Review: The Attributes of God (Album) by Shai Linne
“The sterner, more awe-inspiring aspects of the divine character are offset by the gentler, more winsome ones. It is to our irreparable loss if we dwell exclusively on God’s sovereignty and majesty, or His holiness and justice; we need to meditate frequently, though not exclusively, on His goodness and mercy. Nothing short of a full-orbed view of the divine perfections – as revealed in Holy Writ – should satisfy us.” – Arthur W. Pink, The Nature of God, p. 65 (Chapter: ‘The Loving-Kindness of God)
For many years, Arthur W. Pink wrote short articles on the attributes of God for the periodical, Studies in the Scriptures. These articles, along with articles on the person of Christ, were compiled by Moody Press into the book, The Nature of God. As a pastor, I strive to find the balance in my preaching that Pink calls for in his article on the Loving-Kindness of God – a balance between focusing on God’s awe-inspiring attributes as well as his kinder ones. Like many in my generation (Generation X or whatever we are called these days) and the ones that follow, I have a tendency to focus mainly on the ‘gentler, more winsome’ attributes rather than the sterner ones. The balance is sometimes elusive.
I was drawn to this book by the most unlikely source. Joseph Torres recommended an album by the artist, Shai Linne, called The Attributes of God. This is a hip-hop album. Normally, I am not a fan of hip-hop, but I cannot get enough of this album. Shai Linne has taken some of A. W. Pink’s writings and has put them into lyrical, poetical form. With, no apologies for the depth of the subject matter, Linne masterfully presents God’s attributes in a culturally relevant and easily accessible format.
The album begins with a spoken-word monologue on the beauty of God. Linne’s wife performs this piece. After that there are reminders of God’s glory, his goodness, his sovereignty, his holiness, his mercy, his patience, his justice and wrath, his love, faithfulness, judgment and self-sufficiency, among others. The tracks reflect the balanced approach to God and his attributes as they are presented in The Nature of God. The song, All Consuming Fire, referring to God’s wrath against sin, is sandwiched between songs on God’s patience in dealing with sinners and his perfect love (which even has a reminder that God’s love for his own glory is more important to him than the love for his creation). This balance is seen throughout the album.
I have two concerns regarding this album – well, more like one caution and one concern. First, the caution: if you have small children, the track, ‘The Jealous One,’ might be a little extreme. It begins with an account of a man who confronts and murders his wife and her lover when he discovers the betrayal. The piece goes on to compare and contrast God’s perfect jealousy when his people betray him by seeking after idols with man’s imperfect reflection of that jealousy. The opening account is well done, but it could scare smaller children, or leave the parent in the position to explain issues that either he or the child might not be ready for.
The concern comes in the track, ‘The Omnis.’ In this song, Linne is dealing with the traditional theological distinctions of omnipresence, omnipotence and omniscience. In the verse on omnipresence, Linne references Psalm 139 where the psalmist states that even if he were able to swim to the deepest part of the ocean – hoping to hide from God – God would still be there. The artist expresses this with these lyrics:
So I don’t even need to smell the marijuana stench
To know my God is deeper than the Mariana Trench
The calculation is 36,000 feet
Below sea level – about 7 miles deep
If you got to the bottom without imploding from the weight
God would be waiting there, saying, “Yo man, you’re late”
I understand the sentiment: we don’t have to be high to believe this; it’s true. And I also understand that it is hard to find lyrics to rhyme with ‘Mariana Trench.’ However, I feel that the drug reference is inappropriate for a Christian audience. I will admit that I have no suggestions for improvement, but the sentiment should have been expressed differently.
Much of Christian music today has a shallowness and a flimsiness that is not appealing to me. The flood of songs that seem to make Jesus our ‘boyfriend,’ rather than the radical savior that he is, is discouraging. Other songs seem to promote the agenda of many prosperity gospel messages rather than calling for an appreciation of God as he is revealed in the Scriptures. Unfortunately, much of today’s preaching follows these patterns as well. Either Jesus becomes our therapist, or we are told that God wants to rain the blessings of health and wealth upon those that simply have enough faith. The Attributes of God falls into none of these traps; it presents God and the Gospel biblically and accurately.
A. W. Pink called for a balanced approach to presenting God’s attributes. Many times today, our preaching and our music fails to do this. Shai Linne offers a corrective. I have found myself adding more balance to my preaching since listening to this album. I heartily recommend this album to anyone who is looking for music that presents God and his attributes in an accurate and scriptural way.
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