Christian hip-hop artist Flame has announced that he has become a Lutheran and has made his new theology the topic of his latest recording.
Flame, whose real name is Marcus Gray, has been nominated for a Grammy and several Dove awards for contemporary Christian music. He was in the news recently for successfully suing pop star Katy Perry for plagiarism and winning a $3 million judgment. For more on his background–his troubled childhood, his turn to Christianity, his professional accomplishments, and his good works in his home town of St. Louis–read this.
He recently completed an M.A. (not the M.Div. of pastoral students) at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, majoring in Systematic Theology, with minors in Church History and Counseling. He had been a Calvinist, just looking for a degree program, but at Concordia Seminary he found a theology that helped him work through issues he had been struggling with and that filled him with a sense of liberation and joy.
In a Twitter announcement about his 10th record release, Extra Nos, he wrote, “My first EP drops Friday! ‘extra nos’ discusses my theological journey over the past 4 years. My hope is that sharing these insights will bring you the Godly peace & freedom that I experienced.”
The ensuing thread reminded me that there are lots of black Lutherans. The African-American pastors I have met have all been confessional, liturgical, and faithful. The same goes for the laity. Check out on that thread the comments and the YouTube video of “St. Typo de Tyre,” who was kind enough to recommend my book Spirituality of the Cross.
Flame’s new release is an EP, an “extended play” recording, which is longer than a single but not quite as long as an album. The seven tracks are dense with Lutheran theology, explained in an affecting, personal way. The lyrics have been transcribed (not always accurately) and are posted at AZ Lyrics, but you really need to hear them. Go here to buy the EP or to listen to it on streaming services (some of which are free). I urge you to buy it, since I’m not sure how many of his fans in contemporary Christian music will stay with him in light of his new theology.
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