Neal Morse made headlines when he left his critically acclaimed band, Spock's Beard, after he had a religious conversion. His first solo album Testimony (2003) told the story of his journey to faith. Since then, he has explored theological themes through a series of concept albums. His latest, Sola Scriptura, tells the story of Luther's stand against the Catholic Church. It has sold faster than any of his previous solo works, but also has drawn criticism for its portrayal of Catholicism. Morse's rejection of the Trinitarian view of God also has raised questions about the orthodoxy of his beliefs. He says they're based solely on his interpretation of Scripture (sola scriptura), but admits that his views on the Council of Nicaea were shaped in part by a special on The History Channel. We caught up with Morse recently to ask about these issues and more—including why he thinks prog rock is the best way to express his spiritual journey.
How does progressive rock provide a good musical background for telling the epic stories of your concept albums?
Neal Morse Progressive rock is so theatrical, and it's boundless. In progressive rock, each section can progress to another section and then to another section. You're not stuck in a particular song format. You can go to wherever the story wants to go, and there's freedom to use all kinds of music.
Why did you make Sola Scriptura?
Morse I really didn't want to do another concept album—I've done five in a row—so I resisted a friend's idea that I do one on Martin Luther. But I prayed about it for several months and God just put it on my heart and kept saying, "Yes, that's the thing I want you to do." That was the first step, and then I went to library and checked out books ...