It’s a song that I hate to love.
What do I mean by that? It’s a song that I love. I grew up with it. I memorized it and sang it with passion. The people in my church loved it. It is a song that uplifts the human spirit. It touches our hearts. It makes us hot and blurry. It inspires us. The music is pleasant and dynamic.
But I hate. It is egocentric, anemic theologically at best, and downright wandering, heretical or blasphemous at worst. Yet, because it is ingrained in our church culture, indiscriminate people can easily be subjected to false doctrines.
So, I hate it; I hate that I love him.
This song rears its ugly head every few years. He was executed at the 9/11 memorial service a few years ago, and then a few years later the world was again thrilled by the ungodly demonstration of a man in Washington who thinks he is god , hosting another man (the Pope) from South America who thinks he is god, to bring peace and love to the world among the Gentiles who do not care about God. This song should never be sung in church.
PEACE BE ON EARTH is a BAD hymn. It is liberation theology. He anticipates the glorious end of the earth when all people live in love and drink Coca-Cola as they “teach the world to sing in perfect harmony.”
He deifies humanity. The premise of the song does not start with God; it starts with me. This heavenly peace on earth is achievable because, if each of us simply devoted ourselves to the goal, we could get there.
It smacks of universalism. I hate to tell it to you but, contrary to the words, God is NOT the father of all men, and we are NOT all brothers. God is the Father of his elect and Satan is the father and god of all the others. So as a Christian, as much as I can try, I cannot walk together in perfect harmony with unbelievers.
And what about this so-called peace? Is this peace really meant to be? What does it mean? Who did he want it? Was it God? If so, why don’t we have it? Maybe God is powerless and we have to do His work for Him. If we don’t do it, it won’t happen.
This song is classified as a Christmas song, possibly because of the phrase “peace on earth”. But when the angel appeared to the shepherds and declared “peace on earth; goodwill towards men, ”he didn’t just express a pasty Hallmark sentiment. He said that with the advent of the Messiah (God’s good will towards men), we can now be at peace with God. This peace was realized at Calvary; it is a done deal and it is demonstrated by the fact that God does not kill us all but, instead, has provided a means for sinners to be reconciled to Him. And someday Jesus Christ will return, take His throne, and rule over all the earth for 1000 years of peace. He will do it ; we can not. And no matter how hard he tries, King Obama or any other world leader can’t either.
Lyrically, it’s a lousy Christmas carol and terrible, unbiblical Christian hymn, but other than that it’s a great musical composition. Please can someone write better lyrics? Until then, let’s keep it out of our churches.
Ralph M. Petersen and his wife, Kathy, own the OLDE TOWNE EMPORIUM at 212 E. Main St. in Rogersville. Comments are welcome. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (951) 321 9235.