Sunday, April 12, 2009

Portrait of a prophet

Unless you're really into seventies music, or grew up in a Christian home, chances are you don't know much about Keith Green. For many-a-Christian, Keith Green is the guy with a white man fro, who screams whilst beating the breaks off of an upright piano. But for anyone willing to peel back the time-sensitive trappings of his music, there appears a tragically uncommon zeal for holiness, and a prophetic anointing that is rarely stumbled upon in today's pulpits. There are a lot of different definitions of the word prophet. Abraham Heschel defined a prophet as "someone upon whom God has thrust a burden." Certainly, a prophet is someone uniquely gifted to communicate a timely and truthful message, with a sense of divine urgency. Keith Green never called himself a prophet. In fact, he practically rebuked anyone who attempted to place the prophetic mantle upon his shoulders. But a prophet he was. He spoke the truth with remarkable clarity. His message and his music were devoid of pretension. He had empathy for sinners, yet simultaneously managed to uphold an unflinching message of Biblical holiness that demanded radical sacrifice. His words cut to the quick of what separated man from his maker.

When Keith was only twenty-eight years old, he died in a plane crash along with two of his young children. When he died, he was still far from perfect. He was prone to ruthless introspection, and was at times unduly harsh of the established church. Even so, there is an undeniable spark still emanating from his live recordings.