When people hear the name Twenty One Pilots, they usually think of Tyler Joseph's unique lyrics and vocals, deeming their songs as either depressing or awesome. Many in the church don't understand TØP, therefore creating a stigma around their name. It's almost a taboo subject in my church, because no one will do the research necessary to understand what Tyler and Josh are all about. Their lyrics, songs, poetry, and their costumes on stage are very shocking to some because of the dark subjects they touch on. This is understandable, because most church-going Christians don't face what the outcasts in society live through everyday, such as depression, abuse, and suicidal thoughts. Or, maybe those church-going Christians just have a different way of dealing with it in their experiences--which is great, but just like Twenty One Pilot's lyrics, their coping mechanisms are not for everyone.
Twenty One Pilots is not just a band--this is a whole ministry intended to reach the lost, depressed, fearful people of the world. The outcasts. All those who are shunned from the church because of their differences. They think differently, they feel differently, and therefore are misunderstood. Tyler and Josh take these people--their fans--under their wings and call them The Few, The Proud, The Emotional, or the Clique, and show them the hope that is found in life, guiding them to Christ. Tyler Joseph has written many a sad song, which confuses people when they hear that TØP is a ministry. Why would they be a ministry if they are not writing worship songs and loudly proclaiming the truth of the Gospel?
In Matthew 16:13-28, Jesus asks His disciples, “Who do people say I am?” After they list several biblical figures such as John the Baptist, Elijah, and Jeremiah, Jesus asks his disciples who do they say He is. Peter speaks up and says, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus then tells Peter he is blessed for knowing this for himself, and states that He is going to build His church on this truth. Then, he charges His disciples to not tell anyone that He is the Christ. Not out of fear, but because He wants people to understand that He is the Christ for themselves. When people come to Jesus and accept salvation, knowing for themselves His truth, it is much more powerful to them than it would be if someone forced them to accept salvation.
The whole mission of Twenty One Pilots is based on this passage, and possibly others. But, specifically for this passage, Tyler is guiding the disciples he is making towards Christ. He wants them to see the hope that is still in life, fully acknowledging that life can be dark and depressing and it’s fully understandable that suicide seems like a option sometimes. But as their audience listens to their lyrics and follows their train of thought, Tyler makes it clear that we cannot live on our own without Christ. Although Twenty One Pilots does not directly mention Christ in any of their songs, they give their audience the chance to “fill in the blank” to the question: Where or in Whom are you going to find your hope?
Some may ask, “Well, why can’t Twenty One Pilots directly mention Christ and encourage these people to go to church?” It’s because their audience has done that already. They have heard the Gospel in some way, they have encountered Christians many times, and all they are faced with is disapproval. Disappointment. Misunderstanding. Judgement. Maybe this message was unintended by the Christians trying to help them, but it was nonetheless sent because they don't understand how to reach them for Christ or how to communicate to them. Most Christians don’t relate to the struggles the outcasts in society face. However, Twenty One Pilots understands what these people are going through. Their songs reach out to them, assuring them they are not alone facing these struggles in life, through their dark, depressing, yet hopeful songs. Through this, they guide them to the hope found only in Christ, the permanent Solution to our problems as mere, weak humans.
These are several of their songs that I want to write about, analyzing them and revealing their message that points to the Gospel. But, until then, here is a list of a few:
I have written an analysis of Car Radio that reveals how it guides people to Christ as the Solution to our stress in a previous blog post.