Creed Frontman Scott Stapp Reclaims Soul in 'Sinner's Creed'
I wasn't sure what to expect when I found out I was going to interview Scott Stapp, lead singer of the band Creed. Creed rose to huge success in the late '90s and 2000s and have sold over 40 million albums worldwide. Stapp recently released the memoir, Sinner's Creed, which recounts his life and faith journey.
In Sinner's Creed, Stapp details what it was like growing up in a home with a stepfather who emphasized the importance of the Bible, but who was also physically abusive. Stapp ran away from home at the age of seventeen and went on to form the band Creed in college. Despite being a Christian, Stapp says he ran from God and fell into all the well-known temptations of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. After some very public missteps, Stapp has now reclaimed his life and faith in God.
I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical when I first saw Stapp was releasing a book. I was surprised to find the book to be very honest, especially about the darker parts of Stapp's life. In our interview, Stapp talked openly about his Christian beliefs, his struggles and more. You can hear the actual audio from our interview posted with each question.
Honesty, Restoring Dignity and Steven Tyler
FaithVillage: I was really surprised at the honesty in Sinner’s Creed. You really didn’t shy away from talking about the highs and extreme lows in your life. Was it hard to be that honest? (Click here to listen to the audio from this question.)
Scott Stapp: It definitely was very hard when I began that honesty process. I was at a treatment facility for alcohol and drug abuse when I had really hit a bottom. I was at a place where I was broken and had surrendered.
The process God was doing in my life ... I couldn’t see but repurposing was starting to happen. I was ashamed and I didn’t really want to share any of that. I was in a place where I wanted to look at what I did in certain situations, even if it was abusive. In a lot of areas I would walk through and realize some things weren’t my fault, I was a child. But in other areas it shifted my approach from blame to taking accountability and responsibility.
I was in treatment and I got a phone call from Steven Tyler, believe it or not. He gets on the phone (imitating Tyler), “Hey man, what’s up! I was sitting right where you are right now.” He just started sharing his story and surprised me with telling me how much he loved Christ. He told me how he went through this journey and how it put in him a desire to serve and to share his testimony. After we got off the phone my counselor told me how he (Tyler) had written a book and suggested maybe that was something I should think about.
I began to look at what I was doing a lot differently. As I did, the guilt, shame, anger, and resentment that I hadn’t dealt with — all the things that were deep in me and consequences of my behaviors — came to the surface. A repurposing started to happen.
I was so lost at that time. I had lost everything in my life. I felt like none of it mattered, that it was all useless, meaningless. I felt like, “God, I thought we had plans. Even though I was away from You, in my songs I still didn’t run from You. I still pointed to You. It isn’t supposed to work this way.”
I was in a valley. As I finally confessed, that’s when God repurposed and started the process of removing the shame, guilt and anger; at least cutting away the big trees of it and planting in me a desire to help. Maybe because of the platform He gave me, maybe there are others out there who have gone through similar situations who can hear my story and take something from it.
There was trepidation and worry and wondering what people would think. But when that purpose began to manifest itself that went away. And, it actually helped to restore a bit of my dignity and my confidence that got robbed by the consequences of my sin and my decisions.
I thank God I can share my journey and reclaim my soul.
How A Physically-Abusive Stepfather Affected His View of God
FV: You didn’t know your father very well and you had a very complex relationship with your stepfather. Was it hard for you to view God as father based on how your earthly fathers had treated you? (Click here to listen to the audio from this question.)
SS: Over the last two years, I’ve finally had the clarity to understand how my view of my father and stepfather impacted my view and understanding of God. This has had a tremendous impact, especially because my stepfather's proclaimed Christian perspective. I was taught to view him as if he were ordained by God and that he was God in the household. What he said was supposedly straight from God and how I viewed God was how I should view him.
Coming from that place severely impacted my view of God. Even though reading God’s Word started as a punishment, I got hooked. The stories and the moments of unfailing love gave me, as a young boy, peace and excitement.
It was the "punishing God" that my stepfather taught me. If I made one mistake I was required to confess to my earthly father and my heavenly father. If something happened to me before I had the chance to confess, I was taught I was going to burn in hell. Daily I was dealing with whether I was saved or not saved, with angels and devils and the severity of eternal condemnation. Then having a manifestation of that in my stepfather, whether deserved or not, was heavy and severely impacted my walk and my view of God.
I think that was the catalyst for me at age 17, to run away from home, aside from running from the abuse. When I ran away that night, that was the start of my running from God, whether I knew it or not. I still led a Bible study at school, still didn’t drink or do anything else the other kids in high school were doing, but that was the start of it.
It’s something I think is affecting many, many people in this world and their view of God. If their fathers abandoned them, it gets into their view of God. When bad things happen, they think God doesn’t care and they translate that into abandonment. We have a tremendous responsibility in how we raise and love and discipline our children. I firmly believe it manifests itself in their understanding of God. It really was a core issue that caused initial separation from God, and of course my sin did that, but it definitely caused a lot of issues in my life.
Cursing In "What's This Life For?"
FV: In your song, “What’s This Life For?” you sing the line, “don’t have to settle no GD score.” Do you feel convicted about singing that word now? (Click here to listen to the audio from this question.)
SS: When I say that, I’m quoting a suicide letter left by the individual who inspired the song. That was his mindset in the suicide note, “I’m finally settling the GD score.” That stuck with me forever.
At the time I wrote it, I didn’t know the music was going to be heard around the world and that I needed to focus on that as a Christian. I’m glad I have the opportunity to explain it now.
I’m a little uncomfortable when I sing that live because I know there’s people out there that don’t know that I was quoting someone else in what they’d written. I’m torn on that but I feel like I’ve got to be true to the story I’m telling. It’s not something I feel I would do again if I was in that situation. Hopefully that will get out and one day it won’t be an issue. Because, of course, I would absolutely change it and never sing it again if that was a point in my life where I was actually damning God or cursing in anger and using that expression.
Hopefully, God has used that to connect with people who, in their core, feel the same way at that moment.
Teaching His Children About God
FV: You were raised in a very strict “Christian” home. How do you want your children to understand God differently than you were taught growing up? (Click here to listen to the audio from this question.)
SS: It’s funny, for the first time when I heard you say, “Christian home,” it triggered something in my spirit and I can’t call it that anymore. A Christian home, according to God’s Word, is much different than what I was raised in. Yes, there was talk of Christ and there was church three times a week, but there was discipline and abuse in the name of God. It wasn’t how a Christian home should be.
In raising my children, I showered love. I didn’t want to raise my voice. I couldn’t spank. I went to the extreme opposite of my stepfather. I didn’t want to represent anything except what I learned from my grandfather who I talk about in the book.
Even though I knew I wasn’t in the right place in my spiritual life or with God, I did begin to impart that on my first son and on all my children now. As someone who did have a heart that loved God, I knew whether I was right or wrong in my life, I needed to impart that to my children.
Sinner's Creed can be purchased here. Interview has been edited for clarity and brevity. Image from the cover of Sinner's Creed.