Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The DaVinci Code

Confession: this post is not really about The DaVinci Code. I just thought I would capitalize on all of the hype to boost my blog readership. The more people that read my blog, the more important I feel (see yesterday's post). I am using the subject as a springboard though. If you haven't noticed, the American church is in an uproar lately about The DaVinci Code. IT'S DECEPTIVE! IT'S MISLEADING! IT'S FULL OF LIES! Ok, let's all calm down for a second. I'll admit that the book, while captivating, might come off as a bit deceptive. Historical fiction tends to intertwine true historical facts and circumstances with plain fiction. This is a sure fire way to deceive someone: tell them things they know to be true and throw in a few fallacies along with it. It's like those creepy people that slip drugs into cocktails. No one ever notices the poison taste. They think they are simply drinking a cocktail.

Tonight I came to a stunning realization. I was at a "worship" service when I noticed something far more disturbing than The DaVinci Code. Many of our contemporary worship songs are mixing truth and lies in the same way.

  • I found myself singing of the majesty of God (true) and then telling God that I am HIS one desire (false).
  • Three of the five songs had an over-realized eschatology.
  • In one song I claimed that I was completely satisfied and that being a Christian was "enough" and in the next song I begged and pleaded with God to give me peace and help and comfort. Anyone sense a little discontinuity?
  • Finally, the "worship" set was capped off by the ever popular song with the chorus "all of life comes down to just one thing, that's to know you Lord Jesus, and to make you known" Ok, I just have to say this...THAT'S TWO THINGS! I know it doesn't really matter but I can't get over it. Oh and it seems like maybe this should say "to love you Lord Jesus, and to make your love known" (just a suggestion)

I am tempted to say "oh this is just singing, it's not really that big of a deal" People who complain about worship songs get really annoying really fast. Fortunately I kind of like being annoying and today I think I'm in the mood. In my opinion worship songs are a proclamation of what we believe. Maybe we should start treating the doctrine expressed in some of these songs with the same amount of respect that we treat the creeds and prayers of the church (that's unhelpful for many of us in traditions that don't value "tradition" and therefore deny creeds and prayers ;0) I think we should be more disturbed with the fallacies we are teaching people through praise songs than with the fallacies that Dan Brown concocted in his admittedly fictional book.

Now someone will probably bring up the Psalms and say "people sang/said all kinds of exaggerated and seemingly inaccurate things about God and it's in the Bible." I will simply say "yeah well I don't really understand those and I will soon have a test score to prove it!"


Kyle said...

Ooooh, it's on now. I agree, of course; I also agree with you wholeheartedly that singing is an important part of Christian formation. Liturgy is important, everyone!

I think it was Chuck Wesley who would say that it didn't matter what ridiculous heresy a methodist circuit rider might preach, so long as they sang his hymns...

+ Alan said...

Well, I just slid on over here like Kyle said. Interesting. Nice poison/mixed drink analogy.

On the singing, I wonder... The Psalms, which are kind of "songs," are a bit on the contradictory side. I'm not sure our worship songs need to "teach" systematic theology and hang together like that. If they're talking about theology, sure, they should be good theology, but I mean if we are legitimately singing something like "Psalms" to God, our heart poured out, we could be singing almost anything, and like David, not always be saying what belongs to a perfectly transformed child of God. One day up, another down, most times seeing light at the end of the tunnel, some days, only darkness.

I'm sure that doesn't just apply to singing in worship. In our prayer as well, we do this. Those of us who try to pray the Psalms daily surely enter into this up and down thing. Just somme thoughts for the mix. Peace to you.

Will said...

It was chuck who didn't care about what was preached, so long as he could write the music. What you sing becomes much more a part of you than what you read. I remember the lullabies my mother sang, but not the books she read me.

Chris Petersen said...

Excellent point about worship songs. One of my problems is that though we like to emphasize the distinct persons in the Trinity, many of our songs of worship tend to conflate the persons, thus collapsing the father into the son. And your point about many songs having an "over realized eschatology" nailed 90 percent of what worship songs are about these days.

Excellent post.


katie said...

Kyle - I wondered why there were so many comments on my blog ... thanks for the link!

Alan - I like your insights about the purpose and intentions of the Psalms. You make a really interesting point.

Will - This is why I'm not a fan of that "found a peanut" song that teaches kids you can get kicked out of heaven for striking a wrong chord on the harp ;0)

Chris - Have you been hanging out with my theology prof? Just kidding but you sound a bit like him :0)

Chris Petersen said...


Sorry about that. I'm not usually that theological. My area is more bibilical studies/early christian history but sometimes it's hard to seperate the two. Enjoy your site, keep up the great blogging.

Chris Petersen

Anonymous said...

I love your post as often have found myself questioning the lyrics as the roll off my tong….at the same time though it is the intensity of emotion….our passion that makes us want to over state our reality….a heart felt desire to want to be all that to the Father of Eternal Creation … yeah…we want to be closer to Him than our earthly existence and brokenness will permit… we simply want to be more significant than we feel we are. I have to continually remind myself that “my significance” is only a self consequence shared only within…for He knew my before time, has numbered the hairs on my head, and sacrificed His only begotten…for me..

So I’ll keep singing the trite and maybe cheesy songs as long as my heart is full of the love I have for Him…because I know He gets me…always.


Ontario Emperor said...

Just the other day I was listening to a bluegrass music show and reacting to a bluegrass song that seemed to be talking about eternal marriage.

Is it just me, or is it the sentimental songs that are most prone to inaccurate theology?

Beau said...

Hi Katie,
I'm just getting into the blogging thing and couldn't help but be fascinated by your post about worship songs. I'm a minister of music in a Lutheran (ELCA) congregation in the suburbs of Chicago, IL and, though we have a contemporary service, the issue of the theological integrity of worship music is ever of importance to us.

Luther believed that the function of church music is literally to proclaim the Word of God in song. A distinctive part of Lutheran liturgy is the hymn of the day, a hymn sung after the sermon which is chosen to reflect the readings of the day. This is viewed almost literally as a chance for the congregation to "sing a sermon." Thus, it is of utmost importance that theological integrity is involved.

This is one of the big differences between liturgical and non-liturgical worship in my opinion...In non-liturgical worship, music tends to be something that is used to bring about a certain mood or certain feelings. In liturgical worship music is more viewed as proclamation of the Word and as specifically functional in its place in the liturgy.