There is no accounting for some people’s tastes. When I was a kid, a very popular rock song was “Spirit in the Sky” (YouTube link). The guy who wrote it was mocking the gospel message. However, the fellow who programmed the distortion filters for the electric guitar was a musical genius. To this day, when I hear the song I am torn between the beautiful playing and the disgusting lyrics.
Artistry is one thing. Praise talent as talent, a gift from God. At the same time, never forget the necessity of calling moral wretchedness what it is: sin. Don’t confuse your testimony. Especially if the artist in question claims to be a Christian should you be careful; all the more so when they claim to lead in matters of Christian morality. Talent and moral purity are different categories.
See Galatians 5:13-25, particularly Fruits of the Spirit.
We could probably debate the meanings of the words in Greek and perhaps what they look like applied to human behavior. However, the whole cast of things is this business of sacrificial love. We could even argue what that means in terms of ANE versus Western assumptions, but most of us recognize that even “tough love” is still a form of sacrifice that makes firm demands on the recipient. Jesus cracked a whip only because the just demands of His Father’s Laws are the lowest point at which grace touches the earth. It was redemptive, not punitive; it pointed men back to God.
At the foot of the Cross, divine favor doesn’t leave you standing proud. Various forms of human talent and personality traits have no effect on the end product of humility before the Lord.
Beautiful expressions of faith don’t necessarily mean someone is fully committed to following Christ. We have an awful lot of people whose whole religion is a mere human choice expressed through mere human capabilities, but the soul has never been nailed up there next to the bloodstains left by Jesus.
I am both amazed and deeply disappointed at the number of those who claim to be fellow believers, who then turn and idolize people who exhibit no fruit of the Spirit. Talent aplenty, and perhaps the chutzpah to carry it off with skill and relish, but we don’t see enough of people who confess their unworthiness as the Holy Spirit demands.
Far be it from me to name names, as if it were my place to paint black marks on the folks we should not admire. I’m not keeping a list, but if you excuse sin because you find it so entertaining, and so very effective in human terms, then I have cause to question your commitment.
It’s easy to argue the logical conclusions of systematic theology because one man’s reasoning is as good as the next. The spikes that hold our sin nature on the Cross are the pointed demands of biblical theology, which everyone agrees is another thing entirely from systematic theology. Theology in the Bible hardly makes sense because it is not logically coherent to Western minds, at least not without placing it all in a rational framework. Sure, most theologians seem to have some measure of deductive logic in trying to account for clear biblical demands in Scripture, but the entire business of inductive and deductive is not the spiritual standard. “Spiritual” does not mean a better grade of reason, but a commitment that defies reason.
But I’ve hammered enough on ancient Hebrew epistemology. Look up all the stuff I’ve written in the past, or the “Philosophy” tab at the top of this blog.
Granted, when we can persuade men by their own power to at least embrace the Laws of God, we gain so very much in terms of redemption. However, when someone tickles our Western human fancy while rejecting clear moral demands of Scripture, we dare not laud their work without at least offering some caveat at least once in awhile.
Don’t follow someone as your shepherd if they don’t follow God.