The evangelical blogosphere has been having an intramural spat about the propriety of reformed rap. It’s been hard to miss, so I’m not going to rehearse each turn of the debate. The whole thing started, however, with a panel discussion at the NCFIC “Worship of God Conference” in which several of the panelists said that Christian rap falls short of Christian faithfulness. You can read a round-up of the whole brouhaha from Joe Carter.
Today, one of the panelists Scot Aniol has responded to critics in long form. While he affirms the Christian commitment and good intentions of Christian rap artists, he doubles-down on his argument that rap is an aesthetic form that falls short of Christian faithfulness. It is irredeemable in his view. Here’s a bit from his argument:
I fully understand that most readers will not agree with what I say below; my point is not to persuade with this post, it is simply to clarify my short comments on the panel. And I fully understand that if you like Christian rap, you will probably be offended by my comments. However, I would urge you to actually engage the arguments rather than calling me names or insisting that I don’t have any right to believe what I do. Please respectfully critique my arguments…
Since we believe that the Bible is inerrant, and since it is our supreme authority, by its own examples, Scripture itself places limits on contemporary aesthetic presentations of doctrine. In other words, some contemporary attempts to “modernize” aesthetic forms go beyond the limits of legitimate contextualization because they are not faithful to the original.
Aniol is attempting to dial back the rhetoric that was expressed during the panel discussion and to put his argument on a biblical foundation. I’ll leave it to readers to decide if he is convincing. You can read the rest of his argument here.
For my part, I appreciate that Aniol is trying to ground his view in scripture and not in individual preference. I also agree that form is not value neutral and that beauty has an objective standard. Nevertheless, I don’t think his case against rap is persuasive. The rap form is not the moral equivalent of yelling at one’s wife, as Aniol has it. Aniol has still failed to show how the form itself somehow cuts against scriptural verities. Simply citing its origin in sinful human culture is not an argument. All music and art emerge from that context. Aniol must engage the form itself and show how it undermines biblical truth. What is it about rhyming words rhythmically that is somehow sinful? I don’t think Aniol has shown us that yet. Also, what does Aniol do with scriptural examples in which words are arranged in rhythmic and even rhyming patterns?