Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Hip Hop, Idolatry & The Church Pt. 28 ~ Calvin Cordozar Broadus Jr. & Rastafarianism 101

Many of us have heard of the hip-hop rapper formerly known as Snoop Dogg, currently known as Snoop Lion, originally born as Calvin Cordozar Broadus Jr. It seems that Calvin is fast becoming a gospel music artist getting ready to put out a gospel project along with some of the top names in the gospel music industry. 

Quite naturally the questions and criticism have swirled all over the internet especially among the Black community as to what's happening. 

I'll attempt to address a few of the more nuanced questions and address some issues hopefully from a biblical perspective in this article. 

Can Snoop really be a Christian? Secondly, are Christians validating sin by headlining with him?

Well, there are a host of views regarding Calvin and his association with gospel music icons.

We have traditionalists that say, 
  • "there is no way this man is saved." 
We have liberals, who say,
  • "everybody should praise God as everyone will praise him in the end and Snoop is entitled to his praise just like anyone else." 
Then we have moderates that say,
  • "I'm happy IF he's saved, but is he really saved? And if so, when did he get saved?"
Then we have extremists that say, 
  • "the gospel artists aren't saved anyway so what difference does it make?" 
I must confess, I am in the l"moderate", camp on this issue. To claim that the gospel artists aren't saved is a little too steep for me. I personally know some that are. Notwithstanding, I can certainly question many of the motives and condemn some of the presentations rendered purporting to be "gospel". But, I have already placed my thoughts on this blog clearly regarding those issues HERE...Let's deal with Calvin and not them for a minute.

The Current Story Of Calvin:

Calvin is a husband, father, and a music icon. He is also a coach and a Black man in America with a beautiful family As one with all of those things myself, (except for the music icon part and the money) I understand Calvin. And although he is from the gang/street/hip-hop generation of which I never felt the need to be a part of, I have nothing against him. 

So far as him turning to gospel, personally, I think it would be good for him and all men if they would come to Christ, however, I know that all men won't. If Calvin does or if he has, that would be good for him and his family. No doubt. I can only pray and root for his conversion if he is not converted, and maybe be an example that he would want to follow on a serious journey to know Jesus.

Nothing but love for Calvin, and although we will examine his theology, I think it's in order for us to look at the church before going too much further...

The Church's Desire For Association

However, what is not so good for the church, is simply parading people in front of it, no matter who they are, as if they are saved, without any evidence of a conversion experience. The church seems to do this with any "star" or secularly popular person that places the name of Jesus on their lips. They seem to get carried away with the idea that famous men and women can accept Christ. But none of that means anything if repentance doesn't precede them. Whether famous or not, without repentance and turning from sin and a sinful lifestyle and expressing saving faith in Jesus, they are still lost in their sins, and that is an issue.

The sentiment regarding how we should be careful in our display and associations and promotion of who is saved, is similar to sentiments of Nathan Jones of Premiere.Christianity.com, as he examined the same issue pertaining to Calvin and other secular artists recently gone gospel. He stated this in an article:
"Immediately claiming them as a Christian and making them a role model to many usually works out badly. They never asked to be paraded as examples of upright Christian morality. But nor should we dismiss their faith out-of-hand because they still swear and smoke weed. We are all fallen and in a process of sanctification to fight our former sinful nature." ~ Nathan Jones "Is Snoop Dogg's new Christian faith for real?" Premiere Christianity
Although the theological point is debateable, I certainly agree with the essence of his statement. These folk did not ask to be gospel role models. It seems that many simply make them icons because of their former lives, fame and popularity.

What makes it worse, is that I don't know of any pastor or church leader that wouldn't be thrilled to have Calvin come to the church and attend a Sunday service. No matter how critical the critics are, and they can be cold on the internet,  if Calvin showed up at their church, he could nearly get away with everything that he wanted in the name of hospitality and people falling all over themselves. And don't even mention taking out the checkbook and writing a check....OMG!!! (As the young people say)

Be clear, my opinion is not to say how or why Calvin can't be saved or to even criticize him for making a gospel album. If God can save ME, he can save ANYBODY!!!! My examination is to ask why the church, especially fellow gospel artists and singers, are so enamored with the prospects of collaborating with nearly anyone who "claims" to be a Christian and or saved, and why we as a church like to parade folks who barely know Jesus , if they do, bringing them before the church as if they are some sort of prize? Is it really because they want to spread the :influence" of Christ or is it because they love the world so much, that they must hold onto something, even a piece of anything?

And then, let me take a dig here, some of the critics breathing fire on Calvin, yet themselves claiming to be a Christian, live worse than Calvin did at the height of his "Doggy Style Love" days!!! So some of the criticism of him is way over the top but some of what we have allowed through our favorite ministry leaders and singers is at least equally as egregious and yet many of us turn on the TV to see them service after service and keep them in business doing their dastardly deeds with our money.  

I'm certainly not giving Calvin a pass as you will see, but we need to examine ourselves as well because I believe that it has been the church that has helped create and seal the fate of the "Calvins" both in and out of the church. And that is not a good testimony on our behalf. 

With that said, let's examine a few issues:

Why Gospel From The Dogg?

Calvin was asked that same question. Here is his answer: 
"It's always been on my heart. I just never got around to it because I always be doing 'gangsta' business or doing this or doing that," he said during an interview with Beats 1 Radio. "I just felt like it's been on my heart too long. I need to do it now."
So the answer is clear as to why Calvin is doing a gospel CD. It seems that he always wanted to do one. We can assume that the desire to do this was even during his Dogg and Lion days. So Calvin's desire to do a gospel CD does not seem to be a product of a conversion experience or out of a new found dedication to Christ. It appears to be a long running desire to do something different. 

Nothing wrong with that...some do some don't!

Is Calvin Saved?
The Late Haile Selassie
NO. As far as I can tell, Calvin has adopted Rastafarianism as opposed to Christianity. In Rastafarianism, one would hold allegiance to Haile Selassie, the former Ethiopian King, (supposedly a direct descendant of David) as the messiah and reincarnate Christ, and hail him as "The Lion Of Judah" or the object of all praise, worship and affection. 

Rastas would believe in Jesus as much as they would contend that Haile Selassie is Jesus himself. Therefore to praise Jesus, in their mind, is to praise Haile Selassie. This is evidenced by the title "Lion" that Calvin adopted into his name.

Calvin owes Rastafarianism for his life changes and sepaks up on what the changes have done for him. As recorded by The Guardian UK Online: 
"He (Calvin) talks about the other ways Rastafarianism has changed him. "I used to answer hate with hate. Like if you hate me, I hate you more. But now I answer hate with love." 
What about your attitude to women? Was there hate in the lyrics of early songs, the bitches and the hos? "Yeah, because I was making music for me, speaking from my perspective. I was taught that a bitch is a ho and a ho was a bitch, so my music represented that, until I got to the point where I wanted to show love and appreciation for the woman."
Calvin, aka: Snoop Lion, displayed his new found faith and a claim that he was the "reincarnation of Bob Marley". Bob Marley was claimed to be one of the greatest evangelists of Rastafarianism using his musical talents to spread the word and praise of Halie Selassie. This is what the "Lion" told the Guardian UK:
"It's not hard to guess what upset many Rastafarians. The title Reincarnated refers to Snoop's statement that he is the reincarnation of Bob Marley. Does he really believe that? He looks me in the eyes and raps. 
"'Bob Marley reincarnated, pupils dilated, emancipated, concentrated, debated, rated many times, you defy how I made it? Huh?' It is me." 
I don't know it then, but he's quoting It Blows My Mind, a song he wrote in 2007."
Since 2007 Calvin has placed this thought that he was a reincarnated Bob Marley in the air. So I believe that it should be fairly clear, that Calvin is not necessarily valuing or spelling out a conversion experience to the Jesus of the bible as much as he is hailing his allegiance to Halie Selassie, the Rastafarian lord and king. 

Now, in a land of freedom, Calvin has the right to worship whom he pleases. However, we have the right to examine his confession of faith and make a clear distinction between it and the biblical Christ that we serve. 

Nothing New...Same Old Rastafarian Story

This is similar to if not exactly like Lauryn Hill. She is another Rastafarian convert that I have documented on this blog HERE and on two podcasts and radio broadcasts both HERE and HERE.  

Lauryn too was singing songs and collaborating with traditional popular Black gospel artists. They were singing odes that the church thought was to Jesus and about Jesus, but Lauren was actually expressing her praise to Haile Selassie. 

The Rastas do not believe in commitments, contracts or paying taxes so it seems. Lauryn Hill, like some others, did a stint in jail due to tax evasion. Calvin has already said that his wife simply has to understand him and his job and take the good and the bad that comes along with it. It was clear that this was "street man code" for, "don't say nothing 'bout me having sex with these ho's, otherwise we got issues" What was a divorce in 2004, eventually led to a renewal in 2008 in the Broadus marriage. 

What Of The Thirsty Gospel Artists?

YES, some of then are THIRSTY and you can tell. It's the same one's who live on the edge of salvation and the world that continue to embrace the world trying to make the world acceptable within the church. However, over the years I believe my view on this has evolved somewhat. I want to point this out...

Only God can cast out the devil...If Calvin has a devil, who should he be around? Certainly the Saints or those with the power of God to cast the devil out and bring him to salvation! If Calvin is in error, he should be around the Saints that have the truth to correct error.  

HOWEVER...When the Saints are powerless or can't cast the devil out, and in return only seek fame, popularity, and validation of the world, HOUSTON, WE HAVE A PROBLEM!!!

That is the question in my opinion. Is the contract of the gospel artist so great that the faith of gospel artists mean nothing? I have asked that question in The Sale Of The Psalmist article as well, and don't intend to retrace over old ground, but we need to examine some issues to see where and who our allegiance is to as people of God, musicians and gospel artists. We continue to do and act more and more like the world and less and less like the bible. But the question still remains:

WHO IS ON THE LORD'S SIDE???

Calvin, keep hanging around. I hope that one day, a REAL Saint will grab you and cast out that ganga smokin; Halie Selassie loving demon, that you embrace, 'cause it's GOT to go in order for me to purchase a CD!!! For Sheezy on that one!!!!

Blessed!

Additional Reading:

The Guardian UK : Snoop Dogg Interview

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