Skip to content ↓

Going Deeper into Christian Rap

Does God Listen to RapAs a cofounder of Cruciform Press, I like to provide occasional updates on news and tell you about our most recent titles. Our November release, Does God Listen to Rap? Christians and the World’s Most Controversial Music, seems to have come at a good time. As many of you know, a panel at a conference of the National Center for Family-Integrated Churches was recently asked to share their thoughts on Christian rap. They were highly disapproving, igniting an Internet firestorm of sorts.

What’s interesting is that Curtis Allen wrote this book in part to respond to a similar frenzy. A rapper before he became a Christian, Curt continued to use his gifts for the church after his conversion. As Reformed rap started to gain a foothold several years ago, some well-known preachers began to endorse it. In the Foreword, Owen Strachan even recounts a public rap battle between Curt and him that didn’t end too well for Owen. But after becoming the first rapper to perform during a worship service at John Piper’s church, Bethlehem Baptist, Curt found himself in the position of defending Christian rap, and he wasn’t sure if his superficial reasons were biblical enough.

A lot has been written about rap in the last several days, much of it quite good. But if you like this music—or are interested in the much larger question of Christian involvement in cultural expression and the arts—there are still many good reasons to check out the book. Here are just a few unexpected questions that this book addresses:

  • How did the CIA and Martin Luther King’s assassination contribute to the formation of Hip Hop culture?
  • Why do many blacks believe that entertainment has done more for race relations than the church?
  • What is the surprising evidence for the claim that Augustine of Hippo basically rapped some of his most popular messages?
  • Is Lecrae’s current musical direction valid?
  • What are the three biblically sanctioned ways that rap contributes to the mission of the church?

The book also goes into depth on several subjects that all those recent blog posts simply couldn’t:

  • The pagan origins of the first Israelite worship song and of music itself.
  • God’s establishment of multiculturalism at the Tower of Babel in order to produce a fuller and more varied expression of worship.
  • The biblical requirement of cultural accommodation for the sake of the gospel.
  • The far-reaching implications of God’s refusal to specify anything about the sound or style of worship music.

Because rap is a relatively new art form, it’s hard for many to separate it from the culture of violence and crime from which it arose. Curt readily acknowledges the sinful roots of hip-hop. But in the heart of the book he looks at the formation of culture and how it fits into God’s redemptive plan. It makes for an interesting read and helps you think through how we can be in the world but not of the world, especially when it comes to creative endeavors like music and art.

A lot of people have already formed an opinion on rap music, but too often those opinions—pro or con—have more to do with personal preference than any biblical principle. Even though Curt was definitely “pro rap” when he started the book, he sincerely wanted a real answer to the question, one that went deeper than “rap is okay because I like rap.” The result is a thoughtful examination of the creative process and how believers can use their gifts to bring glory to God.

The book is available at Amazon and at Cruciform Press (where you can get any of three ebook formats for as little as $3.99). Today through Saturday, however, the Kindle version is just $1.99.

  • A La Carte Thursday 1

    A La Carte (July 18)

    A La Carte: Does Christian sex need rescuing? / 15 resolves for interpersonal conflicts / How senior pastors can help associate pastors / it’s okay to be okay / Don’t be proud of what you had no say in / How sweet! / Kindle deals / and more.

  • Protecting the Family Name

    Protecting the Family Name

    It is a conversation I had with my son-in-law while he was pursuing my daughter and expressing his interest in marrying her. It is a conversation I will need to have with a second son-in-law if the day comes when he expresses his interest in marrying my other daughter. It is a conversation about the…

  • A La Carte Collection cover image

    A La Carte (July 17)

    A La Carte: Every place is a place to talk about Jehovah / A precious mystery / How marriage shows the beauty and poetry of the gospel / What should we learn from the immensity of the heavens? / Should we call church a family? / Commentary sale / and more.

  • A La Carte Collection cover image

    A La Carte (July 16)

    A La Carte: All we have left undone / What does the Bible teach about divorce and remarriage? / How America’s premier theologian interpreted God’s providence after Lincoln’s assassination / Will God judge people for being born Muslim? / Theological discernment is for moms too / Prime Days / and more.

  • My Most Common Pastoral Counsel

    My Most Common Pastoral Counsel

    Among my responsibilities as an elder/pastor within a local church is meeting with people to offer counsel and guidance. I have never lost the wonder of being given so sobering a privilege—to listen to people as they share their deep sorrows or ask their big questions and to then attempt to bring the Word of…

  • A La Carte Collection cover image

    A La Carte (July 15)

    A La Carte: The desires of your heart / Contentment isn’t only for hard times / On the hosting of mission teams / Be careful of your strengths / Yes, we’re almost there / Kindle deals / and more.