A person’s artwork always reflects their philosophy and theology: even more so when that artwork involves words. I’ve noticed a number of Christian Music artists who profess Protestantism (or non-denominationalism which is essentially Protestant). Jeremy Camp is one who stands out.
I want to show songs where he promotes specifically Catholic teachings and then invite him to join us. A main thrust of Jeremy Camp’s songs invoke a sacramental view of reality – I sin but I need to confess it and do penance – rather than the separate view necessary to continue being a Protestant – my sins don’t affect my salvation since human nature is totally corrupt and God just covers it with grace. Another way to compare these views is to compare a chastity presentation from one who understands Theology of the Body (Sacramental) and someone who’s base is just “God says no.”
A core doctrine of Protestantism is that Christ paid the price once, for all, that it’s finished. Jesus was the substitution for our guilt of sins and died on the cross. This is the dogma of penal substitution. Thus, for a Protestant we are completely free from any suffering of the cross because Jesus has paid the price.
John Paul II presents a specifically Catholic perspective on sharing Christ’s cross in Salvifici Doloris #19:
“Every man has his own share in the Redemption. Each one is also called to share in that suffering through which the Redemption was accomplished. He is called to share in that suffering through which all human suffering has also been redeemed. In bringing about the Redemption through suffering, Christ has also raised human suffering to the level of the Redemption.”
The refrain of This Man is a more radical summary of Catholic teaching (personal note: having this song repeat in my head during a retreat was what started me on this blog):
Would you take the place of this man
Would you take the nails from his hands
In protestant theology man is absolutely depraved – so hell-bound he can’t be changed internally. Luther called the saved snow covered dunghills to express this. Grace covers and hides our sin but on the inside we remain completed defiled. Man can never be empty of himself – this sinful unworthy creature – God can only cover him up.
In Catholicism instead salvation transforms us from within. We are sanctified internally. When we confess a sin our guilt is removed, not covered. As such we are called to slowly become emptier of ourselves so God can fill us.
Now let’s see the refrain of Empty Me:
Empty me, empty me, fill me
With you, with you
This sentiment is echoed by the Sidewalk Prophets in Keep Making Me:
Make me broken
So I can be healed
Make me empty
So I can be filled
I Wait for the Lord
Protestants believe that grace is instantaneous – you accept Jesus and *boom* you’re saved. I remember being at a Franklin Graham event and he asked all the people to note the time (down to the second) they were saved. Now it’s completely done; we can’t ask God to make us any holier. You are either saved or not.
We Catholics don’t deny instantaneous grace. However, we have a lot of growth to go through from the moment we first believe till we enter the pearly gates. This time is a time of waiting on the Lord, waiting for him to make us holy. We can be saved or we can be 100% saintly; we believe there still is growth to wait on after conversion.
This song sings exactly what the title says:
I wait for you Lord
My soul waits
I wait for you Lord
I read most of Jeremy Camp’s lyrics and even in songs like Walk by Faith he never clearly stated Protestant Theology. Most of his songs present a theology acceptable to both Catholics and Protestants. Some others even tended to repeat the points of Catholic Theology I’ve brought up here. He has no songs that are explicitly Catholic – singing about the Eucharist for example – but his underlying Theology is Catholic.
First, if Jeremy Camp or any other Protestants are reading this: please examine the Catholic Church for what she really is – a relationship with Jesus – and not some of what you’ve heard. I’d recommend Catholicism for Dummies as a start as it’s the best start I know of. Don’t be afraid to tweet or Facebook message me if you have questions (make it clear you have questions not want an endless debate – If I detect the 2nd, I just stop responding).
Second, we Catholics need to realize the great gift that is out there in our Protestant brethren. We need to learn our faith so we can start with what we share and bring them to a fuller meaning. We need to help them see that as they seek the truth more deeply, they come closer to the Church. Debates can be endless – they’ve gone on for almost 500 years and might go on for 500 more. Focus on the person who wants to come closer to Jesus’ Church.