OPEN LETTER: Christian Emcees are Disobedient Cowards?

Joel Beeke

In your opening remark, you stated, “I agree with everything that has been said.”

Do you agree that thousands of people whom you never met and never talked to are disobedient cowards?

I would like to know what kind of “upbringing” your children have and how you think embracing doctrinally dense hip-hop would negatively impact them. Also, you mentioned that you would use the arguments that you had heard thus far with your kids if they show interest in hip-hop. This is disappointing; with all due respect, there were no sound biblical arguments. If they do exist, they were not brought up during this discussion, at all. If they exist, I suggest you use those instead with your children to help them think well.

I would like to praise you for recognizing that arrogance and indifference had permeated the panel. Thank you for encouraging your panel-mates to consider their tone and approach with people. Thank you for encouraging them to use compassion when approaching people from a culture none of you “relate to at all”.

Breaking Bad Slowly

Throughout the discussion, it seemed to be implied that making or listening to hip-hop was a sin. So much so, that I actually thought I heard you say the word sin. Thankfully, you (or your social media manager) confirmed via FaceBook that the word ‘sin’ was in fact not used. Instead, you said you would “take someone in and try to break this in slowly”. I still have reservations about the language that was used throughout the panel. First of all, what are we trying to break someone of? We’re not talking about living in an unrepentant rebellious state, living with someone you’re not married to, or dealing drugs to children—we’re talking about a Christian who is creating doctrinally dense hip-hop songs (or listening to them). Why would you disciple someone out of that? What exactly is it that you would disciple them into—a different style of music? Is there a list of music and art forms that are acceptable both for your Children and for those whom you are discipling?

Jason Dohm

Perhaps in addition to being the only panelist who has ever had TobyMac on your iPod, you may also be the only panelist who has ever had an iPod—furthermore, the only panelist who listens to “popular music”.

I am troubled with your momentary preoccupation on TobyMac. Now say what you want about his music (preference), but as long as he isn’t propagating a heretical gospel, I do not see the point of bringing him up or continually pointing out his wrinkles. Ephesians 4:29 comes to mind:

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

Time To Throw In The Rap Towel

It appears as if you are saying that TobyMac should no longer “rap” because he is 50 and has wrinkles. Is this a universal law, or your own preference? By the way, TobyMac just turned 49 last month so that makes him one year older than Dr. Dre and KRS One. Not to be too technical, but since you hinged your entire argument around Toby’s need to stop, it’s important to point out that… well… He did… years ago in fact. He has made an incredible transition as well. He has mastered what everyone in the entertainment industry seeks, known as longevity. Those of us inside this culture knew of his transition, and this is just further proof that people who knew the least about a subject were the ones talking.

Your perceived disgust with TobyMac seems misplaced. While I do not have a deep personal friendship with TobyMac, several people I am close to, do. The non-musical attacks I have heard—such as your claim that he is immature or isn’t pulling anyone into manhood—never match the picture that is painted by people who actually know him. In fact, it has been the opposite. I see a mature Christian man who is an excellent husband, father, leader, and boss-man. However, I can’t confirm or deny that—and neither can you—certainly not based on age, skin condition, or attire.

Case Clothed

I think it’s important to mention that a backward hat is not a sign of immaturity. Likewise, a suit is not a sign of maturity. There are men who wear suits that are passive and irresponsible. There are men who wear suits that waste money on vices and beat their wives. There are men who wear baseball caps—even backwards—who are mature responsible men. Men that are leading and discipling… And no, I’m not just talking about a Major League catcher.

In other words, we’ve moved from musical preference to wardrobe preference. Once again a preference has been turned into a doctrine—the doctrine of Business Casual. This doctrine states that a collared shirt and slacks are right, holy and good—while a T-Shirt, Basketball Shorts, and a Baseball cap are a sign of immaturity—around here we simply call that laundry day.

50’s Spent

You asked if 50-year-old men in the Church are supposed to extend a hand down to the younger men of the Church to pull them up into Christian manhood. To that, I would say, yes please and amen! I would also say that wearing a hat—forward or backward—is the least of our worries. We’re in the middle of a manhood crisis, and we need men to lead the next generation in such a way that the generation after will be impacted and follow suit. This is going to take hearts and minds turned towards Jesus, not towards the top of a head.

If you are correct when you say ‘wearing a hat backward and rapping is not pulling younger men into manhood—I simply ask you to please offer me more than your preference or experience as evidence—namely something from God’s word.

Joe Morecraft

You started off speaking for the entire panel by saying that no one was saying there is only one kind of music that can worship God and can be sung in Church, for example, Country or Classical. To me, this is both a relief and confusing. By the way, since you brought it up—are either Country or Classical acceptable?

It’s a relief because I would agree that there is not a certain kind of music from a certain era or people group that is acceptable. It’s confusing because this is exactly what has been implied the whole discussion—minus one helpful detail—the kind of music that is acceptable?

This entire discussion has been around why hip-hop is not the—or one of the—acceptable form(s), but not once has anyone on the panel mentioned what is the acceptable form. Sometimes it’s easier to understand what something is, by first understanding what something is not—but in this case, it has become more difficult. Honestly, it sounds like everything has been disqualified.

The closest anyone got to explaining what is acceptable is when you mention that your Church has a ‘great’ Hymnal. Which one? But even your great Hymnal contains inappropriate songs by your own standards—which I will list below. By the way, how did those unacceptable songs get past the men who put together such a great Hymnal?

‘Tis The Syncretism

I appreciate when you summarized everyone’s position, including your own, as “some forms of music cannot be separated from the culture out of which they come”.

While still not a biblical case, it is a tangible thought, and up until this point, I don’t think I had understood what this was all really about. Perhaps I was distracted by being called a coward or perhaps I couldn’t stop thinking about Toby Mac’s skin moisturizing problems. The good news is that I think I now know what this is all about.

With your summary, I was able to finally figure out that this entire discussion has been about syncretism. Meaning when two or more originally different ideas or cultures merge into one new idea or culture. For example, a Muslim becomes a regenerated Christ follower. He was born a sinner on his way to Hell (not because he was a Muslim, but because he entered this Earth the same way all of us did from all cultures), and the Creator of the universe stepped in and changed his heart to believe in what God’s only Son had accomplished. This gentleman wishes to keep many of his Islamic practices and traditions. This former Muslim continues to bow down five times a day facing Mecca on a prayer rug but claims to be praying to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the name of Jesus Christ.

Finally able to wrap my head around this, I understand that you are worried that hip-hop and Christianity will create a “third culture”, and that this third culture in your opinion is both a threat to biblical Christianity and the opposite of what God says is acceptable in His Word. I disagree, but I am at least able to understand where you are coming from now.

Going back to our make-believe newly converted brother with an Islamic background, we would definitely want to encourage him to avoid rituals and practices of a religious system that stands in opposition to the God of the Bible. However, there would be no reason to tell him to stop being his culture. I couldn’t see telling him that he is no longer allowed to eat middle-eastern cuisine, and would need to start eating (bad) Pizza and Hamburgers. Or that he was no longer allowed to speak his native tongue because he needed to learn English so that he could sing the acceptable songs from your great Hymnal. If this sounds ridiculous, it’s because it is. Preferences and palette were not the issues with his pillar-driven prayer time, but it certainly was with cuisine and language.

This also helped me to better understand why you decided to bring up a young person wearing an earring. At first, I was hearing more of the backward hat talk, but now I understand that you associate an earring with a culture that is contrary to biblical Christianity and worry about what it could do to Christianity. To me, this could easily be fixed by spending time with indigenous Christian leaders from all over the world. It’s fine if you don’t want to wear an earring and do not want your children to. That is a preference, not a doctrine. Sin is the problem, not a shiny object dangling from one man’s ear.


Written by Timothy J. Trudeau

Timothy J. Trudeau began his professional journey in the music business in 1997. Since then, he’s produced for GRAMMY-awarded artists, designed Stellar-nominated artwork, ran a label with Dove-nominated artists, and started a distribution company with clients who’ve won all three.

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