Monday, April 06, 2009

Can Christians Sing "Father Abraham"?

Notice, I didn't say should (that's a different conversation); I said can.

So can Church age believers correctly affirm, concerning Father Abraham's "many sons," that "I am one of them and so are you"?

And if you say no, please help me understand how you read Galatians 3:7.


Bob Hayton said...

Yes, we can sing that song. Add Romans 4:11 to Gal. 3:7 as well. :)

Also, re: Romans 4, vs. 13-16 argues that "the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world" is "the promise" which "rest(s) on grace and [is] guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all". So if Abraham is our father, we should expect to share in his inheritance, land and all (cf. Eph. 6:1-3).

Blessings in Christ,

Bob Hayton

James said...

I was alway under the thinking that that song was never a church song anyways, but a song from the slavery years in regards to Abe Lincoln. . .I've never seen much verfication one way or another. But it still begs the question: Why would you want to sing it? Frankly, not much moral value to our kids (who usually are the ones who sing it). Nor does it do what I believe music is for in the church (kid's church or whatever)-praising our great God.

Tammie said...

kind of funny that this is controversial. of course, we can legitimately sing it, and i do if someone chooses it. thank God, by faith i am a child of Abraham! but whether the song itself is a favorite of mine? well, that's a totally different story. . .

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't it be the same question as "Ye chosen seed of Israel's race, ye ransomed from the fall"?

Anonymous said...

I'm no son of Lincoln, but by God's grace through faith I am a true son of Abraham. So, let's all praise the LORD. Right arm . . .

There may not be much moral value in the song, but there's a lot of gospel message.


Bob Hayton said...

It is a very simple song, but I do think the message it conveys is powerful, when I stoop down and hear it. Of course, it's a favorite with my young daughters! For them it's all about the theology too :P

david said...

And Romans 9:6-9 and the hints of Matthew 8:11 and Romans 11:17-29 and so on. Pretty indisputable that Abraham is the father of all believers, seems to me.

(and because he's the father of believers, we are raising a generation of children at our church who will never enthusiastically raise right and left hands as they sing meaninglessly "and I am one of them, and so are you...)

Scott Aniol said...

Anonymous: Regarding "Ye chosen seed..."

Completely different context. Look more closely at the hymn. Each stanza addresses a different group that is worshiping God in Heaven (angels, martyrs, Israel, etc.), and the final stanza expresses our wish to join the refrain.

So we are not addressing each other when we say, "Ye chosen seed," we are addressing national Israel in Heaven.

Scott Aniol said...

Of course, if you answer the question, should we sing this song first, your question becomes moot.

Ben said...

Well, Scott, I actually intended to direct everyone to RAM for a discussion of the should, but for some reason, as I was writing the post, I just couldn't keep my arms and legs still and that must have distracted me.

Scott Aniol said...

Hey, it's a great song for getting the wiggles out of kiddies!

But then again, so is the Chicken Dance.

Dan S said...

I don't know, Scott... Seems to me like All Hail the Power does in fact have a broad call in each stanza. The call is issued in the first line of each stanza. First verse - All; 2nd verse - chosen seed; 3rd verse - sinners; 4th verse - every kindred, every tribe. In fact, the 5th verse is the only one that addresses a smaller (though not separate) group. Of course, you can argue that if the 5th verse does it, then the 2nd verse could be interpreted that way as well, but context certainly doesn't demand that Perronet must have meant "National Israel in heaven."

C A Watson said...


I would disagree on your interpretation of Rom 4:13ff. Abraham was promised three (or rather, that two could be combined) things:

1. Land
2. Seed
3. Blessing

For the sake of brevity, I won't trace these promises out here. The promises are distinct (they are not always all listed together, nor are they repeated to all of Abraham's progeny - the blessing is never mentioned to Jacob), although the last two are related.

The promise in Rom 4:13ff is specifically speaking back to the "seed" promise, or rather, the "blessing through the seed" promise (see the quotations of Gen 17 in Rom 4:17-18). Abraham was father in two ways:

(1) He was father of many nations in a physical sense (both through Isaac-Jacob and Edom as different nations; and through Ishmael - cf. Gen 17:20)
(2) He was the father of many nations in a spiritual sense - through those that believe. Abraham believed, and had righteousness imputed to his account. When I believe, I have righteousness imputed to my account in the same was as Abraham. The promise mentioned in Romans 4:13 (an allusion never exactly quoted in the OT - kosmos is used instead of ges) has nothing to do with the concept of "land."

There are arguments for replacement theology, but you can't rightly get those arguments concerning expansion/deterritorialization/universalization/spiritualization (choose your term) of the land promises from Romans 4.

Bob Hayton said...

Bro. Watson,

Rom. 4 does intimately relate to Gen. 17, dealing with circumcision as it plainly does. Gen. 17:8 says "And I will give to you and to your offspring after you the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God". Side note: for "I will be their God" see the similar use of that phrase in Lev. 26:12, 2 Cor. 6:16 and Rev. 21:3. So the promise that the heirs of Abraham would be given the land is made in Gen. 17.

About Rom. 4:16 you said: "The promise mentioned in Romans 4:13 (an allusion never exactly quoted in the OT - kosmos is used instead of ges) has nothing to do with the concept of 'land.'" This is exactly the point. Rom. 4 expands the promise from land to world. As the ESV Study Bible footnote on that verse puts it: "The promise given to Abraham embraces not only the land of Canaan but also the whole world. The final reward given (the inheritance, which is another term for final salvation) that will be given to Abraham and all believers is the world to come (cf. Heb. 11:10-16; Revelation 21-22)."

I do think "the promise" in 4:16 does refer to the singular promise specifically mentioned in vs. 13, but it uses that promise to refer to the blessing mentioned in vs. 7-8. It takes the land promise which was expanded to "world" in vs. 13 and shows that promise is received by faith.

Finally, "replacement theology" is somewhat pejorative. No one in CT circles embraces that label. That is not what an expansion view argues. Nobody replaces Israel, they become a part of the Church. Spiritual Israel is expanded in the new covenant.

Thanks for interacting with me, however. I was curious as to how dispensationalists would treat Rom. 4:13-16. Your treatment didn't change my understanding of the passage, but it is plausible and does respect the text, so thanks for that. It did drive me to look at the text closely again, which is never a bad thing.

Blessings from the Cross,

Bob Hayton

Chris said...


The Chicken Dance [giggle]! Don't give them ideas, brother. Next thing you know, it'll be the Beer Barrel Polka.

chris ames