The cover story of the latest Rolling Stone may send some Christians into a panic, but not for the usual reasons.
In an interview with Brian Hiatt, Mumford & Sons frontman Marcus Mumford addresses the questions about his faith that have long swirled around the band. The Biblical imagery, theology and personal confession that can be found in Mumford’s lyrics, which John J. Thompson wrote about previously on TC, have made the band a favorite of Christians who follow popular music. (The fact that Mumford’s parents are the leaders of Vineyard Churches in the United Kingdom doesn’t hurt.) Judging from the excerpts the magazine has released, however, Mumford doesn’t seem to offer the sort of testimonial many Christians would like to see.
“I wouldn't call myself a Christian,” Mumford is quoted as saying. “I think the word just conjures up all these religious images that I don't really like. I have my personal views about the person of Jesus and who he was. Like, you ask a Muslim and they'll say, 'Jesus was awesome' - they're not Christians, but they still love Jesus. I've kind of separated myself from the culture of Christianity."
Obviously these statements still leave all sorts of questions, some of which may be answered when the full interview comes out later this week. I’m not all that interested in pinning down the particulars of Mumford’s faith, though. What does interest me is a discussion about what his arm’s-length relationship with Christianity will now mean for the band’s Christian fans.
Can believers be too eager to anoint public figures who seem to speak the same language? (Branson Parler wrote about the dangers of this earlier on TC in regard to Denzel Washington.) Does giving a Christian stamp of approval to certain artists limit or diminish their art? If Marcus Mumford’s faith journey is a “work in progress,” as he describes it in the interview, isn’t there value in walking alongside him via his music? Aren’t we on similar journeys ourselves?