Sunday, October 05, 2008

Thought Experiment: First Person Plural vs. First Person Singular

Brad makes two excellent suggestions for how we can improve our worship here. His first suggestion is that we

1. Change the "I" to "we" in 90% of the music and spoken language

Personally I think this is an idea whose time has come. But in a culture of narcissism, it will seem totally off base, perhaps even missionally counterproductive. At the very least, it will feel foreign.

So, to demonstrate the power of first person plural vs. first person singular, let's run the experiment in reverse, and try editing some familiar scripture and lyrics that are currently in the plural to the singular:

My Father, who art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name.
thy kingdom come, thy will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give me this day my daily bread,
And forgive me my debts, as I forgive my debtors.
And lead me not into temptation, but deliver me from evil.

A mighty fortress is my God, a bulwark never failing;
My helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing:
For still my ancient foe doth seek to work me woe;
His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

Did I in my own strength confide, my striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on my side, the Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His Name, from age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.

And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo me,
I will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through me:
The Prince of Darkness grim, I tremble not for him;
His rage I can endure, for lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.

That word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are mine through Him Who with me sideth:
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.


How lovely on the mountains are the feet of Him
Who brings good news, good news;
Announcing peace, proclaiming news of happiness:
My God reigns, my God reigns!

My God reigns!
My God reigns!
My God reigns!
My God reigns!

He had no stately form, He had no majesty
That I should be drawn to Him.
He was despised and we took no account of Him.
My God reigns, my God reigns!


It was my sin and guilt that bruised and wounded Him.
It was my sin that brought Him down.
When I like (a) sheep had gone astray my Shepherd came
And on His shoulders bore my shame.


Meek as a lamb that’s led out to the slaughterhouse,
Dumb as a sheep before its shearer,
His life ran down upon the ground like pouring rain
That I might be born again.


Out from the tomb He came with grace and majesty;
He is alive, He is alive.
God loves me so, see here His hands, His feet, His side
Yes I know, He is alive.


This is "me and Jesus" theology at it's finest, but doesn't it become immediately obvious that something big is missing?

Perhaps Robbiemuffin's graphics can make the point even better. (If there's such a thing as juridical parables, perhaps there can be juridical illustrations!) Which picture is more like the kingdom of God which we have been taught to pray for and to incarnate? First person singular...

or first person plural?

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