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Archive for August 5th, 2008

Theology in Music

I’m not a music snob. Really I’m not. My dad was the choir director at the church I grew up in, sure, but I like more than the hymns and anthems I grew up with. In fact I have a soft spot in my heart for a lot of Contemporary Christian Music that has brought me comfort in trying times.

The thing is, we have to be careful the theology that is imparted in our lyrics. Steve Taylor I think is a great example of someone who has used his music to encourage thought within Christian Circles. But I’m most disappointed in a song he wrote recently called “Shine” that the Newsboys are performing. I’m going to post some of the lyrics here and explain why.

Shine
make ´em wonder what you´ve got
make ´em wish that they were not
on the outside looking bored

shine

let it shine before all men
let´em see good works, and then
let ´em glorify the Lord

I really hate the idea that we will bring people to the Lord because of our good works. But even if one thinks we can, do we really want people becoming Christians because we’re so cool? Or because they’re bored? Is this an ad campaign that we’ll be bringing them in through hype and good marketing? That just touches a nerve with me. I think it sets people up for a very shallow faith.

out of the shaker and onto the plate
it isn´t Karma
it sure ain´t fate
that would make a Deadhead sell his van
that would make a schizophrenic turn in his crayons

We really have issues with accepting mental illness within many Christian circles. I know this was an attempt to be funny, but a Schizophrenic has a serious mental illness that is more than just crayons and will need far more than just faith to cure.

when you let it shine
you will inspire
the kind of entire turnaround
that would make a bouncer take ballet
(even bouncers who aren’t happy)

What you can’t hear in the written lyrics is that it’s quite obvious that happy doesn’t rhyme with ballet (there’s a lengthy pause between the words “aren’t” and “happy”) and that they’re using something else to avoid talking about…you know…the gay. And I just can’t roll my eyes hard enough at that.

At the same time, two friends of mine have lost babies in the last few days. Halfway through the pregnancies these children were taken home to be with their Father in Heaven. And I’m truly heartbroken over the loss of them, and their mothers’ grief. It brings to mind the Natalie Grant song “Held”.

Two months is too little
They let him go
They had no sudden healing
To think that providence
Would take a child from his mother
While she prays, is appalling.

Who told us we’d be rescued
What has changed and
Why should we be saved from nightmares
Were asking why this happens to us
Who have died to live, it’s unfair.

This is what it means to be held
How it feels, when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive
This is what it is to be loved and to know
That the promise was that when everything fell
We’d be held.

This hand is bitterness
We want to taste it and
Let the hatred numb our sorrows.

The wise hand opens slowly
To lilies of the valley and tomorrow.

This is what it means to be held
How it feels, when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive
This is what it is to be loved and to know
That the promise was that when everything fell
We’d be held

If hope is born of suffering

If this is only the beginning

Can we not wait, for one hour
Watching for our savior.

This is what it means to be held
How it feels, when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive
This is what it is to be loved and to know
That the promise was that when everything fell
We’d be held

We have an incredible opportunity to share hope, strength, and the gospel with our music.  But I think we also have a responsibility to not just put out anything that mentions Jesus.  We have a chance to make our music a glory to God, but we have to be careful about the message it really sends.  Do we want to sell a drugstore Jesus, or do we want people to know that the “promise was that when everything fell, we’d be held”?

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