In an interview with Hip-hop artist Ruslan, Christian Rapper Sho Baraka explains that although he used to be a Calvinist back in the day, he no longer considers himself one anymore—and in fact openly questions and struggles with the idea of “scripture alone” while acknowledging that he’s not even sure he would consider himself “fully protestant” because of newly developed Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic appreciation and leanings.
Sho Baraka, (Amisho Baraka Lewis) is a founding member of the 116 Clique that used to be a part of Reach Records along with Lecrae, Trip Lee, Tedashii, and famously all put on a show in 2010 at the Moody Bible Institute as part of the Unashamed Tour (back when men like Lecrae were in fact unashamed) that received rave reviews from The Gospel Coalition. Baraka left Reach Records on bad terms with Lecrae (they have since reconciled) and would later sign up for a while with Humble Beast. As a side note, he had a pubic dispute with LifeWay after they dropped his record in 2017 for having the anatomical word “penis” in one of his songs, yet LifeWay will carry books where theoerotic authors like Ann Voskamp openly talk about “making love to God.” Baraka is also the co-founder of the progressive TheAndCampaign and co-founder of Forth District.
Originally, Ruslan thought he was bringing on a Calvinist, but Sho Baraka assures him that he’s no Calvinist, noting:
You know, I don’t even know, if I consider myself necessarily fully Protestant anymore. I think there are aspects of the Orthodox tradition that I that I think are very valuable and the mysticism of Orthodoxy that I think is powerful.
When I say today, like Eastern Orthodoxy, and that I think is quite powerful. There’s aspects of Catholicism, that you’re about to have all kinds of issues, obviously, with your fans and me, people are gonna hate me. But yeah, there are aspects of Catholicism that I think, practically in like liturgy, and how there’s a reverence for history and a reverence for tradition.
He goes on to say, “Now, obviously, theologically, there are things that I don’t mess with,” and that “he doesn’t get in the weeds of theological issues that aren’t important,” but that “we get into the weeds of things that I think that our majors…”
I do believe in a total depravity. However, there are other aspects that I’m like, ‘Oh, no,’ but also culturally, Calvinism to me is somewhat problematic in how there is this exaltation of the preaching of the Word. How the pulpit is…is almost like this ultimate thing. Catholicism it was the Eucharist. And in [Calvinism] it’s preaching. And I believe, like, there’s a bit of [Eastern] Orthodoxy in me where there’s like, Where’s the community? Where’s the history? Like? Where is the whole body integration into our faith?
Baraka shares how he currently attends an SBC Church, but that “there are things that I don’t love about this Southern Baptist Church. I am of the belief that I believe that women should be able to preach, I just, you know, I, that’s just my own personal belief.”
Rusland points him to Leighton flowers as a great resource for issues of soteriology, and Sho Baraka goes on to question sola Scriptura:
Well, I struggle—like so for instance, just to give you a real practical thing—I struggle with scripture alone. Like the sola scriptura idea, because I think in the more Orthodox, it’s not just scripture, it’s tradition as well. There are things that you can’t affirm solely through Scripture, because, you know, scripture doesn’t speak to this thing. And so traditional, in the traditional sense, you know, the church has always done this. And so for me, there are certain things like that, that I’m like, ‘Yeah,’ well, I used to hold to this tightly and Calvinism, in a Calvinistic way now I’m like, ‘No…’
Looking a bit taken aback at this response and understanding of what that particular Reformation Sola is, Ruslan offers “I think scripture alone—to me my understanding of scripture alone—is that scriptural is final authority, not only authority” which leads Baraka to exclaim “well amen, you taught me something my friend.”
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