I have long respected what Humble Beast does. Missionally, the freely received, freely giving sort of generosity that they practice is similar to what Brandi and I have done with Levi The Poet, through and with Come&Live!, for the last few years. Artistically, their dedication to excellence is encouraging. Theologically, their dedication to the truth of the gospel is inspiring. Beautiful Eulogy, in particular, was a breath of fresh air when I first discovered their Satellite Kite album. I believe it acted as a soundtrack to our SEASONS tour in December of 2012, and Brandi and I fell in love with songs like Anchor, and it's self-titled end. Plus, I was halfway through my year at The Resurgence's theological training program, and doctrinally charged raps like Entitlement and Surrender acted like a testosterone boost for my nerded-out (and probably arrogant) interests in "D.A. Carson conversations" (if you don't get it, it's fine).
At any rate, I'm glad Albuquerque got to experience their art. I had not seen them live before, and it was an honor to me them, briefly. Their humility was encouraging. More than anything, I was struck by a simple truth, and that is this: there is power in the name of Jesus. I say that not because I think I should, but because there have been two instances recently, at concerts, where an emotional response has welled up in me at the simple declaration of his name. Last night was one of them, and for that, I am thankful.
Lyrics aside, I think what Humble Beast is creating is a standard of artistic excellence that compels an audience, and though art itself is not salvific, good art resonates inside of a person in such a way that it points him in the direction of truth that is. This is a common theme that I see driving Humble Beast Records - the artists' giving of their best. I believe that God can accomplish salvation, in his mercy, even through knockoff, lethargic thievery in the self-justifying name of "redeeming 'secular' art", but I also firmly believe that the offering of one's best in his art, specifically if his art is motivated by the intent to lead others to the truth of the gospel, is a goal that we should pursue with fervor. I see HB artists creating, uniquely and excellently, with that zeal, and though all that we have is a gift, I am not surprised to see the way that God has blessed and multiplied those efforts.
I listened to a lecture recently from Dr. Timothy Keller on Christianity and the Creative Age. I'd encourage anyone who's actually interested in art enough to be this far along in my blog to listen to it. Although he is actually advocating a more subversive form of Christianity in art than you will find in Beautiful Eulogy's explicitly gospel-centric lyrics, I believe that the principle applies here. (Keller does make the distinction that there is, of course, a good and appropriate place for both. There is great article that came out yesterday from The Huffington Post on Humble Beast's friend, Lecrae, which explores a more implicit approach to art as a Christian.) Keller was talking about an atheist who remarked that when he listened to Beethoven’s 5th, he couldn’t shake the feeling that he was not alone. Keller says that good art does that - it is something that gets to the core of our inherent knowledge of God that Paul speaks of in Romans 1. Something that is not suppressible. I’ve experienced that, personally - this knowing that I cannot rationalize away - a comfort that God does, indeed, make himself plain to us in invisible attributes, undeniably present.
I pray that Jesus continues to use Humble Beast's art in the hearts of others in that same way. I believe that he will.