Michael Card and John Michael Talbot's Song "One Faith"

This is an excellent Chistian song, musically, but given what we argue here at DC every day, does any Christian see any problems with the claims in this song? They should be obvious, or at least they are to me. I find Christian lyrics to be superfical at best, and false at the worst. Anyone disagree? Do Christians think through the lyrics while listening to one of their popular songs? What would happen if they did?

26 comments:

Jennifer said...

I'll bite, John.
These are two of my favorite singers.

JMT. being Catholic, may have a more tightly packed concept of "one Church", but both men have advocated for years that there is a Church Universal.

I can guess your objections, but I don't want to assume. What is it you object to?

WoundedEgo said...

I am also a singer-songwriter, formerly a christian singer-songwriter. I invite you all to listen at http://woundedego.com

I blogged the other day on the matter of "suspending unbelief" and how, by intentionally believing a song's or sermon's message, one actually experiences the message emotionally and powerfully, just as people do when they watch a good movie. It is "my big thought" at the moment, that I hope to research more and put in my next book. The blog is here: http://bibleshockers.blogspot.com

As to denominations, check out "Every Christian Denomination is Heretical" in my book, "Bible Shockers!" which you can read online free of charge at http://bibleshockers.com

Shalom,

Bill Ross

Joseph said...

Have you seen the South Park episode, "Christian Rock Hard" in which Cartman & co. start their own Christian band?
In short, Cartman takes 70's and 80's love ballades and changes the words slightly so that Jesus is being praised (with hilarious results). It summarizes what's wrong with contemporary Christian Contemporary Music today. click here

Level with me, Jennifer: don't some of CCM songs just sound a little too, well, sappy? As the Christian record producer tells Cartman: "It seems like you really, really love Christ...No, it sounds like you're IN LOVE with Christ!"

WoundedEgo said...

Something to note in this song is that Michael Card is, unless I am very mistaken, a hard core Calvinist. When he says that there is "one faith...so freely given to ALL" what he means by "all" (despite the attending photo of a large city) is that the faith was given to "all of the elect." The shepherd lays down his life "for HIS SHEEP." So, there is no universalism here, except in the idea that all "elect" Trinitarians are loved, cherished, cared for, protected... the rest of humankind is, in this thinking, eternally damned to endless suffering in the flames of a burning Hell. This is not an accidental situation to Michael, but rather emanates from the will of an all powerful, all knowing God. This is accomplished to "display his justice" and "for his glory."

So yeah, you have to pretty much turn off all mental activity in order to get choked up at the "great love of our Savior" and such when you listen to Michael Card - which Christians are happy to do. I also note that the song is crafted in such a way that the exclusivity of the love is masked by the frequent but undefined use of the term "all." That is, the emotional impact is "all" when the message contained in it is not in the least bit universal in any real sense.

Smiles, glad handing and expressions of divine love abound in religious meetings, but the actual message of the Catholic-Protestant world is actually packed with a divine loathing of humanity and every intention of inflicting endless millenia of torture upon the huge majority of them.

Calvinism, of course, is much sicker than the Bible, which merely says that the lost will die. But as we have observed elsewhere, the theology of popular culture throughout history is not that of the Bible.

So I rate the song "I" for "Insidious."

Bill Ross
http://bibleshockers.blogspot.com

WoundedEgo said...

Joseph, my wife and I saw a buxom woman with a t-shirt that read "I'm a passionate bride of Christ." My wife and I were embarrassed for her. It sounded like she should have changed it to say "Jesus and I just did it together last Sunday!"

Bill Ross
http://bibleshockers.blogspot.com

Joseph said...

That's funny. By the way, if the church is the bride of Christ, does that imply that Jesus is into polygamous bi-sexual marriage?

John W. Loftus said...

Jennifer as some have already said people experience the message emotionally. But here goes....

Jesus is a "good shepherd."

"He laid down his life for his sheep."

"He built his church on the rock foundation of faith."

"There is one faith, one hop, one baptism...one church."

"He gave to Simon Peter and to all the twelve the keys of the kingdom."

"Some of his shepherds had pastured themselves on their sheep, so he has come out against them and scattered his people of faith."

See any problems here at all?

Jennifer said...

Trying to see it from your point of view...are you saying:

* Jesus says he's the Good Shepherd and then he dies so is not shepherding anymore?

* Jesus builds His church on the solid rock of faith which seems like an oxymoron?

* It is exclusive to have one church, one baptism..etc.?

* The keys of the Kingdom were given to some who abused their position and the Good Shepherd, who has died and therefore given his position as shepherd to others, is now leaving his flock with no shepherd....diaspora?

Am I on the right trail?

I would interpret it differently so I'm not on the same page, but maybe I'm getting it from your point of view.

Jennifer said...

Woundedego,
I think you might be mistaken about Michael Card being a "hard core" Calvinist. He is a Calvinist, but he is well read and quotes people from other traditions as well. It seems that a hard core Calvinist would stick to other Calvinists.
JMT and MC collaborating shows me they see themselves as brothers.

The Church Universal is not the same as universalism. Universalism teaches that all roads lead to God, the Church Universal is the reality of God's Spirit leading people into community where they are without adherence to a formal system....in other words, to quote a part of the book, "The Shack":

"Does that mean," asked Mack, "that all roads will lead to you?"

"Not at all," smiled Jesus as he reached for the door handle to the shop. "Most roads don't lead anywhere. What it does mean is that I will travel any road to find you."

John W. Loftus said...

Jesus is a "good shepherd."

Really now? What about those of us who left the fold? And do you attend a church like the ones I've attended? The more active you become the more problems you see. In fact the one thing to sour you about Christianity is to be a minister. Where's the shepherd? Where's the evidence that the Holy Spirit is guiding the church? This should trouble you, I think.

"He laid down his life for his sheep."

Have you thought about how the death of Jesus does anything for you, or why God demands punishment in order to forgive? That's not offering forgiveness. That's simply giving them their due. And in what sense can someone legitimately pay for my debt anyway? I owed God a perfect life. So if Jesus lived a perfect life he merely did what everyone ws required to do. How does his perfect life have any extra credit to apply toward me?

"He built his church on the rock foundation of faith."

Faith is a rock? In what sense? This makes little sense. At least McDowell says faith is based upon evidence.

"There is one faith, one hope, one baptism...one church."

And divided and splinted into more groups than one can count...even divided on baptism itself.

"He gave to Simon Peter and to all the twelve the keys of the kingdom."

The Catholic/ Protestant split.

"Some of his shepherds had pastured themselves on their sheep, so he has come out against them and scattered his people of faith."

What? When? Why? Why would he allow false pastors in the first place? Why would a good shepherd knowing allow wolves to lead his sheep? Does God do anything...anything?

Wanderin' Weeta said...

"Do Christians think through the lyrics while listening to one of their popular songs? What would happen if they did?'"

When my Dad died, my nephew sang at his funeral. His choice of song was "I can only imagine". I kept wondering, throughout, how he didn't process the words he was singing; if he had, he would see that he was saying that he didn't know what happens after death. Which is true, but I'm sure he didn't intend that.

The lyrics, in part:
"I can only imagine what it will be like
When I walk by your side
I can only imagine what my eyes will see
When your face is before me
I can only imagine
I can only imagine

Surrounded by your glory
What will my heart feel?
Will I dance for you Jesus,
Or in awe of you be still?
Will I stand in your presence,
Or to my knees will I fall?
Will I sing Halelluja,
Will I be able to speak at all?
I can only imagine
I can only imagine."

Jon Curry said...

One of my favorites is "Crazy" by MercyMe. The whole premise is Christian beliefs are crazy, and that's just great.

Here's the main chorus:

I have not been called
to the wisdom of this world,
but to a God that's calling out to me.
And even though this world may think
I'm losing touch with reality,
it would be crazy to choose this world over eternity.

Pretty good song. Watch here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sM8FSoviU2M

Another good one is "Everything Impossible".

You're everything I cannot see
You're everything I cannot say
I know it all seems so illogical. That's OK.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tPjsr0KZVDI

Jennifer said...

You'd think I have nothing better to do with my day but sit here and comment.:-'

I know I can't "win" John. I could dredge up philosophical quotes and get into unanswered questions in science, but like you've said a few times it's all about the glasses.

I respect Josh McDowell and I agree that evidence is one part of the reasonable aspect of faith, but faith is still faith even if it's based on reason. My understanding is that faith begins where reason cannot take us...into the mystery of another reality we all sense but cannot grasp which leaves some to choose faith and others to choose reason.

Michelle said...

Uhm, excuse me, I just fell upon this blog looking for evangelical blogs and....uhm....being a Christian believer...uh, found it rather interesting and I have to say you all have your beliefs well through out and presented so....so, uhm....here's my thoughts about Christian lyrics....I write them and yes, I do think about what I am writing about, but I want to say that I find many of the newer praise songs and contemporary Christian lyrics very blah and boring and I think this may have something to do with the music industry's problems of stifling creativity and influencing Christian music and also I think there is an influence in the American Christian culture to make Christianity "light, marketable and accessible." Thus many are writing weak lyrics. My favorite case in point is the chorus that goes, "yes Lord yes Lord yes yes Lord. Yes Lord yes Lord yes yes Lord. Yes Lord Yes Lord Yes yes Lord yes lord." These kind of lyrics bother even us Christians! :)

Caleb said...

Numerous Christian praise songs are overtly sexual, or at least seem to be if one takes just a moment to actually absorb the lyrics.

"Draw Me Close To You"

Oh Jesus,
Draw me close to you
Never let me go
Cause nothing else could take your place,
To feel the warmth of your embrace.
You are my desire,
No one else will do.
Bring me back to you!

Chorus:
You're all I want
You're all I ever needed
You're all I want
Help me know you are near.


They get far worse.

"Hungry"

Hungry, I come to you for I know you satisfy.
I am empty, but I know your love does not run dry.
And so I wait for you, and so I wait for you.

Chorus:
I'm falling on my knees
Offering all of me
Jesus, you're all this heart is living for.
You're all I'm living for.


I won't even bother with the other verses. Suffice it to say that the song grows even more hilariously sensual as it continues.

Modern Christian worship seems to be centered around the desire for an almost purely physical relationship with Christ. This brings an entirely new meaning to the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation, to say the least!

Joseph said...

haha! That's classic, Caleb :)

Jennifer said...

Oh my goodness, Caleb. Would you break down every metaphor into such an analysis? Should we do away with metaphors?

The Song of Solomon was added to the canon because if it's illustration of intimacy with God. I'm sure you knew that, but I am throwing it out here for comment.

Joseph said...

Jennifer, actually the Song of Solomon may have been added to the Christian canon for those reasons but it is clearly talking about Solomon's love affair with his beloved. You don't want me to have to illustrate my point.

Jennifer said...

Joseph,
OF COURSE IT WAS ABOUT A LOVE AFFAIR.

Didn't you know that when you taught Bible classes? That's the point. We do not seek a physical union with God, but an emotional intimacy that can be metaphorically paralleled with the passion or familiarity of lovers.

What exactly were you teaching in your Bible studies? I'm curious.

Shygetz said...

I love you Jesus
I want you to walk with me
I'll take good care of your baby
Call you my baby, baby

You died for my sins
And you know that I would die for you, right
What's the matter baby?
You're trembling Jesus baby

Your love
Is my life
You know when I'm without you
There's a black hole in my life, ohhh

I wanna believe
It's all right
But I get lonely in the night
And it's up to you to save me
Jesus baby.


or...

The body of Christ
Sleek, perfect body
All muscled up and tone.

The body of Christ
Oh, what a body
I wish I could call it my own.


or finally...

I wanna get down on my knees
And start pleasing Jesus
I wanna feel his salvation
All over my face


Classic South Park.

Resilient Hawk said...

"I find Christian lyrics to be superfical at best, and false at the worst."

Given the range and history of what counts as Christian music, that's tough to back up. When looking at the gritty realism of Larry Norman, or the headier songs of Martin Luther and John Wesley, there's more out there than JMT.

Superficiality is by no means an argument against God' existence, which is what I think your blog is trying to debunk. Otherwise, if atheism were put to the same test, it might as easily be debunked.

How often have a heard a well-meaning evangelistic atheist tell me, "But I cannot see God, therefore he must not exist"? I close my eyes, and then tell the poor atheist that now he does not exist. ;) Seriously, superficiality is just and only that.

Likewise, how much of modern poetry is superficial? Our poet laureates (Billy Collins being a prime example) have largely delivered insipid lines that are closer to journal or personal blog entries than the depth of John Donne, Gerard Manley Hopkins, William Butler, and T. S. Eliot. It makes me queasy to pick up a literary journal.

In other words, I feel for your sense that many Christian song lyrics are superficial, but, similarly, only find that those which are reflect not the existence (or non existence) of a god, but the absence of literary depth.

As far as the greater issue:

Debunking something eternal is, by the nature of the concept, impossible. Christians (and any other deity worshipper) rely on faith, not quantitative logic. Proving there is nothing that exists in the position of god is as impossible, using any logical standard, that there is a god.

Christians looking to sit you down and do some sort of math or physics explanation to prove that a god exists miss this, just as an atheist tries to do the same to a Christian. The best apologetic for a god is a changed life, but, even then, it will not be an apologetic(which, sadly, I realize is too rare) that changes the unbeliever to a believer, but God's spirit itself.

esperanza said...

I'm not certain why everyone but jennifer appear to be so concerned with this topic. Woundedego seems to have an ax with Michael Card and JMT. Instead of sitting here in judgment of these men, why don't you contact them and confirm what you are supposing their positions are? And ultimately, if you're so embittered by Christianity, why do you even care? Why not "debunk" soemthing do real harm to the world, like the radical lies of liberalism and special interests groups that have usurped the U.S.? Why not go after something that is dooing damage to people instead of going after decent humans like MC & JMT? It's just a thought. If you want to expose lies, make certain that what you are bringing to light is the "Truth" and not merely your interpretation of the truth. Otherwise, 10 years from now we'll be a part of the website "Debunking Woundedego and the other tragic victims of ethical relativism".

AJH said...

I stumbled on this conversation while looking for Lyrics to a JMT song we sang in worship this morning. I know you have all moved on in your dialogues since this began last year but I felt compelled to add my perspective to your string...

I think deeply about all the music I listen to no matter the source or intended purpose. I find much of popular music, Christian or otherwise, lacking in depth. It seems many song writers rarely think deeply and neglect to write with any complexity. I certainly will not defend the Christian Music Industry for it's worthy contributions...

However, the song in question here happens to be one of my favorite songs about the Christian faith - as are both JMT & MC as authors, thinkers & lyricists. 'Why?' you have asked...I want to answer.

This song asserts, despite human frailty, error & selfishness that the Truth of the Gospel remains. Christ did not preach on the divisions of faith but to unify those sects of Judaism & the Gentiles of the day as one people. To make them all the people of God. Christ's mission was one of unity. He came to bring all men to God... ergo bringing all men together as well.

The problem comes in, for believers & unbelievers alike, that this work of unification was to be brought through humans who choose wether or not to listen to the Spirit of God. Though He may be leading them, they don't always consistently follow him. The divisions in the church today unfortunately demonstrate that all too well.

The line you dislike about..

"Some of his shepherds had pastured themselves on their sheep, so he has come out against them and scattered his people of faith."

...refers to this failing throughout human history from the start of the church (as recorded in several of the Epistles about false teachers & prophets) to contemporary times (remember Jim Baker or any number of self seeking preachers of this modern day). This is a broken reality of our human condition whether we believe or not.

The fact that God chose to love & use the very self focused & broken people He sent Christ to make whole is foundational to the premise of the Gospel. We need God & He values us SO He cares for His family by bringing them together through His Son AND YET it's still the work of His family to choose to love, trust & obey.

If that gives you a problem in this song, or any other thoughtful & well written song about the Christian faith then you might as well throw the whole thing out as it sounds you have done.

If your primary problem is actually the people & work of the Christian faith (as demonstrated in American evangelicalism particularly) then you need to reconcile with the basic premise that we are all broken & being made new in our faith daily ONLY in the measure of our obedience to the Spirit of God. Not everyone who calls themselves something actually lives fully by the tenets of that tradition. There are lax Budhists, Atheists, Environmentalists and more... Does automatically that mean their cause is worthless because the people who ascribe to it do not live it well?

I personally find the American Evangelical tradition intensely lacking in the fruit of obedience that Christ talks about for His church in the gospels. I have seen however, that fruit born in a diversity of Christian traditions here and in countries around the world. When the gravity of the Christian faith & Truth of Scripture is taught AS WELL AS lived out it is amazing what Faith produces in a group of people. The live out the kingdom of God by caring for the poor, orphaned & widows...

I like this song simply because it reminds me that even though churches & the people in them do often disappoint me that the Unified Church under Christ's leadership does exist. It resides, apart from doctrine or denomination, in the Kingdom of Heaven Christ taught about in all obedient & expectant followers of Christ.

I consider that meaningful song writing.

William said...

Having listened to the clip I need to say that for the most part the comments here are sophomoric at best and reflect an ineptitude at poetry, simile, and metaphor which rather simplistically ridicules what is simply Scripture (Ephesians 4:4-16) set to music. If you can't take the time to acquaint yourself with the subject matter you may not be qualified to critique it. You might just as well do the same to Shakespeare, Blake, or Homer. I don't mean to offend, but this blog is decidedly weak. It should be called "Whining About a Faith That I Don't Understand". The literalism with which the figurative is treated here is simply childish.

Trimelda said...

Okay, here I am surfing the web for songs by John Michael Talbot and I find something that talks about Debunking Christianity tied to a really nice, pretty song with good guitar playing etc.

So, I click in to see what the big rip is about and find... this.

Hmmm.

Now I know I am biased as a 55 year old African American pastor once a nun, from three generations of Christians. So, no I'm not going to agree with your point of view. But I have to say your arguments are a bit limp.

You've got people writing:

"He built his church on the rock foundation of faith."

Faith is a rock? In what sense? This makes little sense. At least McDowell says faith is based upon evidence.

I find it difficult to believe that an educated adult can't understand a metaphor. Did that person even grasp the concept behind the uase of the word? Is THAT the best you can come up with on "debunking" this song?

And this????

I blogged the other day on the matter of "suspending unbelief" and how, by intentionally believing a song's or sermon's message, one actually experiences the message emotionally and powerfully, just as people do when they watch a good movie. It is "my big thought" at the moment, that I hope to research more and put in my next book.

I feel like saying, dude, don't hurt yourself, okay.

Sheez.

This sounds a lot like a bunch of people who aren't very good at much who are mad at people who are. Now I am sure that's probably not true and you folks are successful, well loved, compassionate people without the aid of Christ, etc, etc, etc. But when you post things like this, you don't sound smart. You sound ignorant and petty.

Next time go argue about the Crusades or Televangelists or Pedophiles in the church. I know its been done before, but that makes a heck of a lot more sense than railing at Talbot and Card's song because you can't understand a metaphor or handle emotional content.

Again, Sheez!!!!!

kkevilus said...

People have been calling the claims of Christ crazy since about the time of his birth. This song 'One Faith' caused scandal within the church(es) so you'd be best to pick a better song.

Does labeling Michael Card a 'Calvinist' somehow make your claim more relevant? I have a different take on Calvinism. I used to hate it passionately, truly.

Then you look at science - quantum physics specifically. Who's to say that God is bound by the same dimensions as us? (He's not!) So he sees this existence already played out. Is it wrong that he already knows what's happening and allows it to happen anyhow?

Look at light, as an atheist professor once said 'Light is a miracle'.

Change religions real quick, the Muslim Qur'an talks about angels traveling to God at a speed that is exactly the speed of light outside of a gravitational field. 1,400 years before we could accurately calculate it, the Qur'an had it pegged.

I'm not a big fan of Christian denominations, and I think Christians have failed miserably. Throughout history people have failed God. Isn't that the point of Christ?