An award-winning worship leader continues to generate controversy after revealing that he no longer accepts the Genesis account of creation as being literal.
Michael Gungor and his wife Lisa, who in 2006 formed a congregation called “Bloom” in Denver, are known for their the Dove Award-winning and Grammy nominated worship music, such as Beautiful Things, Say So and Dry Bones. In 2013, they won an award from the Independent Music Awards for their live performance album A Creation Liturgy.
But in 2012, Michael Gungor, the son of pastor and author Ed Gungor, revealed in a blog post entitled A Worshiping Evolutionist? that he had concluded that the Genesis account is only figurative.
“I guess I’ll have to come out of the closet and admit…no, sorry kid, I don’t believe in a literal six-day creation,” he wrote.
“[I]n my Christian school growing up, we’d all snort and chuckle when a scientist in a documentary would mention evolution or talk about how this sort of animal existed millions of years ago,” Gungor said. “But now that I am a songwriter, I see this whole thing as absolutely absurd. Genesis is a poem if I’ve ever seen one.”
Upon posting the blog link to Facebook, fans were divided, with some expressing support and others feeling deep disappointment.
“Beautiful,” one follower named Alex wrote. “I think it is imperative that we remember that the Bible was inspired by God, yet written by human hands, trying to understand life just as we are today.”
“[Creation] matters for one reason alone: If there were no First Adam, how could there be a Second One?” added another named Jon.
“The fall of man and Christ’s death/resurrection have everything to do with each other,” chimed in Ben, who likewise disagreed with Gungor. “If Genesis is a poem (not literal) then the gospel might as well be, too.”
But earlier this year, Gungor revealed his thoughts even further, explaining in a blog post entitled What Do We Believe? that he “has no more ability to believe” in Genesis as being literal.
“I have no more ability to believe, for example, that the first people on earth were a couple named Adam and Eve that lived 6,000 years ago,” he wrote. “I have no ability to believe that there was a flood that covered all the highest mountains of the world only 4,000 years ago and that all of the animal species that exist today are here because they were carried on an ark and then somehow walked or flew all around the world from a mountain in the middle east after the water dried up.”
“I have no more ability to believe these things than I do to believe in Santa Claus or to not believe in gravity,” he continued. “But I have a choice on what to do with these unbeliefs. I could either throw out those stories as lies, or I could try to find some value in them as stories.”
Now, Gungor is involved with a collaborative project called The Liturgists, which features controversial author and speaker Rob Bell, singer Nichole Nordeman, writer Rachel Held Evans and others, who characterize themselves as being “decidedly Christian in practice.” One of the EP’s, entitled God Our Mother, explores moving past seeing God in the masculine, but also as a motherly, comforting figure.
“God our Mother/Leading us into peace/Drawing and comforting all those in need,” the song rings out.
Also included is an apophatic meditation that asks listeners to contemplate “who is God?”
“This meditation will consist of a series of phrases. The first will be a positive statement. Something like ‘God is our Father.’ … The second phrase will be a negation of the first: God is not our Father. The word father applies to a human male who either raises a child, contributes sperm for conception, or both. This is not the case with God,” it outlines.
“The third phrase will then negate the negation: ‘God is not not our Father,'” the meditative piece continues. “To the mystics, we perhaps are now present with God. Here in the lack of any understanding. Here in the murkiness of mystery, when we have stopped making an idol of God with our concepts and language… we are finally just present with the great ‘I will be who I will be.'”
Word of Gungor’s direction continues to sadden some Christians.
“He seems confused about what the word of God is and what he believes,” wrote one commenter. “It is impossible to believe only ‘part’ of the Bible. You either believe it all as truth and God’s word or none of it.”
Photo: Facebook/Gungor/Mary Caroline Man