Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, recently weighed in again, this time with a profound thought that “Beatles songs are as likely to explain Christianity as the Bible.” In an endorsement of Finding Faith, a book written by Rt Rev Nick Baines, Bishop of Croydon, Williams says, “For many people the language of the Bible has become inaccessible and yet pop song writers can make a connection with people because their language is fresh.”
Essentially equating rock bands with the Holy Spirit, he says, “They [rock music] are able to open our imagination to a way of thinking about God that we’ve become deaf to in church language.”
Some of the songs mentioned in the book are composed and sung by such Christian stalwarts such as Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, John Lennon (“We’re more famous than Jesus Christ”), Bruce Cockburn and U2.
Williams says about pop groups’ influence on his “faith,” “I have read the Bible through many times and I have enjoyed art all over the world… But it was a simple song from [Bruce] Cockburn’s early period that gave me the words to hang all this together…” He wonders how it took a U2 song to help him define his faith, “What I can’t quite understand is why it took a song by an Irish rock band to make me identify what I actually felt about being a Christian in a complicated world.”
It would seem that the eminent Archbishop thinks that rock groups have been commissioned by the Holy Spirit to take over His work of regenerating human hearts. Many Christians would be appalled with Williams’ pronouncements, but his sayings are the same things we hear very often in modern evangelicalism. They would not even blink in arguing that churches should use rock music and other “creative” entertainment gimmicks in “appealing to non-churchgoers” so they would be saved.
The ordinary means of grace, preaching of the gospel and the sacraments? They’re obsolete, says Williams. It would then be just a matter of time before we’re all singing George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord” on the Lord’s Day.1
1 Several years ago, my wife once went to a Christmas Eve “worship” where the worship team led the congregation in singing “Feliz Navidad” and “La Bamba.”