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.
Mumford & Sons and the Death of Church Music
If I want to sing a bunch of stale, bland pop songs, I’ll have a campfire, not go to church.
What Mumford has discovered, along with his masters at Universal, is that this goopy, self-serious emotionalism sells like crazy. And since he apparently has no interest in new musical ideas, you end up with a relentlessly monotonous body of work that amounts to more of a brand than an oeuvre.
Puritans and Propaganda
Holy Hip-Hop Controversy: Rapper Propaganda’s blistering critique of Puritanism’s racist history has some Reformed listeners crying foul.
Is criticizing the racist roots of Puritanism out of bounds? That’s what some Calvinists are debating following Christian rapper Propaganda’s scathing indictment of Puritan history.
The Church’s Antipathy to Popular Music
Part 5 of the Christian church's history in relation to popular entertainment
T.G, an unidentified Puritan divine, wrote a 1616 treatise on why Christians should not go to stage plays and listed seven reasons why not: “The Puritan authorities hated and feared the theater because it portrayed immorality and could be used to promote subversive ideas.”
Meet Lecrae, the Christian Rapper Tearing Up the Charts
A two-minute bio on hip-hop's God-loving, chart-topping artist
At age 19, Lecrae attended a conference at the prodding of a friend and heard James White deliver a message that he says “turned his world upside down and showed him his need for a savior.”
What Happened to My CCM?
Much has changed in a generation—the bands, the industry. Oh, and me.
I'm really happy to see new material from some of my favorite musicians, but I know that I'm not the same person I was when I started going to rock shows in church basements. I no longer put band stickers on my car or wear their buttons on my jacket. I no longer listen to Christian radio or buy my music from Bible bookstores. But these are some of the people who taught me what I know about faith, hope and love—and I'll be forking over some cash this year to hear them do it again.