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PDF of entire debate with Shai Linne

This entry is part 19 of 19 in the series

"Discussion about Christian Rap with Shai Linne"

You can read more posts from the series by using the Table of Contents in the right sidebar.

Several people have asked for a compiled version of the whole debate about Christian rap with Shai Linne. Here it is:

Download (PDF, 345KB)

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Scott Aniol

About Scott Aniol

Scott Aniol is the founder and Executive Director of Religious Affections Ministries. He is Chair of the Worship Ministry Department at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he teaches courses in ministry, worship, hymnology, aesthetics, culture, and philosophy. He is the author of Worship in Song: A Biblical Approach to Music and Worship, Sound Worship: A Guide to Making Musical Choices in a Noisy World, and By the Waters of Babylon: Worship in a Post-Christian Cutlure, 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 three children.

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12 Responses to PDF of entire debate with Shai Linne

  1. Maybe I missed it, but I would love to see you post a blog covering your thoughts several weeks post debate. Specifically, I would be interested to hear you answer the following:

    What do you feel the debate accomplished in your own life, your ministry, wider Christendom?

    For me, I thought it was helpful to see you interact live with specific objections to your philosophy of music. It helped me understand both perspectives a little more clearly, although I’m not sure it changed my mind about anything. I still believe Rap is not an appropriate medium for communicating truth.

    I also wondered if you and Shai finished the debate on the same good terms you seemingly started with? I liked the format, but as time went on, I thought interest dwindled. What would you do differently if you were starting fresh?

    Thanks,
    Billy Allred

  2. I’m not entirely satisfied with the conclusion of this debate because I don’t feel we reached consensus where we easily could have as informative and insightful as it was. I did thoroughly enjoy it though.
    However if I may add my 2 cents
    I listen to quite a lot of Christian Hiphop specifically Shai Linne which is how I came to this debate and I don’t feel at all that I could worship God in church for example through his music. I would rather refer to hymns. Much less would I recite scripture like, “Judas hanged himself” during my expression of worship. However that’s not to say Christian rap is without its use. In fact Christian comes in very useful as a teaching mechanism and you can learn a lot from listening to the lyrics in a way that can’t be done in other forms. To discount Christian rap simply because you can’t strictly use it for fervent worship would mean we lose ground on a very powerful platform of teaching. Also it is not entirely true that hiphop started off as the completely sinful medium to convey sinful messages. In fact the earliest hiphop songs were very encouraging and it only evolved into its sinful nature with the rise of Gangsta rap. However to say, because of that we can’t use hiphop to teach people about the Lord would be like saying we can’t use the internet to proclaim the gospel because the internet is mostly used for pornography. The internet is a perfectly good platform form for anyone who wishes to spread the gospel despite pornography just as much as hiphop is a perfectly good platform to teach and proclaim the gospel despite most of the sinful songs in circulation. And finally, the bible does say In whatever you do or say, do it for and in thanks to the Lord. If people choose to spread God’s word through hiphop then we can’t deny they’re doing it for His glory and we can’t fault them on that. When you undress all types of music of their beats, melodies and instruments, all you’re left with are the words, the poetry found the music. And if that poetry contains truth, and nothing else but the truth of the sovereign Lord. Then what would suggest God isn’t pleased with that? 1 Peter talks about using whatever gift you have to serve(which would include teaching) others. None can deny that rhythm-and-poetry(rap) is in fact a gift and refusing to use it to serve others would be the greater sin. Much larger than perceived sin of using a tainted art form

    Thank you for this

  3. Scott, excellent job in defending your position. I think Shai made his points precise and clear as well. This will lead to a debate on this comment section, which I prefer not to do, so I won’t respond — I think Shai made the stronger case. I could be saying that because I already agreed with him before reading the entire discussion. But it was evident that your analysis was merely subjective thought, which you tried to make it objective, as if Scripture gives such detail in what kind of music can be used to express truth. When I listened to Shai Linne’s instrumental for Judge Of All The Earth, my interpretation was completely different than yours. In fact, I took your advice and envisioned a movie scene. I pictured a climax leading to victory and power. What you described didn’t even cross my mind at all and I’d find it difficult for anyone to come to that conclusion, but you did for some reason. It might be your background or culture; I’m not sure. That being said, I can respect…no, I DO respect your perspective. I’m not a music major or an expert in any musical form or instrument, but it was interesting seeing your posts and Shai’s responses on the details that people like me miss. Thank you!

    I do disagree with your conclusion; however, I was greatly edified by your words. Thank you, brother.

  4. I am a 50 yr. old WM who has never liked rap music AT ALL. Secular rap culture is very off-putting to me for all of the ordinary reasons given to condemn it. I kept hearing about Shai Linne through theologlically Reformed social media. Shai’s album “Lyrical Theology Part 2 – Doxology” is now in my top 5 Christian albums of all time. I have been more encouraged and edified by his music over the last 3 months than I have ever been by any one Christian artist. To me he background music and vocal tones used by Shai carry none of the negative connotations of rap in general. Insteady they convey to me his reverence for God, his love of Christ and the gospel, the urgency of his message, and the boldness of the strong conviction of a self consciously saved by grace Spirit filled evangelist zealous for the glory of his Lord and the increase of His church. It is good to be wise in what we listen to, but let us not throw out this beautiful baby with the bath water!

  5. I would have to agree with Arturo above. I could not find a way to see your views as objective. I did enjoy reading both sides though, I honestly did not think there was someone in the world with your level of education that would still hold to Christian Hip hop as inherently sinful or at the least not worthy of being a means to spread the Gospel. I for one have been encouraged greatly in evangelism and the Worship of God Almighty through this particular medium. Thanks for hosting!

  6. I am a black man born and raised in Detroit and was deeply involved in Hip Hop culture for most of my life. A little bit about my background I can’t remember a time when Rap music didn’t exist, I can remember Rap songs from 1981 when I was six years old. I also attended the same High School as well known professional Rappers like J Dilla and members of D12(who I battled rapped against in the cafeteria). I was also a rapper and music producer, my mother bought me a drum machine for my thirteenth birthday, I dreamed of getting a music contract up until my mid twenties.

    I agree with Scott’s argument overall, music communicates and communication can be proper or improper for expressing truth. I no longer listen to Rap music or engage in Hip Hop culture. I have two of Shai’s albums in my hard-drive but I have no plans on listening to them anytime soon. Why you ask, because for me Hip Hop culture including Rap music even “redeemed” Christian Rap reminds me of my old life before Christ. Even after being saved I had issues with constantly remembering Rap songs including some of the most demonic lyrics you can think of. I know right now if you put on the the underlining tracks from Rap songs I have not listened to in years I could recite the lyrics word for word.

    Hip Hop culture began in the Bronx River projects in New York by members of the Black Spades gang. All of the elements of Hip Hop originate from gang culture and Disco. Even something innocent seeming as Break dancing evolved from gang dances from the early seventies. Here in Detroit two of the most iconic Hip Hop era dances the Jit and the Errol Flynn both started as ways to signify gang membership. The block parties and night clubs Hip Hop culture started in shaped Hip Hop, there is no way to get around that. To take something intended for the club and “redeem” it for Christ doesn’t jive with a clear Christian worldview to me.

    We live in a day were many claim all cultures are inherently equal and to say one is better then the other is prejudice if not racist. I would have repeated these sentiments also up until five years ago. I am a former Muslim I converted to Islam largely based on the influence of Hip Hop culture, this culture indoctrinated me to think Christianity was the “white-mans” religion. I know now this is not true due to the Lord allowing me to be changed by the renewing of my mind and my embracing the Bible as the bases of my worldview. I first learned about Islam from artist like Rakim, Nice and Smooth, Wu-Tang Clan, Ice Cube and others. Many Suburban white kids listened to Rap but we lived Hip Hop culture and it deeply effected all of my peers negatively.

    Many of us Christians do not have the self knowledge to realize just how much we have been effected by the world-views of this world system. I believe many Christian Hip Hoppers want to hang on to part of the non-Biblical worldview they were indoctrinated with as children. Culture is not subjective, the culture of FGM in Africa is evil so is the culture of Boy love in Afghanistan. The slave culture of the American south was evil so is Salafism in Saudi Arabia. All human cultural expression is not good or God gloifing and that is truth.

  7. C.L I really appreciate your perspective. Being detached from those roots I don’t feel the negative connection that you do, but I have had similar feelings when hearing some classic rock tunes used for worship music. I feel my conscience is very clear listening to Shai in particular, but greatly respect that if anything about it is a hindrance to your walk that you are right to avoid it. May the Lord bless you and keep you!

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