Fired for Forgiveness

Well, not exactly. Tad DeLay, a fan of things emergent, was a music pastor at an evangelical church plant. But he was fired for the direction his theology was taking.  He performed this song, indicative of his theological musings, a week before his firing. The lyrics are below, and you can hear Tad perform it on his PureVolume site.

Forgive Me

Give us the passion in our souls
To fix the world and call it home
And not give in to pious lies
Of gospels cleverly disguised
As hope when they will offer none
But disconnected salvation
That doesn’t ever fix a thing
But salves our egos as we sing
Forgive me oh lord
Please let me be the one to sit by your side tonight
Let them see such hope as this
To love when betrayed with a kiss
To offer Rescue to a world
That has no reason left to trust
The Church as we’ve perverted her
With lust for power, so quick to hurt
The ones that we are here to serve
Forgive us we were meant to love

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  • Benjamin

    would a hardcore emergent not fire a neo-platonic Reformed person if they went around proclaiming TULIP and Penal Substitutionary Atonement all over the place?
    i think he/she would defiantly tank that person
    and frankly a Pastor has to look out for his flock. If the shepherd thinks one of his leaders is leading in a different direction, he has the right and the obligation to take action.
    Brian M. or Rob B. and plenty of other pastors have done this. They have a responsibility to their flock.
    i think your trying to poke fun at evangelicals for actually doing what scripture outlines for Elders and Pastors.

  • Wow, what an awesome song…it’s their loss.

  • Nice red herring Benjamin. Seems like you would benefit from taking the lyrics reprinted here to heart.
    The issue is that there is nothing clearly odd about the lyrics that are indicative of some strange direction that the writer’s theology may have taken.
    There’s a fine line between “looking out for your flock” and maintaining sectarian social control. Rather, the lyrics in this song speak to what Jesus did with the assumed orthodoxy of the religious systems that were in place during his ministry. They were also doing what scripture outlined regarding the law. How many of us would not even let Jesus in the door on Sunday in this day and age – especially if the focus is on maintaining closely proscribed boundaries of theological purity as we see fit?

  • Carla

    I attend Solomon’s Porch in Minneapolis and I can tell you that we’ve had people preach reformed theology from the center stool (our version of a pulpit). Not only did they preach it, but they were invited by Doug to preach it so that they could give voice to their perspective as part of the whole narrative of who we are as a community of God’s people. We don’t censure who can speak or who can sing. We value disparate voices because we believe we need to hear from everyone in order to be the people God calls us to be.

  • Question Asker

    There’s always more to every story. Maybe that’s true here. But in any case, it sounds like the best thing that could have happened for Tad. Now he can serve a church that will appreciate his thoughtful theology.

  • As one of the pastors of our evangelical church, these types of stories grieve me.
    Obviously, I don’t know the background and context of this particular case but these stories abound. I hope Tad finds a new home in a different evangelical church for we need variety of voices in our part of the Body. It seems to me that we underestimate our congregations’ faith. They can be stretched, they can be challenged, and if we continue to treat them as fragile infants whose understanding of Christianity can never change, as shepherds, (leaders, lay or vocational, or as worshippers who love the church), we are not guarding it, we are weakening it.
    @Carla, Thanks for sharing that, one of these days I hope to visit SP.
    @Benjamin, Brother, the idea of hard-core emergent is almost oxymoronic. If the person truly existed, we would call him/her “very generous”. As for me, there are several aspects I appreciate concerning reformed theology and several I do not appreciate. However, I would gladly serve with one who has different convictions as humble servants trying to build Christ’s Kingdom.

  • Tim

    Random phrases come to mind…
    Beautiful song appropriate for the confessional part of worship
    Names both corporate sins of the Church
    And individual failure of Christians
    Names specific failure to bear witness to God’s
    For this world and this creation
    Wondering what the firing was about
    Critiquing the false Gospel of being rescued away from this world?
    Lifting up the Good News that God in Christ rescues THIS creation?
    Lifting up a salvation that is wider than individual persons?
    Humbly, Tim

  • ZPB

    Benjamin, When you write that “Brian M. or Rob B. and plenty of other pastors have done this,” I assume by “Brian M” you’re referring to Brian McLaren. Is this the case? If so, I’m curious if you simply pulled this out of thin air, or if you really have an example you’d like to share with us instead of making an empty assertion. I’ve attended Cedar Ridge for years, know Brian and many others in leadership and have never witnessed any such behavior. I’ve listened to many different speakers with their own unique perspectives, and not once heard any negative feedback from Brian or his staff, nor am I aware of anyone being terminated for their beliefs. But, perhaps I’m wrong, so please provide a specific example to clue us all in.

  • Larry

    The song seems innocuous enough, but is it possible that the Senior Pastor though “And not give in to pious lies Of gospels cleverly disguised” was an implicit criticism of his preaching, perhaps based on past interactions with the song’s writer?

  • “The issue is that there is nothing clearly odd about the lyrics that are indicative of some strange direction that the writer’s theology may have taken.”
    Actually, this is the red herring, since Tony never says that the firing was due to the contents of the song.
    “I attend Solomon’s Porch in Minneapolis and I can tell you that we’ve had people preach reformed theology from the center stool (our version of a pulpit).”
    He asked whether such a person would be employed by the church, which is a different matter. If there is a pastor of an emergent church preaching TULIP, I would be amazed.

  • Carla

    I’m not sure a pastor who wants to preach TULIP would choose to be a pastor at an emerging church. At the same time, I’m not sure I understand what difference employment makes. We only employ one pastor, but lots of different people preach the sermons. We take them all seriously, not just the ones that come from the guy (in our case) who gets paid to give them.

  • @Tony
    Thanks again for posting the shout out.
    @ everyone else
    I told Tony this over email already, but i should make it clear hear that i wasn’t actually fired over that song. The song is a simple reflection on a part of my theology. I was let go over theology in general. Furthermore, there was no intent at all to be even overly provocative (or attacking) about the song. I wrote it because a friend of mine, who is very involved in social justice locally, was giving his testimony, and i needed a song that reflected some of the Church’s failure to be redemptive, which i knew would be a big theme of the testimony. And since worship songs are, by and large, notoriously unconcerned with action and justice, i decided to scribble down my own feelings and put it to music.
    Thanks for listening, though. It means a lot to me, and i hope i can be a blessing to the Church if anyone so chooses to use this with their congregation.

  • Ted Seeber

    I wonder what they would have done to him if he had gone with something more traditional, like the Prayer of St. Francis:
    Lord, make me a channel of thy peace;
    that where there is hatred, I may bring love;
    that where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness;
    that where there is discord, I may bring harmony;
    that where there is error, I may bring truth;
    that where there is doubt, I may bring faith;
    that where there is despair, I may bring hope;
    that where there are shadows, I may bring light;
    that where there is sadness, I may bring joy.
    Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort than to be comforted;
    to understand, than to be understood;
    to love, than to be loved.
    For it is by self-forgetting that one finds.
    It is by forgiving that one is forgiven.
    It is by dying that one awakens to eternal life.
    Probably gone out and lynched him.

  • Ted Seeber

    “And since worship songs are, by and large, notoriously unconcerned with action and justice, i decided to scribble down my own feelings and put it to music.”
    WHAT?!?!?!?!? Has Protestantism been going exactly the opposite way of the Catholic Church for the last 30 years?
    Nevermind- I know the answer to that question. Denegrate works enough and even the world’s biggest philanthropist will seem unchristian….

  • Kevin s.

    “At the same time, I’m not sure I understand what difference employment makes.”
    Employment is the subject of this blog.

  • Theresa Seeber

    Tad, what a bold and beautiful song. I am sorry you have lost your job at all in this time of financial crisis! I was touched deeply by your song and find it sad that the Body of Christ at large is not more tuned in to the problems your song speaks of. Thank you for following Christ in such a way that we can share in your journey with you. Lord, please provide Tad with a new job (or better yet, his old one back with passion and vitality on the part of those who fired him) in which he can better experience your awesome wonders in his life. Please help them to hold on until then, and to not fear but to trust in you. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

  • Carla

    Kevin, you are right, employment is the subject of this post. I was offering an answer for Benjamin’s question, the heart of which seemed to me to be how welcome a different theology would be in an emergent church. I offered an example from my community. I didn’t think that would be problematic.

  • Benjamin

    I realize hindsight that it was probably wrong for me to attack Brian on something that he himself has not spoken on clearly to me personally. I do however am in constant contact from someone who was employed WITH Brian in an off branch ministry who was asked to step out of the ministry for his conservative theological leanings. For the sake of legal actions i cannot and will not divulge names of any kind.
    The point I am making is not putting fault on anyone for anything, I am merely saying that the while Tad DeLay’s situation is agreeably unfortunate, plenty of emergent pastors and teachers have ousted someone for their theological leanings as well. AS THEY SHOULD
    Pastors have to look how for their flock according to what they think is right (while they may be wrong the whole time, all pastors would agree with that)
    No emergent church has on staff, a 5 point calvinist who holds a monthly TULIP panels and celebrates reformation day instead of Halloween. If there is then i will show you a congregation who has no idea what to believe and has much division in it
    Tony here is trying to make this pastor seem graceless and devoid of compassion when in fact his compassion is for his flock, and its wrong.

  • Theresa Seeber

    It’s amazing the things that get projected onto Tony when he posts on his blog.

  • Mr. T!

    Badge of Honor.
    Hang with the Beattitudes, Tad!

  • Your Name

    If he sing songs doesn’t mean it has any projection on him.He maybe loves the melody and the title of songs that gives him inspiration.People often misinterpret songs especially the lyrics.
    i have no further comment about this.Song is song and whatever that
    means to the singer,well thats how he take the song,it really doesn’t
    entirely meann something that would give him no merit.Clear your
    thoughts,audience!God knows each purpose of everything you do,besides karma is working 24/7,fear….

  • Your Name

    When a world is so corrupt with it’s own ideas of what the Bible says, a valid forgiveness is always shot down because it is in no way attributed to Satan.
    Satan’s lust to currupt the god fearing people (the church) with anger and testimonies that are only made popular when in disagreemnet with the bible. This is what Satan wants. Satan is winning the war in our world. Look at the values of our country. Once sought after by many countries because of our religious beliefs which are being torn down by congress each and everyday. New laws which are indictive of the way Satan would have us live.

  • Benjamin,
    Well I can speak for Mars Hill, since I am attender there, and it is obvious that you have never been to any of our worship gatherings. We sing many traditional praise and worship songs, plus some new fresh ones, that are reflective of our narrative theology statement. Seriously bro, it’s pretty shallow to blanket statement Cedar Ridge or Mars Hill on hearsay, no matter what your source. And I’m sure I know who you’re talking about at Cedar Ridge…just be careful on these assertions your making. It comes across as very unloving.
    With that said, we don’t know all of the circumstances of what happened here. I’m sure there is WAY more to the story than this post. I have no idea what “direction” you are referring to Tony. It seems to me the criticism is for calling the earth our home in the end? Just curious.
    In addition, if this person already had some shaky standing with the leadership and/or congregation in regards to his “theology,” whatever that is, than this song would come across as extremely accusatory to the church and leadership. Did he put this song before his leaders and get feedback before he performed it? If he did, did he do it anyway in spite of their feedback? There are so many factors here.
    So Benjamin, you have a point, there’s more to it than this. It is important to be having these “theology” discussions with your leadership, and at the same time be sensitive that your church may not be ready to accept your conclusions. If there is to be any convincing, it must be done gently through may dialogs.
    I have been on both ends. I have been so frustrated that this was the only way I could express myself. I also paid a similar price. I have also gently dialoged with others before I do things like this, to which it was received well after those discussions (I did a two-part series on earth being our final home and a wholistic gospel before I introduced songs that said the same.)
    Tad, I’m really sorry to hear about your circumstances, especially during these tough times economically.
    To the rest of us, let’s not paint Tad a martyr. I’m sure there is more to the story.

  • Your Name

    Thank you, Tad, for being willing to share that. My first thought upon reading this (and I don’t think Tony was trying to imply otherwise) is that this song had very little to do with your dismissal. It may have given someone a little extra “ammo” for what they already wanted to do, but that’s about it.
    If a minister is not going in the same direction as a church, then it may well be best for everyone to go their separate ways. It’s always painful, but not always bad, when a staff member leaves because he’s not on the same page. The LARGER issue is why the theology reflected in Tad’s song would be a problem for any church. Are we so afraid of self-reflection? Of confession?
    Viewing ourselves or our churches as infallible is a heresy of the highest order. If we refuse to take stock of where we have gone wrong, then we are paralyzed from any effort to truly follow Christ. And that goes for emergent, reformed, fundamentalist, or anyone else.

  • Let me make a correction to that last comment. “Heresy” may be too strong of a word; but it is at least a very severe problem when we avoid reflection.

  • Your Name

    Whomever suppose to be the leader of songs of praise and worship in a congregation of believers need to make sure that the “songs” picked to be performed and sung to and with the congregation speaks of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ – anything else is carnal, worldly, and is just a bunch of vain words and “mumbo-jumbo” bringing confusinon to the participants and the hearers. Scripture reveals who is the author of confusion, and it is not the Spirit of God.
    Tad should reflect on the words of this so-called “gospel” song, analyzing which phrases speaks of the purposes of Jesus Christ. I can not see it in the lyrics, only that is tried to be earned by man under the guise of religion. My question is this: how many people have come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ whenever this “song” has been performed? Does it have the same impact as “Just As I Am” or ” A Sinner Saved By Grace” when it is performed in front of a group of people, believers and nonbeleivers alike?

  • Your Name

    It seems to me that Tad had already been fired before he wrote the song or at least knew he was going to be fired. His music seems fine and I doubt he was fired for the song. I don’t know what religion this was, but in my church introspection and discussion even about the inerrancy of the Bible; crisis of faith are part of the continuing dialogue of faith. Join the Episcopal Church, Tad. We welcome discussion and open dialogue about any subject because we know that God knows each man’s heart, that no man is perfect and we all are sinners who only get to heaven by God’s Grace.

  • Ironically, I was encouraged to play the song, and the firing came as a complete surprise to everyone. But that is another story.
    Thanks so much everyone for the listen and the reflections. And thanks again to Tony for posting. I had the honor of meeting Brian McLaren the other day, and he recognized my name from listening via Tony’s post. To have a hero of mine compliment me meant so much. And thanks especially to you who have emailed me. Encouragement is much appreciated.

  • Theresa Seeber

    Tad, we are still praying for you in this job situation. I am personally excited for you at the prospects of doing something fresh, scary and untimely as it may seem to be.

  • Your Name

    Thanks for the coming of the spirit of Clarity upon you,praise and thanks be to God.I am already used in airing kind of songs that is
    not meant to be played to all kinds of listeners,but,my point in playing songs of my favorite is that just try to pick up the lyrics that is meant for you,not every word and whole content is meant for
    you but understand strongly and take note first thing the title and
    reflect positively upon your self,that is my point of target,it is not my best interest hurt my listener.Alright?Sooo,just trying to to
    give more emphsis about this but anyway,i am in connection with
    my joy as always!And oh!ii have decided to be more wise in playing
    songs next time,i always cry when i make someone cry of my songs i ply on air…promise!!!!

  • wkares

    Dearest Tad, The song has “True” merit. There was an underlying reason for the dismissal. I always look at it this way; everything happens for a reason. It was time for you to move on. May you Be Blessed.


    I think it is a shame to fire Tad over the TRUTH! no, i don’t know the heart of Tad when he wrote the song, but GOD does, but I know how warm I felt when I read the lyrics as well as personal conviction to live my life more like Jesus would want me to live it. The lyrics of this song encouraged my spirit. Unfortunately, what happened to Tad is a prime example of why the church(body of christ) can not grow. People get mad when you tell them the truth with no lies attached. If we are not willing to be truthful to each other and to Christ about our issues even though we are professed to be saved then how can we truly be delivered from lies, traditions, and delusions that have slipped into the church from the father of lies(satan)? How can we have a real relationship with Christ? God told us to lie not to one another. I pray that Tad allows the Holy Spirit to continue to use him in such a way that the strongholds and barriers of religious rituals, traditions, and national false ideas within the umbrella of christianity will be torn down, so that there will be a revival in the land of deliverance. Examples, of common false ideas in christianity are that “christians don’t have to follow the laws of the old testament” because of Jesus in the new testament. Well, here’s food for thought….God, the author of the whole bible through the writings of holy men led by the spirit of God called us to be obedient to one commandment, he also called us to be obedient to all the commandments. God did not put commandments in place for us to later on avoid them, not be concerned about them or to forget them. Another, common false thought is that going to church every Sunday will save me and my soul. If you haven’t done what God has required by confessing Jesus Christ as Lord, then you have not followed what God called all men to do. It is only by believing in our hearts and confessing through our mouths that Jesus is Lord then we are saved and then afterwards comes sanctification-a process of living holy and having a lifestyle completely sold out to God through purity.

  • Deborah