Bad, Bad Theology

Written by: Nathan Birr

At the risk of offending friends, being excommunicated from the church, and possibly losing my salvation, may I suggest to you that Chris Tomlin’s “Good Good Father” is actually a bad, bad song?

I won’t dwell on the fact that I find the song kind of fluffy (yes, God is good, we are loved by Him, and He is perfect, but instead of just repeating those things, couldn’t we expound on the how and wherefore a little?) and hard for me to relate to, since I myself have never had God whisper to me in the night. Instead, I want to address the key issue I have with the song and the reason I’m writing this to begin with: it espouses bad theology.

Let’s look at the opening line of the song: “I’ve heard a thousand stories of what they think you’re like . . .” In other words, there are a lot of theories out there about who/what God is. Tomlin’s responds, “But I’ve heard the tender whispers of love in the dead of the night.” Do you see the problem? Tomlin doesn’t counter the myriad ideas about God with Scripture but with a night-time whisper. How does he know the whisper was God? How does he know the whisper was correct? And what differentiates Tomlin’s God experience (a whisper in the night) from the thousands of stories other people have? Couldn’t a Buddhist or a Hindu or a Mormon or a Muslim or a tree-worshipping Druid hear a whisper in the dead of the night telling them something warm and fuzzy too? That doesn’t make their “story” of God true.

The song should say, “I’ve heard a thousand stories of what they think you’re like, but I’ve read and studied the Bible and so I know the truth.” But that doesn’t flow off the tongue quite so well (not that flowing off the tongue well is apparently any kind of metric for Christian worship songs). This may not seem like a big deal, but what happens when a seeker shows up in our church, or a new Christian is there, and they’re trying to figure out who God is? We sing Chris Tomlin’s “Good Good Father,” and they go away from our service thinking that if they want to know God, they should go home, tuck themselves into bed, and wait for Him to whisper to them. And we’d better hope the “liar and father of lies” doesn’t “[masquerade] as an angel of light” and tickle their ears with midnight murmurings first. Instead, shouldn’t we be stressing to people (in our sermons, our worship songs, our everyday conversations) that if they want to know God or know what He’s like, there is one place and one place only where they should seek that knowledge—His Holy Word?

I don’t mean to denigrate Chris Tomlin, nor do I question his personal doctrine (because I don’t know it). I only know the theology expressed in his songs, and, at least in the case of “Good Good Father,” that theology contains a gaping hole—the song even promotes inaccurate theology. That promotion is not overt, and may not even be intentional, but I think that makes it all the more dangerous. And while the majority of the theology in the song is just fine, that doesn’t excuse the bad theology, and in fact, makes it easier for bad theology to slip by unnoticed. The good theology also loses its power because, not being rooted in the Bible, it has no authority—no more than anyone else’s argument for who or what God is like. And that is why I think “Good Good Father” is actually a bad, bad song, and why I propose it has no place in Christian worship services.

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Nathan Birr is an author of more than a dozen books, including “The Douglas Files,” a detective series dealing with tough issues from a Biblical worldview. He and his wife Sierra live in Sheboygan, WI. Nathan’s website is nathanbirr.com.

By | 2018-04-23T14:24:57+00:00 April 23rd, 2018|Categories: Uncategorized|7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. PJ April 24, 2018 at 4:10 pm - Reply

    AMEN and AMEN! Been saying it was a bad song for a long time. Thanks for giving some sound proof.

  2. Anonymous April 26, 2018 at 1:02 pm - Reply

    Mediocre doctrinally, but so are some of the hymns. We need to test all things by doctrine.

  3. Deb April 26, 2018 at 5:12 pm - Reply

    Amen! Thank you!

  4. Anna October 1, 2018 at 5:45 pm - Reply

    Chris Tomlin only popularized this song but it was written by Pat Barrett of Housefires. I am all for sound doctrine and theology for corporate worship, but I gotta say I was in a rough patch when I heard this song for the first time in my friend’s living room, and it encouraged me so much!

  5. Karen October 20, 2018 at 8:09 pm - Reply

    I was just about to leave the same comment as Anna above. I heard Casting Crowns sing this song at Red Rocks in 2016. How come no one’s crying “Stone THEM”???

    I am a classical pianist, and I don’t need to approve of the theology of Bach, Beethoven, Chopin and Rachmaninoff to appreciate their music. God has told us what pleases HIM in music (1 Chron. 15, when the ark of the Covenant was brought in by David, is a GREAT example of what pleases the Lord — “play LOUDLY on musical instruments,” and in Psalm 149 and 150 as well the Lord makes it clear that we are to “play with loud clashing cymbals”). THAT eliminates the acappela hymns my new church is singing (I have some work to do!). Lol.

  6. Mike November 4, 2018 at 6:08 am - Reply

    If your relationship with God is deep, then you will understand the song, its all about our personal relationship with the Father in heaven through Christ Jesus… the Bible says in John 10:27 “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:”

    Dear brother you are making an article base on your personal experience with God, and as a Christian not intending to offend you that your understanding about the song is superficial, ask the Holy Spirit to fill you with wisdom, knowledge and understanding so that your inner man (spirit) will grow and you will understand the deep things of His kingdom, and also seek more of Him in your life.

    John 10:2-5 King James Version (KJV)

    2 But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.
    3 To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.
    4 And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.
    5 And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.

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