For the last 20 years I have voiced concerns about the cultural influence of the commercialized Christian music industry, especially gatekeepers who exploit sincere artists. One of the newest in a long line of sub-genres is Reformed Rap. I recently made a serious error by attempting to contribute an opinion to a Reformed Rap discussion in a panel discussion comment. That one comment has generated heat, not light, and way more hurt than healing. I’m the guy responsible for this darkness and pain.
Some have asked me, with genuine interest, “What were you thinking, and actually saying?” Well, explaining myself and contributing to the cultural debate is not my primary concern right now. My comments on that panel raise a legitimate question about my qualification to even address the issue of Christian music with Christian people. My primary concern right now is to right several immediate wrongs, and to do it in a way that pleases and honors the Lord of this situation, Jesus Christ.
For Reformed Rappers, and those who have benefited from their work, what I said sounded like direct, deliberate disdain for what they believe and what they are doing. The intentions of my heart are immaterial to what was heard and what damage was done. What was heard sounded like an arrogant denunciation of sincere Christian men with noble hearts and motives, because I was not thoughtful enough to consider the effect of what I said. I was wrong.
This kind of thoughtlessness is not obedience to Christ’s command to active love in John 13:34. I did not season my speech with grace as commanded in Col. 4:6 in response to the question put before me. This is disobedience. Though in my mind I was not directing any criticism to the zealous, sincere, Christian Rappers who are doing the reforming, I was not clear and precise with my communication. As a result, these sins of disobedience have unsettled the body of Christ, and confused the important issues surrounding a strategic conversation that demands the utmost righteousness and precision. But most of all, the sin in my communication deeply hurt brothers who have my respect. A number of public responses to my comments have been civil and gentlemanly, for which I am thankful, but what is far more important to the Heavenly tribunal is brotherly confession on my part, and brotherly forgiveness from those who were wronged. This is my primary, respectful request to all of you. If you are willing and able, please forgive me.
A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city, and contentions are like the bars of a citadel. Restoring trust with an offended brother is hard work. But I determined to do what is right to achieve it.
Brothers, I will fight this fight not just out of duty, but because I love you as allies who are important to Christ. You are also important to the next big conflict of our generation. You who stand as architects of a developing theological music genre need to know me as an ally. I am not an antagonist.
At the right time I will tell you those things about your work to which I have never objected, and those things I believe are strategic triumphs in the culture wars. Your deliberate recovery of sound soteriology is an historic victory. Your modeling of mature and responsible manhood in your lives and words is heroic. Your strategic decision to work with local churches and church government shows uncommon wisdom. All this is heroism, not the fruit of disobedient cowardice.
Another thing. Your humility validates your testimony with a kind of power that is also uncommon on today’s Christian landscape. If we have the chance to walk together in any way, it will be a pleasure to watch you model the sanctification, running, boxing and preaching we are all learning from Saul of Tarsus. And may we all continue to learn the ways of holy discourse from the character and person of our merciful Savior.