“Green Day: Musical Prophets of Church’s Hypocrisy” by Scott Bryant

My brother, Scott teaches classes at Baylor University where we both graduated. He recently wrote an insightful article posted recently at EthicsDaily.com. He writes:

“Over the years, music fans have come to expect punk rock bands to deliver frustration-filled anthems that rage against “The Man” and society at large.

However, Green Day’s 2005 Grammy-winning rock album of the year, “American Idiot,” and their 2009 release, “21st Century Breakdown,” also provide a scathing critique of the church.

Their message is also communicated on Broadway through the Tony-winning musical, “American Idiot,” which recently announced an upcoming national tour.

Should Christians in America care about the theological frustration of a group that produced albums titled “Dookie” and “Nimrod”? While they do not claim to be the representative voice for their generation, Green Day’s critique of the church is one voice to which evangelicals should listen and consider.

The band’s frustration with the church is personified in the characters “Jesus of Suburbia” and “Christian” from their rock opera albums (mentioned above).

The Jesus of Suburbia is a false messiah who states he was raised on a “steady diet of Soda Pop and Ritalin” and proudly claims to be “the son of rage and love.” He observes the world through nihilistic lenses and does not detect any purpose or meaning in the lives of the people around him.

The critique of American Christianity could not be more poignant as he claims that he was “Born and raised by hypocrites” whose hearts were “recycled but never saved.”

In the character of Jesus of Suburbia, Green Day has described a directionless, materialistic, self-centered individual who couldn’t care less about others.

The character “Christian” embodies the condemnation of the church as he mocks the pattern of sin, confession and forgiveness common in the life of many believers because a permanent change in behavior does not occur. Also, the church is not providing solutions to practical problems people are facing in their lives.

This failure to meet practical needs, coupled with the church’s virtual silence regarding military involvement in the Middle East, leads “Christian” to conclude that the church is not distinct from the surrounding culture.

The band’s anger about the government’s decision to fight violence with violence is applied to both the institution that approved the decision (the government) and the institution that did not reject it (the church).

Despite the spiritual frustration expressed by the band, they remain hopeful for the future.

The songs “Are We the Waiting?,” “Restless Heart Syndrome” and “See the Light” indicate they continue to be on the lookout for salvation.”

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