DEAR GOD. WHAT DAX DOESN’T KNOW
I’m not really into hip hop, or rap, music. And, based on my limited knowledge of hop hop/rap music, it appears that most rappers or hip hoppers aren’t necessarily into theology. That makes us even. But rappers and hip hoppers are the poets of today and therefore often give voice to the many issues that their generation are grappling with. One of the most popular hip hoppers today is the Canadian poet, rapper and singer, Dax (Daniel Nwosu Jr.), who has just released his latest song, Dear God. In theological terms, this song is an imprecatory-lament song. He told a Hip Hop website –
“As I grew older I drifted away [from church] because I think I was never properly explained why I should be there,” he wrote via Instagram. “I’ve had this ‘Dear God’ idea for a while but could never finish writing it because I didn’t feel I had enough life experiences,” he adds. “Now at 25 I feel ‘somewhat’ ready.”
Hip Hop DX
“Dear God” is a list of Dax’s disappointments with religions, church, the Bible, and Jesus.
There’s a lot of questions that I have about the past (can you hear me?)
And I don’t want hear it from a human you made
So you’re the last person that I’m ever gonna ask
Tell me what’s real, tell me what’s fake
Why is everything about you a debate? (Why?)
What’s the point of love?
Every time I’ve showed it
I was broken and it’s forced me just to only wanna hate
Why’s there only one you but multiple religions? (Why?)
Why does every conversation end in a division? (Why?)
Why does everybody want to tell us how to live
But they won’t listen to the same damn message that they giving? (F**k them)
Tell me how to feel, tell me what’s wrong
I tried to call, pick up the phone (pick up), I’m on my own
Everybody says you coming back
Then man why the hell’s it taking so long?
Why do I hurt? (Why?)
Why is there pain?
Why does everything good always have to change? (Why?)
Why does everybody try to profit off another man’s work
Then destroy it just for monetary gain? (F**k them)
Tell me are you black or are you white?
I don’t even really care I just really want to know what’s right
They been saying one thing but I’ve been looking in the book
And it seems like they’ve been lying for my whole damn life
Tell me where I’m going (where?)
Is it heaven or hell?
I just hope this message greets you well
I had a dream that I was walking with the devil
Don’t remember how it feels but I swear that I remember the smell
Looked me right into my eyes and told me everything I wanted
Could be mine if I gave up and decided to sell
But I said I’d rather die than get mine now I’m here
No fear one man with a story to tell
Dear God, where were you when I needed it?
When I f**ked up and repeated it?
When they set the bar and I exceeded it? (Where were you?)
My life is like a book that they’ve been judging by a cover
But have never took the time to f**king read the s**t (f**k ’em)
I remember telling you my goals and my dreams
But you didn’t even answer so I guess you didn’t believe in it
I remember sitting with a gun to my head trying to ask
You for some help but I guess you didn’t believe in it!
I don’t want religion I need that spirituality
I don’t want a church I need people to call a family
I don’t wanna tell my sins to another sinner just
Because he’s got a robe and he went to some academy
I don’t wanna read it in a book, I wanna hear it from you
Don’t wanna learn it in a school because they’re hiding the truth
Don’t wanna talk about it to another f**king human being
And that’s only reason that I even stepped in this booth
How do I take this darkness and turn it into light?
How do believe in a concept where I speak to a man
I’ve never seen with my own two eyes?
How do I know that religion wasn’t made
Just to separate the world and create a whole disguise
Just to keep us in these chains while the rich get richer
And the poor pray to you and perpetuate a lie?
How do I know this ain’t some big joke? (How?)
How can I have faith when there is no hope? (How?)
How the hell does one man have a hundred billion dollars
And we still have people on the street that are broke?
There’s a lot of things I wanna talk about and get off my chest
I can’t sleep ’cause the devil won’t let me rest
I used to know a f**king pastor in a church
And I can still hear the screams of the kids he would f**king molest
Dear God, do you hear me? (Do you hear me?)
I’m supposed to fear you but you ain’t said s**t
So maybe it’s you who actually fears me?
I don’t know the answer I just want to see it clearly
So many lies there’s a thousand different theories
All I want to know is who really made religion
Because I know it wasn’t you but don’t nobody believes me
No more lies, no more death
Bring back King, bring back X
Please dear God let their souls rest
Protect who’s left and watch their steps
I don’t want to have to ask you again
I just hope that you know that I’m still a believer
So I’ll end this all by saying, “Amen”
Dax’s song actually reflects many of the Biblical lament Psalms. A lament Psalm was a ‘complaint Psalm’ where God was often the subject of the complaint. For example, the Psalmist reflects many of the same sentiments that Dax complains to God about-
¶ Why, O LORD, do you stand far away?
Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?
Dax wonders why there are so many religions when there is just one God? That’s a great question. The assumption within his question is a logical one: since all religions wildly disagree on the identity and nature of God, they can not all be true (since the Logical Law of Non-Contradiction kicks in)! He asks how it is then possible to identify which religion is true — as if the answer can never be determined. But it can be. There are ways to determine whether a claim, even if it is a religious claim, is true or not. Religious devotion to God is not a matter of “blind faith” — rather, it’s a matter of reasonable faith. For any claim to be true, especially claims about God and how to find peace with Him, it must
(i) correspond with what we already know to be true (“be verifiable”)
(ii) be consistent, be the best explanation of all the evidence (“coherent”)
(iii) not be contradictory
(iv) be provable (or disprovable, if it is false)
(v) have the weight of corroborating eye-witness testimony or evidence (which is why the unverifiable, contradictory, incoherent, word of one person is not a great foundation for a truth claim, especially a religious truth claim!).
Dax charges God with being silent. But this is not true. Hebrews 1 tells us what we all intuitively know to be true—that God has spoken to mankind in many and varied ways but has especially spoken through His Word and most especially through His Son — and that He still speaks today.
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed the heir of all things, through whom also He created the world.
Dax asks God where He was when he was making a mess of his life. I’ve had many people ask me this for the same reason that Dax asks it. I would much prefer to listen more closely to Dax’s heart and hear the ache of that heart before offering a simplistic answer to that painful question. Dax sings that he feels that many people think they know him but that they were really only ever looking at him like a book-cover without taking the time to look inside and ‘read the book’. That’s why I would want to take the time to get to know him first. I am now a pastor in my third church. I began pastoring this church, Legana Christian Church in the year that Dax was born. Two of my four children are older than Dax. I only mention this because one of the few privileges of living into old age is that the questions you ask God about His seeming lack of interest in our lives end up looking quite different after the benefit of a few decades of life going by. Those times when life seemed so unfair and God seemed to be so indifferent, turn out to be (with the benefit of hindsight) the times when God was indeed very near and shepherding us more intently. One of the pain-filled lines in Dax’s song refers to demand that God deals with directly, not through another flawed human. In the Book of Job we hear the beleaguered Job demand the same thing, only to have God answer his complaints by sending Elihu (a human being).
Then Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the family of Ram, burned with anger. He burned with anger at Job because he justified himself rather than God.
But maybe Dax would never want to talk to someone like me, a pastor, after the horrible experience with a pastor in a church he used to attend(?) who he describes was sexually molesting children? I can’t blame him. I’m repulsed and appalled by this kind of reprehensible and disgraceful behaviour as well. I don’t know how it could be heard by Dax, and others with similar complaints about these wretched pastors, but I would point out that the vast majority of pastors I know are genuine, caring, and careful people who do not own private jets or live in huge mansions, or drive fancy cars. Instead, they serve a small community of ordinary people in their churches and tend to them as they get go through life’s struggles, get married, have children, suffer loss, and prepare to die. In the small town where I live and pastor, I often think that I am like a goldfish living in a goldfish-bowl. My life is lived transparently. Two of my children were born here and all four of my children grew up here and went to public schools (and Christian schools). When we built our new church building we wanted to make a very clear statement about being transparent and open. Apart from installing security cameras everywhere in an effort to deter any would-be mischief makers, we built our chapel with large windows (not stained glassed ones) so that anybody driving past could look in and see exactly what was happening inside. Added to this, we stream our Sunday morning service live to give people another opportunity to look in and see what we’re about. Added to this we a support women’s shelter, a pregnancy support centre for young unmarried single mums, a homeless shelter, a drug rehabilitation centre, and other agencies that help people in need. All of this over-defensiveness is in response to his charge against greedy religious people who have a hundred billion dollars yet we “still have people on the street that are broke.”
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
One of his biggest disappointments with Jesus is that He said He was going to return “soon” — but He hasn’t! One of the hats I wear in addition to my pastoral hat, is the hat I wear as a theologian helping prospective ministers earn their degrees in Bible / Theology / Ministry. My specialty is hermeneutics (how we interpret text) and in particular eschatology (what the Bible teaches about last things). Most of this site is dedicated to writing about issues related to this field of study. Dax expresses an eschatological disappointment in his song, and this is why these comments about Dax’s song are on this site. Dax is not the first one—or the only one—to express such disappointment in Christ’s seeming delay in returning to right all wrongs. His, and others confusion (include great minds such as C.S. Lewis), stems from the conflation of the terms ‘return’ and ‘come’ in such passages as Matthew 24 and Luke 21. The careful reader of these passages will note that the word ‘return’ does not occur (but is wrongly assumed to be so). I wish I had the opportunity to sit down with Dax and listen more closely to his grievances and then perhaps offer him a different perspective about this, especially about what he has been told about the return of Christ. This probably won’t ever happen though. In the meantime, it would have been my plan to present him with a copy of The Most Embarrassing Verse In The Bible and dare suggest that this little book might clear up his disappointment with Jesus.
A song like this strikes me as coming from the heart of someone who is seeking God and the truth. And there’s one thing I know for sure about anyone who, like Dax seems to be doing, seeks God and the truth, and it comes from the mouth of the Lord Jesus Christ and it forms the basis of my prayer for Dax-
¶ “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.
Who knows? Maybe one day Dax might visit Legana and pop on into a Sunday morning service. If he does, I hope that he will hear well-reasoned answers given by a pastor who really, sincerely, and genuinely cares for people and for the cause of Christ. And if he does, I also hope that it might shed some light on why Jesus said that He would build His Church (Matthew 16:18).