that ’80s show

Pete Scribner has demonstrated that a) he has a lot of free time and b) it is possible to cheapen the doctrines of grace by describing them with song titles from the 80’s.  Here is how Tulip would look if it had been composed as a power ballad:

  • Total Eclipse of the Heart: The Doctrine of Total Depravity
  • I Just Called to Say I Love You: The Doctrine of Unconditional Election
  • Saving All My Love For You: The Doctrine of Limited Atonement
  • Can’t Fight this Feeling: The Doctrine of Irresistible Grace
  • Keeping the Faith: The Doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints

I would add the Arminian response, “Take a Chance on Me,” (as sung by that ethnic Tribute band, the Armenians).  Which leads me to a fun contest, who can come up with the funniest song title to describe a theological position?  My entry, which is in first place until someone tops it, is “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” by the Universalists.






27 responses to “that ’80s show”

  1. Jonathan Shelley

    My entry is “Making Love out of Nothing at All” to describe the emerging church movement’s… well, everything.

  2. Lee

    “oops I did I did it again” – on the doctrine of God’s forgiveness.

  3. Tertullian2009

    “Almost Paradise” = amillenialism

  4. Simon & Garfunkel’s “Homeward Bound” = pretrib rapture

  5. Joel

    We are the World – Universalism (

    “Time After Time” – Post-millennialism

    “Holy Diver” by Dio – Believer’s Baptism

  6. Joel

    Now I keep thinking of more…

    “Change” (John Waite) – dispensationalism

    “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me” (Culture Club) – belief that God won’t judge us (forget the theological term)

    “Material Girl” (Madonna) – prosperity theology

    “Livin on a Prayer” (Bon Jovi) – fideism

    “Red Red Wine” (UB40) – transubstantiation

  7. Joel

    They keep coming….I swear I’ll stop at some point:

    “Karma Chameleon” (Boy George) – Weakness Theology (since it’s basically Buddhism)

  8. Joel


    “The Way You Make Me Feel” (Michael Jackson) – Existential Theology

  9. mikewittmer


    This is not a banana republic. Stuffing the ballot box is not the way to win. But there’s no prize anyway, and yours are very funny.

    Since I’m partial to Air Supply and all things Emergent, I’m going to unilaterally assert that Jonathan is in the lead. Maybe this is a banana republic after all!

  10. mikewittmer

    On second thought, I think Jonathan is tied with Pete for his “Can’t Fight This Feeling Anymore.” That is one of the best power ballad’s of all time and, with Pete’s deft touch, makes a compelling theological point.

  11. As long as the emergent crowd is open fare, perhaps the Religious Right . . . ?

    “I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)” (Hall & Oats)
    “Walk This Way” (Aerosmith w/ Run DMC)
    “Pride” (U2)
    “We’re Not Going To Take It” (Twisted Sister)
    “It’s The End Of The World As We Know It” (REM)

    But specific doctrine?
    “Take On Me” (A-HA)

    “One Thing Leads To Another” (The Fixx)

  12. Jonathan Shelley

    Since you are concerned as of late on the proper use of faith in our spiritual journey, why not “Dream On” by Aerosmith for the “Prayer of Jabez” type faith you’ve been rallying against?

  13. I Am Happy to Be Stuck with You–Ecclesiology

  14. I recognize I also am approaching Banana Republic. Anybody need me to pick up some overpriced slacks while I’m here?

    Five Articles of Remonstrance should include:
    “How Will I Know If He Really Loves Me” (Whitney Houston)

    The Pelagian anthem:
    “Here I Go Again On My Own” (Whitesnake)

    Doctrine of Everlasting Punishment:
    “Eternal Flame” (The Bangles)

    Egalitarian/Complimentarian debate:
    “Sister Christian” (Night Ranger)

  15. Yooper

    Lost in the 80s with moratoriums and everything emergent in mind I submit the following:

    I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For – U2


    Listen To Your Heart – Roxette

  16. Justin

    Jonathan…as fond as I am of Aerosmith, I do believe “Dream On” is from the 70’s…

  17. Justin

    Ah, I reread the contest rules and saw that the date does not apply here. Apologies Jonathan.

    I suppose it isn’t a theological position, but I once used “I Saw the Swine” as a sermon title for an exposition of Mark 5:1-20. Like 10 people laughed… including my wife. I nevertheless thought it was funny.

  18. Theses have all been great, but we have to use one of the cheesiest ’80’s song out there don’t we? How about

    “We are the World” for the radical Emergent’s inclusiveness?

    Here’s some more:

    “Bad” for caricatured Calvinism? pre-mil dispensationalism? whatever.

    “Number of the Beast”…can you guess?

    “Walking on Sunshine” for anything Joel Osteen preaches?

    “Sledgehammer” for fundamentalism?

    Oh well, I tried!


  19. Oops, I didn’t see Joel’s entry above for, “We Are the World”.

    Sorry Joel.

  20. Megan

    Emergent “Nothing but a good time” by Poison
    Prosperity Gospel “Dr. Feelgood” Motley Crew or maybe “Bad Medicine”
    Word of Faith “Shout, Shout, Let it all Out!” Tears for Fears
    Bono’s Theology “Africa” by Toto
    The Folks Preaching on Most Secular Campuses “You give love a bad name” Bon Jovi

  21. Yooper

    Under the eternal security category and sung by Kenny Rogers, “I Can’t Unlove You”.

  22. mike

    Matt Westerholm:

    You have now jumped into the lead for doing the impossible theological hat trick: combining Whitney Houston and the Remonstrants in an incredibly funny joke that less than 1% of American evangelicals will get. You are now so funny that you aren’t.

  23. Jonathan Shelley

    [Since we seem to be going for quantity over quality], I’ll throw out a few more:

    “Wind Beneath My Wings” – the Pentacostal movement (and I apologize to anyone who gets this song stuck in their head)

    “Wheel in the Sky Keeps on Turning” – providence (the BEST Journey song ever)

    “Rock Me, Amadeus” – Barth’s theological method (and I apologize again if this song gets stuck in your head)

    “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” – amillennialism (I would use “Heaven is a Place on Earth,” but that title is already taken)

    Since we are taking shots at the Remonstrants, I always thought “Stairway to Heaven” summed up the Five Articles quite well.

    And since turnabout is fair play, we could use “Born Under A Bad Sign” for double predestination.

    And last but not least, “The Greatest Love of All” for substitutionary atonement (not really funny, but apropos).

  24. Jonathan Shelley

    In honor of Pastor Zak, who is unfortunately missing this great contest, I humbly submit the heretofore unmentioned selections from the Emergent Church’s hymnal:

    All you need is love – the beatles
    Jesus is just all right with me – doobie brothers
    Papa don’t preach – madonna
    I love you just the way you are – billy joel
    My way – frank sinatra
    Free your mind – en vogue

  25. How about:

    “Bad to the Bone” for Total Depravity or

    Chicago’s “All Roads Lead to You” for Universalism?

  26. eph5v2

    From the Sound of Music:

    Pre-Trib Rapture – “So Long Farwell”

    Peale’s Positive Thinking – “My Favorite Things”

    Sin – “How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria”

    Salvation by Works (or) Faith in Faith – “I Have Confidence”

    Denial of Total Depravity – “Something Good”

    The Fall – “Sixteen Going On Seventeen”


  27. The Day the Music Died (Don McClean) = the fall
    Bridge Over Troubled Waters = redemption
    A Long Comes Mary = the conception of Jesus – incarnation
    You are My Special Angel = angelology
    Splish Splash I was Taking a Bath – baptisim
    The Dangling Conversation = tower of Babel
    The Times They Are A-Changin’ (Bob Dylan) = dispensationalism
    Runaway (Del Shannon) = book of Jonah

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