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Home Special Topics Theology and Music Luey Kit Ling, Elaine: EXAMINING THE SONG ‘CRIME & PUNISHMENT’ (罪與罰)
Luey Kit Ling, Elaine: EXAMINING THE SONG ‘CRIME & PUNISHMENT’ (罪與罰) PDF Print E-mail
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Tuesday, 27 July 2010 11:20

EXAMINING THE SONG ‘CRIME & PUNISHMENT’ (罪與罰)IN SAMMI CHENG’S LATEST GOSPEL ALBLUM WITH PAUL HELM’S  THEOLOGY OF GOD’S PROVIDENCE AND IS CHRSTIAN THEOLOGY CORRECTLY REFLECTED

Referee: Dr. Benedict Kwok
Author: Luey Kit Ling, Elaine

1. Introduction The conversion of movie and pop star, Sammi Cheng has drawn considerable attention in the general public as well as among Christians. The Gospel Herald even commented her experience with the quote from St Augustine’s! 1

At the end of 2009, she published a CD gospel album - “Faith” praising God for giving her ‘Strength, Joy, Hope, and a brand new mi’. While it is great that she shares her witness, however it is controversial not only about the style of the songs in the album e.g. rap, mix, but some lyrics are written by non Christians. It generated some discussions in the Christian Times forum. Some raised concerns while one argued there are non Christians that may have good understanding on Christian Theology2. The Christian Times also held a discussion forum on Jan 31 2010 to discuss this album’s impact for the hymns in Church in Hong Kong.3 Therefore, we can see the ripples this album caused.

1 “Perhaps, just like St. Augustine once said that he did not find rest until rest in Him, Sammi found the rest of her soul inside God.” Aug 18, 2009 http://www.gospelherald.net/article/mcat/45283/sammi-cheng-faith-helped-me-to-find-back-my­confidence.htm 2http://christiantimes.org.hk/Common/Reader/News/ShowNews.jsp?Nid=57656&Pid=2&Version= 1170&Cid

3 CCM x Pop座談會,題為「鄭秀文 Faith大碟對本地教會詩歌發展的影響」

The paper is to examine the lyrics of ‘Crime and Punishment’ 罪與罰 which is written by the non Christian writer, Wyman Wong. The critique will be based on Paul Helm’s theology of God’s providence to see if this song reflects the theology and if there should be any concern of ideas not aligned with Christian theologies.

 

2. Paul Helm’s, a Calvinist theologian, ideology of God’s Providence

Paul Helm is a Calvinist theologian and with very recent published works. He maintained an on line blog4 as well as just released another book in 2010. Therefore, it would be good to evaluate this subject with some latest publications.

Since he is a Calvinist theologian, the Calvinist theology will also be reviewed for a better understanding of Paul Helm’s ideology.

A summary of key points relating to Providence of God are mostly drawn from Helm’s works between 1994- 1998 but I would like to particularly highlight the most recent book, “Secret providence of God” is the latest book edited by Helm which was only published in 2010. The book is actually a work based on “Concerning the Secret Providence of God” written by John Calvin (1509- 1564) in 1558 in response to defending his views against Sebastian Castellio (1515- 1563). Materials is translated and edited, organized in the form of 14 articles which was the accusation from Castellio. A central part of Calvin’s account lies in

4 http://paulhelmsdeep.blogspot.com/

his doctrine of God’s two wills, between the secret and the revealed will of God. This doctrine goes back to actually medieval time. An example cited for ‘secret providence” that Calvin used is the betrayal of Jesus. Though God forbids deceit but yet willed that Jesus be betrayed.5 Therefore this book is very unique, though a recently published work, it traced back to the work of Calvin in 1558. As Paul Helm is a Calvinist theologian, the understanding and material originated from Calvin would help us to better understand this subject matter.

2.1 Definition of Providence of God

To begin with, it is important to point out actually, the word “Providence” does not appear in the scripture. However, “the data in terms of which an account of God’s providence is to be constructed are scattered throughout the book of Scripture in a variety of settings.6. It is based on what God has revealed in the scripture 7 we understand the providence of God, see His acts ‘between the lines’ of the Scripture and through experience.

Providence is the personal activity of God in his creation through which he brings it to its appointed end or destiny8. Christians affirmed the providence of God through experience of themselves, others, it is based on experience”9

5 Helm, Paul. The Secret Providence of God. Crossway books. 2010. P 26 6 Helm, Paul. Providence of God (Contours of Christian Theology). Inter Varsity Press. 1994.

P.27 7 Helm, Paul. Providence of God (Contours of Christian Theology). Inter Varsity Press. 1994.

P.223 8 Helm, Paul. Providence of God (Contours of Christian Theology). Inter Varsity Press. 1994.

P.219 9 Helm, Paul. Providence of God (Contours of Christian Theology). Inter Varsity Press. 1994

P.223

From this definition, we see ‘activity’, the act of God, His power over the

activity of human mankind to achieve the greater purpose He designates, there is a purposeful end in the view and Christians learnt that over the personal experience. It is a very ‘personal experience’ with God one has.

The simplest definition of Providence of God is ‘God provides” p.18. “Providence ‘pronoia’ in the Greek), which has formed the world to endure and lack for nothing and to abound in all grace and beauty” 10

Helm also summarized the key theocentric teaching based on the “Of Providence”, Chapter 5 of Westminster Confession of Faith. Its definition stressed the all mighty power of the Creator which is all - encompassing, nothing escapes nor ever has or can. The Lord governs his creation to the praise of his glory. God has direct control on all events – no matter it is laws of nature (necessarily) or of human choices (freely) or of unforeseen happenings (contingently) or miracle or ‘first fall’ and all other sins”11

God directed even the sparrows (Mt 10:29-31) and one must know that the detail and direction of our lives , so valuable to God, are under the purposeful control of His hands, not only for those accomplishment, answered prayers but even personal tragedy, sickness and bereavement, 12.

10 Helm, Paul. Faith and the Reason. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. P.38

11 Helm, Paul. “Providence and Puritanism”. 2009. PaulHelms blog. Retrieved on Aug 30, 2009. (http://paulhelmsdeep.blogspot.com/2009/08/providence-and-puritanism.html12 Helm, Paul. Providence of God (Contours of Christian Theology). Inter Varsity Press. 1994.

2.2 To whom

The Providence of God does not only relate to the individual Christians, it extended to” all Christians (the Christian Church) and also the whole of the creation animate and inanimate”. It extends to those people who are indifferent to God and even defiant of him. 13 The universal providence is extended to all mankind 14

Although we mentioned before Providence of God is ‘personal’, it is through experience, it should not be only defined to ‘individual’. It has a much bigger scope extended to the all mankind including those non Christians as well.

According to Westminster Catechism,”God’s works of providence are , his most holy, wise, powerful preserving and governing all his creatures and all their actions 15.

2.3 For What God’s providence is exercised in preserving his creatures, in sustaining

them through history, and in directing them to the goals for them which he has in view “. They all cohere in the one divine purpose, the one end 16.

13 Helm, Paul. Providence of God (Contours of Christian Theology). Inter Varsity Press. 1994.

P.21 14 Helm, Paul. Faith and the Reason. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. P.151 15 Helm, Paul. Providence of God (Contours of Christian Theology). Inter Varsity Press. 1994.

P.31

16 Helm, Paul. Providence of God (Contours of Christian Theology). Inter Varsity Press. 1994.

P.23

2.4 How For God is the creator and the sustainer of all – as the scripture stated ‘from him and through him and to him are all things” (Rom 11:36). “From him” - to him also bring out ‘divine transcendence” – he governs, his supremacy but so as his divine immanence – his close involvement, “through him”. When we say God “acted”, we must understand we shouldn’t use the

usual human ‘behavioral” sense to interpret how and what God acts, it is not the same sense in you we act. Rather God’s action may be ‘unobservable’ God is the controller but this is not blind nor is the control exercised apart from

what men and women want, not only what they want but by ‘compelling them to do” through their wills.

It must be stressed under ‘how’ does God provide Providence when men and their free will of choice is involved. How does it work with the divine supreme Lord but human with choices.

Augustine put it “our choices fall within the order of the causes which is known for certain to God and is contained in his foreknowledge – for, human choices are the causes of human acts. It follows that He who foreknew the causes of all things could not be unaware that our choices were among those causes which were foreknown as the causes of our acts”17.

17 Helm, Paul. Providence of God (Contours of Christian Theology). Inter Varsity Press. 1994.

Our choices which directed our action are in the order of the God

foreknowledge and in his control.

2.5 The Risk view of providence I think we should point out the different schools of thoughts involving

God’s risk. Because it is relating to the personal experience, ‘interaction’ of God and human, how does human freedom comes into play?

2.5.1 Risk free / no risk view

Under this view, all is created by God and all is in control of God, including the choices of men and women18.

The following example Calvin used falls into this category19. “So far as men are concerned, they did what God did not will, but as far as the omnipotence of God is concerned, it was impossible for them to accomplish anything without it. So when they were acting contrary to the will of God, they were in fact accomplishing his will. Therefore, the great works of the Lord are carefully crafted in respect of all that he wills, so that in a wonderful and ineffable way nothing happens contrary to his will, even that which is contrary to his will! For nothing happens if he does not permit it, and he does not permit anything unwillingly, but willingly”

18 Helm, Paul. Providence of God (Contours of Christian Theology). Inter Varsity Press. 1994. 19 Helm, Paul. The Secret Providence of God. Crossway books. 2010 P.81

God protects and governs by His providence all things which He created,

teaching from end to end mightily and ordering all things sweetly’ (Wisdom 8:1). For ‘all things are naked and open to his eyes’ Heb 4:13)20.

2.5.2 Risky view

The opposite view suggested that providence is limited, perhaps limited by God himself, so that he does not always know how the universe is going to unfold. The view is necessary to uphold human dignity and responsibility.

While many contemporary theologians and philosophers seem to be the risky view. God take risks if He makes free creatures who has his own choices. They made decisions themselves not informed by knowledge of the outcomes21.

2.5.3 The Middle Knowledge

It was proposed to combine the strong view of providence and a strong view, indeterministic view of human freedom .22 i.e. the human freedom as well as the ‘no risk ‘ view is persevered. God actualize the “circumstances” with taken into consideration of the choice made by men in accordance with the end which God desires. Because God knows all the outcomes of all possibilities free choices that people will take, that he is able to create – to actualize – just those possibilities which are necessary for him to fulfill his purpose23.

20 Helm, Paul. Providence of God (Contours of Christian Theology). Inter Varsity Press. 1994

P.42 21 Helm, Paul. Providence of God (Contours of Christian Theology). Inter Varsity Press. 1994

P.41 22 Helm, Paul. Providence of God (Contours of Christian Theology). Inter Varsity Press. 1994

P.55 23 Helm, Paul. Providence of God (Contours of Christian Theology). Inter Varsity Press. 1994

P.57

Paul quoted an example in the Scripture, 1 Samuel 23: 7- 13- God knew what would happen to David if he remained in Keilah but David didn’t remain in Keilah24.

I believe it is very common for faithful Christian in facing choices will make the decision after prayers , seeking God’s wisdom but will also ask God to ‘close doors’ if it is not in His will. For example, one has free will to choose say between two job offers of A and B, say A, but God will may still act upon and eventually A may no longer be a valid offer with plan changes of the company and one may ended by with C giving the changes in time and circumstances, at the end in God’s own plan.

2.6 Providence & Evil Moral evil arises as a result of human choices. Especially when the lyrics we are examining is relating to crime, moral evil, let’s also take a look at the related thoughts suggested by Paul Helm To begin with, we have to re-iterate God is Holy. Be Holy, it is said “for I

am Holy” Lev 11:44; 1 Pet 1:1625. God is Father of light & do not change (1 Tim 6:16; James 1:17)

24 Helm, Paul. Providence of God (Contours of Christian Theology). Inter Varsity Press. 1994 P.56-57 25 Helm, Paul. The Secret Providence of God. Crossway books. 2010 P.44

But God ordain evil to achieve His purpose. “The Lord had made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble” (Prv 16:4)26.

There are two general types of evil, physical evils e.g. natural disasters, disease etc while moral evils is those resulted in human decisions and actions. In this paper, we will concentrate on the later one- moral evil.

Evil is personal rebellion against God. (1 Jn 3:4). It can be intelligent and purposive. As discussed above, indeterministic free will is a necessary condition of human personality and accountability where evil choices are possible. The moral evil is not up to God but up to men. This is consistent with the middle knowledge view we aforesaid. “God knows not only what he will do but what will happen in all the possible circumstances in which people with free will might actualize the possible works which best fulfill his purposes.” 27

God’s direct control on all things extends to sin which is not a bare permission “but such as hath joined with a most wise and powerful bounding” God is governing them28

Calvin praised the almighty God even when men sinned. “

These are the mighty works of God, exquisite in every way according to his

will. God’s works are so wonderfully wise that when angelic and human

creatures sinned, that is, when they did not do what he commanded,

26 Helm, Paul. The Secret Providence of God. Crossway books. 2010 P.76 27 Helm, Paul. Providence of God (Contours of Christian Theology). Inter Varsity Press. 1994.

28 Helm, Paul. “Providence and Puritanism”. 2009. PaulHelms blog. Retrieved on Aug 30, 2009. (http://paulhelmsdeep.blogspot.com/2009/08/providence-and-puritanism.html)

nevertheless in the very willing of what they did, which was itself against the

command of the Creator, God brought to pass what he willed.”29

But it is important to point out even though God permits, ordains moral evil according to His will and His hands BUT he is NOT “the author” of it (P200). The sinfulness of sin stemmed only from the creature, and not from God.30

Since the cause of evil lies in the evil will of men, God exercises his right judgments by their hands in such a way that he is utterly blameless, and in an utterly marvelous way he brings the light of his glory out of the darkness of sin.31

For example, in the Scripture, we can see false prophets are the instruments of God for testing his people32 and the following scriptures were cited

If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams rises among you… Moses says,”.. the Lord your God is testing you” Deut 13: 1-3)

And if the prophet is deceived and speaks a word, I, the Lord, have deceived that prophet” (Ezek 14:9)

Bible presents evil often has a ‘teaching function’. Augustine also asserted God would not have permitted evil unless he could bring good out of it33.

29 Helm, Paul. The Secret Providence of God. Crossway books. 2010. P.81 30 Helm, Paul. “Providence and Puritanism”. 2009. PaulHelms blog. Retrieved on Aug 30, 2009. (http://paulhelmsdeep.blogspot.com/2009/08/providence-and-puritanism.html)31 Helm, Paul. The Secret Providence of God. Crossway books. 2010. P.92

32 Helm, Paul. The Secret Providence of God. Crossway books. 2010. P.79 33 Helm, Paul. Providence of God (Contours of Christian Theology). Inter Varsity Press. 1994.

The example Helm used is a good illustration of this concept, he supposes

if “sympathy, compassion, patience’ are good deeds, then the supposed evil, lack of need which bring out the sympathetic, compassionate responses. The evils bring out the good.

This brings out the idea of greater good – ‘the idea of bringing something about, or allowing something to happen, for a greater good’ p.203. and Helms also called it “Suffering ‘works’ glory” examples quoted were (2 Cor 4:17, 2 Tim 2:12)34.

But one may question the morality of the idea that God ordained evil. As explained above, God is not the author of evil, it is not considered immoral for permitting or ordaining the means. It is further explained, in some cases, where the means is disproportionate to the end, example cited was child born with inoperable cancer. We are human and sometimes do not comprehend how the suffering of the innocent such as these poor children be for their good. Helm referred this as ‘horrendous evil”. We need to faith that “God, the creator alone knows the true worth of a life in all its dimension”.35

2.6.1 Non-punitive evil

Developing along the thought of greater school, evils were permitted to bring out the ‘good’. “Evils are necessary growth pains of the human race”. This is the Irenean theodicy represented by John Hick who suggested mankind was

34 Helm, Paul. Providence of God (Contours of Christian Theology). Inter Varsity Press. 1994

P.203 35 Helm, Paul. Providence of God (Contours of Christian Theology). Inter Varsity Press. 1994

P.205

made in the image of God but had yet to be brought into the likeness of God. Pain and evil are divinely created with a purpose of ‘soul-making” 36. “Moral evil is necessary for a greater good. Without the occurrence of moral evil certain other goods could not arises….. Without fault, no forgiveness,” 37 God by his providence may provide suffering in order to ‘chastise, to humble, to increase the dependence oh him and to make them more watchful.’38

Carvin has suggested “the outrageous behavior of men requires a law for bridling”39. Bridle is used to hold back horses and lead them in the desirable direction. This also fit in the thought here that some evils are for the correction and bringing men back on track40. God will not be permitting an evil make that evil good except insofar as, by his omnipotence, he brings it about that good comes from the evil41.

One also needs to take a broader view of the ‘good’, the benefits, it may not apply to the same person. Sometimes, the ‘necessary evil’ may cause pain on one person but it benefits another person that may not be connected with the first person.

36 Helm, Paul. Providence of God (Contours of Christian Theology). Inter Varsity Press. 1994. P. 206 37 Helm, Paul. Providence of God (Contours of Christian Theology). Inter Varsity Press. 1994

P.213 38 Helm, Paul. “Providence and Puritanism”. 2009. PaulHelms blog. Retrieved on Aug 30, 2009. http://paulhelmsdeep.blogspot.com/2009/08/providence-and-puritanism.html)39 Helm, Paul. The Secret Providence of God. Crossway books. 2010. P.78 40 Helm, Paul. The Secret Providence of God. Crossway books. 2010 P.78 41 Helm, Paul. The Secret Providence of God. Crossway books. 2010 P.81

2.6.2 Punitive Evil

The second view of evil is based on justice. “The universe as a moral order in which justice resigns”42.

Helm quoted Augustine’s statement “If you know or believe that God is good (and it is not right to believe otherwise), God does not do evil. Also, if we admit that God is just (and it is sacrilege to deny this”, He assign rewards to the righteous and punishment to the wicked – punishments that are indeed evil for those who suffer them. Therefore, if no one suffers punishment unjustly, God is the cause of he second kind of evil, but not of the first. “43.

In order to uphold his justice, God ordained evil for the punishment of the first evil. Because God allows the act of free will, some of which are evil (the first evil), God has to ordain other evils which are the punishment of the first evil.

42 Helm, Paul. Providence of God (Contours of Christian Theology). Inter Varsity Press. 1994.

43 Helm, Paul. Providence of God (Contours of Christian Theology). Inter Varsity Press. 1994.P.219

2.6.3 O felix culpa

The third theodicy addresses a “God-ward’ aspect and bringing the remedial, punitive elements together. The phrase “happy fault’ refers to the fall of Adam“. This is happy because it, and it alone, makes possible the divine redemption from which the blessings of pardon and renewal follow.”44 By the vivid death of Christ, those who have done evil are pardoned and then renewed. Both the concepts of pardon and renewal logically presuppose the occurrence of moral evil. In Christ’ atonement, we found both the enduring of punishment for moral evil, and the source of renewal ; without the permission of moral evil, God’s own character would not be fully manifest.

2.7 The Secret Providence of God

We have so far examined some key elements relating to providence of God especially those relating to the subject of evils.

Some concluding comments are quite important. “God is in control, even in control of the forces of evil and wicknesses, as the book of Job reminds us”45. Why God should allow evil, the extent of their power is a mystery to us at present.

In the Secret Providence of God, more points and scriptures are pointed out for this regard.

44 Helm, Paul. Providence of God (Contours of Christian Theology). Inter Varsity Press. 1994.

P.214 45 Helm, Paul. Providence of God (Contours of Christian Theology). Inter Varsity Press. 1994.

P.223

Calvin stated that “God and His judgement are a profound mystery and he

quoted the scripture “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to t us and to our children, forever, that we may do all the words of this Law “ (Deu 29:29).46

The prophet also exclaims “How great are your works, O Lord! Your thoughts are very deep! (Ps 92:5) – the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God are beyond our understanding and reasoning , except directed by the heavenly light 47.

We should have faith, through our personal experience, the experience of others, experience of those in the Scripture, evil is under the divine purposes even though at times we do not understand the purpose and the world seems to be chaotic. “the physical suffering, the permission of moral evil, the adversity of the good, the prosperity of the wicked, the crimes of the guilty involving the misery of the innocent, the tardy appearance and partial distribution of moral and religious knowledge to the world”. 48 We do not know now in the infinite Goodness of God.

46 Helm, Paul. The Secret Providence of God. Crossway books. 2010. P.76 &77

47 Helm, Paul. The Secret Providence of God. Crossway books. 2010. P.87 48 Helm, Paul. Faith and the Reason. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. P.248

 

3 Critique on the song, “Crime and Punishment” based on Paul Helm’s theology of God’s Providence

3.1 About the album in general At the end of 2009, she published a CD gospel album - “Faith” praising God for giving her ‘Strength, Joy, Hope and a re-borne Sammi “the word Brand new” is used. She further developed this into a charity project ‘Faith , Hope, Love’ with concerts, auction on eBay and special DVD set and some profits are donated to charity. There is a good intension as she is a public figure, a well-known pop singer and movie star that she is drawing interest of those who may not or have very little exposure to Christianity before. The album is controversial because of a few reasons. Firstly, the style is more ‘pop’ and some other singers ‘rap’. It is not the traditional style of hymns and songs praising to the Lord. But the style of expression is one thing. I personal believe it is acceptable as Jesus also used ‘parables’ to teach the mystery of the Kingdom. Getting closer to the young generation with the ‘style’ is just part of the communication. I find the songs are generally very upbeat , a few songs are very passionate and with great melody (especially the song “Amen”), It

may well appeal to the general public especially those non-Christians who may be attracted first by the melody and then hopefully by the messages (correct)

inside ! However, the key question in discussion is the message which is the

essence especially the album is positioned, advertised as a gospel album.

What has been concerning and raising argument are over the authors and the messages of the songs, some of them are not Christians and the messages of the songs may not be clear and most importantly not right!49 Especially the song ‘Crime and Punishment” written by Wyman Wong who has written songs with anti-Christian message before

As far as for whether the authors are Christians, I support some views that are more ‘neutral’. That is we cannot assume Christians can write songs with clear and correct messages nor can we rule out non-Christians not be able to compose songs with clear and correct theology messages. However, it is logical to assume Christians through the teachings in Church, biblical seminary and the lights of the Holy Spirit, there should be a better chance of their work being more faithful and bring out the Christian theology but we should not take it for granted. Due to not forming an pre-supposition, I have not looked into the background of the author when I commented on the songs they wrote below.

There are 10 songs in the “Faith” album.

  1. 信者得爱

  2. 罪与罚

  3. 上帝早已预备

 

49

http://christiantimes.org.hk/Common/Reader/News/ShowNews.jsp?Nid=57656&Pid=2&Version=1 1

04.不要惊动爱情

  1. 结果

  2. 你爱我

  3. 有一种快乐

  4. Forgiveness ()

  5. ()

  6. ()

 

While most of the songs are in Cantonese, there are also two songs in Mandarin and one in English while some mix both Cantonese and English. Seems they would like to reach a wider range of audience – geographical and cultural background.

In general, as the album has been promoted as a ‘gospel album’, our pre­supposition is that those songs are to promote the love, theology and key teachings of Christianity. Let us take a look at each of the song to see if there are clear and with correct Christian messages in the 9 songs (we will take a very close look for song 2 in the later part of the paper).

In general, I tried to categorize the 9 songs into 3 categories- firstly, those with clear Christian ideas; secondly, songs that may be subtly referring to the relationship with God, third group are those with very questionable concepts.

3.1.1 Songs with clear Christian messages

01.信者得爱 There are some good and strong messages in the first leading song. It talks about the war, natural disaster, faults in the world but encourages one to pray, to use one’s heart (spirit) to get close to the Lord. Strong emphases on ‘love’, the ‘cross’ and Hope, faith and Love.

03.上帝早已预备 Also clear message of God already pre-destined the redemption and road to eternity even though when we are in sin. It is not by luck but the providence of God .When we look upon the Lord, we would not be lost.

05.结果

 

There are some Christian’s words and concepts found in the song e.g. God’s kingdom, Eden, judgment day, angel- all only appear at the last 2 paragraphs out of the 7.

It is about someone who is facing difficulties and trying to overcome hurdles, shouting for help. Initially the ‘response’ was, ‘you told me I can be saved but I do not believe it lasts forever.

The Christian messages appear at the last two paragraphs but Christ, the Lord or Heavenly Father are not found, the Lord is only referred to as ‘you’ very subtly. It portrays those who surrender oneself , overcoming the hurdles and

running towards the Kingdom o God just like those were once lost in Eden is now

being submissive , obedient and loving ‘you’ (God). The final sentence is simple but signifies a change from the opening of the song , she now while watching other sighing , and she can hears the praises of the angels.

This song subtly but surely with the special Christian terms e.g. Eden, Kingdom of God, Judgment Day ,brings out the Christian message of God is the source of strength as well as the hope, joy and peace and eternal life.

3.1.2 Subtle expression

06.你爱我 & 10.你爱我 ()

The names of the songs are both the same, “You love me”– one is in Cantonese and one is in Mandarin. In the literarily sense, it could just be ‘love songs’ of expressing the ‘this is the greatest love” as repeatedly appearing in the lyrics. But the Cantonese version (song 6) seems to contain more elements for referring to God’s love to us. It mentioned your love for me is predestined, faultless, you ‘scarifies’ for it .

But as the Song of Solomon, it is also regarded as an analogy of relationship of God with His Bride.

07.有一种快乐

The song is about joy can be found in pure simplicity instead of satisfaction through material consumption (e.g. clothing). The success is no

longer in fame (being at the top of the mountain) but rather through realizing the

calling’

Giving the background of Sammi, for those who know, I think it is a good witness of her change of focusing in the true joy and the change of value from material to the spiritual communion with God.

3.1.3 Songs with very questionable meanings

4.不要惊动爱情

 

This song actually is more referring to secretly loving another person and do not want to openly express that love. It is relating to human love. The association with God is only expressed in the following two sentences

Very eager to embrace you, therefore I pray” “I pray to depend on God to hold my love expression”

It is relating to asking for God’s help on a love affair. We should ask for God’s on everything “but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. (Phi 4:6). I am not discounting that. But as song in a gospel album, one would expect more of the message relating to the Love of God to mankind or aspiration to the love of God.

The message as a gospel song is questionable.

08.Forgiveness ()

She ‘watches the world explodes’ with chaos, wars and drugs among the youth and asked God’s forgiveness of the sinful people

The key lyrics are found in two sentences, “Forgive them for they do not know what they do Lord and Give me the strength to stay true” these two sentences appear together 4 times.

She asked for God’s forgiveness of the people for they do not know what they do. This part is fine. I wonder why God’s forgiveness for others’ sin and giving her the strength to stay true is related or rather why it does not go beyond her/ an individual. Either she does not think she is part of the ‘sin’/ one of the sinners or her love has not extended to others. For God teaches us love others as yourself. (“And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. Mk 12:31)

Should she only ask God to upkeep herself but not others after her pleading for forgiveness for others? I do not see the relationship between the two.

09.阿门 ()

A short song, although repeatedly used “Amen” and “Hallelujah” and the Christian word “narrow door” is found , the wordings are more ‘rythematically constructed rather than stating any strong message. One key sentence I would like to call for serious attention is “can we only love one person and can they change to ‘another God”. I think the message should be clearer, it is NOT just

ANOTHER God, it is only ONE God for we believe. (Thou shalt have none other

gods before me. Deu 5:7)

I think we should be very careful with this song as ‘Amen and Hallelujah” are so directly link to Christianity, even one point raised above but it is relating to a very core theology and the first command of God, there should NOT be any room for ambiguity.

To conclude, out of the 9 songs they are quite evenly spread in the three different categories. 3 are with clear gospel messages. 3 are subtle expression but would not say anything ‘wrong’, they would be analogy, a more subtle way of expression. Reaching a wide audience and hopefully a good percentage of non Christians – this way would minimize the challenge of every song being ‘hard sell’ and also leave room for association which may even trigger more thoughts towards the love and aspirations to God. Lastly, there are 3 songs that consisting some real questions on the ideology and may be dangerous especially to non Christians with a ‘gospel album’ in mind.

Another point I would like to identify is the use of capital letter or in Chinese “He” (). It is very usual in Chinese to ‘use” “HE” () to signify it is relating to the preposition of God. But this is not used in any songs except in the second song which we will examine later on.

For English, in 08.Forgiveness, the word “Lord” were used 4 times, 3 times the capital “L” was used but once it is only with small letter ‘lord”. It seems

just be a careless inconsistency, the subject matter “Lord’ relating to the Lord God is still clear.

3.2 罪與罰Crime and Punishment

3.2.1 – Author of the song The author of the song is Wyman Wong. He is very high profile in the entertainment industry of Hong Kong. He is a DJ, an actor, columnist, authors of songs and one of the leading figure in leading the fashion in Hong Kong. He received education from Catholic schools, St Francis’ Canossian school, both at primary and secondary levels. Wyman is well known for his talent, his wide range of interest, views, unconventional and ‘play with words’. However, Wyman is a very controversial figure in the Christian world. In 1998, he has written two songs that have raised some concerns from Christians but the most obvious attack to Christianity is the song 「零號」, sang by 楊千in 1999. The original name of the song is “Act’ same as the book in the New Testament referring to the events of the disciples right after the resurrection of Christ and the early days of church. The “disciples” is also referred to the character of the cartoon. “Number zero” evolutes from ‘disciple’ with life to fight against enemies in the cartoon. ‘Number zero’ is also a special term used in the

 

gay community which Wyman is closely associated. The song ‘number zero’ is about the disappointment and anti-Christ emotions of the guy community. (7)

It is loud and clear in the lyrics, he rejected the gospel, stating three times

that he does not need the gospels. He described gospel is a ‘trial with absence”, only a ‘persecution’. He thinks life is too short and without eternity is nothing to be feared of. Rather, life without love is a regret.

He also challenged the few key Christian fundamentals e.g. “love your neighbors as yourself” as well as the truth of the bible scripture.

Therefore he rather follows his heart, his desire to spread new messages – i.e. to pursue the gay life style.

Last not least, I would like to point out 罪與罰 did appeared in the third paragraph of the lyrics of 「零號」. I do not need gospel, give me Crime and Punishment”

I would like to put a ‘disclaimer’ here. I am not having a pre-supposition that he is anti-Christ and that his lyrics even after 10 years still be accusing Christianity. God works on people in His mysterious way and timing. I am not suggesting dig out his old files and make a judgment but we do need to understand his background and ideology in order to best understand the author behind the spirit of the song.

3.2.2 – Name of the song罪與罰, “Crime and Punishment”

As mentioned above, the words appear in the previous song 「零號」 Wyman wrote . “I do not need the gospel, just give me the crime and punishment.”

Actually Crime and Punishment is also a very famous Russian novel written by Fyodor Dostoevsky.50

Crime and Punishment focuses on the mental anguish and moral dilemmas of Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov, an impoverished St. Petersburg ex-student who formulates and executes a plan to kill a hated, unscrupulous pawnbroker for her money, thereby solving his financial problems and at the same time, he argues, ridding the world of an evil, worthless parasite. Several times throughout the novel, Raskolnikov justifies his actions by relating himself to Napoleon, believing that murder is permissible in pursuit of a higher purpose.”51

While the English version of Wikipedia suggested his crime is permissible in order to achieve a higher purpose while the Chinese version has a rather different interpretation.

In the Chinese version, it was suggested that “no one has sinned but punishment is onto everyone”.52 Sounds like a big accusation.

50 In Russian Преступление и наказание Prestuplenie i nakazanie) is a novel by Russian author Fyodor Dostoevsky (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crime_and_punishment)

51 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crime_and_punishment 52 http://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E7%BD%AA%E4%B8%8E%E7%BD%9A

However, I think it will not be fair and highly speculative to ‘guess’ if

Wyman pick the name based on some hidden meaning behind or purely it is ‘play with words’ for a catchy headline. 3.2.3– Summary of the lyrics

There are six paragraphs and it flows like a ‘dialogue’ between Sammi and the band (24 Herbs).

The band represents drug addicts struggling. Sammi, as a Christian, having a dialogue with them, encouraging them.

Sammi started by asking the question of who has been punishing them, forcing them to confess with bombardment. Even though they may think God detest them, He actually love them, giving them a sense of guilt with the purpose of teaching them, training them for being more humble. She encouraged them to reflect.

Then the drug addicts in desperation and disappointment of life, confessed drugs give them a moment of freedom but also challenges with side effects e.g. losing weight and they are losing direction in life. They want to give up, signaling to end their life. But a key question asked, will God forgive them?

Sammi asked similar question of who is punishing them, forcing them to confess and carry the ascetic stele. She encourages them to remember the one who have forgiven them and seeing the truth through forgiveness.

The drug addicts responded more positively in this paragraph by gaining strength, awakening, will try their best. But they also feel the social pressure and

accusation from those behind the back. Lastly they see the freedom (with their

free view) may cause losing equilibrium but only the Almighty God can show the way. They pray God will show them path and lead them out in the crossed road.

In the last paragraph, a lot of the points in paragraph 1 and 3 are repeated but the point of forgiveness and redemption are emphasized. Sammi ask them to forgive (may probably refer to those stabbing them at the back and those discriminated them described in the paragraph above). Everyone has sin and when they forgive others, they are saving themselves and let them redeem their sin together. Finally, it is a blessing to forgive – oneself and others.

3.2.4 – Critique on the song based on Providence of God Providence is a personal experience of God’s mysterious work and the ‘dialogue’ format of the song express this quite well The song addressed to drug addicts. It is a moral evil under providence of

God

Punitive, non punitive and O felix culpa?

You may argue because the name of the song is ‘crime and punishment’, it is referred to Punitive Evil. As God ordained other evil to punish the first evil which was resulted from men’s free will and brining back justice. It may be from the point of the view of the drug addicts but the message intended to bring out is ‘non-punitive.

The ‘punishment’ is more used in the questions raised to start the dialogue. It is arousing empathy, drawing the emotions of the drug addicts of how do they

feel – being punished; rather than God’s work on punishment on them. The goal

is to ‘bring out the humbleness’ from them. Therefore, the drug problem, the sense of punishment, guilt they have are for a ‘better part’ of them which is the Irenean Theodicy advocated by John Hick.

There seems to be traces relating to “O felix culpa’ suggested by Helm, i.e. pardon and renewed. The message of forgiveness ( 4 times) and redemption appeared and we may ask if that has brought out God’s character of pardoning and renewing us through Jesus. However, one of the big issues we will discuss later is the ‘redemption’ and forgiveness in the lyrics are more on ‘human’ level rather than God-ward. We should not be confused with the words, the concepts were not there.

Risk Views

The song talked about ‘freedom’ which may cause losing of equilibrium and therefore they were asking for the help and guidance from the Almighty God. They call for God’s help to lead them back to the right path. This has taken the ‘risky’ view – i.e. their free caused them to gone astray the path and now their asking God to bring them back ‘on track’. So they do not see God has always been in control even though they sin and their ‘choices’ was not part of the God’s

plan. There is no support to glorify the purposeful control of His hand, all encompassing, nothing escape according to providence. The Almighty power of the Creator

When we looked at the definition in the beginning of the paper, we have

seen how providence stressed “the all mighty power of the Creator which is all-encompassing, nothing escapes nor ever has or can. The Lord governs his creator to the praise of this glory”.53

This song is the only one consistently using “in the whole album. This

is a special, respectful way to address God as “He’ – similar to using Capital Letter with ‘He. But the full character and glory of the Lord was not brought out- there is not a strong sense of expressing God ordaining evil to achieve His purpose “. The Lord had made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble” (Prv 16:4)54

Lastly, there is no reference to the secret providence of God.

To summarize, we see some elements of Providence of God according to the writings from Helm in the song, i.e. the topic on moral evil, we see the lyrics bringing out the non punitive evil, risk views. It is encouraging to see as a non Christian especially written some very vocal lyrics on anti- Christ before Wyman now addressing the Almighty God and His power to bring people back on track, bringing out the message of forgiveness and truth. But it is not very strong to praise the full character and glory of the Lord.

53 Helm, Paul. “Providence and Puritanism”. 2009. PaulHelms blog. Retrieved on Aug 30, 2009. (http://paulhelmsdeep.blogspot.com/2009/08/providence-and-puritanism.html)

54 Helm, Paul. The Secret Providence of God. Crossway books. 2010. P.76

In addition, there are a few key critical issues I would like to point out, not

directly relating to providence but I cannot not address them as they are critical fault to the key Christian theology.

Firstly, the lyrics repeated ask who has been punishing you, forcing you, bombarding you to confess. I believe the author is trying to arouse empathy but we have to be so careful this is referring to God. Even though the lyrics explain it is with the intension to bring out the greater (humbleness, forgiveness) , I do not think these words are used appropriately especially in a gospel album as it is accusation of God. Let me try to use another example, if a social worker is trying to counsel a drug edict and working with the relationship with the youth and the parents, the social workers should not be saying your parents are ‘bad’. God is urging our hearts, compelling our minds rather than bombarding us. Remember as aforesaid, Calvin praised God even when men sinned! 55

I am afraid the name ‘punishment’ and the harsh accusation does not do reflect the character of our Heavenly Father, He is just but also with love. I think it has been mis-proportionally using ‘punishment’ without clearly explain in the song. It may also be because the author just like the ‘name’ of the songs and is playing with words – but then it defeats or even violates the purpose of a song as part of the gospel album.

55 Helm, Paul. The Secret Providence of God. Crossway books. 2010. P.81

The second key concern is about ‘forgiveness’

The sentence where it was asked, ‘who has forgiven you, remember that and knowing the truth through forgiveness’ could be interrupted, God has

forgiven you and you can experience the truth through forgiveness. This concept is alright. But the two other areas have some serious faults. “if you forgive him that means you are saving yourself” also last sentence “it is a

blessing to forgive – to yourself and to others”. We cannot save ourselves! We can only be saved through the redemption of Jesus. We are saved NOT by the good deeds we do e.g. forgiving others. Also, it is more important of receiving the blessing of being forgiven of the Lord through His Devine redemption.

Lastly is about ‘redemption’

The lyrics mentioned ‘if you would like to be redeemed, I will go with you” Redemption is a very personal and solemn matter, it is taken to lightly here.

Again, only through Christ can we be redeemed, other people can do nothing to ‘help’. “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto

the Father, but by me. (Jn 14:6)”

4. Conclusion

To conclude, it is very encouraging to see Wyman, over the last 10 years, has changed from writing songs that is anti- Christ to contributing in a gospel album. We have found and be able to find some related theological themes of Providence of God suggested by Paul Helm in the song. However, there are some very serious points and concepts that may be very mis-leading to non Christians if they are getting messages and understanding of Christianity through this album and this particular song.

There have been other pop singers coming together to make gospel albums with contemporary tones but still with strong, clear Christian messages to glorify the Lord, e.g. 完美金曲精選 -美麗傳奇. I believe Sammi and the producer who

have every good intension to use this album to glorify the Lord and advertise it so, should consult more Christians with very clear, correct theology messages with each song. Unfortunately, including this song of the subject matter, Crime and Punishment, 4 out of 10 songs in the album carry some serious questions in theological meaning. As the album has been advertised as a ‘gospel album’, I am afraid it is disappointing and does not serve the purpose well.

References

  1. Helm, Paul. Calvin and the Calvinists. Banner of Truth. 1998.

  2. Helm, Paul. Faith and the Reason. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.

  3. Helm, Paul. Faith and Understanding. Grand Rapids, Mich.:Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1997.

  4. Helm, Paul. “Providence and Puritanism”. 2009. PaulHelms blog. Retrieved on Aug 30, 2009. (http://paulhelmsdeep.blogspot.com/2009/08/providence­and-puritanism.html)

  5. Helm, Paul. Providence of God (Contours of Christian Theology). Inter Varsity Press. 1994.

  6. Helm, Paul. The Secret Providence of God. Crossway books. 2010.

 

7 http://www.keito3.net/cpak/share_09.htm

8 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crime_and_punishment

9. http://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E7%BD%AA%E4%B8%8E%E7%BD%9A

10.http://christiantimes.org.hk/Common/Reader/News/ShowNews.jsp?Nid=57656 &Pid=2&Version=11

Crime and Punishment

(Author – Wyman Wong translated by Ms Lilian Choy)

S: Who has punished you? Think from the beginning who forced you to confess and bombard you. He loves you so much but you thought he detests you. Thus, it gives you a sense of guilt. Pull down the crane. He just wants to teach and train you to be a humble self. To reflect more on yourself. It’s easy to touch upon your own and others taboo.

K: I cannot be saved. Am I at the end of the road? Only drugs will give me a moment of freedom I can see I’m getting skinnier by looking at the mirror. I feel going backward in this society and awful for just relying on the fate. Can you incinerate my body immediately? What a pragmatic society. I cannot deal with it anymore but to give up myself. Will the God forgive me? What are we living for? I feel lost for trying to survive, to do anything just for money. I cannot remember my own principle. I’ve changed for the sake of vanity. I just drag on day after day until judgment day

I keep on indulge myself aimlessly with negative thoughts I do not know if my mind is full of grievances or repression. This piece of paper may be filled with my last words

S: Who has punished you? Why do you feel dejected? Who forced you to confess? To carry the ascetic stele? Who has forgiven you? Can you always remember firmly and knowing the truth from forgiveness?

P: We are the leading characters of this play. We need to be wide awake if we want to play them well. Open your eyes. Beware of others who stab you from behind. Life is a drama and we should do our part. However, the story ending might be too real. The brutality of the truth is being evaluated in public. Feeling helpless. You want to be the worst in the crowd. Light does not parallel to shadow. The black and white relationship arouses controversy again. And the grey area is created. You will lose all the battles with a series of questioning

Too much freedom will make people lose their equilibrium. Only the Almighty God can show you the way. I pray to the God to lend you his helping hand which can lead you out of the crossed road.

S: You are in indeed saving yourself if you forgive him. Everyone is sinful. Who is innocent? Who is bad enough to deserve to die? And you, why do you have to make it half mast? You want to be redeemed, I will go with you Who has punished you? Why do you feel dejected? Who forced you to confess? To carry the ascetic stele? Who has forgiven you? Can you always remember firmly to see the truth from forgiveness? Who has punished you (He loves you so much but you feel that he detests you) Why do you feel dejected? (Thus, you have the sense of guilt) Who forced you feel remorseful and torture yourself everyday (Pull down the crane) Who has forgiven you? (He just wants to teach you and train you to be more humble) Can you always remember firmly? (To reflect more on yourself) It’s a blessing to forgive (It’s easy for yourself and others, and touching the taboos)

罪與罰

鄭秀文 Sammi Cheng

作曲:陳奐仁填詞:黃偉文

誰懲罰過你想想從頭到尾誰迫你認罪炮轟你

衪這麼愛你但你覺得衪討厭你因此給你那罪惡感拖垮起重機衪只想教你磨練更謙卑一個你多反省你對人對己易犯禁忌

我無得救我嘅路係咪走到盡頭只靠毒品讓我有一剎自由望住塊鏡見到自己越嚟越瘦係呢個社會我只感到越退越後望天打卦感覺可怕

可唔可以將我軀體立刻火化

現實社會我再無能力招架我放棄自己神會寬恕我嗎人生為乜生存好迷失為金錢卑躬屈膝為名利改變本質再唔記得自己有乜原則見一日過一日直至我嘅末日我繼續沉溺漫無目的負面嘅思想永遠腦裡充斥係抑鬱定壓抑我唔識呢張紙可能會係我最後嘅筆跡

誰懲罰過你怎麼垂頭喪氣

誰迫你認錯擔起苦行石碑

誰原諒過你可否牢牢銘記從寬恕入面見真理

我地係呢一齣戲嘅主角想演好呢個角色需要時刻保持醒覺擘大眼打醒十二分精神提防小人喺你背後用暗箭將你擊暈戲如人生盡力做好本份但可能故事結局太過逼真而真相更殘忍係要被大眾公開評分無奈你要成為人群中嘅最劣等光與影呢秒鐘無法形成對等黑與白嘅關係再次引起紛爭灰色地帶衍生一連串質問你會失去所有似戰爭自由太多會令世人失去平衡唯有全能嘅神能夠給你指引我祈求上帝向你伸出援手能夠帶你走出呢一個十字路口

其實你原諒了他等於救己個個犯罪誰會沒罪誰壞到要死而你何事要下半旗你要贖罪陪你贖罪何只 ~

誰懲罰過你怎麼垂頭喪氣誰迫你認錯擔起苦行石碑誰原諒過你可否牢牢銘記從寬恕入面見真理

誰懲罰過你(衪這麼愛你但你覺得衪討厭你)怎麼垂頭喪氣(因此給你那罪惡感)誰迫你自責天天刁難自己(拖垮起重機)誰原諒過你(衪只想教你磨練更謙卑一個你)可否牢牢銘記(多反省你)能寬恕實在有福氣(對人對己易犯禁忌)

 
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