What is reaching the lost in the urban culture? It is not the music itself; it is the Gospel being preached in the songs.
I cannot count the times I have heard Reformed preachers decry the cultural compromise and unscriptural worship and evangelism methods displayed by the evangelical church at large, and yet when Reformed lyrics are put to a rap song, all that changes. Why?
This is clearly a general statement to describe something that is not general at all, “Reformed lyrics”. Reformed means something very specific and shouldn’t be used in this general term to get a point across. What are reformed lyrics? They are Reformed words. What are Reformed words? Gospel. So why be against preaching the gospel? That’s what these rappers are doing. That’s what John did when he wrote amazing grace. He preached the gospel with music.
God made all things perfect before the Fall. What happened during the Fall? Sin came into the world. It “broke” the good things that God created. So what are some of the things that God created that are good? Food, sex, wine,
Just because the world uses the good things of God in evil ways does not mean they are evil in themselves. For example, sex. Just because the world uses sex in evil ways does not mean that sex is evil. I would hold the same true for music. Just because the world uses music in evil ways does not mean that music is evil. And that goes for rap too. What makes rap a sin? Is it the fast beats? Is it the drum rolls? Is it the lyrical quickness? I personally do not think so. What makes anything a sin is rebellion against God. Is quick music with God-glorifying lyrics rebellion against God? I don’t think so.
I believe it’s because my Reformed brethren have a bad habit of putting correct doctrine on a pedestal that it should not be on. Doctrine is important, vitally so, and yet it is not the only test of a godliness and holiness. I fear that proper doctrine has become the test of all things in Reformed circles. If a rap song has doctrinally sound, even doctrinally rich, lyrics, it must be OK, since no one could ever communicate sound doctrine in a way that is ungodly, right? Wrong. God, through Paul, commands the young pastor Titus to teach conduct that is fitting for sound doctrine. In other words, right doctrine must always be followed by right attitudes and actions.
Agree, yet still don’t see why he’s using general statements to describe rap music or Reformed doctrine. Reformed doctrine clearly states that it’s not just the doctrine, it’s the life as well that we must watch closely. 1 Timothy 4:16 says, “Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.” Reformed doctrine makes it ever so apparent that if we are truly saved, we must live holy lives in submission to Christ. Should I assume that this blogger is saying that he believes Reformed rappers are not living holy and submissive lives? Or that their songs are not songs of praise and adoration? I’m not sure. That would be a huge assumption on his part.
Finally, where do we draw the line in becoming like the culture to reach the culture? Is Reformed hip hop, OK, while Reformed death metal is not?
Good question. BUT, look at a few things about each. Look at the name of death metal. Death....metal. Could that be why death metals wrong? Cause it has death in its name? Don’t think so. Here’s why I would see death metal as something insufficient to spread the Gospel of Christ. It’s simple: you cannot understand the words. How can you preach without words? Within rap, you totally can understand the words. And there are tons of them to hear. So you could even write one song and have a whole systematic theology within it. Haha, now that’s funny.
I can’t fathom God receiving glory from music that sounds like it was born in hell.
I have 2 things to say about this statement.
I agree. But who decides what it sounds like? Cause I can listen to punk rock music and hear horrible sounds, loud grunts, and unintelligible words. BUT I can also hear the same thing from the 87 yr old woman praising God in the pew next to me. Is she wrong in sounding that way? What’s her heart’s intent?
When I hear these rap songs that are purposeful in bringing glory to God and not themselves, I don’t hear pride, rage, aggressiveness, idolatry; I hear poetry, uplifting and encouraging words, God-glorifying statements, and a war against the ideals of the culture.
The reason this concerns and troubles me is because God saved me out of the punk rock culture.
I can understand this. And we are called not to drink wine in front of a brother who struggles with this freedom. So we are also called to not listen to punk rock music in front of this brother, who struggles with this music (and if it’s not bringing glory to our Creator).
I am absolutely sure that there are Reformed rappers, Shai Linne, for one, who love the Lord and desire to glorify Him. Nor am I saying that it is impossible to be a Christian and rap about the truth. What I am saying, though, is that I believe extreme caution is in order.
Agreed. But we shouldn’t be like the Pharisees and create rules surrounding the laws of God so we don’t get close to breaking God’s law. Jesus was against the Pharisees for doing this on the Sabbath.
Why did I write all this? The following video bothered me.
I could say that about a million videos. I could say that even about a ton of “so-called” Christian rappers. But I don’t think you can negate every single rap song and rap artist who is writing God-glorifying music and behaving in a godly manner on and off stage. There are some out there.
Music is not a simple issue and should not be treated with canned answers. My philosophy of music is more detailed than I will get into here, but my conviction is that music itself–not lyrics–undeniably has a spirit.
Concerning the spirit of music. Yes, I hold with conviction that there is a tone behind many different forms of music. Not necessarily a spirit, per se an angel of some sort, but a mood or attitude behind certain forms of music. Just like the writer says, “No one writing a funeral song is going to use the tune of “Yankee Doodle.” “. And I don’t think rap music belongs in a Sunday morning church service as corporate worship. Most songs are too fast and it doesn’t give a Sabbath-day, restful tone, to worship God in church on Sundays. We have hymns and some contemporary God-centered music for worship on Sundays. But because it doesn’t belong in church on Sundays, doesn’t mean that this type of rap doesn’t have a place. It does. It belongs in your private studies, in your iPod, in your car, and in your blogs (hehe). But I would never say, “Let’s use rap music to worship God on Sundays.” No no no. That is not the right place for this type of worship. But this music does have a place. And because this writer chooses to write about his bad experiences with punk rock music, I will write about my good experiences with rap music.
During times of discouragement and distress because of certain circumstances, I have popped in some glorious rap music and been encouraged to read God’s Word and search for His promises. I have had my hope restored in the futility of this world and the surpassing joy found in Christ alone.
I have looked at the world and said to myself (much like Asaph did), “Why do they continue to prosper while they claim that God does not exist?” During those times, I listen to Lecrae’s, “Don’t Waste Your Life” or “Rebel” and get encouraged by Jesus’ example and His promises that He will hold me by my right hand and guide me though this world is against me.
When I have sinned and come to Christ with a completely broken heart, I can listen to Lecrae’s “Desperate”, and say, “Wow, I’m not the only one going through this.” Knowing that I have brothers and sisters in Christ who continue to struggle. Thus leading me to pray harder for them and myself.
The second problem I see is that mediums such as Christian Rap are often justified because they are “reaching” people. This is a big problem– it is clearly unscriptural to view music as a tool for evangelism. Scripture unequivocally states that God has chosen the foolishness of preaching to save those that believe for the very reason that it shouldn’t work (1 Cor. 1:21). When it does, God gets the glory and not man.
Yes, but tools and preaching are different. Tools are used in the process of preaching, where preaching stands alone as the means to speak the Gospel into someone’s life. But we must ask then, should rap be used as a tool for evangelism? Well, let me ask you this. Should little booklets be used as a tool for evangelism? Should the way I live my life be used as a tool for evangelism? Yes yes yes. But these tools are not what saves people. A tool is a tool. The Gospel is what saves people. So use the tools God has blessed you with, and then preach the Gospel to these people. When they ask you, “Hey, what’s that rap song saying?” You preach baby!