Monday, January 30, 2012

Timothy Brindle's Christ Triad

As a newcomer to the Lampmode records, high quality, Christcentric, lyrical theology rap scene I've recently been blessed with a wealth of recorded material from the last 6-8 years or so with which to occupy my music listening time. The two albums that have dominated my listening time have been Shai Linne's The Attributes of God and Timothy Brindle's Killing Sin. Both immediately struck me as monumental artistic achievements -- easily outclassing any of their anemic secular counterparts from the last decade -- as well as legitimate theological treatises with content so relentlessly focused and sound that it could stand alongside other well-regarded works in the Reformed theology tradition. There's much that could be said about both works, but in this post I want to focus on a triad of songs from the Killing Sin album: The Faithfulness of Christ, The Humility of Christ, and The Excellency of Christ.

Killing Sin is best described an album-length meditation or exposition on the process of sanctification that God performs in the lives of His followers. The focus on sin is intense and Timothy faithfully relates the extent to which God abhors sin, and even moreso in the lives of His followers. As Brindle says on the track The Sinfulness of Sin: "In a sense when a Christian sins / It's more sickenin' than the sins of wicked men  (why?) / 'Cause we've tasted His goodness as recipients of Grace / So every time we sin it's like we're spittin' in His face / If Christians are no longer trapped in its bondage / Why, like dogs, do we go back to our vomit?" Throughout the album Timothy attempts to artfully relate just how detestable sin is to God, while also outlining the ways that Christ's work on the cross and His Resurrection enables us to "put to death our crooked flesh" through the power of the Holy Spirit. None of this really does justice to the depth, breadth, and vibrancy with which the album addresses this topic, and, in any case, Timothy provides us with a kind of  thesis statement that does better than I can at summarizing the album's aim on The Intro.

It's within this context that these three songs are marshaled. The last two tracks -- Humility and Excellency -- are also the last two songs on the album, while Faithfulness comes a bit earlier in the album. The sequencing of the tracks was obviously done purposefully, and I think Timothy doesn't put Faithfulness at the end for two main reasons, though this is obviously speculation. First is that Christ's Faithfulness is mostly manifested in the way He stays by our side through our daily struggles. How He is trudging along besides us amidst the various difficulties and temptations of life, even when we fall and stumble. For this reason I believe the track is sequenced earlier in the progression of songs, placing Christ's Faithfulness within and among (though of course in no way separate from) our battles with sin, as reflected by the surrounding tracks which cover that topic. The second reason I think the sequencing makes a lot of sense is because the slot before Humility and Excellency is filled by the terrific Fix Our Eyes, which serves as a kind of turning point, a signpost to the climactic moments of the album.

Though Christ is strongly present throughout the entire album, the progression of the album is such that it works itself up and out of sin, into the radiant glory of Christ as depicted in the final three tracks where the focus on the person of Christ becomes utterly fixed, even though He was faithfully present all along.

On Humility, the best track of the album, Timothy turns his focus to the incomprehensibly amazing and loving act of God's condescension into finitude on our account. "If you seem confused with this / God passed through His own creature's uterus / I admit this is odd, but the Bible can persuade me / 'An omnipotent God crying as a baby?!'" The track is largely about the Incarnation, focusing on the Christmas narrative and God's decision to rescue humanity from our iniquity by becoming one of us and dying in our place: "What an awesome feat to drop so deep and cop His sheep / He didn't step down; He took a quantum leap / And I'm amazed how God, infinite in wealth / Put aside His fame, and limited himself / To time and space and eyes and legs / He died to save a violent race whose sins would bring em hell."

Lest the intensely, carefully crafted rhyme schemes be forgotten, I will bring attention to them here. As someone who has written rap lyrics -- very poorly I might add -- it's difficult to overemphasize just how well-crafted these rhymes are technically, or how incredibly they're delivered. With that artistic aside accomplished, let me get back to the content of Humility. I think I've said about all that I could about the track that it doesn't say better for itself, so I'll let Timothy's lyrics speak and just transcribe the last 20 bars of the song:

Slaughtered, bleedin', gushin', oozin' blood
The Father pleased to crush Him whom He loved
So He probably didn't even feel the crown and nails
He had to suffer more than that to bring down the veil
Our eyes are haughty and our lies are naughty
The Holy Christ bore our sins inside His body
Yeah His veins they burst, but no one's pain was worse
Cause the one who made the Earth became a curse
And He was one with the Father's essence
But on the cross, the God of heavens cut off His presence
So I can't share any language
That can rightly describe the Christ's despair and His anguish
So forever will I tell
In three hours Christ suffered more than any sinner ever will in hell
He who had infinite joy and pleasure
Became a man of sorrows so we could join forever
He took a cosmic plunge, put on some lungs
On the cross, became to God a sponge
To soak up His wrath
So the wicked wouldn't be sifted and blown into chaff

Um. Wow. It's really difficult for me to listen to this song without beginning to weep, mostly out of gratitude.

Finally we turn to Excellency. While Humility mostly focused on the Incarnation, it culminates with the crucifixion (as you can see from the above lyrics), and, as you might imagine, Excellency focuses on the Glory of the Risen Savior (accompanied by an appropriately triumphal sonic arrangement): "You're the Lion- yet the Lamb / You're divine yet you're a man / You're Messiah and 'I AM'/ You're triumphant in your plan / Resurrected in all power and might / Exalted in all glory and honor- the Father showered the Christ / Full time worshipers- forever we're employed / Christ came to give us the full measure of His joy."

And if you let the album repeat at this point we are brought full circle to the daily battles of believers with sin, which Christ's Resurrection empowers us to overcome. It's sometimes easy to forget that Christ died not only to save us from the penalty of death, but that He rose to give us His life, Eternal life which can begin living now if we die to our old sinful selves. But the real takeaway from the album is that dying to our sins and putting them to death isn't something we do once and are done with, but it is a continuous process in this life which can only be accomplished by fixing our eyes on the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

If you liked something about this blog, I assure you that anything I've been able to convey is only a faint whisper of what this album has to say. Check it out for free on Spotify or purchase it at Lampmode's online store.

1 comment:

  1. this is a great breakdown of the key songs on the album. the Christ trilogy is marvelous.