Monday, December 20, 2004

Fernando Ortega on baptism/KTIS radio and my faith

One of my favorite singer/songwriters, Fernando Ortega, writes in his online journal about baptism - a timely post for those of us pondering baptism and what it means. He begins, "Yesterday (Dec. 16) was Beethoven's birthday. He was baptized the very next day on Dec. 17th. That's pretty quick by any standards. That's a pretty telling statement right there." If baptism the day after a birth is deemed pretty quick, I think it indicates a view that God is not capable to create faith in the heart of an infant through baptism. Yet Fernando obviously recognizes that it is important to be baptized, "I have been baptized 3 times...Presbyterian... Pentecostal...(and)... Baptist... Whatever the case, I feel very covered in that regard." How is it that he feels covered now? He seems to be implying, in an unstated way, that baptism accomplishes something (covers), yet that covering does not apply to infants and young children.

Still, I think that Fernando Ortega is one of the most gifted writers and musicians of my time. I have 2 or 3 of his CD's. He sings from Baptist theology, as do many of my pre-Lutheran Christian artists. I live in Minnesota and have listened to KTIS my entire adult life. KTIS is operated by Northwestern College, a well-known Baptist college. All their favorite artists seem to be Baptist, so it is not surprising that my exposure to Christian music is from the Baptist tradition. I don't even listen to KTIS anymore for my own sanity, but artists like Fernando Ortega and Sara Groves will always be my favorites.

So great was KTIS' influence in my faith life that I nearly continued straight on Golden Valley Road to Oak Grove Baptist Church rather than turn right onto Douglas Drive to King of Grace Lutheran Church one morning two springs ago when I was really lost without a church home and searching for truth. One of the KTIS morning announcers is a pastor there and often spoke lovingly of his church. However, I knew the Baptist teaching on baptism and I knew I couldn't live with that, so I continued on to King of Grace. One of my first questions to Pastor Ekhoff was "If I become a confessional Lutheran, will I be allowed to listen to KTIS anymore?" Can you picture the utter confusion and conflicting teachings swirling around in my brain and my soul that I would ask such a ridiculou question??? I mean, did I think that spies would be deployed to listen to the new recruits' music choices? I'm sure he paused to stifle his laughter and then he softly said "You would find it on in my house." He did go on to add that it is important to recognize the teachings behind songs, but that there is nothing wrong with enjoying some contmeporary Christian music.

After several months of refusing to listen to CCM, I can now listen to my old favorites. One of my favorite hymns sung by Fernando Ortega is Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silent (click on Albums, Storm and then on the song to hear a 30 second bit). This hymn was recently featured by Twylah at Lutheran in a Tipi blog and mentioned again by John at Confessing Evangelical. Here is a review of my favorite album, Storm, on,

Descended from a distinguished line of New Mexican artisans, Fernando places a high priority on artistic excellence. His God-given talent as a master storyteller, gifted vocalist, and worship leader has earned him two Dove Awards and numerous #1 singles. In Storm, he once again weaves poetic lyrics with heartfelt melodies to create a unique tapestry of reflection, adoration, and praise. Beginning with "Traveler," Fernando takes you on a musical odyssey, sweeping you to the heights of worship on the wings of "Our Great God," and then leading you to the center of your soul with "Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silent." The Celtic overtones of the instrumental "Cristina's Dream" will draw you into a contemplative world, while "This Time Next Year" explores the landscape of family life. His beautiful duet with Amy Grant on "Come Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy" brings past and present together in a contemporary rendition of a timeless hymn. Observing that "sometimes you have to know the storm to really know the light," Fernando offers you illuminating guidance through the tempests of life so you can behold the radiance of God."

I highly recommend the Storm album! He also has a very fun and creative website,


Swansmith said...

I love Fernando Ortego too! Just to set the record straight, Northwestern College isn't a Baptist College. I'm sure they have a lot of influences from Baptists (John Engen being one), but their web page ( "Northwestern is an independent nonprofit enterprise that takes a Biblically Christian ethical and moral position and is theologically conservative in doctrine." And "Northwestern College is a private, non-denominational Christian college." I think evangelicals are often equated with Baptists (I know you don't do this Theresa...;) ) but there are plenty of us out there who are non-Baptists--the Evangelical Free Church and Evangelical Covenant Church, for example. And even the ELS has Evangelical right there in the front of its name. (I know, that's a whole 'nother discussion.....!)

Anyhow, just wanted to put my two cents in. Love reading your blog Theresa--have a very Merry Christmas!

Suzi (an evangelical covenanter who grew up Methodist, graduated from a Baptist college and sends her kids to a WELS school!)

TKls2myhrt said...

Well, it was founded by Billy Graham! Thanks for fact-checking for me, Suzi. I should have done that. Assumptions aren't always correct.

TKls2myhrt said...

John Engen is the pastor I nearly went to that spring instead of Pastor Ekhoff.

Chris Jones said...

"Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence" is certainly not a Baptist hymn, whatever Mr Ortega's denominational affiliation may be. It comes from the Liturgy of St James of Jerusalem, and dates from the 4th century (if not earlier). It is sung in the liturgy while the priest and acolytes enter the altar with the bread and wine to be consecrated.

Some Protestants alter the words of the hymn because it teaches the Real Presence. I wonder if Ortega's version includes these words:

Lord of Lords in human vesture
In the body and the blood
He will give to all the faithful
His own self for heavenly food