I have been mildly aware of Kanye West for a little while but that is as much because he is a black man in the entertainment industry who supports Donald Trump. I have become more aware recently because he has been talked about widely on social media with many different opinions offered. Normally, I would let it pass as his particular art form does not personally appeal, but for the fact that he has come out as being a real Christian. His worship events have not just attracted many but have been instrumental in inclining many of the attendees to Christianity and, who knows, authentic faith in Christ. But the question has been raised by me and others – is his faith for real? While there may be a lot about how he goes about his business that I may not agree with or least is not how I would approach things, the Lord uses all sorts to spread his word and works in mysterious ways. There is no shortage of stuff on the Internet about Kanye. Here I select some items and comment …
According to Wikipedia: “Kanye Omari West (born June 8, 1977) is an American rapper, singer, songwriter, record producer, entrepreneur, and fashion designer. His music has spanned a broad range of styles, incorporating an eclectic range of influences including hip hop, soul, baroque pop, electro, indie rock, synth-pop, industrial, and gospel. Born in Atlanta and raised in Chicago, West first became known as a producer for Roc-A-Fella Records in the early 2000s, producing singles for recording artists such as Jay-Z, Ludacris and Alicia Keys. Intent on pursuing a solo career as a rapper, West released his debut album The College Dropout in 2004 to critical and commercial success, and founded the record label GOOD Music. He went on to experiment with a variety of musical genres on subsequent acclaimed studio albums … West’s outspoken views and life outside of music have received significant media attention. West is a practicing Christian and his religious views have garnered widespread curiosity. He has been a frequent source of controversy for his conduct at award shows, on social media, and in other public settings, as well as his comments on the music and fashion industries, U.S. politics, and race. His marriage to television personality Kim Kardashian has also been a source of substantial media attention … West is among the most critically acclaimed musicians of the 21st century and one of the best-selling music artists of all time with over 140 million records sold worldwide. He has won a total of 21 Grammy Awards, making him one of the most awarded artists of all time and the most Grammy-awarded artist of his generation …”. I found this introduction to Kanye West is helpful for those who like me don’t know.
In this article: “The King Laughs – Kanye West’s Profession of Faith” the writer, a Christian with mainstream Christian views, writes positively on Kanye’s faith, noting all sorts of people have written on the subject offering a range of views and acknowledging he does things different to the norm and he is still a young Christian. He points to his profound theological insights and infectious joy.
“What do you think about Kanye’s change and belief in Jesus Christ?” is another positive Christian response. He begins: “How dare I, how dare I, comment on a stranger’s state of salvation before the Lord almighty, the Sovereign Lord who knows all and sees all? I dare not. I cannot”. He ends: “We none of us really have no idea about what’s going on in his heart of hearts. That leaves me with one option, and one option only: Pray to the Lord of hosts that as Kanye reads through the bible – watch his face as he tells James Cordon that he does so – he would really encounter the Lord Jesus Christ; that people listening to his messages would forget anything contrary to the gospel, and be pointed to Christ; and that we would humble ourselves to God knowing that He can do immeasurably more than we think, and works in ways we may not possibly expect”.
The article “Kanye West’s Pastor Says His Spiritual Transformation is Real” provides the rationale.
The article “Why the Body of Christ Needs to Cover New Believer Kanye in Prayer” presents a strong case.
The article “Kanye West’s ‘Jesus Is King’ Is No. 1 Album in America” makes what I consider to be a very interesting point: “Rap megastar and fashion mogul Kanye West has made history with his 11-track Gospel album, Jesus Is King, debuting number one on the Billboard 200 albums chart, marking the Grammy-winner’s ninth consecutive number one debut. Kanye West released the album last month amid a very public promotional tour, in which he’s opened up about his transformation and journey in forging a relationship with God. The “Jesus Walks” crooner’s transformation apparently resonated with Christians across the world, many who have been hungry for a “Christian hip-hop” or gospel album that rivals the mainstream.”
The article “Kanye West speaks out against abortion: “Thou shalt not kill”” makes powerful pro life points as well as the social consequences arising from fathers taken out of the home.
James Kimmel is an American television host, comedian, writer, and producer with a huge following, who I have down as an anti Trumper and I am no fan. I found watching “Jimmy Kimmel’s Full Interview with Kanye West” was a pleasurable experience. I like the winsome way he approached the interview, his message of love overcoming that of hate, his concerns for social justice (although different causes than what I might choose) and his independence of thought e.g. regarding his support for Trump.
Talking about Kanye’s support for Trump, I enjoyed a Fox interview with Candace Owens who with Kanye West met Donald Trump in the White House, which was congenial and positive, yet criticised by an antipathetic mainstream press taking exception that prominent members of that black community should be supportive of this President: “Kanye understands exactly what he’s doing“.
This video “Kanye West is Preparing YOU for the ANTI-CHRIST” as one might expect from the title presents a negative portrayal of Kanye West. Some concerns e.g. what might be construed as false teaching and the part by monetary considerations and commercial exploitation may be valid. I reserve judgment.
To back up some of these concerns I refer readers to the following three articles: “Kanye West ‘Very Interested’ in Spending More Time with Pastor Joel Osteen“, “Kanye West Defends Mormons, Catholics, and T.D. Jakes, Says We All Have the Same Gospel” and “Kanye Charges $255 for ‘Holy Spirit’ Hoodies, $50 ‘Jesus Walks’ Socks“.
I watched some of “Kanye West – Jesus is King – Sunday Service Experience (The Forum – 11.03.19)” with mixed feelings but overall positive. I found his messages to be enthralling and also concerning (although I did not detect outright heresy) and putting aside his art form is not necessarily my cup of tea I can imagine the spectacle would have thrilled his audience, and yet worship is not about being thrilled other in the true object of worship, God himself, and I wondered how much it was evident.
In conclusion: I know a lot more about Kanye West than I did a week ago. I have found he is a cultural phenomenon and someone many look up to. Notwithstanding concerns, I hope he is the real deal, and may even be a modern day prophet worts and all, mindful how influential he is, and no doubt time will tell. Mine is not to reason why but like St. Paul I delight when the gospel is preached. Whether or not that is the case with Kanye, we should resist the cult of celebrity and putting celebrities on a pedestal, and focus on God, yet recognize God can and does use unlikely people like Kanye West.