Posted by: Billy Marsh | September 11, 2007

Have You Heard the One about the Musician, the Professor, and the Pastor?

As the world seems to produce more and more tragic events such as the 9/11 attacks, the Tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, the Virginia Tech shootings, and just recently, the Minneapolis Bridge collapse, many pastors and theologians are constantly being forced to come to terms with their theology of God, the problem of evil, and just who exactly is in control of the universe, if anyone really is at all? Is it all planned out or do things really just happen? These are some of the obvious questions that religious leaders are called upon to answer in dramatic times of need.

Recently, not very far from Bethelehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, a major interstate bridge collapsed causing the tragic deaths of many and numerous injuries of others. Naturally, John Piper, BHBC’s pastor, issued a pastoral/theological statement with regards to the natural disaster. However, the concept of a Sovereign God is not always received by some as satisfyingly pastoral nor theologically sound. An obivious opponent of Piper’s theological “answer” to this event is Dr. Roger Olson, professor of Theology at Baylor University. In his latest article on Calvinism he responds rather pessimisticly towards the “God of Calvinism” and even goes so far as to say, “I’m not sure how to distinguish him from the devil.”

Overdressed/Caedmon’s Call

Most of you shouldn’t be unfamiliar with this dialogue. It doesn’t take long for controversial issues as such to make their way across the internet landscape. However, a more recent addition to this discussion comes by way of a member of the band, Caedmon’s Call. In Dr. Olson’s article, he also references a song called “There is a Reason”, by a band that he leaves anonymous. By now, most of you should be aware that Caedmon’s Call has just released a new album entitled, Overdressed, from which “There is a Reason” was the first single released. I must admit, when I sampled this song and heard its sound theological content, I knew immediately it was going to be a “must have”. In addition to Piper’s words, the lyrical substance of the song prompted Olson to include it into his critique of Calvinism. Olson attacks Piper’s response to the bridge collapse and Caedmon’s Call’s song in order to bring into question what is the true cause of natural disasters and whether or not this type of theology is in error.

Andrew Osenga, independent artist/member of Caedmon’s Call, has responded to Olson’s comments in an article of his own found on his website and personal blog. Osenga, is the author of the song “There is a Reason” and has seen fit to write an open letter to Dr. Olson concerning his own take on Calvinism or Reformed theology, the size of Olson’s God, and how he himself deals with the problem of evil. I found Osenga’s response a little daring. It is encouraging to me to see a Christian musician “practicing what he sings” in that he really believes in his songs and is willing to defend them. This is why I care so much for Michael Card. Still, I was a little disappointed in the collective substance of Osenga’s rebuke of Olson. Some of his conclusions were a little weak, and he seemed to kind of ride the fence on the whole predestination/free will issue which is due to an oversimplification of the issue. However, I must commend him on his efforts to engage Olson. Read Osenga’s response for yourself and see what you think. I would like to see this more often from Christian musicians, who I feel hide their true theological convictions often behind abstract songs. I am so frustrated when I listen to a certain band or person thinking that from their music that believe one way and then eventually find out that they are the exact opposite. Thanks for being honest Andrew and keep writing Bible-saturated songs!

(P.S. I have placed a few songs in my media player from Caedmon Call’s past record including the one mentioned in the article, “There is a Reason” which display the more Reformed aspect of the group’s songwriting.”)

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