The title track on Phil Wickham’s chart-topping new album was written in a moment of angst as he considered stories of deconstruction and people he knew who were walking away from the faith, he says.
The album I Believe debuted at No. 1 this month on Billboard’s Christian Albums chart, while the title track I Believe is rising the Billboard Christian Airplay chart. The upbeat tune reads like a miniature creed, with the first verse declaring: “I believe there is one salvation; one doorway that leads to life; one redemption; one confession; I believe in the name of Jesus Christ.” The song also declares belief in the crucifixion, the resurrection, the “hope of heaven” and Christ’s return.
Asked if the controversy over Christians deconstructing their faith was on his mind when he wrote the song, Wickham responded, “yes, 100 percent.” Although the song doesn’t directly reference deconstruction, that is part of the backstory, he said.
“I [understand] people trying to work out their salvation and stuff,” Wickham told Christian Headlines, paraphrasing Philippians 2:12-13. “But I just wanted to be a voice amongst it all saying, ‘Hey, I believe there's one way and it's Jesus. I believe that He died on the cross for my sin, and He rose again, so that I can live forever. I believe in the hope of heaven. I believe He's preparing a place for me. And I'm not going to be ashamed about it. Because I've found so much abundant life.' And so that was definitely written in response to a lot of personal and external things that have come my way.”
Without mentioning names, Wickham referenced conversations he has had with people who have deconstructed. Many of the individuals, he said, are driven by past pain within the church and consider the church to be hypocritical.
“I get it -- people get hurt. And people do dumb things in leadership,” he said. “... It seems like so many people I know, closely, that are trying to figure out their faith that grew up in church, a lot of it stems back to just the system of church in America.”
But “when I actually talk about Jesus with them -- they think Jesus is awesome,” Wickham added.
“When we come back to Jesus and His teachings, and feeding the poor, and forgiving the adulterous woman and touching the leper when no one else would, and hanging on the cross for the sins of the world,” there is more agreement, he said.
He wrote the song, he said, “in a little bit of an angsty place.” He referred to a conversion he had with an individual who was making “emotionally driven” arguments against Christianity. The person told Wickham, “I'm just finding my own path.”
Wickham said the song is an anthem to the theme of his life.
“I've come to a place where Jesus has so affected my life -- I'm in it for life,” he said. “I think He's the way, I think He's the truth, and He's the life. No other story lights my heart up like the story of Jesus.”
Wickham is on tour. Visit PhilWickham.com.
Photo credit: Photo courtesy of John Castillo
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.