Recently thru Facebook, I saw a video posted of a panel of reformed theologians answering a question about the validity of Christian Rap as a ministry tool. I thought it both interesting and strange that an all Anglo male group of theologians would even take on this topic. As I listened to their answers it was obvious that they should stay away from the topic from here forward. I would make one exception. I would love to have a healthy and respectful public conversation with any of the reformed theologians on that panel as one who has written on Hip Hop, the Church, and theology. If not me, I would encourage these reformed theologians to have a public conversation with folks like Dr. Daniel Hodge of North Park University in Chicago or Pastor Phil Jackson also of Chicago. I could name many others more qualified to provided a rich and biblical approach to Hip Hop and specifically the element of rap as a tool for the advancement of the Kingdom of God. Some say this issue has already been dealt with and I’m late to the party. Well, I have a feeling this won’t be the last time Anglo, evangelical, suburban, and male theologians speak as if they know more about God, urban culture, and people of color than urban people and people of color with ministry experience and theological credentials.
There is something else I want to briefly mention here as well. I am amazed by all of the recent conversations that Anglo male reformed theologians and pastors are having lately on issues of Hip Hop, race, and justice. On one hand I would say this is very wonderful. I’m glad to see Pastors such as Dr. John Piper and Dr. Tim Keller leading these conversations. At the same time, I’m very disappointed that rarely do these conversations include evangelical people of color and women who have been writing, speaking, and leading ministry models around these topic for years. Where is John Perkins, Brenda Salter-McNeil, Soon Chan Rah, Greg Yee, Dave Gibbons, Larry Acosta, Ed Delgado, Debbie Blue, Cecilia Williams, Robyn Afrik, and Eugene Cho? Until the conversations become more diverse and represent the broader community of evangelicals, reformed theology will lose ground in an ever-increasing multi-ethnic and evangelical Christian movement.
Missio Alliance Comment Policy
The Missio Alliance Writing Collectives exist as a ministry of writing to resource theological practitioners for mission. From our Leading Voices to our regular Writing Team and those invited to publish with us as Community Voices, we are creating a space for thoughtful engagement of critical issues and questions facing the North American Church in God’s mission. This sort of thoughtful engagement is something that we seek to engender not only in our publishing, but in conversations that unfold as a result in the comment section of our articles.
Unfortunately, because of the relational distance introduced by online communication, “thoughtful engagement” and “comment sections” seldom go hand in hand. At the same time, censorship of comments by those who disagree with points made by authors, whose anger or limited perspective taints their words, or who simply feel the need to express their own opinion on a topic without any meaningful engagement with the article or comment in question can mask an important window into the true state of Christian discourse. As such, Missio Alliance sets forth the following suggestions for those who wish to engage in conversation around our writing:
1. Seek to understand the author’s intent.
If you disagree with something the an author said, consider framing your response as, “I hear you as saying _________. Am I understanding you correctly? If so, here’s why I disagree. _____________.
2. Seek to make your own voice heard.
We deeply desire and value the voice and perspective of our readers. However you may react to an article we publish or a fellow commenter, we encourage you to set forth that reaction is the most constructive way possible. Use your voice and perspective to move conversation forward rather than shut it down.
3. Share your story.
One of our favorite tenants is that “an enemy is someone whose story we haven’t heard.” Very often disagreements and rants are the result of people talking past rather than to one another. Everyone’s perspective is intimately bound up with their own stories – their contexts and experiences. We encourage you to couch your comments in whatever aspect of your own story might help others understand where you are coming from.
In view of those suggestions for shaping conversation on our site and in an effort to curate a hospitable space of open conversation, Missio Alliance may delete comments and/or ban users who show no regard for constructive engagement, especially those whose comments are easily construed as trolling, threatening, or abusive.