from “Proclaiming the Gospel in Worship” by Johnold Strey
“Breathe” by Marie Barnett
This is the air I breathe. This is the air I breathe.
Your holy presence living in me. This is my daily bread. This is my daily bread.
Your very word spoken to me.
And I, I‘m desperate for you. And I, I‘m lost without you.
This is the air I breathe.
Christus pro nobis is the primary message of the Scriptures, but Christus in nobis is the primary message of this song. Even that conclusion is generous, since Christ is not mentioned unless he is implied in the pronouns, ―you‖ and ―your.‖ The vagueness of this text would allow virtually anyone from any religion to agree with its message. Unfortunately, there is nothing clear about this text except the person‘s desperation apart from the unnamed second person personal pronoun. It would be unfair to place a blanket ―heretical‖ label on the entire genre of praise songs. Every song, whether it is found in Christian Worship, in Lutheran Service Book, or on the CCLI song list, needs to be analyzed individually for its ability to proclaim the gospel. Nevertheless, we cannot naïvely ignore the tendency of so many praise songs to minimize the gospel and to operate with theological assumptions that are contrary to our confession. Fortunately, there are many hymns and songs, new and old, that are suitable for Lutheran worship, that carry biblical, Lutheran theology, and that will not compromise our message or cloud its clarity. Out of love for the souls in our care, let‘s choose our songs wisely.