We've seen some great songs over the years from well known Christian artists who have later changed, fallen into sin, rejected the faith or even been deceptive. Some artists that spring to mind are:

  • Vicky Beeching (now embracing a lesbian lifestyle)
  • Jennifer Knapp (same as above)
  • Ray Boltz (now embracing a homosexual lifestyle)
  • Kevin Prosch (admitted to a string of 'affairs')
  • Michael Guglielmucci (wrote the song 'Healer' while faking cancer)

We all know that the Bible's greatest songwriter, David, was by no means perfect. He was both a murderer and committed adultery yet penned many amazing Psalms.

Some questions that spring to mind:

  • Where should we draw the line when deciding to listen to or use songs to lead worship?
  • Should the history of the songwriter even come into the equation?
  • Or is it all about the lyrics and whether they are biblical?
  • What about if the songwriter is no longer a Christian?
  • Should we only use these songs in private so we don't come across as endorsing the songwriter's behavior?

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Thread resurrection is fascinating. I took a few moments to think about what I think and then checked back to see what I'd written back near the beginning. I was pleased to find that I'm fairly consistent - I still don't think we should get too obsessed about the author of the song and whatever failings they may have had.

If you engage with a song because it gives voice to how you feel drawn to sing to God and you can't see doctrinal failings or anti-biblical in the lyrics, then I think it remains a contender. Do you know for sure that it was written when the author was in a state you'd judge as off the straight and narrow? How much is your judgement clouded by things you are blind to in your own life? Indeed, what do we really know about the context in which timeless Christian classics were penned?

I can think of two things that would cause me to pull back from that approach. Firstly, if the author and song were at the heart of a recently "celebrated" scandal. That would make me cautious about the increased chance of people making the connection and possibly upsetting the 'weaker brother' (in the sense of Paul's advice on meat sacrificed to idols). The other would be if I knew that someone in the congregation had an issue with a particular tune - but that is starting to veer onto a wider discussion.

Wulf

Hi Nathan, Hi everybody,

I can really follow your thoughts.

But I still wonder why we need to lead this discussion about the issues of living persons.

I mean, if I would have to read any public discussion about my own problems with God...(

Or in other words.

Let us stay focused, not to hurt and burden any of these people, as most of us don't know that much about their life and their struggles. Few of those disclosures  are documented in the bible, but we tell it was inspired by holy spirit.

Let our duscussions also be that much inspired. )

I was once on a seminary of Kevin Prosch before all those rumors...

He didn't hide that he was somehow dealing with consumption.

My inspiration is still that the lord can use him ... may be more than before, and I pray that he will never fall again into the hands of men.

Sorry for my non native english. )

Yours Faith ...fullly?

SEpp

Hi Sepp,

I think you raise valid points and wish to thank you for your response.

WTR members, although I think this is a good  topic for discussion, I think that if we continue to discuss (and I hope you will) perhaps we could do it without naming the names of the songwriters.  I have managed to delete names from the discussion title but have not been able to delete the names from the subject matter or any of the comments that are posted.  Perhaps you could advise Nathan if you think this is fitting.

God Bless.  Lorraine

Well, one reason for including some names is so that people can actually go search up some of the songs by these specific songwriters, and decide how we feel about the songs.  I did that and "discovered" VB, who had several songs that are now part of our regular repertoire.  And despite our 9k+ members, we are still a fairly small community here...

And, yeah, like Wulf said, thread resurrection is interesting.  I don't think this is the first time this one has come back, either.  Maybe we need a few more of these "true worshiper" threads to stir up some more activity...

Charles, I agree we do need more threads like this and resurrecting old ones makes for good reading.  Not so much on this one, but I often find that I contradict myself and when I mentioned this on another thread, Greg Moore, in his wisdom, said this was' growth', so that's my excuse.

 

Thanks for that Lorraine! Apparently, the title is all we can edit on existing threads. Sigh... another vote for moving this to a different system. :)

Agreed though... no need to drag names through the mud... as there's already plenty of that. We can discuss the issue / topic without the names.

This side-discussion about names piques my interest.

I think this certainly isn't a forum to being making ungrounded allegations or even well-founded ones. If I knew that a famous worship song writer was living a lie, this wouldn't be the place to reveal that to the world. Not, I hasten to add, that I've got anyone in mind - I'd have to know a famous worship song writer first!

However, names are part of history and what engages us with the fact that we are talking about real people and not just theoretical positions. In my recent post, I note that I didn't mention any names apart from P, who was writing to that wild ferment of a church at C. I don't think we've trod anywhere that the artists in question haven't made public. Doing a quick check on VB, the first on the list, she still appears to be positive about the choice she has made; I expect there will be some people who have actively started making more use of her songs as a consequence even if she is boycotted in other places.

Therefore, I'd make a plea that we don't eschew all use of names. We shouldn't go beyond public facts or revel in what the consensus regards as failings but I think names ground the conversation in reality. I'm also rather glad that deep editing of the discussion isn't easily possible. I bet it can be done if you can get down to the database but I'd rather stand by what I've written than by what someone else has tidied up for me.

Wulf

Wulf, I fully agree with what you are saying about 'deep editing' but just to set the record straight, as a moderator, even if it were possible to edit, my intention was to take out the names only as it seemed the right thing to do and not for one minute would I ever interfere with what someone else has written.  Even then, with the best of intentions, I may not always get it right, and rely on Nathan to keep me in check if this should be the case. 

I dunno, I think that a fundamental part of this discussion (for me) was that there were some specific names so that we could go and listen to some of the songs that those people had written, and make that part of the discussion.

I'm not sure whether this related thought is too controversial.....

I'll start with an uncontroversial statement: I think I'm most interested in the theology of a song's lyrics, and of the theological stance of a songwriter.  Hopefully that makes sense....

But, a particular application of this came up recently.... not too long ago, Bill Johnson posted a justification on facebook as to why he had voted for the (now current) US president, and in particular he sought to justify that stance from the Bible.  Now, I stress, this is personal opinion: but I felt his theological standpoint and his manner of reading the Bible, as revealed in his facebook post, was sufficiently poor that it gave me quite strong misgivings.  As a result I would certainly want to think carefully before accepting other teaching from Bill and the church he leads, and to test the lyrics of their songs before using them.  But, then, I haven't banned their songs either!

Why mention this? I think perhaps it adds an extra dimension to the discussion... what constitutes a "sin"? What constitutes "bad theology"?

I think those are important questions - what is a sin and what is bad theology. Furthermore, how far does that permeate? Three of the five people named in the initial post were picked out for embracing a homosexual lifestyle. However, sexuality is rarely a feature of worship songs. As in the secular arena, there are plenty that talk about love but, if using New Testament Greek, that would be agape rather than eros in most cases.

If someone writes a song that draws deeply on the Bible and resonates with your understanding of God's amazing grace, how much does it really matter if they have chosen a different lifestyle, voted for a different candidate or prefer a different toothpaste?

While I think I fall fairly squarely into the patch defined as evangelicalism, with some conservative and charismatic tendencies, my reading of what God is like from the recorded stories about Jesus (image of the invisible God - Jn 1 / Col 1) is that he reaches out to the unlikely (eg. Zaccheus, Cornelius) but is in conflict with those who are certain they've got the right answers (eg. the Pharisees). Even for the Pharisees (eg. Nicodemus), grace brings transformation.

Therefore, in answer to Lorraine's question, I don't think it makes a difference that one of the names mention is a member of WTR. I'd love to hear their perspective, even if I didn't entirely agree with it, because Christian faith reaches into our existence rather than working on a philosophical level where it doesn't make any difference.

Wulf

A general comment and question......you may or may not be aware but one of the names mentioned in this discussion is actually a member of WTR!  Should this and does this make a difference? 

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