Get Dr. John Neufeld's broadcasts in your inbox
Receive the daily broadcast in your email every weekday morning
Bad Theology and Worship Music and Michael Gungor
Bad theology and worship music has been debated for many years. What makes a worship song bad? Are we just being lazy by accepting what is presented to us from Christian worship leaders without checking the Biblical truth behind the lyrics?
Worship leader and musical artist, Michael Gungor, recently announced that he can no longer believe in God. Since I hadn’t heard of him, and since I have been a critic of the lyrics of some of the new Christian music, I set out to read Michael Gungor’s lyrics.
I must confess, what I found is what I expected. Gungor’s lyrics are not filled with heresy, but neither are they filled with orthodoxy, either. Indeed, I think it reasonable to say that Gungor’s lyrics don’t have enough content in them to be accused of heresy or orthodoxy. They are “happy thoughts.”
Consider some the words of his song “Brighter Day”:
At the start there was love
And life began in Him
Creation falls, creation gives
The promise of a better day
We are not there yet
Let it come, let it come in
Love is here, love is coming
Heaven is breaking open
Heaven is breaking open
Now, I believe that these words are both nonsensical and have absolutely nothing to do with either the Gospel or the Bible. I don’t think any thinking Christian has even the slightest idea of what Gungor is saying, or that it is even vaguely meaningful. Other songs by Gungor have a more vague Christian sense, but not in any defined way. In his song, “Beautiful Things,” Gungor constantly repeats that “You make beautiful things out of us.” Which beautiful things? Is it that we were created in His image, and that the image has been bent and twisted by the fall? Is it that our redemption gave us regeneration? Is it that we have hope in a new creation? Gungor doesn’t say, only that God makes beautiful things. Clearly, one doesn’t have to be a Christian to say that. There is no Gospel or Bible there.
Gungor’s music reflects a kind of Christianity that is devoid of key aspects of a robust Christian faith
My reading of Gungor’s “de-conversion”, therefore, is not surprising. Indeed, I think that Gungor’s music reflects a kind of Christianity that is devoid of key aspects of a robust Christian faith. First, it is not a faith that is thoroughly grounded in Scripture. That is to say, it does not express itself in Biblicism that is apparent. Second, it is not a faith that understands both the image of God and the desperate effects of sin. Third, it does not express the centrality of Christ’s cross as the only means of reconciliation with the Father. And finally, it does not understand that we are not there yet. That is to say, it does not understand that we are pilgrims in a barren land, but the land to come is the object of our journey. Instead, Gungor’s music seems to state, what I would call, “incomprehensible spiritualized statements.”
But of course, Gungor is not alone in writing this kind of music. I was recently in church, and we were singing, “Great Are You, Lord.” The first line says,
You give life, You are love
You bring light to the darkness
You give hope, You restore
Every heart that is broken
Great are You, Lord
And as everyone sang, I refused. I know that God doesn’t heal every heart that is broken, and neither has He promised to do that. The Gospel is different than what is described in that song. I also know that the greater part of humanity will go to their deaths with broken hearts and painful cries. That’s the real world. And the reason the real world is like that is that it has been cursed by God because of our sin. I couldn’t help but wonder how people can sing that, and then go out and face the real world, knowing it is not like what they sang in church.
Quite frankly, I am astonished there are not more “de-conversions.”