Christian Cannibalism

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I remember listening to P.I.D. (Preachers In Disguise) back in the day. They had a song that went through the books of the Bible, and that’s how I ended up learning all the books. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g6UhLkYsbBM) It’s a decent joint but let’s be honest – it kinda makes you chuckle.  I remember a day when Christian hip hop was the joke of the music industry with production years behind that of the mainstream.  I remember when listening to Christian hip hop was more like listening to a sermon on Sunday morning than listening to music with a good message that made you want to bob your head to the beat. To be honest –  it was embarrassing.  It was something you kept to yourself and didn’t admit you listened to.

Jump forward 30+ years and CHH is on fire. The production has caught up to the mainstream and now it’s not uncommon to hear CHH artists tunes being used in commercials or in TV shows. The lyrics still have  a strong message of the saving grace of Christ, but don’t come across stiff like a Sunday morning suit. Heck, we’ve even seen CHH artists appear on BET Awards, on MTV, get a Grammy, and perform along side some of the hottest acts in hip hop today. Yet, the Christian culture would rather eat these artists alive instead of coming along side them in encouragement and prayer.

With all this improvement, success, and acceptance it would appear that CHH artists just can’t win within their own Christian community. I can’t rap and I can’t produce a beat, but if I could there is no way I’d want to be a CHH hip hop artist in today’s Christian culture. Every breath you take is micro analyzed and scrutinized by your “brothers” in Christ. Today’s Christian culture is not one of forgiveness for an artist who “slip” up spiritually or, heaven forbid, does something the culture deems “wrong”. Instead the culture is like a group of vultures circling waiting to peck the flesh off the carcass. Today’s Christian culture has become identical to the mainstream culture with the only difference is we selectively use scripture to cannibalize our own. Regardless of the life one has lived or the impact someone has made for the Kingdom of Christ don’t you dare slip or even appear to slip. The cannibals will pounce on you while you are down and eat you alive.

It’s nothing new and I’m not the first one to write about it. People don’t like things that are different, and this is especially true of Christians. If you claim Christ then you are expected to live in a little box and not step out of it. You are expected to act, speak, move, and be a certain way – like every other Christian. Don’t be different. Any exception from that is too different and met with hostility. You are expected to hold concerts in churches with the youth group or with other Christian artists surrounding those that are already saved. Going on a tour with mainstream artists is frowned upon by many regardless of what Jesus told us about reaching those who are “lost”.

Take Lecrae for example. Some Christians applaud him and Reach Records – but many others criticize everything they do. Lecrae is too different for many Christians. He doesn’t do concerts in Christian only venues and his lyrics aren’t just scripture spit out in a 4/4 time. Lecrae was recently part of a cypher at Rock The Bells – Video can be viewed here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jnUnMFkXE4E). In this cypher, which takes place in a secular setting, the other two artists are swearing and talking about women in the typical way mainstream hip hop artists do. Crae is the second one to step to the mic (jump to 1:47 to skip the profanity and hear Lecrae) and can be seen seemingly giving props to the artist before him. This was a problem for many Christians as web forums and comment sections blew up with people upset by this gesture. Never mind the fact that when Lecrae stepped to the mic he dropped the gospel on a crowd that, more than likely, had never heard it.

It’s very easy to sit back and criticize people from behind a computer screen. It’s easy to assume we know the true motives and thoughts behind a persons actions when we’ve never met them or had a conversation with them. We tend to focus on what we feel is bad and turn a blind eye to the good things. In the Christian culture there is no such thing as “benefit of the doubt”. A person could have the strongest walk, give all the right answers, fit in that nice little box they are suppose to fit into, but dare to take a small step outside and you are eaten alive by “your own”. The Christian culture, especially when it comes to hip hop, is full of cannibals dressed up with crosses and carrying Bibles to justify their vulture mentality.

In a recent interview by Niky G (can be seen here  http://str8outdaden.com/2013/09/14/lecrae-talks-being-a-christian-in-the-hip-hop-community-video) Lecrae was asked if other mainstream hip hop artists try to keep the women, smoke, and alcohol away when he’s around. Crae’s response,

“Some people do. To some people, in their brain that’s like respecting me.  That’s fine. But I prefer you to be yourself. I’m not gonna be fake around you – so don’t be fake around me.  Be yourself. I get it if you want to be respectful, but that’s how we get to the real issues. If you’re an abused person and battered up – don’t hide and act like it’s all good.  If it hurts – say it hurts. We can deal with that and go from there.”

Don’t make people change just to be around you and let them be real – profanity or not.  Lecrae and Reach is living out Matthew 28:19 and going out into the culture and reaching the lost. They may not do it the way you or your small group would do it. They may not follow the blueprint that has been “ordained” by men in suits and ties that are afraid to leave their comfy pew. Crae and crew go out into the world and live out their mission (Romans 1:16) not being ashamed of the Gospel no matter what the setting. No matter what venue they share the gospel with those that need it most. At the BET awards or at the Grammy’s or even in a cypher at a secular concert.  Let’s stop focusing on the few seconds we didn’t like while ignoring the multiple hours, weeks, months, years of ministry time we should be focusing on. Look at the totality of the ministry and the impact it is having for the Kingdom. Different isn’t bad. Different isn’t evil. Be willing to break out of the box in an effort to reach those that don’t know Christ.

Thoughts?  Leave a comment and hit me up on Twitter – @Heyadamt

Comments

15 COMMENTS

  1. This article creates a caricature of every person who might be confused or concerned with some of the things Lecrae has been doing and the shift in his approach to music. Don’t agree with Lecrae? Then you must be a bible-thumping, suit-wearing, pew-sitting Christian ‘cannibal’ who’s afraid of change or someone doing something ‘different’ to reach the lost.
    I’ll continue to look for a balanced article on this topic.

  2. Hi Adam,
    I really appreciate the article you wrote here. I have many friends on either side of the “Lecrae” issue. Some support him, some won’t. And while I agree that some in the Christian community scrutinize and criticize far beyond what is necessary, not all scrutiny from Christians is wrong. Scrutiny is ofttimes what keeps us accountable before God.
    Just take a look at Church Clothes. Lecrae is very strongly scrutinizing pastors and teachers who speak hypocritically, but this isn’t cannibalism, it’s truth. Pastors and teachers need to listen and take heed that they would not be hypocritical.
    So yes, there are some who “cannibalize,” but many brothers have legitimate concerns from God’s Word about Lecrae’s ministry. Instead of being defensive, perhaps we can have honest, open discussion about the matters at hand.
    Again, thanks for the article, Adam.
    In Christian love,
    Levi Gray

  3. There are a lot of haters out there,even in CHH.It’s not hard to tell who’s for you and who’s not.The Spirit of God will warn you before you walk through the door.

  4. What’s funny is, CHH seems to be the only ones getting bashed. There is a lot more rock/metal bands that don’t have the Christian label doing the same exact thing Lecrae is but yet we don’t hear about them getting bashed.

  5. Hey @AtAllCosts  – thanks for the comments.  Conversation is totally possible and I hoped this article would start that.  And it appears it did. 🙂  
     
    My writing was not meant to be a sweeping generalization that ANYONE that criticizes Crae is a cannibal.  In my opinion, <- which is a very important point – it’s my opinion, that many will take shots at him regardless of what he does. Good or bad. When ones overall “feedback” is critical and not balanced with affirmation of the positives – there’s a problem.  
     
    I would love “honest, open discussion”.  Again, that was a reason for even writing this in the first place. But I fear, from what I’ve seen across the web, that it’s hard to have this. 
     
    I agree that not all Scrutiny is wrong.  
     
    I don’t see how I was defensive-unless you call defending Lecrae as me being defensive.  
     
    Thanks again for the comments.  
     
    – AT

  6. Like others have said, CHH suffers from people scrutinizing every action the artists make. There are Christian rock bands sharing the stages with secular artists and nobody says a thing. Take the band Skillet, they are signed to a major label and do a variety of things in “the world”. Their lyrics don’t say Jesus in them and nobody says a thing.
     
    However, if you were to ever go to a Skillet concert you would without a doubt say they are spreading the Gospel. They speak with so much enthusiasm about God and what the songs mean regarding their faith.
     
    As for CHH, I think we need to look at the sin in our own life before we can “judge” others for hanging out with secular artists. Maybe just maybe if we allowed ourselves to be around people who weren’t believers someone would get saved? The mission has always been the same and that is to save people. Now if you start to conform with the world, then I think others should speak up but until then let’s keep it real.
     
    Thanks for sharing @Adamt

  7. Let those that serve God do so in the wisdom God gives them. We serve in truth not in appearance. And if you gonna sing to God rap or whatever then let those that make the sound be excellent with their instrument. If you place yourself before all to be a light maintain and questions against you are good if you yourself seek Gods and not your own. Should we complain to each other? If theres rebuke where is it, if not then not.

  8. I’d like to start off by saying, this was a very good read, and it is good to be seeing more interesting articles on newh2o. Okay now…
     
    This is primarily one of the many reasons I’ve been a but reluctant to release a record. I really feel my approach and contribution (as well as my label mates’) to CHH will indeed be scrutinized and viewed in the same negative light this article is addressing. It appears the some of the body of Christ tend to choose not to show ‘Grace’ to our fellow brothers and sisters. Instead of exercising Grace, God forbids at the advent a slip up or the appearance of a slip up, our perceived failure automatically accounts to some sort of excommunication or bad-rep.  It is well in my belief that we oughta give our fellow artists and CHH genre the breathing room to go out and venture into the urban culture and impact lives the best way God has equipped us to – especially with the Lord’s leading.  We are still embarking into uncharted territories therefore should indeed give CHH artists (especially in the case of Lecrae & Reach Records) the leeway to probe, experiment, and discover the best rules of engagement surrounding Hip-Hop and bringing people in the culture to the acknowledgment and hopefully the acceptance of Christ, Jesus.
     
    Paul himself said:
    1 Corinthians 9:19: “For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; 20 and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; 21 to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; 22 to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. 23 Now this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I may be partaker of it with you.”
     
    For the many things Paul became as – for the sole purpose of reaching people to the Gospel of Christ, how are you going judge, lets take Lecrae for example, for the very same thing Jesus did? By systematically allowing himself in the same circles with those you’ve already deemed as “sinners” and “heathens” – not knowing what half of these people he comes into contact with are dealing with or not knowing the state of their walk with God is currently at. And this dude is only dealing with just one culture group! -as opposed to the many Paul penetrated for the Gospel’s sake.
     
    But seriously, just as this article so finely puts it:
    “Let’s stop focusing on the few seconds we didn’t like while ignoring the multiple hours, weeks, months, years of ministry time we should be focusing on.”
     
    Goodness gracious, let’s quit sending OUR VERY OWN to the chopping blocks! We’re just handicapping The Body of Christ when we do so.

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