2nd point and possibly the first. He admitted separately to a relative being lesbian — as if that changes the Bible.

    • Jeff Winter says:

      Over and over again in my years of ministry, people affirm homosexuality because they have a loved one or dear friend who says they are gay. My heroes are the parents of a child who says, “I am gay” yet stands firm for biblical sexuality.

      • Patrick98 says:

        In addition to parents other family members stand firm for biblical sexuality despite a sibling, aunt, uncle, nephew, niece, etc. having same sex attractions.

  4. Jim says:

    I also commend close relations who stand for the truth w/ regard to this issue, even with their loved ones. I do encourage them to not only speak the truth in love but also caution them as to the difference between speaking the TRUTH in love and speaking the truth in LOVE.

  5. Dean says:

    I love my time in evangelicalism for most all of my life. So much in flux now. I’ve backed away more because of the crazy support of Zionist Israel which violates all kinds of New Testament scriptures and Jesus’ teachings. It’s odd that so many are so staunch in holding to a few out-of-context Old Testament scriptures on that while ignoring clearer, more important New Testament teachings.

    • Jan says:

      Read your bible beginning to end. Jews have and always will be Gods chosen . We are adopted into the family of God through Jesus.

  6. Earl H. Foote says:

    My own feeling is that same-sex love is compatible with Biblical values. Yes, I’ve read all the relevant passages. There are also passages condemning rich people, condoning slavery, and telling women to be silent in church. Perhaps knowing actual gay people shows some of us that God’s love shines within them, as they are. Of course, we are all sinners. We should be very careful not to confuse our own feelings with God’s will. However, as an example, just read the vile things Lutherans and Catholics used to say about each other, and remember that they now can share Communion services. Be very careful about saying that a particular teaching is true “for all time.” Core teachings are, but views about power and money have shifted, so why not sexual values? Finally, support of Israel is one issue that conservative Christians and Evangelicals get right–I hope that they NEVER abandon it.

    • CKG says:

      Earle, with all due respect, put these two statements of yours next to each other:

      “My own feeling is that same-sex love is compatible with Biblical values.”

      We should be very careful not to confuse our own feelings with God’s will.”

      Your feelings, or mine, matter not a whit. What matters is only the Truth. Indeed, it is not as simple as we might wish, for sinners like you and me to know the Truth, but that is all that matters. Not our feelings.

      And knowing a few actual gay people myself, I can also attest that it is entirely possible to experience God’s love from and through them (they are, after all, made in God’s image and likeness, same as you and me), to love them in return, and still think that homosexuality deviates from God’s plan for human sexuality.

    • Rebecca says:

      Could you explain why it took 2 thousand years for people to come up with the idea that the Bible supports homosexual relations?

      • Betsy says:

        Excellent question. And I would add why did it only happen after the sexual revolution of the 1960’s and 1970’s when sex became “something to do” and the church was strangely silent on what was happening?

      • Earl H. Foote says:

        Jesus prohibits taking an oath, and yet most Christians allow it. The Bible prohibits the charging of interest on loans, condones slavery, and prohibits divorce. While it doesn’t directly prohibit birth control, I would suggest that the practice is contrary to the command to “be fruitful and multiply” and to the implied message in the passage about Onan. Yet all Christians presumably condemn slavery, and many or most Christians permit the other practices. Why is this one teaching eternal and unchangeable? Also, note to CKG: your point is well taken. We need to be sure that we are hearing God’s voice. Per above, while core beliefs do not change, some teachings have changed over the years.

        • Jojo Ruba says:

          The Bible also condemns rape, child-sacrifice and adultery too. Does that mean we should throw those practices out when they are no longer popular?

    • Gerry McD says:

      Not only do the clear Scriptures have to be considered but the science as well. In biology there is no such thing as a “gay” sexual biology. All gays are biologically sexually complementary (male /female) beings. In pyschology since 2011 the APA has held that sexual orientation is neither innate or fixed. In sociology it has been a foundational tenant that a fully human society is one where men & women freely interact as equals. This is especially true in domestic relations. Marriage is an institution of gender integration.

      The LGB movt is Pagan in origin and hostile to the things of God. It elevates Eros above all the loves. Unlike the Civil Rights movt of the 60’s the Church does not lead the movt. It will eventually be led where it does not wish to go and be cast aside when it’s usefulness has been exhausted.

  7. Jojo Ruba says:

    Same-sex love is not only accepted by the Bible but taught as a good thing – between David and Jonathan and Ruth and Naomi and even Jesus and His disciples. But same-sex sexuality is not. In fact, it violates the core nature of not only marriage but friendship because romantic love cannot fulfill our need for same-sex friendship. They are two different kinds of loves that mean two different kinds of needs.

    One mistake Christians have made in refuting revisionists like Gushee is that we’ve only offered opposite-sex marriage as an alternative to homosexuality when in fact God also gives us inmate, same-sex non-sexual friendships that are God-honouring.

  8. Sue Abbott says:

    Parental, sibling, same and opposite sex devoted love and friendship are significant in our lives but those relationships would be deeply harmed, destroyed by sexual expression or activity. The procreative dynamic of sexual activity makes it appropriate and unique only within one man one woman marriage. That is the setting that is pleasing to God.

  9. Freddy says:

    It was right for Gushee to clarify his adopted position on this issue, though I wish he would have affirmed his commitment to the biblical and societal ideal, rather than the pro-LGBTIQ position now en vogue.

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