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Eminem's Confession Lessons

On my Twitter feed I posted the following statement:

Its a shame that Eminem's "Not Afraid" confesses, repents and declares victory bolder than most Christian leaders I know.

The only thing I should have changed is to say "...better than most Christians I know"

On my Facebook, our BBA Executive Director, Dr. Bob Mackey asked a few probing questions. The conversation was good and it prompted me to share a little deeper here on the blog.

I've always been a fan of rap. I grew up in Southeast Baltimore and I've lived all around this city. Hip Hop is a staple of our area and I'm a fan of the music. To be honest, from a musical quality standpoint, most Christian rap simply doesn't hold a candle to the secular. A few exceptions in my humble opinion are LaCrae, Cross Movement, CZ and Everyday Process. Since childhood, my taste for music has grown to include nearly all varieties (no bluegrass) but I always have my pulse on Hip Hop. While many of my church planting friends talk fondly about classic rock or hair bands of the 80's I think similarly with Rap and 90's R&B.

At the end of this article I post the 'Not Afraid' video, lyrics and a summation of my thoughts on Biblical and Cultural exegesis for those educated or bored enough to explore further. The following comments are my own little exegesis on Eminem's "Not Afraid" as it relates to the tweet mentioned above.

Let me begin by stating the obvious:

The object of Emenim's worship is misplaced. He worships his fans. It's a shame to me that he confesses (to his fans), repents (to his fans) and declares victory (to his fans) over his drug addiction. That's the shame part.

His aim and god are false and yet many Christian leaders can't confess sin, repent from sin and declare victory over sin with the boldness of this person who is far from God.

The question is why does this hold to be the status quo for Christian leaders and Christians in general?

We're all prideful and confession requires swimming upstream against our pride.

It's not just public confession and repentance I'm thinking about either. It's private. Too many Pastors in the last 18 months (in the limited view of my slice of the evangelical world) have been exposed as adulterers, cheats and liars.
Those big sins didn't come by accident one day. They started with unconfessed sin in the privacy of their own homes, cars and prayer closets.

While these Pastors went about preaching to and praying for their congregations they burned with lust, were rude to their families and treated the pulpit as a platform for their own pride.

When I hear an artist like Eminem come out and repent to his fans for his mediocre effort, effects of his drug abuse, not fighting the demons of drug addiction, etc.,
it makes me think that he, in this area, is probably closer to true repentance (albeit without the lynchpin component of Christ) than the prideful Pastor who hasn't shed a tear for his sin in 10 years. It seems that for some it is more dangerous that they prayed a prayer 14 years ago because while their life is not much different than this rapper, the rapper shows no false humility about the sin and its consequence.

It's a constant struggle to be clean before God.

Does Eminem make money from his album of confession?

To make money, does he NEED to make an album detailing his battle?
No way. He could rap the alphabet and people will buy it.

Will it sell? Yes.

Why will this album about a battle with evil and drug addiction sell?
Because so much of the world we're trying to reach can relate more easily to him being honest about his battles and his desire to overcome the 'demons' of his life than they can relate to Christian leaders who pretend their lives have Teflon when it comes to struggle and confession. As I look at the religious leaders of Jesus day I see striking parallels to ours. Clean on the outside but rotten inside. When a secular artist expresses repentance to the best of their ability, they seem to do it with more integrity than we do in the Christian world and the world forgives and embraces where the Christian church tends to condemn and throw stones.

It's so easy to say "Well, Eminem doesn't know Jesus so he can't teach us anything." I think it's quite the opposite.
Without the yoke of the churchanity, this is is what true repentance looks like. Now if only he wold repent to the one who can make him whole...

We have the one who can make us whole but we don't know how to repent. Which situation of the two is the most depressing?


As a Pastor, I'm required to demonstrate a grasp of Biblical exegesis. Basically I should be able to understand the text on several levels so as to draw out its original meaning. Additionally if I want to be effective at communicating this unchanging message to a culture far from God I am committed to becoming great at Cultural exegesis. That is, I see it as my responsibility to study and understand the culture(s) we're trying to reach so I know which scripture best speaks to the cultural challenge of the moment. There is always a tightrope. Like Paul with Areopagus (a.k.a.Mars Hill), he studied the culture. He examined. He looked closely. Did he see evil? Did he see sin up close? Did he expose himself to the possibility people would see him at an altar of a false god and make an accusation of his character? Yes. But he then took this observation (cultural exegesis) and applied the Truth of God's word (biblical exegesis). Today the masses don't have to gather in a particular venue or worship at a stone altar. The modern false prophets are found online and (after a download) make their temples on iPods and computers within seconds. I see it important to my effectiveness to have a pulse of the culture. Music is one way to observe our modern day Areopagus. -- Pastor Tally

Click here to read the lyrics. Foul language. To the easily offended: If you haven't heard foul language in the last week, that says more about how isolated you've made yourself than it does about the people who use the language. Are you fishing in the sea of lostness or the aquarium of church life?

Click here to hear the song(Clean Version)

Click here to see the unedited video (Foul Language)

posted by Tally Wilgis @ Thursday, July 08, 2010

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