By Bob Allen
Contrary to reports, LifeWay Christian Stores have not stopped selling music by a contemporary Christian artist under fire for stating he does not believe narratives in the early chapters of Genesis are to be taken literally.
Marty King, director of corporate communications for LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention, said a comment by Dove Award-winning artist Michael Gungor that his music was taken out of LifeWay Christian Stores is incorrect.
“LifeWay has not removed Gungor music from our stores,” King said. “Although we disagree with Michael Gungor’s recent statements about Scripture and creation, that theology is not expressed in the music we carry.”
Gungor posted on Facebook that he made the erroneous comment based on bad information about a number of cancellations of his concerts since a World Magazine article published Aug. 2 charged him with drifting away from biblical orthodoxy.
Gungor and his wife, Lisa, are Grammy-nominated musicians and co-leaders of the musical collective Gungor, which has released three studio albums and one live album. Their 2012 Dry Bones and 2010 Beautiful Things are known as worship anthems across the country.
A 2012 blog post titled A Worshiping Evolutionist? and another this February about religious teachings he no longer believes, however, have recently come back to haunt the pastor’s son from Wisconsin.
“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,” Gungor wrote in a Feb. 22 posting titled What Do We Believe?
“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,” he continued. “I have no more ability to believe these things than I do to believe in Santa Clause or to not believe in gravity.”
Gungor said in a blog Aug. 6 that a Baptist church had cancelled a September gig after the World article criticizing his views bounced around the Internet. Baptist Press published a story Aug. 11 about Creation Museum founder Ken Ham demanding that Gungor apologize for demeaning young-earth creationists.
Gungor said in an interview Aug. 12 with the BioLogos Forum — a website that promotes a view of “evolutionary creation” divinely directed over billions of years — that to date three concerts have been canceled and a few other promoters are thinking about doing the same.
In the interview, also picked up by On Faith, a blog community for religious journalists, Gungor said, “We’ve also had our music taken out of Lifeway Christian Bookstores.” BioLogos updated the article by removing the quote while Gungor checked his facts.
Gungor posted on Facebook that he was sorry for mentioning LifeWay among other cancellations.
“I had just been receiving so much information about who was canceling what and who was mad at me, and I thought my sources in the LifeWay situation were reliable, but it appears that there was a misunderstanding,” he said. “It was irresponsible of me to say something publicly without absolute confirmation from them directly.”
In the interview Gungor said he was “kind of surprised” that so many people were upset about his views on creation. “I’ve been pretty clear about my stance on Genesis for years,” he said. “But I am, of course, disappointed,” he said, about the controversy.
LifeWay routinely drops products that no longer sell, but occasionally other factors come into play.
In 2012 LifeWay stopped selling videos of The Blind Side after a pastor complained about its PG-13 rating because of profanity and a racial slur.
At the recent SBC annual meeting in Baltimore, a motion requesting that LifeWay cease distribution of Heaven is for Real — a 2010 best-selling Christian book and 2014 movie about the true story of the 4-year-old son of a Nebraska pastor who had a near-death experience in 2003 — was ruled out of order according to parliamentary procedure.
Currently LifeWay is suspending sale of books by Seattle pastor Mark Driscoll, pending an inquiry into recent controversies involving plagiarism and his past use of vulgar language.