Bad theology in the hymnal

Discussion in '2000-02 Archive' started by Siegfried, May 21, 2002.

  1. Siegfried

    Siegfried
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    I want to make a list of hymns that have really bad theology. Do any of you have any personal favorites?

    "The Savior Is Waiting" is my personal #1. I just can't stomach the idea of a Christ who is wringing his hands wondering who will be saved.

    "The Old Rugged Cross" approaches "cross-olatry," IMHO, but maybe I'm being nit-picky.

    What others am I missing?
     
  2. Son of Consolation

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    "There Is a Fountain" maybe one of them. The reference to the blood of Jesus atoning the sins of the believer is accurate, but the way the Hymn is going about describing this is assuming a lot of poetic freedom.

    The other one is "We're Marching to Zion." The end of the 3rd stanza says, "Before we reach the heav'nly fields, Or walk the golden streets, Or walk the golden streets." According to Revelations 21:21 there is only "one street" in there.

    I am sure there are more, much more, where the writer of the Hymns had the most noblest intention but the poem may not been checked by theologians. However, may I say to the defense of those old Hymn writers, that their compositions spoke to the hearts of folks over the centuries and they have stood the time of test - unlike some CCM, which reminds me of "indigestion!" :D

    [ May 21, 2002, 05:28 PM: Message edited by: Barnabas ]
     
  3. pinoybaptist

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    How about :
    "Jesus, Jesus, do you know Him today, please don't turn Him away, oh, Jesus, my Jesus, Without Him, how lost I would be" (Without Him)...can any
    sinner really turn Jesus away ? the second line kinda mixes truth with the fable of the first line;
     
  4. TomVols

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    Sieg,
    I've heard Spurgeon use some of the sentences you'd find in "The Savior is waiting"

    Barnabas,
    "There is a Fountain.." was Spurgeon's favorite hymns and is one of mine. Granted, it does take some poetic licenses, but nothing I think would be unScriptural.

    Pinoy accurately mentions the Gaither hymn. That music is filled with junk. "Jesus Loves Me" has a terrible line in the third stanza saying "If I Love Him when I die, then he'll take me home on high." That's works salvation to me. "Because He Lives" on the last stanza says that "I'll see the lights of glory then I know he lives." Wrong. The Bible declares He lives, therefore I know NOW. "He Lives" tells us that "You ask me how I know He lives? He lives within my heart." This subjective, experiential religion is not Biblical. See above.
     
  5. Circuitrider

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    How about "Faith of our Fathers" written by a Catholic promoting the doctrines and positions of the Roman Catholic Church. :eek:

    Another is "We've a Story to Tell to the Nations." It is a clear statement of the unscriptural view of post millennialism. It says, "The darkness shall turn to the dawning, and the dawning to noon day bright, and Christ's great kingdom shall come to earth, a kingdom of love and light." :rolleyes:

    In our church we used a single master hymnal to pick out songs so that we could keep track of when they were used. :cool: Unscriptural songs such as those mentioned above were crossed out so they would not be used. Of course when you have favorites, sometimes these songs get picked. :( Therefore, I always made a point to identify the unscriptural verses and themes of hymns that were doctrinally wrong and explain to my people the wrong messages. After all, hymns were written primarily to teach doctrine and so we should only sing songs that are true to the word of God. ;)

    "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord." That says it all!! ;)
     
  6. Siegfried

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    Interesting story about "F.O.O.F.," Circuitrider. I had never heard that one. Good call on "We've a Story . . ." That reminds me of the missionary song that makes it sounds like the mission field is the lake of fire on earth. Can't remember the name, though.

    I like the system at your church, Circuitrider. Better to be honest about the weaknesses in the old hymns than to let people mindlessly sing falsehood.

    Tom, not knowing exactly what Spurgeon quotes you're talking about, it's hard to respond directly. I just don't think Spurgeon would have said "The Savior is waiting . . . to see if you're willing." He already knows, and in fact, will enable you to be willing. If Spurgeon did say that, then I think he's wrong, too. :D Not trying to start a Calvinism debate. Just my opinion.
     
  7. tyndale1946

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    Didn't Gods people at one time use the scriptures for a hymnal? We ought to get Brother Robert in here he's the authority on this. If your hymnal relects your doctrine you should be able to preach from the hymnal! The songs you feel are of sound doctrine!... Just a thought... Brother Glen [​IMG]

    [ May 21, 2002, 04:50 PM: Message edited by: tyndale1946 ]
     
  8. LadyEagle

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    I thought it was "see the lights of glory then I'll know He reigns." But maybe I'm wrong.

    Actually, you could probably toss out some Christmas songs, too. And patriotic songs aren't scriptural, either. :eek:
     
  9. FundamentalDan

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    I cannot remember all of them, but a while back I went through the hymnbook and found all of the hymns that contain post-millenial doctrine. You would be amazed how many there are. If I remember correctly, there were somewhere between forty to fifty in the Great Hymns of the Faith hymnbook that I used. The one that caused me to start the search was "We've a Story To Tell to the Nations." I pointed that one out to our song leader several years ago, and he has not sung it since then.
     
  10. swaimj

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    Another song with a post-mil phrases is "Beneath The Banner Of The Cross." It claims that "the cross shall sway the world" in the last verse and concludes "And to crown Him King we'll toil and sing beneath the banner of the cross."

    And how about that song of yankee conquest "Glory, Glory, Hallalujah." GRRRRR :mad:
     
  11. Kiffin

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    One of the reasons that Post Mill theology can be seen in so many older hymns is because it was probably the most prominent Eschatology among Christians from 1600-1800's.

    I agree Battle Hymn of The Republic which has a great influence from Unitarian inner light theology as well as a song that trashes the south.

    Throw Out the Lifeline which has a poor understanding of human depravity and The Old Rugged Cross is a song about the Wooden Cross when the term Cross in the New Testament when used as a theological term is referring to Christ perfect sacrifice and not the wood.

    [ May 21, 2002, 08:16 PM: Message edited by: Chris Temple ]
     
  12. Gina B

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    Someone please give more information on The Battle Hymn of the Republic. I've always refused to sing in church (which causes me to get "the look" from certain people) because something about it just really bothers me, and the only thing I can really pick out as a reason is the seeming (false) prophetic view it applies.
    While you're at it, what's up with "We've a Story to Tell?" I don't get how it's doing or saying anything anti-biblical.
    Gina
     
  13. Caretaker

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    BATTLE HYMN OF THE REPUBLIC
    Julia Ward Howe, 1861 (Sung to the tune of John Brown’s Body)

    Words: Julia Ward Howe, 1861, alt. This hymn was born dur­ing the Amer­i­can ci­vil war, when Howe vis­it­ed a Un­ion Ar­my camp on the Po­to­mac Riv­er near Wash­ing­ton, D. C. She heard the sol­diers sing­ing the song “John Brown’s Body,” and was tak­en with the strong march­ing beat. She wrote the words the next day:

    "I awoke in the grey of the morn­ing, and as I lay wait­ing for dawn, the long lines of the de­sired po­em be­gan to en­twine them­selves in my mind, and I said to my­self, “I must get up and write these vers­es, lest I fall asleep and for­get them!” So I sprang out of bed and in the dim­ness found an old stump of a pen, which I re­mem­bered us­ing the day be­fore. I scrawled the vers­es al­most with­out look­ing at the p­aper."

    The hymn ap­peared in the At­lant­ic Month­ly in 1862. It was sung at the fun­er­als of Brit­ish states­man Win­ston Church­ill, and Amer­i­can sen­a­tor Rob­ert Ken­ne­dy.

    Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;
    He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
    He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword;
    His truth is marching on.
    Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
    Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! His truth is marching on.

    I have seen Him in the watch fires of a hundred circling camps
    They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps;
    I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps;
    His day is marching on.
    Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
    Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! His day is marching on.

    I have read a fiery Gospel writ in burnished rows of steel;
    “As ye deal with My contemners, so with you My grace shall deal”;
    Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with His heel,
    Since God is marching on.
    Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
    Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Since God is marching on.

    He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
    He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment seat;
    Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! be jubilant, my feet;
    Our God is marching on.
    Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
    Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Our God is marching on.

    In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
    With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me:
    As He died to make men holy, let us live to make men free;
    [originally As he died to make men holy, let us die to make men free]
    While God is marching on.
    Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
    Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! While God is marching on.

    He is coming like the glory of the morning on the wave,
    He is wisdom to the mighty, He is honor to the brave;
    So the world shall be His footstool, and the soul of wrong His slave,
    Our God is marching on.
    Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
    Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Our God is marching on.
     
  14. TomVols

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    Not in the hymnals I've seen.

    What about the Hymn "Have a Little Talk With Jesus?" Doesn't the "prayer wheel" concept come from Buddhism?
     
  15. rlvaughn

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    Bro. Glen, I am no authority on this subject, but I have done a little study on the musical controversies among Baptists (singing vs. not singing, hymn books vs. tune books, acappella vs. instruments, etc.), and one of the constroversies was over whether to sing psalms (only) or hymns of human composure. This was a controversy for other denominations as well.
    Barnabas, one of the hymns you mention above, "Come we that love the Lord," was, in my opinion, written by a great theologian - Isaac Watts. Of course, that doesn't mean he can't be wrong about the streets.

    I am in agreement that the hymns we sing should be theologically correct, but we also must leave room for a little liberty here. Even in a single congregation, there are minor (sometimes major) theological differences. I also think some preachers hold the hymns to a higher standard of theological correctness than they do their own sermons. Of course, the preacher has the advantage of being present to explain (or excuse) his erroneous statements. :eek:

    Here are a few thoughts I think we should keep in mind; not to excuse incorrect doctrine, but to help clarify the subject and also to exercise liberty toward our brethren who may enjoy a song we may not particularly enjoy. There are numerous types of errors that enter into our hymns.
    1. Doctrinal error - Some songs are in doctrinal error on fundmental doctrines held in common by most orthodox Christians. Others are in doctrinal error on other important, but perhaps not fundamental, doctrines. For example, several postmillennial songs have been mentioned (The Kingdom in Coming is another). While this may be considered a huge error among some dispensational fundamentalist Baptists, it may pass for only a minor discomfort among a lot of Baptists. B. H. Carroll was a postmillennialist, if I remember correctly. We should also keep in mind that a Calvinist will view an Arminian song as unscriptural, while an Arminian will view a Calvinistic song as unscriptural.
    2. Factual errors - For example, while no major fundamental doctrine may hinge on the issue, a number of Christmas songs commit factual errors (based on tradition rather than scripture), such as placing the wise men at the manger rather than at a home as the Bible says.
    3. Interpretational issues - There are other interpretational issues on minor points. For example - We Three Kings of Orient Are. Many object to this song because of what they see as a factual error. It may be, but it is not a plain one as the manger issue above, but rather a difference based on the interpretation of certain Old Testament scriptures/prophecies. The New Testament does not say the wise men were kings (I don't think they were). But some think they were based on how they interpret Psalm 72:10 and some other Old Testament passages. So the problem with We Three Kings is not just a factual error based on following tradition, but a difference of interpretation.
    4. Issues of not interpreting the hymn as meant by the the author - such as placing a wooden literal intepretation of the words that a hymn writer meant figuratively. The Old Rugged Cross is probably one such song, for Bennard clearly calls the cross an "emblem" in the first verse. He probably didn't intend to exalt the literal cross inordinately above Christ Himself. Another song popular around here at cemetary gatherings and the like is Lord, Build Me a Cabin in the Corner of Gloryland. This is not a song for which I have any particular love, but it is one that I think is judged more harshly than it should be. The author probably doesn't have anywhere in mind the Lord actually building him a cabin in the corner of gloryland. It seems more likely he is trying to express figuratively his total unworthiness to receive any mansion the Lord might prepare for him. Along with this topic comes understanding that poets use poetic "license". They are even allowed to structure their sentences in ways that would be grammatically unacceptable in any other format. Another technique is spiritualizing. Watts' used this with extreme skill. In a day when "hymns of human composure" were looked down on (because some people would only sing the Psalms), he took the Old Testament Psalms and reinterpreted them into New Testament language.

    It is my opinion that we should exclude songs that commit obvious doctrinal and factual errors, while exercising love and liberty towards our brethren on songs that are of only "minor discomfort." What kind of problems will we run into if everyone in the congregation (or choir if that's your way) decides they will only sing when they like the song. We may be nitpicking hymns to death at times, with the author having no recourse to explain what he meant. I guarantee that a person who is of a mind to nitpick can listen to a Baptist sermon and make all kinds of complaints. ;) At the same time, if we are singing a song that conveys a mixed message, we are sending a mixed message to the people who are hearing it. So while I may exercise liberty by allowing a brother or sister their interpretation of the meaning of a hymn, I myself should be vigilant not to send out through songs and hymns what I believe to be a false message.
     
  16. swaimj

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    RLVaughan,
    Good post. There is a hymn we sing in our church occasionally entitled "Christ Returneth". I don't agree with every statement in the song, but overall the words challenge us that Christ could come at any time; a concept that is both exciting and challenging. The song communicates the concept in both ways, so I overlook the inaccuracies. Frankly, I can't think of another song in our hymnal which even speaks of the subject. And since I am the song-leader, unless strong objections are raised, we'll keep singing it.

    BTW, I was preaching at a church during my senior year in college. One Sunday a group from out of town who were related to members of the church provided special music. Just before the offering, they sang "Just Give Me A Cabin In The Corner Of Glory In The By And By". After the offering, they sang "I've Got A Mansion Just Over The Hilltop"
     
  17. tyndale1946

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    Amen... Well put Brother Robert... Brother Glen [​IMG]
     
  18. ChristianCynic

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    I think you're being "nit-picky," or else Paul was also into "corssolatry"...
    But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world (Galatians 6:14).

    metonymy-- A figure of speech in which an idea is evoked or named by means of a term designating some assoicated notion (American Heritage Dictionary)
     
  19. ChristianCynic

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    &lt; I agree Battle Hymn of The Republic which has a great influence from Unitarian inner light theology as well as a song that trashes the south. &gt;

    I have wondered for a long time how in the [heck] the U. of Georgia uses that for their fight song. It may be a variation, but the "Glory, glory..." jazz is quite audible when them Dawgs score a touchdown.

    {Let's leave out this vicious and unsubstantiated ad hominems, shall we? - CT}

    [ May 22, 2002, 08:57 AM: Message edited by: Chris Temple ]
     
  20. Bartholomew

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    Hello!

    Hymns... Well, unfortunately for me, I was never brought up in churches that sang many real hymns - so I don't know so many of them (although, ironically, the ones I do know I mostly learnt from singing in an Anglican choir at my Anglican school, where hardly anyone actually believed what they were singing!) However, here are a few thoughts of mine:

    1. "God is working his purpose out" - really nice tune, and really musical (especailly the last few bars). However, horribly post-millennial.

    2. "When the roll is called up yonder". Again, good tune. But stupid words. Perhaps we could get into a rapture argument, but "When the trumpet of the lord shall sound, and time shall be no more." WHAT??? There's the tribulation plus 1,000 years to go after the rapture! In fact, if you believe in either pre-millennialsim or pre-tribulationalism I don't think you can sing this song at all - the whole song just contradicts these ideas.

    3. A song that is very popular with our university's Christian Union: "Lord, I lift your name on high." The chorus begins, "You came from heaven to earth to show the way." I'm wondering if the author is a JW or Buddhist or something - Jesus didn't come to SHOW the way; he WAS the way!!!

    4. A song/hymn: "I'm accepted, I'm forgiven". The chorus begins, "There's no guilt or fear/ as I draw near/ the saviour, the creator of the world." Whoever wrote this obviously never read 2 Corinthians 5:10 and 11. They also missed the manifold commandments to fear God.

    5. The hymn: "The day thou gavest". Again, I like the tune, but I can't sing the second verse:
    "We thank thee that thy Church, unsleeping while earth rolls onward into light," Simply put, I don't believe the earth does any "rolling" or moving AT ALL. Indeed, the Bible clearly argues against against it. As for "everyone knows the earth spins on its axis and goes around the sun," this is a lie communicated to those who know little about modern physics. I have several papers by secular scientists proving that if the universe rotated about the earth every day, that would account for EVERYTHING we observe. According to ideas accepted decades ago, it is impossible to tell what is moving and what isn't - it's all a question of "relative motion". Of course, such needn't be the case for Christians, who know someone who knows EXACTLY what's going on - God.

    [ May 22, 2002, 06:04 AM: Message edited by: Bartholomew ]
     

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