Reviewed by Michael Ehret
The Altar and the Door by
"Casting Crowns comes out of the gate on The Altar and the Door with another of those 'smack-the-church-upside-the-head' songs they do so well."
Casting Crowns come out of the gate on The Altar And The Door with another of those “smack-the-church-upside-the-head” songs that they do so well. Previous discs have had similar songs, “If We Are The Body,” from 2003s Casting Crowns and “Does Anybody Hear Her” from Lifesong in 2005.
This time around, Mark Hall and the gang smack the church with the disc’s opening track, “What This World Needs.” And the lyrics are every bit as sharp and convicting as Casting Crowns has ever written:
What this world needs is not another sign-waving super saint that’s better than you / Another ear-pleasing candy man afraid of the truth / Another prophet in an Armani suit / What this world needs is a Savior who will rescue, a Spirit who will lead, a Father who will love them in their time of need.
And then for the church, for Christians who profess to believe in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ:
What this world needs is for us to stop hiding behind our relevance / Blending in so well that people can’t see the difference / And it’s the difference that sets the world free
This is using the scalpel of truth to cut out the cancer of complacency in the church. But Hall is far from done. His earnest, prophetic voice continues through five more amazing songs, back-to-back: “Every Man,” “Slow Fade,” first single “East To West,” “The Word Is Alive,” and the title track.
In this incredible suite of songs, Casting Crowns points out that the world is full of normal, everyday people who are listening, waiting for someone to speak words of hope (“Every Man”). With the children’s rhyme, “be careful little eyes what you see,” Hall addresses the moral failure of fathers in this generation (“Slow Fade”). But God’s forgiveness is an amazing gift, if only it is accepted (“East To West”) because God’s word, as Hall writes in the album notes, is “infallible, inerrant, inspired, and alive” (“The Word Is Alive”).
Because of the brokenness of this world and because of the sinful choices of man, God has provided the way (“The Altar And The Door”).
Musically, this is exactly what you’d expect from Casting Crowns – heartland rock and roll with power ballads mixed in. Listeners don’t come to Casting Crowns for platitudes about the beauty of the Christian life. Although that’s true, too. Hall and company want to have an impact. They want to move the Church to action. Specifically, to action that more closely fulfills Jesus’ call on those who claim His name – to go into all of the world and share the good news and minister to those who are hurting. That’s all the group wants – and it’s everything.
Michael Ehret is a music maven who has written about music, secular and Christian, as a reporter for The Indianapolis Star newspaper, several Internet sites, and even CCM magazine. He is also the editor of the newsletter Afictionado, the e-zine of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), and is testing the waters with his first novel, Beyond December, while working on his second, Skipping July.