Singing and playing music that is doctrinally sound has become more important to me over recent years, in part due to the health scare our family experienced in 2018. When our daughter was found to have a large brain tumor, it really brought to the forefront many doctrinal issues that I had struggled with over the years. I sought to understand God’s nature and how He interacts with mankind. I was trying to grasp God’s sovereignty–I was confident in His goodness, but I struggled to understand His involvement in the world. The experience of possibly losing the life of your child prematurely causes one recognize that humans are not in control of their circumstances.
About January last year, months after this experience, I was at a crisis in my faith. I even questioned whether Jesus truly claimed to be divine in the Bible. I wondered if it was I that needed to be converted. And then God, in His grace, ordained the interview with John MacArthur and Ben Shapiro. Pastor John explained how miraculously the Old Testament made specific predictions about Jesus’ coming, and who He was to be. That He is God with us. This was a turning point for me. It took me from doubter to confident that the Bible is true and inerrant, in a way that only God could orchestrate. Looking back, I have realized that though I had read through the Bible more than once, I did not understand it in context in some key areas. This is what left me with gaping weaknesses in my faith, and it is only by the grace of God that I spiritually survived having them.
Because of this experience, I have all the more noted how often music labeled “Christian” does not communicate clearly what the Bible says, or even how God engages with mankind. There is a lot of your- best-life-now and God-will-fix-my-problems, and even God-needs-me material. If one is a person like I was, struggling in my faith, these messages serve to muddy the truth of the Gospel. The Gospel is that Jesus died and rose again for an undeserving sinner like me, paying my fine for breaking all of God’s law (Isaiah 64:6, Luke 18:18-22, 1 Corinthian 15:3-4, James 2:10)—not because He was lonely for me in heaven, but to bring glory to the Father (Philippians 2:8-11). He has done this for those who would repent and believe on Him (Acts 17:30–31). And this was predicted 700 years before His birth in the book of Isaiah (Isaiah 7:14, 9:6–7, 42:1–7, 53:5, etc.)
I also realized that in my own music, I myself had obscured the Gospel. Particularly, I regretted recording Ave Maria with its title. It was not originally written as this by Bach, who was a Lutheran, nor was the melody later inserted by Gounod. Its original title was Méditation sur le Premier Prélude de Piano de J.S. Bach (Mediation on the First Prelude of J.S Bach). That being said, I recorded it on a collection of hymns with the title “Ave Maria.” This is well-known as a Catholic song. At the time, I did not understand how the Catholic Church deviates from orthodoxy on first-tier issues, especially since in my discussions with Catholics, it seemed like they used the same “church lingo” as Protestants. But truthfully, the Catholic Church has a different system altogether of how we are made right with God, and had proclaimed an anathema on anyone who believed in justification by faith alone at the Council of Trent (Canon 9). This is a first-tier issue in regards to orthodoxy, and one of a number of reasons Protestants and Catholics do not have communion with one another.
Having shared all that, I want to apologize to anyone who I confused regarding the orthodoxy of Catholicism by my inclusion of Ave Maria, and I ask for your forgiveness. I have changed the title on my website and sheet music to reflect the original name of the piece.