Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Hip-Hop, Idolatry, & The Church Pt. 6

As continued from
"Can Hip-Hop Be Redeemed?"

Additional Scriptural Insight Pt. 3:
The Removal Of "Curious Arts" From Among The People

Probably one of the most universally overlooked passages of scripture when dealing with this subject is

Acts 19:18-20 "18-And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds. 19-Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. 20-So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed."

This passage butresses an event in which the 7 seven sons of Sceva (The Left Hand) try unsucessfully to cast out the town demon (v.16). This demon, possessing a man, beat all 7 brothers naked, but prior to that admits that he is aware of and has a certain honor for both Jesus and Paul. (v.15)

We have looked at the traditions in Ephasus earlier in the previous segment. Quite naturally, because of these events, people understood that there was "real power" in town and because of this there was an uproar to say the least. But something happens here that is quite unusual. The bible says:

"Many that believed came and confessed and shewed their deeds" (v.18)

Now we can assume that individuals became believers or converted to Christianity as a result of these events, however the scripture is somewhat ambiguous in the nature of the "many that believed". Were these people also "believers" at the time of these events? Or did they become "believers" afterward?

The word in question is "believed" (GK. pisteuo) This word was used to indicate those who came to saving faith like those of Berea in Acts 17:12 and was also the same word used to indicate those who exercised a lifestyle of faith and practice as Christians such as those converted Jews in Acts 15:5. The ambiguity of this scripture is not the primary focus, neither does that ambiguity relinquish the message of the scripture. The results, either way, are…

Over One Million $$$ On The Trash Heap!

No matter how one views this scripture, the result was the same..."Believers" [whether converted at that moment or before hand] who were using "curious arts" became so convinced of the power of God until they came together, confessed their deeds, and got rid of their ungodly items.

There was over a million dollars worth of items that were burned and thrown away. Some of those items, I’m confident, had been in the family for quite some time and were probably very useful in the superstitions society or culture in which these believers lived. Could they not have used these items as a witnessing tool? Surely God could have used even the price of these items to help establish HIS New Testament church? Was there no way that God could have redeemed any of these items?

NONE of those items had any redemptive value.

An Encounter With The Culture:

"An Encounter With The Culture" was the title of the eulogy I preformed at the funeral of my Godson Mario McGee, who was recently killed in a home invasion. When trying to reconstruct Mario’s life, I was surprised to find that he was literally baptized within the hip-hop underground movement with all of the trappings that I’ve stated in this series and then some. Mario was a rapper with a completely and totally non existent sense of biblical requirements as it pertained to hip-hop and hip-hop street inculturation. His personality in no way matched his hip-hop persona.

Known as "Rio" and "King Swagg", the profanity, the gang signs the clothing etc. were all parts of the hip-hop lifestyle that he was enamoured with and by. Even though he was raised in a controlled environment, educated and working full time with a great paying job, hip-hop became his life, and I believe promoted his ultimate death.

What happened was that some years ago his parents left the church and left God. They didn’t live indecently but they had no living standard whereby to maintain safety and peace of mind and keep a blessing on their home. I had to preach the funeral to over approximately 500- 700 young people from all over the city who were seriously affected by his death. The thing that stood out to me is that death was inevitable within the culture. There was something or someone that had to give without question. There were too many tentacles by which Mario was trapped and entangled. Unfortunately, that something that had to give was his 19 year old life.

To the glory of God, as a result of that funeral, there have been young people saved. At various churches some youth that heard the message decided that life was worth living and that the culture didn’t have to hold them hostage. Thank God!

That’s why I continue to do this, with no or little money ever received, and larger churches not wanting my information to "rock their boats". I do this because I don’t want another young (or otherwise) life cut short or disillusioned because of the promise of the devil through hip-hop or any other culture. Yes, there is Goth, punk rock- and heavy metal cultures that are just as evil and dangerous if not more dangerous than hip-hop, but none of that gives hip-hop a free pass.

All I know is that hip-hop has not offered anything positive to my community ever since I have known it, which was before I got saved, and what positive things it did offer were and are short-lived and too expensive to maintain.. Hip hop cannot be redeemed. It is an inculturation which can only be laid aside and placed in it’s proper place, and that’s under the feet of the Saints along with sin and the devil himself.

Common Questions That I Encounter:
Question: "I have children that listen to hip-hop music. They have reviewed modern gospel and find it no different than the music they listen to. In fact some of the popular gospel artists often have their secular hip-hop icons on their gospel songs. How do I get my children out from under the influence of the hip-hop industry when it's almost everywhere you go?"

Answer: This is a very good observation. Many Gospel artists lace their Gospel music with secular and hip hop artists. All too often this is the "brainchild" of the record company who holds the contract and pulls the strings. There are two things that you want to do and one thing you definitely don’t want to do in this situation. Let’s begin with the later.

1- DO NOT alienate your child or place them on trial for everything hip-hop that they either listen to or enjoy. This by itself will drive them further into the culture and away from your advice as they may feel that you will not or do not understand them.

Instead, Implement The Following Techniques:
  • Make the children investigators of the culture under your guidence? Teach them to begin to think critically and explain what they hear to you. By verbalizing and investigating some of what they hear they are not only becoming accountable to you, but they are beginning to process what they hear differently. If you’re maintaining godly teaching and a moral standard, they will recognize the moral conflict on their own. They will also come to realize that they have a higher and better sense of morality than their icons and will begin to pity then instead of admire them. You want your children to learn and effectively relay information and give you their opinion before you make a value judgement on what they’ve brought to you. Let them take responsibility and they will gain a sense of pride because they are becoming the "expert" on something that not only effects them, but more than likely effects all of their friends too.
2- Model righteousness and a hip-hop free lifestyle in front of them. You can’t expect them to put down hip-hop when you’re wearing "gangsta fashions", promoting hip-hop artists, and banging the music all day long. If you’re not delivered, and you're more excited about what’s going on in the hip-hop culture than your child is, then don't expect them to give up what they do (at least by your example) anytime soon.

Question: "Christmas and Easter were originally pagan ceremonies and festivals but now they represent Christianity. Why can’t hip-hop be used to do the same?"

Answer: This is a question that we often hear. A little research is in order. You can go HERE CHRISTMAS for that. And go HERE EASTER for that. Please be careful because there is MUCH misinformation out there and atheists as well as radical Christians love to confuse people on these issues claiming that their church is better than someone else’s church. One thing to keep in mind, a parrallel DOES NOT a holiday make, Christian or otherwise. In short it can be arguably stated that the secular world sought to eclipse Christian practice by bringing their practice into the church and the church allowed this to flourish. Which is apripos to this complete writing. None of that speaks to the fact that the bible doesn't condone using the world or worldly practices in the service of the Lord. Just because something happened does not mean that God wanted it to be that way. Consequentely, we can't always think that the church tried to emulate the world, sometimes it was the other way around and sometimes there is great confusion as a result.

Question: "What are we supposed to listen to if we can’t listen to "Christian" hip-hop?"

Answer: Are you able to create your own music or center yourself around others who are dedicated to God enough to allow their creative and spiritual talents to flow? Who’s in your circle? Usually people given to prayer and dedication to the Lord will sing a "new song" instead of a revamped 70’s hits with a Jesus wrapper on it. Besides, the greater point is that we identify the message and the encouragement of the music. If what you’re listening to is encouraging you to continue to be a "gangsta in Christ" then how can it be redemptive? That simply reinforces the old lifestyle. Find redemptive music from reputable artists and don't be afraid to do some research. Remember the beat is not so much of a problem as it the presentation and what the song incites.

Question: "Man, it's a financial crunch and I don’t have the money to change my child’s complete wardrobe. What can I do in the meantime?"

Answer: The section on clothing was pretty heavy, and as I acknowledge, some clothes were bought because they were (are) cheap and you didn’t see the emblems and names until you got home or until the kids had already worn them. What you can do now is teach and just like you found those on clearance, find some more, but now look at then with a spiritual eye, discerning the messages that come along with the clothes. The power of the blood of Jesus will cast off any "spell" if there is one so don’t become paranoid. Just live to HIS glory and redeem the dolla correctly next time.



  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Servant,

    Thanks for that info. I'll take a look at that statement to see how I can clarify it better.

    fyi ~ You are correct the bible DOES NOT condone the use of worldly practices in HIS service, even Hip-Hop.

  3. I tell you one thing I'd like to see you and Deuce Chop it up a bit. You got bible for your stance and he has bible for his. Yall just need to communicate for real. I know one thing...if yall ever spark a forum just talking about Christianity and hip hop i want to be there. He's saying God aint against it and you're saying God hates it. AND YOU BOTH USE SCRIPTURE TO BACK IT UP! Man I don't know what to believe anymore for real! All I know is Jesus is Lord and no matter what side of the fence people stand they need to have the core essentials right and make sure their character speaks volumes and isn't a stench in God's nostrils. lol shoot all this beef about Hip Hop and God is probably wondering how many people are out there just trying to win souls rather than argue about somthing that will be debatable til the cows come home.

  4. Anonymous,

    I will delete Ambassadors info from your comments, as much of my posts have refuted his position already on this subject.

    He focuses on the dimension that G Craige brings into the argument with very little focus on my particular perspective. I believe he's providing a G. craige apologetic and that's not good at any point. This issue is greater than G. Craige, and many people including myself have been teaching against this for over 20 years, but just never had the platform, DVD's or tapes to distribute. So this is not an anomoly of some sort. This is foundational teaching so far as I and many others are concerned...

    One simple principle...If you are saved, you are saved unto good works...If we are to shun the very appearance of evil, how can our works be deemed as being truly good when we are yet shouded in the same existence and share the same identity that we had before we got saved??? It is totally contradictory and a completely inconsistent statement of life and living to continue to hold in esteem the sin life that God delivered us from...everyone seems to know this but die hard "gospel" hip-hoppas. They refuse and reject those sentiments claiming that God knows the hearts...HE DOES, but that doesn't give ANYONE a free pass to unrighteousness...

    By the way, Ambassador was the first one I contacted and I've asked him for a copy of his Master's Thesis from Dallas Theological so that I can do an analysis right on this site. I spoke with his assistant but I haven't heard back from him. I am willing to pay for the thesis and take my time to do it and correspond with him to make sure that I am representing his arguments correctly.

    One thing I'm also looking for is dialogue that is not about the promotion of the industry. These guys need to know that the only reason I say anything is because of the influence on some young and some old who are leaving a church with a different and more worldly identity to this next generation and also because these artists are overtaken in what I consider to be a fault, and Galations requires me to help restore them.

    So thanks for the commentary, God will get his church to mind the same thing one day even if that's at in the throne room in heaven and not here on Earth.

  5. Well minister I here you to a certain extent. You said:

    One simple principle...If you are saved, you are saved unto good works...If we are to shun the very appearance of evil, how can our works be deemed as being truly good when we are yet shouded in the same existence and share the same identity that we had before we got saved??? It is totally contradictory and a completely inconsistent statement of life and living to continue to hold in esteem the sin life that God delivered us from...everyone seems to know this but die hard "gospel" hip-hoppas. They refuse and reject those sentiments claiming that God knows the hearts..."

    but what you're saying sounds a lot like "if you look like a sinner wearing baggy clothes then you're sinning because you have an appearance of evil". Now if you're talking about a holy hip hoppa who is smoking weed & engaging in sinful acts (sexing & stealing) then I feel you. but if you're saying a holy hip hopper is living unrighteous because he looks like a secular hip hoppa then something is wrong here. shoot I where loose clothes because I just don't prefer tight jeans. am I unrighteous becaause of that? lol and actually today hip hoppers (or at least the youth I teach...i'm aa teacher) are now going 80s and wearing tight clothes and bright colors again! so hip hop is changing and people wearing tight clothes better watchout. pleaase define unrighteousness and sin for me so I can understand what you mean...

    oh...and I should have made this comment on your first hip hop post (part 1). i'm an old cat so bear with me if I seem out of touch. i've studied world music and I was taught that the cadences of hip hop music actually came from gospel music & jazz and other forms. are you going to get into any of that in part 7? Hip Hop is worldwide. not just american. if you go to india or asia (where they aint even heard of the five percent nation) will you get the same worldview you outlined? just wondering...culture and anthropoloy my friend are doozy subjects.

  6. Anonymous,

    Thanks for getting back. I intended to post part of your original comments regarding Ambassadors article, but my computer went down twice and I just had time to get back. Here is the link to Ambassador's Christian Living in Hip Hop Times. One can read that and come to their own conclusions as I have.

    To the point, you asked:

    "but if you're saying a holy hip hopper is living unrighteous because he looks like a secular hip hoppa then something is wrong here. shoot I where loose clothes because I just don't prefer tight jeans. am I unrighteous becaause of that?" and "pleaase define unrighteousness and sin for me so I can understand what you mean..."I'll address this, but read the complete answer as to obtain the context of my arguments here.

    1- If clothing is a part of your life and identity then even it carries a purpose of helping others to identify who you are and your associations.
    2- The baggy clothes are not so much the problem as is what and who you are identifying with through the style of clothing or garments that you dawn.
    3- Concepts of clothing and appearance were not an issue in ANE cultures as it is to the west who is based on a westernized version of Greek and Roman social structures. so this is challenging to the western church in particular.
    4- Righteousness is a higher standard of living but it is also culturally commensurate.

    Examples: Even an undercover policeman has an identifier in his closet. That is a standard of the group to which he is connected. In secular employment employess wear certain clothing to identify with their employer's values, goals and standards. Those things are usually not called into question within secular society.

    We say those are secular groups, but the real question should be, is the kingdom of Christ any less organized or in dissaray than the world or worldly groups? Does the kingdom of Christ offer less of a standard than secular society?

    The real is this, it's possible for a Christian to do many things because they have not been immersed within certain truths. It is possible to fear the Lord but serve your own gods (2 Kings 17:33)and at a certain point, when truth has been made known, it becomes a choice which could either condemn or bless an individual. So the sincerity is not in question, at least initially, it's the identification. Then Paul said all things are lawful but not expedient.(1 Cor. 10:23)Why? Because we live this life for more than just ourselves. Much of that understanding comes with growth so one can't paint with a broadbrush. With growth comes responsibility and it's my contention that promoters of "holy hip hop" lack that message as is obvious in what is consistently produced.

    So far as your anthropological thoughts, you tred on dangerous ground and make the same mistake that I believe the Ambassador makes by claiming that hip-hop is an indigenous culture. The Nation of Islam and Muslims in general, make the same claim about Islam. Homosexuals claim a brand of the same when they claim that they are like that because they were created like that...None of those assertions hold up to the light of scripture.

    Hip hop is a godless, worldly inculturation that cultures accept and adopt. It is deeply ingrained to say the least BUT no society is a hip-hop society based on it's own growth and development. That's a false superimposition that sounds fancy but doesn't hold water. The world chose its actions associations and affiliations because of its heart, not the other way around as many try to make it.

    I didn't intend to walk that way but you wanna walk so I'll go...

    Thanks and I hope that clarifies my position, if not let's continue to discuss this until I get it right-:) I've got to be able to communicate truth and what I believe to the best. Thanks and God bless.

  7. Good point. No indigenous culture my friend. Yes on one hand it doesn't make sense to define the Hip Hop culture to the extreme as an indigenous culture with it own language, customs etc. But what you also don't want to do is go the other extreme and dismiss it as a simple "inculturation" that doesn't need some serious thought in regards to the behaviors and ways of the people involved and outreach efforts that are relevant. Especially when dealing with the young people. I think we older folk can fall into the habit of finding all the right reasons to do away with a group or a way and not enough ways to understand them and minister to them.

    By the way aside from the clothes, what other "ways" of Holy Hip Hoppers do you feel are bad?

  8. Anonymous,

    "I think we older folk can fall into the habit of finding all the right reasons to do away with a group or a way and not enough ways to understand them and minister to them.To that I simply say a hearty AMEN!

    I think that's a great insight and outlook. Sometimes we are so afraid to come into some of these young person's world that we cut off any possible inreach...In these articles I hope I haven't come off as being so stiff that I can't smile, recognize talent and the whole nine...We've got some people who are talented, can dance, rap sing etc and those things are worth taking note of.

    You asked about some of the other things within the Christian hip-hop culture...well, look at it...gang signs, louie scarves, self worship, worldly idols etc...these are things that display a lack of I said has nothing to do with sincerity, but simply stunted growth and spiritual development...

    Now, granted, that one can have their spiritual growth stunted and do NONE of these things, but the case that I'm making is that hip-hop (Christian) impacts spiritual growth negatively.

    Good convo...

  9. Ur still making a mistake...There is a difference between what HipHop is and What people have made it to become or to look like.U could say the same with almost everymusic, I would say except metal.Because it has clarly been created to turn people into satan's slaves.We shouldnt listen to any secular music.We should make music the way God inspires us to.And God may inspire us to do many rythms we may not even imagine.

  10. Karis,

    Hip-Hop is what the people have made it to be. It is not an eternal or immaterial reality. It is created by man and becomes what man makes it.

    So I fail to understand your commentary. Also as you have review these articles I'm having a hard time following your logic or train of thought.

    What is your view of hip-hop?

  11. You hardly understand me because you think that what Ithink are different things is a single and unique thing.There is no Hip-hop without mcees but there can be mcees without hip-hop.

    To me Hip-hop as a culture is a mix of everything people are expressing through rap, street dance, street fashion etc. As a music, it doesn't exist. There is no music that can be called hip-hop.

    I can rap because it's a way of expressing myself without being egoistic, wicked and perverse without having the lifestyle of Hip-hop icons.


I've switched to real time comments for most posts. Refresh your screen if you post and do not see it right away. Please send me an email if you try to post a comment and cannot do so. Thanks.