We who preach the gospel must not think of ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ and the world. We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, the world of sports or modern education. We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum. A.W. Tozer
Therefore let God-inspired Scripture decide between us; and on whichever side be found doctrines in harmony with the word of God, in favor of that side will be cast the vote of truth. --Basil of Caesarea
Once you learn to discern, there's no going back. You will begin to spot the lie everywhere it appears.

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service. 1 Timothy 1:12

Monday, May 31, 2010

Old Song Needs to Go

Yesterday in church we sang a song that was popular in the 1960s and 1970s among the “Jesus People,” and one I learned when I was studying with the Navigators during my Army days. It is titled, We Are One In the Spirit.

Over the years as I have matured in my faith, I get more and more annoyed by this little ditty. It’s a “feel-good” song, for sure, but the apologetic eye sees a serious biblical error in this song. Let me show you the third verse and see if you can spot the problem:

We will work with each other,
We will work side by side.
We will work with each other,
We will work side by side.
And we'll guard each man's dignity
And save each man's pride.

Do you see it? How many times do Christians sing this song without thinking about all the lyrics? Where is the discernment?

“And we’ll guard each man’s dignity and save each man’s pride.” Where is this taught in the Bible? Isn’t pride something that we have to guard against? Do we find anything in Scripture at all about saving each other’s pride? Some may argue that showing respect for someone is “guarding” their dignity; perhaps we can even say the dignity of man is the image of God. So I won’t quibble on this part because it can really get nuanced. But “saving” each other’s pride is something I just can’t validate at all.

Isn’t it time we threw this old “feel-good” song out?


Marie said...

I've never heard of the song, but my hyper-sensitive NANC radars went off the charts when I got to that line. "Save each man's pride". LOL...I take it these peeps don't believe in Total Depravity?

Drew said...

It obviously is meant to be an ecumenical song. Taken in context, saving each man's pride refers to accepting his erroneous heretical beliefs and accepting him as a brother without making him renounce them. And although guarding the "dignity" of Christians could theoretically be a good and biblical idea, the context shows that it means essentially the same thing as saving each man's pride.

I hate ecumenism.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Ecumenism is a tool of Satan!

Lois said...

Oh my, does that bring back memories of sitting around the bonfire at church camp with all the long-haired Jesus people! I do remember one song leader who changed the words and we sang, "We'll put away our dignity and throw away our pride," or something like that. He must have been wise beyond the times. Most of the "church" songs of that time were what I consider to be the start of today's contemporary Christian music. Yuck. Pass It On, If I had a Hammer, Kum Ba Ya, and poor Michael, endlessly rowing his boat in circles. Ha-ha.

Matt Vanden Heuvel said...

I beg to differ...
I too once was taken aback by this verse. Since then, I think it is actually a great thing to sing about when thinking about Christian love.
There is certainly bad pride, but just as certain there is good pride.
"pride" in the New Testament is most often used in the positive sense. There are some things that we can be proud of, such as a good name, a son or daughter, and brothers and sisters in Christ (aka the Church) and the local church, even mowing the grass well and making your lawn look nice. If someone were to attack these things that I ought to take proper pride in, especially behind my back, then if a brother of sister in Christ sticks up for me and saves my pride and stops a rumor or hurtful words then they would be in a sense "saving my pride" - That to me seems like Christian love.
This falls under the heart of the 9th commandment. And I think it falls under the description of love in 1 Cor 13.
Furthermore I could hardly imagine authorial intent of the song promoting such a silly idea that encourages sin. Just doesn't make any sense in that context.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...


You've GOT to be kidding! Is this what you see the Christian faith being about - saving each other's pride? Sorry, but I can't justify it the way you do, nor do I find this song having any place in worship.

Matt Vanden Heuvel said...

As I said in my post. There are 2 types of pride.
NT references of positive understandings of pride: 2 Cor 5:12, 7:4, 8:24, Gal 6:4, Jam 1:9+10

Furthermore, I did not say this is what the Christian faith is about, but I would say that following the 10 commandments (including the 9th) is something the Christian ought to strive for.

I suppose to a degree I am trying to do the words of this song in these posts. I do not know the author but as a Christian brother, I want to love on the author of this song and I (in the spirit of 1 Cor 13) expect the best rather than the worst of the author's intent. So out of love I am seeking to stick up for a good song that he could take pride in as he was seeking to serve God by writing about Christian love and unity.


Glenn E. Chatfield said...

I understand there are two types of pride. But the issue is singing a song during a worship service about saving each other’s pride and dignity. I think we have a whole lot more priority in the Christian walk than that, and a worship service is supposed to be about God - not about self. And another thing about this song is that we “pray that all unity may one day be restored.” That is unbiblical, because “all unity” will never be restored on earth. And I really don’t see how all this fits in with the 9th commandment, which is a proscription against bearing false witness.

I’m not looking at an author’s intent so much as what the words actually say. And the lyrics are just another feel-good song from the past. One’s intent doesn’t excuse error.

Justin Lloyd McKay said...

I like Jars of Clay's rendition of this song! Good song! I like it.

I don't think the song should be condemned as heresy.
Father's tell their sons, "I'm proud of you."
This song is about Christians loving other Christians.
What better way to publicly show a fellow Christian he/she is loved by 'guarding [their] dignity (or pride)'?

Here's my problem with your "analysis": "I’m not looking at an author’s intent so much as what the words actually say". Definition of dignity: "a sense of pride in oneself; self-respect".

"...we'll guard each man's dignity and save each man's pride..." means to protect fellow Christians from embarrasment/humiliation/shame.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...


It is NOT our job as Christians to guard someone else's pride. NEVER our job. This song is foolish and sappy. Mormons can be known by their love, but they aren't Christian. So the idea that people will know us by our love is also wrong and illogical.

And I never said it was heresy.

Mackenzie said...

"They'll know we are Christians by our love" is from John 13:35.

Having grown up Catholic, I had the impression the prayer for unity was about getting Orthodox and Protestants to rejoin the Catholic Church, but even aside from that, I think most Christians would agree the divisions within our religion are counterproductive.

As to the "guard each one's dignity and save each person's pride" line, I agree with Matt. Matthew 18 tells us when we have disagreements not to embarrass people, but instead go to them in private to work it out. And the story where Ham goes all "hey guys, dad's drunk and naked! Hahaha!" in Genesis 9 gets his offspring cursed, because rather than saving Noah's pride by covering him (like his brothers ended up doing) and keeping it quiet, he was a blabber mouth.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

John 13:35 has a context of true believers. The song includes everyone who claims to be Christian, including those following false teachings. But you'll notice I didn't even mention that part of the song; my complaint is with the verse noted.

I'm sorry, but we are not here to protect each other's pride or dignity. We are here to proclaim Christ. And we can't all be one in the Spirit as long as there are denominations which teach heresy (such as Roman Catholicism, ELCA, PCUSA). Divisions due to doctrine are NOT counterproductive, rather they are according to scripture.

I'm really surprised that people like touchy-feely songs and build them up into something the author probably never even though of!