Nickel Creek and the Authority of Exceptions

One of my favorite bands in recent memory is Nickel Creek. Brother, sister, and close friend, the three started playing together as little kids on the bluegrass festival circuit, and hit it pretty big in their late teens and early twenties with a self-titled debut album. For a little while, they had videos on CMT and national exposure as a rising star. Then, because they are musicians and not stars, they’ve fallen off the popular radar, which is probably how they like it.

Regardless of all that, they have a great song on that debut album called “Reasons Why.” The lyrics go something like this:

Where am I today? I wish that I knew
‘Cause looking around there’s no sign of you
I don’t remember one jump or one leap
Just quiet steps away from your lead
I’m holding my heart out but clutching it too
Feeling this short of a love that we once knew
I’m calling this home when it’s not even close
Playing the role with nerves left exposed
Standing on a darkened stage, stumbling through the lines
Others have excuses, but I have my reasons why
We get distracted by dreams of our own
But nobody’s happy while feeling alone
And knowing how hard it hurts when we fall
We lean another ladder against the wrong wall
And climb high to the highest rung, to shake fists at the sky
While others have excuses, I have my reasons why
It is a tremendously evocative hook for me: “Others have excuses, I have my reasons why.” I thought of it last night while reading NT Wright’s The Last Word. In the UK, he titled it Scripture and the Authority of God, and I don’t know why he decided to go against his usual and endearing pattern on this side of the pond, but that’s a whole different blog. He writes, “Those individuals and churches which have ‘heard God speaking’ through a passage of Scripture, and have acted accordingly, tend to be those where division is most apparent.” (The Last Word, pg. 33)

Could this be any more true in our brotherhood? Our identity is based on the belief that our group and no other understands the Bible correctly and worships according to its dictates. That understanding has made us very insular: not only have we often failed to see our own weaknesses, we’ve believed that the weaknesses of other groups pertained solely to them. We could learn nothing from the failures and weaknesses of the denominations.

“They’re denominations, you see. Of course they’re messed up, and they don’t even know why. They’ll give you a bunch of excuses, but if they’d just read their Bibles, they’d get better.”
Unity DOES matter, we all say. Others have excuses (why they’re not unified); we have our reasons why.

in HIS love,


PS – Watch Nickel Creek perform this song here!

About Nick Gill

orphan-poet-adoptee-soldier-prodigal-servant-husband- counselor-desperate seeker after my Father's face "I feel my body weakened by the years as people turn to gods of cruel design. Is it that they fear the pain of death, or is it that they fear the joy of life?" - Toad the Wet Sprocket

Posted on 9 January, 2008, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. From my experience, we don’t tend to be that charitable. It’s not just our group that gets it right… it’s mainly just me! I put up with everybody else because they’re close enough for comfort, but as far as really understanding the Bible, well, nobody does it like I do.

  2. For the most part, we’ve just given up on original quest for undenominational Christianity. I was recently kicked out of yet another “church of Christ” organization (regional preachers group decided not to invite me to participate with them anymore). I was told that I could enjoy an association with other ecumenical groups given that I’m not in “their” fellowship. Wright’s Last Word, and other reasoned approaches to scripture would go a long way toward rescuing our movement from the grave it seems bound to jump into.

  3. How nice of them to give you permission to associate with publicans and sinners!Once upon a time, Tim, I read of Baptists and Methodists and Presbyterians and Disciples and Christians all being able to gather together to listen to one speaker and then break bread together and dialogue. Those days are long gone, and it does not bode well for us. I agree to a point with Luther’s famous statement, “There is a pope in each man’s breast.” I believe that the churches of Christ as we know them started in a dream of dethroning that pope. The lamentable division between the sects of the churches of Christ is clear evidence that that dream failed.Failure doesn’t mean hopelessness, but many of our brethren are painfully unwilling to look for the error that led us here. CS Lewis says that if you’ve made a mistake in arithmetic or in travel, going back is the best way forward. As long as we continue to point fingers at other groups, compare ourselves favorably to them, and give “reasons why” to refute the excuses of others, men like Ben and myself will continue to struggle for acceptance in the body of HIS love,Nick

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