Clive Marsh and Vaughan S. Roberts, Personal Jesus, pp. 4-5:
The practice of listening to popular music takes its place within a whole range of contemporary activities that cluster under the umbrella of “popular culture.” Along with watching television and films, playing video games, and doing and watching sports, listening to popular music is something a lot of people spend a great deal of their time doing. All of these practices merit close scrutiny. As for music, whether listening is a conscious and active practice (choosing to turn on a radio or MP3 player, listen to a CD, or attend a live concert), or a more incidental activity (background music while shopping or eating in public), listening to music is an everyday occurrence. As such, it falls within the purview of what scholars of religion and culture need to address if we are to understand how religions function today. Moreover, if religions are in decline in the West, then (in so-called secularized times) it is important to scrutinize any practice that can seem religion-like to see if it is functioning as religion or in place of religion. If so, a further question remains: What has happened to metaphysics and to God? To demonstrate that social practices are religion-like merely shows that such practices are functioning as religion functions. It says nothing about the belief structure upon which specific religious traditions depend.
Ralph Basui Watkins, Hip-hop Redemption, pp. 97-98:
I am often challenged by my audiences when they ask, “How do you know it is God saying anything in or through hip-hop? It is an insult to God and the church that you would even propose such an idea.” My response is typically, “How do you know God isn’t saying anything through hip-hop?” God has a tradition of using the voices from the margins. I am reminded of the woman at the well (John 4:1-30, 39-42). Those of her day thought there was no way she would have a word from God, but she did.
Identifying a theologian in hip-hop is the next logical step in the process. Students and those who engage me as I speak about hip-hop ask, “So what does theology look like in hip-hop?” […] Theology in hip-hop is systematic in its own way: its theological system revolves around a remix. Its theological reflection, rather than falling into a neat category such as pneumatology, Christology, soteriology, ecclesiology, and so on, is more akin to what we see in black theology or what I call Africana theology. It is a theology of liberation that asks, where is God in the liberating process as those who live in the ‘hood are catching hell? It is a theology that lives in real time in the real world, confronting real problems of oppression while looking back at how God has revealed himself throughout time as an agent of liberation. Hip-hop theology pushes back against institutionalized religion and its theological construction and asks how it is a part of the liberating process. When you listen to theological reflection in hip-hop, you hear the liberating voice of God as artists ask hard questions and live with tentative answers.
Jeremy S. Begbie, Resounding Truth, p. 24:
[It is a pitfall to] reduce all theological questions about music to questions of moral adjudication. How far should the Christian be involved in popular music? If so, which kinds are acceptable? Is Eminem morally harmful? Is jazz bad for your spiritual health? Doubtless, though the links between music and morality are often hard to trace, they are certainly there. Music is made and used by human beings, and human beings are never morally neutral creatures. If we want to foster wisdom and godly living in the world of music, we cannot escape questions of ethics. However, it is unfortunate if these questions are allowed to dictate the agenda, as they undoubtedly are in some writing. The way we are to act int he world, after all, cannot be considered apart from first considering the identity and activity of the God of Jesus Christ, in whose life and work we are invited to share. Here, therefore, I have tried to shift the center of gravity from questions about what is acceptable or unacceptable to questions about how music might connect with the gospel and its widest implications, in order that ethical issues can be set in this context.