R.C. Sproul’s Impact on Lyrical Theology in Christian Rap
On December 14th, 2017, Robert Charles “R.C.” Sproul departed this world at the age of 78. Sproul is one of the greatest proponents of Reformed theology in the 20th century. R.C. was characterized by his charismatic speaking presence, infectious personality, commitment to the authority of scripture and sound theology, and a unique ability to make deep truths simple without making simplistic. Sproul was committed to the inerrancy of scripture, the five Solas (especially salvation by faith alone), expository preaching, and the doctrines of grace. With over 60 books including The Holiness of God, Chosen By God, and Renewing Your Mind, you may be wondering what this theologian has to do with Christian hip-hop.
The history of Sproul’s impacts in the branch of Christian hip-hop known as lyrical theology can be found in numerous ways. Here are just a few:
Sproul’s books brought Reformed theology to a new generation of people. In particular, Sproul brought doctrines such as the holiness and sovereignty of God to the forefront of modern Christianity. Many of our favorite and most influential pastors introduced us to doctrines they first heard expounded upon by R.C. Sproul. Shai Linne recounted his first encounter with Sproul saying, “I remember where I was when I first read The Holiness of God. Literally changed my life. So grateful for his ministry.”
Just doing a Twitter search for R.C. Sproul will reveal that Shai isn’t the only person whose life was changed by Sproul’s writing. In fact, I can say that I never realized how practical God’s holiness could be until I read Sproul recounting His first personal experience of it himself.
Sproul championed a ministry that would reach millions. Sproul was the founder of Ligonier Ministries, an organization that has released thousands of resources from books to sermons to classes and much more. Among Ligonier’s most popular resources is the Renewing Your Mind daily podcast and Refnet—a 24/7 internet radio station with Reformed teaching, preaching, and singing. It is doubtless that Ligonier resources can be found on the shelves of your favorite lyrical theology rappers as they sought to grasp and rap about the magnificent truths of our great God as found in scripture.
R.C. Sproul. Man…His teaching had such an impact on me, especially as a new believer. I remember where I was when I first read The Holiness of God. Literally changed my life. So grateful for his ministry. https://t.co/sj0ffhPs6U
— Shai Linne (@ShaiLinne) December 14, 2017
Sproul’s teaching and preaching impacts have been heard in many Christian hip-hop albums. If you listen to albums from what many consider the “Golden Era” of Christian Hip-Hop, you will hear a definitive mark of lyrical theology—preaching at the beginning or end of a song. Whether it is Sproul himself, Paul Washer, John Piper, Voddie Baucham, or another well-known preacher, you’ll be hard-pressed to find one of those men who will say that R.C. Sproul and his teachings didn’t impact their ministries. Sproul was committed to making God’s truth understandable and reproducible so the masses could hear of the glorious riches of God’s truth.
R.C. Sproul is a mere man at best, and that is precisely the type of man that God uses for His kingdom and His glory. If you’ve been impacted by lyrical theology, perhaps it was because Shai told you that he was, “chosen by God just to put a little Sproul in this” or because Through Hymn said that we, “need a modern reformation, so peer in this table talk” in “Take Up And Read.” Perhaps you found Sproul through research on the Reformed theology you heard from Flame, Cross Movement, Christcentric, Timothy Brindle, Believin Stephen, Omri, Marrio Esco, Beautiful Eulogy, Evangel, Zae Da Blacksmith, Benjamin The Esquire, and many others. If so, take some time to thank God for His work in and through R.C. Sproul. Then, as Sproul would want you to do, go study the Word and worship our holy God. If you are an artist who does lyrical theology, pay homage to Sproul by continuing to make Christ-exalting Christian hip-hop.