From an outside observer’s standpoint, Christianity is kind of absurd.

Think about it.  We believe in an invisible man who lived over 2000 years ago in a series of backwater towns in the Middle East, was killed by some religious zealots, and then was magically raised from the dead three days later, after which he floated up into the sky and disappeared, thus becoming the invisible man we now believe in and pin all our hopes to.  Oh, and on top of that, we believe in other invisible beings: angels and demons—who are all around us, helping and influencing us.  Meanwhile, another invisible Spirit (the Holy Spirit) is constantly at work behind the scenes around the earth, keeping the whole thing straight and intervening whenever He can.

When put that way, even I think it sounds crazy.  I consider myself a fairly intelligent person.  I’m a former University Professor, an author of two books (Filming God and Finding God In The Bible), and I’ve become something of a spokesperson not just for the existence of God through my films (Finger of God, Furious Love, Father of Lights, and Holy Ghost), but for the idea that this invisible God is alive and well and doing amazing things in our world today.  How then can I, as a rational, intelligent human being, actually believe in invisible men and spirits?

I ask this question because it seems that lately a good number of people have been coming out and saying that no, they don’t believe this nonsense anymore.  From Christian rock stars (Tim Lambesis — As I Lay Dying; George Perdikis — co-founder of Newsboys) to pastors (Ryan Bell), former Christians seem to be taking a long hard look at their faith, and are finding the courage to step forward and voice their opinion: that they think this is all nuts.  I have a feeling they aren’t alone in their struggles with belief, and the reasons for this crisis of faith are surely varied and compelling.  But like everyone, at the end of the day I am only truly responsible for myself, and I wanted to step forward and try to explain why I will continue to believe in an invisible God-man, no matter what.

For a good portion of my life, I lived a kind of Christianity that I have a sneaking suspicion most people do as well.  It was built around a set of pre-informed beliefs and its orbit was made up almost exclusively with well-meaning principles—all of which were gleaned from the Bible and were designed to both make my life better and make me into a relatively nice person.  Jesus was the centerpiece, of course, but He was more of a benevolent, distant brother figure.  God was relatively silent on most things—and He always loomed large in my “be good or else” mentality.  The Holy Spirit was like smoke, a guiding force if you will, but one that was totally unknowable.  This was Christianity, for sure, but it was a neutered one.  I simply had to believe the right things, be a good person, and not do too much bad stuff.  If I did make mistakes, I had to make sure I said I was sorry, otherwise a kind of logjam of sin would start to build up, which was not good.

When your life is centered around trying to “be good”, there comes a point when it all just feels fake and forced.  I mean, if Jesus is real, shouldn’t my life be different?  Shouldn’t I have this peace He kept talking about inside me?  Should I really have to try THIS hard to change my behavior?  And after a while, when principles are all that generally guide you, it just becomes too much and you wind up doing the Christian thing simply because you think you should and because that’s what you’ve always done.

But then something happened, and this is where everything changed for me.  I experienced God.  I am a rational person and I am not prone to manic episodes, hallucinations, or strange behavior.  I’ve never done drugs a day in my life.  I don’t “feel” things spiritually, have never been “slain in the spirit”, and I’ve never even spoken in tongues.  But while making these films of mine, I experienced the reality and presence of God.  I felt Him inside me and around me.  My behavior changed, I felt peace for the first time, and my Christian walk was no longer about following principles, but about following a Person.  And yes, that Person was invisible.

How do you explain experiencing God to someone who has never experienced Him themselves?  It’s a lot like trying to explain love to someone who has never been in love before.  They can be surrounded by people in love, can see how strange it makes people behave, can understand the concept of love; they can even see the dangers of falling in love with that person over this person, but unless you’ve actually fallen in love with someone, you’ll never be able to understand the feeling it gives you or the certainty that you are, in fact, in love, and that it is very, very real.

So it is no surprise to me that a pastor who decides to “take a year off from God” comes out the other side as an atheist.  Honestly, it would be impossible for me to take even a week off from God, because I have experienced Him firsthand.  I know He’s there, I can’t ignore Him.  No one who actually experiences God will ever deny His existence.  For instance, for my new film, Holy Ghost Reborn, I filmed a ministry in Colorado that provides prayer and teaching almost exclusively to military personnel.  Most of the participants go into this 3 day intensive as either atheists or nominal believers at best.  All of them—a full 100%—come out of these 3 days believing in Jesus.  Why?  Because they just experienced Him for themselves.  And you can’t deny something that you have actually experienced.  My guess is that the vast majority of people who have turned their hearts from God never actually experienced Him in the first place.  They may have heard and believed, but the reality of His presence never took root because believing something logically is not the same as experiencing it relationally.

Yes, believing in someone who is invisible seems, on the surface, a little crazy.  But just as Billy Graham once pointed out, we believe in the wind not because we can see it, but because we can see the effects of it.  We can feel it on our faces, see it whipping through tree branches.  I believe in an invisible God not because I can see Him, but because I can see the effect of Him on my life, and on countless lives around the world.  I can feel Him inside me, around me, even working through me.

I’m not sure people leaving the faith is an assault on Christianity as much as it is simply showing the danger of building faith on principles instead of relationship.  As good and as important as principles are, nothing will ever compare to the vibrant, healthy, Biblical relationship that we were all created for with a God who is more real and more alive than many of us realize.

Our latest film HOLY GHOST has garnered wider attention than any of our previous films, and as such has become a hot topic of conversation. I’m personally grateful for this, because it demonstrates how much people care, and also proves that we’re accomplishing a key goal in making these kind of films – sparking a conversation that challenges followers of Christ to think outside of their spiritual boxes and move beyond comfort zones.

You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored?  It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.”  Matthew 5:13

Because this is our heart, we were led by the Holy Spirit to make a unique film that goes beyond even the work we had done previously. God certainly moved me out of my own personal comfort zone as I made this.

With this in mind, I wanted to take a moment to explain my reasoning behind some of the decisions with this film, as well as give a little more context and artistic explanation for the handful of “hot topic” points in the film. While I realize that this will in no way call off those who are determined to be critical regardless of what I say here, I hope that it will provide some relief for those “with ears to hear” so to speak. (Matthew 13:43) Most of you have contacted us with a spirit of genuine curiosity and questioning.

The first thing I need to point out is that I am, first and foremost, an artist and a storyteller. I am NOT a pastor, and my films are not designed to be tracts. They are stories that are deeply personal to me, and follow my own wanderings and journey into what I refer to as the “more” of God.  I grew up in fairly traditional churches, so anything outside of the mainstream experience of modern, Western Christianity pretty much falls into this category of “the more”.

That being said, as an artist, I consider it my job to poke you. Christ spent much of His time pushing the limits of what the religious folk considered “normal” spiritual life. (Mark 3:4-6, for starters) They called Him a drunkard, demon possessed, a charlatan, and a lunatic.  When everyone got too comfortable with His message, He upped the ante and told them they had to eat His flesh and drink His blood, and pretty much everyone was pushed over the edge and left. (John 6:51-66)

If Jesus wasn’t afraid of pushing the religious limits, then I’m not going to be afraid of it either.  So the fact that this film is causing a wide variety of discussions is wonderful to me.

When you are telling a story, there are certain things that need to be cut out in order to keep the story moving. What you are seeing onscreen is a fraction of the things we filmed, and an even smaller fraction of the conversations and encounters we had along the way.  Just because the gospel isn’t clearly spelled out in the Salt Lake City sequence, for instance, doesn’t mean it wasn’t off camera.  If I were to put in every instance of this happening, the movie would be hardly watchable. A story needs to move, and that means some things need to be sacrificed for the good of the story. While you may disagree with this because you want this to be a gospel tract, my mission is to be a storyteller.

With this understanding that I am telling a story in place, let me now deal with a few of the more common questions that people have raised with us  about the film, and hopefully explain to some satisfaction why it is the way it is.

1. Why is the the Gospel not presented in the film?

I find this one interesting, as it seems to me that a large portion of the Korn concert is given over to Todd White doing just that!  He explains at length about the saving work of Jesus, the need to repent of your sins, and the need to have a relationship with Christ.  So I have to assume that one of two things is happening with people who are asking about this: either they want the gospel message proclaimed clearly in EVERY situation of the film (see my answer to this above), or they aren’t happy with Todd’s explanation of the gospel.  If this is the case, there is not much I can do for you, since we simply have a difference of opinion on how the gospel is presented.  Many people, it seems, prefer their gospel to focus on God’s coming judgment and therefore want to push people to repentance right there on the spot.  I much prefer to focus on God’s love for people, and the offer He is making to save them from their sins and His desire for relationship with them.  I prefer to let the Holy Spirit convict them of their sin (which is what the Bible says He will do, by the way), and am fully confident that He will do what He says He will do.  I think many people simply don’t trust God to do God-type things in people’s lives and hearts, so they feel the need to do it all themselves. This, in my opinion, is a mistake.

2. It seems like Will Hart and Jamie Galloway in the Salt Lake City scene are just doing what mediums do, and it’s all about the experience with no gospel message. Is that accurate?

I will agree that there is definitely a skew towards “experiencing” the Holy Spirit in the Salt Lake City portion of the film, but I chose to focus on this for two reasons.

First, this was the beginning of the film, and I wanted to knock over some religious pedestals right off the bat.  1 Corinthians 2:4-5 says, “…and my speech and my m message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”

It is my belief that God is to be loved, worshipped, obeyed, and believed in, but He must also be experienced.  If the entire film was made up of this type of ministry (just experience with nothing else attached to it), then I could begin to see where that might be a problem, because I wouldn’t be showing any other way of doing things.  But again, I am a storyteller, and I think a lot of the problems people are having is because they are not seeing the film as an overall story made up of different parts that lead to a basic conclusion: that God is alive and well and working in the world today, and He wants His children to know that so much more is available to them.

Second, a little context.  We were in the heart of Mormon country while we were filming this.  While Mormons believe in a version of the Holy Spirit, He is not really a person of the Trinity, but is more of a Providential force working behind the scenes, if at all.  And He certainly cannot be experienced.  So in our ministry to Mormons, we felt the Holy Spirit was wanting to focus more on this aspect of God—the experiential, to show them that God is much bigger than they thought.

I have also heard many people criticizing that we don’t present the gospel in this section at all.  Maybe they missed the four boys getting saved?  Again, while it may not be on camera, it was certainly discussed with people, which is why those four boys prayed for salvation.

3. How can Brian “Head” Welch call himself a Christian and be a member of Korn at the same time?

Okay, so this seems to be the big one.  There are a few things going on here, so let me deal with them individually the best I can.

First: “How can Brian call himself a Christian and pray for people, then go onstage and sing those awful lyrics and spew darkness and evil to people?”

First off, please note that this is not the first time this question has been posed about Brian’s return to Korn, as he’s done many interviews trying to explain why God pushed him in that direction (for one instance, see the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FlyjyIGryjA)

Regardless, it’s a great question, and one that I have posed to Brian directly.  While you may not agree with the answer, hopefully it will help ease your mind a bit.  The first thing to note, especially if you are not a fan of Korn’s music or that style of music, is the music they make is not Satanic.  While it is true that a few of their songs glorify things that are truly dark and horrific, Brian and Fieldy have both stated that they will not play those songs onstage anymore, and the band has acquiesced.

Second, Brian and Fieldy are the only Christians in the band.  The others are decidedly not believers, especially the lead singer, who is the one who writes all the lyrics.

Third, I gained a much better understanding of this subculture by spending a little time with them.  I often heard kids telling the band how their music saved their life, kept them from suicide, etc… While the music is often dark, it deals in large part with pain, and the world is full of people who are in a lot of pain.  These kids are identifying with songs that, quite often for the first time, present them with the idea that they aren’t abnormal or a freak because they have had horrible things happen to them.

That being said, this is the culture that Brian and Fieldy came out of, this is their “tribe” so to speak, and them playing these songs—the ones about pain, struggles, and anger (which, honestly, is found in many of the Psalms)—is simply them relating to the ones they are trying to reach with the gospel.  I can personally speak to the fact that their presence in the band has led to the vast majority of roadies and behind-the-scenes people with the band turning their lives to Christ, and off stage it is very familial and peaceful.

The other point to note is, what is the alternative?  Would you prefer there to be no Christian presence in the band at all?  Is it worth it for the kids who are getting saved at every show for Brian and Fieldy to be a part of this band?  For you, maybe not.  For the kids getting saved, absolutely.  Hopefully the rest of the band will soon find their own faith in Christ, and then the entire direction of the band will be able to change, but in the meantime, these two are doing their very best to be followers of Christ in a very dark place.  And God does not appear to be afraid of their situation, as He is using them greatly at these concerts.  My prayer is that the Body of Christ will stop judging them and stop throwing dirt at them, and instead start lifting them up in prayer so the Holy Spirit might do even more in and through them!

Fourth, what’s up with the middle fingers and the bras?

At the end of the Korn concert, there is a shot of middle fingers in the air and bras gathered after the concert.  I knew this might ruffle a few feathers, but there was a very specific reason I included this footage where it was.  You will notice that these images come onscreen precisely when Todd is leading the concert-goers in the sinner’s prayer, and I simply wanted to remind you, the viewer, exactly who was getting saved here.  This is extreme light coming into extreme darkness, and I hope it adds a little emotional punch to what is going on here.  Many people have no idea who Korn is, so I needed something visual to show just how radical what is happening really is.

As I said earlier, I realize this may do nothing to please many of you.  If you are a cessationist, you probably have a problem with the ENTIRE film, because it goes against everything you believe the Bible says.  We will simply have to disagree with one another, and I’m sure many of you will continue to write very nasty, mean spirited things to me.  I find it interesting that while so many Christians are taking it upon themselves to defend what they think the Bible says, they continuously disregard Christ’s very clear admonition to “love your enemies” (Matthew 5:44) and Paul’s directive to “do everything in love” (1 Cor 16:14).  It is clear that I am the enemy of more than a few Christians, and I can live with that, but I just wish those who put so much faith in the Scriptures would actually apply what the Scriptures say to their interactions with those they disagree with.

But for those of you who had honest questions about the film, hopefully this helped.  I’m sure I didn’t answer every question, and you may still disagree on some level, and I’m okay with that.  Again, I am first and foremost an artist, and art should stretch us, provoke us, challenge us, and, yes, poke us.

If there is one thing I have realized in all this, it’s that everyone has questions and that God is infinitely patient with all of us and willing to address our questions, and even our anger, every time.  Sometimes I don’t understand how He does it, but then I am simply reminded of my own flaws, my own issues, and my own critical nature, and I rest once again in the fact that we are all wretched sinners desperately in need of the cross of Christ.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.  Matthew 22:37-40

Thank you for taking the time to engage with us, we are grateful for your interest in HOLY GHOST.