DiM | “What If” by Prince (?)

disapproveNo, Prince isn’t a Christian artist. I don’t follow him. I also don’t read/follow Christianity Today. My personal Facebook News feed has news stories from theBlaze, which is how I came across this “news”. It seems Prince has released a cover of this song originally by Nicole Nordeman. Christianity Today was all over it in their article, “Prince releases cover of Christian song ‘What If’“. If you’d like to take the time to read the article now, that’s fine, we’ll discuss it after we lay some groundwork looking at the song by Nicole Nordeman first and then dealing with some of the comments in the article.

(Unofficial) Nicole Nordeman Lyric Video

[youtube https://youtu.be/rUhnoralqVA]

Prince version Lyrics (via Genius)

What If?

Prince Ft: 3rdeyegirl & Hannah Welton

[Verse 1: Prince]
What if you’re right?
And He was just another
Another nice guy
What if you’re right
What if it’s true
They say the truth
Will only make a fool of you
And what if that’s true?

What if He takes His place in history
With all the prophets and the kings
Who taught us love and came in peace
But then the story ends, what then

[Chorus]
But what if you’re wrong
What if there’s more
What if there’s hope
You never dreamed of hoping for
What if you jump?
Just close your eyes
What if the arms that catch you
Catch you by surprise?
What if He’s more than enough?
What if it’s love?

[Verse 2: Hannah Welton]
What if you dig
Way down deeper
Than your
Simple-minded friends
What if you dig
And what if you find
A thousand more
Unanswered questions down inside
That’s all you find

What if you pick apart the logic
And begin to poke the holes
What if the crown of thorns is no more
Than folklore that must be told and retold

[Chorus]

[Bridge]
Cause you’ve been running
As fast as you can
And you’ve been looking
For a place you can land
For so long but what if you’re wrong

What if you jump?
Just close your eyes
What if the arms that catch you
Catch you by surprise?
What if He’s more than enough?
What if it’s love?
What if it’s love?

Discussion of Song

What if. The entire song is a “what if”. How is that in any way an Evangelical song? This song doesn’t make any Truth claims. No declaration of the Truth of God’s Word. No declaration of Jesus Christ or Him crucified for our sin, no call to repentance and no promise of forgiveness. Nothing but a “what if you’re wrong”?  This song would fail a DiM review, but it hasn’t really been on the radio or any top-20 chart recently, so it really wouldn’t come up anyway. What I find troubling is how this “news” is being covered in the self-proclaimed Christian magazine.

Discussion of News

From the Christianity Today article, Prince releases cover of Christian song ‘What If’:

Nordeman expressed her excitement about the cover on social media. “I don’t really have the appropriate words for what an honor this is,” she said on Facebook. “If you are a musician on any level, you will immediately absorb the weight of it. This man’s talent is otherworldly. What’s the non-musical equivalent? Tiger Woods asking to borrow your clubs? Neil Armstrong calling and asking if you’d like to take a walk?”

I won’t fault a musician for feeling honored and excited that a world-renown musician is making headlines by choosing to cover his/her song. I don’t fault the emotion of excitement. But how you speak about these events (and your emotions), and how you write about it in social media is important. We have a problem with this praise of Prince’s musical talent. Is it a gift from God, freely given? Yes, as are all of God’s gifts to mankind. Has Prince honored God with his talent? A review of his work throughout his career suggests “no”.

She added that she had been most impacted by the fact that Prince had heard it on a Christian radio station, and used it as an opportunity to encourage those working in Christian broadcasting.

“Far too often Christian radio is accused of existing solely to preach to the choir. Solely for the minivan driving mother of three who wants a safe listening choice for her family. But Prince heard a song about the transforming love of Jesus on Christian radio and now has given it a much wider audience than I ever did or could.”

This portion of the article is poorly written, particularly in the progression of pronouns. The Blaze makes it clear that it was Nicole who was using this news about Prince as an opportunity to encourage Christian broadcasters (see below). My question here is, “are we talking about the same song”? Can that song that never leaves the “what if?” into the “what is!” truly be about the transforming love of Jesus? Perhaps she is talking about her intent behind the song.

Prince became a Jehovah’s Witness in 2001 and has talked – and sung – about his faith for a number of years.

.:sigh:. I’d expect this type of citation from a secular magazine or even theBlaze, but in something labeled “Christianity Today” one should expect a clear distinction between Christianity and cults like Jehovah’s Witness. I am deeply grieved by this article’s praise of Prince (an unbeliever) simply because he chose to cover a “Christian” song.

From theBlaze:

“To my friends in Christian radio, let me take this opportunity to remind you that what you do matters,” she said. “Your morning shows matter. Your afternoon drives matter. Your listener appreciation pledge drives matter.”

Nordeman added that she believes too many people accuse Christian radio of preaching to the choir, but that Prince’s discovery of her song shows that there’s another perspective worth considering.

“Prince heard a song about the transforming love of Jesus on Christian radio and now has given it a much wider audience than I ever did or could,” she wrote. Thank you, radio friends, for what you do. The world is listening.”

To that last point, I agree. The world is listening, and we need to be proclaiming the Truth of God’s Word, not merely settling for “what if” songs or “spiritual positivity” loosely connected to Christian themes. The choir needs biblical preaching, just as much as the World does. The difference (by God’s Grace) is that the choir has faith, while the world remains condemned in their unbelief.

The last thing we need is to give ascent to the notion that our youth should take note of Prince and his version of spirituality. This is sloppy treatment of evangelism, journalism, and discernment by the folks at Christianity Today.

Jude 1:24-25(ESV)

24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

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