Jon Foreman pursues the messy truths

File photo.
File photo.

Grammy-award-winning, 14-year-old band Switchfoot is coming to Calvin on Sept. 28. You know that. “Fading West”, to be released Jan. 14, will be their ninth studio album, but you know that too.

What you may not know is what exactly drives the faith of the frontman, Jon Foreman. He openly wrestles with what it means to be a Christian and an artist as well as the difficulty of toeing the line between sacred and secular.

Two elements seem to drive Foreman’s faith. The first is his commitment to wrestling with hard truths — the beautiful and the ugly. The second is his deep understanding of being first loved by Christ.

Foreman and the entire band have a deep desire to tell the truth.

When asked by the Denver Post how exactly he keeps the “faith message” in his music, Foreman replies, “Telling the truth is attractive. This is where we’re coming from. We’re not selling anything, but we’re also not hiding anything.”

Yet the pursuit of truth for Foreman requires tough questions and deep digging. Fans and critics, Christians and non-Christians alike, are desperately searching for meaning, which makes Foreman’s raw search attractive.

In “Vice Verses” comes a plea, “Where is God in the earthquake? / Where is God in the genocide?”

Regarding questions like these, Foreman is in fact a self-proclaimed “unbeliever.” Sure, he is an outspoken Christian. But his songs thrust forward difficult questions, and the problem of evil is by no means off-limits. In his interview with the Denver Post, Foreman says he tries to “convert himself” as he writes songs.

A rough summary of Foreman’s faith must include a second aspect: his attention to Christ’s deep love. Foreman writes in Relevant magazine that, surprisingly, there are many similarities between a club and the church.

“We carry our problems into the church the same way we carry them into a bar — they just react differently in each location.”

Where the former might lead to drunkenness, the latter might lead to pride — and “neither a drunk nor a hypocrite look good in the daylight.” For this reason, Foreman says the Christian life must start with humility.

“Take another look at the cross. Look at how much He loves you. Look at His surrender, His sacrifice.”

While Foreman is willing to ask tough questions in his music, he is grounded by this undeserved love. And though the band wrestles with hard truths, this one is downright attractive.

About the Author

Nathan Groenewold

Nathan Groenewold is the Chimes co-religion editor for the 2013-14 school year.

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