Monday, July 16, 2007

Bad Theology + Bad Singing = Arminian Hymn

When you mix bad theology and bad singing, you end up with something like this:

    I Give You Freedom (The Whippoorwill Song)

    I set the boundaries of the ocean vast,
    Carved out the mountains from the distant past,
    Molded a man from the miry clay,
    Breathed in him life, but he went astray.

    I hold the waters in My mighty hand
    Spread out the heavens with a single span,
    Make all creation tremble at My voice,
    But My own sons come to Me by choice.

    I own the cattle on a thousand hills,
    I write the music for the whippoorwill,
    Control the planets with their rocks and rills,
    But give you freedom to use your own will.

    Even the oxen knows the master's stall,
    And sheep will recognize the shepherd's call
    I could demand your love - I own you twice,
    But only willing love is worth the price!

    And if you want Me to, I'll make you whole,
    I'll only do it, though, if you say so.
    I'll never force you, for I love you so,
    I give you freedom - Is it "yes" or "no"?

    HT: Pastor Gene Cook, who featured this heretical hymn on his latest show.
What's funny is that the song, though presented as biblical truth, contradicts itself. Note verse three, which talks about the sheep hearing the shepherd's call. This is a reference to John 10:27, where Jesus says, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me." The sheep, and no one else, are the ones who hear and respond to the voice of the shepherd.

But who are the sheep? Those chosen and placed in the care of the shepherd (John 10:28-29). We know this because of what Christ says in Matthew 25: "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.' ... Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels'" (verses 31-34, 41).

In short, those who do not follow the shepherd were never considered to be sheep in the first place and were never part of the flock. The sheep, on the other hand, recognize the shepherd's voice and respond accordingly. Unless we accept the premise that goats have the ability to choose to become sheep, we must conclude that there is more to the decision to follow Christ than mere "free will."


Dwayne said...

That is scarey. I know what I choose when left to my self, if it where not for Christ it would all be sin.

Chris Wilde said...

But I am so stirred by the soloist's pause to blow on his mic after the "breathed in him life" line, that I'm about ready to buy the whole message, regardless!

Anonymous said...

Justin says...

Hahaha! No offense, but you are a little late on this video clip! I remember way back when the Calvinist Gadfly was still running, they played this clip.

Anyway, it is saddening to see such emotionally-charged (rather than biblically-pumped) words.

Lee Shelton said...

It is rather frightening, cuz. This is what passes for worship today? Yikes!

Yeah, I thought that was a nice touch!

I know I'm a little late to the party. Story of my life. :(

Anonymous said...

So - correctly stated "created in the image of God" doesn't include ability to choose. Isn't that more like puppets or gun dogs? Isn't the convicting power of the Holy Spirit present to nudge sinners into making the right choice? Then He becomes the Keeper.

Lee Shelton said...

Anonymous, are we truly free to choose? Was nothing lost at the fall? Perhaps you can explain why some people respond to the conviction of the Holy Spirit and some do not.

Unknown said...

This "hymn" so-called is properly semi-Pelagian, rejecting man's fall and natural bondage to sin. Reformation Arminian theology (the theology of Jacob Arminius) fully affirms the bondage of the fallen will and the impossibility of the natural man being able to do anything without Christ ("without me you can do nothing"). We would never sing a hymn as though God were singing to us about how vast our choice was. That's self-obsessed and ignorant. However, the question is whether God does work in common grace upon all hearts, freeing them at that moment to either yield in dependence and trust Him instead of self, or to ultimately spurn him and trust in self. Even faith is a gift, but God has allowed people to resist God's plans to save them (Matthew 23:37, Jeremiah 18). All the glory is given to God for every grace and every good, and all the blame is laid at the fallen free will of man (which is, ultimately, not the case in omnicausative Calvinist paradigms like, for instance, RC Sproul's, where God is the ultimate scriptwriter). Reformation Arminians credit God for their salvation. The previous comment was "Perhaps you can explain why...". and frankly, only God knows why. But the converse question must be answered by Calvinists, which is why God sends some people to Help and not others. The answer cannot simply be left at "because God left them in their sins," IF one says that God had scripted them to be in sin. And if rebellion against God CAN be freely chosen, one is already on the path to resistable grace. My point is not to argue against Calvinism here (that would be unhelpful) but just to point out that the song above can't properly be called "Arminian" and should be recognized as specifically semi-Pelagian. There's a big difference between the two. : )

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