Recently, many individuals in the evangelical community have been disappointed once again, but this time by a talented band that represented all things Christian. Websites reported Gungor saying “I lost my metaphysic” and that they lost their belief in “[s]tories that we lived by, defined ourselves with, but can no longer believe in.”
The article continues;
Why? Not because my life looks like Jesus or doesn’t look like Jesus. But because of my lack of ability to nail down all the words and concepts of what I exactly BELIEVE.” Then he nails down exactly what he doesn’t believe—in Adam and Eve or the Flood. He has “no more ability to believe in these things then I do to believe in Santa Claus.”
Two words that Gungor used to identify this “epiphany”: Apophatic Mysticism.
I was saddened after reading all of this a few days ago, though it wasn’t exactly surprising. As a fan of Gungor’s work (especially “Beautiful Things”) I listened to his music, and knew the lyrics pretty well. He did a great job expressing his thoughts on biblical truth. I found myself saying “amen” to the dimensions of biblical truth he sang of, with the musical composition and skill with that of a genius. There were, however, a couple of lyrics in “Cannot Keep You” that always irritated me. I know that many are not as concerned as I am about precision when speaking of God and His Self-revelation to us. I also know that my zeal for precision can also be a vice, turning me into an arrogant jerk.
Despite my failing, scripture is still adamant about “a form of sound words”. Paul, under The Holy Spirit’s direction and breathing, wrote to Timothy, who was the closest thing he had to a son; “Hold fast the form of sound words, that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.” ( 2 Timothy 2:13-14).
These “sound words” are treasured by Paul. His life had been a testimony of his treasury of scripture, and with his life coming to an end, he instructed Timothy, as Timothy had been since he was a child, to treasure all of Scripture as God’s Speech, concerning the covenant he made with man in Christ.
God’s purposes from all eternity, and all of his actions from beginning to end were made clear, and were revealed in our precious Savior Jesus Christ. He abolished death. He brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. (2 Tim 2:10)
It was because of this, and to this that Paul was appointed a preacher, apostle, and teacher. And it was for this reason that he rejoiced in suffering for it. “But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me.” (2 Tim 2:11-12)
There is no room for me, or anyone else (especially me) to be apathetic about this mystery that has been revealed. God becoming known to us, by His own choosing. Not only that, but He was made like us in every way, yet without sin.
Scripture is God-breathed. The Character of Scripture is authoritative because it is God in which it originates. How convenient it is for we who are skeptical, or who have reservations, or are embarrassed by a Holy God to say “well man was involved with writing scripture, so it isn’t going to be perfect”. There are many problems with this kind of sophistry, besides being a lousy methodology, and I do not intend to touch on it here.
The verse that was of concern in “Cannot Keep You” say;
“we cannot keep you in a church
we cannot keep you in a Bible
or it’s just another idol to box you in”
The first line of this verse is okay. We know of God’s transcendence, that His essence is not constrained to one place at a time. He is Self-occupying, before there was anything to be occupied, He was, and still is today and for all eternally I AM.
But it is also said that God walked in the garden (Gen 3:8). Does Gungor believe that to be true or false? Is it literal (however he is using this word, literal is a confusing word to use given that it could mean the original intention of the author, or referring to a wooden, prima facie, sort of literalism)
It is also said that God met with Moses on Mount Sinai, by His own choosing, in the form of an unburning bush (Ex 3:1-22). The unburning bush was a sign of God’s transcendence, but His free decision to dwell with Israel, not consuming them as if He needed them, but covenanting with and caring for them nonetheless. Does Gungor believe this is true or false? Did we put God in a box? Did God put Himself in a bush?
This kind of phraseology is ambiguous at best, and intentionally deceptive at worst. I understand that there is a desire to keep anyone from putting words in God’s mouth. However, saying “You can’t put God in a box” can just as easily be used to backdoor false teaching. Think about the line above;
“We cannot keep you in a bible or it’s just another idol to box you in”
One of the most problematic things about this reasoning, is the hypocritical nature of it. Whether it was intended by Gungor this way or not. The subtle hypocrisy can be exposed by asking this question;
“Oh yeah? Says who?”
Think about it. Who defines idolatry?
If you said “God” you are correct. If you said YHWH, then you get an added bonus of 100 points for being more specific.
Next question. Where do we get the definition of idolatry?
Is it from Scripture? Or is it a pious agnosticism that uses a lot of words to communicate not much of anything?
Think about it until the follow up