What is the relationship between faith and culture? How do Christians charitably dialogue and disagree about preferences regarding music and other forms of cultural expression?
These questions are especially relevant given the hullabaloo surrounding comments made about Christian Rap on the NCFIC conference panel. Six men responded to the question, “Any thoughts on Reformed Rap artists? Their musical style would be considered offensive to some but the doctrine contained in the songs is sound.”
Every single panelist gave a negative assessment of Christian Rap. They were fine with the message but disapproved of the method. In their minds the beats, rhythms, and culture involved in rap were incompatible with the gospel message. As you might expect, many people disagreed with their opinions.
The co-founder of the RAANetwork and I sat down with three guys who disagreed with the panel and have some insight into these matters. Dr. Carl Ellis, Jr. has been a teacher, minister, and theological anthropologist for over thirty years. Propaganda is a poet and rap artist with Humble Beast Records, and BJ Thompson is the Executive Director of Build a Better Us Ministries.
Here are just a few of their comments. Watch the entire video for more excellent remarks.
“You make [God] famous in the arena that He puts you in.”
“Hip hop is what God used to keep me out of gangs…I needed to find something I felt I could be a part of.”
“Spot the evidence of grace….it’s good for the church as a whole to make that a practice.”
Dr. Carl Ellis, Jr.
“If you say that something cannot be redeemed by God then you are saying that God is not Lord over it. And if God is not Lord over all then He’s not Lord at all.”
“We tend to reduce the Lord of Heaven and earth down to a tribal deity.”
“One of the reasons why the evangelical church totally missed the Civil Rights Movement is because they were on the epistemological side [of theology] but the theology on which the Civil Rights Movement was based was on the ethical side.”
“A lot of times we look at rebuke or exhortation as abrasive confrontation and we don’t look at it as our ability to restore somebody to faith and to the unity of God’s love.”
“There are some things that were said that are true. The panel talks about how the MC has a tendency to point to himself, that’s true. Human hearts love themselves.”
“The way we respond to this issue is not merely by writing blogs…The way to resolve some of these issues is meaningful family relationships. Reconciliation is confession with the intent of real relationship.”