A Romans Rap
A Seminary Professor's Attempt at Putting Paul's Letter to
the Romans into Rap verse
Robert A. J. Gagnon, Ph.D.
Professor of New Testament, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary – May 19,
Video posted July 9, 2010:
[Dr. Robert Gagnon of Pittsburgh
Theological Seminary performs "A Romans Rap," a rap version of Paul's
Letter to the Romans on May 19, 2010. The rap was written and performed by
Dr. Gagnon for an End of the Year Awards show put on by students at PTS
just before finals week in order to alleviate tension with comic
performances and build community. Dr. Gagnon was approached to do a rap
since the previous year he had done a short rap called "Luvination" (a
combination of "love" and "predestination") for a spoof entitled "Calvin
Does Casablanca" (with Calvin advising the Humphrey Bogart character in
the final memorable scene with the Ingrid Bergman character). The mode of
the Romans rap was intended to be humorous but Dr. Gagnon did make a
serious effort to represent the distinctive message of Romans accurately
Note: (1) The rap tune, though slightly long for a rap song (at 6 1/2
minutes, though many rap songs approach 5 min.) is certainly not long
enough to do full justice to Romans. (2) The second stanza was supposed to
serve as a refrain but the text was already too long for it to serve that
purpose. (3) At the 3 1/2 minute mark when Dr. Gagnon comes to the text in
Rom 1:24-27 about homosexual practice he says "censored" rather than "no
complementarity" because he was asked not to mention the debated subject
in a community-building gathering. As you can see, the "censored" remark
got a good laugh because the audience suspected what was intended. (4) At
the 6 min. 40 sec. mark Dr. Gagnon mentions the Greek term adiaphora which
means "matters of indifference" (as the next line clarifies).]
my friends … and don’t turn me off!
realize I’m not … the usual prof.
will you see … a professor like me
Paul’s Romans … in a rap symphony.
not for me … but for the tripping rock.
Jesus Christ … and call me “Snoop Doc.”
Romans rap … it’s a Romans rap!
might not know it … but it’s a layered trap.
when you think … that you’re off the hook,
righteousness … makes you take a second look.
only one real way … that you can boast:
boast in God … or end up as toast.
makes clear … that he works like a priest.
offers up Gentiles—not a brute beast!
Obedience of faith … is the name of the game;
fruit of holiness … by any other name.
his gift … is what he’s gonna do;
proclaiming the gospel … to the Romans too.
renewal of the mind … not to the age conform;
by the gospel … be fully transformed.
starts by saying … that he’s not ashamed
gospel, you know, God’s power to claim
life that holds … no rightness of its own
rests instead … on Christ’s death to atone
righteousness of God … best story ever told.
faithfulness and truth … to promises of old.
his very Son … just to make amends
universal sin … that you know offends.
traps the Gentile … then he traps the Jew.
out, bro and sis … the next trap’s for you!
suppressing … the truth in creation,
eyes … that’s a big abomination!
God’s power … and great divinity,
worshiped human statues … embraced idolatry.
them over … to their impurity;
against nature … no complementarity.
widens further … to arrogance and greed.
obvious to the Jew … Gentiles are bad seed.
Jew who judges … is also without excuse;
sin against the law … is also an abuse.
he might sin less … and less egregiously,
more than others … that’s plain for him to see.
though he has the law … and the sign of circumcision,
things won’t save him—they give no exemption.
Christians who read this … and think they get a pass,
say you know Christ—wait, not so fast!
’cause you’re forgiven … you say “Why not sin?”
sin is your lord … you’re not going to win.
you know … is raised from the dead;
you’re baptized … into Jesus as your head.
you live … so that sin is your lord,
wages of sin” … will be your reward.
remember this … there’s not one law but four.
of my mind … wants the law of God more.
the law of sin … comes knockin’ on the door.
result of all that … is I lose the whole war.
there’s a fourth law … it’s really needed now—
of the Spirit … that empowers you somehow.
true not just for … the other guy but you:
still … I’ll tell you what to do.
leads to life … the other leads to death;
when you kill … the sinful deeds of the flesh.
the confession … that “Jesus is my Lord,”
led by the Spirit … won’t keep you on board.
let’s all return … to bragging in how good
Christ were … when estranged we stood.
were sinners … Christ died for us.
think now … he’ll throw you under the bus?
outside you … in all material creation
separate you … from God’s “lovination.”
could God be right … if most of Israel is lost?
save the world … at such a horrible cost?
get one thing straight: … It’s not God’s fault.
Messiah whom God sent … they did not exalt.
that mean … that God is through with them?
will remove … the hardness that condemns.
the fullness of … the Gentiles must come in;
comes the fullness … of Israel, God’s friend.
think, Gentiles, … how easy it would be
remove your wild branches … from the olive tree.
boast over Israel … but just remember this:
restore them if … in unbelief they don’t persist.
more that could be said … to you, Paul’s pupils;
I’ll push on now … to an issue of Jewish scruples.
in Roman churches … over meat and calendar!
you guys get it?—they’re adiaphora;
of indifference” … to the kingdom of God,
consists of righteousness … not pork or scrod.
don’t misunderstand—we’re not talking about sex.
Immorality must be cast off … or face a train wreck.
things that don’t matter … please just leave alone;
focus on how God … welcomed you all home.
praise of God … for pouring out his grace,
the surest way … for the church to run the race.
won something better … than a lottery;
divine design, not chance … I think you’ll agree.
told my tale … of Romans in rap.
from perfect … I’m an ordinary chap.
is wonderful … to him doff your hat.
have ever guessed … God would do all that!
be to God … who is the King of kings;
him and through him and to him … are all things.