I waited some time on writing this article. The main reason is I had to avoid anger and a spirit of wrath on my part. I waited for someone with a similar mindset to step forward. That voice did not come. The more I tried to avoid it the more the issue was presented to me in various ways. Since there is a lot of content I will be unpacking this over several articles. So I ask that you bear with me as I unload the major problems from this recent “call out” season in Christian hip hop.
Why do I call it “call out” season? Simply put, folks want to profit from calling others out. How they are doing it is unbiblical in nature and many mature Christians seem to be afraid to stand up against this foolishness. It seems that some artists have resorted to using drama to sell their Jesus product. It is really sad that men who stake their reputations on having a high value of scripture would make profit off of quarreling. And yes, I do mean Flame and shai linne. There will be no indirect references in this article.
1.Flame’s methodology of correction in his song “#1 Spot” is unbiblical and he should have apologized for it by now.
You might be thinking that I am an agent of the devil with that opening line. But I am actually giving some bitter medicine to the situation. If you listen to the song, the opening lines set the stage for Flame’s actions and song not to be questioned. To declare that you are acting on conscious is one thing, but he says he is justifying his position because scripture is moving him to do it. It is an intellectual disarming tool that makes any opposition to his statements an opposition to, not just scripture, but God as well. Really think about that implication. He could let the biblical text speak for itself and he did not.
If we look at Matthew 18:15-20 we see what we should be modeling for correction. But it is clear from Flame’s interview on The Wade-O Radio Show that he did not follow the biblical template for this action. First, off at no point did he ever mention going to those who he “felt” might be on questionable ground. He told DJ Wade-O that there are 12 artists he could think of that could be addressed in this song.
Second, he never mentions getting other artists (or even people involved in the genre) to go speak to or mentor the offenders. He jumped straight to telling the church body (at large) what was going on without naming the offenders who should be corrected. By jumping straight to going public on the topic there is no way downgrade the situation to get some private conversations going.
Now we, as a body, are taking part in a conversation about discipline with a guessing game of who was Flame talking about pandering to the godless, oops, I mean secular. 2 Timothy 2:23-24 brings even more concern to the methodology of the song.
23 But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels. 24 The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged,
How much speculation did this song bring on Lecrae? Point made.
Now some of you may be asking “Did you, Edward, try to talk to Flame before posting this piece?” Yes I did. I sent an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. This is the email address from the Clear Sight Music website that you are directed to for points of contact. I emailed the following questions to get his response before I wrote this article. Here is a copy of the email that I sent with some minor grammar corrections. The intent or content has not changed.
My name is Edward Shelton. I write for Dasouth.com. There have been a lot of things that have come out of the posting of the song “#1 spot” that are interesting. I am looking to get some deeper insights into some issues that have come out due to the song’s content. For a deeper and transparent look I’ve submitted the following questions for Flame to answer.
If he is unable or does not want to answer a question, that is fine and it will be noted. However, his participation will not determine whether or not an article about this topic is ultimately published.
The Song “#1 Spot”
1. You open with a line “My conscious is held captive by the word of God. To act against conscious is neither right nor safe.” Does this not set up a situation in which we can’t question what or how you are presenting the content in the song because we would be going against God?
2. Can someone that is a Christian use that opening concept of conscience as a justification for any actions or words?
3. You talk about people that are established in Christian Hip Hop wanting fame, money, and respect but not wanting to be about “dat life.” Can you clarify what do you mean by “dat life?”
4. Is it possible for a Christian Hip Hop artist to minister to the secular and have a lot of exposure?
1. You said you can name 12 artists off the top of your head in which “#1 Spot” described. Who are these people?
2. Did you go out and try to reach out to these people, get other artists involved or even the community of faith in which the offender was involved in? If so, please name who was involved so we can do a follow up.
3. There was a conversation about getting people together and talking about a path to walk down for proper biblical ministry in Christian Hip Hop like the classical councils of the church. How would you lead such discussion? Who would be invited? How authoritative should the conclusions be?
4. At what point is there not enough gospel in the music if you are a Christian Hip Hop artist?
5. Is there a place in Christian Hip Hop artists that do not have a preaching, teaching, or evangelistic gifts? If so what place is open to them?
Feel free to add in any additional comments or clarifications.
Thanks for your time,
Pure and simple, if he wanted a conversation about the topic I asked fair questions about the subject matter. I waited more than enough time for a response. I checked my spam filter and everything. I at least tried to reach out and ask for clarification and an expansion of his ideas.
It seems that is not what Flame really wants. He stepped up to the mic, stated that a conversation should be going on, then walked away when people tried to ask hard questions. The thought from most of the feedback I’ve read on Flame’s “#1 Spot” and Wade-O interview fails to ever point out that he saw something happening in his local area and at no point mentioned that he talked to people or sought time to minister to those people he was concerned about. For Flame to be able to list 12 artists that fit the “#1 Spot” description is either a flippant response to Wade’s question about who we was talking about or adding false justification for the bravado in the first half of the song.
Flame commits some major theological and philosophical problems in the song that his fellow theological brethren should have called him on. For that fact alone you should start really questioning those who say they are writing or rapping from a theological position in Christian Hip Hop. We see folks either siding with their own, forgetting the basics of philosophy 101, or not seeing the clear error in teaching.
Maybe we are dealing with another reality. People are too scared to stand up to foolishness if it comes out of a mouth of a “theo rapper” because they would be labeled as stupid, ungodly, or – even worse – not a believer in Christ.
2. There is no respect for liberty and freedom in Christ from an artistic point of view.
A Christian artist has freedom in Christ as they see fit as long as it is according to design and purpose God has put on their life. I feel the new believer argument has been abused so much that people have forgotten about liberty. Not only that, but the context of the weaker believer not being able to deal with a mature believer’s freedom has multiple implications.
First off, if we are to always consider the new believer and to make them a paramount category of listener then CHH as a whole cannot be complex and must simple. The reason I say this is that new believers mess up doctrine. New believers struggle giving and receiving grace. I can go on and on.
If I, as a writer, was in constant fear of misleading a new believer in my freedom in Christ I could never write a single article. Because when we start talking about the scale of the original text in comparison to the digital age you are talking a neutron to a dwarf star. As a writer on the web I can reach more people with one article than what Paul saw in an average town. Am I responsible for the discipleship of person I have not seen nor meet? No, I am not. The pastor is responsible for that person’s discipleship and growth. Most importantly, the pastor is there as a means of correction and the local church body is a safety net.
We are taking issues on that our level of communal interaction doesn’t let us handle responsibly. A content provider can have only so many private conversations. I think there is not a voice loud enough to say that CHH isn’t here to disciple, raise, or develop believers. CHH is an additional resource that can assist in these functions. Yes, saying that out loud cuts into certain CHH artists’ profit margins.
Some people translate their walk and understanding with God through storytelling and testimonies. The voices that champion the bold stand of “theo rap” don’t just as strongly defend their “life rap” counter parts. That, sirs and madams, is people pleasing with a holy mask on. Why hasn’t Flame called out those who try to talk too much theology or try to package themselves as the second coming of Calvin to get ahead? Because it hits home. To admit the freedom we have in Christ both “theo” and “life” rap would both have to make grand admissions. Those admissions should be tackled in a different article series.
Thanks for reading. We are only getting started in on this topic mater.
Just to be clear I don’t get paid from DaSouth.com. I don’t get free music from DaSouth.com. I receive no form of compensation for my writing. I know some might think I get some sort of kick back, but I don’t. I have no finical gain from writing this. I don’t hate “theo rap” or “theo rappers.” I feel that certain folks only get “theological” on low hanging fruit.
I also know that in writing this series of articles I have closed a lot of doors I would have love to have had. But if this correction does not come now then we will cause more problems than we can imagine. If you have any questions comment below or hit me up on Twitter @speakredwords.