Rich Mullins and the “Mormon Problem”

While many of you may not be familiar with his career, catalogue, or early death; Rich Mullins and his music had a big impact on me as a child. And as all things come full circle, I’m revisiting his music as I play it for my son.

Mullins was a bit of the cantankerous sort. He was raised a Quaker, spent his adult life at a very popular Protestant church in Wichita, KS and was contemplating a converstion to Catholicism shortly before his untimely death. He didn’t always subscribe to social norms and, in fact, spent the last year or so before his death on a Navajo reservation.

One of his quotes seems particularly apropos as I see Romney’s “Mormon Problem” play out in my twitter timeline. It seems Mullins hit on the crux of the matter. And while it is all too simple, I believe it is truly the heart of what separates us as Christians, Mormons, Episcopalians, etc. Sure, we have our own books and doctrines and I do not mean to minimize any tradition; but please, consider what Mullins has to say (emphasis mine).

“A lot of the stuff which I thought was so different between Protestants and Catholics [was] not, but at the end of going through an RCIA [Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults] course, I also realized that there are some real and significant differences. I’m not sure which side of the issues I come down on. My openness to Catholicism was very scary to me because, when you grow up in a church where they don’t even put up a cross, many things were foreign to me. I went to an older Protestant gentleman that I’ve respected for years and years, and I asked him, “When does faithfulness to Jesus call us to lay aside our biases and when does it call us to stand beside them?” His answer to me was that it is not about being Catholic or Protestant. It is about being faithful to Jesus. The issue is not about which church you go to, it is about following Jesus where He leads you.”

-Rich Mullins Radio Interview on ‘The Exchange,” April 1997

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