As part of a younger generation of Christians today, we can give thanks to God for gifted mentors faithfully preaching the cross, men whose ministry began before many of us were born.
Theologically, we reap the fruit of seeds sown in the life and ministries of mentors like John Stott, John Piper, and C.J. Mahaney. For decades these faithful men (and others like them) have written books, trained pastors, and planted churches to lay a theological foundation we enjoy.
At times you can hear the direct impact of these mentors on a younger generation of Christians. Listen closely and you’ll likely hear a distinctive language used by young Christians and preachers. Our mentors have captured these truths in phrases—“the cross-centered life,” “gospel-centered parenting,” “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him,” and “Don’t Waste Your Life”—each, when used by a young Christian, is a giveaway to the continuing influence of older, faithful teachers.
In the language of some younger Christians, the influence of these teachers is subtle and less immediately noticeable. But in others the influence is obvious and pronounced.
In the case of hip-hop artist shai linne and his new album—The Atonement—the immediate influence of men like Stott, Piper, and C.J. is obvious and pronounced. This album reveals a man eager to learn and to apply that learning to his life and his work.
One track off the new album (“Were You There?”) is built from C.J.’s message on the Garden of Gethsemane. Listen to the track (and especially how the sermon excerpt ties the song’s message together at the end).
Throughout The Atonement, shai linne weaves lyrics and sermon excerpts together to reinforce the content of the songs. Here is a video explaining why he uses sermon excerpts in his music. It’s not for background noise (forward to the 3:03 mark).
The Atonement is an excellent album, not only for its content and quality, but for modeling how one hip-hop artist is diligently transferring what he learns about the cross from his theological mentors into his work. I take from this album a challenge to listen more carefully to the mentors, to let the truths of the cross settle into my own heart, and then to strive toward transparency in faithfully passing these biblical teachings to others.
Update: The Atonement is available through iTunes as well.