"A New Law": A Dialogue

"A New Law": A Dialogue


Okay, so I said that “Mockingbird” was my favorite song on the album. I have changed my mind. “A New Law” has been the most thought-provoking and soul-nourishing song and catchy tune so far.

I think this song hits the nail on the head for modern-day evangelicalism – from health, wealth, prosperity preaching to old-school legalism in the country. People have not done the hard work of reading and thinking about the teachings in the Scripture. Instead, we have become lazy in our religion. We have opted for the “Just tell me what I need to do to get to heaven” instead of the “What does the Lord require of me” (Micah 6.8). And so we see the slow of heart and mind pointing fingers at those who push the boundaries of what is okay for a Christian to do (i.e. drinking, smoking, and swearing) – calling them heretics – without rigorous thought as to why it is wrong.

I have tried in this blog to push those buttons and think afresh why Christians should live a certain way. I want all of us – smoker and non-smoker – to think deeply how the Bible calls us to live. On to the song…

(vs. 1)
don’t teach me about politics and government
just tell me who to vote for
don’t teach me about truth and beauty
just label my music
don’t teach me how to live like a free man
just give me a new law


I am reminded of the situation in North Carolina where a man was disciplined because he voted for a Democrat instead of Republican. Too many times we have equated Christian with Republican (more on this when we get to “A King & A Kingdom”). We need to ask deeper questions of who I should vote for and why I should vote.

Regarding music, many have sought to label various music so they can write it off or ascribe to it…Rather, shouldn’t we be asking what makes a particular song edifying?

((Side Question: Are there certain genres of music that should not be used to edify the Christian?))

Freedom has been the cry of the Christian from the day of his conversion. It has not become the cry of those who want to drink alcohol. Have we belittled “freedom” to just being able to do as we please. I am not a teetotaler, neither do I claim “freedom” where we may be called to be our neighbor’s slave. In some cases, has “freedom” been our new law? These questions might be where I would divert from Webb’s agenda in this song.

i don’t wanna know if the answers aren’t easy
so just bring it down from the mountain to me
i want a new law
i want a new law
gimme that new law


It is much easier to have a Mosaic Law than it is to be indwelt with the Spirit of God. We can strive in our own energies to be obedient to the letter of the law so that we can miss the more pervasive problem of being transformed in our minds and hearts. The answers are not easy because we live in a world full of sin, sinners, and self. We have a mind that has been corrupted by our own elections in entertainment and thought. We have given ourselves to sensual pleasures rather than renovation of the soul.

(vs. 2)
don’t teach me about moderation and liberty
i prefer a shot of grape juice
don’t teach me about loving my enemies
don’t teach me how to listen to the Spirit
just give me a new law
what’s the use in trading a law you can never keep
for one you can that cannot get you anything
do not be afraid
do not be afraid
do not be afraid

While I don’t think Webb’s agenda is to have everyone drink alcohol, we must not stop with such an arbitrary and subjective example of Christian freedom – nor do I think Webb is wanting us to stop here. I think it would be great if we re-thought the use of grape juice at the Lord’s Table. The new wine that will be offered at the Fellowship of every tribe and tongue will be refreshing and good. It will flow from the spiggot of God’s love and mercy and joy. Yes, Jesus blessed the Wedding at Cana not with a picture frame for the lovely couple but with vats of wine! He is the Lord of the feast (please listen to this excellent sermon by Tim Keller). I went to a Communion Service at a Lutheran Seminary some years ago where they served wine for the Supper. It burne when it went down. Nothing special about the wine, mind you, but it has much more powerful sensory results than grape juice. Could it be that we would be reminded of the power and taste of the Kingdom with wine? I can already hear some of my friends wondering if I have gone off the deep end.

No, I am still where I am…not advocating cracking open some brews and peanuts for the Lord’s Supper. What I am doing is asking (albeit, stream-of-consciousness) genuine questions about the things we have taken for granted. This is meant to be a discussion so I’d love to hear your feedback.

“Listening to the Spirit” could be replaced by a more theologically true concept of listening to the Word of God. The Spirit is too often reduced to a nebulous feeling for the Christian. The Spirit inspired the writers of the Bible so that we might exalt the Son (and be comformed into his image). Evangelicalism has become very fluffy (see my post Fluffy Faith). We have equated the rock solid truth of the Gospel for a search for pearls of wisdom offered by the emotions. We have gone on a journey like Pilgrim not to our Home but to a good feeling when we’re singing with a thousand people. We have become mushy in our convictions – trading in truth for “I feel”). I am not a stoic, but I am not an Epicurean either!

At first, I was annoyed by Webb’s repition of “do not be afraid.” But then I just let it ride the second and eith time I listened to it. I appreciate the repetition now. I am reminded of “Good Will Hunting” where Robin Williams gets in Matt Damon’s face and repeats ad nauseum “It’s not your fault.” Let the refrain seep into your thinking.

What does that mean, Matthew? Well, dwell on the fact that Evangelicals have opted for their new laws because they are afraid of something. What do you think we are afraid of?

  • Reid
    Posted at 02:29h, 06 December Reply

    We are afraid of loosing power, having to be a spectacle like Paul, having to truly suffer for his name sake, and do something outside of the mainstream Americanism that we all so easily subscribe. I think we are afraid of following Jesus.

  • vandorsten
    Posted at 06:22h, 07 December Reply

    this is probably my favorite song on the album.

    to answer your last question there, i hate to use an overused example, but i guess it’s overused for a reason – it’s a good one. i can’t help but think of the dude from the movie The Shawshank Redemption who was ‘institutionalized’ – absolutely terrified to live as a free man, because all he knew was prison.

    Paul starts off Galations 5 with a beautifully simple statement – “it is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” That seems almost like a ridiculously self-evident thing to say… yet it is a sentiment that he seems to repeat often.

    Probably because we need to hear it, and probably often, to help us get away from our ‘institutionalized’ old selves.

  • Matthew Wireman
    Posted at 15:27h, 12 December Reply

    That last sentence was insightful, Reid. We are afraid of following Jesus and having our lives conformed to the Word of God. We labor to try and set up our list of to-dos to be theologically accurate and holy. While it is much-needed in our culture, we need to put our work in perspective. We can read all the magnum opus we can wrap our eyes around, but we must be on our knees – asking God to make our eyes be lifted upon the Christ.

    I will say that some people are afraid of following Jesus because they have this whimsical idea of what it means to walk in the Spirit. They have equated a feeling for the Holy Spirit – “I felt like I needed to walk up to you and say something really wild…” It is true, the Holy Spirit may prompt us to do something extra-ordinary – but this is not ordinary. Walking in the Spirit is more oftentimes in the smaller things – which are huge – like plucking out my own lustful eyes, conforming my own mind, praying for justice and mercy to rain on us…

  • Pingback:The Love of Sloth « Off The Wire
    Posted at 14:30h, 15 May Reply

    […] Don’t be so quick to write this off. This is a larger problem in the Church. People just want to be told what to believe rather than nourishing their own thoughts by the Word of God. The shed blood of the […]

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