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Sunday, December 07, 2008 

“You’re A Bad Influence”

Here’s how the conversation went down:

I don’t like this hymn, it doesn’t even mention Christ.

Yeah it does (with me pointing to the sixth verse), He’s right there.

No… He’s not, that’s Christ’s followers not Christ.

It’s talking about the Christ’s Church, it’s a decent hymn.

Well, it’s not going to be one of my favorites.


It’s all your fault, now I look for Christ in the hymns as well as the sermons. You’re a bad influence.

That was my missus telling me that she’s judging her hymnody using the same criteria that she uses to judge whether or not a sermon is any good. In a nutshell, she was using the Wilken Diagnostic. What’s that you ask? The Wilken Diagnostic is a very simple way of evaluating sermons that is used by Pastor Todd Wilken; the host for my favorite radio program Issues, Etc:

1. How often is Jesus mentioned?
2. Is Jesus the subject of the verbs? Is Jesus the one who acts, or are you?
3. What are the verbs? What has Jesus done and what is He doing?

It seems that my missus is now using that same standard to evaluate all things in church, even hymnody. Oh yeah!

Now to be fair, the reformation era hymn wasn’t a bad one, it did speak of Christ’s triumphant church. It was the kind of hymn that you would expect to sing if the New Testament reading was from the book of Revelation, you know, with all the left behindy people are all realizing that they are…left behind looking up at the new Jerusalem wondering “What… the … deuce?”. There’s nothing wrong with a triumphant church hymn even if this one might not be the strongest one out there. It really wasn’t a bad hymn, just not the best one.

What I just find so very, very cool is that my missus is becoming quite the theologian in her own right. She who claims that she is no theologian at all has more than once stepped up spontaneously and given a defense of the one true faith. Strong in the faith this one is and I couldn’t be more proud of her.


About me

  • I'm Frank Gillespie
  • From The Haut South
  • Confessional Lutheran
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