Monday, March 16, 2015

Garbage In, Garbage Out? We Can Do Better.

In a recent episode of the “Boars in the Vineyard” podcast, one of the two pastors had to fly solo, so he decided to review the top five singles of the day in the Christian & Gospel genre of iTunes.  Those songs were:
  • •  How Can It Be – Lauren Dangle
  • •  Soul on Fire – Third Day
  • •  Because He Lives (Amen) – Matt Maher
  • •  Oceans (Where Feet May Fall) – Hillsong UNITED
  • •  Greater – Mercy Me
Most of these I had heard previously, though the first was new.  While listening, my impression was that the middle selection by Matt Maher was the best lyrically.  Overall, the content demonstrated a depth of understanding about who Jesus Christ is and our position because of His sacrifice that reached far beyond what was communicated in the other four reviewed.  The lyrics can be found here.

Yes, the song is a rewrite of Bill and Gloria Gaither’s “Because He Lives.”  That is why it seems familiar, and their names are given as co-authors.  Notice though, that Maher decided to begin with a creedal affirmation in the Lord Jesus—something uncommon in Christian music—and continued with other creedal themes: original sin, resurrection, and life everlasting.  In some ways, he lyrically improved the Gaither version, but unfortunately retained the formulaic repetition to which the music industry and audience is accustomed.

What I found most interesting in the comparison was that Matt Maher is a practicing Roman Catholic.  He shamed the content of the avowed Evangelicals also reviewed.  While someone might make a case that this was accomplished only because he began with a song written by an Evangelical, I only need to point to Maher’s song “Christ Is Risen” to put this to rest.  His music has substance.

You might ask, “How is that possible?  Roman Catholics don’t have the truth.”  What they have and take seriously are the early creeds coupled with deliberate, systematic catechesis.  Church groups and denominations that eschew creeds, confessions, and catechesis tend to rely on a hodgepodge of teaching hoping that something sticks.  Those that espouse the same are beginning with a better system of instruction, unfortunately, many (most?) have decided to relegate these to the attic to dust off periodically as curios of antiquity or the trash heap for final disposal.  We should not be surprised by Matt Maher.  He is the product of systematic instruction: what goes in, comes out.  Or as Jesus Himself put it:
The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.  (Lu 6:45)
What we are taught as important readily spills forth from our lips, pens, and song lyrics.

Christians are called to disciple nations by baptizing and teaching all that Jesus taught us (Mt 28:19).*  Pray that the Church reaffirms its high and holy calling to faithfully instruct the next generation and reclaims the bounteous treasure that has been entrusted to faithful men, that both inside and outside the gathering of its people each Sunday, Christ is effectively and rightly made known.

*  He is the Word of God incarnate, thus making Him the source, subject, and object of all Scripture.

No comments: