Thousands of people responded to a tweet by Michael Gungor, the lead singer of the famous band Gungor, on Friday, July 23. The post drew widespread criticism because it asserted that, although Jesus is the Christ, so are Buddha, Muhammad, people, and the church.
Several readers interpreted Michael Gungor’s tweet as a universalist statement. The text of Gungor’s tweet stated: “Jesus was Christ. Buddha was Christ. Muhammad was Christ. Christ is a word for the Universe seeing itself. You are Christ. We are the body of Christ.”
Gungor expressed gratitude for the kind responses to his tweet, writing, “Thanks for all the thoughtful replies everyone.”
Then, in support of what he tweeted, he suggested that everyone read Richard Rohr’s book “The Universal Christ” and listen to his Liturgists podcast, where he claims they discussed the topic in depth.
Jesus was Christ.
Buddha was Christ.
Muhammad was Christ.
Christ is a word for the Universe seeing itself.
You are Christ.
We are the body of Christ.
— Michael Gungor (@michaelgungor) July 23, 2021
His counter-argument and “freedom to question things”
Happy that his post sparked so much discussion on what he meant by “Christ,” a subject he thinks is essential, the musician went live on Instagram to dissect his tweet in more detail and answer questions from fans.
“Christ is a word for the universe, seeing itself. You are Christ’s. We are the body of Christ,” he said in his Instagram Live video.
Following the “met with fury” reaction to his tweet, Gungor stated that although he was raised Christian, the “concept of Christ” and the meaning of the term “Christ” were not discussed in depth or on a consistent basis.
Thus, he believes that the book “The Universal Christ,” which he recommended people read in his tweet, is an excellent introduction to the topic.
Gungor then responded to those who claimed his tweet was “unorthodox to mainstream historical Christianity,” saying he’s “guilty as charged.”
But he went on to clarify that those accusations relating to historical mainstream Christianity don’t bother him in the least.
“For a number of reasons, historical mainstream Christianity is the force in the world that, (I’m not going to say it) doesn’t have any good or that it doesn’t have any worth. But it is the force in the world that is responsible for the Inquisition, Manifest Destiny, all sorts of colonialism and genocide, sexism, patriarchy, homophobia, ecological, violence, and countless other evils. I’m not too worried about being unorthodox to the power systems of Christianity, to be honest with you,” he said.
He went on to say that orthodoxy caused him to feel alienated from the body of Christ, but that he quickly discovered the “freedom to question things” and began “moving away from those things.”
“I’m not claiming that my take on what Christ is, is what most Christians have said,” he continued. “If you are concerned about that, you should call me a heretic, and I will accept your accusation.”
In response to the criticism that he was abusing the term “Christ,” Gungor stated that he is more interested in the “traditional use of the word Christ as a concept” rather than as “the last name of Jesus” or as a “political flag for our team.”
“I think it ought to mean something bigger. I think it ought to mean something universal for the sake, not only of individual practice. I think it makes the concept of Christ and the practice of this unity incredibly more powerful,” he said.
“I think it’s less violent to find the more broader universal understanding of the word Christ that doesn’t leave us in the seat of colonizers of culture, of ideas of religion, of spirituality, of metaphysical land like I was saying before,” he added.
As for comparing Christianity to other faiths such as Buddhism or Islam, Gungor said that he is not “flattening the important distinctions of other traditions,” but rather “honoring” the “specificity of the traditions.”