Acclaimed husband/wife duo Seth & Nirva make their long-awaited return March 13 with One Voice, an impassioned 13-track collection of music and spoken-word vignettes. The project showcases the couple at their most vulnerable and most confident, tackling such deeply personal topics as racial reconciliation and apologetics.
Helmed by UK-based songwriter/producer Jimmy James (Matt Redman, Guvna B) and Seth Ready, One Voice features guest turns from Newsboys' Michael Tait, as well as Mr. Talkbox and Dr. Tony Evans, among others. Opening with the upbeat, synth-driven "Light Up The Sky," a call to love one another above all, Tait is featured on "Turning Over Tables," a plea for unity in combatting fear and hate. Additionally, the project includes the poignant "Mercy," a tender request for the Savior's grace in the face of pain and injustice.
Q: Thank you for doing this interview with us. Congratulations on the forthcoming release of your new album, "One Voice." In this record, you have addressed many issues, one of them being racism. Why is this an important for us as Christians to address today?
A: Thanks so much! We are super excited about this project! Good question. Racism is a hot button issue with a lot of confusion surrounding it right now. Unfortunately, it often gets used as a political football, and mainstream media frequently misrepresents and distorts the matter to the point that it is difficult to get a clear picture of what's really going on. We do know that our nation- with all its many virtues and positive qualities- is nevertheless tainted with the sin of racism, and that evil impacts us to this day. We still have a way to go, even in the Church.
However, we don't believe the way forward is through political or religious "progressivism." Rather, it is by recovering a biblical worldview and applying it appropriately. God gave us the resources we need in His Word to correct this problem, and both Dr. Tony Evans and Dr. Rice Broocks, who we highlight on this project, have taught and lived this out in exemplary ways.
Q: You have addressed this issue in the song "Turning Over Tables." Tell us a little about this song and Michael Tait's involvement in it.
A: Michael Tait is a legend! It is such an honor to have him on this project. As an African-American who has had huge success in the Christian music industry, Michael has been a trailblazer and a pioneer paving the way for others. And he has done so without a hint of bitterness or cynicism. He is truly one of the most joy-filled people you'll ever meet. And this song was so fitting for him.
The lyric talks about tearing down walls and building bridges with "strangers"-meaning people who don't look like you, talk like you, eat like you, etc. Of course, not all walls are bad, and not all bridges are good. But in context, this song is a reminder that the walls we have built up against others as a result of original sin (i.e. racism), have been torn down in Christ (Gal 3:26-29), and who better to feature on this with us than our good friend Michael Tait.
Q: This album is unique in that you have also included spoken-word vignettes, with one of them from Dr. Tony Evans. Why did you include spoken-word vignettes? And what's so special about the excerpt from Dr. Evans?
A: In our culture we often hear calls to "unity," "love" and "inclusion." Unfortunately, these words are almost always understood or defined in unbiblical ways. We wanted to make sure our songs weren't interpreted through these lenses, so we thought putting spoken-word vignettes would act as sort of an interpretive key. It was particularly special for us to feature an except from Dr. Evans for many reasons. For one, he officiated our wedding, and of course did an amazing job. We became close friends of the Evans family when I (Seth) lived with them for a few months after I was hired to sing background for Kirk Franklin. They are truly an amazing family, and it was an honor to be accepted into the family in this way.
Second, Dr. Evans has been a leading voice in crafting a biblical view of racial reconciliation in our day. He was the first African American to earn a doctorate in theology from Dallas Theological Seminary, and along the way he faced many obstacles due to racism, sometimes even within the evangelical church. He could have easily allowed that to turn him towards the black liberation theology of James Cone, who was very popular during Dr. Evans' time in seminary. Yet, he took his stand on biblical truth and stayed faithful to the written Word of God. We need these voices in our day when critical race theory and cultural Marxism are growing in popularity and leading many away from sound biblical doctrine.
Q: One of my favorite songs is "Mercy," which is a prayer to God in the midst of injustice and suffering. What's the story behind this song?
This is one of our favorite songs as well. As we were writing the song, it reminded us of some of the Psalms where the writer is wrestling with God and seems distraught and hopeless until the end, where he reaffirms God's faithful character even in the midst of confusion and chaos. When we first wrote the line in the bridge, "when we cry out waiting for an answer, will You answer?" we debated whether that was too dissident and unsettling. But given the precedent for this and even stronger language in the Psalms, we felt it was appropriate to portray this sentiment we all feel at times, something C.S. Lewis captured so well in A Grief Observed.
So, this song builds as sort of a liturgical prayer that asks God to come and have mercy on us in the midst of difficulty, while acknowledging that at times He seems to be silent in the face of injustice. By the end we lean into Hope acknowledging that His mercy is beginning to fall like rain. And we do believe that we are starting to see God move in the earth to bring justice and mercy in noticeable ways.
Q: You also have a keen interest in apologetics. Not only did you address this on the record, but you also have a podcast on it. What's apologetics?
The term apologetics does not mean saying you're sorry for your faith, as some folks might think. Apologetics has actually served as a lifeline for me (Seth) in my faith journey. It is the art and science of making a rational case for the truth of Christianity. It comes from the Greek word "apologia" which basically means a defense, such as in a court case. This word is used in 1 Peter 3:15, which states, "but honor the Messiah as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give a defense [apologia] to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you." I like how the late philosopher and theologian Dallas Willard once defined apologetics as "the use of reason in submission to the Holy Spirit to lift doubts off of the honest inquirer."
Q: How did you discuss apologetics on this new record?
A: Although I don't think we really discuss apologetics on this project, the study of apologetics did connect with our desire to include the spoken word vignettes. One of the things you learn pretty early on in apologetics is the importance of definitions. That's why we felt it important to give more clarity to what we meant by "unity," and again, that's why we wanted to include the speaking segments.
Q: Tell us a little about your "Freemind Podcast."
A: We started the podcast in January of 2019, which you can find at www.freemind.fm. The tagline is "freedom from captivity to the spirit of the age, and freedom to increasingly take on the mind of Christ." We discuss and analyze current events with an emphasis on biblical worldview thinking and apologetics. We have covered topics ranging from critical theory, to LGBTQ activism, abortion, Netflix shows like "Stranger Things" and everything in between. We have had the privilege of interviewing some of the world's leading Christian thinkers, including John Stonestreet, J.P. Moreland, Sean McDowell, Christopher Yuan, Nancy Pearcey, and many more. We typically release an episode a week, so we'd love for folks to check it out when they get a chance.
Q: Since this new album addresses the issue of unity, what does unity look like to you?
A: As a starting point, Colossians 3:9-17 and 1 Corinthians 13 present us with a pretty good picture of love and unity. Unity has to be grounded in the gospel and centered in Christ. It's not unity for unity's sake, and it's not unity with darkness (2 Cor 6:14). It doesn't mean we have to agree on everything of course, but it does entail at a minimum that we agree on the fundamentals of the gospel. As Rubertus Meldenius said in A.D. 1627, "in essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty, and in all things, charity."
Sometimes, we get too caught up in focusing on our disagreements in secondary issues. It's important to understand the difference between "spine" (essential) and "rib" (non-essential) issues. The "ribs" aren't unimportant (things like age of the earth, eschatology, gifts of the spirit, etc.), but they are not essentials or majors. Hyper-critics tend to make minors into majors, while "progressive Christians" make majors into minors. As we "contend for the faith that was delivered to the saints once for all" (Jude 3), we must avoid both of these errors.
Additionally, we have to unite in our kingdom purpose as citizens of heaven. Sports offer a good analogy here. Any championship team knows you have to lay down your disagreements and selfish ambitions for the sake of the team if you are going to win. We are now in an hour when we absolutely must come together as one for the sake of the gospel as we contend for an awakening in our culture.