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Monthly Archives: December 2013

Joyful Monday: God With Us

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son,
and they shall call His name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). — Matthew 1:23

 
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Posted by on December 23, 2013 in Video

 

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Dr. StrangePunk: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bad Religion Christmas CD

Dr. StrangePunk: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bad Religion Christmas CD

***Warning: Discernment Required Ahead***

For all you aging hipsters out there who are weary of drowning your holiday cheer in Sufjan Stevens and Brighteyes Christmas music… an energetic alternative has emerged from an unlikely source. That’s right… Bad Religion has released a Christmas CD. Gasp!

* * * * *

Here is the track listing:

  1. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
  2. O Come All Ye Faithful
  3. O Come, O Come Emmanuel
  4. White Christmas
  5. Little Drummer Boy
  6. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
  7. What Child Is This?
  8. Angels We Have Heard On High
  9. American Jesus (Andy Wallace Mix)

Shocking? Yes. Let’s start with the obvious. Bad Religion has been an outspokenly anti-Christian band since 1979. For as long as I can remember, their logo has looked like this:

Glance at that track listing again. Why would this band choose these Christmas songs? All but two (White Christmas and American Jesus) are hymnal Christmas classics. This CD contains no snowmen, silver bells, hot cocoa, or Santa Claus. But it is replete with lyrics like…

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, and free thine own from Satan’s tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save and give them victory o’er the grave
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

And…

Nails, spear shall pierce Him through,
The cross be borne for me, for you.
Hail, hail the Word made flesh,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

The songs on this CD do not merely mention baby Jesus as a nativity centerpiece. These are Christocentric, Gospel-saturated Christmas songs! And Bad Religion remains true to the message without changing a word. So what gives? Either these guys have grown weary of suppressing the truth of God written on their hearts (Romans 1:18-20), or they believe the funniest way to offend Christians this year is to release a seasonal worship album with their name on it.

Interestingly enough, they recently shared a third reason for choosing these songs during an 8 minute interview on NPR. The audio and transcript can be found here. At one point, the interviewer observes:

And these are not secular songs, we should point out though. You could’ve done, you know, “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.” These are religious Christmas hymns.

To which, guitarist and songwriter Brett Gurewitz, responded:

I would disagree. I think that all of these songs are secular. Even though they have their roots in the pulpit or in the church setting, virtually everyone who celebrates Christmas has heard these songs. And so, it’s not Bad Religion that has made them ironic. It’s kind of a secular society that’s made Christmas ironic.

That sounds brilliant! My knee-jerk reaction to such an articulate paradigm shift is one of silent consideration. Does Brett Religion have a point? Are songs like “Angels We Have Heard On High” no longer powerful declarations of Christ’s deity because everyone has heard them? Has the fallen world’s popularization of what they lack in understanding truly made Christmas ironic? Let’s think about that for a moment.

Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away” (Matthew 24:35; Mark 13:31; Luke 21:33). In other words, He authorized the eternal nature of His divine truth… not us. Gospel truth is tempered and timeless. It will be just as true two thousand years from now, as it was two thousand years ago… regardless of what we think about it. Words that convey His truth will always pack a wallop as the Holy Spirit uses them to soften or harden the hearts of those who hear them. God’s Word will never return to Him empty, but will always accomplish whatever He intends for it to do (Isaiah 55:11).

The guys in Bad Religion are lying to themselves if they truly believe the divine message is lost in these songs. Words matter. In fact, they matter more than the band’s intention behind singing them. Laughing at truth does not make it false. I agree with Brett that there is irony to be found here. It is truly ironic that God’s transforming truth of the Gospel would be proclaimed through such an unlikely source to one of the world’s most outspokenly rebellious people groups. Ironic and awesome. Many hearts will be hardened by this unintentional proclamation of Gospel truth. Let’s pray that a few are softened as well.


For the few of you out there who love Jesus, nineties style punk, and Christmas music… the million dollar question is this: should I purchase this record? Honestly, I can’t tell you what to do. However, I will strongly urge you to obey the Holy Spirit’s leading with regards to your own conscience.

The content is solid, but the delivery is certainly not for everyone. Many people will find the style of music itself to be vulgar because of its speed. That’s fine. Bing Crosby has a number of good Christmas renditions that ignite the senses at a slower pace.

The musicianship and vocal harmonies are excellent. As previously stated, the lyrics are Christocentric and Gospel-saturated songs of worship. There is no such thing as a “demon of atheism” or mystical quality that disintegrates everything Bad Religion touches. And for a band that has been around longer than I have walked the earth, I am not too worried about a six dollar download through eMusic sending a statement. If you acquire this CD and delete the last song, you will have the punk rock Christmas record you have always dreamed of. But if your conscience is unsettled in any way… do yourself a favor and obey the Spirit. His sanctifying work trumps all musical recommendations. There are plenty of good Christmas CDs out there.

So there you have it. Bad Religion has inadvertently released a seasonal worship album.

Come quickly, Lord Jesus! And Merry Christmas!

 
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Posted by on December 21, 2013 in Article

 

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Morning Coffee

Here are the stories I put in my coffee this morning.

  • God with Us
  • Secular society, of course, is especially adept at making Christmas into something that it is not. From a non-Christian perspective, the “winter holiday season” is not about Christ at all. It’s about commercialism.

  • Do You Believe in a Santa Christ?
  • In Sinclair Ferguson’s book, In Christ Alone, he shares the sad reality that many Christians have a Christology that is more informed by Santa Claus than Scripture.

  • Revising Christmas, Again
  • The kingdom of God is not at all affected by whether we can maintain a facade of Christendom in America. Because, unfortunately, plenty of Americans are happy to go to bat to keep Christ in our holiday vocabulary, but are ill-equipped or ashamed (or both) to proclaim the Gospel to their friends and family members, or are enemies of that Gospel themselves.

  • Bringing Lewis from Page to Stage
  • It’s not enough for Christians to be culture-critics; we must also be culture-makers. I want to express the Christian worldview through the arts.

Another Hobbit Bonus:

  • Good and Evil Are Not Equals
  • Don’t give Peter Jackson all the credit. He wasn’t the first to desire an adult version of J.R.R. Tolkien’s children’s story The Hobbit. According to author and scholar Colin Duriez, it was actually Tolkien himself who initially had the vision.

 
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Posted by on December 19, 2013 in Links

 

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Torn Up Repentance

Torn Up Repentance

This morning’s Morning and Evening might have been timelier for me a few months ago. One of my assignments required a few short Bible study notes on the difference between penance and repentance. Spurgeon’s text this morning is taken from the passage I chose for that assignment.

“Yet even now,” declares the LORD, “return to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.”

Return to the LORD your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and He relents over disaster. — Joel 2:12-13

The study was titled: God Wants Torn Up Hearts, Not Torn Up Clothes. Here is a short outline from the passage (minus a few details):

  • What distinguishes repentance from penance?
    • Repentance is complete – both internal and external (the whole man)
      • Biblical definition
      • Repentance turns from sin and returns to God with…
        • All your heart (thought, intent, desire)
        • Fasting (prayer, self-denial)
        • Weeping and mourning (emotional response, remorse)
    • Penance is incomplete – external not internal
      • Historical definition
      • Penance relies on external signs of grief to appease judgment
        • God is more concerned with the heart (Matt 9:4; Mark 7:21; Luke 16:5)
        • Rend your hearts and not your garments
  • What assurance do we have that God will forgive us?
    • Why return to the LORD?
      • He is gracious and merciful
      • He is slow to anger
      • He is abounding in steadfast love
      • He relents over disaster
    • When should we repent?
      • Now! (“Yet even now…” beginning of verse 12; 2 Cor 6:2)
      • Don’t delay, today is the day

God doesn’t want part of us. He wants all of us. He is not interested in our personal treasuries of merit. We cannot consolidate our debts or pay for our crimes. All we can do is cling to the cross of Christ, repent of our sin, and trust in the graciousness of God. Repentance is more than remorse or the removal of sin. It is returning to God with all that we are.

Here is Alistair Begg’s paraphrase of the Spurgeon classic.

* * * * *

…rend your hearts and not your garments.
— Joel 2:13

The tearing of garments and other outward signs of religious emotion are easily displayed and are frequently hypocritical; but to feel true repentance is far more difficult, and consequently far less common. Men will pay attention to the most minute ceremonial regulations—for those things are pleasing to the flesh. But true faith is too humbling, too heart-searching, too thorough for the tastes of people of the flesh; they prefer something more ostentatious, flimsy, and worldly.

Outward observances are temporarily comfortable; eye and ear are pleased; self-conceit is fed, and self-righteousness is puffed up: But they are ultimately delusive, for in the face of death, and at the day of judgment, the soul needs something more substantial than ceremonies and rituals to lean upon. Apart from vital godliness all religion is utterly vain; offered without a sincere heart, every form of worship is a solemn sham and an impudent mockery of the majesty of heaven.

Heart-rending is divinely worked and solemnly felt. It is a secret grief that is personally experienced, not in mere form, but as a deep, soul-moving work of the Holy Spirit upon the inmost heart of each believer. It is not a matter to be merely talked about and believed in, but keenly and sensitively felt in every living child of the living God. It is powerfully humiliating and completely sin-purging, but it is also sweet preparation for the gracious consolations that proud, unhumbled spirits are unable to receive; and it is distinctly discriminating, for it belongs to the elect of God, and to them alone.

The text commands us to rend our hearts, but they are naturally as hard as marble: How, then, can this be done? We must take them to Calvary: A dying Savior’s voice rent the rocks once, and it is as powerful now. O blessed Spirit, let us hear the death-cries of Jesus, and our hearts shall be rent even as men tear their garments in the day of lamentation.

 
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Posted by on December 18, 2013 in Devotional, Study

 

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100: Happy Monday (Reprise)

This is Hacking Agag’s 100th post! It happens to be a Monday, so here is a reprise of the first “Happy Monday.” Thanks for reading and watching!

Look for the label. Double Pre-Blessed!

 
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Posted by on December 16, 2013 in Video

 

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Ridiculous Grace

Matt Chandler on forgiveness and the power of the cross.

 
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Posted by on December 13, 2013 in Video

 

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Reckless For Christ

David Platt discusses the dangers of playing it safe and the worth of Christ.

 
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Posted by on December 12, 2013 in Video

 

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