Hip-Hop, Music and Culture, Music and Worship, Rock

Questionable Searches (John Piper Hip Hop Edition)

John Piper

aroma contemporary christian music lyrics

Ink and parchment with a bit of mustiness for good measure.

christian song called trying too hard

This:

church hymns predictable chords

All of them. ‘Nuff said. BOOM!

does god honor groaning as way of worship?

Why yes he does. What kind of question is that? Have you not heard of the Christian Metal scene? He also accepts scream, yells and cries especially when set against de-tuned guitars with killer riffs.

harlem shake in bible meaning

The town of Harlemite was an ancient Israelite town which was destroyed due to something called the “shake”. People became obsessed with doing the “shake” and eventually everyone ran themselves out of town because of all the shaking. They decided to stop the “shake” but the town, sadly, was already gone. So they started a new town and this is the story of how Jerusalem was founded. Fact.

is john jacob jingleheimer schmidt out of the bible

Half of him is. John and Jacob are in there but Jingleheimer and Schmidt are oddly not to be found. If you had asked, “Is John Jacob Jehoshaphat Shemaryahu out of the bible?” The answer would have been yes, of course.

john piper hip hop

Yes John Piper does hip hop. He goes by the moniker MC Biblical Manhood Against Feminism and the Post-Modern World and is the manliest hip hopper out there. Also highly influential with other rappers, see here.

young cheesy christian girl band

Like Beyonce, Chuck E Cheese has an all woman band. Don't let the mustache fool you.

Like Beyonce, Chuck E Cheese has an all woman band. Don’t let the mustache fool you.

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Music and Worship

Worship and the Sweet Aroma of a Unified Musical Offering

Guest contributor Bailey Gillespie’s call for a unified worship through a celebration of diversity.

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Charles Wesley. Hillsong. Jesus Culture.

Most Western Christians no doubt have been exposed to the musical controversy within the church regarding the depth and creativity—or lack thereof—of contemporary songs of faith produced for Sunday mornings or radio/CD’s. What style of worship music a church creates reflects their theological position, so opinions are rarely neutral. Acoustic or electric? Hymns or contemporary songs? Free worship or structured sets? And the list continues. More specific to the current conversation, however, is the topic of reviving musical complexity and theological depth in songs crafted for the Christian community. Since music and words are powerful conduits of truth, and artistic expression is rising in popularity within Christianity, should the songs we sing in church be more complex and poetic than the repetitive choruses evangelicalism is used to?

Perhaps the most vocal group advocating this philosophy right now is the college-aged hipster community. These Christians desire to explore greater depths in musical originality, lyrical complexity, and theological honesty. Upstart artists, creative communities, and other musically-sensitive individuals are challenging the evangelical worship chorus norm that has sustained the last couple decades with a more raw and unique approach to musical worship. They might argue that the repetitive/ simplistic verses are all too similar to the “vain repetitions” of Matthew 6:7. They might argue that Christian artists write uninteresting melodies and that quality is sacrificed for content. And they also view the peppy, joyful projection of Christian music as being unrealistic and having more honest counterparts among the secular music community.

Now, this observation isn’t comprehensive, but generally speaking there are three worship styles that appear most prevalent in Western Christianity today. Believers who attend Reformed churches, drawing on the rich theology of predecessors such as Martin Luther and Charles Wesley, sing hymns steeped with the lyrical depth of traditional doctrine. Melodies can be musically complex, but instruments are often limited to piano or organ. Evangelical “non-denominational” believers sing modern worship songs with more simplistic declarations of God’s goodness in the spirit of many Psalms. Melodies can follow a fairly predictable chord progression to accompany the lyrical motifs but are usually uplifting and victorious.

Charismatic believers have a more free worship environment, where movement by the Holy Spirit is encouraged and spontaneity dictates song sets over structure. Lyrics can be extremely simplistic–sometimes a single phrase forming the entirety of the song–and are often driven by powerful and emotional melodies. How do we reconcile all this? The beauty of Christ’s bride, the church, is that she is diverse. So, naturally, that diversity will be visible in something like artistic expression. But worship is more than just artistic expression.

It’s helpful to revisit the reality that worship is deeper than musical preference, even though church music sets are broadly painted by that definition. I asked for the insight of two peer leaders on William Jessup University’s chapel worship team. Bassist Sean Huang’s response was:

“Sometimes we think that good music equals good worship. After all, if it’s not good music, it brings up a lot of distractions.” But he continues with the conclusion that worship is “an attitude of surrender to God. In a sense, you are telling him, ‘You are God. I am your servant. I give you everything. May your glory and sovereignty and presence show up in my life.’ It’s a process of offering ourselves.”

To worship singer Jared Fujishin, the excitement of leading students in communal worship:

…is all about the unity. It is more than just singing a song. It is a body of believers coming together and agreeing the same things at the exact same moments. We may all believe that ‘our God is greater; our God is stronger,’ but where else but worship do you get 600+ people thinking and saying it together at the exact same time? The unity it brings to the body of Christ is beyond beautiful to me.

If worship is a personal offering, a way to bring honor and glory to God, then worship will reflect whatever state our lives are currently in. And, since human beings are living breathing organisms, that state will constantly change. In times of trial, we will feel squelched by pain and confusion. In times of blessing, we will feel joyful and full of praise. Therefore, music crafted by Christ’s bride ought to reflect the honesty of those fluctuations. But it also has the responsibility of speaking consistent truth.

King David, a man after God’s own heart, wrote songs and poetry that reeked of despair and burst with thanksgiving. He was honest in that he was sensitive to all of life’s circumstances as well as God’s faithful involvement in them. And if worship is not a musical hors d’oeuvre but an attitude of surrender, an offering, and we are to give out of the abundance of our hearts, then indeed we should give our best artistic efforts.

We should take creativity and originality (stemming from personal experience and divine inspiration) into consideration and contribute to a legacy of sacred art. By acknowledging that both simplicity and complexity exist within Scripture (the theological weight of Romans’ doctrine, the poetic Psalms, the “holy, holy, holy” angelic anthems in Revelation), we also must acknowledge the constant temptation for division.

When it comes down to it, like Jared said, unity is key.

We are one body, one bride, and “worship falls apart when we remove focus off of God. Let us never become so self-consumed that we turn worship into a completely narcissistic event,” he said. “And I think that applies to the megachurch, light show worship set and the liturgical, stained glass, one piano church equally.”

In light of this understanding of worship, perhaps we can look at hymns, Hillsong, and Jesus Culture differently now. The diversity of personalities within God’s church ought to be encouraged to express their musical offerings differently. Why not facilitate services that incorporate hymns, Psalms, and spiritual songs, just like the Apostle Paul exhorts (Eph. 5:19)? These flavors can only enhance our theological depth as well as our musical creativity. So, will there be a sort of Neo-Renaissance in the future of the Christian worship scene and music culture? Perhaps. Perhaps not. But let us remember one thing— unity is beautiful because, in it, our voices become a pleasing aroma to the Lord.

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Finding the beautiful, good and true in music but exposing the bad, ugly and sinful. Read through Day 1 of the series for more information on racial justice and the Christian response.

Both songs today look forward to the day when every tribe, tongue and nation will finally be reconciled. Interestingly, while both songs are not Christian they do borrow heavily from the language of Christianity, in order to express the hope which humanism is unable to provide.

Final thought as we end our journey on songs for racial justice, using the words from our final songs: “The Lord will see us through someday, we’ll walk hand in hand,” under the “one love” of Christ so “give thanks and praise to the Lord and I will feel all right; Let’s get together and feel all right.”

Bob Marley – One Love

We Shall Overcome

For additional recources on racial reconciliation, watch the following presentations on the Christian response:

Ken Ham – One Race, One Blood

John Piper – Bloodlines Documentary

John Piper – From Bloodlines to Bloodline Sermon

Music and Culture, Music and Worship, Pop Music, Rock

Songs for Racial Justice: Day 1, The Christian Response

Holding HandsFinding the beautiful, good and true in music but exposing the bad, ugly and sinful.

Shortly after the re-election of Barack Obama to the presidency, Christ and Pop Culture writer Alan Noble reflected on the increase of racism in Obama’s America, the myth of a post-racial society and the tendency of Americans to whitewash our storied racist past. According to Noble our current path to rid our country of racism is as follows:

Underlying this line of thinking is this naive and dangerous idea that America is far enough past racism that we ought to be “post-racial”–meaning that we ought to be able to stop talking about race as a significant and contemporary problem… According to this view, in other words, the path to racial reconciliation is paved with silence over past atrocities and current wrongs–and by publicly noting a current wrong (the reality the black parents in American today still reasonably fear that their children will suffer for being black)…

One indicator bolstering Noble’s view is the popularity of the Android App “Make Me Asian” showing that we have a long way to go in our journey towards racial reconciliation. Noble continues, that as Christians our response is much different:

As a people who believe that all humans are made in the image of God, that before Christ there is no distinction between races, that part of the mission of ambassadors for Christ is to act as reconcilers between people, and that we are called to care for the poor and needy and oppressed, Christians have a deep responsibility to seek racial reconciliation, not just in our churches (but especially there), but also our neighborhoods and country.

Noble is part of a number of voices as diverse as Ken Ham (President of Answers in Genesis) and John Piper (Pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis) who also have addressed the issue of race inside and outside of the church. Ken Ham having seen first hand the racial injustices towards Aborigines in his native Australia, felt called to co-author One Race, One Blood with African-American pastor Charles Ware. In the book Ham and Ware ecnourage Christians to be at the forefront of racial reconciliation and (like Noble) promote the Christian understanding of race — we are all children of Adam.

On the other hand, John Piper’s story (beautifully explored in the short film Bloodlines) is highly personal. He began life in a culture of racism, becoming a racist himself but through the transformative power of the gospel, reformed and ended up adopting an African American girl. Piper enthusiastically celebrates the uniqueness and importance of his daughter’s race and the beautifully complex diversity of the one human race. Both Ham and Piper rightfully promote that through Adam there are not bloodlines but a single bloodline to which the second Adam, Christ, died to redeem all of Adam’s children (Romans 5). 

But racism is not a uniquely American issue, as racism has existed throughout all human history and in all cultures. Unfortunately, racism will continue to be with us because it is not secular ideology, skewed forms of Christianity or paganism which cause racism but sin. If we are going to contribute positively to the conversation (or lack thereof) on race we need to reassess of our attitudes as Christians towards the “other”. This is something that Noble, Ham and Piper have done but what about the responsibility of musicians (and us) who are Christian (this is a music blog after all)? Where is the Christian song hoping for a foretaste in the here and now of the ultimate racial reconciliation of every tribe, tongue and nation. through the blood of the Lamb at the consummation of history?

As the songs posted over the next several days reveal, our secular counterparts are far succeeding us in looking towards that moment in history even though they will never see that day. We as Christians should be the ones fervently and joyously singing about the God who currently and one day will unite all races under the banner of Christ.

 


The first two songs present the Christian hope of racial reconciliation in the already but not yet.

Newsboys – He Reigns

DC Talk – Colored People

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