The sequence of events which led me to write this article would have been unbelievable to me just a year ago. Kanye West, one of the biggest names in music and clothing, has said that he is now a Christian. His profession, when taken at face value, seems to be genuine as far as he is concerned. Pragmatically speaking, people are indeed hearing more about Christianity through this, but Kanye has been talking about Jesus for over a decade. I don’t want to waste time in this article speculating whether he is or is not saved, I don’t think that is my place, and Kanye doesn’t go to my church. So in a very real sense, this doesn’t directly impact the ministry of Agros Reformed Baptist Church. It does however, impact the people at Agros Reformed Baptist Church, and anybody who is listening to the content being produced by Kanye. The fact remains, that we as Christians can believe the best about West’s conversion story and still exercise some discernment regarding the content that he is producing. No matter what the song is, whether it be produced by Jesus Culture, Lecrae, or the band Toto, Christians still need to examine what they are listening to and try to understand what is being said. Music is a catechetical tool, and the doctrinal content of songs sticks with people.
That is to say that it does not matter how excited people are about the idea of Kanye West being saved, there are several comments he has made which are quite concerning, like stating that Mormons and false prophet TD Jakes have the same Gospel as Christians. This should at least cause us to stop and inspect what Gospel it is that Kanye is telling the world to use. I have heard it said that the pastor who has been ministering to him is solid, so Kanye must be solid. Anybody who has had any sort of relationship with a pastor knows that this is simply not the case. The fact is, I don't think Kanye's pastor friend would agree with some of the things Kanye has said. I know a lot of Mormons living in Gilbert, Arizona, and while I consider many of them friends, they do not believe the same thing I do about Jesus Christ and the Gospel. They would confess with Kanye that Jesus is Lord, and that they are saved by God, but what they mean by that is totally different. This has been enough for many people to condemn Kanye as a heretic and reprobate, but there are many young Christians who believe wild things until they have read their Bible and sat under sound teaching for longer than a few months. The real issue is that we, as Christians, should be careful about advocating and supporting Kanye's ministry when he has only been a Christian for less than a year and is already teaching people who God is and how Christianity is practiced. His album has titles such as “God is” and “Use This Gospel”, which are bold doctrinal statements that people are going to interpret literally.
An Unwanted Opinion
I have expressed this opinion, and found that people simply do not want to hear it. Right now, for whatever reason, people assume that if you are hesitant about fully supporting Kanye's ministry, you think he is not saved. I honestly don’t have any vested interest in making that determination. I am however, concerned about the material that is being produced and the blurry lines around Kanye’s Gospel presentation. Many Christians take for granted that they are interpreting the lyrics of West’s new album through the lens of Trinitarian orthodoxy. I invite people to take a step back and put on the “worldview” of a Mormon, or TD Jakes, and see if they could affirm the same things that Kanye is saying. The fact is, they can. It is even more interesting that far left host Jimmy Kimmel has also given a platform for Kanye’s Gospel. The world clearly does not have a problem with Kanye’s gospel, and perhaps that is something to take into consideration.
In any case, Kanye is still in the “baby” phase of his practice of Christianity, and the lyrics of his songs clearly demonstrate that. Whether his conversion was true or not, it does not matter as it pertains to the level that Christians endorse his platform. I think that anybody who has been a “cage stage” Calvinist can resonate with this to some degree or another. Pastors are already playing his album in youth groups and I’m sure some churches will cover his songs in their upcoming Lord’s Day worship. Reformed Christians especially are quick to say that Kanye is a Sabbatarian because he framed a lyric around Chic-Fil-A being closed on Sunday. The song seems to be about his wife, Kim Kardashian, and doesn’t seem to have anything to do with holding to a Sabbatarian view. The fact is, there is nothing to indicate that West has even been exposed to this theological position. If anything, it reveals that Kanye's cultural understanding of Christianity may be limited to the knowledge that Chic-Fil-A is a Christian company.
Many are wholeheartedly endorsing an album that says that Christianity is not about “a dead religion”, it’s about a revolution, which is apparently happening in his Sunday Service. If I recall correctly, these are the same kinds of people who were openly slamming Jefferson Bethke for saying similar things in 2012. The reality is that the actual lyrics are ambiguous when understood through the whole of his commentary. The plain truth is that Kanye has his own church, and Christians are wholeheartedly encouraging this effort. I think it is possible to be excited for Kanye and still have reservations regarding the things he is saying and doing. Every time you share his album, or endorse what he is doing, you are endorsing the ministry of a man who says TD Jakes and Mormons have the same Gospel as you do, and that highly overpriced merchandise should be sold on the Lord's Day. You can believe the best about Kanye’s salvation and still hold off on supporting his platform until he’s matured in his articulation of the Gospel. His viewpoints, as they stand, are just as likely to send somebody to universalism, TD Jakes, and Mormonism as they are Calvinism. I spent the morning reviewing the “Kanye” subreddit and it is apparent that people are not interpreting his album through the lens of orthodox Christianity. It is not our responsibility to “Reform Kanye”, that would be the role of his pastor, which he seems to have more of a friendship rather than an actual pastoral relationship. It is our job to have discernment, and to recognize that the vast majority of people listening to Kanye are not protected by the bold lines of orthodox Christian belief.
The point of this article is to essentially say that it is possible to believe the best about Kanye’s salvation and still have reservations about wholeheartedly supporting his platform. It is important to remember that due to some of West’s statements about what the Gospel is, and which Gospel is correct, people can easily misunderstand the exclusivity of Christianity and even what it means to be a Christian. It shouldn’t be so shocking that people have reservations about somebody who formerly claimed to be a god and even has a blasphemous version of the “bible” with him as god. The fact is, we can be excited about the idea of one of the largest names in music coming to Christ and still show some discernment when approaching the matter. I for one am glad I didn’t have a worldwide platform when I was converted to Christ, because I probably would have done the same thing as he is doing. If I were Kanye ten years from now, I would have wanted more people to encourage me to join a local church and sit under sound preaching before starting my own church and writing an album. In fact, I wish that somebody had told me that ten years ago regardless. If our genuine concern is for Kanye’s spiritual health, enthusiastically endorsing his current church and ministry is not the way to do it. He is a human, like us, and needs to at least drink milk before he tries to feed others. Regardless of what you think of his ministry, he is indeed teaching people doctrine. It is possible to truly take his confession at face value and also hold off on endorsing his ministry until his ability to articulate the Gospel is clear enough to be distinct from Mormonism and TD Jakes. I hope this is received well, because my intentions are not to denigrate Kanye or anybody who is excited about what is happening. I simply want to point out that perhaps more discernment should be shown when endorsing the content of Kanye’s ministry so early on in his professed walk with Christ.
Rev. Taylor DeSoto
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