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Ben Harper’s Faith

August 28, 2007

Relevant Magazine’s forthcoming issue has a cover story devoted to Ben Harper. Here are some quotes from the interview that lasted until 3am after a recent show:

“I love the concept that nature walks us at one with God,” he says. “When I stand in front of the General Sherman tree and the sequoias in California, I feel in touch with a greater power. There’s no question that there is a higher power. I just don’t want it to be exclusive to me.”

“I wasn’t raised in the Church, but I’ve always had a church deep in my heart,” Harper says.

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14 Comments leave one →
  1. August 28, 2007 3:49 pm

    I’ve had a long association with Relevant – see some of that here:http://www.flickr.com/photos/squarerootofnine/110215431/ and here:http://www.flickr.com/photos/squarerootofnine/110206166/in/set-72157594173651090/ – but ultimately terminated my subscription a couple years ago because of stuff like this.

    It seems they so badly want Christianity to be cool – to be an accepted part of American culture – but that idea goes counter to the kind of life a Christian is called to (see also Matt 10:38, Phil 1:29, Rom 8:8).

    I think articles like this are irresponsible. Putting a well liked and respected artist like Ben Harper on the cover of a Christian magazine talking about his “faith” is the “cool” equivalent of Christian women listening to Oprah. At the end of the day, people walk away more than a little misguided away from Truth rather than pointed towards it.

    What I think most of our culture doesn’t comprehend is how we as Americans slot into the bigger picture of Biblical history. This nation is an ANOMALY! It’s a freak occurrence in the larger picture of history. Where else in the world today can you be open about following Christ? Very few places.

    Christ is good, Christ is true, Christ is relevant – yesterday, today and tomorrow. But is the Gospel cool? No. To quote Paul, it’s “foolishness to those who are perishing.” Trying to make it cool isn’t being intellectually or spiritually honest.

    Of course, that’s just my opinion.

  2. August 28, 2007 4:31 pm

    I agree, Trey. I think it’s worth serious consideration whether the concept of “coolness” is compatible with the gospel at all.

    Hey, you should check out a book by Andrew Walls called “The Missionary Movement in Christian History”. It has had a huge impact on my thinking on several fronts. Your comments above about 21st century American Christian culture being an anomaly reminded me of it–especially of Walls’ first chapter.

  3. August 29, 2007 2:51 pm

    I fretted after writing that yesterday because I thought I was being a little too reactionary.

    Maybe more than a little.

    All that to say, I’d love to see arguments on both sides of the “cool” debate. Is there a place for incredible graphic design in the Kingdom? I hope so. Is here a place for people with wonderful taste in music? Art? Again, I SURE hope so.

    Should we make those things the backbone of our appeal to a dying world?

    If we do, we’re in trouble. Because, at a very fundamental level, we’ll have missed the gospel message entirely.

    I’ll check out that book.

  4. August 29, 2007 3:44 pm

    The book is outstanding, top shelf missiology, as are all Walls books.

    From reading the interview, i do think you were a little hard on Relevant on this one. The interview just puts Harper’s statements out there without endorsing them. To me, it was abundantly clear that Harper is spiritual but not Christ-centered. That said, historically, Relevant has been soft on theology but things seem to be changing a bit as they run articles by John Piper and others fairly often.

  5. August 29, 2007 4:22 pm

    well that’s good to hear.

  6. Frank permalink
    September 8, 2007 11:33 pm

    is it right to say that because Ben Harper is “cool” the magazine is trying to be cool by posting him in the magazine. Who is to say that his faith is any less than ours? Maybe his convictions for poverty, nature, and injustice should be a wake up call to us. What are we doing to speak out about these things?

  7. September 9, 2007 6:23 am

    Yes, there is much to learn from Harper in that respect, though Jesus is a pretty good example too. In fact, this raises the whole question of why do anything? If truth and faith are relative, then so is morality, and i f morality is relative then who is to say that doing something to reverse poverty is any better than spending millions on your home?

  8. amy v permalink
    September 25, 2007 10:41 am

    I have been trying desperately to discover whether or not Ben Harper is a “Christian”. To the point where it’s getting rediculous. I want to believe he is . . . I want to listen to his music. I want to know he’s singing about my God. My brother made a good point, “It’s not worth getting upset about. His music resounds in you, it points to Him. It stirs your soul.” The rest is up to god. He will be the judge of all of our hearts. We will all probably be very surprised at who we share our eternal home with. After all, He is a God of mercy, and he desperately loves us all and wants us to come home to him. I guess that if listening to Ben’s music makes me long for my Creator in the same way that the sunlight on my face, or the twinkle in my daughter’s eye does, then it must be spirit filled. some things just naturally lead us to Him ~ without having a “label”.

  9. Jenny permalink
    April 23, 2009 9:51 am

    When my ears listen to Harper’s singing about what resounds to me of God and the Good News, well that’s simply all I need.

    Of course I would love for all people to come to know God before their death, including Harper – but I know that the only ways I can act on my hope is:
    – prayer (the most powerful thing you can do)
    – share my personal encounters with God with those that would listen
    – as a sinner like everyone else, share the freedom that giving your life to Christ gives.

    Whether or not Harper is a Christian isn’t as important as how he may be reaching the non-believers by singing so sweetly of the enigma and unending love of the Lord.

  10. Nick permalink
    June 17, 2009 2:02 am

    Awesome responses Amy & Jenny. I have asked myself these same questions, and I think you are both thereabouts. When God is glorified my soul delights, I am encouraged and I am thankful for the truth that Ben puts through in his songs, even if he may not be completely gospel centered. As much as I am against a “watered down Gospel”, I feel that the questions he asks and the passion he has for truth is refreshing in popular music today, hopefully his insights and the way he points people to God through his music can be in some way seeds that can be used to bring people to Christ. Maybe God is more able to use his music to lead people to the truth of the Gospel than the condemning, disqualifying, guilt inducing, self-righteous, legalistic “gospel” that is so prevalent in the world today. When I listen to many of his God centered songs I feel closer to Him(God) than I do hearing any legalistic preaching/teaching that I have received over my short few years as a Christian. God can use the weak and foolish things of this world to confound the wise.

  11. January 28, 2010 10:52 am

    Ben Harper’s pseudo-spiritual-christian belief system, in which he can’t even seem to get straight himself, makes not a shred of sense. Does he even know what he believes? He jumps from God is nature, to the God of the gospels, to God being energy. I mean you name it, he’ll be willing to go a long with it, regardless of any conflict there is.

    I like the style of his music, but can’t handle the mind numbing preaching. t’s great to have an open mind, but one without a filter lets in a lot of trollop as well.

  12. Susan permalink
    June 5, 2010 2:40 pm

    As long as Christians view others in terms of eternal destiny… ie, heaven/hell… we will always, understandably, be prone to give them more “slack” than might be warranted. Is Ben Harper preaching the truth about Jesus Christ? Him “making it” to Heaven shouldn’t even come into that picture. Jesus is the Creator, Savior and Redeemer of all that is visible and invisible. Romans 11:36. God is the One who saves. So we can rest in that as long as we’re here on Earth, and we can be honest about our faith in Jesus and who He is.

  13. Susan permalink
    June 5, 2010 2:40 pm

    As long as Christians view others in terms of eternal destiny… ie, heaven/hell… we will always, understandably, be prone to give them more “slack” than might be warranted. Is Ben Harper preaching the truth about Jesus Christ? Him “making it” to Heaven shouldn’t even come into that picture. Jesus is the Creator, Savior and Redeemer of all that is visible and invisible. Romans 11:36. God is the One who saves. So we can rest in that as long as we’re here on Earth, and we can be honest about our faith in Jesus and who He is.
    GreatestStoryTold(dot)com

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  1. the public faith of Ben Harper « willadair.com: my personal blog

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