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Three reasons white evangelicals defend Reformed Rap

Mark Snoeberger diagnoses three reasons “otherwise respectable middle-aged white men [tripped] over one another to be first in line insisting that they’re not racist because they’re OK with Reformed Rap and Holy Hip-Hop as valid worship forms”:

  1. Evangelicalism
  2. Neo-Kuyperianism
  3. Celebrity

His conclusion reflects well my own situation:

  • Since I despise Christian celebrity, I cannot fathom how rap or hip-hop can find a place in public worship. At this point I am saying nothing about the credibility of the art forms in general, only that some forms are totally non-conducive to biblical worship (see, e.g., Eph 5:19; Col 3:16). Congregational rap does not and cannot exist. No rap exists other than celebrity rap.
  • Since I reject Neo-Kuyperianism emphatically, I do not define culture as neutral people in God’s image variously and creatively fulfilling the dominion mandate in neutral ways. At the very root of every depraved human culture (no discrimination here) lie elemental principles and philosophies that are woven into the very fabric of its cultural expressions (Col 2:8, 20). I do believe in common grace, and thus that all people are not equally evil or as evil as they can possibly be, but the fact remains that common grace often functions more as a brake on a runaway train than as the track on which the train runs. As such, (1) some cultural expressions are so hopelessly interlaced with depraved assumptions and associations that they are irredeemable (eating meat in a cultic context); (2) others are so closely connected with depraved assumptions and associations that they should be politely declined (eating meat that is perceived by pagan community itself to be evil), and (3) still others must be eaten (eating meat after it has been successfully extricated from depraved assumptions and associations so as to be profitable for the cause of Christ) (1 Cor 8–10). From where I live in a semi-rural suburb of Ann Arbor, the cultural forms of rap and hip-hop hover somewhere between (1) and (2). It is possible that my evaluation is wrong and that the evaluation of my own particular pagan community is likewise wrong, but I do not see how the use of these media could ever be justified in my context.
  • Since I do not self-identify primarily as an evangelical, my first question in matters of corporate worship is not a horizontal one (i.e., how can the gathered church successfully connect with the people it hopes to reach and the people it hopes to keep): a great many other questions precede this one, and none that impel me to use rap or hip-hop. That is not to say that I eschew evangelism or tear 1 Corinthians 9:19–23 from my Bible; however, (1) I do not see the context of this passage as one of worship, and (2) I find qualifications placed on the sentiment of this passage elsewhere in Scripture.

I encourage you to read the whole thing since Mark’s views reflect my own exactly, and he identifies the root issues very well.

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 Culture, 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 four children. Views posted here are his own and not necessarily those of his employer.

5 Responses to Three reasons white evangelicals defend Reformed Rap

  1. It seems like a mistake to say “white” evangelicals, as speakers against rap are trying to deny there is a racial component to this argument..

  2. I am very uncomfortable with the statement “No rap exists other than celebrity rap.” when it is clear our advances in media have created celebrities out of rappers and even pastors alike. That statement is just untrue and very confusing.

    I would just love to see the argument focus on congregational rap. Meaning a man or woman in the church leading worship in a hip hop style. no lights, no cameras, no one other than that congregation hearing their music. I see this argument weaving together too many things which can easily distract people from the important issues at hand.

  3. There’s no possible way “otherwise respectable middle-age white guys” would support reformed rap, other than for misguided or selfish reasons??

    It’s one thing to hold a certain position on a subject because you’ve thoroughly studied it and the people part of it, but in this case it appears you don’t want more information… you (and others) just want to draw ignorant, elitist conclusions and make ad-hominem attacks against people who have different musical preferences than you. That’s all I can conclude, because you’ve yet to take it from the generalities down to actual FACTS and evidence that support your position. SHOW US WHAT exactly reformed rappers are saying/doing that is sin, and then WHERE the Bible says it is clearly sin. Give us examples of where people are being massively led astray, and Jesus is clearly not being honored in all this. CALL OUT JOHN PIPER for letting a reformed rapper sing to the glory of God during a church service!

    I’m starting to feel we’ll never get to that point, because you simply can’t… not with the evidence you’re relying on. Not honestly. The anti-rap folk seem to be forming their coalition, and it’s based more on unloving rhetoric and stereotypes, rather than proper doctrine and truth.

  4. I am waiting to hear your response to Dr. Mohlers comments, and would like to know if you believe that he is in the category of men you espoused here? This post is disappointing.

  5. Celebrity? Has anyone looked to some of the soloists is our churches? It’s all the congregation can do to keep from applauding the performance so they just “amen” a little louder. Or choir arrangements that require lot of rehearsal and skilled singers capable of handling music that is beyond the ability of the congregation?

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