Gospel, The Gospel, and my Hatred of Guitar Solos

I have a complex theological history. This isn’t because I’ve done great studying over the years, but more so because of the clash between my social formation and my spiritual formation. For lack of a better expression, I got saved in my mid-20s. I spent my life up until this point enmeshed in economically disadvantaged, minority cultures. I was raised solely by the Italian side of my family and I remember my grandmother never identifying as white. I once asked her about self-identifying as Latin and her reply was that if she wasn’t, then her mom brought home the wrong child from the hospital.

I grew up in a black neighborhood and suffered racism but the people who knew where I was from made excuses for my inclusion in minority circles. This abruptly ended when I got saved.

I had an encounter with God and was almost immediately plugged into a mildly charismatic white church. Holy Spirit was there, and God was feeding my soul, but the greatest sacrifice I made to follow Jesus was listening to rock music. Up until salvation, I never listened to a song with a guitar solo on purpose in my entire life (except maybe Beat It). Once I was converted, this became an act of worship.

I had my limits though. I simply couldn’t sing the songs that sounded like country music. Country music was the choice of all the racists I grew up with. I had been called nigger-lover by the country music crowd and heard similarly hateful slurs toward the people from my community. Even Christ could not get me to sing a country song.

As part of my spiritual formation, I adopted a standard white evangelical theology. Over time this caused me great internal turmoil. Even before my salvation I would listen to gospel music on the radio every Sunday. It moved my soul. I wish that it had moved my spirit to salvation, but I was thankful for what it was. As I grew in my spiritual formation, I found the theology of black gospel music to be lacking. As Donnie McClurkin once said, “It’s inspirational but it’s not the gospel. I believed this and would teach it when I could.”

As my formal theological education continued, cross-cultural ministry began to rock my world. I began to understand that Christ moved within cultures and met needs within societies and that white evangelical theology is a product of the colonialist experience. Those who were colonized had a different theology because their culture and societies were markedly different.

Most of the charismatic streams that I have been a part of during my ministry were focused on a colonialist mindset. As a result of this, the music reflected it. The limitations of this paper preclude me from detailing my journey but as I rejected the charismatic streams that I was a part of during the Trump years, I also rejected the music that they produced. Just like country music triggered my anti-racist convictions, the music from the streams triggered similar feelings.

In very real ways I went from traveling in the middle of very prominent streams, to being fully rejected as an outsider. Somewhere in there I rediscovered my love for gospel music. I always listened to it but could not fully embrace the lyrics. I always felt like an outsider in the charismatic world but now I was treated as an outsider. I was no longer trying to conquer I was being conquered and instead of music that celebrated my place at the top of the pile, I now find myself embracing music that calls for Christ to come and rescue me.

This is remarkable because I never looked at myself as needing to be rescued but I was the rescuer. In the midst of this theological journey of re-identifying with the humanity of Christ and the vulnerability of his people, God has caused me to identify with my own humanity and frailty. And in a life shifting prophetic vision he pulled me into the Scriptures and showed me that not only do I need to be rescued he is coming to rescue me. Perhaps in the future my theology will balance more toward where I was but for now my musical tastes are fully being formed by songs that validate my need for Christ to set things right and rescue me.

So right here in this season, I find myself interceeding with the likes of Tasha Cobbs declaring that “Something has to Break!”

Here are the beginning lyrics of the song.

I feel it in this room
Holy Spirit move
‘Cause when you have Your way
Something has to break

Tear down every lie
Set the wrong thing right
‘Cause when you have Your way
Something has to break
Something has to break

Right now in Your name
Something has to break
Something has to break
Right now in Your name
Something has to break

I believe You’ll get me to it
I believe You’ll lead me through it
I believe that You will do it right now
Something has to break

One comment
  1. Len Windham

    This blessed me. I can relate to feeling like an outsider and trying to reconcile my theological thoughts with the paths I cross.

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