American Idol Fashions An American Idol

I do not regularly watch American Idol, mainly for the reasons associated with its name, where teenagers and young men and women become in a short period of time the posterized idols of millions of Americans. But I happened to catch the end of last Wednesday’s edition deemed “American Idol Gives Back”.

The entirety of the show was devoted to philanthropic ideals and the social gospel. They raised money for the poor, they devoted funds for relief efforts, they built homes and provided medicines for the diseased and homeless. Included in the efforts were big-screen stars Brad Pitt, Ben Stiller, and singers, Mariah Carey and Alicia Keys, among others.

I applaud their philanthropy, but I wonder if something can be truly philanthropic without having Christ as its end, without seeing the nations drawn to rejoice in God. In a sense, it is a shameful thing upon the Church that those who reject Christ would do more philanthropic things than those who know Christ and therefore know the ultimate end of such endeavors, which is that Christ be glorified. We ought to be engaged in feeding the world, in providing for the homeless, in sharing a glass of pure water with those who travel miles for a mud hole – and we ought to do it in a way that declares our distinctive love for them, but that in no way leaves them satisfied by those things alone without being confronted with Him who satisfies all things and that completely so! In other words, meeting the physical needs of people should be a priority of the Church, but passionately secondary; for in all things and in every way we ought to endeavor to take every illness, every hunger, every thirst, every impoverishment, every ideology, etc., captive and make it obedient to Christ, that they may be truly satisfied in Him alone, and overflowing with the pure Gospel that leads to a God-entranced passion in all things.

But aside from “Idols” giving back edition, I was taken back by the stamp that they put on their efforts when they sang the older contemporary Christian song – “Shout to the Lord”. Here are the essential lyrics to the song:

“My Jesus, My Savior Lord there is none like
You All of my days, I want to praise
The wonders of Your mighty love
My Comfort, My Shelter
Tower of refuge and strength
Let every breath, all that I am
Never cease to worship You
(Chorus)
Shout to the Lord, all the earth
Let us sing. Power and majesty, praise to the King.
Mountains bow down and the seas will roar
At the sound of Your name
I sing for joy at the work of Your hands
Forever I’ll love you, forever I’ll stand
Nothing compares to the promise I have in YOU!”

I found myself wondering “why?” or “how?” or “what?” or “really!?” The contestants joined in with a “gospel” choir, Ryan Seacrest “passionately” called out the name of the song, and off they went into vanity, and blasphemy, idolatry, and pluralism – and five seconds afterwards, they had to make sure that Ben Stiller (presumedly Jewish) received twenty seconds in which he was “bleeped” out four or five times!

Did they truly listen to what they were singing? They took out the name of Jesus and replaced it with “My Shepherd, My Savior” to avoid religious repercussions and make sure that anyone in the place could put the name of their god in the place of “Shepherd”. On what can only be described as a secular (and often godless) sing-a-long the house rocked with “Let every breath, all that I am, never cease to worship you…nothing compares to the promise I have in YOU!” And they fashioned a god for themselves, for though they sang the words (with the previously mentioned exception) of a Christian song, the biblical God and the exclusivity of the name of Jesus Christ were certainly not intended. This was the “god” of all people and faith structures and religions and spiritualities, the “god” who helps people and gives people material things and is outworking himself through Brad Pitt, and Mariah Carey, etc., the “god” within the self and the collaborative efforts of creatures (human beings).

I wonder, if no money had been raised, no homes built, or a tragic disaster had thwarted the night when “American Idol gave back”; if touching stories had been left untold, if everyone had been stripped of everything they had, from Ben Stiller to the African child – stomach protruding from starvation and diarrhea, would they have stayed on course, would they have still sang the “praises of His name”, would they have collaborated to “shout to the Lord…to worship Him…to sing for joy at the work of His hands”, would they have still considered the “promise” that we have in Christ alone to be beyond comparison? Do they even know what the promise is?

In the end, American Idol fashioned an American idol – the “everything goes good and everybody walks away ignorantly happy” god; the god who “makes me feel better inside, gives me fuzzy feelings, and allows me to go to bed at night without a true care in the world.” This god is the false god of the cosmos that everyone can tolerate so long as he does what he is supposed to do – which of course is in accordance with our will – and throw in a little world peace on the side so long as we can be recognized for it. It was a display of the god of consumerism, for though in appearance the acts were cloaked in sacrifice, yet, the acts were consumed with mammon and good will as its ends, and that is necessary in every missionary endeavor, but it is only missionary when the money is a means to something greater – the propagation of the Gospel of Christ and the joy of the nations in Jehovah through Jesus.

Positively, what happened last Wednesday is an opening for the true Gospel of Christ, where God is the Treasure even in the midst of pain, loss, sickness, and despair, where we are satisfied in God and rejoice in the suffering that comes in the preaching and promoting of the biblical Gospel. Moreover, revealed is the depraved knowledge that every person has of the one True and Living God, and the Truth that they have suppressed in their ungodliness and unrighteousness. The Word of God holds true – God has made Himself plain to them and they are without excuse, because they have traded in His glory for images “resembling mortal man”. And one must wonder, what might that song have testified to in their own suppressive hearts? They sang “Shout to the Lord”, and harmonized in praise of His “wonders”, “mighty love”, “comfort”, “shelter”, “power”, “majesty”, “kingship”, “worth”, “creative works”, “name”, and “incomparable promise”!

“For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For His invisible attributes, namely, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For (because) although they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks to Him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man…” Romans 1:19-23.

In consideration of these things, I wish that I might have been there on stage with them, given a great boldness to witness of God in the way that Paul did in Athens in the Areopagus address having observed the suppressed knowledge of God manifest in idolatry, “Men of Athens (America), I perceive that in every way you are very religious (and/or spiritual). For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you,” Acts 17:22-23 (through 31 for the awesome entirety). And where Paul starts with them – in the center of their culture – associating with them, binding what they worship in shadows with Him who is God, so he ends, and so we should endeavor to end by proclaiming God’s nearness to sinners (27), God’s self-definition, God’s own terms of salvation (29), God’s command for all people to repent (30), the Day of God’s righteous judgment and the man whom God has appointed as the standard of judgment, whom He raised from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord (31).

Therefore, let us boldly endeavor to share the true Gospel, to associate with sinners in a way that communicates clearly that Gospel, which casts down their shadow gods, and God willing, exalts the true God through faith in Jesus Christ. And let us go with the Great Commission in the great expectation that when we go with the Gospel, that Christ is there with us, and we pray in the regenerating, saving power of the Holy Spirit.

Let us truly sing and “shout to the Lord”, and declare to those so idolizing American Idol’s god, that what you worship as unknown, Him we now proclaim to you. God be glorified in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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One Response

  1. Brian! finally made it to your blog man!

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