Lance Goodall      2 May 2018

Currently, the No. 1 song on the Christian charts, is Cory Asbury’s “Reckless Love”.

Relevant Magazine reports that, the lyrical content of “Reckless Love” is causing a stir of theological discussion.

The debate is hinged on the question of whether it is appropriate or heretical to call God reckless.

Pentecostal theologian Andrew K. Gabriel’s answer is no. Reckless, he says, is not an accurate way to describe God or God’s love. Gabriel writes:

I searched for the meaning of “reckless,” and Almighty Google tells me that “reckless” describes someone who acts “without thinking or caring about the consequences of an action.”

I tried the more respectable Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, and, similarly, it defines reckless as “marked by lack of proper caution: careless of consequences” and even as “irresponsible.”

I don’t think too many Christians would like to say that God is “careless” or that God’s love doesn’t “care about consequences.” Instead, God loves us with the clear and thoughtful intention …Gabriel writes that his reflections were inspired by someone who approached him with concerns about the song’s lyrics: O the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God.

The hosts of popular YouTube Channel “Worship Tutorials” make it a point to emphasize that the lyrics seen above make explicit reference to God’s love and not God’s identity.

It is the way that God loves that is reckless, they say, and not God Himself that is reckless.

The History of Reckless

Reckless[1] (aka “Reckless (Don’t Be So)“, “Reckless (Don’t You Be So)“, “She Don’t Like That“) was a 1983 song from the EPSemantics by iconic Australian surf rock band Australian Crawl.

The lyrics go;

So, throw down your guns
Don’t be so reckless
Throw down your guns
Don’t be so reckless

She don’t like that kind of behaviour [2x]

So taking up from Andrew K. Gabriel’s concerns the word reckless means;

Synonyms for reckless adj irresponsible in thought, deed

Rash, heedless, negligent, thoughtless, foolhardy, fast and loose?? None of these describe God’s love!

Reckless Metal 

Reckless Love is a Finnish metal band, founded 2001 in KuopioFinland.

On February 2010, they released their debut album, which reached number 13 in the Finnish charts. In 2011 they released their second album Animal Attraction, which was in the top 10 of the Finnish charts. After the success of Animal Attraction, Reckless Love released their third album Spirit in 2013, which contains the two singles “Night on Fire” and “So Happy I Could Die”.

In February 2016 they released two singles, “Keep it up all night” and “Monster”. Their newest album, InVader, (containing Keep It Up All Night and Monster) was released on the 4th of March, on the opening night of their European tour with Santa Cruz (band).

Finlands own merry metallers, Reckless Love are carrying the torch of fun loving melodic hard rock and boy oh boy, they are doing it right.

Since day one, this brilliant quartet has been known for their shameless, colourful and high energy live performances which they have taken all over the world. Relentless touring in their home territory Finland, and also in the United Kingdom has helped them reach a steady following in both countries. In fact, the British fans showed their love in 2013 by raising their previous album “Spirit” on 11th place on the british rock charts. In Finland, their fans went a little further and made Reckless Love a gold selling artist.

March 11th marks the day Reckless Love will release their fourth studio album titled “InVader”, which will be available, in addition to Finland and Great Britain, at least in the United States, Sweden and Germany.

tour image

That’s right a heavy metal band has ‘owned’ the name Reckless Love since 2001.

Why has this got anything to do with Christianity, let alone a reference to God’s Love?

Previously there was a song called “Scandalous grace”

This is nothing new….

Hillsong United released a studio album called Aftermath released back on 15 February 2011.

HELLSONG - The Music of Hillsong - In Praise of Folly by [Goodall, Lance]

This is part of a chapter from the book Hellsong — The Music of Hillsong that I wrote in 2017.

When I read this album title, I questioned the name with a great deal of unease. These days we like to talk about the cross, even talk up the cross, but not take up the cross.

Definition of Aftermath

The meaning of the word — aftermath is linked to the consequences of an event (especially a catastrophic event) e.g. the aftermath of war. In the wake of the accident, no one knew how many had been injured. A consequence, especially of a disaster or misfortune: famine as an aftermath of drought. Aftermath is defined as a period of time following a disastrous event.

Aftermath, by the way, doesn’t feature as a word in the Bible anywhere. Back in 2001, Youth Alive, who reached out to young Australians with a positive message, produced an album called Elevate. Again, Elevate is not a word found in the Bible either. It is a term linked to evolution and the ascendancy of man. It is found in Masonic literature and the business world.

Why does Steven Furtick use it as the name of his church? He even had a worship night bearing the same name.

But continuing on, let me make it loud and clear: the cross of Christ and His choosing to go there has nothing to do with Greek or Roman tragedy, calamity, or some sort of cosmic fallout. Christ, on the cross, declared it is finished! He was not the messiah, as Mary Magdalene, and the disciples thought he was. To them, his death was a tragedy. All their hopes and dreams lay silent with the Lord in the tomb. But Jesus, the only Son of God, rose up that Sunday morn, conquering the grave, just as he said!

‘For you will not leave my soul in sheol, nor will you allow your holy one to see corruption’ (Ps. 16:10).

The Lord Jesus did not experience death and decay as we mortals.

‘And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it’ (Col. 2:15).

Christ rose from the dead and is now seated at the right hand of God. He has defeated death, sin, and the devil. Let me repeat this so I’m clear: there is no aftermath with God, and there are no surprises. He makes all things new. Hallelujah!

The unusual name of the album and single are even more pronounced by its association with other songs and a short film of the same title.

In 1994, Aftermath, a short film, was produced where a man working in a morgue mutilates and defiles one of the corpses. Then he takes the heart home to his dog.

Other songs entitled ‘Aftermath’ are the following:

  • ‘Aftermath’byREM
  • ‘Aftermath’ by Adam Lambert from For Your Entertainment(2009)
  • ‘Aftermath’ by Edge of Sanity from Crimson II
  • ‘Aftermath’ by Phish from Phish
  • ‘Aftermath’byTheRollingStones(anunreleasedsong)
  • ‘Aftermath’ by Sonic Syndicate from Only Inhuman
  • ‘The Aftermath’ by Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band from Like a Rock
  • ‘The Aftermath’ by Iron Maiden from The X Factor
  • ‘The Aftermath’ by Kashmir from Zitilites
  • ‘TheAftermath’byOriginfromAntithesis (2008)
  • ‘The Aftermath (G3)’ by Escape the Fate from Escape the Fate (November 2010)

Adam Lambert (listed above), this modern Elvis look-alike, had photos showing him romantically kissing another man while he was competing on the eighth season of American Idol.

Lambert released his album For Your Entertainment in November 2009, but ‘The Aftermath’ remix single was released in March 2011. The timing, with Hillsong United’s release date of February 2011 for their album, raises some speculation that it was more than a coincidence.

If you research the above list, most of the groups are rock, hard rock, metal, or heavy metal.

Origin is a technical death metal band!

Hillsong’s album Aftermath has the theme of destruction and nuclear annihilation associated with it, which we will see later. It is a major theme of heavy metal bands.

How can a seemingly innocent title of a song stir up some much questionable connections and controversy? There must more to the name than meets the eye.

Aftermath (February 2011) (Abridged Lyrics)4 You were broken for all the world to see

Lifted out of the ashes

I am found in the aftermath

The above lyrics are taken from the single ‘Aftermath’ by Hillsong United.

Firstly, I want to say these lyrics seem as though they were intended to be metaphorical. However, there must be concern over lyrics that refer to Christ’s death as an aftermath. Christ’s death can no way be considered a disaster or human tragedy.

Christ’s death was a propitiation (payment) for our sins to deal with God’s righteous justice against our sin and rebellion. His death was part of the overall plan of salvation. God was in Christ reconciling us back to Himself, taking away the barrier of our sin, through the death of His son. Christ the victor gives us life through His life. Do we come forth anew, raised out from Christ’s death or from Christ’s ashes? If that was what was meant, then the analogy smacks of a modern-day take on reincarnation. And if this is not what they mean, then what?

Why is Hillsong using the symbology of ashes in the first place?

Supposed Arguments

Both sides make some good points.

Churchfront goes on the attack saying;

The chorus focuses on how incredible it is that God loves us and pursues us. The term “Reckless” has gotten a lot of attention. As usual, when a gifted songwriter uses a bit of language that is not typical, all of the Pharisees in the church come out of the woodwork and make a loud fuss. If you disagree with the use of the word “Reckless” and feel offended by that last sentence, please check out this cool app.

In all seriousness, there are a few reasons why I have no issue with the term “Reckless” in describing God’s love.

  • The definition – (of a person or their actions) without thinking or caring about the consequences of an action. While in most contexts this song has negative connotations (reckless driving) the word reckless itself does not necessarily carry negative connotations on its own.
  • Word meaning changes and evolves – It’s common for words and associated connotations to change and evolve overtime. Maybe it wouldn’t have been appropriate to use “reckless” to describe God’s love a decade or two ago, but words and their associated connotations are adaptable to their time and culture.
  • Biblical support – Cory wrote this song with the parables in Luke 15 in mind. Do you know how “reckless” it was for the Father to receive the Prodigal Son back into his house! He did not care about the consequences of what other people thought of this act of love.

He continues ‘I honestly cannot believe I just wasted 10 minutes of my time needing to argue why reckless is an okay description of God’s love in this context. I think if more Christians were more distressed about reaching their lost neighbors with the gospel of Jesus instead of putting up a fuss about songs like this, the world would be a much better placed with more saved people.But nope….We still battle our pharisical and religious tendencies.’

Really ? Isn’t more the fact, that the church’s lukewarmness can be attributed to these empty lyrics, and many a christian who purports to support this kind of worship, sadly are not worrying about their neighbour?

Supposedly those bothered by reckless as an adjective for God seem to take the word out of context. We live in a cultural moment (and have been for some time) where worship songs appropriate destructive imagery and negative language to talk about God. Note the many songs where God is invoked by the worshipper to set various things on fire: i.e. the singer, the soul, our hearts, “this place” (wherever that is).

These songs are not meant to be theological statements about God’s real proclivity toward arson or lack thereof.

If they are not theological statements then they are nothing more than straw. The scripture admonishes ‘speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;’  — Eph 5:19

If they are not theological statements, then they are not spiritual songs

Asbury rose to prominence in a worship context that is famous for using dramatic language that turns traditional meanings on their heads: that is, the International House of Prayer (IHOP). IHOP’s liturgical vernacular is full of sarcastic language. By sarcastic, I mean that it is regular practice for their worship songs to take words with conventionally negative connotations and use them in a positive way.

The suggestion is we know that type of language is being used creatively. Its argued that communication is not algorithmic, especially in art. One does not simply stuff the dictionary definition of a word into the mouth of an artist and insist. That’s not how poetic language works.  Clearly, in the context of our cultural moment and the song itself, recklessness is being used as virtue rather than character flaw.

Ummm — But why? Why is Asbury’s ‘inspiration’ then next best thing to biblical truth?

Asbury, similarly, is well-aware of the negative cultural associations attached to recklessness for many but was using the term in a different way. Asbury explained what he meant by “reckless” in a Facebook post last year;

“When I use the phrase, “the reckless love of God”, I’m not saying that God Himself is reckless. I am, however, saying that the way He loves, is in many regards, quite so. What I mean is this: He is utterly unconcerned with the consequences of His actions with regards to His own safety, comfort, and well-being. His love isn’t crafty or slick. It’s not cunning or shrewd. In fact, all things considered, it’s quite childlike, and might I even suggest, sometimes downright ridiculous. His love bankrupted heaven for you. His love doesn’t consider Himself first. His love isn’t selfish or self-serving. He doesn’t wonder what He’ll gain or lose by putting Himself out there. He simply gives Himself away on the off-chance that one of us might look back at Him and offer ourselves in return.”

On the other hand, the argument that the song describes God’s love and not God is kind of weak. We all know that to some degree we associate people’s character with their habits. A person with a habit of lying is a liar. A person who does a lot of reckless things is going to be described as reckless. So, if someone is listing a bunch of things that God does, describing them as reckless, then they’re implying that God is reckless.

Secondly, some of the language to describe God’s alleged recklessness are based on examples that may not actually be that dramatic.  Jesus’ parable about the shepherd who leaves the 99 sheep to go searching for the one that wandered off. Without much knowledge of how shepherds did their work in first-century Palestine, that may sound like a reckless thing to do, but some experts suggest that it may not have been.

For me the song is just more of the same. It’s just lazy lyric writing.

Good lyric writing in a song presents you with one clear main idea.

Andre Henry of Relevant suggests that ‘there’s no lyrical bridge between the ideas thrown out there in verse 1 and the chorus. We just hop over to the reckless love part. Both ideas in these sections may be true, but why do they belong in the same song? We’re never told.’

The second verse does better at developing the idea of recklessness: God pays it all for us when we felt worthless and fights for us while we’re God’s enemies. Sure. I’ll take it. I guess you could call it recklessness if we’re talking about the literal collateral damage of God kicking down walls, but all of this sounds more like relentlessness.’

I agree. The word is Relentless, NOT Reckless Love, as I have already showed sharply why I disagree with such lyrical language.

Synonyms for relentless adj cruel, merciless

The problem with “Reckless Love,” is the songwriter is striving to celebrate God’s uninhibited, extravagant, self-giving love, but he is happy (like many others) to regurgitate familiar tropes and platitudes of the worship genre.

Asbury states he’s not saying God is reckless. I’m sorry I don’t buy it.

‘And judgment is turned away backward, and justice stands afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter.’ — Isaiah 59:14

The song is just more Cultural Chaos, Ridiculous Reasoning, and Irreverent Rhyme!