Monday, December 02, 2013

Proving the Music Issue in the Worship War: Is there Holy Hip Hop?

Last week in evangelicalism, a sizeable controversy arose over a panel discussion at the national conference for The National Center for Family-Integrated Churches (NCFIC).  The conference was on the Worship of God and the session was a six man panel answering, "What about Holy Hip Hop?"  The reason I knew about it was because Scott Aniol of Religious Affections was on the panel, and I read it at his blog, where another discussion erupted where he posted the video.

I had no idea what an evangelical group might say about rap music, but all six were against it for several various reasons, unanimous in their opposition to rap as worship.  It was a pleasant surprise to me.  There's no way it should be a surprise, but it really is today in evangelicalism to have a group public and open against rap music.  However, I was also surprised at the harsh and overwhelming reaction to the panel all over evangelicalism.  Many big named evangelicals commented against the panel, using some of the worst possible language to describe it.  John Piper, Albert Mohler, Paige Patterson, Ligon Duncan, and Douglas Wilson were just a few of the names of those who said something against it, and themselves supported "reformed rap."  At the NCFIC site itself, there were zero supporters that I read.  Several prominent bloggers attacked and scolded the panel with heated vitriol.

Even at Scott's Religious Affections blog, he mainly got opposition.  Of those who supported him, the support was weak and apologetic.  There was little to no support against rap. Perhaps those who support would know what kind of reaction they might get, and decided not to go through the abuse.  Of those who showed up to that conversation, two were pretty well known "reformed rappers"  -- Shai Linne and Curtis Allen, a.k.a., The Voice -- who both stated their displeasure publically.  Very ironic is that Ligon Duncan and Paige Patterson both gave big endorsement to Scott Aniol's Worship in Song, which absolutely rejects rap music, and then they write posts against Scott Aniol's panel discussion.  This is incomprehensible, but now typical in evangelicalism, such blatant contradiction.  I don't want anything to do with it.  Don't endorse it if you don't agree with it.  Albert Mohler comes out for the reformed rap, even though he says that in his head he's against it, that it contradicts transcendental beauty, as objective as truth and goodness.  He never explains why it's actually OK (I have dealt with Mohler in the past on this here and here).  I haven't read one substantive post from anyone that supports the panel and is against rap.  None.  Does that surprise you?  Is that where we're at today?

Should we argue about music?  Are there any authoritative arguments against rap music for worship?  Is rap music actually permissible and appropriate for worshiping God?  Most of my readers, I would think, would answer, "Yes, yes, and then no"  How would we word those arguments or explain them to someone who thought rap was appropriate or permissible?   Here are links of other things I've written on rap music here (here, here, and here).  I reference it in several other posts.  I believe that if someone won't listen to or isn't open to these arguments or this explanation, they probably are a lost cause on the issue anyway.

Historically, Christians have opposed some music.  Not as along ago, Christians opposed some music to be used in church.  Today we have professing Christians who think that there isn't any type of music forbidden in church and especially on your own personal playlist.  Are they right?  Were Christians wrong before and we've reached a heightened place of spiritual enlightenment today?  We've grown as Christians in that we now have any form of music in the church used as worship?

Someone recently wrote to me that the burden of proof is on the "ultra conservatives" to prove why Christians can't use rap or rock for worship.  What they want, it seems, is for us to push "play" on the Bible and play the music styles of which God approves.  However, like many other issues, we've got to use biblical principles and make application.  The problem today at a fundamental level is that most professing Christians don't believe any application of scripture is authoritative, but it is all preferential or non-essential.  They don't believe we can be sure about which are the words of the Bible, the meaning of the Bible, the doctrine of the Bible, so especially we can't be sure about its application.  With that as audience, it's going to be difficult to meet a burden of proof, but for those who care, here's the short of it.

One, we are to prove all things (1 Thessalonians 5:21).
Two, music has meaning.

Music (sans words) expresses, according to scripture sorrow and joy.  Isaiah 23:15 says that someone can sing like a harlot.  Lamentations 3:14 speaks of a mocking song. 1 Corinthians 14:8 says that a trumpet with its sound can communicate different messages.  I've never met anyone in the world who doesn't know this.  The only people I know, who don't believe that music isn't neutral, that it does have meaning in and of itself, are professing believers.  They hang on to this lie so that they can use whatever music they want.

Three, as an addendum to two -- since music is a means of communication, it can communicate moral or immoral.

Music is a language, and scripture says not to let filthy communication proceed out of your mouth. Music can communicate good or bad language.  Man's communication relates to man as a moral creature, as moral agents capable of either good or evil.  Since man's fall, whatever people create is a potential expression of sin.  Man does not by nature act morally, so everything that he does or makes is subject to judgment.  We should judge man's communication.

More to Come

20 comments:

Scott Aniol said...

Good comments, Kent. And I appreciate your comments at my site. Thanks.

JOHN GARDNER said...

Do not Publish but feel free to use.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mu0OFi5pScE

The link is a video of John Piper interviewing LeCrae in Atlanta before the Passion conf. 2011. I had a odd feeling about the interview. It was like Piper was letting everyone know that he's checked out LeCrae and he's ok or something.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J2Rh8Dv5Uo4

This link is LeCrae at Passion 2013
Yikes!!

Jerry Mace said...

I think you meant 1 Corinthians 14:8: "For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?"

What makes music good or bad? Can inanimate instruments be evil?

Steve Rogers said...

And these guys are all now back peddling like modern day politicians. Apologies being posted everywhere. The fear of man concerning standing for godly music is not limited to evangelicals. Look what happens when someone points out the ecumenical charismatic music being used for years now at Lancaster/West Coast. They may claim they do not believe music is amoral, but they must then believe that it's ALL moral. Same conclusion though. Uncertainty rules yet another doctrine!

Kent Brandenburg said...

Thanks Scott. I really do appreciate your stand here, am praying for you, and am sorry that you are taking this abuse. It's obvious to me inside and outside.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Jerry Mace,

Thanks for the correction of the added "1," "8 not "18." It was a typo. I'll be talking more about your question by Wednesday.

Steve,

Thanks again, and for your stand on this.

Kent Brandenburg said...

John Gardner,

Thanks for the links. They'll be interesting, I'm sure.

Bobby said...

I think something I just wrote might relate to this. The title is "The Big Blessing Doesn't Make It Biblical." You can read it at my blog by clicking on my name. If you don't publish this comment that is fine. Yours is right on.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone here ever even listened to Holy Hip Hop or Christian Hip Hop? This has been aroind for over 20 years and there are hundreds of musicians. It would be sad,like those panelists, to post an opinion but have no basis or understanding. Christian Rap is not secular rap. Google and do some research and not be a drone.

In Him,
Michael

JOHN GARDNER said...

Hi Michael,
Here is some footage from the hive that was Passion 2103.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J2Rh8Dv5Uo4

And so I won't be tagged a racist, here's some equally bad music from WinterJam 2013.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J2Rh8Dv5Uo4

I can't imagine our Lord walking in either of those places and receiving that as worship.

John Gardner

George Calvas said...

I cannot imagine any sane person, who has repented of their sins and trusted in Christ, even a new born babe, who desires the sincere milk of the word will know by the Holy Ghost that music is nothing less than filthy, vile, obnoxious, arrogant, corrupt, sensual not having the Spirit and therefore its worship is purely SATANIC.

The Preacher

JOHN GARDNER said...

2 corrections on my last comment:

1. The first link was LeCrae at Passion "2013" not 2103

2. The 2nd link should be this link:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IZOFrvwMSFI

Blessings

Michael said...

Thanks for the video links John. I am going to ask you to take a look at this video-link: http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/1066672

After you get past the uStream commercial, start it around 4 minutes and 56 seconds.

I promise you that once you see all of these black and white kids singing together with passion in a powerful Holy Hip Hop rendition of 'Awesome God' beginning around the 6 minute mark, that this will send chills through your spine and cause you to probably get choked up.


This powerful clip is what caused me to look deeper into this ministry and I get a lump in my throat every time I watch this.

The first 4 minutes, the video is a little grainy and audio is off, so again, please skip to around 4 minutes and 56 seconds to around the 10 minute mark.

I promise that this 6 minutes will open your eyes and make you think differently about Holy Hip Hop. This will help also with some objectivity, as there are lots of examples, but this one is probably one of the purest that you will find, in an unscripted, live concert. The only problem that I have is that there are so many people talking about this music, but very few have really done the research online and see how far this goes back.

Blessings and thanks for your article,

Michael

Anonymous said...

John,

Please look at the following link. Once you get past the commercial, go to around 4 minutes 56 seconds until around the 10 minute mark. You will see a powerful and moving rendition of 'Awesome God' live, by black and white youth. This really caused me look deeper into Holy Hip Hop as a ministry tool. I promise that this will create a lump in your throat and maybe even cause you to have tears in your eyes. Just take some time to watch this video, which is live and unscripted. It will change your life and probably cause you to listen to more of this music as it is making an impact in the lives of youth worldwide (and it is not new, which is what really is baffling to me, as people talking about this have no clue that this has been around for over 20 years). Check it out John.

Blessings,

Michael

Awesome God (Holy Hip Hop rendition 4 minutes and 56 seconds mark): http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/1066672

JOHN GARDNER said...

Hi Michael,
I just watched some of the footage from your link and here are some thoughts:
1. Are you for real, or is this just tongue in cheek?
2. If not, I can understand why you would want me to skip the first 4:56. Yikes!
3. I’m sorry, but I didn't get a lump in my throat, I didn't tear up, it didn't change my life, and it hasn't caused me to want to listen to more of it.
4. I wouldn't let my children watch this.
5. The reason it moved some folks was the 5 minutes of being whipped into FRENZY before "Awesome God".
6. I just returned from a family vacation to Disney. While there I teared up watching my children watch the fireworks set to music over the castle in Magic Kingdom and also when my daughters met some of the princesses. I used to get moved by Pearl Jam, Enya, and Michael Jackson's "Man in the Mirror". Getting moved, choked up, and/or teared up is not the test if something is good or not. It is whether or not it is scriptural, which I think is Pastor Brandenburg's point.

Blessings Sir.

Anonymous said...

Blessings to you too sir. Brandenburg's point was in his last line: Objectively take time to listen to the words before any judgement is passed. Seriously, I don't believe you listened to those kids clearly praising God in Awesome God and felt nothing or thought they were worshiping satan. Our white kids buy 80% of all black secular rap music whether it's Eminem, Jay-Z or Beyonce and that music clearly defiles God and is rarely protested by any church. I just think it is awesome that this bew generation of black kids are at least trying to do something to make a change (no cussing, no putting down women) but trying to sing praise to God in a way that is relevant to their peers and our kids. I asked you to get to the high point because the audio was distorted as it was clearly some kind of hand-held device. Heck, it is urban music so it is o.k. if it is not your thing as it was not easy for me at first easier being an 80's rocker but I did do what Brandenburg said: We should judge man's communication (the words) and not the means or methods and even Paul was clear about that and it is good that at least these youth understand that and are actively trying to make a difference in their communities and ours. God Bless you.

Michael

Michael said...

Blessings to you too sir. Pastor Brandenburg's point was in his last statement: don't kill the messenger without first fully hearing the message. In all due respects, you are not seriously comparing a studio recorded secular song by arguably a lunatic Michael Jackson to a praise and worship live recording by black and white youth of Awesome God. I don't believe you are. I asked you to go to 4:56 because clearly the audio was distorted due to probably being recorded by a low-tech device in 2009 (it was not a trick or ploy by me). I am a white 80's rocker. My kids are in the group of 80% white kids that buy all of the secular rap. Not a proud parenting moment but it is true for where we live and in the community of being in a diverse city in in the East. Seriously, if you really did view the video of Awesome God you are not saying it was satanic are you? I don't thin you are because it clearly was not and when is the last time any od us have seen white and black kids (all young and probably no older than 22, the group that all pundits are saying are disconnected from the Church, standing shoulder-to-shoulder screanming. at the top of their lungs praising Christ) like you se in that concert video I sent you. Send me the video link please. Brandenburg is right: Listen objectively to whar these kids are saying before the messenger is slaughtered. These kids are at least trying to be like Paul in being relevant to what is in the community (no profanity), and proclaiming Christ as King in their music and I applaud them for that jn trying to make a difference in the community and lives. It's odd that musicians ike Jay-Z, Eminem and Beyonce can put filth out without any Church protest, but some unknown rapper raps about the greatness of Christ and everyone goes wild. God Bless you.

In Him,
Michael

Michael said...

Please excuse typos in my notes above. Typing from small mobile device.

God Bless,
Michael

Anonymous said...

Finally, someone (and it took a Christian Rapper/Holy Hip-Hop artist) to stand up the Gay Mafia). Read article and watch youTube video. However, note, there are comments by the gay community that are vile and disgusting, and an assault on Christians worldwide. What this Christian hip-hop artist Bizzle did may prove to be a turning point in the war on Christians being waged by the Gay Mafia and the media.

Posted on CharismaNews.com: http://www.charismanews.com/culture/42667-watch-christian-rapper-answers-macklemore-s-same-love-gay-anthem

See story below and view this video link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V9KQ4_uH1RA


Source: Charismas News (Feb. 5, 2014)

The Super Bowl may have diverted the attention of some, but many evangelicals have yet to forget Macklemore's pro-gay "Same Love" anthem performed during the 2014 Grammy Awards—not the least of which is Christian rapper Bizzle, whose response song is making waves across the web.

The rap song, being branded as "anti-gay" and "homophobic" by various news media, landed more than 120,000 YouTube hits in a week from its release. The video begins with a quotation of 2 Timothy 3:1-5, a passage that warns of increasing sinfulness in the last days. But the message of the song isn't the typical biblical argument against homosexuality; it accuses the gay rights lobby of unfairly comparing themselves to the civil rights struggle of African-Americans such as Bizzle himself.

Macklemore hasn't responded to the pimp-turned-Christian's rebuttal track, but the rest of the secular world has. In an online article, one Philadelphia newspaper describes Bizzle as "compar[ing] gays to pedophiles," while a pro-gay site accuses the rapper of "boost[ing his] career by attacking more successful hip hop artists."

The real parallels between homosexuality and other sexual behaviors the Bible lists as sinful, such as pedophilia, cannot be ignored by Christians. Yet Bizzle's core frustration is the race issue: "The Bible is all right until it calls what you like sin, and I feel so disrespected that you were so desperate you would compare your sexual habits to my skin," the rapper laments.
What do you think of the tension-filled response song? See it for yourself:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V9KQ4_uH1RA

Does not look like these rappers are afraid at all, as the one preacher blurted during the debate about holy hip-hop. The only question now is: will anyone of the evangelical Christian leaders or preachers stand with this black rapper as the LBGT community assaults him viciously.

God Bless you,
Michael

George Calvas said...

Michael,

You believe these videos are actually Christians singing???

If so, you are deluded and willfully ignorant of who the God of the bible is and his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

All of them are fakes and frauds and perverted in all there ways. They are the dogs that have returned back into their vomit. All of that vile and filthy sound (it is NOT music) is the confusion that originates from Satan.