Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Switchfoot: Thoughts from Outside the Box


Scrolling through the iTunes Store the other day I discovered something that put a big smile on my face; Switchfoot is about to release another new album. According to iTunes, “Fading West” is expected to be released on January 14, 2014. Am I excited? You bet I am! I have already pre-ordered my copy!

About the same time as I made that discovery, I also saw an interesting quote on Facebook attributed to Jon Foreman, Switchfoot’s lead singer. I'm not suggesting that you can't believe everything you read on Facebook (OK, maybe I am suggesting that), but I went looking for the source of that quote. Though I couldn’t find the original interview, I did locate the quote again here.

Apparently Jon Foreman was once asked if Switchfoot was “Christian” music. For many of us Switchfoot fans, I know, that's a weird question. Still, it brought a profound answer that we may never have had if the question had not been asked. So, in honor of the release of their new album, here’s Jon’s answer to that question:

“To be honest, this question grieves me because I feel that it represents a much bigger issue than simply a couple SF tunes. In true Socratic form, let me ask you a few questions: Does Lewis or Tolkien mention Christ in any of their fictional series? Are Bach’s sonata’s Christian? What is more Christ-like, feeding the poor, making furniture, cleaning bathrooms, or painting a sunset? There is a schism between the sacred and the secular in all of our modern minds. The view that a pastor is more ‘Christian’ than a girls volleyball coach is flawed and heretical. The stance that a worship leader is more spiritual than a janitor is condescending and flawed. These different callings and purposes further demonstrate God’s sovereignty. Many songs are worthy of being written. Switchfoot will write some, Keith Green, Bach, and perhaps yourself have written others. Some of these songs are about redemption, others about the sunrise, others about nothing in particular: written for the simple joy of music. None of these songs has been born again, and to that end there is no such thing as Christian music. No. Christ didn’t come and die for my songs, he came for me. Yes. My songs are a part of my life. But judging from scripture I can only conclude that our God is much more interested in how I treat the poor and the broken and the hungry than the personal pronouns I use when I sing. I am a believer. Many of these songs talk about this belief. An obligation to say this or do that does not sound like the glorious freedom that Christ died to afford me. I do have an obligation, however, a debt that cannot be settled by my lyrical decisions. My life will be judged by my obedience, not my ability to confine my lyrics to this box or that. We all have a different calling; Switchfoot is trying to be obedient to who we are called to be. We’re not trying to be Audio A or U2 or POD or Bach: we’re trying to be Switchfoot. You see, a song that has the words: ‘Jesus Christ’ is no more or less ‘Christian’ than an instrumental piece. (I’ve heard lots of people say Jesus Christ and they weren’t talking about their redeemer.) You see, Jesus didn’t die for any of my tunes. So there is no hierarchy of life or songs or occupation only obedience. We have a call to take up our cross and follow. We can be sure that these roads will be different for all of us. Just as you have one body and every part has a different function, so in Christ we who are many form one body and each of us belongs to all the others. Please be slow to judge ‘brothers’ who have a different calling.”

Well there you have it. I think there’s a lot of wisdom in Foreman’s words. As I began musing over this quote, it got me thinking that maybe one day, when we each stand before the throne of God, there will be a lot of surprises; some good, and some not so good. A careful reading of Matthew 25 should cause us to see that not everyone who thinks that he or she is “saved” will actually be saved. Conversely, I suspect that the reverse may also be true. We may find some of our theology and doctrines turned upside down as one day we find ourselves seated at that great Messianic banquet next to an individual or two that we had previously relegated as hell-bound.

Could it be that heaven may actually include some folks who would have failed the entrance exam had it been up to us? Having said that, it’s a good thing that it’s not up to us to make that call.

I guess that’s why I like this Jon Foreman quote; he challenges some of our quirky little religious ideas of what constitutes “Christian” music, and by extension, maybe the term “Christian” as a whole. Peace.

Quote Source: http://landofbrokenhearts.org/switchfoot/quotes/jon-foreman-quotes/
Album Cover Source: Wikipedia

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