Theology Through Music

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I heard a scary statistic while attending a conference a short while ago, stating that most Christians receive the majority of their knowledge of the faith (doctrine) from song lyrics. When I heard this I was stunned.

This didn’t shock me because it’s an unorthodox practice. Quite contrary. In fact, since the church’s inception, and out of necessity because the majority of Christ followers were too illiterate to read, she has shared the Gospel through art. When we look at some of the oldest churches in the world we see statues of heroic Saints who defended the early writings of the New Testament. We see stained glass windows telling the story of Jesus’ birth, John the Baptist and the Passion, among other things. We see paintings explaining how the early church fathers discerned the fullness of the doctrine of the Trinity (in 325 AD) by the guidance of the Holy Spirit even before they had a Canonized Bible to use as an aid.

After all, how was a commoner able to learn about the good news of their faith, it’s history and it’s roots to trust it’s authenticity? They either relied on those who were literate enough to share it orally, or through art.

In some ways, the methods of delivery haven’t changed that drastically. Today in North America, most are literate enough to read and write. What shocked me is while our Continent is so fortunate, statistically most seem to be content in settling for a knowledge of the faith that meets a Grade 1 literacy.

In my opinion, the lyrical content of most songs found on Contemporary Christian radio are superficial at best. While we are blessed with traditional hymns that boast deep theology, today’s trends in the musical form of worship are shifting away from their use.

As artists, worship leaders and songwriters we have the ability to do something about this crisis of faith. We have the challenge of writing songs that are rich in theology, but still fit a commercial setting (such as radio). We can also choose to utilize songs in congregational worship settings that emphasize a deeper knowledge of theology, rather than staying at the “feel-good, superficial” primary level.

Why settle for the tip of the ice burg, when clearly God desires for us to grow in our knowledge of Him? Our generation deserves better than a mediocre understanding of our Saviour. In fact, He calls us to the fullness of truth:

“But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers” (John 4:23).

Alright songwriters, worship leaders, and artists; let’s go evangelize the world!

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2 responses to “Theology Through Music

  1. I’ve always enjoyed knowing where (or what verses) songwriters get their inspiration from, and it’s especially neat hearing a sermon or reading some passages and recalling a song with those verses tucked inside of them.

    Speaking about artists as well, it would be interesting to see an art show where paintings, sculptures, etc along each wall are inspired by a certain passage or chapter– to see the great variety of art which the Bible can inspire.

    • Yea! And further to that, the oldest hymn we know the authorship of is “Shepherd of Tender Youth” (Clement of Alexandria, circa 200AD). Thats almost 200 years before there even was a Bible! The Church has been passing down this art form as a means of instruction and inspiration since its inception.

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