I’m Not Feeling It, TobyMac

The other day I was listening to the radio and a song by TobyMac (Toby McKeehan) started playing. Since I had nothing better to do as I was driving, I listened.

I was disappointed.

Folks, if you will remember what I wrote in a previous post, I’m not anti-contemporary music…I’m just anti-bad theology. New songs, even those with styles I can’t stand, are fine with me as long as they convey biblical theology, edify the Christian, and bring glory to the name of Jesus Christ. Really, that leaves the Christian music artist with a lot of room to  create.

But it seems to me that Toby Mac really missed the mark with this song. In “Feel It” (released in 2015) TobyMac seems to want to appeal to the modern, post-Christian, millennial culture by basing the whole argument for God’s existence on his personal, subjective feelings.

The chorus of “Feel It” reads:

“Feel It”


Oh I feel it in my heart
I feel it in my soul
That’s how I know (oh oh oh ohah)
You take our brokeness
And make us beautiful
Yeah, that’s how I know
That’s how I know (You can’t take that from me)

I’m sorry, brother, but your argument is weak, to say the least.

Contrast the above with the first verse and chorus from another song, “Never Alone” by Barlow Girl:

“Never Alone”

I waited for you today
But you didn’t show
No no no
I needed You today
So where did You go?
You told me to call
Said You’d be there
And though I haven’t seen You
Are You still there?[Chorus:]
I cried out with no reply
And I can’t feel You by my side
So I’ll hold tight to what I know
You’re here and I”m never alone

Do you see the difference? The first finds comfort and reassurance in “feeling,” but the second finds faith secure in “knowing.” There is a difference.

These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” – 1 John 5:13

“Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” – John 17:17

“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” – John 8:32

Notice that last verse? What did Jesus say? Did He say, “You shall have a feeling, and the feeling shall set you free”? Don’t think so.

Feelings fluctuate. Feelings lie.

In the tagline of “Feel It” TobyMac repeats,

Everybody talkin’ like they need some proof
But what more do I need than to feel you?

I’ll tell you (and I bet you already know), Toby, you need the Truth, God’s promises, His Word that never changes…

’cause feelings sure do.


Filed under Apologetics, Faith, music

13 responses to “I’m Not Feeling It, TobyMac

  1. roy cavender


    Sent from my iPhone


  2. I hear you. I struggle to explain these things and it’s hard because our language is so limited. In the modern world we have also idolized feelings above all else, so that throws an extra wrench in things. The problem is we can also get into our heads too much,so than we begin to reject feelings as a bad thing. So feelings can be in the sense of, “can you feel me now?” In His presence, sensing His realness. Without that our faith becomes dry, flat,two dimensional.

    • In reality, faith in Christ should not be void of feelings, for how can one experience joy unspeakable and full of glory without praise? How can one truly give praise with thanksgiving without emotion? How can one deny the thrill if experiencing the Spirit’s still, small voice when it’s obvious? But we can’t explain those feelings without foundation; there’s no context, otherwise. That’s why I feel the song, although true, is lacking.

      • But if we concede that feelings are an important part of relationship with God then I don’t think we can simply dismiss the song if it does minister to someone. I don’t think a song needs to contain the whole truth to be valuable, I’m not sure anything could. I’m reminded of Chesterton who said he came to preach comfort to the afflicted and affliction to the comforted- maybe some of these songs minister to people who need it at that time. Now, I’m more drawn to songs like the one you described by Barlow Girls or Tenth Avenue North’s song Worn. But it’s not a black and white issue in my book.

      • Oh, I have no problem with “feelings are an important part” of our relationship with God. And, yes, I’m sure this song has and will minister to people. My main point, however, was that Toby equates his feelings with proof of God’s existence, the implied audience of the song being an unbeliever. If it was written simply to Christians then I wouldn’t have as much of a concern. Does that make sense? Just my thoughts.

      • Hmmm…that is a different spin than what I responded to. I do believe that faith is not based upon emotion. I’m not sure I’m ready to have his song pulled from the shelves 🙂 But I think we may be on the same page.

  3. Well said. I’m not willing to die for a feeling. I’m certainly not willing to figuratively die to myself and live for Him if it’s all based on “because it feels good, you know?”

    Because some days it doesn’t feel good. But that’s when I look back over what I know, and those “altars” along the way where I can say “God met me there.” And then I can press on in the “momentary light afflictions” and struggle of today knowing that there’s a far greater weight of eternal glory prepared.
    And knowing that feels pretty good. Yeah yeah uhh la-la-la-la-la 😀

  4. Ken in Baltimore

    Thanks for the article. The song “Feel It” ministers to me. The order is a) word, b) faith, c) feelings. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. Our healthy feelings follow our faith as the Spirit of God produces fruit in our lives. There are times when I am listening to a preacher or engaged in personal study when I get a strong witness in my heart from the Spirit that YES! IT’S TRUE! and that moment is a “feeling”. The lyrics in the song clarify…”Well, you can’t see the wind, but it moves the leaves…From the bottom to the top of the tallest trees…” The Spirit is like the wind and the leaves that blow and “feel” the wind are like the witness in my heart when I hear a Truth. This amazing dynamic adds and even multiplies volume to my “mustard seed” of faith. Faith comes before my feelings and the song does not say otherwise.

  5. roguemillennials

    Thanks for sharing. Honestly, it’s an important distinction found throughout Scripture. We are called to know God and His will, and to let that knowing determine our actions, and our actions can define our feelings – instead of feeling our way into actions or knowledge, which can be dangerous to say the least!

  6. Zachary Williams

    This is seriously overreaching. There’s nothing wrong with “feeling” God’s presence in your life. He never said that’s the “only” way he knows or that he only trust god if he can feel him. Toby’s music is positive and inspiring and glorifies God.

    • Thanks for stopping by, and thanks for the comment.

      No, he never said that “feeling” was the only way. I get that. However, taking the song as a stand-alone statement of faith, what DOES it say? Sure, we could say that, because we know Toby, the lyrics of this song represent only one of many ontological truths to which he subscribes. But to someone just picking up this song, no other knowledge of Toby Mac and his beliefs, it teaches nothing but subjective, post-modern theology.

      Look, I’m glad that Toby Mac can feel God’s presence. Unfortunately, to borrow from an old Debbie Boone song, too many modern Christian song writers focus more on “Feelings, nothing more than feelings,” rather than the unchanging foundations of objective truth.

      I’m more of a “Jesus Freak” (DC Talk) fan.

      Maybe my underreaches in other places will offset the overreaching here 😉

      Blessing to you, my friend.

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