This praise song that David Wells critiqued in the 1990′s shows how much modern Christian music 1) lacks biblical doctrine, 2) privatizes and individualizes faith, 3) thrives on sentimentality, experience, and emotion, 4) exhibits feminization and juvenilization, and 5) views God or Jesus as a heavenly boyfriend. Here it is (and please note – songs like this are still written, produced, and sung today).:
“I need you to hold me
Like my daddy never could
And I need you to show me
How resting in your arms can be so good.”
“I need you to walk with me
Hand in hand we’ll run and play
I need you to talk to me
Tell me again you’ll stay.”
I have to be honest here. I’m not sure how a mature Christian man can sing songs like that while thinking about the living God of heaven and earth. And I can’t imagine that a mature Christian woman whose faith has been forged by trials and tears would appreciate that song (makes me think of the depth of Mary’s prayer/poem that she spoke as a teenager [cf Lk 1:46-55]). Wells comments thus:
“What is so striking about the hymnody – if that is what it is – of this postmodern spirituality…is its parasitic nature. It lives off the truth of classic spirituality but frequently leaves that truth unstated as something to be assumed, whereas in the hymnody of classical spirituality the truth itself is celebrated. The one rejoices in what the other hides. That seems to be the most obvious conclusion to be drawn from the fact that the large majority of praise songs I analyzed, 58.9 percent, offer no doctrinal grounding or explanation for the praise; in the classical hymnody examined it was hard to find hymns that were not predicated upon and did not develop some aspect of doctrine.”
“Not only is the praise in this postmodern spirituality often shorn of theological scaffolding, but what it facilitates is deeply privatized worship. One indication of this is that the Church, the collective people of God, features in only 1.2 percent of the songs; what dominates overwhelmingly is the private, individualized, and interior sense of God. By contrast, 21.6 percent of the classical hymns were explicitly about the church. The texture of the songs in the postmodern spirituality, furthermore, is more therapeutic than moral” (p. 43-44).
Wells has a lot more to say about this; I strongly recommend this section (and the whole book) of Losing Our Virtue: Why the Church Must Recover Its Moral Vision.