The Holy Hip-Hop Movement

A lot of words have been written concerning Reformed Rap over the past several days in response to this video. Many have come to defend this genre as a result of the video, and so I'm thankful that Reformed Rap (a.k.a. Holy Hip-Hop music) is finally getting some good publicity. My fellow brothers and I at Clearnote are grateful to have the opportunity to shoulder in the work with these brothers as we proclaim the good news to those who are perishing.

If you've not read it yet, Pastor Doug Wilson has also done some good work both here and here on the subject of Reformed Rap, and I echo his appreciation for these men. Be especially sure to read the latter link, which is an open letter to the men creating this music. You'll be encouraged.

In Pastor Wilson's first blog post concerning the subject of Reformed Rap He said, "the natural form of rap is that of prophetic denunciation — the jeremiad." He goes on to say, "As prophetic denunciation, the bulk of it should be apologetic and evangelistic, directed outwards…" I believe he is right.

But there is a value to Holy Hip-Hop that I haven't yet heard discussed by anyone. What I see as one of the chief merits of this genre is its catechetical value (by that I mean its ability to teach valuable truths), which I'll now make my case for.

Recently, in reading Luke 1, I read that John the Baptist came to "turn many of the sons of Israel back to the Lord their God...TO TURN THE HEARTS OF THE FATHERS BACK TO THE CHILDREN, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord" (Luke 1:16-17).

As I read these verses recently, it struck me that the quote in all-caps from Malachi 4:6 declares that as a result of the proclamation of the Gospel, fatherhood will be restored because fathers would love their children once again. (And that doesn't mean they'll like their style of music. I'm joking. Well, kinda.) This has always been true during times of reformation: the most obvious examples that come to mind are the Protestant Reformation and the First Great Awakening. These were key times in Church history when family life was restored and the hearts of the fathers were turned back to their children. But that shouldn't come as a surprise considering the covenant promises of Scripture. The promises to those who come to faith in Christ is applied to whole households and even to future generations.

But how will future generations come to faith if we are not faithful in proclaiming the truths of Scripture and if we don't call our own children to repent of their sins?

Scripture says:

These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:6-9)

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4)

We need to pass on the baton and do the diligent work of teaching our children.

But what does this have to do with Holy Hip-Hop?

Holy Hip-Hop has been "instrumental" in proclaiming the Gospel while CCM has "soul-ed out" and chased after riches. These Reformed rappers have gone back to the basics of Scripture and doctrine and taken on the task of catechizing black urban cultures while Nashville is chasing after wind trying to make their millions.

If Evangelical Christians spent their time listening to Holy Hip-Hop every now and then instead of listening to anything played on the radio (including their favorite Christian stations), they'd learn so much more about God and His word than they ever learned in all of their Sunday School classes.

Sad but true.

Listen to Shai Linne, one of the leaders in the movement. Listen closely to his words. You'll learn a lot. He is a catechizer. He has a love for God's word and desires for it to be written on the hearts of everyone and that is evident from his lyrics and his zeal. That's what catechizing is for.

Shai Linne's work has been strengthening to all of us at Clearnote by spurring us on to godliness and by communicating truths on the most basic level. I can't express the strength I receive from his lyrics to fight the good fight and to be faithful as a Christian father. He is an excellent teacher who has helped me to refocus my efforts and do the work of catechizing in my own family. So undoubtedly, not only I have benefitted from his songs, but my children have also.

So listen to him and be inspired to learn and teach your children the wonderful truths about God.

But lastly, I want to give a word of encouragement to Shai Linne and my other brothers who are producing this edifying music. Go after the children. And not just junior and senior high folk who are already impressed with you. You got them already. Humble yourself and go for the younger ones. What a great tool it would be to have Hip-Hop that could teach my 4 year old son Scripture and the doctrine of God. Wouldn't it be great to hear these little guys walking and dancing around, spouting off the wonderful truths of God? Let's have it!

I'm guessing that many of you have never heard a godly man rap. Take a minute and listen to Shai Linne and see how valuable this music is. It gets really good at 1:45 and following.

And here's some good preaching...
For those of you who want to hear more have a listen here.

Philip Moyer is a pastor serving Clearnote Fellowship where his responsibilities include training men to be pastors in Clearnote Pastors College and helping churches and church plants with worship resources. He is a worship leader at Clearnote Church, Bloomington and also heads up the choir program. As a recording engineer, he has recorded and produced albums for Clearnote Records including the Good Shepherd Band and the Songbook albums. 


Dear Philip,

I was going to mention Atonement Q&A but you beat me to it.

Thank you for highlighting the catechetical potential of rap - it is so important. It amazes me how much teaching you can pack into the rap format. It's a puzzle to try to figure out how to get even half of the material into a song today that the Psalms do (though Jody tried with Fullness of Time), but rap might just be able to do it.

Thank you, Cody. These men are all our brothers--both the NCFIC men and the Reformed Rappers. God has been gracious in forgiving our sins and so should we be with others.

So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. (Colossians 3:12-13)

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