One of my favorite things about Christian hip hop is that it has the ability to actually educate the believer. There are songs that are great for concerts and dancing, but there are also songs that can make you think, reflect, and learn.
Theology is simply the study of God or knowledge of who he is. We are all theologians whether we like it or not. If you have an opinion about God, then you are a theologian. However, good theology is not a mere concept about God, it is a biblical truth about God found throughout scripture. These biblical truths taken and unpacked over hip hop music is where the term lyrical theology comes in.
There are so many artists that have contributed to the lyrical theology movement and the list we have compiled here is what we thought were some of the best or well-known songs in that category. Each song on this list either helped spark the movement or serves as a great example of lyrical theology.
The following list is in chronological order (earliest to most recent)
1. Cross Movement – “I Am That I Am” (House of Representatives: 1999)
Cross Movement inspired so many artists to keep Christ the main theme in their music and this song is a great example of that. They spend the entire song boasting in God and expounding on Exodus 3:14. They not only talk about what God said to Moses, but also about his Omnipresence, and ultimately point it back to when Jesus says that he is “I AM” found in John 8:58. After you listen to this song, you walk away with a bigger view of God and the supremacy of Christ.
2. Ambassador – “Psalm 23” (Christology: 2000)
Christology may be the album that really sparked the lyrical theology movement. There were so many good songs on this project, but we could only selected one. Psalm 23 is packed with scripture and theological terminology like the hypostatic union. Ambassodor brought that up north lyrical aggressiveness and blended it with the truth of Scripture. Many people quote Psalm 23 simply because they may have had a grandma that made them pray it all the time. In this song, Ambassador breaks down why we do not have to want. It is because our God is the all sufficient God and in Him, we need for nothing. This song provided deeper context for a psalm that often gets taken out of context or used incorrectly.
3. Shai Linne – “Justified” (The Solus Christus Project: 2005)
The lowercase mc has waved the banner of lyrical theology since the beginning of his career. Shai has a unique ability to break down heavy material and simplify it for his listeners. In this song, he takes the listener to Romans 3:12-24 and explains how justification works for the believer. This is a concept that can help many believers because sometimes people feel that they have to do “works” in order to get justification but that isn’t how it works biblically. I love how Shai says it,
“In justification, God declares sinners to be righteous by grace alone, through faith alone, in the finished work of Christ alone, he saves his own, add anything to that, you in the danger zone.”
4. Flame – “Context” (Rewind: 2005)
This song introduced listeners to a variety of words that the average person in seminary would be familiar with (Hermeneutics, Exegesis, Eisegesis, Concordance, Commentary etc.) . He breaks down how to study the word and keep the scriptures in the context that they were meant to be read. He references scripture to support why it is important to study the word correctly, but this song made the list simply because how well it teaches the listener.
5. Trip Lee – “To Live Is Christ” (13 Letters: 2007)
Reach records built their fan base with plenty of songs laced with lyrical theology to help the believer. In 2007, they put out an entire album giving overviews of the apostle Paul’s 13 letters. This song takes the listener throughout the book of Philippians. This song is not only a great example of lyrical theology, but also just a well crafted song. The content is biblically accurate and the hook was well written. Music has a powerful ability to stick with you long after you’d care to remember it. Songs like this one allow for a listener to get a piece of the Bible etched in their brain simply by getting the song stuck in their head.
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