47 Comments

When Presuppositions Lead Men Astray

This post is not to throw stones but to point out to all of us how dangerous our unexamined thoughts are. We see this in casual ways when we infer what wasn’t written or implied – such as when we read Bible passages that are very familiar. Another way is when we defend a position – in politics or religion, related to style of worship or doctrinal distinctives. What follows is an example of a blogger for whom I have much respect has written a post to make the point that we each should “draw the line” on what music is good and proper – ostensibly in worship.

This post is NOT a forum to debate whether “Christian rap” or “Christian hip-hop” is good; the reason for this post is to examine the subtle tendency we have to use faulty logic (making sweeping arguments without discriminating actual facts) and misapplication of Scripture (based on unexamined presuppositions).

In this post http://5ptsalt.com/2012/05/16/christian-rap-is-a-lost-cause/ the author condemns a form of music by saying it “uses the ways, lusts, pride, dress and manner of the world.” And he gives no example of “Christian rap” that fulfills this charge. Nor does he acknowledge that nearly every generation of Christians makes a similar charge at what’s new in music – as Spurgeon did with organs in churches. Handel used grand orchestras to portray his message of God’s glory and people today still love some of his music without loving his Lord. Was Handel as guilty as the un-named “Christian rappers”?

In his follow-up post, http://5ptsalt.com/2012/05/17/qa-where-do-you-draw-the-line-in-music/ he conflates rap and hip-hop, condemning both as wanting to redeem the culture. He has a quote attesting to this under LeCrea’s picture – but does not tell us who spoke those words. It appears to be the author of the post, as those exact words appear later in the post. In making this claim of what the goal of “Christian hip-hop” is, he fails to provide one shred of evidence in support. LeCrea does not make any statement, in the video linked to, that the culture should or can be redeemed. The quote from Tripp says that “many today believe the hip hop culture is unredeemable” and how he hopes to REACH that culture with the gospel. He does not claim to want to redeem the culture – he wants to invade the hip-hop culture with truth.

The author slams several people as supporters of “Christian hip-hop” and, therefore, advocates of the unbiblical mission of redeeming the culture; naming Mark Dever and Thabiti Anyabwile in this regard. But in the video of Thabiti Anyabwile that is linked to, he DOES NOT say that culture can or should be redeemed, by hip-hop of anything else. He said that music (in this case, hip-hop) that carries reformed biblical truth can pierce the culture and form worldviews. There is no evidence that Thabiti or Dever support cultural redemption in either post.

Making these allegations without providing evidence and while misapplying what documentation is provided is wrong headed. Truth is important. Those who push for cultural redemption or cultural reformation should be properly exposed – with clear and convincing evidence rather than unsupported allegations. But we who claim Christ must be truthful and honest in our examination of the facts and allegations. I fail to find anything of substance in these posts, only mere allegations and a refusal to answer questions about sources and basis for judgment.

It is my prayer that the author of those posts repent and honestly report departures from biblical truths without resorting to half-baked arguments based on misquotes or neglect of the facts. It is my prayer that you and I likewise investigate the cause we do not know, as did wise Job (Job 29:16). We should think the best of brothers and sisters in Christ and be slow to throw allegations at people. Discuss the issues, use facts and sound logic. May God have mercy on all of us – for we each fall short in myriad ways each day.

About Stuart Brogden

Reformed Baptist, married to one woman since 1978, enjoy camping, motorcycle riding, solid books that assist in understanding the Word of God, fellowship with the Lord's saints, and some classical music. A wretch saved by grace, with nothing to give my Lord except my sin. Desire to make the gospel known and shepherd some of the Lord's sheep.

47 comments on “When Presuppositions Lead Men Astray

  1. Manfred, with all due respect, if your “examined thoughts” lead you to exonerate “rap” I can only say, “Lord keep me from Manfred level introspection!!” (By the way, anyone married since 78 is way too old to be patting rap on the head saying, “good boy!” —– (by the way, married since 73 myself!)

    __________________________________________________________________

    And that was one too many “by the ways.” Your rap kiss shook me up!

  2. texas – As I mentioned, the point of this post is not to promote rap as good. It is to prompt us to examine the way we form arguments. I personally dislike rap. I do, however, like the lyrics Shai Linne puts to hip-hop and am thankful, along with Thabiti Anyabwile, for him taking the biblical gospel via reformed theology into that musical culture. Don’t lose site of the issue because you don’t like rap.

  3. Shai Linne – the old guy with glasses from TIbet, right? Or is that Thabiti Anyabwile. Oh life was so much safer with just Paul McCartney and Frank Sinatra to fret about….

  4. Manfred,
    I don’t “get” that guy. Sure spent a lot of time and energy talking about hip hop and/or rap “music” and music in general if that’s not what the post was ‘supposedly’ about. I understand he was trying to connect culture and music (specifically hip hop and its culture), but MAN….the way he was trying to do so was pretty painful.

    Culture = Attitude + Behavior.

    Once a person is converted, their attitudes and behavior change, right? If a whole bunch of people are converted, all of their attitudes and behaviors change, right? That’s the only way the “hip hop” or Rap culture will ever change. Until then, it’ll continue its entropic decline.

    Todd
    Texas

  5. I read both posts and they have me a little confused. And I feel really dumb, because the writer said he couldn’t make it much more clear.

    You can’t redeem hip hop? Ok, what does that mean exactly? Like, I can’t redeem my coupon at McDonalds? Meaning Its not usable. Or redeem, as in save. Hip hop culture is so bad it can no longer be saved. I need a dictionary. Or a thesaurus. Maybe even remedial English.

    I think I just confused myself even more.

  6. Good post. Personally, that genre of music is not my cup of tea, but the lyrics Shai Linne poses to his music are so theologically rich with biblical truths. I respect and actually enjoy hearing his stuff (or at least reading his lyrics!) and love his heart for spreading the gospel to some who may have never heard otherwise.

  7. Todd and tex: Everyone one of us – redeemed or reprobate – has a culture. I do not see any proof that Tripp, LeCrae, or any other “Christian hip-hip” artist is trying to redeem any culture. I do see them using a cultural form of lyrical communication to proclaim biblical truth to folks who may not listen to another form. Why is that wrong?

  8. As I grew up in the 70′s 80′s and 90′s listening to all kinds of secular music, Music was a huge part of my life and even the instruments used. I was very sensual in my thinking and so music that I loved even if it had bad lyrics if I liked the beat of the drums or guitar it would appeal to me in an emotional experiential way. Making my skin feel warm or just making me feel good..

    After I was saved I had a bon fire and burned my 45′s and my albums I gave away. Music had too much of a hold in my life before I was saved that I loathed it afterwards.

    I fell in love with Jesus Christ and anything that gave him reverence awe and respect due his name…

    I say all this because If I were to listen to anything that has a certain beat with drums or guitars even if it is Christian rap, I cannot deal with it because it plays upon my sensual lusts.

    I’m speaking only for myself. I don’t care for RAP or any Christian music that has what I consider secular tones and lyrics to it. Many of the Christian songs are full of narcissistic lyrics and actually have nothing to do with the LORD.

    I personally don’t care for rap but there’s one guy who sang a christian rap song (BECAUSE of the WORDS) exposing false WOF teachers etc and lifting up the Lord Jesus Christ–I absolutely love. So I don’t find that I’m bias in the sense of automatically throwing it out just because it’s rap..

    My personal preference are the Hymns that are full of God’s word and full of worshiping the Lord.
    I don’t think that it’s bias to like what I believe is best. I don’t really care for Rap and I don’t think it should be sang in worship for Christians praising the LORD. It’s just incongruous.

  9. Linda – this post in not about the music – it’s about the thought process behind the author of the subject posts.

  10. Okay, thanks for your correction

  11. Oh, so the point made in the post is ignored, now it’s all the authors thought process? There goes truth, out the window.

  12. As I tried to point out, in posts there and in a private email – the author of those posts makes false assertions, misquotes people, and assumes facts not in evidence. If one calls that truth, he can have it; for Truth it is not.

  13. We all have presuppositions. WE all carry our presuppositions with us even to God’s word. Our thoughts have to line up with God’s word-the truth. We have to all learn how to -”demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God and take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ”

    This is why we MUST be cleansed by God’s word and ask the Lord to ~”Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”-Psalm 139:23-24.

    If the guy is misrepresenting the truth and these men then his presuppositions are a heart problem. Truthfulness in the heart precedes truth in the objective world= in other words intentions of the heart is prior to content of truth. A person’s research is going to be filled with hypocrisy and dishonesty as a result

  14. Ky Gal – I understand your confusion. The author makes claims without proper support. Hip-hop cannot be redeemed, which in this context means to be made right with God – which is what happens when sinners are justified. That does not mean, however, that hip-hop music cannot be used for good. To be a good work in the sight of God, 4 criteria must be met (from Sam Waldron’s Exposition of the 1689 London Baptist Confession, chapter 16):
    a) It must have the right matter – a thing God commands be done.
    b) It must have the right root – proceeding from a heart made clean by Christ.
    c) It must have the right manner – God’s work done in God’s way.
    d) It must have the right end – the glory of God.

    Can a given form of music be so used? If a popular form of music from 1850 can be used for hymns and approved by folk such as that author, why not a popular form of music from 2005? Not all persons performing hip-hop are products of the culture indulging the desires of the flesh. Shai Linne gives credible evidence of being redeemed and does not perform for the applause of men, but for the glory of God. How that is bad, I fail to see. The author of those posts works hard to find a given disputable item with a given person and make a big argument over it – as he did with John Calvins’ statement that the human heart is a “sin factory”.

  15. Manfred, you are right that Ayabwile’s argument doesn’t really seem to be about “redeeming the culture” — it’s more about pragmatism. I’m not sure that is any better, however.

    Pragmatism, “redeeming culture”, and good motives are the three main arguments for why we should use certain forms of music. None have any Biblical basis. The redeeming culture concept is fair game for criticism. The only real problem I have with his post is that he named names without demonstrating that those people were advocates of the teaching. I’m pretty sure he is correct that Lecrae is an advocate, and think he might be right about Piper, too, but he didn’t prove it (and I don’t have time to do it for him).

    Also, while I agree with his assertion that these forms are worldly, he hasn’t made the case. He’s just asserted it. An unsupported assertion only convinces those who are already convinced. That is the crux of the matter — is it worldly, or not? Does it have “the right manner”? Neither the conscious motives nor God’s ability to use it for good address that question. You’ve addressed Waldron’s test B, but Joel Taylor primarily targeted C. Saved persons can have right conscious motives and still do that which does not have “the right manner” (though, of course, no one can really judge someone else’s motive very well — or even our own motives).

  16. Jon,

    Please help me understand the basis for your statement that Ayabwile’s argument is more about pragmatism.

    Regarding your comment about Joel’s perspective, how is the music we accept determined to be acceptable, while hip-hop is not? I am not asking if hip-hop is the acceptable within a given US church for corporate music – but as tool to present the Gospel to those in love with that form of music.

  17. @ Manfred… I’ve been thinking

    what about the word of God? How come it’s not even used as the criterion for music? All Scripture we’re told is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” What about the Psalms and do we not consider how Songs were sung throughout Church history? Yes I’m sure they varied with instruments and all but basically it was never erratic and uncouth type language/speech but perspicuous.

    I don’t see that Pop music or Rap is biblical even if it has Christian lyrics.
    Unless it can be proven with evidence that We extrapolated it from Christians as an example passed down to us, then I would be so bold to say that Rap and Pop music the genre is recent in our time and culture and is worldly-secular. In fact I’d say that we’d have to ask the question-who began the rap music and who began the Pop music styles? Secular musicians. What does that say?
    I would think that there are presuppositions on both sides ~

    So anyways, I would say that we have to examine the whole thing in light of Church history..

    Just some thoughts I had,,,

  18. Linda – I am not arguing about what music Christians ought to use in corporate worship. But I would ask you – how do you know what the music used by ancient Israel sounded like and why is it the standard for us in the new covenant of Christ’s blood? We do not approach the Father through a human priest who, once a year goes behind the veil.

    The issue with the music that I want people to think about is the one that is actually in play – why is it wrong to use hip-hop to present the gospel to people who love hip-hop? I do not advocate using rap (anywhere) or hip-hop in church – same with rock and roll, jazz, opera, and so forth. But I question a person who says it is sinful to use those forms of music to present biblical Truth to people.

  19. Manfred,

    This discussion is interesting due to a similar discussion we’ve had at our church about culture and music.

    Are you saying that Culture is neutral? Or might culture, which I would define as “attitudes + actions of a group of people”, be sinful? Culture may consist of wrong and sinful behaviors because they are derived from wrong and sinful attitudes and beliefs.

    What is the difference between Rap and Hip Hop? Why do you find Hip Hop acceptable and Rap not? Can they actually be separated as different? Is not Hip Hop the culture (baggy pants, sideways ball cap, ear piercing, tats) which includes Rap as a music style?

    If they, rap and hip hop, are not suitable for the church, can they be suitable for sharing the Gospel message, i.e. the message of the Church? Doesn’t that create a false dichotomy between the church being a building containing worship services and the Church as the Bride of Christ?

    Striving to be Berean,
    Berean Wife
    ___________________________________________________________
    Manfred,

    This is very interesting considering the discussion in my church concerning culture and music.

    Are you saying culture is neutral? I would define Culture as Attitudes + Behaviors. Sinful behaviors can be derived from sinful attitudes. Thus I would say no Culture is neutral and all may be sinful in many areas, even “white, middle-class church culture” depending on the underlying attitudes and basis for the behaviors.

    What is the difference between Rap and Hip Hop? Can they actually be divided? Is not Hip Hop the culture (baggy pants, sideways ball cap, piercings, tats) that includes Rap as a music style?

    Why is Hip Hop acceptable but Rap not?

    If they, Rap and Hip Hop, are not acceptable for Church can they be acceptable for sharing the message of the Church? Doesn’t that create a false dichotomy between Church, as a building in which worship is done, and the Church, as the Bride of Christ?

    Striving to be Berean,

    Berean Wife

    P.S. This may be a duplicate. The Log – in appeared to eat the first comment. :0

  20. I would assert that music is not the vehicle by which to present the gospel to the lost. The Word of God is THE tool. Preached and read.

    Todd
    Texas

  21. todd – what makes it wrong to use music to present the Word of God to a given audience? Not that is should replace the preaching of the Word (Christians who use hip-hop do not advocate this), but is it wrong? This one, for example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TnGsp0K75EA

  22. Manfred, your words re: Anyabwile: “He said that music (in this case, hip-hop) that carries reformed biblical truth can pierce the culture and form worldviews.” That’s essentially pragmatism, evaluating a methodology’s worth by whether or not it works to a good purpose.

    Second: “How is the music we accept determined to be acceptable, while hip-hop is not?” I thought this thread wasn’t about that. :) I have loads to say, but I’ll keep it brief, because A) I don’t want to distract from the good points you made in the OP and B) I have little time anyway. (Well, I never keep ANYTHING brief, but this will be brief by my standards. :))

    Music carries messages. Many people, when they hear these styles, hear messages of violence, lust, rebellion, misogyny, etc. That is their perception of what the style itself means. Whether they are correct or not, the perception is widespread. Many people will hear those evil messages even if you put Gospel lyrics to it, and for many it will stir evil thought patterns. You may not hear those evil messages, I may not, the singer may not, half the hearers may not, but many will. When an art form carries such messages for many hearers, is that the art form we should use for presenting the Gospel?

    Let me turn your question back. Why is it wrong to use nude art to present the Gospel? God created the naked body, after all. People like looking. The answer? The art form carries messages contrary to the Gospel, distracts from the Gospel, and directs the thoughts of many into sinful patterns.

    I’m NOT saying musical styles are the same as nudity. I AM saying that whether someone >likes< an art form is not a good measure. We must consider the messages which will be received by the hearers, and if it stirs up sinful thought patterns in hearers. The unregenerate like a lot of things we shouldn't touch with a ten foot pole.

  23. Thank you, Manfred. That clears it up a little for me. This requires some more thought on my part.

  24. Jon – I disagree that “piercing the culture” is pragmatic. By this, he means that the people in that culture are pierced with God’s Word and their worldviews are changed. Visual art compromises the message, detracting from the Word – a different animal from music. I agree that what one likes is NOT the measure of what’s good. Same with what people don’t like – that’s not the measure of what’s good. Regarding the style of music, I think you are conflating rap and hip-hop; but if anyone would be so influenced by Shai Linne’s music, they should not listen to it. I think is this the message of Romans 14. That does not mean such music is bad.

  25. I’m talking about presuppositions and in doing so I led to that point by talking about music first. Maybe it’s because I’m a woman and I’m going about this whole thing differently than you???

    I don’t know what type of music they listened to back then except from what the bible describes with the instruments David used or the songs Mariam sang or Deborah and Barak sang etc. They went before the Lord with a heart full of worship so it wasn’t so much the songs or instruments at all really it was their heart~~~

    Sorry you had to correct me again about music… I’m confused with you really.

  26. Berean Wife – GREAT to hear from you! Not being a fan of rap, the only rap I know of is wretched. The only hip-hop I know of is that of Shai Linne and couple of his friends. I am not a fan of either – but I don’t know of any rapper who has put Truth to that music form, whereas I do know of a couple of hip-hop artists who do. Culture is of man, and tainted with the sin of man. This is true of white, middle class culture and every other class of culture. What I am trying to point out is not that hip-hop is good for use “the church”, but that I fail to see a biblical argument as to why it cannot be used to present the Truth of God’s Word to people who embrace that segment of the culture.

    I don’t think I’m proposing a false dichotomy about this. My presupposition is that people who hate hip-hop are likely to argue that it is wrong in the church, meaning their church. I do not think it wise to bring in – on a regular basis – music and other forms of communication that are foreign to the culture of a local church into the local church. But I do not think any local church has the keys as to what form of music is suitable for proclaiming God’s Truth. I much prefer Shai Linne’s reformed hip-hop to any musical form carrying a man-centered lie.

    Linda – I agree with you. We don’t know what music God approved of and that is not the main thing we should worry about. We each draw the lines about music, based on many things we’ve learned from many masters. My prayer is that we each consider what is right and honorable in sight of God – not what our likes and dislikes are.

  27. Well, Manfred, if we’re talking about the work of the Word, why even mention music? The only reason to mention it is pragmatism. But I suspect we just aren’t going to agree on this point.

    ***
    Re: conflation. Shai Linne’s myspace page says his genre is “Christian Rap / Hip Hop”. http://www.myspace.com/shailinne. Read the Wikipedia page on Hip Hop and then tell me there aren’t people who hear ungodly messages in Hip Hop. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hip_hop.

    “Like rock-and-roll, hip hop is vigorously opposed by conservatives because it romanticises violence, law-breaking, and gangs”.

    “…indeed, hip hop has been widely criticized for inciting notions of crime, violence, and American ideals of consumerism…”

    etc. I didn’t make this up myself.

    ***
    This statement totally confused me: “but if anyone would be so influenced by Shai Linne’s music, they should not listen to it.” ??? I thought you were talking about evangelism.

  28. Jon – cite Wikipedia all you want. I don’t do Myspace or Facebook – I’ve never read Linne spout rap, but that ain’t the point, other than my preference. Shai Linne does not put his music at a higher priority than preaching, but he does recognize that music is a gift from God and is to be used to the glory of His name. While many rock, rap, and hip-hop (and country, et. al.) artists are worldly and reflect myriad sinful conditions, that does not mean a given artist should be condemned as unusable.

  29. Manfred, I’ll leave it at this, then. Many people hear sinful messages in rap and/or hip hop, in the styles themselves. I’ve demonstrated that. That’s what many people think the styles mean. I don’t know if those people are right or not, but if that’s what they hear, I won’t use it for evangelism. If someone else does use it, and people are saved, I will rejoice — but the apparent success of a ministry is not what convinces me that all is right with it.

    Blessings to you.

  30. Manfred,

    I must admit I’m confused by your post and reply, doesn’t take much to confuse me. I reread the post closely and I understand it is about presuppositions. But on the side – I think you are drawing a line between Rap and Hip Hop that doesn’t exist.

    From what I understand, you are saying that the medium does not have an inherent message, just the “Christian” words are important. Is that not a presupposition itself? That the medium of music or music styles does not have a message. However, if that was the case no one would ever listen to an instrumental piece. Maybe the medium of Hip Hop contradicts the gospel message? Are we sending a mixed message that the world can be co-mingled with the gospel? What are they being called out of?

    Is it not a presupposition that the medium be separated from the value system that derived it? Granted in 100 years the medium may survive while the underlying values have been forgotten. But today? We no longer struggle over eating meat offered to idols because the values behind that have been lost. But Paul warned us to be concerned about the weaker brother who may struggle in that area. Can we then use the medium of Rap and Hip Hop to call a people out of a culture with certain underlying values with the same medium they use to express them?

    Berean Wife

  31. Berean Wife – The medium and message cannot be separated. Music is not neutral. One CAN eat meat offered to idols – if his weaker brother is not around or there is not one who cares. Rap v hip-hop: I am uneducated. A quick look at a few web sites by worldly folk give a consistent answer that rap is a form of music while hip-hop is a culture or life style. The few times I’ve heard songs identified as rap sound nothing like the songs of Linne that I’ve heard, that he calls hip-hop.

    THE question remains: How does one determine hip-hop cannot be used to take the gospel to that culture? Here’s a key point: a weaker brother who is offended by the culture of rap, etc. should not be with Shai Linne. I have not recommended a church not of that culture bring music of that culture into it. Regarding the use of this music, my question has been in the context of what Shai Linne and LeCrae have described as their “mission” – to take the gospel (which they proclaim well with their music) into that culture, to pierce it (the people therein) with the gospel and shape worldviews. That’s bad, how? Not talking about people who are worldly and merely pretend to take the Truth to the streets. Talking about a few people with a credible Christian witness using a cultural form to impact people in that culture. And not seeing that it’s wrong.

  32. Frankly I can’t see how this line of reasoning differs from the Seeker Sensitive paradigm. The positions taken appear to be virtually identical, to wit; “The Bible doesn’t expressly forbid it (whatever ‘it’ happens to be), and we’re reaching people who would never normally darken the door of a church with our message.” It’s rank pragmatism. This isn’t “all things to all men” territory which is where a Christian gives up/divests himself of his liberty for the sake of reaching the lost, this is, “Don’t judge me bro! I’m exercising my liberty!” territory. Very wrongheaded.

    I think you’re digging yourself deeper into a hole the longer you attempt to defend your present position, Manfred. You might salvage the situation by presenting a positive Scriptural case, if you can come up with one.

  33. Coram – I have yet to have one person tell me how they determine what form of music is permissible. Not one. But this entire discussion as to whether hip-hop is permissible as a vehicle to proclaim the gospel to people in the hip-hop culture (not in the church) is not even the topic of this post. It’s merely the hot button that people have unexamined presuppositions about :-)

  34. Manfred,

    Brother I think you bear much of the responsibility for the mixed messages that are causing this thread to seemingly lurch from side to side. I’ve carefully read and re-read, and read a third time your post, the two posts you’ve criticized, and the combos meta here. Here’s my take:

    i.) You suggest in the OP that 5pt “has written a post to make the point that we each should “draw the line” on what music is good and proper – ostensibly in worship”; yet I see zero evidence of anything that would lead to such a conclusion. You seem to be doing what you decry 5pt of doing – making unsupported allegations.

    ii.) Your comments throughout the meta vary between interacting with other DefCon interlocutors on the topic of the permissability or impermissability of certain styles of music for use in spreading the gospel (hip hop / rap), and refusing to interact on the selfsame topic stating it isn’t the point of the post. This is confusing.

    iii.) You ask several times about why certain styles of music should not be employed if not specifically forbidden by Scripture (a position of weakness/argument from silence) instead of offering a positive Biblical case for its use (a position of strength and Biblical sanction).

    Please understand that I’m not trying to be rude, or come across as attacking you personally, I’m just offering my observations for your consideration.

  35. “Coram – I have yet to have one person tell me how they determine what form of music is permissible. Not one.”

    Manfred, with respect, I have given you one criterion. I look at what people say an art form conveys, to see if that message is consistent with a Gospel message. It is unnecessary to try to determine whether people are correct — if a significant percentage of the hearers will receive sinful messages, we should avoid it.

  36. CD – the original purpose of this post was to show how Joel made up “quotes” and ascribed them to people, then called those people by the label he assigned them. He claims all artists who practice hip-hop are of that culture, which is worldly and nonredeemable. My point is to examine these claims and our own preferences. Did LeCrae or Linne or Anyabwile claim to want to redeem any culture? Do LeCrae or Linne live like the worldly rap and hip-hop guys? Do they seek to make their names great or do they point to the Lord? Also, I want folks to consider the difference between the gathering of saints in the local church and what music is proper for that gathering and individual Christians as they go in the world. Does anyone here not have songs they enjoy that glorify the Lord but do not think them appropriate for their church? I do.

    As for the charge of pragmatism – everyone is pragmatic. Every good preacher is pragmatic – in at least one sense: he wants his message to impact his hearers. He wants to be effective in the proclamation, explanation, illustration, and application of the text. That is pragmatic! But good preachers are not pragmatic regards the results – God grows His people. So why is it wrong for a fella who came from hip-hop to use that form of music to glorify the Lord?

    Is there a case to made from Scripture? Certainly – but I don’t think there are proof-texts. Rather, our arguments ought to display biblical principles at work in them.

    Jon – how is Shai Linne’s music not consistent with the gospel? You spent some lines commenting how Romans 14 ought to be enough to stop “Christian hip-hop” because some people might be “haunted” (my word) by that style of music. That is not a proper application of that Scripture – there is not a global prohibition of an activity because some Christian somewhere in the world might be offended.

  37. Well, I wrote a post last nite but it still hasn’t been posted… Sometimes it’s like they disappear in thin air. Anyways,

    I’m not trying to be disrespectful in any way neither. We DO have some kind of grounds for not accepting certain kinds of music and we have to. We have to be able to judge properly and we DO have levels of discernment to what is godly and what is not-the Holy Spirit in us who is the Spirit of Truth.

    I have given a Criterion as well. That criterion is this: if the music started with the secular world and from their view then we can surmise that it’s not from God.It’s not okay that Christians borrow any style from the ungodly and sprinkle it with Christian terminology or the gospel and then voila-it’s acceptable to the Lord to save people.

    Much of our music mimics godless music of the world

    Example and quotes from the book “Whatever happened to the Gospel of Grace?”

    HYMNS. One of the saddest features of contemporary worship is that the great hymns of the church are on the way out. They are not gone entirely, but they are going. And in their place have come trite jingles that have more in common with contemporary advertising ditties than with the psalms. The problem here is not so much the style of the music, though trite words fit best with rite tunes and harmonies. Rather the problem is with the content of the songs. The old hymns expressed the theology of the church in profound and perceptive ways and with winsome, memorable language. They lifted the worshiper’s thoughts to God and gave him striking words by which to remember God’s attributes. Today’s songs reflect our shallow or nonexistent theology and do almost nothing to elevate one’s thoughts about God.
    Worst of all are songs that merely repeat a trite idea, word, or phrase over and over again. Songs like this are not worship, though they may give the churchgoer a religious feeling. They are mantras, which belong more in a gathering of New Agers than among God’s worshiping people.
    An excellent study of worship by a Lutheran woman, Marva J. Dawn called “Reaching Out without Dumbing Down” which is actually about worship. She makes the chief point that much of what we call worship today is not worship at all but is instead a glorification of ourselves. This is particularly true of what we often call “praise” songs. Dawn gives this example:
    “I will celebrate, sing unto the Lord.
    I will sing to God a new song. (repeat)
    I will praise God, I will song to God a new song. (repeat)
    Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah.
    I will sing to God a new song. (repeat)
    I will celebrate, sing unto the Lord.
    I will sing to God a new song. (repeat) (repeat all)”
    It’s a fair example of what we hear in many church services. The chorus seems to be praising God—it claims to be praising him—but that is the one thing it does not actually do. As Dawn points out, “The verbs say “I will” but in this song I don’t, because although God is mentioned as the recipient of my praise and singing, the song never says a single thing about or to God.”
    What is the song about then? If we look at it carefully the answer is clear. With all the repeats, “I” is the subject twenty-eight times, not God, but “I’ myself. And ot even myself along with other members of the covenant community, just “I.” With that kind of focus,” says Dawn, “we might suppose that all the ‘hallelujahs’ are praising how good I am…. At celebrating and singing.”
    What is this but narcissism, an absorption with ourselves which is absorbed in our worship services, as we seem to be, it can only mean that we are worldly in our worship, and not spiritual as we ignorantly suppose.

    The praise songs of the Psalter do not fall into this trap, which is one reason why they are such good models for our worship and why they should be used in worship more often than they are.
    “There is but one true God, and genuine worship must be of this true God and none other. Worship of any other “god” is idolatry. The true God is the God who had revealed himself to Israel at Mount Sinai and who had established the only acceptable way of coming to him and worshiping him, which is what much of the OT is about. Any other worship is invalid, because it is the worship of an imaginary god.”

    May God be glorified and magnified in our lives today,Linda

  38. Linda – you make a very good point: the focus of the worship must be Christ focused, bringing honor and glory to God our Father. There are songs in every stripe and style of music that glory the creature – these must be avoided.

    Music is a gift from God – man did not create it.

    The question remains: how does one determine what form of music is acceptable, either in one’s church or outside that fence? We do not, to my knowledge, have the music David and the other human authors of Psalms used with these glorious praises. It might sound more like hip-hop than the grand orchestral strains that fill many churches :-)

  39. Well, I’m probing Manfred which is why I do love your challenging post! I think of David when he said–”He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD.”-Psalm 40:3..

    I remember when I was first saved there was a “new song” coming from my heart to the Lord and when I found this verse later I was so elated with joy .

    “The question remains: how does one determine what form of music is acceptable, either in one’s church or outside that fence?”

    The Fear of the LORD is the benchmark for all measurements

    Gotta get going for work,, May the Lord bless you Manfred

  40. OK…I’ll bite on what good music vs. bad music is (and I’ve already posted this once):

    Music, without any text, communicates general moods universally (Job 30.31, Isa 16.11, 30.19, Jer 48.36). It can, therefore, communicate moods that affect people morally or immorally. In the mind of God, there is a definite line between music that is pleasing to Him and music that is not pleasing to Him. Because we are finite, however, and because Scripture does not explicitly tell us what pleases God in this area, that line is difficult to determine. Every decision in life should be an act of worship (responding to truth; John 4.19-24). We must, therefore, make decisions in this regard just as we make any other decisions in the Christian life.

    Does the music risk failing to bring God glory (1 Corinthians 10.31)? True, dedicated believers will more concerned with the glory of God than their personal tastes, and will not see how close to the “line” they can get.

    Does this music offend others (1 Cor 8.9, 10.32-33)? True, dedicated believers will be willing to give up what may be their legitimate right for the sake of weaker brothers.

    Does the music control me (1 Cor 6.12, 9.27)? Does it ‘play’ to my carnal or sensuous side? True, dedicated believers will not allow their tastes to control them. They will be willing to give up that which is taking the place of God in their lives.

    Is the music beneficial for sanctification (1 Cor 10.23-24)? True, dedicated believers will actively pursue holiness and godliness in their lives (Eph 5.9-10, Phil 1.9-10, Col 3.10-14, James 3.17-18, 2 Pet 1.3-11), and only chose that which is beneficial for their spiritual growth. The question is not, “What is wrong with this?” but, “What is right with this?”

    I would also add that we, as Christians, we are to, as the Psalmist instructs us, “Worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness” (Ps. 29:2). When one contemplates what the phrase “beauty of holiness” encompasses, many things may come to mind. Further, our entire life is to be a continual act of worship.

    A.W. Pink (Christian scholar, Pastor, Author) comments:
    “O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.” This is the only kind of beauty which the Lord cares for in our devotions. “Godliness is to the soul as the light is to the world, to illustrate and adorn it. It is not greatness which sets us off before God, but goodness” (Thomas Watson). Ornate architecture and expensive apparel God delights not in. It is the loveliness of inward purity and outward sanctity that pleases the thrice Holy One. Sincerity of heart, fervour of spirit, reverence of demeanour, the exercise of faith, the outgoings of love, are some of the elements which comprise the “beauty of holiness” in our worship.

    Dear reader, did you catch these character qualities as related to worship: inward purity, outward sanctity, reverence in demeanor? It’s quite a stretch to correlate these qualities with most of today’s “church music.” The music which has woefully become “mainstream” for use in corporate worship rarely complements these qualities. Rather, it tends toward “testimony” or “storytime” or focusing on the creature or the creation rather than the Creator – Who is blessed forever, amen! The vast majority of modern-day corporate ‘worship’ is horizontally-focused; not vertically-directed, and I firmly believe that music is, by and large, the main culprit of that fact.

    Todd
    Texas

    P.S. But it’s good to know that this post isn’t about hip-hop or rap music. ;-)

  41. Manfred,

    If culture is attitudes plus actions, then culture would also include the religion and the worship of those people in the culture. What is the religion of Hip Hop? How do they worship?

    If a medium is derived from a culture as a means of expressing that culture’s values can we as Christians then take that medium and express Christian values?

    Take for example the element of graffiti which is an integral part of the Hip Hop Culture. Shall we as Christians use that medium of communication to share the gospel?

    I think much of the confusion with culture and using cultural expressions and mediums is that we here in the US have a particular culture which was essentially derived from a Christian Church culture, flawed and sinful on its own but in less obvious ways.

    Ephesians 4:20-24 (ESV)
    20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!—
    21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus,
    22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires,
    23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds,
    24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

    “Put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life” seems to me to be saying put off your old culture, manner of life, and put on a Christ like culture. What is a Christ like culture? Every word of the Bible applied to every aspect of our lives.

    “Arguments against “depraved genres” are ultimately arguments against redemption itself, because depraved genres are the products of depraved human beings- who need redemption. (In fact, “depraved genre” is a misnomer because it’s ascribing moral value to a medium, which by definition is morally neutral until informed by content.) Once God has redeemed a person, it’s fitting for the Christian to take the “genres” or vehicles (such as books, cameras, canvasses, the internet, language, musical forms, etc.) that he or she once used for evil and now use them to promote the glory of God. Those who make the objection (especially as they use the internet to do so) are often unaware that they themselves use “depraved genres” all the time.”
    Quote from Shai Linne blog post http://lyricaltheology.blogspot.com/2012/03/how-can-god-use-depraved-genre.html

    Linne is saying that the medium, the musical form, is neutral just like a camera would be neutral. However, musical forms, books and paintings are means of communicating information. Communication is not neutral. A camera is neutral but a picture taken is no longer neutral but communicates, i.e. porn.

    Nevertheless, I did listen to one video clip of Shai Linne’s which was him sitting and speaking rhythmically, for lack of a better word. That wasn’t rap nor hip hop. However, I did also watch a Lacrae video and could not understand the words but just the demeanor and stylism was offensive in many ways which I won’t go into here.

    We cannot presuppose that the message in rap/hip hop is over ridden by adding Christian words. Nor can we presuppose that those who find rap/hip hop distasteful do so because of cultural tastes and not deep convictions according to Scripture and its principles, whether or not there is a verse that condemns it.

    Berean Wife

  42. Berean Wife – Thanks for the link to the interview with Shai Linne.

    I agree with him that a culture cannot be depraved – nor can a culture be redeemed. Men are depraved or redeemed.

    I think classical music, or opera, or ballet can be just as powerful in a sinful way for some people as hip-hop may be for others. Is the musical form of Phantom of the Opera better morally than hip-hop? I think the Scripture on food offered to idols is the best wisdom on this issue of forms of music. If it causes you offense, don’t consume it. That is the biblical principle I see at work – hip-hop is no more “earthly” or “worldly” than other forms of music; all are products of men in cultures.

    One thing I like about Linne is his priority of lyrics over music and preaching over musical presentation. I know very little about LeCrae; if he promotes his music over God-honoring lyrics, I think he’s wrong.

  43. I want to apologize for working with those who dragged this post off topic. Here’s my last statement on the merits of hip-hop music: Culture is not like a camera, morally neutral. Culture reflects its human constituents, and is – therefore – not neutral. Men “redeem” things produced in any given culture for better use and this is what Shai Linne is doing. He gives credible evidence of being a child of the living God and does his music for the glory of God. He is not an advocate for the hip-hop culture.

    Back to the presuppositions. Noah and his sons grew grapes after the flood and Noah got drunk. Small culture, bad thing happened because of a product. We do not see any condemnation on people who use grapes – even for wine – in the balance of Scripture. Used rightly (with thanksgiving to the One Who gives us all things), wine is acceptable. The wrong use of wine is condemned.

    So why pretend that we – products of our own cultural prejudices – can objectively sit in judgment on the use of a product simply because it came from a culture that has different sin evident than ours?

    And why would a Christian claim people said “X” and not produce the evidence of such? Why misquote or make-up false quotes to make your point? Christians are susceptible to humanistic reasoning (the “ladder of inference” is a dangerous place to be) and need to be honest with ourselves.

    We can disagree on whether all use of hip-hop music is wrong in all circumstances – can we also entertain the notion that country and western is worse?

  44. Manfred, do you want me to answer this paragraph of yours?

    “You spent some lines commenting how Romans 14 ought to be enough to stop “Christian hip-hop” because some people might be “haunted” (my word) by that style of music. That is not a proper application of that Scripture – there is not a global prohibition of an activity because some Christian somewhere in the world might be offended.”

    Very simply, I never mentioned Romans 14, nor did I mention Christians being offended. Your restatement of my point shows you’ve missed it entirely. I’m willing to carry it on, but as I myself mentioned it IS off the original topic.

    ***
    “So why pretend that we – products of our own cultural prejudices – can objectively sit in judgment on the use of a product simply because it came from a culture that has different sin evident than ours?”

    In the original post, you said this: “This post is NOT a forum to debate whether “Christian rap” or “Christian hip-hop” is good; the reason for this post is to examine the subtle tendency we have to use faulty logic (making sweeping arguments without discriminating actual facts) and misapplication of Scripture (based on unexamined presuppositions).”

    Your latest comment goes way beyond your original post — to suggest that not only do we have a “subtle tendency” to faulty logic and misapplication of Scripture, but that actually it is not possible for us to objectively evaluate something from a different culture from our own. I emphatically reject that suggestion. The Scripture is sufficient.

    In cross-cultural evaluations, you are 100% correct that bias is a danger, but that does not entirely preclude evaluation. Sin is sin, truth is truth, right is right and wrong is wrong.

  45. Speaking of presuppositions that lead men astray…

    Can we redeem the meaning of a word? Gay for example! It used to mean happy, and joyous! Today it means sexual choice, and in reality leads to emotions 180 degrees from the original.

    Here is another word that needs redeemed…Amen!

    There are over 100 times in modern bibles that Ekklesia is translated “church.”
    Here is a link…

    http://174.120.72.66/search?entqr=0&access=p&as_dt=i&sort=date%3AD%3AL%3Ad1&output=xml_no_dtd&ie=UTF-8&as_filetype=&lr=&btnG=Search&as_sitesearch=&as_lq=&client=default_frontend&as_epq=&as_eq=&as_oq=&num=100&ud=1&site=biblecc&oe=UTF-8&as_q=church+&proxystylesheet=custom32&as_occt=any&ip=24.166.33.240&as_ft=i&filter=0

    Now, the process is quite simple, such that an 8 year old could do this easily!

    Simply look at each verse, then substitute each of these phrases for the word “church” in each scripture.

    “Physical Building”
    “Congregation of the Saints”

    It will quickly clear up the many misconceptions that have, “elevated the traditions of men above the Word of God, such that the Word is made of no effect,” with regards to this stronghold of the Devil/flesh.
    (see Matthew 14 and Mark 7.)

    Then consider these verses and quotes…

    2 Tim. 3:16
    16All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof,
    for correction, for training in righteousness; 17so that the man of God may be
    adequate, equipped for every good work.

    Ephesians 6:17, “…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
    In 2 Corinthians, we are told that our spiritual weaponry is designed to tear
    down strongholds:
    2 Corinthians 10:3-5, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after
    the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through
    God to the pulling down of strongholds;) Casting down imaginations, and every
    high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into
    captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”

    Psalm 135:
    15 The idols of the nations are silver and gold, made by the hands of men. 16
    They have mouths, but cannot speak, eyes, but they cannot see; 17 they have
    ears, but cannot hear, nor is there breath in their mouths. 18 Those who make
    them will be like them, and so will all who trust in them.

    “An honest man, when presented with the truth, either conforms himself to that
    truth, or ceases to be honest!” Anonymous

    “Today, we don’t so much as make idols with our hands anymore as we do make
    them… including many false christs, in our minds. Yet none the less, when we see
    the many splendid buildings, “christian edifaces” if you will, in the midst of
    so many paganized cities and countries today, and each of them abandoning the
    christian faith for modern paganism, we see that we still can make idols with
    our hearts, hands, and minds!” (Um,…OK that is my quote…)

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