I teach a regular adult Sunday school class at my church, and so the church's website features a brief bio about me. Among other things, it mentions a few of my personal interests, including my appreciation of the music of The Beatles.
Several months ago a man sent a critical email to me objecting to my inordinate fondness for The Beatles. In essence, his concern was,
"How can a man who is a Christian, no less a man in the ministry, like music and musicians who mocked and hated the Lord Jesus?"
Here is my response:
In your email you asked how I could like the music of The Beatles when they mocked and hated Jesus Christ. I hope you will read my response with thoughtful consideration from one Christian to another.
I have followed the career of The Beatles fairly closely since the mid 1960s. I am pretty familiar with all of their songs and albums as well as the music the ex-Beatles produced following their official breakup in 1970. I have also read a couple dozen books about the lives and careers of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr. I tell you this so you know I have some understanding concerning the lives, musical accomplishments, and philosophical views of four men who are considered by many to be "the greatest rock band of all time."
First, your bold statement that The Beatles "mocked and hated the Lord Jesus" fails to appreciate the complex and evolving nature of the religious views held by the four Beatles. McCartney and Harrison came from Catholic homes whereas Lennon and Starr attended the Anglican Church as youths. Their religious views were far from consistent.
In the early days of their professional success (the early-to-mid 1960s) their thinking on faith is probably best described as agnostic. In the late 1960s, they experimented with Eastern mysticism (Transcendental Meditation), with Harrison later aligning himself with the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). Yet even later, Lennon and McCartney seemed to move toward some type of religious pluralism (all faiths are true).
Lennon did make some controversial comments in the mid-1960s about The Beatles being more popular than Jesus that he later came to regret, and not just because of the negative reaction he received. It is true that Lennon for a time seemed to flirt with atheism (see his songs entitled "God" and "Imagine"). But he also dabbled with what we today would call New Age ideas (Eastern mysticism). However, more than one news reporter has noted that Lennon apparently became very interested in evangelical Christianity just before he was killed, even listening to several Christian evangelists on television, like Billy Graham (see here). Reports convey that Lennon's wife strongly opposed his new interest in Jesus and Christianity; and, thus, Beatle John returned to his earlier interest in Eastern mysticism and occultism. Some have said that this was simply John Lennon's passing "Jesus phase."
My point is that the religious ideas expressed by The Beatles in their songs were much more complex and diverse than you seem to appreciate. I suggest you consult Steve Turner's provocative and revealing book The Gospel According to the Beatles.
In the next installment I will present the rest of my response concerning The Beatles and their music.
For more about the truth of historic Christianity and its vibrant world-and-life view, see my books Without a Doubt: Answering the 20 Toughest Faith Questions and A World of Difference: Putting Christian Truth-Claims to the Worldview Test.
|Part 1 | Part 2|