Sunday, October 9, 2011

In the Name of God

Why is this prog metal gem from Dream Theater's "black album" not on my music blog? Because I have more to say than just "listen to it". "In the Name of God" is an indictment of religious extremism and a warning of its dangers. Specifically it refers to American cults that are distant offshoots of Christianity--apocalyptic doomsday cults, leaders taking plural wives, and works-based perversions of the gospel. I was listening to the album while grading tonight and suddenly the third commandment (Do not take the Lord's name in vain) came alive to me. This song is filled with examples of how to break it. Exploit peoples' faith for selfish means, live a life of hypocrisy and lies, try to convert the spiritual authority God bestows on you into worldly power, or just spread false teachings and pervert the gospel. All these are taking God's name in vain--doing things and living contrary to His character and will for our lives while maintaining the pretense of being on His side. Please know that people who do these things don't stand for God or His church.

It's a bit staggering to realize that God has made us as Christians His representatives to the world--His image-bearers. Those who don't know God form their view of what He must be like from watching us. With all the abuses of religion that have happened in the past fifty years, it's hard to blame people who have become hostile to the church and want nothing to do with God. Obviously no one can perfectly represent God, which is why it's important to work towards developing Christlike character and to be honest about times when you fail to live up to His image.

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