Hymns & Songs

Can we sing songs written by struggling Christians?

Nov 2009    

The Healer

Verse
You hold my every moment
You calm my raging seas
You walk with me through fire
And heal all my disease
I trust in You
I trust in You

Chorus
I believe You’re my Healer
I believe You are all I need
I believe You’re my Portion
I believe You’re more than enough for me
Jesus You’re all I need

Bridge
Nothing is impossible for You
Nothing is impossible for You
Nothing is impossible for You
You hold my world in Your hands

Words and Music © 2008, Mike Guglielmucci

IN AUGUST 2008, Mike Guglielmucci, a Melbourne-based pastor, who wrote the song “The Healer” confessed to his two-year fraudulent claim of suffering from cancer.

Subsequently in a statement read by his father, who pastors Edge Church International at Reynella, Mike admitted to his 16-year obsession with pornography as the reason for creating this claim in order to hide his ills. As a result, this highly popular song was excised from the Hillsong 2008 recording project.

However, before one joins in the bandwagon to point a judging finger at him, I think it is important to remember that Ralph Vaughan Williams, the famous English composer whose hymn tune, Sine Nomine, is matched with the text “All Praise to ee, for Thou, O King Divine” or had arranged the tune set to “All Creatures of Our God and King”, was an atheist.

According to his second wife, Ursula Wood, “He was never a professing Christian.”1

How does the Church understand the creative efforts of people such as Guglielmucci and Williams? Can we still sing these works even if they come from struggling Christian and non-Christian?

Can we all claim to be acceptable to God in the first place? Here, I think, we need to be guided by Jesus’ comment in Mark 9: 38-40.

The Gospel account tells us, “Teacher,” said John, “we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.” “Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “No one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us.”

In addition, the Church has a theological position that sees the efficacy of the Sacraments in terms of Ex opere operato. 2 By this, the Church understands that the power of the Sacrament to convey the grace of God does not depend on the spiritual condition of the one administering it.

Just as there is power in the blood of Christ that we often sing, we can readily experience God’s unconditional grace through the Sacrament which is an act of God’s self-giving regardless of who administers the rite.

So, can we use songs that draw us to God even if the creators themselves struggle to come to terms with the love of God? What do you think?

Website: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N-HKRtoUrP0 accessed 30 September 2009.

1 Hugh Ottaway, “Vaughan Williams, Ralph,” in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, Vol. 19. Stanley Sadie, ed. (London: Macmillan Publishers Ltd, 1980), 569.

2 For a brief understanding of this theological term see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ex_opere_operato accessed 30 September 2009.

BOOKS

New books on medical ethics

THE NATIONAL COUNCIL OF CHURCHES (NCCS) has published two books on medical ethics in response to recent developments and debates in the media.

The first book, The Ethics of Human Organ Trading, discusses the commercialisation of human organs for life-saving transplants. It provides a Christian perspective on the ethical issues that surround the legalisation of human organ trading.

In the second book, The Right to Die? A Christian Response to Euthanasia, the ethics of physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia is discussed.

These books, written by Dr Roland Chia, offer lucid expositions of the positions of the NCCS on these important issues in medical ethics and serve as helpful primers for pastors, church leaders and Christians. Dr Chia is Chew Hock Hin Professor of Christian Doctrine and Dean of Postgraduate Studies at Trinity Theological College and a regular contributor to Methodist Message. The books are available at NCCS, Trinity Theological College, Kinokuniya, MPH and at amazon.com

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