Like most Americans, I shifted into a surreal cloud when the American Idols sang “Shout to the Lord.” Darlene Zschech’s great praise song has captivated the church for the last 8 years. It’s one of my favorites. Margi and I watched and listened in stunned amazement that such a blatantly Christian song would come from the show that gave us Simon Cowell.
It’s funny how the mind plays tricks. Neither of us noticed the word change… the original song begins, “My Jesus, My Savior, Lord there is none like you.” The American Idol version began, “My Shepherd, My Savior…” Honestly, I didn’t catch it; it took some blog reading and YouTube viewing to realize this change. Here’s the video. Focus on the first line:
However, I am not bothered by it… only in the sense that I never expect the world to act like a friend of Jesus. And therefore, it’s a nice surprise when they do.
Still, I was gratified that a popular Christian song could be enjoyed by much of the nation. I’m not waving my giant foam finger of shame at FOX or American Idol. Their whole “Idol Gives Back” program and their emphasis on “inspirational” songs–nicely matched, by the way, by unusual kindness from Simon Cowell–was an excellent example of the best fallen human nature can muster.
A fifth century British monk named Pelagius denied both the doctrine of Original Sin and of salvation by God’s grace. Pelagius taught, in effect, that we are not so fallen that we need salvation, and that what we do need we can contribute by our own efforts. Salvation is a synergy, he maintained, between our effort and God’s. Here are a few other points of Pelagianism:
- That Christ’s death did not atone for sin, but rather stands forever as an example of self-giving love.
- That the moral strength of human will has the capacity to make us virtuous in the eyes of God.
- Mankind is essentially good; we sin only because we mistakenly follow the example of Adam, instead of the example of Christ.
Whatever you might think of Pelagianism as a philosophy, it does not agree with the Bible. Romans 5:12-17 makes it clear that when Adam sinned, we all sinned. Meet Original Sin. 1 Cor 15 makes it clear that Christ died as a substitute for our sins. Meet Vicarious Atonement. Eph 2:1-3 and Romans 3 make it clear that we are morally incapacitated and “children of wrath.” If you don’t agree, your argument is with the Bible, not with me.
Pelagianism has made a comeback. It is the religion of Oprah with a veneer of Christianity. It is the same thing that so many “emerging church” leaders are propogating. It’s good, old-fashioned Pelagianism, and Christians have called it heresy for fifteen centuries.
American Idol sang “Shout to the lord” (small L). I’m told that if you download the iTunes rendition, it keeps in the name “Jesus.” That’s good. But does it matter? Does it matter when American Idol goes straight from “Shout to the lord” to Ben Stiller’s unfunny toilet humor? Or that Ryan Seacrest could raise the hopes of Michael Johns, and then crush him two seconds later. This is the world in which we live. This is the world in which we have to keep faith with God. I’ll take a cultural step in the right direction any day. It’s good for society at large. But it won’t save anybody. All the “giving back” in the world won’t save a soul. Ditto for “inspirational” music or moments or calenders. It won’t save anybody.
That takes the preaching of the Cross. That takes the proclamation of “Christ crucified.” I’m glad whenever Christ is preached. But let’s make sure we’re preaching the right Christ… the one who died as a substitute for our sins, rose again, and offers life to all who receive him.
“But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” Ga 6:14.
“but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness,” 1Co 1:23.
“For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” 1Co 2:2
It was pointed out to me (and I confirmed online) that the Idols sang the song TWICE, and the second time (the one I watched) kept the name “Jesus” which is very cool. Not only because Jesus was praised, for which I rejoice, but also because it helps me know I’m not going nuts. I was certain I heard, “my Jesus” and then all that I read said no… and, since I watched a recorded version, I didn’t know they sang it twice. So I’m not hearing things. Yet. Not too much, at least.