Christians are always looking for the devil in the details. One of our family traits is to be proud of the fact that we can discern. So in Christianity there is a huge industry of discernmentalism that Christians entrust their minds to for direction in a dangerous and devilish world.
No one really ever understood how the devil was in the backbeat of rock-n-roll, the 2 and the 4, but a few men with the powers of discernment that no one else had declared it to be so. It was an easy sell because rock-n-roll in the sixties and seventies was almost exclusively the expression of the anti-authoritarianism of the sexual revolution. So, while the lyrics were certainly bad, the culture around the lyrics was blatantly rebellious, it made sense to people to buy into the fact that there was demonism in the backbeat. And drums. And the electric guitar.
It wasn’t obvious, but once the teachers said it was so, it sure seemed obvious.
The problem is it’s still not obvious and it is even more less obvious now that the rock style is a unique musical form that is shared by many cultures, not just the hippie culture of the seventies. Some today will insist that this is proof that other cultures (i.e. CCM) are eroding and promoting the same things that rock expressed almost exclusively in the seventies, rebellion and sex. But it takes a much more sophisticated discernmentalism now. And discernmentalism is self-propagating industry: claim to have unique insight and sound the alarm, the masses respond obediently because they don’t want to be influenced by the devil, and since they cannot actually see it for themselves they begin to depend on you for insight into everything else in their lives.
Hey! I saw first-hand the evangelical/fundamentalism crowds that financed Bill Gothard. Since his discernmentalism was so valuable to people, they looked to him for insight on their bowel movements. They lost their minds to him because they believed he saw the devil in the details that wasn’t immediately obvious to them.
People who categorically say that the rap style is worldly (which is Christianese for sin) do so against the knack for the obvious that God has given to all His children. If you don’t get it, don’t worry. Give them a listen, of course. Think about it. But don’t go home and burn everything in your library that has drums. You don’t need discernmentalists finding the devil everywhere because the works of the flesh are obvious. To everyone. The Apostle said so:
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these.
Basically, says Paul, worry about what’s obvious, what’s evident. It doesn’t take a scholar to recognize “fits of anger.” But if you’re buying into ideas that are not obvious, you’re probably selling your soul. “They make much of you, but for no good purpose. They want to shut you out, that you may make much of them” (Galatians 4:17). The more nuanced and hardcore the “discernment” the more dependent followers are on the “teacher.” But, “you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge” (1 John 2:20). The Christian life is just obvious. This is the repeated theme of the New Testament. 1 John essentially says over and over again, “People, it’s evident. It’s clear. The one that practices righteousness is righteous and the one who doesn’t isn’t. Duh. Oh, and by sinning we mean lawlessness as in contrary to God’s law. You know: the obvious. Period.”
It’s why the same writer said that we don’t need teachers. Because if you need teachers to show you something that you and others couldn’t see otherwise, you’re on the wrong track. God’s teachers explain what’s obvious to believers over and over again so that they don’t get waylaid by what’s not obvious.