- "When you're trying to reach kids you've got to speak their language. Kids like beats, so I had to drop some like they was hot."
- Breakin, (Dancing)
Street Knowledge and
Most of the time Christians refer to what "good" that hip-hop seeks to provide or do as something that God can use. In other words, because hip-hop is (or can be) a peaceful way of expression, then maybe we can use the hip-hop method of expression to teach simply disregarding the worldly inculturation and it’s negative aspects.
An example of this is the efforts of Dr. Rani Whitfield who provides medical education with hip-hop flava. He founded the Hip-Hop Healthy Coalition as a way to "get involved in the culture and have some positive influence on it" and as a way to educate blacks and minorities who suffer from heart disease, hypertension, and strokes at a much greater per-capita rate than non minority individuals.
On a more confused note, there are others in the hip hop industry such as Pastor Troy, who have created a potpourri of mixed messages using biblical scriptures painted on street the street canvass in efforts to spread his version of "street knowledge".
As for the gospel music industry, another example is Pastor or Bishop Hezekiah Walker who is known as "The Hip-Hop Pastor": The article says the following about his nickname:
Contrary to what one may think, the purpose of this complete writing is not to minimize the efforts of those who seek to provide human services or better lives for individuals using non-traditional methods, but to shed light on the proper, biblical methodology of reaching and teaching the lost. I believe the efforts of individuals such as Dr. Whitfield and The Cross Movement and others in the "Christian" rap and arts industry are commendable, as they are seeking to promote the Christ message. The problem is that hip-hop has a clear definition of what it is and what it strives to be. Additionally, many of those who seek to promote the Christ message using hip-hop are forced to submit their practice, associations and lifestyles to hip-hop. In other words they are required to bow themselves down at the altar of another god in order to preach and promote the God of the bible. Is that what the church should be engaged in doing?
As good stewards, we must ask the questions, are these efforts to use the culture to reach the culture biblical, and does God want his church to use those elements or any variation of the elements in the promotion of his message of truth and light to the world? In other words, in the promotion of the Kingdom of Christ, does the end justify the means?
To the spiritually discerning, it is readily understood that hip-hop as is currently presented to the world, is a worldview that is antithetical to Christianity and godliness. The facts are that those that have defined hip-hop, including it’s founders have summarily consistently stated that hip-hop is a culture that includes social, spiritual and political agenda. This makes hip-hop a complete worldview.
Questions arise when we note individuals such as Dr. Whitfield. His message, although secular, does not promote a world-view of any sort. It simply sets forth messages of health and personal awareness. However does this methodology square biblically even in the promotion of secular messages? Does the methodology of Bishop Walker affirm the practice of inclusion and association within the church? Where is the church in general in this conundrum? More importantly where is the WORD in helping us to understand and distinguish the elements of sin from the elements of culture?
As you may already perceive this is a book, worthy of time and effort far greater than I will take to address here, however I will do my best to outline a few biblical concepts that should be able to assist you as you ponder these important questions. As a point of reference I also understand that some of you are looking for information for your personal and family situations and youth enamoured by the hip-hop industry. Still others of you have contacted me and asked how you can best bring this information to your pastor and church youth group without offending him and them. To assist you I will conclude this section by addressing a few common questions I hear as I preach, teach and write on this subject.
An Encounter At Ephesus With The Culture
1 Cor. 15:32-34 ~ "32-If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die. 33-Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. 34-Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame."
Apostle Paul in his teaching to the Corinthian church provides one of the most pivotal insights on the resurrection accorded within scripture. In this chapter Paul confirms his understanding that Jesus was raised from the dead bodily or physically and explains the mental and physical frustration of every Christian if the resurrection of Jesus did not occur. Paul affirms that Jesus is not a myth or merely a spiritual aberration. In verse 32 he explains his plight of having done everything possible to preach that message even to hostile crowds. He is referring to his experience recorded in Acts 19:24, during his third missionary journey, in which he was confronted with the culture of Ephesus. This culture was so steeped in the false religion of Diana or Artemis worship, and the buying and selling of statues and figurines that went along with that worship that the Townclerk in trying to save Paul’s life and abate a rising insurrection and possible retaliation of Rome if things got out of hand simply says,
v. 36 "Seeing then that these things cannot be spoken against, ye ought to be quiet and to do nothing rashly."
The Townclerk in speaking to the people suggests that their practices "could not be spoken against". This is the suggestion that what they believe is in accord with their culture. In a little more technical language, he is suggesting that the worship of their false God is indigenous to them. The people agreed that Diana was to be worshipped above all gods and that she was favored by her father Jupiter who had sent a statue dedicated to her that mysteriously appeared overnight as an approval. The mere mention that anyone was talking against Diana was a monetary death sentence to the silversmiths and slap in the face to those who lived within the culture.
A Second Point:
Back to Paul in verse 32 of 1 Cor. 15. Paul also invokes a scripture from Isaiah 22:13. This is often called Isaiah’s oracle concerning the valley of vision, in which God promises judgement upon Israel and in the face of that judgement, instead of repentance, the people continue to live selfishly, fulfill their own desires and disregard the word of God.
IS THAT 21ST CENTURY AMERICA OR WHAT?
As you can see that’s plenty of preachin’ material, but let’s stay on point...
This verse (32) is abruptly brought to an end by a reminder of v. 33…-Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners"
Be not deceived- Planao me planao,(don’t be led astray or caused to wander in error) evil- kakos (bad nature or corrupted modes of thinking) communications- homilia (companionship or communion) corrupt- phtherio (corrupts or destroys) good- chrestos (a virtuous, good pleasant or useful) manners- ethos(character and morals)
Having evil associations bound together with money is the smoky, seemy, slithery, cocktail of destruction to Christian moral values and moral absolutism. The world and what it offers in one hand along with the cross of Christ in the other cannot be mixed to the creation of a new, subdued, quasi-sin/saint mixture of spiritually and socially acceptable service to both God and humanity. One worldview must die so that the other can take root and grow. Any growth of both together is the recreation of neither’s original value system. It is the equivalent of the creation of a dualistically natured monster who awaits for the opportune time to rear it’s head speaking dual languages and acting pluralistically but never fulfilling it’s duties and responsibilities and having no commitment or regard for those whom it tramples and uses to fulfill its desires.
1 John 2:15-17 ~ "5-Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16-For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17-And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever."
There are three primary roots of sin in the world. John summarizes this as, lust of the flesh and eyes and the pride of life.
Additional Scriptural Insight Pt. 1:
The Replacement Of Canaan
Before one makes a conclusion that hip-hop can be used by God or in service to God a biblical precedent must be set. In other words there should be a compelling reason to engage hip-hop and give it credibility as both an indigenous culture and as an instrument worthy of God’s usage. Numbers or mass appeal is not simply enough as there has been mass appeal and social acceptance of many things historically that have proven to be ungodly and harmful to humanity.
I must say that upon examination, I don’t see that precedent anywhere in scripture. I do however see plenty of references of God rejecting certain cultures because they were sinful and did not glorify the true and living God.
From the beginning of the establishment of God’s plan among the nations HIS people have been warned not to embrace or allow the culture of the people to dictate the relationship of his sevants towards God. Once such example is found here:
Deut. 7:2-5~ "2-And when the LORD thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them: 3-Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son. 4-For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the LORD be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly. 5-But thus shall ye deal with them; ye shall destroy their altars, and break down their images, and cut down their groves, and burn their graven images with fire."
The whole object of Israel’s blessing was spiritual and moral purity. There was a reason that the Cannanites were to be displaced. That reason was because they worshipped other gods, and were totally and completely morally depraved. The following is noted concerning the Canaanites:
- "The religion of these pagan people was basically a fertility cult. At temples scattered throughout their land, Canaanite worshipers actually participated in lewd, immoral acts with "sacred" prostitutes. Theirs was a depraved form of worship that appealed to the base instincts of sinful human nature. They also practiced human sacrifice, and their religion sanctioned unbelievable cruelty in warfare. In contrast, the Hebrews worshiped a holy God who insisted on purity and righteousness among His people." ~ Youngblood, Ronald F., General Editor; F.F. Bruce and R.K. Harrison, Consulting Editors, Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary, (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1995
The culture of the people was not redeemable. God did not wish to use any aspects of this culture in worship or service to him. Yes, there were souls at stake. Yes, there were lives in the balance. The lives in the balance were those who had covenantal relationship with God. In any case, the Canaanite world view was not to be molded into something acceptable to God. The children of Israel repeatedly suffered for and eventually lost their possession because of their disobedience. Yet the modern church with its modern leadership has a better way?
Additional Scriptural Insight Pt. 2:
Saul’s Disobedience Toward Amalek
1 Sam 15:3 ~ "3-Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass."
This was the command of the Lord to King Saul because of what the Amalekites had done to Israel by attacking their elderly and weak and being a "pirate" and antagonist in the wilderness, as recorded in Ex. 17:8-16, Num. 24:20 (as an oracle of Baalim), and Deut. 25:17-19. The culture and all of it’s remnants were to be destroyed no matter how godly any of it looked.
What Had Happen' Was…
1 Sam. 15:8-9 ~ "8-And he took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword. 9-But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them: but every thing that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly."
Saul and his army began to make moral value judgements against the word of God. They looked and placed "value" upon what God had rejected for his own historical and purposeful reasons.
When questioned about his actions by Samuel, Saul responded with a nice religious answer and one that Christians trying to smuggle hip-hop into Christianity agree with:
1 Sam. 15:15 ~ "15And Saul said, They have brought them from the Amalekites: for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice unto the LORD thy God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed."
That which God had cursed, Saul thought to take the best of it and use it as a "sacrifice" unto the Lord??? Saul made the fatal mistake of assuming that there was something "good" that God could use and that the good was redeemable. His complete idea led him totally away form God and HIS plan for the people. This led to Saul’s ultimate nightmare…his total rejection:
1 Sam 15:22-23 ~ "22-And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. 23-For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king."
God didn’t want anything that Amalek had to offer. There was to be a complete purging of the sins of Amalek from the land and from among the people of God. Amalek was not to be redeemed in any way.
I think I'll stop there and save Section 3 and the answeres to popular questions for post 6. We're not finished yet by any means. God bless.