Now Dr. Joel Beeke has weighed in on the discussion on Propaganda's "Precious Puritans." It's a more critical take. And I LOVE Dr. Beeke and own several of his books on the Puritans, including his new, massive work A Puritan Theology. So while I want to respond here to his post, I want my readers to know I highly recommend his books and benefited greatly from hearing him at Desiring God Pastor's Conference on prayer.
Here's my response to critics who are receiving "Precious Puritans" as Dr. Beeke has: Critics are not hearing the song as art, and not discussing art and how it should be critiqued.
Critics are doing exposition of it as if it's a sermon or merely a message, but it's far more creative than that. Critics are discussing the emotional response to the beginning of the song, but not the all-important end! The beginning is designed creatively to get you to feel emotions about the Puritans as a judge and then to smack you down for being a hypocrite! It's a trick, and if you won't view it as art and allow yourself to be tricked, you miss the whole of it and you write blog posts to defend what you find precious, as if the first part of the song is merely propositional.
Francis Schaeffer writes that one bad way to view art is to see art as "a vehicle for the propagation of a particular message." That view "reduces art to an intellectual statement and the work of art as a work of art disappears." I think critics of "Precious Puritans" are receiving it through that lens, and therefore aren't receiving it well. It isn't seen as art (even when the critics think they are seeing it that way!), and therefore the artist isn't given ground to point to truth creatively.
What I think is great is that so many have heard the song and just loved it, even when it has unsettled them. Art spoke to truth and it was well received. But when someone criticizes the song and misses the truth because they've missed the art as art, I think that says we need more discussion on how to view art.