Q&A: Where Do You Draw the Line in Music?
*** Please Note: This post does not answer, nor does it even deal with the question above. It is not intended to. “Drawing the line in music” was the question asked me, but the question misses the point of the original post, Christian Rap Is A Lost Cause, from where the question was asked. Don’t let anybody fool you.
[From the post following]:
Christian Hip-hop has stated as it’s goal, and claims to be actively seeking, to redeem culture. No other genre of ‘Christian’ music states that goal.
Ok, let’s put this to bed already.
Yesterday, I wrote that Christian rap, or Hip-Hop, is a lost cause.
I have some outstanding readers. Some of you are just downright brilliant, and intellectually way beyond my pay grade.
Then, some of you still don’t get it.
I don’t mean that in a derogatory sense; what I mean by that is that some of you still have the same terribly widespread, bad habit of blog readers the world over – not reading the blog before commenting. Oh, many read a blog, but sometimes they read (and understand) what they think (or want to think) they are reading as opposed to what is actually being said. It happens, and this is certainly nothing new.
Well, enough is enough. Let’s make this as clear as possible, shall we?
First, let’s do this. Here are some quotes from that post that make absolutely clear why I believe Christian rap, or hip-hop is an absolute lost cause:
the goal of ‘redeeming culture’ is a lost cause. It’s a lost cause because the Bible says the culture of the world is passing away, it is dying already, and in the end, will be stone cold dead – and rap with it.
Attempting to redeem what cannot be according to Scripture. That’s a lost cause.
Hello? Is that not clear enough?
And yet, I received comments like this:
Where do you draw the line in any given culture as to what musical form is proper? I am aligned with the regulative principle as far as corporate worship is concerned. How do you determine the proper type of music in a culture foreign to yours? – Manfred
I agree with Manfred. How do you draw that line? Do you have an issue with Christian “pop style” singers or country? Those are popular in our culture. Does that make it bad? Is not a pure expression of worship and love always accepted by God? Even if the singer (or rapper) is wearing baggy pants and a sideways hat? I’m not trying to be argumentative. I’m honestly curious about your thoughts on other types of music. – lazyhippiemama
Who said anything about proper music? No one drew a line. That’s not even the point of the post, and the post was very clear. I understand, we all get defensive when it comes to things we love, even if it’s not ok. I totally understand.
Listen, the problem with (so-called) ‘Christian’ hip-hop is not whether it’s proper or not. It is not about the genre. It’s not the music style. It is not even that it’s origin comes from (indisputably) thug music.
Christian Hip-hop has stated as it’s goal, and claims to be actively seeking, to redeem culture. No other genre of ‘Christian’ music states that goal. Am I saying this clear enough now?
Listen, if you’re a Christian, and you like listening to hip-hop, more power to you. You are not a lost cause. If you love hip-hop, go in peace, enjoy, do that hippity-hop-hop thang ‘till you drop bro, yo, to your hearts desire, know what I’m sayin’ G?
It’s not about genre of music. It’s about a false teaching. The false teaching that culture can be redeemed. You don’t hear Christians who participate in country, pop, rock or whatever genre is out there making such a stupid and unbiblical claim do you? Oh, but hip-hop? Oh, you the snuff huh baby? You’re going to redeem culture, even though God says you can’t aren’t you?
No, you can’t, and you won’t. None of the hip-hop artist will ever redeem what God says cannot and will not. There must be some other motivation then, isn’t there? Uh-huh. Unless, of course, you deny God’s Word and what He has said.
John Piper and Desiring God Ministries thinks, along with Lecrae, that culture can be redeemed. That’s stupid, and I don’t mean that in the slang, good sense. It’s stupid, old-fashioned meaning.
Tripp Lee (an under-study of Lecrae) said this for himself and Reach Records:
Unfortunately, many today believe the hip hop culture is unredeemable, better left to itself. Hip-hop is rarely thought of as a culture that ought to be invaded with the truth of Jesus Christ. Truth is, there’s a desperate need of Christians who are willing to spend their lives in order to reach it and say with Paul, “I am not ashamed of the gospel” (Romans 1:16).
Reach Records and Reach Life Ministries are devoted to doing just that;reaching the hip-hop culture for the glory of God… Reach Records creates music that is relevant to the culture and is packed full of biblical truth. This platform has proven to be an incredible tool, both to introduce people to Jesus Christ, as well as help others go deeper in their faith. Through our music, we have the opportunity to reach a culture that otherwise would have no interest in what we have to say… We created Reach Life Ministries, a non-profit organization which produces Christ-centered tools and resources for urban churches and ministries to provide what music is not designed to do, disciple.
Trip thinks you can redeem culture. That’s a lack of knowledge my friends. I John says otherwise. Culture has no soul to be redeemed. Culture is a reflection of a societies religion, and hip-hop reflects the world and its lust, not Christ.
Trip Lee, Lecrae, John Piper, the whole GospelCoalition gang including Thabiti Anyabwile – they all think culture can be redeemed through hip-hop music- and so do many of you. That’s a shame, primarily because it is a result of ignoring God’s Word on the subject.
What’s really happening here is that professing Christians, well-meaning perhaps, are reaching out to the world by becoming like them, using what the world is attracted to in order to proclaim the Gospel – or get rich and famous.
Motive for participating in Christian hip-hop is not my call. You wanna rap? Rap your heart out, but before you start spittin’ truth, make sure you understand this:
The culture you reach out to, cannot be saved. It will perish with the world. That’s what the Bible teaches. If you think otherwise, you’re making an excuse to do what you long and desire to do, without God’s glory in mind.
Preach the Gospel, don’t rap it. Deal with individuals, to God’s glory for Christ Jesus sake, to the best of your ability according to the grace and gifts God has given you, but please, do not propagate this false teaching that worldly culture (which is perishing and WILL perish) can be redeemed.
That would be a lie.
I think I have said this before, but you have posted the above on hip-hop before too…
via Bob Kauflin in The Power of Words and the Wonder of God makes a pretty good point:
1. There’s certainly a place for expressing our subjective responses to God in song, but the greater portion of our lyrical diet should be the objective truths we’re responding to: God’s Word, his character, and his works, especially his work of sending his Son to be our atoning sacrifice.
2. We conclude that a certain beat, volume, chord progression, instrument, or vocal style is evil in and of itself. But unless those aspects are spelled out in Scripture we should be cautious about assigning a moral value to them.
3. An increasing number of churches have adopted the practice of offering different services for different musical tastes. While that decision can be well intentioned, I believe the long-term effect is to separate families and generations and to imply that we gather together around our musical preferences, not Jesus Christ.
…as far as point #2 above goes, I think you would probably say they are justifications from Scripture that say “Christian rap” is evil or whatever, but I just haven’t seen the Scripture that makes a strong case for that.
I personally don’t care for Christian rap, but I do like Frank Sinatra now and then, and Sinatra certainly has no moral redeeming qualities about it, but I am sure somewhere someone has been awakened to God through that genre… because somewhere it speaks to someone in a way it doesn’t speak to me.
I may be totally off in this case, there are certainly some types of music that are more redeeming than others but I do not feel I’m in a position to judge that (and no I don’t think culture is redeeming itself either).
My particular “conversion experience” came during a Christian pop artist from back in the 90’s, and while looking back I can see God working long before that date, it was at that concert I said, ok, I’m yours. Take it for what it’s worth I guess, but I don’t see why you are so hung on the rap thing… still love ya though brother 🙂
Because of what I just said…..the false promise that culture can be redeemed. It can’t. How much more clear can I make it?
i’m agreeing with you, culture cannot be redeemed, i guess i just draw the line between secular rap and Christian rap (though i don’t like either)…
i don’t even totally agree with my own statement there in total because i have not spent enough time studying “rap” or “hip-hop” in general to make a sound argument either way, i couldn’t even name an artist in that “genre.”
There just seems to be so many other better things to study and try to understand that are worth my time other than rap music, so i don’t spend my time worrying about it… you apparently do.
Being so familiar with the subject you must have far more rap and hip-hop readers on your blog than i do on mine… the south listens to rock-n-roll anyway 🙂
First, long live Skynard. Secondly, I don’t ‘study’ rap or hip-hop and I certainly don’t worry about it. When you step back and see that guys like Piper, the gospel coalition and new calvinists in general are all promoting Christian hip-hop, then, as a preacher, it makes me wonder why? I step back further and see a pattern. I’m not obsessed by any means, but I do indeed see a promotion of worldiness among professing calvinists. It’s a concern, and I think a valid one given the current theological climate.
I think that what is pertinent to this disscussion is that the NT says very little about music,where as it speaks volumes of what true worship is, and yet the debate on this issue seems to rage on endlessly. I could happily sit in a church that doesn’t have music , the same could not be said about a church that is not faithful to the word.
Hip-hop is not the same as rap. Tripp Lee speaks for Tripp Lee and does not define “Christian hip-hop”. Indeed, trying to redeem the culture is a lost cause. Not all “Christian hip-hop” has that as its goal.
But you have not answered my question, which had nothing to do with rap or hip-hop. “How do you determine the proper type of music in a culture foreign to yours?” What music should folk in sub-Sahara Africa use to worship the biblical God? How do you decide that?
i think that was more my point… how can we say one genre is “correct” when Scripture just doesn’t say that? What about Phil Keaggy who is probably one of the greatest guitarist alive, and plays classical hymns, is he ok? It’s a slippery slope of determining who is and who isn’t ok for worship, especially when you put other cultures in the mix? I will say when I was in Africa last year they worshipped to Chris Tomlin… it was really weird lol…
Phil Keaggy never claimed to have as a goal to redeem culture. See the point?
yes… i actually did miss that whole part of the condo after re-reading… so just scratch all previous comments then HAHA…
if the goal is to redeem culture they can’t do that, no way… if their goal is to awaken an individual, that’s different
Exactly….thank for the comments.
Joel – since you’ve admitted to lovin’ Skynard, how can you justify that? Is rock and roll, as a musical genre, better than hip-hop? Does Mark Dever promote hip-hop in general, or is he selective in what hip-hop he promotes?
Skynard (which I have not said I ‘love’ at anytime, shame on you) does not set out to redeem culture. You still miss the point.
You fail to see my point: hip-hop as a genre does not seek to redeem the culture. Tripp-Lee apparently does. I betcha theirs a rock-n-roll band that seeks to redeem the culture, but I won’t tar Skynard because of them. BTW, is the cultural redemption error the only place you draw the line on what music is permissible?
Okay, I am a little slow on the uptake, but I do agree, culture is not there for the redeeming, souls are.I guess you could extrapolate this argument to any genre that folks are trying to reclaim for Gods glory, and the answer would still be the same.Just wondering , do you see any correlation between redeeming culture and contextualising the gospel.
I totally agree Ray. It could be applied to any genre.
I completely agree that you can’t redeem culture in the manner that you’ve described. But I’m not sure that Trip Lee is using the word “redeem” in that “Jesus purchased it with His blood” sense. I think he means that many people see hip hop as something that is hopelessly worldly. What he and other guys like Lecrae and Shai Linne are trying to do is to show Christians that even hip hop can be used to build up the body of Christ, perhaps in the same spirit of certain hymn writers who set an occasional hymn to secular melodies. Perhaps they are redeeming hip hop culture in that sense.
What was the quote from about redeeming culture? Whose goal is that?
Music doesn’t reach people for Christ. Christ, His Word, His Spirit do. Music is a vehicle to help us worship Him, to respond to Him in knowledge, and it is the knowledge of Him that moves us. The new styles of music are commercial and aimed directly at our emotions, bypassing our minds and knowledge. Today we tend to think worship is a feeling, an experience when it is instead to be in truth and spirit, primarily a mental acknowledgment of who He is given us by the Spirit as we corporately encounter Him in His word read and preached. Since in worship we are meeting with a mighty, just, holy, perfect God, we ought to approach Him with reverence, which doesn’t change across time or culture. It’s hard to see reverence in rock or hip hop.