Our God Is Red Hot — Your God Ain’t Doodley Squat

Our God Is Red Hot — Your God Ain’t Doodley Squat May 2, 2024

• Bob Smietana on “How a beloved worship song became the theme song of Christian nationalism.”

The song in question is “How Great Is Our God.” The creepy phenomenon discussed is the same thing that happened to songs like “Our God Reigns” and “[Our God Is an] Awesome God” in many churches and contexts. Worship songs with that first-person possessive word in the refrain quite often get sung in a way that they praise “Our God” mainly as a way of praising Ourselves. How Great Are We? We Reign. And, God, We’re Awesome.

Worship and praise.

I mean, yeah, that’s more obvious when Frizzy McSplitends Sean Feucht is shrieking one of these songs into a megaphone outside some white nationalist political rally, but it happens with worship songs all the time. The context of “worship music” is one of conjured earnestness and willful sincerity, about trying to keep focused on God and not on ourselves, and thus about trying not to think of an elephant.

That’s a difficult trap to avoid even when singing those worship songs that aren’t full of I Me Mine and We Us Ours.

Center those first-person pronouns, though — especially the possessive ones — and any worship song quickly starts to sound like a little kid telling some other little kid that “My Daddy can beat up your Daddy.”

Or maybe they all just start to sound like Billy Lee Riley:

• Here’s another song I learned to sing in church that’s weirdly relevant to recent national news, it’s called “Father Abraham,” and it’s long been a favorite of both small children and of the church volunteers whose job it sometimes is to get those small children to work off enough of their squirmy little-kid energy to be able to settle down and pay attention during the rest of Sunday school or VBS.

The lyrics are brief and simple and don’t even bother to rhyme:

Father Abraham had many sons
Many sons had Father Abraham
I am one of them
And so are you
So let’s just praise the Lord

That’s it. That’s the whole songBut then you shout “right arm!” and everybody starts waving their right arm as you sing it again, after which you all shout “right arm! left arm!” and keep singing it, Hokey Pokey style, adding more motions until everybody’s flailing all of their limbs and pogo-ing in a circle in a raucous, dizzy, giggling mosh-pit.

We loved that song at my fundamentalist Baptist church. Maybe because it was the closest we ever came to being allowed to dance. Maybe because we glimpsed something joyous in the chorus’ gentle rejection of the supercessionist Calvinism our church otherwise taught, a hint of the grace and gratitude of Paul’s message that we could be grafted into the line of Abraham.

But anyway, I was reminded of that song when Republican Rep. Rick Allen of Georgia misquoted Genesis 12:3 during a congressional stunt-hearing. In that verse, God says to Abram: “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”

Here’s what Allen said: “It was the covenant that God made with Abraham, and that covenant was real clear: ‘If you bless Israel I will bless you, if you curse Israel I will curse you.’”

Allen isn’t so much quoting the Bible as he is quoting John Hagee and other failing Rapture prophets who love to quote this verse as evidence that the United States must militarily support the modern nation-state of Israel or else the United States will be cursed by God. Because, after all, Americans need to support Israel so that the Temple can be rebuilt in Jerusalem so that the Antichrist can rise and defile the Temple in Jerusalem so that Jesus can then come back in bloody wrath, correcting the embarrassing humiliation of his first coming by slaughtering all his enemies including, of course, every Jew in Israel who refuses to convert to White Protestant Christianity.

This is what Rick Allen sees as the “literal meaning” of Genesis 12:3 which literally is not about any of that.

“I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham.”

• Speaking of Rapture Christians who are wrong about both the Rapture and Christ, here’s a story from one of the 30 days last month during which the Rapture did not occur, gleaned from Reddit by Paul Campos:

I’m a server at a taco restaurant in Florida. Last weekend, we had a woman come in that tipped me $300 on a $40 bill. I made a post about this here.

As I was getting into work, I saw her at a table with a guy (presumably her bf or husband) and she was being served by one of my coworkers. He knew she was the $300 tipper but didn’t give her any special treatment. According to my coworker, she kept asking if he was Christian, to which he said no, and then she started talking about how awful it’ll be after the Rapture (which she thinks is on April 8th, this Monday) for sinners left on Earth. My coworker said that he thinks he’ll do fine (he was kinda vying for the tip so he didn’t want to contradict her belief). According to him, he took their orders as normal, served them, and the woman tipped him $777 and said that he’ll need it after.

After this woman’s Great Disappointment, she returned to the restaurant and demanded that they refund her tips, given that that Rapture didn’t happen after all. She didn’t get her money back.

I am frustrated by the lack of hard-news detail in this as-told-on-Reddit story. That makes it impossible to verify as something I can be sure really happened — maybe it did, maybe it didn’t. But I’m less interested in journalistic confirmation of the story than I am in simply learning the name of this restaurant.

Because the Rapture Lady seems to have really, truly believed that April 8 was going to be her last day on earth and, believing that, she went to this restaurant twice during the week before The End. Now I really wanna try those tacos.

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