The Wanderer

As I walked through the wilderness of this world …

Posts Tagged ‘rap

Asking the right questions

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At the risk of being trampled by the ireful in the latest slanging match over rap and hip-hop, I wonder if I might interject? It seems to me, watching from a distance and not trying to read every contribution, that the debate quickly escalates into absolute and swingeing declarations that fail to take account of the various issues that ought to come into play. I may be wrong, but I hope I can lob a few thoughts into the debate.

I suggest that there are at least three questions that ought to be asked in assessing not just rap and hip-hop but other musical genres and forms.

First, and most generically, in what ways can a Christian appreciate, enjoy and embrace either a form or genre of music in and of itself, or a particular instance of that form?

Second, and a little more narrowly, to what extent is a certain form or genre an appropriate vehicle for the communication of distinctively Christian truth?

Third, and most specifically, is this question: is a certain form or genre a legitimate and appropriate means for the corporate worship of the gathered church?

Read the explanations at Reformation21.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Monday 16 December 2013 at 14:57

Posted in Doxology

Tagged with , ,

Return of the Reformed rapper

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David Murray returns to the issue of holy hip hop to review comments received. He holds his line graciously and winsomely, accepting certain corrections and elucidations, but pressing home the same issues. He concludes:

We will never all fully agree on what is allowable for Christians in the four venues (see above). However, we will surely all agree that Christians should be challenging and learning from one another on what is sinful or holy, and what is wise or unwise in these four venues.

I am sure we do all agree on the desperate need of the inner cities (see this heart-rending article from yesterday’s New York Times), and on the long-term failure of the Church, especially the Reformed Church, to meet that need. Gospel Rappers are doing more than me in this regard at this time in my life, and in that I salute them.

And though I wish them to re-consider some of the means they are using (or at least the extent to which they are using them), I also need much more of the spirit of Philippians 1:18 when trying to evaluate their approach.

Those wrestling with this and related issues will do well to read and ponder the professor’s posts.

UPDATE: Shai Linne got in touch and went to chat with David Murray. Read how it degenerated into a terrible brawl here.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Wednesday 17 November 2010 at 16:47

Posted in Culture and society

Tagged with , ,

Holy hip hop?

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David Murray asks some searching questions about the acceptance and promotion of rap and hip hop in some New Calvinist circles. To be fair, he asks some of himself as well:

Am I just expressing a cultural preference? Am I just being a traditionalist or a legalist? Am I making my sometimes-faulty conscience a rule for others? Am I threatening the precious gift of Christian liberty? I have to answer such challenging questions honestly and prayerfully when I write something like this. And I continue to examine my motives and aims.

Even so, he is ready to press on and ask some good questions of others also:

But may I not also challenge highly esteemed brothers in the Lord to ask themselves a few questions: Is your Christ-like longing for the salvation of lost souls in our inner cities, and maybe your personal friendships with some Christian rappers, hindering you from taking a sharp biblical lens to Hip-Hop and a consistent biblical approach to the worship of God? Have you perhaps at times mistaken the incredibly powerful effects of music and rhythm upon the human spirit for the powerful effects of the Holy Spirit? Is “Holy Hip Hop” leading Christians and non-Christians away from unholy Hip Hop and its culture or keeping them in it, and maybe even leading outsiders into it? Is there ever a line to be drawn where we say: this culture is so corrupted that separation rather than transformation may be the right Christian response? Are you at risk of unintentionally undermining the biblical, reformed, and God-glorifying dependence on plain preaching to save all souls, whatever the color of their skin? If the message really is more important and powerful than the music, would removing the music and leaving the bare words excite the same interest and produce the same effect? Why is it mainly white churches that are providing a platform for this, and why are so many African American churches so reluctant to welcome a genre of music that has done so much to destroy their communities and devastate young lives?

Doubtless this one is going to cause a little friction, but – as David says –

If the unqualified promotion of “Holy Hip Hop” had not become so public and prevalent over recent days and weeks, I would probably have tried to conduct a more private discussion about my concerns. Maybe the promoters of “Holy Hip Hop” might have been wiser to consult more widely and seriously dialogue with other Christians outside their circles before going so increasingly public with their fairly unquestioning support of what they must know will divide the reformed movement. Although I now feel conscience-bound to put this into the public domain, I do continue to welcome dialogue, both public and private.

I’m hopeful that the New Calvinist movement is now old and mature enough to seriously and prayerfully consider some concerns from other Christians outside their inner circles, from those who love them, appreciate them, and sincerely desire their long-term spiritual prosperity.

We watch with interest both the responses to David’s thoughtful, irenic and earnest piece, and the spirit in which the discussion will be conducted.

[For more on the new Calvinism, intended in the same spirit, try here.]

Written by Jeremy Walker

Thursday 11 November 2010 at 18:28

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