Rod of Alexandria has come up with an interesting meme, asking bloggers what Contemporary Christian Music songs they have problems with. He’s not referring to my struggles to come up with a more impressive keyboard solo for “Rock of Ages,” but lyrics we object to. As he rightly indicates, there are many to choose from. My first instinct was to go with “God of Wonders” because, even though there are many levels on which I like the song, there is one phrase in particular that always makes me bristle: “God of wonders, beyond our galaxy…” That illustrates well the problem of how the meaning of Biblical language changes against the backdrop of our current cosmology.
And, while we’re on that subject, I want to link to a post at Hoping for Redemption about a post by Tony Jones. The focus is on how Jesus held a cosmology that we today cannot, and suggests that this should affect not only how we think about the relationship between science and faith, but also whether we accept the idea of the existence of hell.
Anyway, back to the meme. I’ve decided to go with the song “Indescribable” by Chris Tomlin for the following reasons:
1) If God is indescribable, you’d really do much better to sing “Indescribable” and then stop and add no more lyrics. (As an aside, apophatic worship ought to be explored, as the antithesis of the tradition that requires a capella singing and rejects all instruments.)
2) “Who has told every lightning bolt where it should go…?” If the answer is God, then this is deeply problematic.3) “Or seen heavenly storehouses laden with snow…?” This language from Job highlights an irony in being a modern reader of the book. In emphasizing God’s superiority and unfathomable wisdom in creation, it makes references to these storehouses which we today know do not exist. And so the point in the Book of Job can probably be made effectively today – but it will require using images from the Hubble Telescope, rather than the actual language in Job.
4) “Who imagined the sun and gives source to its light, Yet conceals it to bring us the coolness of night?” The answer to the second question is “the Earth.” And so it is hard to hear or read such lyrics in the present and not hear Bill O’Reilly saying “the tide goes in, the tide goes out…” I’ve talked previously about the need for progressive Christian music, and presumably there’s every bit as much of a need for scientifically accurate and up-to-date Christian music.
For those who aren’t familiar with it, here’s the song:
I really want to tag Scott Bailey, to second Rod’s tagging of him, but he is foregoing blogging at the moment. So let me tag Chris Tilling, Doug Chaplin, and Wheat Among Tares, and add that whoever likes the idea of this meme and is reading this can and should participate.