Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Derek Webb and Prophecy

One great part about living near Chicago is the music scene. I was happily overwhelmed with a bevy of live music this past fall and winter. Rosie Thomas, Over the Rhine and Anathallo to name a few. More recently I've had a chance to check out some lesser known more local bands and am looking forward to some more live shows.

Another show I went to with some friends was Derek Webb. He has garnered a lot of attention for speaking out against the church. As Christianity Today writes,

"He has taught us about the church, expounded on the paradoxes of the faith life and written about freedom in Christ, all in a way that's provocative, sobering and, most of all, necessary."
(An Unfiltered Webb by Andree Farias)

After watching him perform live, with his wife Sandra McCracken, I walked away from the show feeling troubled. I agree that we need a "prophetic" voice that calls the church into repentance and reform. But Webb's message just doesn't harmonize with me. Don't get me wrong I completely agree with his critique, for example in one song,

"there are two great lies that ive heard: the day you eat of the fruit of that tree, you will not surely die and that Jesus Christ was a white, middle-class republican and if you wanna be saved you have to learn to be like Him”

Where I find myself frustrated with Webb is the lack of care spoken alongside the truth. Many of his songs end with a clear denouncement of Christian/church behavior. There is no hope or encouragement for reform.

The prophets spoke the truth, just like I think Webb does, but they always did it with the intention of bringing people back to God. In many ways, when I listen to Mockingbird (Webb's latest release) the lyrics come off as abrasive condemnation, not truth spoken in love.

Look at the prophet Jeremiah in chapter 3

20 But like a woman unfaithful to her husband,so you have been unfaithful to me, O house of Israel," declares the LORD. 21 A cry is heard on the barren heights, the weeping and pleading of the people of Israel, because they have perverted their ways and have forgotten the LORD their God. 22 "Return, faithless people; I will cure you of backsliding." "Yes, we will come to you, for you are the LORD our God.

Jeremiah told it like it was but it was coupled with a call to "return" to God. In speaking difficult words there needs to be direction for where we need to return to. We can't just say, "this is wrong. This is bad." We need to provide a hope for reform that encourages people towards repentance.

I probably am being a little unfair but I figured it would be fun to share how his music has impacted me. All in all I like Derek Webb and his music. I hope he continues to challenge the status quo and does it in a way that uplifts people.


2e said...

Jeremiah wept because he loved the people he criticized. Jesus wept when he laid eyes on the city that killed the men whom he used to try and love them.

If a critic speaks without a broken heart, who can trust him? Who knows if he actually cares about the well-being those whom he criticizes. I'd trust every time the one who loves me enough to cry.

Mike Moore said...

That's a legit post! Exactly what I'm getting at.