History has lost many things as a result of war. A conquering nation rolls into town and takes out the libraries, cultural texts and any other remnant of the losing nation’s culture. Only some of the art or precious jewels, plates and cups will remain. All else is effectively eliminated. I see the same thing happening in so-called churches these days. The rich culture of hymns and spiritual songs are fading. Soon they will be gone … but in favor of what? Who is this conquering people who has rolled in and removed Scripture as a basis for our praise and worship?
I have this debate with my oldest son who enjoys DC Talk. I’m old enough to remember when they first came on the scene. I remember how Jesus Freak was super-cool. Maybe it was after the Totally Rad phase. That was more late 80’s/early 90’s when New Thang was probably more hip … or whatever.
Anyway, the thrust of the discussion revolves around whether these songs or raps do what spiritual songs and hymns are meant to do: Do they teach and encourage us in all wisdom?
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Colossians 3:16
At church we had a band play a song by David Crowder called Hurricane. In the opening verse, it says “Your love is a hurricane, I am a tree.”
The definition of hurricane–other than a single-seat, single-engine British fighter aircraft in WWII–is a storm with a violent wind. I’m going to “go out on a limb” and just say that is the most asinine simile I’ve ever heard! It compares God’s love to a destructive storm. A quick search of the Scriptures reveals that love is paired with ‘steadfast,’ ‘kindness,’ ‘shield,’ ‘good,’ ‘up to the heavens,’ and ‘better than wine.’ No mention of being like one of the most destructive storms known to man.
The song goes on to exclaim how God loves us … He loves us … He loves us. If His grace were an ocean we’re sinking.
Being destroyed by a storm, sinking in an ocean … really?
If there were submissions for the Psalms, this would have been tossed in the slush pile, for sure. And for good reason. It’s utter crap. And that’s putting it nicely.
Hey, you’re being really harsh! These young people are trying to worship the way they know best!
I’m being harsh because that’s what you do to rot in a house. That’s what you do to cancer in your body. You don’t admire how it is feeding all those carpenter ants or doing such an amazing job at reproducing!
There are so many songs out there that get played extolling God’s love for us, but never mentioning God’s Justice and our utter unworthiness before it. Never a mention of the need for repentance to find favor in God’s love. Never a sentence about obedience to God and separation from the world. They have little to no relation to Scripture.
And yet, there actually are contemporary songs that do have these concepts in them. Here’s a verse from the Newsboys’ song Devotion:
All my past/my tainted name/You stole its legacy/of pride and shame
You’re all I love/You’re all I fear/I’m drawing near
to face You/to know You/to show You devotion
all that I have to give/here’s my devotion/You’re all that it means to live
Our legacy, the essence of our ‘name’ or nature is pride and shame. We’re naturally arrogant and shameful, wicked and undeserving of God’s mercy and Grace.
I love the line that God is all we love and fear. We should fear God. And we do owe Him all of our devotion. The song also has a line about how He found us in a grave, dragged us out, saved us and brought us back from the dead, redeeming us to offer all of ourselves in devotion to Him.
It’s a catchy song. But, more importantly, it encourages us in truth about the Gospel and about the true direction of our lives. It uses imagery that is found in the Bible!
Another song I really like is by Peter Furler (post Newsboys) called Greater Is He. As one might expect, it’s from 1 John 4:4. It also combines this verse with Colossians 1:27, “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
That song is rather simple, but gets people singing the Bible! It reminds us where our hope rests. It calls us to look for help in Him as the indwelling God within is congregation.
There are plenty of songs written each day that incorporate the Bible and are good for lifting up praise to God Most High.
Yet, we continue to see these “edgy” churches with their emo bands doing songs that border on “Jesus is my boyfriend” on one end to bizarre nature worship on the other.
There are also many, many great hymns written by Westley, Watts, Bliss, Newton … All grounded in Scripture.
I’m left wondering where these hymns, that served Western culture for 200 years, have gone. For that matter, where are these contemporary songs that use Scripture?
It appears that the current Christian culture has held enough book-burnings to eradicate the great hymns of the faith from common worship service. Along the way, this marauding group has also diminished any use of contemporary songs that might be Bible-based or theologically sound.
What has this new, conquering culture brought with it? Is it better?