Rich Mullins: Scriptural Songwriter

Feast of St Terence and His Companions Beheaded at Carthage

Rich_with_Lap_Dulcimer.jpgThe Life of Rich Mullins bears a particular weight within the community of Wichita. A close friend and inspiration for many, his story is a demonstration of heroic faith without contention. At our last Hall of Men on March 26, David Mullins presented his older brother Rich Mullins. 

The son of John and Neva Mullins, Rich grew up on a farm in Richmond, Indiana.  At a very early age, Rich demonstrated his musical skills on the family piano in the Mullins’ home. The contrasting personalities of Rich’s peaceful, Quaker mother and his hard-working, determined father fueled two seemingly opposed but beautiful sides of Rich’s life and faith. His parents’ influence helped make Rich an authentic and down-to-earth human being.

Rich’s musical career shook the contemporary Christian music scene. His simplicity and bluntness often offended those who felt more comfortable with the status quo. But his life-long struggle to follow Jesus in everything he did inspired even more people. Beyond this ragamuffin there was a pilgrim, a priest, and a prophet. As a pilgrim, Rich was dedicated to a long journey in search of God’s heart. As a priestly layman, he offered his musical talents as a gift to the Church by leading people to the heart of God in worship. And as a prophet, he demonstrated the beauty of God’s love in Christ. 

Rich was also a man of the scriptures. He loved the scriptures and he made a regular habit of memorizing them – he had the whole book of Isaiah memorized! If you listen closely to his songs, they are full of the scriptures. This is one of the things David loves about Rich’s music. According to David, “Somehow, Rich took the scriptures and did what every scriptural teacher tries to do: take the scriptures and life and weave them together.”

What does the life of Rich Mullins have to say to us at Eighth Day Institute as we think about cultural renewal? Dave Mullins answered with this: “Rich had a drive and a passion to know God, to know him beyond doctrine, to know God beyond the Church but not without the Church, to major in those things that are essential to the faith. We should do the same.”

“To Rich Mullins, a Musician with a Scriptural Mind and a Passion to Know God!"

“Here, Here!"


Excerpts from the lecture:

“Rich loved the Church. But he was also very critical of the Church. At every concert I ever attended, he would bash every conceivable sacred cow of every church group that was in the room. But his love of Christ and his love for the Church would always come out at the end of the concert. And he would reaffirm everything I truly believed, and everything the Church really stood for. He had a great ability to do that – to crush the things that we wanted to hold onto that weren’t what we ought to hold onto; and at the same time, to reaffirm that which we truly ought to hold onto. I think his love for the Church set him apart from most people.”

“Rich had a love for the Quakers and how they saw God. He had a love for the Christian Church, for what they understood about God. And as I watched him go through life, one of the things I saw was that he had a great ability to hold what he truly believed very tightly, and yet had a freedom to say, ‘Wait, what do they know that I don’t know?’ He was always seeking, asking ‘Who is God? He has to be bigger than what I already know. If God isn’t bigger than what my head contain, then He’s not big enough. So what can I learn?' He was a guy who was always learning.”

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