Critics say a song being sung this summer in Southern Baptist Vacation Bible Schools across the country includes faulty theology about the Trinity and the Bible.”In the beginning was the Word, and it was with God and was God. Before an eye had seen or ear had heard, there was the Word.”
So begins “The Word,” a daily theme song in “Outrigger Island: Living God’s Unshakeable Truth” VBS curriculum by LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.
The reference is from Chapter 1 of the Gospel of John, which goes on to elaborate that the “Word,” translated from the Greek logos, was present in creation and “became flesh” in Jesus Christ, as witnessed to by John the Baptist.
The song continues: “I know the Bible is God’s Word, His written promises to Earth. It is a lamp unto the feet of those who believe in its worth.
“The Word is perfect truth. The Word is what I cling to. Unbreakable, unshakeable Word of God. I love the Word. Page after page it teaches me. Day after day it speaks to me, and leads me in the ways of righteousness.”
While there is nothing wrong with revering Scripture, critics say, the abrupt transition from the first verse might confuse literally minded children to equate the pre-existent Christ with the bound version of the Holman Christian Study Bible.
Jack Partain, a retired professor of Old Testament at Gardner-Webb University, called it a “mind-boggling error.”
“It says the eternal Word of God was the Bible, not the Son, Jesus our Savior,” Partain said in an on-line letter to the editor in the Biblical Recorder, “and sung to a winsome melody to make it stick in children’s minds.”
Partain isn’t alone in his concern. A blogger called Howie Luvzus wrote about “The Word” in June, calling it “a song where a biblical text is taken way out of context and used incorrectly” and “a really bad use of the text.”
Partain said he didn’t know if the lyrics were an attempt to “indoctrinate our children in their ideology” or “just ignorance.”
The complaints come on the heels of criticism from Southern Baptist leaders of a speaker at a recent Cooperative Baptist Fellowship workshop suggesting that the high Christology in John is for many preachers less relevant today than before than sermons about Jesus’ human side.
One Baptist state paper editor described comments by former Beeson Divinity School Professor John Killinger quoted by Baptist Press, as suggesting the CBF isn’t Baptist or even Christian.
CBF Executive Coordinator Daniel Vestal said his staff probably should have been more careful in vetting Killinger’s views before approving his breakout-session presentation.
Bob Allen is managing editor of Ethicsdaily.com.