Accidentally Lutheran lyrics: When a popular artist or songwriter, probably by pure accident, gives expression to the Christian faith in keeping with Lutheran confession.
Got washed in the water, washed in the blood
And now I’m changed — And now I’m stronger
There must be something in the water
SONG: Something in the Water
ARTIST: Carrie Underwood
“Show your work.” That was the common refrain we heard from math teachers at many levels. The correct solution to x was something, but if you didn’t understand and couldn’t demonstrate what brought you to that solution, the answer was of minor value. You may even get no credit at all.
“There must be something in the water.” This lyric from the 2014 blockbuster hit by pop/country star Carrie Underwood references Christian Baptism. In doing so, this lyric arrives at a Biblical solution: there is indeed something in the water. What remains highly ambiguous (if not missing altogether) is the Biblical and very Lutheran “arithmetic” delivering one to that something-in-the-water solution.
Our math teachers were interested in “shown work” for good reason. There’s an inherent danger in having an answer without the “arithmetic” to support it. That danger is called innovation. Innovation can be good in its proper place: technology, agriculture, medicine, etc. But in very objective matters, like math and Baptism, innovation is not good.
Vital, then, that we get behind the “something” to the objective arithmetic of Baptism. The lyric offers a few by-products of the water: a changed-ness and a newfound strength. These effects, while noteworthy, are still effects and not the solution to the “something” posited.
The Gospel, however, doesn’t offer ambiguous results of water-Baptism: a changed-ness and newfound strength. It does not expect us to be innovative in solving for how things changed and how this new strength comes about. In the Gospel, God shows all His Baptism-work.
Be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins (Acts 2:38). Baptism is God’s solution and He leaves no need to compute for the “what” of Baptism’s “change” or the “how” of Baptism’s “strength.” God’s Word does all the Gospel arithmetic. It shows all its work. We are naturally steeped in our own sin and death. But God baptizes sinners. He changes our status with Baptism. With Baptism, God adds the blood of Christ to our sin-steeped souls. The result is forgiven sinners—ones who have not shiny outward appearances, but clean consciences before God’s Law.
The strength behind this change is not magic water. It is the name attached to the water: baptized… in the name of Jesus Christ. That name is precisely the “something” that’s in the water God has given in Baptism. That name takes this lyric, true as far as it goes, and subtracts from it all the ambiguity. In that name, we who are baptized have subtracted from us all that is properly our own: sin, guilt, and death. In that name, we who are baptized have added to us all that properly belongs to the Named One: righteousness, innocence, and blessedness.
There is most certainly something in the water of Christian Baptism. It is certainly not some innovation we bring: a sincerity of heart or a decision of mind. Jesus is in that water. His death is there (Romans 6:3) to take from us all our sins. His name is there (Acts 2:38) to garb us in His righteousness, to secure to us a clean conscience before God (1 Peter 3:21). That is really “Something,” isn’t it!
Reverend Kyle Madson
Managing Editor, Lutheran Sentinel
Divine Mercy Lutheran Church
Hudson Oaks, TX