The Holy Hip Hop Hullabaloo
Regarding recent reactions to Reformed Rap artists and their style of music
If you are part of the Reformed hip hop culture. Thank you. God bless you. Do not grow weary in doing good. Do not be discouraged. There are folks, a lot of folks, like me, who deeply appreciate you, have been (and are) blessed by you, who are learning from you and who are rooting... Continue Reading
The Presbyterian (PCUSA) Hymnal Controversy Around the Doctrine of the Atonement
Part 2: Irony and Lunacy
Instead of taking this reasonable approach, nine members of the committee decided to remove a song because they discovered that the single line reading “the love of God was magnified” originally read the very Reformed (and Biblical) notion that “the wrath of God was satisfied.” As the chair of the committee herself tells it, it was... Continue Reading
I Weep for Miley
What kind of people are we? What kind of culture have we created?
Picking up a sub sandwich today, I saw a news report on CNN about Miley Cyrus’ performance at last night’s VMA’s. I was shocked, then sickened, then saddened. For the rest of the day, I wondered: What kind of people are we? What kind of culture have we created? What do we want our... Continue Reading
No Gospel Without Wrath
Why would a denomination want to remove a hymn’s reference to God’s wrath?
We cannot rejoice enough over what God has done for us. Let’s sing and preach about His wrath, warn the unrepentant what’s coming, and tell them that through Christ alone, as the hymn states, they can avoid it. That is the gospel When I read that the Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA) decided to exclude from its hymnals the song “In... Continue Reading
‘My God, My Father, Blissful Name’: A Hymn of Patient Hope in God
Anne Steele’s poetry focuses on God who reassured her life as all around seemed uncertain
In Anne Steele’s life, the rain was falling. She longed for the sun to warm her days, but often she was given no respite from pain and loneliness. She felt out of control. And the gracious, merciful Father she saw in the Scriptures picked her up, and held her, and it calmed her down. ... Continue Reading
What You Can’t Sing Without Penal Substitution
Without penal substitution there is no salvation. And there isn’t nearly as much to sing about.
The notion that Christ died as our sin-bearing substitute who bore the curse for our sakes is considered, by some, too primitive, too violent, and too narrow. Penal substitution is only a theory of the atonement, just one idea among many, maybe not even a good theory, at the very least not the best or... Continue Reading
The Father, Mumford & Sons, and the Holy Spirit
The controversial Christianity of a hot-selling band has rock critics running amok
In a world without taboos the only taboo is God. A higher power reminds of limitations, authority, and that something greater than number one exists. The rock star imagines himself as a human deity, and his many worshippers treat him accordingly. God’s a real buzz kill in that anthropocentric universe. Babel, Mumford & Sons’... Continue Reading
Christmas Carols: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
A hymn celebrating the hope of Messiah’s advent
The hymn is based on a prophecy in Isaiah 7, a prophecy that looks forward to the birth of a child who will be named Immanuel, which means “God with us.” In Eden, God had been present with mankind, but as a result of the Fall, man was exiled from God’s presence. From that point... Continue Reading
Of the Father’s Love Begotten
The story of an ancient Advent hymn
At the age of fifty-seven, at the height of his power and prestige, Prudentius grew weary of civic life and considered his life thus far to have been a waste. He was having a midlife crisis (or, given the age span at the time, more like an almost-at-the-end-of-my-life crisis). So the successful lawyer, judge, and... Continue Reading
On Theology, Rap, and Pop Culture
Theology is always conceived of and articulated within a social and cultural context.
We make belittling jokes about pastors or youth pastors who seek to preach the gospel in a manner that is meaningful to these culture and sub-cultures. Instead of belittling those who try to minister meaningfully, we need to encourage them to do it well, and follow suit ourselves.