A Tragedy, A Legacy, and a Ragamuffin’s Commitment
Today, September 19, is the 10-year anniversary of the tragic death of Rich Mullins. It probably seems random that I know that, but Rich’s music had such an enormous impact on my life as a young Christian musician, it’s hard for me to forget details like that. Rich helped to shape the landscape of the early Contemporary Christian Music industry in a profound way. He defied and challenged traditional taboos, often playing concerts barefooted wearing simply a t-shirt and torn jeans. His lyrics were passionate, frank and honest, openly describing personal and spiritual struggles in his search to know God more intimately.
What I love most about Rich’s legacy was the fact that, in the midst of all of his success and accomplishments, he never ceased to keep Jesus Christ, the Gospel and the Bible his central focus. He once commented,
Sometimes it concerns me, the number of people who can quote my songs, or they can quote the songs of several people, but they can’t quote the Scriptures – as if anything a musician might have to say would be worth listening to . . . If you want entertainment, I suggest Christian entertainment, because I think it’s good. But if you want spiritual nourishment, I suggest you go to church or read your Bible (Creation Festival Radio Special, Mt. Union, PA, June 27, 1996).
Rich never wavered in preaching the fundamentals of the Christian faith through his music. Scripture was the most important thing to Rich. In one of his most famous and powerful songs, “Creed,” Rich took the Apostles’ Creed, the most fundamentally orthodox statement of the Christian faith, and put it to music. In this song he drew a line in the sand.
I believe in God the Father,
Almighty Maker of Heaven and Maker of Earth,
And in Jesus Christ His only begotten Son, our Lord
He was conceived of the Holy Spirit,
Born of the Virgin Mary, Suffered under Pontius Pilate,
He was crucified and dead and buried.
And I believe what I believe is what makes me what I am,
I did not make it, no it is making me,
It is the very truth of God and not the invention of any man.
Rich was committed to the basic truths of Christianity – the truth about Jesus Christ – that He came as the Messiah of the world to live, to die, to atone for sin and to rise again conquering death and offering new life. It never gets old to me – the fact that Christ came to this earth for helpless, sinful human beings. That’s the only message that will last through eternity. That’s the only message that ultimately matters. Thanks for your legacy, Rich.