Ariana Grande and Theology Proper: A Theological Response to A Pop Sensation

The news is out and was given headline status this week. God is a woman according to Ariana Grande. The opening lines of the USA Today article read, “Ariana Grande is back at it again, blessing her fans with new music.”[1] In this post, I will consider the theological implications of the new pop song along with a Biblical and theological response to the nature of God.

Here are the lyrics to the chorus Grande’s new single:

You, you love it how I move you

You love it how I touch you

My one, when all is said and done

You’ll believe God is a woman

And I, I feel it after midnight

A feelin’ that you can’t fight

My one, it lingers when we’re done

You’ll believe God is a woman

Some of my conservative readers might be concerned by my reading of the USA Today article or of my citation of the sensual song lyrics. I would like to invite all of my readers to consider the content of this post rather than my choice to interact with the liberal news and pop culture. As Christians, we must intellectually and humbly engage our culture with the Gospel of Jesus which includes responding to popularized depictions on the nature of God. So let us begin our conversation with an overview of theology proper.

What is theology proper?

Stanley Grenz and Roger Olson posit that “Theology is any reflection on the ultimate questions of life that point toward God.”[2] They elaborate on this discussion by stating that theology means reasoning about God. They argue that “the question of God is implied in all of life’s ultimate questions.”[3] So what are life’s ultimate questions or as Forlines so aptly expresses them as the inescapable questions of life?

Leroy Folines outlines the following inescapable questions of life. They are inescapable because humans of all cultural backgrounds ask these questions throughout their lives. He states about these questions, “When an individual fails to find satisfying answers to these questions, he or she will fail to find meaning in life.”[4]

 

  1. Is there a God?
  2. If so, what is he like?
  3. How can I know him?
  4. Who am I?
  5. Where am I?
  6. How can I tell right from wrong?
  7. Is there life after death?
  8. What can I and should I do about guilt?
  9. How can I deal with my inner pain?

Our understanding of who God has serious implications for our worldview. The Christian worldview controls how Christians respond to popular and sociological concerns. Before a worldview can be established one must consider the nature and task of theology proper.

Theology proper is the doctrine of God. There are various types of theology including biblical, historical, systematic, and philosophical. The doctrine of God or theology proper falls under discussion on systematic theology.[5] Within systematic theology, the doctrine of God is treated in its own unique way. Think of theology proper as the starting point by which all other theological disciplines are possible. Now that we have defined theology proper I would like to redirect our conversation back to Ariana Grande’s view of God.

Grande’s Theological Understandings of God’s Nature

We cannot analyze all of Grande’s theological understandings or rather misunderstandings here. My aim is to consider her theological understanding of the doctrine of God as expressed in her new song.

Consider the lines in the chorus My one, when all is said and done/You’ll believe God is a woman. There Grande depicts a feminized God who creates feelings of sexual ecstasy in those who worship her. The first verse of the song speaks of sex in religious terminology and even refers to sex as prayer. Listeners cannot ignore the sexualized language of the new pop song. Christians cannot ignore the misrepresentation of God’s attributes and the nature of prayer.

True, many Christians do not listen to pop music due to the often explicit and immoral nature of the music. Even so, our teenagers DO LISTEN to this music and we must seek to pastor them in Christ-like ways. My concern about Grande’s new song along with her Twitter worshippers is that students I love will undoubtedly sing along and perhaps engage in the erotic behavior the artist describes. Further, we as the church must give our youth a healthy understanding of who God is. We must educate them rather than allowing culture to disciple our kids.

My Pastoral Concern

I must be careful to define God as understood in the Christian worldview. Although Biblical and theological language often uses the second person masculine pronouns he and Father to describe God, we do not affirm that God is a male in a sexual or gender sense. Nor is God responsible for the masochistic crimes committed against women in the name of patriarchy. Consider the definition of God in the Westminster Shorter Catechism:

Q: What is God?
A: God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in his being, wisdom, power, holiness,  justice, goodness, and truth.

I affirm the historic, Christian doctrine on the being and attributes of God. God as a being is one who is wholly transcendent to humans yet near through the person and work of Jesus the Messiah. His primary essence is that of Spirit. God is one person in a Triune Being of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Grande’s song portrays divinity as a female engaging in an erotic sex act. As you can see, the Christian understanding of God is in NO WAY related to Grande’s depiction.

So how must we respond to Ariana Grande’s music in a sex-saturated culture?

  • We must pray for today’s youth. They are bombarded with sexual images and media every time they scroll and swipe through their smartphones.
  • We must take time to build relationships with these students with the intention of discipling their minds, bodies, and spirits through the redemptive Gospel of Jesus.
  • We must filter all of our culture including our music through a Biblically consistent Christian worldview. Younger generations are watching our actions and choices of media as well.
  • Pray that Ariana Grande encounters the risen Jesus in a real and personal way. Pray that she will be transformed by the Gospel so her music will make a positive impact on our culture.
  • Base our understanding of the doctrine of God on Biblical revelation.

Bible References on God’s Identity

This list of references is not exhaustive but I trust these passages[6] will help you understand who God is. The Trinity desires a relationship with you. Email me with questions about how you can have a relationship with God. These attributes have the potential to truly bless people contrary to the lyrics of Grande’s song.

[1] USA Today, July 13, 2018, accessed at https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/entertainthis/2018/07/13/twitter-worshipping-ariana-grande-new-song-god-woman/781957002/.

[2] Stanley J. Grenz and Roger E. Olson. Who Needs Theology: An Invitation to the Study of God (Downer’s Grove: IVP Academic, 1996), 13.

[3] Ibid.,14

[4] F. Leroy Forlines. The Quest for Truth: Theology for Postmodern Times (Randall House: Nashville, 2006) 1.

[5] Millard J. Erickson. Christian Theology, 3rd Ed. (Baker Academic: Grand Rapids, 2013) 10.

 [6] At present, I am a member of a Southern Baptist Church. I affirm the Baptist Faith and Message, 2000. The descriptions and references for the persons of the Trinity are derived directly from this statement of faith.

Advertisements

Comments?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close