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Re: G. Craige Lewis
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The righteous are as bold as a lion.  Proverbs 28:1

Philippians 3:10

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WHY THIS PAGE?

I've been following the debate between the anti-Christian hip-hop and pro-Christian hip-hop camps for some time now and have engaged in scores of convos and discussions about the issue.  What's particularly troubling and sad to see is how divisive and hostile this issue has become, and to witness the anti-Christian hip-hop camp categorize and move hip-hop culture over into the exclusively "demonic" realm.  This is a disturbing and dangerous development, not because it's not at least partially true, but because it wrongly assigns human beings (made in God's image) and their activities (human culture) into categories that do more damage than good.  

True, culture is a mixed bag.  F'real.  But it's also a very vital part of what it is to be human.  As creatures made in God's image, we can't help but express our responses (whether positive or negative) to God's revelation by means of "how we do" (via cultural pursuits).  Is there a "holy" culture?  Show it to me.  But only after you've defined what holiness is.  The Pharisees, Sadducees and teachers of the Law in Jesus' day had a definition for holiness and "holy" culture that completely missed the mark.  They got it really, really wrong.  Jesus came to show us what He's after in the matter of holiness, and He re-defined it in a radically different way that completely by-passed the outwardly religious leadership of His day.  This was a holiness that rolled out to places and people that those religious leaders and their "holy" culture had essentially written off.  (Can anything good come out of hip-hop?  Come and see.  But you'll need to see the culture the way God sees it.)  Inciting people to give up their culture means asking them to trade it in for another culture (we cannot be a-cultural beings), and it most likely will be the one you're manifesting (if you're being consistent with your beliefs).  This is tantamount to declaring your culture as "the way, the truth and the life."  But is your culture — His culture?  Careful, now.  Jesus Christ is supra-cultural (as the Creator) and not tied into one specific human culture (which is a creaturely construct).  That means He is then able to affect His transformative power and character inside of anyone's life (and then, by extension, any culture), even as that person (in Him) lives, moves and has his being inside any particular culture.  

The Lord of all does not write off cultures as some advocate doing.  Their God is too small who think He can't work even in things that are totally opposed to His rule, His authority and His kingdom.  Check Paul (1-2-1-2!).  He was grateful that God had given him strength, considered him faithful and appointed him to His service, though he was once a  blasphemer, persecutor and violent man (1 Timothy 1:12-13).  In God's sight, Paul was a "thug" to the core and was erroneously operating within the framework of an outwardly "holy" (but inwardly evil) Pharisaical culture.  Paul saw it.  Do we?

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As time allows, I hope to add to this page more of the material I've been compelled to develop in responding to G. Craige Lewis' campaign against Christian hip-hop.  If he feels it's OK to attack the ministries and beliefs of some of the saints seeking to follow the Lord Jesus into places where he (Lewis) has declared demonic and off-limits, then it's only right and fair to respond theologically, sociologically, culturally and anthropologically to some of the presuppositions which under gird his teaching. 

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In April of 2006 I floated the idea of getting together the two sides of the Christian hip-hop debate.  I had hoped to seek some kind of reconciliation meeting between G. Craige Lewis of EX Ministries and the Ambassador (Duce) from the Cross Movement.  Duce was willing to meet, but doubted Lewis would respond.  I went forward anyway, trying to contact him Lewis by calling the EX Ministries office in Texas.  Couldn't get through, so I sent him an email (twice) and unfortunately never heard anything back from Lewis.  Following is the text of the 2nd email:

G. Craige Lewis,

A week ago I sent you an email asking you to consider a meeting with Duce while you're in Philadelphia on April 15th, 2006. 

I have yet to hear from you on this request and am sending the message again. I trust you'll have the courtesy to respond either "yes" or "no."

Here is the message sent last Wednesday:

My name is Bob Hepburn and have been following your ministry for some time now.  Getting right to the point, I am interested in setting up a small-group meeting between yourself (and whomever you wish to bring with you) and one or two members of the Cross Movement (the Ambassador [Duce] and probably Brady Goodwin) on April 15, 2006 when you are here in Philadelphia, at a time convenient for you so that we can begin looking at reconciling the people (first) and maybe begin looking at the issues (second) is creating more and more hostility between the anti-hip-hop Christian camp and the pro-hip-hop Christian camp. 

This invitation to have the two sides meet is not something that I've been asked to do by anyone, but rather an initiative I personally am seeking to do.  I have floated the idea to the community of believers here in Philadelphia (yes, I have friends on both sides of the issue) and they unanimously and without reservation have expressed their interest in seeing such a meeting take place.  My first thought was to have a large get-together doing something like a panel discussion, but thought it would perhaps be better to start small and see if we can go on from there.  Yesterday I floated the idea to Duce and he says he's willing to meet on that date if you are.  [I am sending him a copy of this email as well.]

I know you'll probably figure because I am aligned with the "wrong" side of the issue that this is a set-up or some kind of "ambush" type of invitation.  I assure you it isn't.  Frankly I am much more concerned about the divisive damage that's being done to the body of Christ in regard to the matter of hip-hop and the church.  While indeed there are issues as well as some serious theological differences between the two camps, unless I'm misunderstanding what the Lord Jesus is after in this situation, I'm gonna go with Him being more interested in how we work out our salvation together in this matter and accordingly relate to each other properly in the bond of peace as we strive to keep the unity of the faith. 

I trust you'll see this as a ministry opportunity and not as anything else. What the Lord Jesus is doing and wants yet to do is a whole lot bigger than what either side of the hip-hop and the church issue is doing, which means there's a whole lot more at stake than any one of us is aware of.

If April 15th doesn't work out, let's at least look for another time when we can do this.

I look forward to hearing from you soon in regard to this matter.

<>< ><> <>< ><> <>< ><> <>< ><> <>< ><> <>< ><> <>< ><> <>< ><>

His Peace (John 16:33)

Bob Hepburn

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The Blue Light Special

Three days after G. Craige Lewis came through Philadelphia (March 10, 2006) at Deliverance Evangelistic Church, I was walking to my Monday evening class at D.E.C.   I stopped by the security office to inquire how the G.C.L. meeting went, and although the security guard on duty didn’t know (he was not there on Friday night), another individual responded that he was and he said it went very well.   

"How many people attended?" 

"The bottom part of the sanctuary was filled." (roughly 2000?)

"What did Lewis talk about?" 

"A.I.’s tattoos, Will Smith’s bi-sexuality, Biggie Smalls’ and Tupac’s deaths, white rock music, ... etc."

The bottom-line question, "How many people went forward?" 

"A whole lot of people.  Mostly young people." 

A wonderful service in his estimation.  I asked if he knew anything about who G.C.L. was accountable to spiritually:  “Who is his pastor?  Whose authority is he under?” – which this individual did not know but said were good questions worth investigating.

As I turned to go to the elevator, this individual said to me, “I see you have a very powerful spiritual aura over your life.”  I paused, surprised and curious at the remark.  I looked at the speaker but did not respond.  This person then said, “I see a blue light on this side of your body,” pointing to my left side.  I still didn’t say anything and turned again, and as I did, this time the speaker erupted with, “Now it’s over on the other side!” 

I walked to the elevator, wondering how do you respond to someone who says stuff like that?  I’m not sure you can – spirituality is a highly subjective thing and the higher the degree of susceptibility the higher the degree for ensnarement.  The thought came to mind that this is sometimes how ‘signs and wonders’-types often hold their audiences – by ‘seeing’ things others don’t and using those sightings to engage and eventually ensnare their listeners (who oft-times have ears that itch).  They appeal to normal human curiosity via the paranormal which cannot be satisfactorily proved or disproved.  Unfortunately, a highly specious and radical perspectivalism has seeped into the church, supplanting Biblical objectivism with subjective experientialism.

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Let's Go See Him and Hear What He Has to Say

I went to hear G. Craige Lewis at the More Than Conquerors church (a sister congregation to Deliverance) at an 11:30 a.m. special service on Saturday, April 15, 2006.  There was a PowerPoint title slide projected on 2 walls, but Lewis never did anything more than just talk. 

I was disappointed he didn't deal with anything hip-hop.  Rather, he spoke on the sad 'n sorry state of the church, free-styling as he talked some "insider's dirt" for about an hour and a half on television evangelists, TV in general, scandals in the Roman Catholic church and their corrosive effects (which he believes have now infested the Black church), shady leadership, Mega-Fest, gay Gospel artists (along with a prominent church leader he left unnamed.  I should have counted how many times he used his favorite pejorative, "fag."  [Dunno, somehow I just have a hard time imagining the Lord Jesus using that term]).  He mentioned a few current events, prophecy-proof-texting them as "last days" signs.  Nothin' particularly "whoa" about them, but the hermeneutical axiom, "a text without a context is a pretext," came to mind several times.  

It was kind of scary and sad to hear him tell the audience of about 80 that he has "apostolic authority" (which according to the Biblical definition means he's seen the Lord bodily) and that he is therefore not accountable to anyone except God alone.  I lingered after the service to try to talk with him, but realized he's not the type to listen to someone who disagrees with or challenges him.  [As mentioned before, I had tried emailing him to set up a pow-wow / reconciliation-type meeting between him and the lead rapper of the Cross Movement [Duce], but never received even an acknowledgment from him about my request.  He doesn't take phone calls and doesn't answer emails – which is what happens I guess when you have apostolic authority.  Funny, he made the point he wanted to be amongst the people at floor level and away from the (Roman Catholic Church conspired) "evil" lectern so as to "erase" the clergy / laity distinction and avoid any complicity with Roman Catholicism.]

No doubt dude's got people's ears, but I fear (after listening to his presentation) that he's skewing his message to scratch them because they're itchy.  Discernment is sorely lacking.

You get the impression of a free radical within the body of Christ (see next item) – saying some provocative, hyped and (occasionally) on point stuff, for sure – here and there.  Or maybe a sort-of wanna-be "God-cop" – driving with a "blue light" placed atop the vehicle, pulling people over under the full authority of the Old Testament Law, writing up tickets for guilty consciences (which were nailed to the cross - Colossians 2:14), summoning the convicted to an ulterior "alter" [<~ note the spelling] call, by-passing the dynamic of God's altar.  I'm not saying God isn't at work in what Lewis is doing, but let us not mistake the temporary outward change effects for the eternal inward transformational affects. 

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"Understanding Free Radicals and Antioxidants"

What are free radicals?  Why are they damaging to the human body?  And how does vitamin E and the other antioxidant nutrients help protect the body against free radical damage?  We’ll attempt to answer these questions and help you understand why eating 5-8 servings per day of anti-oxidant rich fruits and vegetables can benefit your health.  But first, a little background…

Background: A Brief Look at Chemical Bonding

To understand the way that free radicals and antioxidants interact, you must first understand a bit about cells and molecules.  So here's a (very) brief refresher course in Physiology / Chemistry 101: The human body is composed of many different types of cells.  Cells are composed of many different types of molecules.  Molecules consist of one or more atoms of one or more elements joined by chemical bonds. 

As you probably remember from your old high school days, atoms consist of a nucleus, neutrons, protons and electrons.  The number of protons (positively charged particles) in the atom’s nucleus determines the number of electrons (negatively charged particles) surrounding the atom.  Electrons are involved in chemical reactions and are the substance that bonds atoms together to form molecules.  Electrons surround, or "orbit" an atom in one or more shells.  The innermost shell is full when it has two electrons.  When the first shell is full, electrons begin to fill the second shell.  When the second shell has eight electrons, it is full, and so on. 

The most important structural feature of an atom for determining its chemical behavior is the number of electrons in its outer shell.  A substance that has a full outer shell tends not to enter in chemical reactions (an inert substance).  Because atoms seek to reach a state of maximum stability, an atom will try to fill it’s outer shell by: 

        - Gaining or losing electrons to either fill or empty its outer shell 

        - Sharing its electrons by bonding together with other atoms in order to complete its outer shell 

Atoms often complete their outer shells by sharing electrons with other atoms.  By sharing electrons, the atoms are bound together and satisfy the conditions of maximum stability for the molecule.

How Free Radicals are Formed

Normally, bonds don’t split in a way that leaves a molecule with an odd, unpaired electron.  But when weak bonds split, free radicals are formed.  Free radicals are very unstable and react quickly with other compounds, trying to capture the needed electron to gain stability.  Generally, free radicals attack the nearest stable molecule, "stealing" its electron.  When the "attacked" molecule loses its electron, it becomes a free radical itself, beginning a chain reaction.  Once the process is started, it can cascade, finally resulting in the disruption of a living cell.

Some free radicals arise normally during metabolism.  Sometimes the body’s immune system’s cells purposefully create them to neutralize viruses and bacteria.  However, environmental factors such as pollution, radiation, cigarette smoke and herbicides can also spawn free radicals. 

Normally, the body can handle free radicals, but if antioxidants are unavailable, or if the free-radical production becomes excessive, damage can occur.  Of particular importance is that free radical damage accumulates with age.

"Understanding Free Radicals and Antioxidants" retrieved April 17, 2006 from http://www.healthchecksystems.com/antioxid.htm

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I simply argue that the cross be raised again at the center of the market place as well as on the steeple of the church.  I am recovering the claim that Jesus was not crucified in a cathedral between two candles, but on a cross between two thieves, on a town garbage heap; at a crossroads so cosmopolitan that they had to write the title in Hebrew, and in Latin and in Greek, at the kind of place where cynics talk smut, the thieves curse and soldiers gamble.  Because that is where church men ought to be and what church men ought to be about. — George MacLeod

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