Kanye West the Evangelist

Kanye West the Evangelist October 26, 2019

The most important Christian album ever. That’s what some are calling Kanye West’s Jesus is King which has erupted onto the internet this weekend.

I have recorded a vlog where I discuss the contents of this article:

You can also watch this on YouTube or listen to the audio on my podcast which is available on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.

You can listen to clips of the album right here

Kanye_West_at_the_2009_Tribeca_Film_Festival.jpg: David Shankbonederivative work: Underdogger [CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)]

Those of us who are oldies and out of touch with modern culture might not realise just how potentially impactful such a giga-celebrity conversion and album release might turn out to be.  Our youth are, however, much more aware of just how much of an impact Kanye West might make as a born again Christian and much of this post was inspired by a conversation I had with some of my own children.

We need to understand the context a bit. Our kids are growing up in a society where it really is NOT considered “OK” for them to be a Christian. Celebrities talk about environmentalism, veganism, and all kinds of other things. But faith is off-topic. Christianity specifically is seen as toxic, filled with hate, and a medieval relic. And that was before evangelicals threw their support behind Donald Trump.

The public square is increasingly being curated and controlled with the explicit goal of eradicating public conversation about faith. All this ironically is in the name of “tolerance” since some are offended by the mere mention of God. It sure doesn’t feel very tolerant towards Christians. In fact it often feels to Christian young people that the whole world has turned Christophobic. That may sound a strong word, but I think it reflects the reality.

With the launch of Jesus is King, as well as Kanye West’s announcement that he has converted to Christianity this year, suddenly the mainstream media are forced to talk about Jesus. Hundreds of millions of his fans are listening to this album portray a message very far removed from what they would have been used to hearing from the man who still describes himself as “the greatest artist in human history” and who still fully intends to become the president of the United States (both of these bold statements are quotes from his recent Zane Lowe interview).

Into this context the conversion of arguably the most famous celebrity performer has a huge impact. His public proclamation of the gospel in interviews and now music will make a big difference to the confidence our kids feel, and surely the gospel can never be proclaimed in any format without some people being saved as a result.

Some are even suggesting that Kanye could be used by God as the next Billy Graham. I do believe that God is at work in this very public conversion. And I do think that Kanye is already being an evangelist to a generation who have never even heard of Billy Graham. Although for those of us old enough to remember perhaps Kanye is not so much the next Graham as the next Clif Richard who was certainly very well known as the bad boy of pop before his own conversion. But perhaps we should just anticipate that Kanye West is not meant to be the next anybody, but to be the person God has made and intended him to be.

Certainly the lyrics of this new album are completely focussed on the gospel and Jesus, as are his public statements.

“I am no longer an entertainer. I am not here for anyone’s entertainment . . . My only mission and calling is to spread the gospel”  – Kanye West

But some Christians are cynical about Kanye West’s public conversion and proclamation of the gospel via music. Some point to his previous behaviour and even a song title which proclaimed “I am a god” as a reason to doubt that such a man could ever become a Christian. Whenever someone high profile gets converted seem to not only doubt the reality of the conversion, but almost will the new convert to fail and lose their faith down the road.  That ought not to be so!

The hostility from some Christians has not passed West by and lyrics from the song “Hands On” reflect this reality:

“Said I’m finna do a gospel album
What have you been hearin’ from the Christians?
They’ll be the first one to judge me
Make it feel like nobody love me . . .

Somebody pray for me”

This reluctance to accept a new convert reminds me of what happened in Acts when Saul the persecutor came back to Jerusalem claiming to now be a Christian. The Early Church had serious doubts and it took a Barnabas to accept him and (Acts 9:26-27). Shouldn’t we welcome anyone who claims to be a new believer?

One of the album songs declares Jesus as Lord openly in its very title. To make such. declaration and mean it is an indication that your heart is born again and your have been saved:

“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9)

Shouldn’t we pray for him and give him the time to learn and grow? He has submitted himself to a pastor, who speaks warmly of his faith in a recent podcast:

“I am not a theologian I am a recent convert” – Kanye West

It might be tempting for some Christians to quote Scriptures about how talking humbly and dismiss West’s showmanship.

“Don’t brag about tomorrow, since you don’t know what the day will bring.

Let someone else praise you, not your own mouth—a stranger, not your own lips.” (Proverbs 27:1-2)

We might also be tempted to quote 1 Corinthians 1:26-29, NIV  to argue that God always uses unimpressive people to fulfil his purposes. After all, the argument goes, Billy Graham was a farm boy when he got saved.

26 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him.

But, as someone once said the letter “m” is vital in that passage. It doesn’t say God never saved or used anyone who was rich or successful.  And in any case, we might miss the point of what has happened to Kayne West over the last few years.  He went from being at the very top of his profession, as an idol to millions, to complete humiliation. Handcuffed, and taken to a psychiatric hospital where he was treated for bipolar disorder and has been vilified in the press. One could almost argue he became one of the most hated people on the planet.

In fact this whole recent experience sounds rather like God allowing him to be stripped of many things so that he was precisely weak enough for Jesus to change his life around. In the recent Zane Lowe interview Kanye describes himself as something of a Nebuchadnezzar figure the quote is in the youtube video here:

Honestly, I think that we simply must rejoice that the gospel is currently going out to 100s of millions of people. We have no reason to doubt West’s sincerity at the moment, but even if we did we should, like Paul,

“In every way . . .Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.” (Phil 1:18)

Kanye is absolutely clear that he now feels he is in service of Jesus Christ as he explains in the clip below:

“When you are not serving God you are serving everyone else”  – Kanye West

Some of us may not personally prefer hip hop or rap music.  But as many previous generations have said before,

Why should the devil have all the good music?

 


An example of  one of Kanye’s Sunday Services

Read More

“Jesus Is King” Movie Review: Four Things Christians Should Know

Kanye West is Right: Jesus IS King – Go Tell the World

Kanye West says he is “in complete service to God”


Coming soon (God willing) : the rest of the series “Jesus Commands

Jesus said that if you obey him your life will be established on a firm foundation when the storms come.

Adrian hopes God willing to be able to return to blogging more regularly soon.

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