Reformed rap

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Calvinist hip-hop? Fo' rizzle:

Bethlehem Baptist pastor John Piper took the podium at a Saturday evening service in downtown Minneapolis last fall and introduced Curtis "Voice" Allen, a hip-hop artist. After warning the largely white congregation that his music would "thump" a bit more than typical Bethlehem fare, Allen launched into a lyrical testimony about the unstoppable power of God's irresistible grace: "I been exposed to bright lights, the doctrines of grace, I'm elected, imputed perfected, becuz of the power of God resurrected and his gift of faith, that when we see his face we're not rejected."...

Even the harshest online attackers had no ill words for the theology of his rap, a departure from the shallowness that has characterized much of Christian hip-hop since its commercial inception in the mid-1990s. Allen is part of a small but growing cadre of artists who lace their stylized rhymes with orthodox Calvinism.

The end of the article in World Magazine tells of another Reformed rapper, Dishon Knox, now a student at Covenant Theological Seminary:

Knox, aka Born2Di, believes hip-hop can become a force for doctrinal correction. "The black church suffers a lot from theological malnutrition, for lack of better words," he said. "That's what drives me to go to seminary."

Knox is not shy with his musical styling on campus, recently performing during a chapel service. The song "True to Reformed Faith" chronicles his view of his own Presbyterian denomination: "Faithful to Holy Scriptures, true to Reformed faith. Presbyterian Church in America, grow in grace. Obedient to the 'Great Commission,' that's the mission. History ain't perfect, but the goal is gradual submission."

The blog Exhibiting the Value of Knowing God has links to video and audio of some of the Reformed hip-hop songs mentioned in the article, including the history of the PCA rap, which traces the development of Reformed doctrine and polity beginning with the 95 Theses and Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion, the Puritans and the Westminster Assembly, Jonathan Edwards, the Great Awakening, the New Side/Old Side controversy, Francis Schaeffer, and the "joining and receiving" of the PCA and the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod in 1982. (I think it would be cool if, for his next historical rap, he sampled Prof. David Calhoun saying the name "Kirkegaard.")

Dishon Knox's desire to make hip-hop a "force for doctrinal correction" is not a vain hope. It seems to me that the structure of rap music would enable it to carry more complex information than, say, a praise chorus. Rap lends itself to long sentences and limited repetition, and the use of rhythm and rhyme would be an aid to memorization.

(That link to Prof. Calhoun's name goes to his lectures on Reformation and Modern Church History. You can also listen to all of his lectures on Ancient and Medieval Church History, along with 20 other Covenant Seminary courses in Bible, theology, ethics, apologetics, homiletics, missions, and ministry. I took Calhoun's video courses on church history many years ago, and I highly recommend them.)

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ScottyB said:

Thanks for the link Bro-your post inspired me to go and listen to some more of Prof.Calhoun-I already had his stuff but I had listened to it recently.

BTW-cool blog-this is like a virtual piece of Tulsa

Psalm 84

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on February 2, 2007 11:01 PM.

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