As we discuss the issue of Christian rap, I am moving toward an evaluation of the form itself. But before we get there I must lay the necessary groundwork to prove that such an evaluation is necessary or even possible.
Monday I argued three important points:
- Man is completely depraved and thus cannot trust his own preferences implicitly.
- Music is a medium of human communication and thus must be carefully evaluated to determine whether its communication is sinful.
- Cultures are imbedded with values since they are external expressions of value systems.
Tuesday I dealt with the objection that believers are not totally depraved. I agreed with this assertion, yet I made two points that prove that we must still carefully evaluate musical forms, especially a form like rap:
- Even believers are still influenced by indwelling sin.
- Rap music was born in a debased culture of unbelievers.
Today I’d like to answer an objection that relates to my second assertion about musical communication.
Some people will object that there is nothing moral about notes and rhythms; there is nothing moral about songs. They are merely neutral objects like knives or hammers or guns. How we use them is what matters.
The argument goes something like this:
A gun is a neutral object. If I use that gun to shoot a deer to feed my family, I have used that neutral object in a moral way. If I use that gun to kill my neighbor, I have used that neutral object in an immoral way.
A song is a neutral object. If I use that song with a text about God and his goodness, I have used that neutral object in a moral way. If I use that song with a text about sex and violence, I have used that neutral object in an immoral way.
The problem with this kind of argumentation is that it relies on a significant category error. They are right to say that objects are neutral and uses of objects are moral. Anything a human being does is either moral or immoral.
But here’s the important fact: a song is the product of human action! It has already entered the “use” category. Songs don’t exist in a vacuum; they are products of human communication. And any action of a human is either moral or immoral.
So this is where total depravity and Pelagianism come into play. If we deny that a human action might possibly be sinful, then we are dangerously close to the Pelagian heresy.
Instead, we must judge every human action, including music produced by humans, based upon criteria outside ourselves. Particularly principles from the Word of God and comparison to God’s creation.