Archive

Archive for August, 2008

Who is Matisyahu’s God?

August 31, 2008 101 comments

I’ve known about Matisyahu for a while, but I never listened to him before tonight. I’m staying the night at a friend’s house and I was looking at their shared iTunes songs and they had some Matisyahu. If you don’t know who he is, Matisyahu is an hasidic Jewish reggae singer. He has become quite popular with videos playing frequently on MTV.

Much of his music is laden with Biblical language, and thus it appeals to many Christians. Such lyrics include:

In the ancient days, we will return with no delay
Picking up the bounty and the spoils on our way
We’ve been traveling from state to state
And them don’t understand what they say
3,000 years with no place to be
And they want me to give up my milk and honey
Don’t you see, it’s not about the land or the sea
Not the country but the dwelling of his majesty

Jerusalem, if I forget you,
fire not gonna come from me tongue.
Jerusalem, if I forget you,
let my right hand forget what it’s supposed to do.

One of the songs is called “King Without a Crown.” Some of the lyrics are:

You’re all that I have and you’re all that I need
Each and every day I pray to get to know your peace
Wanna be close to you, yes I’m so hungry
You’re like water for my soul when it gets thirsty

If you’re drowning in the waters and you can’t stay afloat
Ask Hasheem for mercy {and} he’ll throw you a rope

Much of the song is encouragement to seek God and to try to live a better life, asking for God to help you do so. Apparently Matisyahu was a heavy drug user earlier in his life, and the video and song are obviously an autobiographical depiction of someone who overcame their demons.

I have heard a lot of Christians say they like his music. I agree that his music is good… but if someone is looking to Matisyahu as a prophet proclaiming God’s Word, I’m afraid he is very far from it.

The title of the song is “King Without a Crown.” Such a title may sound familiar to Christians. Jesus is often described in such a way. However, this is not at all what Matisyahu is referring to in his song. He continues:

If you’re drowning in the waters and you can’t stay afloat
Ask Hasheem for mercy {and} he’ll throw you a rope
(You’re) lookin’ for help from God; you say he couldn’t be found
Searching up to the sky and looking beneath the ground
Like a King without his Crown
You keep fallin’ down
You really want to live but can’t get rid of your frown
You(‘re) try(in’) to reach unto the heights and wound bound down on the ground

Matisyahu’s King without his Crown is not Christ, it is himself. The chorus of the song reveals more:

What’s this feeling?
My love will rip a hole in the ceiling
(I give/Givin’} myself to you {now} from the essence of my being
and I sing to my God, songs of love and healing

I want Moshiach now so it’s time we start revealing

I’m not entirely sure what he means by “it’s time we start revealing.” But it is clear that Matisyahu is still waiting for the Messiah (Moshiach). Jesus made it clear that he was the Christ, the Messiah:

Luke 24:25 And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

Consider also the words of Christ to the Pharisees:

John 5:30 “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me. 31 If I alone bear witness about myself, my testimony is not deemed true. 32 There is another who bears witness about me, and I know that the testimony that he bears about me is true. 33 You sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. 34 Not that the testimony that I receive is from man, but I say these things so that you may be saved. 35 He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. 36 But the testimony that I have is greater than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me. 37 And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen, 38 and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent. 39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. 41 I do not receive glory from people. 42 But I know that you do not have the love of God within you. 43 I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him. 44 How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? 45 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”

So then. the question is, who is Matisyahu worshiping?

Advertisements
Categories: theology Tags: ,

John W. Robbins (1949-2008)

August 16, 2008 12 comments

John William Robbins ( 1948-2008 ) died at his home in Unicoi County, Tennessee on Thursday, August, 14. He was 59.

I am indebted to Robbins’ life work. He has helped more than any other theologian, second to my pastor, understand what it means to have a biblical worldview. God gifted him with a great mind and, in my opinion, he put it to very great use. However, not everyone shares my opinion, to say the least.

Robbins’ work is often simply ignored because people do not appreciate his tone. Gary North said “He was a bulldog in everything he did.” I have heard Robbins’ worked described as “some of the most vitriolic rage on the internet.” He has been described as a drug “pusher” responsible for getting young Christians hooked on Gordon Clark’s “methamphetamine” Scripturalism. I once had a conversation with a professedly Reformed Christian who told me he “hate(d) John Robbins so much,” he wanted to become a Roman Catholic just to spite him.

Now I recently listened to John Piper’s biography of the great defender of the faith, J. Gresham Machen and I learned something of great interest:

Others attribute the controversies and divisions that Machen was involved in, and often the ringleader of at that, being due to in large part to his peculiar personality, for example, his “temperamental idiosyncrasies.”(36) That is, it is claimed that Machen was a very difficult man to get along with, even for his friends. Machen has been called just about everything including: bigoted, cankerous, a crank, inflexible, intolerant, lacking the ability to separate people from the issues he disagreed with, militant, narrow-minded, an obscurantist, rigid, temperamental (given to fits of anger), a troublemaker, and so forth.

http://www.apologeticsinfo.org/papers/machen.html

He seemed to have a personality that alienated people too easily. The committee that did not recommend him to the chair of apologetics at Princeton referred to his “temperamental idiosyncrasies” (see note 63). He seems to have had “a flaring temper and a propensity to make strong remarks about individuals with whom he disagreed” (see note 64).

http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/Biographies/1464_J_Gresham_Machens_Response_to_Modernism/

J. Gresham Machen – especially as a commonsense theologian and as a Southerner – in some ways might be considered a period piece. Not only that, he might be considered a cantankerous period piece. He had a personality that only his good friends found appealing, and he stood for a narrow Old School confessionalism and exclusivism that many people today find appalling. Nonetheless, despite all these features which might tempt us to dismiss him, I think we can also see there was a deeply committed Christian of great insight.

-George Marsden, “Understanding J. Gresham Machen,” in Understanding Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism, p. 200

Perhaps future generation will look more kindly upon John W. Robbins than men do today. Hopefully they will at least read his life’s work.

Categories: economics, politics, theology