I believe my generation and the subsequent one are obliged to get their doctrine from the songs we sing instead of from the living Word of God. Passing by one of our committed, older youth in church a few weeks ago, I quoted 1 Peter 2:9. She looked excited and said something like, “Oh, I know that song!” Of course, she was referring to “Marvelous Light” by Charlie Hall. I said, no… that comes from the Bible – and her response shocked me… “Really?”
As a Worship Pastor, I get to hear a lot of great music. There are worship songs that exemplify and even teach biblical doctrine to their audience. Some of the great hymns of the faith like, “There Is A Fountain,” “Great Is Thy Faithfulness,” “Be Thou My Vision,” and others are just packed with deep theological truth. Modern hymns such as, “In Christ Alone,” “Before the Throne of God Above,” and “What Grace Is Mine,” are also drenched in doctrinal substance. And then there are some contemporary Christian songs that are equal in that devotion to doctrinal truth – “Come, Ye Sinners,” “By His Wounds,” “Everlasting God,” “Worthy Is the Lamb,” just to name a few. But there are other songs that don’t quite measure up.
Point of Grace has cranked out some pretty good music over the past few years, but look at the lyrics to the chorus of one of their more recent chart-toppers, “How You Live:”
But the Bible teaches that it’s all about “Who” you know, and that will in turn affect “how you live.” Call me picky, but this is pretty significant. Can we really justify teaching Christians that how you live is more important than Who you know? Christian soteriology cannot approve of this.
How about that good old standard, “Because He Lives?” Now, this is one of my favorite hymns to sing (well, the first verse anyway), but it has a significant problem in the last stanza. Check it out:
Hebrews 11:1 explains the essence of faith as being the reality/assurance of things hoped for, the proof of what is not seen. Well, since faith itself IS proof of what is not seen, then if we have to wait until we “see the lights of glory” to KNOW He lives, we don’t have faith! The ironic paradox here is that without this faith, one cannot be saved (Eph. 2:8), and thus, will never see the “lights of glory.” My point is that we don’t need to wait until heaven to have the assurance that Jesus lives. It is the joy of the Christian to know that for sure right now.
I don’t want to get too carried away, here… There are plenty of new songs AND old hymns that just don’t exemplify biblical truth / biblical theology.
Here’s the real purpose of this blog: We have become more interested in the immanence of God than in His transcendence. There, I said it. Our postmodern culture places high emphasis on inner feelings and the promotion of self-love. And our churches are conforming to the image of the culture instead of the image of Christ. David Wells wrote, “today’s churches are simply in a transitional period, and if they fail to repudiate their experimentation and repent of its outworkings, the day will shortly be upon us when evangelical spirituality will become indistinguishable from New Age Spirituality,” (from his book, God in the Wasteland).
Is God’s immanence important? Absolutely. But God is not only immanent. He is holy. He is awe-inspiring. He is omnipotent. He is eternal. He is transcendent.
But many of the songs we sing could easily be confused with a New Age or transcendentalistic concept of God because of their feel-good, anthropocentric tone. The common cliche is “SANDALS and CANDLES!” I laugh at it, but it really burns me at the core. There’s not enough room on this blog to deal with this subject fully, but it’s a good start anyway…
Grace and Peace,
P.S. – can you think of any worship songs / hymns that do NOT exemplify correct biblical theology?