Hillsong Worship's "What a Beautiful Name" is easily becoing a staple in worship among churches these days. The song was also the Australian mega church's first #1 on Billboard's Christian Songs chart. "What a Beautiful Name," sung and co-written by Brooke Ligertwood, is from Let There Be Light, Hillsong Worship's 25th live album, which debuted at No. 1 on Top Christian Albums (Nov. 5, 2016). Nevertheless, there are some Christians who are uncomfortable with the line that says Jesus "didn't want Heaven without us." They have viewed the lyrics as unbiblical and "doctrinal malpractice."
The relevant portion of the lyrics goes like this:
"You were the Word at the beginning,
One with God the Lord Most High.
Your hidden glory in creation,
Now revealed in you our Christ.
What a beautiful Name it is,
What a beautiful Name it is,
The Name of Jesus Christ my King.
You didn't want heaven without us,
So Jesus, you brought heaven down.
My sin was great, your love was greater,
What could separate us now?"
Some have argued that this line suggests that Jesus is needy, that he is, in himself, somehow deficient and less than complete and only we, his people can fill up what he lacks. That's why he "didn't want heaven without us." Writing on his website Thursday, Sam Storms, lead pastor of Bridgeway Church in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, tackles this issue.
He explained, referencing several scriptures, that "we know from numerous biblical texts that God needs nothing, that as Creator and Providential Lord over the entire universe, he is altogether self-sufficient and independent."
Storms continues: "So, does that mean the song is heretical after all? Not necessarily. I don't know what the thinking of its composers was when they wrote it. But we must ask the question: "Why did Jesus not want heaven without us?" If the answer is, because he was lonely or needed us or because he was in some way incomplete without our presence, then we have heresy. But that doesn't necessarily follow from the statement that Jesus "didn't want heaven without us." Let me explain.
Consider what Jesus asked of his Father in his prayer of John 17. There we read: "Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be where I am" (John 17:24a).
Clearly Jesus desires or "wants" his people to be with him, where he is, in heaven. But we can't stop with the first half of the verse. We must read the rest. In other words, when we ask the question, "Why does Jesus desire that we be with him, where he is," the answer is immediately forthcoming: "Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world" (John 17:24a).
When Jesus says I "desire that they also . . . may be with me," it isn't so that he can receivesomething we can give, but in order that he might give something that we desperately need. Jesus lacks nothing. His desire for us to be "with" him is so that he can show us his "glory" and in doing so fill up what is lacking in us, not something that is lacking in him. What you and I need most and what Jesus will supply us with forever is the sight and the savoring of his eternal glory.
So when I sing this glorious song and declare, "You didn't want heaven without us," I will sing it with the understanding that it is because Jesus desired to supply us with what will bring to our hearts the greatest imaginable joy: the sight and savoring of his own eternal and majestic glory!"
In an earlier interview with The Christian Post, Brooke Ligertwood said she believes the song became popular because it connected with people and contains "sound theology," among other things.
"I think within the song there is a balance of sound theology about God revealing Himself to humanity in and through Christ, personal lyrics about what that means for the individual, and then strong corporate confession about what that means for us today," she said. "Honestly though, you can analyze all you want but you can never explain away the God factor. Sometimes God just decides to breathe on something and it's completely His prerogative."