Our cities are in trouble. America’s pathologies are concentrated in its urban centers, evidenced by murder and mayhem, heartbreak and hopelessness, crime and corruption. Politicians don’t seem to be changing anything but I recently heard something that just might.
I was at a conference to hear how Christians can respond to our changing culture. But never in a million years did I expect to hear rap music! Perhaps it is tragically too easy for some of us to look away from a segment of culture that seems like a lost cause.
Emanuel Lambert, from Philadelphia, explained that rap music and the hip hop subculture express the deep frustrations of the inner city. He notes that this culture has many painful and tragic questions that too often become sad headlines and crime statistics. Voicing the questions can build a bridge of understanding, across which can travel some truthful answers that can set a life on a new trajectory.
Mr. Lambert is a rap artist known as “DA’ T.R.U.T.H.” He is a committed Christian with 20 years in the music industry as an award-winning artist. He is well-connected in the hip hop community and recently formed the entertainment company NXT Sound. He also knows Ravi Zacharias, a Christian apologist and evangelist, and invited the 70-year-old native of India to speak on his recent album, “It’s Complicated.” Oil and water?
In the selection “Religion,” the rapper poses the question, “Are all religions equal, can we even know?” in the voice of the ‘hood, and Dr. Zacharias offers answers. In rhythmic cadence he asks, “Did I blindly believe when I got a Bible to read? Then I got down on my knees as the one way to God. Dropped down to plead, a total waist of my time? Is his name a lie, or is his name Allah? Is it really important, the right name or not?”
Then Dr. Zacharias answers, “Pantheism doesn’t teach the same thing as theism. Monotheistic beliefs are not all the same. What Islam believes about Allah and what the Christian believes about the Triune God are two different things. All religions, at best, are superficially similar, but they are fundamentally different.” The song responds with, “How many paths to God? If it’s one I’m taking my steps. We are all on a journey together, and I know that there’s a God out there that can make my eternity better.”
The next time your stopped car vibrates at a red light, the culprit could be truth. Chanted Loudly! A small price to pay if it changes lives. Mr. Lambert is convening a meeting soon to introduce other artists to Dr. Zacharias. If that begins to transform the hip hop community with truthful answers, America will be a better place, a reason to hope!