Friday, 13 March 2009

Rapping the Whole Gospel

The Christian rapper Flame must not be your average rapper. I came across the lyrics of one of his songs. It is heavy with theology and is to be commended for being weighty. I suspect that his music must appeal to many younger people.

However, there are some basic problems with it in regard to the Calvinist-Arminian issue. Here are some of the words; a select few are chosen for discussion, as indicated in all-caps.



"who can pluck us?"

See what I'm about to mention some consider secondary
But never weary guarantee it's very necessary
When Jesus hit the wood and she'd His blood on the tree
He did something good He was atoning for me
AND ALL BELIEVERS WE SEE PETER WOULD CALL THE ELECT
And even Jesus said that His sheep could never be snatched
Out of His hands nor the Father cause He's greater than
All and they're one like a married woman and man
So listen up (listen up) I'm bout to make it plain
So you can hear me clearly and sincerely what I'm saying
Through Jesus sacrifice the Father was satisfied (run it back)
Through Jesus sacrifice the Father was satisfied (one more time)
Through Jesus sacrifice the Father was satisfied
Now He gives assurance to all those for whom He died

I'm trying to tell you something you probably have never heard
And if you have you probably perceive them as dirty words
WORDS LIKE ELECTION AND PREDESTINATION
CAN GET YOU STONED AND THROWN OUT OF A CONGREGATION
But there in the Bible we gotta talk ? talk about it (run it back)
But there in the Bible we gotta talk ? talk about it (one more time)
But there in the Bible we gotta talk ? talk about it
We can still love each other and share our thoughts about it
When Jesus died He drank the full cup of God's Wrath
WHEN HE WAS CRUCIFIED IT WAS ON OUR BEHALF
FOR ALL THOSE THE FATHER CHOSE IN ETERNITY PAST
To be redeemed that simply means to be bought back
SO WHEN CHRIST EXPIRED THE DEBT AND THE PRICE WAS PAID
FOR PARTICULAR PEOPLE ON THAT NIGHT TO BE SAVED

In regard to the Calvinist-Arminian issue, I think it is important to debunk the myth that just because I'm an Arminian doesn't mean that I don't affirm election and predestination. The difference is that Arminians don't teach that God elects a few people to believe; neither does the Bible. Rather, we think that all who BELIEVE are elect. Yes, from eternity past, God elected a select group of people to be saved: he elected believers.

In fact, Flame's words here illustrates the Arminian point: "And all believers we see Peter would call the elect." That is to say, if you believe, then you are elect! Flame sounds more Arminian than Calvinist here!

That God predestined the Elect to eternal salvation is good Arminian theology. We just don't believe that God predestined some people to believe or chose some people to believe. Biblical election is entirely centred in Christ: we are ELECT "in Christ," but no one gets "in Christ" unless he first believes. Calvinist err here in centring salvation in a decree back in eternity pass rather than "in Christ."

Flame's lyrics at one point overlooks this important doctrine of "Union with Christ." He writes, "So when Christ expired the debt and the price was paid For particular people on that night to be saved."

However, I am certain that the elect experience not even the first salvific benefit until they are united with Christ through faith. Flame claims in this line that the sin debt of all the elect was expired when Christ died on the cross. This simply isn't true. The sin debt is not expired until a person is united with Christ by faith.

Ironically, if the elect's sin debt was expired when Christ died on the cross, Flame (and many Calvinists) would end up teaching that the elect were born into this world without being guilty of sin, and the elect were born into this world already reconciled with God through Christ, and that the elect were never under wrath. Of course, Calvinists don't believe this, but this seems to be the inevitable conclusion if they strongly assert that atonement for the elect was actually effected on the cross.

To avoid such a heretical conclusion, a good Calvinist (something very rare these days) would say, Christ provided atonement on the cross, but atonement is not effected until a person is united with Christ. But this is exactly what Arminians believe.

Ultimately, sometimes Flame's lyrics unjustly read Calvinism into the biblical texts to which he alludes. Flame writes, "When He was crucified it was on our behalf For all those the Father chose in eternity past." These two lines state that God sent his Son to die (only) for the select few. This is not biblical election. Biblical election only teaches that a select few will be saved; it does not state or imply anything about the extent of the atonement. God could provide atonement for everyone, yet only elect believers.

This song seems to represent yet another means by which Calvinists are getting out their message to young Christians. Let me urge Arminians to counter this by producing good music which focuses on the Good News which is meant for all people. Perhaps someone could write a rap song on the theme, "Not willing that any should perish."

3 comments:

Brad Knight said...

Hi Reverend Leonard,

Your blog entry called to mind another song with a definite Arminian flavor to it. Even though the song is not a new one, I heard I Choose Now by Anthony Evans for the first time only a few weeks ago. The lyrics immediately jumped out at me. Here they are:

I don`t want tragedy to be the only
Thing that leads me to your throne
With every moment of my life
With pain or joy I will cry
You are God alone
You`ve given me the choice to kneel or walk away
I`ve struggled with surrender long enough to say

I choose now
To be humbled in your presence
I choose now
To fall on my face
Cause one day
Every knee will bow but Jesus
I choose now.

I have the scars I can`t deny from
Thoughtless words and foolish times
But you still forgave
I wondered down a thousand roads
Lost my way but you led me home
Where I was safe
I know heaven is a gift of your grace
But until I see your face

To glorify your name
That`s why I was made
To worship and obey
I won`t wait

Brad

Danny said...

celebrate free will!!!! yeah, Job had a ball.

Zahava Pasternak said...

Rap is something I do not like so much - you have it taking place in other faiths as well. I wrote a rap song - don't think I will do that again.