The Theology of Ben Folds – part 2

This post is part of a series

I have an apology to make to any people who don’t identify themselves as Christians who are reading this right now. Sometimes Christians are really patronising and think that they know you better than you do. I’m really sorry about that.

This was brought home to me the first time I heard the song Mess from the album The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner. The chorus makes this astonishing claim:

No I don’t believe in God

So I can’t be saved

All alone as I’ve learned to be

In this mess that I have made.

The thing that blows me away about this is that this is the way the Bible describes our situation apart from God. In the letter to the church in Ephesus Paul puts this just as succinctly. It makes sense really when you think about it. If God is the source of life and we cut ourselves off from God then we’re in trouble! We are all truly alone in our mess.

But Paul doesn’t end his prognosis where Folds’ does. Not “believing in God” is only half the problem. I could believe that God exists and still know that I have cut myself off from him and he is mad with me.

By rights the song could read:

I believe in God

Yet I can’t be saved

All alone as I’ve learned to be

In this mess this I have made.

We all reject God and so God would be totally just to reject us. But he doesn’t. Because of his mercy (or grace) he saves not because we’re good enough or because we’re religious enough or neat enough or rich enough but because of his mercy towards us through Jesus. Interested?


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