There have been a lot of bad Kanye-conversion takes. A lot. It’s one of the reasons I wrote a month ago about what I saw as the most humble, and Biblical response a believer could have to the unfolding story. While I’ve been disappointed to see plenty of professing believers decide to take a different route, I don’t know that I’ve seen a more discouraging response than the what is coming from social justice theologians.
Take this since-deleted doozy from New York City pastor and social justice warrior Jordan Rice:
To be clear, I won’t be posting any reviews of Kanye’s album because I won’t be listening to it. I don’t like hip hop and I don’t like rap. I have read the lyrics of a few of the songs, but have absolutely no desire to listen to it. It’s not my thing.
That said, I know plenty of “white evangelicals” who have been enjoying hip hop and rap for a long time. They know more about the genre than what I’d guess is a large percentage of “non-white evangelicals.” But in the name of “unity,” they are to avoid sharing reviews because they are white? In case you’re sensing a bit of contradiction between saying you “value unity” while simultaneously barking at others to “stay in their lane” don’t be alarmed, you’re not alone.
Several commenters (not all white) pointed that very thing out to Rice, quoting the Apostle Paul’s call for unity in the brotherhood of Christ. For those unfamiliar with his letter to the Philippians, Paul never suggested “staying in one’s lane” as a prerequisite for developing Christlike harmony.
Feeling pressed by these rebukes, Rice settled in on this clarification:
“I think those who are least familiar with rap, gospel and Kanye should not seek to drive the conversation about the album. It would be best for unity sake for them to embrace [their] limitations and be quick to listen. Grace and peace.”
And had Rice said that originally, that would be one thing. Had he merely stated, “Hey everybody, if you don’t know anything about rap, how about you not review a rap album?” it wouldn’t have been so provocative and counterproductive.
But he didn’t. It’s mindless to expect others to just ignore the fact that the tweet began specifically addressing “white evangelicals.” And it’s ridiculous to pretend his stated premise wasn’t to declare a “fight,” thus intentionally and unnecessarily dividing the brethren.
That is not acceptable conduct for a supposed minister of the gospel of reconciliation in Christ.
That Rice eventually deleted his remark would be encouraging if it weren’t for the fact that several other social justice Christians had gone out of their way to like, retweet, and otherwise support Rice’s unbiblical stance. For instance, Vox’s Alex Medina waded into the conversation with his own cringeworthy take. For those unaware, Medina is the music producer for two of the Christian rap world’s biggest stars: Lecrae and Andy Mineo. Medina had his own thoughts on those “white evangelicals.”
Now it isn’t difficult to see through this comment and understand the bitterness. Medina doesn’t like the new kid on the Christian rap block. Specifically, he likely doesn’t care for one who already possesses megastar status, whose production quality vastly exceeds that of 99% of Christian rappers, and who instantaneously becomes the biggest name in a world where Medina was considered royalty, stealing the spotlight. This would all appear to be territorialism at its finest – “How dare you put his albums at the front of your stores instead of mine.”
But, like Rice’s original remark, it’s also floating on a sea of stereotypes. Racial ones, no less.
- Rice assumes skin color precludes one from having expertise on a kind of music genre. That’s embarrassing.
- Medina assumes that “none” of these dastardly white evangelicals ever cared about Kanye before his conversion. That’s demonstrably absurd.
Are we just going to pretend that these kind of racial generalizations aren’t troublesome characteristics in those who claim to be followers of a creed where there is no longer any Jew or Greek?
To be blunt, these racially-focused tweets should be a far greater concern amongst believers than silly rap battles. After all, shouldn’t those who have truly experienced and tasted in the redemptive, life-altering power of salvation in Christ be unified in their expression of joy that the words now on the lips of a man once known for every worldly attribute imaginable are, “Jesus is King”?
Instead some are busy assigning lanes for opinions based on skin pigmentation and grinding the axe of identity politics. I’m not sure whose kingdom that serves, but I am sure it isn’t Christ’s.