Derek Webb’s Bad Words

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Derek Webb said a bad word. And the chaos has ensued.

Of course, chaos is relative, so that might be overstating it a bit. But the blogosphere, if you will, certainly has picked up on the “controversy” and laid out its thoughts on one side or the other. Various sites post their reviews, their essays, their op-eds weighing in on both Derek’s use of the word s— on his new disc, Stockholm Syndrome, and its overarching themes of the church’s position on race and sexual orientation.

Stockholm SyndromeThis will be termed as “Nothing New” for those familiar with Webb’s proclivity to discuss the elephant in the religious room. Previous releases jumped from the church to politics to materialism, so he’s honestly running out of precious, uncharted waters through which to navigate. We had a recent conversation in which Webb told me that he continues to split his audience with each album – that half of the listeners of each new disc are former fans and half are new. The reason? He simply makes the other half too mad to continue buying his music.

As for me? I couldn’t care less.

Let’s break this down quickly, because Webb’s formula is quite simple. As someone easily bored with a rebellious streak, he’s bound to create the music that he does. The inner child he describes as constantly getting into trouble, even into high school, is naturally geared to bring up the topic that everyone’s avoiding. And the evaporating musical interests lead him to jump from bluegrass to art rock to plaintive acoustics to lap-pop on Stockholm. And THAT is the beauty of Webb’s artistry.

There’s no fancy flow chart in Webb’s house lining his home studio walls with himself on one side and the church on the other – with keen war-like strategies to take down the religious establishment. There’s no glorious campaigning to expose the wrongs of society. There’s no representative, six-foot-long spoon on the wall, reminding him to daily “stir the pot.” (That’s a bit ridiculous, I know). Instead, Derek Webb is a guy who has followed his heart and his talents without allowing fear to keep him from movement. And that’s taken him to this very place.

If you think about things this way, that means Derek Webb is simply doing what he was created to do. And it’s not some self-prescribed notion of “changing the world” or some righteous quest to overturn the tables in the modern temple. It really is just about following the interior interests and passions and seeing what comes out – and then being unafraid to release those results because “someone might be offended.”

Our churches are full of people afraid of that very last line. And instead of following Webb’s example and doing the same thing (not mimicking his artistry, but being unafraid ourselves to release what’s inside), it’s easier to stand and scoff or mock or start a debate. After all, if everyone is looking at Derek Webb then that distracts me from having to look at my own self. And, by default, we usually choose the safer, more secure option.

But who really wants to think about all of that. After all, Derek Webb just said a bad word.

Matt Conner is a freelance writer and music journalist. As the founding pastor of The Mercy House, he led a church community for more than six years in intense community development across racial and socio-economic lines. As a writer, he’s interviewed thousands of musicians for multiple print and web-based publications.


69 Comments

  1. Jeff

    I’ve had the album for a few weeks now, and like about half of it. It is certainly a musical departure for him. There are moments of brilliance and some things that seem contrived. This opinion could change, and I am not going to review the album here. I am a longtime Webb fan, and will continue to support his art. Regardless of the language usage, the more important question about the”bad word” song: Is it true? Do we really just sit like we don’t give a s…? Maybe in some quarters, but it is a sweeping indictment. I’m just not sure that it is really correct or that it is fair to paint with such a broad brush.

  2. Paul Holderman

    I wonder if prophecy (being a prophet) is one of Derek’s spiritual gifts. I always have felt it may be and this article hits it on the head. Great album AND I really liked the last 2 I bought as well.

  3. brent g

    I did have a problem with the style change, but I still enjoy alot of what is said on the album. I like the shock factor it using the bad poo word. It gets your attention. I know I am going to sound like an old KJV bible thumper, but what about Jesus. I mean it just seems like Derek is standing fist in the air looking at the church, and it seems fueled not by a love for Christ and His church, but by anger and frustration at the church. I don’t doubt that Derek truely loves Jesus and His bride I just don’t think he conveys it well on this album. I still really enjoy Derek’s music and would recomend him to anyone.

  4. Drew

    As someone easily bored with a rebellious streak . . .

    Is that “bored and has a rebellious streak” or “is bored with having a rebellious streak”?

  5. Tony from Pandora

    I’ve followed the Stockholm Syndrome Saga from the beginning. There is an argument to be made about what brent g said,

    “like Derek is standing fist in the air looking at the church, and it seems fueled not by a love for Christ and His church, but by anger and frustration at the church.”

    But his other albums don’t say that. The last song on “She Must and Shall go Free” called ‘The Church’ states Christ’s love for the church.

    I think if we only listened to Andrew Peterson’s ‘The Far Country’ then we’d think he’s obsessed with death. But that’s not true. It’s just the theme of that record. Same with Derek. If you go to his concerts and talk to him after the shows, he’ll tell you tell you of his love for Christ.

    But, as Matt Connor was pointing out, part of Derek’s nature, is to be that guy who talks about subjects many are uncomfortable with. And though his subjects and word choice make me uncomfortable at times, I can’t see where he is biblically wrong.

    We are all different parts of Christ’s body. Derek just may be the index finger pointing at the rest of us!

    P.S. I think my favorite thing about the album is the bass line to Jena and Jimmy.

  6. Justin Nale

    I’m a wee bit disturbed by this post (though thankful for this site!). Do we think its always a good idea to follow our “interior interests and passions” and see what comes out? Is it really a terrible thing to be cautious about “releasing what’s inside” of us? I kind of got the impression from the post that the author was saying that if something comes from the heart it must be good and worthy of saying, yet certainly that isn’t always true.

    As Christians, thankfully, God has given us new interests and passions which are good and beneficial to others. But in this life those interests and passions will always be intermingled with corruption and desires of the flesh. Thus, it seems to me that we should always be sober-minded and thoughtful before we follow our passions, see what comes out, and release it to others. Am I off base here?

    I’m not saying Webb’s new album is a good idea or a bad idea – I don’t know – but I’m just not sure commending him in the way above is a good idea either.

  7. Jim A

    Matt, nice post. I’ve also had the album for weeks and was skeptical of the musical style when I first heard he was moving to a techno electronic form.
    But he and Josh Moore created this music with such class that it doesn’t get in the way at all and I think it fits the message quite well.
    I also think this album may have his most creative lyrics in it as well. DW has always had a nack (along with Aaron Tate) to pen very insightful and thought provoking poems and then set it to music.
    It may well be that these songs are so well encoded that blogs and reviews will be needed to break them down. I read a blog post recently that broke down 5 or 6 of the songs and it gave me a whole new way of listening to them.
    I think brent g’s comments are interesting about the fuel for DW’s songs. And I sometimes have some difficulty reconciling what DW says about how to handle (or not) “corrective instruction” and what C.S. Lewis says in his “Problem of Pain” where he suggests that our society has become more tolerant of “iniquities” and that’s bad. And Lewis wrote that in the 1950’s and I daresay society isn’t any better at it.
    I would suggest, brent g, that it’s maybe not anger but sadness at seeing how some members of the Christian community behave that spurs DW’s lyrics. I heard recently that a prominent Southern Baptist preacher was praying for Obama’s death. How can that not make a person sad. How can watching a protest of a funeral for someone with AIDS with pickets claiming the God hates Fags not make you sad about the hate and vitriol in the church.
    One of the most challenging lyrics on the whole CD though has nothing to do with his controversial S word. It is near the end when DW suggests he knows “a way out of hell, we raise all our enemies children after they’ve murdered ours, we affix all their scars to our walls so there’s heartbreak for everyone”. That’s love not hate or judgement. And “in the end it will all be ok, that’s what the wise men tell us, and if it’s not ok then it’s not the end”. That’s “hope for everyone”.

  8. Chris

    I, too, liked some of the new record and Mr. Webb’s musical diversity. As for the not-so-controversial-after-all song, I don’t doubt the authenticity of Mr. Webb’s passion for the point he’s making, but I do doubt the authenticity of his swearing. If swearing is truly germane to his artistic expression, why doesn’t it show up on more of his songs? It feels more like a publicity stunt in support of a logical fallacy: “If you feel deeply convicted about issues surrounding the sin of homosexuality and our culture then you’re not doing enough to help poor children.”

  9. Paul Holderman

    Even Jesus called the church leaders of old Jerusalem a bunch of snakes, that they were empty inside, and they had already been judged by His father for their hypocrisy.

    I feel sometimes, I or someone else, should say something in certian instances; The “business” of church nowadays is many times wrong and it can literally drive you nuts thinking about the injustices if you let it.

  10. david

    Justin – hey man, long time no talk, though facebook has filled me in on what you’re up to 🙂
    how long have you been reading here?
    i think that, given the body of Derek’s work, it is relatively implicit that he IS contemplating with a sober mind the things that he creates. i wonder if that is a NECESSARY part of songwriting, especially collaborative songwriting – all of the lyrical thoughts and musical thoughts were considered carefully before being mixed and mastered and duplicated for posterity. the nature of making an album is such that you MUST be confident about every note, every phrase, or else it’s pretty much worthless.
    i agree with Matt, that DW is starting to run out of buttons to push, and the use of language is a HUGE elephant in the evangelical room (to borrow Matt’s metaphor as well).
    i think that the lengthy comment/discussion on the Inglorious Basterds review is a closely-related conversation here, where we are seeking to find the best way to articulate what is true, what is lovely, what is beautiful, what is meaningful, what is art… on what things should we be thinking…?
    in my opinion, DW has produced something true and meaningful.

    and Jim, i don’t think that songs written by DW and Aaron Tate are comparable… both are very different, distinct songwriters, and DW has said as much during his shows. although the songs on this album may be the closest between the two, based on the abundant, yet subtle, use of biblical imagery.

  11. Bret Welstead

    I really like the new album. I was listening to it on the way to work this morning, and I bought the pre-release for the instant download (and before that I even put together the stems for “What Matters More” during the pre-pre-release online scavenger hunt). I’ve listened all the way through the album many times, and here’s what I’ve come up with.

    This controversy over the “bad word” is exactly what Derek predicted in using the bad word. We get more bent out of shape over four letters strung together than we do over people going to hell. Not only that, we say such offensive things that can hurt the ones we claim to love. I think he hit the nail on the head, and now we’re complaining of the headache.

    I once read an article, around the time “Mockingbird” was released, that talked about Derek agonizing over a single word in one of his songs. He picks his words so carefully, and I think this makes him a great artist. The music is secondary, and it serves the words he writes.

    And I also agree that Derek might be a modern-day prophet. He speaks convicting truth to the religious people of our day. It makes me sad that so many people are missing the point on this one, that Christian stores necessitate a “clean” version of “Stockholm Syndrome.” Especially when the Bibles on their shelves have verses like 1 Samuel 20:30 and Philippians 3:8. Strong language has its uses.

  12. Jim A

    David, what I meant by throwing in Tate was that his lyrics (go back to My calm//your storm) have always had a complexity about them. That’s the comparable bit. Stuff that makes you think and do some poetry homework. I agree that they are both different and distinct. But I’ve not come across too many songs that make me use my brain and are as intellectual as Tate and Webb.

  13. ray

    I haven’t heard Derek’s new album yet, and apparently have been oblivious to the controversy in the blogosphere, so I don’t know if Derek said s____ or if he said s____!

  14. Jessica

    I haven’t listened to the CD yet, though I hope to. I will most likely be purchasing the clean version for one very important reason. It’s not that I have a problem with DW using the word in context to make a point. It’s that my children listen to and enjoy the same kind of music that I do and that is just not a word that I would like to hear them repeat. I’m glad that they were able to make provisions for a clean version, rather than just do an “all or nothing” release.

  15. Bill B

    Folks who are critical of the new controversy have often been supportive during the old controversy. Sometimes it is like saying, “I can’t believe he used the “S” word. He should be careful to use other words that communicate the same message, just like he did when he used the word “whore”.”

  16. Clayton

    This all seems like an exercise in missing the point to me. The point is, Derek Webb has every right as an artist to use naughty words in his music. However, he has no right as a Christian artist to expect his record label to cover for his choice of lyrical indiscretion, to make them take the PR hit with their audience for his lyrical provocation, and to leave the impression that the label is the problem. That’s not right. If using scatalogical words that offend many Christians is important to Webb’s artistic integrity and authenticity, then he should ask to be released from his label, go Indie, and take the hits, or the hoorays, on his own merits and on his own dime.

    Personally, I like the album–I found it lyrically thought-provoking and musically complex. As to Webb’s use of “the” word, I was more amused than offended by it. It seemed like a little boy working the bad word into his verbalized “achoo” when he sneezed. As a Christian songwriter, it felt to me like an unartistic and unnecessary lyrical gimmick that detracted from the song rather than adding to it. In the end, I wonder if it has done more to distract from the message of the song, and the album, rather than to enhance it. That said, I still think Derek Webb is a gifted artist and we need his music.

  17. Arthur Alligood

    This is slightly off topic(not really), but I thought I might mention it. I have heard Mr. Webb called a “prophet” many times since he began his solo career. My first question at such a statement is, “So, we have another Isaiah on our hands?” Honestly, I think “prophet” is just going too far and I have a feeling Derek would agree with me. What do you guys think? Is he Ezekiel or just a guy who makes thought provoking music?

  18. Chris

    I’ve enjoyed Webb’s music for a long time and have purchased several albums. I enjoy both the musical variety he brings and have been challenged by his exhortations. I’m sure I’ll continue to do so.

    Honestly, though, this “controversy” over the use of the s-word feels like a publicity stunt to me. And it serves the logically iffy proposition that stating a strong position on the immorality of sexual sin somehow equates to not caring about the people involved in that sin — or those dying of AIDS or poverty (if the 50,000 number relates to MakePovertyHistory’s stat of the number that die every day). Can’t I give a blank about both?

    Either way, I have a hard time imagining there are many left in Webb’s core audience who will be shocked by his self-conscious use of the word in a single song.

  19. Ron Block

    @ronblock

    I’ve not heard the record yet but I will.

    Now, if anyone wants controversy, he should check the KJV. Elijah mocks the prophets of Baal by saying, “Cry aloud​​: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked.” The Hebrew word for “pursuing” is said by The Dictionary of Biblical Languages With Semantic Domans to mean “bowel movement, defecation, i.e., the act. of relieving oneself from the bowels.” So if we are talking about a Biblical precedent for using the S word, we can get it straight from Elijah, the great man of God, as he mocks the false prophets.

    There is such a disconnect between the passionate language God uses in His Word and our own life. There are passages in Ezekiel where God is speaking that would make a veteran Navy man blush. Think of Paul saying that he wished the circumcising Judaizers would go the whole way and cut the whole thing off (my, my! I think he would not have been allowed in any Christian bookstores!).

    As for seeing what’s wrong with the Church and speaking to that, isn’t that at least part of what artists are supposed to do? The Psalms are full of that. Many of Paul’s letters were written to correct churches on a wrong course. “But that’s David, and Paul.” Well, yes. But they were men on a mission – to go into the deeps with God. The result of that is passion.

  20. rachel

    i’ve had the album for a few weeks, and i’ve yet to settle on what exactly i think is right or wrong about the whole controversy. but i cannot help but wonder: in all of these comments, going to and fro over the word “shit,” no one — not ONE of you — wanted to actually say it.

    why not? why didn’t you?

    why doesn’t/shouldn’t derek feel the same way as you, especially considering his audience is much larger?

    also, another lyric in the same song talked about being “so damn reckless with the words you speak.”

    irony? or blind hypocrisy? is this putting a stumbling block in front of ‘legalistic’ brothers and sisters, a la romans 14, or is this speaking the truth in love out of genuine concern for the body?

  21. rachel

    als:, although i d_o love the album musically and lyrically on many points (i ‘played the game’ too; i even procured an ‘arti_fact.’), i do have some hesitations about the song “what matters more.” this is why: if d.webb is saying that feeding starving _children t_o keep them from dying one more day is MORE IMPORTANT than speaking the tr_uth about sin, then i don’t ag_ree. i think they are both important; ultimately, becau_se sp_eaking AND liv_ing the go_spel is vi_tally important. but ne_ither of those things is the end-a_ll be-a_ll of our faith. socia_l justice is just as futile _of a hope as any other human-dri_ven _effort: though we can make SOME change, there is still a prince of the powers of this earth who is our enemy, and though Christ has begun to usher in His king_dom no_w, we won’t se_e it FULLY REALIZED until He comes again. so i think it can be even a form of idolatry to elevate social justice a_bove Christ Himself … and to say that “it matters more” than other scripturally-_based faith-driven concerns is on its way to that kind of elevation.

  22. Greg Carnes Productions, Inc

    Rachel, I find your comments somewhat disturbing and what I mean is that you can’t expect someone to sit there and listen to the gospel when they are suffering, hungry and all that goes with that. Let’s face it, all of us put in their situation would or could not listen to someone preaching the gospel to them while starving or sick in bed. Try going to a local resucue mission for a change or a poor homeless person on the street.

    I know you meant well, but I think you missed the boat on what Derek is trying to say.

    G

  23. Brendt Waters

    After giving the album a few listens, I have to wonder if the doo-doo-storm around the s-word wasn’t intentional (maybe, at least, subconsciously) on Derek’s part. There’s a lot of “offensive” stuff on Stockholm Syndrome — much of it more offensive than the use of a four-letter word. Have to wonder if there will be those that “take their medicine” unknowingly because they’re distracted by one word.

    I expounded on that thought on my blog, which I’ll now pimp here : http://csaproductions.com/blog/?p=1437

  24. E

    Related to cussing, I tend to have a view of language which is a bit more permissive than a lot of my Christian friends… but I think you could make a biblical argument against this use of language from Ephesians 4 (around verse 29).

    Trying to think of what I would say, biblically on the other side of the argument and I can’t think of anything that Ron didn’t already write.

    Even so, it wouldn’t make my list of things to get spun up about today. Would definitely agree with Matt that we probably have more important things to do related to the state of our own soul.

    And rachel’s comment still has me laughing, so my holiness in regards to language probably isn’t iconic.

  25. Ron Block

    @ronblock

    Rachel: I don’t have any problem with the S word, “shit.” I was using “S word” in a sarcastic way. It’s really a perfectly serviceable word that has gotten a bad rap. Paul, Elijah, David – good company. My children get a kick out of Elijah’s creative use of the concept of excrement.

    There are other concepts God uses in Ezekiel that I would not mention in mixed company.

    I need to listen before I make any comments about the record itself. I get annoyed at the myopia of legalism.

    Now, the word “damn” is perfectly serviceable as well. If something is damnable, then the word is perfect for the spot.

    I could go on with other words, like “Hell” or another KJV word, “pisseth.” But I won’t.

  26. Paul Holderman

    Arthur & David:
    Being a prophet, or a teacher, or a muscian or a person with a calm listening heart, are real manifestations of God and His Spirit in His body.

    The word “Prophet” has been given a bad rap in the past 20+ years and I shied away from it and others like too, but it took a very wise pastor to show me this is a real gift and I have been given the burden to wear it as well. Burden because one of the things that is a side effect is you have few friends.

    Now, I do not mean this gift should be held out as a badge or a name tag; that is not at all what I mean. It is refreshing to me to hear someone like Derek just go out and say ” Hey American Church, You guys could give a shit about how certian people feel when you wave the ‘Love’ flag but alienate them” That is so much needed to be said and I venture to say is from God. (shock and horror)

    To piggy back on what Ron listed, how about in Malachi what God said about the sub-standard offerings that were given to Him at His alter?
    Mal 2:3 He said to them, ” Behold, I am going to rebuke your offspring and I will spread refuse on your faces, the refuse of your feasts and you will be taken away with it”

    I do not know Derek, but it was a question I have thought many times, that he has been given this gift, among others I am sure.

  27. rachel

    ron block, i usually agree with every word you utter, four-letter or otherwise. this day it is no different. although, i didn’t quite catch the sarcasm the first time ’round. damn internet.

    e, i’m equally permissive and foul. it wasn’t shit that bothered me about this album … which is why i’m also inclined to agree with brent.

  28. Peter B

    Rachel: maybe people just don’t want to say if it there’s no reason. Even if they’re totally on board with Derek’s use of the word in a particular statement, they aren’t trying to make that statement here.

    I wrote a whole bunch of stuff, and then erased it because this guy says it better. The “sound” critique is beyond me since I haven’t heard the album (just read the lyrics), but this sums up my reaction pretty well.

  29. Dan Strader

    Greg Carnes – Long time, man. So what do you mean by “being real”?

    Ron – I respectfully disagree. I’d be interested to know (and I’ll do the research if I can find time between my studies), if the word Elijah used was the harshest slang for “defecating” or perhaps another slang. Say, like “dung” or “crap” or “sitting on the pot.” At any rate, Biblical precedent does not equate to righteous living. See also Samson, Jepthah, David, and so on.

    Rachel – I’ll tell you why I won’t use the word and haven’t for more than 20 years. Because the last time I said that word, I looked up to see someone I cared deeply about, who I had been witnessing to, staring at me in disbelief. I’ll admit that losing my witness to her has made me very sensitive about this issue. I simply can’t understand why Christians would want to curse.

    And I think his use of language detracts from the message of the song. All we and most people are talking about is the words he used and the irony or hypocrisy of criticizing others for being reckless with their words. I think it more effective to shock with ideas. When AP used “God hates fags” in Come Lord Jesus, when Don Chaffer talked about the condom machine in If You Want to Get Free, it wasn’t those words that were the most shocking thing (although Christian radio stations around the country might disagree). It was the idea. “the church isn’t anything more than the second coming of the Pharisees.” I’ve only heard that Don Chaffer song once, years ago. I had to look up the title. But the idea was so strong – right here in the bathroom with the condom machine…this is holy ground too.

    I think DW was trying to make a statement – a good statement – but ended up just saying bad words.

  30. rachel

    greg — sorry, i missed your comment earlier. let me clarify: i think it’s a both/and situation, and i would really hesitate to elevate EITHER above the other (that is, preaching or serving, essentially). this elevation of one or the other is what has caused (a) a big ol’ rift in the church/between individual christians, and (b) the perversion of the gospel into a hope that only goes as far as this very earth goes. there is more, so much more, and i would be profoundly grieved to find that those of us serving physical needs of others would keep closed in our mouths the only true hope for something better. AND likewise, i would be profoundly grieved to find someone preaching on the corner but refusing to show love in action to those who need it most. both/and, not either/or, and hence, a good dose of equivocality to drink it down. the name of the song is “what matters more,” and although i think they are both important, i don’t think one matters MORE in light of eternity.

    i’m sorry that my comment “disturbed” you, but perhaps it will put your mind at ease to know that i do serve at the local homeless shelter regularly, i sponsor a child through Compassion, and i make it a habit to buy the guy on the street a meal when he asks for one — WITHOUT feeling like i have to pass along the four spiritual laws. maybe i’m not quite who you think i am ….. but i do LOVE the whole gospel.

  31. Peter B

    Greg: did you really promote a concert for “Amy Grany”? She sounds like a fascinating generational crossover artist 😀

  32. Drew

    I have every other DW album — not this one yet, but I assume I will get it. I enjoy the music, but I tend to side with what Justin said at Post #6:

    Do we think its always a good idea to follow our “interior interests and passions” and see what comes out? Is it really a terrible thing to be cautious about “releasing what’s inside” of us? I kind of got the impression from the post that the author was saying that if something comes from the heart it must be good and worthy of saying, yet certainly that isn’t always true.

    I was once part of a men’s Bible study that went through a “confrontation is good!” phase, and it didn’t take long before it turned ugly and caused more divisions that it was supposed to heal. I have no opinion of whether the use of the dreaded “S-word” is a good thing or not. Context is everything. But I question whether it’s good to have Christians — particularly in the current climate — attacking the church itself (or so it seems) rather than lovingly building her up.

    Okay, sure, Jesus said some not-very-nice things, too, and I understand that. However, I have a sense that seeing Christians attacking the church will seem to give license to non-Christians (who really need no encouragement in this area) to attack it even more viciously.

    I am often filled with lots of rage and anger and frustration, but it is not automatically a Good Thing™ to give voice to those emotions in an effort to Be Authentic™ or something like that. This is particularly true when dealing with people.

    As with all things, if I have no love, I’m Mr. Noisy Gong. You have a message of correction for the church? Great. But if you deliver it without love, what good does it do? And even if there is some good that results, is the damage worth it?

  33. Tony Heringer

    lap-pop? Good one Matt. First the Anne Lamott op-ed on Facebook and now this post. To quote DeNiro in Analyze This “You, You!” 🙂

    Love the album and plan on seeing Derek when he plays Smithe’s Old Bar here in Atlanta. Based on the comments the album seems to have gotten folks thinking. The thing that I thought when I heard “What Matters…” is: “Well, he really doesn’t get CCM air-play anyway, so this is kind his Johnny Cash moment (the infamous picture of Johnny flipping a bird). Given the audience that I think he’s after – playing at a bar versus my church (which is where I saw him with Caedmon’s Call several years back) it seems he’s reaching out and in doing so he better be real about these sorts of issues.

    The lyric that has consumed this post is a retread of a Tony Campolo line. Tony walked up to a mic and used the same word many years ago. Here’s the quote:

    “I have three things I’d like to say today. First, while you were sleeping last night, 30,000 kids died of starvation or diseases related to malnutrition. Second, most of you don’t give a shit. What’s worse is that you’re more upset with the fact that I said shit than the fact that 30,000 kids died last night.”

    The whole song has that kind of vibe to it. Including the use of the word damn.

    As for the use of foul language, Ron I’m in that section of Ezekiel now. Thanks for not sharing that. Shocking stuff indeed.

    As for Paul’s use of the same word, I think that is something that pastors like to throw out to be cool. The translation of that Greek word could be ‘shit’ but it could also be the scraps from a love feast. In studying the context, I’m inclined to believe it’s the latter over the former. Though Paul definitely pulls no punches with the Judaizers.

    The Malachi passage is likely offal which sheep farmers of that time would get and could be translated in today’s language as garbage. In terms of sacrifice, they were brining the deformed animals to the sacrifices and not the good ones as prescribed in the Law. Here’s how the NIV puts it “I will spread on your faces the offal from your festival sacrifices, and you will be carried off with it.” In dealing with animal sacrifice this would also be in context — the offal is the refuse or entrails which I’m sure included some dung.

    The power of this verse to me is not getting gross stuff spread on my face but being carryied away with the gross stuff to the garbage dump. It could foreshadow the death of Christ as some considered Golgotha a garbage dump.

    There is some coarse language in Scripture, but not as much as we hear in our day and time. Certainly the NT is against the use of coarse language.

    I like the way Paul Tripp puts it in this video. It fits the context here, because the word ‘shit’ is the example.

    As always, I love the way we hash things out. Cheers!

  34. Ron Block

    @ronblock

    Tony,

    Yes – if Paul meant “I count my former life as scraps from love feasts” then he more than makes up for it by saying, “I wish those Judaizers would chop the whole thing off.”

  35. Benjamin Wolaver

    This whole discussion reminds me of a scene in the great foreign film, The Chorus:

    Action! Reaction!

    Action! Reaction!

    (If you’ve seen the film, you’ll know that both teacher and student are caught in the same paradigm, incapable of removing themselves from the social context they inhabit which means no progress is capable of being made. The two perspectives are essentially self-defeating. So here…)

  36. david

    Loren,
    i think that the post you link to is an interesting perspective, but far from conclusive. the argument that the audience is being disrespected is circumstantial at best, and based on an inclusive line, “we” being the subject – so is he also disrespecting himself?
    this goes back to whether or not Derek is intentional about his songwriting… and although i’ve heard he’s into marketing, Seth Goden, etc., i don’t think he’d be willing to insult his audience in the way that link suggests…

  37. Tony Heringer

    Ron,

    Exactly. A wonderfully gross hyperbole similar to Jesus accusing the Pharisees of straining a gnat and swallowing a camel.

    Loren,

    Thanks for the link and I’ll check it out. But you should not lose any friends for it. Andrew has always maintained that this is the place where we work this kind of thing out. It is never boring but I feel it is safe to say what you mean.

    Benjamin,

    Self-defeating? How so? Seems like the normal pub room banter I’ve come to love about this place.

  38. Benjamin Wolaver

    Tony,

    The way I see it, the entire argument (which has taken the form of “Should Derek Webb use shit in his lyrics”) is self-defeating because a spiritual or moral position either for or against it is essentially reactionary. The “legalist” who decries it and the “liberal” who champions it are both locked in a sociological cycle of reaction. As a case in point, how many Christians do you know that open up their testimony with “I grew up around a lot of legalism” or vice versa “I spent a lot of time running with the wrong crowd.” Now ask yourself this: how many of those people aren’t still in some way reacting to their past experience? A reactionary argument is always a self-defeating argument because it lacks context. We can’t understanding something like this until we can view it dispassionately.

    To me, Derek Webb using the word “shit” in a lyric simply means that Derek Webb wrote a bad lyric. The fact that he used it shows that he lacked, in this particular case, the ability to adequately express himself in better language. If Derek Webb’s lyric was truly inspiring and revolutionary, we would all be in awe rather than debating the finer points of a word for doo doo.

  39. Kirsten

    Art takes truth as a subject. Art draws form from experience. Things can get a little blurred in the combination.

    I have not found Christian nirvana. Every experience I have had as a Christian has been messy. I currently suspect that either a) I missed the boat somewhere and will hopefully catch it later, or b) Christian experience is, in fact, messy. Whatever the case, I feel camaraderie with Christian artists have mixed messy experience with truth.

    William Cowper was a hymnist and poet from the 1700s. He wrote hymns like “Oh, For a Closer Walk with Thee.” He also wrote a poem called “The Castaway” in which he envisions himself as a sailor lost in a horrible storm and “snatched from all effectual aid.” He spent his whole life struggling with doubt concerning his salvation. Messy.

    Bruce Cockburn is a Canadian music artist who is also a Christian (he functions mostly in the secular music world). One post-conversion song states: “Lord of the starfields / Sower of life, / Heaven and earth are / Full of your light.” Beautiful. After witnessing the violence and poverty of a refugee camp on the Guatelmalan-Mexican border he responds differently, stating in song that “if I had a rocket launcher…some son of a b— would die.” (Bruce’s point here is not to suggest violence as an answer. Click on the link to read more on this.) Messy.

    These are the kids who worked their butts off to get a “C” in their class. I can learn from them because things didn’t come easy. Their steps are small. But in this subject their Sonship or Daughtership shines through as bright as ever because that is Christ’s doing all along. Otherwise the struggle would have been given up long ago. Praise Jesus!

    This is what I love about Derek Webb. He’s messy.

  40. Pete Peterson

    @pete

    “using the word “shit” in a lyric simply means that Derek Webb wrote a bad lyric.”

    That’s subjective and reactionary. You self-defeated your own point. Words are no more inherently ‘bad’ than a hammer, a gun, or a roach…ok, roaches are inherently bad.

  41. Micah

    I think Matt was being prophetic when he wrote the first two scentences of this post.

    As for me, I didn’t find the album overly shocking. I enjoyed the change of pace musically, but I thought that the lyrics were ‘more of the same’ for Derek. And thats not a bad thing. If something Derek says shocks you, you must not have been listening to him on the last few records.

  42. Ron Block

    @ronblock

    Benjamin: I grew up around a lot of legalism and later ran with the wrong crowd. That was reactionary.

    I’ve been through both sides – legalism, and license. That was reactionary.

    Quite often in the past fifteen years I have been accused of being “liberal” or “legalistic,” alternately. The same thing can be said of Jesus, or Paul; it really has to do with the other person’s perception of what Christianity is.

    I am not into lazy language. My kids sometimes say, “I was, like, going to the store…” and I say, ‘Wait…was it ‘as if’ you were going to the store, or were you actually going to the store?” And sometimes, since I am from southern California and have lazy language embedded deep in the recesses of my subconscious, they catch me. “Dad, were you LIKE playing the banjo…?”

    The point for me was that God uses rough language to get His point across; He doesn’t use lazy language. All His words are carefully chosen to bring maximum effect. I don’t have Derek’s record yet, so I probably shouldn’t even be talking. But if he chose the word “shit” to bring maximum effect, so be it. He may not have considered his audience. I don’t mean “considered whether or not he would be judged by them” but rather that he may not have considered whether his audience would catch the meaning of the line and be struck by it rather than being caught up in a storm of whether or not “shit” is acceptable on a Christian record.

  43. Benjamin Wolaver

    Ron,

    I agree with you that God in Scripture definitely uses aggressive words to create an effect. But I think it’s symptomatic of our sub-culture that we debate whether or not a word for doo doo is appropriate in a lyric. If someone from Africa or China or pretty much anywhere except Western Christendom came into this discussion, they would probably find it strange.

    In terms of the words usage, I would say that it can be used in many contexts (a speech for instance), but to use it in an artistic medium like a lyric is in poor taste generally speaking. I want to make clear that that view doesn’t apply to every foul word in the English language. John Mayer has a song, “Slow Dancing In A Burning Room” where he uses the word “bitch”. It’s very appropriate to the context. But I have a difficult time seeing how the word, “shit” could be appropriate to any kind of artistic offering. “Bitch” has depth; it explains many things about a person at once. “Shit” doesn’t add much, if anything. It may add shock value, but that won’t last past another decade.

  44. Mark Geil

    Yes, the response is subjective, but as a society we have determined that some words are “bad”. Call it profanity, cussing, cursing – I think we could all list just about the same set of “bad” words.

    Derek used a “bad” word and I don’t like it. I don’t like to hear that language. I don’t like it when those words are in books and I try to mentally skip them. I don’t like it when those words are in songs, and I usually physically skip them.

    Bad language bothers me. Poverty bothers me as well. I get Campolo’s point, but he is not describing me.

  45. Drew

    Are we really talking about the presence of the word “shit,” or are we actually talking about an attitude evidenced by the word “shit”?

    The former is, in my view, a non-issue. The latter may be.

    I think Loren is onto something when he brings up the notion of respect for one’s audience. If I may quote from his Blog post:

    “[Anger is] a blessing for a writer, but also a curse. Because for every potent and enduring work that owes its existence to anger, there are dozens of small-minded screeds that claim the same father. . . . It’s easier to take your lumps when you believe the artist has your good as his goal. Thinking he primarily wants to make you hurt, wants to claim his pound of flesh makes it well-nigh impossible.”

    I cannot say what Derek’s motivation was, but for me it feels more like injury. Similarly, Tony Campolo’s famous screed felt more like an attack than a shock to wake up the complacent.

    Keith Green was an artist who trod some of the same ground: first part of a major record label, then moving to indie status and giving away records for free so that the gospel message didn’t have a price tag. He did anger a lot of people with his calls to action, and I had some friends who felt that his death was a bit of a mercy because he himself becoming too angry near the end of his life. I don’t necessarily agree. In all of his attempts to wake up a sleeping church, I felt that there was love and compassion behind his words.

    But I realize that the same words are going to echo differently depending on the hearer.

  46. Brendt Waters

    Ron (#39): And sometimes, since I am from southern California and have lazy language embedded deep in the recesses of my subconscious, they catch me. “Dad, were you LIKE playing the banjo…?”

    I was at my high school reunion recently. I had been talking with some of my best friends from HS, all of whom are as Southern as the day is long. I tend to pick up stuff from whomever I’m talking to, so my accent started getting thicker, and my grammar went down a bit.

    10 minutes later, I said “ain’t” in front of my English teacher. Thankfully, she didn’t faint. 😉

  47. Peter B

    Yet again, I find myself agreeing with Drew. Most of us are not here to (a) condemn the user of a particular word, or (b) wave our linguistic apathy as a banner of spirituosity. Even when the discussion has turned that way, the patrons have kept the spotlight on more important issues.

    Loren has struck at the heart of what — I think — bothers me most about this album, and Webb’s recent work in general. In what seems to be an attempt to be “edgy” and find something new, Derek seems to have forgotten the difference between a soft answer and a harsh word (and their respective effects). I suppose he may have done it on purpose, but I just go away feeling beaten down by someone who hasn’t even taken the time to find out what I really think. Considering how long he’s had to plan this thing, I can’t imagine that these words were spoken hastily; I’m not sure if that makes it better or worse.

  48. rachel

    i am simply fascinated by all this discussion! my own mind is becoming more and more settled as we go, please let’s don’t stop quite yet …

    kirsten — brilliant and beautifully written as well. i’m about to go read it again.

    drew — you have voiced what i was feeling but couldn’t articulate: “I cannot say what Derek’s motivation was, but for me it feels more like injury. Similarly, Tony Campolo’s famous screed felt more like an attack than a shock to wake up the complacent.”

    obviously i don’t have a personal problem with the so-called ‘bad words,’ however, for the good of my brothers and sisters, i most certainly would refrain from their use, and often do when the setting necessitates (particularly around other people’s children). but sometimes i purposely do not refrain from their use, even knowing full well that one in my company might be offended. this is not to spite their ‘legalism’ by my ‘license,’ but to remind myself and anyone else that we are not our brothers’ judge. if my motivation is fear of man, fearing that i might offend someone, there are many OTHER words i would never speak as well, including the gospel. the reactions and opinions of others, while they are not useLESS, should not be the core motivations of our behavior.

    but i agree with you, drew, that i can’t really identify derek’s motivations, but it feels to me like a slap in the face for something i didn’t even do. the whole song, really, feels like stern reprimanding from my childhood. perhaps it is because he’s making such a definitive statement of value — as if to say, “how could you possibly value THIS when there is this other thing to value that is so clearly more valuable.” it’s like saying, “you can have your opinions as long as you recognize that mine are MORE RIGHT.” not down with that. one body, many parts. eye cannot say to foot, ‘i have no need of you.’ nope, we need ’em all, round us up and keep us together until our rough edges rub each other’s rough edges smooth.

    there may be sparks when iron sharpens iron, but they’re both still iron. one’s not better than the other.

  49. Brendt Waters

    drew’s reference to “injury/attack” and Rachel’s echoing of it makes me think of Proverbs 27:6:

    Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.

    As has been (thankfully) said here on multiple occasions, we can’t read Webb’s heart, so we don’t know if he was being a friend here. Just something to think about.

  50. Jim A

    i just got the vinyl for this album in the mail and if you play the song backwards it says “be a pepper, drink dr. pepper, I’m a pepper she’s a pepper, wouldn’t you like to be a pepper to? be a pepper, drink dr. pepper.”

  51. Allen C

    However, I have a sense that seeing Christians attacking the church will seem to give license to non-Christians (who really need no encouragement in this area) to attack it even more viciously.

    I see idea this as completely backwards. Non-Christians who see a church that never questions itself or has no doubts can’t see themselves in a pew because they do have doubts and questions. Telling people who have these questions not to ask them makes them not welcome.

    Also Non-Christians are not a uniform body. It may make the anti-theists in the crowd more vocal, but it may take a few who were wavering and make them feel welcome at church again. I think it’s a mistake to paint all non-Christians as eager and ready to attack the church at all times. Sometimes they see the same injustices that we do and it just makes them tune everything out. Christians asking questions, lovingly and with respect, can make them feel like they might have a place at church.

    Personally as a Christian the album invigorates me. It’s all the same bullshit that drove me from the church years ago and I’ve only recently been able to overcome it and come back. Albums like this excite me in ways a million “love songs to Jesus” simply can’t. The album makes me feel engaged.

  52. Chris

    As said in comments, I feel like Derek is making a terrible judgement call in “What Matters More” about Christian’s feelings towards homosexuals, and is just as guilty as the attitude of the song puts him on the same high horse as the one Christians who “don’t give a s…” are on. I never like to hear attitude from an artist who sounds like they’re better than their audience.

    That said, profanity in art isn’t necessarily a bad thing – it brings the passion of the artist to the very forefront. But a song like “Changes Come” by Over the Rhine is a better example of this.

    Derek’s songs and messages are much easier to swallow when refers to himself in the first person, which places him in the same boat as his listeners. Otherwise, all I hear is “I get it, and you don’t, dumbs….”

  53. Jason Gray

    @jasongray

    I’m late to this conversation, but thought I’d weigh in anyway and comment on a few things I’ve heard both here and elsewhere.

    For those who consider his damning indictiment in “What Matters More” a bit unfair, consider this: Though America is known to be one of the most generous nations in the world in that as a whole we give more than most countries, it is as important to note that our giving per person here in the states puts our ranking somewhere closer to around 28th (can’t remember the exact ranking, but it was in the high 20s), which suggests that we aren’t as generous as we’d like to imagine ourselves to be. Also worth noting is that the last time I was at World Vision headquarters I was surprised to hear that contributions from Hispanics, many of them low income, represent the largest percentage of giving. Since I think Derek’s music is aimed more toward white middle class Americans, his statement isn’t that unfair.

    In terms of dismissing Webb as someone who’s just ranting at the church – what do you do with the fact that that 90% of non Christians equate the word “Christian” with gay hater? And if you personally know any homosexuals, as in you have a real personal relationship with them (not a peripheral kind of relationship where you keep your distance because of you’re Christian conviction), then you find people who are deeply wounded by our (evangelical Christianity’s) rhetoric. If Jesus were teaching, preaching, and walking the hills of Hollywood, I doubt he’d be using the kind of language that even people like Dobson uses when talking about homosexuals.

    In fact, the language generally used in the church when talking about homosexuality degrades into “us” and “them” and at best is disrespectful or at worst is hateful. In some ways, the homosexual could be considered among the least of these in our current religious milieu. Derek, it appears, decided to stand up and point this out, saying in effect, “hey, wait a minute. Check yourself. You’re talking about human beings created in the image of God.”

    For those concerned about liberal theology, as far as I can see Webb isn’t calling controversial passages into question. He’s only asking the church if we are doing our part correctly, loving well. In that way, he’s expressing his passion for a group of people that Jesus loves, but that Jesus’ people are beating up. If he’s raising his voice… well… that happens when you’re trying to break up a fight.

    In terms of the musicality of the record, I’ve heard complaints about Derek abandoning his acoustic roots for techno – and preference for music style is so subjective anyway, and people are free to like it or no – but I don’t think Derek’s goal has ever been to make records for fans of acoustic music, nor do I imagine that he would hope that people would come to his records on the basis that he plays an acoustic guitar. Derek’s music has always been for people who love ideas and are willing to take a hard look in the mirror he holds up. In that regard, this record is not a departure at all. Besides that, when I hear the record I hear a real organic quality to all the tech-goings-on. It reminds me of how Imogen Heap’s last record really managed to make a modern synth record that still felt like a raw singer/songwriter kind of project. I think Derek has matched his most daring content with his most adventurous music, and I love the chances he took on every front. I’m not saying you have to like it, but I think it’s more appropriate to come to a Derek Webb record to see what he has to say more than what instruments he’s using. That seems a more relevant criteria for one of his records.

    It’s curious to me that for many the controversy of the cuss word has overshadowed the release of this record. Of course, that was exactly the point of using the word – first when Tony Campolo used it, and now again that Derek Webb has. It’s ironic that their point is being proven by the very people that the statement is addressed to.

    For those who have questioned his integrity and motives, consider how dangerous it is for a guy like Webb to release a record like this. He knows he’s going to get flak for it from nearly every quarter. It’s obviously a record that could alienate a segment of his fan-base (not to mention his label) both musically and because of the content. I think it’s pretty clear that from the start Derek isn’t investing himself in the kingdom of his career. He must be investing in a different kingdom.

  54. Jason Gray

    @jasongray

    Another thought that might be relevant here is a quote from Flannery O’Connor who had a good understanding of when shocking your audience is not only good but necessary:

    “When you can assume that your audience holds the same beliefs you do,” she said, “you can relax a little and use more normal ways of talking to it; when you have to assume that it does not, then you have to make your vision apparent by shock—to the hard of hearing you shout, and for the almost blind you draw large and startling figures.”
    Flannery O’Connor

  55. Brad

    Just had to chime in. It seems a silly thing to debate. While what Derek chose to do with his lyrics is not something (I think) I would do, but it is his song and his album. However, I think it would be unrealistic to think his label was going to be OK with it.

    In the end I don’t know if the route he chose will prove to have been the wisest one if his goal is really change within the body. Sometimes the extreme measures we take serve more to assuage our own concerns that we are doing all we can than to actually affect change. Humility, servanthood and sacrifice are the tools we see used most often in the life of Christ. I know people displaying these qualities have done more to reveal my own self-righteousness and motivate compassion in me than any amount of shocking messages or examples would.

    I appreciate his heart. I hope the project does help in awakening the body of Christ to action.

  56. Tony Heringer

    Jason,

    Imogen Heap? I knew someone in the Rabbit Room would know of her. Cherie and I saw her perform live at a taping of the David Letterman show a couple of weeks ago (which was fun in and of itself). She closed out the show. It was her, a grand piano and some little box with lights on it. It was a very cool performance. Care to comment further on her music?

  57. Jason

    Derek’s use of the word and treatment of the subject of homosexuality are, IMO, examples of creating controversy for controversy’s sake. I am a HUGE fan of Derek’s but I just see this as a publicity stunt. He makes sweeping generalizations about the church and I am personally offended because I do care more about the poor than his use of foul language and I don’t think that sexual orientation is the biggest issue for a person’s salvation. I do, however, believe it to be sinful and harmful. Is that hatred or concern? I am just weary of his constant pushing at the boundaries of acceptability and, really, taste. I just think it is bad form.

  58. Drew

    In terms of dismissing Webb as someone who’s just ranting at the church – what do you do with the fact that that 90% of non Christians equate the word “Christian” with gay hater? And if you personally know any homosexuals, as in you have a real personal relationship with them (not a peripheral kind of relationship where you keep your distance because of you’re Christian conviction), then you find people who are deeply wounded by our (evangelical Christianity’s) rhetoric.

    Insta-thought: I think he’s speaking to the wrong crowd, then. If he wants to change the unchurched person’s perception of Christians, then perhaps he should be showing Jesus to non-Christians instead of getting angry at Christians. Seems more productive anyway.

    I don’t know . . . I think I’m tired of controversy. Our whole society seems stuck in permanent outrage mode. There’s always something to be angry about, and bumper stickers constantly remind us that “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.” Just makes me want to become a hermit.

  59. josh

    I think a big part of Webb’s motivation is incite these kinds of conversations. if so, then it’s a giant success so far.

  60. c.Lates

    i agree that we should not be worried that “someone might be offended.” when sharing the gospel we should expect people to strongly disagree or even be offended (1 cor. 1.18).

    but we must definitely be careful of our words and only speak “what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that is may benefit those who listen” (eph. 4.29). yes, different language can be used with different audiences because of different convictions over language. but, as a youth pastor, i fear my students listening to this song and thinking, “well, if derek webb said it, then i can too” (that’s really not an exaggeration if you consider a middle or high schooler’s reasoning skills).

    i personally do not have a problem with ‘bad words’ when used in a creative or relevant context, and therefore do not have a problem with the song. but language is big enough of a problem among students without having brothers and sisters in Christ helping out.

  61. ThatRobert

    Drew (#63), that’s exactly what I was thinking about this album. I really enjoyed the album both for his message and music but I think Derek is getting more and more out of step with his message vs. medium. The music and a lot of his attitudes about playing in churches vs. secular forums tell me that he really wants to reach out to non-Christians but his message is consistently directed to his brothers and sisters. I think he could be much more effective once he really decides who he wants to talk to.

  62. Russ W.

    I’m not going to lie. I haven’t read all of the comments on this page. I wish I had the time to, but there are 66 of them. I read many of them though and I also went to D. Webb’s concert last Saturday night in Jackson, TN. I have been a fan of Derek Webb for some time. His discussions on grace on the album “The House Show” rocked my world in a good way. I love diversity in music. I love it when anyone writes music in any style of music in hopes of reaching people for Christ or in order to build others up in Christ. As for using the specific “S word”, what’s wrong with the word “crap?” Of course, the Webb fanatic would say what is truly the difference between the word “crap” and the “S word?” Well, maybe there’s not a difference (and I’m not suggesting that there is), but in Paul’s discussion on eating meat in Corinthians (which is the standard by which Christ followers have generally made decisions concerning controversial actions) he says that if a person believes that something is wrong, then it is wrong for them, and we should avoid participating in the activity in front of them as it may cause them to stumble in their conviction. If someone believes that saying the “S Word” is wrong, then it is wrong for them and we as other believers should avoid using it in front of them. (And I don’t think it matters what I or anyone else thinks about this either. If they believe it is wrong, the Holy Bible says that it is wrong for them.) This is the same for many actions which are “permissible”. Are they beneficial for others? This is a big question that we must ask of ourselves. Paul goes on to say that we should not allow ourselves to sin by doing something that we know is not wrong in itself. And I care A LOT about the 50,000 people dying every day. I wish that this song wasn’t so controversial, because it could have reached a lot more people had it not been. A lot more people hear about World Vision and Compassion at concerts by people who don’t stir up controversy. I went to a concert by a popular Christian duo and it was there where I first found out how I could be involved in helping prevent the deaths of some of those 50,000. I believe that Mr. Webb is attempting to get that message out as well. There was an opportunity to help provide water for people in need at the end of the show and that’s admirable. I just wonder if avoiding the dreaded “S word” would have allowed him to spread this message to more and more people all the while making his point in the song.

  63. Kristy

    I have enjoyed much of Derek’s music in the past and still enjoy his style, although his message is a bit sad to me as he seems to say that the church ought to stop addressing sin (and therefore true grace and the cross message). On some points his critism of the church is very needed to challenge us as the bride of Christ to truly reflect Christ in our world. Loving God and loving others is the job of the local church. Unfortunately there’s this thing called sin which is in the church, because, well, it’s made up of imperfect people being shaped by Christ. Bashing the church, separating yourself from the church however does not help. Perfect or not we are the bride of Christ and are loved dearly by God.
    I’m not going to get into specific issues, but when God’s people (the church) stop saying that there is sin in the world (lying, addictions, stealing, adultery, homosexuality – none of these greater than the other), then why do we need God in the first place? Part of being the church is acknowledging our sin and the sin in the world so that we see our great need for God’s grace. When the church does this, it is not “mean” and “judgemental” – it is a means of grace. As we understand the seriousness of our sin more, we only see how much more we need to depend on God’s grace and holy righteousness. It is precisely because I am an unworthy sinner, that I need the cross! Jesus never said we can just “be yourself” – he said, deny yourself and take up your cross. He wants to change us from the sinful people we are to His holy and changed people.

  64. Amber Leffel

    Everyone, all your comments have been beneficial and so important to the discussion. I read almost every one. Jason Gray, thank you especially for your words — I feel like they came in and solidified the argument, summing everything necessary up.

    God bless you all.

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