It’s been 15 years since Christianity Today reviewed Kanye West’s debut album, The College Dropout—quoting verses from “Jesus Walks” and other God-tinged tracks, while warning that the release overall is “far from pious, with an array of expletives and lyrical undesirables.”
“One wonders why West so adamantly makes a case for Christ in ‘Jesus Walks,’ yet quickly dismisses him via duplicitous party rhymes,” wrote Andree Farias. “The answer is probably in the album’s liner notes, where West openly declares that he’s not where he needs to be, despite still being on God’s side.”
Christian fans have asked questions about Kanye’s relationship with God over and over since then (as they do with many other celebrities who reference faith in their work and interviews). What does it mean for him to make a “gospel album with a lot of cursing”? What’s up with the Yeezus nickname and Christ imagery? Is Kanye’s discussion of his spiritual life sincere or just part of an act?
For followers of Kanye—who’s now also a designer, shoe mogul, husband to Kim Kardashian, and friend of President Donald Trump—the questions around his Christianity have compounded lately.
While Kanye has referenced God and Jesus throughout his career, back to the “Jesus Walks” days, the 42-year-old has begun to make more overt remarks about God’s work in his life and ventures, including his much-talked-about “Sunday Services,” weekly gatherings for family and celeb friends to fellowship and sing together.
Plus, he’s publicly discussing topics like the role of the church, passages of the Bible, and obedience to Christ.
“As always with Kanye, it’s hard to discern with precision where he’s at,” said Cray Allred, a Christian writer, podcast producer, and hip-hop fan. “While he has moved away from relying so heavily on gospel sampling in his music (an early trademark of his sound), Kanye seems to feel much more like an insider to Christianity now.”
Christian writer Tyler Huckabee joked this week that “Kanye’s transformation into dorky youth pastor is nearly complete” upon reading that he started including Christianized versions of Nirvana songs in his Sunday Service lineup, including a rendition of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” rewritten as “Let your light shine, it’s contagious / here we are now, inspiration.”
While Kanye doesn’t belong to a traditional congregation, his outdoor Sunday Services have begun to host preachers, including friend and Miami church planter Rich Wilkerson (who officiated Kanye’s wedding) and Hillsong New York pastor Carl Lentz.
When Forbes prepared a recent cover story on Kanye West’s “creative mind” and “billion-dollar sneaker empire,” the Yeezys creator called up an editor at the magazine, concerned that the reporter hadn’t understood the religious influence on his business.
In the piece, which Forbes titled “Kanye’s Second Coming,” he credited God with his personal and professional turnaround. He said he is “just blessed through the grace of God” to be in the place he is now, after his reputation and business took a hit a few years back, and that “being in service to Christ, the radical obedience” transformed him after a mental breakdown. (He says he has also been treated for bipolar disorder.)
Plus, Kanye cited Scripture as an influence, saying he reads the Old Testament for inspiration as he designs.
“A lot of my creative friends, I tell them the Bible is better than Pinterest. You can bring something into space and time we exist in, while reflecting thousands of years of truth,” he said, pulling out his phone to read Leviticus 19:19: “You shall keep my statutes. You shall not let your cattle breed with a different kind. You shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed, nor shall you wear a garment of cloth made of two kinds of material” (ESV).
Click here to read more.
Source: Christianity Today