I’m currently reading the Book of Revelation, written by John of Patmos. In Chapter 1, John recounts that
On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, which said: “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.” (NIV)
Seven churches? Seven Churches is the debut album by death metal band Possessed. It is regarded by many as the first album in the genre. Indeed, it was Possessed’s bassist/vocalist Jeff Becerra who originally coined the term “death metal” in 1983 for a high school English class assignment. I didn’t know that the album was named after the Seven Churches of Asia mentioned in the Book of Revelation. Until now …
The Book of Revelation belongs to a genre of literature known as the apocalypse, a kind of writing that is highly symbolic. As such, its meaning is open to interpretation.
The Zondervan NIV Study Bible tells us that
Interpreters of Revelation normally fall into four groups:
1. Preterists understand the book exclusively in terms of its first-century setting, claiming that most of its events have already taken place.
2. Historicists take it as describing the long chain of events from Patmos to the end of history.
3. Futurists place the book primarily in the end times.
4. Idealists view it as symbolic pictures of such timeless truths as the victory of good over evil.
On an historicist interpretation, we are now living in the era of Laodicea, and approaching the end of history. And spelled out in John’s letter to the church in Laodicea, which Jesus dictates, is the big problem of Christianity and Christians today.
We are lukewarm. We are indifferent. This is especially the case in the affluent West. We feel that we are spiritually rich and need nothing when, in fact, we are spiritually wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked.
We desperately need to be shaken out of our complacency. And what better way to shake ourselves out of our complacency than to listen to some brutal death metal?
Death metal is seen by many Christians as Satanic. Certainly, there’s no denying that it sometimes seems that way! (Death metal should not be confused with black metal, which *is* Satanic.) Personally, I regard death metal as simply another musical genre. But I would like to lay on the table a theory for your consideration, the theory being that God has had a hand in the development of the genre since its inception. Make of this theory what you will, but I, for one, find it curious that the first track on the very first death metal album, a song about an exorcism, includes the following lyrics.
Possessed by evil hell
Satan’s wrath will kill
He will take your soul
Cast you to hell …
I can see the light
I don’t want to burn
Help me save my soul
Let me live
Your curse is not my fear
Demons within me hear
I will escape your wrath …
Demons in my body gone
Sicken thoughts left beyond
Haunted by evil memories
Nightmares and sin …
Exorcism takes control
Beneath my body help my soul
Save my soul from evil hell
Your spell is lost