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The Holy Hip Hop Hullabaloo

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Comments (69)
  1. Aw, this was an exceptionally nice post. Taking a few minutes and actual effort to generate a really good article…
    but what can I say… I hesitate a lot and don’t manage to get nearly anything done.

  2. Learn the says:

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    beats suck, fret not.

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  6. Godly Sojourner says:

    Ughhhhh, I hate to say this, but the whole act has gotten old by now. The “Reformed” and attempting to be multicultural notion will self-implode before it takes flight.

    Until you guys branch out, and seek the opinions of people outside of your own inclusive “Reformed” community, you’ll be just as blind as Dutch Reformed Calvists who ushered in Apartheid. Their own isolation was part of their very demise and self-deception.

    I’m begging older Reformed folks to go to the “other side” that you swear is unbiblical and ask them their thoughts on Holy Hip Hop. People like Efrem Smith. People who are from the larger part of the whole. The overwhelming Holy Hip Hop culture is not “Reformed”. The fact that you’re sort of arguing from within like this is essentially proof that you;re far to inclusive with the body of Christ. Those “Reformed” men you critique are ill-informed of Holy Hop because they live in a Reformed bubble. Many of you do as well, but your also in a bubble outside of that bubble. LOL

    Until you can further explore the notion that racism is the real Elephant here, this will cycle continuously/ endlessly on every multi-cultural, socio-cultural issue under the sun. In other words, non-Reformed Christians have perspectives on issues like this that you desperately need exposure to.

  7. Pecasone says:

    Having listened with the ears to the Q& A Panel on The Worship of God; subsequently traveling technically to “Holy Hip Hop, Next Generation Gospel 7,” listening to What God Is, artist Child of Zion, I came unpleasantly away with “what God isn’t.”
    The Panel is correct; void of bigotry. Without submission to the spirit of the age, culturally speaking. May we continue to please our God with that which He provides. Clear and understandable.. .

  8. Jenny says:

    Watch this video from one of the speakers on the NCFC panel and guess where their ideas are really coming from

  9. Latoya Carthon says:

    After Jesus died on the cross ,we officially became apart of the ministry of reconciliation,reconciling mens heart back to God whether through ,rap,extreme sports,dancing, singing songs,writing books..praise God that he’s giving us new song and doing a new thing!We all came to Christ like the thief on the cross..Don’t make our brothers and sister feel like they have to crawl or get to Christ through works. When you walked through his doors and came to Christ freely.I will say it again..It is impossible to keep all 800 laws in the Jewish culture and it would be impossible to follow their instructions on how “they” worship God. All we know is that we are supposed to worship him in spirit and truth and NO MAN can be the judge of that…That is Gods Job and as far as i’m concerned only he can uphold that position..

  10. Valerie (Kyriosity) says:

    Well, I’ve listened to more rap in the past 46 hours than I have in my whole 46 years. I continue to appreciate some of it, but not in more than small doses. Which led me to a question: why do you suppose all of these talented Reformed guys are drawn almost exclusively to rap over more traditional gospel music? Are there any current gospel artists who are Reformed? I would like much larger doses of gospel on my iPod, but there’s so much lame theology in the genre that I find I don’t want to sift through all of that to strain out the few gems. And if anybody has any recommendations of artists or individual songs, I’m all earbuds. ;^)

    1. Barbara says:

      Keith & Kristyn Getty

      1. Valerie (Kyriosity) says:

        Sorry…I should have been clearer. I’m looking particularly for recommendations for black gospel music. But I am familiar with the Gettys and like them.

      2. Barbara says:

        Oh, sorry! 🙂 I don’t know of any beyond the rap/hip-hop genre that 116 Clique does, but I do know that Shai Linne mentioned that he was planning to work on writing some prayers and hymns suitable for congregational singing when he was doing his internship at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in DC. He may still be doing that? Mahalia Jackson wasn’t reformed, but she sang Holy, Holy, Holy with a refreshing exhuberance and joy. I so love her.

    2. Godly Sojourner says:

      It seems rather odd to make such a prejudiced statement, “Are there any current gospel artists who are Reformed? I would like much larger doses of gospel on my iPod, but there’s so
      much lame theology in the genre that I find I don’t want to sift through
      all of that to strain out the few gems.”

      1) Is Reformed necessarily synonymous perfect theology?
      2) By tying Black gospel music to non-Reformed theology your indirectly implying that Black gospel is largely theologically unsound.

      See a problem here? The vast majority of black gospel music as well as most black Hip Hop is not “Reformed”. Listen to someone like S.O. – there’s no bad theology to be found there, but he’s far from Reformed.

      Why younger, white and black Reformed people are so glued to “Reformed” is beyond me? It’s much too small and neglects far too much of the majority church body – the actual “bride of Christ”. Unless of course you’re of this new younger Reformed brand that’s fallen into the “us four and no more” frame of thought. Again, SMH.

      1. Valerie (Kyriosity) says:

        Hi, GS. Thanks for your comment.

        A. “It seems rather odd to make such a prejudiced statement.” I don’t think “prejudiced” is an accurate description. “Prejudiced” implies that a judgment without any relevant information. But my judgment is not pulled out of thin air. I first started exploring the genre a number of years ago when I spent a couple of years in a gospel choir. While the people responsible for choosing our songs were generally careful, there was one occasion when I decided I could not in good conscience sing a particular selection because I believed that the lyrics did not honor God. During my time in that choir, I often bought the CDs that contained the songs we sang. Some of those albums are still in active use on my iPod. Some had a few songs I appreciated, and others I thought were bad. Some of them I’ve pretty much forgotten altogether. When I lost that source of leads for new music, I tried listening to gospel radio, but, as mentioned above, I got tired of sifting through the bad to find the good. For the record, I abandoned most of “white” CCM a long time ago, too, for largely the same reasons: popular Christian music of whatever genre is mostly shallow and schlocky and sometimes downright heretical or blasphemous. The biggest and most persistent error I’ve encountered time and again in various popular Christian genres is some variation of It’s-all-about-me-ism: the attitude that God exists to prosper my bank account or boost my self-esteem or arrange the world for my general comfort.

        B. “1) Is Reformed necessarily synonymous perfect theology?” Nope. But it’s what I believe is the soundest understanding of what the Bible teaches, so I’d love to hear more of those truths sung in genres I enjoy listening to.

        C. “2) By tying Black gospel music to non-Reformed theology your indirectly implying that Black gospel is largely theologically unsound.” Actually, I’m pretty directly stating that a lot of it is. And, as noted, the same goes for traditionally white genres.

        D. “Listen to someone like S.O. – there’s no bad theology to be found there, but he’s far from Reformed.” I’m happy to listen to music that’s not distinctly Reformed. I’m not happy to listen to stuff that’s distinctly unbiblical. I asked specifically about Reformed artists here because that was in keeping with the topic of the conversation.

        E. “Why younger, white and black Reformed people are so glued to ‘Reformed’ is beyond me? It’s much too small and neglects far too much of the majority church body – the actual ‘bride of Christ.'” Well, I can’t speak for “younger” (I’m unquestionably middle-aged), and I can’t speak for Reformed people collectively, but I’ll speak for myself: I’m glued to “Reformed” because I believe it to be true. I heartily affirm that there are many true members of the bride of Christ who are not Reformed. But because I believe Reformed theology is true, I would love for the whole body of Christ to embrace it. I am over-the-moon delighted to see the small legion of rappers who have embraced it. My love of Reformed theology is in no way contradictory to my love of the church…it informs and inspires my love for the church.

        Golly…that turned out long. Sorry for so much verbiage, but there you have my best shot at replying carefully.

      2. Godly Sojourner says:

        Many of the things you state highlight my
        problem with certain portions of the Reformed point of view. I
        absolutely LOVE the bible. In fact, it’s the only book that I’ve
        actually read in the last 4 years. The church I attend is straight
        expository teaching, no exceptions for the most part, not hybrid
        topical. Literally verse by verse, from the start of a book to the end
        and then it’s on to the next book.

        With all that being said, and as much I absolutely love the
        bible itself I am equally aware and cautious that I never make the bible
        out to be God or Christ itself. Christ is greater than the bible. My
        aim when reading scripture is to grow closer to Christ, to glorify his
        name, and never to glorify the book, chapter or verse itself. I say all
        of that while holding to the inerrancy, infaliability, and perfection
        of the Holy scriptures. Because of Calvinim’s focus on personal
        reflection and piety this concept of relationship (with Christ) over
        scripture itself can get lost in the shuffle. Scripture is mentioned so
        often in Reformed circles that those who don’t know any better can
        misplace the glory.

        I am not at all attempting to project that onto you, but I
        feel like I’ve witnessed this firsthand with many of my “Reformed”
        friends. Strangely enough, I know because I’m close to these guys, that
        none of them read scripture as often or as fervently I do. In general,
        they are more likely to be reading Chandler, Keller, Piper, Calvin,
        Martin, Spurgeon etc, and then the bible on occasion. This strikes me
        as odd, because they too hold to this notion that things like black
        gospel is devoid of scripture and seek to judge it, by stating that like
        old dead white guys and hymnals better than….. LMBO.

        Now, don’t get me wrong. As with any part of the church body
        each has some growing to do. In black gospel music, and in the black
        church it’s too often that scripture is not taught. This should not be
        so, but it’s a reality. In addition, it can be, but is not always
        riddled with worship centered around emotional appeals. While some of
        it is completely authentic and a manifestation of the many struggles
        face by minorities (poverty, rejection, brokeness, etc…) it can be
        just emotionalism. On the flip-side, I’ve attended white congregations
        where they only sing hymnals. The songs are of course fifty percent
        scriptural or containing scriptural references, yet the people
        themselves are inexpressive, cold and appear to have no joy whatsoever.
        While this may seem pious and reflective, I know from my friends who
        are counselors for these churches, that these people while residing in
        neighborhoods with manicured lawns have massive problems in the home.
        Unloving husbands, kids on drugs, kids suffering from depression and
        anxiety at young ages, and so on. My sister, who also counsels in
        suburban school neighborhoods shares the same experience. My point?
        You can sing hymnals, not raise your hands, memorize scriptures, and
        only prefer songs that are “scriptural” and still be devoid of the life
        and joy of Christ Jesus. Therefore, the joy and emotionalism in the
        song and lyrics of black gospel is no less spiritual than old hymns.
        It’s person singing them that has life. Christ gave similar warning in
        scriptures to the Pharisees and Jews. It’s that person’s experience in a
        personal relationship with Christ that creates change in someone.
        However, scripture NEEDS to be and should be at the heart of Christian

        With all that being said, I’ll close with the following appeal
        to you. Please consider that your preferences, just like the men in
        the video (speaking on Holy Hip Hop) may just be more cultural
        preference than spiritual discernment. “Scripture” or God’s word does
        not always come bundled as verbatim book, chapter, and verse. Much of
        black gospel that is called/mislabeled as fleshy, empty, etc. often is
        not. It’s simply packaged in a way that is not palatable to certain
        ethnic groups that fail to understand the message. Furthermore, it’s
        often packaged in ways that are not scripture verbatim, but
        scripturally-based concepts. Some who cling to book, chapter, verse,
        and more reflection on personal piety, suffereing etc…, prefer this
        over hearing music about the promises of God, which black gospel often
        focuses on. In their minds, focusing on God’s promises seems to
        self-focused and not God focused although scripture tells us that in
        both God receives glory. Finally, belittling certain forms of Christian
        music can also come from a heart of self-righteousness. I too got
        caught up in this for some time. When i first started studying
        scripture in a serious way, after a short while I started to become
        judgmental of many things. I too stopped listening to black gospel
        music, and told myself it was based on bad theology. However, after
        some time I was convicted by the Holy Spirit. My own desire to be seen
        as righteous was at the heart of why I “looked down” upon the music.
        Later, I came to realize that some people really need to hear about the
        promises of God, and even at times to feed on the milk of the Word like
        little babes. Not everyone starts off being a Spurgeon or Tozer. The
        bible speaks of this and mentions that there are those who are weak in
        the faith. Although that’s not where they should remain, we may need
        music that can reach people on a pragmatic level right where they are.
        So, I praise God for people who are not against, but for us. We have to
        be careful about our own self-righteousness getting the best of us.
        It’s just as tricky and deceptive at times as it is for those who only
        want to hear songs or sermons about the love of God, and never about his

        God bless you sis, and if you are interested in hearing some
        black gospel that is very scriptural let me know. Specifically, there
        are some groups from the 80’s that I still listen to. The Winans are
        one whose music used to be absolutely chalked full of scripture. My
        favorite song they ever made is written straight from Psalm 51. I think
        it could be a blessing to you. Grace to you.

      3. Nate Tinner says:

        Oh, and S.O. is an artist on Lamp Mode, Shai Linne’s label, which is the MOST reformed Christian hip-hop there is.

  11. Riley says:

    Dr. Duncan, ever since I read your musical recommendations earlier today, my kids have been grooving to youtube videos. Our house is become a boogie wonderland.

  12. Kendrick says:


    I’ve read that someone “got saved” because of a sno-cone that the church handed out on a “big day,” justifying the method. Someone “got saved” because a church sent young ladies to the Marine base with flyers — good stuff, huh? Finney gottem saved because of his innovations, his new measures. Paul wasn’t so up with the methods, as he adjusted the opposite direction, not coming with the popular rhetoric or technique, but just preached the gospel, so that God would get all the glory (read 1 Cor 1-3). Jews seek after signs, Greeks after wisdom, others after hip-hop. He got heavy critique for that (read 2 Cor). Today he’d get labeled by evangelicals as some kind of bigot. Do you think the key to Asians learning theology would be the tantric, dissonant, reptitions of Buddhist music, or do you think that could be incongruous with God? Just asking.

    I’m not impressed with this kind of reasoning. You got saved because of God, period. You got saved despite hip-hop, not at all because of it. You’re getting saved doesn’t justify a method, right or wrong. Your justification of the method, however, is a crying shame. You were saved because of the gospel period, by the grace of God.

    On the other hand, is it possible that this kind of music is harming or hurting people? Christian growth comes through linear thought. God is not worshiped through passions, but affections. Doctrines change because of a gateway of the wrong feeling. Feelings are not neutral as secular psychology teaches. This is all a bow to that.

    is God worshiped through manipulating passions or through ordinate affections?

    1. bccomment says:

      Hey Kendrick, I offered a response to a similar statement from Charles in this discussion thread. Did you get a chance to take a peek?

      BTW, pretty sure that feelings, for most of these brothers and sisters, are informed AS the mind is informed. I assure you. The truths heard awaken the feelings not the other way around. If they don’t then we have a whole different discussion on our hands. Since music and art in and of itself carry the capabilities of awakening our feelings, should we just simply discontinue the use of the arts all together? Also, could you elaborate on your distinction between passion and affection? Those terms have been subjectively interchanged often so I would love to have a better understanding of how you see them.

      Lastly, If you classify THIS use of a cultural form of music as a method, then do you do others? Is the use of classical, for example, a method that Paul was not into? Is the use of choral a method that Paul would not feel? Where should we actually stop? This is where the rubber meets the road. Most will stop where they feel comfortable. As long as I’m comfortable with it, then it is not a method even though it is nothing more than another style/form of music just birthed from a different culture of people.

      God bless fam.

      1. Kendrick says:


        No. No offense, but you didn’t answer my comment with what you wrote before. Jonathan Edwards’s Religious Affections for the difference between passions and affections. I don’t think rap should be an evangelistic method, but it’s being used as one, like other forms of music. That’s the argument, and why the use of “method.” Paul didn’t use music as a method. Music. Not any style. I was clear about that, but people see things through their own prism.

      2. bccomment says:

        Got it. Sorry for the confusion fam. I read and thought you were speaking of methods in terms of styles and not music as a whole. The discussion flowed like you were speaking about your qualms with the kind of music used and not just music as a whole,

        “Today he’d get labeled by evangelicals as some kind of bigot. Do you think the key to Asians learning theology would be the tantric, dissonant, reptitions of Buddhist music, or do you think that could be incongruous with God?”

        “is it possible that this kind of music is harming or hurting people?”

        Fam, I’m sure it left you keyboard clear but it was not that clear for me. I apologize for taking your statement where you never intended for it to go.

        Pertaining to the affections vs passions, thanks for giving me your reference point. With that in mind, Edwards speaks of passions in a way that overpowers the mind. While affections are informed by the truths handed to the mind. The emotions are shaped by truths. My earlier statement spoke directly to that…as the truths of the Gospel are expounded (e.g. Self-Sufficiency by Tim Brindle) my emotions are engaged producing tears even. Thus, affections! I don’t start weeping because the music is sweet. I weep because my Savior is sweet.

        Lastly, I don’t think the article ever addresses Gospel Rap being what saves. This article speaks of someone being saved before they were introduced to Christian Rap, but even still I don’t think you will ever see any of the brothers of this genre argue that their rap saves. Everyone here agrees with Romans 1:16. And yet before Paul hears, God blinds him and brings him to his knees and then the Gospel is shared with him. The Gospel is the only thing that saves but it does come packaged in a myriad of different ways. Internet, Reading, Preaching, and dare I say Music? I don’t think Paul would carry contention with artists who desire to speak the Gospel in their rhymes. He would contend with people trying to butter up the Gospel through pragmatism.

        Much love to you and your fam.

      3. Valerie (Kyriosity) says:


        Read the Psalms. Sing the Psalms. You will find in them many exhortations to unbelievers. In them the Bible does give us the principle of musical evangelism.

      4. Kendrick says:


        No, you won’t find it in the psalms. I’ve sung through every psalm and taught through every one in the Hebrew text and there is no preaching the gospel through song in one verse of the psalms, which is likely why you didn’t quote any. There is nowhere that gives a principle of music evangelism. The NT teaches just the opposite. Read 1 Cor 1-3. Please.

      5. Valerie (Kyriosity) says:

        Exhibit A: Psalm 2:10-12 (We sang a fine metrical version this morning, in fact.) Musical evangelism in the act — a call to faithful obedience and worship. Of course it’s not a detailed explanation of the gospel, but then the author wasn’t in possession of all the facts. Which makes it all the more remarkable how clearly he gets Jesus in there:

        Now therefore, be wise, O kings;
        Be instructed, you judges of the earth.
        Serve the Lord with fear,
        And rejoice with trembling.
        Kiss the Son, lest He be angry,
        And you perish in the way,
        When His wrath is kindled but a little.
        Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.

        Of course the preached word is the primary evangelistic tool ordained by God, but there’s nothing in 1 Corinthians 1-3 that requires us to believe that it is an exclusive one. Off the top of my head, here’s another scripturally ordained one that’s even less like preaching than singing is: “Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear” (1 Peter 3:1-2).

      6. Kendrick says:


        Psalm 2 doesn’t say “sing to the heathen” or “sing to the ungodly.” In every instance that you have “sing” in the psalms, the direction is toward God, the audience is God. Sing to the Lord. Sing to the Lord. It’s never directed anywhere else. At the most in Psalm 40, it says that the unbeliever will “see” the believer singing and “fear.” Psalm 96 says “sing to the Lord,” but later declare or tell his glory among the heathen. Again, not one place says sing to the lost or sing the gospel.

        1 Cor 1:18, 21. We should regulate our lives by what it says. Silence isn’t permission. The Greeks seek after wisdom and the Jews a sign, but rhetoric wasn’t an appropriate method for Paul if you would read those chapters. Preaching is the method, the one that will glorify the Lord, because it is the method He has chosen. I would have rather you read it yourself.

        “Without a word” is prerequisite, but “with THE Word” is actually how people are saved. It seems the argument you’re making is: Since God can use a woman’s chaste behavior toward’s her husband’s salvation, then all methods are permissible, including ones not in scripture. 1 Corinthians 1-3 flies in the face of that.

        There’s a history to using music to preach, starting with Finney, who believed almost any means were permissible to persuade the sinner, hence the evangelistic song service. Of course, he was Pelagian, which was the basis of his strategy.

        I’m not going to argue any more about this.

      7. Valerie (Kyriosity) says:

        Well, I guess we read things rather differently. I’m thinking God doesn’t need me to admonish Him, so I will continue addressing worldly rulers when I sing Psalm 2. He gave me those words that do just that, so I must believe that He wants me to worship Him that way. He gave us psalms to teach and admonish one another (Colossians 3:16), so I’ma go on letting that order my life. He gave us psalms to pep talk ourselves (Psalm 42:5), because that’s the way He chooses to be worshiped.

        One thing that’s attractive about your view is that it would let me off the hook for evangelism. If the gospel can only be proclaimed by preaching, then only ordained ministers of the Word may evangelize, and since I ain’t never gonna be one of them, whew!, no need for me to share Jesus with my neighbors!

        Kendrick, I believe in the regulative principle of worship, though I’m sure you and I would differ on exactly how it works out. Your notion of a regulative principle of evangelism is a new one to me, and I’m not sure I could go along with it. Scripture is massively clear that God is very concerned with the details of how He is to be worshiped. There is simply not that degree of exclusivity of manner and means set forth in regard to evangelism. We don’t have a Hexateuch with a Second Leviticus. And there’s nothing in 1 Corinthians 1-3 (which I really did reread before my last post) that says “only.”

        Evangelism is a subset of loving our neighbors, and while Scripture shows us what’s outside the boundaries of loving behavior (e.g., the second table of the law), we needn’t limit ourselves to positive acts of love that are explicitly commanded. Surely we can love our neighbors with music. Personally, I’m looking forward to doing that with my quite unPelagian church this Saturday as we Christmas carol in the town square. We will heartily and lovingly proclaim to the world that their Lord has come, and call the earth to joyfully receive her King!

      8. Kendrick says:


        Regulating your life by the Bible is the doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture. When it says in every instance, “sing to God” — every — and that’s 90 plus times, I don’t know, I’m thinking that means sing to God. Maybe to you when it says it 90 plus times sing to the Lord, singing to the Lord, that kind of thing, to you that means it’s optional, sort of like carrying the ark on poles was optional. You could always use a cart. That was never forbidden. Neither did God ever forbid bringing vegetables to Him. And God never told Saul he couldn’t offer the sacrifice. I’m sure you’ll have an answer.


        Interesting take. Psalm 2 is sung to the heathen. I’ve used the verses of Psalm 2 to preach to them, but I’ve never sung it to them, because nowhere does the Bible say to do that. It says sing to God. Even in the only two verses prescribing singing in the NT, Col 3:16 and Eph 5:19 say sing to the Lord. Sing psalms to the Lord. I guess Psalm 2, a psalm, wouldn’t be one of those though, according to you. Just because content in the psalm addresses the heathen, doesn’t mean that you sing to the heathen. The between the lines part is tempting.

        The two arguments usually are teaching and admonishing, but those are participles. The verb is sing. Believers are taught and admonished when we sing to God. And then there is speaking, which is also a participle, but the idea is “among one another.” I’m not saying that believers are not in the audience, but the direction of the psalm, hymn, and spiritual song is to God.

        It’s tough when we can’t conform the passage to our practices and preferences.

        I’ll be done now.

      9. No, Psalm 2 doesn’t say “sing to the heathen” it IS singing to the heathen.

        So too every other musical form that is leveraged for the proclamation of the truth.

      10. BradM says:

        Wow, this a very strange view. What is music for? Should it all remain secular? If Christ glorifying lyrics ARE allowed, what if someone is impacted by the words and desires to know Him? Should we tell him “NO, stop right there!” because there is no principle of music evangelism? Or does the Holy Spirit determine to never work in a heart if there is melody too nearly connected with the word?

  13. Riley says:

    Honestly I think in the cultural context of the NCFIC, when asked the question with no prior reflection or chance to examine the topic, the panel gave what was a “safe” answer.

  14. Riley says:

    Some of the NFIC panelists who weighed in on this question seemed to have been thinking that Reformed Rappers want this genre to be used in worship in the church. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. There is music for worship, and there is music for enjoyment. We are not confined to worship music; music may be listed to for entertainment.

    And how is deeply and soundly theological lyrics somehow less acceptable than the banal and repulsive lyrics one finds in pop culture? Is a little edification with ones entertainment out of order? Is it not OK to listen to some country gospel on the way home from work on a Friday afternoon? And, by the way, rap lends itself much better to deep reflection on serious topics than country music precisely because it is a form of poetry whose focus is on the lyrics more than on the music, and because of rap’s tradition of speaking out on social injustice.

  15. John Sather says:

    At the core of this panel discussion was not just complete ignorance but a racist/controlling babble that dishonors the Lord

  16. adam234 says:

    I interviewed Stephen the Levite (a Reformed Hip-Hop artist) a few years ago and I asked him about this question of people who think holy hip-hop is wrong. His response was to say that “[this bias against hip hop is] no different than racism or classism. When you say that Hip Hop has no place in the church, you’re really saying that Hip Hoppers don’t belong in the church. The cultural supremacist is saying that in order to be holy, you have to drop your culture, your language, your clothing, your music, and all that identifies you with your origins and your people, and become like the suburban, European-American middle class. You might as well say we need to get circumcised. I know these are strong terms, but that’s what it is.”

    When I see that panel discussion, I don’t see a bunch of guys defending the Gospel, but I do see a bunch of guys defending a culture that they are very comfortable with.

    1. aslannn says:

      I don’t think crying “racism” is very helpful. It’s just too easy. It also assumes the ability to read someone else’s mind, heart, and emotions, and that’s never a good idea.

      Go back to the ’60’s and 70’s. The uproar about “Christian Rock” was, compared to this controversy, almost universal. And you know what? All of the early Christian rockers were white.

      The guys on this panel may be wrong, and they may not know what they’re talking about, but the race card is not helpful.

      1. vangelicmonk says:

        I don’t think Adam234 was “crying ‘racism'” but stating that they are acting as a cultural elite that is the same thing as racism or classism. Culture is not necessarily based on race or class for that matter. Hip hop and Christianity has a culture all to its own that transcend both race and class. However, the question is can they overlap? To say that cannot is to be condescending and elitist in the same manner as many racists and classists are toward minorities and lower social economic groups.

      2. aslannn says:

        First, I wasn’t responding to what Adam234. I was responding to his quote from Stephen the Levite.

        Second, the portion of the quote I was responding to was this: “[this bias against hip hop is] no different than racism…” Now, perhaps he meant something else, but he didn’t say something else. “no different than” means “the same as”.

        Third, you say the same thing in your reply to me. “…they are acting as a cultural elite that is the same thing as racism…” Well, if its the same thing as racism, its racism. Now, if that’s not what you meant to say, and if its not what Stephen meant to say, then I’m happy to be able to help you clarify what you actually meant. But as they say, “words mean things”. So does grammar. And when someone says “this is the same as that”, then the words and grammar equate the two.

        Fourthly, and leaving the racism charge aside, another commenter on this or another blog made what I think is an excellent point in regard to this idea of a “cultural elite”. Perhaps you can help me to see the crime in contending that one culture is better than another. The phrase, “cultural elite”, of course, is the description of those who oppose those on the panel, not their own self-description. But the idea behind it is that they are somehow wrong for contending that their culture is superior to some other culture. Why? The fact is, there are superior cultures and inferior cultures. I contend that 21st century western culture is superior to Islamic culture of any time period. I also would contend that mid 20th century American culture was superior to the present American culture. Does that make me some kind of “cultural elite”? Well, so be it, though I think its a hard argument to make when I’m contending that a previous culture was superior to my own. Others may want to argue the points, but its not wrong to make the assertion.

        If those on the panel believe that their culture is superior to the culture from which hip hop has sprung, I don’t see where the problem is. If someone disagrees, let them make their case.

        And just to clarify, I’m not defending anything those guys said. I’m writing as one who couldn’t care less about whether or not someone listens to Reformed Rap. From all I know, Stephen the Levite and Shai Linne, et al. are all great brothers and their stuff is full of good, solid truth. Praise God. I’d have problems with it when it comes to worship, but that’s a different issue all together.

        Did the guys on the panel know what they were talking about? For the most part, probably not. Did they say things that people are free to disagree with? Obviously. Does that give others the liberty to do to them, what they did to others in regard to imputing motives and claiming the ability to read minds and hearts? No, it doesn’t. Ultimately, that’s the point.

      3. adam234 says:

        Actually “no different than” would be better understood as “is like,” not “is identical with in every respect.”

      4. vangelicmonk says:

        1) The common trait the panel has with racism and classism is elitism. I can’t speak for Stephen the Levite, but that is what I mean when I say they are the same. Just as I would say that hispanics, blacks and whites are all the same. They are sameness in the quality of being human, but are not necessarily the same in all aspects.

        2) On a sociological or historical level, cultural scrutiny is standard and academic. However, on a theological examination of culture and how culture influences Christianity is a totally different thing since we have Paul in Romans and in Galatians talking about how Christ is above culture, especially Jewish culture. Moreover, over time and through scripture Missiology has seen that cultural elitism from the West has many times hurt missions rather than help. There are better writers, academics and missionaries who have wrote books on the matter that can better explain this than I could. Now I am not saying you can’t examine culture and how that culture plays into a persons walk with God, but the the focus is not about which Christian culture is best or substandard (depending on race, class, interests, economics, country, language, geography, dress, music etc.) but how the Kingdom of God is represented by it and how healthy the church is in that culture. The panel was more of the former than the latter.

      5. adam234 says:

        Also, recall that STL was not speaking of this controversy when he said these things, and as far as I know, hasn’t even spoken on the matter. So he isn’t imputing any motives to these men specifically.

      6. Scott says:

        I would redirect you to Acts and the letters of Paul when he exemplifies this by saying:
        ““For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; 20 and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; 21 to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; 22 to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. 23 Now this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I may be partaker of it with you.”

        When panelists imply or argue that their CULTURE is more biblical than another culture (maybe barring clearly unbiblical practices such as murder), it hinders the furthering of the Gospel. This is called ethnocentrism. It neglects that none of us are citizens of this earth. “For our citizenship is in heaven…” In reality, all of us have sinned and every culture has something screwed up about it. Such as the institutional racism of the 20th century shown through Jim Crow segregation, etc. When Paul says that he made himself a servant to all, he is putting aside his personal preferences and opinions in order that he might win people to Christ. Because we all know that the more we make the message about us and our cultural preferences and opinions, that’s when the message is muffled and blurred. I would say that is just a portion of what is wrong about being a “cultural elitist.”

      7. Scott says:

        That’s 1 corinthians 9:19, by the way.

      8. glory says:

        I wouldn’t call it the race card really it’s just fact ”white Christianity” has always imposed itself on the ways and cultures of others. Period.

  17. ron hoyle says:

    Is Mr. Duncan talking about rap music in worship services? The panel was right on in that regard, although several were too harsh. Rap is very much a look at me art form that is not appropriate in a worship service.

    1. Riley says:

      No, he’s not. I think this is the heart of the misunderstanding of the NCFIC panel.

      1. ron hoyle says:

        the reason I wonder about what Mr. Duncan says is because the rapper he mentions (the Voice) performs in worship services. I just watched him perform at a worship service at John Piper’s church on utube.

      2. Riley says:

        Fair point, but I do not believe you will ever find rap performed in the middle of a worship service at FPC Jackson.

      3. ron hoyle says:

        I agree! I am not sure the others posting understand that. I just think Mr. Duncan was a little one sided. I didn’t have a problem with the panel except for the two that were too harsh.

      4. Riley says:

        I just have a hard time imagining that listening to Hank Williams Sr. sing “I saw the Light” on Friday afternoon commute home is A OK but Shai Lynne “Our God is in the Heavens” would be out of bounds.

      5. ron hoyle says:

        I think we agree.

      6. Latoya Carthon says:

        this comment says it best:

        maestro-Literary forms? You’ve got to be kidding me. As though the vast majority of Protestant hymnody has employed the sophisticated anagramatic poetic forms of ancient Hebrew psalmody… As though the ancient art of cantillation in Hebrew worship bears any resemblance to the gospel songs of the Revival era in the twentieth century… As though “Victory in Jesus” and “Glory To His Name” and any number of other beloved Southern WHITE Baptist songs reflect some timeless well-constructed marriage of music and words…

        i’m a christian rapper (latoya)and performed in the middlle of service and even lead people to worship. and guess what? it’s ok.

        again meastro sums up what my people group got from this panel in a nutshell.

        with this comment-
        : “Six white guys sitting around talking about how to make black Christians more white by forbidding them to use their own idiomatic styles and “teaching” them to adopt your own narrow tastes.” is what comes across in the video. Nothing more.

        I’m not trying to condemn these men because they are my brothers in Christ…. but their display of “cultural superiority was repulsive

      7. aslannn says:

        “i’m a christian rapper (latoya)and performed in the middlle of service and even lead people to worship. and guess what? it’s ok.”

        With all due respect, sister, it’s not ok. Whether Rap, Southern Gospel, Classical, or anything other form you wish to mention, “performance” has no place in the corporate worship of God’s people. I’ve heard all of the rationalizations. The reality is, when a single individual stands on a stage to sing while everyone else
        sits there listening to him, worship is not taking place, entertainment is. When the performance is over, and the congregation breaks out into applause, it is not God they are applauding, it is the performer.

        That does not mean that there is anything inherently wrong with a particular genre or with performance and entertainment. It does mean that there is a time and a place. It means that a concert is not worship and worship is not a concert.

      8. Latoya Carthon says:

        Who are you and who am I to apply any metric but our Lord’s to what constitutes “Right Worship?” “God is a spirit and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.” (John 4: 24) I tell my choirs regularly that God takes our feeblest human efforts and perfects them so that our praises, by the time they reach His ears, transform from dross to gold. meastro

        With all do respect (aslann) you can not have the audacity to gage whether or not ,my performance ,my music,my worship to the lord is in spirit and in truth.lucky for me it’s not your job to do so.. God has that position covered.

      9. aslannn says:

        I am no one, and neither are you, and that is the point, really. You are correct that it is the Lord who determines what “right worship” is. He has done so in His word, and no where does the Scriptural worship of God include performance.
        This very post exemplifies the problem. “my performance”, “my music”, “my worship”. The worship of the church is the corporate body engaged in worship, not an audience witnessing the performance, or even the worship, of one particular member.

      10. Latoya Carthon says:

        let me clarify… the songs i write for the lord ,the music i perform for the lord,and how i praise the lord..Mr. aslann still does not have the audacity to gage whether or not what I’ve done is in spirit and in truth..It’s Gods job and his position.

        Using a deductive scheme (syllogism),jumping from scripture to scripture all night ,or any other system other than the guidance of the holy-spirit,displaying the fruits of the spirit,compassion, love etcc.
        without them it could potentially be a recipe for disaster in our little discussion so on that note….
        God bless you my Bro -ham! MY friend, MY buddy My pal lets agree to disagree …( :

        Good night!

      11. aslannn says:

        I think that’s probably best, MY sister. 🙂 Once someone determines to set aside the word of God in favor of the “guidance of the holy-spirit”, there’s really nothing more to talk about.

        Be well.

      12. Latoya Carthon says:


      13. Latoya Carthon says:

        that moment when you realize -your talking to someone who has to have the last word.-give it to them.

      14. Riley says:

        I don’t sympathize with much of the comments we heard from the panel, as you can gather from my comment above. But at the same time, the medium must fit the message. There is plenty of “black music” that would be just right in a worship service, and plenty of “white music” that would not be appropriate in that context. This I type as I listen to Stryper. God bless you. Use your talents for his kingdom.

      15. Greg Jobe says:

        ever is a long time…today we are seeing many things in churches in Mississippi that we never though that we would see. and God is glorified because of it.

      16. Riley says:

        At least, they won’t if God is merciful to FPC. I would consider that a serious worship downgrade.

    2. Greg Jobe says:

      Why not?

      1. ron hoyle says:

        I’m sorry, I don’t understand your question . why not what?

  18. charles says:

    I knew someone who got converted through an altar call and became a pastor, and this proves altar calls are of God. So not. Is “the end justifies the means” now a reformed principle?
    I loudly applaud for these godly men and their willingness to endure such public scorn for the love of the truth.

    1. bccomment says:


      Glad you visited the site and took a peek. I don’t believe Dr. Duncan was seeking to offer a theological discourse he was just adding a bit of perspective to a conversation that was lacking some. However, I would just like to submit that your first statement is very much applicable to the men you’re applauding as well. Did they satisfy you with their misplaced use of Romans 12? If not, then all of their arguments were lacking since they were only the reverse of what you criticize above — “negative ends justifying the discontinuation of the means”. People have used that medium for bad things so we should stop it. I truly doubt this is a reformed principle either otherwise we may need to outlaw preaching! You commend them for their willingness to endure such public scorn for their love of the truth, but what truth did they actually present in the video?

      While it may not have been intentional (after all this panel hardly seemed prepared to answer a question about Christian Hip Hop!), they did not present a reasonable position from Scriptures and were content with just simply saying “I’ve seen a lot of ungodliness with that medium and so, it can’t be used”. Well, I’ve seen a lot of ungodliness with microphones, lecterns, speakers, and projection screens. So, does that warrant us not using these tools as well. As previously stated, I hardly doubt this type of reasoning would be considered a reformed principle.

      One of the gentlemen went as far as saying, “so what does this music do to me? How is it making me feel? Is it making me feel anxious? bitter? upset? lustful?” Well, I don’t know how it makes him feel, but what I gather is that however it makes him feel is how he expects it to make me feel because after all, my feelings must be subject to his superior, advanced feelings, right? 😀

      I can tell you, brother, that this song ( doesn’t and has never made me feel any of those things. When my wife listened to Self-Sufficiency for the first time, she did the same thing I did…weep with spectacular amazement of our triune God and gratefulness that He would adopt her into His glorious family.

      It may not do the same for you, but I suspect that some of what you consider spectacular wouldn’t initially knock me over either; that is, at least, until I’ve opened up a little to listen and here what it was that the artist you enjoy had to actually say.

      I would encourage you to continue to explore the positions…sound biblical arguments abound in these discussions…which is probably why Dr. Duncan didn’t see the need to beat that horse here. Here are few more responses to whet the appetite.

      Much love to you brother and your continued sanctification through the Spirit of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

      Brian Crawford

      1. amootidan says:

        Thank you brother for that loving response. Amooti Dan

  19. george canady says:

    Thank you Dr. Duncan. I am not one that listens to Hip Hop much but I am glad to see some defending the men and the message. I love a story song, especially about our hope in Christ.

  20. Joshua38 says:

    Excellent article, my brother and friend – and I whole-heartedly agree with you! Thanks so much for your faithful proclamation of the truth, and for your encouraging and loving words to our like-minded partners in the gospel.

  21. Valerie (Kyriosity) says:

    These guys don’t just misunderstand rap/hip-hop, but music in general. They’d have to throw out pretty much every form of music in history: They’ve all been used for man-centered purposes as well as God-centered purposes; they’ve all been performed by egotists as well as God-honorers. Some of their arguments are the same as have been used against popular music forms for decades. I bet these men would agree with Gothard, for instance, about styles such as rock, for instance. Others of their arguments could be applied even to forms such as classical choral music. I mean, talk about a corrupt culture — the reputation it has as the domain of gay men is by no means unfounded. So…newer form of music, but same weak and inconsistent arguments. *yawn*

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