Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Christian Hiphop Controversy: It looks like the world.

I was recently watching a Hip-hop video by a group of Christians and I was shocked to read a comment that condemned these artists because of something so superficial as the lighting and scenery. I responded to her and tried to explain that the message is what's really important but she wouldn't budge. So we went back and forth for a a little but I wanted to post he last thing she said and my final response to it. Not only because I think it was fairly well written but becuase this seems to be the misguided opinion of a lot of young well meaning Christians

The young lady wrote:  

“I've just stated about the lights and the effects of it..I've explained about the history of music genres. Clearly, you choose to read what you want & comment on what you want.

For you to say that this is not idol worship. You're spiritually blind. This video uses the same concept as a secular music video (As stated if you watch the video muted, you'll see what I'm talking about).

This is appealing the the flesh the music is as well.

For you to say "Worshiping an Idol and preforming current music are not the same."
You clearly don't see & I URGE you to ask the Holy Spirit to open your eyes.

There is nothing new under the sun. The music in todays genre speak about self, the video concepts are all about self (club scenes , surrounded by women, dancing, being on stages people worshipping them). They throw up baphomet signs, etc This video is no different. The may appear to be "worshipping God" but THEY ARE NOT.

2 Cor. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.

I recommend that you break away from these things & ask the Holy spirit for help. I recommend that you go back & do research on how satanic rituals are being implemented in ALL GENRES (Christ is not in this).

I'll tell you this.... Disregard everything I said (since you don't believe me).
Ask the Lord for guidance & do the research yourself.
     
I'll be praying for you.

Here is my response:

Thank you for your offer for prayer. I too will pray for you.

Idol worship is when the object of worship in a person's heart is other than God. That is not the case here. Or at the very least is hasn’t been shown to be the case here. Dancing and having an elevated stage does nothing to show you the hearts of the people in this video.

You can call me spiritually blind but I think you’ve shown yourself to be spiritually immature. In part you’re approach to the bible is superficial. This kind of naive understanding of the bible and lack of discernment can in fact be dangerous and hinder the spreading of the Gospel.

Scenery, lighting, and genera (ascetics) of something are superficial. The message (substance) is what’s important. You quote 2 Corinthians 11:14 to illustrate you point but have you read the entire chapter for the context?

2 Corinthians 11:3-4 says:

3But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.

4For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough.
 These verses puts verse 14 into context. The people Paul was warning the church in Corinth about are people with false Gospels. The message is what important not the aesthetics.

So verse 13 goes on to say:

13For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.

What men? Men who practice a certain type of art normally associated with the culture of the day? When you think about it makes perfect sense. If the false apostles came with a jarringly different ascetic what would be the appeal? The bible says these false apostles disguise themselves as apostles of Christ. Isn’t a disguise just a change of appearance? Is keeping the same message the message but changing the appearance the disguise?

No, as verse 5 points out it is men who have a different gospel. You see the deception was these men walked talked and perhaps sang like the Christians of the day but had a different gospel message. That’s the danger, that’s the deception.

The angel of light is the person who imitates the traditional style (ascetics) but changes the truth of the gospel. Keeps the current cultural ascetics (your hymns for example) but changes the message. This is how cults like Church of Mormon and The Jehovah Witness work. That is the exact opposite of what is happening in this video.

As Ravi Zacharias said on this topic “taste will change from generation to generation” and goes on to say “In form we may differ but never differ in substance”

Symbols are only symbols. We give them meaning. For example the Egyptians practiced circumcision before the Hebrews but God took that pagan symbol and made it his own turning it into a symbol of the covenant between him and the Jews.

Don't even get me started on the pagan roots of Christmas.

The cross had a completely different meaning prior to Christ but the Christians of the Middle Ages made it a symbol for themselves to represent Christ’s sacrifice for humanity.

When John wrote his gospel in chapter 1 verse 1 he took the concept of the Logos (the word) he took that from the Stoics, philosophers who thought of the logos as an active rational and spiritual principle that permeated all reality. God through John took that pagan concept and applied to Christ as the Logos that was from the beginning.



It’s not enough to say that a symbol or practice had pagan origins because as I’ve shown God has used those symbols and injected them with new meaning.  The early church wasn’t in some cultural vacuum. It never compromised but it spoke the culture of the time in other words it was in the world though it was not of it.
This is where discernment comes into play. You’ve got to know how to discern between a person going against a sociocultural, regional, or generational preference and person contradicting the universal uncompromising truth of the Gospel.

One has a moral realm while the other does not.

In 1 Corinthian 9 19 -22

19 Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

You see when Paul was dealing with a Jewish culture he became like a Jew to relate to their culture and when he was speaking to gentiles he became like a gentiles to relate to that culture. Paul understood his audience.  Paul says he did this so that some may be saved. Is the lost within the Hip-hop not worth saving?

So his methods changed depending on the culture he was dealing with but as stated in verse 21 he remained under the law of Christ. He didn’t change his moral behavior or message. That’s why Paul says “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” in verse 16.  IT is the message that’s important.

So the question is the message in this correct? I think it is. But you say “but if you mute the video…” So what? I’ve already said it is the message that gives it its moral worth. If you see a man talking to a crowd but can’t hear what he is saying there is no good or bad about that scene in and of itself. But if you hear that man proclaiming the gospel then you know he is doing the Lords work but if that same man in that same scene is saying a different gospel then he is doing evil. The scene has no moral value.  Now watch Kanye West’s Jesus Walks video muted. By all appearances it looks Christian. It has all the Christian imagery but if you listen to the message it is less than Christian.

I should note that there are exceptions. Say there was an explicit sexual nature or explicit violent nature to the scene then those behaviors would be wrong but that isn’t the case here. Dancing and being on a stage has no moral value in and of itself.

One of the problems with the Pharisees is they put too much value in the traditions of men. They had their tastes and their way of doing things
Paul warns in Colossians 2:16 -18

16Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. 17These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. 18Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions,d puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind,
13For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.

You see it is the substance that belongs to Christ. Paul is concerned about the substance not the peripheral details like food and types of festivals. These are just morally natural cultural tastes. It is the substance that matters: the truth of the gospel and the heart of men who partake in these activities.

Ask yourself, “Am I the puffed up person who is insisting on asceticism that Paul warns about?”

You are right nothing is new under the sun. Christian music has always be controversial.
  • They said this about Christian contemporary music; it was considered devils music if a guitar was on stage! Yet today it has become the norm!
  •  Since the piano was originally used in bars, some churches had difficulty with it and chose to be non-instrumental. The Piano is a staple of Church worship.
  • In the 200s A.D.: Instrumental music was almost universally shunned because of its association with debauchery and immorality. Lyre playing, for example, was associated with prostitution. Yet today many if not most churches use instruments!
  • In the 1200s A.D. musicians began to discover the idea of harmony. The choir suddenly changed from the lone chant to two-, three-, or even four-part music. This did not please everyone. One critic commented how harmony sullies worship by introducing a lewdness into church. Yet today can you find a Church that doesn’t sing in harmony?
  • Martin Luther’s “A Mighty Fortress" was controversial because he set that poem to a tune from a saloon! Yet today it has become classic.
  • Not to mention the controversies surrounding of singing hymns in another language like English.

Paul’s concern came down to this in Colossians 3:16-17

“16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
Read closely the emphasis here. Paul, like Christ is concerned with the heart or the intention of the thing. There is nothing about ascetics here. I think this video and others that come from these Christian Hip-hop artists do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus while teaching wisdom. That’s the criteria, not conforming to you tastes or the sociocultural generational preference i.e. the Traditions of men. If that was the case we’d be singing in Aramaic, Hebrew or Greek to the tunes of the first century church.

Be careful not to be like the Pharisees and take the traditions of men over and above effectively reaching out the lost in our current culture. Be like Paul become all things to all men so that you may save a few. The outward look of a thing, though strange is not what’s important but the substance and the heart.

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