Hip Hop artist Kanye West declared himself a born-again Christian while visiting Washington, D.C. on October 12. “I’m not here for your entertainment,” West said during Howard University’s Homecoming. “We’re here to spread the Gospel.”
In a video published by the entertainment site TMZ, West is heard directing the audience’s attention to Philippians chapter 2 before adding, “Excuse me if I mispronounce anything, I’m a recent convert. Means I recently got saved within this year.” One clip shows West reading Ephesians 4:9 and in another, he is heard discussing Mark 1:15, which he called one of his favorites verses.
Likely few readers of this blog regularly listen to West’s music. To be frank, I’m not hip enough to write much about West. I’m the mom of two babies. My car stereo blasts “Wheels on the Bus” on repeat. I tend to be skeptical whenever I hear celebrities talking about Jesus.
Still, I’ve thought about how the clips of West at Howard University certainly sound different from other celebrities who thank God in one breath and mock Him the next. There is an excitement, awe, and wonder in his voice familiar in new saints who’ve just met their Savior personally. “On fire for God,” is a term we Charismatics might use and I find myself excited for him.
Maybe this is some sort of publicity stunt. If so, it’s a pretty convincing ruse detailed down to the spiritual leaders surrounding the hip hop artist and his most recent professional and personal transformations.
Who is influencing Kanye?
This year, West began what he calls “Sunday Services,” a type of worship gathering with a choir belting out Gospel music and Christianized popular songs at his home in Los Angeles. These events began as private, invite-only events that have expanded to gatherings in Chicago, Atlanta, Detroit, and New York that are open to the public and sometimes held in church sanctuaries.
While music is the focal point, short sermons are often delivered by a young Reformed pastor named Adam Tyson. Christianity Today ran an interesting profile piece on Tyson, who is the senior pastor of Placerita Bible Church, in Santa Clarita, California. The Bible church has an average Sunday attendance of 350 and focuses heavily on discipleship and outreach to students at a nearby conservative Christian college, The Master’s University.
Tyson is a graduate of The Master’s Seminary, whose leadership, until recently, included pastor and author John MacArthur (now chancellor emeritus). Tyson also teaches biblical counseling at The Master’s University and leads an evening Bible study with West and his employees.
“I want to be faithful to a new brother in the faith, Kanye,” Tyson told Christianity Today. “I want to help him be connected to the Word of God. I told him, ‘As long as you’re exalting Christ, I’m 100% behind you.’”
I watched a recording of West’s Sunday Service at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia. Honestly, I heard the Gospel preached more here than I did at the Red Letter Christian “Goldsboro Revival” that I attended two weeks ago.
At one point during worship, West said, “Let’s not be concerned with the validation of men at all. Only the validation of God. To hold each other accountable…to be radically in service to Christ is the only culture I want to know about.” He also talked about transformation and miracles and — catch this — the devil and sin.”The road to Hell can be paved with ‘I’m just a good person,’” West declared in between singing Gospel praise.
West’s audience was more racially and age diverse, too. The entertainer’s platform is an undeniably, nearly limitless sphere of influence within popular culture.
“I know for a fact that I am a strong member in pop culture,” West said during his Howard University appearance. “I worshiped the idea of labels, brand names. I worshiped cars. I worshiped the city I grew up in. I probably said Chicago more in my career than I said Jesus.”
“This is an opportunity to reach pop culture and America for Christ.” Tyson expressed to CT, “I’m fired up.”
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Chelsen Vicari