Friday, July 9, 2010

Christian Civility...With Gentleness & Respect?

1 Peter 3:15 ~"But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and [be] ready always to [give] an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:"

The internet can be both a welcoming aid to discovery and also a discouraging and depressing tool of engagement. Recently, there has been much conversation regarding how Christians engage one another in the blogosphere...

Now, I must first admit, that emotions can sometimes hijack a good message and enter into the conversation all too easily causing a separation between individuals that were thought to be previously inseparable. I remember a debate between two ministers over then Presidential candidate Barack Obama that not only escalated into insults, but ended in at least one party throwing slurs, pronouncing judgement on the other, name calling and just flat out condemning anyone who had any affinity for Obama.  This was a reminder that we must be careful as to not engage in or approach commentary with an "all in" or "I'll prove it to you" type of mentality that often prevails in the blogosphere and among internet email systems.

Salvation At Stake

What we want to examine however is that there are skirmishes that often happen where individuals "claim" that their relationship in Christ was damaged as a result of internet chatter and dialogue between Christians. It stands to reason that if individuals can feel that they have been bullied and go on to commit suicide because of what is said on the internet, it is possible that some could have their faith, both in God and other Christians, severely challenged if they are not careful.

What I am afraid of however is that there are two messages and actions that recent discussion over this issue seems to lump together as one.

1- Disrespectful dialogue and debate over Christian truth or doctrine
and
2- Dialogue that exposes heresy, apostasy and failure among the church, church leaders and "gospel" personalities.

To my understanding, both of these topics are uniquely different and must be differentiated.

First, we can readily admit that Christians can sometimes show and face disrespect over doctrine, church, or theological belief. I have experienced that much early on in my blog/commentary career and have probably been both the cause and recipient of such treatment and interaction. For my part I certainly apologize to any of those who have been the recipient of such interaction. I soon learned however, that different persons are at different stages in life dealing with certain truths that challenge certain understandings or perceptions and it takes God ultimately to speak to the heart. One should keep in mind that not every issue is a matter of salvation or Christian fellowship. Some issues should not divide, although some inevitably do.

The second part that to this puzzle is the confusing part however. Should we as Christians be so "gentle" and "meek" as not to indicate, clearly, strongly and in an uncompromising manner, those teachings, doctrines and practices that subvert minds and cause damage to the body of Christ and to the church in general? This part of the question has led many to believe that it simply just isn't "Christian" to argue or debate church matters or expose matters involving religious leaders and leadership.

Dr. James E. White in his book "Christ Among The Dragons" while calling the church back to it's sense of direction  focusing on truth, culture, unity and church, indicates that a sincere Christian, truly understanding grace, should be "more concerned with owning their own sin and overlooking it in others” (p. 119).

In other words, according to Dr. White, the stance of the Christian should not be to engage in dialogue where sins are pointed out to the point of debate and ultimately disrespect among Christians. He points out that this type of engagement has had a negative effect on the cause of Christ causing some to reconsider being and becoming a Christian. Many take Dr. White's position to one degree or another inferring that it simply isn't "Christian" to vigorously debate, forcefully asserting one's opinion without leaving room for alternate opinions.

In other words, many believe that truth should be tempered by the "possibility" that one could be wrong. On the surface this seems like a fairly wise thing to do and a method that does have it's virtues, but dealing with the moral issues that we deal with in modern society, we should ask, are there any captives that should be taken in exchange for truth?  

There are homosexual advocates who believe that it's not a display of "Christian love" to preach against or condemn homosexuality. Their are sympathizers with almost every action that one can think of that believe it's not a "Christian" act to condemn the actions of individuals while simultaneously saying or pronouncing the love of Christ.

There are others who believe that the exposure of heretical doctrine and teaching should be left for God to decipher and sort out, and that such things shouldn't be "preached' against. Some say that it is shameful for individuals to point out the sins and actions of those who are wrong. Yet others who point out that sinners do what sinners do so individuals have no right or place to point out the sins of sinners in a way that may bring shame to Christ. Many that have these opinions believe that Christianity should always reflect a positive message and that certain ministers are too negative and should not be endorsed. 

When Striving Against Sin Becomes A Sin To Some

Isaiah 58:1 ~ "Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins."
While I agree that it's not the job of the Christian to gossip, spread rumors, false innuendo and go on the mission to find and bring out what would otherwise be considered as "dirt", I would hold that it is the Christian's responsibility to speak to the culture and clearly proclaim the council of the Lord and the truth of God's word. It is also the place of Christian leaders to expose the "hidden works of darkness" and protect God's church from those who would otherwise take advantage of it and make nonsense of the church, God's word and the sacrifice of the cross.

The question is, how is that done? Is this to be done through internet blogs displaying and telling certain information that feed atheists and agnostics in their affirmations that Christianity isn't all that it's "cracked up" to be in the first place?

Do the G. Craige Lewis's, Melvin Jones's, D. L. Foster's and even Pastor Harvey Burnett's of this world do the church a favor by standing against false teaching and certain misguidings of leadership and taking individuals and situations to task, or is the church and Christian community better off without sometimes the negative expressions, and portrayals that exist on these sites?


As stated, it's not uncommon for Christian to make mistakes even in their efforts to help, but is the church damaged or made better by causing individuals to return to biblical sensibilities and truths? Is the truth the truth at all costs or is there a limit that should be put on certain information for the sake of unity and harmony within the body of Christ?


Galatians 6:1 ~" Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted."
 
I think that those on the internet can stand a few lessons of civility, but I also believe that we must clearly distinguish the difference between how Christ commits us to address sins and how he commits us to address faults and errors. Those that look on deserve an answer and we need to give it to them like Jesus has commanded us to. 

Blessed!   

48 comments:

  1. I smelled my name and came running! LOL Just joking!

    Pastor Im loving this post. It has truly been my desire to address the concerns God has placed before me with civility, courage and boldness. Whether I accomplish that 100% of the time is certainly in the eye of the beholder which I do not mind. As I said it IS my desire.

    These questions are intelligent ones that are at the same time spiritual as matters of character.

    Of course each person has to answer for themselves but I suspect that none of the people who engage in public writing on the net about the aforementioned material, people and situations do so with malicious intent or with wild abandon.

    Are the critics 100% right? No, but they are not 100% wrong all the time either. To look honestly at legitimate criticisms and then attempt to moderate our engagements is a good thing. Trying to "please people" is not. Sometimes God gives you an "flint face" assignment. And regardless of criticism or opposition, you must carry it out so that you please him and accomplish his purpose.

    Personally, I see what I do as a 21st century method of confronting ills in the contemporary church. Its a little hypocritical for people to get on the internet and criticize you for being on the internet. If those who believe that such things should be addressed in closed door environments they may be a little naive about what we are facing.

    I think there are two camps to consider when talking about civility. The first are saints who should be educated, equipped and warned. The second are sinners who will see the "internal conflicts". Its unfortunate but unless these leaders are going to give you a private audience for you to tell them Nathan via David style about their sins, God will utilize whatever methods he will.

    The conflict really has been misinterpreted in my opinion. The division and potential turning away of sinners from the church isnt caused by those who speak out, but those who commit OPEN acts of disobedience to the scriptures. When this occurs someone MUST adress them in context to the sins committed. As you said, some things no matter how bad they are and how wrong they are, some people are going to complain about you saying something publicly about it. I dont want to call them leader groupies (is that uncivil?) but its not a good thing to run cover for a leader who is encouraging others to rebel against the will of God.

    I will admit it is complicated, and then again it isnt. You cited sufficient scripture about exposing the unfruitful works of darkness, etc. I think that only comes into play when people reject God's word and attempt to lead the sheep astray. It is not to be our first response, but given the times of spiritual apostasy upon us, it has become the default response. And if you shoot one of God's messengers, surely he will raise up another.

    You asked how is it done in terms of civility. First, we must all agree to a mutual working definition of civility that does not cause undue restriction upon the writer. That is problematic because we all have different temperments which come to bear as we address what we will. And perhaps the Holy Spirit will kindle my righteous indignation on a day when another is feeling love quiet love approach. So, who's in charge?

    Secondly, if the first can be accomplished the next step is to have some form of accountability holding us to such civility. Again problematic because of the ebb and flow of our dispositions at any given time about a particular issue. But, it would be step two.

    Step three I suppose would be to impose the same restraints on those who are the supporters of the blog, et al. Can you police that much that often without stifling honest expression?

    Nuff said. Hope others weigh in.

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  2. --CONT--
    You asked how is it done in terms of civility. First, we must all agree to a mutual working definition of civility that does not cause undue restriction upon the writer. That is problematic because we all have different temperments which come to bear as we address what we will. And perhaps the Holy Spirit will kindle my righteous indignation on a day when another is feeling love quiet love approach. So, who's in charge?

    Secondly, if the first can be accomplished the next step is to have some form of accountability holding us to such civility. Again problematic because of the ebb and flow of our dispositions at any given time about a particular issue. But, it would be step two.

    Step three I suppose would be to impose the same restraints on those who are the supporters of the blog, et al. Can you police that much that often without stifling honest expression?

    Nuff said. Hope others weigh in.

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  3. EnochWalked said...

    To Pastor Burnett and Pastor Foster of gcmwatch,

    Your websites OVERAll do things in decency and in order. None of us are perfect. We strive for perfection. Amen.

    But hear this with love, my spiritman is vexed and the HOLY SPIRIT is grieved with some of the other websites that we may be or are familiar with and every once in a while with your websites(1 time out of 100-LOL!). And brethren I say this with humility, my concern is that when we deal with issues whether in the Church or in the world...that we do not fulfill Proverbs 6:19...the latter part that says, he that soweth discord among brethren. Amen.

    Whether its the certain doctrine or tenets of the faith that are totally unbiblical or if a CHRISTIAN website posts photographs and videos THAT NO CHRISTIAN should even look at,
    SOMETHING IS WRONG!!!!!!! Where are the mothers and elders that used to correct this kind of stuff. Oh I forgot, that's "BACK in the day Church". We really don't have this today in the blogosphere. What we have in the blogosphere is sometimes like a new frontier where everybody takes war into their owns hands...Hint, hint the Wild, Wild West. Many times their people warring against each other with words. I avoid reading or commenting on any Christian website that does not have a called out, ordained elder(apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, teacher). You know why? People who ARE NOT ORDAINED, ARE NOT ACCOUNTABLE to ANYONE or any headship when they go astray. At least, I know with both of you, you are accountable. Amen.

    Internet and blogging and tweeting I believe cheats the Body of CHRIST to a degree because we don't truly have fellowship and communion as when people come together whether at Starbucks, a house basement, or a church building. Amen. Many sheep are OUT of ORDER when they do not assemble. Amen.

    I would prefer that we have telephone conferences or video conference(I need to get a video camera for my computer, I am still in the 20th century, LOL!) because when I hear a person's voice or see their facial expression, I can discern by their tones and hear their emphasis. Amen. Sometimes it is hard to convey to people what is written. People reading the Bible(which translation) proves that. Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of GOD. Faith does not come by the logos or written word but the Rhema word, the preached/teached word heard by ones spirit. Amen.

    Now Pastor Burnett you asked the following question and really its 2questions.

    Question #1.
    Do the G. Craige Lewis's, Melvin Jones's, D. L. Foster's and even Pastor Harvey Burnett's of this world do the church a favor by standing against false teaching and certain misguidings of leadership and taking individuals and situations to task?

    Absolutely, each of you whether you know it or not, are Watchman on the wall. You are helping the Body of CHRIST and keeping the sheep from stumbling and being devoured...that will receive the truth. You are required to sound the alarm. Ezekiel 33:6 KJV
    (6) But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman's hand.

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  4. EnochWalked.

    Question 2: "...or is the church and Christian community better off without sometimes the negative expressions, and portrayals that exist on these sites?"

    The negative expressions and portrayals that exist on some of these sites(not your sites in particular) in all honesty bring reproach to the Body of CHRIST. Christians are not to mock sinners or call sinners names in a joking manner. When CHRIST called the Pharisees, Sadduccees, Scribes, and Lawyers in Jerusalem vipers and told them their father was the devil, HE was not doing it to put them down, make fun of them, or to make HIMSELF look better or more righteous than they were. HE called them what they were to REBUKE them, expose their evil works but not mock them or make fun of them. JESUS wept for Jerusalem and we should have the same SPIRIT and mentality that JESUS had when HE was on the earth.

    This scripture says the following:
    Psa 101:3 KJV
    (3) I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me.

    Some Christian websites are WRONG to put certain photographs or depictions of sinners before the eyes of the saints and their children. I am sorry but Elder G. Craige Lewis is WRONG about posting a video about a pastor teaching on homosexuals eating feces or pictures of homosexuals in bed with each other! That is WRONG! Let the Holy Word of GOD speak for itself. That kind of stuff is sensationalism and it could provoke Propaganda and even more radical evil works against President Obama and the Body of CHRIST. I don't like the things Obama promotes either, but we must respect the Office of the President of the United States while at the same time rebuking the President of the United States when he is clearly in error. And what business do true Christians have looking at pictures or videos of blatant abomination or sins??? Something is wrong with that picture.

    Calling people(Christians or sinners) names does not UPLIFT the NAME of JESUS. Besides JESUS told people to their faces what they were, not far, far away or in the confines of a house or in the church building. I have, never ever read where either of you,Pastor Burnett or Pastor Foster of GCMWATCH call people names like fag, dike, punk etc. (Pastor Burnett will call you a Ho. If the shoe fits) It is OK to call people that boldly sin what the Word of GOD calls them sodomites, sons of Belial, wicked, fornicators, adulters, liars, whoremongers etc TO THEIR FACE...but let us be civil when we rebuke. Amen. And the only ones that SHOULD have the authority to call someone a name should be the owner of that sight, not anoymous or groupies that follow their favorite internet pastor or etc.. Am I making sense? Please tell me if I am wrong.

    More than once, I have read where a sincere brother in the LORD was ganged up on by certain websites and their cult followers. The brother offered a differing point of view, not a false doctrine or an error. A differing point of view, and that brother was ganged up on and pounced on like a piece of meat thrown to piranhas that had eaten in days. Amen.

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  5. Gcmwatch and Enochwalked,

    Great commentary on the issues.

    Gcmwatch said:"Its a little hypocritical for people to get on the internet and criticize you for being on the internet."

    I think so too. i don't understand the opposition to engaging. We know that if it weren't for the fact that there was opposition and a correct biblical exposition on many subjects that some of these groups would run wild with all kinds of unfounded assertions. Just some time ago atheists were claiming taht they had won the internet war and that their arguments were so effective, until their arguments were challenged, and refuted like they have been in every generation.

    But more to the point, it's a sad shame to have to debate Christians over believing the bible, but it must be done.

    With the rise of "gay christians" and Lord knows what ever other type of so called "christian" that exists, it is more difficult than ever to keep silent and I don't think we should be either.

    Enochwalked said:"People who ARE NOT ORDAINED, ARE NOT ACCOUNTABLE to ANYONE or any headship when they go astray."

    Y'u-know that true! However some take the moniker of holding the church honest from the standpoint of just being a layperson. Now I don't mind that in particular if someone is connected to the church, what I have a problem with is arm chair qb's who have decided that they know more about the church and know more of what's right from home than they do by committing themselves to the church physically. I say do something, be involved and be a part of the solution IF there is an identifiable problem.

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  6. Enochwalked,

    You said:"I am sorry but Elder G. Craige Lewis is WRONG about posting a video about a pastor teaching on homosexuals eating feces or pictures of homosexuals in bed with each other!"

    Better watch out bru...u know we are in the days of G. Craige worship don't you??? Many people see absolutely nothing wrong with anything he does and or says, he certainly doesn't, but that's yet another issue.

    ~Break for a minute~

    Before one talks, I have the emails where I'v outlined my argument to him (G. craige)personally along with his responses so I am not prepared to say anything other than what hasn't already been said to him directly...

    ~OK Now we're back~

    I think the point is that we are ALL accountable and when we begin to feel that we aren't we'll do, say and present anything and call it "ordained of God".

    Point well taken. The people of God are to be respected and as you said, we get the point, we don't need visual stimulation on all things.

    You said:"(Pastor Burnett will call you a Ho. If the shoe fits)"

    HAHAHAHAHAHA!!! That was a gag! Now, I admit that she got the best of me that day. For her to stand there and act as if her actions were normal and that everyone else was wrong...that was whorish! She proved that she was a ho.

    That certainly wasn't intended for the average reader-LOL!!!

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  7. Pastor B,

    I am sending you a message in 2, maybe 3 parts because your comment box says it needs to be less that 4000 or so words. So please put it together and read it fluently to get the gist.

    Soli Deo Gloria,

    R4C

    ReplyDelete
  8. Part 1

    How are you? I know that it’s been a very long time since you heard from me, but I just wanted to drop in and see how you were doing. It’s Craig, but you probably know me best as Ready4Change from the pp.org website. To say that I have almost forsaken my “blogging career” would really be an understatement. With so much time on deployment and at sea (Navy), I find it very difficult to keep up with cyber central. It’s been quite some time since I’ve posted anything lengthy on any of the sites I used to follow or the new ones I’ve come to know. Beyond that though, the primary reason lies in just what you speak of in this writing. A key cog in causing the wheels to turn on this issue was an article I read some time ago. It’s contents can be found here:

    http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2008/08/04/keller-and-powlison-should-you-pass-on/

    Doctors Keller and Powlison really deal with the issue from the vantage point of passing on bad reports, but I think it ties into the whole issue of proper priority in terms of our speech and demeanor, even when dealing with false prophets and preachers. One conviction and mind altering wound I received at the hand of scripture and by the chastening of the Holy Spirit was Paul’s charge to Timothy, found in the 1st Epistle:

    “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling;” ( 1 Timothy 2:1-8, ESV).

    The passage is self-explanatory, but it is just indicative of the sinful nature of our hearts and the lack within ourselves to fulfill God’s will and purpose without the strength, power and stability that the Holy Spirit provides. There is a wonderful tension found in the word that I have only recently discovered, and I am still learning it. Yes, we are to passionately and unwaveringly cry out against false prophets, money hungry preachers, charlatans and wolves whose intent it is to make a mockery of the true body of Christ and those who seek Him. However, on the other side of the tension lies the clarion mandate to bow the knee before Jesus our Savior and petition in strong, earnest prevailing prayer for all men, at all times in all places in all circumstances and all situations. Understanding that in the flesh we would neither have the physical stamina or mental discipline to accomplish such a task, I believe the apostle Paul’s aim is to teach us that the real man of God, as he is being conformed to the image of Christ, is temperate in all things, so that even in times where he needs to give needed rebuke and reproof, he does it with the dirty hands of a shepherd, the bloody knees of an intercessor, the broken heart of a brother and the power that comes from the Holy Spirit.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Part 1

    How are you? I know that it’s been a very long time since you heard from me, but I just wanted to drop in and see how you were doing. It’s Craig, but you probably know me best as Ready4Change from the pp.org website. To say that I have almost forsaken my “blogging career” would really be an understatement. With so much time on deployment and at sea (Navy), I find it very difficult to keep up with cyber central. It’s been quite some time since I’ve posted anything lengthy on any of the sites I used to follow or the new ones I’ve come to know. Beyond that though, the primary reason lies in just what you speak of in this writing. A key cog in causing the wheels to turn on this issue was an article I read some time ago. It’s contents can be found here:

    http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2008/08/04/keller-and-powlison-should-you-pass-on/

    Doctors Keller and Powlison really deal with the issue from the vantage point of passing on bad reports, but I think it ties into the whole issue of proper priority in terms of our speech and demeanor, even when dealing with false prophets and preachers. One conviction and mind altering wound I received at the hand of scripture and by the chastening of the Holy Spirit was Paul’s charge to Timothy, found in the 1st Epistle:

    “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling;” ( 1 Timothy 2:1-8, ESV).

    The passage is self-explanatory, but it is just indicative of the sinful nature of our hearts and the lack within ourselves to fulfill God’s will and purpose without the strength, power and stability that the Holy Spirit provides. There is a wonderful tension found in the word that I have only recently discovered, and I am still learning it. Yes, we are to passionately and unwaveringly cry out against false prophets, money hungry preachers, charlatans and wolves whose intent it is to make a mockery of the true body of Christ and those who seek Him. However, on the other side of the tension lies the clarion mandate to bow the knee before Jesus our Savior and petition in strong, earnest prevailing prayer for all men, at all times in all places in all circumstances and all situations. Understanding that in the flesh we would neither have the physical stamina or mental discipline to accomplish such a task, I believe the apostle Paul’s aim is to teach us that the real man of God, as he is being conformed to the image of Christ, is temperate in all things, so that even in times where he needs to give needed rebuke and reproof, he does it with the dirty hands of a shepherd, the bloody knees of an intercessor, the broken heart of a brother and the power that comes from the Holy Spirit.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Part 2 (Sent you part 1 twice, please delete one of them bro'...Sorry about that...)

    Lastly, let me just say that even though I don’t post much anymore on anybody’s site, I do follow the blogs of my friends from time to time and I have enjoyed “just about” everything I’ve read lately on yours. Yes, I think that you know what those “just abouts” are, because we have conversed on many occasions…(smile)… Still, I count you as a brother and co-laborer of the grace, hope and life that is to be ours at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

    Now, concerning one of those “just abouts”, I will ask some very small questions, and then I will give you the gift that I’ve been giving since late 2008/early 2009---the last word. This one centers around your series on Holy Hip Hop (since brother G Craige Lewis was mentioned), an area that I have some disagreements with you (and him) about. Not because I’m such a huge hip hop fan, because the genre of music is not really an issue with me, the content is. My query seeks to get a better understanding of your stance, and to maybe have you clear up some generalizations that I think were made in the articles. I’m not going to quote the articles or answer point by point or anything, so put your revolver away…(LOL!!!)…I will just briefly summarize my concerns. The questions are as follows:

    1. It appears that one genre of music is being attacked, and I wonder why we are placing the genre and the culture associated with it above the most vital elements, which are motive and content. First of all, the segment that those concerned about hip hoppers are focusing on are those who mask themselves as “holy” artists whose fruit show that their motives are shaky at best and deceptive at worst. In this I agree. There are some artists whose lyrics are laced with nothing but scripture, doctrine, bible and Christ-centered speech, men whom I’ve personally met and know the work of the Spirit in their lives. I pray that earnest, mature Christians who listen to the content can discern the difference by the Spirit. This is what scripture instructs us to do. So, isn’t it a sweeping generalization to say that “all” of these artists are profane in their actions because we’ve attached the sin that men do and involve themselves in with the “hip-hop culture”?
    2. One of the things that I’ve always questioned about the approach of brother Lewis and others is the fact that in all of the vitriolic attacks on the genre of Hip-Hop, no one seems to be offering what they believe to be a viable alternative. For example, I’d like to know what people who are so vehemently against this style of music would offer as an acceptable gift of worship to the Lord. The reason I mention this is because no matter what genre or style of music you choose, you can find various doses of spoilage, sinfulness and wickedness. This is largely because if God intended for it to be beautiful and give honor to His name, satan certainly is in the business of polluting that very element. We also have to realize how our traditional ways and what we would consider to be “old time way” worship has sometimes (not all the time) confused so many. I wish I had 20 dollars for every time I brought a friend or guest to church, only for them to observe the church mother (usually my aunt, grandma or great aunt) sing “Can’t nobody do me like Jesus!” 500 times and expect the “spirit” to fall all over the place, when the only thing that was falling was sweat, wigs and Martin Luther King programs out of people’s hands…Don’t get me wrong, I came up on that, and in God’s sovereignty I recognize it’s place in my spiritual maturity, but that doesn’t mean it was always a sweet-smelling savor unto the Lord. So I ask, what would you or anyone else that takes your position consider “acceptable?” It would be interesting to know.

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  11. Part 3

    3. Most of the guys that I listen to (Lampmode, 116 and other associated artists), are comprised of people who before they even picked up a microphone to make a record had put feet on the gospel in their communities, were active, devoted and committed to bible preaching/teaching/believing churches, ministered to the needs of the poor, spread God’s word and evangelized in the name of Christ for the sake of His glory. These are changed men who realized that they had a talent/gifting for writing God-glorifying, Christ-exalting poetry (lyrics), in the prose of rhyme (rap), with the background of contemporary music (beats). Why is it that we join in, lift our hands and participate in any style of worship? Aren’t we looking for the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit’s stamp on the content? Don’t we realize that we’re not applauding that person but the person of whom that person speaks, namely Jesus? It is okay for our churches to tolerate contemporary choirs who write and sing about things they have never experienced, believe or take part in, but another whose motive and heart is to make Christ look glorious through the distinct manner in which he is blessed we cast out? Please make this plain for me.
    4. Ok, just one more and I’m done. Compare these two songs. One is a song that “church” choirs all over the country are singing, and another is a holy hip hop song. First of all, let me know if you can tell the difference, and the other thing is which would you rather your kids listen to? Please note my closing comments at the end.

    SONG NUMBER 1
    Verse 1
    When God made man
    He made a spirit.
    It was His plan that we live blessed.
    The tempter came, we were distracted.
    The tempter came and we fell.
    We were deemed to live a life that’s beautiful.
    A life that’s good, a life that’s rich and plentiful. It is my goal to remind you of this principle.
    We’re redeemed. A new born soul.
    Let’s get back to Eden and live on top of the world.
    Verse 2
    Well now it’s time we change our thinking.
    Follow design and our Father’s plan.
    Oh yes it’s time we get back to kingdom.
    Now is the time to take our stand.
    We were deemed to live a life that beautiful.
    A life that’s good, a life that’s rich and plentiful.
    It is my goal to remind you of this principle.
    We’re redeemed, a new born soul. Let’s get back to Eden and live on top of the world
    Bridge
    Our families blessed. Finances blessed. Our minds and spirits and our bodies blessed.
    We were tempted and we fell. Jesus came now all is well.
    Let’s get back to Eden and live on top of the world.
    Vamp
    Live! Live on top of the world! (repeat)

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  12. Part 4

    Verse 2
    We’re now in the realm of the sublime and profound
    With God at the helm it’s about to go down
    The Father’s wrath precise will blast and slice
    The priceless Master Christ as a sacrifice
    Willingly, He’s under the curse
    To be treated as if the Son was the worst scum of the earth
    The scene is the craziest
    Jesus being treated as if He is the shadiest atheist
    How is it the Messiah is in the fiery pit
    As if He was a wicked liar with twisted desires?
    The One who’s sinless and just
    Punished as if He was promiscuous and mischievous with vicious lust
    The source of all godly pleasure
    Tormented as if He was a foul investor or child molestor
    How could He be bruised like He was a goodie two-shoes
    who doesn’t think that she needs the good news?
    He’s perfect in love and wisdom
    But He’s suffering as if He constructed the corrupt justice system
    We should mourn at the backdrop
    Jesus torn like He’s on the corner with crack rock with porn on His laptop
    What is this, kid? His gifts are infinite
    But He’s hit with licks for religious hypocrites
    He’s the Light, but being treated like
    He’s the seedy type who likes to beat His wife
    He’s treated like a rapist, treated like a slanderer
    Treated like a racist or maybe a philanderer
    Jesus being penalized like He had sin inside
    Filled with inner pride while committing genocide
    I could write for a billion years and still can’t name
    All of the sins placed on the Lamb slain
    But know this: the main thing the cross demonstrated
    The glory and the holiness of God vindicated

    Repeat Bridge and Chorus


    Pastor Burnett,

    Isn’t it funny how one of these songs is trying to lead us right back to the place of original sin, and the other is trying to remind us of what Jesus told us to remember, which is the cross, his body, his blood, his sacrifice and what it accomplished at Calvary? Now, please don’t think that I am trying to draw comparison to pick on any particular singer. I’m simply driving home the point of content and substance in worship, praise and adoration for our King.

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  13. Part 5 (made a mistake...This is the Intro and Verse 1 of the 2nd song...I hope you will put this together right for me my friend!!(LOL!)

    SONG NUMBER 2

    Intro: So what I need is, I need you to come with me, because we’re gonna do some time traveling. We’re gonna travel back about 2000 years to the most significant event in the universe. Are your ready?

    Verse 1
    There’s something you gotta see, journey with me
    It’s approximately 30 A.D.
    In the land of Israel- the city of Jerusalem
    But on the outside there’s screams and loud cries
    Through faith, this scene can be seen without eyes
    The mean shout lies and seem to sound wise
    As we inch through the crowd, we need to be cautious
    A Roman execution, men on three crosses
    But all the focus is on the one in the center
    The gate closes behind you- no one can enter
    The sight you behold is so odd, you’re stunned
    The man hanging on the cross is God the Son
    12 noon, it’s pitch-black because the sunshine’s lacking
    Your minds can’t fathom this divine transaction
    As slowly the sound becomes mostly drowned
    You realize that you’re standing on holy ground

    Bridge
    So forever will I tell
    In three hours, Christ suffered more than any sinner ever will in hell (4x)
    Chorus
    It’s where we see Your holiness- at the cross
    We see that You’re controlling this- at the cross
    We see how You feel about sin- at the cross
    Your unfathomable love for men- at the cross
    It’s where we see Your sovereignty- at the cross
    We see our idolatry- at the cross
    We know that there’s a judgment day- from the cross
    May we never take our eyes away- from the cross

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  14. Part 6 (Last one, I promise!!!)

    Lastly, although the New Testament does indicate that singing, worship, praise, prophecy and the spiritual gifts were active in the early church, notice how it is amazingly silent regarding the style and manner in which it was done. Scripture keeps the main thing the main thing. Why don’t we?

    I love you dearly my friend…Continue to persevere and be a blessing to the body and a light to the perishing…I will take all of the answers to my questions offline and without response…If I do respond, it will only be to let you know that I did read the response and to thank you for your kindness in addressing the issues, as I know you graciously will…Be well, and I will keep you, your church and your family in my prayers as I trust you will mine…

    Soli Deo Gloria,

    Craig

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  15. Pastor Burnett,

    I sent you an email with a copy of the post in the correct order. Because I'm at sea right now, the email might come up in your junk mail, so please check it and look for one with the title "post on your blog". It will have my ship's name in the address as well (lhd3). God bless you my friend...

    Solus Christus,

    Craig

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  16. Ready4Change,

    Thanks for coming back my friend and I hope that all continues to go well on your tour of duty.

    You said so many wonderful things, let me highlight a couple:

    I believe the apostle Paul’s aim is to teach us that the real man of God, as he is being conformed to the image of Christ, is temperate in all things, so that even in times where he needs to give needed rebuke and reproof, he does it with the dirty hands of a shepherd, the bloody knees of an intercessor, the broken heart of a brother and the power that comes from the Holy Spirit.

    That was fantastic! I think the rebuke that God gives us to give, if there is any, was to be done with the intent and consciousness of God and not self or a "told you so" mentality.

    Now let me address the issues regarding hip-hop that you raise. You asked the following regarding my position:

    "So, isn’t it a sweeping generalization to say that “all” of these artists are profane in their actions because we’ve attached the sin that men do and involve themselves in with the “hip-hop culture”?"

    Now, I don't believe that I say that "all" gospel hip-hop artists are profane. I can't remember that I've called any 'profane" only that what many of them imitate isn't biblically centered.

    Now, with that said, can hip-hop be used as a tool for God? I have set forth the notion that i don't believe so and still remain "hip-hop" That genre is alive and has it's own intents, purpose, code and set of reasonings for it's existence. What many gospel proponents are doing is taking something that is breathing out threatenings to God and habits and messages antithetical to the way of salvation and plastering Jesus on it and placing scripture within is as if that will clean it up. The problem is that Hip-hop doesn't want to be clean and it doesn't want to quit.

    What I mean by that is that the "spirit" of it survives the transformation. It incites the same feelings, emotion and many of the raw attitudes that exist within the culture of hip-hop. Then it (hip-hop) resists purging and change and certainly resists conformity to something other than what it is familiar with. Therefore, it only acquiesces to a certain default position and never fully surrenders. Therefore, the appearance (over sized T's are essential, Baggy pants, do-rags, etc.) Come right alongside only this time they are said to be ministering tools to identify with the target audience...That's pimpery to the highest...I don't need to look like them or even use their code to reach them...The gospel is effective and powerful all by itself and IF I have a message from the Lord it will hit the target. But what the industry promotes is a replacement of the Lords methods with the methods of skillful marketing and other schemes.

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  17. Ready4change,

    You said:One of the things that I’ve always questioned about the approach of brother Lewis and others is the fact that in all of the vitriolic attacks on the genre of Hip-Hop, no one seems to be offering what they believe to be a viable alternative.

    In conjunction with that you ask"So I ask, what would you or anyone else that takes your position consider “acceptable?” It would be interesting to know."

    Well, I understand that sentiment and I believe that although there is some overlap, I take an approach somewhat differently than G. Craige regarding the issue. I believe that there are saved folk that do this. It's hard to determine whether he shares that belief and after speaking with him personally regarding the issue I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for him to say that he does.

    I don't approach it in such a fundamental manner either. I believe that what is best is dialogue between Christians on the subject and acceptance of the biblical facts that God has called his children to live what they sing about and not merely use music as a money maker appealing to the "fads" of the day.

    What can be done to replace hip-hop? The creation of God centered new song, new beats, new patterns, new styles, not built on the ones generated by hip-hop itself. Give me a "new song", one in which we can praise the Lord without a reminder of the shame that entrenched us...Cut out the "say go Jesus, go Jesus, go!"..."waive your holy hands in the air, and waive like Jesus care!"...

    These are reminders and imitations of what has been rejected...why do we need that?

    Specifically, we need songs that inspire a reverential approach to God. Many of the old songs did that...not all, but the desire was there to make God, God, and not just a "friend" or "associate". He was reverenced and when they said "God is a good God" like we sing yet today...we knew HE is and was a good God, worthy to be praised and worshipped.

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  18. Ready4change,

    You said:"Why is it that we join in, lift our hands and participate in any style of worship? Aren’t we looking for the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit’s stamp on the content? Don’t we realize that we’re not applauding that person but the person of whom that person speaks, namely Jesus?"

    I think this is the dilemma. Hip-hop wasn't designed to give that worship to anyone else but the one speaking the lyric and whomsoever he/she conferred that praise upon. Now we can replace the lyric with a Christ centered lyric, but everything must also change with it...not just the lyric, but the whole persona...The "hard" emphasis, the "street smart" language and tone, the vocal ghetto street rifts...When all of that changes, it is no longer hip-hop...That's why I see the argument as somewhat of an "oxymoronish" type of analogy. When hip-hop is stripped of all of those things that make it hip-hop it is no longer hip-hop and to the gospel artist I simply ask, why and what is the importance of giving life to something that must die?

    You asked:"It is okay for our churches to tolerate contemporary choirs who write and sing about things they have never experienced, believe or take part in, but another whose motive and heart is to make Christ look glorious through the distinct manner in which he is blessed we cast out? Please make this plain for me."

    So far as the experience of song, I don't think that's the question as far as hip-hp, but it may be a concern about singing in general. I remember songs that choirs do almost verbatim that is someone else's testimony and not theirs. I guess that could be considered to be a lie, but I'm unsure how it's applicable to the hip-hop conversation.

    In short, I hope I've outlined how my position differs and the basis for my critique as opposed to others. Now, G. Craige states that he has some "inside" information on certain subjects and artists and that may be true, but I certainly am a little more optimistic that truly saved gospel hip hop artists will be open to dialogue and sharing considerations and the looking to the opinion of scripture regarding these issues...to me it's not about a beat, it's about the complete package and there need to be some honest and open biblically centered dialogue on the issue.

    Thanks for the "brain stretchers". and thanks for your service for us all!

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  19. "Those that look on deserve an answer and we need to give it to them like Jesus has commanded us to. Blessed!"

    Amen

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  20. In context to the discussion about civility, great questions always provoke great answers.

    Pastor B, you did so with Ready4Change.

    I think the whole Christian hip hop situation is not so much is demonic en masse, but it seems to represent more of the creature than the Creator who is blessed forever.

    The persona one has to assume to get "street cred" seems to be a bit too much. Of course Im sure some dont see it that way. I try to judge (yes judge) case by case. I do the same with the gospel music industry. Not everything with the moniker "gospel" attached is gospel truth.

    Its no secret that too many are selling themselves to record companies who demand style and image over substance. The latter sells records, which is the bottom line with such organizations. If one compromises the message, I dont think they are concerned about that at all.

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  21. Pastor,

    This is a wonderful and neccessary article, for proper attitude is to be displayed by the believer at all times, now are we going to display it always, of course not, but its no excuse not to allow the Holy Spirit to bring it to our remembrance and convict us when not displayed. We must remember not to leave room for the enemy, who is the "accuser of the brethren." Now there are times when Christ and his apostles displayed moments of sarcasm, but that sarcasm was directed and used to provoke to a higher place in attitude and action for better benefit not degrading and open humiliation.

    The writer of Hebrews says, "And let us provoke each other unto love and good works" now the word "provoke" is in the negative, meaning what I say and do at times is not going to be comfortable for another all the time, but nonetheless it must be displayed in a loving manner, though it may not appear to be, as what I say right now, may not be comfortable for some. Some would say I'm displaying righteous indignation, but no, your just wanting to get off and get back. I'm saying this out of experience, when the Holy Spirit exposed these areas in my early christian walk and I allowed him to convict me, and not excuse it to justify myself.

    We must remember Christ called us to be meek (which is a fruit of the Spirit) which we are all commanded to walk in. Some of us don't know the difference between being meek and being passive, one were called to be "the meek shall inherit the earth" and the other were not. We must also remember were being watched and what we are saying is being observed and scrutinized all the time and many times God exposes that which needs to be changed, but many times we don't receive it because were to busy tring to excuse and justify it.

    Beloved Pastor I don't claim to have attained nor arrived in this area, but I do desire to submit and yield to the Holy Spirit when it comes to my demeanor. For the scripture rings true, "Don't let your good be evil spoken of." Once again Pastor another thought provoking/illuminating post. Your friend...Tony

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  22. "The latter sells records"

    I meant to write "the former sells records"

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  23. Pastors Burnett and Foster,

    Many thanks for your gracious responses. Pastor B, thanks for clearing up those concerns. I think I understand a little better where you're coming from. I'm keeping my word as far as not offering a response, but I think you had a question about what I meant when I said this:

    "It is okay for our churches to tolerate contemporary choirs who write and sing about things they have never experienced, believe or take part in, but another whose motive and heart is to make Christ look glorious through the distinct manner in which he is blessed we cast out? Please make this plain for me."

    In this statement I was trying to draw a comparison to style of music versus content. For example, in one of your articles, you favorably mentioned "Yesterday" by Mary Mary. This is an extremely encouraging song, and I like it myself. I can honestly say though, it doesn't teach anything about the gospel, nor specifically about our sin, our need of a Savior, Christ as that Savior, His life, resurrection, ascention, nature, works or sovereingty. The message it sends is that when you've had enough, stop crying and trust God. Why do we think it's beautiful? Because it has a melodious piano-laced chord structure in the bluesy arrangement that we're used to in churches all across the country, but it really doesn't tell us much about the gospel. It can be better categorized as "inspirational". I can tell you that BB King could sing that song at one of his concerts with no believers in the audience, and just because people like blues they would go crazy because they feel "inspired". Please don't think I'm completely slamming the song, because I think it is beautiful and it gave me hope when I heard it that God is faithful to His people and that he would bring me through hard times. My point in the question is that we will say that was an acceptable song, but if we hear something like the song I gave you that is full of gospel events and narrative, we frown on it because it's set to a rythmic beat and it rhymes.

    I only said the above to clear up what I meant in that statement. I wasn't just talking about singing in general, but expressions of worship that come from any gifted or talented worshipper.

    Okay. I've said too much. I really appreciate the opportunity to dialogue and speak about these matters, and I thank you for your quick and thoughtful response...Be well my friend, and may His peace and grace be continually near you...

    Sola Gratia,

    Craig

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  24. Great article Pastor and great and insightful comments.

    We must endeavor to correct with humility though there is a time to get serious as we see with Christ overturning the tables of the money changers in the temple.

    This scripture came to me as I was typing.

    Numbers 25:6 And indeed, one of the children of Israel came and presented to his brethren a Midianite woman in the sight of Moses and in the sight of all the congregation of the children of Israel, who were weeping at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. 7 Now when Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose from among the congregation and took a javelin in his hand; 8 and he went after the man of Israel into the tent and thrust both of them through, the man of Israel, and the woman through her body. So the plague was stopped among the children of Israel. 9 And those who died in the plague were twenty-four thousand.
    10 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: 11 “Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, has turned back My wrath from the children of Israel, because he was zealous with My zeal among them, so that I did not consume the children of Israel in My zeal.

    When we have blatent apostasy and disrespect for Gods word from false prophets, how should it be dealt with? I would say as Jesus did.

    I have been a victim, as EW pointed out, of one just having a different view and being blasted to pieces! at that point individuals have gone way overboard and are behaving as if they know all truth and have a lock on it. Foolishness.

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  25. @ready4change, I think there is a difference between a song directed to the Church and music directed to the world. As a believer I dont need every song to have the gospel message as I know who the song is directed to. It doesnt matter that someone in the world can enjoy it as it is not for them.

    While Mary Mary's song Yesterday may not have the gospel message we know that God wants us to trust Him no? The premise of the song is a biblical one.

    The reason why gospel hip hop has to have the gospel message is because it is said to be used to win the lost. Thats the problem as Pastor Burnett has stated.

    If I use the music form, i feel that I need to look like those who I am trying to reach. What we have are gospel counterparts, mirroring the secular. Pants hanging down (underneath the backside), getting tatoos, dread lox, two earings, using all the worldy slang. I have even seen Gospel Hip Hop artists grilling and having scarfs tied around their face.

    watch this vid.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2rk-VITikDU

    While they are talking about Jesus, they look scary, they are not approachable for they look like thugs! They are trying to redeem a culture that is hellbent on sin and death. You have to come out, not try to christianize that which is cursed and seems to love the fact that it is. Why esle would we have so many references to the devil in hop hop music?

    I will not question their sincerity but I think they are misguided as I once was.

    Blessings!

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  26. Friend Paul,

    I was reading your comments, and I wholeheartedly agree. Righteous indignation and constructive criticism bring glory to God and edification and warning to the brethren and is warranted by scripture. But to display wrongful behavior to excuse and justify ourselves in the midst of degrading and purposeful humiliating/manipulative demeanor is another. For many of us if not corrected will enjoy displaying such behavior, and the fruit of the Spirit will not if any be yielded and submitted to.

    Scripture once again rings true, "Be angry but sin not." Many of us display such attitude, not because we have to, but because we want to and no justification and excuse is needed. We do it sadly, out of enjoyment and out of a spirit of pride/vindictiveness and a need continously to be right inspite of how we look or sound.

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  27. Toney my Brother, how is everything?


    You are correct. Its not trying to be right for right sake but is is either to defend the truth of Christ against the enemey and/or to use the word as II tim 3:16 states

    "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work."

    Thank you for your words. I know I need to be more aware of my motives and attitude to make sure they are inline with how God would have me behave.

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  28. Paul,

    First and foremost, thank you for what I believe to be a very sincere response. As much as I appreciate your remarks though, I think you completely missed my point. There is much I could say about this, but I’ll just try to be as brief as possible. The last thing I want to do is be perceived as being argumentative. That would nullify the whole intent of this beautiful post that Pastor Burnett has written for us by the direction of the Holy Spirit. If you would allow me though, I’d like to address a couple of the things you said.

    “As a believer I dont need every song to have the gospel message as I know who the song is directed to. It doesnt matter that someone in the world can enjoy it as it is not for them.”

    I would disagree with the first sentence of your statement based upon the following passages of scripture. Please note that all of these writings are explicitly to those in the body of Christ, distinct churches:

    Romans 1:16-17
    1 Corinthians 2:1-5
    1 Corinthians 15:1-8
    Ephesians 1:15-23
    Colossians 1:1-14

    All these passages reveal Paul's prayer and exhortation of the gospel to belivers, that they would continue to be sustained by it and that it was the element that kept them. There are many more like this, but my point is that in our New Covenant understanding of Christ’s work on the cross, we never, ever move away from the gospel. Not in our preaching, our singing, our fellowship, our prayers or our dealings with one another. I would humbly submit to you that the reason we have the humungous disconnect in those who profess they believe in the church is that they have absolutely no concept of what the gospel is or who Jesus is. I believe it is a fundamental mistake and a huge misconception that those of us who are in the faith do not need to hear the gospel message in every sermon, song or utterance when we come together. If not that, what else do we gather around? As I stated earlier, I have no issue with Mary Mary’s song, as long as you classify it for what it is. But please don’t call it a gospel music song, because it’s plain from the lyrics that it is not. In your second sentence, are you saying that the songs we sing in church are “not directed” to the sinner? I’m also a little confused by the statement, “it doesn’t matter that someone in the world can enjoy it as it is not for them.” Well, if it’s not a gospel song and doesn’t have the gospel message (as you said), it’s not for us either. The story of Jesus birth, life, death, burial, appearing to the early church, ascension and seating on the right hand of the Father to ever make intercession for us is enough to sing about for all eternity and is the complete reason why we sing in the first place. Consider the apostle Paul’s instruction on singing: “What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also.” (1 Corinthians 14:15).

    Remember, the apostle is addressing a church that has been caught up in the giftings and has forgotten the Giver, but also intertwined within the context is the fact that Paul’s true heart is for them to receive prophesying which will build up and edify the church. Singing, although not the primary way (I believe preaching is clearest way), should be used as a means to express the gospel during worship and praise services. In fact, it would only be a fitting accompaniment to preaching if it is packed full of gospel truths and scriptural lyrics. Let me close this portion by saying that to think that believers don’t need the gospel preached to them sang to them and ministered to them just as much as the sinner man is a dangerous assumption. I can almost guarantee you that the reason brothers get overtaken in faults in because they left the central message of scripture, namely the cross of Calvary and the redemptive story.

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  29. “The reason why gospel hip hop has to have the gospel message is because it is said to be used to win the lost. Thats the problem as Pastor Burnett has stated.

    If I use the music form, i feel that I need to look like those who I am trying to reach. What we have are gospel counterparts, mirroring the secular. Pants hanging down (underneath the backside), getting tatoos, dread lox, two earings, using all the worldy slang. I have even seen Gospel Hip Hop artists grilling and having scarfs tied around their face.”


    To this I would again say to be careful not to lump everyone in the same category. As I stated before, there are gentlemen who don’t do any of the things you speak of. They wear suits, polo shirts and slacks, and they happen to have a gift for writing Christ centered and biblical poetry accompanied with contemporary beats. It seems that people are hung up on the word “hip-hop” because you think it denotes a culture, so I’ll do my best to stay away from it. We’re okay with poems from our children during Easter time, and most of the “gospel” songs we listen to rhyme (just listen to your favorite choir or solo song and you’ll see what I mean). Also used in much of the music we adore is personification, alliteration, hyperbole and symbolism. That’s all these brothers are doing to the glory of God. Why is it acceptable when it’s sang but not when it’s spoken? Your methodology is questionable because you haven’t taken the time to examine all of the evidence before making a judgment, always a precarious thing. I can tell you that most of the guys you are referring to are not people who are doing this for the glory of God. I’ve seen those guys, and those are not the guys I’m speaking about, nor is their music worthy of consideration. Another thing you’re doing is mixing those who rap in the world with those who TRULY claim Christ. As Pastor Burnett stated, there’s a distinction, and folks on both sides have to be willing to address this issue with temperance, spiritual maturity and biblical precedent. Sometimes when we have an affinity for a certain way of doing things, you tend to throw the baby out with the bathwater instead of critically assessing the reality of the situation. What I’ve found---and I’m not saying this is the case with everyone---is that folks are getting so thrown off by outside appearances that they are not giving the content, which is most important, an honest look. Again, since we started with MaryMary, let me continue to use them as an example. I am in no way meaning to slander them at all, because I have enjoyed their music over the years. This is just the perfect opportunity to show an example. You know that MaryMary made “Shackles” before they made “Yesterday”. “Shackles” has a definitively noticeable hip-hop vibe. Why doesn’t the fact that they’ve made “Shackles”---and a lot of other inappropriate material they’ve written---discourage you from listening to “Yesterday”? This is probably because you’ve used a discerning ear for listening to music that glorifies the Lord regardless of the artist. You’ve given them the benefit of the doubt and even said that the song was an acceptable worship song, although MaryMary has associated themselves and made musical material with other secular hip-hop artists (LL Cool J most recently) and have even dressed inappropriately and continue to make questionable music. The reason you were able to isolate that is because of content. Are you willing to give other forms of expression the same balanced, discerning, prayerful and patient ear? If you’d like to hear more of the more solid guys, just ask Pastor B for my email address and I’ll show you what I mean.

    Paul, I will give you the same gift that I’ve given Pastor Burnett and so many others---the last word. I will take your answer silently, but if you’d like to converse more about this, please contact me and we can continue the discourse. I have so much more to say and much more scripture. Besides, I wouldn’t want to use up all the Superintendent’s bandwidth…(smile)…

    Solus Christus,

    Craig

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  30. Craig? Do you attend Epiphany Fellowship in Philly?

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  31. JP said:

    Thanks Pastor for this wonderful post. Also all of the comments were for edifying one another, and not for argument or "i'm right" sakes. I especially enjoyed the comments by Pastor Foster and Enoch (not that the others weren't good also). Its just a difference for me, seeing some sites where they condemning one another to hell because they disagree about something :)

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  32. ready4life, I think this forum benifits everyone. I am not sure if Pastor Burnett has an issue with you responding here? I think its awesome that all can read the discussion.

    For clarification lets say Christian music and not gospel music.

    First I would like to say that I dont believe that music should be used as a means to preach the gospel. I dont see it in scripture and people dont need to be entertained into the kingdom. If Gospel rap is to be used by God it she be used to edify the body of Christ.

    So the scriptures you posted were related to "preaching" the gospel and not singing or rapping in. Thats a stark difference that must be noted.

    Here are a couple of scriptures of reference.

    Ephesians 5:19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord,

    Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.


    We know that Psalms are not full of the gospel message but Paul is exhorting the church to sing them.

    I dont think there is a hang up on the word hiphop for it is a culture, there in lies the problem. I listen to some gospel rap music and I believe the lyrics are amazing.

    What needs to be done as far as what take from what you say is that there needs to be a dissaociation with hiphop and gospel rap, those who rap gospel should be at the forefront of it because what is on the front page of gospel hiphop many times are people trying to emulate the world.

    You say you cannot lump all together but what you cannot do is allow a lump of leaven in, for you know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump. Somy question to you is, if people are thugging for The LORD and getting crunk and have Christian swagger, what effect will that have on the many youth who listen to it? Many are not as mature as you are to know to stay away from that part of the music. Do you see the situation my friend?

    Last note - I am not on the outside looking in, I know about it. Actually I have some of the CD's, my friend this genre of christian music but I must say that I have started to question.


    Blessings

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  33. To tell you the truth I dont listen to MaryMary anymore. The CD's are in my house collecting dust. If I hear it I am not going to stick my fingers in my ears but I have chosen to give some gospel artists a break. I buy the odd CD every now and then.

    I agree with you that much of the Christian rap I have listend to is way more scripturally sound than much of the other stuff. They have some absolutely marvelous lyrics.

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  34. Paul said"I am not sure if Pastor Burnett has an issue with you responding here?"

    I have no problems with anything I've seen so far...so go right ahead and discuss away...

    As JP said it's good to have a convo without somebody saying 'you ain't saved" because you have a certain view...

    As I stated my approach to this subject is somewhat different than some others. I look to teach, persuade and redeem if I can. Sometimes drawing contrasts is the only way to do that when we look at hip-hop and what the music and industry are actually doing...so to all...

    Carry on!

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  35. Thanks Pastor!


    Yes, its nice not to hear how you are some kind of sinner just for questioning or having a different view.

    I meant to say my friend plays this genre of music (Christian)...

    I would like say something that I feel very strongly about, I know it has been said already. We MUST NOT elevate delivery of the gospel above the gospel. The simple preaching of the gospel is all we need.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkP4dyhyPBg

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  36. Paul,

    Since Pastor B has given us the green light, and I think there is a safe place to discuss this without it turning into something ugly, I will be happy to respond. Before I do though, I would just like to say a couple of things. One, if I respond to each point of your writing individually, please don’t take that personally. This is the best way for me to remember what a person is saying, thinking or speaking about a certain topic, and it also guards me from misquoting or misrepresenting them. Two, I apologize in advance for being long-winded. Pastor B and others know that it is almost impossible for me to stay under 3,000 words in any setting, and I would probably be disqualified from the debate just for not keeping within the rules and timeframes!!! (LOL!!!)…Anyways, what I’m saying is that there are a lot of instances where I cover what your next questions may be, or I’ve already answered a new question you’re asking, so please take some time to read my earlier posts and get a good idea of what I’m saying so that the conversation doesn’t just become redundant and overdone.

    You said: “First I would like to say that I dont believe that music should be used as a means to preach the gospel. “

    Ok. So that we don’t mince words misunderstand each other, let me be clear. Music is not used as a means to preach the gospel. The preaching of the gospel is done in the power of the Holy Spirit by words and faithfulness to the text of scripture. I think you might hear me saying that music is somehow supposed to replace the gospel. If that is what you think I’m saying, then that’s not what I’m saying. In my humble opinion, the preaching is the most important part of the service. Since the preaching is the most important part of the service, then what we preach is paramount and forms the basis for what we sing about and why we come together to worship, do you not agree? Ok, well if we come together to worship for the reason of Jesus Christ bearing the cross for our sins, being resurrected, granting us forgiveness, sanctifying our hearts and providing eternal life and enjoyment with Him (the gospel), then everything in the service should flow from, revolve around and point to that truth. Namely the preaching, the giving, the testimonies, the exhortations, the singing, the prophesying, etc.,. So no, music is not used as a means to preach the gospel, but it would really sadden me if you thought that music for Christians (followers of Christ) should not at the very minimum contain the basic elements of the gospel. Music is worship. Preaching is worship. That’s why we call it a worship service, because there is one object of worship when we come together. We don’t worship the preacher, the preacher worships, even in his preaching (just ask Pastor B). We don’t worship the choir, the choir worships in their singing. We don’t worship titles or positions or people, people worship in their gestures and expressions and in their hearts during the service. We worship the Lamb who was slain to take away the sins of the world---Jesus. Everything we do is in the name of the Son who made it all possible. What else are you going to church for? You have expressed that you don’t see in scripture where music is used as a means of preaching the gospel. Please remember that when looking at scripture, it’s extremely important to consider context. I’m only going to briefly use the two scriptures you cited in your response to me.

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  37. nYou said: “Ephesians 5:19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord,”

    Paul, don’t you find it amazingly interesting that the scripture doesn’t at first say SING to one another, but it says SPEAK to one another. Speak what? Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. The second part of the scripture says sing and make melody in your heart to the Lord. The second part of the scripture cannot be divorced from the first part of the scripture, and the whole scripture itself cannot be divorced from the context located in the whole chapter of Ephesians 5. Let’s take a short look:

    • In verse 1 he says they should be imitators of God---specifically Jesus Christ, because he is the express image of the person of the Father (Hebrews 1).
    • In verse 2 he reminds them of the gospel and the purpose for which Christ came, to offer Himself up as a sacrifice for sin.
    • In verses 3-7 he warns them of partaking in the evil and wicked activities of the world and of sin, and the consequences of such activities
    • In verse 8 he reminds them of their hearts being regenerated to walk in the light (regeneration, another aspect of the gospel)
    • In verses 9-14 he makes a contrast of those who walk in the light verses those who walk in darkness---namely that Christ has shined His light upon those who walk as such
    • Verses 15-18 offer more imperatives and contrasts (drunk with wine vs. filled with the Spirit, being unwise vs. understanding the will of the Lord.)

    Finally, in verse 19 he tells them to “speak” to one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. So, we speak a psalm, speak a hymn and speak a spiritual song. How do you do that? I would submit to you that the reason all three of these forms of expression could be spoken as well as sang was because they contained the same element---the gospel. And, based upon the backdrop of what Paul was talking to the church at Ephesus about anyway (which was the gospel), what else would they be speaking or singing a psalm, hymn or spiritual song about? You guessed it, the gospel of Jesus Christ, because that’s the only thing worth singing about in the grand scope of things. I won’t give a backdrop of Colossians, but the setting is very similar to that of Ephesians, where Paul writes to the church at Colosse about Christ’s resurrection, what the Christian should seek after, Christ’s current position (at the right hand of the Father), where our affections should lie and how we are to conduct ourselves with one another, all elements of the gospel. Notice then how in verse 16 he uses virtually the exact same language (psalms, hymns, spiritual songs), but this time he says “teaching and admonishing one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs…” What does it mean to teach or admonish someone in a psalm, hymn or spiritual song? Is Paul referring to a teaching psalm, a teaching hymn and a teaching spiritual song? If he is, what is to be taught through these expressions of worship and encouragement to one another besides the gospel that was previously spoken of? It’s evident that Paul has content in his mind, and what the early believers were to constantly do was to sing of Christ’s work, His blood, His power, His resurrection, His death, His ascension and the wondrous works of His majesty on high.

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  38. You said: “…people don’t need to be entertained into the kingdom”

    I’m confused by that statement. I don’t believe I’ve even remotely expressed anything that could be perceived or interpreted as saying that at all. I think you may have a picture in your mind of the pumping and priming that goes on during worship services by some “worship leaders”. I am totally against that. However, that might not be what you’re saying, so please forgive me if it’s not. You’ve got to be a little more explanatory and tell me what you mean so that we don’t talk past each other, because what you’re saying suggests that the songs sang from the choir stand or the pulpit are directed toward the people. But we don’t sing to people anyway, we sing praises to the Lord. So, why would anyone think that people need to be entertained? I’m really dazed and confused by that, so please let me know what you might mean.


    You said: “We know that Psalms are not full of the gospel message but Paul is exhorting the church to sing them.”

    As for the gospel not being in the book of Psalms, time would fail show you all of the places where it can be found. In fact, it would be much easier and less time-consuming to find all of the places in Psalms where the gospel is NOT mentioned. I will give you an abbreviated list, and keep in mind that the elements of the gospel contain repentance, forgiveness of sins, Christ’s righteousness (as an antithesis to our own righteousness), salvation, justification, sanctification, regeneration, restoration, reconciliation, expiation, propitiation, the name of Christ, etc.,. I’m not saying that everyone will understand fully every aspect of the gospel in their lifetime, but this is why we have a lifetime to meditate, walk in and live by it. If there’s any doubt that the Lord that David spoke of in the Psalms was Christ, consider the apostle
    Peter’s sermon in Acts 2:

    “For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved: Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance. Men [and] brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, Until I make thy foes thy footstool. Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.” (Acts 2:25-36)
    Please take a close look and see where David speaks of the gospel and Christ in these Psalsms:
    Psalm 2, Psalm 7, Psalm 8, Psalm 9, Psalm 11, Psalm 14, Psalm 16, Psalm 22-29, Psalm 62, Psalm 63

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  39. You said: “You say you cannot lump all together but what you cannot do is allow a lump of leaven in, for you know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump. Somy question to you is, if people are thugging for The LORD and getting crunk and have Christian swagger, what effect will that have on the many youth who listen to it? Many are not as mature as you are to know to stay away from that part of the music. Do you see the situation my friend? “

    Paul, I understand what you mean, and I do share your concern. My only issue is that when we pick out a specific element or way of culture as the cause of someone sinning or moving away from Christ, then we really show a misunderstanding of the pervasiveness of sin. Yes, teach the children to stay away from acting wildly and unseemly and having “swagger” as you say. But why don’t we teach them the scriptures so that the word will be hid deeply into their hearts (Psalm 119) and they will not commit the sin because of the powerful God they serve and the glorious Christ they enjoy. Let’s be very clear. We do need to warn each other concerning the wickedness and subtle deviance and sinful activity of the culture. But none of that is the reason why men fall. Men fall because of sin in their hearts. The flesh constantly wars against the spirit (Romans) so that they cannot do what is convenient. Instead of focusing so much on what is going on in the culture and how jacked up it is (which we know it is), why don’t we hold up and lift up something that is much more beautiful, awesome and praiseworthy? Christ is the only One that accomplishes that purpose. That’s why everything we do should be about Him. Listen, kids who don’t listen to hip hop and never would consider themselves thugs, grow up in the church and listen to all the “approved” songs still fall because of what’s in their hearts and minds. This is where the battle is. This is why Jesus’ commandment rings so true of loving the Lord thy God with “all thy heart, all thy soul, all thy mind and all thy strength…”

    Thanks brothers for allowing me the time to write. I will probably not respond a whole lot after this, but I will eagerly await your responses.

    Sola Scriptura,

    Craig

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  40. @ Anonymous,

    Sorry for the delay on answering your question. I was kind of in a zone with the other brothers, but I didn't forget about it. No, I don't attend Epiphany but I am fully aware of their wonderful ministry and I know several individuals who attend. My family and I have been trying to get a trip up there for the longest, but my busy deployment schedule just has not afforded us the time. We'll probably stay with friends when we go and just make a weekend out of it. Why do you ask? Do you attend the church or live in Philly?

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  41. I am going to get to the rest of your comments but lets deal with the Apostle Paul saying "speak" to one another is Palms, Hyms...

    We know that the Apostle Paul is not mad and the scriptures dont contradict itself so we must then get into the definitions.

    You believe the telling word is speak but I believe what you are addresing is with gospel rap is the fact that gospel rap speaks and teaches, etc? its not that gospel rap raps. Correct me if I am wrong.

    I watched a story about the USC football team and the song "Lean on me" is an anthem for them. When they sing the song, they are not just trying to make melody, they are sending a message of unity. The song is not singing unity, it is speaking, admonishing, exhorting and teaching that we must have unity in order to accomplish our goals.

    Psalm: sacred song or poem of praise: a sacred song or poem of praise, especially one in the Book of Psalms in the Bible.

    Hymn:Etymology: Middle English ymne, from Old English ymen, from Latin hymnus song of praise, from Greek hymnos
    Date: before 12th century
    1 a : a song of praise to God b : a metrical composition adapted for singing in a religious service.

    I know for myself I have used the saying "that song spoke to my heart".

    The Apostle Paul then goes onto say "Singing AND Making melody in your heart..., singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord."

    This was my thinking on that, The Apostle Paul is saying that the songs that you sing shouldnt be just from your mouth but from your heart. The two should be in agreement. Also you should sing with a greatful attitude and this song should always be in your heart even if not singing aloud.

    This is what Jesus said:

    Matthew 15:8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.

    http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/gills-exposition-of-the-bible/ephesians-5-19.html

    http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/peoples-new-testament/ephesians/5.html

    TO BE CONTINUED! ha ha.

    Thanks for the discussion ready4change.

    Blessings

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  42. Paul,

    Aiight now...not just from the mouth BUT from the heart...and I fully agree.

    The identification of the believer is with that of Christ. When i have truly been convicted of my sin, I first own it and then I turn away from it...I don't want to look like or be caught in and with the things I used to do previously...

    The problem with hip-hop as perpetuated by even gospel rappers is that they are constantly using a medium that is bringing back the association with the world. The lyrics change, but the same attitude lives. There must be a point where we leave some things behind and deculturalize ourselves from the culture of sin.

    To me that's the part that must be born in the heart of men and women. To try to subvert the culture with cultural means is troublesome at best.

    i guess my perspective on this is the way it is because I was right in the midst of the birth of much of this culture...I was Kurtis Blow, Parliment Funkadelic, The Sugar Hill Gang etc, etc, etc...Loved 'em all and when I got saved, I didn't just give them up. i tried to sanitize them and what I had heard, but it was like 2 left shoes...just doesn't quite fit right.

    I have to come out and god gave me a new song and a new way to sing that song of deliverance...That's why I can't understand the problem to some extent...what is the reluctance to give up something that is alive and has such a fast association with darkness?

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  43. BTW, the best and most effective message that I ever preached to my friends who enjoyed all this stuff with me, was the preaching of them seeing me not engaging in that culture any more...they were more enlightened by that than by me standing around looking like them, talking the same but making Jesus the center of my conversation...

    A identifiably changed life is the best message that can be delivered...4-real!

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  44. I'm a little nervous adding a comment to this particular discussion. I don't have as much bible knowledge as the others who have commented. But here goes...

    First I just want to say that I really enjoyed reading this post! I haven't been following this blog for too long but from what I've read, there is some solid information on here and I am learning a great deal. Thank you Pastor for the teaching.

    And now I will comment on what's been said regarding christian hip hop.I respect all the points of views that have been given. I think one of issues here is that Hip Hop is being viewed as a culture that can't be void of sin. It's kind of a tricky thing to judge. Do we assume that a christian hip hop artist must be attached to the world because they wear baggy pants and wear doo rags? Or because they use the word "Hip hop" as a modifier to classify their music? Or do we assume that a person who is within the hip hop culture has made a heart felt allegience to Jesus just because they call themselves christians? I've heard arguments from both sides and it seems, no matter what premise we come with, that we ALL have our biases. And I don't think this is a bad thing. The question is, to what degree are our biases getting in the way of us understanding God's stance regarding this touchy subject. We all would agree that that is what trully matters. And I applaud your effort in searching the scriptures for the answers.

    I personally don't see the problem with christian hip hop. Yet after reading the series pastor has posted, I realize that my biases have definitely gotten in the way and I never fully examined my stance. I still feel the same way, and I don't even listen to it. I've observed hip hop around the globe and I've found that the hip hop you experience here in the states is certainly different from what you'd experience in Scotland and Asia. What if God feels one way about it in America but a whole different way about it in eastern countries where people (christians) are culturally in a whole different arena in terms of how they relate with him?

    I don't mean to add a comment that is totally off topic with what has been stated so far. I guess I would side more with ready4change on this topic. I know more hip hop artists who don't even where baggy clothes or doo rags who don't even associate with the darkness that we've seen in the culture. And it is apparent from their music that they are reciting from sanctified hearts. I can't give any hard evidence on this (other than maybe taking you to a concert or something). And I am open to the possibility that my biases could be clouding my judgements of what the Holy Spirit is saying about these guys. But you would see upon meeting them, based on there attitudes, that they do not associate with the world. Don't get me wrong I've also witnessed artists who were clearly unchanged.

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  45. I'm a little nervous adding a comment to this particular discussion. I don't have as much bible knowledge as the others who have commented. But here goes...

    First I just want to say that I really enjoyed reading this post! I haven't been following this blog for too long but from what I've read, there is some solid information on here and I am learning a great deal. Thank you Pastor for the teaching.

    And now I will comment on what's been said regarding christian hip hop.I respect all the points of views that have been given. I think one of issues here is that Hip Hop is being viewed as a culture that can't be void of sin. It's kind of a tricky thing to judge. Do we assume that a christian hip hop artist must be attached to the world because they wear baggy pants and wear doo rags? Or because they use the word "Hip hop" as a modifier to classify their music? Or do we assume that a person who is within the hip hop culture has made a heart felt allegience to Jesus just because they call themselves christians? I've heard arguments from both sides and it seems, no matter what premise we come with, that we ALL have our biases. And I don't think this is a bad thing. The question is, to what degree are our biases getting in the way of us understanding God's stance regarding this touchy subject. We all would agree that that is what trully matters. And I applaud your effort in searching the scriptures for the answers.

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  46. I personally don't see the problem with christian hip hop. Yet after reading the series pastor has posted, I realize that my biases have definitely gotten in the way and I never fully examined my stance. I still feel the same way, and I don't even listen to it. I've observed hip hop around the globe and I've found that the hip hop you experience here in the states is certainly different from what you'd experience in Scotland and Asia. What if God feels one way about it in America but a whole different way about it in eastern countries where people (christians) are culturally in a whole different arena in terms of how they relate with him?

    I don't mean to add a comment that is totally off topic with what has been stated so far. I guess I would side more with ready4change on this topic. I know more hip hop artists who don't even where baggy clothes or doo rags who don't even associate with the darkness that we've seen in the culture. And it is apparent from their music that they are reciting from sanctified hearts. I can't give any hard evidence on this (other than maybe taking you to a concert or something). And I am open to the possibility that my biases could be clouding my judgements of what the Holy Spirit is saying about these guys. But you would see upon meeting them, based on there attitudes, that they do not associate with the world. Don't get me wrong I've also witnessed artists who were clearly unchanged.

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  47. My Dear Friend Jesusfollower,

    I remember when I was young believer, and I still justifying drinking, by purposely misquoting
    (2) passages of scripture the marriage feast of the gospel of John and Paul's instructions to his young timid pastor Timothy both concerning wine. I could tell the Lord was taking this away from me, but I was resisting, drinking while going out to dinner and at family functions. Well low and behold, I remember attending a family function and I was outside w/some other brethren, calling myself witnessing, while enjoying a cold frosty heineken.

    Oh I was witnessing strongly, while taking an enjoyable and occasional sip, then suddenly and God deals w/alot of suddenlys I looked down at my hand, and said what am I doing. I guess my point is sometimes somethings God takes away from us immediately, but there are somethings, we are going to have to give him "willingly" and "wantingly." We have to see things from his perspective and not our own. Hope I was able to give some perspective, for such as it is. Your friend...Tony

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  48. Great article. What I've noticed is that exposing issues in the body of Christ and other areas suchas gospel and secular music is that it can quickly turn into a carnal condemnation thing. I find suggestions for scripturally-based solutions and suggestions for addressing, correcting, and restoring the offending person hardly ever. Just alot of discussion about what appears wrong. I believe there is a very very fine line between discernment, judgement, gossip, and slander. Your article brings out key scripture that cover how things should be handled.

    2 Peter 2:11
    "yet even angels, although they are stronger and more powerful, do not bring slanderous accusations against such beings in the presence of the Lord."

    Jude 1:9
    "But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, "The Lord rebuke you!"

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