Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Russell Moore on misguided Christian outrage

"For everything, there is a season," says the wise preacher, "and a time for every purpose under heaven . . . a time to keep silence, and a time to speak" (Ecclesiastes 3.1, 7b). In this day and age of frequent (and often ill-advised) Christian engagement with the culture, one might say, a time to express legitimate outrage, and a time to avoid showing one's ignorance, especially ignorance of of the biblical narrative which ought to frame Christian engagement with the culture. Such ignorance, all too often, is put on display when well-meaning, but ill-informed, Christians express misguided outrage, as Russell D. Moore observes:
I've been asked several times in the last couple of days about whether I'm upset about the new remix of "We Are the World."

The Christians contacting me about this are disturbed by what they see as a startling omission from the '80s-era song in its 21st century update, performed by artists in support of Haiti relief. Willie Nelson's line "As God has shown us by turning stone to bread..." is gone. These Christians are outraged, and they wonder if I am too.

Well, yes, I am outraged. Willie Nelson should have been invited to participate. He's still every bit as talented as he was in 1985, and if Nick Jonas can be invited, then certainly Willie should've been too.

Oh wait.

That's not what these folks are outraged about. They're afraid this is indicative of the secularization of American pop culture, and that there should be a Christian backlash.

But wait, again.

God didn't turn stones into bread. 

It was Satan, not God, who suggested our Lord Jesus turn rocks into bread (Matt. 4:3-4). God sends bread down from heaven (Exod. 16), a Manna he ultimately gives to us in the body of Jesus (Jn. 6), signified in the communion meal (1 Cor. 11).

I have always thought the original version of "We Are the World" was a textbook illustration of biblical illiteracy. Perhaps someone involved in the remake had the good sense to check the lyrics in question against the actual biblical account. As far as I'm concerned, misquoting Scripture is more offensive than not quoting Scripture at all. But, lest we forget, secular artists have, from time to time, put the actual words of Scripture to music with considerable success.