the theology of Carrie Underwood

Here is a Radio Bible Class devotional which I just finished.  I still have time to make changes before I submit it, so any suggestions for improvement are welcome.

on whose terms?

read > Jonah 2:1-2

“Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from inside the fish.  He said, ‘I cried out to the LORD in my great trouble, and he answered me.’”


Country singer Carrie Underwood has two hit songs.  In “Jesus, Take the Wheel,” she sings of a young mother whose car is sliding on an icy road, and, just as she is about to crash, cries out for Jesus to save her.  “Jesus, take the wheel,” she sings, “take it from my hands ‘cause I can’t do this on my own.”

        In “Before He Cheats,” Underwood sings about what she did to her unfaithful boyfriend.  While he was romancing another woman, Underwood said that she was demolishing his car, slashing its tires and leather seats, scratching the paint on its doors, and smashing its headlights with a baseball bat.  “Maybe next time,” she says, “he’ll think before he cheats.”

        Both songs resonate with most people.  Who hasn’t cried out to God in desperation, and who hasn’t plotted revenge on those who have hurt us?  And yet it seems that we want to have it both ways.  Why do we sing “Jesus, take the wheel?” but not “Jesus, take the bat?” 

        We are too much like Jonah.  He begged God to take the wheel of his life when he was swallowed by a whale, but he also wanted to hold onto the bat and take a few swings at his enemies in Ninevah. 

When they repented and God relented, Jonah angrily complained to God, “Didn’t I say before I left home that you would do this, LORD?…I knew how easily you could cancel your plans for destroying these people.  Just kill me now, LORD!” (Jonah 4:2-3).

        Likewise, we want God’s help, but on our terms.  We want God to forgive and rescue us, but we reserve the right to smash the headlights of those who have sinned against us. 

God won’t be played.  If you’ve given him the wheel of your life, hand over the bat.—Mike Wittmer


more > Proverbs 20:22; Matthew 5:38-41; Romans 12:17-21


next > What is the difference between standing up for yourself and sinfully seeking vengeance on another?  How can you tell if you are fighting for justice or just being selfish?







10 responses to “the theology of Carrie Underwood”

  1. That Jesus Take the Wheel song makes me want to puncture my eardrums.

  2. Carrie Underwood actually has more than two hit songs, but here is why I’m encouraged: you have shown that you listen to music beyond the 1980s. Nice work. Don’t get me wrong, the 80s are perhaps the greatest decade of music ever, but, from a man who often speaks on contemporary theology and postmodernism, it is good to show that you can get out of that decade!

  3. Pam Elmore

    This is great, Mike! It’s amazing how pop culture reveals our hearts… thanks for the challenge.

  4. Just Some Guy

    That Jesus Take the Wheel song makes me want to burn down Arista Records’ headquarters.

    Pardon–that song makes me want to ask Jesus to burn down Arista Records’ headquarters.

  5. mikewittmer


    I didn’t say that Carrie “only” has two hit songs, but I realized the ambiguity when I wrote it. I chose to leave it in to annoy her huge fans in Grand Ledge. Are you implying that Carrie is more relevant than Journey or Belinda Carlisle?

  6. No annoyance here…I just wrote that to annoy you!

    Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge Journey fan (not so sure about Belinda Carlisle…I got frustrated with her with the GoGos broke up). But, my thoroughly postmodern students make fun of the fact that I have Journey on my Zune. Carrie is a little more recognizable.

    I think the sad fact is we are just getting old.

  7. Yooper

    Does anyone know the tune to Psalm 109?

  8. Pardon–that song makes me want to ask Jesus to burn down Arista Records’ headquarters.

    Would that be Titled, “Jesus take the Lighter”?

  9. mikewittmer


    Your students may not be making fun of your listening to Journey, but that you are listening to Journey on a Zune!

  10. Great insight. Keep writing pieces like this, they’re both funny and convicting – a great way to deliver truth!
    I don’t have any suggestions as to how to make it better, send it out!

    Oh, and happy new year!

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