Is Only Willing Love worth the Price?

I have featured this atrocious video before but it is so theologically bankrupt that it bears another look.  I saw this again recently on You Tube and was disturbed to find many people actually defending it.  Sadly, this song sums up the soteriology of a large segment of Evangelicalism today.  I have listed below the lyrics to  ‘I Give You Freedom’ or ‘The Whippoorwill Song’.  A few observations will follow. Blatant heresy has been bolded for your convenience.

I set the boundaries of the ocean vast,
Carved out the mountains from the distant past,
Molded a man from the miry clay,
Breathed in him life, but he went astray.

CHORUS:
I own the cattle on a thousand hills,
I write the music for the whippoorwills,
Control the planets with their rocks and rills,
But give you freedom to use your own will.

And if you want Me to, I’ll make you whole,
I’ll only do it tho’ if you say so.
I’ll never force you, for I love you so,
I give you freedom – Is it “yes” or “no”?

I hold the waters in My mighty hand
Spread out the heavens with a single span,
Make all creation tremble at My voice,
But My own children come to Me by choice.
(chorus)

Even the oxen knows the master’s stall,
And sheep will recognize the shepherd’s call
I could demand your love – I own you twice,
But only willing love is worth the price!

(chorus)

First, let me give the song a little credit.  It does speak adequately of the sovereignty of God over all things with lines such as the following:

  • Molded a man from the miry clay, Breathed in him life
  • I set the boundaries of the ocean vast, Carved out the mountains from the distant past
  • Control the planets with their rocks and rills

Unfortunately, the song goes south from glorious biblical truth quickly.  The lyrics then contradict themselves by displacing God’s majestic sovereignty  and exalting the will of man high on the pedestal of vanity and self-righteousness.

Exhibit A:

  • And if you want Me to, I’ll make you whole, I’ll only do it tho’ if you say so.

This verse teaches several false ideas.

  • That God utterly relies on the free exercise of the will on man’s part to bring about salvation.
  • Jesus Christ does not save.  Salvation is dependent upon the wisdom of man to freely choose Christ above all other desires.
  • Contrary to Scripture God can’t have mercy on whom he will have mercy.
  • Man must give God permission before he can make him whole.

Here is the truth:

  • Scripture rightly divided teaches that a sinful person, depraved and incomplete in his separated state from God has not the faintest desire to be made whole.  His satisfaction and pleasure is found in sin, not with God.  The Lord would be waiting in vain for someone to give him permission to be made whole.

Exhibit B:

  • I could demand your love – I own you twice, But only willing love is worth the price!

Hold down your tacos, it only gets worse.

  • It is obvious here that the author of this song is taking direct shots at the doctrines of Grace.  He is mocking Reformed Theology, using this song as a vehicle to accomplish his goal.
  • The songwriter infers that in the Reformed view God uses some form of coercion to save men -kicking and screaming against their will if need be.
  • The phrase ‘only willing love is worth the price’ is the pinnacle of irreverence in this horrid tune.  It suggests that the price Christ paid on the cross of his suffering for our redemption by bearing all our sin and the full wrath of God was only worth it because it would win over the love of a company of wise men and women who were spiritual enough to comprehend the Lord’s gracious love. God had to do something so spectacular and over-the-top that it would win their love and sway their will to adore and embrace him.  It’s almost as if John 3:16 had been rewritten to say, ‘In order for the world to so love God He had to give his only begotten Son that whosoever is impressed with his display of love shall not perish but inherit eternal life.’  The fickle love of man is not, nor has it ever been, nor will it ever be the deciding factor of who shall inherit eternal life.  It is God so loving the world that truly matters.
  • To summarize, this verse teaches that the value and worth of God’s plan of redemption hinges completely upon how the free will of man apprehends it.  If it doesn’t cause men to come willingly to God then it is not worth the price Christ paid.  Does anyone see how anthropocentric this kind of theology is and how it casts a veil over the glory of God in salvation?  A doctrine like this gives rise to a significant question: if no man is willing of himself to come to the foot of the cross does it invalidate the accomplishment of Christ’s sacrifice? Think on that.

In the fourth century the debate between Augustine and Pelagius divided the church.  Pelagius sided on the power of man’s will in salvation while Augustine sided on the sovereignty of God in salvation. In the 16th century the Protestant Reformation revived the debate in a newly revised form. Arminius sided more with the Pelagian view (though not nearly to the same degree) while Calvin allied with Augustine’s sovereign view of God.  Here in the 21st century, as manifested concisely in the above video, it is clear that Pelagius lives! Modern Evangelicalism as a whole posits a view that sits squarely between his extreme position and Arminius’s more conservative view.  Theologians refer to this as Semi-Pelagianism.  It is a dangerous, heretical doctrine that must be vehemently opposed by those of us to whom God has revealed the glory of his sovereignty in salvation. It appears that in Christendom Arminianism is no longer the chief error the church must contend with: Pelagian and Semi-Pelagian theology is.   these heresies must be debated and argued down with scripture and with love and temperance if we are to see a robust, God-centric Christianity restored.
In my next post I will present a chart that I hope will be helpful in clearing up the confusion of 50 cent theological terms such as Pelagianism, Semi-Pelagianism, Arminianism and Calvinism.  Check back in a couple of days!

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12 thoughts on “Is Only Willing Love worth the Price?

  1. It’s been a while since I’ve commented, but I thought now would be a good time. Hope all has been well with you. I do so appreciate your passion for Jesus, His glory, and His ways.

    Honestly, I’ve read your comments on the 2 selected parts from the song, and while I wouldn’t sing that song, I can’t for the life of me figure out how you interpreted it as you did. Perhaps I’m at the end of a long day, but I’m leaning toward the idea that your interpretation of that song comes exclusively from your disdain for anything that doesn’t PROMOTE the “doctrines of grace.”

    But in any case, the writer never suggests that “Jesus Christ does not save” or that “man must give God permission” to be saved. He says, in my interpretation…you have to want it. Neither do I think he means “that the price Christ paid on the cross of his suffering for our redemption by bearing all our sin and the full wrath of God was only worth it because it would win over the love of a company of wise men and women…” He says that God is looking for OUR love to be “willing” not coerced.

    My observation is not about your theology (we know you won’t change me and I won’t change you), it is about your vast overreaching of what the song says.

  2. Mr. Edwards!! Good to hear from you again. Well, I know how to bring you out of hiding – just post an article critiquing free will theology! First, I’m quite relieved you wouldn’t sing this song in your church.
    As to your accusation that I am criticizing the song because it does not promote the doctrines of Grace – well that is just plain unfounded. In fact, most every song I sing in church every week does not promote the doctrines of Grace. However, you surely can’t deny that this song was written as an all-out attack on Reformed Theology – or at least against the tired old strawman caricature of it. Why mention coerced love at all if it is not what the bible teaches? It is difficult for me to let such misrepresentations stand uncontested.
    You say the writer never suggests that “Jesus Christ does not save” but when he writes that God gives us freedom to say yes or no just exactly who is having the definitive say in salvation?
    You also say that the writer does not suggest that “man must give God permission” yet the song plainly states ‘And if you want Me to, I’ll make you whole, I’ll only do it tho’ if you say so.” How else do you want me to interpret this?
    I don’t think I’m vastly overreaching what the song says. I believe the song vastly exaggerates the power of man’s will.
    I have one question: Why wouldn’t you sing this song in your church?

    BTW – I have a confession. I sure have missed you round these parts!

  3. I enjoyed your comments on the song. I’ve heard it before, and even then was struck with how the wording of it seemed incredibly hostile to the doctrines of grace. I can sing many songs on salvation, written by those who held beliefs very different from my own, and not feel as though the doctrines I ascribe to are under fire….this is not one of them.

    Speaking of hymns and songs though, my pastor made the statement during his sermon on Sunday that Jesus doesn’t love me, “just as I am”…He loves me in spite of who I am! I know, I know….totally unrelated (well, sorta, but nevertheless), but I had to sneak that in somewhere!

  4. Oh my word, I think I just got nauseous listening to that, lol. Wow! And I do mean wow!!, that is sad. By the way beaconlight, great blog. 🙂 How many times have you read Pilgrims Progress? Up to Spurgeons count yet? lol

  5. I Like the song. Why did Jesus say it is harder for a rich man to enter heaven… and let the rich young ruler walk away from him.. Because Jesus allowed the rich young ruller to choose which he valued more; Jesus or his money. If Salvation is simply Jesus choice than it would be no harder for a Rich man or anyone else to get to heaven because it would not be affected by the mans will. But obviously the mans willingness to respond or not respond to Jesus was an issue. And the Big pictures of Scripture like Isaiac and Rebecah with the soveriegnty of God toatally at work and yet finally she is asked will you go. “I Will” You destroy the beauty of the whole story if in the end she has no choice. And what about Jesus Himself. willingly submitting to the Fathers will. Would you say Jesus had no willing submission and that it was all God the Father and Jesus will nothing?? I like the song just fine

  6. I agree with the song. Like Tom said, there has to be a certain amount of free will that God gives us. Otherwise, everyone would go to heaven, and we know from the Bible that that is not true. Also, how do you explain bad things happening if not for free will. If God does not give us free will, but controls our every action, then He would be responsible for everything bad that happens, and that would go against his very nature. On the other hand, if Satan controls our actions, then there would be nobody who goes to heaven, and nothing good happening, which again, we know is not true because of the Bible.
    In Acts, Paul says to the crowd, and to the Philippian jailer, “believe and be baptized and you will be saved.” If we had no free will, then all that would be useless. We would either go to heaven or hell, no matter what we did. Also, if there was no free will, Jesus would never have had to die for our sins. It wouldn’t have mattered.

  7. Maybe we should stop “interpreting” words, when the words are clear. God gives us a free will. He wants us to be willingly come to him for Salvation; will our answer be yes? Or no? I wouldn’t call that “Blatant heresy” as you referred.

  8. So I heard the man who wrote the song sing it. I heard him explain how God sent His Son to die for me. I heard him say God is not willing that any should perish. (yet some will). He shared scripture of how we could receive God’s free gift of eternal life. There was no attack. He was sharing the gospel. I’m not quite sure what you are trying to accomplish here. You can think some really deep thoughts but lets not attack the simple truth. When I got saved, I wanted to tell my best friend what Jesus did for me, and for her… I didn’t know any theology, I was a child… I believe Jesus saved me. I believe He saved her too. I know I couldn’t just hear it, I had to receive Jesus Christ.

  9. Wow. Hard to believe such attitudes persist.

    Why on earth do you believe that there is a contradiction between free will and predestination? Knowing what choice you will make beforehand is not the same thing as forcing that choice; choosing and convincing the elect does not contradict the elect mutually choosing God.

    More to the point, what sort of reprobate would worship your sadistic slavemaster god? Do you really think that God is such an idiot that he cares one tenth as much about “proper” theology as about attempting to follow the loving example of Christ?

    We are not called to be theologians, but to follow the example of Christ. I am reminded of what Jesus said in Matthew 23:27 – “”Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.”

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