Critical reviews (by Lutheran pastors and church musicians) of books and other resources for Christian worship, preaching, and church music from a perspective rooted in Holy Scripture, the Lutheran Confessions and good common sense. LHP Quarterly Book Review asks, "Is it worth the money to buy, the time to read, the shelf space to store, and the effort to teach?"
FW: LET THE REDEEMED PEOPLE OF GOD SAY SO - BUT LET IT BE A NEW SONG WE SING...a sad fad: "God is my Girlfriend" songs
Feed: CAMPONTHIS Posted on: Friday, April 27, 2012 10:54 AM Author: SJ Camp Subject: LET THE REDEEMED PEOPLE OF GOD SAY SO - BUT LET IT BE A NEW SONG WE SING...a sad fad: "God is my Girlfriend" songs
A Mighty Fortress" is one of the great hymns of the church. The melody is powerful, passionate and moving; the lyric, thorougly biblical; the message, timeless; and unashamedly theocentric. Why isn't the CCMI (Contemporary Christian Music Industry) today taking a lesson from the great masters like Luther, Watts, Wesley, etc. and writing songs that are God-conceived (doctrine), Christ-centered (worship) and Spirit-controlled (holiness)? What is the latest trend being churned out today "ad nausea" in CCMI? Read on to find out.
Past secular hits are currently being sung to represent our Lord Jesus Christ; and they are nothing more than "God as my girlfriend songs." Some examples are: "Bridge Over Troubled Waters"; "Free Ride"; "Love is the Answer"; "You Raise Me Up"; "Love Lifted Us Up Where We Belong"; "If I Ever Lose My Faith In You"; "Maybe I'm Amazed"; "Because You Loved Me"; "Everlasting Love"; "In The Air Tonight"; "I Want to Know What Love Is"; "I Believe I Can Fly"; etc. Parroting what one Christian radio network likes to say, "Boring, for the whole family." Taking past secular hits and changing the original meaning of the song to now make it seem as if they're about Jesus because a Christian happens to be singing it is ludicrous. It not only violates the "original intent" of the meaning of the song by its author; but it is just as foolish as if some CCM artist recorded a remake of the great Beatles classic, "Hey Jude", and then tried to spiritually justify it by saying it is about the little epistle before the book of Revelation. Could you imagine if some secular artist took "Amazing Grace" and said it was about a female seductress? The Christian community would be up in arms... and rightly so. But why is Christian radio and the CBA (Christian Booksellers Assoc.) so accepting of these poorly done "covers" of classic pop hits passed off as legitimate representations of Christianity? I am convinced that this is CCM's failed attempt at "Sister Act Three" - artists superimposing a religious meaning to a secular lyric that was never intended in the first place to appeal to people in making the faith more acceptable.
The Bible never suggests, implies or condones that the redeemed people of God are to sing an old song of the world to the Lord as an act of worship with the only justification is that we simply "say" it is about God. A praise team at a local church in Nashville used for a while "I Want To Hold Your Hand" as a worship chorus (I heard this when visiting the church one Sunday). The Bible commands us, beloved, to sing "a new song to the Lord.""Let the redeemed of the Lord say so… (Psalm 107:2a).
Here are some of the references in the Word of God to sing "a new song" to the Lord:
1. Psalm 33:3, Sing to Him a new song; play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts.
2. Psalm 40:3, He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD.
3. Psalm 96:1, [Worship in the Splendor of Holiness] Oh sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth!
4. Psalm 98:1, [Make a Joyful Noise to the LORD] A Psalm. Oh sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things! His right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him.
5. Psalm 144:9, I will sing a new song to you, O God; upon a ten-stringed harp I will play to you,
6. Psalm 149:1, [Sing to the LORD a New Song] Praise the LORD! Sing to the LORD a new song, his praise in the assembly of the godly!
7. Isaiah 42:10, [Sing to the LORD a New Song] Sing to the LORD a new song, His praise from the end of the earth, you who go down to the sea, and all that fills it, the coastlands and their inhabitants.
8. Revelation 5:9, And they sang a new song, saying, "Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation,
9. Revelation 14:3, and they were singing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and before the elders. No one could learn that song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth.
The Greek word for new is "kainos"; in the LXX it is associated more with the subject of music than any other in Scripture. "New" here doesn't mean new in style (country, rap, rock, classical, jazz, pop, etc.); it means new in nature, quality, kind or character. The new music of the redeemed people of God should distinctively be new in content, intent, purpose and function. We are new creations in Him and therefore what we sing in worship to the Lord and speak to one another in "psalms, hymns and spiritual songs" should reflect our new lives in Christ and more importantly, the Lord of our new lives--Jesus Christ the Righteous. This word "kainos" is also used to speak of "A new commandment" in John 13:34: "a new creature" in 2 Cor. 5:17; and "a new covenant," in Hebrews 8:13. As a result of being born again in Christ, we are completely new nature... new creations. This is how dramatic the change is for our music in the Lord as well. Singing "a new song" flows from the life of God's regenerated people and should evidence that newness we have in Him.
If Scripture speaks to all of life, then our music may too. But, it must be from a distinctive biblical worldview. When a Christian writes a love song, it should be different than say what Elton John would be singing about. Song of Solomon and Esther are two great illustrations here: both books never mention the name of the Lord; but one speaks undeniably of His love expressed in the physical union between a husband and a wife; and the other speaks of God's sovereign moving within the political realm of a nation.
Music, by divine design, is a powerful medium. No one ever buys a commentary, book, or magazine and commits the entire thing to memory, do they? But with a song, if it is well crafted, within a few listens it will be in your heart and mind permanently. You don't even have to try and memorize it—it will take lodge in you. That is why, as believers in the Lord, we must be careful what kind of music content we listen to and then guard our hearts and minds in the Lord from a steady diet of messages, themes, ideologies or influences that do not come from a biblical worldview and could even lead us away from our devotion to the Lord. Strangely, I am more concerned on this point about Christian music than I am with secular. A song that represents a wrong view about the character of God, His gospel, the nature of Christ, or distorts His Word is much more dangerous than just a song about the human condition and the depravity of man. In other words, TBN has done more harm to the cause of Christ than Jerry Springer.
It is no "accident" that the greatest passage in the Bible on the authority and veracity of Scritpure is Psalm 19:7-11, is a song. The longest chapter in the Bible that speaks of the Word of God, Psalm 119, is a song. The greatest volume of biblical truth on the character of God is the Psalms. We will even enjoy music in eternity as we sing with all the redeemed from the four corners of the world, "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain before the foundation of the world." And we will also hear the Lord sing praise to the Father in the midst of the redeemed congregation, according to Hebrews 2:12. Can you hardly wait?
So to all of my CCM associates out there, use your talents for the Lord. Don't be ashamed to sing a new song for Him rather than an old song of the world trying to get a crossover hit so that you can gain a wider market base and sell a few more CD's. Listen, the world makes better music without the Lord than any CCM does--and they won't confuse you spiritually as well. But CCM artists have the privilege of doing something that secular music cannot do, sing about the Lord Jesus Christ, His gospel, His Word and make music that will erupt in praise, worship, adoration and glory to our God.
James is right, "our life is a vapor" – it comes and goes so quickly, even if we live our three score and ten and then some. In the end, may we live our vaporous lives for the Lord each day with Him in mind; doing all for His glory. If we should eat and drink to the glory of God, how much more should our music, the new song of the redeemed, be to glorify and honor Him? (And I sing for an audience of ONE.)