Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Pretty Amazing Grace?

A couple of reasons why Neil Diamond's "Pretty Amazing Grace" isn't going to replace John Newton's original:

I was an empty vessel
You filled me up inside
and with amazing grace restored my pride

Is "pride restoration" the purpose of God's grace? I thought that God's grace humbled us.

You forgave my insensitivity
and my attempt to then mislead You

"Forgave my insensitivity"? "Attempt to mislead you"? Whatever happened to sin and rebellion against the Creator?

look in a mirror I see Your reflection
open a book You live on every page

Maybe if it said open THE book, but this looks very pantheistic.

Came to You with empty pockets first
when I returned I was rich man

I guess that they will be singing this at Joel Osteen's church.

Just to get the "bad taste" out of our mouths, let's all join together in singing a real hymn about the grace of God:

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.

’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed!

Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me,
His Word my hope secures;
He will my Shield and Portion be,
As long as life endures.

Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who called me here below,
Will be forever mine.

When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’d first begun.


Anonymous said...

Dr Johnson said you didn't need to be a carpenter to criticize a badly made table. But can it be so bad if people are listening and at least wondering about the subject matter of this song? Whatever the intention about its marketing, however faulty its construction, however inferior to an earlier work...

Jerry said...

What does it get them wondering about?

Some vague form of spirituality, or the wondrous grace of the Lord Jesus Christ?

I will stick with the original.

(I don't normally allow anonymous posts, if you wish to continue please provide an identity.)

TC said...

Jerry, although I have some questions as to whether or not Neil Diamond has found Christ, I am certainly willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

If indeed he has found Christ recently then this song is at least an honest attempt at expressing that. I've heard many modern day Christian songs that are sung around the world with less substance than this song.

If Neil Diamond is a tiny new child in Christ, then I would say that he is allowed a little Christian genorosity and a chance to better understand the full truth of God's word. I'm certainly not saying that there isn't a place for critique, but a little grace isn't out of sorts for this situation. Just my opinion...Thank you for the forum. TC

Jerry said...


Thanks for your comments. Please notice that I didn't post anything critical of Neil Diamond himself, and make no speculation concerning his spiritual state. For all I know, he is not even the author of this song, only the performer.

However, when you state "I've heard many modern day Christian songs that are sung around the world with less substance than this song", isn't that a sad commentary on the state of "Christian music"?

I am afraid that many Christians show very little discernment concerning what they read, what they listen to, and what they accept. Many believe that slapping religious lingo on something somehos sanctifies it. This is about as ludicrous as putting a ribbon on a pig and calling it a poodle.

scott said...

Oh are actually criticizing a song and child of Christ that praises the Lord for his amazing grace probably fairly recently found. Millions of people will hear the beautiful sound and lyrics and feel pretty good, especially from an icon of music legends. Who are we to judge his communication and faith with the Lord, or not? Thank you Neil Diamond, thousands of people will thank the Lord because of this song. I and many of us beleive Neil Diamond will thank the Lord for that too, but it probably won't be in a song. Doesn't have to be!

Jerry said...


I am going to give you the benefit of the doubt in that I don't think that you have read my other comments.

First, I did not criticize a child of God.

Second, there are plenty of things out there that make people "feel pretty good", but that doesn't mean that they are in line with Biblical truth.

Maybe it would be helpful if you went beyond an emotional reaction and actually interacted with some of the points that I raised in the original post. Is the purpose of God's grace pride restoration? Do you see the pantheism represented in that song? Should sin be reduced to the level of insensitivity?

Keoni said...

Certainly I wouldn't want a Neil Diamond song to replace "Amazing Grace"; but it's a stretch to find explicit heresy in it. For example, the "pride" restored by this "pretty amazing grace" could be construed as the same kind of "pride" that causes Paul to boast in Jesus Christ. In other words, it is God-centered, not man-centered. As for "coming back a rich man" the Parable of the Talents has the same kind of imagery but of course it doesn't refer to actual riches. It's not as if I really like this song, but I think it's kind of an overreaction to start crying Anathema!

Jerry said...

"Explicit heresy"? "Anathema"?

I think that you might just be guilty of the same thing for which you accuse me.

You think that I have read too much into this song, in the same way you might be reading too much into my comments.

Jerry said...

Another take on Amazing Grace:

An Alternate tune

Not surprising when you figure that while Amazing Grace is normally sung using the New Britain melody, but can be sung using any Common Meter (

God Fire Revival said...

We do not know what Neil meant, but I doubt if one could put all those symbolisms in one song and not know the Lord.

Regarding his insensitivity, remember he was Jewish. Overcoming his insensitivity to the Lord may have been a factor in his salvation. The last time I looked, a typical Jew does not embrace Christ.

Again, regarding pride, we do not know what may have taken place. Each one of us meets Jesus differently. I can tell you this, I was so low and so lost, when Christ found me I could say he restored my life and my joy.

You could say he restored my pride, not that I became proud. I found Christ. I was proud be be alive again. I had something to live for, bigger than myself. I hated everything I had become. For the first time I found hope, truth and mercy. Christ restored me.

Just a thought.


Jerry said...

Lynn, Thanks for your comments.I would like to respond to one thing that you said, but let me post a disclaimer first: Nothing I am about to post is directed at Neil Diamond. I am only speaking in generalities.

You state: I doubt if one could put all those symbolisms in one song and not know the Lord.


How would you reconcile that statement with the following Scripture?

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ (Matthew 7:21-23, ESV)

If it is possible to do all of those things and not be saved, then isn't it possible to write catchy song lyrics and still not be on "the road that leads ot life" (same chapter, vs. 14)

Just something to think about.

Borodin said...

There are a number of songs that are ambiguous as to whether they about God or about a woman. I am a Christian, and reading this carefully I came to

Stumbled inside the doorway of your chapel
Humbled in God by everything I found

and that says that 'you' and 'God' are different people. Unless he's written this carelessly he's talking about the spiritual experience of being in love.

I so wanted to be wrong :-/

Rob said...

I take it back. I was reading a bad transcription, and the proper words of the verse are:

Stumbled inside the doorway of your chapel
Humbled and awed by everything I found

Welcome Neil. Nice one.

As for whether it will replace Amazing Grace, of course it won't. Will I replace you Jerry? Does the trombone replace the violin? I think not.

Jerry said...

I think that this one has run its course, and I will no longer post additional comments on this thread.