Joel Beeke Reformed Rap Holy Hip Hop Mea Culpas and Why Christ Came: Will the Real Dr. Beeke Please Stand Up?

Dr. Joel Beeke, president of Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary and prolific author on all things Puritan, has been “encouraged” to walk back comments he made when questioned about Reformed Rap. A panel at a Family Worship conference was asked what they thought about Reformed Rap. Dr. Beeke gave the “softest” most gracious answer of any of the panel members. But even that was too much for the gatekeepers. His good friend, Tim Challies, made it clear that such Christian liberty would not be tolerated and apologies were in order. Dr. Beeke apologized,

Recently I was asked to participate in a panel discussion at a Reformed Worship conference. In that discussion the panelists were asked to address the subject of Christian rap music (which I took to mean rap music primarily in the context of a local church worship service). To my regret, I spoke unadvisedly on an area of music that I know little about. It would have been far wiser for me to say nothing than to speak unwisely. Please forgive me. I also wish to publicly disassociate myself from comments that judged the musicians’ character and motives.

It seems pretty clear that any kind of divergent opinion on such matters is strictly forbidden among Evangelicalism’s elite.

I had always thought pretty highly of Dr. Beeke. I don’t know him personally or anything, but I have never seen anything from him I found objectionable- (I mean, other than the fact that he gives babies baths in church…). For family devotions we are actually using his newly released book. Why Christ Came. Given his recent encounters with the Rap PC crew, I found certain statements in chapter 5 of that book pretty discouraging:

  • In cultures and thought systems that reject the very idea of absolute truth rooted in Christ, speaking the truth is not necessarily a virtue and lying is not necessarily a fault. (p. 16)
  • Today, even in Judeo-Christian contexts, people frequently question the existence of truth itself. Some people wonder whether truth matters. (p. 17)
  • Pilate questioned the existence of truth, and his life bore the fruit of his doubts. He lived in fear of losing position. Against his conscience, he gave deference to the requests of the people. (p. 17)
  • Do you experience true freedom in Christ? Or are you living in bondage to the fear of men, to the demands of your flesh, and to the guilt of lies? (p. 18)

Wow. A couple things stick out to me. First, it seems pretty cleat that Evangelicalism is no longer just “No Place for Truth,” it is now “No Place for Debate.” If the gatekeepers have rendered their verdict, that verdict is final and it will be unopposed. Secondly, I would really like to hear Dr. Beeke’s answer to those final questions that he himself asked.

I feel bad for a man who is not allowed to have personal standards of holiness. I feel worse for a church who will not let him have them.

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2 thoughts on “Joel Beeke Reformed Rap Holy Hip Hop Mea Culpas and Why Christ Came: Will the Real Dr. Beeke Please Stand Up?

  1. First, the problem wasn’t with debate on the issue (that’s been around forever); the problem was with the overreaching vitriolic condemnations of believers in this format. Dr. Beeke agreed with the former panelist who publicly condemned men with whom he had no interaction as “disobedient cowards.” There are proper ways to have discussion and debate, but I’m sure you can agree that this isn’t it.

    Second, the problem wasn’t with Dr. Beeke’s personal views; the problem was with the lack of grounds for the claims being made on that panel. It is one thing to come out of the corner swinging with ad hominem, but it is totally another issue to come out swinging without strong Scriptural support (something we’re discussing on your other thread). Another lack of grounds issue is that none of the panelists really understand rap or hip-hop very well and struggled to make a cogent critique for that reason.

    Finally, the problem wasn’t with Dr. Beeke’s “personal standards of holiness;” the problem was that he made his personal standards normative for the discipleship and growth of believers. He essentially is making 2 classes of believers: the normal Christian who accepts Jesus, and the super-saint who has Jesus+my traditional WASP sub-culture.

    I hope those three points at least offer a counter-balance on why people that approach this issue differently may have been just a little upset and concerned. And these reasons give a likely explanation for Dr. Beeke’s apology.

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