“Christian Rap is cowardly disobedience.” How Reformed Theology will inherently see Christian Rap more problematic than Catholic Theology.

Several Reformed Christian Preachers/Pastors/Leaders engaged the validity of Christian Rap as a vehicle to evangelize. Every single one of these leaders found Christian Rap very problematic, and they quoted Scripture to justify their opinion. Reformed Theology, compared to Catholic Theology, often believes that they have a duty to be intrinsically antagonistic toward “the world.” On the flipside Catholics might look at their relationship with “the world” with more complexity & subtlety:

The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ. Indeed, nothing genuinely human fails to raise an echo in their hearts. For theirs is a community composed of men. United in Christ, they are led by the Holy Spirit in their journey to the Kingdom of their Father and they have welcomed the news of salvation which is meant for every man. That is why this community realizes that it is truly linked with mankind and its history by the deepest of bonds.

(Guadiem et Spes 1)

So, while a Reformed minded theologian/Christian might see the travails of a contemporary culture as intrinsically evil, or a cause for grief, a Catholic minded theologian would see the same travails as an opportunity:

To carry out such a task, the Church has always had the duty of scrutinizing the signs of the times and of interpreting them in the light of the Gospel. Thus, in language intelligible to each generation, she can respond to the perennial questions which men ask about this present life and the life to come, and about the relationship of the one to the other. We must therefore recognize and understand the world in which we live, its explanations, its longings, and its often dramatic characteristics. Some of the main features of the modern world can be sketched as follows…

Influenced by such a variety of complexities, many of our contemporaries are kept from accurately identifying permanent values and adjusting them properly to fresh discoveries. As a result, buffeted between hope and anxiety and pressing one another with questions about the present course of events, they are burdened down with uneasiness. This same course of events leads men to look for answers; indeed, it forces them to do so.

(Guadiem et spes 4)

Hence, the opportunity.

I do not mean to reduce Reformed Theology (as if they have no sense of Pastoral Care & Response, which they do), and I recognize the controversy that this video has caused (despite the apparent panel agreement that Christian Rap is inherently problematic), that among Reform Christian is some kind of disagreement. Further, the panelists have also publicly apologized, and do feel somewhat embarrassed at their broad-brushed statements. In the same way, I could imagine that intelligent Catholics might find Christian/Catholic Rap inherently problematic.

However, were a panel discussion like this to happen in a Catholic scenario, among Catholic leaders, I couldn’t imagine it happening the same way.

Now, in regard to the actual panel, and the issue that they engaged: WORSHIP.

I have said before that Hip Hop is not appropriate Liturgical Music, not merely because it is not “reverent,” but precisely because Hip Hop has a lot more to do with proclamation than with worship. For a lot of the popular so-called Christian Rappers, they often make some sort of Hip Hop Worship song of Praise to God. Many of the Hip Hop artists that I like that are Christian, never create songs that are meant to be used as Prayers, Praise or Worship.

Hip Hop has always been about “dropping science” (which is another term for imparting knowledge and wisdom) or exposing social issues of injustice that receive no credence in most media outlets. What most people think (particularly the first man on the panel), is that Rap is about Rappers. Hip Hop is a culture about elements & expression, but is much broader than rappers rapping about themselves. A lot of emcees rap about much more than themselves.

Measuring this against the Christian tradition, Hip Hop would seem to have a lot more to do with the Prophetic Office (proclamation) than with the Priestly Office (worship). Christ holds both of these offices, and through him so does every Baptized follower of him. But because everyone holds all of these offices does not necessitate that the functions of these offices are interchangeable. Perhaps, in certain circumstances they are not interchangeable.

Therefore, in my own expression, even though I am an ordained Priest, I am also an ordained Prophet. Since I am ordained to proclaim I rap. I do not need to incorporate hip hop into worship or liturgy, except, in certain circumstances, in the Proclamation.

There might be some Catholics that do not see it this way. Some that would feel that Hip Hop could be appropriate for the Liturgy. I might wonder if they have an insufficient comprehension of Hip Hop culture as much about Catholic Liturgy. In fact, I could imagine that Catholics who would be most supportive of hip hop could easily be white people over the age of sixty, who are happy to give themselves a round of applause about how diverse & modern they are, while their grandkids would probably be rolling their eyes at how gimmicky the whole enterprise is.

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