CD Review-A Collision

by Rick Pidcock

a-collision.jpga-collision.jpgOne of my goals for this year as a corporate worship leader is to explore the elements of excellent worship music.  Even though our worship music is acceptable to God based on the perfecting work of Christ rather than on the quality of our gift, it is still important for us to reflect the infinitely excellent character of God by studying and playing worship music that is excellent as well.

One CD that I believe we can look to as a good example of this is David Crowder’s “A Collision.” The theme of the CD is, “When our depravity meets His divinity, it’s a beautiful collision.”  David Crowder explores this theme by dividing the CD into four main sections–all of which further our appreciation for the gospel that gives us life.

The first main section begins with a short quote from an old gospel song which says, “Everybody wants to go to heaven.  But nobody wants to die.”  This statement sets the tension for the rest of the CD–a tension of life and death.  The next song, “Come and Listen,” is a beautiful call to worship played mostly by a piano that calls us to sit and listen to all that God has done for us.  “Here Is Our King” plays off of the imagery of our King saving us from the ocean of our sin.  “Wholly Yours” contains an interesting play on words in which we find that in order to be “holy,” we have to be “wholly Yours.”  Then the first main section closes with “Foreverandever, etc.”, in which we are reminded that we are God’s forever.

The second main section begins with a short instrumental song entitled “A Quiet Interlude.”  The CD contains a number of these shorter songs as an attempt to carry the listener along on the journey musically.  The question here is asked, “O God, where are You now?”  This question is then explored with “Soon I Will Be Done With The Troubles Of The World,” “Be Lifted, Our Hope Is Rising,” “Lift Up Your Head,” and “I Saw the Light.” This section then ends once again with the question of where is God.

The third main section begins with the song “Do Not Move,” in which we are reminded of a number of paradoxes of the cross.  Then, in perhaps one of my favorite songs on the CD, “Come Awake” calls us who were dead to become alive so that one day in death we can experience the hope of the resurrection.  The song begins with the sound of a heart monitor that flattens out.  Then later in the song, as David begins calmly singing “arise,” you can hear a clock ticking.  And as the song climaxes, the sound of an alarm clock rings in the background creating an imagery of waking up to the life that we have been given.  The theme continues then with “You Are My Joy” in which David uses some great chord transitions that help to reinforce the idea that the God that gave us this life is our joy.

The final main section of the CD begins with the proclamation, “We’ve already won!”  And yet, it also reminds us that “Rescue is coming.” In other words, life is not always going to be wonderful.  Even though we have been given the victory in Christ, the rescue is still incomplete in our experience of it.  What a great “already, but not yet” illustration of the gospel!

I must admit that the final two tracks of the CD had me confused for a while.  But they actually tie in quite nicely with some of the conversations that we have been having here lately.  “A Conversation” is simply a humorous interview with David in which the interviewer doesn’t have much of a clue who the David Crowder Band is.  And this interview leads into the final song entitled “The Lark Ascending.”  David reads a poem in which a Lark ascending “lifts us up with him as he goes.” 

A few parallels can be drawn from this.  One possibility is that Christ lifts us up with Him into heaven.  This idea plays on the theme of life, death, and resurrection that permeates the CD.  Another possibility lies in the art of it all.  Just as a lark lifts the person in the poem up with him, art can lift us up as well.  Just as God lifts us up in Christ, He has given us the gift of art that can be used to encourage and lift one another up as it is explored through the depths of a Christ-centered understanding of it.

“A Collision” is a great example of a CD with God-centered, gospel-driven lyric with music that explores the complexities and tensions of the various themes of grace.  You can purchase the CD online as well as listen to some free samples of each song.

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13 thoughts on “CD Review-A Collision

  1. “Even though our worship music is acceptable to God based on the perfecting work of Christ rather than on the quality of our gift…”

    I find this statement troubling.

    I would think that both how we worship and the gift we bring are important factors in whether “our worship music is acceptable to God.” That’s not to say that our worship could ever be perfect, but it is to say that our heart certainly matters and the gift we bring certainly matters (think Cain).

  2. Jason,

    1 Peter 2:5 says, “You yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”

    God has made us to be priests so that we can offer acceptable worship to Him. So the question that we all must ask is, “How can my worship be acceptable to Him?”

    The answer to that is “through Jesus Christ.” No matter how skillful my music is, no matter how pure my heart may be, all of my worship is imperfect before a perfect God.

    The natural temptation for anybody that desires to offer excellent worship is to place their confidence in the quality of their worship. So I’m trying to caution us right from the start that we should not place our confidence in anything to do with ourselves when we pursue excellence in worship.

    With that said, we still must come to God with pure hearts. Otherwise, God does not want to hear our worship (Amos 5:23).

  3. I really liked your way of putting this: “it is still important for us to reflect the infinitely excellent character of God by studying and playing worship music that is excellent as well.”

    Should we strive for excellence out of an attempt to earn favor with God? Of course not. But our desire to craft works of truth and beauty, and to do them well, is a reflection of our having been made in the image of God.

  4. Sure Rick. That makes sense. But that’s dealing with our worship. Not our worship music. You said “our worship MUSIC is acceptable to God based on the perfecting work of Christ.” Are you referring to the music itself or something else maybe?

  5. Jason,

    I think we would agree that God is a perfectly holy God who is deserving of perfectly holy worship.

    However, as fallen sinners, none of us can offer perfectly holy worship to God. Every element of our worship falls short of the infinite worth of our Creator.

    So remembering 1 Peter 2:5, our imperfect worship has been made acceptable to God through the perfecting work of Christ.

    With that in mind, I would submit that even the music itself, as an element of our worship, is made acceptable to God based on the perfecting work of Christ. I do not believe that some music is acceptable to God, while other styles are not. Instead, I believe that all of our music falls short of the glory of God. But when offered through faith in Christ, God accepts our worship based on the perfecting merits of Christ, and not on our ability to find the style that we think in our limited minds somehow measures up to His glory.

    It’s vital to have that understanding when we discuss what is excellent worship music so that our confidence will rest in Christ alone, rather than in ourselves.

  6. That doesn’t make much sense to me.

    1) If my worship is deficient through my falleness, God’s grace makes up the difference to make it acceptable to God.

    2) So if my worship MUSIC is deficient through human falleness, you’re suggesting that God’s grace makes up the difference to make it acceptable to God.

    In the first scenario, it is moral deficiency that is compensated for by the grace of God. But it seems to me that you’re suggesting that in the second scenario, it is the quality of music within a stylistic context that creates the deficiency. In order to treat these two things as parallel in the way you apply the biblical principle, you have see both issues as being moral. In other words, how can you say that God’s justifying work is parallel to making up for playing the wrong chord?

  7. Let’s try it this way.

    Everything about God is infinitely worthy of perfect worship.

    Everything about us is incapable of offering that perfect worship. Our whole-life worship falls short of being worthy of God. Even our corporate worship does as well. Our lyrics, music, purity, and passion all fall so short of magnifying God to the degree that He deserves to be magnified.

    Yet, 1 Peter 2:9 says, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”

    So how can we who are incapable of offering acceptable worship offer acceptable worship to God? Simply because God has chosen to make us priests, a holy nation, and His people.

    Thus, when our worship is offered “through Christ” (1 Pet. 2:4), God accepts our worship as if Christ was offering it.

    I may be misunderstanding you. But you seem like you want to say that our worship is made acceptable by Christ, but that specific elements (music) of our worship are not. I don’t see how you can divorce worship from the elements through which we worship.

    I’m not saying that somehow God magically changes which chords we played to the right ones. I’m saying that he takes a qualitatively insufficient gift and makes it worthy when it is offered through faith in Christ.

    What would you suggest the principle be here? Would you say that we shouldn’t offer our worship by faith in Christ? Would you say that none of this matters? On what basis do you think God accepts your whole-life worship throughout the week? On what basis do you think God accepts your corporate worship on Sunday morning? Just wondering.

  8. I agree that every aspect of our lives is insufficient and we are only ever acceptable to God in Christ.

    But we are still responsible to live holy lives. And if that’s true, I’d suggest that we are also still responsible to use the right kind of music.

    In other words, there is still some music which should not be used by a Christian just as there are still some other things (adultery, lust, pride, etc.) which should not be used by a Christian.

    The only way the argument stands is if music is morally neutral. And that’s another discussion. =)

  9. I agree that God has called us to live holy lives.

    So if, as you suggest, we are responsible to use the right kind of music, then what defines the right kind of music?

    Since the Scripture is sufficient for life and godliness, I would say that Scripture must define for us what God expects.

    As you pointed out, there are many places where Scripture clearly defines what God expects from us in areas such as adultery, lust, pride, etc.

    So where does Scripture clearly define what God expects from us musically?

  10. Isaiah 64:6 explains, “We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.” (Also, Romans 3:23, Romans 12:1-2, Romans 14:18, Romans 15:16, Hebrews 11:4, and others…)

    Firstly, the whole law testifies that we are in need of knowing what we are required to do. Our sin, making our doing of any part of the law unacceptable on every level to God (see above), does not relinquish our responsibility to do the law (Hebrews 8:10, 10:16).

    Secondly, because of sin, even our best deeds (i.e. that which is even what we would deem moral and right- including “right kinds of music” (whatever that means) are unacceptable to God and thereby deserving of punishment of death for trying to offer it to God.

    This means even the worship we offer to God is tainted with sin and deserving of punishment of death for offering it to God. Further, this also means that even the music we would deem as “right music” is an abomination to God.

    And on a side note (but VERY related), our faith is imperfect and deserving of punishment of death….

    Thirdly, it is only through faith that we are acceptable to God, and therefore, our doing is acceptable to God- that is, (and this shouldn’t really have to be said, but I’ll say it anyway) if our doing is lawful. In other words, if someone steals and does it in faith, it is still wrong because God has clearly commanded we are not to steal.

    Another side note, even if our doing of the law is without faith, our doing of the law is good for us (Psalm 19,7, 37:31, 119:72) but the law can only condemn and not save (Hebrews 10:1-4, Romans 8:3-4).

    Further, even though our faith in Jesus is imperfect it is still perfected by Jesus.

    So what does this all mean?

    Regardless of whether a piece of music we play is “right music” (again, whatever that means) if we do not do it in faith in Christ, it’s worthless and unacceptable to God. Conversely, if someone is playing “wrong music”
    (also, whatever that means), yet doing it in faith it will be acceptable.

    At this point, I must point us to Romans 6 because I know the objection that was just raised in your mind. In the words of Paul, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”

    This leads to Rick’s last question, “So where does Scripture clearly define what God expects from us musically?” In other words, “Where does Scripture say certain kinds of music are sinful and others are acceptable?”

    What makes something sinful? For one, disobeying God in any point of the law. Second, doing something without faith in Jesus.

    So, based on Scripture, what types/kinds of music are acceptable to God? And, what types/kinds of music are not acceptable to God? (I have not found a good explanation of what God has commanded in Scripture what music is right and what music is wrong….) And since the idea that “X” music is right and “Y” music is wrong is a silent issue, the burden rests on those who hold to that idea to prove it.

    I’m still thinking on this issue…..

  11. Dave,

    Thanks for taking the time to write such a well-thought out response. You are really getting to the heart of what I’m trying to say.

    First, there is no clearly revealed law as to universal music standards. Thus, to say that there is elevates one’s own opinion or application above the authoritative level of Scripture.

    Second, to then say that God accepts your worship because you adhere to that extra-biblical opinion, means that you are not offering your worship by faith in Christ, but rather by faith in your own man-made ideas.

    The burden of proof that God prescribes a specific style of music should be on the individual that says it is clearly in Scripture. If it is, then we would all need to submit to it. But even then, our submitting to it would still only be acceptable if it is offered by faith in the perfecting work of Christ.

    To be quite honest, it seems to me that if you think you have a style of music that God accepts as a style worthy of His own glory and excellence, then you either have a low view of God’s glory or a high view of your righteousness.

  12. Rick,

    If music itself is not neutral, if it inherently communicates moral thoughts/ideas/values, then every style of music is accountable to all of Scripture to communicate in line with God’s thoughts/ideas/values. The only way your argument stands is if music itself is amoral or neutral, yet the idea that music is amoral or neutral is a proposition that would be laughed off the stage of any historical or secular theatre of thought.

    And I agree that the right kind of music from the wrong kind of heart is not acceptable. I also agree that God “compensates” for our weakness and frailty and accepts the wrong kind of music from the right kind of heart. But then to argue that I can therefore use any kind of music ultimately reveals the wrong kind of heart.

  13. Jason,

    It sounds like we agree on a number of big points here, but I think our main disagreement comes with defining the morality of music.

    I addressed this a bit more thoroughly in my article entitled “Excellent Worship Music: Part Two,” and will continue to do more in detail in some upcoming articles.

    In short, I do not believe that any style of music is inherently good or bad in and of itself. If a music style communicates anger, it could be communicating anger against everything from sin to God. If a music style communicates something sexual, it could be communicating it within the context of a husband/wife relationship or within the context of an adulterous relationship. If a style communicates something joyful, it could be rejoicing over the gospel or over sin.

    So I don’t think you can just label certain styles as good or bad. Yet, still there are a number of factors to consider when choosing what style to use.

    In short, I believe that you begin by internalizing the biblical princples of God, the gospel, worship, music, and one anothering. Then you study the context in which God has sovereignly placed you in as a minister of His grace. And finally, I believe you should choose the songs and styles that build up those whom God has called you to minister to into worshipers in light of the biblical principles of God, the gospel, worship, music, and one anothering. In other words, the morality of music communication lies not in the notes, chords, or rhythms themselves, but rather in the edifying or corruptive effect that those notes, chords, and rhythms have on the listener.

    The result of this is that not only do we avoid making universal rules where the Bible does not, we also excercise biblical discernment in choosing the songs and styles that best glorify God in the context where He has chosen us to minister in.

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