New Calvinism and Holy Hip Hop

Posted: November 5, 2009 by Scott Kistler in Calvinism, Christ & Culture, Music Reviews, Urban Ministry...Concerns
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shailinneI just finished listening to a 9Marks Audio installment where Mark Dever interview Christian hip hop artists shai linne and Voice.  I’ve heard shai linne’s “Atonement Q&A” before; it’s something like a rap catechism that’s part of his album “The Atonement.”  Shai and Voice are both theologically Reformed, and they view their work as a way to build up the church with “lyrical theology.”  If you’re interested in their explanation of the purpose of their work, the best 15 minutes to listen to are from about 40 minutes in through about 55 minutes in.  They see their artistry as God’s redemption of a sinful medium to be used for his glory.  It’s not intended to replace preaching or congregational music, but instead to do what rap does very effectively: communicate a worldview.  Dever has become a fan and actually says that no other form of music matches the “theological density” of shai linne’s music.

In the last 30 years or so, there have been a lot of Christian “knock-offs” of secular music, clothing, etc.  I think that the “holy hip hop” movement is more original and edifying, although I don’t know for sure yet.  For one opinion, check out Thabiti Anyabwile’s short explanation here.

Adding to the list of great things about the New Calvinist movement is that it’s building relationships between black and white Christians, something that the church desperately needs to do.  The unity of believers across racial lines has long been one of John Piper’s passions, and Desiring God Ministries cooperated with Christian rap laber Reach Records and artist Lecrae last summer.  Thabiti Anyabwile seems to be a leading figure in New Calvinist circles, part of the core group for Together for the Gospel and speaking at one of Dever’s conferences.  Dever’s interview and commendation of shai linne and Voice fits right in with this exciting trend.

I now want to check out two albums from shai: The Atonement and Storiez (a children’s album).


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