Wednesday, April 05, 2006

A Lack of Discernment

After reading the lyrics of the songs on Derek Webb’s new album, Mockingbird I am nothing short of frustrated. Perhaps this is what he wanted from being so "honest." (This idea that “honesty” in songwriting covers a multitude of sins is foolish…as if the opposite is always to “lie” through your teeth.) So he may be very happy with such an outcome but I am less enthusiastic.

The first two albums were great. Really, I love them. They are poetic and prophetic. They resist cliché argumentation and push people further than bumper sticker and sound-byte parting shots. However, after reading through the lyrics of the new album I am just, well, frustrated. The album sounds like a collection of protest songs. And I was not helped at all in reading the interview about the new album on his website.

"peace by way of war is like purity by way of fornication"

The above lyric is from the new album. This is what I mean by bumper sticker parting shots and sound-byte arguments. However, this is of course no real argument. It is simply a “gotcha” moment. And it is devoid of logic and truth, especially biblical truth. This argument assumes there is moral equivalency between war and fornication. They are both morally wrong or the statement is meaningless. So the underlying argument is that you cannot achieve peace through violence. Which is true on one level but patently false on another level.

On one level it is true that if one country fights an enemy so that the enemy will stop its aggression then it is not being peaceful in its effort for peace. But this is only a gotcha moment if peace is the end-all-be-all in conflict. If peace is to be had at all costs then of course pacifism might be a "consistent" position. And if you think war and violence are always wrong at all times in all circumstances then this statement might be logically defended.

However, if you are a believer then you must concede that peace is not the chief end of man. The chief end of man is to glorify God. Peace may in fact be a way of achieving this but you would be wading into theologically liberal waters to condemn all violence and war and say that violence and war cannot glorify God. The whole of the OT must be rejected. And Paul’s defense of a thoroughly pagan State and it’s wielding of the sword in carrying “out God’s wrath” must be duly explained away (Romans 13:1-5).

Throughout the OT, God commanded war and used war for his glory. This cannot just be written off. God used, commanded and commended the violence of men and women against those who rebelled against him. Now someone might argue that God does not sanction violence anymore. The argument might be that he at one time used war but now we have the Prince of Peace as our Lord and Savior.

Well, I disagree for at least two reasons.

1. Romans 13:1-5: Paul here calls for believers to be subject to the governing authorities. Who are these governing authorities? For the Roman believers it was well, Rome. Rome was thoroughly pagan and very harsh in its treatment of Christians and Jews and slaves. And yet they, the believers are called to be subject to them. Hmmm. Paul then goes on to argue that Rome (and our authorities) do not bear the sword (gun) in vain. In otherwords Paul calls the Roman Christians to fear the sword of the authority put there by God. In otherwords "be peaceful and do not cause trouble because if you do, violence will be upon you by the ones that God has put there for that very purpose." Now someon might argue that this would translate to believers respecting the Police of our day. True. But my question would be, "why would that exclude the use of violence to insure peace in the form of war?"

2. Revelation: throughout Revelation we have pictures of God doing great viloence to his adversaries. Just a cursory read of the book of Revelation is filled with blood and gore and violence. Not to mention images of warfare. And no matter how figurative they are they used as images of what God would do. I cannot imagine God using images of fornication to communicate the images of his righteous acts. To compare war and fornication is to confuse two wildly different categories.

This cliche and Webb's use of it shows a stunning lack of discernment. It is devoid of logic Biblical and otherwise. Besides it is just too easy to write this kind of lyric, borrowed as it is. Where are the songs protesting the death of untold millions of unborn children? Where are the songs decrying the exorbitant tax rates and complicated tax laws in this country? Where are the songs portesting wealthy celebrities who shmooze with communist dictators? Where are the protest songs about public school education that indoctrinates young children into thinking God has nothing to do with reality as the textbooks see it?

I wil tell you. They will only be written when singers start not caring whether they get good press and the masses think they are cool. Only when intellectual elitism and the love of applause from socially liberal critics are no longer goals for singers and songwriters will such songs be written.

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