The Church has a checkered history when it comes to speaking to the gifted. All too often we try to squeeze them into worn-out "Christian" copies of their area of talent. Knowledge of atheist thinkers like Nietzsche and Sartre is seen as a threat to the Church, rather than an opportunity to meet the claims of such unregenerate people head on.
In this we tragically show even less appreciation of the gifted than does the world. We too are guilty of treating them like freaks. Some parts of the Church are beginning to change, but decades of anti-intellectualism have a momentum difficult to reverse.
This has helped maintain the stereotype Christians are emotion-based intellectual lightweights who push their beliefs on others to justify their own irrationality.
It is already difficult enough to break a prejudice. Let us not feed it. The Apostle Paul was highly educated, and I am sure some felt this made him suspect, especially in a man who had persecuted Christians. But look how God turned that education!
In targeting the intelligent and educated, we also intend to foster such among those who have never been exposed to "heavy" ideas because someone else decided it was too complex for them. No idea is too difficult for the Holy Spirit to illuminate, since God promises to give wisdom to those who ask it of Him. Proverbs clearly states the importance of possessing both wisdom and knowledge, and that we are stewards of our minds just as much as our money.
Let there be no misunderstanding. We are in no way suggesting worldly knowledge is as important as spiritual understanding. God forbid. What we are advocating is that Christians should be "wise as serpents and harmless as doves".
The message of the Quest to be Whole series is that we are to be complete. We bring shame to our Lord Jesus when we use being a 'Christian who can't be bothered with worldly knowledge' as an excuse for being ignorant. We are still in the world even though we are not of it. Does it glorify God to have never heard of DNA, or not know the difference between the Senate and Supreme Court, or think Shakespeare is a brand of chocolates, or not be able to find Australia on a map? Incompetance is not glorifying.
Paul said he was all things to all people so he might win some to Christ. In Athens he was able to communicate because he understood their culture. How can we expect to communicate with people whose ideas we cannot comprehend?
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. How then can we leave decisions about government and technology and society solely in the hands of unregenerate people who do not even have the beginning of wisdom? Yet how can we of wisdom make decisions about things we do not understand?
Mirror Covenant intends to reach a wide range of people. But our specific target is the exceptional individual. There are a host of bands that minister along more conventional lines, and this is as it should be. Of such is the majority of the population. But that does not mean that is all there should be.
Where are the bands that push the boundaries of what can be done within rock music, and yet are not so weird they fail to communicate? Nothing we are attempting is unique in itself, but no one we know of has attempted to push things like liner notes, concept albums, videos, and hypertext to the limit in an orchestrated manner. Yet because all these things already exist, we believe our efforts will not be alien to a modern audience.
Look at this target audience on a less abstract level. For example, if we were to define our target audience as the 'intellectually gifted', and this as the top 2% of the population in terms of IQ, it might appear a very small audience. But this percentage translates into over four million people in the U.S. alone. Clearly this is a population the Church must address if we are to fulfill our mandate to take the Gospel into all the world. Since our target audience is NOT this narrowly defined, we are comfortable we have not overly constrained our potential audience.
Colleges are a particular area of concern to this band. There is a great intersection of intelligent young people interacting with highly educated professionals at a time when these young people are mapping out their adult identities. Many colleges have accumulated faculty members who are strongly anti-Christian, and many more who believe Christianity to be a superstition held by the intellectually feeble.
In an atmosphere that values intelligence and knowledge above all else, these factors have been problematic for the Church because we have not been comfortable speaking the language. We need to be ready to roll up our sleeves and get into the debate, in detail, over what is and is not True, what is and is not real, which means we must understand the issues being examined. Simply asserting what is in fact true is not enough. We must be ready to deal with the questions.
As an aside, there is a fundamental issue at work in evangelism that should be clearly understood. A person who believes there is no God, no absolute Truth, finds the duty of respect for the humanity of another person is to keep silent about that other person's core beliefs because convincing them their beliefs are in error would rob them of something, since at root all beliefs are equally meaningless. But the exact reverse is the case for the believer. If you believe in Jesus and the Word, then the duty of respect for the other person's humanity requires you to speak out and tell them their separation from God has ultimate eternal consequences. So the relationship is inherently that one party is compelled to silence and the other party to speak out. Further, given that the unbeliever's mandate is to refrain from acting, and the believer's mandate is to act, it is a built-in environmental 'given' that the believer will be seen as the aggressor. Given this utter division of position, is it any wonder great misunderstanding, and often hostility, are the norm of these interactions? Keeping these circumstances clearly in mind will go far toward opening meaningful lines of communication.
Another area of particular concern to this band are young professionals. The modern business world moves fast, encouraging people to live for their work. This is especially true for bright young people trying to establish their position. It is hard to compete with coworkers who make their job their god. When you are around people like this 60 hours a week, perspective is often the most difficult thing to achieve.
Another area of particular concern to this band are Christian leaders. We want to do our part to feed those who feed the flock. We want to help them stretch a bit. When your every waking hour goes toward reaching down to help people to their feet, it can become difficult to straighten up. Another aspect is that judgment begins at the house of God.
"If any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but glorify
God on this account. The time is come that judgment must begin with
the house of God. And if it begins with us, what will the end be
of those that do not obey the gospel of God?"
I Peter 4:17
Calls for clarity of sight are calls to the Church. Sin's slaves will not be able to understand.
"The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God.
They are foolishness to him. Nor is it possible for him to know them,
because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual
discerns all things, yet is discerned by no man. Who has known the
mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him? Yet we have the mind of
I Corinthians 2:14-16
In some ways this group represents the heart of the band, because we do not need to hold anything back. This group knows the Word. This is both a great freedom for us, and a great responsibility. It is freedom in that we can dig as deep into Truth as God's grace allots to us, knowing they will be able to keep pace. It is a great responsibility in that we must dig deep, never resting on old glories.
Christian leaders are also the ones most familiar with the consequences of division, both within individuals and within the Church. Working on a daily basis with people whose lives have been shattered through the Word being disregarded, either by themselves or by those close to them, tends to burn the dross from one's mind. There is no doubt about Who is important.
Part of the reason this band is somewhat in-your-face-intellectual is because we want our fans in college and the professional business world to be proud of what we stand for, proud to listen to music that cannot be dismissed as ear candy. The truth is that no one who is actually smart rejects Jesus. Spitting in Jesus' face is the act of a fool. We want to be known as a band for smart people. The reputation we establish reflects on our audience, as their reputation reflects on us. Most importantly, our level of quality reflects on our Lord.
To achieve this, our hallmarks need to include creativity, Spirit, broad scope, insight, philosophical depth, integrity, attention to detail, boldness, factual accuracy, and sound doctrine. We will certainly fall short of some if not all of these hallmarks, but that does not mean we should not attempt to guide our efforts toward these ideals. In fact, if we do not fail in some respects, it will indicate we are not pushing the envelope as hard as we should. This is particularly true given the strength of our target audience.
However well we execute our intentions, and whatever market share Mirror Covenant achieves, we intend to blaze our own trail into this realm of communication, and to occupy it until Jesus returns. Further, we want to communicate what we learn both by example and by instruction. As previously stated, it is our fervent hope other bands will take hold of the vision and expand it.
This said, understand we do not think our lyrics are the greatest poetry ever written, or our music above Mozart, or that we are inventing something utterly new to the world.
We think our work is at least moderately different, more so by ideology
than by content, but we are not so arrogant as to translate this into thinking
our work is better than anyone else's. Chasing some linear scale
of 'better' in art is a fool's errand. Some people think Bach is
better than Mozart, and apparently a lot of people think Pink Floyd is
better than either. Our personal attitude is to rejoice in but not
be divided by the differences.