Does “Love” Excuse Us from Right Doctrine?- Quick Thoughts on Derek Webb’s Song “What Matters More”

[Warning: for those of you who are offended by swearing, the linked music contains some vulgar language.]

For those of you who think it is not important to keep up with the emergent church movement (ECM) then let this be a warning: this is what’s going on in the broader world of American Christianity while we sit and fight stupid denominational battles about things like if we can accept Calvinists or not.

I hate this.

If you think that we have a problem with people moving towards the doctrines of grace . . . OPEN YOUR EYES!  We have a problem with the church moving away from the Bible.

Brian McLaren calls this song “important and courageous.”  He compares it with a post where he said that “many if not most Christians in the US remain focused on the ‘religious arguments’ list [versus a list of global crises]” (read more here).  And you know what?  He’s right.  Many if not most of us are so focused on our ridiculous arguments against Calvinists ruining families or trying to get Mark Driscoll banned from LifeWay bookstores or keeping Southern Baptists from working in places that sell booze that we totally neglect the whole world in need of a God who is mighty to save.

However, just because we are neglecting this does not mean that everyone is.  No.  In fact, there are plenty of “Christians” like McLaren who are very focused upon these problems.  And guess what?  They don’t care at all about theology.  I don’t mean they don’t care about if you are Calvinist/non-Calvinist/Arminian or Abstentionist/Moderationist, I mean they don’t care if you believe in hell or justification by faith or that Jesus was fully God and fully man.  They don’t care if God exists as three persons in one or if the Bible is truly God’s infallible, inerrant revealed word for us today.  They don’t care one bit.  All they care about is “love.”  And because of this, they are getting an audience with the world.  Never mind if it is grace without truth since there is no one there to bring grace AND truth at the same time anyways.

Is there a need for a Great Commission Resurgence?  I believe there is.  And for those of you who say, “Well golly gee, our church is already focused on the Great Commission,” I present this song, and the rising popularity of man-centered, antinomian, pelagian Emergent “Christianity” as Exhibit A in my defense.

10 Responses to “Does “Love” Excuse Us from Right Doctrine?- Quick Thoughts on Derek Webb’s Song “What Matters More””

  1. chuckiej Says:

    Todd. Man. Um. I don’t think you’ve read the lyrics. Its about “gay bashing” not about Calvinists. You are bringing it in but its a red herring.

    He’s saying we care more about the culture wars than we do about the people in poverty and dying around the world. I’d like to think that’s not the case but America is in a big downward spiral so the question is more like is the culture war worth it? Perhaps we should put all of our evangelistic, aid, and media resources in other countries that are going to be the leaders in the 21st century? (like China)

    I’m not quite willing to give up though and if I end up sending my future children to a U.S. public school I don’t want them to be taught that homosexuality is OK. That’s where our school curriculums are headed. So sorry Mr. Webb, your new electronica beats will not convince me. I will help poverty stricken people as much as possible but if America goes the way of the Roman Empire, then none of us will have *any* resources to help with.

    • Todd Burus Says:

      Chuck,
      In his interview he says that the song comes out of the fact that he sees the American church being more interested with infighting over doctrinal matters than they are with issues of global hunger or war. My point is, Webb and his emergent followers are wanting to throw away all theology because they find it hinders helping others, whereas it is my belief (and I imagine the belief of most Southern Baptists) that we need both a heart for mercy and justice married with good doctrine. However, because we get so caught up in fighting senseless battles against Calvinism or pastors who say “dirty words” we lose any ability to speak into these other more important areas and allow guys who are bringing a message that barely if at all qualifies as Christian to be the ones who are leading the pack.

  2. Keith Walters Says:

    “‘Cause we can talk and debate until we’re blue in the face
    About the language and tradition that he’s comin’ to save
    Meanwhile we sit just like we don’t give a shit
    About 50,000 people who are dyin’ today”

    That is powerful and a much needed rebuke. There are definitely things in the song that I disagree with but that verse is fantastic.

    If you want my honest opinion of the SBC I think that the verse I quoted above culd characterize a lot of SBC churches. Because I think a lot of our churches care more about their traditions than they do about theology and mission. I described those churches in this post http://keithwalters.org/2008/12/23/dead-orthodoxy-%e2%80%94-dead-orthopraxy/

    We need a Great Commission Resurgence but even more so I think we need a gospel resurgence. I think we have drifted from the gospel, and subsequently mission, and drifted towards cultural fundamentalism.

    • Todd Burus Says:

      Keith,
      I agree with a lot of the spirit of what he’s saying as well. The problem is that he is jumping on the bandwagon with so much more than just a critique of the wrongs in evangelicalism. He is heading hard down the path of the Emergent social gospel Pelagianism that is running rampant throughout much of popular American “Christianity” these days. What is needed is a group who can say, “Here are the problems,” without losing their freakin’ minds about the rest of the Bible in the process. That is my hope for the GCR task force.

      • Keith Walters Says:

        I agree. Good thoughts.

        I will probably post on this, the song a little but mainly this post by MacLaren. I recently posted on the same passage and want to look at his argument and those like it in more detail.

  3. chuckiej Says:

    Perhaps this is silly hopefulness but shouldn’t “Love Loud”, the theme of the conference, be about these type of discussions? I agree with your comment except for “we lose any ability”. I think its possible to have doctrinal battles without jeapordizing all of our evangelistic and loving ability. also, categorizing these battles as senseless could be pretty insulting to someone who cares about them. Seems to me that after 2000 years we should have worked this stuff out though.

    • Todd Burus Says:

      Chuck,
      I’ll tell the truth. I care about the Calvinism debate and the Alcohol debate and many other religious debates we are having within the convention. However, we need to know what our goal is, and for the SBC the goal is fulfilling the Great Commission through a strong local church and well-funded missions. If that is the case then yes, many of the debates we are having are senseless. Not senseless in the sense that we shouldn’t be utterly concerned with the right division of God’s Word, but senseless in the sense that we don’t need to have all of these tertiary issues perfectly in line across the board before putting the focus on the outside world.

  4. Todd Twist Says:

    Micah 6:8 tells us to 1)do justice, 2)to love kindness, & 3) walk humbly. So how can we really love if we don’t love through the truth and righteousness of God trough his Son? If we “love” without a foundation of His truths and righteousness then God is not in it and God is our source of real love. God is Love itself. So, the arugment posed by this song is silly. We can only give the grace and love that we’ve been given as shown by our desire to live life measured up to God’s law. Sorry if this a bit off the main discussion but I wanted to throw that verse in there for your thoughts and comments.

  5. Anonymous Says:

    Why can there not be both. The church c
    Is the reason people like me will die alone.
    The church has condemned me and there is no
    Ho
    Pe there.

    • Todd Burus Says:

      Thank you for your comment. In reply, I do believe there can be both. I think the problem is when we have only one or the other. The experience you share is when there is only truth (or mistruth as sometimes the case may be). The sentiment Webb conveys is when there is only grace. The balance must be grace and truth. What I desire is for people to seek the middle ground which God desires for us instead of running to one extreme or the other, either out of fear or out of pain.

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