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Lecrae Urges Christians to Move Beyond a ‘Sacred-Secular Divide’

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At last fall’s evangelical-oriented Resurgence Conference, Grammy award-winning hip-hop artist Lecrae Moore encouraged the American church to rethink how it engages culture, urging Christians to move beyond what has become a narrow, overly introverted “sacred-secular divide” (HT):

We are great at talking about salvation and sanctification. We are clueless when it comes to art, ethics, science, and culture. Christianity is the whole truth about everything. It’s how we deal with politics. It’s how we deal with science. It’s how we deal with TV and art. We can’t leave people to their own devices. We just demonize everything. If it doesn’t fit in the category of sanctification or salvation it’s just evil…

…I believe that the reason why the church typically doesn’t engage culture is because we are scared of it. We’re scared it’s going to somehow jump on us and corrupt us. We’re scared it’s going to somehow mess up our good thing. So we consistently move further and further away from the corruption, further and further away from the crime, further and further away from the post-modernity, further and further away from the relativism and secular humanism and we want to go to a safe place with people just like you. We want to be comfortable…

…I’m not saying let’s redeem the world and create this utopian planet. I’m saying let’s demonstrate what Jesus had done in us so the world may see a new way, God’s way, Jesus’ way … the picture of redemption that Jesus has done in us. So Jesus redeems us and we desire to go to the world and demonstrate that so that others can see what redemption looks like.”

These tensions can be difficult to ride, as evidenced by the struggle in American evangelicalism that Lecrae points to. To counter this type of unhealthy dualism, Abraham Kuyper’s elaborations on the doctrine of common grace are very helpful, equipping us with a robust theology of public service and cultural engagement.

In Wisdom & Wonder: Common Grace in Science and Art, Kuyper addresses two of the areas Lecrae mentions, arguing that science and creativity are not threats to our faith, but opportunities to glorify God. In his introduction to Wisdom & Wonder, Vincent Bacote summarizes the full impact of Kuyper’s contribution on these areas, illuminating the ways that properly ordering our perspective on these matters can further clarify our vocations and amplify our public witness:

Abraham Kuyper’s project on common grace is a welcome contribution to larger discussions about the role of Christians in society. In recent decades, some evangelicals in the United States have struggled to discern how to live with a robust faith and proper commitment to cultural political, economic, and social engagement. For many, it seems as if the only options for Christian engagement are either some version of Christendom, which can appear to be an effort to run society according to the express dictates of Scripture, or a form of alternative witness, which is a kind of antithesis that emphasizes the practices of the Christian community as opposed to direct involvement in political and cultural domains.

Abraham Kuyper on Common Grace in Science & ArtCommon grace helps us to see that other choices remain. God’s sustaining work in creation encourages us to participate in the various areas of life, striving to discern the best ways to pursue education, art, politics, and business as we participate within these domains. Faithful Christian engagement means the pursuit of the fullness of human life in the totality of God’s created order.

For more, see Wisdom & Wonder: Common Grace in Science and Art.

To join our efforts in furthering the doctrine of common grace, join the On Call in Culture community by liking us on Facebook or following us on Twitter.

Joseph Sunde is an associate editor and writer for the Acton Institute. His work has appeared in venues such as The Federalist, First Things, The City, The Christian Post, The Stream, Charisma News, Juicy Ecumenism, Ethika Politika, Made to Flourish, and the Center for Faith and Work. Joseph resides in Minneapolis, Minnesota with his wife and four children.


  • Rod Thomson

    Not surprised at LaCrae’s insights. I’ve listened to his music for years and he is fearless and spot-on — and this from a 53-year-old white guy. I was in mainstream journalism for 30 years before starting my own company, and he is exactly right. We evangelicals need to get out of church buildings and tell co-workers, friends, neighbors, family members, clients, customers — anyone and everyone — about the truth of Christ and that the answers to all their personal questions and big-picture questions are found starting there. If it can work in the stony ground of a newsroom, it will work anywhere.

    Thanks for the post.

    • Guest

      That is wonderful insight. I am a recent grad of journalism and have struggled with trying to remain “holy” in my writing, but what I learned is that my writing has to appeal to the majority. Therefore, we can bring them in. We can’t keep telling Christians the same things. Other people eventually have to hear it.

    • I definitely agree. It is time for Christians to stop preaching the same messages to other believers, but to bring it to the non-believer. Lets move from just churches and go and proclaim to all.

  • redondo_RR

    completely and completely agree; Lacrae has a point;

  • We engage culture everyday, its called AMERICAN CULTURE. Lecrae needs to cut it out. What do we do when popular culture shifts and hip-hop is no longer popular? sic This is an excuse to do what others who have gone before him fail to do. “Make it in the Industry.”

    • Lecrae is not speaking specifically about hip-hop here, but about broader Christian cultural engagement, which (I assume) would include what you call “American culture.”

    • I wouldn’t be so cynical about what he’s saying. “Living” in American culture and “Engaging” the culture are to separate things. All of us live amidst the culture, that’s not big news. However many of us do nothing to engage the culture (it’s people, and it’s institutions of thought) for the sake of sharing the knowledge of God. We are to be distinct (salt), but also actively present everywhere (lamp that lights the whole house).

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  • Not Abraham Kuyper…. Aw Lawd…. Common Grace is nonsense. Christians and Unbelievers do not have the same goals or objectives in society because outside of Christ is Death, Decay, and Landfills. So we are to have Biblical worldviews in all aspects of life I agree with Crayola there but not in the sense that we “collab” or work with unbelievers for the redemption of Humanity. That is oxy-moronic. We are commanded to disciple nations and teach them the commands of the LORD not “work with the nations” in hopes of getting some commands in there. Those are my thoughts.

    Grace and Peace,

    • I don’t think he’s saying to “collab” with unbelievers. He’s saying that we should do what Jesus did…go to places that we are afraid to go to. Jesus went to the homes of tax collectors and hung out with sluts…why? To bring them closer to Him. We can’t expect people to come to Christ if we are in our own little corners.
      And if you don’t agree with a fellow believer, the Christian thing to do is to be respectful. His name is Lecrae…not Crayola.


    • My only issue is when a collaboration takes place and the secular artist outshines the christian artist on the track and the listener begins following the wrong message after they begin listening to that artists music. Other than that I hear what crae is saying.

    • you are aware that landfills, pollution and out of control consumerism are the products of a Judeo-Christian worldview, albeit one with flawed theology? Secularism did not come up with those things, it was the church! So, shame on us.

  • What does the Word of God say. Romans 12:2

  • Abigail

    I definitely agree with Lecrae here. Christians need to come out of their little bubble and realize that there are millions of people whom have never stepped foot in a church with no plans to step in one. When I first got saved, I acted like I was above everyone (holier than thou). Like I wasn’t a sinner and needed God’s grace too. I only hung out with and spoke to Christians. You know what that did? It pushed everyone away from me, and anybody that could have possibly received Christ through me didn’t because of the way I presented myself. Now that I’ve grown, I’m walking like Christ–embracing the unbelievers, but not living like them. More people wanted to know why I lived the way I did or why I listened to the music I listened to or why I didn’t curse, and when they asked, guess what happened? I got to the share the Gospel! I believe that’s the point Lecrae is trying to get at here. We stay away from some of these industries and arts because we feel like their ungodly and “what fellowship can light have with darkness?” But what if we took the salt and light that we’re supposed to have to this “darkness” or industries and arts and give God the glory with them? Remember, darkness exists only because of the absence of light. Let’s shine our light in the dark places family.

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  • Michelle Okpewho

    I’m very saddened that by addressing one extreme of evangelical Christianity, we go to the opposite extreme. Christians are to be salt and light which means to share the gospel with people and live in front of them in a way that pleases the Lord not pair up with them side by side in sharing the gospel when the guy you are rapping with stands against everything you are saying and trying to do. “I believe this is a form of being unequally yoked. What partnership has light and darkness and fellowship has Christ with Belial?” I also feel that young, impressionable kids who look up to Lecrae may see that hanging out with lost is no big deal and even listening to that music is no big deal either since my role model probably does. “bad company corrupts good morals.” We are called the a holy nation, a royal priesthood who gets the attention of the world by radically being different from the world not by befriending the world. It may sound like a good idea what Lecrae is doing but it doesn’t seem biblical. Apostle Paul nor the Lord Jesus nor anyone ever advanced the gospel by locking arms with lost people…

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  • Billy Bob Baggins

    Last time I checked, whenever dirt gets mixed with clean water, what you get is dirty water. The clean doesn’t ‘fix’ the dirt. Only the blood of Jesus washes sin away. No amount of science or artistic talent has ever done so. Go into all the nations and preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You want ‘wonder and wisdom’? The fear of the Lord is the starting point. Repent and turn to Him. Fear God and obey his commands! Try adding that to any secular song and watch them spit you out like vomit.