Debatable: Is Christian Hip Hop Ungodly?

[Note: “Debatable” is a recurring feature in which we briefly summarize debates within the evangelical community.]

The Issue: In a discussion at a recent conference sponsored by the National Center for Family Integrated Churches (NCFIC), a group of panelists laid out their arguments for why they believe Christian hip hop is detrimental to the kind of life God is pleased with. Numerous Christian pastors and thought leaders responded to the panel and defended the legitimacy of Reformed hip hop and the artists within the genre.

(Editor’s note: Some readers mistakenly assumed that TGC produced the video posted below. To be clear, TGC is not affiliated with NCFIC and was not a part of their recent conference.)

(Brent Hobbs has created a transcript of the video here).

Against — Dan Horn

. . . The question is where is the emphasis. And I would argue with the rap [sic], with the heavy beat, with those things that the physical distraction is so much that the focus is no longer on the words. And music should be about helping us to remember concepts that we need to remember. And help us to carry forward. Music is a wonderful tool as a memory aid. Rap’s not that good for that because of the other problem with rap. The problem with any other form of music is who’s the attention drawn to. And rap is about drawing attention to the rapper, drawing attention to how his skill is different than anybody else’s skill. To how he is a special person. . .

Against — Scott Aniol

Music is a medium of communication and God cares not just what we say but he cares how we say it. That’s the function of music. And if we truly believe in the sufficiency and authority of Scripture, I believe the Scripture should govern not just what we say – in other words not just the content – because I’ll agree, I’ve read a lot of the lyrics of the reformed rap and some of them are much more doctrinally dense than some of our songs. That’s true. However if we truly believe in the sufficiency and authority of Scripture, Scripture will govern not just what we say but it will also govern how we say it. So the question I always want to ask is (because remember Scripture is given to us in literary art forms: narrative, poetry, these sorts of things, parable, and those should govern our art forms as well). And so I want to ask with anything with hip-hop, with any form of music: does it compare? Are we allowing the art forms, the way truth is communicated in Scripture to also govern our art forms. When it comes the art form of hip-hop, very few will disagree with the cultural milieu out of which it grew. What it was intended to express by those who created the art form. The only defense I’ve heard by reformed rappers of why they want to use this form is they say, “Well we want to redeem the form of rap.” But when I read Scripture, whenever there’s redemption there’s change. There’s fundamental change. So I’m all about redemption of musical forms, but if we were if we truly redeem certain musical forms to express God’s holy truth that will mean that those forms will change to actually be appropriate vehicles for the communication of God’s truth as is expressed in the very Word of God itself.

Against — Geoff Botkin

. . . what concerns me about this this so-called “art form” – it’s a picture of weakness and surrender on the part of people who think they’re serving God. And they’re not. They’re serving their own flesh. They’re caving into the world. They are disobedient cowards. They’re not really willing to engage in the fight that needs to be engaged. Scott, thank you for saying that. If we are reformers we are going to change and fully redeem and replace the world. We’re not going to make ourselves friends of the world and enemies of God. And so this is what concerns me about anytime Christians, in a cowardly way, follow the world instead of changing it and confronting it. And confronting the antithesis. And we need be doing this in every every possible art from – including film, including other kinds of music. And so, Scott, just to summarize: Reformed rap is the cowardly following of the world instead of confronting and changing it.

Against — Joel Beeke

I don’t have much I add, I agree with everything that’s been said. Just maybe add one thought. If my children, with their upbringing were to start to embrace this – I would use all these arguments, with intensity that they’ve been spoken. When someone comes to me, who comes from a culture that’s raised that way, had no Christian background, and first hears this kind of rap and listens to the lyrics and gets really interested in Christianity – first thing I don’t challenge them on is the form of the music. I try to take them in, disciple them, and break this in slowly to them. So let’s have a little compassion for people who, for whom they related to this culture – which we don’t really relate to at all probably – and work with them. And get them to this point where they understand these things. But that doesn’t happen a day. That’s only thing I would add to it.

Against — Jason Dohm

I’m gonna get sucked off the stage with the gasping happens with what I say here. I’m probably the only panelist who’s ever had TobyMac on my iPod. Yeah. They want to know who Toby Mac is. We’ll tell you after the panel. So here’s what here’s what drove it home for me: A few months ago I saw picture of TobyMac. Vintage TobyMac: backwards hat, ready to rap, and but he’s 50 now. Wasn’t 50, you know, when he became cool. And he’s starting to have wrinkles on his face. OK, so he’s 50-year-old man with wrinkles on his face – got that backwards cap, and he’s ready to rap. And what didn’t seem unseemly when he was a young man just looks really out of place in the pictures now. So the question is: 50-year-old men in the church – is their job to extend a hand down in the Church and to pull them up into Christian manhood? You don’t see the discontinuity so strikingly until they start getting wrinkles. It’s our job to reach down to our young men, offer them a hand and pull them up in maturity and Christian manhood. That is not doing that.

Against — Joe Morecraft

I don’t think any of us are saying that in the worship of God there’s only a certain kind of music that should be sung – like we should only sing country-western music in church. Or we should only sing classical music, etc. But I think what we are all saying is that some forms of music cannot be separated from the culture out of which they come. That’s an important thing to bear in mind. When we have young men or women the church let’s say the young men start wearing an earring. I say, “What’s the purpose of the earring? The pierced ear?” And they’ll say, “Well I just like it.” or “I think it’s nice,” or “it’s the fashion,” and I say, “Do you know why it is the fashion? Do you know who you’re identifying with when you wear this earring? You’re not identifying yourself with the godly men in the church but with an entirely different culture out there. And same thing with certain forms of music. . .

Although they did not appear on the panel or attend the event sponsored by the National Center for Family Integrated Churches, numerous pastors and thought leaders responded at various outlets to the video. Below are some of the sample responses:

In DefenseMike Cosper

In a conversation like this, we are quick to say things like, “these guys don’t get culture,” and I think that’s true. But if we stop there, it’s probably too generous. Not only do they not get culture, they don’t get creation. Culture and creation are inextricably linked, and to talk about one is to talk about the other.

Culture is what happens when image bearers live and work in creation. We were made when God took dust, shaped it, breathed life into it, and it became something new. That’s both our origin story, and the origin story of everything we’ve made: trees and rocks become homes; petroleum products, plastics and metals become cars and iPhones. Culture is image bearers playing and working in creation.

In Defense — Carl and Karen Ellis, “A Letter to Our Young Brothers and Sisters

We all have a tendency to confuse cultural norms with Biblical ones; yet this is especially harmful when done by the dominant culture of any society. All too often the dominant culture is blind to the knowledge that they, too, have a culture that is in need of redemption at the cross.

Ideally, as we grow, we learn to value cross-cultural interaction, and enter into fellowship that informs us of our blind spots. However, this is radically different from one culture determining what is proper application of Scripture in the context in which another culture lives. To say it another way, one culture cannot use itself or its aesthetic as the standard to judge another; only the Word of God can make that assessment.

In Defense — Paige Patterson, “The Rap on Rap

There is no interest here to sanitize everything in culture or to be an advocate of the exclusive use of rap, country-western, or opera as the best approach to the participatory worship of the church. Churches are supposed to be composed of folks of all cultural and ethnic backgrounds. As long as the cultural or ethnic form engaged does not violate morality or Scriptural truth, is it not subject, like the donkey that carried Jesus, to the Master’s use? Some forms are more helpful than others and some are more aesthetically valuable than others. But to say to an earnest rapper, obviously gifted for this engagement, a man who is right in his theology and behavior, “you cannot use that medium and please God,” even if some are led to Christ through that medium, is seriously off base.

In Defense — Urban Gospel Mission, “The Gospel and Rap

I think it’s very dangerous whenever someone makes the claim that any particular form of music, including rap (a neutral entity), is evil based upon their own negative, subjective experiences with those who have abused the genre. This misinformed judgment is similar to an African-American saying that because of their experiences with white people who promoted slavery and Jim Crow laws of the past, they now view all white Christian Reformed churches and leaders as sinful. Should they allow their subjective experience with a few misguided individuals now be allowed to dictate their view on all white Reformed Christians in general? By no means. In a similar manner, people should not make the same judgment on the genre of Christian rap or the personhood of these Christian rap artists. As followers of Christ, we should not allow our personal subjective experience to dictate objective truths about others and cultures that we don’t truly know or understand.

In Defense — Brian Davis, “Death Rattle or Life Preserver? An Appeal to the NCFIC Panelists

. . . I can’t help but lament how careless these brothers were in their language, and how revealing it is of a cultural elitism that is far too welcomed in Christianity and made at home by some of our leaders. When speaking of Christian maturity, we do not bring up the prevalence of the fruit of the Spirit in peoples lives, or their rootedness in the Word of God and how firmly they cling to the gospel. Rather, we reference sideways hats, music styles and earrings, as if that is somehow a good measurement of maturity from God’s point of view? Where is that in the bible?! We would all do well to do as these brothers suggest- adhere to every word we find in Scripture to ensure our worship is acceptable to God. However, the converse of such an admonishment is that we must be equally careful not to add to God’s Word in our efforts for purity in worship. By neglecting the former we end up like Nadab and Abihu; by neglecting the latter we end up like the Pharisees.

In Defense — Owen Strachan, “Did a NCFIC Panel Really Say That Reformed Rappers Are ‘Disobedient Cowards’?

Several panelists make the very tired, very old (and, it must be said, very stereotypically white) argument that the “beat” and format of hip hop is fundamentally undignified, self-exalting, and hostile to sound communication. My mind boggles at these comments (did pianos descend from heaven, by the way? Did trumpets? Aren’t all instruments products and creations of fallen beings?). I can think of many rap songs that were in and of themselves like a systematic theology textbook for me.

In Defense — Timothy Trudeau, “Christian Emcees Are Disobedient Cowards

There are only two ways in which to approach every single issue. Whether the issue is abortion, youth group, marriage, or in this case Hip Hop—what does God say, and what does man say? When we want to know what God says, we go to His word.

The sufficiency of scripture means that the Bible—God’s word—is the final authority on all issues. This doctrine understands that if the Bible does not speak directly about an issue (i.e. Computers, Birth Control, and Contact Lenses) it does not mean the Bible doesn’t have a position. It also does not mean that omission equals opposition. This doctrine also allows for freedom to land in different spots on issues much like Calvin and Luther. These two were quite different, perhaps as different as you are from a “Reformed Rapper”.

In Defense — Thabiti Anyabwile, “A Round-Up of the Holy Hip Hop Squabble

Blame-shifting also occurs by painting the offenders as “intelligent” or “thinking” while painting the attacked as “emotional” and “hurt.” To say you were “hurt” by these things makes one look soft, weak, and unable to “intelligently engage the argument” on a “non-emotional” level. As if there weren’t plenty of emotion displayed on that panel and as if Black men are one roiling ball of emotion. Think of the NFL’s old notion that Black quarterback were “athletic” but they weren’t “smart” or “thinking” QBs like the white guys. That kind of thinking was on display here, making African American hip hop artists “too sensitive” and too likely to cry “racism” too often. This is a trick bag, too. The fact that some brothers were legitimately hurt isn’t the problem; it’s the effect. The problem was the sinful slander, malicious misrepresentation and mob mentality displayed on the panel. The focus needed to stay there, and I’m glad it did-facilitated in part by the restraint of those demeaned and the speaking up of those who weren’t.

In Defense — Ligon Duncan, “The Holy Hip Hop Hullabaloo

If you are part of the Reformed hip hop culture. Thank you. God bless you. Do not grow weary in doing good. Do not be discouraged. There are folks, a lot of folks, like me, who deeply appreciate you, have been (and are) blessed by you, who are learning from you and who are rooting for you as you boldly proclaim a big God full of grace, a God big enough to be sovereign over suffering and to turn it to our good.

In Defense — Albert Mohler, “Thinking about Thinking about Rap — Unexpected Thoughts Over Thanksgiving

The good, the beautiful, and the true are to be combined to the greatest extent possible in every Christian endeavor, rap included. I have no idea how to evaluate any given rap musical expression, but rappers know. I do know how to evaluate the words, and when the words are saturated with the Gospel and biblical truth that is a wonderful thing. Our rapping Gospel friends will encourage one another to the greatest artistic expression. I want to encourage them in the Gospel. Let Bach’s maxim drive them all — to make (their) music the “handmaid of theology.”

Scoring the Debate: The great Canadian media theorist Marshall McLuhan once said that,

Each medium, independent of the content it mediates, has its own intrinsic effects which are its unique message.

The message of any medium or technology is the change of scale or pace or pattern that it introduces into human affairs. The railway did not introduce movement or transportation or wheel or road into human society, but it accelerated and enlarged the scale of previous human functions, creating totally new kinds of cities and new kinds of work and leisure. This happened whether the railway functioned in a tropical or northern environment, and is quite independent of the freight or content of the railway medium. (Understanding Media, p. 8)

What applies to railways and freight trains applies also to music and Reformed hip hop. How does the medium of Christian hip hop shape and control the scale and form of human association and action?

I suspect that sort of question lurked behind the assertions made by those panelists who vehemently opposed the use of the rap genre to express Christian themes. It is a legitimate point of inquiry and the panelists were warranted in attempting to address it based on their own knowledge and from their own perspective.

Unfortunately, their knowledge of the genre appears to be woefully inadequate and their perspective rooted in cultural bias. The stunned reaction and forceful pushback by the respondents was more than warranted. Yet while condemnation is certainly justified (a few of the panel comments bordered on racist), those of us who believe, as I do, that the medium of Reformed hip hop is defensible should give these men—and other critics—an opportunity to hear an informed defense of the genre as a genre.

It’s not enough to condemn, we must also convince. But before we can convince others that the genre itself can have a positive—or at least neutral—influence apart from the message it carries, we should first be sure that we ourselves understand the medium we are defending.


Recent Articles in the Series

Is Football Too Violent for Christians?

Why Are There Calvinist Baptists But No Lutheran Baptists?

Should Cultural Expectations Shape Christian Views of Masculinity?

Is the Christian Church a ‘Hate Group’?

How Should Evangelicals Respond to the Inauguration Prayer Incident?

Should Christians Oppose Teaching the Bible in Public Schools?

Is Complementarianism Another Word for Patriarchy?

  • Missy M

    Scott Aniol is far from woefully uninformed. In fact I suggest, Joe, your own bias is showing here and you are woefully uninformed regarding the degree of being informed by Aniol and the panel. He has volumes of published material on the matter demonstrating his extensive handling and familiarity with the material. Your broad brush does not service the congenial, charity and receptive manner this topic warrants in debate.

    • Joe Carter

      Thanks for your comment. Can you point us to some of Aniol’s published material on Reformed rap? I’ll gladly take a look and update my post if it warrants changing.

      • Kenton

        This is a comprehensive assessment of rap and hip-hop by Aniol:

        • Joe Carter

          Thanks, Kenton. That is very helpful for understanding Aniol’s perspective. This is probably as good a place as any to comment on some of his remarks in that post:

          First, when a medium of communication is birthed out of a certain value system, there is great reason to assume that the medium will naturally express those values.

          I don’t agree with this at all. If this were true we would need to be skeptical of the opening chapters of Genesis since they takes the form of an ANE creation narrative.

          Second, it is instructive that when disturbed, debase people want to express rage, hatred, and violence, they are drawn to this form of music. Why is it that other cultures or musical forms do not have the same kind of magnetism for these values? Why is it that (with few exceptions, I’m sure) no one uses Appalachian folk tunes to express their social angst?

          Has Aniol never heard of Appalachian folk murder ballads? (

          While I appreciate Aniol’s attempts at analysis, he seems to rely too much on “guilt by association.” I’d be interested in seeing how he critics the genre from a musicological perspective rather than simply tying it to its secular history and culture.

          • Paul Ellsworth

            Basically, ANY folk music has this. Read the lyrics to a lot of Irish or American country/western and you begin to see the patterns of sin that people sang about in those mediums.

            It’s not that rap is a great medium for expressing sin. It’s that humans are great at sin and express it in whatever medium happens to be “theirs.” I think we’ve probably just mostly “forgotten” a lot of songs that have the exact same sins in it. We just don’t listen to them or hear people listening to them, so we kinda forget they were there and assume that people were better or that the mediums were less prone to having that sort of sin being expressed in them, somehow.

          • Hermonta Godwin

            You were linked to a summation and extention article of Aniol’s argument, there were other parts of his series which can be found here –

            I think one should pay close attention to this particular article –

            • Kenton

              What is interesting about Aniol’s final post in the series is that he admits that the violence and rage associated with rap were introduced AFTER its inception. See here:

              “Rap music is a subset of the culture of Hip Hop, which began in New York in the early 1970s.1 It was developed in the impoverished, gang-saturated communities of the Bronx at block parties, which incorporated DJs who would play the hit music of the day. DJ Kool Herc, one of the most popular DJs of the early 70s and a Jamaican immigrant, began to recognize that people danced better to the percussive interludes of songs, and so he began to creatively mix together these smaller rhythmic sections in order to motivate the people to dance longer and harder. He combined this practice with the traditional Jamaican custom of “toasting,” or calling out above the music in rhythmic, rhyming chants. Thus rap music was born.

              “Rap music soon became the voice for expressions of anger and discontent with society. Its heavy rhythmic content and forceful, declamatory presentation provided a perfect vehicle for expressing this angst. Some, such as Afrika Bambaataa, an ex-street gang member, attempted to use hip hop culture as a means for re-channeling the rage of young people away from gang fighting into the music, dance, and art (graffiti) of the culture.”

              So this is a question of whether or not corrupt things can be redeemed. Aniol identifies three common features of rap, that I assume he takes to be inherently unbiblical:

              aggressive, self-assertive, rhyming declamation
              discontent socio-political commentary
              heavy rhythmic foundation

              In his further explanation, Aniol seems to be focusing in on one particular style of rap, the sort that is all beat, little melody, and strongly associated with sexual intercourse. To be clear, this is only one style of rap. Can it be redeemed? If this must go, does it then follow that all rap is unredeemable? Can certain things be given new, purer meaning?

          • Dan Glover

            “First, when a medium of communication is birthed out of a certain value system, there is great reason to assume that the medium will naturally express those values.” – Scott Aniol

            I guess we better stop making Christian feature films. Afterall, the feature film was birthed out of a Hollywood value system – mainly greed, self fulfilling pleasure, fame -and by Aniol’s reasoning, this medium cannot be redeemed.

        • Missy M

          TY and I that appears to suffice to at least demonstrate the degree of work by Aniol :)

    • Thomas

      Scott Aniol comes from a background of extremist fundamentalism (undergrad at Bob Jones University), where one is taught as a child that certain beats carry sinful connotations. Growing up in a culture where an off-beat is supposed to conjure up lust, it is understandable that he comes to the conclusions that he does on these issues (he doesn’t allow for CCM, P&W, or even Gospel songs of the early 20th century). He sees these conclusions as self-evident, but for us who don’t come from his sub-culture or haven’t been conditioned to think like he does about certain genres his conclusions don’t make the slightest sense at all. I’m not trying to be ad hominem here, just trying to explain where he’s coming from.

      • Kent


        You’re trying for ad hominem. Shoot. Score. Aniol excoriates BJU revivalism. You don’t represent where he comes from.

        It’s ironic, because you know that we understand that “offbeat…conjure up lust” is ad hominem, or you wouldn’t say, “not trying to be ad hominem.” Not trying to hurt you, but here’s a knuckle sandwich. Not trying to be ad hominem, but it’s like something I’ve heard from third graders so they don’t have to go to the office.

        Since man is a moral agent and fallen, whatever he produces can be judged as moral or immoral. He can’t produce moral on his own, so he’s suspect in everything. We should assume that his means of communication, music being one of them, could be corrupted. Your paragraph is a good example.

        • Paul Ellsworth

          Hm. By this logic … my house, which human beings produced, is inherently moral?

          Music is communication, yes. So are words/language. But a given word is not inherently moral. A given sentence is not inherently moral. What is communicated is definitely moral, yes. A music style could be considered inherently moral, I suppose, if that music style is *always* communicating something. And that opens a very, very large topic. It’s not biblically provable any more than the proposition that “music is a universal language” is biblically provable. It’s not as simple as a few anecdotes and unproven statements like “well look at this song’s lyrics about murder” or “look at most of the top rap songs and see what kind of content they have.”

          “You’re gay.”
          150 years ago, when “gay” meant “happy,” that was not something that would be construed as an insult. Now, it is. The words, the sounds/characters themselves, are not inherently good or bad. The message conveyed is. (and, of course, saying that someone is gay isn’t necessarily evil, either… but let’s just assume for now that it was meant as an insult)

          It’s true: most depraved human beings communicate depraved things in their music. That’s true especially for music with lyrics… take a look at some operas.

          Anyways… explaining the presuppositions/underlying philosophy of Scott Aniol is not an ad hominem attack, unless explaining those things is actually seen as somehow bad. Perhaps the “makes no sense to us” part wasn’t necessary.

          “you know that we understand that “offbeat…conjure up lust” is ad hominem”
          I don’t know who you are that you would say “we” :) But I will say that the argument that backbeats generates sensuality and therefore it is evil is not exactly a fringe argument. If saying that “you” believe that is an ad hominem, then tell me you don’t believe it. Otherwise, it’s not an ad hominem, is it? I *don’t* think it does, and saying that I don’t think it does is certainly not an attack to me…

          • Kent

            Hmmmmmm. (I’m thinking, or I’m offended I have to suffer…deciding)

            You actually didn’t follow the logic. I said can be judged. Can. A house can be immoral, yes. Nazi architecture ( is immoral. Maybe we can “redeem” it to reach Nazis — that should hold true. There is the opportunity for immorality with house-building.

            By “biblically proveable,” I believe that you mean something that is new to Christianity, because historically there hasn’t had to be a “thou shalt” in order to prove something. This is a new cop-out in evangelicalism. Almost all biblical application requires a second term, a minor premise. Abortion isn’t forbidden in scripture. Crack pipes aren’t. When Solomon said, she wore the attire of a harlot or prostitute, he doesn’t tell us what that is. He assumes we know. Thought question for you, “Why are 4 letter words filthy or corrupt communication?” Can you give me the verse? If not, aren’t you going beyond what is written? Scripture doesn’t give us the list of 7 like the FCC, so you must be free to say them in your novel system.

            Was Happy Birthday immoral when Marilyn Monroe sang it to John F. Kennedy? Was it the words? If it was, then why?

            You can read my comment to Thomas for the answer to your last 2 paragraphs.

            • Paul Ellsworth

              “Hmmmmmm. (I’m thinking, or I’m offended I have to suffer…deciding)”
              I feel like this was a joke, which I appreciate, but it was lost on me… :)

              “Can.” […] “Nazi architecture is immoral.”
              It is? Inherent in the architectural designs is something immoral? Or, by “immoral,” are you actually (and more simply, perhaps) saying that it would just be impossible to USE “Nazi” architecture in this current time without supporting Nazi philosophy?

              “There is the opportunity for immorality with house-building.”
              Only inasmuch as the house somehow itself sends a message. It’s not inherent in the house itself; it’s in the message being sent. Which means that we have to show that there IS a message being sent before we show that it’s an immoral one.

              “Abortion isn’t forbidden in scripture.”
              Well, except that it is murder, which is forbidden.

              “Crack pipes aren’t.”
              You’re right on this one, it’s not directly forbidden, but its (almost) sole use is pretty much forbidden. Being under the influence of drugs, if for no other reason than Paul saying not to be drunk with wine. I would extend that to other drugs other than alcohol. Is a “crack pipe” itself somehow inherently wrong? I still wouldn’t say the object itself is inherently wrong. I would question the possession of the object and definitely condemn the usage of it to come under the influence. But I can think of at least one morally right reason to own one: teaching others (e.g., cops) to recognize different them.

              “Thought question for you, “Why are 4 letter words filthy or corrupt communication?””
              Good question. Why are they? I don’t think the words themselves are. They definitely can be used in filthy or corupt communication.

              “Scripture doesn’t give us the list of 7 like the FCC, so you must be free to say them in your novel system.”
              I may not be free to say them for other reasons. Nowhere does the Bible say “thou shalt not tell your brother that he is ugly,” but it does talk about not offending, being kind, loving, etc. So, I don’t go around telling people they are ugly. That said, I can’t blanketedly state that it’s immoral to do so at any time, either.

              “Dirty words” is a pretty big issue that I’m not sure is entirely related, except to say this: the words themselves are not inherently immoral, it’s what is meant and/or understood that causes … problems. I would say that this IS the same for music styles. A string of words/language is a medium of communication. Are some words, culturally, completely bound to a specific message/communiation? Perhaps so, though that would again have to be shown. It’s not enough to say “oh, that’s a dirty word.”

              I’ll put it this way. A Russian visits America. He doesn’t know what is a good and bad word. He doesn’t realize that the word for dog poo that he heard at the park is considered impolite. He says it to you. Do you think that he sinned?

              If yes, how so? What sinful communication did he actually make?

              If no, then the word itself is not the problem and, in fact, is not inherently wrong… and yes, I don’t think it is good to put it on a list of “bad words: if you say them, you are sinning.”

              A music style is a *medium* of communication. You wouldn’t have to work hard at all to show that a medium can be used to communicate something bad; I’m not sure anyone would argue that point. But you’d have to work quite diligently to show that an entire medium is corrupt and sinful. It’s not enough to say “look at how much is in the typical song! Surely it must be inherently evil!” Unless, of course, that’s actually … a biblical test? Is there any biblical precedent at all for doing that? Does anyone in the Bible tell us to avoid certain things because of how often, in the world, it is used for bad things?

              I missed one thing – Monroe – yes it was, and no it was not the words nor the music. It was her delivery.

              I am not arguing that you can’t do something immoral in pretty much any music style. You can. I’m arguing that you can’t dismiss a music style as inherently immoral.

            • MarkO

              Wow that didn’t take long. Kent you are the winner of the Godwin’s Law trophy for this post. I just might be possible to argue for one’s views on this Rap question without having to enter the Third Reich for analogies to suit.

        • Thomas

          Please note that I didn’t say anything about revivalism; I’m talking about his upbringing and the kinds of things that are taught in self-identified fundamentalist circles. All I’m saying is that it is hard not to be conditioned to this unintentionally. And I said that I’m not intending this as ad hominem because (get this) I’m not intending it to be such (you’re suggesting motives behind what I’m saying). I’m suggesting that people should perhaps not be as hard on him because of his background. I have many friends who struggle with the same condemnation of forms they don’t understand because they’ve been told since childhood that certain beats affect them in sinful ways (or in Aniol’s terms, give them “emotions” and not “affections”). I’m suggesting that we should show love to Aniol and others from his background and consider how we can serve brothers who carry this cultural baggage with them.

          As for the corruption of communication, the means for analyzing communication is provided to us in Scripture. I would suggest that if you see some particular claim that I’ve made that is out of line with Scripture, to please quote it and point me to Scripture on it. Similarly, if there is some particular thing that the Reformed rappers are saying that is out of line with Scripture, I would suggest that you or Aniol do the same.

          • Kent


            I noted that you don’t know what you are talking about with BJU and I isn’t a graduate. BJU started out of Southern revivalism, the “evangelist” Bob Jones — in the spirit of Moody and Torrey — with their auditorium named after Homer Rodeheaver, the revivalist songleader of Billy Sunday, whose most recorded piece was the bouncy but theologically superficial, “Brighten the Corner Where You Are.” Do you really think that Aniol gets his ideas from that? I don’t predict a retraction, because I sense recalcitrance. I don’t know Aniol personally, but where he grew up wasn’t in Greenville, SC, and they didn’t use the downbeat argument or the dying plant argument. That, my friend, doesn’t need to judge motives. It’s so uncareful to be ad hominem because it’s in your main two points about Aniol slaughtering them. By the way in a murder trial, should the jury judge motive? Just asking. They do, and they judge based on evidence. Evidence shows motive.

            Aniol isn’t carrying BJU cultural “baggage” with him. I’m actually wanting to be loving to you, because of the baggage you’re carrying. I want to disabuse you of your baggage, put it on the conveyor belt for loading. Aniol’s left pinky toe understands the issue better than you. He’s got a PhD from SWTS, and an M.A. in musicology, not out of a cracker jacks box. What you call, “show love,” is actually “follow my pattern of condescension.”

            My analysis from scripture of your claim is that it is untrue. Let your words always be true. They are false. As a moral creature, your words were immoral in their untruthfulness.

            • Thomas

              I know the history of BJU very well, which is why I know that he went there. I have read Aniol’s arguments extensively and I’m aware that he opposes revivalism and the music that sprung from the movement (early Gospel Songs). As someone who lived in Greenville for 10 years, I also know that BJU as other issues than just revivalism.

              BJU does hold to the dying plant view of rock music and I have friends who grew up at Scott’s childhood church who have told me that they were taught the whole backbeat jargon. They sent the kids to camps where teens would be encouraged to burn CCM and rock CD’s for this reason. If you grew up there and could state otherwise, I’d be interested in hearing your perspective.

              I’m not judging motive or any of the crazy mess you’re saying. I’m saying that I understand the background he’s coming from and have counseled and taught many who are struggling with the Jesus+my sub-culture approach to sanctification. And that’s really what we’re dealing with hear. It is a “I won’t eat with those Gentiles with their filthy rap music” approach to the Christian life. And Peter got called on the carpet for that, if I recall.

              I know about Aniol’s music degrees; I also know that his music focus was not on rap (which is why he got schooled by Shai Linne on his website). I also have good friends with just as much or more musical experience that would disagree with his perspective (which is my way of saying that arguments from musical gnosticism don’t sway me). I also know that he’s not a trained theologian, which is partially why I think his theology on this point is off.

              I’m not even going to bother responding to your final paragraph.

            • Paul Ellsworth

              Kent, are you sure that Scott Aniol doesn’t go for the backbeat argument? (at least, it seems like you’re saying that he doesn’t)

              (an article by Aniol)

              Notice the quote by Timothy Shafer which specifically mentions it, and note the complete agreement by Aniol.
              “The sound of the backbeat inherently signifies the motion of the body during the act of sexual intercourse, as any rock musician will readily attest.”

              “I agree with his analysis. The rhythms, sonorities, timbres, and movements of rap all “feel” like (to one degree or another dependent upon the specific song) rage, violence, aggression, sex, agitation, and rebellion.”

    • Joel Shaffer

      Actually Scott’s material on Hip-Hop is very biased. For instance, in some of his articles, he selectively chooses certain scholars on Hip-Hop and rap that back up his conservative beliefs and then rather than interact with the large body and variety of scholarship that have been written about Hip-Hop culture. He needs to interact with more than just a few Christian Hip-Hop artists quotes about redeeming culture and a few scholars that narrowly define hip-hop culture in its most corrupt form. Therefore, it is easy for him to set up straw-man arguments and dismiss it as a form that is acceptable in God’s eyes.

  • Kenton

    Excellent breakdown and assessment. I agree that musical forms can be weighed by themselves, assuming that we are taking into account both the form of delivery as well as the style (how the artist performs). But the panelists didn’t seem to address that. Only the first author approached this critique, and he quickly turned toward content (namely the intention of the rapper). The rest chose to address cultural baggage that they considered to be inseparable from the form of music. More than expressing ignorance about the genre, they expressed ignorance about the artists themselves, which is ultimately why their critique is so disastrous and harmful. They rebuke those about whom they know very little.

    • Chris

      Absolutely agree. That was worded very well.

  • Victoria

    Thanks so much for posting the panel discussion and other voices below! I heartily second all of those who spoke “In Defense” :)

  • Joshua R

    I found each argument “against” to be woefully inadequate, but am specifically blown away by Jason Dohm’s remarks re: TobyMac’s backwards hat & wrinkles…am I missing something here?! Such judgmental attitudes and elitism with no Scriptural support. Sad & embarrassing.

    • Patrick

      I agree. They are only seeing things from their personal context and experience and thinly using scripture to support their judgments. In their opinion, when a man becomes a Christian, he must soon begin to wear sweater vests and/or three piece suits and only listen to 300 year old hymns. How does that work for Christians in third world countries? I agree with you.

    • Kevin Halloran

      Agreed. Their arguments are not supported Scripturally and quickly break down when applied to other genres and also show a very limited view of God and the creation mandate.

  • Patrick

    I understand the points of view from the panelists, but I heartily disagree with pretty much everything they said. To them, the words in hip hop songs may be drowned out by the beat and/or the artist, but not to those who understand hip hop and respect the style of music that it is. Perspective matters.

    • Missy M

      This is the fallacy of appealing to special knowledge. In serious debate such arguments are dismissed.

      • Ashley

        This doesn’t require “special knowledge” but an ear that is accustomed to the fast lyrics of rap as opposed to other mediums. Christian intellectual elitism is not becoming of any of us.

      • Justin (no not that Justin)

        Missy, this is a non-existent fallacy: An appeal to special knowledge?

        So, if I told you that you could not understand quantum mechanics because you do not understand differential equations my claim is false because I am appealing to special knowledge? Or how about this example: if I tell you that it’s going to freeze tonight even though it’s currently 70 degrees. You respond that there is no way that it could freeze. I then tell you that if you understood the weather patterns that you would understand how it is going to freeze. Am I appealing to special knowledge here? In both instances I would be committing an informal fallacy according to you, This is simply silly on your behalf.

        Where do you get this notion of a fallacy of special knowledge from?

        There is a fallacy of an appeal to inappropriate authority (or you could call this an appeal to unqualified authority): is this what you are thinking of? What logic book did you get this fallacy from? It is not in Copi & Cohen nor is it in Baronett.

        In fact you may be committing the fallacy of appeal to an inappropriate authority if you are appealing to the arguments of those against hip-hop because they are unfamiliar with the music. In this case they are not qualified to make judgments for or against hip-hop.

        • Missy M


          The problem with your follow-up is that is essential a non sequitur though it may be true in the right case. I was responding to the commenter who claimed special knowledge with no credentials or argument offered, only inherent special knowledge itself , which is a non argument since anyone can subjectively make that claim but even worse in opposition to credentialed people who do offer principled arguments, though someone might disagree with them.

  • Matt G

    I think it was Lecrae (in either a You Tube vid or CT) who described Christian hip-hop music, or at least how it is perceived by culture being like the picture of someone with a knife. That person could be a murderer or that person could be simply cooking something in the kitchen. The point is hip-hop can be used for good or bad purposes. It could be used to spread a culture of death and hopelessness and sin, or a culture of life transformed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Just because the Christian hip-hop artist holds the knife (i.e. hip-hop) doesn’t mean death is being communicated.

    I’ve been thinking about Christian hip-hop lately. Some of it, I like, and some of it I don’t care for. Some Christian hip-hop talks about the Gospel and other Christian hip-hop talks about what the Gospel is not and some blends the two together a bit. I gravitate toward that which talks primarily about the Gospel, as a believer. However, diagnosing and revealing the idols of the heart which are common in hip-hop culture though not hitting home with me as much personally, could still strike someone who regularly listens to hip-hop (and not the Christ-centered kind).

    What does it look like to be a missionary in hip-hop culture? I think it looks like taking the art and craft that people use, but turning it on it’s head by redeeming something that is corrupt and sinful to the core of it’s content with the Gospel not for the end of changing hip-hop, but for the purpose of sharing the Gospel in a culture of hopelessness and glorifying God.

    I do think there is a good point that some Christian hip-hop can seem to elevate the hip-hop artist more than glorifying God, and like the CT article, there is a natural confidence/swagger to hip-hop that is without humility and meekness. I am thankful for the witness of so many Christian hip-hop artists out there today who are sharing the Gospel in the language of a culture that is corrupt in many ways, as we are corrupt in every way, indeed. Perhaps there could be an emphasis on humility and meekness in the Christian hip-hop community that could communicate the Gospel (as has been done), but also communicate the humble, self-sacrificial aspects of our faith to a culture that is boasting in self?

  • Phil

    I must say that I found myself becoming angry as I listened to their responses and I feel like it is a righteous anger. I am a white, 32 year old youth pastor of a Baptist church. I grew up as a Missionary Kid and I have always loved music. I have also always love a variety of genres. There are two genres of music that consistently bring me to a place of worship: Praise music and Christian Rap. I can’t tell you how many times I have been brought to tears by the truth in some of the rap I listen to and how it has brought me closer to Jesus. I have seen lives transformed because of the medium of Christian Rap. I don’t like most of the music my parents (who are 41 years older than me) listen to. It doesn’t bring me to a point of worship. But that does not mean it is immoral, or that it’s style was not affected by the culture that it was written in. I am thankful for those that write music of all different kinds of genres for the praise and glory of God. I praise God for Lecrae, Tedashii, Flame, Trip Lee, and many others like them who boldly proclaim the gospel with sound doctrine and I echo those that wrote in defense of these brothers in Christ. My heart hurts for those that judge these brothers simply because they disagree with the medium and it aches for the judgment that is passed on those that see Christian rap as edifying and beneficial to the body.

    • Ben S

      Phil I couldn’t agree with you more. I could barely listen through the entire discussion with how much ignorance was shown to the subject matter. I was even more frustrated that none of those on the panel had much knowledge of Christian Rap as seen by naming only one artist who isn’t even very relative in the Christian Rap scene anymore. On top of that there was very little if any scriptural backing to any of their arguments. I would be interested to see which artists they are basing all of these opinions on as many, such as Shai Linne literally rap doctrine (which is awesome by the way). However the most interesting statement from the entire panel that really got me going was that rap music can’t be redeemed. Which is interesting as the God of the Bible is the inventor of turning things made evil by man and using them to give him glory. So what that panelist was saying is that God can speak the world into existence and raise dead people back to life but he can’t redeem one musical form , what an insult the character of God.

  • Andrew T

    Thank you for posting these arguments in one place and for getting to the heart of the controversy, namely, the suitability of rap as a genre. I would really love to hear what Ken Myers of Mars Hill Audio would say in response to this video.

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  • David Negley

    Two things lacking in this debate: Scripture and history. Granted, what CS Lewis called “chronoligical bigotry” works both ways. But also, what is traditional is traditional for a reason – and as confessional evangelicals, we know traditions are valuable. Has anyone considered what Christian artists’ patriarchs and brothers from even 3,000 years ago thought on this? Christian music’s history is much older than 40 years. We are but a blip in the chorus of saints.

    • Paul Ellsworth

      We are, indeed, but a blip… as was a lot of music in the past (though a bit longer of a blip due to the speed of change not being quite as fast, especially before the printing press)… except for the small groups that hold on to one tradition or another (e.g., chanting monks or lining-out singing). By and large, though, it seems that church music just continues to change along with either the “classical” or “folk” forms of the day.

      And no church, that I’m aware of, continues to use 1st century Greek music. ;)

  • Jonathan Robinson

    I must contend that if the true nature of the question at hand is ” Christian hip hop is detrimental to the kind of life God is pleased with” than the responses of the panel come from mere ignorance to Christian Hip Hop. I believe that again we are dealing with pettily stylistic differences. I find it interesting that they even admit that RCHH is theologically and doctrinally solid as Scott Aniol says “I read a lot of the lyrics of the reformed rap and some are much more doctrinally dense than some of our songs. (3:30)” Yet the issue here is not the content it is they style of music. They also mention that it is in the delivery, Dan Horn comments that the rapper, in their delivery and or performance, draws the attention to themselves. I can honestly say that his man, and to my summation his counterparts, have never, nor would ever attend a Hip Hop Concert. I on the other hand have attended many, and find his conclusions to be misinformed, assumptive and based on bias speculation.

    Again I will go back to the initial question that Joe posts in the first paragraph, that this panel is arguing “why they believe Christian hip hop is detrimental to the kind of life God is pleased with.” The issue of right living is not up to these men (thank God), but they will make assertions that Scripture says that approach to music and worship is clearly laid out in scripture. If this were the case and we could see that there was a particular way to worship, give thanks, praise God, give a testimony, sing (or rap) music, then yes I could see their arguments to have some grounds. Fortunately none of these things have been mandated by God to fit into a neat little box. The creativity that we have been given by our creator allows us to express our love for him in the arts.

    Therefore I believe that: 1. The issue here was not properly dealt with in the panel discussion. 2. The stylistic bias that these men have was so wrapped up in their responses that they could not answer the question objectively. 3. They seem to be ignorant to Christian Hip Hop, outside of “reading the lyrics” 4. A question of this nature is very dangerous, ignorant and pharisaical to ask in the first place. There is not scriptural basis for them to make these accusations and I consider this panel to be an affront to the unity of the church, the dynamic of God’s creation and creativity and lacking in the area of multicultural representation.

  • Robb Leatherwood

    I’m frankly bewildered that anyone takes these NCFIC people seriously enough for this to have appeared on the “radar” of reformed evangelicals as a “controversy.” I’m glad to see their ignorance so forcefully refuted, but it’s disappointing that this panel of cranky old white men managed to get more than a collective eye-roll out of the rest of the us.

    • Rich Shipe

      Yes, Thank you for saying that, Robb. The NCFIC is a very problematic group in my view and it is unfortunate that so many take them seriously.

  • Lora Violet

    If a young man wears an earring who does he identify with??? If an old man wears a piece of silk wrapped around his neck to lay down his chest, WHO does he identify with???? Oh my! Come quickly Lord Jesus!

  • Chris

    If Dan Horn’s words of beats being the problem then my next question would be, “Do you listen to the little drummer boy?”

  • Ricardo

    Also, worthwhile thoughts from Doug Wilson:

  • Luke

    This is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever read on this site, to the point where I’m questioning whether I should continue to frequent the Gospel Coalition. The underlying pride, ignorance and borderline racism underpinning the arguments against is astounding. These guys are modern day Pharisees, “disobedient cowards” but too proud to see it.

    You as well have run an article on whether the “sensual, tribal beat” of drums should be allowed to be used in the church, or whether you have to pray in English for God to hear you. Bringing more attention to ridiculous topics such as this only serves to erode what little credibility the Church has left in the modern world.

    • Joe Carter

      Bringing more attention to ridiculous topics such as this only serves to erode what little credibility the Church has left in the modern world.

      I’m not sure I understand your point. Considering that 16 Christian leaders were involved in this discussion (and this was just a sampling), it certainly seems worthy of notice. Do you disagree?

      Unfortunately, this is the type of no-win situation TGC faces on such issues. If we write about the issue then people complain that we are “brining attention to ridiculous topics.” But if we don’t write about it then people will complain that we are ignoring a discussion of importance to people in the church. We’re criticized no matter option we choose.

      • Ricardo

        Joe, keep on doing what you’re doing.

        The church is attacked from within, as well as from without. When destructive things are raised by men in roles of leadership (albeit I believe, Godly men, with much to contribute to the Church), it can’t be brushed under the carpet — whatever your views on this topic, it’s clear we need to address these issues and give them the scrutiny of Scripture. What if Paul hadn’t called Peter out for his Judaiser sympathies?

      • Luke

        I do disagree. While it was discussed among this panel, it’s not an issue of theological debate amongst the Christian community. The belief that certain genre’s are sacred and others are inherently secular or evil is not widely accepted in the church at all as far as I’m aware. It’s just disheartening that it is receiving any attention from any leaders since the criticism is so clearly based in ignorance and pride, rather than biblical conviction. This is no different to the debate that was had about drums in church or even the use of Hymns in church. Hymns initially received the same criticisms that are bough against rap/hip-hop above because they were contemporary in style. It’s the same every time, old white luddites don’t like a certain type of music because it’s different to what they’re used to, so they try to make it spiritual/theological issue in order to suppress creative progression and expression. In the this case is close to blatant racism. We all know how this will end, we’ll laugh at the fact these conversations were even had, just like we do about the conversations that were had about drums in church 30 years ago, and that’s the problem. We’re already painted as out of touch ignorant, white, right wing nut jobs. News that Christians are debating whether “non-white” music is permissible in the church is comedy gold to the secular world and even the more liberal Christian world. It’s sad and I wish we could talk about things of importance instead of discussions that stem from “I don’t like these rap/rock/folk/punk/country/opera/Hymn singing guys because they don’t dress like I want them to and they makes music I don’t like”.

        • Missy M

          Your assertion that the argument is being framed as “evil” vs. “sacred” is a misrepresentation of the nuanced and qualified arguments and certainly has no merit. No such simplified code was argued. Thus is certainly not a responsible restating of the arguments against.

    • Brian N


      You’re so right. Bringing arguments is absolutely a great thing. Discussions need to happen. Discussions which currently have real world impacts and present issues within the church: conversations about homosexuality, racism, poverty, etc. To aimlessly bash a culture which one does not have a clue about and to present an ideology founded without scriptural backing and rooted in racism is another.

      As a person who serves in south-side Chicago, my blood is straight boiling. The church and this country has no idea on the needs of the urban areas, but rather they infiltrate the area and pumps their ideas in and then wonders why it doesn’t work. Men with hearts like this are the reason it is so difficult for a white guy like me to go in to the hood and love on God’s people. Please stop the madness Christ’s people! Step from behind the pulpit, and step in to the streets.

      • Kent


        You’re so right. You can’t go into these areas and think that people will be saved by just preaching the gospel. It makes my blood boil too. When I step into the hood, I want to be armed (no pun intended) with some poppin and gesticulatin. The soil could stand for some slam dancin to soften it up — as you say, stuff that will “work.”

  • Briana

    While I could barely stand to listen to the panel, I did. I will look at these brothers in Christ as men who simply can’t see outside of their comfort zone and stereotypes. I don’t think they are haters beyond what the majority of people are in their own stereotypes. I must say that they kept trying to bring it back to scripture, but never did. They kept saying it had to do with the words, but it never did. Ultimately, what is distracting to them may minister to the soul of another person. There are so many different types of music around the world in different cultures. How can we say one type of music or beat belongs to the devil? It’s like saying certain foods belong to the devil.

    People’s hearts are what are truly evil. It is the heart of man that feels lust during a certain type of beat. If one person cannot listen to a specific type of music without sinning, then I say, stop listening to that!

    On the other hand, I must say that the way the eyes can lust and that certain visual images brings lust, the ears, on the other hand can bring in lust as well…. BUT….that is not as easy to distill. it is all about the flesh, which is out of control, unless subdued by the Spirit.

    I found the comments about Toby Mac extremely ridiculous, insulting, uneducated and unspiritual.

    I DO agree that believers should be careful what they listen to. I DO agree that “Christian music” has become an industry instead of a ministry. These are the things that should be discussed, instead of personal preferences. (Which is what it came down to…) God can get glory from a flower waving in a field or a person smiling or a hug or a toilet scrubbed to the honor of God. How, indeed, can a song be discerned as unspiritual and not bringing glory to God, simply if the words are hard to follow, because you aren’t used to listening to rap? But, the 12 year old boy or girl who was raised in that culture, can find Jesus and easily understand. I am thankful that not everyone puts God in a box. There would be a LOT of missionaries who never were successful in reaching lost tribes, because they refused to adapt to the culture (without sinning, I might add.)

    • Jason Dohm

      Hi Briana.

      I am panelist #5 (Jason Dohm), who spoke about Toby Mac. Full disclosure: most of this is cut/paste from what I added to the comments stream of Pastor Anyabwile’s summary from 11/30.

      As clumsily as it was stated, my concern is not with 50-year-old men (though I got the age wrong – he is 49). I understand that longevity in that business is a tribute to the gifts employed. I am more thankful every year that it is not sinful to turn 50 or to have wrinkles, and having that level of success in my chosen field would be amazing. My concern is that Christian men are taking longer and longer to assume the mantle of manhood and all that entails, and having older men out front who carry themselves more like men thirty years their junior is not helping. It isn’t, and it isn’t good for the church, and it isn’t good for the advance of the gospel – yes, I do care very much about that, as I know you do. Where would I be without the gospel?!

      Anyway, I wish I had simply said that, but I’m not very good off-the-cuff, and here we are. You may think that better or worse, but I at least wanted to offer the clarification.

      • Briana

        Jason Dohm, Thank you for your reply. I must say that it takes courage to put yourself out there like that. I know a lot of people who have a hard time putting their words down “off the cuff” as well.

        I agree that men need to take on the mantel of adulthood and leadership. I agree whole-heartedly. Let me give you a few sentences of my background. I come from a very theologically sound background and have a good handle on God’s word. I am not one for “feel-good” theology. My husband is a very talented Christian worship artist. He is almost 40 and frequently gets mistaken for a 20-something. He is aging very well. He leads at church and for youth groups/statewide youth conventions. He brings his age, wisdom and maturity into these situations and does ministry, challenging the young people to holiness and passionately following Jesus. He does a much better job now at 37 than he did at 27. His years allows him more authority, grace and truth when ministering. His “looks” and music give him access to young people. (Instead of leaving the youth to those who were youth just a few years ago.)

        Because my husband is in this type of ministry, and does so very powerfully and affectively, it may seem strange to hear me say that I agree that Christian music is in a bad place. But, it is not because of the music itself, it is because of the attitude in the church to worship the musician above God’s word. People want an experience that brings good feelings void of truth. The Christian music industry has also become a place of marketing, branding and selling. It reminds me of the temple courts that Jesus cleared. These are the issues that need to be addressed in the church. I don’t have a problem with becoming all things to all people in order to win some. I do have a problem with compromising the heart of the gospel. This has nothing to do with the beat, and everything to do with the message.

        The ‘subliminal’ message, in many, many instances is this: “It is more important to be cool than to be righteous”, or “The Holy Spirit has no role in the church any more, since all we need is a good program, great lighting and cool t-shirts.” With one breath we are praising Jesus and with another breath we are complaining that the pastor preached for too long or saying that teens can’t learn the Bible, because it’s too hard to understand. These are the true issues of our time.

        I think the people who oppose the “hip hop or rap or rock” really may be uncomfortable with the styles, because it doesn’t minister to them, but they may also feel what I feel when I hear certain songs on the radio or go to a Christian music festival…something is not right. Trying to say that it is the music style itself is where I get lost.

      • D. McDonald

        So your comments about how important it is to dress appropriately really having nothing to do with your argument that rap should be prohibited in the church? It was simply for comedic effect? Is that right? I hope so, because I have no idea what clothes and hats we wear has to do with being a godly man. If you looked at me, a man approaching 40, I would probably be accepted as one who “carries” myself appropriately in your circles because I don’t dress like Toby Mac. The problem is that I still wear the same type of clothes I wore when I was 20 years old too. Does that mean I am not growing up? To be honest, I don’t think clarifications are what is necessary, but rather apologies.

  • Tim M.

    Hey Joe,
    It seems strange to present this as a debate. You have six off-the-cuff responses to a question being judged against 10 articles. In listening to the panel, I thought it could have been worded more carefully, but we certainly haven’t witnessed a debate :) It’s definitely not an even-handed exchange. I would hate to have ten people write articles refuting my 2 minute off-the-cuff remarks on a subject, and then have someone come along and score the exchange.

  • Don

    I was sadden by how culturally bound those negative voices were and by their harsh broad judgmental indictments.

  • Pingback: Anti-Rap panelist responds to critics and doubles-down on his position. @TGC | Denny Burk()


    Scott Aniol’s comment was in my opinion the most inflammatory of the comments here.
    I am no fan of rap, don’t feel it myself, but I have to say Aniol goes to far when he describes Reformed rappers as cowards: “They’re serving their own flesh. They’re caving into the world. They are disobedient cowards. They’re not really willing to engage in the fight that needs to be engaged.”
    I think he should meet some of these guys, they are about Jesus and the Gospel. Unashamedly.

    • Chris

      Slimjim, that wasn’t Aniol who made those comments about Christian rappers being “cowards.”

      And, if you follow his blog and twitter account, you would have seen that he has been in contact with Shai Linne ever since the story broke.

  • Dan Hallock

    I thank God for the gift of Christian hip hop! I’ve been listening to Christian rap for close to 20 years, and it has been a great encouragement to me in my walk with Christ. What a terrible argument that rap focuses more on the beat than on the lyrics. Anybody who listens to skillful rap music as well as other genres of music knows that rap is uniquely designed to emphasize the words. In fact, I would argue that rap is word-based, or message-based, while many other genres of music are dependent on the instruments. In fact, you don’t even need instruments to have hip hop. It’s modern day poetry. Speaking as a former youth pastor and present senior pastor, I can honestly say that reformed Christian rap is one of the few genres of “Christian” music I wholeheartedly recommend anymore to teens, because it is loaded with gospel-saturated theology.

  • Jason

    For what it’s worth, they offered an “apology,” sort of-

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  • David

    The funny thing is that Lecrae and Thi’sl gave a much more brilliant critique of hip hop culture than the old white guys ever could. But they did so within the genre, showing that you don’t need to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

  • Simeon

    As a person who listens to Christian Rap and enjoys it for how it sounds and for how it helps me remember God and what I’m living for (His glory) I don’t understand how their arguments are logical as their music takes the same form as other music that wasn’t written to glorify God. What I understand is that their argument is based on personal preference to one music style and because rap isn’t their cup of tea they say it cannot sit with Luther and Wesley on the music shelf. Rap is poetry put to music, it’s more like the Psalms then some other worship songs.

    I’m really disturbed that leaders of the body of Christ would condemn something that glorifies God. Psalm 98 talks about worshiping with a joyful noise, NOT a joyful hymn. Crying out in distress in a room by yourself because of your conviction is a joyful noise because you are glorifying God in your desire to be holy.

    Just because you don’t like something doesn’t make it wrong.

  • Adam C

    What about John Piper’s recent tweet saying Russell Moore “was closer to the whole truth on Reformed Rap” than the panelists? (Nov 27 tweet)

    Wouldn’t that put two more in the “In Defense” camp? Maybe you should consider adding two more prominent leaders as supporting the Holy Hip Hop movement.

  • Nick Hill

    This made me laugh out loud to tears: “Churches, a group of panelists laid out their arguments for why they believe Christian hip hop is detrimental to the kind of life God is pleased with.”

    Maybe these people should read Galatians again.

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  • Lauren Steinmetz

    I am a professional (classical) musician and I just watched this video. This reeks of racism and cultural repression, as well as arrogance and self-satisfaction. But one reason why they say such absurd things about rap is because they clearly don’t know much about music, and certainly not about the philosophy or theology of music. By the logic I heard there, they also shouldn’t listen to Bach! If one doesn’t speak German, the words are obscured or not “memorizable”; it might– and often does– highlight the performer(s); and if music is merely a vehicle for words, then Bach’s instrumental works are out altogether. I could go on and on about the embarrassingly obvious holes in their arguments. So, while the panel did express an unbelievable and disgusting amount of racism, it’s premised on such rudimentary attitudes toward music that there was no hope for a good discussion anyway. So why were they interviewed on a topic about which they were unqualified to speak? Shameful on all levels.

    • Missy M

      Your hysteria and exaggerations don’t lend themselves to any “classical” forms of debate, if we wish to envoke classicalisms.You have made some assertions which are both sensational and derogatory without support. If you wish to charge racism then prove this substantially otherwise, you are way out of bounds. Never mind that there are classically trained people who disagree with you but I guess they are all racists too? Ugh.

  • Marg

    This is really sad. You cannot apply this logic to any other “un-Christian” culture. Are missionaries to take the hymnal and translate it into Hindi and Chinese and give it to them as the only option for worship music? Indian music may sound just as distasteful to these guys, but it is truly worshipful to Indian people. The same could be said of cultures all across Africa. It’s called contextualization, using things from the culture to lead people into a lifestyle of worship and an understanding of the Gospel. What these guys are doing is trying to import white Christianity into a different culture, and it won’t work.

  • Warner Aldridge


  • Robert Price

    This post should be titled…”A debate about what middle aged white men believe about Christian rap”; Middle Aged White man, being a category I increasingly resemble. I think these men start with a cultural bias, as admittedly we all do, and these cultural presuppositions lead them towards their position against Christian rap. These same men would likely have condemned most of Charles Wesley’s music as well,had they been around back then, after all they were sung to bawdy ale house tune.I am not saying that rap is necessarily a great choice for worship service, but certainly the lyrics of songs from the likes of Lecrae and Trip Lee seek to glorify Christ in their content and Message.

  • Derek O.

    I would love to hear these guys discuss Christian hardcore.

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  • Garet

    This is a fine example of how taking the heart of the content of a panel discussion and the best voices of the resulting blogosphere interaction should work. Thank you Joe Carter.

    As a note on this panel, the embedded fundamentalist language and cultural indicators are, frankly, astonishing to me. Having grown up in a neo-fundamentalist circle and having heard so much of these arguments before I shuddered to hear them again. This panel is a telling example of the fundamentalist shift still ongoing in certain sectors of evangelicalism. As a minister in a large metro area with a growing hip hop and urba music scene, this kind of thinking is dangerous for the advancement of the Gospel in my area.

  • Dan Glover

    Joe, here are some additional comments that offer a balanced support for Reformed Rap while taking into account one or two of the reasonable critiques that the original panelists offered but that came without any reasonableness when the panel shot them off.

  • Jen Frank

    I can’t believe what I read.

    I think if everyone were to cut, sift, and simmer the argument of those anti-hip hop, there would be a much more honest and necessary discussion at hand.

    Why do so many mainstream (aka older white Christians) feel the need to put their culture on the same level of the Bible?

    Why does worship have to be white to be taken as authentic, profitable, and Christian?

    Read the arguments again. It has very little to do with rhythms and verses and almost everything to do with ethnic/racial/classist snobbery.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if 1st century worship looked and sounded little like mainstream American worship today.

    But, I think not only would these men be surprised. But these men would probably say it’s wrong because it’s not the way their peoples did it in 1600 Germany.

    If anything, this debate shows why 9am on Sunday morning is so segregated.

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  • David Daniles

    One of the speakers in the anti-rap panel discussion video can be seen in the videos below giving a pretty shocking racist view of slavery and African American history. Maybe that explains something of where they are coming from?

  • chris

    A short but important article (written by a conservative, “stay at homeschooling” mom) highlighting the need to look deeper into the doctrines that produce panels such as the one above (and the sources the doctrines eminate from).

  • Andrew

    Although I would be in the IN DEFENSE side, I can appreciate some of the points brought about by those opposed. Jason Dohm makes a valid case for elder men reaching out to the younger men to help them grow in maturity but his listed words above are nothing but insults cast at Toby Mac. And Geoff Botkin is correct in that we should change the world but calling a Christian rapper a coward for being a rapper is ignorant.

    I love Carl and Karen’s words on it the best in defense of it. I feel Owen Strachan was doing the exact same thing in judging in calling out the “typically white” panelists although there are many whites in defense of Christian rap. The only rapper called out by name above in the opposed commentary was Toby Mac. In all I have read, those IN DEFENSE are the ones bringing up color where only culture was addressed. I fear any discussion that turns to racial admonishment when the topic at hand was about Godliness.

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  • Curt Day

    We should be precise here, this was not a debate. Rather, this post transcribes the video and contains a list of reactions. In addition, there seems to be no distinction made by the contributors here between music used for worship and music listened to in society. With regards to music used in worship, we need to be extremely careful with any genre of music used to worship lest our focus changes from God to ourselves by worshipping our own culture. In contrast to music in worship, music in society has more varied purposes than music in worship.

    One of the purposes of the arts is to provide mediums for people to act as prophets. Now they won’t be prophets in the OT and NT sense in that the Spirit is revealing something to them. However, they use their own powers of observation and logic to deduce where society is going and the problems it will soon experience. We can think of Charles Dickens as a literary prophet for example.

    Another purpose of the arts is to act as a window to a subculture of our society, if not the whole society, so we can look at ourselves as observers.

    In the light of the above uses of the arts, it has become a tragedy that our primary use of the arts is to amuse ourselves in entertainment.

    When we combine the above points about the arts in society, we should conclude that we should listen to music of all genres and that is regardless of the faith of the composers and writers so we can better understand our world which, in turn, might help us to evangelize.

    Finally, the point made by Carl and Karen Ellis about the blindness of the dominant culture is the one of the most important points made. For Christianity has dominated American culture for a long time and still has a prominent voice, and yet we Christians who embrace our still preeminence over society are blind to how we have abused many in that society.

  • Jamie

    I was horrified to see this panel. I respect their opinions but shocked to see them all make intelligent sounding subjective claims. There is nothing worse than a bunch of nerdy white guys ridiculing a mostly urban ethnic music form. I admit that I am also a somewhat nerdy white guy who does not really like rap. However, I respect our Christian brothers and sisters who are taking the light of the gospel to some very dark places. This argument that “the rapper makes it about himself” is ridiculous. I am betting some of these guys have what is called “special music” in their churches. What do they think that is? Yet, because it is in the music style we like, it is “godly” and “worshipful.” Wrong.

  • Don

    “. . . what concerns me about this this so-called “art form” – it’s a picture of weakness and surrender on the part of people who think they’re serving God. And they’re not. They’re serving their own flesh. They’re caving into the world. They are disobedient cowards. They’re not really willing to engage in the fight that needs to be engaged.” –Geoff Botkin

    This comment simply blew me away. I love so many of the reformed rappers out there: Shai Linne, Timothy Brindle, Beautiful Eulogy, Lecrae…And to hear Geoff say what he said hurt. Knowing what I know of these men, and imagining them reading a comment like this…made me hurt for them. These guys want nothing to do with the spot light. Their music is worshipful and God exalting. It often brings me to tears because they so freshly communicate ancient truths in such a poetic and beautiful way…Any way, I hope that Geoff apologizes for saying such hurtful words.

    • Kenton

      These comments were certainly off the mark, and as someone who has interacted with Christian rappers (Shai and Trip for example), I know they were blatantly false statements (though there are rappers who identify as Christian but do appear too closely aligned with the world). That said, I’m more interested in why he doesn’t consider rap to be a legitimate art form. That seems more pertinent to the discussion at hand, and he was the only panelist to question the legitimacy of the form as art.

  • Mark Edwards – MC Tempo

    I am massively surprised that this video even made it on to website. Whilst I’m not normally one to comment on something as trivial as this secondary doctrine issue, as a Christian rap artist myself (MC Tempo), I feel compelled to enter this debate.

    Speaker 1
    Speaker 1 states that the purpose of song is to instruct! However, as most musicians will verify, the purpose of song is to express.
    The fact that Speaker 1 finds the heavy beats of hip-hop music ‘off putting’ is mearley his own ‘personal preference’. He should not force that view on other Christians as this is often how heresies are birthed.
    To call Christianity ‘a word-based religion’ is unbelievable! Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought we were just all sinners saved by Christ centred faith?
    Speaker 1 is however right in identifying the problem of pride which always shows its ugly head with anyone doing anything in the name of Jesus publicly. I stress, this however is not unique to rap music, but to any musician, preacher, worship leader, teacher or even to those who appear on panels.
    I find it sad that Speaker 1 then critiques ‘delivery’ before finishing his spiel with it ‘always being about the rapper’, therefore judging and tarnishing EVERY Christian rap artist with the same brush, whilst speaking on a subject that perhaps he knows very little about. It’s a bit like asking a politician how to be a cheerleader. I’m sure he would have an ‘opinion’, however, I would rather default to the opinion of a 12 year old girl on that issue!
    Now don’t get me wrong, there are lots of apparent Christian rappers out there whose sincerity does not always measure up to their songs… but to demonise ANY entire subculture of God’s people is nothing but narrow minded ignorance.

    Speaker 2
    Speaker 2 sadly uses divisive language attempting to draw a difference between ‘their songs and ours’. Whatever happened to the unity in the body?
    If we are to remain biblical with any creative tool, Ministry, outreach etc that we do for the glory of God, we must remember that our measuring rod is the fruit.
    The fact that unbelievers are coming to Jesus through Christian hip-hop should be enough to convince any Christian of how God is using it in this day in age. By all means we should win some, and hip-hop is indeed a mean to reaching this current generation.
    Speaker 2 also questions the origin of hip-hop and then makes the mocking bunny ears gesture at the concept of ‘redeeming’ hip-hop! He is indeed right to pick up on the point that it is indeed sinful at its origin… a bit like you and me. But like all sinful people and all sinful things, the God of the Bible has a great track record of redeeming them all.
    Speaker 2 also makes the point about how it is not what we say, but how we say it. Now if someone finds scripture recited in a monologue form boring, but constantly plays it with beats in the background, should we not encourage that? Or perhaps speaker 2 would prefer them not to hear the word of God at all?

    Speaker 3
    Speaker 3 talks about not conforming to this world. Enjoying or part taking in Christian rap music is NOT conforming to this world. Rather it is speaking the language of the world that we are in. God calls us to be ‘in’ the world… how could we possibly be ‘in’ the world, if we do not speak the language they speak ‘in’ the world?
    His attempts to discredit the Ministry of Christian rap artists is appalling! Calling Christian rappers “people that ‘think’ they are serving God but are serving their own flesh” places speaker 3 on the throne to judge God’s people.
    To say reformed rap is cowardly and not confronting is a joke. I personally have endured everything from being globally slandered in international hip-hop magazines to having glass bottles thrown at my head for rapping the Gospel in secular nightclubs/festivals etc and thats just me!

    Speaker 4
    Speaker 4 merely agrees with the majority with the microphone, none of whom I’m guessing our Christian rap artists and I suspect all have very limited experience of this kind of ministry.

    Speaker 5
    As for speaker 5, well, at least this guy had the honesty to admit that he had Toby Mac on his iPod. The fact the rest of the panel did not know who this was, validates my point about how much they really know about Christian hip-hop.
    He makes a very valid point that Christian rap artists functioning in Christian rap ministry can or should only be doing it for a season. It should have a shelf life in the world’s eyes, unless God is continuing to evidently bless that perhaps? Then surely decrement is needed rather than axing off a fruitful branch. The 50-year-old rapper with a baseball cap may well be less appealing to the youth of today then perhaps 20 years ago, tho that said, I choose to wear a baseball cap when I am rapping as MC Tempo, however I didn’t necessarily get married wearing a baseball cap and probably would not wear one when I preach at church on a Sunday! I’m not sure if the Pharisees judged people for what clothes they wore… however I’m pretty sure Jesus didn’t.

    Speaker 6
    It was good to see Speaker 6 attempt to minimise misunderstanding when he said “I don’t think any of us are saying that in the worship of God there’s only a certain kind of music that should be sung”. It was a shame that he followed it with his rant about earrings as this again is a secondary doctrine issue. To say that “it is not identifying yourself with godly men” if you choose to wear an earring is very concerning. I always thought that God was more concerned with how our hearts are on the inside rather than how we look on the outside?
    To publicly state that “rap is the death rattle in the throat of the dying culture” is to publicly display his ignorance. Rap music is modern day poetry. To demonise it as a style is the equivalent of demonising the book of Psalms… it makes no sense whatsoever!
    It is heartbreaking to know that there are actually people that genuinely think this. Furthermore that as a secondary doctrine issue is, it was even spoken about… at a conference? It further saddens me that out of all 6 people on this panel, not one of them commented on the missional component of Christian rap, given mission is a primary function to this particular ministry.

  • Trevor Minyard

    Everyone that has an issue with faith based hip-hop needs to go to and listen to their entire catalog; which is free.

    Secondly, it would do well for one to listen to Lecrae’s (the front-runner of the Christian rap movement) “Don’t Waste Your Life.”

    Finally, everyone chill out and go share the Gospel with a stranger.

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  • James H. Tippins

    Would be interesting to see who could logically compose a full debate with insight and not bias. As a musician and pastor, a proper exegetical approach is “needed” in the origins of certain styles of music. Rap music began nearly 400 years ago, in this country became the basis for Jazz music, blues and other “spoke” genres. This is not a debate on the musical style, influence etc. it’s a pet peeve of ignorant men who have platforms they should not have. Thankfully, there are brothers who wholeheartedly understand what is meant by “do it unto the glory of Christ.” To that end their is hope for the gospel heralding hip hop. Woe to the paganism of Mozart and Beethoven.

    For His Glory dear brothers, DV.


  • Joe Carter

    Some readers mistakenly assumed that TGC produced the video posted in the article. To be clear, TGC is not affiliated with NCFIC and was not a part of their recent conference.

    Also, the way I formatted the article has lead some readers to assume that the respondents were also part of the panel. I’ve added a clarification to clear up that point. I apologize for any confusion.

  • Chris

    Statement of Biblical Rebuke for Scott T. Brown (Director NCFIC) and Jason Dohm (panel member)

  • Tim

    I was at Dallas Seminary when hip-hop rapper William Branch did his Th.M. thesis on this exact topic. Yes, a hip-hop rapper spent 120 hours after college learning Greek, Hebrew, theology and church history to be able to be a better rapper.

  • Andrew S

    This “panel” further reveals how off-base American Christianity has gone. The Gospel has been muddled by opinions that have stripped away love. Rather than focusing on serving others we spend our time forming panels and proclaiming our agendas so that people can “learn from our wisdom.”

    See Galatians 2:14.

    These men are enslaving many brothers and sisters through their words. They’re creating bondage by adding their opinions to scripture.

  • Hunter

    This is an actual Christian rapper talking, no preaching, how to engage the culture. I think it would do the panel good to watch this.

    • Kenton

      that link is just to the home page. just a heads up

  • Colin Mattoon

    So somehow this doesn’t glorify the Lord???

  • andrew

    Sometimes I wonder if Jesus could have gone to some of our Christian schools (he drank wine!) or if he would have been accepted in some of our churches (long hair, probably dirty, smelly, and didn’t wear plaid shirts tucked into khakis). Just sayin’

    • andrew

      you know what, Jesus was crucified when he was in his thirties, I bet if he would have lived into his fifties, he would have cut his hair and cleaned up; you know, like a “mature” man.

      Is sarcasm unChristian? Discuss.

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  • Andy Kenway
  • Andy Kenway

    Mr. Geoff Botkin posted this much lengthier statement yesterday:

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  • andrew

    would someone please tell me what is so bad about having a “backwards cap,” and being “ready to rap” No, seriously, are you kidding me?! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! This is nothing more than intellectual elitist abuse. This is total confusion about Christian unity and uniformity. “Backwards cap, ready to rap.” Wow! Talk about straining at gnats and swallow camels!

    listen again to the first speakers comments. At one point, he stresses how Christianity is a “word-based faith,” while at another point, he stresses that their words don’t matter! I played this video for my Bible students (with the exception of one of them, all were African-American, and all have been influenced-positively I might add-by reformed rap) and these panelists’s comments were universally perceived as illogical and borderline racists. I finally have gotten my students (and myself, too) to get excited about Christian music (acoustic guitars, tambourines, and melodramatic singing are a genre they just don’t understand) and these guys have the audacity to call to question the faithful witness of Reformed rappers! Reformed rappers are typically way more sensitive to doctrine than other genres, even at the expense of the art form.

    It would be nice every once in a while, for Christian pastors and leaders to stop acting like they have to have an answer for every question that they are asked, and to simply say these three words: “I don’t know,” on matters that they don’t know anything about. “Be ready to give a reason for the hope that is within you:” but if you can’t, then don’t!

    Was the first panelist (don’t know his name) actually arguing that rap is not a good tool for memorization?! Let me tell you something, I grew up in the church and in the hip hop culture. I had straddled the fence between Christian beliefs and hip hop living. The one thing I wish I could overcome is the amount of crap that remains in my brain from the rap music I used to listen to. As far as sheer volume is concerned, I have memorized more rap music than I have the Bible, by far! That’s as sad as it is real. The fact of the matter is, rap music is incredibly catchy and incredibly useful for memorization. That’s why it is such a powerful tool that must not be allowed to be monopolized by the enemy. Kudos Reformed rappers. I appreciate you being a light in the dark world of rap.

    Personal preferences aren’t always Christian precepts.

  • Jason Beedon

    As a missionary who has swerved cross-culturally for many years I cannot understand why we are even havIng this conversation. I am certain that the panel would have slandered Hudson Taylor for changing his hair style and clothes so that he could reach more Chinese people with the gospel. For me this whole debate is about theology and contextualixation. I thought reformed people were supposed to have good theology. On this point the fundamentalist panel has very weak theology. If they were alive in Taylor’s day they would have been living in the seaside ports in their missionary compounds making the Chinese sing their hymns in English. Unfortunately, some things never change. We must never change our message but we must contextualize our method. We must exegete the Word and we must exegete our audience. We must find bridges on which to share the gospel message. It is clear that the panel has never given much thought on how to reach urban black people with the gospel. And that speaks to another sin issue.

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  • Nathan Campbell

    I thought I’d raise the tone in this debate by setting the original video to a beat:

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  • Asher

    If it Christian Hip-Hop is “ungodly” because of the lifestyle it portrays, what is Jennifer Knapp doing in the area of worship for the Church of God?

  • Alex

    I think that the thing that stood out to me the most was how they related righteousness and truth as automatically opposite of culture. Joe Morecraft said “some forms of music cannot be separated from the culture out of which they come.” First of all, this is cultural discrimination because he suggests that hip hop culture is inherently wrong. The second issue I have with this is Christological. Does anyone really think that when Jesus was walking down the street in Jerusalem that people saw him as “separate from Jewish culture?” No way… he was “made to be like his brothers in every respect.” I am not advocating an uncritical approach to cultural norms, because we need be counter-cultural, but this panel has seriously missed the mark!

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  • Steve Cornell

    Perhaps it would also be helpful to review what we mean by a “debatable matter.” Scripture does not always demand uniformity of opinion among Christians, but it always demands unity of disposition (see: 1 Peter 3:8; Eph. 4:1-3). Resources on debatable matters and legalism (

  • John

    I hate to pull this card, but how can you have a panel discussion on rap with a panel of white men, none of whom have ever been immersed in the culture?

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  • Matt

    I try to measure my words very carefully when I post something online, but I have to say that the arguments here against Christian rap are the dumbest and most un-original arguments I have ever heard. These same arguments were, are, and can still be made against all musical instruments, all new songs, all newer bible translations, and all technology. Dan Horn’s argument that rap draws attention to the rapper can be made against any performer of any genre. Loud beats have been condemned by some against any number of bands. Scott Aniol’s concerns about the “cultural milieu” of hip hop is shared by some who hate guitars and drums, as in their modern usage they come from a rock and roll “milieu.” Geoff Botkin’s calling rappers “cowards” is the worst form of argument, for when you can’t make an intelligent argument you simply resort to name calling.

    Why not just be honest? If you don’t like hip hop (and for the record I’m not a big fan) just say you don’t like it. Stop trying to dress up your preferences with psuedo-scholarly statements. Our grandparents probably don’t like much of the music in our churches, and our great-grandparents certainly would not. But that does not make it unbiblical.

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  • AOS

    Please listen to the song listed below, it’s Christian hiphop about kindness.

    Lyrics like:

    “Jesus is the vine, in Him we abide He changed us.”

    “Fruits are the things that show forth,the evidence of the Spirit inside, you should see them like a photo.”

    “So when I don’t flow, you should see kindness and shouldn’t have to look hard to find it.”

    “Fruits are proof that He moved in, if they’re not growing them, we’re living in illusion.”

    I just want to know: Whether lyrics like these were unacceptable to the Christian Faith? Are these lyrics not referenced in the Bible itself.

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  • Chris (VSP)

    Hip Hop, is just a form of Music!

    You, Have to Judge, the Contents Not, the Style of the chosen Music… All, Music belongs to God, at lease in the Beginning? The Enemy,can not Create anything, other Sin… Words, written and Song, Rapped, or any form of Music; either expression the Truth or the Lie… Bottom-Line… Should, we watch out for false, messages within the Christian Rap, community? Of, Course….!!! Are, we not suppose to watch whom we Follow? Yes, for it is Written! Like Wise… Correction, is Holy… But, any Judgment without truly understanding, the need for Christian’s to have your hands in every category, but only, keeping the Standard of Christ! Would, prove out; The Fool! We, Are at War, for the Souls, of the World. We, have to tare down every strong-hold, of the Enemy…

    1 Corinthians 9:20 And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law;

    Listen, to My Songs And Tell me, if I am Deceiver?

    • Chris (VSP)

      Sorry, for Not Proof, Reading….

  • Tony


    Good topic, although a bit polarizing. I’m wondering if we have anyone out there who takes more of a middle position that you can post on? I was a little surprised about how divergent the opinions were on both sides. Is anyone arguing that music genres are both: not morally neutral and not morally exclusive? For example, death metal is probably a genre we’d all agree that is fairly limited in what it can convey biblically without couching it in a dark tone and mood that do damage to the message – but it still can convey certain truths well.

    My opinion is this issue has to do with speech being more about how you say something than just what you say – i.e., tone of voice, body language, eye contact, etc. For example you could perform the phrase “I love you” 500 different ways musically and communicate 500 different meanings. Regarding hip hop, I’d argue that the inherent intensity of hip hop makes it strong for communicating certain truths and weak for others, just like the strict structure of classical music limits it in conveying certain truths. I think this is true of all musical genres to varying degrees. Shouldn’t there be a middle ground that can argue that we need to discern when artists are pushing any genre too far to the point it’s distorting the biblical meaning of its lyrics? At the same time can we also be evaluating the tone of the music and the performance (including body language) to see if it’s representing the literal message of the lyrics well? I think we need to be moving to a place where we can appreciate the strengths the weaknesses of any genre and any individual work for communicating God’s truth without throwing the baby out with the bathwater… or flirting with musical relativism.

    I think a middle position leads to realizing that we need a diversity of genres to express the scope of who God is, just like we need the diversity of written genres in Scripture. And I think it reminds us need to be careful with more than just the lyrics in a song.

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