Theology in Pop Culture – Theology Found in Songs: Sermon Notes from Ps Peter Pilt

In January 2015, I am doing a preaching series at Nowra City Church titled Theology in Pop Culture. Here are my first week’s notes.


5 Introductory Considerations

1) The concept of Secular and Christian is at times a problematic worldview.

As a Christian we can view the church and world one of two ways. The first way is The Paddock View. A paddock has a fence around in and you are either in or out. If you are in, that impacts your view of those who are outside of the paddock. A better way is the concept of wells. In the north of Australia the cattle stations are so large they can’t fence them so they sink wells and the cattle will stay within walking distance to the water source. So all the cows have some proximity to the life giving water. As a Christian I think it is helpful not to view people as in or out of the church or the Christian faith, but rather that we all have some proximity to the life giving water of Christ….now some are very far away and others are very close, but everyone is on a spiritual journey.

2) I think in the past Churches had demonised culture.

When I was a teenager I attended seminar titled What Is Rock? It was all about the evils of rock music and playing music backwards. At the end of the seminar we then burnt all our Vinyls and Tapes. Now I certainly think that there is some music that is evil and is used by the devil, but it is unhelpful to demonise all music and all culture.

3) The tension between being in the world but not of the world

As I preach on culture I certainly want to acknowledge that there is tension between being in the world but not of the world. Jesus as He was praying for His disciples said this:


14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.

Couple of things to notice.

3.1) Jesus was not praying that we would be taken out of the world…rather that we would be protected from the devil.

3.2) We are in the world – but our value system comes from a different kingdom.

Further in Romans 12:1-2 in the Message Paraphrase version it says:

Romans 12:1-2

12 1-2 So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking.

Love the concept of thinking about culture. My heart in preaching this series is challenging people to think about culture.

4) I acknowledge we do need to hold culture in tension.

As I preach on music this first week, I am not suggesting we all go out a populate our iPhones with Top 40 Music. Some music both verbally and visually could be considered soft core pornography. So there is a tension here. I am attempting to make the point that there is some songs with some theology in them..but we need to be discerning.

5) Base Scripture for the Preaching Series

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.

John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.

In the Message Paraphrase of John 1:14

The Word became Flesh and Blood and moved into the neighbourhood.

So the point of this series is what if Jesus is still in the neighbourhood? What if through the incarnation of Christ, He so impacted the world that even now culture declares his handiwork?

What if God is everywhere?

I love that last question?


When I was looking at the Theology found in music, I found there were 5 overarching thematics that most of the songs I looked at fitted in.


1) Deep musings about the state of the world and the whole concept of is this all there is to life.

Stacie Orrico – There’s Gotta Be More to Life

Matchbox 20 – How Far We’ve Come

How Far We’ve Come is a fantastic song that talks about whether you would be proud of what you’ve done if the world ends tomorrow, which also asks us when we stand before God, would we be proud of what we’ve done for Him?

Bastille – Pompeii

“Bastille” depicts a deep unease at a society that seems to be in ruins. It’s interesting that these type of songs are all about a society that’s either fallen apart or have driven people underground.

2) The power of unconditional love and pledges of never walking away.

Remembering that Hebrews 13:5 says I will never leave you nor forsake you: I find there are some amazing songs that say exactly that.

Close your eyes as you play these clips and think that God is saying this to you. It’s very powerful.

Marlisa – Stand By You

Pretenders – I’ll Stand by You

John Hiatt – Have a Little Faith in My

3) Songs that espouse biblical values or the failings of the world when it has walked away from those values.

These two songs are so powerful. The world does it’s best to destroy the basic family unit. Yet here are two women crying out for family. These are both highly emotional songs that champion, parenting, marriage, fathers.

Pink – Family Portrait

Lindsay Lohan – Confessions of a Broken Heart

This next song is basically a Prayerful Psalm. Hey God, there are alot of issues in the world and we are wondering where is the love?

Black Eyed Peas – Where is the Love?

4) Faith and songs that hold Theological concepts

Linkin Park – What I’ve Done

Link Park’s song has the chorus

So let Mercy come

And wash away

What I’ve done.

Sinead O’Conner – Take me to Church

The lyrics to O’Conner’s song are as follows:

I don’t wanna love the way I loved before
I don’t want to love that way no more
What have I been writing love songs for?
I don’t wanna write them anymore
I don’t wanna sing from where I sang before
I don’t wanna sing that way no more
What have I been singing love songs for?
I don’t wanna sing them anymore
I don’t wanna be that girl no more
I don’t wanna cry no more
I don’t wanna die no more
So, cut me down from this here tree
Cut the ropes from off of me
Sit me on the floor
“I AM”; the only one I should adore
Oh, take me to church
I’ve done so many bad things it hurts
Yeah, take me to church
But not the ones that hurt
‘Cause that ain’t the truth
And that’s not what it’s for
Yeah, take me to church
Oh, take me to church
I’ve done so many bad things it hurts
Yeah, get me to church
But not the ones that hurt
‘Cause that ain’t the truth
And that’s not what it’s for


Coldplay – God Put a Smile Upon Your Face

There are also parables that reflect theological truths.

Nickelback – I’d Come For You

Nickelback – Savin Me


5) Songs crying for Justice and Mercy.

Micah 6:8

He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God?

Michael Jackson – Heal the World

Nickelback – When We Stand Together

Sara Bareilles – Brave


To finish this up.

U4 released a song called 40

The legendary tale about the recording of this song goes like this: U2 had 40 minutes remaining in their recording session for the album “War” before the next band was scheduled to come in. So they opened the Bible to Psalm 40 and created a song based on the psalm – with revisions and a lift of a line from Psalm 6.

The  third U2 album concludes with a song based on Psalm 40. Over the years it’s often been a the final song at their live shows with crowds singing the chorus’ refrain “How long to sing this song?”

The result turned out to be a poignant closing song to their album and to many of their concerts. The cry of “How long?” connects to one central theme of the Psalms: How long before deliverance?

The song also reminds us the psalms originally were set to music. They were some of the first spiritual songs. Bono wrote about the importance of the psalms – and the effect of the chorus of “How Long?” in an introduction he wrote to an edition of the Psalms released in 1999:

“40 became the closing song at U2 shows, and on hundreds of occasions, literally hundreds of thousands of people of every size and shape of T-shirt have shouted back the refrain, pinched from Psalm 6: “How long (to sing this song).” I had thought of it as a nagging question, pulling at the hem of an invisible deity whose presence we glimpse only when we act in love. How long hunger? How long hatred? How long until creation grows up and the chaos of its precocious, hell-bent adolescence has been discarded? I thought it odd that the vocalising of such questions could bring such comfort — to me, too.”


U2 – 40

This is an example of the line How Long – watch from 5mins


I hope this has been a helpful article. Please feel free to share it on Social Media.

Ps Peter Pilt

Categories: Creative ideas, Nowra City Church, Sermon Notes, Social Justice Issues, Theology

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

2 replies

  1. Good stuff Peter…I would come if I lived closer.

    I am from the “ban the bomb rallies” era.


    Sent from my iPad


  2. Great post Pete. I like the cows and wells analogy …. I hadn’t heard the Sinead O’Conner song but I saw a different “take me to church” song on Rage on New Years Eve … I found the content quite disturbing but if you’re willing to watch, I’d be interested to know your thoughts on lyrics as well as the video.

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