Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Was God Blasphemed on Atonement Q & A?

{WARNING: LONG BLOG POST AHEAD}

That is one person's assessment. I was all set to blog about In Adam All Die when I came across a blog that took exception with a lyric from "Atonement Q & A". The line in question is on verse 2 when I say,

"Adoption means God is now my Father/ I got the hottest Poppa and by the Spirit holler 'Abba'

The objection this brother (named Joel) had is with the phrase "hottest Poppa". You can find his blog post here. On Twitter, Joel referred to the phrase as "irreverent blasphemy". After reading the comments on the blog, I decided to respond, which you can read below. He responded to me here. After a few exchanges, it became clear that he was no longer interested in having the discussion. I asked some questions that he never answered. Finally, I made another comment that he refused to post, citing his comment policy and saying it was too long. When I offered to edit the comment, Joel never responded.

One good thing about the technological age we live in is that discussions don't have to end when one blogger decides he no longer wants to try to back up his claims of blasphemy. Since I have a blog also, I decided to copy and paste our exchange, while including the response that I made to him that he refused to post on his blog.

The reason I decided to post it here is because I thought this would be a good opportunity for the readers of this blog to see the kinds of arguments that some people make about Christian hip-hop. I commend this brother for his zeal for the name of God, but I do believe that it is a zeal not according to knowledge. A few things struck me about our exchange. First, it seems that our age of Twitter/ Facebook-status-updates-in-140-characters-or-less has negatively affected our ability to reason and to follow arguments to their logical conclusions. In our era, a person can simply make assertions and then refuse to substantiate them because the blog format simply won't allow for in-depth reasoning and critical analysis. Second, I'm convinced that his issues with the lyric are rooted in shallow thinking as it relates to cultural distinctions and a failure to properly and Biblically think through some of the implications of linguistic diversity. But that's my opinion. You can decide for yourself.

Here's the exchange:
Hello Brothers,
This is Shai Linne. I’m the guy who wrote the lyric in question. I’m sorry to join the discussion so late, but I just learned of it today. First I want to say that I appreciate the concern of the original post. God’s commands are to be taken seriously and if a violation of the third commandment has occurred, I believe it should be addressed. Also, I actually don’t have a problem with people publicly responding to things that have been released publicly. So I commend the writer of the original post for taking a stand for the truth of God and desiring that His named be regarded as holy.
With that said, I believe some assumptions have been made, as evidenced throughout the comments.
Joel said:
“It is a blessed thing Manfred [a commenter on the original post], for God’s children to call Him Abba, Father. However, the phrase “I got the hottest poppa” is overwhelmingly a non-reverent way to appeal to listeners”
My response:
Just so you know, my purpose in using the phrase was not to appeal to listeners because I think it sounds “cool”. Nor was my purpose to whet the world’s sinful, fleshly appetites. In fact, this song was written for Christians as a way to impart gospel truth in a memorable fashion for the purpose of catechesis. With that said, if you are going to take such issue with my use of the phrase “hottest Poppa”, we should probably make sure we’re on the same page and that nothing has been lost in translation, so to speak. Language is funny like that sometimes. As we all know, two people can use the same exact word and mean two completely different things. Therefore, I would be remiss if I didn’t ask you to tell me what you think I actually meant by “hottest Poppa”. What’s your understanding of that particular colloquialism? I look forward to hearing your answer.
Here is Joel's response to my post:
Shai,
I don’t know you, but you claim, profess to be a Christian. Ok, this is what you need to know about the name of God. I believe the colloquialism ’hottest poppa” should not be used in reference to God. He reveals His Names in Scripture, but we do not get to assign names to Him, and His name is not to be made common. Ever. In any way. Period. When God revealed His name to Moses on Mt. Sinai, we read:
God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” Exodus 3:14
He said that, brother, because there is nothing else in the entire universe to compare Himself to. He is unique, one of a kind, holy – and that is what the term means. “I AM WHO I AM” precludes any comparison to other gods. The term ‘hottest’ implies one (or more) of many does it not? Is our God just one of many god similar to Him, and He is ‘the hottest’ of them all? Or, is He thrice holy because there is none other like Him?
When you refer to our God as something that can be compared to another, say, for example, a man like Hugh Jackman, Hollywood actor, who has also been called ‘the hottest poppa’ you, perhaps mistakenly, malign the name of our great God, creator of heaven and earth, by referring to Him as the world refers to others. The Spirit of Christ in us cries out ‘Abba, Father! (Gal 4:6), but never do we find the Spirit of Christ in Scripture crying out “Hot Poppa!” Get it?
There is no other to compare Him to! When you refer to God with terms used of another, you declare Him to be not unique and holy, but just another of many. That is my thought on the matter. God bless you and yours Whom He has given you. I pray your skills as a musician, artistry and witness will be a blessing upon many in the time God has given you to live upon this earth.
And this is how I followed up with my next post:

Joel,

Thank you for your response. I am in whole-hearted agreement with you about the uniqueness of God and His incomparable majesty. In fact, I heartily “Amen” the majority of your post. However, with all the true things that you said, you never actually addressed my original question: In my original post, I said:

“Therefore, I would be remiss if I didn’t ask you to tell me what you think I actually meant by “hottest Poppa”. What’s your understanding of that particular colloquialism? I look forward to hearing your answer.”

You never addressed this in your response. Words are useful only inasmuch as they convey meaning, or meaning is ascribed to them. Perhaps an example might be helpful. Is it ever appropriate to refer to God as “Gospodin”? What about “Domnul”? What do you think? Well, our Croatian and Romanian brothers and sisters would say it’s very appropriate, since those are the words translated “Lord” in their respective languages.

My point is that we can’t answer the question of the propriety or impropriety of the terms until we actually know the meaning of the terms.

As a sidenote:

Joel, you used the following argument in your last post:

“When you refer to God with terms used of another, you declare Him to be not unique and holy, but just another of many.”

This is not a sound argument, brother. For instance, the term “king” has often been used of others, including Elvis Presley. Will the fact that it’s been used of Elvis keep you from using it in reference to God? The Bible itself uses the same word in reference to both earthly kings and God Himself. A simple comparison of Psalm 21:7 and Psalm 24:8 will show one of many Biblical examples of this. This does not at all take away from God’s uniqueness or holiness.

But that is not my main point right now. Right now, I’m just asking you to answer a simple question. Please tell me what you think I meant by the use of the phrase “hottest Poppa”. Thanks brother.

grace and peace,
shai
And Joel's response:
Blockquote
Shai,
You’re quite welcome. As for what you meant or your motive, I will leave that to the Lord. I can only imagine your intentions were that of praise. In other words, what you meant or your motives is not really my concern because neither will influence the minds of those who hear what has been recorded. People will not be influenced by intent, but they may be by what they hear and see brother. That is why behavior reflects our true belief. That is why the issue is not your intentions, but rather addressing our God in ways that I believe are irreverent.
If you had recorded ‘hot’ or ‘great’, that would be one thing. Yet ‘hottest’ implies, again, among many. How many Creator’s of heaven and earth are there brother? Again, ‘hottest’ appears to be an attempt to make the God of Scripture ‘hip’ and acceptable to the hearers of your music. I am not saying that was your intent. It is simply the way it sounds. Aside from our God, the Sovereign Creator and Sustainer of all things, there is no other god.
“‘See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god beside me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand.” – Deut. 32:39
SDG,
Joel
This was Joel's last response to me. My response below was never published due to his comment policy. Here's what the readers of his blog would have seen had he decided to post it.

Joel,
Thank you for being willing to dialogue on this issue. I want to address some of the things you said in your last response to me.
You said:
"As for what you meant or your motive, I will leave that to the Lord. I can only imagine your intentions were that of praise. In other words, what you meant or your motives is not really my concern... People will not be influenced by intent... the issue is not your intentions, but rather addressing our God in ways that I believe are irreverent."
My response:
Just to be clear, I never asked you to tell me what my intentions or motives were in writing the lyric. I asked you to simply define the words I used. Huge difference. I asked you to tell me WHAT I said, not WHY I said it. (I use capitals for emphasis here, not to convey emotion. No anger at all towards you, brother)
In hermeneutics, it would be similar to asking an exegete to distinguish between the correct interpretation of a Hebrew or Greek word and the authorial intent of the biblical writers. For example, I'm sure you know that the Apostle John often used the word "kosmos", which is translated "world" in our English translations. I trust that you also know that the context determines whether John's intent was to speak of:
1) Planet earth, as in John 8:23
2) Many people, as in John 12:19
3) All nations, as in John 4:42
4) The world system in opposition to God and under Satanic, godless influence, as in 1 John 2:15
That's not to mention the many other ways that that particular word can be interpreted. It would be irresponsible exegesis for an expositor to say "John used the word 'world'! It doesn't matter what he meant!" We could not properly interpret Scripture if we were to use the reasoning you're using with me here. In fact, if the actual meaning of words was not important, we couldn't comprehend literature at all. Dictionaries would no longer be necessary in that case.
This is my main problem with your original post. You have declared my use of a phrase to be a violation of the 3rd commandment. And you have yet to tell me the actual meaning of the phrase.
Interestingly, in your first post, you said this of God:
"...He is unique..."
My response:
Using the same reasoning you're using with me, I could say, "Brother Joel, the Bible never uses the word 'unique' in reference to God. You are being irreverent. 'Unique' has been used to describe Michael Jackson's singing style. It is irreverent to use the same word used of a worldly pop-star to describe our awesome, majestic God. And by the way, Joel, it doesn't matter what you actually meant when you used the word 'unique'".
How would you respond to that, brother?
You threw me for a loop with one other thing you said:
You said:
"If you had recorded ‘hot’ or ‘great’, that would be one thing. Yet ‘hottest’ implies, again, among many. How many Creator’s of heaven and earth are there brother?"
My response:
I wasn't expecting this. "Hot" would be ok, but "Hottest" is the problem? Interesting...So then, your issue is that I described God using a superlative, therefore implying that that He's one among many? I don't think I've ever heard that particular argument before.
The first thing that comes to my mind is that the Scriptures often refer to God as the "Most High", which is another way of saying the "highest". In other words, many are highly exalted but none are exalted higher than God. In no way does the description "Most High" take away from God's uniqueness. On the contrary, superlatives (by definition) distinguish the one spoken of from all others who either claim to be or are thought to be in their category. This can be demonstrated with a few simple questions: Who is the humblest person who has ever lived? Who is the wisest teacher this world has ever known? Who is the greatest king to ever walk the earth? We both know the answer is the same to each question. Is God dishonored in any way by it? Of course not.
Finally, I noticed that you never addressed 2 things from my last post:
1. Is it ever appropriate to refer to God as “Gospodin”? What about “Domnul”?
What do you think?
2. Joel, you used the following argument in your last post:
“When you refer to God with terms used of another, you declare Him to be not unique and holy, but just another of many.
This is not a sound argument, brother. For instance, the term “king” has often been used of others, including Elvis Presley. Will the fact that it’s been used of Elvis keep you from using it in reference to God?The Bible itself uses the same word in reference to both earthly kings and God Himself. A simple comparison of Psalm 21:7 and Psalm 24:8 will show one of many Biblical examples of this. This does not at all take away from God’s uniqueness or holiness.
Question: Are you still holding to the following line of reasoning?
“When you refer to God with terms used of another, you declare Him to be not unique and holy, but just another of many.”
If so, why?
To All Who Have Commented
Please know that I am not at all offended by Joel's comments. In fact, I find it refreshing that there is someone willing to stand up for the honor of God's name. That is all too rare these days. I join Joel in his desire that our Father's name be hallowed. I believe he is in error in this particular application of the principle, which is why I responded. However, I rejoice & praise God for the high regard that Joel has for God's name.
grace and peace,
shai
So, there you have it. Do you have any thoughts about this discussion?

74 comments:

Anonymous said...

Once again, your loving pursuit of truth and Christ's honour has sharpened my mind. thanks Shai! ;)
Love from AUSTRALIA!

Anonymous said...

I would also add that our lord is referred to as "king of kings" in the book of revelation. does this place him among kings and take away his uniqueness?
this conversation has more to do with ethnocentricism than biblical fidelity.
having said that. I wonder sometimes if concessions should be made for weaker brothers? is that principle ever at play in your mind when you write? or does your calling as an urban missionary outweigh your inclination to do so? I've had this conversation with a group of my friends on their way to pakistan, and we all came to the consensus that in personal matters we would do our best not to offend "weaker" christians, but when it regarded our calling we would be all things to all people (within biblical parameters of course)

Sarah said...

Shai, I believe God is glorified in and through your music and writing. As far as Joel is concerned, I think legalism is something he should be very cautious of. We serve a gracious God, who loves His children and looks at the heart as any parent. God is reffered to many things, such as Father, does that mean we shouldn't call Him that either? The arguments aren't sound or biblical, rather judgmental and legalistic. Continue preaching the gospel, Shai, and be encouraged! Soli deo gloria!

Grant Diamond said...

You defended your perspective well Shai, I think you were particularly wise to point to the innumerable Scriptures where language is used of God that in essence compares Him to something else.

I'm also glad that you made a defense of this here, I've had some of Joel's same thoughts before (although much less aggressive). I remember wondering about what Joel was wondering about most strongly when I heard Sho Baraka rap, "Yeah God is something like Kobe, awesome and amazing on 'em" I loved the line but found myself wondering afterwards, does that line do God justice, comparing him to Kobe?

I didn't think on it long because in the wider context of the song and Sho's music it's wonderfully clear that he's seeking to "Make Him [God] famous" the point of the music isn't silly punchlines to glorify Sho, it's clever lines to captivate listeners with a unique presentation of who God is.

One Biblical example that you didn't get into that I think applies here is Christ's teaching that "A Kingdom divided against itself cannot stand." Now I don't think that Joel was anywhere going as far as to say that your music is of Satan, so this isn't a total direct application of that teaching but I do think that it's valuable for the discussion.

In the same way that Christ teaches that it's just ridiculous for the Pharisees to accuse Him of being a closet agent of Satan while He casts out demons it would be equally ridiculous to accuse music whose sole purpose is to glorify God (which yours self admittedly is) to at the same time be taking away from God's glory because of certain vernacular within.

That was a ridiculously wordy sentence, sorry. I guess it seems to me that at the end of the day you're either rapping for God's glory or your own, and if you're rapping for God's glory (which Lampmode artists pretty clearly do!) than an argument that a certain line in a song takes away from that glory just doesn't work. Music divided against itself can't stand.

B. Isaac said...

While I respect Joel's statements (and the truths in his statements), I think this was just a matter of both misunderstanding and someone who just wanted to be deep and spiritual over something that most people would consider so simple. The fact that you said "hottest Poppa" was nothing but clever wordplay that ANY hip hop head would've picked up, in fact, I thought the line was both humorous AND true, HE IS the HOTTEST (or greatest/best/most superior) POPPA, ABBA, DADDY, FATHER, ALL of those names so what is the real issue here???....shai....I commend you for your responses to him and trying to reason with him but this is just as case of misunderstanding on his part, pray for his understanding and move on. :)

WGJake said...

Praise God for a honoring discussion! I wish 5pt would actually respond to what you have to say. It seems he is more interested in his own thoughts than reasonably discussing the truth.

Mark | hereiblog said...

Very well said, brother.

lorenzo said...

In some societies, it seems as though sheer religiosity has blinded some Christians from seeing beyond scriptures. What I means is that I thank God for revealing other forms of intellect to us that aren't necessarily in scriptural form, but still good and perfect from God, for example: 2+2=4 (although this kind of intellect won't get anyone closer to God in a "religious matter", so to speak, God-directed knowledge can expand someone's intellect through anything He chooses).

Giulian & Christy Giusti said...

Thanks for continuing the discussion Shai. It has really encouraged me to think deeply about this subject. I think Joel's comment here is note-worthy, "...what you meant or your motives is not really my concern because neither will influence the minds of those who hear what has been recorded."

One thing that Joel failed to take into account is "those who hear what has been recorded." In order to appropriately minister cross-culturally, you have to understand the culture which is something he apparently lacks.

From what I can tell, your statement is accurate when you said, "I'm convinced that his issues with the lyric are rooted in shallow thinking as it relates to cultural distinctions and a failure to properly and Biblically think through some of the implications of linguistic diversity."

Thanks again,
Christy

Apeleutheros said...

I commend the patience and graciousness you set forth in your argument. You handled it a lot better then I would have. Plus your reasoning was very well thought out and articulated(no flattery intended brother).

It seems to me that this person just had a bone to pick, or a gnat to strain out.

As far as what he had said here:

“When you refer to God with terms used of another, you declare Him to be not unique and holy, but just another of many.”

It really makes no sense. Is not Abba just the Aramaic word for Father. Isn't Poppa another word for Father as well?, did not the Lord refer to the Father as "pat─ôr" (father). I have a Father... so by his reasoning here both me and Jesus both are guilty of this sort of "blasphemy".

In fact I am blaspheming God every time I pray, seeing as there are many Fathers...

Isn't the devil the Father of Lies?

Kris said...

It's a shame your last response was not permitted to post; it contained your most compelling arguments.

Your explanation of how superlatives actually set the subject apart, as opposed to just one among many, was particularly well said.

Joel seems genuinely concerned with upholding the glory of God, but his zeal is misdirected in this instance. If the worst thing that can be said about your lyrics is that you used the phrase, "hottest poppa", which suggests a more casual familiarity than many of us feel comfortable with, then I'd say you are doing pretty well.

God is transcendent, and holy, but he also has condescended to enter into covenant relationship with his people, so that we may now come boldly to his throne of grace, through Christ Jesus. Familiarity need not impinge upon our sense of God's holiness.

Thank you, brother, for your ministry to my own heart, and all those I know who your music has touched.

Joshua Palumbo said...

I appreciated the dialogue that the two of you shared. The thing that came across to me is that you both share a genuine love for the Lord. I would also say on your side, Shai it does appear that your looking for specific answers to your questions and while this does follow "logic", I don't think a conversation has to be held on the realm of logic. Jesus didn't always answer the question the people we're asking, but he always pointed in the direction of truth. On Joel's side I would say, you did refer to Shai's verse as "irreverent blasphemy" so with this type of judgment, you have a choice to go through the process of proving your case. The purpose of going through this process with Shai would be to give him biblical understanding of why your statement is truth. Sometimes in the process of going through a trial it reveals knowledge that we may not have used or come to in our original judgment. We learn from this process and when acquittal is needed we proceed with it. I would implore you, Joel to see Shai out through the full process. I believe both of you have a great knowledge of the word of God and so I know there is plenty of discussion points or areas of opportunity to share other things of relevance, but if possible try to stay relevant to the initial accusation until some means of due process or final verdict of judgment is established. Thanks for sharing and God bless both of you and may the Lord be glorified in all you do:)

preciousadornment said...

As a white girl with no street cred, I can definitely relate to hearing your expression of praise ("hottest poppa") and thinking, "Wow. That's different than the words I would choose." But because I see the difference as being one of culture and preference, not of righteousness or reverence, I can hear your song, enjoy it, and wholeheartedly agree, "Yes, God is the greatest Daddy!" =) One of the reasons I enjoy Christian hip-hop music like yours so much is because in addition to being saturated in rich theology, it is also composed with a great deal of lyrical creativity. I both enjoy and am blessed by hearing the worship of God expressed in new ways instead of with the same old words rhymed in the same old patterns. I believe God is greatly glorified through your heartfelt expressions of worship, and I pray He continues to bless you with new songs of praise.

Shawn David Evans said...

Shai, your handling of this situation is a mark of maturity. Sounds as though you've been listening and learning and growing from the Elders meetings at Capitol hill. I praise God for your example of overcoming with good.

Casey said...

Shai,
Thank you for your thoughtful, gracious, and humble responses to this brother. This makes me appreciate your ministry even more.

I agree with you that the particular phrase "hottest Poppa" may not necessarily be bad but I agree with part of Joel's sentiment that it can be dangerous to use colloquialisms to describe such a high, exalted, and holy God.

For example, I think you would agree that the phrase "the big Guy in the sky" is not a reverent term for God. Using a logical argument however, it is possible to come to the conclusion that there is not much wrong or untrue about the term...after all, God is definitely big, He's portrayed in scripture repeatedly as male, and He is also described as being in heaven. So one could make the argument that there is nothing wrong with describing God as “the big Guy in the sky.” I would hope we would agree however, that this phrase does not show God the reverence that is due Him.

If we look at your particular lyric, “Poppa” (and similarly “Daddy”) can easily be understood as an English translation of the word “Abba.” I am not sure exactly what our brother Joel would say about this part of your phrasing, but since he failed to mention it, I can only assume he did not have too big a problem with it.

The term “hottest” seems to be the more contested word in this discussion. I agree with you that there is nothing wrong (and everything right) with using the superlative of the word to describe God. I also agree that an important place to start is by defining the word, so I will be happy to give my understanding.

There are several uses that come to mind. Most commonly, I have heard the word used to describe a person’s sexual attractiveness (He/she is the hottest person in the room.) or to describe something as newly popular or most popular (Shai Linne’s new album is the hottest thing on iTunes!). I do understand that the term could also simply be used to describe something that is the best in multiple ways, but I do not know if this is a common use of the word. I am definitely not the most hip person so there could easily be (and probably are) other uses with which I am simply not familiar, but these are what come to mind when I hear the word “hottest.”

I think I understand what you mean when you say “hottest Poppa” and I do not believe that you are being irreverent. I hope I do not misrepresent what your song says. My understanding of what you say in the song is that God is your personal Father and He is the best Father you (or anyone else) could possibly have. Obviously this is not blasphemous, but I do think that a more reverent phrase could possibly be used.

There is definitely a balance that we must find. God is worthy of reverence and worship and we must have a sense of awe about Him but He is also a personal God who is involved in our everyday lives and who loves us. Jesus Himself captured this balance well by referring to God as “Abba Father…”

It is a mistake to hold God so distant that we make Him impersonal but it is also a mistake to bring Him so low that we dilute his majesty. In my opinion, using the term “hottest Poppa” does not dilute His majesty but it also does not seem to invoke a sense of awe about Him…at least not in my mind. While I disagree that your phrase is “irreverent blasphemy,” I do think there may be a more helpful way to describe God’s glory and preeminence while maintaining a sense of His love and closeness and personal involvement with His children.

Thank you for brother for all you do for the cause of Christ. Keep preaching the gospel! Blessings to you and your new bride! I love you, brother!

joshua casebeer said...

call me simple, but "i got the hottest papa" is my favorite line of the whole song!

Tonye @ True Vine Productions said...

Wow...
I actually learned a few things from this post... and not just more truth from the Bible but how to react to criticism...

I haven't listened to many of your songs Shai, but I definitely want to now...

You really have a clean and humble Spirit that I can partake of by listening to you.

God bless you and your ministry.

Matthew said...

Shai-

Pretty interesting discussion. I actually disagree with both of you at various points.

With Joel and his appeal to "hottest" as being what makes you irreverent because it necessarily implies that God is no longer unique. What you said about the "Most High" refuted that pretty clearly.

On the other hand, your appeal to "Gospodin" and "Domnul" being words which other nations use to replace kurios because they don't speak Greek, or English, or whatever, doesn't seem to be on the same playing field.

We use Lord because that's what kurios means in English. They use the above mentioned words because they represent kurios in their languages.

But it's not as if "hottest Poppa" is the Spanish equivalent of God the Father, or Abba.

Unless you're trying to make the point that in hip-hop, "hottest Poppa" is the exact equivalent of Father or Abba, then I think something more needs to be considered.

Namely, can we or you or anyone else employ that title without irreverence sneaking in the back door?

I got to thinking for myself. Could I call my earthly father that without showing some sort of disrespect? Honestly, I had to answer that I couldn't. Even if it was in a setting where I was trying to communicate how much I approved of my father or what he had just done. For me, the words are loaded with disrespect.

But I'm not immersed in your culture, so your answer may be different than mine. So then does the question become one of conscience? Where mine is bound because of seemingly external factors yours is set free due in large part to the same?

As much as I think it was rash for Joel to say that you were irreverent, I do think that his assertion can be a springboard into some self-examination for all of us with regard to our use of words in general and more particularly with reference to our heavenly Father.

Thanks for the post. Some good stuff to think about to be sure.

Nathan D said...

Very Good and well said. Helped me think deeper about the issue. I would agree with you 100%. Keep it up Shai. Your ministry has blessed me!

Meredith said...

Well spoken, Shai!! I am so impressed to read your godly response and clear reasoning and desire for peace AND truth here. Your exchange with Joel is illustrative of godly character in all the right ways. I am very proud of you!

Steven Wayne Howard said...

I agree with Tonye, Shai. Your humility in regards to critique has been a blessed education to my heart!
As I read I was going to mention that our Poppa (Father) being the hottest (greater) than other poppas (fathers) is something that Joel could look into and take note of. This does not at all diminish the glory our God receives as He is praised for His position above all- in this case: as greatest Father. Even though you might not have been able to have had your final posting set within that discussion, thank you for putting it here as well as for answering it peaceably while remaining steadfast for the faith.
Continue to be humbled and a discerning listener to critique to further your walk with the Lord.
Hope these verses will be of some encouragement to you:
"Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Live in harmony with one another. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all."- Excerpts from Romans 12:14-18 ESV
Grace and Peace from our Heavenly Father to you, shai!

steven w. howard

leila said...

so after reading his blog, your blog, all the tweets and comments, i'm amazed at a few things:

1) how gracious you are towards someone who called you irreverent and almost compared you to the devil.

2) how he changed his argument more than once: 1st it was about being too casual, careless, trifling, irreverent. later, he says we can't assign names to God that aren't already in the bible (i guess translations to our own languages don't count?). then he changes to a third argument: against the comparative/superlative, that his problem was the word was hottEST (nevermind that the whole bible is full of comparisons to other 'gods'?). it's difficult to keep up.

3) how nitpicky this whole conversation is. joel did not refer to the context of the quote, regarding adoption and the 'casual', 'familiar' word 'Abba' (romans 8:15).

it's amazing to me that anyone could think that you, of all people, take the Lord's name lightly. he clearly doesn't know your work. but nevertheless, i think he is missing a doctrinal concept: that God is both holy AND personal. both to be feared AND to trust. and that's the awesome thing about the atonement, that Christ brings us into this closeness with the Most High God. you said it well in 'my portion' ('You’re infinite and transcendent- yet with friends')
remember too: Jesus was considered irreverent by some in His time, as it was quite unheard of to use such an intimate term (abba/daddy) for God. i wonder what joel has to say about the 'fatherhood' of God and our boldness before Him ('let us then with confidence draw near to the throne' -heb 4:16).

well i think you've given joel a boost in website hits (you do have 10 times his twitter followers, not that anyone's counting...). but i'm glad you addressed it and mentioned proverbs 18:17. but my prayer is for unity: that rather than attacking a fellow believer, christian bloggers can better use their time and web space for the kingdom and glory of God.

[as long as it took me to type that.. now i read other comments above (casey's, chris's) that say it way better. but i'm gonna hit 'post' anyway!]

Adoption Mama said...

Personally, my husband and I have gone through a huge trial with one of our adopted children. Your songs, Shai Linne, have ministered to him amazingly while he sits and rides a mower for work. This song is his favorite and specifically that line.

Thanks for your ministry.

Alan Fahrner said...

Hi Shai,

I would mostly second Casey; we all agree there is some line when it comes to proper terms for God, no? For instance, I could chose to quote our present Vice President and say that our Lord is a "Big ____ Deal," but I suspect you would also question the wisdom. (I realize that one could posit that isn't a good argument because Scripture condemns curse words...but there are plenty of "Christians" who think it acceptable to use expletives.)

Is "hottest poppa" over that line? Although I'll admit it makes me cringe :-), I don't think so...and you have bettered Joel in your exchange. He is a brother I greatly appreciate, but one who may be a bit zealous in his call to be a watchman on the wall. (And you may have noticed that the Internet spawns more watchmen then it does consolers and edifiers...at least in the vocal category.)

Blessings on you and yours,

Alan
@AlanCult on Twitter
fahrner.us

jonathanbatteas said...

It is obvious both of you hold The Lord in high esteem, yet Paul said in Romans 8:15 that due to our adoptions as sons, we cry abba, father. Abba is like crying "daddy". Wouldn't this be irreverent? regardless, I think something is obvious here. It is, of course, our inclination to try to defend ourselves, but as you can tell from the majority of the comments here, most see no problem with the familiar term of calling God "the hottest pappa", but when one does. Doesn't God call us to bear with the failings of the weak. You see, Paul doesn't call the one who does eat, or the one who regards all days as the same as weak. He calls those who refrain as weak. I would agree it would be wrong for this person to call God "the hottest pappa" because he can not do it from faith. But as far as our responsibilities go, Paul reminds us once again, in Romans 15,
"We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves.
2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.
3 For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.
4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope."
just my 2¢ and I could be wrong.

Amy said...

Sadly, I think Joel lost the point of his argument by the end. Thanks for holding it down for the gospel, Shai.

Jesse said...

Shai, I hate this whole exchange. It makes me spitting angry, which I suppose exposes a lot of my own weaknesses, but I HATE it when Christians don't give each other the benefit of a doubt. I think that's completely contrary to the gospel and to the grace we've received. To not extend that same grace, and to assume the worst about a brother or sister's unconscionable.

I thank you for the grace evident in your response to Joel. I'm sorry he didn't post your response to him; if that's a "violation of his comment policy" (I struggle against saying something snide about how his comment policy must not allow for others to show him the error of his rush-to-judgment ways), then maybe he should revisit his rules.

I obviously struggle with extending Joel the grace you have. As my pastor always says, quoting a seminary professor of his, "My son, you have just out-Pharisee'd the Pharisee."

David Wells said...

Shai,
This is really cool to read because a couple of days ago, I was in a conversation on campus about whether God sends people to hell or whether people choose it. A couple of guys were going at it and it became like a cable news shouting match. You show how to handle debate calmly and address issues through reason based on the Scriptures.

That and you can rap pretty well, too.

-David

ryangeer said...

shai,

really encouraged by your post. however, because of my background with guys like this (or how i imagine him to be...) i found myself thinking "why is shai even bothering?" it struck me, though, that your answers that were lost on him may be of great help to others commenting or lurking.

God's grace was evident as you let go some of his baiting comments and simply, graciously tried to interact with him.

Thanks for posting this - it was instructive.

Jeff Schultz said...

You asked a question in the title: "Was God blasphemed...?" The quick answer is "No." You love for the Lord and desire to honor his name is obvious all through the album.

I appreciate the concern to honor God's person and name, but he's the one who invites us to understand him through the imagery of king, shepherd, husband, father. The whole argument about comparative language is silly, I think, because there obviously are many fathers, kings, judges, lords, and, according to the Bible, in one sense even many gods. We can get in trouble if we think God is literally a shepherd or husband or father like us, and start comparing him in that way to others. But he is indeed the greatest Father, King, Lord, Judge, Husband, Shepherd -- not in competition with any others that really do exist, but as the one, true original of all those roles and offices that we imperfectly reflect.

I echo the other comments about your patience and graciousness in dealing with the criticism that was raised. And I encourage you to keep making awesome music to the glory of the hottest poppa.

Dave said...

Hey Shai,
I enjoyed reading your breakdown. I think this conversation is a symptom of much bigger arguments that are happening throughout Christianity. What words do we "allow" others to use to describe "our" God? I think your points conveyed the main idea for this type of argument. The term Abba is a uniquely personal form for dad. When Jesus taught us that way to pray, it was a significant shift from the G*d or YHWH mentality from the OT. To go from not even being able to speak His name to suddenly calling Him dad is a pretty big change. It all was based on the type of relationship the NT believer has compared to the OT believer. Do we have to be careful to not make God's name trivial or irreverent, yes. But we have to realize because of the familiar terms for Him in the NT, that people can relate to Him much differently. We can pray to Him like a dad, and seek that type of relationship with Him. Does it mean that a Puritan prayer is better than a childs? In no way!
I loved your use of the title Most High, the best example of even OT ways to describe God. In fact it is first used by the Priest Melchisadek, who's priesthood lineage is the one Jesus claimed, and is higher than Aaron's.
I also want to commend your handling of the scenario with grace and truth. It is too rare to see a man reacting with truth and showing the necessary grace. Thanks for teaching me in this way as well.

TruthMatters said...

King of kings
Lord of lords
Name above all names
Wonderful
Counselor
Prince
Mediator

God (Elohim), always translated "gods" refering to pagan gods except when used to in reference to Jehovah God

Father
Son
Angel of the Lord

These are just a few instances where terms that refer to God (many used by God Himself) are also terms to refer to other created beings.

Jim B. said...

I love you, Shai. I had to chuckle several times while reading through this exchange. I had a similar experience a few years ago when a handful of "watch-bloggers" began ripping John Piper (my pastor). It was a disheartening experience, revealing evil in the hearts of many professing Christians(mostly of the Reformed variety)... and in my own. I haven't blogged myself since.

Like many others here, I am encouraged and exhorted by your patience, humility and rational/logical/biblical thought process. More voices like yours in the Reformed blogosphere need to heard. There is so much for us to agree on and work together for, yet we get bogged down in sometimes hateful debates on matters that are beyond trivial.

I hope Joel responds here, but my experience tells me not to hold my breath.

God Bless,
Jim B.

mennoknight said...

Shai,

Hey there brother! It took me a while to sort through what Joel was suggesting too...but when I realized that he was insinuating some form of polytheism, I was completely amazed.

I wrote him a response, and he didn't post mine either! HA!

This whole event has clearly been a man confusing his preferences and tradition with what is biblical truth.

God bless brother!

John said...

Shai,

I've had run-ins with people who think the name of my podcast, "Jesus Geek" doesn't honor God. I generally ignore them because I would not handle the situation as gracefully as you have.

Cheers,

John

Nick Tanaka said...

Shai!

Thank you for your pastoral care for people and love for the glory of God. You showed a lot of wisdom, humility, and discernment. Always encouraged by your ministry!


AWRIGHT!

Thomas Booher said...

Shai,

What did you mean by "hottest poppa?"

Thanks,

Thomas Booher

Doug E. said...

Wonderful reasoning and teaching done in a spirit of humility and grace.

God Bless,

Doug

Matt McMains said...

I love the song, and the way you so clearly present the gospel through Hip Hop. God is the best of all categories: king, father, etc. He is the King of King and Lord of Lords.

I especially appreciate your gracious response here. Keep reppin his name. Soli Deo Gloria.

JDL said...

"Shai,

What did you mean by "hottest poppa?"

Thanks,

Thomas Booher"


Answer: He meant "greatest Father".

Even a fat, bald, white guy can get that... :)

John 10:29
My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.

Bereanwarrior said...

When I first downloaded the "Atonement" CD, I have to admit that the phrase in question bothered me a little bit as well. I didn't think of it as irreverent blasphemy, but it did make me uncomfortable. "The Atonement" was the first time I had been exposed to "Holy Hip Hop", and that CD absolutely blew my mind. The amazing lyrics show your love first for our awesome Creator, and also for His Truth.

Another thing that comes through your CDs, as well as other HHH artists like STL, Flame, Evangel, etc... is that CULTURE plays a huge part in understanding the meaning of certain words and phrases. Being a white boy from anglo-ville, it took me awhile to catch on, but HHH is my favorite "genre" of music now. When I first started listening, this age 4o something cracker had to discern the meaning and intent of words like fam, spit, rep, cats, phat, and my favorite - Fuzz Duckas courtesy of STL.

As I became familiar with this different culture, and heard the absolutely stunning lyrical content of your songs, I have grown somewhat more comfortable with the phrase "hottest Pappa".

After reading your dialogue with this person, I am convinced that you indeed meant nothing in the line of irreverent blasphemy, and that the error in the understanding comes from the cultural differences in our upbringings. Thank you for your passion, graciousness, and witness throughout your dialogue with this person.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Anonymous said...

I live and teach in Uganda. Ugandan English is unique. A whole generation here has "deposited" meaning into words which differs greatly from the way we define them in America. They have their own meaning they have put into "our" words that, in some instances, is absolutely unrelated to what we have "put" into the same sounds.

If I use "our" English to express cherished and sacred truth I will not communicate all that I hope to communicate. If I take the time to listen to them and try to understand the meaning (both the intellectual and emotional content) they have deposited into "their english" words, I can use those same words to actually accomplish my goal of communication ... even though a part of me still recoils from what appears to be a "cheapening" or misuse of "our" language - please pardon the honesty.

I very much enjoyed the the Atonement Q&A and will use it with my students.

One more comment regarding the brother's dismissal of our naming God. I appreciate His concern and zeal for allowing only God to direct our thinking about Himself through what He has taken the initiative to reveal. Nevertheless, I don't recall reading where God rejects or corrects Hagar for naming Him (Gen 16:13-14). As far as I can understand the text, it appears that the narrator lets the name stand (...and shouldn't we assume the Spirit's involvement in the narration is, in some measure, giving us God's perspective?). If that is so, Hagar is one of our earliest "theologians"!

Heavypoetry said...

I want to begin by saying that I am convicted. I cannot say for certain that I would have addressed the issue with the same amount of tact, kindness, scholarship, (and more importantly) Grace, that shai did. For that, I want to say "thank you" brother, for your example to the body of Christ. We have definitely entered the age of "internet gangsterism" where anyone behind a keyboard can say whatever they want and not consider that the comments and assumptions that they make and spread out to the masses are about living, breathing people who are created in God's image. Thanks, brother for putting maturity on display. I needed to see it.

Also, props to Grant Diamond for his comment because I think he really hits the nail on the head and I do not believe his citation of the text of the Pharisees attributing blasphemy to Jesus was out of line. It did not even cross my mind but I agree with his assessment. It is not possible to listen to ANY of your albums and come to the conclusion that you are committing blasphemous acts by means of your lyrics.

What immediately came to my mind were passages from the Psalms. Particularly, Psalms 97:7, 135:5, and 136:2 (as well as other examples such as 86:8, 82:1, 95:3, 96:4,5,7, 97:9, and others). These scriptures use the term "gods" in such a manner where it communicates that GOD (I AM, the True and Living GOD) is greater/better than all the other "gods" (plural). So there is not anything wrong with "hottest papa". The Bible is clear that there are not (in reality) "other gods" but uses it in the sense of stating that there are idols or gods of man's imagination and formation that have become entities and are worshiped as deities but in reality do not truly exist. So the argument: "If you had recorded ‘hot’ or ‘great’, that would be one thing. Yet ‘hottest’ implies, again, among many. How many Creator’s of heaven and earth are there brother?" is not valid. The Bible clearly lays out that there are many "gods" [plural](but they are false, idols) but still goes out of the way to state that out of all of them, the GOD of the Bible is the best, biggest, greatest, loveliest, truest, etc. to denote that He has higher superiority on all accounts and is in a league of His own.

I agree with the statement that "this conversation has more to do with ethnocentricism than biblical fidelity"

Thanks for responding in love, shai. Once again, you have been used to show me more of the heart of the Savior. I will continue to pray for your humility and wisdom to grow in greater measure.

kirshi said...

Hey Shai,

I really like your work and love you careful attention to your lyrical content. It has defintely bless me to hear music that honor God and with sound theology. Plus the fact that your sound is not to be cool or stylish but so people can clearly hear what are you getting at with your music. For that I must thank you. I hope to thank you in person one of these days since I don't live too far from where you goto church.

As far as your answering to Joel I think you did a swell job. At first I thought you missed Joel point with the hottest papa thing and comprehension of understanding the term hottest, but I am glade that you have address it because it does put things into perspective.

I mean it says in Matthew 23:9 we should call no one father on earth for we have one father in heaven. It clearly does not mean we should render the definition useless because we are trying to hold it only true to God the father, but that we should not have anyone above ourselves who is given such high authority.

I hope Joel will not hold a grudge and will forgive the misunderstanding but it seems like this is how it has to be sometimes to agree to disagree. But thank you again for bringing this up.

God Bless,
Jonathan

Harper said...

Well thought out and well said. I have listened to many of your songs, and found them to be extremely solid and good theologically. This line actually did make me do a mild double-take the first time I heard it, but upon reflection, I think it is entirely appropriate to the genre.
God bless and keep up the good work.

SDG!

Willie said...

Shai,

I enjoyed the post it helped remind me that God should be glorified in all we do say and think. I don't post alot becuase i'm just not able to put my words down on paper like i can speak them sometimes. This post also reminded me about how important it is to hear Christ. I say that becuase people on blogs like this will attack other believers to secure a place defending a God that needs no defedning. I didn't read all the pst so excuse me if someone already asked you this Shai. If i missed this in your post i apoliges. I wanted to know what you meant by "Hottest Pappa"? As a lover of Christian Hip Hop and been blessed to share your music with the youth i work with. I pray the Lord keep you and Congrats on your marriage may the Father transform you and your wife into one flesh.

Will aka Djmasterchill

Gunner said...

Shai,

Thank you for posting this dialogue. Not only is the discussion fruitful for sharpening our thinking and reminding us of the reverence to be given to God; it is also a fascinating case study regarding linguistics, contextualization, theology, and mission.

I too was surprised when Joel stated that his offense was directed toward the superlative "hottest," not the terms "hot" or "Poppa" or even "holla." You gave a sufficient response in that regard. However, I would guess that the terms themselves really did have something to do with him taking offense.

In that vein, I would suggest that one of your challenges is that your music has crossed cultures (obviously you're aware of this). Although birthed from and directed to the hip-hop culture, many of us who have not grown up in that culture are now being deeply influenced by your gospel-centered music. This means there may be terms you use whose precise meaning is embedded in and immediately understood by the hip-hop culture. Yet a wider audience, which the Lord has graciously given you, may not understand immediately. This could lead to anything from a little laugh to raised eyebrows to offense. In fact, when I play "Atonement Q&A" for people who haven't heard your music (and who rarely come from a hip-hop culture), they almost always laugh at that line. Since they're unfamiliar with what the term would signify in your context, they naturally assume (perhaps wrongly) that it was your intent to be clever and humorous by blending together a nuanced rhyme scheme, slang (in their view), adoption theology, and specific NT references.

Based on the direction of your original question to Joel ("What do you think I meant by the term 'hottest Poppa'?"), you seemed to be heading towards a discussion of what "hottest Poppa" would mean in your original context. I wish that discussion would've been advanced, because your explanation of the term would've shed helpful light on the issue of the kind of terminology we can or should use when referring to God, and how we should evaluate the various terms that another culture might use.

I would still love to hear your explanation of the term "hottest Poppa" and where you would've taken the discussion if Joel would've responded to your question. I'm deeply grateful for your Christian character, gospel devotion, and theological carefulness. Blessings, and I hope to see you around Louisville in the next few days!

Gunner

shai said...

Thank you all for your comments! So many insightful things were said. I was personally edified and even challenged by many of your comments.

Thank you also for your encouraging words about how I dealt with Joel. I certainly don't see myself as the model of grace & humility. I have a lot of growing to do in those areas- My wife can vouch for that!

Reading John Newton's letter "On Controversy" has been really helpful for me in dealing with brothers & sisters who disagree with me. I'm sympathetic to the Joels of the world because I believe he genuinely has God's glory in mind. I trust that Joel and I will rejoice for eternity together around the throne of the Lamb. That should inform how I relate to him now.

I also believe that many of us suffer from lack of exposure to other cultures and contexts and need to be dealt with gently by those of us who have already wrestled with some of these issues.

Gunner said:

"I would still love to hear your explanation of the term 'hottest Poppa' and where you would've taken the discussion if Joel would've responded to your question".

Others asked the same thing. My conversation with Joel got cut off before I could explain what I meant. One of my main points in asking Joel to define the phrase was that the meaning of a term or phrase should be commonly understood before evaluating whether or not it's appropriate. We didn't actually get to the heart of the discussion because we couldn't establish the common ground necessary to examine his claim of blasphemy/ irreverence.

In my next post, I'll explain what I meant and why I think it's appropriate. Thanks again for your responses

grace and peace,
shai

Aaron said...

Urban theologian, with the fervency of Moses.

Jerod said...

Hey Shai,

By God's grace he used the sound theology in your music to pluck me out of the Charismatic/Prosperity circle. I was saved after going to church for about 20 years. Shortly after leaving the church I was at and dumping all the old hip hop I listened to I got a copy of 'The Atonement'. It took me to the Word and helped me grow like crazy as all these concepts were new to me and by His Spirit finally made sense to me. I'm sure there are other stories like mine out there.
God Bless you brother.

Buyaah said...

After reading all comments on the original blog, I decided to post the lyrics to Q&A there, because it seemed like most actually didn't even listen to the lyrics to begin with.
I hope you don't mind.

further more I think you handled this very mature and worthy.

S.D.G.

Andrew said...

I didn't read all the previous comments because there are too many. I am just guessing that most of them are in support of you based on the ones I did read. Just thought I would add that I agree with Joel that using the term "the hottest Poppa" to refer to the Almighty is not appropriate. Just like the saying, "Jesus is my homeboy", your phrase takes an irreverent position for the creator of the universe.

John T. Meche III said...

I can think of more lyrics that need to be changed: "King of kings and Lord of lords" is going to have to become "King (pause) (pause) and Lord (pause) (pause)". The uniqueness argument really doesn't hold up. In fact, that sort of thinking led philosophers to say that if God does in fact exist, you cannot say anything intelligible about him, because you can only create language about things that are empirically verifiable.

I also think that there is a bit of subtle racism/classism going on here. I'm not saying that anyone is actively being racist or classist. I'm not saying it's an explicit motive, but one that is built into our view of language. I think that some people view "hottest" to be "street language" and therefore not appropriate to refer to God. If you would have said "greatest", I don't think you would have triggered a response -even though it's another "comparison" word for God. Call me out on that if I'm wrong, but I don't think I am.

Justin in Indy said...

Great discussion (oops, i meant conversation).

I've only been a Christian 4 yrs, so I don't really hold much credibility to weigh in....but I don't see the point in his initial posting. Yeah standing up for the Lord's name, always good, but in this case just seemed a little strange. Does he just have something against hip hop? Is that the root issue?

It just seemed to me in the song that hottest poppa was being used as an adjective to describe God, not for one of God's names. Like me saying I've got an awesome heavenly Dad! I didn't know brothers got upset on using joyful words to describe the Lord (as long as not heretical :) ).

Grace and peace Shai. You've taught me much about the Word and the Lord through your music, and I appriciate it. I've grown in Christ through your ministry.

Vessel said...

The Lord healed on the Sabbath day to show that it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath day. The Pharasies couldn't see the spiritual aspects of the law; but focussed on the letter of the law. I think this is a good example of too much emphasis of the letter of the law, rather than the spiritual.

Manfred said...

Shai,

The two posts Joel made on his blog about this issue caused me to seriously consider stopping my subscription to his blog. I've decided to move on and have been blessed by other - but not all - things he's posted.

I am thankful to God for both ya'll.

SORI said...

Hi Shai.
PERSONALLY I DON'T LIKE that word to describe God. (emphasis because it is my particular case, since the word 'hot' in spanish and romanian is used generally in a sexual way to girls).
I have listened to secular rap some time ago, until God said enough, and I have seen that this term in urban culture is used in the same way as in the two languages mentioned before.
So I sincerely think that the word 'hot' should not be used referring to God, for you use Rap to spread the truth, and in rap this term points to sexuality.

We must not conform to the pattern of this world, but renewing ourselves daily.
Thats why I think that Joel is right Shai. You have conformed to your culture by using this term.
I would not be surprised of the answers you got here, since they love you and will always defend you. It is human nature, and it has more propensity to go against God.
Your brother in Christ and in the love of God.

Carl Schuster said...

Good stuff shai.. thank you kindly and God bless...

esosa said...

i think the real problem is humility... Oftentimes in the Body when we are corrected, instead of just saying "Oops, I'm sorry, you were right," we just cut the conversation or endlessly self-justify to the point of foolishness. I think this brother was just embarrassed.
Last week, I made a biblical correction to a couple of people that commented on my facebook page. Only 1 person said "You know what, what you said was right, I agree, I'll change." The rest wanted to argue.

I was utterly blown away because humility is SO rare and precious.

Bradley Shai-linne-super-fan said...

I am proud to say, I HAVE THE HOTTEST POPPA! thank you Jesus! there is truly none like you!!!!

Thank you so much Shai for posting this.

RegularDude said...

wow. Big words.

Samuel said...

A God honoring discussion. Love from Malaysia.

Elizabeth said...

Shai,

I appreciate your willingness to discuss this topic.

I must say that I, too, do not approve of the term "hottest poppa" as a reference for God. To me, the word "hot" is a slang term and I believe it is disrespectful, even when used in reference to humans. The meaning of the word "hot", as a slang term, literally means "sexually attractive" or "lustful", neither of which describes the Almighty God of the universe! I do believe that God is my Father, my "Poppa", and I have no problem with that term in reference to God as we are told in the Bible that we are children of God. I think "Poppa" can be an endearing term, showing the close relationship we have with our Fathers. And I believe that if we have the relationship with Him that we should have, that we should be able to call Him "Father" or "Poppa".

Thank you again for your discussion!

Anonymous said...

Hi Shai. First, I want to say that I found your music this morning while looking for one of my friend's songs on YouTube. He is an upcoming Christian rap artist also. I was delighted to find a lyricist like yourself who is willing to take a leap and share with uncommon fervor the gospel of our Lord through rap. That being said, I found your website and found this blog intriguing. I just want to say that while Joel's arguments may be flawed according to proper logic, I encourage you to always take something from what looks like a criticism. Before I started reading the blog, I saw the lyric and was also somewhat struck. I've never heard of God referred to as "the hottest Poppa." When I think about a hot poppa, I tend to associate it with Big Daddy or Big Poppa, and the like, just from what I've heard in secular rap. I’ve heard it used in association with a pimpish-like figure. However, I totally understood what was meant and moved on. My encouragement is this: as a new young preacher, I sometimes become concerned about things I may say in my message that may make people question my foundation in the Word. However, I know that I'm bound to say something one time or another that seems "questionable". We are MAN. God, however, looks at your heart and is so proud of his children when we take a stand for him (and expects those who are listening to look for HIM in what we're saying even if they don't agree with US.) Arguments are for the birds. Although I don't have a "logical argument for you" (I'm no linguicist, lol) I will say that associations in one's mind are important (to the reader, listener, etc). So, stand up tall and take it for what it is. Life is full of big and small lessons/challenges, etc. In the meantime, I'll continue to promote your songs on FB like I did this morning. I love what you're doing. Be blessed, Your sister in Christ.

Anonymous said...

Thats why I think that Joel is right Shai. You have conformed to your culture by using this term.

I agree with this statement. I believe that there shouldn't even be this blog post asking for everyone's opinions as now it has gone beyond into debating about idle words, genealogies etc as the Bible mentions. I think that why the other guy left it alone as it isn't really edifying to either of you or to us really. Most likely you never meant offense by the words you used, but it did cause a stumbling block to put in another brother's way because if he had to take it up with you then it was a stumbling block. I think he was wrong for writing it on his blog - he should have just taken it up with in private.And as you were wrong for mentioning it on your blog too. The Bible does say how does it look when two believers are taking each other to court over trival stuff. This should have been dealt with in person.

Your faith might cause you to eat meat, but his faith may only be vegetables, but for the sake of his soul, you should have just humbled yourself even if you didn't do anything wrong and just let it go. Just try not to use that word again in your songs - coz at the end of the day when you are putting out music in the public domain it is to edify the believers and maybe cause people to get saved, it isn't your own personal worship time.

I wouldn't say that you blasphemed God, but you could have potentially put a stumbling block in someone else's way. But I am sure that you have learnt a valuable lesson from this which is as God intended to keep you growing - because words have power - they can pull a man down or lift him up.

BrianB. said...

Late to the party but thought I’d post a quick comment. I found it interesting that Joel was placing himself as an authority over the English language. That a single word like “hottest” could be judged to be irreverent towards the Lord without any mention or thought about the context of that word. To me, blaspheming the name of the Lord is more a heart issue than a word issue. I’ve heard plenty of people say “lord”, “god”, “king”, “jesus” and other names who definitely had heart issues – did not love the Lord or care about His name – and were without doubt, blaspheming His wonderful name. Your song, album, albums, and life bear fruit this was not the case with the said above issue that Joel raised. Late to the party, but just my 2 cents – keep up the good work for Christ glory.

Anonymous said...

Yo good argument and logically conclusive. I've said it before and I'll say it again. Werd to you Shai. ANd Joel also for your zeal. I pray these kinds of godly discussions bring each of us closer to understanding, biblical defence and a stronger relationship with our saviour Jesus Christ-

Werd-

Pete Noble-
Syd AUstralia-

Otis said...

This was utter foolishness. shai came gangsta with it. I probably would not have even given him the time of day lol praise God for that last post.

igotthehottestpoppa! said...

shai - all you said was you had the "BEST FATHER" in God. Sounds like blasphemy to me... :/

I guess I should get stoned because the other day I described Jesus as "dope".

That's gonna be the next blogger's attack "shai linne said his God was dope and that he could see it in the microscope and the telescope!!! He's worshipping an idol, quick somebody blog something!" j/k

Anonymous said...

Wow Shai, I only just discovered you today and I love your music, but what is an even greater inspration is how you had this Debate over the internet. You really represent christ through answering in love. I have learned more through that! I am so happy I read this, I am sometimes too willing not to check for an agressive tone in my writing, simply because I am annoyed. I'm really sorry if my attitude has offended anyone or not represented Christ very well! Thanks, Brian

Louis said...

The comment "hottest papa" can't reasonably be lifted out of the context of the doctrinal banquet that the song is as a whole! If the song were 5 minutes of "God, you're the hottest papa, God, your the hottest papa" over and over and over without all the good doctrine, I would probably object. But doesn't the super-high exaltation of the magnificent theology so simply and artistically expressed contextualize the comment "hottest papa" as authentic praise? I loved it. Played it for my Youth Group yesterday. Might even use it as an outline to study some things with them. :)

Jonathan said...

Bro,
First of all...loved every bit of this. Your gentle, biblically influenced response was excellent. Praise Him, for His hand being on you! I am trying to book you for Labor Day...let's make it happen. Thank you for all you do to advance the Gospel through hiphop.
@jpokluda

Joseph said...

Shai,
I'm a first time reader and was just recently introduced to your music and blog. While I understand Joel's desire to protect the name of the Lord, I feel that "hottest" is not an irreverent term by definition. Even if the term is used to describe the greatest of many, I think it's not entirely inaccurate. As humans, we make all kinds of things our "Poppa." It's clear in your lyrics that our Lord is your "Poppa." You advocate for Him to be "Poppa" of us all, so I think your lyrics are entirely appropriate in this instance.

Thanks for all you do through Christ,

Joseph

Jimmy Christian said...

Hello shai,

I thought you handled yourself very maturely and very blamelessly throughout this situation. Not to mention, that you gave him really solid reasoning behind your line and stuck with the issue at hand (particularly when he seemed to dodge your questions). It shocks me that people are accusing you of using "colloquial terminology" to describe God when the Jews used the term we translate "LORD" (a more common, general word which still does describe Him) whenever they needed to pronounce "YHWH" aloud.

On a somewhat related/unrelated note, are you still planning to create a Listener's Guide for The Atonement? I'm this close to buying the album and it would be nice to have it broken down just like TSCP was broken down. And if it is out and I'm simply not aware of it, could you send a link please?