From the Banal to the Blasphemous
Don't Make the Same Mistake Others Have Made!
"Songs of Faith and Praise" can be Hazardous to your
What is the purpose of this page?
Are you singing without thinking? Or worse, are you leading singing without thinking about the songs you are choosing? Song leaders, like preachers and teachers, have a tremendous responsibility. Does your song leader take that responsibility seriously? Or does he take it lightly? Without impugning anyone's motives, I hope that at least we can all agree with this starting point: (1) it is better to think about what we are singing than to sing without thinking, (2) if a song is counter to what we find in God's word, then that song should not be sung in our worship service, and (3) poetic license is not a license to proclaim error.
Singing is an important part of our worship service. Although the church properly rejects the use of musical instruments in worship, we often are not as quick to reject songs that are clearly at odds with the word of God. Many of the songs we sing came from the denominational world, so it should not surprise us that some of those songs contain denominational errors. Indeed, some of the newest song books are the worst in this regard because they were deliberately designed to appeal to and be sold to the denominations that surround us. Thus, for those of us who use these new song books, it is very important that we pay particular attention to the songs that we sing so that those denominational errors do not enter into our worship service.
Most of the problem songs on this page are problems because they proclaim doctrines that are opposed to the word of God. Some of the songs are problems for another reason: they are trite, meaningless, and poorly written. God demands our very best, and we fall far short of that standard when we sing "camp songs" during our worship service. There may be a place for such songs, but the worship assembly is not it. Such songs have a tremendous opportunity cost. Each time we sing a song such as "Shine, Jesus, Shine," we have lost the opportunity to sing a song such as "Sweet Hour of Prayer" or "Trust and Obey." Most Christians don't sing more than 10 or so songs a week. Shouldn't we make sure they are good ones?
One particularly striking example of a problem song is the song "We Bow Down," which is Song #577 in the popular song book "Songs of Faith and Praise." According to that song, Jesus is not presently the King of kings and the Lord of lords, but he will be King of kings and Lord of lords someday--"King of all kings you will be." (Premillennialists teach the same false doctrine.) Worse yet, the song tells us that we are the ones who crown Jesus and make him king. If we are crowning Jesus king, then doesn't it make you wonder who is bowing down to whom? Doesn't the person who is crowned have to bow down before the one who crowns him? The Bible teaches that Jesus is presently King of kings and Lord of lords (Acts 10:36, Rev. 17:14, Rev. 19:16), and the Bible teaches that it was God (not man) who crowned Jesus King (Heb. 2:5-9). We will receive a crown from Jesus, not the other way around. (1 Pet. 5:4) The only crown that men ever placed on the head of Jesus was a crown of thorns. We obey Jesus because he is already our King, not to make him King! If Jesus is King of kings, then he is our King whether we obey him or not! I, for one, refuse to sing a song that puts me in the place of God crowning Jesus Christ King of kings and Lord of lords! If that picture is not blasphemous, it would be hard to envision one that is. It is very telling that, while I have had many people write me in support of that song, no one has ever even attempted to defend it based on the word of God.
What is the purpose of this web page? One purpose is to provide a list of these problem songs so they can be corrected or not used. Another purpose is to get people to think about what they are singing. The Bible is the inerrant word of God, but our song books are works of man. The first step in improving our worship in song is to start paying attention to the words we are singing! Yet another purpose of this web page is to discourage the use of a particularly problematic song book that is heavily used and promoted by those congregations among us who are well known for taking liberties with the word of God--"Songs of Faith and Praise," edited by Alton H. Howard.
One last point is that this list is not intended to include only "new" songs. Although I think that many of the new songs that we sing are very poorly written, doctrinal errors do not appear in only the poorly written songs. Also, I understand that what I consider to be cacophonous and banal may be beautiful to others, and so I readily admit that there is a subjective component to some of the songs on this list, but I have tried to consider the songs as objectively as possible.
I receive many emails about this portion of the website, and I am always happy to read your comments, whether supportive or not. For those in the latter category, the purpose of this web page is very clearly stated above, and I ask that you please read it carefully before you send me an email.
For more information about music in worship, please click here.
And now for the songs...
We Bow Down by Twila Paris (1984) (#577)
Please read my comments above about this song. This song incorrectly teaches that Jesus is not presently the King of kings and Lord of lords. It also incorrectly teaches that we have crowned Jesus king, making one wonder who is bowing down before whom!
But you must make Jesus Lord of your life, right? Wrong. If Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords, then doesn't that mean he is already Lord of your life? Of course! What we need to do is acknowledge his Lordship and obey his word. Man cannot make Jesus Lord of anything. Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of everything! (Acts 10:36; Rev. 17:14) In Acts 2:37, those who had just heard the very first gospel sermon asked Peter, "What must we do?" Peter did not say, "You must make Jesus the Lord of your life." In fact, that answer would have made absolutely no sense because Peter had just said in Acts 2:36 that "God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified." Jesus was already Lord of their lives! Is that the gospel we are proclaiming when we sing #577, or are we proclaiming another gospel?
This song also provides a sad example of the humanism that infects many of these problem songs. According to this song, Jesus becomes King and Lord only when men obey him; we, rather than God, make him King. In this song, man is the fixed point with Jesus being the one that changes. But what does the Bible say? "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever." (Hebrews 13:8) (Another popular song, #155, even has us placing Jesus in the highest place! Yes, Jesus is in the highest place, but no, we did not place him there.)
Finally, many readers have noted that the much older song "King of my life, I crown thee now" (#332) has a similar problem. I agree. We shouldn't sing that song either. We do not crown Jesus king. Period.
Lamb of God by Twila Paris (1985) (#176)
"Your gift of love they crucified, They laughed and scorned Him as He died, The humble King they named a fraud And sacrificed the Lamb of God." The angry mob did not sacrifice the son of God; they murdered the son of God. (Acts 5:30 "The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree.") Jesus gave Himself as a sacrifice on our behalf. (Hebrews 9:26 "but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.") See also John 10:18; Gal. 1:4; Eph. 5:2; Titus 2:14; and 1 Cor. 5:7. Some would say it seems like such a small point, but do you really think Jesus sees it that way? Please read those verses and think carefully about what they say, and watch this short video:
Shine, Jesus, Shine by G. Kendrick (#290)
This song is part of what I call the "Get Busy, Jesus" medley. In this song we command Jesus to shine, we command the Spirit to blaze, and we command Jesus to send forth his word. Jesus will shine in this world when his church is the light of the world. The Spirit will blaze when the Lord's church proclaims and lives the Spirit-inspired Word of God. Jesus has already sent forth his word, but perhaps his church could follow his great commission and proclaim that word. In short, rather than telling Jesus to get busy, why don't we get busy instead? Hasn't Jesus already done his part? (John 19:30, Romans 10:6-7, Matthew 5:14-16, Phil. 2:15-16)
He Lives by A. H. Ackley (1933) (#346)
"You ask me how I know He lives? He lives within my heart." If anyone ever asks you how you know that Jesus lives, please give them a better answer than that! The evidence for the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ is overwhelming. (See 1 Peter 3:15.)
Follow Me by Ira F. Stamphill (1953) (#395)
"If just a cup of water I place within your hand, then just a cup of water is all that I demand." The author of this song must never have read the parable of the talents! If just a single talent I place within your hand, then just a single talent is all that I demand?
Father (Traditional) (#789)
"Father, show me now that you love me." Show me now that you love me?? Yes, Father, I know that you sent your only begotten son to die on the cross for my sins --- but what have you done for me lately? We should sing and pray instead that we will show God that we love Him. And how do we do that? By our obedience to his word. See John 14:15. "Please show me how you care for me." Hasn't God already done that? Take up and read!
Farther Along by W. B. Stevens (1911) (#753)
"Tempted and tried we're oft made to wonder why it should be thus all the day long, while there are others living about us, never molested tho in the wrong. Farther along we'll know all about it, Farther along we'll understand why." On the one hand, a similar question is asked in Jeremiah 12:1. Yet, on the other hand, I think that we as Christians living this side of the cross have the answer to that question now and don't need to wait until we are farther along to understand why.
Celebrate Jesus by Gary Oliver (1988) (#169)
"Celebrate Jesus, celebrate!" This phrase has become very popular among the denominations. When told the truth regarding baptism, for example, they respond, "Let's just celebrate Jesus. Isn't that all we really need to do?" What does it mean to "celebrate Jesus" anyway? Can we celebrate him without loving him? One would think not. And what does it mean to love Jesus? We show our love for him by obeying his word. (John 14:15) Instead of singing "celebrate Jesus," why don't we sing "obey Jesus"? It is easier to understand and leaves much less room for misunderstanding. Oh, but "celebrate Jesus" gives us a lot more wiggle room, doesn't it!
Heavenly Father, We Appreciate You (Traditional) (#141)
And as a small token of our appreciation, we are going to sing this trite little song. (Please see my comments above regarding opportunity cost.)
Just a Little Talk with Jesus by Cleavant Derricks (1937) (#959)
This song teaches that we are saved by having a talk with Jesus -- that is, by the so-called Sinner's Prayer that is trumpeted by much of the denominational world. What does the Bible say about that? Saul had a little talk with Jesus on the road to Damascus, but he was not saved until a few days later when he was baptized. (Acts 22:16)
Jesus is Coming Soon (1942) (#712)
Jesus is coming soon? "But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father." (Mark 13:32) When these signs comes to pass? "But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh." (Matt. 24:43-44) Need I say more?
Above All Else (1988) by Kirk Dearman (#171)
This song is very typical of a number of the modern, humanistic songs that appear throughout the book "Songs of Faith and Praise." Why is it humanistic? Because in this song it is man, rather than God, who is the fixed point. "We place you at the highest place," the songs states. Really? I agree that God is in the highest place -- but did we place him there? Hardly! That is certainly true of idols, which can be placed here and there at the whim of their creators -- but is that true of God? Of course not. We may recognize that God is in the highest place, but we did not "place" him there. It is interesting to look at the verse cited below the title of this song in "Songs of Faith and Praise." The editors chose Philippians 2:9, which says that God gave Jesus the name above all other names. After singing this song, perhaps we should change that verse to read that we gave Jesus that name! Wouldn't that be consistent with what we are being asked to sing? Or perhaps we should just change the song to fit the Bible instead of changing the Bible to fit the song. Now there's an idea!
God's Plan of Salvation
You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)
You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)
You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)
Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!
Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)