My church’s worship leader insists on leading our congregation in singing “God of All Nations” by New Boys. Making matters worse, the video projected on the screen (as in, live video behind the lyrics) plays a rotating loop of fluttering national flags. More on that later.
Let’s take a look as what we’re actually being force to sing, for certainly it gets worse as it goes. Let’s start:
God of all nations
Lord of creation
It’s in the bonds of love we meet
We come together at Your feet
There is no questions that the Lord is King of Kings and Lord over all creation; no problem there. Where thing go awry is the declaration of what unites us in meeting: “love.” From this it’s far from clear whose “love” it is that proves these bonds. Is it Christ’s love for us that creates the “bond” for meeting? It seems, as I ponder the vapid lyric, that our “love” is the bond as “we meet” and “we come together” before God. The over-arching idea behind this lyric is that Christians from all nations are gathering together, and while the event may be to worship, the “bond” is our own love far more so than being a people in covenant or bought by Christ’s blood.
Equal in Your sight
Made one by Your might
You’ve called us to restore Your lands
And place them back within Your hands
Here’s the lyrics take a turn toward the clearly unbiblical. In theological circles this is known generically as “theonomy” (more specifically “Christian Reconstructionism”) and known informally as “Kingdom Now” or “Latter Rain” theology. Simply put, this (false) teaching instructs us to claim earthly kingdoms for Christ, that is, to “take back” the world for Christ. You see this in the “Jesus for President” mentality, or when some ill-informed pastor talks of “taking America back for Jesus!” The error here, and in the lyric above, is pure kingdom confusion born of ignorance of Jesus’ own actions and words on the subject. They tried to give Jesus an earthly King but he would have none of it (John 6:15). When Pontius Pilate asked Jesus if Jesus was a king, our Lord replied in redundant emphasis:
“My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world” [John 18:36]
Jesus clearly stated—twice for emphasis—that His Kingdom was “not of this world.” He goes further to drive home the separation between the kingdoms of man and the Kingdom of Christ by noting what would have happened if Jesus had any interest in establishing such an Earthly kingdom: “If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting.” Jesus utter rejected all notion Christians theocracy along with any involvement in such a venture!
The lyrics claim that God has “called us to restore [His] lands and place them back within [His] hands,” yet absolutely no such commandments are ever given to Christians. We have a ministry of “reconcilliaiton,” that of reconciling God and man through the Gospel. Further, the teach none too subtly that ” [God's] lands” are not now “within [God's] hands.” But how is it that the nations of the Earth are somehow out of the hands of Almighty God? And, what would it look like for “us to restore” these lands to the point where they would be “back” in God’s possession? The answers reek of Kingdom confusion and theoractic fantasies that Jesus made a point of rejecting.
But Let’s continue…
God of all nations
Lord of creation
Your purpose is our hope, our bread
All You’ve planned and all You’ve said
So according to the lyricist, God’s “purpose” and plans are our hope and bread. Though Jesus actually taught the He—Jesus Himself, the Word made flesh—is “the bread of life,” the lyrics teach the its not Christ Himself but His “purpose” plans that are our bread and the source of our hope. Given the kingdom confusion discussed above, one wonders what “purpose” the lyricist finds as the source of hope! But Christ is the “bread of life,” the source of all nourishment for Christians. Even the noble affections of Christian living (such as holiness, purity, reconciliation between God and man, restoration of families, etc.) are good and right, but become unhealthy when the benefit is more sought than the source, who is Christ. Christ is not a means to and ends, He is the ends.
Beyond the unbiblical lyrics, my church projects worship lyrics super-imposed over video. In the case of this song, the lyrics are projected over a series of clips of fluttering national flags. Some of these flags have Islamic symbols, including (and most disturbing to me) the Saudi flag. The flag has as its centerpiece the “shahada,” the Arabic testimonial statement of Islam: “There is no god but Allah, Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.” Beneath the Arabic script is a sword, a prominent symbol in the blood-drenched religion of jihad. As the video loops behind the lyrics, the images of Islamic flags take center stage in the church.
So… I find myself singing theonomist lyrics, extolling the “return” of “lands” back into God’s hands, while Islamic symbolism on flags are showcased behind these lyrics. It’s no wonder I hardly want to go to church some Sundays. I swear I’m walking out the next time this combination happens. I can’t “worship” like this.