Monday, June 7, 2010

Bad Theology

There are tons of Christian songs today that are sung and re-sung, used in weddings and church services, blared loudly on the radio or worshiped to at youth camps. There have been thousands of songs written about God and His love that we could play a different one every few minutes and be able to fill up years of time.

The problem with Christian music is that sometimes it is just bad theology. Sometimes it speaks death and not life. Sometimes the Scriptures used are taken out of context to fit an artist's feeling or state of mind. Sometimes Christian music can do more harm than good, but since its all under the name of "God" then it must be good, right?

One of my favorite exercises we did in school of ministry was listening to music and discerning things about the music as it played. The point was to ignore the words, but to pray into and see what the Spirit was revealing through some of the songs. What feelings did the melodies invoke? Were you left with a positive feeling or a negative feeling? As the songs played, we were told to write down the things we felt about the songs.

I was excited because the first song was by a well known Christian artist. It was a song I had grown up singing and knew all the words to. The piano started, then the drums, then came the electric guitar...building into a forceful crescendo and gracefully easing off as the lyrics settled in around me. The music continued to play as I focused on what my heart felt. I was expecting to feel intimacy with the Father, joy, love, exhilaration. But instead I started to feel sad. I started to feel guilty about random things throughout my life. Painful memories were brought up that I never wanted to think about again. Before I realized it, I had scribbled down words and phrases like "distance, lack of intimacy, guilt, shame, frustration." Although the lyrics of the song are good, the song itself opened up so many doors for me that weren't good. By the end of the song, I couldn't understand why the song was so popular. But like I said, the point of the exercise was to learn to discern music- the way it was created, the heart that birthed it, the people who collaborated to make it beautiful and marketable, the idea behind it. Essentially, see beyond the music and see the heart. Whats healthy for someone else might not be healthy for you.

The second song was one I didn't know. It sounded like dueling banjos with some Nickelcreek harmonies mixed in. This song made my spirit come alive. I got excited. I felt like I was in a whirlwind romance spinning around and around. I felt feelings of euphoria. I could feel the harmonies. The song made me want to put my arm around someone, pick flowers, or lay in the sun.

How ironic is it that two totally different songs can make you feel completely different? I tell this story to explain that what looks good on the outside, might not actually be all good. And what looks rough on the outside, might actually be something that comes from the very heart of God.

One song that has become popular is the song "Blessed Be Your Name." This song never sat well with me, and for a long time I couldn't figure out why. Then I realized that the line that says "You give and take away" shouldn't be in the song. That line is very much Scriptural, but it is Job's words to God...for which he was later rebuked for. God did not endorse those words. Scripture is very clear that "His gifts and His call are irrevocable." Romans 11:29  God does not steal or take away from His children what He has already given them. We like to say that satan has to come and ask God to take things away, but satan is no longer allowed in God's presence. Whatever authority the enemy has in your life, he has it because you have given it to him.

So in conclusion- after my rampant ramblings...not all music speaks life or identity. So its important to know what we're filling our mind and our hearts with throughout the day. Thats why I love Rick Pino and Jake Hamilton- both are guys that write songs in such a way that when you sing them to yourself later on, you are declaring who you are. "I am royalty. I have destiny. I have been set free. I'm going to change history." You speak life. And life's important.


Andrew said...


You might look back at Job. I don't think the song is bad theology at all. Job said "The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord (1:21).” God doesn't rebuke Job for his words (1:22; 2:10). The book makes this clear in the verse that follows Jobs statement. Job is spot on.

In the introduction it is God who suggests Job to Satan (1:8) and takes the initiative in the challenge (1:12). Not the other way around. Satan challenges God's assessment of Job's righteousness, but God is the one who suggests that something actually be done to prove it.

In the end, God rebukes Job's friends (42:7). His only word to Job is questions to remind Job of His majesty, and assure him that God has not done any wrong toward him. If we don't acknowledge this, we end up with a Christianized version of dualism. God is the good God, and Satan is the bad god, and God is at war with Satan in a war that tests the power of God. There are all kinds of theological problems there.

Sounds like you had a great trip. I'd love to hear about it some time. We just came back from North Africa recently, so we should talk some time.

Take care,


Mary said...