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The Bigger Issue In The Christian Hip-Hop Debate: The Content of Christian Art

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For almost 10 years I’ve been deeply involved, as an artist/producer/designer, in an amazing movement of Christians who create Hip-Hop and Rap music. Due to recent success many within the movement have feared that some are shrinking back from the original mission. But I see a bigger issue at hand. Those who have been instrumental in shaping the foundation of Christians who create and/or produce rap music, have not been helpful from the beginning of the movement in laying a proper whole life theology of art. Out of our zeal we have only given merit and value to things that are evangelistic or seeking to communicate Christian doctrine. Only then have we labeled it to be “Christian” when in reality Christianity is “not just involved with ‘salvation’ but with the total man in the total world,” as Francis Schaeffer would say. In writing this I seek to help fellow Christian’s think biblically, balanced and clearly about this issue.

God is a creator-God, so as image bearers of God, we create. From the beginning of time we see that not all of God’s creations were what we would consider “religious” in nature. Genesis 2:9 tells us, “And out of the ground the LORD God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food.” God created trees not just for utilitarian purposes but also for pleasure and aesthetic enjoyment. God did not feel the need to justify his creation by making it into the shape of a cross. Trees have the function of providing food and also providing beauty. The first poem we read in Scripture is found in Genesis 2:23, when the first man, Adam says to Eve, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Adam created this poem prior to the fall, prior to sin entering the world and contaminating everything. In humanities purist state until this point, what we get is a love song. The book Song of Solomon, is romantic poetry and sexual in nature written to express love within a covenant relationship. Although many will see this book as an allegory it still reads the way it reads. “Your two breasts are like two fawns, twins of a gazelle” (7:3). This poem is very Christian even without explicitly pointing to redemptive history and the Messiah. In our present framework this would not be considered a Christian art or get played on “Christian” radio station, but in all reality this is very Christian. If a Christian were to make an entire album in the same vein as the Song of Solomon, we should be able to enjoy and glorify God with our wives for it.

An issue I have seen is the equating of rap to a pastor’s preaching ministry or a Christians task of evangelizing. I recently spoke to Sho Baraka on the issue and he shared, “The problem is that we have created a theological truth from cultural and systematic preferences. So now hip hop is an office in the church and not a vocation or art. We first must start here before we can move forward. Its something we’ve all been guilty of implying in one way or another.” Seeing rap as the office of preaching and evangelism is inconsistent and creates unfortunate problems when a Christian desires to make music that’s less revealing.

In a recent video made by Flame, in which he speaks on the issue at hand, he uses Acts 17 to make an application for the content of Christian rap. He encourages Christian rappers to keep preaching the gospel in their music and not to change up the message. The issue we find with this is that Acts 17 is not a passage we can use to build an approach on what the proper content of a Christian’s music should be. Paul was preaching a sermon not making a rap album. What Acts 17 does show us is Paul’s awareness of present culture and his familiarity with Greek philosophers. Doing so he is able to engage his audience and preach of the redemptive work of Christ in a conversational or proclamatory manner. So it should push us to be aware and understand the thoughts in the public forum. Again, this does not establish a theology on the content of ones art or subject matter of Christian art.

 

 

In his book Art and The Bible Francis Schaeffer shares, “A Christian should use these arts to the glory of God, not just as tracts, mind you, but as things of beauty to the praise of God. An art work can be a doxology in itself…The Christian message begins with the existence of God forever, and then with creation. It does not begin with salvation. We must be thankful for salvation, but the Christian message is more than that. Man has a value because he is made in the image of God.” One thing we do not want to do in this conversation is pass personal preferences and methods as Biblical demands. There is a wide spectrum as to how a Christian is to approach the arts. My desire in this is to provide a balanced and what I see to be a more Biblical perspective of a Christian’s approach to the arts that does not lay a law or burden on fellow brothers because their music is not evangelistic. Art can still be Christian and it not be evangelistic.

When we only recognize art as being distinctly Christian when it is preaching the gospel, a Christian who is not looking for selfish-gain and desires to make music that is less explicit is seen as shrinking back from their faith. A Christian who desires to make an entire album about nature, beauty, and social justice is not being unfaithful to the Gospel of Christ. They need no justification to create art. They are free to create art about anything and everything that belongs to their God, which is everything.

In saying all of this, I am not saying that Gospel intentionality in your music is not valuable or the old way of approaching rap. What I am saying is that not only music that explicitly shares the gospel is Christian. For those who’s desire to do music to teach Biblical doctrine and share how man is to be saved, continue to do so! The goal is mutual appreciation for distinct approaches and philosophies. We need Christians rapping about special revelation and general revelation. Songs about the misfortunes of life, or about the genocides in Africa, or of human emotions can all be helpful in pricking the conscious of the listener and making them ask greater questions. Also, simply the enjoyment of humanity at large. Creating honest work, truthful work, beautiful work is not anti-Gospel but springs from the Gospel message of Christ reconciling the world back to himself through his life, death, and resurrection.

To close, the scriptures do not lay a demand on what art you are to make but they do on the content of your life and heart, which is an even greater demand. So anything done for selfish gain or sinful motive, whether that is speaking ill of someone in order to get a promotion, or changing your music solely for the acceptance of people and accolades that is not living out of a new regenerated heart. Ultimately, the Christian’s life is tethered by love (Luke 10:27, Galatians 5:14) , one cannot sin against God, neighbor or conscious. A Christian should also be plugged into a local body of believers and seeking to make disciples as Christ has commanded but has freedom under the leading of the Holy Spirit and God’s word to create as they may see fit. “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).

+++ Here are some Christians that I think are doing a great job at creating music that is from a Biblical worldivew: Brooke Fraser, Jon Foreman, Mat Kearney, Sufjan Stevens, The Lone Bellow and Sho Baraka to name a few. If you have any others please feel free to leave their name in the comments section.

+++ Books to check out: Art and the Bible by Francis Schaeffer, Imagine: A Vision for Christians in the Arts by Steve Turner, Art Needs No Justification by H. R. RookmaakerCreation Regained: Biblical Basics for a Reformational Worldview by Albert M. Wolters

+++ Video: Joining God in the Renewal of Fine Arts 

103 Comments Join the Conversation

  1. Nailed it! You articulated the real issue facing CHH. I hope this at least helps settle the issue.

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  2. I love this! I really like what you said about song f Solomon and how that would be considered not Christian to make an album of that nature today. This is well written.

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  3. Though I agree with alot about what you have to say, especially when it comes to the temptation of selfish gain as a christian artist I do have one reservation. I am not able to speak on the subject of the other artist on this list but I must admit I was deeply discouraged by sho Baraka’s album that recently dropped, though many elements of the album were out of this world indicative and te subject matter deep, on several instances I felt he subjected him self to mimic too closely the secular artist on the radio, sure some things are Christian but not religious even Paul himself teaches that all things are permissible but not beneficial however as an artist and even more so as a “Christian” artist there is an undeniable expectation to be above reproach when addressing lyrical content. Especially when said content is provocative and vulgar if not insinuates vulgarity. How am I supposed to go and teach the youth of Gods kingdom to abstain from certain language and share with them scriptures such as that in James where it teaches us to tame our tounge, yet have a Christian artist provoke just the opposite in conjunction with other sound doctrines, I loved the mixtape that was put out and even looked forward to the album however Sho & Suzy lost me as a fan that day. Don’t get me wrong and in no way is this ment to be slanderous and im sure you would agree this comment is somewhat professional in nature, I would just like to express concern to an industry that is already under the spotlight simply because of the message we preach. Let us not get caught up with the ways of this world and always remember to be above reproach in our actions

    To God be the Glory
    Amen

    Twitter: @ALPHA_OMEGA2213

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    • Alpha Omega 1. You assume Shos album was for kids. 2. The language “…I guess I’m stuck here on N**** island…” Paints a picture of how black men see themsves in today’s hip hop/urban culture and OBVIOISLY is showing the word in a negative light. When he said “… That girl you called b****, yea that’s my mother…” He again pointed out the ugly nature of calling women that word. I talked to Sho about this and he found it funny that the same Christians that say this still are Tyler Perry fans and he uses “softer” bad language, or who still go see Denzel movies…smh.

      We look at these words like they give some kind of “voodoo” effect if they are uttered. Theyre just words! And, the book of James is NOT talking about using “so called” curse words. That’s misinterpreting scripture. Curse words did even exist yet… The only reason these words should be avoided because of Rom 14:1-10. These words are offensive to some but are NOT spoken of in the Bible as words that should not be “uttered”. Even Matt 5:22 Jesus “utters” offensive language but he says the words (raca, you fool) to show how they are NOT to be used against one another… Lets not be so religious that we judge things that are not even Biblically debatable

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  4. You’ve addressed this very well and it opens the eyes of the reader. It’s good material for the industry and I hope its seen by many. Bless you sir

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  5. Great read and biblical approach on the matter, i would also agree with AlphaOmegas comment about some of the content in Shos album, he is a great artist i just dont really see the need to use any vulgar language to convey a message it could misleading but then again i guess thats why im not an artist. But awesome read great insight and it was a great objective approach keep making monster beats grace to you man.

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  6. Francis Schaeffer’s book A Christian Manifesto was one of the most important books of my teenage years. His views on the Christian’s relation to the world still shape me to this day. He really seemed to articulate “in the world, but not of it.”

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  7. The thing with Sho’s album is that his music isn’t for everyone. Content wise it’s some stuff that’s tough to listen to but it is necessary. You wouldn’t sit and read Song of Solomon to your children. Not everything is for children to listen to.

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      • @MRMEDINA I can respect where you are comin from bro, sorry not only to you but to whom ever else I came off as hurtful in any way toward. I assure you by no means is it my intent to be malicious toward a fellow believer, I could have been more loving in my approach. Thank you for holding me accountable

      • @alpha omega … medina isn’t saying you said something offensive….did you check out the link he referred to? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YUtPBCELCZc he was using it to address the fact that you are right that what you speak about doesn’t excuse how you speak about it (using certain language).

        One of the things to take from this video of Paul Tripp is that he used the s word several times to make his point about language. But, again, he used the s-word several times. Why? To make his point.

        Sho’s use of the b-word was to communicate his point and more specifically to accurately depict elements of the black experience he was speaking to with the song…i.e. being called out one’s name. Imagine sitting in a class where a Christian professor plays a historical film where black people are called the n-word or a modern film where women are called the b-word because these films are part of a larger point the professor is making. Is he wrong? No. But students don’t have to go outside the classroom and watch those films if the language bothers them. Nor do people have to listen to Colored Island if the language is too offensive for them to reflect on the greater message. That’s the listener’s choice, but not Sho’s sin.

        As far as Suzy’s a-word usage that she played around with to say “aaaaaask”…it’s a part of a larger point about language that Paul makes in that video. Its intent is what matters. (Same argument could be used to defend Sho.) I can tell someone to shut the f-up or I can tell them to shut the heck up. Why is the f-word not ok, but heck is? Or if someone didn’t even use a profane substitute but still expressed their thoughts with the same force? How is it actually different?
        It’s not. But depending on how you, personally, receive and judge language, it makes a difference. A word isn’t good or bad unless the definition God has given it makes it so. People being damned to hell is not a good thing, so someone saying “God d-word you!” would not be speaking in love. But to use the d-word in other contexts would not be inherently wrong unless the speaker is aware that the audience will be completely offended and does so in spite.

        Extending this language argument, I have heard someone share the gospel and make it plain to another by saying that “God nailed all your s-word to the Cross!” Now, if they used that word to parade a liberty or anything else ungodly, then that’s no bueno. But if they don’t have the same view of language and to them the s-word best captures “junk” with force, and their goal was to plainly share the Gospel with someone (not to be hip and cool, but b/c that’s how they see the gospel for themselves) then their heart’s motives were pure.

        In brief, language in many ways can be subjective. But we must consider others in our use of it. The unfortunate thing is that as people, specifically Christians, we have all been socialized differently so considering others becomes not doing anything to offend people’s preferences or customs. I grew up in a home with no profanity, and if something ever slipped there was an apology from my parents. There was no drinking around us either, and we attended a traditional baptist church that basically pointed to drinking, cursing, etc as sin and not something Christians do. So, that shaped and still shapes my framework, soI don’t drink or curse. And I used to think people who did couldn’t be Christians. But what I had to realize is that those are things I could do if religion and tradition hadn’t shaped my conscious. I can’t even decipher what’s my conscious as led by the Spirit and what’s my conscious as a result of what I learned when I was young, sometimes. And even if the Lord had placed on my conscious to abstain, I can’t make that into a way of life for everyone else. That’s a personal thing. We have created boxes to put all Christians in, but we are actually still different people with a shared faith. And while we must respect one another’s perspectives and consider what might be offensive to another, we must also consider what might not be offensive to the speaker and allow people the freedom to communicate without being in bondage to other people’s customs. Otherwise, we wouldn’t even have Christian Rap! Many traditional baptists and those EX ministry folks still think it’s of the devil and would use scripture to back it up. What do we say to them?

        So, again, what makes butt ok but *ss not?

        One has been labeled profane, while the other hasn’t.

      • You are taking the term out of context. If you are speaking about the song Jim Crow listen closely. Don’t focus on one word. Focus on the overall message. The song talks about the plight facing people who chose to sit back and use past events and current circumstances as an excuse for their ignorance and behavior. Yes, the words n***a and b***h can be offensive and vulgar in certain contexts. But Sho uses them to convey an overall message that there is no excuse to remain ignorant and continue acting in ways that only hurt people and do not bring glory to God. Don’t be narrow minded in your approach to giving a Christian message. Sometimes real world examples and a harsh message are the best way to reach your audience. We as Christians cannot expect to sit back preaching the same old thing in the same old style and expect it to reach EVERYONE. We have to step outside the box and get off our pedestal.

      • Sho Baraka isn’t condoning derogatory language on the album, he is condemning it. The word itself is just a word. Implying it is the same as speaking it. In “Jim Crow,” Sho is expressing that those words are wrong. Mentioning them is not the same as endorsing them.
        With regard to “Denzel,” the word that Suzy uses can be viewed mildly offensive in the US. I personally wouldn’t use it, and I don’t know if I’m comfortable with her using it. I personally think that one is iffy, but Sho used his best judgement and assumed that in the culture he intended the album for, that word is not seen as offensive. Whether he was correct or not, I don’t know.

      • @irightstuff: Your example of “shut the f-up” is a poor one. Paul is very clear about how sexually-related content is to be treated in passages like Col. 3:8, Eph. 5:4, 1 Cor. 6:12-20. The f-word is highly sexual, and should never be used as slang unless the original meaning has completely disappeared from the culture (which it absolutely has not).

  8. Sigh…this thing is becoming a big debate now SMH…just keep walking with the Lord and doing what he wants… you’ll make it

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    • Hi,

      I hope you read the content of what is being debated. It warms my heart, actually. It is very respectful and loving on all sides. Don’t ever forget that discussion and debate are wonderful things! It is how we help each other to walk in truth and righteousness, by working towards the truth together. Quarreling is nonproductive and bad for people, but that is marked by anger and rudeness, and as a general principle isn’t about anything that matters. This is a very important subject and one worth discussing.

      I hope this helped you understand what is taking place in the comments and I wish you all the best.

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      • True, but I just hope this doesn’t make more dividing walls in CHH. Flame and Crae used to be tight, and I saw this whole thing develop, from the Crae MTV interviews, to the Grammy, to Flame’s single number one spot, to his explanation, then Lecrae posts this article on his timeline. I just want CHH to be united not divided into different “camps”. Maybe if Lecrae didn’t win a Grammy and go on MTV, then nobody would complain lol

  9. @Alex: Bro, I looked up what AO was talkin bout. How can you justify Suzy using that kind of language on the basis of Tripp’s argument when she’s using it in the same context as the vulgar association? I could see if she was using it in a different context. For example: the word “tight” has multiple meanings associated with it.

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      • And all in all what matters is where these artists’ hearts are with God. I can assure you that they are pursuing Him and trying to point people to Him in their daily lives. They are great examples of what it looks like to be disciples of Christ in every area of life and discipling others. And what’s funny is that to all the unbelievers they engage with, they are still seen as traditional Christians, because their lives are guided by Scripture. They’re only rebels and controversial to us. Kinda like Jesus was in His day.

  10. Other artists demonstrating God’s redemption of all of creation (even art) well:

    Andrew Belle
    Drew Holcomb

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  11. Good debate, but let us not be judgmental. Only God can judge the heart of an artist and why they make the type of music they make. Obviously, some music will appeal to certain people and artists will always convey the music in accordance to their own life experiences. Let me also take this time to give a shot out to our new Christian rap project called BlaXtar Music…they convey their life experience and Christian walk through music and also deal with social issues and political issues…Christian artists do not have to follow the cookie cutter approach, one size does not fit all..you either appreciate the works of an artist or you don’t. At the end of the day I pray we are all doing the music only for His glory and nothing more.

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  12. I couldn’t agree with this article more. Another Christian artist I think is nailing it: Audrey Assad.

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  13. I would throw in needtobreathe as a whole, as another good band nailing it.

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  14. I’ve had this on my mind myself….I’m a Christian–and I rap, but its not an evengelistic style of rap. I feel God has led me to make clean hip hop music and talk about things from a Christian point of view. I want to make music that appeals to non believers as well so they can hear a positive message too. I’ve had plenty of believers and nonbelievers tell me to keep doing what I’m doing and I strongly feel the hip hop culture needs a dose of a fun Christian influence…..just my thoughts

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  15. This was a great article. I also found the comments to be stimulating and thought-provoking as well. Relient K is a band that I feel has always done it. They have made directly evangelical and praise-filled songs, but they also are known for their happy, sometimes goofy songs about the beauty of relationships and life in general

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  16. Absolutely amazing and encouraging bro. Speaks to our unique calling and Gods wonderful ability to minister to hearts as it so pleases him.

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  17. This was a very helpful article for me.
    As a poet I try to glorify God through all of my spoken words but there’s some things I write about that simply can’t be presented the same way as the typical “Christian” poem.

    This definitely adds some clarity.
    Thanks for posting this

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  18. it is pertinent that one both as a Christian rapper or not, to in all he does glorify God’s name for this is the whole duty of man to worship God with great intimacy and fellowship. In as much as we’d want to reach the audience with what ever message we intend to disseminate, lets always try to consider the influence it will make on the concerned market based on their relationship with God. How much of God’s love it will imbibe in their hearts towards humanity and how much boost it will accrue to their desire for heavenly treasures. In the life of a Christian, I ultimately believe pleasure should be pursued with sanctity, holiness and mischief free(most often we don’t achieve this based on our human knowledge unless d guidance of the Holy spirit).

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  19. Trip lee, leCrae, WLAK, Andy, TDot, KB, Christon Gray, social club, derek minor, thisl, dre murray, swoope, and many more.

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  20. I totally agree. I enjoyed Sho’s album, but I have one question. Are you saying that Sho, and the other artists you mentioned, are better than Lecrae or Tripp because they make songs and albums that aren’t about salvation or Christianity? Maybe I miss understood, but I don’t think that Lecrae is inherently worse than Sho because he talks about salvation and Christianity 100 percent of the time and Sho only talks about it some of the time. I think Christians need a good mix: we can’t only listen to hymns or Jeremy Camp (I can’t at least) but we can’t only listen to Sho Baraka and Relient K. We need Christian artists talking about moral issues and creations glory (Sho Baraka) but we also need Christian artists talking about salvation and Christian issues (Lecrae, Propaganda.)

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    • Wanted to highlight artist that aren’t doing music that we’ve traditionally viewed as “Christian” as being made from a Biblical worldview. I’ve produced many many of Lecrae and Trip Lee’s songs, so I can’t be saying that lol

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      • Thanks for clearing up! I found this truly helpful.

    • Lecrae talks about salvation and Christianity 100% of the time? Not since Rebel…

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  21. I agree with a lot of this, but in whatever you do, be it pleasing to God and not cause your brother to stumble.
    It is difficult when making “art” for the masses, be it song or visual or poetry, to know what will cause your brother to stumble. To some a painting of a near naked woman breastfeeding their child may make images go through their head that will lead them back to the stronghold pornography has on them. Yes, this person should not be having those thoughts and this woman should be able to breastfeed (or someone should be able to paint a picture of it) without any sexual overtones, but a new christian can be fallen and weak (heck even an older/mature christian can have a weakness still)

    We can never know the heart of man, but judge only by the fruit they produce. Secular musicians can make praise music. Christian musicians can make secular music.
    Secular music is not by default anti christian, and that is what I think you are trying to get across?

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  22. Sorry for long post but I have a bunch of thoughts this sparked:-)

    I love that this article addresses another side for individuals that want to express God’s glory in many different art forms and expressions and may have felt condemned, unjustified, and that potentially they could be UN-Biblical if they write a song about the trees or general areas of life. I thank God for truth expressed in this and pray it gives many freedom and for others provides broader understanding when they see others operating different forms.

    I do think ending the article with those that are “nailing it” implies that one side to this discussion is more favorably and endorsed by the writer from a general reading point of view. Suggesting those that are “nailing it” without also lifting up those that are more compelled to have Gospel presentations for their songs, or break down doctrine, or be more expository in their music should also be celebrated. It was celebrated in the article but celebrated certain types of artists at the end suggests that should be embraced my more people, when that isn’t necessarily the case. By ending with “nailing it” without including some that are lead other ways doesn’t paint the full picture that was painted in the article so well. I thank God for Josh Garrels, Mat Kearney, Lecrae, Flame, Cross Movement, Braille, Propaganda, Othello/Ozay Moore, Stephen the Levite, and many others who use their music and platform as they sense God leading them to do so.

    But we must also proceed with an appropriate amount of tension as we make art, have jobs, or in all areas of our life because the more a viewer or audience doesn’t know where we stand could be a potential pitfall. The resurrected Jesus sparked a movement that his followers proclaimed the gospel, made disciples and planted churches (more accrately gatherings). The response seems pretty clear that there was nothing more important than proclaiming what Jesus had done. Though I am not submitting that is the only thing a believer does with their life. It has to be assumed that many believers had jobs and even made art that was without such clear cut pitch. Cornelius was a centurion and was reflected as favored by God and scripture does not make a case that his job needed to preach all day.

    But for many it seems they don’t want to offend, and just want to make art or talk about something other than a clear presentation of the gospel out of concern for reception from man. I must state that only that person knows their heart but we must encourage tension because if any pattern I see with Jesus early followers was their was ONE message and ONE body and they weren’t really concerned with much else in our culture today. Each should live out the convictions they see in scripture, sharpened by their local body, and be graceful to other Christ exalting methods.

    Good songs don’t save people, art doesn’t save people, awareness doesn’t save people, good actions and having fans doesn’t save people, God’s goodness saves people and that is the message in all we do that should be at the forefront of all our thoughts and actions. God is holistic and at the end of the day Song of Solomon is 1 book in the bible and to consider the full counsel of God and come away that we only want to make analogies and poems isn’t the only way.

    Music communicates a message, that is influenced by ones worldview, and has the potential to lead people somewhere or to someone. Hence why there needs to be a tension for any artist. We need grace on both sides of this argument and must remember if they are not against us they are for us. I have rejoiced for years at the many methods God uses, but my concern is that to make “cooler” art, we compromise the platform to truly tell a lost world the Truth. 1 Cor 2:2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.

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  23. Great post! Another artist nailing this, the best in my opinion, is Adam Young from Owl City!

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    • When I read this article (well written Mr. Medina) I immediately thought of Adam Young too, along with Mat Kearney. Both display amazing works of art, without necessarily restating the gospel. People are drawn to Young’s music and then begin to wonder why he is so enthralled with nature and God’s creation.

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  24. First, I’d like to say this article was amazing. It is well written & created a great discussion amongst believers that helps expand the understanding of the faith in others, as well as ourselves. We all have our individual walks, & being able to hear other positive views can only grow our love, appreciation & praise for God. As far as artist, I’m not sure if anybody has heard of dee-1 from New Orleans, but I really enjoy his style & approach to creating Hip Hop that acknowledges his faith in God. I feel he’s a good example of what this article speaks on; please give him a listen & see if you’d agree.

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  25. Thanks for the reminder, artsy God glorifying music that I love on top the ones mentioned are–Seryn, the soil and the sun, josh Garrels, and propaganda to name a few. Soli Deo Gloria

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  26. Then there is no reason to call it “Christian” Hip Hop. It is simply Hip Hop as an art and the Hip Hop Artist is a Christian who uses his personal liberty to create music. For that matter maybe Kanye’s famed Jesus Walks was enough to get someone asking questions about God. Perhaps the depths of Tupac Shakur’s lyrics about heaven and hell can cause one to ask further questions about life? If our desire is to prompt others to ask questions then let us make art to do just that but it can be done in a myriad of ways that may or may not have any eternal value. Each of us stands and falls before our Lord and no man can righteously judge the servant of the Lord’s work. However, we are admonished to take heed about our work, for in the day of judgement it will be tested as to the quality it is wether it is eternal (1 Cor. 3:9-15.
    As Paul encouraged the saints of the first century, Gal. 5:13 “For, Brethern, were called for freedom; only use not your freedom for an occasion to the flesh, but through love be servants to one another.” Each of us should according to the grace of God given to us do what God has gifted us to do in the measure by which God has blessed us to do so. Keeping in mind that we will one day be rewarded the true rewards of heaven.

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  27. This “debate” within Christian hip hop reminds me of John Piper’s book Don’t Waste your Life. There’s an awesome chapter that explains how there isn’t a spiritually superior career choice between a job in ministry and a regular 9-5. The Christian walk and calling God has placed on each person is different. Should we all quit our regular jobs and go into the ministry? Of course not. While one job calls the individual to preach the Gospel plainly and the other calls the individual to a less explicit type of vocation, they can both be according to God’s will and for His glory. Neither is better.

    There isn’t a spiritually superior form of music either. As long as glorifying God is the heart behind the music, it very well can sound more or less Gospel explicit and still be “Christian” music. Does a painter that’s a Christian have to sit around and make crosses all day in order to stay true to the faith? Of course not. He could paint a picture of his wife and be just as much ” Christian” as any other artist. When Lecrae, for example, drops “Just like you,” and speaks of fatherlessness and impressionable young men, is it “less” Christian than when he drops “Take me as I am?” Just because one is more explicitly Gospel centered doesn’t make it more “Christian.”

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  28. Mr Medina, Abt Flame’s acts 17 blog, I think the valid point he made which is applicable whether its a sermon or the arts is that nobody ever got saved without the gospel. For me it came out as an encouragement for both those doing explicitily evangelistic art/music and those who chose to just portray the biblical worldview.The ultimate goal for Christians whether we explicit about it or not, should be to reach out with the Gospel. Thats the GREAT COMMISSION. So the question remains, why is a person as an artist doin what they do? The motive becomes cardinal. Can the Gospel be preached without the Gospel?

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  29. While I agree that art does not have to be the Gospel itself to be edifying, it does need to be Gospel-centered. The creation of art in itself is not edifying; we see this in the pornographic art displayed so heavily in our culture. Flame’s distinction in his blog was helpful in distinguishing between natural and special revelation, as Christians are distinguished from the world by communicating the latter.

    The Biblical arguments in this blog also raise issues, the first being that Paul’s sermon(s) in Acts 17 don’t provide us a theology of art as much as a theology of preaching and contextualization. This hinges upon the assumption in the second paragraph that not all of God’s creations are “religious in nature”. In fact, all creations are religious, as they are all created by God, the foundation of true religion. Special revelation (clear/explicit communication of the Gospel) is simply the proper interpretation of religious objects and reality, as revealed in Scripture.

    And concerning Scripture, we know Song of Solomon is first and foremost a picture of Christ and the Church, lest it be an irrelevant sidenote in the Biblical canon (which was formed based on Christological considerations); the more interpretation of it as a human love story is also valid, but secondary, and useless without its greater theological meaning as a picture of the Gospel. Telling the love story and leaving it at that does not tell us anything about Christ; telling the Gospel story tells us why the love story means anything in the first place. It is not “very Christian even without explicit pointing to” Jesus; it’s very Christian BECAUSE it points to Jesus, and is not a helpful poem at all unless it is taught as such (at least now that Christ has come).

    What exactly are we out to accomplish as Christians if not to share the Gospel? Art is not a necessary part of of the Christian life; evangelism is. So if we make art, shouldn’t we have our greater Christian goal—pointing the world to Christ—in mind when we do it? I won’t speak to Francis Schaeffer’s character or faith, but I know his words are not Scripture. The blog’s reasoning appeal seems more to his work than to any deep understanding of Scripture (no less a Reformed understanding, which is crucial), outside of a shallow reading of Genesis 1; if we are to reflect God’s creation and our imaging of him as humans (note: nature is not made in God’s image), we must also reflect His triunity—that is, His revelation in Christ. Otherwise we reflect a monadic “God” (a la Islam, most pagan religions, and the common humanistic understanding of “God”), which is not fully-revealed Christianity.

    I (sort of) hate to rant, but one last thing: Christians can be wrong. Our favorite Christian hip-hop artists can be wrong, and their shifts in content can be misguided and unbiblical. They CAN become too friendly with the world, and desire for more exposure to nonbelievers at a cost that is not justifiable doctrinally. Too many CHH hip-hop fans cannot admit this, and thereby go along with whatever their favorite artist comes up with, on principle. Testing Christian celebrities against Scripture is Biblical, necessary, and crucial if this form of art is to survive as a tool foor evangelism and discipleship, which is why it glorifies God and why so many of us have bought into it. In the same way that professing Christians have largely deteriorated into Protestant liberalism and doctrinal vacuity, CHH can misuse its influence if we continue to value “art” over clear Gospel proclamation.

    Art is not the Gospel. Creation is not the Gospel. “God” (as a concept) isn’t even the Gospel. Christ and Him crucified is what the world needs.

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    • @Nathaniel Tinner #Respect for what ur saying man def could not agree more with where you stand on this whole topic

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    • Nice… NO Gospel without the Gospel period… #dropsmic

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    • @Nathaniel Aaron Tinner My brother!! This is exactly right on…I thank you God for allowing you to share this, because this is soooooo true. Bless the Lord!

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  30. What you said is true, i believe that. What you said helped me alot. My dream is to be a christian rapper, i want to be in 116 clique family. I got my own christian hip hop tracks where i rap only about Christ. If you can get a way to help me please send me an e-mail. I really need this, please. Thank you

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  31. I blog over at a blog called Another Ascending Lark where I write on Christianity and the arts. I loved this post. I loved how respectful, kind, and to-the-point that it was. I will definitely be sharing this post as often as I can.

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  32. Inside each person God has planted gifts, talents, and abilities. All of those things can/cannot manifest themselves regardless if the person has, through faith, accepted Christ as their personal Savior. The individual that hasn’t been reconciled to God through faith in Christ isn’t judged for the use of their God-given talents but for their decision to reject God’s One plan of salvation. On the other hand, Scripture is very clear about Reconciled Believers actions being weighed for whether the things they do are ultimately for the Glory of God. Understand, there is no punishment handed out for the things not done for the glorification of God, but there is a down side to it. The down side is that not doing things for the glory of God will reduce the amount of precious stones and crowns we will humbly lay at the feet of our Blessed and Holy Savior Jesus Christ. At the end of the day, if a Christian artist can’t sit down and honestly admit that the ultimate motivation for their art wasn’t to bring honor and glory to God, when all is said and done, it will amount to nothing more than a pile of dung.
    I won’t answer for anyone’s motivation but my own, just as well, everyone else will only answer for their own motivation in serving God. With that said, the Bible does promote the principle of accountability, iron sharpens iron.
    In this media and entertainment crazed culture we live in, I would hope that each of us would be responsible and God honoring in how we promote and present the abilities God has blessed us with.
    Eph 4:29-32
    ……..Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.
    30And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.
    31Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. 32Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

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  33. Bro,

    Thank you SO much for this. After hearing Flame’s interview and the video link you posted BEFORE I read this article, I was thrown off a little by what he was communicating. Although I do agree with his point about the motives of the heart, I actually prefer and agree with your approach to Acts 17 on this topic!

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  34. I find this article, while intelligently articulated, missing one vital point. That which makes Christian Hip Hop what it is will always be Christ. Jesus came to reconcile us to himself (The Kinsmen Redeemer), and in doing so empower us to have abundant life. To say your Hip Hop is Christian is to say it seeks to be Christ-like. CHH is no different from any other Christian music in that regard.

    So the framing of this question/issue is inaccurate. The real issue is why can’t Christian Hip Hop artists make music about other topics that inspire them without being seen as hypocritical, or compromising? That question stems from the same problem that pastors evangelists and ministers have. The body of Christ can be immature when it comes to acknowledging the humanity of people we have placed on a pedestal (regardless of whether or not they sought that elevation). So your interests outside of the glorifying of Christ is branded “fleshly” in some circles, and you better not have any of the issues of life that everybody else has.

    Ultimately, I believe that CHH artists that desire to create content that is not explicitly Christian in content should be able to create that content without any issue; however, perhaps that other content should be distributed under a genre of music better suited to it.

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  35. Lecrae has said on facebook that he is a missionary in this culture. Basically that he is using his music in order to share the gospel with everyone. He has made it clear that is his main purpose in music. He isn’t making music just to make a living or this or that. He has made it clear he’s making music to reach people.

    Now with what Flame was saying, Paul relates in the same exact way. Just like Paul was finding a way to give the gospel, so is Lecrae. The difference is their approach.

    It’s like Pastors who take out the gospel in their messages to get more people in the doors. Now…. wait… you might say… But rappers aren’t pastors…. And your dead right. Lecrae doesn’t have to make rap in order to reach people.

    But Lecrae has made it clear his main purpose is to reach people through his hip hop. But in order to do that: he’s using tactics, trying to fit into the culture, trying to take out the message and get more accepted, get more ears, and then give more “general revelation”.

    That’s the problem. Men are only saved through the gospel, not just being so general that they can’t even tell.

    Lecrae’s taking out the powerful part of his music that saves and he’s softening it as a method to save people. Again, he’s said multiple times that his primary reason for music is reaching people, it’s not just a job, he’s claimed to be a missionary in this culture.

    Paul was the same way and we can relate the way Paul gives the gospel to the way we do. And Paul always gave the full gospel.

    The problem isn’t that Lecrae is sinning.It’s that if his main purpose is to reach people, like he says, why is he taking out the powerful points and messages and softening them up???? just to get more ears? Just to get more people to listen? Just to get a bigger platform? that’s not how God saved anyone in the new testament.

    Lecrae can use his freedom as an artist to do whatever he wants and make music however he wants. He can make music to generally speak about Christ. That’s good. Then he can use his life, and his ministry in his church to reach people.

    But if he wants to claim to be a missionary, if he truly wants to use music specifically to reach people, He won’t do it by softening his messages. He won’t do it by sneaking into worldly doors. He will do it through the gospel.

    Yes Lecrae, if you want to reach people, get on BET, get on MTV. But just know your only reaching people by giving them the gospel. Don’t consistently soften it up.

    And Lecrae can stop making music towards the church. Maybe he wants to talk to unbelievers. That’s great. Then talk about different topics and to different people, again, I can agree with that.

    But softening the message and softening the gospel, spreading it out, those things won’t reach people. Only giving specific revelation will, only giving the true gospel. He can start doing shows in public places, he can stop doing shows at churches, all good tactics, but softening the message? Softening public messages just to get in doors? That’s no strategy to reach people. That’s compromise. That’s compromising the main mission he claims to do music for.

    So I don’t hate or thing he’s in sin here. But again, his methods are a bit off for what he claims he wants to do, and Paul can apply here because just like Paul Lecrae is trying to reach and engage the culture.

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    • Are you saying Lecrae has “softened” his music? His music has changed, but it’s gotten more powerful and convicting, even more biblical. Jesus did not go around only preaching salvation and disregarding the people’s physical health. Jesus didn’t look at the lepers, tel them “If you belief in me I will see you in heaven.” He healed them because He cared, and still cares, about the mental, physical, and spiritual wellbeing of His people.
      And to address your point about what he said before on Facebook, I saw his concert in Dallas shortly after Gravity came out, and he said he used to think his songs had to be crammed full of Jesus and biblical teachings/verses to be God honoring and reach people. Thats not the case.
      To truly reach people you have to get them where they are. Lecrae’s song “confe$$sions” is more likely to reach someone struggling with a lust for money than his song “Go Hard.”
      If you truly believe “Gravity” (the album) is “soft” compared to “Rebel” (the album) and will reach fewer people because of it, your stance is correct. I do not believe that to be the case. I think Gravity is his best album so far. Its ability to deal with issues everyone faces and relate them to God and the Bible are what make it so impact full.
      I would love for you to reply and share more of your thoughts about Crae and what I said.

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  36. We already have secular artists to write about life bird bees and flowers lol. Dope lyrics dont win souls the Gospel does. I agree with everything Flame said and respect him for standing up for the Gospel esp when many chh artists..well the ones that still wanna be known as Christians, are turning away. What turned me off was when Lecrae said he doesn’t wanna be remembered as a Christian artist but a dope hip hop artist!??? Huh? Thats trash, I’d rather die known a Christian than as part of a genre that downs God and Christians. Who cares about hip hop! It’s gonna pass away. Christ is in “Christian”. We’re getting too impressed with hip hop and these death speaking artists. People find ways to swallow anything lecrae says cause they idolize him so much thats why they all getting 116 tats smh lol. But remember who deserves that praise. Who blessed Crae to be where he’s at and who’s gonna reign forever in all glory. “That’s why it’s Christ in my rhymes, that’s why it’s Christ all the time, my whole world is built around Him He’s the LIFE in my lines!” That is all!!!

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    • Seeing as I’m noone’s “fan” but the Lord’s, I look at all these brother’s as fam. Fan’s rally in support/defense of their chosen artists. Fam however, dwells in the same house, with the same rules and learns each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Not to judge, but to warn and even cover at times. I know we (most of us)don’t know these artists personally, but we all have the Spirit (presumably). The Spirit doesn’t cause us to think we are beyond reproach or rebuke, but a lot our fam’s spirit is exactly this way. They figure since they have the mic, we don’t know anything. It’s just not true. I think ‘Crae could benefit from hearing some of the words of the above post, but I say you should hear the Spirit saying pray hard for these brothers. That line you quoted is why I love listening to Lecrae… and it’s what the world needs to hear. That’s what furthers the cause of Christ. Not some stuff about “nigga island”… I pray you post this same content (maybe less offensively, as to not create stumblingblocks) on FB pages, blogs and anything else you can find all over the net.

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    • Picasso, i just want to encourage u bro, what you speak is truth. Only what glorifies God in boldness will stand the test of fire at the Lords return. They, meaning those who get away from Jesus, are not always wrong, nor are they sinning, but lets not get it twisted, they are not using the Biblical way to build the Kingdom. With that being said, i find it hard, looking at scripture and biblical church history, that God would use this method of “soft evangelism” for great revival.

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  37. Now let me also say. Lecrae does still give the gospel in his music. Special revelation. And I still hear some of that stuff from him. But I think many times he muddy’s it with just “giving people hope”, and giving the gospel in a way that people like.

    Lecrae’s proven to be missional over time. So I do think Lecrae should either claim a different mission (making a living, making money to give away, giving general revelation of God) or he should pick different methods, one of the two.

    I think his methods need tweaking a bit from everything I’ve seen from him. Mindset might be a bit off but I still know he’s just trying to reach people, he is still wanting to give the gospel to people and he still shows a deep heart for the LORD. So I support Lecrae’s ministry!!!! But I worry about others who try to walk that dangerous path of engaging the culture in similar ways. I worry about people making the gospel secondary.

    I think we need to pray for Lecrae and other artists, hoping they can see the truth in this matter. It’s so easy to get caught up in living a good life here, and adding Jesus on the side, it’s easy to get caught up in doing big things since they aren’t sins, but we can’t let them forget their main mission on earth, all of our main missions, to make disciples. We all do it in different ways, and heck, some don’t have to do it through their music. But bottom line, it’s our main mission, and we can’t make disciples through tactics, only by giving people the true gospel. Sure we can use a starting point like Paul did, talk about creation, but use it to give the gospel, don’t just water it down people! Let’s get back to the truth! Get back to seeking Jesus

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  38. The gospel, or the word doesn’t need to be changed to save souls. It is what it is! I respect someone more for telling me the truth without watering it down.
    I never liked profanity or cursing even when i was not a christian. I found it ignorant and offensive.

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  39. This sounds A LOT like a problem similar to what Paul is talking about in 1 Corinthians 12 when he was discussing the gifts of the holy spirit and the body of Christ. 1 Corinthians 12:14-31

    14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

    15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

    21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

    27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues[d]? Do all interpret? 31 Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.

    What’s going on right now is actually deeper than it looks. God is revealing people’s hearts and true intentions on BOTH sides of the field. For both sides have shared their hearts and biblically I see that we both are right. We can’t deny that Art is a very important tool for the Gospel. But we still have to watch our hearts because the enemy can tempt us on both sides.

    On one side we can make good art in and of itself, and we should not discourage a brother because he has a conviction to go in that direction. Creation came before Redemption. Just look at when God created us and when he created nature. That in and of itself is Art. We are created in his image therefore we REFLECT him; and nature is a creation so Great, so beautiful, and so precise that it illustrates and points to the Glory and Goodness of God without him even putting his name on it. That’s Amazing! What’s just as amazing is that God created us in his likeness with the ability to create as well. Following what Alex said on when God created the tree, he didn’t have to justify it by putting “Christ is God” on the tree. For the bible says in Romans 1:20 “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” A person can have the most biblically structured verse with Christ and the Gospel said in every line while still spitting insane bars. That does NOT make a person any more nor any less holier than a person that decides to make Great art in and of itself that points to something greater, like when God created nature. Neither is one more effective nor less effective than the other, for it is only the work of the holy spirit and God’s mercy that TRULY redeems a man. (Romans 9:16-18.) Words are dead without fruit. You can spit bars like Flame and live like kanye west. Ultimately people are eventually going to know who you are by the fruit that you bear. As people redeemed by Christ, we are in this world not of it; therefore people are automatically going to be like “there’s something different about him” if we truly bear good fruit, and when we create art people are going to notice something different. Regardless of what we say or do in our art it won’t hide who we are in Christ. Creating art is just as challenging as preaching the Gospel all over the country, because we still have to strive for perfection just as Jesus calls us to do so, but with the power of the holy spirit we aren’t doing it alone, amen? Our standard for creation should be higher than the world’s. We should create things that are Gospel centered, meaning its just flat out better than anything the world has to offer. We have to illustrate the Glory and Greatness of Christ so that man can be without excuse. But we need to pray that we don’t Idolize Creation and compromise the Gospel for acceptance and fame; God knows our true heart.

    On the other side we can make Art that evangelizes and edifies our fellow brother or sister in Christ so that they don’t slip away. If we ONLY create Art that’s not particularly religious then people are going to have questions with no answers. (Romans 10:14) “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” The Gospel is the be all end all answer. So we can’t just tell our fellow brothers to stop making worship songs and songs that convict people to repent of their sins because as we can see it has worked for a lot of people in the past including myself. But that gives us no reason to be just experts at preaching the message but be careless with the art and belittle it because art was created by God and therefore it should reflect him at the highest standard. We also need to pray that we don’t become stubborn and do what we do out of Pride, Legalism, and Judgement. Because we can just as quick be guilty of becoming Pharisees just like they can be guilty of backsliding. At the end of the day the Gospel HAS to be preached on either side we all know that. Even though we can create art that doesn’t preach an explict Gospel doesn’t take away the fact that we STILL have to preach the Explict Gospel, we can’t run away from that duty.

    This new direction is a good thing. Its a new tool for the Gospel in order to redeem man glorify God. Doesn’t mean we throw away the old tool because it still works. Just means that we can use both depending upon ones personal conviction. So don’t discourage your fellow brother if he has the conviction to be a hand instead of a foot, and let not the hand discourage the foot for being a foot. Both are needed in the body of Christ in order to truly reflect the glory of God. Instead we should pray for understanding of one another and that God ultimately becomes glorified.
    Ok i’m off my soap box now.

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    • Just one more thing I want to add. The Gospel is more than just words, its Actions. If we can’t Illustrate the power of the Gospel and the Glory of God, then we have nothing to back up our words with and they become dead. We can’t just tell these people what the Gospel is, we have to SHOW these people what the Gospel is and how it has redeemed us.
      Ok know i’m off my soap box.

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  40. Just say Alex Flame and Crae joking on Twitter about a random broken table…I feel better now :)

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    • I replied to him on twitter showing him how this blog does accurately represent his perspective by quoting his lyrics and the statements he made in the Wade-O interview. When he responded back to me by dm he could not deny his previous statements.

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  41. Word!!!
    I had a deal back in the day with EMI Christian (Forefront) with Toby Mac, Etc… I was Lecrae before there was a Lecrae. At the time, it was too much for CCM. I had a #1 song in the Midwest, and top 15 on the charts (before Facebook and digital $)
    The labels still didn’t want to chance it with such an obvious gospel.. “Can you tone it down?” They would say…
    With the Labels in limbo, my Wife and I decided to do missions for the next 5 /6 years… After coming back I was done as an emcee. BUT then I meet a producer / song writer named Kendall Combes (formerly Mercy Me / Charlie Hall Band) and we hit it off. The dude deeply loves The Lord, but didn’t want to sing about it every song so specifically… Knowing the “love” is there regardless of trying to sell it to others.. lol

    Well right off the bat this is new for me, and I discover the double standard:
    Rock can water it down, but urban music must be clearly Gospel. There were band after band with song after song about “there’s more to life” or “love unspecified” -could be girl, could be God (unspecified). The christian market eats that up from rock (white) artists.. But if its associated with urban, (minority artists) it needs to be urber safe, thus christian chearleader or preacher to a beat was the only thing that worked. [ Kinda like the same way fighting is ok in hockey but not in the NBA...] JK #justsayin

    So fast forward, my newest record (indie) is just that attempt. No sales pitch for Jesus, just great music, great message, and about 3 times on the record we reflect vertically. No pressure no convincing, no coaxing, just “hey, I am going to worship and you’re welcome to join me, if not there are other songs on the record… :) #iamasellout :)

    I am currently trying out your theory… It is not just the artists, but mostly the buying public that has final say…

    http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/introducing-again-for-the-first/id547433396

    [not a sales pitch but just so you can see where to find examples of early works and today's] :)

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  42. I have a question. If you aren’t preaching the Gospel then why would you call it Christian rap or Hip Hop? I agree with Flame. This watered down false gospel that some of these dudes are preaching, is part of the reason for division and confusion in the body. Gotta stay Christ Mobbin!

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    • Because there’s more to Christianity that the gospel. Christianity (even if it wasn’t called that) existed before the gospel and will exist when the gospel is no longer needed. You apparently didn’t read the article very carefully.

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  43. Alex

    I generally agree with you. I would also add that sometimes less explicit art does more than the overtly explicit art. I know why you critiqued Flame and I think it was fair. I did not watch what he said but there is a place for both right. For him to use Acts 17 is not wrong, it is only wrong if he says all rap needs to be that way. If that is what he is saying then I agree with you.

    I also think the less explicitly Christian art can sometimes be more evangelistic than the explicit (something I think you are getting at). Christianity is so polarizing, and although we don’t want to shy away from suffering in the name of Christ, many times we have no voice in the name of Christ. People appreciate goodness, beauty etc for what it is, then we can bring them to the Creator of all these things.

    Good post!

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  44. Whoa Alex…love this!! I think you found the topic for the book you’ve always wanted to write.

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  45. Why would a Christian touch a mic, if not to glorify God? To throw a spotlight on well known problems in the world. 2Pac did that already… Marvin Gaye did that already… other’s have done it ALREADY. So wherein is the NEW thing that God does? He gives the Answer. We already know worldly behavior is stupid, and that the world is a crazy place. Why grab a mic and highlight all the problems? Why are we so timid in presenting God’s Answer? Christ said that if He be lifted up, He will draw all men to Himself. Why such a big fuss about lifting Him up or representing Him to the fullest? The approach the Apostles and early church possessed of following Christ and presenting Him is not what we are exhibiting now. There is no law against watering down your music to make people comfortable or resisting being labeled a Christian Rapper but the practice is not expedient to ministering to the lost. God’s grace however is powerful to be able to fill in the blanks, and I pray He pours it all over this Body right now, because we all are truly damaging it. I sincerely pray we all get to hear “Well done, my good and faithful servant” when all is said and done.

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  46. Let me just add that I’ve never read anywhere in the Bible where any Apostle, Prophet or servant of God watered down the Gospel or Gods prophetic Word to win souls?! Paul was bold and never wtered it down claiming to do so towin souls. Doesn’t even make sense. Salvation in hidden in the “foolishness” of the Gospel. Salvation comes through the hearing of the Gospel and conviction and revelation of Christ by the Spirit. So how can removing or hiding Christ bring salvation?
    If you’re a Christian, the world will identify you as that regardless what you label yourself. All this reminds me of Peter trying to deny Christ but his speech betrayed him. The world will neve accept us unless we become like them. The more we diminish Christ, the more we become like them and the more they accept us. The devil hates Jesus name! That’s why he that is a friend of the world is an enemy of God. Because it takes a degree of compromise. That’s why He told us to come out from among them.
    Everything Crae used to go in on he now does. Like getting tats (not saying having them is wrong) but why do u need one? Think about it deeply lol. Went from “Everyone the same everybody do the same stuff, tattoos piercings smoking drinking etc.” To finding scripture to justify it. Ijs this is just one example.
    I still got love for Crae and support him as long as he shows Christ in his life but I believe he’s being influenced by pressure from the world/industry. Just gotta keep homie in prayer.
    If he even read these comments he would probably ignore them. But I’m just being real and speaking truthfully and objectively on the matter.

    Reply

    • Allow me to shed some light on this brother. The real problem is on both sides to be fair and honest. On one side Some people may take (or have already taken) advantage of the freedom of making good music in and of itself in order to be irresponsible of preaching the gospel. But on the other side some people may make (or have already made) the mistake of thinking that the music IS the Gospel and run the risk of being self-righteous, a subtle sin that most people including myself don’t want to admit doing. The Gospel is a message, not an art, that in the end needs to be preached whether it’s in your music or not. 1 Corinthians 12:14-31 talks about this debate more deeply. I’ll Keep it brief.

      Think about Mathew 5:13 when Jesus said we are the salt of the world. Our Lord used the simplest figures of speech. Nothing is plainer, more universal and old‑fashioned than salt. It is such a common commodity that we take it for granted, but if suddenly no salt could be had, what a difference that would make! What would life be without salt? Think about everything that salt does:

      1. Salt has a seasoning influence. 2. Salt preserves. 3. Salt purifies and cleanses. 4. Salt heals. 5. Salt creates thirst. 6. Salt irritates.

      I want to talk about number 1 more specifically.

      1. Salt Flavors right? Its scientifically proven that even the tiniest pinch of salt can be tasted, or felt I should say. So if a Christian decides to use less or little salt then it still can be detected. Even the tiniest pinch of salt can make a huge influence on society. You can then continue to add more salt if needed right? But Christ says what happens when salt loses it’s flavor? The salt back in those times was not as pure and would lose its flavor if mixed with sand for a higher profit, which symbolizes conformity. If we conform to this world we would eventually lose our flavor and become useless both in the world (as seen many times over) and in the kingdom. That is the primary reason for Jesus saying that, but as we dig deeper in the word we can see the other reasons why he compared salt to Christians as well.

      What happens when you OVERsalt anything? It messes up the entire dish, becomes impossible to eat, and you have to start over. Same thing with Christians preaching the Gospel. If we become self-righteous and over season our message nobody will take it. So we have to be careful because the enemy tempts us on both sides.

      Reply

  47. Have we all forgotten that God has dominion over everything? God has created everything to give Him honor and glory and it is not by even having to be in the traditional since of worship ( like in a church, for example). We honor Him the most by doing what we were created to do. In doing my job to the best of my ability, loving my wife as God loves me, etc, I am in turn worshiping God without having once even said His name. So to say that to not expressly preach the Gospel in a Christian art form is a bogus idea. Jesus wants us to address the issues of our society. Jesus related to each and every person that he ministered, healed. He met their need first before He gave them the Word. That’s what we have to realize. Most of the CHH now a days is at least trying to meet the needs of the people. I can give you the Word all day long but you can’t relate to it then it will minimal impact.
    Then as far as “cussing” in a Christian song, I can not say Sho’s thoughts on it because I am not him. I feel that it was only to bring attention to the nature of the words and that was it. I all comes down to our own level of faith. I can’t judge anyone base on my level of faith. That’s what’s stupid about this. Instead of an actual discussion, we start a judging match. I am imperfect. I can’t judge anyone. My measure of faith is for me and God alone. Not to measure someone else. If your measure of faith won’t allow you to listen to it, then pray about and turn the dial. Don’t linger in this judgmental state because that is what Satan wants

    Reply

  48. good discussion. I have a 12 year old sister who doesnt like listening to any of my music because it is blatantly praising God and adressing issues of this culture. I am curious of some hip hop artists that have good messages. She typically listens to what the masses like on hip hop radio, upbeat, and fun. The “rap” isnt quite her cup of tee. Any suggestions would be great

    Reply

  49. Christian is a person, not an art. I do understand why we use the term as an adjective, but while we do we must not forget it’s primary meaning. The commands and guidelines given to us in the word are person directed but in or failure to distinguish as we ought, we try so hard to define things such as proper art forms. Art by definition is a very free form of expression and it cannot be defined well on purpose. However, we MUST know well how to define the Christian. I don’t have the powers to even attempt a successful definition of Christian rap but I better be making progress in my understanding of a Christian. I think this article can be really helpful and I’m pleased it was written but as one who enjoys “Christian rap”, I think our time spent understanding better what it means to be a Christian would itself be perhaps the most productive thing we can do to aid those engaged in the Christian arts. And I do believe there was a good measure of this in the goal of this article.

    Reply

  50. I think this article was well written. I do agree that artist should be free to be artists. However, as a Christian and a radio station programmer, I have run into a few issues when artists no longer wear the Christian label and when language which is considered offensive is used in songs. Secular or Christian, if the words in a song are considered profane, we are unable to play it on air unless there is a “clean” version. It troubles me that I have to screen Christian content the same way that I am required to screen secular music. If the point of a song is to get it to the masses, help us get it there. As a believer, I have always tried to stick with what the bible says about offense as my yardstick: if it is something that will stumble someone who may not be as strong as you are, do not do it in their presence. How much more would this apply when producing music for masses of people that you will never have the chance to explain to them that you were just trying to “make a statement”? In the process of making a statement, you have won some, may deeply offend many others. I am not just talking about Christians here. Many people in mainstream culture have been trying to rid the use if the word for years. Just talk to anyone who has lived through the civil rights movement. They don’t want to hear it even it it is in the name of art. I think sometimes we try to see how close to the line we can get without crossing over. Why not try to be separate and peculiar, as we have been called to be, and try to stay away from the line as much as possible so no one has to guess where we stand? The other challenge is the recent departure from the ‘Christian’ label by artists. I Totally understand that we are called to different groups and so on. However again, as a station manager, this produces some difficulty when blocking music for targeted listening audiences. I Am very much a fan of sho Baraka and many others, but I did want to add a perspective to this discussion I had not seen yet.

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  51. Pingback: Blog Break (22 Mar 13) | Alien Citizens

  52. Pingback: How Explicit does Christianity have to be in “Christian” art? | With Wings Like Eagles

  53. other good artists

    Sleeping at Last
    Brooke Waggoner
    The Autumn Film
    Anathallo

    Reply

  54. i will just have to respectfully disagree with what you have presented. i dont see how any person who has any access to media can say what i do is art or entertainment. this is evangelism. if you want art or entertainment just do positive secular rap. to those that want to embrace rap and use it to speak on our culture should not label themselves as Christian artists. Christian music by nature will have doctrine and Theology. any mention of God in any way is speaking a Theological truth. the problem in CHH that i notice is people rapping without any biblical training and giving a presentation of Christ which is scewed from truth. That happens when just anyone who claims to be a Christian is encouraged to make “art” not evangelize.

    lastly you contrast the revelatory nature of Christ in Songs Of Solomon to the revelatory nature of Christ in some rap artists songs? something as intricate as Christ’s relationship to the Church (which is heavy Theology. something even Shai Linee can ever come close to touching) should not be compared to a man rapping about culture or positive things(which typically is not Theological in its nature.)

    Reply

  55. Alex medina, im such a huge fan!!! I went to sxsw met some dude named Lecrae (who ever he is???) he said something about a grammy or sumthin like that idk….I was like WHERES ALEX MEDINA SONN!! haha no really man im such a big fan of your work….please visit my website and give me some feedback bro. You would make my life! haha Dude you read art in the bible too!!!!!! I LOVE FRANCIS SCHAEFFER! Kinda glad i didn’t you in person i would of geeked out like a mug brua’ haha

    I’ve worked on some stuff for rapzilla and hoping to do more work for the CHH community…

    Website: creativeengine.net
    Thanks man

    No lie man, top designers:
    dieter rams
    david carson
    Chuck Anderson
    ALEX MEDINA

    Reply

  56. Young is a good art that makes artistic music that glorifies God.

    Reply

  57. Also Jordan Armstrong is good artist that is great at displaying his art.

    Reply

  58. The name Bono came to mind. Thanks for sharing this Alex, your music, creative works and stories are a huge inspiration to me. God bless!
    Rob

    Reply

  59. Hi, i think that i saw you visited my blog so
    i came to “return the favor”.I’m attempting to find things to improve my website!I suppose its ok to use some of your ideas!!

    Reply

  60. Pingback: More Artists | Ad Fontes

  61. Howdy! I could have sworn I’ve been to this website
    before but after browsing through some of the post I realized it’s new to me.
    Anyways, I’m definitely glad I found it and I’ll be book-marking and checking back frequently!

    Reply

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