A Pauline Response to Voice

Greg Linscott of SharperIron asks, “What’s Wrong with This Picture?” in response to Curtis Allen’s presence at John Piper’s Bethlehem Baptist Church. You can view the video on YouTube. It’s also embedded below.

http://www.youtube.com/v/N2xyaUnkkZg

I don’t like rap. I don’t think it’s the best medium to use in worshiping God—primarily, though not exclusively, for associative reasons. That aside, I believe God is using the efforts of people like Curtis Allen to spread good, solid doctrine and bring Himself glory. In this I rejoice.

I believe a (not the only) Pauline response to Curtis Allen would be to do the same: “In every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice” (Phil 1:18). I certainly don’t mean to draw too close of a parallel here. The men Paul was speaking of had ill-intent; Curtis Allen certainly does not. I do believe, however, that a legitimate parallel exists.

To be fully Pauline is to rejoice in the proclamation of the gospel—no matter its source or method of delivery. I’m not saying that the concerns and objections of many (see here and here) are totally off the mark and don’t deserve to be heard. Rather, I think they are imbalanced and one sided. They focus on the negative and ignore the positive. Thus, they are not totally Pauline.

The fact that Curtis is proclaiming the gospel doesn’t automatically justify the means he chooses to use, but let these two be kept distinct in our evaluations. Paul could, and so must we. Let us also not neglect the positive where we can and should call attention to it. I’m afraid we’re too often guilty of being entirely negative when dealing with brothers with whom we disagree.

Update: I interacted with some criticisms to this post here:

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4 Responses to A Pauline Response to Voice

  1. Scott M. Aniol November 3, 2006 at 5:17 pm #

    Phil, this is helpful, insightful, humbling, convicting, and, well, biblical. Thank you for it. You’ve challenged me.

  2. Todd Mitchell November 4, 2006 at 12:40 pm #

    I do like rap. In the flesh, that is. I used to listen to it, and I enjoyed it. Alot.

    In fact, I know rap well enough to know that what Piper had was just barely rap. It was so mild as to be laughable to any real hip-hopper, and the folks in the pews were sitting there so nice and quiet and still that it really was bizarre. You should have been at the Bethel Seminary fall retreat of 2000 and seen the students gyrating and flashing wanna-be gang signs. That was much more authentic. (I was there. I’m not making this up.)

    Agreed that Paul rejoiced at the proclamation of Christ “whether in pretense or in truth.” But to extend this to proclamation of Christ in irreverence is to read too much into the text, I think.

    Paul wrote in 2 Thess 3:14, “If anyone does not obey what we say in this letter, take note of that person, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed.”

    Having nothing to do with believers who are disorderly is a Pauline idea.

  3. Phil Gons November 5, 2006 at 9:22 am #

    Thanks for your comments, Scott and Todd.

    Todd,

    Three things:

    1. I wonder if Curtis Allen was being irreverent. From what I could tell, he had a very deep respect for God. Misinformed on some issues? Possibly. But I don’t know if I feel comfortable using the term irreverence. We should at least distinguish between intentional and unintentional irreverence.

    2. Regardless, I wonder if it would be inappropriate to impute irreverence to those to whom Paul refers, who “preach Christ from envy and rivalry,” “not sincerely” but “in pretense.” I wonder how deep their respect for God was? If not intentionally irreverent, they were at the very least unintentionally so. So, yes, I do think the text can extend to “proclamation of Christ in irreverence” properly qualified. Thus I think a sufficient parallel exists even if you are convinced that Curtis Allen’s proclamation was irreverent.

    3. I totally agree that there are other Pauline responses that may apply to this situation. I expressed that in my original post. Others were expressing them, but no one was commenting on the solid theology in Curtis’ proclamation. I still think there is at least one thing to rejoice in when Curtis Allen stands to proclaim the glory of the unstoppable God.

  4. Ryan DeBarr November 9, 2006 at 10:52 pm #

    It was so mild as to be laughable to any real hip-hopper, and the folks in the pews were sitting there so nice and quiet and still that it really was bizarre.

    That is what I thought.

    You should have been at the Bethel Seminary fall retreat of 2000 and seen the students gyrating and flashing wanna-be gang signs.

    I will take your word for it.

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