Patriotic Songs in Gospel Concerts

A couple of weeks ago, we discussed the purpose of a Gospel concert. There were many good answers, from a variety of viewpoints. I promised to share my own answer in a post which depended on that question.

I believe the purpose of a Gospel concert is to present Gospel truth through song, to draw the listeners closer to the Lord—the unsaved to salvation and the saved to a deeper, closer walk with the Lord.

Do patriotic songs help accomplish the purpose of a Gospel concert?

Don’t misunderstand me: Asking this question doesn’t make me against patriotism. Patriotic songs have their place. I’ve gone to a decent number of Veterans’ Day parades and Memorial Day ceremonies, and the national anthem belongs there. I get a chill down my spine when Taps is played, and it’s not from the cold weather. Nobody is out to ban patriotic songs; the question is whether their place is at a Gospel concert.

That, of course, depends on the purpose of a Gospel concert. If it’s to provide clean entertainment, or, as one commenter wittily put it, sell records, perhaps it fits. At least it will bring the audience to its feet; most any audience will rise in respect to the flag, even if that’s the only time they stand all night.

But if the purpose is to point people to the cross, is including what one industry type described to me as “the big flag-waving moment” a detour and distraction?

About Daniel J. Mount

Daniel Mount has written 3197 posts.

Daniel J. Mount is the founder and editor of Southern Gospel Journal.


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134 Letters to the Editor

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  1. I feel a good pratiotic song COULD help point someone to the cross…I think there are many factors though.

  2. Good morning, Paul!

    Thanks for giving me an opening to say one more thing I wanted to include, but didn’t want to take my original post in too many different directions.

    Some patriotic songs – frankly, the ones that sometimes bug me – are songs that start off with a Christian first verse, and then get to a big flag-waving patriotic second verse. But, like you mentioned, there are some that use patriotism to point people to the Cross. And I think those songs are entirely appropriate in a Gospel concert.

    Two specific examples:

    (1) Statue of Liberty

    This starts with talking about the Statue of Liberty, but the second verse is the Cross. The punch line: “Oh, the Cross is my statue of Liberty!”

    It’s definitely a classic from the pen of Neil Enloe. It’s a patriotic song, but it’s also a Gospel song in the highest sense. It does what’s necessary to catch your attention—and then it clearly points you to the Cross.

    (2) Let Freedom Ring.

    This Gaither classic starts with talking about the human yearning for freedom. Then it recognizes sacrifices men have made to try to win freedom:

    “Some have walked through fire and flood to find a place of freedom
    And some faced hell itself for freedom’s dream

    Let freedom ring wherever minds know what it means to be in chains…”

    And then – and, for me, then is the key – the musical climax of the song comes, and the focus is squarely on the Cross:

    “God built freedom into every fiber of creation
    And He meant for us to all be free and whole
    Oh, but when my Lord bought freedom with the blood of His redemption
    His cross stamped pardon on my very soul”

  3. What do you think of “Truth is Marching On?”

  4. I’ve viewed the song as more an apologetics song (defending the faith) than a patriotic song. I’d be curious to hear the case for it being a patriotic song.

    For any onlookers to this conversation, here are the lyrics:

    http://www.lyricstime.com/legacy-five-truth-is-marching-on-lyrics.html

  5. What are some of the “songs that start off with a Christian first verse, and then get to a big flag-waving patriotic second verse”? I’ve usually noticed it being the other way around. Start off with a patriotic theme in the first verse and then transition into a play on patriotic terminology to drive home a message about the cross, the blood, sacrifice, or something like that. Some examples in addition to the two you mentioned would the Cathedrals’ “Scars and Stripes” and the Mullins “Overlooking Freedom”. Maybe I have heard the inverse of that form, but I can’t think of a specific song.

  6. Regarding #4…I guess you’re right. I sometimes think of it as patriotic because it makes me think of the “Battle Hymn.”

  7. #5…I agree, I have sung songs that start patriotic and then switch to a Christian theme…such as “The Statue of Liberty.”

  8. Harkening back to an earlier discussion we were involved in, Daniel, “Statue of Liberty” is indeed a true gospel song, and one of the best ever at that.

    I say this because even though it draws on a secular motif(a symbol of our nation), that motif is used as an analogy to drive home the song’s main point, i.e., the Cross is a symbol of the source of our Christian faith…which is the sole means for man’s ultimate liberation and salvation.

    “Let Freedom Ring” is quite similar. Both Neil Enloe and Bill Gaither are skilled wordsmiths with a unique skill in drawing creative analogies to illustrate their messages.

    “Truth Is Marching On” is, as you point out, more a song about the faith itself than one drawing on a patriotic motif.

    I confess, though, that I’m not aware of any songs that start with a Christian motif and then shift gears into a patriotic theme. Got any examples of those?:-)

  9. I really don’t like just out and out general patriotic songs at concerts. Now maybe saluting the flag or a patriotic number pre concert or for something special thats fine.
    However, it seems as if some groups use patriotic songs just to get the audience to rise, shed a tear, and think “wow these boys are patriotic”.
    Songs like let freedom ring ect really bring home a great point and i’ve always enjoyed them sung in concerts.
    Now truth is marching on has a great message, but i think it gets lost when the whole “glory, glory hallelujah” part hits..because thats when the audience stands and puts their hand over their heart for the next few minutes.

  10. I’ve seen more than one third rate group do a patriotic song and it was the only way they had any hope of a standing ovation.

    Daniel, I can’t think of an example of a song that starts as Gospel, then turns into flag waving.

  11. I know I’ve heard some, on the radio if nothing else (and yes, probably by those third rate groups…) I will try to think of a specific one or two.

    A good number of songs are patriotic all the way through, or end with the cross, but there are some that don’t.

    Ah, I just thought of an example. “Battle Hymn of the Republic” starts with a martial / patriotic theme, then shifts to Christ’s coming and judgment, then back to the martial / patriotic theme. Here’s the verse most groups end with:

    “In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
    With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me:
    As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free,
    While God is marching on. ”

    Sometimes they change the last die to live, though.

    • Ugh. “Battle Hymn of the Republic” gives me the creeps… and I’m a Yankee! :-D

      • Really? The Battle Hymns is one of the few “patriotic” songs that have a very solid gospel message. I put patriotic in quotes because it’s really more gospel than patriotic to me. Strong, Biblical lyrics about the Second Coming, the sovereignty of God, the transfiguring power of Christ’s salvation, and more.

      • It could be read that way, but that wasn’t the intention with which it was written. It was written by Julia Ward Howe after visiting a Civil War Union camp. Essentially what she was doing was equating the Northern aggression with the last judgment. “They have builded him an altar in the evening dews and damps” refers to the Union soldiers. A rather disturbing combination of politics and religion, to say the least! ;-)

      • Well, that’s a throwaway verse to me. I like the others, though.

      • Oh, it’s beautifully written, don’t get me wrong. That’s part of what makes it so disturbing—you can really get into it in spite of yourself. Girl could write! :-)

        And you know, by themselves, those verses are a great description of the second coming. But when you know the historical background of the song, that makes it a little harder to take them at face value.

  12. I really like the songs that are patriotic in nature that have a gospel message twist…

    Another example would be, “He Took The Hill” by Gold City. Whew! What a song!

    In concert, I like patriotic songs when they fit into the program. However, here in the Ozarks, it’s not easy to find music performer (especially in Branson) not singing at least one patriotic song. I guess it’s just part of our nature here!

  13. I have absolutely no problem with patriotic songs at Gospel concerts. And, although the purpose of Gospel concert very well might be to “point people to the cross” you have to keep in mind that a large portion of those who attend the concerts have ALREADY been “pointed to the cross” and go to be uplifted—and also for enjoyment.

  14. I don’t care for patriotic songs in a gospel concert. There are a few exceptions such as the aforementioned “Statue of Liberty”, but generally I don’t care for them. I got so tired of the Florida Boys “Declaration of Dependence” . . . almost as much as OWAS.

    If a promoter chooses to open a concert with a simple version of the Star Spangled Banner or perhaps the Pledge of Allegiance, I’m fine with that. That’s the prerogative of the promoter.

    However, I am quite cynical when a group begins an overtly patriotic song which all but demands that the audience stand in appreciation. If I don’t want to stand, then I’m branded as unpatriotic. It’s the gospel music equivilent of the question “Are you still beating your wife?”

    I equate it with the words “Give Jesus a hand!” Is the group being truly patriotic, or are they looking for a way to work the crowd?

  15. To Inquirer #8:

    I do believe that Gloria, not Bill, penned the words to “Let Freedom Ring.” And, yes, she is quite the poet. I still get goosebumps every time I listen to that song.

    As to Daniel’s original question…conversely, does the singing of “God Bless America” during the 7th inning stretch – every night – diminish the song? Just a thought…

  16. “I believe the purpose of a Gospel concert is to present Gospel truth through song, to draw the listeners closer to the Lord—the unsaved to salvation and the saved to a deeper, closer walk with the Lord.”

    Do you draw any distinctions between a ticketed Gospel concert’s purpose and a non-ticketed Gospel concert’s purpose?

  17. The reason I like Patriotic songs at a gospel concert is that it reminds me to be grateful that I live in a country where I can worship as I please. In fact, I went to a Triumphant Quartet concert last night, and they ended with a patriotic song. It was very appropriate.

  18. #16 – No, not really.

  19. Yes, Janet(#15), you’re correct that Gloria did write the lyrics to “Let Freedom Ring”.

    But surely you won’t disagree that both Bill AND Gloria(as former English teachers)are BOTH superlative wordsmiths, as is Neil Enloe(“Statue of Liberty” composer).

  20. “I Love This Land” starts out wholly patriotic with this line: “There’s a man who lives beside me who fought in World War Two.” who salutes the flag everyday.
    The chorus includes the phrase “one nation under God”
    The second verse mentions a “typical” patriotic, church-going American family preparing to join a worship service where they are “free to worship Jesus and they are free to pray”.

  21. In comment #16, I asked, “Do you draw any distinctions between a ticketed Gospel concert’s purpose and a non-ticketed Gospel concert’s purpose?”

    In #18, Daniel responded, “No, not really.”

    Here’s why I asked.

    Any time you pay cash for a ticket, the artist/promoter owes you a product. That product is entertainment. If it’s a free concert, I don’t have a problem with the fact that a group isn’t particularly professional. But if I buy a ticket, I expect certain standards to be met.

    Now, that doesn’t mean the Gospel message should be watered down or compromised. It merely means the artist shouldn’t do amateurish things…like talking more than he sings or never making eye contact with the audience or being so unprepared as to not learn the words to the song.

    I think the second paragraph in the original blog post more or less states the obvious. You could also say that the purpose of being a Christian is to carry out the Great Commission, which is true. That’s the fundamental reason for anything we do as Christians.

    The purpose of a Gospel concert goes further than that, though.

    I can’t see how a single patriotic song in the middle of an otherwise 100% Gospel concert distracts from the Gospel message any more than singing with a focus on quality and making the audience laugh and feel the songs distracts from the Gospel message.

    I just got home from an Ivan Parker concert where he not only sang a patriotic song, he also sang a secular Christmas song. Guess what? No one was so distracted that they forgot to praise God when he got to “Midnight Cry.”

  22. Inquirer (#19) –

    Of course I’m not going to disagree with that! My favorite thing in the world is an inspired lyric married to a beautiful melody. And SG is filled with people who can pull that off – without peers, IMHO. I’m just particularly taken with Gloria’s ability to weave words, that’s all.

    Sorry to go slightly OT on you there, Daniel! :D

  23. #21: About the secular Christmas song – I would have been.

    #22: I agree with you, Gloria is just amazing. I don’t really mind OT posts so long as they’re not too far from the original topic.

  24. What would the attitude be if there were a Patriotic concert and the performer sang a Gospel song within the series of songs?

    Is this question a veiled promotion of the much touted by liberal, anti-Gospel forces of the misunderstood political concept of “separation of Church and state”?

    If the performance of the Patriotic song is professionally rendered, then the ticket purchaser is “getting his money’s worth”. And further, there are many lyrics in Patriotic songs that speak to the Good News of God’s Blessings on America. And that is the Gospel Truth!

    • James,

      Not at all. It would be hard to get more conservative than I am.

      However, we are sojurners and pilgrims here, this world is not our home, and that our job as Christian songwriters and/or singers is to point people to the Cross, not the flag.

      • Well, in true “via media” (middle way) fashion, I would say that we must point people to the cross while rendering all due respect to the flag as the symbol of the republic for which it stands, one nation under God.

        There is a danger of taking either position too far. On the one hand, we can focus so much on this nation that we lose sight of our eternal heritage. On the other hand, we can lose our love for this country, which would be a sad thing indeed.

        (I’m actually writing a song about this right now, like anybody’s interested…)

  25. On reflection, something that I keep coming back to as I mull this question over is the pure healthiness of a good patriotic song. Whenever I hear a well-crafted song that honors our country, I just have this clean, wholesome feeling inside. Whenever I see an artist perform that type of song, particularly if it contains lyrics specifically honoring our veterans, my respect for that artist is raised (even if I already did respect him). “Touch of class” I guess is the phrase I want. It’s just a classy thing.

  26. I understand that God has given us a “free” country and am exceedingly grateful for it. However, I do not feel a great patriotism toward the country itself. Everything is growing more and more debauched in the country, the laws, the government. My allegiance is solely to the Lord – I am more Christian than American, Italian, Texan or anything else. This does not mean that I am not very thankful that God has allowed us to live where we have more freedoms (although even a lot of those now are being pulled away and sucked into the governmental vortex). I would rather sing “I pledge allegiance to the Lamb”, “Let Freedom Ring”, etc. Let me add, the National Anthem is one of my favorite songs ever, to sing, but I think it has to do more with the musicality of it than of the “clean, wholesome feeling” I get. I get that feeling when I sing about God.

    • As do I. But there’s a reason why Daniel gets chills when he hears taps, and there’s a reason why it’s not from the cold weather.

  27. The reason being…

    • If you don’t understand, then I’m not going to bother explaining it to you. :-)

      I will say this much though: We do need to recognize what’s wrong with our country. And I can feel a bit irritated with a flag-waving anthem that doesn’t seem to recognize that. And like you said, it’s a matter of freedom too. The new TSA procedures are an excellent case in point. Our government, in the name of “fighting terrorism,” is beginning to turn the nation into a police state. Fourth amendment? What fourth amendment? What’sa “constitution?” And I’m sorry to hear of some so-called “conservatives” who are endorsing these policies like nothing is amiss.

      Ultimately, I think that there just is a tension between on the one hand being frustrated with unqualified patriotism (my country right or wrong, etc.) and on the other hand wanting to be swept up in love for country. It’s not a tension that can just be resolved neatly one way or the other: Either patriotic songs are great, and there’s absolutely nothing to criticize there, or they’re inappropriate and out of place at something like a gospel concert. It just doesn’t work that way.

  28. I’m with Daniel on the first question of what is the point of the concert? Is it to truly glorify God, convict lost souls to change, point the hurting and hopeless to the cross, or is to entertain people and try to prove to the audience like Steven said “Wow, they have got it all – they both glorify God AND the Country!” Like I said, while being quite grateful for our country, I’m more thankful for the God that has given me the privilege to freely worship Him. Believe me, we will NOT always have the freedom here to worship God like we do right now – I would rather make good use of that short time by praising God instead of the government.

    • Susan, I completely agree and could not have said it better.

    • Hang on… “praising God instead of the government?” Who said that singing a patriotic song = praising the government? I think our government stinks right about now, and I’ll sing “America the Beautiful” as loud as anybody—probably louder.

      The purpose of a gospel concert is indeed to glorify God in song. But it is also good to be reminded that we need to pray for our country. If an artist chooses to lead the audience in “God Bless America,” is that defeating the purpose of the concert?

      • Whether intentionally or not, your statement of my position goes well beyond my actual views – distracting, yes, but there’s a significant difference between distracting and defeating.

      • Sorry, I should have said “distracting,” although I wasn’t trying to state your position—I was asking a question in a search for clarification.

        Patriotic songs that specifically connect our faith with our country should not be viewed even as “distracting” in the context of a gospel concert. When I sing “God Bless America,” I’m reminded of all that God has done for this country, and I am encouraged to pray for His continued help and guidance in the years to come. “Stand beside and guide her through the night with the light from above.” What’s so distracting about that? Ditto for “America the Beautiful,” which even makes reference to a “patriot dream” that sees BEYOND the years.

      • Thank you for the clarification!

        I still say distracting – the main focus, through the setup and delivery of the song, is still on this country, which is a distraction if the time could have been used to further the Gospel message.

  29. Thanks – It’s good to know I’m not the only one that feels this way. I was encouraged by your posts :-)
    NSGF- I wonder if the reason why you won’t explain it to me is because you simply don’t know. I have gotten chills when hearing a lonely trumpet play Taps, or a sad violin playing Ashokan Farewell – but not because I suddenly feel a desire to stand up for my country. It’s more a dark, sad feeling of loss and the mean ruthlessness of war that those songs represent. Daniel, is that far off from what you meant?

    • Susan, yes, those are the sort of dark, sad chills I meant – the sort of chills that remind me that this world is not my home, and remind me at the same time to weep with those who weep as creation groans for the return of its Creator.

      • Well said. I believe our friend NSGF is reading into that comment as meaning you feel “clean, wholesome” chills and want to stand up for the country. There ain’t nothin’ clean or wholesome about this place! :-) Heaven is going to be something worth singing about!!!

    • I thought Daniel was saying it in a context affirming the fact that there is room for patriotism?

      • You are both partly correct. I think that patriotism is not out of place at patriotic events – however, the chills I get when taps are played are certainly not those of pride!

      • Well, I think Daniel was saying they have no place at a Gospel concert. Just like I have no problem playfully singing Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer around the house or something. But if GVB got up and sang that in concert amidst Worthy the Lamb, There Is A River, These Are They, I may feel a little less about them.!

      • That would also bother me! (Though I must say that I don’t sing that particular song around the house, either!)

      • I don’t usually either – typically the first line when my nose is red – I don’t do Santa Claus.

  30. Also, you can feel chills at a secular rock concert – you can cry, you can feel enthused, you can feel lonely, good, happy, anything you want. But being a Christian as well a human with plenty of emotion, my question is not “Does this make me feel good?” but more like ” Do I feel God in this?”. Just a thought.

    • Do you feel God in a sunset? Do you feel God in snow-covered pine tree? What about a faithful collie or a magnificent horse?

      How about a shining sea or an amber field of grain?

      How about a small group of men raising a flag on Iwo Jima? Or an 80-year-old veteran proudly posing with his medal of honor?

      This world is a gift. Life is a gift. And so is this country. God gave us these things for a reason—he gave them to us so we could have a foretaste of glory divine. He gave them to us so we could learn what beauty, truth, faith and honor mean.

      We are a fallen nation. We are a nation wandering in darkness. We are a nation who has lost our way. But it is up to us, the remnant, the few who still remember what this country used to stand for, to take up her banner and wave it proudly, so that our honored dead shall not have died in vain.

      Call me strange, but those are the kind of chills I get when I hear the National Anthem.

  31. I will not call you strange, but rather just another American. God called us to “come out of Her, My people and be separate from Her.” Who is “Her” except Babylon, the City, the World? How can you compare a sunset, a breeze, a shining sea, etc, – things created by God with the triumph of war?! A veteran posing with his medal – what does that medal really signify? What about the country that lost? What about the thousands upon thousands of lives that were lost, or ruined forever because of what that medal signifies?
    Life is a gift – this world is NOT a gift – Jesus called Satan the ruler of this world. And when you look at the government, the wars, the hatred, the slums, the apostatizing, compromising church, does that really look like beauty, truth, faith, and honor? Would you honestly want that to be a foretaste of glory divine? I hope not! I couldn’t agree with you more that this is a fallen, lost nation, wandering in darkness. But God has called us to rise above that – I once was lost but now I am found! I am not wandering in darkness anymore – I have seen a great light, a city set upon a hill and am now waving the name of Jesus so that HE will have not died in vain.

    • “How can you compare a sunset, a breeze, a shining sea, etc, – things created by God with the triumph of war?! A veteran posing with his medal – what does that medal really signify? What about the country that lost? What about the thousands upon thousands of lives that were lost, or ruined forever because of what that medal signifies?
      Life is a gift – this world is NOT a gift – Jesus called Satan the ruler of this world. And when you look at the government, the wars, the hatred, the slums, the apostatizing, compromising church, does that really look like beauty, truth, faith, and honor? Would you honestly want that to be a foretaste of glory divine? I hope not!”

      Wow! I honestly wish I could say I was going to say that, but I can’t. Good comparison, good point.

      • My references to the beauty of creation were in reply to your comment about “feeling God” in things. I was making the larger point that we most certainly can “feel God” in things other than a sermon. I then moved on to make the comparison to the beauty of our country and foundation on which it was built, because I wanted to emphasize that this too is a gift from God to us.

        Courage, honor and loyalty are more than “the triumph of war.” You made reference to the thousands upon thousands of lives that were lost. What about the lives that were saved? What about the lives that veteran saved to earn his medal? As long as there is evil in the world, there is a need for good to do battle with it. War is not always necessary, but sometimes it is. Man is fallen, and every generation will have its dictators who seek to crush nations with their power. At a certain point, there comes a time when those who wish to preserve freedom must take up arms and fight. Who or what would have stopped Hitler had thousands not died to fight him?

        The veteran’s medal signifies sacrifice. It signifies bravery in the face of evil and death. If you do not feel any gratitude at the sacrifices made for your sake so that this nation could remain free and alive, you need to either search your soul or brush up on your history.

      • There’s quite a difference between feeling gratitude for the successful result of a war and a desire to celebrate it.

      • Did I ever say that we should celebrate war? War is a terrible thing. I never said otherwise. I only said that sometimes it is necessary, and we should thank God for those who have risked and given their lives for the sake of freedom.

      • I was also making the point that the veteran and his medal represent something we as Americans can and should be proud of. There’s a reason why we honor our veterans. When we sing the National Anthem, or any song conveying the emotions of patriotism, it is to small extent the remembrance of that courage, that honor, that sacrifice, that gives me chills. As long as we live, we must always remember. We must never forget. We must pray to God that we never forget.

      • *to no small extent

      • Easy guys!

        The other side gets medals too – are they “wrong” because they were for killing US or British soldiers, etc??

        This side of the planet the US and the USSR faced off in just about every national conflict in the last 60 years. America wasn’t always on the winning side, nor were they all “good” wars.

        what of all the vets who carry Vietnam medals on their lapels – and dark scars on their hearts and psyche? Some who are still on medication from the poison of their own toxins?

        Patriotism might just be defined as, “an assumption or belief that God gave us our country”….

        God gave man a creation, a planet, flora and fauna to “have dominion over”, and a garden to live in. THAT was God’s gift to mankind. WE, in Adam, threw it away.

        God has given us the gift of salvation (Eph 2v8-9), not of our own efforts, but through faith in Christ. We have nothing to glory in there either, except in the cross and what it represents as the untimate victory.

        Not in medals or war – however good the motive or “fight for freedom” might have been. We should be careful about presuming, with a big history brush, that the USA represents “God’s Side” in every war she fights, or that every aggressor is energised by the devil either.

        “If My kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight”.

        We should not argue with the words of Christ Himself, nothing has changed in 2000 years since He said that.

      • Actually David, I never said that the US was always on the right side or that every war in US history has been justified. I think some wars have been more justified than others. My comments were directly targeted towards the 2nd World War. I agree that even in that war not every soldier fighting on the enemies’ side was evil (although you could make distinctions, e.g. between the common soldier and the SS in the German army). But that’s just part of the tragedy of a sometimes necessary war.

        Jesus was not advocating universal pacifism. But if that’s what you’re proposing, then how far are you willing to take it? Should we never fight to protect innocent life under any circumstances whatsoever?

      • Our warefare, our “wrestling” is “against principalities, against authorities, against the world-rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual powers of wickedness in the heavenlies”.

        We should, “take up the whole armour of God that we may be able to stand in the evil day”, BUT, “our wrestling is not against blood and flesh”.

        Ephesians 6:10-13. What has changed?

      • “If My kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight”.

        Thanks David for bringing this verse out! It is a verse often missed in these discussions. While I enjoy hearing patriotic songs and will stand there with the rest of the people, the first thought I have is that this world is not my home. There is no glory in the battle of man but rather in the spiritual warfare we are in to daily turn souls to Christ.

  32. Incidentally, Twila Paris has written a song called “What Did He Die For?” that should make everybody happy on this point…

  33. Maybe I am the strange one, but I think the cross signifies bravery, sacrifice, truth, faith, honor and love more than any medal, flag, or any other human endeavor in the world. And if it is truly necessary to take up arms and fight for freedom, why did Jesus say ” My Kingdom is not of this world. If it were, My servants would fight…”? Are we really supposed to be trying to preserve our freedom, or should we rather be struggling to preserve and hang onto our relationship with God no matter what freedoms we have or don’t have? My freedoms, privileges or circumstances have no sway on my faith. God is God no matter what. That’s why Christianity is spreading so rapidly in countries like China, Korea, etc where there is NO “FREEDOM” for it. Who gives true freedom? Christians being burned alive are still free to worship God and they do so because they know God has set them free.

    • Did I mention Twila Paris’s “What Did He Die For?” ;-)

      I don’t mean to hurt your feelings Susan, but you’re taking kind of a shallow approach here. Yes, Christianity has thrived under persecution. Yes, there is a vibrant and growing church in countries where God and Christianity are suppressed under godless dictators. And yes, God has set these Christians free in spirit, even if they are not free in body.

      BUT, this does not mean that earthly freedom is meaningless or that all our soldiers have wasted their lives. I repeat: Who or what would have stopped Hitler had nobody risen to fight him? How many more Jews do you think he would have murdered? Also, we did not attack Japan first in the 2nd World War—they attacked us. There were multiple powers poised to divide and conquer the globe among themselves, and sooner or later, America would have fallen had these dictators moved forward unhindered. Would you have wanted that? You spoke of the loss of lives, but how many more lives would have been lost if America had been on the losing side?

      As Christians, we are indeed not called to spread Christianity by the sword. Therein lies the difference between Christianity and Islam. Yet Jesus has nowhere told us that we are obligated not to fight against evil.

      • I think there are good ways to make a case without calling the opposing position “shallow.”

      • I was very gentle in the way I did it, and I went on to make a perfectly good case in the rest of my comment. It is in fact a shallow position to take, but it is not my intent to cause offense, and I have spared neither time nor energy in explaining my own arguments in response.

      • Yes, the rest of your comment was indeed well reasoned.

        However, a position should not be called shallow which is rooted in centuries of church history – and, furthermore, even the church Fathers themselves were sometimes known to take positions of nonresistance. Additionally, there is a solid exegetical case to be made for the nonresistance position, though I must say I have not entirely settled all questions in my own mind to firmly stake out which side of the question I fall on.

      • With all due respect to you and to Susan, I believe that the roots of the viewpoint she is espousing do not run as deeply as you imply.

        I should hope that as a history major, you would have settled your questions and taken your side long ago.

      • OH MY. NSGF, you suggested that I brush up on my history, I suggest that you do the same to your Bible! How about “Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but overcome evil with good.” “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.” “Bless those who curse you and pray for those who spitefully use you.”
        PLEASE. There are dozens of scriptures that show Jesus’ nonviolent approach to evil. What about right before the crucifixion when Peter cut off the soldier’s ear and Jesus rebuked him and healed the soldier?
        Perhaps you are the one with the shallow view. I never said that earthly freedom was meaningless or that all our soldiers wasted their lives. America is falling anyways, along with most of the church. How is picking up guns and throwing a tantrum like the rest of the world going to help?

      • Since there seems to be little point in continuing to reason with you, I respectfully decline to continue this argument.

      • I was afraid the “shallow” reference would lead to things getting heated.

        Let’s try to calm things down, everyone! There are two long-lasting positions, both with numerous noted exegetical defenders – one at least 1800 years old and the other at least 1600 years old. So let’s keep the debate as respectful as possible, acknowledging that both viewpoints have been around since long before our birth and will, in all likelihood, be around until the Second Coming.

      • Thanks Daniel. Sorry, I do not mean to get heated, I just get a little supercharged sometimes because it all seems so clear and convincing to me and yet others see SO differently. However it is not my place to try to force what I see upon anyone else and I sincerely apologize if I have gone too far. NSGF – That apology goes to you too. We do not see eye to eye on this and I truly believe only one of us is right. There is only one way. But arguing over it isn’t going yield the answer. A debate is one thing, arguing is another story. Please forgive me if I have done so.

      • Susan,

        Thank you for the way you took my comment – entirely the right way. I understand your position and agree with you at least in many of its points.

        And yes, there can only be one truth – though that’s not to say that any one person’s viewpoint is perfect in every point, of course!

        Thanks for participating in the discussion.

      • I accept your apology Susan. I sincerely meant none of my comments to come across as aggressive or personally insulting to you. You’re my Christian sister, and we share the same God and the same Word. I too have read the passages to which you refer—we’ve simply chosen to apply them in different ways. Each Christian must make his own decision on these sorts of things, and there will inevitably be disputes that arise out of that.

        I’m sorry if I took up your time unnecessarily. We doubtless both have more valuable things to do than debate with each other over this issue. Thanks again for your apology. All is forgiven. :-)

      • I have to say that on all the blogs, comments, and forums (fora?) I peruse, I almost never see a mutual apology and appreciation of another’s viewpoint such as was expressed here. The other sites get tiring. At least here one can see some of the Christian character that is lacking in so many other sites.

        Thanks for a well-managed blog community, Daniel.

      • Levi,

        Thanks, but I don’t deserve so much as half of the credit! No matter how much I do to try to encourage people to be courteous, I can’t make anyone, so it’s really the community here who deserves the credit.

      • True Daniel, but the atmosphere you create and the personality you project are the kind that attracts good folk. We recognize class when we see it. I echo Levi: thank you!

  34. I am not a huge fan of patriotic songs in gospel concerts or even in church. At least in Southern Gospel circuits, American Christians seem to be Americans first and Christians second. Someone will sing a patriotic song and everyone must stand or risk feeling condemned by the crowd as being unpatriotic (which I guess is more based on my own paranoia and self-image, but I know of others who feel the same way—some of them citizens of other nations). Meanwhile, sing a song about standing up for Jesus, and you are lucky to get a fifth of that same audience to stand—even less for a legitimate standing ovation for a great set.

    Some of the patriotic songs, when done well, give me chills from the musical harmonics that are thrilling or because the lyrics do make me appreciate that I was blessed to be born an American. I live in an area with a high population of former, current, and families of Veteran’s. I am an American: I am very unlikely to ever change citizenship. However, my permanent and strongest allegiance is to my God and Savior.

    Something should be said about how Jehovah’s Witnesses and Muslims (for example) place commitment to their respective faiths over their national allegiances. If more Christians had a reasonably similar commitment to God (and less to politicking), I think our churches and nation would be in a lot better shape.

    • Well said, Levi.

    • Why are we using Islam as a positive example here? Sure, they’re committed to a God to whom nobody comes “except as a slave” and for whom they are willing to slaughter innocent people. Is this praiseworthy?

      • You’re right. Islam IS NOT our example ( at least not mine). I don’t think Levi was holding it up their religion as praiseworthy, rather their hard-nosed commitment to their God over their country.

      • That’s true, and no doubt that’s what Levi meant. On the other hand, it’s interesting to note that the Islamic lack of a national identity is precisely what makes them so dangerous. It means they can infiltrate and subvert any country they choose without any national ties, because they do everything in the name of their religion. Sometimes an Islamic nation will even assassinate its own head of state if the head is not considered radical enough. (This actually happened in Pakistan.)

    • I do believe I should have read through the rest of the comments before I made my comment above on David Mac’s post. Levi you said it as well as anyone here and I applaud you for taking the time to write it so openly.
      While I understand what others are saying about not holding up the Islamic faith as an example; I must admit I’ve wondered in the past how much would change in the world if Nonresistant Christians would devote as much time and energy towards promoting the peaceful, loving God that we serve.
      Thanks again for the well worded post.

  35. A hearty amen! Well said LeviSJ. It started with Constantine wanting to make the State and the Church one – they are not one! Thank God.

    • Our allegiance is “to the Lamb” – first and untimately, only and eternally.

      Not to “a grand old flag” – whichever flag it might be!

      Some of this thread doesn’t read well from where I sit, well outside the borders of the US.

      There seems to be a ‘snark’ factor creeping into a few comments lately, and to be honest NSGF you presume a little much on the mindset of some other commenters. A robust debate is one thing, on SG related topics. War-games by Word-Press is quite something else!!

      This thread is not the only snarky one of late. Susan and Levi have, however made some very well considered comment.

      NSGF, the comment at #6:49 was neither reasonable nor respectful, especially not to a sister in Christ, don’t you think?

      We can easily get strident, as well as heated, on emotive/politicised comment.

      Can we not stick to basses and tenors and lyrics and “making melody in our hearts” hereabouts? It would calm the troubled waters just a little!

      • My first allegiance is to the Lamb of God as well, and I never denied as much. All I was ever trying to say was that our allegiance to the Lamb and our love for our country need not be mutually exclusive. It may be that I have misread the opinions of the others, and this is not what they are implying. If this is the case, I do sincerely apologize, from the bottom of my heart.

        Susan is my sister in Christ, and I believe I have said as much here. Apologies have been given and received on both sides, and we bear no ill will towards each other. We have agreed to disagree and move on. Would you join us?

      • Gladly, in the Lord’s name, my dear NSF blog-friend!

        I have enjoyed many good blog-debates on this site in the past.

        As well as agreeably disagreeing with some points raised here, I am also trying to gently suggest that the SG theme and raison d’etre of the blog is kept uppermost. Not as a forum for politicized christian debate!

        We don’t need to revisit the errors of the aforementioned emperor. If we stick to the theme of the Hymns of the Church as found in SGM, we may avoid putting the Church in politics – or vice versa.

      • Indeed! Although some themes lend themselves to that particular conversational direction more easily than others. ;-)

        As to the separation of Church and state, I will simply leave it at the fact that nature abhors a vacuum, and when all acknowledgment of God was removed from our country, something very different took its place.

  36. Levi – I love “fora”! I have to remember that.

    David – Good comments all the way around.

    I just thought I would mention a distinction that my high school history textbook made (written from a Christian viewpoint). “Patriotism” and “nationalism” are two different things. Nationalism is when we stand by our nation, right or wrong; we believe that we’re the best; we gloss over immorality (be it in home life or war crimes). Patriotism is a genuine love of our country, a desire to celebrate its excellencies and mend its faults.

    I think that NSF is talking quite appropriately about patriotism. Also, although I don’t notice that anyone has brought it up at all, there are plenty of exhortations in the New Testament to pray for our country. I don’t find the song “God Bless America” out of place at all. Presumably, there are more Christians than unsaved people at a concert anyway.

    The concerns about people responding more readily to a patriotic song than to a song about the gospel also seem valid. If the song is just being used to work the crowd, that would give me a bad feeling.

    • Amy, not to be pedantic, but the N.T. scripture in fact doesn’t advocate “praying for our country”.

      The N.T. “day of grace” believer is seen as stateless – we ARE advocated to pray for:
      Kings, [ie senior govt / presidents etc]
      All in authority,
      All men,
      and specifically for their salvation.

      So we pray for every president – not just Uncle Sam :-). It is sobering hereabouts to consider some of the people we must pray for, in light of the fact that God has permitted them to be in power. Some would NOT be our pick, but we must a)accept their rule, and b) pray for their salvation – which at high office would be of benefit in any nation.

      • OK, that is true. Those were the verses I had in mind. :)

    • Amy, I wanted to make sure to come back and thank you for your comment here. You understood what I was trying to convey perfectly. I really appreciate it! :-)

      • Thanks, NSF!

        (Your comment was a bit too short. Please go back and try again.)

  37. Daniel I will add my thanks for your ability to keep your calm and therefore a well balanced blog :-) This is really the first blog I have ever entered – I am pretty young still. I have read plenty of them but none ever seemed worth posting on. It was actually NewSoGoFan’s review of Wes Hampton’s new CD that made me ever find this website. Being a SG Fan, I kept reading :-) Thanks everybody!!

    • Wow Susan! I recognized you from that blog post, but I didn’t realize that was what had started it all for you. I’m honored to have provided your introduction to the SG blogosphere. Welcome! :-D

    • Thanks! And that’s very cool! I’m glad you stayed around!

    • Amy, you got a horse in this race? :-)

      Glad of the considered comment sis.

      Susan, I’m not sure what “pretty young” represents, but can I say – without patronisation never mind patriotism – your comments are spiritually mature for a young believer.

      Glad to get back on a pleasant platform bros and sisters!

      [I just noticed, patriotism, can become, “pat-riot-ism” – which might be WORSE than “nation-al-ism”!!

  38. Only because you wondered, I am 19. I know I still have a lot to learn – which by the way NSGF and Daniel, I just reread my posts from the CD Review – I was a little brat – sorry – I guess I was on a DP binge or something. LOL what a way to introduce yourself to a blog site! Well, I guess it was a quick introduction to my fiery nature :-/ !

    • :)

      I like DP more than NSGF does, though…

      • I noticed :-) I think we have a bit more in common over all…

      • :)

    • Speaking of being 19, I was 19 when I wrote some of the initial posts for the site, though I didn’t launch it till after I’d turned 20.

      • just to knock this heavy hittin’ thread over the “ton” then!! :-)

      • I’m lost…explain…

      • Susan, you are now famous!

        A BIG debate hereabouts usually tops out at over 100 comments, it has been a while since a thread ran up 100 in a week and a half [I think] This one got a wee bit heated in the middle, but the leaven got at the mix a little!!

        Well settled now, quite edifying.

      • Daniel & NSF, is 100 in 11 days a new Blog record?

        I’ve forgotten how long the last ton-up-thread took!

      • Eleven days?

        DM, check the date on this post – it was posted two years 10 days ago! :) :) :) :) :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

      • Ha, Ha, ROLF!! :-) :-)[Retired red faced]

        It is ten days in NOVEMBER – maybe two years of Novembers though!!

        I got in part way through, excuse my datelessness!!

      • You’re excused! Sorry for laughing so hard, but this was pretty funny indeed! :lol:

      • Oh but this post is really old! It’s taken quite a bit longer than a week!!!

      • No surprise to see the update comment comes from the self-confessed Blog-Addict, NSGF!!

    • No worries Susan, I didn’t think you were bratty… although you did give away your age to some extent when you started enthusing about how romantic David Phelps is when he sings, and how he would be more likely to win the princess instead of Pavarotti. :lol:

      • I never said romantic! LOL, just a little more soulful and heartfelt than Pavarotti. Please don’t say you deny that :-)

      • Sorry, I guess you didn’t come right out and say that, but you said (of actual opera singers) “Ummm, okay, awesome on the vibrato, but where is the romance??” ;-)

        I guess I wouldn’t deny that David is more “soulful and heartfelt,” it’s just that I get less excited about “soulful and heartfelt” than you apparently do. But that’s okay. :-)

      • LOL, yes, that certainly is. For your benefit, I dug out my Wes Hampton CD this week and put it back in my car stereo and have been immensely enjoying it. I think I wore it out too fast when I first got it :-) Besides, I follow him on twitter and his website and he is truly a man of God. Just his simple, deep love for God and his wife and kids is very inspiring. He isn’t flashy and self-centered like SO many artists these days…and he has a godly haircut…:-0

      • A Christ-honoring haircut, yes indeed! Though I think he used to crop it a little bit shorter. I don’t whether he has longer side-burns now, or whether he’s just let it grow a bit more, but it seems a tad bushier than it used to. Ah well. Still Christ-honoring. :-)

        I do think that his new promotional photos could have brought out his sweet nature a little more though… a few of them had me saying, “Wait a minute… that’s not the Wes I know!” :-o

      • Where are his new promo pics?

      • Well you can see them on various pages of his new website. These two in particular don’t seem to be like “Wes”:

        http://www.weshampton.com/store/

        http://www.weshampton.com/contact/

  39. So much for my fame :-( :-O

    • Never mind, the thread ran well!

      Daniel, a question which has been in my mind for a while –

      Can the thread comments be auto-numbered, like some other not so polite blogs?

      It would be a benefit, especially in multiple posting, to refer to “comment #99″ etc.

      • I think I did something like that until I set up replies.

        Just imagine:

        Either (a) the numbers adjust when people reply to an earlier comment, so the numbers are useless, or

        (b) the numbers don’t adjust, so the comments are essentially meaningless!

        It’s that or strip replies, but I think replies are the more useful feature!

      • I agree – also, how come I can’t reply to a lot of the posts? It’s irritating because sometimes I want my comment to directly linked to a certain post and I can’t do that. I’m sure I’m doing something wrong…can anyone help?

      • For formatting reasons, only five levels of replies are permitted.

      • Makes sense. Thanks. Wow, we certainly have gotten off of the Patriotic Songs in Gospel Concerts theme haven’t we? It’s ok, I’m ready to move on :-)

      • It’s no problem – when a question like formatting comes up, I’m more than happy to address it, and the comments are as good a spot as any. :)

      • Big cross-post on my part! (Down below)

        Susan, I just go back to the last comment with a reply feature. It’s annoying, but I understand why it has to be that way.

        Or sometimes it’s a sign that it’s time to go to the end and start a new group.

      • I think they used to be before threaded comments?? But it might be a little confusing now. Either the numbers would shift around, or it would have to be a completely different system, even if it were possible.

      • Precisely – and Amy, notice my comment four above. :)

      • Daniel, Amy, thanks for that!

        dedicated replies ARE useful – I didn’t quite see that they would make numbers useless!

        Keep up the good work….

      • Not a problem! You see how that would mess things up! :)

  40. Wow, I must say that this was an interesting discussion to read through. There seems to be a couple completely different points of view.

    Me personally, I think I fall more on what NSF was saying. Just because a song doesn’t directly point to the Cross in the lyrics, it doesn’t mean it should be completely ignored in the context of a Gospel concert.

    Just because we are saved does not mean we can ignore those who have come before us. We should be thankful for our freedoms. There are countries around the world where attending an event where the Gospel is shared can lead to imprisonment. I tell you what, I’m thankful that I live in a country where I don’t have to be afraid of being arrested for my faith. As Americans, we are free. And its because of those who came before us who fought in wars and died for our freedom. That is why we sing patriotic songs. To honor those who have came before us. Those who fought for their country, and risked their lives so that we could be free.

    I’m proud to be an American. Even though, this is not our eternal home, we are still here now. Why can’t we be grateful that we live in a free country? A country where we are allowed to hold Christian gatherings. Thats all these songs are really saying.

    By the way, here’s EHSS singing “I Pledge My Allegiance” this past weekend: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rtlABXTK4sU

    • Thank you Josh. :-)