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Explanation of my comments about Reformed rap on the NCFIC panel

ncfic

NCFIC Worship of God Conference

A firestorm erupted online last week after video of a panel discussion in which I participated at the NCFIC “Worship of God” conference went viral, and defenders of Christian rap responded with hurt and outrage.

There are some plans in the works to address this issue at more depth in the near future (and you can read my series on Christian rap here), including a public discussion with Shai Linne, so I don’t intend to deal with this at any length right now. But since this was only a short video of a very short segment in a discussion panel, I would like to offer some fuller explanation of my comments on the panel in particular.

I’d like to make a few preliminary comments about the panel first, however, and then I’ll elaborate on the point I made:

1. I cannot speak on behalf of any of the other panelists; I can only speak for myself. I was invited to participate on this panel by the director of NCFIC, as were all of the panelists. None of us are members of any single organization or movement; in fact, I had not met any of the other panelists until that day, and I had heard of only one of them. All that to say, each of our answers is our own and reflects no unified voice. I didn’t agree with many things that the other panelists said, and I certainly repudiate the calling of names or judging of motives.

2. Part of the problem with this video is that (a) it is a panel discussion, and so by nature it is a “sound bite” format where not much in-depth conversation can take place; you have to remember that this is at the end of a 3-day conference, so the panelists’ comments are built off of their own sessions where they explained themselves more fully, and the audience was listening in that context. And (b), this is just one short discussion in the context of a much longer Q&A session, so more full explanation of certain presuppositions occurred both before and after this particular question. I hope NCFIC will post the whole panel at some point.

3. I’m not on a vendetta against rap to the exclusion of other forms of music. In fact, I equally condemn for use in expressing God’s truth some forms of music from within my own background and sub-culture. But I do think that the rap debate provides good context for discussing what I believe are some important foundational presuppositions about the nature of music, worship, culture, evangelism, and the communication of God’s holy truth, and so I welcome the debate.

4. Even though I do not believe that rap is the best way to communicate God’s holy truth, I am thankful for the noble desire of Christian rappers to spread the gospel to as many people as possible, and I praise the Lord for the many people who have come to Christ and been biblically challenged through Christian rap.

5. Finally, I fully understand that most readers will not agree with what I say below; my point is not to persuade with this post, it is simply to clarify my short comments on the panel. And I fully understand that if you like Christian rap, you will probably be offended by my comments. However, I would urge you to actually engage the arguments rather than calling me names or insisting that I don’t have any right to believe what I do. Please respectfully critique my arguments.

With that said, since panel discussions preclude thorough explanation, here is a fuller elaboration of the point I made in the panel.

The Bible must be our supreme authority in all we do, especially in the worship of God (2 Tim 3:16-17). Scripture governs not only what we say (our doctrine), but also how we say it (our form). If we truly believe in the verbal, plenary inspiration of Scripture, then we must believe that God inspired not just the ideas of Scripture, and not even just the words of Scripture, but also the forms with which those ideas are presented.

Now, I think most Christians would agree that the exact words Scripture uses to present doctrine is not the only way to articulate that doctrine. In other words, we can translate the original languages of Scripture, rephrase certain ideas, and formulate theological systems that help to communicate biblical truth to our present culture. However, conservative Christians also believe that since the Bible is inerrant, and since it is our supreme authority, Scripture itself places limits on contemporary articulations of doctrine. In other words, some contemporary attempts to “modernize” theology go beyond the limits of legitimate “contextualization” because they are not faithful to the original.

The same is true for how the Bible presents truth. The Bible presents truth, not in abstract propositions, but through literary forms like certain kinds of poetry, narrative, parable, and apocalypse and through the use of literary devices like metaphor, simile, parallelism, analogy, and typology. Each of these literary forms and devices shapes the “feel” of its propositional content. Yet, like with what Scripture says, those aesthetic presentations of truth are not the only way truth may be presented. We have freedom to “contextualize” the way in which biblical truth is expressed. We can translate those aesthetic forms into those more familiar to our context, use literary forms from our culture, and update the language and metaphorical devices. In other words, there is much room for variety in forms depending on time, culture, and context. However, since we believe that the Bible is inerrant, and since it is our supreme authority, by its own examples, Scripture itself places limits on contemporary aesthetic presentations of doctrine. In other words, some contemporary attempts to “modernize” aesthetic forms go beyond the limits of legitimate contextualization because they are not faithful to the original.

One New Testament example of limits on how the gospel is presented is what Paul says in 1 Corinthians:

And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. (1 Cor. 2:1–5)

Here Paul discusses the means of communication he used to share the gospel with the Corinthians, and it presents some important principles about gospel proclamation. First, Paul is clear that regardless of noble motives and even sound propositional content, there are some methods of communication that are unworthy of the gospel. He specifically cites “lofty speech” as an example of one method that he may have been tempted to use, but did not. Second, this method of communication in particular—artful oratory—was a central part of Greek culture. The Corinthians would have resonated with that particular kind of communication, and Paul would have likely gained interest had he used it. Third, the specific reason Paul refrained from using this method was that it would have inherently drawn attention away from Christ and to his own skills instead. In other words, Paul understood that media of communication shape their content in certain ways, and he discerned that the medium called “lofty speech” would have shaped the gospel in ways contrary to the message itself.

This is where I personally find the aesthetic forms loosely grouped together in the genre called “rap.” I readily acknowledge that what much of the Christian rap I have heard says is a faithful articulation of what Scripture says. In fact, I would go so far as to say that what much of Christian rap says is more faithful to Scripture and more doctrinally rich than many of the songs from my own cultural heritage.

However, I would argue that how most Christian rap communicates that doctrine is not faithful to how Scripture expresses truth.

The Christian rap artists I’ve heard and read readily admit that the cultural milieu out of which rap was born is un-Christian. It is a culture of denigration, violence, rage, and self-aggrandizement. The aesthetic forms of rap emerged out of that value system as a natural medium to communicate these sentiments. In other words, that way of expressing ideas was faithful to its content.

So the Christian artists acknowledge this background, and while I completely agree with them that the sinful origin of something doesn’t necessarily render it sinful, I would still insist that such origins should at least cause us to ask whether or not the form came out of that culture because it was a natural expression of that culture’s sinful values.

I would argue that this is the case with rap. The form itself is edgy and denigrating in a way that I believe is inconsistent with the gospel and biblical truth when compared with how Scripture presents truth. I can find no example in Scripture of the good news of Jesus Christ being presented with the same kind of visceral intensity.

Furthermore, it is instructive that when disturbed, debase people want to express rage, hatred, and violence, they are drawn to this form of music. Why is it that certain other cultural expressions or musical forms that have traditionally been used by Christians to communicate truth do not have the same kind of magnetism for these values? While it is certainly true that “classical” and folk forms (forms used in traditional hymnody) have been used in some circumstances to express debase ideas, those forms are not characterized as particularly fit to express those ideas.

The only defense Christian rappers present in response to these observations is that they are “redeeming” the art form. I would certainly agree that these men are redeeming the lyrics and lifestyles. From what I can tell, men like Shai Linne and Curtis Allen are godly men, and as I’ve already noted, their lyrics are certainly considerably better than secular rap and even some Christian songs.

But if a form of music that is inherently denigrating is redeemed, it becomes something different. Simply changing the lyrics, as much of an improvement as that is, is not the kind of change characteristic of “new creatures” (2 Cor 5:17).

Let me illustrate it this way: Suppose that before I became a Christian, I was verbally abusive to my wife. That verbal abuse had two components. First, I yelled at her with a harsh voice, angry facial expression, and wild gestures. Second, what I yelled at her was profane and denigrating.

When I became a Christian, I decided that I needed to redeem the way I treated my wife. So, instead of saying profane, denigrating things to her, I began to tell my wife how beautiful she is and how much I love her. However, I continued to express these comments to her by yelling them to her with a harsh voice, angry facial expression, and wild gestures. Have I really redeemed the way I treat my wife?

This point of my comments on panel is this: I love the gospel, and I desire that the gospel be communicated to as many people as possible. But I also care how the gospel is communicated, because our manner of communication affects how the gospel is perceived. Christ can be magnified in how we present the gospel, or Christ can be demeaned through our presentation. It is not enough to say the right thing, we must say the right things in the right way. And we can discern whether the gospel is being presented appropriately by both comparing our presentation to how the gospel is expressed in Scripture and by evaluating our medium of communication carefully and critically to determine how it shapes our message.

With any art form, especially those used to communicate the truth of God’s Word, I want to ask, does this sound like the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22)–love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control? Does it sound like compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience (Col 3:12)? Does it sound like manner of life worthy of the gospel of Christ (Phil 1:27)? Does it sound like behavior that accords sound doctrine (Titus 2:1)–sober-mindedness, dignity, integrity, and self-control? Does it sound like speaking the truth in love (Eph 4:15)?

In my opinion, the medium of rap does not meet these criteria. I am thankful that the gospel is being presented, but I am fearful that Christ is demeaned by the manner of presentation.

Now, there are many other issues involved in this discussion that need to be addressed, including the relationship between culture and race (they are not the same thing), further explanation of how music communicates and shapes a message, the nature of biblical authority in these kinds of discussions, and more. My point in this post was simply to clarify my short comments on the panel, but each of these issues needs explanation as well. I hope to do that in the days and weeks ahead, but for now, you can click on the links above or search on this site for discussion on these matters.

I look forward to further healthy discussion between Christian brothers.

Scott Aniol

About Scott Aniol

Scott Aniol is the founder and Executive Director of Religious Affections Ministries. He is on faculty at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he teaches courses in worship, hymnology, aesthetics, culture, and philosophy. He has written two books, dozens of articles, and speaks around the country in churches and conferences. He is an elder in his church in Fort Worth, TX where he resides with his wife and two children.

72 Responses to Explanation of my comments about Reformed rap on the NCFIC panel

  1. Brian Dembowczyk says:

    (I tried to post this on the other blog post, but don’t think it worked. If it did, my apologies for the repeat.)

    Scott, I don’t know you and weren’t even familiar with you until I saw the video of the panel, so let me first clarify that I write this post as a fellow Southern Baptist and a friend, not a foe. My intention is not to attack you, but to encourage you to follow in the footsteps of other leading kingdom voices such as your seminary’s President, Paige Patterson, and simply denounce the rhetoric of that panel without qualification.

    I’d like to pose two questions followed by two statements in response to your earlier post on the other blog and this blog.

    First the questions (and know these are sincere):

    1. You stated that redemption always brings change. What would redeemed hip hop look like for it to pass this test? Clearly, the lyrics aren’t enough of a change, so what else must be changed, how will we know when enough has been changed, and who determines the appropriate change?

    2. What have you done to redeem the internet and video media that you use? We all know that these media are closely associated with sinful activity so the same test you offer for hip hop is relevant. How have you changed your website to reflect sufficient change to defend redemption?

    Now the statements:

    1. In your earlier post and this blog, you excuse your failure to address the slanderous rhetoric of other panelists by stating that you were simply an invited panelist. I don’t believe that is an adequate defense, in fact, it actually holds you to greater culpability. You were an invited panelist. Let me say that another way: you were asked to be part of a group discussion and speak your mind. Scott, you had an open invitation to say what you felt needed to be said as a panelist. So while you are not responsible for what others said, you are indeed responsible for what you did not say.

    You should have immediately interjected your concern that Christ’s church was being wrongfully slandered and called for the other panelists to either clarify their statements or repent of them. You should have cared enough about the audience listening to protect them and do what you could to prevent them from walking out of that meeting believing that brothers in Christ who perform hip hop are cowards. You should have defended your brothers in Christ whom, by your own admission in the post I reference, are honorable men.

    I would encourage you to simply apologize for your silence at the time.

    2. In suggesting that everyone should try to understand the perspective of the panelists, you offered a seriously flawed point of comparison involving Shai Linne’s Fal$e Teacher$. In that song, Linne addresses the false teachings of 12 men and women. This is a contention that can be supported by analyzing their heretical teachings, which are public record, and contrasting them with Scripture. They clearly fail the test and preach a false gospel, thus deserving a strong public rebuke.

    The panel did not attack the doctrine of the hip hop artists, but their style. Had Shai Linne recorded a song calling John Piper a coward for being too emotional when he preaches or calling Matt Chandler a coward for saying, “ok” too much when he teaches, then the comparison would hold. As such, it is a flawed comparison.

    Scott, I encourage you to retract your attempt to defend the other panelists and am glad you did not repeat it here.

    I’m a married man, and I see that you are. As such, we both understand an important lesson our wives have taught us. When it comes to saying you are sorry, there is no room for a “but.” Ever. It’s sorry period. I suggest that you follow that principle here and simply clarify that the language of that panel was wrong period.

    And leave it at that.

    soli deo gloria
    Brian Dembowczyk

  2. Levi Black says:

    Thank you for boldly speaking the truth. Soli Deo Gloria.

  3. Steven says:

    Scott,

    I appreciate you taking the time to write out your heartfelt belief. I was really hoping you would as I personally knew your position wasn’t racially motivated but was against the majority of what’s popular today. I knew that because I knew the arguments as I was under the leadership of Pastor Mike Harding and Pastor Steve Allen for 10 years, along with you. I know they are passionate about God being properly reverenced in worship and especially in Music and I can tell they have past that desirable concern on to you.

    I believe the error in what you wrote is that you are interpreting (and this is where culture comes in to play) all rap music to be this hateful anger medium. Those of us who listen to rap music on the regular don’t say, “hey, why are they screaming in anger at me?”

    Let me give you an example, my father is from Iraq and my mother is just your normal American white women. When my father would communicate to me and my family it was in English and it was always in a certain volume and tone. However, whenever he would communicate with somebody from his culture, I always thought he was angry and in an argument. I thought that because they spoke in raised voices and a different tone. I would constantly ask my dad what was he fighting about and he kept explaining to me he wasn’t, that is just the way they talked. I was skeptical until I went to more Middle Eastern events with my father and even visit churches conducted in Arabic and saw that it really was normal. So when people in the rap community tell you that we don’t hear this hate/anger you do, we mean it. It’s not just this rap apologetic to get you off our backs. I think Albert Mohler’s piece today on rap music really ties in what I just said really well.

  4. Steven says:

    Please excuse the spelling and grammar errors as I typed that up quickly at work, without going over it. :)

  5. Scott,
    First, let me say well done. For a brief post you articulated your point very well. And while I personally interpret Paul’s statement in 1 Corinthians 2 differently than you, it was helpful to see some of the logic of your perspective. I am sure you will get a lot of resonses as well as your public forum with Shai. Which may or may not be helpful at this point. Simply because youl are not going to convince each other but it may be helpful for those observing.

    When I wrote “Does God Listen To Rap?” I did not have you directly in mind but I would like to hear you at least engage some of my arguments in the book since you’ve read it. I just want to briefly offer two thoughts to what you’ve just posted.

    1. There is a difference between a perspective being an application of scripture and a perspective bring derived directly from scripture. The way you handle the texts in your posts, is primarily an application of scripture. It is not the perspective of scripture. For example, Colossians 3:9 “Do not Lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with it’s practices.” The notion of not lying then is a perspective that is directly scripture, and beyong just mere application. Your usage of Col. 3:12, Phil. 1:27, and Titus 2:1 are not directly scripture. You are applying it in a way that seems right to you. That distinction is a necessary one as you engage in whatever forums should come about. There is a difference and it must be noted.

    2. The biggest problem with your perspective, and actually just about all the ones that came in support of Christian rap as well, is that they fail to answer one huge question. Why is the bible seemingly unclear about this issue of music, and even the arts per se? I’m sure we both agree that the bible is not unclear, so what I mean is why are there no one-to-one proof texts that tell us what music we should listen to, and what movies we should see, and what clothes we should wear etc. Is wearing Nike’s sinful? There is a fundamental reason that scripture does layout for us why there are something’s that are not as obvious as others. And it is the very foundation of the New Covenant in Jesus Christ found In Jeremiah 31, Ezekiel 36, and Hebrews 8. Jeremiah 31:33-34 says “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

    As you know, in this new covenant, God places in us a desire to obey, and the means to do it through his Spirit, in a way that OT Israel did not have. Instead of a strict set of rules, God has given us his Spirit to guide us. So rules don’t necessarily apply. That is why the scriptures are absent definitively on issues like Polity, Eschatology, Infant Baptism vs Believers Baptism etc. These are core doctrines to some people but really they are only applying them as Romans 12:2 states which is to “discern what the will of the Lord is.” Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3:8 “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” The context was obviously conversion but Jesus is also talking about living out that conversion. For whatever reason the Spirit will tell some that an area is not good for them to engage, but will give others the freedom to do so. Act 20-21 proves this significantly.

    In Acts 20:22-23 Paul tells the Ephesian elders that the Spirit has confirmed that he will experience persecution as he goes to Jerusalem. Yet, on his way to Jerusalem in 21:4 the scripture says that the brothers were urging Paul in the Spirit (capital S) not to go to Jerusalem. So what is going on? Is the Spirit contradictory? Of course not, but because of the New Covenant, each man has to discern what the will of the Lord is because he has God’s Spirit in him. That’s one of the main points about the New Covenant. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord.” We don’t have to be told to honor the Lord because his Spirit, in us, guides us, convicts us , disciplines us, etc.

    I said all this to say that there are things you are right about as it pertains to rap based on the measure of faith that God has given you (Romans 12:3). It may very well be that Spirit is leading you not to accept rap as a legitimate art form. But the Spirit will also be speaking to us and giving us a measure of faith that allows us to use this medium in a way that glorifies the Lord. You are not going to change our minds and we are not going to change yours. That point seems clear. But as we move forward, let it be known that we are all, in our perspective on rap music, applying scripture, but ARE NOT directly getting our perspective from scripture. I hope this makes sense and I would still love to hear your critique for my own personal benefit of my just released book, “Does God Listen To Rap?” May the Lord grant us all wisdom in the near and distant future.

    In Christ Alone,
    Curtis Allen aka Voice/Curt Kennedy

  6. Bruce Colgan says:

    Brian…a few responses.

    Your arguments are nonsensical and not parallel. To address point #1, some forms cannot be “redeemed,” for to be redeemed would necessitate their complete change until they no longer resembled what they were before. Some things are sinful and simply cannot be transplanted into Christianity with a simple change of words.

    #2, comparing a website to music is not valid in the way I understand you to be doing. Music is inherently emotional and affects us viscerally. Like it or not, all musical forms are not created equal (and this is not “Eurocentric cultural elitism”). It’s the truth. A website is simply a bunch of code (yes, I know music is “just notes and rhythm”) but it’s how its harnessed that make the difference. If Scott made the website look like a satanist cult website and then put Christian words in it, even you would agree that that is not “redeemed for Christ.”

    Last, please leave off the mindless calls for apologies. Scott believes this with the same feeling that you believe what you do, so repeated haughty calls for a complete surrender of principle to make you happy is pretty detestable. Cut it out and act like a man.

    Bruce

  7. paul says:

    In a dispute within the body of Christ when there is no clear cut Biblical authority, who should compromise? The party whose conscience tells them something is wrong or the party whose conscience tells them it is okay?

  8. Bruce Colgan says:

    Paul:

    …which would mean that the “Christian” rap proponents would compromise, right? :)

    And I’m sure they would disagree that there is “no clear-cut Biblical authority.” The Bible has authority over every aspect of life. If you meant to say, “no clear cut Biblical position” then yes…I would agree. That’s what makes these issues tough. It would help though if the pro-rap side would approach this with a little more grace and understanding and a little less dismissive…dare I say…racism.

  9. Paul says:

    Scott,

    We’ve interacted enough that you’ll know that I disagree with your stance on rap (and your cultural applications more generally). That said, I do not believe you have to apologize for your comments or presence on the panel. You expressed your argument without rancor or personal attacks. The slander offered by at least one of your fellow panel members should not be laid to your account. That said, you do have an obligation to join the chorus denouncing that slander because of the Scriptural injunctions against slander and enjoining us “to show perfect courtesy toward all people” (Titus 3:2).

    There is something in your fuller explanation that I want to push against. I don’t think you’ve done a very good job interpreting the passage from I Corinthians 2. The apostle does indeed root the authenticity of his message in the fact that he avoided lofty Greek rhetoric in his message to the church at Corinth. Paul’s plainspoken, simple speech–”I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified”–was the medium of the Spirit’s work in the Corinthians’ lives. However, you go too far by suggesting that the necessary implication of this passage is that Greek rhetoric permanently belonged on Paul’s list of forbidden mediums of communication.

    First, your conclusion is flawed because Paul’s statement in I Corinthians 2 is not truly an indictment of Greek rhetoric entire. I’m not a scholar of the antiquities, so I can only borrow expertise. As C. Clifton Black put it, “Paul’s characterization of his own preaching in 1 Corinthians 1-4 reflects virtually nothing of his views on rhetoric and ‘should not be interpreted against the specific background of Graeco-Roman rhetorical theory.’” http://bmcr.brynmawr.edu/1997/97.04.04.html This isn’t to suggest that Paul was actually a Greek rhetorician–and the book under review undermines that idea substantially–but it does mean that Paul was not making a blanket condemnation of Greek rhetoric.

    Second, your conclusion is flawed because it goes beyond the text. We are, as you said, bound to the authority of Scripture. What is says, we must say. What it does not say, we must not say. I Corinthians 2 does not offer a blanket condemnation of Greek rhetoric as a medium for communicating the gospel. What it does say is that Paul, when he first approached Corinth, decided to avoid Greek rhetoric in making his appeal. That is a decision rooted in a particular context. Paul does not here speak a universal, he does not write “When I came to you, I did not come with lofty speech or human wisdom because lofty speech cannot ever express the testimony about God.” Yet that is the conclusion that you drew from this passage, seen in your bald statements (“Paul is clear that…there are some methods of communication that are unworthy of the gospel) and use of qualifiers like “inherently.”

    All of that to say, I don’t think you have a very firm exegetical basis for the cultural argument you extrapolate from it.

    Paul

  10. Martin says:

    I don’t see how Scott could rebuke a panel of folks with whom he agrees at least in principle, howbeit not on every detail.He already distanced himself from what one of the panelists said; should the rest not be addressed to the panelists people agree with, rather than Scott? Personally I find it difficult to hold him responsible for what others said on that panel. If anyone, you could hold the organizers responsible but even they only provided a platform for the speakers. Isn’t this a freedom of speech issue? A blank condemnation of the panel, rather than engagement with their statements, would be missing the point of this discussion. It’s more an attempt to shut up opponents than to try and convince them, or at least, present a credible alternative through intelligent engagement. I found the same to be the case in some comments on the original post as well.

    To attempt to answer the comparison to the Internet, I think Brian and others misunderstand what the Internet is: it is not a cultural style but a technological medium to convey information. As such, I would call it neutral. It is a conduct of all that we are talking about: written information, music, and imagery. The latter are what we must compare rap to, not how we received it. So the Internet is to be compared to records, CDs, maybe even Amazon’s distribution system, the telephone or TV. Yet, it is WHAT we receive through these technological conduits that is at stake here. The cultural forms are what must be judged by Christians. Otherwise, we should ask the same about the Bible itself: should the Good Book also be redeemed because it has been abused be some groups, as is clearly the case with the Internet?

  11. Bruce Colgan says:

    Well said Martin. Well said.

  12. […] blog. But I prefer the obscurity of my own blog to the harsh spotlight Scott is now under (see his follow-up comments here). I want readers to know in advance that passed my comments by several mature and respected […]

  13. Christian Markle says:

    Brother Allen,

    Are you saying that true Christians have no need to be taught by other Christians? That we have no need to be told to honor and obey the Lord because if we are truly converted, we will be led by the Spirit to do that without any input by other Christians?

    I may be misunderstanding you, but this would seem to eliminate the need for most of the NT. Why for instance should Paul write a whole book that hinges on the following statement: “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,” (Ephesians 4:1)? Paul appears to assume they have the Spirit (1:13; 2:18), but they still need to be taught the truth (chapters 1-3) and they apparently need to be told to walk worthy of that truth (4:1) in specific ways (chapters 4-6), but not so specific as to be an encyclopedia of every possibly daily activity (i.e. every “bad” word to be avoided is not listed; it must be discerned from the principles given (4:29).

    As I said, I think I may be misunderstanding what you are asserting. Can you clarify?

    For His glory,
    Christian Markle

  14. Jason Bradfield says:

    “The Christian rap artists I’ve heard and read readily admit that the cultural milieu out of which rap was born is un-Christian. It is a culture of denigration, violence, rage, and self-aggrandizement.”

    This is not true of the whole and the Christian rap artists who agree with it do not know their history.

  15. A Lee says:

    I am female, in my 50′s and I’ll admit, I haven’t listened to all Christian rap but I have listened to a good sampling and have listened to a few artists regularly and have noticed this concerning Christian rap and redemption – the forms have changed. Do you hear the overall tone of secular rap? Have you happened upon a place where secular rap was being played? I have. Have you happened upon a radio station or had a car pull up beside you on a spring day when your windows are down? Within mere seconds, the distinction between secular rap and Christian rap is discernible and not just because of the words. The musical form itself is clearly different. I’m not convinced that this argument must be made but I think it can be made.

    The two artists that I have listened to the most – Flame and Shai Linne – have both caused me to stop and contemplate theology and practice. I can’t listen to a Shai Linne set without being moved to the foot of the cross by both the words and music. After 30+ years of studying and teaching God’s Word, and listening to MANY forms of music, I can honestly say, that the only other combination of words and music that have driven me to private worship like those of Shai Linne (and please do not interpret this as exalting the artist) are the words and music of Handel’s Messiah.

    With that said, experience is not the final barometer. The ultimate test is not my experience but God’s Word. However, your idea that the music of Christian rappers is driven by sinful emotions and lofty speech is entirely subjective and cannot be shown scripturally. Let’s not confuse speaking boldly with loftiness. If this is the case, the entire NCFIC panel is disqualified.

    What I write is just a sampling of my disagreement, others have done well in their comments Your writing does help clarify your answer but your conclusion is biased and, in the end, I’ll look forward to your comments on the “disobedient cowards”.

  16. Christian Markle says:

    Mr. Bradfield,

    I wondered about this statement. Although I would not expect Brother Aniol to footnote every statement in a blog post, this one I wish he had. Can you offer any first hand support to your disagreement with the statement?

    Brother Aniol,

    Can you offer any first hand support for your assertion regarding the ready admition of rap artists that “the cultural milieu out of which rap was born is un-Christian”?

    For His glory,
    Christian Markle

  17. Thank you for these clarifications. Your bases for critique are certainly legitimate, and I’m glad you provided the biblical basis for them. I disagree that rap is inherently denigrating, inherently loud, inherently intense. Shai Linne’s album Attributes of God certainly doesn’t reflect this, and still falls within the genre. It seems that you object to the ways in which rap music is delivered, not so much it’s basic form.

    On the point of lofty speech, the Old Testament is filled with this sort of speech (if by lofty you mean eloquence). The New Testament quotes these Scriptures. I don’t think this is what Paul means. Rather, he is saying only that the worth of the gospel message is not found in its delivery, but in its content and its origin. Furthermore, poetry, one of the biblical forms as you state, tends to be lofty. On the flip side, Paul also critiques “wisdom”, particularly the rhetorical dialogues that are heavy in logic and reason. Yet all apologetics relies on this, as seen predominantly in the second and third centuries. Are these also unbiblical? They may not be essential, but I don’t think it means that they are unhelpful.

    Regarding the charge that rap’s culture is unbiblical, 1) all poetry and narrative came out of un-Christian cultures, and 2) the redemption of rap is no different than the redemption of industrialized work. When you were saved, you also came out of a culture and society that were unbiblical (particularly if you came from New England). Such a New England lifestyle, for example, can be redeemed without being discarded. The same with rap. Now I’d agree that some common aspects of rap, such as rap battles, do not effectively showcase the gospel in a proper way, but I could say the same about all competitive activity. Or look at the fact that Christian music is sold and bought on the market. Is God’s truth to be treated as a commodity? Yet this doesn’t invalidate the form of the music, only how it is used.

    Rap is not necessarily aggressive or violent. Not all rap involves yelling. The Good Life by Trip Lee is another album that doesn’t present this picture. There are plenty of songs that don’t give this vibe

  18. Brian Dembowczyk says:

    Bruce,

    1. Unless I missed it elsewhere, Scott did not say that hip hop cannot be redeemed; he said that he cannot see change that would reflect redemption. The implication then is that it can be redeemed, or that statement is unnecessary. If Scott and others believe hip hop is beyond redemption, then my question would be moot. But if that is not the case, then the question is valid.

    2. With that said, to suggest that some aspect of creation is beyond God’s scope and ability for redemption is troubling.

    3. How is a certain rhythm or beat sinful? Surely what it might be associated with may very well be sinful, but to claim that a music style is sinful is rather absurd. So by your logic, had the church first created that music style, it would still be sinful, wouldn’t it? If it’s inherently sinful, you would have to say “yes.” However, if it is not the music style, but what may be associated with the music style, then that re-opens the discussion of the ability to redeem the style, which goes back to point 1 above.

    I believe there is tremendous wisdom of issuing a strong word of caution about using certain tools for evangelism, worship, etc. However, I believe it goes too far to declare that using a certain medium is wrong. And when it is taken further, as in the panel discussion, to slander people and call them cowards for using that medium, then that activity has become wrong.

    4. I am not issuing a mindless call for apologies. First, despite your rhetoric, there is thought behind it. Second, I have responded to what Scott has written in explaining his actions at the panel discussion. I am responding to his assertion that he is free and clear of any culpability and encouraging him toward a particular course of action. He can take that encouragement or not – that is his choice, of course.

    5. Neither am I calling for a complete surrender of principle. Perhaps you didn’t understand. While I disagree with the panel’s position on hip hop, that is not the issue at hand. The issue at hand is the slanderous rhetoric used by some of the panelists. Scott was part of that panel, and if I was in his shoes, I would be proactive in distancing myself from those comments, not his position or principle. Perhaps you didn’t read his initial comment post in the other blog, to which I refer.

    6. As for your ad hominem attack on me being a man, I will let that stand for what it is.

  19. Christian,
    Thank you for asking and not judging my response. No, I do not mean that we do not need other believers to help us. However, I do not believe that we need others believers for EVERY decision and every cultural ramification as the Spirit guides us in certain cultural dynamics that exist. Even though both may be led by the Spirit, it doesn’t mean that they are going to both agree. See my example of Acts 20-21. We do ned each other, but we must all see that we often trying to apply scripture rather than representing it

  20. Nick says:

    Scott,

    As a fellow member of a family integrated church, I appreciate your response and further engagement on this topic. I didn’t agree with the panel, nor do I agree with your stance, but I thought there were far better ways of presenting your point than what was done by the panel. Having said that, I told my wife, and I still stand by saying, that yours was the most thoughtful response of the whole panel.

    I think it would really help if you got the charge of racism out of the way once and for all. I think I know where you are coming from, because I have heard similar arguments before about another music genre I like but many Christians think is evil: Heavy Metal. Now, there are not many metal bands composed of Black folks, let alone “Christian” (put in quotes because perhaps you would disagree with the designation) metal bands composed of blacks. And my assumption is that you would apply the same arguments to heavy metal.

    If so, why don’t you try to frame your comments insisting that they apply just as well to heavy metal as they do to rap, and that as far as you know, heavy metal is mostly a “white” culture genre? Sadly the culture is so infected by politically correctness, I am afraid you are going to have to do that in order for our Black brothers to not be offended. I don’t know if it would be enough, but I hope it is.

    For the record, I am hispanic and I listen to both “Christian” rap and heavy metal, and also to old hymns. My concern here is that no one would paint the family integrated movement, or you, with a racist broad brush. I have no problem with your argument, even if I disagree — I think Christians should allow for your argument. But try to say it in a way that would take the racist card away, so that it would be fruitful.

    God bless,

    Nick

  21. Christian Markle says:

    Brother Kennedy (apparently I mistook Allen as you surname earlier, I apologize),

    I am relieved to see your explanation. Do I understand you now to be saying that we DO need to be told (periodically) to honor the Lord (certainly, honoring the Lord is not a debatable imperative)? Furthermore, is it conceivable that the need to be told to honor the Lord suggests that we will at times not be honoring to the Lord? May I press one step further? Is it possibly that there may be times where we are not honoring the Lord but we are self-deceived to think we are honoring the Lord?

    Your example from Acts 20-21 is not being ignored, I assure you. It is an interesting historical narrative. I, however, am more interested in your explanation of the prophetic passage in Jeremiah 31:33-34 from earlier in your post. This seems to be foundational to much of your post and I was a bit surprised by your take on it. I would appreciate any further thoughts you have to clarify how your explanation of this passage is/is not fleshed out in the NT epistles.

    For His glory,
    Christian Markle

  22. ttpog says:

    Scott, thank you for sharing. I am grateful that you have stood on Biblical principles and held to your stance on this issue of rap. I completely agree that rap is an inappropriate medium for sharing God’s Word. I do not agree with Brian and others on here who demand an apology, repentance and a retraction of your statements. You said nothing that requires such things, and in fact, you stated the truth according to Scripture. Thank-you, be blessed and stand firm!

  23. ttpog says:

    Also, Geoff Botkin attacked no one. He is being accused of slander and a myriad other nonsense. If you were offended by what he said, fine, be offended. But to demand apologies, repentance, and retraction is juvenile. Man-up, deal with the offense and quit whining like the rest of lost America does when they demand apologies from others for things equally as silly.

  24. Brian Dembowczyk says:

    ttpog,
    At no time did I “demand” an apology, repentance, and a retraction from, or by, Scott. Furthermore, what I did encourage him to do does not concern what he said at the panel, but a comment he made on another blog post.

    Regarding the slanderous comments: the definition of slander is speaking untruth about another that brings them harm. Surely calling fellow believers “cowards” would meet that definition. Perhaps you can inform me of how calling other believers “cowards” builds up the body of Christ? And while you are at it, if you could also explain how calling others “juvenile” and telling them to “man-up,” “quit whining,” and for being “silly” for being concerned about the fellow believers being called cowards, etc. is beneficial, I would appreciate that too.

    This is not an issue of hurt feelings and whining. It is an issue of gospel unity. You clearly missed the tenor of my comment to Scott and that is ok. I am more concerned with him understanding it.

  25. ttpog says:

    Brian – Okay, so you are heavily leaning on him to do all of the above. Others are making demands, which is why I said ‘…Brian and others’. ‘You should have immediately interjected your concern that Christ’s church was being wrongfully slandered and called for the other panelists to either clarify their statements or repent of them. You should have cared enough about the audience listening to protect them and do what you could to prevent them from walking out of that meeting believing that brothers in Christ who perform hip hop are cowards. You should have defended your brothers in Christ whom, by your own admission in the post I reference, are honorable men.

    I would encourage you to simply apologize for your silence at the time.’

    ‘Scott, I encourage you to retract your attempt to defend the other panelists and am glad you did not repeat it here. When it comes to saying you are sorry, there is no room for a “but.” Ever. It’s sorry period. I suggest that you follow that principle here and simply clarify that the language of that panel was wrong period.’

    These men on the panel are all entitled to their opinions, even strong ones and even ones that others may disagree with. When people, especially Christians, start crying ‘offense’ and then make unreasonable demands that others repent or else suffer ridicule beyond measure, that is unacceptable and, yes, juvenile. As Christians, we should strive to be un-offendable. God has a new heart for us that cannot be offended, an “unoffendable” heart. Brother, possessing an unoffendable heart is not an option or a luxury; it’s not a little thing.

    Consider: Jesus warns that, as we near the end of the age, a majority of people will be offended to such a degree that they fall away from the faith. Listen carefully to His warning: ‘Then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another, and because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.’

    We may mask our offense by saying we are just looking for or giving advice or counsel, but when we look back, we see we have spoken negatively to far too many people. The real goal was to seek revenge toward the one who offended us. How is such an action not a manifestation of hatred? For an offended soul, cold love, betrayal and hatred go hand-in-hand. The occasions for taking offense are practically endless. Indeed, we are daily given the opportunity to either be offended by something or to possess an unoffendable heart.
    Our brothers and sisters in Christ are not under any obligation to fulfill our desires. If they do fulfill them, it is their free choice, not our demands or heavy leanings, that makes for loving relationships.

    If you and others disagree with what the men on this panel said, fine. However, it is just as much their right to not only disagree with rap, but express that sentiment without the backlash and outlandish demands that their supposed brothers and sisters in Christ are heaping on their heads. That others are opposed to your views is a fact of life and a fact that Christians would do well to learn to appropriately deal with. The world is watching and the hypocrisy they are witnessing is alarming and shameful.

  26. […] one of the panelists Scot Aniol has responded to critics in long form. While he affirms the Christian commitment and good […]

  27. Brian Dembowczyk says:

    ttpog,
    Once again, you misconstrue my point to Scott. I have never said that the panel should not have expressed their opinions. Nor am I offended by their opinions. I don’t even listen to hip hop in any form. What I am addressing is the egregious rhetoric by some of the panelists and Scott’s explanation that it was not his place to say anything about that rhetoric and his previous attempt to defend those same inflammatory statements.

    So this is not a matter of me being thin-skinned and the rest of what you said. Once again (and I don’t know how to be more clear about this), it is about the slanderous rhetoric of certain panel members that surely is not pleasing to Christ.

    Your last statement is indeed true. The world is watching, but I am afraid that a the rhetoric of members of that panel and the silence of the others in response is what is alarming and shameful.

  28. Christian Markle says:

    Mr. Dembowczyk

    If you do no mind my brief interruption, I would like to ask a series of questions. Do you also believe that those on other forums (not this one) which are discussing this video are responsible to confront the accusations of racism that have been leveled at the panelists (assuming they disagree with such charges but agree that the panelists were wrong)? Is it really the responsibility of every conversant to address every issue of disagreement they have with the other conversants?

    For His glory,
    Christian Markle

  29. Rick McLain says:

    Scott Aniol:”The Christian rap artists I’ve heard and read readily admit that the cultural milieu out of which rap was born is un-Christian. It is a culture of denigration, violence, rage, and self-aggrandizement. The aesthetic forms of rap emerged out of that value system as a natural medium to communicate these sentiments. In other words, that way of expressing ideas was faithful to its content.

    So the Christian artists acknowledge this background, and while I completely agree with them that the sinful origin of something doesn’t necessarily render it sinful, I would still insist that such origins should at least cause us to ask whether or not the form came out of that culture because it was a natural expression of that culture’s sinful values.

    I would argue that this is the case with rap. The form itself is edgy and denigrating in a way that I believe is inconsistent with the gospel and biblical truth when compared with how Scripture presents truth. I can find no example in Scripture of the good news of Jesus Christ being presented with the same kind of visceral intensity.”

    Christian Smith, “American Evangelism: Embattled and Thriving” page 100: “Consider Christian history, for example. Clearly, the apostle Paul labored to cast his Jewish-derived kerygmatic message in categories and language his Greco-Roman Hellenistic world could understand and embrace. Was this ‘cognitive contamination,’ or creative adaption? Saint Augustine of Hippo reformulated Christian theology in terms of platonic metaphysics, and altered the Christian view of history in a way to make sense of the crumbling of the Roman Empire with which the Church had brome closely associated. Was that ‘accommodation’ or strategic repositioning?”

    I recommend Soong-Chan Rah’s (a Reformed Korean pastor) book “The Next Evangelicalism” for a perspective on how too often the Church is seen through the lens of Western White culture.

  30. Brian Dembowczyk says:

    Christian,

    First of all, please feel free to call me Brian. Appreciate your two questions.

    1) “Do you also believe that those on other forums (not this one) which are discussing this video are responsible to confront the accusations of racism that have been leveled at the panelists (assuming they disagree with such charges but agree that the panelists were wrong)?”

    That is a fair question. I would say that yes, if someone on a forum was in a conversation and aware of a claim of racism, they ought to challenge that. The problem is that these threads are often rather difficult to navigate with multiple conversations from people going on at once. I assume you are intending to connect that to the panel. If you are, then I would suggest it is not an equal comparison because the panel was one contained group of men speaking to a large audience listening, unlike these threads. That is why I wish someone like Scott had spoken up and challenged the strong rhetoric during that panel so that the audience could have had the opportunity to hear clarification or an opposing view of the character statements about Christian hip hop artists.

    2) “Is it really the responsibility of every conversant to address every issue of disagreement they have with the other conversants?”

    I believe I addressed this above, but to try to be clear, my concern (and many others) was not a point of disagreement concerning the rightness of hip hop (it seems the panel all shared an opinion on that matter), but the use of inflammatory language against fellow believers. I do believe in a public forum such as the panel, it is each panelist’s responsibility to speak up when the character of other believers is impugned. We are the body of Christ. We are described as a family in Scripture. Would you be able to sit there quietly if another panelists called your spouse, sibling, parent, etc. a coward in front of a large group of people? I hope you wouldn’t, as I hope I wouldn’t. It troubled me to see the panelists and moderator say nothing in response. (And from a practical level, if I were Scott or another panelist, I would want to speak up and distance myself from those comments lest I be wrongly assumed to share them. That is a potential assumption because the panelists all seemed to share the same view on hip hop and basically spoke in unanimity.)

    As I have written to Scott, I do not fault him at all for what he said in the panel discussion (although I do not agree with him). My concern is based on a comment Scott posted on another blog post where he stated he had no responsibility to speak up for brothers in Christ whom he admits are honorable and his attempt to justify (in a way) the harsh rhetoric used that day by others. That is why I posted originally my encouragement to him.

  31. MomT says:

    Scott – I am concerned with your “lofty speech” and circular reasoning. You quoted this verse in 1 Corinthians that has nothing to do with musical styles, instruments or worship. If anything, it has to do with preaching and teaching styles. (Which there are a myriad of by the way.) We are in dangerous waters, indeed, when we take verses out of context to reinforce our opinions. It always baffles me when this subject is discussed how people avoid the verses in the OT and NT that are actually about music and/or worship. Do you really believe that if God wanted us to avoid using any music that remotely resembled a pagan style of music in our worship to Him that he would have left that out of the very specific directions He gave His people in the Levitical Law?

    Also – if you read the verses prior to this (1 Cor. 1:26-29) It would seem to teach that God would delight in choosing rap (the foolish, weak, debase and despised art form you claim it to be) and redeem it to shame the “wise and strong.”

    I would also like to know which culture has been christian? Which culture has been godly enough to set the standard for acceptable styles of music? What about Celtic music? It is beautiful, but not a godly culture. What about Irish? Classical style – it was used to create operas. Mozart was an ungodly heathen.

    So then many try to use the argument – well it reminds me of my sinful past. That is a personal issue to wrestle with. It may not remind others of their past. I am reminded of playing a game with one family and we stated at the start of the game that if a word was inappropriate we would just skip it and go to the next word. One man skipped a word on his turn and after he skipped it he said “Well, that word was not inappropriate, but it reminded me of a joke I used to know that was inappropriate.” Another player laughed and looked at him and said “Yeah, the word is not inappropriate. YOU’RE inappropriate!” Just because one brother may have a problem with gluttony does not give him the right to say it is a sin for another to eat at an all-you-can-eat buffet.

  32. ttpog says:

    Brian – well you are mistaken. You stated: ‘I am afraid that a the rhetoric of members of that panel and the silence of the others in response is what is alarming and shameful.’ No, the bickering which was started by all of those demanding and ‘encouraging’ apologies and repentance is what the unsaved world is seeing. Instead of overlooking an offense, carnal Christian brothers and sisters are up in arms demonstrating the most uncharitable attitudes towards fellow believers in a very public forum. Shame indeed.

    What you interpret as ‘rhetoric’ and ‘silence’ is simply your opinion. Scott chose to remain ‘silent’, as you put it, and that is his choice to make, not yours. Moreover, for you and others to castigate him for that decision is wrong and supercilious. Who do you think you are to interject yourself on an issue that you claim to not be offended by? Not only interject, but strongly ‘encourage’ and heavily lean on this man in order to satisfy your desires, or else be ‘deserving [of] a strong public rebuke.’ What gives you the right to dictate to these men how they should have handled a conversation that did not include you? You obviously have an ax to grind with some or all of those on the panel. This statement you made: ‘…analyzing their heretical teachings, which are public record, and contrasting them with Scripture. They clearly fail the test and preach a false gospel, thus deserving a strong public rebuke.’, proves that you have a dog in this fight, so to speak. You don’t like some or all of these men, so you are taking offense. I have found nothing heretical about their teachings. I agree with them as do many people. You don’t agree with them. Fine, don’t agree, but quit publicly attacking your brothers in Christ simply because they have opposing views.

    Christian Markle brings up two very good points. I will quote Christian: ‘Do you also believe that those on other forums (not this one) which are discussing this video are responsible to confront the accusations of racism that have been leveled at the panelists (assuming they disagree with such charges but agree that the panelists were wrong)? Is it really the responsibility of every conversant to address every issue of disagreement they have with the other conversants?’ I don’t believe there is a racist bone in any one of those men on that panel. I have no reason to believe such a thing, nor does anyone else. To inject ‘racism’ on top of the other senseless accusations is completely inappropriate and very unethical, unprincipled and dishonest, yet I don’t see you strongly leaning on and ‘encouraging’ these baseless attackers to cease and denounce their rhetoric, and to retract their absurd accusations. All I have heard from you on this is……’silence’! The irony is completely lost on those who refuse to show Christian charity to their fellow brethren, and the cause of Christ receives yet another black eye.

  33. Doug Merrill says:

    Can someone please provide a Biblical basis for and help me understand the concept of redeeming culture, music, etc?

  34. Doug, I cannot provide specific scripture that speaks of redeeming culture or music or architecture or anything like that. But, three things I can do:

    1) On principle, these as a basis:

    “For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.” (1 Timothy 4:4, 5 ESV)

    “I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean.” (Romans 14:14 ESV)

    Everything includes sounds, so even sounds are good, and made holy by the word of God, prayer, and thanskgiving.

    Just as food is not unclean just because it was prepared in a blasphemous setting, so too is sound.

    2) By extended application:

    “For neither circumcision counts for anything nor uncircumcision, but keeping the commandments of God.” (1 Corinthians 7:19 ESV)

    When Paul went to the Greeks with the the gospel, he went to a culture that by all accounts was thoroughly saturated with idolatry and immorality. Even its loftier ideals (its appeals to wisdom and justice) were marred by pride and godlessness. Yet, Paul never converted them to Judaism. The existence of Gentile Christians is a strong indicator that culture can be redeemed. How so? Do you believe that people can be redeemed? Do you believe that Gentiles can be saved apart from the Law, and without needing to be circumcised? If so, you believe that culture can be redeemed.

    3) By historical example:

    The case of Greek Christians above is one, but consider the use of apologetics and the appropriation of Greek metaphysical terms to explain the Trinity, terms that survive in our creeds. These things were borne out of a culture that was steeped in polytheism and entirely man-centered. Yet Greek culture has a lasting influence on orthodox Christianity. That you subscribe to such creeds indicates that you too believe that culture can be redeemed, and that cultural products can be separated from the mentality and intent of the original culture.

    Furthermore, that you (I assume) regard poetry, narrative, melody, musical instruments, hunting, human government, hierarchy, towers, altars and taxes to be good means that you believe that culture can be redeemed. At least towers, altars, and centralized human government were all conceived in the minds of rebellious, idolatrous, power-seeking men. That you use them today is evidence that the intentions for which things are made do not disqualify their positive use.

  35. Chris Ames says:

    Didn’t Aaron have the right to redeem golden calves?

  36. Brian Dembowczyk says:

    ttpog,

    I would encourage you to read back through these comments and determine from where the “bickering” is coming, but I am afraid I would be further accused of strong arming others. I have strived to maintain civility and a respectful, Christ-honoring discourse in my comments. I have given my full name for complete accountability for what I write. (And your name is?) Yet, I have received several ad hominem attacks and rather uncharitable accusations of being carnal, immature, and arrogant.

    But the irony continues.

    If I could summarize your position: it is wrong for someone to interject himself to address a member of the panel because that is being “offendable” and we should be “unoffendable” and not so thin-skinned, yet it is permissible (apparently) to interject oneself to address someone else because you are offended by their encouragement to the panelist. Do I have that right?

    Once again, you need to read with greater care. You have misquoted me. I did not write those statements about the panelists. Please, do not misrepresent what I have written. You are wrong. I have no bone to pick with the panelists.

    As I shared with Christian (which apparently you did not read or ignored), to compare comment boards like this one with multiple conversations crossing over each other at once with the panel does not hold. Where are these accusations of racism in this comment thread? I must have missed them. However, to abate your offense, I will sincerely encourage anyone who has made those statements to retract them. There is no place for them, just as there is no place for calling other believers cowards, immature, carnal, and arrogant.

  37. Doug Merrill says:

    Thanks, Kenton for the response. I’m still struggling with the issue. Here’s why:

    1) Numerous times in the NT epistles we’re told that to exercise discernment and judgment to determine what things are pleasing/acceptable to God. Clearly, there are elements within a culture that deserve examination and subsequent rejection by the Christian – something the writer of Hebrews recognized as a clear opportunity for growth in his readers.

    2) This is a stretch. Clearly, people can be redeemed. But, people do not = culture and Biblically, the only “thing” I see the Christian redeeming is the time (Eph 4). The existence of Gentile believers is that God’s plan – the mystery, that is the local church – is the establishment of a new culture where Jew and Gentile are one, there is neither bond nor free, male nor female. Are there elements of culture that can be used? Certainly – as long as they align with Biblical commands, priniciples, narratives, etc.

    3) I refer back to #2 here. There are going to be elements of culture that are going to align with objective standards of holiness, purity and beauty (Phil 4:8) because humanity was created in the image of God. However, because of the depravity of man, there are going to be elements of culture that will need to be rejected. My understanding is that Paul’s prayer for several of the churches was that they would be able to identify those things that they should latch onto and reject those things that don’t align with Biblical commands and principles. The onus is on the believer to choose wisely.

    I appreciate your response, but I remain unconvinced. Can anyone else Biblically explain the concept of redeeming culture?

  38. Curtis Sheidler says:

    Scott,

    What’s frustrating for me in this discussion is that so far you don’t seem to really grasp what’s required of you to demonstrate that rap is an inherently sinful musical genre. It’s insufficient and intellectually irresponsible to assert that because rap emerges from a cultural milieu of self-aggrandizement, misogyny, and rebellion, it is therefore intrinsically sinful and therefore unsuitable to the proclamation of sound Christian doctrine. That’s nothing more than the genetic fallacy.

    In order to demonstrate how rap as a musical genre is inherently sinful or antithetical to a Christian worldview, you’d have to show how Scripture proscribes certain types of melody, rhythm, tempo, or instrumental usage. You’d have to interact at length with rap music from a global perspective and show how its particular tempo, for example, makes it automatically more sinful than say, an aria or an operatta. You’d have to show how Scripture would permit poetry-as-such but then condemn poetry once it’s set to a particular beat.

    See: this is the real problem with everything you’re saying–you don’t seem to recognize either the appropriate requirements of the argument you’ve set forth, or the fact that the argument you’re is intrinsically legalistic.

  39. Martin says:

    Chris, am I misunderstanding or do you misunderstand the golden calf incident? Aaron used the gold the Israelites received from the Egyptians to cast a calf which they worshiped as god. He did not redeem anything but committed a grave sin – idolatry. When Moses came down from the mountain, he burned the calf – nothing was redeemed here either. The Israelites were told NOT to worship God as other peoples worshipped theirs (Deu 12.30), i.e. another clear example against cultural redemption.

    In answer to Kenton, that Paul did not tell the Greeks to get circumcised is not the same as accepting their culture: it is a recognition that many outward things which were part of the Israelite culture were no longer necessary since they had pointed to Christ, and there were no conditions to be saved apart from repentance and faith in Christ. There is no hint here that Paul incorporated any Greek cultural elements into the church. Many today are actually criticizing scholastic theology for accepting so many Greek concepts.

    Of course we CAN use some cultural elements that are not from cultures with a Christian background as long as these are compatible with the Christian worldview, and art forms compatible with its message. But these are then not redeemed because they are ALREADY fit for Christian use.

    I would submit another passage of Scripture for consideration, which is 1.Pet 4:3-4,

    “For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties and abominable idolatries. In all this, they are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excesses of dissipation, and they malign you”

    Combined with Romans 12:1-2 and Eph 4:22, what does this mean to you? Is there a call to change and abandonment of cultural forms included here, rather than their redemption?

  40. Scott Aniol Scott Aniol says:

    Thank you to all who contributed to this discussion. FYI, I have responded to several comments today in this post: http://wp.me/pWPw7-2rp

  41. I think where Bro. Ames was headed was that Aaron did not obey God on the matter but attempts to syncretize pagan and YHWH worship: “Exodus 32:5 Now when Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow shall be a feast to the LORD.” Aaron draws upon the covenant name of God in doing so, having overseen the making of the image, building an altar and then declaring a YHWH festival. This does seem like an attempt to redeem the calf (BTW he was in grave error for having done so.)

  42. Jon M says:

    For the Record. Please clarify what makes something reformed? and is there such thing as a Christian Artist (oxymoron). Lecrae put it very simply and was very clear, he is not a gospel or reformed rapper artist, but a Hip Hop Artist that can sing about anything he believes, be it Christ or other things. He admits he makes music for the world.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yG6mTe29vCg In this interview he makes it clear.

  43. Zach Childress says:

    I dont know if anyone read Dr. Al Mohlers response to this issue, but I decided to post it here so that it can be interacted with. I personally thought it was brilliant

    “Over the past few days the evangelical community has been talking about the kinds of things you would expect — the meaning of Thanksgiving, the turn to the Christmas season, the fact that some stores were opening on Thanksgiving Day and the various issues of the season. And then came rap. Out of the blue, when least expected, the topic changed to rap and the Gospel. Over the last few days a great deal has been written and said, sparked by a panel discussion at an evangelical conference in which rap music was dismissed as unworthy of evangelicals and of the Gospel.

    I recognize the arguments made by the panelists. I am tempted to make them myself. In fact, I have made them myself … in my head. I know the arguments well. Form matters when it comes to music, and the form of music is not incidental to the meaning communicated. The biblical vision of music grows out of the union of the good, the beautiful, and the true in the very being of God. That union of the transcendentals means that Christians should seek only those musical expressions that best combine the good, the beautiful, and the true.

    In other words, Johann Sebastian Bach. In my view, Bach got it just about right, even almost perfect. His music is an exhilaration of proportion and purpose in which form and message are precisely, intentionally, even magnificently combined. Bach is never far from me, especially when I am working and particularly when I am writing. I should acknowledge Bach in my books. Karl Barth listened to Mozart, and I love Mozart’s music (at least, most of it). But Mozart is a genius in a way that Bach was not, and genius can easily get in the way of musical art. Add to this the fact that Mozart’s worldview was seriously flawed. That explains why his magnificent but unfinished Requiem Mass in D Minor is so moving, but so unsatisfying. Beethoven’s pantheism and Enlightenment sensibilities do not ruin his music, but they do make his incredible music rather inaccessible for Christian worship.

    Bach, on the other hand, is perfect. It is also important to know that Bach was a servant of the Lutheran Reformation. In his brilliant new book, Bach: Music in the Castle of Heaven, conductor John Eliot Gardiner affirms that Bach saw himself extending the musical theology of Martin Luther, with the glory of God as his supreme purpose and the task of music “to give expression and added eloquence to the biblical text.” So we should just end the development of church music and Christian musical artistry with Bach.

    But there is a problem with this proposal. Bach was writing music that was understandable to the culture of his day, and not just to the elites. As a matter of fact, many among the elites did not like his music, accusing Bach of using crude structures, lowly themes, and of borrowing from unworthy musical sources. And then there is the issue of his pounding music as found in his famous organ works. Those pedal sequences in his toccatas are jarring to the senses and physical in reception and impression. Hardly appropriate for use in church and the service of the Gospel.

    And the people who would argue now about the unworthiness of rap music often think of Bach as the quintessential Christian musician. As I said already, I have made many of the same arguments myself. In my head. Thankfully not in public. Am I holding back?

    No, I allow myself those arguments in my head when I want to absolutize my preferences and satisfy myself in the righteousness and superiority of my own musical taste and theology. The problem for me is that my theology of music will not allow me to stay self-satisfied on the matter, and by God’s grace I have not made arguments out loud that would violate that theology.

    Rap music is not my music. I do not come from a culture in which rap music is the medium of communication and I do not have the ear for it that I have for other forms of music. But I do admire its virtuosity and the hold that is has on so many, for whom it is a first and dominant musical language. I want that language taken for the cause of the Gospel and I pray to see a generation of young Gospel-driven rappers take dominion of that music for the glory of God. I see that happening now, and I rejoice in it. I want to see them grow even more in influence, reaching people I cannot reach with music that will reach millions who desperately need the Gospel. The same way that folks who first heard Bach desperately needed to hear the Gospel.

    The good, the beautiful, and the true are to be combined to the greatest extent possible in every Christian endeavor, rap included. I have no idea how to evaluate any given rap musical expression, but rappers know. I do know how to evaluate the words, and when the words are saturated with the Gospel and biblical truth that is a wonderful thing. Our rapping Gospel friends will encourage one another to the greatest artistic expression. I want to encourage them in the Gospel. Let Bach’s maxim drive them all — to make (their) music the “handmaid of theology.”

    Bach’s English Suite No. 3 in G Minor is playing as I write this. It makes me happy to hear it. But knowing that the Gospel is being taken to the ears and hearts of new generation by a cadre of gifted young Gospel rappers makes me far happier.”

  44. Christian Markle says:

    Brothers and Sisters,

    I am full of questions so here are more: According to Brother Mohler’s post he wants “to see them [Gospel-driven rappers] grow even more in influence, reaching people [he] cannot reach with music that will reach millions who desperately need the Gospel. The same way that folks who first heard Bach desperately needed to hear the Gospel.”

    1. Has there been a recorded revival driven by Bach’s music?
    2. Is musical expression expected to be an evangelistic tool according to the Bible?
    3. Who in fact is to be our audience in our religious music? (Ephesians 19; Colossians 3:16)

  45. Jon M says:

    yup, Reach them with Hip Hop , once they are in we give them Bach. I wonder. Do Piper, Baucham, Thabiti and Mohler have Hip Hop Worship Services as alternatives in their congregations or are they just paying lipservice.

  46. Martin says:

    Zach – I’m trying one response to Mohler (great we can do it here, since the original post does not allow any comments – which is why we should appreciate the freedom to engage we have on this forum):

    “The good, the beautiful, and the true are to be combined to the greatest extent possible in every Christian endeavor, rap included.”

    My obvious question here is, is rap beautiful? Some of you will say yes but I’d submit what you are really saying is that you like the genre, which is not the same as saying it’s beautiful. I don’t think rap is even attempting to be beautiful. Some forms, including heavy metal, punk, etc. were created as expressions of rage, in an attempt to stand against what mainstream society would appreciate, cherish, and call beautiful. I think rap is in there, too – it’s a form of protest that is not designed to elate but to express feelings of anger and discontent. These are not beautiful feelings, and so neither is rap a beautiful form per se. It follows, then, that it would be a mistake to try and put the lyrics of a psalm to this music – the two simply don’t agree. I’m not sure if there are other passages of the Bible that could be used as rap lyrics (that could be discussed) but whenever we are talking about beauty, we may want to consider different forms.

    The other obvious objection to Mohler, which has already been made above or in the context of other related posts, is the question whether music has an evangelistic function. Clearly, people have reported they were touched or maybe even converted during concerts but the fact that these things happen does not remove the need for a deeper discussion of whether this is even appropriate. God can work even if we make mistakes but that should not be an excuse to keep on making them.

  47. Steven says:

    Martin, respectfully I don’t believe you truly addressed what Dr. Albert Mohler was getting at. Personally, I would like to see two points addressed from his article:

    1) Your thoughts on Mohler making the comparison of how the church dismissed Bach’s music because they believed certain elements were worldly to the church doing the same thing with rap today.

    2) Dr. Mohler understanding his prejudice has to be set aside by his Theology.

    You said, “I think rap is in there, too – it’s a form of protest that is not designed to elate but to express feelings of anger and discontent.”

    Do you believe every rap beat that is created is out of this anger/rage? Doesn’t the one who create that beat make that call? So when you listen to shai linne’s Attributes of God do you hear anger/rage? I would feel better if your argument was, “you shouldn’t rap over beats that were originally used for hate/rage.” When you generalize every rap beat, that makes no sense to me because truly there are rap songs that are not aggressive.

  48. MomT says:

    Martin – there are Psalms that sound angry and express rage. There are Psalms that could be sung to rap or heavy metal for that matter and the words would match the musical style. Psalm 137 for example – 7 Remember, O Lord, against the sons of Edom
    The day of Jerusalem,
    Who said, “Raze it, raze it
    To its very foundation.”
    8 O daughter of Babylon, you devastated one,
    How blessed will be the one who repays you
    With the recompense with which you have repaid us.
    9 How blessed will be the one who seizes and dashes your little ones
    Against the rock.

  49. Martin says:

    Yes Steven – I only wanted to contribute but not answer all of Mohler’s post (mainly a question of having enough time). I listened to some tracks on the album you refer to this evening. ‘Perfection of Beauty’ has a nice-sounding tune – reminds me of Vangelis. Sounds a bit like someone reading a text with background music. Does not sound angry but very intense, yet not in an ‘awe’ kind of way. Not adoring but kind of lecturing, if you know what I mean. In ‘Glory of God’, the main rap lyrics don’t sound aggressive so much as imposing, again – maybe lecturing and in-your-face. The background singers in-between certainly sound a little aggressive at times. In any case, they sound agitated (like in a conversation that is becoming a little too loud) when they sing about giving glory to God. ‘Mercy and Grace’ also sounds quite like Shai ‘talking down’ to someone, such as in ‘didn’t I tell you’ or ‘listen to me’ (arrogant voice). It’s not how you’d normally say these things. I guess a prophet would have said them with more grace and gravity but without the feisty undertone, and a preacher likewise would/should try not to talk down or be overbearing but should try and get down to the level of his audience – not necessarily softly but also not personally imposing. It’s almost as if the rapper wants to create his own emphasis for the message he is giving (in the flesh), rather than saying them clearly but leaving it to God to anoint the words (through the ruach – the Spirit doing the work of penetrating hard hearts). I’ll finish with ‘Holiness of God’, which starts with a lovely tune and then moves over into a ‘holy’ chant that is, again, aggressive and overbearing. I am missing the awe that belong to those words. Sounding like an angry man when chanting these words is simply not communicating what they really mean.

    So I’d agree that a) the music is fairly modest and sometimes even beautiful but b) the words (the rap) is in contrast to that, and each time communicates the lyrics in a way that’s angry, overbearing, and maybe even unnerving. It is a mismatch between form and content. It sounds like Shai is telling me off, rather than teaching or simply speaking or praising the things of God. That is how the medium of rap communicates, and even the softer music cannot remove that.

    This was an interesting exercise. I am aware that I may get some flak for what I just wrote but these are my impressions, for what it’s worth.

    And as to Psalm 137 (MomT), I really don’t read it as you do. It is a lament – a very sad song that reflects the deep regret over what happened to a people that was led away to Babylon and over a beloved city that was destroyed. Yes, the last lines praise those who will be the instruments of God’s revenge but putting this text in a rap format completely would miss the sadness and humility expressed in the words the author penned. It really would not do it justice.

    Guess this is where the rubber hits the road – when we get to the details, it gets hard to find agreement. Yet, if we accept there is a divine standard for these things that God wove into His creation (i.e. it’s not just subjective tastes and opinions) then we can’t all be right. I really believe there is a truth about these questions that is over and above our individual preferences and ideas. I hope the debate between Shai and Scott will help us understand that truth better.

  50. Steven says:

    Martin,
    I truly appreciate your fair and honest critique! I really enjoyed reading that. When you hear an arrogant voice I would say I hear an authoritative voice. Authoritative not in a biblical sense but in prophetic sense (MacArthur’s interpretation of Prophetic:) ) .I would say many preachers have their own authoritative tone that can come off arrogant to same. I think that’s why you hear those outside the church bringing the charge of arrogance against preachers. An authoritative presentation is just the way rap music is and I believe why it is so influential in both the negative (the corruption in the 90’s) and the positive(the recent emergence of the Doctrines of Grace). That is not a pragmatic statement, I understand it’s the Holy Spirit’s working but I remain in awe how He chooses to draw His people to Himself.

    Just a finally note, there are three songs on Attributes of God that especially bring me to a truly reflective Worship of God. First is “Lord of Patience”. It’s an awesome praise song thanking God for being patient and saving me a sinner. Second is “The Jealous One”. It was the first time it clicked for me to truly understand jealously as an Attribute of God in the proper biblical way. It makes me repent of my idols. Finally, Triune Praise, what an awesome Triune God we serve! Thanks again Martin!

  51. MomT says:

    Actually, debating over whether rap is too angry/aggressive sounding to be considered “christian” is a waste of time and a hugh smokescreen. The larger issue to be considered (and this was discussed by Jeff Pollard at the conference) is whether ANY form of rock-and-roll can be “redeemed.” This pretty much includes ALL styles that are not 19th-20th century hymn style. He admitted in his session on this subject that there are no scriptures on musical styles in the bible as there are no scriptures on pornography (this was his illustration) but that we can deduce from scripture that it is a sin. The proof that it is sinful, however, rests in that fact that it was conceived in sin, by sinful people in a sinful culture – according to Pollard. So it is not about rap. ALL unhymn like styles that can trace a single root back to rock-and-roll are sinful.

  52. Martin says:

    Whether one can call it sin is one of my questions, too. Shai just asked it to Scott :-)

  53. I was going to begin this statement with something in the way of proving my seminary training, biblical understanding, etc. Honestly, I have neither the time nor the desire to do so. In brief, I will say that I agree that Scripture is to inform us in all of life – with the worship of God being a supreme issue.

    The only mention Jesus ever makes throughout Scripture about the worship of God was to an adulteress, pagan, unbelieving woman. He spoke of the worship of his Father in the most obscene way possible when he did so in broad daylight with this religious outcast.

    How can expressing the truth of God through the medium of rap be any more vulgar than the one way in which the Christ chose to do so?

  54. […] Aniol, one of the panelists, insists that rap is yelling, but this precludes the possibility that the musical language of rap is actually more than just […]

  55. Trevor Waybright says:

    I saw the conference speakers for the NCFIC conference. Can you explain why there were ZERO black speakers at the conference?

  56. Ronald McDonald says:

    Booooo.

    That’s all I have to add.

  57. ttpog says:

    Lecrae’s interview at the 2013 grammy awards is revealing. We are to ‘…COME OUT FROM THEIR MIDST AND BE SEPARATE,” says the Lord.’

    Lecrae says it is great to be able to “walk in both worlds”, and to be able to ignite 60,000 young people then, ‘turn around and go do MTV the next day is crazy’. Yes, crazy indeed!

    “But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! 24″No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.’

    ‘Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.” But the people said nothing.’ 1 Kings 18:21

    ‘Even while these people were worshiping the LORD, they were serving their idols. To this day their children and grandchildren continue to do as their ancestors did.’ 2 Kings 17:41

    ‘Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.’ Gal. 1:10

    I don’t believe this to be a heaven or hell issue. In other words, that some people like and listen to rap, hip-hop, CCM, etc., will not necessarily send them to hell. That being said, the Word of God has been painfully dumbed down over the course of the last twenty-five years or so all in the name of ‘reaching the lost’. Since when did speaking, preaching, spreading the gospel using the spoken word as the New Testament provides examples of become insufficient? Is God’s Word *preached* to the nations not sufficient? Do we need to add man’s methods in order to help God out? Is His Word not powerful enough on it’s own to reach and save the lost? Or, does it need man’s methods, styles, culture, etc., in order to be more effective? Many other worldly methods, besides music, come to mind that man has decided God’s Word could use a little boost in order to be more effective in ‘reaching the lost’ – veggie tales; youth shows featuring Polynesian dancers, world-class athletes, skateboarders, roller bladers and a hip-hop dance team. At the end of each night of entertainment, there was an altar call where people were invited to accept Christ; one pastor of a large church had mud wrestling in his church on a Sunday morning; another made a baptistry for kids in the shape of a fire engine. Bells clang and confetti is shot out when a child is baptized; another man jumped on a rope and swung out over the congregation on Sunday morning. The list of strange antics is endless, and to my thinking, quite demeaning of the gospel of Christ. Many churches, for instance, are not driven by great preaching of the Word of God, but by their massive music programs. In fact, I think that some of the poorest preaching is sometimes found in these churches, and I am always surprised that people continue to go to them, or maybe I am not so surprised. This is not so much a statement about large churches, but about those who have nothing much but their music and other antics to hold them together. This trivializes the gospel message. Coming to Christ is a very serious thing. A person is damned and is going to hell because he or she is rebelling against God. But salvation is reverting from that whole way of life to enter into relationship with Christ. Entertainment does not mix well with such a serious message. The result is that the message suffers. It produces spurious results. When persons respond to such a message that is so intermingled with entertainment, they often misunderstand the calling of God given in the gospel. Many of these so called converts fall away and show no signs of really entering into relationship with Christ.

  58. Christian Baxter says:

    You may or may not feel the same way about rock music, but in the sixties the same arguement was made toward the Jesus Movement, but that same rock and folk music has been redeemed and reformed and is much more close to Psalm 100 in form than traditional organ and piano. Rap as a musical art started about 20 years after the rock and roll revolution and was redeemed 20 years ago and Christ centered rap is now being led by the theologically Reformed. If mode becomes more primary than message it inevitably becomes an idol. Make sure the message is the Gospel and trust in the mystery of God’s sovereignty. Breakdown cultural prejudices. Someone on the panel told Toby Mac to grow up. I think sometimes we need to grow down. I guess Bomo should start wearing sweater vests at his concerts too, I mean he’s like fifty-something, right? I just don’t understand.

  59. fuddybuddy says:

    Philippians 1:15-18 Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.

    Scott, if you really believe the gospel is being preached in pretense when preached through rap, then why aren’t you rejoicing?

  60. This is a really silly response. Not sure what kind of rap he was listening to that invoked hate, rage, etc. The rap I listen to moves me to praise the Lord of all. I don’t listen to Eminem though, maybe he was? If he listens to Shai and it moves him to “denigration, violence, rage, and self-aggrandizement” then not sure what else there is to say. That is wild, he must be hostile to the hearing of the gospel to become violnet upon hearing it.

    The biblical texts used for it weren’t terribly off, but he is pulling a slightly different message from it than what the original message is saying.

  61. I think it’s all just a misunderstanding and ignorance. It’s people sharing a deep opinion on something from a shallow understanding of it. That’s foolish to begin with. Share a shallow opinion on things you have a shallow understanding of, and share a deep opinion on things that you have a deep understanding of.

  62. Christian Leto says:

    Christian rap critics say that raps useless/ they formulate attacks and claim that its whack/ In fact, its a product of black music/ its just bad music/ Some of things that dudes say can be that ruthless/ but the truth is/ I refuse to believe that these katz can be that stupid/ to think that the King in His majesty has not used it/ To them, they see rap as inherently evil/ its apparent to me though/ that they’re scaring these people/ into believing that this style of music will lead me to evil/ but we spit Christ and live life/ preach that Christ came and is preparing the sequel/ No genre of music is evil/ no matter what genre that ya fond of/ all genres are equal/ What is it about rap that’s sinful?/ Is it the low bass, high hat, snare drum or the symbol?/ Is it the person, pen, pad, or the pencil?/ Is it the beats that are used as a stencil/ to release the thoughts God has put on my mental?/ What exactly is your argument then?/ If rap is evil/ then you’re arguin’ that the people who pick up the pen are harboring sin/ you mean I can’t use words to paint pictures?/ Does that sound like God’s word?/ sound like the scriptures?/ Your argument is not found in the Bible/ and your problem is your surrounded by idols/ you stand on the precipice of a prejudice and worship the gods of tradition and preference.

    If I can’t rap about the gospel because the method is wrong, what can I rap about to bring God glory? If I can rap at all? What should be the content of my rap music. (Someone throw in a sick instrumental)

  63. closetcalvin says:

    Blogs are often used for sinful things, and all blogging sounds angry, similar to yelling, should we then forbid Christians from blogging? Try replacing every instance of the word rap with the word blog in your post.

    I don’t know what Reformed Rappers you’ve listened to, but I haven’t heard any that sound like they are angry or yelling. Rather, they proclaim the Gospel, use several direct quotes from Scripture, and allude to others, as well as cite verses for the hearer to read. Now, my experience in listening to Reformed Rap is admittedly rather limited, I tend to listen to hymns or Johnny Cash, (Is rock/country that proclaims the Gospel sinful as well, since much of rock is about adulterous sex and drugs?) but the ones I have heard clearly express the Gospel in their songs, aren’t at all angry, and are better than most Christian contemporary, and even better than most sermons in many Baptist churches.

    Of course, some music and artists are better than others, LeCrae was mentioned, his music has unfortunately turned more towards moralism than the Gospel as of late. But, Shai Linne’s “Attributes of God” album is like listening to hymns, just done as rap.

    I don’t know of you, or your ministry, aside from this, and I’m not really in the typical rap listening audience, but I urge you to give the Shai Linne album I mentioned a listen, and then tell us if you still think rap music cannot be redeemed.

  64. […] need to “redeem” and “transform” them. One of the panelists, Scott Aniol, has expanded on what he meant here (I disagree with some of his conclusions, especially about whether or not Paul rejected oratory, or […]

  65. […] I read the”I like to restate that I don’t know what I’m talking about” commentary written by Scot Aniol where he linked to his series about how a specific musical […]

  66. […] , and Scott Aniol’s clarification of his statements here: http://religiousaffections.org/articles/articles-on-culture/explanation-of-my-comments-about-reforme… . All of my arguments and statements regarding the panelists will be written in context of these […]

  67. Seth says:

    Firstly, before I write anything, I would like to qualify this statement with the fact that I am a teen, and as such, am slightly biased in support of Christian rap. I wish to apologize for any immature or underdeveloped arguments I make and humbly ask that any response be respectful and constructive as I am wrestling with this issue myself and this is my view right now.

    1. Thank you for your distancing yourself from the other judgement, I believe that in any discussion, a healthy respect of the other side is always in order

    2. I ask you if you believe that rap is of inferior use to God as a form of spreading his word. It seems that it is vastly superior for reaching many communities, such as teens like myself. I identify with this form of gospel much more than rock, hymns, or other forms of Christian worship.

    3. In 1 Corinthians 2:1-5, the Bible verse rather seems that Paul was using “humble” speech as a way to more effectively reach his audience. I am an avid student of rhetoric and one of the main principles that it lies on is knowing the audience. Paul was a master of public speaking and would have known this. In Acts (I think, I apologize for my incomplete knowledge of the Bible, as I said, I am an immature Christian) Paul used the Altar to the Unknown God to spread the word of God. In short, perhaps one should consider the role that Paul was using his humble tone to speak to his audience as a bigger motivation.

    4. In the example you used about using angry gestures when complimenting, I would suggest that angry gestures and angry words are inseparable but rap and it’s message can be very different. Gestures are, in most cases universal, for example, blind people will reach their arms up in a manner exactly resembling what people with the blessing of vision will when they accomplish something. (For anyone looking for a reference of this gesture, look up a picture of Ussain Bolt after he won any Olympic race). Thus, one could argue that these gestures, are by their nature, inseparable from the words. What makes rap different is that one can praise God with such a form but different words.

    This is my little rebuttal to what I saw, feel free to comment with your own view, I welcome opposing views as I believe that there is some truth to every argument. In fact, any response would be greatly appreciated as I am trying to grow as a 16 year old Christian.

    God Bless You

  68. Martin says:

    Hi Seth,

    Scott may or may not reply to this, but I’d like to refer you to four sources to find out what Scott thinks about rap:
    1) Search this website with the integrated search function (to avoid searching the comments) for the word, “rap” or “hop hop” – this will lead to to key articles on the subject.
    2) Scott’s book on worship (not specific to rap): http://religiousaffections.org/featured/now-available-sound-worship-a-guide-to-making-musical-choices-in-a-noisy-world-by-scott-aniol/
    3) This post on Paul preaching in Athens (shows he was NOT accommodating culture but was counter-cultural; see especially the PDFs referenced in the comments): http://religiousaffections.org/articles/articles-on-culture/acts-17-and-cultural-contextualization/
    4) Since the panel discussion you commented on, there has been a lengthy exchange between Shai Linne and Scott on Christian rap, which still continues. You may want to read up on that (series of posts) and then participate in the discussion: http://religiousaffections.org/articles/articles-on-culture/discussion-about-christian-rap-with-shai-linne-introduction/

  69. Seth says:

    Thank you Martin, I will definitely look at these sources and refine my rebuttal, I am regrettably uninformed as to what Scott specifically believes and will most assuredly take these sources into consideration.

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