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Bad Theology In Hymns

Discussion in 'Christian Music' started by Rich48, Jun 28, 2006.

  1. Rich48

    Rich48 Legend

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    Quite often, we here that the newer songs (CCM) are shallow. Yet, at the same time, we sing the "grand old hymns" without any thought about what we are singing.

    Now, let me state from the starts that I LOVE the old hymns, and not in anyway shape or form suggesting that we abandon them. But there is some very bad theology in some of them. I am starting a new thread in an attempt to address some of these.
     
  2. Dorf

    Dorf God has given us a sword, swing it

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  3. Rich48

    Rich48 Legend

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    Here is one example:

    One of the greatest hymn writers ever was Fanny Crosby. But one of her hymns really bothers me, and that one is "Pass Me Not." Look at the chorus:

    Savior, Savior,
    Hear my humble cry;
    While on others Thou art calling,
    Do not pass me by.

    Now-attempt to reconcile that with:

    Rom 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

    When, oh when, did Christ ever pass anyone who calledl up His precious name?? The answer is NEVER!

    Rich


     
  4. arunma

    arunma Flaming Calvinist

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    Just wanted to mention something. The reason I like the older hymns doesn't necessarily have to do with the fact that they are old. I was not raised in the church, and so all hymns are new to me. I've found old hymns with shallow theology, and new hymns with a lot of theology. But in general, I've found that the older hymns tend to be deeper. Some people may have a differing opinion, which is OK. This is just my personal observation.

    Actually this is one hymn I haven't heard often (in fact, I think I've only heard it once before). But based solely upon the lyrics, it seems to be more of a rhetorical question. My guess is that anyone singing the hymn would instantly recognize that the author's point is that Christ will not pass us by. By human logic he ought to, and being humans we plead for God to save us when we call on him, not realizing that our salvation is already secure in Christ.

    Nonetheless I do see your point. I suppose this could have been worded better.
     
  5. Rich48

    Rich48 Legend

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    Very true-it is just bad wording-"while on others thou are calling, do not pass me by."

    I heard a preacher on time come down hard on on the old hymn "Near The Cross." His thought was that we are not stay at the cross, but to go to the world and reach them. A bit a a stretch?

    Rich
     
  6. arunma

    arunma Flaming Calvinist

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    Yes, that does sound rather legalistic. Besides that, the Bible says:
    I hate the assembly of evildoers, and I will not sit with the wicked. I wash my hands in innocence and go around your altar, O LORD, proclaiming thanksgiving aloud, and telling all your wondrous deeds. (Psalm 26:5-7)
    When taken as allegory, the altar is the cross. So it would seem that we should stay near the cross.
     
  7. Rich48

    Rich48 Legend

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    Ok-here is another that, at least for me, has serious problems. Here is the first verse and the chorus:

    IS MY NAME WRITTEN THERE?

    Lord, I care not for riches, neither silver nor gold;
    I would make sure of Heaven, I would enter the fold.
    In the book of Thy kingdom, with its pages so fair,
    Tell me, Jesus, my Savior, is my name written there?

    (chorus)
    Is my name written there,
    On the page white and fair?
    In the book of Thy kingdom,
    Is my name written there?

    When He saves us, WE ARE SAVED. There is absolutely NO doubt that our names are there! If He is your Savior, then there is no need to ask this question!

    Rich
     
  8. WardSmythe

    WardSmythe Regular Member

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    I think what you find is that there is a lot of sentimentality in hymns. Probably particularly in the late 1800s, early 1900s. Not everyone had the depth of someone like Charles Wesley. And not everyone spoke the King's English.

    It's up to those who are leaders in teh congregation to weed out the schmaltzy stuff that's just wrong theologically.
     
  9. arunma

    arunma Flaming Calvinist

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    It's interesting that you say this. There are some overly sentimental hymns from the 1800s, but I tend to think that most contemporary music fits this description. Would you agree?

    A bit off topic, but Charles Wesley is one of my most favorite hymn-writers.
     
  10. Rich48

    Rich48 Legend

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    Most of it? No, I don't believe I would agree with that. But yes, it would be more apt to contemporary than the hymns of the church. There is a lot of great "new" music out there! "How Great Is Our God" is a shining example!

    It is sad, but a lot of Christian shun any "new" music. There once was a man who firmly, no, VERY firmly believed that NO new music could be "good." He hated anything that was not "traditional" church music. This man married, and, in time, felt the need to change churches. He and and wife began to search for a new church, and visited one that (oh my) used some newer hymns-yes, they were what we today would call traditional. God spoke to this man, and he felt the call to write NEW hymns! And what did he write? "I Have Settled The Question", "Glorious Freedom", "Tell The Blessed Story", and many, many more. But this man's best known hymn was one of the favorites of many a Christian-"Wonderful Grace of Jesus." The man? Halador Lillenas.

    Rich
     
  11. arunma

    arunma Flaming Calvinist

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    You're quite right, there is no short supply of great contemporary worship music, including Chris Tomlin's songs. I prefer older hymns purely out of personal preference. It would be wrong to listen solely to traditional hymns for any theological reasons. After all, such things as the compound microscope and the theory of classical thermodynamics are older than these so-called "traditional" hymns.
     
    Rich48 likes this.
  12. Rich48

    Rich48 Legend

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    I, too, love the old hymns, but I can't say that I prefer them to the newer songs-I just love music that praises the Lord God! :clap: :clap:

    I guess that is why I attend a church at uses a "blended" music service. I don't believe that I could attend a church that used only hymns, nor the opposite, one that never used them. But back to the original topic of the thread. There is bad theology in some of our traditional hymns, yet quite often, we sing them anyway, and only because it is a tradition hymn. And yes, the same is true of newer songs. Some of them are just as guilty.

    Here is a newer song that, I will admit I love, but one line gives me problems--I Get On My Knees--by Jaci Velasquez. The line that give me a problem is in the chorus:

    I get on my knees, I get on my knees;
    There I am before the love that changes me.
    See I don't know how, but there's pow'r
    When I'm on my knees.

    It's that second line-why could it not have been written:

    There I am before the Lord that changes me.

    So much of a difference! The love is so vague! What love? It could apply to anything! Yet the final message of the song is good-there IS power when we are on our knees before Him.

    I hope to be posting some more hymns that are problomatic soon.

    Rich
     
  13. Rich48

    Rich48 Legend

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    Bad theology does not just apply to some hymns-it's in all genre of music. Here is a praise and worship song that bothers me.

    Twila Paris has written some wonderful music, but this one is, at least to me, questionable:

    I EXALT THEE

    For Thou O Lord art high above all the earth
    Thou art exalted far above all gods

    What other gods? There is but one God, and there is no god for Him to be exalted above. The lyrics seem to imply that there are lesser gods that He is above.

    Rich
     
  14. arunma

    arunma Flaming Calvinist

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    Actually, that one sounds like an allusion to Psalm 97:9, which says,
    For you, O LORD, are most high over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods.
    Often times the Scriptures make references to gods that do not exist. Of all authors, it is Paul who is perhaps the most clear that these gods do not really exist.
    For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth--as indeed there are many "gods" and many "lords"-- yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist. (1 Corinthians 8:5-6)
    This may help to explain the reference to false gods.
     
  15. Rich48

    Rich48 Legend

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    No doubt you are correct; but as the song stands alone, it just, at least to me, seems to be a little off. But yes, I do love the song.

    Rich
     
  16. arunma

    arunma Flaming Calvinist

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    I admit that even by the time the New Testament authors started writing, the practice of making references to false gods had become far more rare. So I guess it is a bit strange to see such a reference in a modern hymn.
     
  17. Treasurer

    Treasurer Senior Member

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    I think when one is putting song to paper, it really isnt about theology. It is about what is in that person's heart. That person is singing their praises to God, lifting up to the Lord what is inside of them.

    So to understand the song, perhaps one should understand the person.

    I do understand what you are saying though. I dont like faithless songs, myself. There are several modern songs that really bother me because of this. I havent found too many hymns that I know that bother me.

    What truely inspired me was hearing about some of the authors of these hymns. TBN had an episode dedicated to telling the story behind some of the great hymns. They did Haratio Spafford, Fanny Crosby, Joseph Scriven, Joseph Mohr, and the hymn How Great Thou Art- which the first stanza by one man, and the other three were done by a guy who wrote about the history of his time and how the gospel was seen thru it.

    Wouldnt it be helpful to know what inspired this person to sing God's praises?

    After hearing about the story of Haratio Spafford, and how he wrote the song "It Is Well With My Soul" I cant sing the song without tears. Because it speaks to this man's faith. It is also true with Joseph Scriven who wrote "What A Friend We Have In Jesus."

    Well God Bless
     
  18. MadFingerPainter

    MadFingerPainter in His hands

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    If you go to verse 3 though you will see plainly that it says:
    Yes my name is written there.
    I don't know about you but when I first got saved there were times I wasn't always sure. But God provides assurance as we grow. If you're going to start picking apart old hymns...at least have the courtesy to go through the entire hymn and make sure you're not picking at something that there is no need to pick at.

    That being the case...we could just as easily be picking at the same questions posed by psalmists and others in the bible. It just never ends... :sigh:
     
  19. LivingWorship

    LivingWorship My soul dances in freedom, my heart forever sings

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    One I have questioned from time to time is actually a more modern song; Create in Me a clean Heart... we sing it with gusto at church but the line "take not thy holy spirit from me" has puzzled me... can the holy spirit be taken away from one who is a believer? No, if they are living a repentant life, I believe not. Outside of that... perhaps. takers?

    ***

    Rich this is a good thread but as MFP said, we can get a little overzealous for no good reason. Not suggesting you have necessarily... I am a real theological policeman of sorts when it comes to worship music, and I have serious questions with a few songs... old and new alike. However I do have to check myself from time to time :)
     
  20. furry001

    furry001 Obedience is better than sacrifice

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    The song writer has taken the KJV rendering:

    [bible]Psalm 97:9[/bible]

    Just so you know.
     
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