Jesus IS King...But, is Kanye Real?
Updated: Oct 29, 2019
By Dave Ebert
It is Biblical to have some skepticism or question when there’s a radical transformation. Look at Saul in the New Testament. While Kanye never, that we know of, outright persecuted Christians, we do know that there was some downright mockery involved in his pre-Christian life. There was even evidence of a dabbling in the darkness and evil of the spiritual realm.
However, 2019 has played out very interesting for Kanye West.
His friendship and support of President Donald Trump has made him the butt of so many jokes. The accusations, insults, claims of abandoning or betraying "his people," and other attacks showed a dangerous level of immaturity in our society. His admitted mental illness struggles have been used against him and his valid opinions. His thoughts and ideals have been mocked as a symptom of that mental illness.
From that vein, we see the same paint brush used to mock his conversion to Christ follower. His Sunday Services are questioned and mocked on both sides of Salvation.
So, as Christians, we should be wise and discerning. We should put ourselves in position to speak intelligently on things of this culture. We should be careful not to carry ourselves as ignorant and condemning with no true evidence nor effort to find out for sure.
First, we have to ask ourselves: Do we believe in the God of miracles and the beauty of the love of Christ? Do we actually believe the story of Saul becoming Paul? Do we believe in the power of God to bring radical transformation to everyone? Or do we believe in “grace for me, not for thee?”
IF we truly believe in God, in YAHWEH, in I AM, in the All-Mighty Jehovah, then we, by default, must believe in God’s ability to win the heart of anyone. ANY. ONE. Even, and, possibly, most especially, Kanye West.
So, we believe it is possible.
Now, let’s look at what we can to discern the legitimacy. Not for judgement nor to give a seal of approval, but to know how to speak to those who might be influenced in our celebrity culture. Kanye has a huge following, so, especially with our young people, we need to be able to speak intelligently, lovingly, and honestly.
In listening and watching a few interviews Kanye has done, I see a genuine faith and conversion. I see a man who God is working on. I see a man who has a fire and passion to use his giftings to make a positive difference in the world. I see a man struggling with the way our culture operates to harm people, especially people of color. I believe his faith is real.
I also see a man very young in his faith. There are some areas that I believe God wants to continue to work on and rough edges to buff out. However, that is true of EVERY SINGLE CHRISTIAN. If we were ready for Heaven, we’d be called home. As long as we have breath, we have stuff God wants to work on in us. So, the newness and the immaturity in faith is not, in anyway, a disparage to Kanye’s faith. It’s actually a confirmation and an affirmation.
Faith-wise, we should cover our brother in Christ, as well as his entire family, in prayer. Kanye, Kim, and their kids are all in positions to really make some differences for The Kingdom. Their platforms are huge and with strong faith, they could be used by God for the kind of revival and Kingdom growth we haven’t seen since the Jesus Movement.
Now, Jesus is King, Kanye’s new Christian album.
I like some rap/hip hop music occasionally. I enjoy Lecrae, Tedashii, 116, and others. Those I mentioned use an entirely different style than Kanye. Kanye’s music uses more samples, unique mixing concepts, interesting tempo changes, and other stylistic signatures. So, Kanye’s music isn’t exactly in my wheelhouse.
That being said, I did like it and think it’s decent. I also believe there are a few areas that this album lacks.
First, given Kanye’s recent conversion, this album almost feels like it was rushed. It feels like another 3 months of production, editing, and polishing, we’d see and feel more of the style and quality that has made Kanye West a billionaire.
With the quality feeling like it’s not 100% there, it would be easy to surmise one of three
1) Kanye was so on fire post-conversion he wanted to get something out there immediately to let the world know. This is incredibly admirable and makes me excited to see future projects.
2) In relation to #1, Kanye is struggling to balance making music that honors God, but also making it sound/feel different than what he’s known for. Perhaps, in some ways, he’s starting completely over as a musician, and this is his first record. Again, makes the potential really exciting.
3) This one is the hard one to consider, but the likelihood is low. I see genuineness in Kanye’s interviews and public statements, but, I am not completely ruling out this possibility yet. This possibility is that this is all a sham and the reason the quality isn’t there is because he didn’t care. This was an effort to pull wool over eyes and they knew the American Christians that are bought into the celebrity culture would buy this up without a second thought.
As for the positives, starting with the final track, Jesus is Lord, this is a celebration track. This is a track of celebrating Jesus as Lord, to Whom every knee shall bow and every tongue confess. Really a great way to end the album. I believe the strongest track comes right before Jesus is Lord, and that is the song Use This Gospel. The weakest song is Closed on Sunday, only because it inches towards Tim-Hawkins-esque parody at moments. The references to Chick-Fil-A are kind of cheesy, especially the final shout out as the track ends. This song has some real strength in the middle. I believe that if Kanye would cut the Chick-Fil-A stuff, refocus the entire track on the middle piece that hits strong, this song could be revamped and become the strongest piece to come from this project.
In my humble, not-important opinion, Kanye is the real deal. He’s young in faith. He’s going to misstep. He’s going to have things God will be working on as he grows. We, who believe in Christ, should support in prayer, in encouraging those who are interested in this music to listen and enjoy, in sharing his interviews to show that, “Yes, God can and does change the heart of man,” and in politely and lovingly discouraging those who act as Pharisees and as though God is no able to bring even the most lost to Himself.
If you like the music, great! If you don’t like the music because of taste, fine! If you don’t like the music because it’s Kanye and you don’t buy his conversion, don’t trash those who disagree with you. Pray.
We should always pray and celebrate those who claim conversion. We should do so without giving in to the celebrity culture, but do so in love and hope and faith in the God of the universe.