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‘Happy’ songwriter says ‘God and universe are synonymous’

Singer Pharrell Williams gestures as he attends the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA)'s 35th Anniversary Gala presented by Louis Vuitton at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA in Los Angeles, California, on March 29, 2014 (Credit: Reuters/Jonathan Alcorn)

Have you heard the song “Happy” by Pharrell Williams?  It originally appeared in the animated movie Despicable Me 2 and it has been on the radio for over a year.  One critic called it “unbelievably catchy” and “the kind of song that makes you want to dance and sing along.”  I am a sucker for a fun song; I use it as the ringtone on my phone.

The “Happy” writer said on Good Morning America that the song came from a moment of writer’s block and that “the master, God, the universe” spoke to him.  In a recent interview, Williams described those celebrities that would claim there is no God to be “incredibly arrogant and pompous,” and he exclaimed “It’s amazing that there are people who really believe that. It’s unbelievable.”

Williams told GQ Style that “I believe in God and the universe and that those are synonymous… On paper I’m a Christian but really I’m a Universalist… I believe there are different routes to a destination.”

When Williams was asked if he thinks that Christianity is the only way, he answered,  “No. I think the only route for everything is their connection to God… There’s religious dogma that gets involved, something for the greater good and sometimes for not so great reasons… But they give you a way, a vehicle to get to God.”

This notion that all religions are different paths up the same mountain has been around for a long time, but it appears to be making a resurgence in our culture today.  Christians are often asked, “How can you believe that your way is the right way?”  

Jesus said “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).  We believe Jesus’ claim is true.  So how can we talk about this with those in our lives who espouse similar beliefs as Pharrell Williams?

Some of our resources from the Denison Forum can help:

First, explain that teachings from other religions directly contradict each other.  Dr. Denison explains:

“Buddha taught that there is no personal ‘god’ (despite the fact that some of his followers now worship him). Hindus believe in thousands of individual deities but no ‘Lord’ of the universe. Muslims believe that Allah (the Arabic word for God) is the one supreme ruler of the universe and that the Trinity is blasphemy. Jews believe that God revealed himself through the Laws and Prophets of their Scriptures, that Jesus was not the Messiah, and that the New Testament is not the word of God. And Christians say that Jesus is the only way to the Father.

“If any one of these religions is right, the others must be wrong. None believes that other religions are equally correct or divinely inspired. The holy writings which the various world religions trust do not describe different paths up the same mountain, but very different mountains.”

Second, explain that Jesus’ existence is not up for debate.  The Gospels are trustworthy eyewitness accounts of the life and teachings of Jesus.  “No other faith rests on historical evidence as compelling as that which exists for Christianity. No other religious leader was raised from the dead; no other ancient religious book possesses the kind of manuscript, archaeological, and prophetic evidence which the Bible can claim. If Jesus is alive, then he is Lord and God. And we can trust him to be our Lord and our God.”

Remember that the Bible describes faith as a gift from God. Therefore, we must not allow self-righteousness to creep into these conversations believing we have attained our faith.  Offer the truth of salvation through Jesus Christ, and remember that it is not you doing the saving.  The Holy Spirit will do the heavy lifting; we are called to be witnesses to it.

It’s not our good theology that saves us, but a Person.  His name is Jesus Christ.