Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Tree63 front-man throws in the cross, um, towel

Christian entertainment doesn't seem healthy, yet it also does. I know, it seems contradictory, and on the one hand it is, but on the other hand it isn't. There are Christian musicians, actors, painters, and others who see their art not only for the art itself, but for the purpose of glorifying God and spreading the gospel message. For them, there is no ceiling to reach because, how do you reach a ceiling in glorifying God?

There are others who experience dissatisfaction when they either cannot make headway in their respectful arts and become the next big thing, or they have made it to the top and found that their dissatisfaction remains, despite having "record deals, [being] on planes, tour buses, in green VIP rooms."

Of course, recently we saw Jennifer Knapp come "out" to reveal that she is a lesbian, and before that Ray Boltz dropped the bomb that he was gay!

Tree63 in action!
Now, the front-man of Tree63, John Ellis, decided to walk away from Christianity, in a sense. In Ellis' own words:
"We hit the ceiling in the US very early on. We were in the Christian contemporary music scene, which is basically big fat Americans singing like Eddie Vedder. We were also stuck in the modern worship movement... I just said: 'F*** it'. By June my family and I had sold the house and by December it was bye-bye America."
I do not presume to know what really went through his head at the time, but from what I have learnt, he still tours South African churches. My question is , however, is he going to use that foul language from the interview with Tonight in his church performance too?

Ellis also said:
"Well, I don't feel the need to write Christian songs at all, if that's what you mean. The whole Christian Contemporary Music scene is a wretched thing and I'm very lucky to have escaped it! My spiritual beliefs and convictions will invariably find their way into my songs, I'm sure, but I'm definitely not pushing some evangelical agenda."
What is Ellis' agenda? I find myself a little bit conflicted about John Ellis at this time. His statements leave me cold, and he seems angry rather than having found a new direction, albeit away from Christian music. He seems also to be confused in himself and full of angst.

His words betray his "spirituality:"
"I will never lose that spirituality that I happened to find in the orthodox version of what God is. But I don't believe that

"There is religion and there is reality. God lives in reality, assuming he exists at all."
What does he really mean by "I don't believe that" and "There is religion and there is reality. God lives in reality, assuming he exists at all?" It seems to me that he was greatly influenced by the Word-of-faith movement, for it is there that you find "" Does he really believe that God exists, "assuming he exists at all?"

Don't get me wrong! I cannot determine for sure, nor can I claim, that John Ellis has forsaken the faith and therefore he is an apostate. It simply troubles me that he has made some of these statements. He seems very condescending and it seems to me that he has lost his way a bit. I hope that he proves me wrong!

Of course, the easiest way to clear his true stance up is for him to make a complete declaration of where he stands with regards to true Christianity and his faith in Jesus Christ. Does he follow Christ in the Biblical sense of the word? When he says that "I subscribe to certain spiritual beliefs which have a lot in common with Christianity," does that mean he does not believe in everything pertained in Christianity and also in other things that are not part of the Christian faith? Unfortunately I could not find the answers to any of these questions at his own personal website.

Is John Ellis just tired of institutionalized Christianity and has moved on to be Christian in the proper sense of the word, or has he moved on to something either more, or less, than Christianity, which in either way is not true Christianity at all? Has he returned to the "City of Destruction" or has he found the path to the "Celestial City?" Has he fallen into the "Slough of Despond" or has he found the "place of deliverance?" Has he been diverted by "Mr. Worldly Wiseman" from the Way or has he been allowed the "Wicket Gate" onto the "King's Highway" by "Good Will?"

Only time will tell! Let me know what you think!


Shaun P H said...

It's a difficult thing to swallow when you learn that people you looked up to seem to have thrown it all away. But I certainly hope that it is not the case with Jon and many others out there. My own experience in the last 5 or so years have also caused me to question my faith and why I do things. It is true that a so-called institution of Christianity can leave many of us bummed. Thought of calling it quits once or twice. But then begs the question, did I trade my beliefs for what the world has said. Despite great personal hurts from the church, I had to choose what to believe in. I never want to compromise on who I am ever again. My hope is that Jon and everyone else who goes through these types of struggles will find the faith they once had. I have learnt to no longer criticise such things cause the real message of grace says that we have the room to get back up and come home.

Scott Morris said...

After reading this article, it seems like he hasn't necessarily walked away from his faith but rather the "Christian" music industry. If you take a look at it, a majority of the Christian record labels are owned and controlled from secular music groups (ie. EMI, Sony, etc.)

It sounds like he decided that the music industry isn't going to be the one that defines his faith and that he wants to do what God has called him to out of his personal conviction on God's plan for his life. Sounds like the 'F' bomb he dropped was more of a weak moment due to frustration, and maybe hurt.

Kris N Sarah Stone said...

I was fortunate to see Tree63 perform several times. At one event they were doing a worship service rather than a concert. It was excellent. Delirious songs and such. It was great to hear them cover other bands songs. He can really play that tele. I was in the nosebleeds. But down in the front a mosh pit started up 2-3 times. Each time John actually stopped the songs and asked everyone to stop doing that. He was definitely growing frustrated. I could see how that could be increasingly annoying night after night. Every place/church you go people are different. I could never handle the pressure he was under. And honestly, who of us hasn't said the F word. He's definitely tired of being the golden boy under a microscope.... I think his relationship with Jesus is in tact. He's just stripped off all the baggage and garbage of the industry and religion.

Sound's Love said...

Hello, may you tell me WHERE did you get this quote:

"We were in the Christian contemporary music scene, which is basically big fat Americans singing like Eddie Vedder. We were also stuck in the modern worship movement... I just said: 'F*** it'."

I'd like to know the source of this quote.
thanks in advance.
God bless you

William Dicks said...

Sound's Love,

The link just above the quote had the full content in the words "to walk away" but it seems that that link no longer works.

You can find it here, though.

Mark Boyce said...

Nothing can separate us from His love! I know a bit about the CCM industry and it is rough. We pray that God will send His Spirit to Jon and all of the former members of Tree63 and to there dear families. We pray that they would be healed from the pain they experienced, and fully restored, so that they might glorify His mighty Name with their lives, and with their talent. Amen!

Gary Maske said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gary Maske said...

Thought I'd google "John Ellis" because I miss his music. I really liked Tree 63. (And I still listen to their CD's.) Clicked on the link to this page. Good documenting of Ellis' remarks, so far as I can tell, William. But let's separate his "I'm tired of CCM" from what he actually said about God and Jesus Christ. 1) He assumes God exists. That is not faith. In our hearts we both believe and know. It is not scientific knowledge, it is spiritual knowledge. We cannot "prove" what we know, but we know it in our hearts. For every believer, "the Spirit testifies with our spirit that we are God's children." 2) He does not believe that "Jesus-is-fine-and-everything-is-fluffy." That certainly misses the point about Jesus Christ. If Ellis had wanted to tell us who Jesus is he had every opportunity to do so. He is (or was) on the big stage. He had an opportunity to make a confession of faith in Christ and he didn't do it. Not only so, but when has he done it? Show me the link. More to the point, show me the link that is dated subsequent to his statement concerning Jesus and fluffiness, because if we have believed on Jesus we keep on believing on Him. And in moments of weakness we don't make a public proclamation of our doubts, but rather we confess them to God. So I am going to venture that John Ellis is not saved. I wish he were. I hope he is yet. I have prayed for him, and will pray for him, more than a few times. Tree 63 was unique. But God is not mocked. There are certainly mysteries of the faith yet to be clarified for us. But when a person only assumes that God exists he cannot concurrently believe and know that He exists. "Institutionalized Christianity" is not the issue. The state of CCM is irrelevant. Ellis simply has no confession of faith in Jesus Christ, e.g., "I believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God and He died for my sins."

stonetoflesh said...

I’ve had several personal conversations with him as a former die-hard fan. If nothing has changed recently, concerns are valid in my opinion. In our latest and likely last conversation (documented online via twitter) he stated the the Trinity was merely a concept and one not to get heTed over.

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