Who is Kanye West? I confess to living under a rock and allowing decades of pop culture to pass over my head completely unnoticed. I confess to never having seen an episode of “Keeping up with the Kardashians”. I've never knowingly heard any of Kanye's myriad hip-hop albums. The guy has made over $3 billion dollars off the American public and I never even knew him.
I spent some time this week reviewing the life of this man which has been almost entirely in the public eye. In interviews, he excitedly rambles to a degree that I while can feel his enthusiasm I can't always grasp his train of
thought. He has lived his days as a man of the tabloids. He creates a sensation with outlandish words and deeds that he then can leverage to maintain the juggernaut of his $3 billion dollar entertainment empire. The guy knows his business and he has more marketing genius in his little finger than I can every hope to attain.
He has made a career of expressing an astonishing egotism. He famously equated himself with Malcom X in his album Graduation released in 2007. He went so far as to declare “I am a god” in his 2013 album, Yeezus. From these manic heights he has plummeted into darkness confessing the desire to commit homicide and suicide as recently as 2018 in the album Ye. A regular user of recreational drugs, Kanye admits to a lifelong addiction to pornography. None of these facts are anything I ever wanted to know. Indeed, I was happier not knowing any of it.
Last April Kanye West announced he became a Christian. Like almost every other facet of this man, this news has become a sensation. To the chagrin of hard-working pastors and theologians, Kanye has instantly become a public theologian with the world as his audience. Doubts about the authenticity of Kanye's faith have been expressed. But who can really assess it? Such was the case for our beloved apostle Paul whose sensational turn-around was viewed with grave suspicion by the early church. (See Acts 9) Time will tell. The fact remains that Kanye has followed up his announcement with the release of an album of Christian hip-hop entitled Jesus is King.
Kanye's spiritual journey is a familiar one to millions of believers. Seeking to justify himself, he found himself condemned by the law, spiritually desolate and ultimately saved by Jesus. The fire of faith was ignited when he found himself alone in a hospital bed with a Gideon Bible. Praise God for the Gideons. If this turns out to be real, we can thank the Gideons for their untiring efforts at Bible distribution. Kanye says, “I thank God for saving me physically, mentally, and spiritually.” He has gone so far as to take up Sunday morning church going with his children, “I love the fact that my daughter wants to go to church. She has such a positive thought association about going to church...”
It was Paul who said, “Love believes all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:7) Why should we who believe in God's love be cynical? Why should we not believe in the transforming power of Jesus Christ? Do you believe in conversion and transformation? Why is it that we talk of these things constantly and yet when it happens before our eyes we are slow to believe? Give Mr. West your prayers, the pressure to be manipulated out of his new faith by the celebrity ethos will be great. Give Mr. West some slack—he's not an informed, mature theologian but he seems to know who Jesus is and is that not enough?