Theme: Crybaby / A Rantgent

There's a theme developing here: I am more sentimental than I would care to admit. Or, as I like to phrase it to make myself sound better, "tender-hearted." Anyway, semantics aside, I was flipping through the Baptist Hymnal. Wait.

Tangent/rant: who put that puppy together? There are some flat-out theologically bankrupt songs in the Baptist Hymnal. "Let Jesus Come Into Your Heart"? If there's a tempest your voice cannot still... Yeah, because salvation's really mostly about taking care of the issues you can't handle on your own. And that's not the only stinker, even in that section. God bless Ralph Carmichael, but "The Savior is Waiting"? Receive him, and all of your darkness shall end... blech. I want to know when this fixation on "receiving Jesus" and "asking Jesus into your heart" started. Mom or dad, any ideas why folks started using that particular phrasing and it stuck? And you know how people criticize "modern" worship music as being too me-focused? Or trite? How about "Here am I" or "I want to be a Christian" or "I want Jesus to Walk With Me" or, get this, a hymn called "Thanks-living"?

Anyway, rant/tangent (rantgent?) over. I was flipping through the Hymnal and plunking around on my keyboard when I came across these lyrics which brought tears to my eyes (the songs can't be all bad, statistically):

Unless Your grace had called me
And taught my opening mind,
The world would have enthralled me,
To heavenly glories blind.
My heart knows none above You;
For Your rich grace I thirst!
I know that, if I love You,
You must have loved me first.


Laura's Dad said...

Laura asked, "Mom or dad, any ideas why folks started using that particular phrasing and it stuck?"

There IS biblical warrant for the concept of receiving Jesus, and the neglect of it is one of the few notable failings of Reformed theology. John 1:12 says, "As many as RECEIVED Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God . . . " That phrase is itself in a crucial text about the purpose of the Father's sending the Son into the world, so the fact that the concept of receiving Christ would grow from the text seems appropriate. Add that verse to those that speak of Jesus living in us, and our being the temple of the Holy Spirit, and it's easy to see how that concept developed. Granted, Finney's "anxious bench" (and the horrifying theology behind it) probably had as much influence on some of these kinds of hymns as did Scripture, but the notion of receiving Christ per se is certainly not unbiblical.

Laura said...

Really the one I have an issue with is "asking Jesus into your heart" -- I get the idea of the Spirit of God living in us, Jesus living with us, etc., but I find many, many references to our position in Christ and no mention of "asking Jesus to live in your heart."

kschaub said...

Laura, found your blog via team Pyro comment threads . . .

Since you impressed me there, I followed the link here. Too many good hymns have been taken out of the Baptist hymnal, especially in the 90s edition.

Adding more John Newton would help.

Alex & Laura Beth said...

Like my mom has always said, "Bad hymns will always be bad, and good hymns will always be good." This is her way of saying you can't trust everything in the Baptist hymnal.