Posted in Book Reviews, culture, Faith

Book Review: Unashamed by Lecrae

I enjoyed reading (or rather, listening to Lecrae read) this book. It is a deeply personal account of the rapper’s journey to faith and his journey through faith. It is an autobiography of sorts, mostly focusing on how Lecrae came to faith and why he does “ministry” the way he does.

The book finally (hopefully) puts to rest why the rapper insists on being referred to as “a rapper who happens to be a Christian” instead of “Christian rapper.” You see, Lecrae’s relationship with rap and hip hop predates his conversion. What happened at his conversion, he explains, was a change of worldview, not a change of trade (or talent).

The best way he knew to express himself was through rap, and just because he became a Christian doesn’t mean he raps because he is a Christian. He raps despite being a Christian. It is a subtle difference, and many might miss it.

I admit that I am one of those people who miss that difference, because I don’t classify music (with lyrics) alongside other neutral vocations such as driving a bus. I believe that with music, unlike driving a bus, your faith is not just expressed in the kind of person you are while you do your work, it is also expressed in what you talk about (or sing/rap about). That’s why there is such a thing as “Christian rap” and no such thing as “Christian driving.”

Being a personal account, Lecrae does not shy from revealing gory details about his past failures. What stood out is the fact that his sinful life does not just precede his conversion, but includes his life after conversion. I was comforted by this, especially considering the many times I have found myself “sinning more” after my conversion than before. I relate to this one, Lecrae.

Even so, I couldn’t help but feel like Lecrae was defending himself in this book. He was succumbing to the pressure to “explain himself” and why he is the way he is. I am no judge of whether this was warranted, but I am grateful he did it.

I also couldn’t help but feel that, for someone whose mantra in life is about not living for people’s acceptance, by writing this book he seemed to still want us to “get” him, and, in a way, accept him.

The only significant doctrinal qualm I had with the book is in Chapter 10: Kicking Down Hell’s Door. Lecrae uses Matthew 16:18 to segue into why he feels called to reach the culture. He infers from Jesus’ words… “upon this rock I will build my church” that this is speaking about Jesus building the church “upon the rock of the culture”. Well, that’s quite a stretch and I didn’t buy it.

I believe the “rock” that Jesus is referring to is either the confession of Peter (you are the Christ, son of the living God) or Peter himself (what he symbolizes as an Apostle who confesses the Lordship of Jesus over and against the claims that Jesus was merely a prophet).

All things considered, this was a good read. I recommend it.