In part 1 of this article series I mentioned that a Christian sent me a critical email objecting to my fondness for the music of The Beatles. The essence of his concern was expressed in the following question:
"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?"
I conveyed that characterizing The Beatles' music as mocking and hating Jesus Christ fails to appreciate the complex nature of these musicians' religious views; and I traced some of their evolving perspectives on faith. The religious ideas reflected by the Fab Four in their songs were much more diverse than the man with the critical question had given credit. I suggest that anyone with interest in The Beatles' religious views consult Steve Turner's excellent book The Gospel According to The Beatles (Continuing on with my response to the email:
The Beatles were gifted songwriters and talented popular musicians. They produced a variety of provocative and fun songs that reflected the basic generational beliefs of their time. Yet they also wrote songs that powerfully captured the human condition with themes like loneliness and the meaning of life (for examples, "A Day in the Life," "Eleanor Rigby," "Help," "Nowhere Man," and "Yesterday").
As philosophers, however, they were rather naïve, hedonistic, and lacking in a coherent world-and-life view. They can be justifiably criticized for popularizing drug use within the youth culture. And unfortunately, they contributed toward the acceptability of Eastern religions and cults in the West, especially among the young.
Like most of us, however, the four Beatles were searching for a philosophy of life that would provide them with enduring love, hope, and peace. Unfortunately, they failed to recognize that the Christian Gospel they grew up with held the key to the truths and virtues they relentlessly pursued in the 1960s. It is indeed ironic that historic Christianity uniquely encompasses many of the ideals that The Beatles eloquently sang about and longed for in their personal lives.
I'm able to appreciate their musical and lyrical abilities without accepting their convoluted philosophical and religious ideas—much the same way that many Christians appreciate the genius of Mozart and Wagner without adopting their non-Christian beliefs and lifestyles. Believers should think through their proper relationship to culture and its popular influences. Then they can follow their conscience before God when it comes to the style of music they listen to. Yet hopefully they can avoid judging others who upon reflection view things differently (concerning matters of conscience, see 1 Corinthians 8).
The lads from Liverpool were once the most popular people on the planet. Yet they, too, were searching for answers to life's big questions. I pray that Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr will yet come to know the one in whom it can truly be said that all you need is his love (John 3:16).
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|