Saturday, January 06, 2007

deBriefing: Shout to the Lord

The Briefing is the magazine of Matthias Media, the publishing house of conservative Anglicanism in Sydney. I used to subscribe but found it becoming increasingly rabid, and my favourite pieces were shortened versions from the now defunct Kategoria.

On a visit to my Reformed Presbyterian in-laws, I happened to read a few, just for nostalgia. There was a whole issue devoted to Hillsong, evaluating whether or not they thought Evangelicals could work with them. One of the pieces looked at the Darlene Zechsche (sp) song Shout to the Lord. The writer concluded that we shouldn't use their music in church, we shouldn't support them financially.

He attacked two parts of the lyrics. The first "forever I'll love you, forever I'll stand" was attacked as being Arminian in theology. Firstly, tough if it is. The writer assumes that the only true Evangelical is a 5 star Calvinist, and this simply isn't true. The who issue assumes that Arminianism is something that Hillsong "slides into", as if it were a fall from grace. Secondly, one could sing these lyrics and read them in a Calvinist manner, if one is willing not to be so anal as to insist that perserverance of the saints (or shouldn't that be preservation in their thinking) has to be spelt out. Secondly, there is the argument that "nothing compares to the promise I have in you" means potential since promise is singular and the bible speaks in the plural. I'd have to go to a concordance to confirm this, but again, who cares? The promise of salvation? Having decided they are bad, assumption mounts on assumption.

One thing missing was the real problem of the song, which is shown in the mockery of the lyrics "My Jesus, my saviour" as "My Jesus, my girlfriend". I nearly fell over, but the following Sunday the Reformed church sang the song, but properly corrected to negate individualistic and over sentimental understandings by singing "Our Jesus, our saviour". The Briefing strained out the gnat but swallowed the camel!

I agree we need to listen carefully to lyrics (hence I don't sing the part of the Stuart Townsend song that says "the wrath of God was satisfied" since I think that is a problematic view of the atonement, whilst not denying that God's wrath had to be dealt with).

So, listen hard but sing heartily, for "to sing once is to pray twice".

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