Skip to comments.Is Your Church Losing Blood? (We preach the Cross, yes; redemption, yes; but blood, rarely)
Posted on 04/01/2010 7:32:05 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
American Christianity is far less bloody than it used to be.
Songs like Power in the Blood or There Is a Fountain Filled with Blood or Are You Washed in the Blood? are still sung in some places, but fewer and fewer, and there arent many newer songs or praise choruses so focused on blood. The Cross, yes; redemption, yes; but blood, rarely. Were eager to speak of life, but hesitant to speak of blood.
And this is not only a Protestant phenomenon. Roman Catholics-centered as they are on the Eucharist-often seem to go out of their way to speak of the real presence of Jesus in the elements, without going so far as to mention that this presence is believed to be that of his body and blood, as well as soul and divinity. Even Catholic communion hymns, Im told, prefer terms like the Cup to the Blood.
The eclipse of blood in American Christianity has quite a bit to do, I suspect, with American prosperity.
The blood medleys once so popular in Evangelical hymnals evoke something of the blue-collar, socially marginalized origins of conservative American Protestantism. To sing Are You Washed in the Blood of the Lamb often seems too much of a reminder to upwardly mobile suburban professionals that their religion has redneck roots. (A Catholic writer suggests that this is also true of the reaction to traditional Catholic piety in the suburban churches filled with the successful descendants of immigrants.)
At the same time, these churches want to relate the gospel to a non-Christian culture. Often, we do so by being as antiseptic as possible: with gleaming restrooms and shiny foyers, with churches designed to look like malls, complete with information booths and coffee kiosks. We assume that making Christianity clean and bright will remove the sting of offense from the gospel.
More sophisticated churches avoid the subject of blood, although less sophisticated ones retain enough of the old ways to talk about blood but also to trivialize it. T-shirts ape beer commercials (This Bloods For You) or the tattoo culture (My Life Was Saved by Body Piercing).
Some of this is the result of the lingering sting of liberal Christian hostility toward a slaughterhouse religion. Some of it is the result of an age that fears blood, but doesnt know why. Some of it is the result of our ignorance, as we think that blood is just another metaphor, one we can easily replace.
And yet, bloodless Christianity leaves a void. Could it be that the lack of emphasis on blood in Evangelical Protestant churches at least partially explains why Baptists and Methodists and Pentecostals who otherwise would have little to do with Roman Catholic imagery found themselves openly weeping in movie theaters as they viewed The Passion of the Christ? Did they need to remember that with his stripes we are healed (Is. 53:5)?
Our embarrassment over the bloodiness of Christianity often results in blood atonement being presented in our catechism and discipleship of believers in an attenuated, abstract sort of way. Less and less often do ordinary believers hum to themselves songs about the blood of Jesus. Less and less often do small children memorize Scripture passages about the blood of Christ.
We assume that we first convince unbelievers to follow Jesus-and then we explicate the meaning of his blood, when we think theyre ready for this specialized theological knowledge. But how do we address consciences indicted by the ancient Accuser of Eden-some of them tortured by the knowledge that they have shed innocent blood themselves-without pointing them to the only means of conquering him, the blood of the Lamb (Rev. 12:1011)?
We assume that we teach young Christians how to live, to abstain from sexual immorality and greed and pugilism, before we move to something as seemingly arcane as blood sacrifice. And yet, Scripture assumes that personal morality is built on the knowledge that we were bought with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot (1 Peter 1:19).
We assume that we build community in our churches before we address something as raw and potentially alienating as the shedding of blood. And yet, the community we share-bearing with all of one anothers faults and transcending our petty ethnic and cultural prejudices-comes only through the recognition that we share a common condemnation as sinners, but, as we will still confess to our Christ in the heavenly places, you were slain, and with your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation (Rev. 5:9). Shared life is based on shared blood.
Even the vampires in our popular fiction know that. Thats what makes our bloodless Christianity all the more ironic. We believe were more in tune with unbelievers around us, but theyre talking constantly about blood, from pharmaceutical advertisements to horror films, from vampire romance novels to AIDS and DNA testing.
The nineteenth- and twentieth-century revivalist tradition gave the Church a valued psalter of blood medleys. Some of them could be done better musically and lyrically, and some even theologically. But let us never be embarrassed by our emphasis-in song, in public prayer, in evangelism, in discipleship, and in preaching-on the blood of Jesus.
There is power-wonder-working power-in the blood. Our culture already sees that. Theyre simply looking in the wrong veins.
I don’t know if it matters. Christian music has fads same as all music including the focus of the songs themselves. I’m fine with whatever call the musician feels. I saw some other writer commenting that modern Christian music seems to focus a lot on God being all powerful and in control. It’s all good!
” Oh the blood of the Passover lamb, is applied to the door of my heart, no power of darkness could ever with stand...the force of the blood sacrifice...”
One of the most powerful praise and worship songs I ever had the priviledge to sing...many others are just pablum!
“But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.”
Ribbons of torn flesh twitching with pain as the nervoucsystem is on shocked sensory overload. Unrecognizable as a man.
Silent before His accusers.
For you. For me. For all.
In our place.
So we are healed.
Blessed is the Lord, our Redeemer.
Bless the LORD!
What can wash away my sin
Nothing but the Blood of Jesus
Our little Nazarene Church in Clinton, NJ absolutely LOVES the blood songs. (I do too)
Without the blood there is no redemption.
O bone Jesu, miserere nobis, quia tu creasti nos, tu redemisti nos sanguine tuo pretiosissimo.
O good Jesus, have mercy upon us, because thou hast created us, thou hast redeemed us by thy most precious blood.
It could be because blood seen now a days as not only being a symbol of being unclean, but even unhealthy and dangerous. At many NCAA sporting events, with an student athlete cuts him or herself, the game must be stopped and the blood cleaned away.
Thanks. Very nice.
Happy Easter, all!
1) Much of modern "Catholic" hymnody is so boring and banal that this objection is only a small part of the reason that "Oregon Catholic Press delenda est".
2) Most Catholic Parishes offer the Holy Eucharist in both species; those who partake of the chalice are specifically told "The Blood of Christ", an assertion they affirm by responding "Amen".
In the presence of holiness
When I cannot speak
Your blood says everything
In the presence of perfect love
I am too weak
But Your blood says everything
Your blood says everything
Hear the Word
Spoken from the tree
Heaven broken open
Your blood says everything
Your blood says everything
OCP delenda est!
Our communion hymns run more to "O Sacrament Most Holy" and "Ave Verum" . . . .
Moore needs to stop listening to anecdotes and start doing some decent research and he can start with the Eucharistic Prayers.