Monday, December 3, 2007

Bob Dylan: Still Christian after all these years? (1997)

THE CHRISTIAN community has not always been kind to high-profile musicians who have espoused Christian beliefs. A prime example is Bob Dylan: although he did some superb Christian albums and a phenomenal gospel tour, and continues to perform faith-affirming songs in concert, I've encountered church musicians who have told me Dylan has "left the Lord." Because of this assumption, they refuse to play his songs, thus depriving congregations of some of the best Christian lyrics ever written. CLICK HERE to read more


Kathleen said...

I was in the audience in San Francisco when he played "Slow Train Coming." I clapped so hard I broke blood vessels in my fingers.
I've always wondered whether he was able to hold fast in spite of his own fame and fortune. Thanks for this blog.


Kat said...

Yeah, God's the coolest....
organized religion needs some growing...:-) help us all....

Singing Bear said...

I am always amazed by the assumption that Dylan, somehow, 'left Christ' back in the 80's. To my mind, all that happened is that he'd been through his overtly evangelising phase and moved on, as he always has, as an artist. I think the continuing presence of obviously Christian songs, whether his own or by others, in his live shows tells the story. If anything, the expression of his faith has matured over the years.

monty said...

The more disturbing thing is that the Christian community is so concerned with judging whether someone is saved or not. Work out your own salvation, not someone else's. That is God's business.

The notion that you can somehow lose your salvation is a dark and damaging creed anyway. If you're worried about Dylan, pray for him, and thank God that he obviously has a heart after eternal things.

Dr. Carl Lloyd said...

I was pastoring in Ithaca, NY (1979-82)when Bob D. appeared in Syracuse NY concert. I went because I always loved Dylan. I was pleasantly surprised by the 100% content reflecting his recent expression of his experience in Christian faith. I was HORRIFIED, however, by a couple dozen folk outside trying to boycott the concert because they did not think Dylan was a 'real' Christian. I found myself thinking at that time if these picketing folk were 'real' Christians, but decided to leave that to the Lord and hurried to get my seat before the place overflowed! I have often wondered how Bob handled that kind of reactive, judgmental rejection and was thrilled to read here that Bob's faith is still alive and well inspite of some types of Christians. Thank God!

Dr. Carl Lloyd

Steve said...

Dylan had "balls" back then and still does. His lyrics from that time, especially, still inspire me today

Steve 2010

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately Bob lied to us all friends, regarding being a Christian.

He practices Orthodox Judaism.

I was the biggest fan in the world: i've seen him live 6 times, own every album....but I'm a Christian, so his deception is a betrayal for me.

It doesn't change his talent, nor my fond memories of years enjoying his music, live shows, and the joy when i believed he had truly found Christ. But it was never true.

the Colonel said...

Jesus was a Jew
- not a Christian
and he practiced orthodox Judaism too

- some people lost their way along the road
- and some never got on it

julesbond said...

I am not ashamed of the gospel because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed,
a righteous that is by faith from the first to the last, just as it is written:"The righteous will live by faith." Romans 1:16

Calends said...

I don't understand why we need to determine if he's a Christian. Since when did Christianity rely on the testimony of famous men? Why do we need to argue that he is a Christian attending Jewish services? It always astounds me when people talk about the apostles as if they were "special" - especially Catholics. They were chosen because they were the OPPOSITE. If Dylan says he's not a Christian (he has, in the worst way), take him at his word, pray for him and move on. In God's eyes he's no more "special" than a homeless person, or any other "lowly" placed individual. Christians should listen to songs individually and forget about the artist (except when supporting the artist is a really bad idea). We really need to forget about the artist in the sense of having them on our "side" - we should remember that it's not the words they say in the songs but what's in the heart. I swear some "Christians" would rather have a "Christian band" to listen to than a band full of Christians that may not sing explicitly about "Christian" stuff. This is not to say that we shouldn't be careful in disregarding lyrics and looking at "the heart," there are Christians that push too far the opposite direction; where a Christian need not say a single thing about their supposedly life changing, all encompassing faith. There are literally two sides: a good example is the whole "are P.O.D Christians?" fiasco. Some people refuse to see that P.O.D have done some very "un-Christian" things and, at least if their actions count for anything, haven't been very good spokespersons for the Gospel. Then there are people that have websites that basically link bands like P.O.D with Satanism and think that if a band doesn't explicitly reference scripture they're not Christian...Again. Let's just look at the songs.

Here's Dylan's profession of "faith" in his own words:

"Here's the thing with me and the religious thing. This is the flat-out truth: I find the religiosity and philosophy in the music. I don't find it anywhere else. Songs like "Let Me Rest on a Peaceful Mountain" or "I Saw the Light"—that's my religion. I don't adhere to rabbis, preachers, evangelists, all of that. I've learned more from the songs than I've learned from any of this kind of entity. The songs are my lexicon. I believe the songs."

So there you have it. He's not a Christian in any real sense of the word. So let's pray for him and move on to more pressing things in our own lives.

As a side note: Christians aren't the only one's guilty of this. Non-Christians are absolutely ridiculous in completely ignoring Dylan's "Christian" period songs. I once found this awesome book on Dylan in Barnes and Noble and quickly flipped through it. I noticed a conspicuous absence of many of his songs (it was an interpretive book on his songs and life), "How odd!" - Then I found the last paragraph about his music's history near the end of the book. It said Dylan had abandoned his "art" when he became a Christian and those were the "dark years" from which he never recovered. And these people pretend like they are true Dylan fans. It was such a farce.

One thing that is entirely respectable about Dylan is he is his own man. He doesn't blindly follow most "art" as it is today - a pseudo avant-garde (more like lemming), elitist, leftist, brain labotomy. When Rolling Stone badgered him to say something bad about former president G.W. Bush he threw it back at them and said he actually met the man and likes him as a person. After that interview (in which he also made the statement about his own songs being his "bible") I was saddened and at the same time gained a little more respect for the man as an "artist."

Anonymous said...

If Bob Dylan (Robert Zimmerman) disappears along with all truly born again believers at the imminent harpazo action of Jesus Christ (the Rapture), then all unbelievers will know that he IS a Jewish believer in Yeshua HaMaschiach (Jesus Christ). That time is any moment and Bob Dylan will be in heaven while John Lennon is in Sheol-Hades awaiting the Great White Throne Judgement.

Maranatha, Jesus is really near now. We are in the last of the last days. Look up for your redemption 'draweth nigh'.

JJ said...

Some good comments. Personally i can only say that i find Dylans stuff to be a real blessing right up to his most recent albums.

Yokidoke said...

Unfortunately sectarianism causes Christians to judge and divide. When will we cease to judge the hearts of so many that honor Christ and try to folliw His teachings? Dylan is considered by many to be a bastard child of Christianity as are the Mormons at the othere end. Pity!

“The highest form of song is prayer.”
-Bob Dylan

STOCKHOLM 04.05.2002

Just a few days after performing at the 2002 Grammy's, Bob Dylan recorded a new re-write of "Gonna Change My Way of Thinking" for "Gotta Serve Somebody: The Gospel Songs of Bob Dylan" with longtime friend Mavis Staples. One month later he would kick off a new tour in Stockholm Sweden and perform Solid Rock (what many consider the theme song to his gospel era concerts) for the first time in 20 years. Dylan would continue to perform this rousing song as well as other gospel era songs at numerous concerts across Europe and beyond. The two-time Grammy nominated compilation would be released on Sony/Columbia one year later on April 1, 2003.

Sinead O'Connor - Property Of Jesus