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reasonable theological concern, or overly picky?

I was thinking through some songs that we haven’t sung for a while in church, and this issue came to mind, so I thought I’d share it here. One of my main criterion when selecting songs for the church to sing (and I plan the music for almost every week) is that they be theologically sound. This manages to disqualify a substantive number of modern praise songs, and a suprising number of older hymns from our hymnal. I might go so far as to say that this is my primary criterion. Certainly there are others; singability is right up there. But theological correctness has got to be at the top of the list.

So we come to today’s topic: the old chorus “Create In Me A Clean Heart”. The text is pretty much straight from Psalm 51:

Create in me a clean heart oh God,
And renew a right spirit within me.
Create in me a clean heart oh God,
And renew a right spirit within me.

And cast me not away from Thy presence oh Lord,
And take not Thy Holy Spirit from me.
Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation,
And renew a right spirit within me.

My theological nit is with the fifth and sixth lines. When David penned these words some 1500 years before Christ, the threat of having the Holy Spirit taken from him was quite a real one; he had seen a similar thing happen to Saul when Saul rebelled against God. At that time the Holy Spirit didn’t indwell all those who believed in God, but God specifically directed the Spirit to rest on certain people at certain times. But now we’re after Pentecost, and so those that believe are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit remains as a seal of our salvation. We’re not in danger of having God take it away.

So on to my theological question. While I love the submissive attitude of the first part of this chorus, I have real questions about singing those two lines, because I think they represent a fear or concern that we shouldn’t have. Is this an appropriate distinction to make? Or am I being overly picky? Your thoughts are appreciated.

Be First to Comment

  1. Hebrews 6 comes to mind first. We can taste of the Holy Spirit, and still fall away. I believe tha the danger of apostasy is a very real danger for NT christians.

  2. Hmmm….. yeah, that passage is applicable for sure. But I’m still not sure that I’m comfortable with the idea of God’s people coming together, and their song being a plea to “take not Thy Spirit from me” when God has no intention of taking it from them. Maybe my non-Reformedness is showing through here?

  3. Nah, I think it’s reasonable (unlike nonreformedness, right?;))

    Do you think God intends to have people in our congregations die from illnesses, or get into car accidents, or lose their jobs?
    But I don’t think we have a problem with praying that none of those things would happen to our people, right?

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