Fuse Magazine is spotlighting an interview with Derek Webb. When I listen to his solo work, and to a certain extent what he did with Caedmons Call, I can’t help but be reminded of Rich Mullins; so beautiful and yet so unflinchingly real at the same time. His new album, i see things upside down, will be released next week.
From the interview, on the idea of mystery:
…mystery is so lacking in Christian culture. And of all cultures for it to be lacking in! We’re obsessive people who want to be able to explain and control everything. But we serve a God who is in control of everything, who is a total mystery to us, who we cannot explain and we cannot figure out. We cannot manage him, we cannot predict him, we cannot obligate him. But it makes us feel better by trying to manage, obligate, and control him, by cramming him into systematic categories.
Our God is a great mystery. It was J.I. Packer who once said that “the only Biblical theology is one with many loose ends.”
So is it wrong to try and solve the mystery of God?
That’s a good question. (Laughs.) I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s wrong. But the question is, is it necessary? I don’t think it is. Because what’s the point? Why would we try to solve the mystery? What is it about ourselves that we’re trying to say if we can solve the mystery of God? Does it put us more in control? Does it make us feel like we have it more figured-out, and we’re therefore deserving of something, or we can somehow now control and manipulate him just like all the other relationships we’re in?
I don’t know what it is, but I don’t think it’s a good idea. I think you must leave certain things unresolved. Here’s what Charles Spurgeon once said, and I’m paraphrasing here. He said, “As I read through scripture, and I come upon a hard word that I cannot understand, I make for myself there an altar where I can bow down and worship.” That should be our response to the mystery of God. Those are places where we say, “Lord, your ways are higher than our ways. We have feeble, little, simple, foolish minds, and on our best day, our best human representative could not figure you out.”
Jonathan Edwards is a brilliant theologian; I can’t understand half the words that guy says. The Encyclopedia Britannica once said that he was the greatest mind America has ever produced, in any field. He was a brilliant man. But I guarantee you that Edwards would confess that he does not begin to understand. So rather than try to work and strive to understand God, maybe it’s better to get down on our knees and worship the God who we cannot understand.
Because when he is mysterious, that makes us vulnerable. The point is not to cease to be vulnerable to him, but to submit to his grace and his goodness and his power and his mystery. I think that as artists, it’s good for us to bring that language back into the minds of our people. Because like you said, many of our churches and our schools have tried to all but erase the great mysteries of the faith….
Visit FuseMagazine.net to read the rest of the interview.
From the album, She Must and Shall Go Free
if you could love me as a wife
and for my wedding gift, your life
should that be all i’ll ever need
or is there more i’m looking for
and should i read between the lines
and look for blessings in disguise
to make me handsome, rich, and wise
is that really what you want
i am a whore i do confess
but i put you on just like a wedding dress
and i run down the aisle
i’m a prodigal with no way home
but i put you on just like a ring of gold
and i run down the aisle to you
so could you love this bastard child
though i don’t trust you to provide
with one hand in a pot of gold
and with the other in your side
i am so easily satisfied
by the call of lovers less wild
that i would take a little cash
over your very flesh and blood
because money cannot buy
a husband’s jealous eye
when you have knowingly deceived his wife
And, though I don’t usually do this, a quote I was reminded of upon reading the interview:
“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.” -Albert Einstein
Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend. Keep thinking.