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Podcast: Can Rap Be Christian? with Michael Riley, Part 3

Part 3 of Scott Aniol’s discussion of Christian rap with Michael Riley. In this episode, Scott and Michael discuss the issue of redeeming culture.



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11 Responses to Podcast: Can Rap Be Christian? with Michael Riley, Part 3

  1. I believe that the method is different(rap from other forms of gospel or christian), but the message of Christ is the same! We have to reach Generation X, or Extreme and its going to take drastic measures. This the generation with the lowest church rate or participation rate. Why? We need to change our methods of winning our youth of today. The love to jump, scream, shout, dance. We should not hold them in bondage of worshipping the way their mother or grandmothers worshipped.

    I pray that the Church Body as a whole seeks to see the truth in God's Word!

  2. There is much that I could say regarding Nekiwa's viewpoint, but most of it is already said in the articles on this website (regarding HOW God ought to be worshiped in holiness).
    Here is another point well made actually by Ken Ham in one of His talks on "Genesis: The Key…"
    Basically he says that churches are so concerned that they need to try to get the culture back to church so they adjust their worship (thinking that they are fixing a problem). Actually that is just a side issue b/c you can find plenty of people that are going to churches with traditional worship. Instead they need to evaluate what the real problem is – the very foundation of the Bible has been undermined by the culture at large. The real problem that prevents people from coming to church is not worship styles but disbelief in the authority of God's Word (beginning with the very first verse).
    I thought that was an excellent point even though I don't think it is the church's job to reclaim the culture. And I would add that the local church is FOR the believer. Evangelism takes place by going out into the world and not by bringing the world into the church.

  3. One thing I have to say for sure is that it is amazing really that we have to talk about these things like this—they are so obvious. Where have we gone today that we have to talk on these terms? And I'm pretty sure that most of evangelicalism and now a segment of fundamentalism that would discount this entire conversation, even mock it.

  4. Scott,

    Our problem is a sin problem. The sin problem changes through something supernatural that doesn't relate to anything in culture. It changes through Scripture and the Holy Spirit. Because of that, we can know we're wrong. I don't think we can have a latent sin problem that the Holy Spirit won't point out because we don't interact with other cultures. We can and will know what is wrong separate from culture. To say that we need some other culture to know what might be wrong in ours really is to argue from a point of neutrality. It sounds like you have been influenced by the rampant evidentialism that immerses evangelicalism today. I have no problem with your explaining how that I'm wrong.

  5. On the contrary, Kent, we are arguing from a position that acknowledges that our presuppositions affect our judgment and sometimes blind us from recognizing weaknesses in our own presuppositions.

    You're exactly right that sin is the problem. It is because of sin that I do not believe there is any one perfect culture. Some are better than others, to be sure. But anything created by humans is flawed.

  6. Scott, That last part of the conversation with Mike didn't sound presuppositional. My understanding of apologetic methods based upon scripture is that whatever wrong presuppositions we have are a result of sin, therefore, they will be exposed by the Bible and the Holy Spirit, not by any particular culture. I understand the error in thinking that we can have, what you describe as "blind," a word I wouldn't use for what occurs to a believer, but that isn't going to be corrected by something natural like culture, but by something supernatural. What I was hearing was a kind of multiculturalism that would say that we could learn through interaction with various cultures. That sounds like the argument from neutrality, which I believe is confusing to someone's diagnosis and then correction of the problem. We judge all culture by Scripture, not by one or another culture.

  7. Kent,

    To be frank, your comment here seems quite painfully confused.

    First, the issue that Scott and I are discussing has nothing whatsoever to do with apologetics. Both Scott and I are addressing this topic from within the framework of Christian theism; we are already presupposing the truth of Christianity (without which presupposition, nothing makes sense).

    Because we are operating within the framework of Christian theism, we are free to draw upon all sources of revelation, general as well as special, to learn truth. To deny this would demand that we say, for instance, that we ought not study mathematics textbooks, as our math errors won't "be corrected by something natural like [math books], but by something supernatural." Obviously, this position is nonsense; you are not asserting this, but your form of argument inclines that way.

    So that's my main point: there's nothing here that's really relevant to presuppositionalism. At all.

    As an aside, let me address your concluding point: "We judge all culture by Scripture, not by one or another culture." Certainly, I can agree with this statement, if I get to supply its meaning.

    I am completely with you that all cultures stand under the authority of Scripture, and that our pursuit is not toward any typically ethnic culture, but to create a new thing, a culture shaped by Christianity. (Thabiti Anyabwile said something very similar in his outstanding T4G address.)

    However, we all have a very thoroughgoing tendency to be blind to our own culture; we look through our culture, as it were, rather than looking at our culture. We gain the ability to look at our culture most clearly when we become aware of it, and we become most aware of it when we are exposed to other cultures. It is at this point that we are in a better position to judge our culture (and the other culture) by Scripture.

    So I continue to maintain that there is immense profit in learning from brothers and sisters in Christ with whom we do not share a common culture. Our differences make us aware of those things we would otherwise overlook, and being aware of them allows us to examine them in the light of God's Word.

  8. Thanks Mike. It was nice to read your comment, because I think I understand you better. Obviously, the point is to hash this out so that we have the right or correct belief. I learn from you guys, but if I think you're wrong, I might say something. We are doing it public, which might make things even more painful, if they actually are, because I don't think so.

    Do we both agree that this presupposition of Christianity then defines what is true and good and beautiful according to God and not a position of neutrality? I may have a different definition of general revelation than you do. I'm not going to assume it, but it sounds like it to me, and this may be where the problem is at. Revelation is not general in its content, but in its audience. That's the point of general. In other words, everybody knows it. And of course, unbelievers know it and suppress it. Revelation by nature is non discoverable. I won't go into how that pertains to your math illustration, but if we don't agree on the definition of general revelation, it won't matter. Now I could say that you seem to be painfully confused about general revelation, but what difference would that make except to show some kind of distaste for you, which I don't have. I'm on your side.

    I believe this is relevant to presuppositionalism because it assumes that we judge beauty and truth and goodness based on scripture and not based on human discovery.

    I'm taking this in order. Do you think that Thabiti Anyabwile might clash with Shai Linne?

    What would be your scriptural basis for Holy Spirit indwelt, saved people being blind to their own culture? What is your scriptural basis for concluding that we are the most aware of our own culture when we expose it to other cultures?

    I pastor in the SF Bay Area and I would guess that we have one of the most multi-racial churches in America. Whites are the minority in our school with African Americans being the largest group. What I hear you saying is that there is some kind of general revelation found in the experience of other ethnic groups. Is that what you are saying?

  9. Kent,

    You asked, "Do with both agree that this presupposition of Christianity then defines what is true and good and beautiful according to God and not a position of neutrality?" I would certainly affirm that the Christian worldview alone accounts for the possibility of truth, beauty, and goodness, and that God's Word provides us with the knowledge of God sufficient to make judgments about what is in fact good, true, and beautiful.

    In this discussion, I am intentionally using general revelation very broadly. Because I believe that all that comes to pass does so by the sovereign decree of God, it follows that everything whatsoever is revelatory of God's will.

    But perhaps that isn't the point. Let me change the picture a bit by offering a question. Kent, have you ever had the experience of someone pointing out some sin problem in your life that, before it was pointed out to you, you were generally oblivious to it? Perhaps it was something that you thought nothing of, or perhaps it was something you had some justification for in your own mind. In a situation like this, having someone come to you, who sees you from outside you, can be immensely helpful in allowing you to see something that you might not have seen otherwise.

    This, for my part, is all I would mean by our being "blind" to this or that fault. I'm not speaking of some deep spiritual blindness. I merely mean that we often overlook our own sins, because we are comfortable with them. Sometimes, we become aware of these sins when we are reading our Bibles. Other times, God uses the preaching of his Word to help us see our faults. And sometimes, God uses friends (or not-friends) to help us see where we fall short of the standard.

    So, for instance, I have often heard teens who go on a mission trip to an impoverished nation come back with their eyes opened to their own covetousness, which they had not even noticed before because it was so pervasive in their own lives, and in the culture around them, that it was as natural as breathing. I am not suggesting that this is by any means the only way that God works to bring about our sanctification. I wouldn't even say that it is necessary that we have such experiences.

    I am merely saying that such experience are tremendously helpful. If I have a brother in Christ who, because of his life experiences, is more inclined to be sensitive to God's Word in an area in which my discernment has, for whatever reason, been limited, it would be good for me to avail myself of the opportunity to hearing from him.

    I just don't see how this is in any way a commitment to neutrality, or a failure to be a presuppositionalist, or whatever.

  10. Mike,

    I haven't jumped to the idea that you or Scott fail to be a presuppositionalist (or are committed to neutrality), but both you and I could be influenced by evidentialism. I don't think it is uncommon, and for my part, i would ironically like that pointed out. It might be tough especially if it's coming from someone who I think is painfully confused. Being influenced was what I originally and only said and I also asked if that could be corrected.

    I don't agree with your broad usage of general revelation and I think it will give both your world view, your apologetic, and your goal here a problem. It's general because everyone knows it. And they know it because it is revealed. They didn't discover it. If they discovered it, it wouldn't be revealed any longer. Discovery and revelation are mutually exclusive. I believe we have to separate non-revelatory things by the sovereign decree of God from the definition of revelation. I could give you a long string of events that aren't revelation, and complex math problems are not revelation, even though they are God's sovereign will.

    I appreciated your illustrations. You are a good thinker. But I also think that we have to be careful, and perhaps you're very careful, with the illustration itself becoming a source of authority for our doctrine. I do believe that God can use some event to teach me something about me. I agree with that. That is not revelation, however. Let me be really obvious here—I could be convicted that Sovereign Grace music has better lyrics than my Revival Hymns, if that were the case. We use Trinity Hymnal and a Scottish Psalter, but at some point in my life, God could use someone to help me see something. I agree with that. But in the end, the lyrics are judged to be better because of scripture and the Holy Spirit.

    The problem I have with how I hear it in your conversation only at the end is that it sounds just like multiculturalism. If multiculturalism was godly, I wouldn't have a problem with that, but I think that it is ungodly, and it is at least influenced by a position of neutrality. The way I was hearing it actually was that you wanted to get a hearing from the other side by showing how open minded you were. But to get there, it seemed multicultural. I don't believe we should encourage anyone to learn something by purposefully exposing themselves to other cultures. They might learn something from other cultures without trying, and God will be the one to have done that, because He is sovereign, but it shouldn't be a strategy or technique. Jeremiah wrote, "Learn not the way of the heathen."

    Going back to your illustration. I've been to deep Mexico and it said something to me about how good I have it. That wasn't revelation. I left more appreciative (especially our water). I think there is a danger in saying that experience means that I should expose myself to other cultures, because there might even be more to learn. Generally I would say that if you have to experience certain cultures, that the greater danger is actually learning something from them. I believe Noah and his family were saved from any more exposure.


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