Saturday, September 26, 2009

Models of atonement in contemporary worship songs

You would think the topic would have been well-studied, with lists of relevant songs collated, but nothing of substance comes up in a Google search for "models of atonement in contemporary worship songs." There are lists of sermon illustrations, but no lists of songs.

To fill that gap, and--with your help--to generate some illustrations to use in class next week, I offer this (very) preliminary list:

Thank You for the Cross - Matt Redman

Leave additional song names in the comments, and I will add them to the list.

Update: I have begun revising the list:

By His Wounds - Mac Powell (Penal Substitution/Satisfaction)
Highly Exalted - Robin Mark (Penal Substitution/Satisfaction
How Deep the Father's Love for Us - Stuart Townend (Penal Substitution/Satisfaction)
In Christ Alone - Stuart Townend (Christus Victor, Penal Substitution/Satisfaction)
Thank You for the Cross - Matt Redman (Moral influence?; no model discernible?)
You Are My King - Chris Tomlin (Penal Substitution)
The Wonder of Your Cross - Robin Mark (Moral Influence?)

Songs that should not have been written:
Above All - Paul Baloche

Thanks for the suggestions!
Update (May 2010): See my friend Dale Harris's thoughtful post and song on this topic.


Dale Harris said...

awesome list idea. here's some that come to mind right away:

You are my King (Amazing Love) Chris Tomlin (?) (Penal Substitution)

How Deep the Father's Love for Us, Stuart Townend (Penal Substitution/satisfaction, Moral Influence)

In Christ Alone, Townend (Christus Victor, (Penal Substitution/Satisfaction)

Grace flows down (it covers me...)(?penal substitution-- not really sure)

Above All, Baloche (Moral Influence)

The Wonder of Your Cross, Robin Mark (?moral influence)

I'll keep thinking.

Unknown said...

I looked through my binder from when I played in church a few years ago, and found many that might make your list:

Fire Fall Down (Marty Sampson, Hillsong United)

From God Above (Marty Sampson - Hillsong United)

Great Kindness (John Ellis - Tree63)

Hands of Kindness (Martin Smith - Stuart Garrard - Delirious?)

He Was Broken (Stephen Toon - probably won't find it on the internet, but the lyrics are: "He was broken for our brokenness / He has come to set the captives free / Jesus, come and set me free"

Here I Am to Worship (Tim Hughes)

How Sweet the Name (Delirious?)

Jesus, Friend of Sinners (Paul Oakley)

King of Glory (Chris Tomlin)

Lead Me (Martin Smith - Delirious?)

Light (Tim Saley - Hillsong United)

Look to You (Marty Sampson - Hillsong United)

Look What You've Done for Me (John Ellis - Tree63)

Lord I Lift Your Name on High (Rick Founds)

Majesty (Martin Smith - Delirious?)

My Redeemer Lives (Reuben Morgan)

Nothing but the Blood (Matt Redman)

Once Again (Matt Redman)

Our God Reigns (Delirious?)

Thank-you for Saving Me (Martin Smith - Delirious?)

Take All of Me (Hillsong United)

There is a Redeemer (Melody Green)

There is Nothing Like (Marty Sampson - Hillsong United)

Unashamed (Starfield)

Worthy (Matt Redman)

RogueMonk said...

I don't see any Moral Influence in How Deep The Father's Love for Us. Where would you see that?

Thank You for the Cross (Once Again) is certainly the satisfaction (aka Penal Substitution).

The Wonder of the Cross seems more Classis Theory (aka Cristus Victor) than Moral Influence to me. Although its not really all that clear. Moral Influence doesn't typically have a well developed theology of the cross.

Now, why should "Above All" not have been written? You'd think as a Biblical Scholar, you would have some appreciation for poetic language.

Blessings, RogueMonk

RogueMonk said...

PS - For a nice mix of Moral Influence and Classic (Christus Victor), take a look at Brian Doerkson's Hope of the Nations.

For a good mix of all three (Classic, Moral Influence and Satisfaction), I'd suggest In Christ Alone.

Blessings, RogueMonk

d. miller said...

Thanks for the suggestions, Rogue Monk:

Re: Above All

"Fall" rhymes with "all" and "like a rose" is a poetic image, albeit a cliched one. I can live with that, and I actually really like the first half of the song. "He took the fall and thought of *me* above all" is where I check out. It is individualistic, me-centred and wrong: According to the Gospels, Jesus didn't think about me as he was dying, he thought about how God had forsaken him. And he certainly didn't think about me "above all." That is God's position.

Anonymous said...

Yeah: on second thought, I think The Wonder of Your Cross is probably best described as Christus Victor ("What glory what victory I've found...") But, as with a lot of these songs, it's not so clear.

I'm thinking Thank You for the cross is more of a moral influence model with its emphasis on the subjective vs. objective

Moral influence is not the primary model in How Deep, but the start of the first verse and the end of the third verse seem to draw out the subjective aspects of the atonement in a way similar to moral influence. But "his wounds have paid ransom," "father turned his face away," "my sin upon his shoulders..." these are all penal substitution through and through.

Dale H.