A Good Rap

Thank you for what may be the coolest Christianity Today to date. As a mother of four, I was as excited as my kids to see Lecrae on your May cover. I am thankful for what these musicians have done in my kids' lives, but also in my life. "Why the Gospel Needs Hip-Hop" articulated what I have been trying to convey to friends and family. I have been so struck by Christian hip-hop's sound theology and spiritually mature discussion of a wide variety of issues.

The answer to whether the emotion in secular rap can translate into Christian rap is a resounding yes. The palpable frustration with sin and our fallen world is clear, but then the solution is embraced: God's mercy, grace, and triumph over Satan. In this era of "keep your faith to yourself," this unashamed group of artists is a tonic to my soul.

Julie Ohman Kellogg
Jacksonville, Florida

I greatly appreciated Russell Moore's article on the positive influence Christian hip-hop is having on Christians and non-Christians alike. However, he was off in suggesting that black racial stereotypes can lead to "white fear-mongering seen most brutally in . . . the murders of Emmett Till and Trayvon Martin." Comparing the death of Martin to the horrendous and racially motivated murder of Till is impossible. The jury isn't just out on Martin's death; they have yet to be seated.

Elijah Friedeman
Jackson, Mississippi

Faithful Exposé

It was good to read your profile of Michael Cromartie ["The Shepherd," May], which portrays a less politicized faith in the face of incredible politicization over the past 25 years. As a pastor, I read giving thanks that journalists can be exposed to a more authentic view of Christian life.

However, I wonder if there's a way to bring a depoliticized message of the gospel to the people. My sense is that Christians on the Right are more formed by Fox News and Rush Limbaugh than by a consistent submission to the Gospels. At this point, it is unclear to me that a gentler, more humble walk that values dialogue and servanthood will win the day in the pews.

Howard Miller

More Talk on Rob Bell

I was intrigued with how Mark Galli linked the theological trajectory of Rob Bell with the current resurgence among evangelicals of an experiential approach to Christian spirituality ["What We Talk About When We Talk About Rob Bell," May]. I appreciate Galli bringing balance to an important issue.

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But I wish he had drawn attention to us evangelicals writing on experiential spirituality who emphasize: (1) the biblical support (from both Testaments) for such an endeavor; (2) the importance of allowing for and anticipating dark nights of the soul; (3) the fact that "abiding" in Christ doesn't mean choosing between a rational/volitional staying put in the faith and a mystical/experiential mentoring relationship with the risen Jesus; and (4) the need to make sure that we don't reduce such an approach to a technique or "quick fix" panacea for all our spiritual problems.

Gary Tyra
Costa Mesa, California

Rob Bell "hope[s] that perhaps everyone will someday be saved"; and Mark Galli says that "in one sense, so do many evangelicals," because "[e]ven God is said to wish that no one should perish" (2 Pet. 3:9). But hoping entails at least a possibility of realization, whereas wishing does not. So we can legitimately wish with God for the salvation of all, but to imply its possibility by hoping for it contradicts Jesus' statement in the Sermon on the Mount that "few" find the narrow gate and road that leads to life.

Nonetheless, thanks for Galli's perceptive analysis of popular evangelical epistemology.

Robert H. Gundry
Santa Barbara, California

Love Trumps All

I heartily agree with philosopher Jamie Smith ["You Can't Think Your Way to God," May] that the majority of our behavior is controlled by our loves much more than by our knowledge. The apostle Paul emphasizes over and over in 1 Corinthians that love trumps knowledge in our practice of oneness in the body, and that love also trumps knowledge as a motivator to action. That is why I cringe when youth groups emphasize engaging the culture by participating in what is basically the culture's "trash." It leads our students to "love some other kingdoms and some other gods," to quote Smith.

Jay Lehman

Mystified by Mormons

As a lifelong Latter-day Saint (LDS), I read with interest "What can Christian leaders learn from the surge in Mormon youth missionaries?" [Village Green, May]. Yet each expert struggled to explain LDS success. The belief that "these young people are eager to serve so they can earn God's favor through their faithfulness" clearly demonstrates how easy it is to misunderstand a subculture from the outside.

LDS understand "it is by grace we are saved after all we can do" to mean that we are ultimately saved by the grace of Christ. Rites of passage and tribal affiliation are similarly inadequate ways of trying to explain how LDS youth from diverse backgrounds serve so much. It will take much richer analysis to explain the chasm between LDS and evangelical levels of commitment.

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Wally Goddard

A Clear Statement

Thank you for David Neff's "A Tale of Two Analogies" [May]. I teach a career competencies class at Northwestern College. Whenever I begin the module on creating an elevator speech, I use Jesus'. This helps students see the importance of having a clear statement about themselves that reflects the authority that comes from God. It also helps them to think more deeply about themselves and to make sure that their words are true and meaningful.

Linda Ashworth

Correction: In "The Shepherd," the line from a 1993 Washington Post article was referring to followers of Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell.

Top 3

What got the most comments in May's CT

40%What We Talk About When We Talk About Rob Bell Mark Galli

30%W.W.Jay-Z Russell D. Moore

7%Village Green: Learning from Latter-day Saints Greg Stier, John Divito, and Kara Powell

Readers' Pick

The most praised piece in May's CT

Inside CT: Holy Hip-Hop Grows Up by Katelyn Beaty

Worth Repeating

Things overheard at CT online.

"Picking up your books, I was both terrified of what I might find about me, and elated at how you faithfully reflected God's glory."

Kate Richter, honoring her favorite author, Dallas Willard.
CT Liveblog: "Died: Dallas Willard, Divine Conspiracy Author and Philosopher," by Melissa Steffan and Jeremy Weber

"'Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?' With that, we must be satisfied."

John Pierce, relying on Abraham's question from Genesis 18:25 (KJV) when struggling to answer if God is merciful in judging people.
Speaking Out: "Do All Children Go to Heaven?," by Jim Denison

"These things erode the trust of the public."

Carl Dixon, expressing grief over all abuse victims and the allegations against Sovereign Grace Ministries.
CT Liveblog: "As Appeal Is Announced in Sovereign Grace Case, Joshua Harris Says He Was Abused as a Child," by Ted Olsen

"[The title] isolates, puffs up, and separates. It's as hard on the congregation as it is on the man single-handedly responsible for them all."

Ryan, believing that the role of "head pastor" is problematic.
CT Liveblog: "Three Megachurch Pastors Resign over Adultery in Orlando," by Melissa Steffan

"I have to keep falling in love with the embodied soul that he is, even as the contours change."

Stacey L, on the need for couples to show each other grace as they age.
Her.meneutics: "Stay Sexy or Else? Well, Please Forgive These Mommy Hips," by Janelle Aijian

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