Musician, singer and rapper Kanye West claims to being “born again,” a well-known evangelical phrase taken from Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus in the third chapter of the Gospel of John. In doing so West is unashamedly saying he has been converted to Christianity. West has produced an album titled Jesus is King and vowed to only make Gospel music the rest of his career.
West and his wife, Kim Kardashian West, are each celebrities in their own right and have a fan base, he for his music, I suppose, and her as a fashion trend-setter of revealing clothing. I can’t say I am a fan of either of them.
West has a spiritual advisor, Reverend Adam Tyson, a graduate of John MacArthur’s The Master’s Seminary. West has asked co-workers to fast and refrain from premarital sex, and confronted his wife about being more modest in her choice of attire. All of these are marks of true conversion
His wife Kim and the Reverend Tyson testify of West’s newfound faith. Curtis Yee writing for Christianity Today reported attending one of West’s “Sunday Services” and wrote, “If anything has resonated with me, it is the sincerity of West’s testimony. As I stood in the stands, the earnestness of his songs and prayers often gave me chills. And to his credit, West has never struggled to bear his soul.”
West is not without his critics, but they come from an unexpected front; the entertainment industry that helped him to become a celebrity. Rolling Stone magazine remarking on his “Sunday Service” and new album “Jesus is King” wrote this is “a megachurch masquerading as a 12-song tax-shelter bar bonanza.” A headline in the New Yorker read, “Kanye West’s Sunday Service Is Full of Longing and Self-Promotion,” and another writer said it “looks more like a celebrity cult.”
What are believers to make of celebrity conversions? I agree with what Paul said to King Agrippa when he was in Roman custody and going to appear before Caesar, “I would wish to God, that whether in a short or long time, not only you, but also all who hear me this day, might become such as I am, except for these chains,” Acts 26:29.
It should be the wish of every believer that others would come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ; I pray this is true for Kanye West. But I am sure there are more critics to come and not only from the entertainment industry.
While regeneration is simultaneous with the exercise of faith, spiritual maturation is a process fraught with trial and error. As a new Christian, he will make mistakes; the real test will be for him to persevere in following Christ despite what others may say, and it is the responsibility of believers to pray for him and not criticism him.
Only Kanye and God know what has ocurred in his heart. And I am reminded, there is no sinner without a future and no saint without a past.