Reflecting on Propaganda’s Fiery “Precious Puritans” Rap Song

The talented Christian rapper Propaganda just released “Excellent,” a strong new album on the Humble Beast label (buy it here).  Humble Beast is the home of Beautiful Eulogy, the group from Portland, Oregon that put out an excellent album this summer.

Propaganda is equal parts slam poet and rapper.  He hits hard in his content and is one of the most provocative rappers around.  I’ve listened to him since his Tunnel Rats days, and I’ve always enjoyed him.  His skill is undeniable, and he loves the Lord.  His new album, “Excellent,” includes a fiery song on the Puritans.  Here’s a sample (complete lyrics here):

Pastor, you know it’s hard for me when you quote puritans.
Oh the precious puritans.
Have you not noticed our facial expressions?
One of bewilderment and heart break.
Like, not you too pastor.
You know they were the chaplains on slaves ships, right?
Would you quote Columbus to Cherokees?
Would you quote Cortez to Aztecs?
Even If they theology was good?
It just sings of your blind privilege wouldn’t you agree?
Your precious puritans.

On Joe Thorn’s site, there are also some comments from Propaganda about this torch of a song (see some helpful historical thoughts here).

This song raises some very big issues for evangelicals.  It confronts us with our past, one that is chock full of racism and racist oppression; it asks us to think hard about how Christians of different backgrounds perceive one another; it wonders out loud how much we should listen to past Christians who sinned publicly; it drives us to think about how edgy to be in our quest to influence and edify one another.  I’m glad that Propaganda raised these kinds of questions.  His honesty is needed in evangelicalism.  Racism is real and awful, historically and now.

There is a danger here.  Specifically, I wonder if Propaganda isn’t inclining us to distrust the Puritans.  He states his case against them so forcefully, and without any historical nuance, that I wonder if listeners will be inclined to dislike and even hate them.  He groups all the Puritans together, which is problematic.  Not all of them were chaplains on slave ships, as he says later in the song.  Many were not.  But Propaganda blasts them so hard that, though he’s not ultimately dismissing them, it sounds as if he is.  He qualifies his words on Joe Thorn’s blog–pretty strongly, in fact–but what about all the people who hear his song but won’t read that specific blog?

Some people will respond by saying, “Well, he’s an artist.  He’s supposed to provoke.  That’s like the Old Testament prophets.”  It is true that artists can provoke reflection that might not otherwise come.  I am a rapper myself.  I love art.  I love creative expression.  I love hard-hitting exhortation.  But the motive of edification does not justify any level of critique.  Artists are not exempt from giving account to God for every word they speak (see Matthew 12:36-37).  I don’t know when that idea got in the evangelical bloodstream, but it’s there, and it’s not helpful (this is not a veiled reference to Jefferson Bethke, whose controversial videos I liked).  Let me say it again: artists will give account.

Let me be clear: If young men are failing today, strong critique and exhortation are needed.  But as a Christian, there must be grace in the mix.  I am not justified at being so edgy, so angry, so authentically steamed, that I take my fellow sinners off at the knees.  I fear that, though Propaganda ultimately points the finger on himself in the last verse, he has been harsh against the Puritans, sinful as they were in being racist and not opposing racism in the power of the gospel.

Look–I’m for public criticism of evangelical “heroes” on this point.  See the biography of Jonathan Edwards that Douglas Sweeney and I wrote for Moody.  We strongly critiqued Edwards for owning slaves, as we should have.  But that doesn’t mean that we should tear him down.  He is a sinner like us.  Furthermore, if being a sinner in even a deeply regrettable way disqualifies you from being referenced by modern evangelicals, we are going to have a very difficult time finding anyone to emulate.  Luther was anti-Semitic; Calvin could be preening and cold; Edwards held slaves; and the list goes on.

Racism is awful.  Horrible.  Reprehensible.  It must be called out and condemned.  But one must do so carefully.  To tear the Puritans down with very little nuance of the kind I’ve offered here is problematic.  Propaganda wrote that he has learned a great deal from these forefathers despite their sins.  I fear that people who don’t have his prior appreciation will not do the same.  They will write them off.  That would be a mistake.  It would also seem to be counter to the general spirit of Galatians 6:1.  This is not a passage about who to lionize, but there’s a principle that seems to apply here:

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness.

And we take note of this:

Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.

(Cross-posted from Project TGM)

  • Michael Bering Smith (@Eventides)

    The song hurt me. Not through conviction, but by assault.

    Leading up to our marriage, God used the Valley of Vision to bring my wife and I to the Cross. The week prior to the wedding, we read one prayer together each morning. We worshiped through the prayers. We wept through the prayers. We received grace through the prayers. We were edified. Our marriage was galvanized.

    Yesterday, I wept over this song too. I wept not because I was led to the Cross, not because I was led to worship, and not because I or my (interracial) marriage was edified; I wept because I felt vilified as a pale-skinned, bearded man who embraces the truths of the Valley of Vision and the patriarchs who penned them.

    To be sure, I have benefited from Propaganda and Humble Beast. I love them and regularly endorse them. They are doing an important work, and the name of Jesus is being proclaimed. But for the benefit of the Gospel, both here in Scandinavia and in all the world, thank you for writing this, Owen.

    Regards from Sweden,

  • owenstrachan

    Michael–wow. Your comment was evocative in its own right. I’m thankful you shared this. You and many others–me!–have been tremendously helped by the Puritans. I spent nearly three hours on their theology and pastoral methodology in my Church History 2 class yesterday, and I strongly commended them. I pointed out that they are sinners like us, and we should “own” their sins. But we must do so carefully. We must critique others in grace and truth. Our anger–just anger–must be checked by compassion and forgiveness.

    And remember–I like Propaganda. I have been blessed by his music. I think that will continue to happen.

    Again, I deeply appreciate this response, and I’m thrilled that someone in Sweden was edified by this little blog. Blessings to you, brother!

    • Michael Bering Smith (@Eventides)


  • Ross Parmly

    Propaganda’s song was helpful, but I agree with you that it went too far. Though there might be a tendency among some to see the Puritans as essentially inerrant, I have never experienced this (even at seminary). I think most people read the Puritans because their work contains the rich theological and pastoral insight that is lacking from a lot of modern Christian literature. Is a warning needed? Probably. The warning should be, “Just because someone is extremely helpful, doesn’t mean they are perfect”. We see plenty of many men in Scripture who were helpful but far from perfect (Abraham, David, Paul, etc.) and should give thanks for how God used them. But my impression from Propaganda’s lyrics, divorced from his later nuance, is that he wants us to reject the Puritans altogether. Lines like, “Why would you quote them? Step away” suggest rejection rather than utilization with qualification.

    Every artist needs to be aware of what response will be evoked by their work. I’m thankful that the song is promoting discussion, but how many people who have listened to the song are actually involved in that discussion? I can imagine that many will hear this song, realize that the Puritans owned slaves, and never pick up any of their writing. If I had heard this a few years back as a less mature Christian I would have never enjoyed the intensely sanctifying influence of John Owen’s “Mortification of Sin” in my life. What a shame that would be! I wouldn’t be the kind of man and husband that I am today were it not for how God used that work in my life.

    We should be sensitive to how quoting certain men will be perceived by others, but I also think there is a responsibility on the other side to give grace to our brothers in glory who were right on many things, and wrong on many others. Our slavery-supporting Puritan brothers have gone to be with Christ and don’t support slavery anymore. Can we rejoice in that? It would be sad if this song caused many to reject some of the most soul-nourishing writing outside of Scripture. I praise God for what he has done through the Puritans, and thankful that Christ’s sacrifice covers their failure. I’m thankful it covers mine, as well.

    • owenstrachan

      Good thoughts, Ross. I agree. Strong last paragraph.

  • burnsonfire

    Your post reflects many of my sentiments about the song. Does it make a valid point? Yes, idolizing men such as the Puritans as inerrant is unhelpful and idolatrous. That being said, people of all races have their sins of the age. I would contend that many Black Liberation theologians are clearly in sin with many of their statements (think James Hal Cone, guys like that). I say this not to play tit-for-tat, but to point out that no ‘camp’ is perfect, whether we’re quoting white racist slave owners or black racial supremacists.

    We all need Jesus, we all have errant theology of which we’re unaware, and we’re all seeking to be more like Jesus in whatever context he placed us. Even in this age, which is remarkably more racially reconciled than any time in history, we still have sins to which we are blind. So we need to speak in humility and grace, knowing we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. I found grace to be lacking in this song.

  • Bentley

    Owen, thanks for the post!

    I have to say that I agree with you (as the non-rapper/poet that I am).

    I am still confused as to his intention for us when it comes to quoting the Puritans. I see the bait and switch. I think it is effective and perhaps would have been more effective with more nuance earlier in the song. I understand he considers this to be the secondary issue, but it seems to me like his earlier lines were so strong that they couldn’t be interpreted any other way except as a complete rebuke to never quote them.

    Take this line in the song:

    “Don’t pedestal these people, your precious puritans partners purchased people.
Why would you quote them?
Step away.”

    While he certainly makes everything clear with his comments regarding the bait and switch I still can’t see how what he said above lines up with what he said in the interview below. Unless he is saying “God uses sinful people and I’ve benefited from the Puritans, however, I would never quote them.”

    Interview quotes:

    “The song was really designed to be a bait and switch. The indictment on the puritans is really a secondary point. They were not perfect in living out their theology. They had issues just like all of us. And I’m just as much guilty as them. The real point is the last line, “God uses crooked sticks to make straight lines.” God uses us despite our depravity. That’s the main point…I’m guilty too!”

    “I’ve learned and grown immensely from the puritan writers! The Valley of Vision is a MASTERPIECE! But the take-home should be maximum glorification of God for using us flawed and depraved people to illustrate such lofty and beautiful truths. As a rapper, I work hard on my craft to make “excellent” art (see what I did there? :) ) But the take-home should not be “Wow! Propaganda!”, but, “Wow! God! And he used Propaganda?!?””

  • Tony

    Good post Owen.

    The theme of unanswered questions seem to dominate the album (especially tracks 1, 8, 9). On the other hand, confidence in Scripture to help us face the many perplexities of life is where the album falls largely silent. That may be by accident or on purpose, in either case this is what makes for the awkwardness in track 7, which gets expressed as a distrust of the Puritans (as you mention).

    I think by the end of the track Propaganda thinks he’s backed off of the point that would seem to be a wholesale dismissal of the Puritans (the bait/switch accomplished). Actually, because he’s left himself in a place where confidence in God’s Word seems to be missing from this album, we are left with Puritans themselves, these twisted sticks and the words that came from their twisted hearts and twisted mouths and twisted pens.

    The Puritans were sinners like us, yes, and of course we shouldn’t dismiss them completely. But why not? At this point in the logic, why shouldn’t we wholesale dismiss them? This is the unanswered question. From here on the discussion can only terminate on the Puritans themselves, on their fallenness, on their moral flaws, not on the many ways they faithfully carried the Word of God for centuries, not on the way they carried and preserved the reformed faith that carries within it the very seed that will undo racism (see Piper, Bloodlines, ch 9).

    Bent sticks can make straight lines. But why? What hope is there that the line we ourselves make in our ministry will be straight? Raising these questions in the absence of a high view of Scripture makes for confusion (and discouragement) all around.

    The line can be straight only because the line is drawn by the sovereign and sufficient Word of God. Thus, the value of the Puritan’s writings is determined not on the basis of whether they were sinless, but when and where they were faithful to Scripture. And that is the only hope that we ourselves have that any of OUR albums and sermons and books will help to guide our own generation. We can learn from the good (and the bad) in the Puritans because we have a straightedge in the Word. That is the only basis for appreciation. That is to say, we have lost our way if we are more focused on the twisted sticks than we are on the straightedge itself. Had he ended here, that could have made a great track.

    Overall, this is a fine sounding album, and no doubt Propaganda does a good job in this album in getting the gospel across here and there, and also the theme of God’s work in creation. But at the end of the album I’m left with two main realities: (1) the world is full of questions, lets be okay with questions, lets not find easy answers to the complex issues of life, and (2) God crated the universe and Christ died for us. Those are good points, but it’s not nearly enough. We cannot be okay with silence about the sufficiency of Scripture to address the complexities of life. We cannot be silent about the wide range of biblical answers that God has given to us to carry to our own generation.

    It’s in this light that I’m not surprised that Propaganda’s track on the Puritans is misleading and confusing — and discouraging to any sinner who seeks to rap or preach or write for the glory of God. The reason the Puritan’s appeal to white (and black) Christians today is because behind their teachings is a faithfulness to God and a commitment to take the Bible really seriously in all its details, even if they fail in their execution. That’s why the Puritans are enduringly precious models for us all to learn from.

    • owenstrachan

      This is a very thoughtful and helpful post, Tony. I liked how you connected this track to the broader themes of the album. I like Propaganda’s raw honesty and willingness to tackle hard themes. I think that’s great, and that’s part of why I can commend the cd. But I do agree that the album is lacking in answers.

      Your comment about the Puritans song leaving us with just crooked sticks is apt. The fact is, the Puritans and you and me are crooked. But God uses us. And he used the Puritans in incredibly powerful ways. I just celebrated those ways yesterday in a three-hour church history class.

      I resonated with what Bentley wrote above. I get the “bait and switch” idea; I know we don’t read all works of art equally straightforwardly. But I’m just not sure that Propaganda pulled off the bait and switch. That’s my issue. And–the track, let’s face it, takes the Puritans off at the knees. You don’t get to have your cake and eat it too. If you’re going after a group, and Propaganda clearly is (though yes he implicates himself), then you need to own that EVEN IF you are making a broader point.

      What led to my concern, actually, was seeing how strongly Propaganda qualified himself on Joe’s blog. That showed me just how strong his critique was–too strong, though as I’ve said in several places I like his music and really like Humble Beast as a label.

    • Brad

      I think we should read fewer books and live life with people more. Then we will understand what Propaganda is saying and not feel like we have to evaluate and parse everything everyone is saying.

      • Kelly Anderson

        EXACTLY! Brad I could have not say this better myself! When we understand the pain that is the reality of minorities in this country today, then we understand his words, thoughts, and actions. They are, in fact, very close to the same tone and words Jesus said to the Pharisees. Also, in studying the life of Puritans, I am not that impressed. They lacked the key of Jesus’s message of salvation to this world…there is no act or obedience that will measure the grace of God. The Puritan culture lacked the grace Jesus dies for.

        As a society, they missed the boat completely….just as it seems many “missed the boat” on this song as well.

  • Danny Slavich

    First off, I appreciate and admire your courage to open yourself to criticism by expressing your point of view.

    I disagree with your position, though, for a couple of reasons. Forgive the disorganization of these thoughts, but here they are:

    1. Your post seems to assume that it would be worse for someone to be turned off to the Puritans than it would be for them to be powerfully confronted on racism through hyperbole. I know it isn’t “either, or”, but I think the fact that the question could even arise speaks of the “blind privilege” that Propaganda is talking about. The negative views of the song imply the attitude that “racism is a big deal, but not a big enough deal to risk souring someone on Puritan theology.” Again, that is what makes the song important and, I believe, appropriate.

    2. I know you address the OT prophetic idea, but I don’t think the idea of biblical hyperbole is taken seriously enough in your post. Your argument implies that lack of nuance undermines or illegitimizes communication, but, obviously, we know that isn’t true. Jesus used hyperbole and lacked nuance. And perhaps such hyperbole is the only way Propaganda could get people to listen and thoughtfully consider the true sinfulness of the racism that has pervaded western Christianity. I think that a “nuanced” presentation would just be white noise to white people. After ministering for almost four years in a context where the minority population is the majority population (55% black in our church’s neighborhood), I’ve begun to see that white people don’t get it. And, worse, we don’t get that we don’t get it. I think the negative reactions to “Precious Puritans” only illustrates that fact.

    My thoughts, for what they’re worth.

    Hope you’re well bro,
    Danny Slavich

    • owenstrachan

      Danny–I respect your comments and appreciate the reflective response. I honestly want both, to your first point: 1) racism to be called out and made an object of our scorn and 2) the Puritans to be chastised for their sins but also evaluated with grace (per Gal 6:1). Why is it either/or? It shouldn’t be.

      Critique should not equal demolition. In my judgment–and the judgment of a number of white AND non-white people who have reached out to me–this song overdoes it. I’m not first and foremost concerned with “Puritan theology” as you say–I’m concerned that we treat actual people who actually lived and were Christians and yes, actually sinned, with BOTH grace and truth. I mentioned that I myself, with Doug Sweeney, strove to do just that in our Edwards book. If your critique of a Christian who sinned is harsh and uncareful, you’re not living up to the scriptural ideal.

      To your second point, Jesus reserved most of his harshest words for unbelievers who were trying very clearly to trap and kill him. Of course, as you know, there is a very strong debate about what lengths we go in emulating Jesus in our speech. I won’t try to settle the matter there, but I will say this: the general biblical model for critique that I see fits with what I’ve sketched. You speak strongly, but not in a mocking and demolishing way.

      To the matter of white people “not getting it”: that’s a huge issue. I think it’s kind of ironic, actually. Here are all these people like me who love gospel hip hop. We’re from all different backgrounds and races. AND we love the Puritans. The church needs education and further conversation on racism. But the irony is, tons of us are trying to address these problems–and the explosion of hip hop is a major sign in my view that exactly that is happening!

    • Ross Parmly


      I enjoyed reading your thoughts. I question whether hyperbole is valuable if it fails to accomplish its intended purpose. On Joe Thorn’s blog, Propaganda writes, “The real point is the last line, ‘God uses crooked sticks to make straight lines.’” If this is what Propaganda ultimately wants to communicate then I think it’s fair for us to ask whether that was accomplished.

      Even if racism was primarily what Propaganda was attacking, it comes across to me as if he’s equally harsh toward both the Puritans and those who deeply appreciate their work. Most of the guys I know who read the Puritans don’t have a racist bone in their body and are probably reading Piper’s Bloodlines at the same time. I also recognize that Propaganda probably wasn’t targeting people in the seminary community so the people I’m thinking of might be a lot different than his target audience. I’m just having a hard time thinking that the typical guys who put the Puritans on a pedestal need the harsh whacking that Propaganda delivers.

      I assume that a lot of people who hear this song will have never heard of the Puritans. I think Propaganda runs the risk of taking people who likely already hate racism and turning them into people who reject the Puritans as well. Lots of younger and less mature Christian brothers and sisters are going to be picking up this album and I wonder if many of them will pass over the Puritans because of how strongly Propaganda speaks against them. Is hyperbole still successful if it results in unintended negative consequences? I know that I didn’t come away from the song thinking, “Man, it sounds like Propaganda wants us to see that the Puritans are fallen men who God used to do great thing.” Maybe others have had a different experience.

      I love what Humble Beast is doing and I think Propaganda is a great artist. I’m thankful for what the Lord will do through his album. However, I don’t think this song ultimately accomplishes what Propaganda intended based on his comments on Thorn’s blog. I’m hoping that those who listen to the song don’t shy away from the Puritans as a result.

    • Kelly Anderson

      Danny, thank you for the comment. I cannot agree more that at the root of the reaction of many to this song , there is an underlying “privilege” Prop so truthfully describes in the song, that many are not willing to recognize or give the reflection it deserves.

      I would have hoped that instead of defending the Puritans, which honestly I think were, as a culture, very much like the Pharisees of Jesus day, we would actually reflect on some “hidden” sin we might have as Caucasians in our own lives to perpetuating the inequality that we comfortably live with today. The life of our current saints and sinners are, by far more precious to God right now in this day than the read legacy of these preachers’ past accomplishments. For all intensive purposes, they are dead…those that are offended are very much alive.

      Who exactly is our neighbor right now?

      I would assert, not Jonathan Edwards.

      • owenstrachan


        Thanks for your comments. I think you’re in danger, throughout your words, of jettisoning some of the most important figures of the Christian past. Let’s do a very quick walkthrough of some past sins, many of them egregious, in the lives of historic Christian leaders.

        Origen: flirted with universalism
        Constantine: various nefarious political dealings
        Chrysostom: anti-money
        Augustine: ascetic
        Luther: excoriated the Jews
        Calvin: oversaw the execution of an anti-Trinitarian
        Zwingli: had numerous Anabaptists murdered
        John Knox: was a warmonger
        Anabaptists: some held to deficient Christology (see Melchior Hoffman and the “heavenly flesh” of Christ
        Cranmer: initially recanted Protestant convictions (later recanted)
        Puritans: some held slaves
        Jonathan Edwards: held slaves
        John Wesley: not a good husband
        George Whitefield: also not a good husband, self-promoter
        Jonathan Edwards Jr., Samuel Hopkins: downplayed substitutionary atonement

        The list could and does go on, and it stretches into the current day. Poor fathering, pride, self-promotion–we’re all sinners. We have two choices when it comes to the Christian past: because we see sin in the lives of “heroes,” we can turn away from them or we can realize the depth of their sin and try to learn from them where we can.

      • Kelly Anderson

        Owen, you missed my point. It is not about revering our “Christian past”, it is about perpetuating it into our “Christian present” (and future).

        I would say that the attitude that is displayed in the defense of the Puritan community and the criticism of Props song is an underlying issue with the ability to “compartmentalize” sin to these “events” and take away the negative impact to current populations.

        It is not Prop who needs to learn something about the Puritans, it is us that needs to learn something from him.

        This battle continues to as evidenced by this very debate.

      • Kelly Anderson

        In danger of what?

        After a conservative Christian high school, conservative Christian (S Bap) undergraduate school, and an Anglican post graduate school I am not really in any “danger” of anything in “missing” the important messages in the writings and history of the Puritans.

        and of the sins you talked about…nothing holds a candle to the demoralization and degradation of populations of people exploited for the sole cause of personal gain.

        There are several contemporary Universalists I follow the work of and respect higher although I do not espouse that theoretical position myself.

        “Overlooking” that minor detail would also put one in danger of dismissing the entire point of the Pharisaical question of eternal life and the resulting parable Jesus told in Luke 10:25 – 37.

        The 1642 “liberties” document clearly stands in stark opposition to this passage of scripture.

        I would rather be in danger of dismissing the contribution of man, then ignoring the direct words of Jesus.

  • Danny Slavich

    I think we would probably keep going around about the extent of the legitimate use of hyperbole. I agree that Jesus reserved some of his harshest words for those trying to trap and kill him. But I think those same people were “demolished” for their hypocrisy, as well. In other words, I think there is a place for prophetic hyperbole against hypocrisy specifically. I think Propaganda’s song is a legitimate use of prophetic hyperbole, so we can agree to disagree :)

    I totally agree that this (type of) conversation is a(nother) step forward in the progress of racial reconciliation in the church. I’m glad we’re at the point where all sides can speak into the issue and the constellation of issues in its orbit, and, while irritating the heck out of each other, truly love each other. Steps in the right direction, for sure.

    P.S. I give you street cred for being a white guy who like hip hop way before most of us ;-)

    • owenstrachan


      Thanks for the street cred acknowledgement. Coming from a Californian–by nature cooler than the rest of us–that means alot.

      I agree with what Ross said above. I don’t think I have any more to add to the matter. If you’re blasting a good chunk of people who already agree with you, I’m not sure what good that does.

      I wish the song had incorporated more of the perspective Propaganda expressed on Thorn’s blog. If you have to qualify your song strongly, your point might not have gotten across in quite the way you intended it. But as you said–I’m thankful for the chance to have this needed conversation. I hate racism. I love hip hop. I think Humble Beast is terrific. I’ve always personally identified to some degree with urban culture. I want racial divisions and racial wounds in evangelicalism to disappear. That will necessarily mean confronting the sins of many white Christians we look up to.

      Hope that’s all fair and well-taken, and again, appreciate the sharpening, brother.


  • Wesley Roy

    I am somewhat confused. I have listened to the song “Precious Puritans”. I have read many of the writings of the Puritans. I do not see the need to defend the Puritans or their doctrines from the truth presented in the song.

    I think that many don’t get it because they are unaware of the freshness and fierceness of slavery in the African-American community. By freshness I mean that slavery is not a foggy reference to bygone days. Slavery in the African-American community is given new life by each act of racism, each dismissal of the effects of racism/slavery, each demonstration of “white privilege”, etc. By fierceness I mean that slavery is not a matter that can be dismissed or moved on from. In the African-American community slavery remains the chief sin and crime that humanity can perpetrate. Slavery is a greater evil than murder, stealing, rape, pedophile, etc. It is an evil that denies the very humanity of African-Americans.

    Even after that attempt at clarification some still will refuse to get it. They will think and say, “But it shouldn’t be that way”. Why not? It is. Slavery is an evil that undercuts any claims to being a Christian in the African-American community. it is an evil that cannot be swept aside. Propaganda just made public what is going on in the minds of those who know the true practice of many puritans who professed faith in Christ and then denied it by debasing His image bearers because they have a darker complexion. Now you know the context that you have to bring the Gospel to and you can become all things to all men are keep explaining to the Native Americans how they misunderstand what Columbus meant to do.

  • Alex Johnson (@AlexJohnson116)

    “I’ll write a blog later on this but, If you think Precious Puritans is about puritans, you didn’t listen to the whole song & missed the point.” ~ Propaganda

  • ccurlejr

    One glaring biblical issue that’s missing from this blog and others critiquing the song is the fact that the bible does make distinction between solitary “sin”, meaning a sin committed once and repented of verses making a practice of sin – 1 John 3:6. I wouldn’t want to get into it here, but this is where some Puritan doctrines get problematic IMHO. Put simply, I refer to it as hyper-grace teaching which sort of undoes Paul’s appeal about grace vs. sin in Galatians. Oh well, that’s a side note though….. LOL
    I would contest that owning slaves and mistreating them, by rape of women, trading them, beating them, etc… is making a practice of sin. Grace to cover fallen sinners who genuinely repent is one thing, excuses for habitual sin is a completely different issue that needs more discernment and thought to pick apart. Did John Edwards repent of the sin of owning slaves? I’m not sure if it’s documented or not, and perhaps it’s none of our business? Or was it an excusable way of life relative to the time that he lived, a “social norm” I think the clear biblical answer to that is an unequivocal – NO. We don’t get a cultural pass on sin. I would submit for you and others who tend to like Puritans, and understandably so, to consider this fact.
    Paul made it quite clear that we should consider the life of those who teach us in the faith (Hebrews 13). I think it’s fair game to examine someone’s life along with their theology to determine if we should “listen” to their theology – profound or not.
    To put it in modern day contexts… Should we listen to Piper or Keller if they became habitual womanizers and never repented of their sins? I wouldn’t, and wouldn’t feel bad about it either, and I love Tim Keller. It stings a bit more when you put real feet to something more modern. It’s easy to excuse the sins of people like John Edwards when he’s dead…. “Oh, he get’s a pass because he was a victim of the times….” Nah, not according to scripture.

    Hopefully, my post itself doesn’t come off too harsh, but I can relate to Propaganda on this one. People often get a “pass” on the sin of racism, but people rarely confront the notion that it is a habitual sin. Hating any neighbor habitually violates the lowest denominator of the law, and is perhaps the most clear diagnostic sympmtom of an untransformed heart.

    God bless everyone here, and well written article. I think the critique of it being a little hard to swallow is fair, but Propaganda made some tough points that are simply hard to digest.

    • owenstrachan

      I see what you’re getting at. But I think the study of church history–at least the study of it conducted with charity–shows us that many of our forebears were sinners. They had cultural blind spots, unfortunately. You know what? In successive centuries, people are going to say the same about us. We’re not as spotless as might think.

      I would urge a more cautious approach to those who have gone before. We don’t whitewash sin. We condemn it. But hopefully we do it in a way that recognizes our own sin and our own need to forgive Christians of the past who have sinned.

      It’s odd to me that the whole “gospel-driven” movement would struggle with this. What else is the gospel supposed to do but enable us to forgive those who sin against us (or others)? Isn’t that precisely what the Lord’s prayer teaches us?

      • ccurlejr

        Call me extreme or a hateful Christian, but I side with other well known theologians on this that actually call into question the truth authenticity of one’s faith, who does not find the capacity in their heart to love one’s neighbor. I think of people like Danny Akin from Southeastern Seminary in NC. Who I’ve personally heard question whether or not slave holders were truly saved.
        I want to be clear that nobody can question another’s salvation, I believe – biblically, without bringing judgment on themselves. So, I refuse to go there. However, I do admit that I hesitate to hold people in high regard, theologically, who owned slaves and treated them cruelly.
        I know “cultural blinders” is an evangelical buzzword right now, but I’ve never bought into the idea of granting passes to people based on cultural blinders. I feel that the bible is relatively clear on habitual sin, without repentance. While I say that, I too can sympathize with where you’re coming from in terms of grace. It is true that we have to learn to excuse the sins of others as God does for us. All of that makes sense. What is more questionable, is granting a pass for people who never conquer sin. Especially those as I mentioned earlier that are at the heart of Christianity, or in which the whole law hangs. When one’s heart is transformed, they are a new creature in Christ. The fact that the Methodists were able to overcome cultural blinders on slavery vs. the Puritans may very well have been a sign of true saving faith. Therefore, it’s very difficult for me to buy this line about grace based on cultural shortcomings.
        What I do know is that Jesus himself had some pretty rough words for behavioral sin…..
        “22 Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. 23 Someone asked him, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?”
        He said to them, 24 “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. 25 Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’
        “But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’
        26 “Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’ 27 “But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’

        We can be fans of grace and the Calvinist teachings of “total depravity”, but personal responsibility and orthopraxy, to actually walk out our faith holds real eternal value in the bible. That’s what I was hinting at before in using the term hyper-grace. This is going to lead to another discussion though, so I better stop right here. LOL

      • Kelly Anderson

        With all due respect Owen, only a White Caucasian would call owning slaves and passing laws to legally take away human rights for all American residing Africans a “cultural blind spot”. The cultural aspect of slavery was not a one time event and can not, in any form, be called a sin “slip”. It was a mindset that required a strong stomach to take advantage of another, to strategically take away basic human and health rights, to kidnap, to solely take Godly control over another, suppress, and demean in word and action. I am not sure about you, but that is not a profile I would align to Jesus.

        This is, of course, on top of public executions to elicit fear and obedience, public displays of harsh citizen discipline, constant judgement of others (when they themselves fled judgement), and not forget legalistic teachings of obedience and rules above people. I do not have individual judgement of specific persons, but really, their societal “norm” does not mirror the life of Jesus.

        I question why we defend it so vehemently at the cost of living, breathing, hurting souls today?

  • Cray Allred

    I’m going to repeat some of my thoughts from the other blog where discussion is a little cool. I’m bothered by the critique, because it isn’t dealing with the song’s actual point. Propaganda is asking for some awareness from pastors quoting the puritans without any nuance. It’s not about whether anyone should read them or learn from them, but whether they should be heavily leaned on without disclaimer. Before we get to Propaganda’s nuance or lack thereof in the song, what about that of pastors preaching God’s word to His people?

    “Artists are not exempt from giving account to God for every word they speak (see Matthew 12:36-37).” I don’t think Propaganda will have to give an account for why someone, somewhere, listened to this song and used it as justification for ignoring the work of past Christians. That would be on them. If his words unfairly condemned his brethren, he would give account for that. But they don’t do that, let alone carelessly. Isn’t it just as plausible that a person could leave congregational life after multiple pastors quote puritans, when all they know of them are their sinful slavery practices as taught by the mainstream culture but ignored in those churches?

    Danny is right on. Rappers aren’t OT prophets; is their standard higher than that of the latter? If the prophets were this worried about giving account due to a lack of nuance and gentleness towards the esteemed and powerful (whose esteem and power enabled or excused their sin), I think the Scriptures would read differently.

    • owenstrachan

      Cray, OT prophets didn’t tear people down or mock them for their own sake. They spoke hard words. But their purpose was not ridicule. There’s a pretty big difference. You’d need to get a whole lot more specific about what exactly OT prophets did if you wanted to tease them out. It’s kind of the same problem that I raised–we’re dealing monolithically with a pretty diverse group.

      We can agree to disagree on whether Propaganda’s harsh words are justified. You know one thought I have? I’m not sure you and I would want to be critiqued for our sin the way Propaganda critiques the Puritans. I for one don’t really want to be torn down, even if at the end you point the finger at yourself. I for one would like more grace in the critique, more stated awareness of my sin, more focus on how I am able to FORGIVE those who sin against me and others. It’s not enough to simply say “God uses crooked sticks.” If we are “gospel-centered,” then we BY NATURE are called to forgive others. Are we perhaps missing something vital here? Isn’t that the heart of the Lord’s prayer?

      I’ve said my piece here. Appreciate your thoughts and hope the discussion moves things along.

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  • Ross Parmly


    Based on your research of Edwards and the other Puritans, could you comment on whether there was a difference in how the Puritans treated their slaves as compared to others? My wife and I were discussing this last night and she and I were both curious if there is any documentation on whether Christian slave owners in America conducted themselves differently toward their slaves. The historical commentary on Thorn’s blog touched on what the Puritans thought about slavery in general, but didn’t get into the specifics of how the Puritans handled there own slaves. Doug Wilson has written some on the issue of slavery in America and he notes that in addition to all of the horrible reprehensible stories we often here about slavery there were also cases where slaves where taken good care of and treated very well. I don’t want to justify the Puritan’s support of slavery in any way, I’m just interested in whether the gospel at least transformed the way they acted toward those they owned.

    • Ifeoluwa Ojetayo

      I don’t know if that’s even a question worth exploring. It’s ironic that we’re eager to be nuanced about the manner in which the Puritans treated their slaves and we’re not willing to contend and give room for Prop’s, I believe, fairly nuanced lyrics.
      Weren’t all slave owners in America “christians”? I found the eagerness with which we attempt to soften the inherent evil that is American race based slavery troubling. If we do that then we should allow for the same gradation regarding abortion or modern day sex trafficking.
      I see these men and their great legacy alongside their grossly evil practice of slavery and I marvel at the enormity of grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. I believe Prop got there as well and I’m not going to question how he got there, I’m simply going to rejoice in the fact that he got there.

  • Lance Black

    Owen -

    Could you please highlight your attempts to contact Propaganda before you wrote your blog post? I assume that an effort was made to engage your brother in Christ before your public post, since it is such a contentious topic.


  • Jason Turner

    I would like to offer the argument being made by Propaganda is for pastors to be sensitive to members of their congregation who are Black when deciding to quote or recommend some of the Puritans without the possible strong offense the Puritans may cause. It’s a issue of sensitivity and wisdom. If someone was to place a reference to David Duke in their sermon it will not be easily accepted by black believers. This is in that same lane. Quoting slave masters to many who are the decedents of slaves! I am hoping this can be easily seen how this could offend other brothers and sisters. I find it hard at times to be told that Slave masters, who may have not repented of slavery are the heroes of current day pastors. But it is expected that grace can make that more comfortable? Why would that be case? Because we all sinners?

    Good theology does not make up for horrible life practices. It is doctrine and life. We would be not so eager to submit ourselves to a serial adulterer’s teachings. It is just as difficult for many who have serious emotional and theological problems with Puritans who were slaves masters to their death to be just “gracious” and read them. Grace also gives us the liberty to excuse ourselves from the teaching of those who’s life did not match up with their solid theology. Lets not throw away the Puritans, but lets not make their theology their “get out of slavery” card either. Nor give the impression that their sin is small and its not big deal because we are sinners too. That too can be just as hurtful.

    • ccurlejr

      Jason, that’s SPOT ON! Read my posts above as well. We’re echoing many of the same points here. I promise I’m not trying to be hateful or stir up the hornets nest here, but I have to put this out there.
      I appreciate what Propaganda had the guts to say.
      This will offend some, but I think it’s a point that has merit and needs to be made.
      I will be glad when I see the day when white Evangelicals can hold Puritans and other “Christians” from the past who were unrepentant slave holders that made a practice of sin to the same standard of judgement that they so often love to place on people who are sexually immoral. For some strange reason, mainly conservatives, have made a habit of not holding their racist neighbors to the same biblical standard as homosexuals. Both are making a practice of sin. It’s a good ole’ boy club of sin ranking. As long as everyone in the circle of friends is committing the sin, then it’s a lesser sin. But, if it’s a sin of the minority then it’s an abomination. Somebody help me with this one. I see both as being sinful. PERIOD. Why do we hold one as a greater sin then the other, or give a “cultural blinder pass” to one and not the other?

      • Kelly Anderson

        Actually, Jesus said if you hurt a child, it would be better for you to have a millstone tied around your neck and tossed into the sea.

        Puritans had a common practice of paying ship captains to get them a “slave child” from the West Indies as they were desirable for house chores…of course understanding he/she would be kidnapped from their parents.

        Slavery is a single “sin”. It is a heart that is conditioned to do some horrible things at the cost of a race of people. This was not a “blind sin”. This was a lifestyle and heart condition that is a problem (as we read in the Bible) to the core attributes of being a follower of Christ.

        I would assert that sins that intentionally hurt another for my own gain are worse than homosexuality.

        I would predict that the White Caucasian community would not be so easygoing with the defense of the Puritan pastors “cultural blind spot” if it was discovered they were living open homosexual lives.

      • Kelly Anderson

        sorry..I meant is NOT a single sin.

  • Ty Reed

    Owen, I am curious if you would feel compelled to write a critique of Packer’s book, Quest for Godliness because of his lack of addressing many Puritans sin of racism?

    • Mike Waters

      Ty, I think there needs to be further clarity with regards to what a puritan was. Technically speaking, puritans were 17th century English reformers. Thus men such as William Perkins, Thomas Watson, John Flavel, John Owen, John Bunyan, Christopher Love, Thomas Goodwin, and Thomas Brooks (the puritans I quote the most), neither owned African slaves nor were chaplains on slave ships. This is one concern I have with Propaganda’s song. He painted with too big a brush. If we apply the word “puritan” to their American successors, then yes, many owned African slaves. This was wrong. Period. But, let us be careful in what we say, else we may be guilty of breaking the ninth commandment. The “puritans” were not slave owners who worked as chaplains on slave ships, but, some (many) of their successors were, and for that, I weep, and share Propaganda’s sorrow.

      Mike Waters
      Heritage Reformed Baptist Church
      North Canton, Ohio

  • Wesley Roy

    It seems some guys are getting it. Slavery is systemic, habitual sin that is not excusable by cultural norms any more than homosexuality or promiscuity. I am relieved by the comments of those who see this glaring problem with the Puritans and any other slavery holders.

    • owenstrachan

      You know what’s discouraging in blogging? When you get the feeling that people click on your post and don’t read it carefully. I said in the post pretty clearly how I feel about the sin of slavery. I gave the link to my Edwards writing.

      Honestly, do people read carefully anymore? Or does the Internet encourage us to quickly skim then fire off our opinions?

      Disheartening. You nuance things–and people blow right past the nuances.

      • Ty Reed

        Owen, I appreciated the nuances. My question above has to do with the line of your argumentation. If you critique Propaganda for not being nuanced enough and being too strong in his critique. Your concern is that many will write off the Puritans. Could the same be said from the other side about a book like “Quest for Godliness” by Packer? Could many write off the Puritans because of his lack of nuance in addressing the systemic and personal sin of racism? If so why not write a critique in that direction?

      • Kelly Anderson

        Actually though Owen, in later comments you stated that it was a “cultural blind spot” and inferred it was a single sin. To state that means you are not getting the song, the pain, or the message at all. Your frustration right now is minuscule in comparison to the centuries old frustration African American people have had with White Caucasians in this country.

        Regardless of the individual words in your blog post, the message of “understanding” does not come through at all. I think that is the issue most are having.

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  • Ty Reed

    Sorry I published too soon…
    Owen, I appreciated the nuances. My question above has to do with the line of your argumentation. You critiqued Propaganda for not being nuanced enough and being too strong in his critique. Your concern is that many will write off the Puritans. Could the same be said from the other side about a book like “Quest for Godliness” by Packer? Could many write off the Puritans because of his lack of nuance in addressing the systemic and personal sin of racism? If so why not write a critique in that direction?

  • owenstrachan

    Ty, I agree that a broad treatment of the Puritans involves attention to their failings. I would be in favor of that kind of writing by Packer or anyone else.

    As I have said several times now, in my own writing, I strive to show exactly the kind of balance you want–and so do tons of evangelical historians, folks like George Marsden of Notre Dame, Mark Noll of Notre Dame, Douglas Sweeney (my TEDS advisor), Harry Stout of Yale, Thomas Kidd of Baylor, and a ton more.

    This is a little bit of what surprised me about Propaganda’s very strong critique. There are many who are aware of personal and “systemic” sins as you put it in the lives of past Christians. Some historians bend over backward, in fact, to call attention to these problems, and some go too far. They make it sound as if these people were sub-Christian. In actual fact, they were terribly wrong on the issue of race. But that must not obscure their Christian walk. If it does, then we have to write off basically everyone in the Bible–Abraham, David, Moses, Peter, and the list goes on.

    • ccurlejr

      Still, the fact is you aren’t making the distinction between the habitual sin (if unrepentant) of slave ownership and solitary sins (with repentance) of David, Moses, Peter, and so on. I believe that part of this may have to do with your strong belief in Puritan theology.
      You would be hard pressed to find any of them living in a continual state of sin in the bible.

      • Tom Keningley

        ccureljr: Have you ever read John Owen? I don’t know where you get the impression that he, for example, excuses habitual sin.

        Furthermore, you continue on at this point that Christians don’t live in habitual sin- that’s true. But what about those who are sinning in ignorance? Can you be confident that you aren’t habitually sinning in ignorance? If you are confident, how can you justify that confidence? Remember that you may be blinkered in some ways, just as the Puritans were. So how do you know you aren’t in habitual sin?

        Read Richard Hooker’s “Learned Discourse on Justification”, for example, where he defends many of our forefathers in the medieval Catholic church of whom, he says, no doubt God was merciful in saving thousands in Popish superstitions, inasmuch as they *sinned in ignorance*.

        That you use the example of the Methodists as some who overcame cultural blinders is sad as well. Methodists preach Arminianism, a set of false doctrines about God and salvation. Insofar as there is no sharp distinction between orthodoxy and orthopraxy (it is a sin to tell untruths about God, surely?) we would use your own rationale to say that they were in a similar position to the Puritans, and that we should avoid Wesley at all costs (not to mention Luther, an anti-semite). But the point is that ignorance *does* extenuate sin, including habitual sin, whether it be attending Mass or owning a slave. It doesn’t excuse it, but it puts it in a different category to wilful and habitual sin, teaching against which you misapply to the Puritans who wrongly but honestly believed that racism, and kidnapping people into slavery was acceptable. For your claim about them to be valid requires them to know what they’re doing is wrong but keeping on going. But if they repented of their sin against God, that means they repented even of sins they didn’t realise and never conquered in life.

        In the end, we are all sinners, and what’s more we all carry certain sins with us for a long time (maybe our whole lives) without even realising we’re sinning. But God’s grace is deeper than our sin.

        (By the way, you claim that you aren’t questioning the Puritans’ salvation, but say it in a context which sounds very much to me like “Well I’m not questioning their salvation but, you know…”.)

      • Sojo_Truth

        Ty, good points. I agree with you on habitual sin in ignorance vs. being unaware of a sin. However, it would be difficult to explain that away in light of the fact that it’s so elementary to the gospel message. If people don’t comprehend what loving your neighbor actually means, then is it really easy to justify someone who studies the scripture like the Puritan theologians from not having “seen” their sin? I doubt it very highly. I agree that we have to be careful about placing judgement, but we also have to be careful about willful ignorance.
        I don;’ care to get into the whole Wesley/Methodist issue and the “false teaching” of Arminianism. I’ve gone round-and-round to many times on that wheel. But, I will respectfully disagree with your assessment of either Calvinism/Arminianism being completely false or true doctrines. I find biblical truth and falsehood in both, although mystery abounds ;-) BTW, no need to use terms like “sad” in my statement on Wesley unless you are willing to take a spoonful of medicine regarding your own advice, about me placing judgment on someone’s salvation. You may believe that Wesley was wrong, but how too can you be so confident that you refer to opposing views as “sad”. Is that not also passing unjustified judgment when you aren’t fully aware of what I believe. Seems like you’re just attempting to chop me off at the knees to prove a point rather than speaking with grace? A better way to state your case would be to simply say that you disagree.
        So in summary, point taken, but you would be hard-pressed to convince me that a Christian alcoholic, adulterer, or the sexual immoral are not aware of their sin, unless somehow the conviction of the holy Spirit is not at work in the person, then… well you know where I’m headed. Much less, someone who actually preaches and teaches the bible. In general, I think that you make a decent argument, but when you consider the subjects that Propaganda is confronting I think it makes it close to impossible to make the case that you are making. Now, the new Christian or unrepentant sinner, yes you make a great case.

      • Tom Keningley

        Hi. (Btw, I’m not Ty, just so you know). I think you make the issue much broader than it actually is. I think the Puritans did know what it meant to love their neighbour in general, but were blind to the fact that what they were doing wasn’t in line with the gospel. Yes, it can be understood by the noetic effect of sin- it damages the mind and stops us thinking properly. It’s possible to read something in scripture a thousand times and still not get it because we really are that sinful. God in his mercy may bring it to our attention, but he may choose not to. In any case, I don’t see how what you are saying is “elementary to the gospel message”. It is a necessary implication, but elementary is an overstatement.
        It doesn’t matter which group out of Calvinism or Arminianism you pick, or if you sit on the fence. One or both are making serious errors about salvation and God’s ways, and so are sinning by telling untruths about God. These are very learned and often godly men- but do we say that the ones who are wrong are unsaved because of their habitual sin?
        I maintain that your statement is sad, by which I mean it saddens me. The reason is that you hold up the Methodists as an example of sanctification (which some but not all were) and imply by using them that thus the puritans were unregenerate. It saddens me deeply. I don’t just disagree, I think what you are saying is deeply unfair to the Puritans, sinners as they were, but sanctified in many ways.
        An alcoholic in a society of drunkards, an adulterer in a society of adulterers etc. That is the proper analogy, and because I believe in the noetic effects of sin, I think that a person could really be blinded by their culture to the teaching of scripture. The Spirit is sovereign, and is free to leave Christians in certain sins if He so chooses. I would respectfully suggest that you have an overdeveloped view of sanctification, and that to suggest that Christian leaders cannot be in habitual sin, whilst new Christians can, makes them an ontologically separate classes.
        Let me put it another way. To sustain your point, you have to honestly believe that the Puritans really knew what they were doing was sinful, and kept doing it anyway, and lied about it as they preached to others. Do you really believe that?
        You failed to respond to the example Martin Luther. But let me also make the point that John Wesley was, by all accounts, an awful husband, and not just once. I say this not to condemn him, but to point out that you will have to, if you want to remain consistent. How many other great Christian leaders of the past do you want to throw into question? I really think your view is unsustainable.
        I also think the Bible provides clear cut counterexamples to your point: the most auspicious is Solomon. Read 1 Kings 11. Was Solomon saved or not? The Lord called him Jedidiah. Think what light he had! And yet he backslid so horribly. Another example is Gideon, who set up a gold ephod which became a snare to him and his family, and who had the arrogance to call his son Abimelech, despite ostensibly refusing the kingship. He’s also found in Hebrews, in the Hall of Faith. Lot also had some pretty horrendous flaws, but in 2 Peter he is described as righteous, despite these horrendous flaws.
        Also, I don’t think Propaganda is attempting to call the Puritans’ status before God into question. In any case, I remain convinced of this. I am a filthy sinner, a wretch beyond all imaginings. But God’s grace is even deeper than my wretchedness. Praise God for His great mercies!

      • Sojo_Truth

        Tom, sorry about that calling you Ty. Honest mistake. I appreciate your perspective, but disagree with many of your points above in light of scripture.
        Many of the points that you attempted to make above directly contradict the words of Christ and Paul…
        1 John 3:9 – “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God.”
        Hebrews 10:26: “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God.”
        There are so many more that I could cite, but I’m not really up to it. This is the problem I have with any one groups corner on gospel truth be it Arminian, Calvinist, Baptist, Methodist, Spirit-Filled Chrismatics, etc… No one group has perfect doctrine, otherwise why would we need the Holy Spirit to continue to guide us into all truth. However, I’ve met my fair share of Calvinists who act like they do, especially many who are younger in the faith. I have been saved for over 30+ years, and I can’t tell you how many of these trends I’ve seen come and go. I’m not trying to refute your statements with oversimplified arguments, but I don’t have the energy or time to go any deeper on this.
        BTW, I accept your point about imperfect people receiving salvation regardless of their flaws, but I draw the line when it comes to unrepentant and perpetual sin. I don’t believe the spirit of God can exist in someone who lives in perpetual sin, regardless of their surrounding culture.
        If your conclusion were taken to it’s logic end then you are teetering with your hyper grace belief on aligning with the likes of many false teachers like Joel Osteen. I’m not trying to denigrate your argument, because I’m fully aware that you are on a different end of the spectrum then Osteen, but oddly enough you both come to the same conclusions:
        Galatians 5: “and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

        You both would say that there is enough Grace (what I call hyper grace, i.e. – out of balance with scripture) to cover PRACTICING homosexuals and murderers. I respectfully disagree. You both would have to admit that based on your arguments that both were just victims of their society. Although that sounds appealing to the flesh, it’s not biblical. In other words, you would be hard press to find or cite a scripture that remotely suggests your point about habitual sin. Actually, I challenge you to list just one that suggests there is enough grace to cover unrepentant sin. Although grace can cover any and all sins, no one who knows the father lives in continual sin. The very natue of becoming a new creature in Christ and being transformed by the reknewing of your mind speaks to the contrary of such notions. Before you attempt to argue it, let me dispel it – This is not a works-based understanding of the gospel – it’s in the bible. We live in a society where homosexuality is seen as normal. Therefore, someone can live in their sin, because it’s normalized and receive eternal life. I stick to the bible on this, in that anyone that goes on sinning was never saved in the first place. What breaks my heart is that many Calvinists lean more securely on the teachings of men rather than resting in what’s often clearly outlined in scripture. This is one of the many trappings of relying to heavily on the teachings and extra-biblical teachings of men vs. relying on the power of the Holy Spirit to teach us from scripture. He’s far more knowledgable about the things of God than Calvin ever was. That’s why Paul admitted int he beginning of Galatians that what he knew of God did not come from the teachings of men ;-)
        God bless you brother.

      • Tom Keningley

        1 John 3:9 says that no-one born of God makes a practice of sinning, but the Puritans made no such practice, they strove for holiness, but they were blind to this sin. Hebrews 10:26 doesn’t help you at all because it contains the word “deliberately”, and you have not established, and cannot establish because it isn’t true, that the Puritans knew what they were doing was wrong.
        The reason that one of the groups you cite presumably is correct is because they are systematic opposites in such a way that they cannot be partially true. Why would we need the Holy Spirit? He is guiding us into all truth, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t in one of those systems. I’m not saying I have “a corner” on anything, just that Calvinism is a nickname for an accurate summary of Biblical truth.
        And no, my conclusion does not, taken to its logical end, come to Joel Osteen. I believe that unrepentant sin is indeed a sign of unregeneracy, but I’m saying that not knowing about a sin because of the thick darkness around you is something toward which God will be merciful. Murderers in the current culture have the church telling them it’s wrong. The same with those engaged in same sex relationships. But whilst the Puritans lived, the kind of slavery then engaged in was so pervasive and so pervasively supported that there were barely even dissenting voices. Everything was surrounded by thick darkness, but I believe that God will be merciful to his wayward children. Otherwise, you have to condemn EVERY catholic in the medieval church because they constantly sinned against God by their acceptance of Roman Catholic doctrines.
        I’ve already provided you with two biblical examples of habitual sin; you are welcome to respond to them if you want. Also bear in mind that you continue to throw Luther and Wesley down the drain into hell. Just because we MUST be sanctified doesn’t mean that every sin will be dealt with in this life.
        I put the following to you: there is certainly a sin that our society (including the church) is guilty of but that we don’t see. It’s pervasive, and even preachers wave it by. You can’t see it, because of these “cultural blinders”. And you’re continuing to do it. I hope people in the future will judge us generously, in the knowledge of the light that we have, rather than in what they think we should have seen as obvious.
        And here we go. “Calvinists rely on the teachings of men”. No. We. Don’t. We rely on the teachings of scripture. We just don’t throw the entire church before us under the bus. They read the Bible too. They might have even understood it better than some of us, strange as it may seem. God has provided the church and our pastors to teach us the word, so we’d be well advised to listen to them. He uses them, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to teach us of His word. Calvinist teachings aren’t extra-biblical, they’re a summary of scripture.
        This isn’t “hyper-grace” or “anti-lordship” teaching. This is simply an attempt to show charity to our forefathers who were immersed in darkness, and took a long time to scramble their way out to the light, by God’s mercies. But they were still shining stars in a corrupt generation! Praise God, who draws straight lines with crooked sticks- like us. :)

    • Kelly Anderson

      You seem to assume that slavery was their only sin and they were basically led by a Christian life. I think the part people miss is 1) Slavery of a specific race or races (ie..other than me) is not a sin that exists in a vacuum and does not constitute a “single sin”. If the Puritians went out of their way to acquire slaves, take away the rights of Africans, and seek laws to “control” them, then really, was slavery the sin? I would challenge that the community in MA was not much different than the Pharisees of Jesus time. There was a mindset of self sufficiency, supremacy, and Biblical arrogance. This does not just “live” in the realm of slavery, but is a perpetual sinful lifestyle no different than living as an open homosexual. I would actually challenge that the arrogance and pride involved in those efforts to suppress human rights, kidnap, and degrade those of only specific races (that was not theirs, of course) is more than the assumption that they just misunderstood the Bible around the topic of “slavery”.

  • MilitaryKidCaleb

    I think it is highly irresponsible to listen to the song and see the song as a sole diss on the Puritans of old. To do so discredits the artistry of the song and the heart of the artist. Propaganda starts his song in a very militant pro black history, how dare you sir, type of tone; however the motive of the song is not to demonize the Puritans, but rather to point out the flaws of the Puritans as they are viewed “precious” by many in Church circles. However Propaganda later refers to himself in the same vein as our “precious Propaganda” and concludes the song not pointing the blame at the Puritans, or preachers who quote them, but at himself because he to is a flawed human being who people quote as if he had it all together. To view this song as simply a rap diss song to the Puritans is irresponsible listening in my opinion. The harshenss at its onset is merely done to provoke controversy and to arouse thought amongst the listener baiting them for more until he flips the script on its head. Relisten to the song, not to be offeneded by his onslaught againts Puritans, although greatly historically accurate, but to truely appreciate the notation of sin in us all and how God uses all who are flawed… frim Propaganda to your precious Puritans.

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  • Wesley Roy

    Maybe many are missing the point the Propaganda is making about how African Americans feel when they here the Puritans quoted. He is speaking of the fact that quotes by people who lived in the time period of American slavery and participated in the enslaving of Blacks or did nothing to gain the freedom of Blacks is offensive to African Americans. He juxtaposes this fact against references to Columbus and Cortez for other people groups. It is something like the feeling that many get when MLK is quoted because he was a member of the Communist Party.

    The point is not to destroy any contribution that the Puritans have made to the Christian faith but to show how such quotes are a hindrance to the faith of African Americans.

    So the question that I wrestle with is, What contributions have the Puritans made that cannot be found in Scripture that makes them important enough to risk needlessly offending one African American? I think it was Paul that declared that his preaching was such that no one’s faith would rest in the words of men (1 Cor 2:1-5) and then cautioned us to be careful not to cause and offense to those inside or outside of the church (1 Cor 10:32). If we heed this advice from Scripture then the Puritans would not become more precious than the souls and lives of African Americans.

    • Jason Turner

      Well Said Wesley! I echo your statements.

    • Kelly Anderson

      Hear, hear…well said.

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  • Kelly Anderson

    I am not sure I agree with you premise that he went to far, I appreciated his humble ending of the song, but really, he never needed to go there.

    When the Puritans escaped persecution and came to America, they, as a community, fell immediately into the same behavior and attitudes that they once experienced against themselves. It was not restricted to an atrocity such as owning and abusing slaves, but to difference of thought (witch trails), and the absence of empathy and respect for others. Now, I am not pointing to every single Puritan, but I am pointing at the culture they created, the public deaths, and the prevalent attitudes of their leaders towards indigenous people, Africans, “heathens”, and those with different beliefs or actions. They became what they hated and still preached from the pulpits and were considered “moral” people by most today.

    Honestly, Propaganda’s song’s rebuke reminds me of the rebuke Jesus gave the Pharisees. He called them white washed tombs. He rebuked them for the same hypocrisy, apathy, and cultural indifference that is spoken about in the song. I wanted to get up and cheer when I heard it. I was thrilled to finally hear a mainstream artist like Prop say something with so much truth. The racial insensitivity and ignorance of many mainstream white evangelical church is jarring. It needs strong rebuke. To say it is a “blind spot” is slightly demeaning to those that live under that indifference, apathy that racial ignorance brings about each day. The truth is, many in power in that society lived like Pharisees, emphasizing rules over people, degrading of others, using public discipline inappropriately, and used public executions to drive fear and compliance. I understand, as in any community, there are those that break that mold, but honestly, the societal norm was around obedience and discipline. I suspect many of those in leadership would be called “white washed tombs” by Jesus then as well.

    When the power of a society is against the segment you belong to, it seems those that are a “part of the power segment” do not want to hear it. It is no different than the Puritans. When they were treated with contempt by the Church, they tried to change it and paid the price, so they left. When they came to the “New World” they were clearly in the center of power over the indigenous people as well as the slaves they owned. They did not give the same grace to those that they expected from the Church. Sounds a little like the forgiven slave beating up the one that owed him money. He was referred by Jesus to be “evil”. I cannot remember Jesus telling the disciples to listen for the words of wisdom of the Pharisees and religious leaders, though I am sure they did “say” some truths about God and their history.Actually, Jesus said “beware the yeast of the Pharisees”. He called them a pit of vipers. He was clear that their demoralizing of others and their Pius attitudes were wrong and dangerous. There was a distinct lack of grace given in that community over “sins”, how is that any different than the stoning of the woman in adultery by the Pharisees? Jesus taught grace, plain and simple. The communal forces in the early colonies where not as kind. It is worthy discussion about who’s standard they lived by.

    When we rely in the “power” status a segment of the population holds in a society, we play into the injustice that may not be originated with us, and continually perpetuate into generations to come. Many like to “wipe their mouth and pretend they did nothing wrong as many of us, as Caucasians, have furthered the inequality still seen in our society today. That type of prevalent racial insensitivity (which is what the song is actually about) is one of the most overlooked sins we face as a nation today.

    Thank you Prop for the song. Thank you for giving a voice to those not heard. Thank you for giving a voice to those scared to say it. Thank you for speaking truth. Thank you for truly caring and speaking up for your “neighbor”. Thank you for loving God and serving the way you do.

    • Jelani Greenidge (@jelanigreenidge)

      So… what Kelly said.

      +3 for eloquence
      +1 for saving me the hours it would’ve taken to say all of that.

    • Ifeoluwa Ojetayo

      Hi Kelly,
      I agree with you that the criticism of Prop’s song is misplaced but I have to caution against comparing the Puritans to the Pharisees. I don’t believe there’s an excuse for slavery, its vestiges are still very real to me as a black man. I say this, for what it’s worth, to let you know that I’m not of the camp that is willing to soften the truth about slavery and slave owners in order to assuage anyone’s heroes.

      With that being said I consider some of the Puritans (on both sides of the Atlantic) my heroes. They believe in Jesus, they wholeheartedly relied on the work of Christ on the cross as the means to their salvation. The Pharisees rejected the Lord, they clung to their self righteousness rather than to the cross.

      That’s my only quibble, I agree with your critique of power structures and privilege. We need to see things from the perspectives of others, especially those that are not privileged. A christian should never be comfortable in his culture or societal status. Jesus penetrates the comfort of everyone with the truth of the gospel. Often the discomfort comes in orthopraxy. It’s perfectly okay to be Orthodox (right belief) and comfortable and be on your way to hell if your right belief doesn’t spur you to right living.
      Yet, back to the “precious” Puritans, we are all evil to the core, no amount of our right belief can enable us to live rightly. Christ alone, through his substitutionary work saves us from our wretchedness.
      His grace is vast, much bigger than we can comprehend and I think it covers our blind spots (I hate to use that word but it is true). :)