I always attended churches with a fair number of old people in them, and we sang a lot of old hymns. Which means I am old enough to remember a hymn titled, Are Ye Able, Says the Master. For some reason I was humming the tune today (which is also old), and began thinking how weird this hymn is. It has Christ asking us the same question He asked James and John in Mark 10. Okay....except His question was in reply to a self-serving, position-craving request they made. Their claim that they were indeed "able" to be baptized with His baptism was a mixture of ignorance and hubris. I don't think they even knew what He was talking about (Christ was using a metaphor for His impending martyrdom). And their claim that they were indeed able wasn't faith, or "godly ambition for the Lord", as the hymn implies. It was absurd boasting They were sinning when they asked Him for the top two positions in His kingdom! The hymn chorus then goes on to ask God to make us divine like Jesus is divine! I can't even figure out where the hymn-writer was coming from, the ideas are so confused and wrong-headed. Definitely not one of the good old hymns.
Jack is the teaching elder of Ironworks Pike Community Church. He is a graduate of Columbia Biblical Seminary http://www.ciu.edu.