The subject of this talk is one of those perennial human questions. Joy, happiness–what is it? How do you get it? In these gospel spirituals, we see the celebration of the oldest roots of the African American music, which said the solution to the joy problem is the message of the Christian gospel.

I would suggest to you that there are three themes in the music. The first is that there’s a joy vacuum that’s very deep in the human heart. Secondly, there are joy strategies every human being has. You have some way of trying to fill that joy vacuum. You might have this one or that one. You may change them, but there are joy strategies. And lastly, this music has a solution for the joy vacuum.

This talk was given by Rev. Timothy Keller at Redeemer Presbyterian Church on October 6, 2002 as part of the Redeemer Open Forum series. Open Forums were specifically designed for skeptics or those wrestling with the claims of Christianity.

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