The Gospel according to the Beatles (?)

This is the new series of service themes for the next four weeks here at Forest Hill in Charlotte. In part inspired by Steven Turner’s book of the same name, David has chosen as his weekly topics: the desire for justice, the view of beauty all around us, a hunger for relationship (and spirituality), and a quest for the eternal.

Each week we’ll hear the worship team, in one configuration or another, pump out up to three different Beatle songs that point, albeit indirectly, to the topic of the week. Me? I’m looking forward to catching number one of the series, and have been promised the follow sermons when they’re completed. And the band are playing “While my guitar gently weeps” and “Revolution”. Hmmm nice.

This approach to pointing up gospel themes as they are hinted at in popular culture has been around a while. I can think of books like The Gospel according to Peanuts by Robert Short using the wonderful characters of Charles Schulz’s life revealing cartoon characters. Then there’s The Gospel According to the Simpsons by Mark Pinsky, and the Gospel according to, in various books, Disney, Dr Seuss, Harry Potter, Starbucks, Bruce Spirnsteen and even The Gospel According to Tony Soprano by Chris Seay from Ecclesia Houston.

Okay so I haven’t read all of them, but some are very good reading and challenge one to look for the essential gospel message or confrontation with the gospel that we can hear all around us if we try. My view of that quest came from an earlier book by Steve Turner called Hungry for Heaven which explored spiritual themes and hungers that are to be found right across the spectrum of pop and rock music – while some of the answers arrived at by practitioners of popular music may be very objectionable to many orthodox Christians, and the styles of music unbearable to some of a senstive disposition, that there is a self-revelatory portrayal of underlying questions or dreams is very evident if you just get passed the noise to the words. Not that I mind the noise – sometimes I think we make church and the Christian life unnaturally quiet for too long a time.

You could say our radios, stereos, TVs, ipods and computer terminals are windows on to the market place and we should be listening at or peering through those windows more often to hear and see what is going on in the big wide world.

So is there a gospel message to be discerned in the music and lyrics of John, Paul, Ringo and George? You better believe it. Listen for it. Celebrate it and share it.

Hey, stay afloat out there in the great line up.

Pete the Barefoot Surfer

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