Opinion: the prodigal son returns: Kanye West and Jesus Is King

Sam Landstra — Staff Writer

I’ve been hearing a lot of reactions to Kanye West and his JESUS IS KING album. Some are positive, but many, and a vocal many at that, are negative. People doubt the authenticity of his Christianity, and a select few take his gospel hip hop project as a slight to their own faith. To them, Kanye is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, a merchant selling spices in the temple.

I don’t blame them for their skepticism. Kanye has made a reputation for himself as an egomaniac driven by fame, money and success. His lyrics are provocative, and he often deifies himself as a Christ-like figure. Just listen to “I Am a God” from Yeezus, and you’ll know what I’m talking about.

ARTS.Kanye Review.PC-Esquire

It’s not just Kanye either. The conversion of almost every Hollywood figure is met with faithlessness by Christians. When Justin Bieber led worship at Hillsong Church last summer, members of my congregation laughed at the thought.


Kanye and Justin may have a secular background in every sense of the word, but our doubt in their salvation stands as an affront to the boundless grace of God.

Who are we to deny the transformative and saving power of Jesus Christ? Have we not also fallen short of the glory of our Redeemer? Before we cast our stones and judge the speck in another man’s eye, let’s ask for help to dig the planks out of our own.

The backlash and dismissal of JESUS IS KING by Christians falls into the stereotype of evangelical elitism and hypocrisy the world is all too accustomed to. And Kanye knew it was coming.

During “Hands On,” he anticipates the Christian hate when he says, “They’ll be the first ones to judge me/Make it feel like nobody love me.”

My fellow believers, he saw it coming. He called our bluff of counterfeit acceptance and love before even dealing us the cards.

Kanye is not a perfect Christian, but who is? The entire gospel message hinges on our brokenness being made whole through the righteousness of Jesus Christ. The woman at the well, the tax collector, the man on the cross- and Kanye- Jesus lived and died for the least of these.

As a new believer, Kanye may sometimes fall into preaching misguided theology or follow incomplete doctrine, but justification comes before sanctification.

When we start to view JESUS IS KING as the first step in an ongoing process of salvation, the album takes on so much power. When we link arms with a global megastar who declares the lordship of God into the depths of Hollywood, instead of crossing them in defiance, a cultural revival can begin.

Our job is not to question the validity of Kanye’s salvation. Such matters are between him and the Lord. Our role, then, is to nurture Kanye in the faith and give him what he stands in need of: “Lay your hands on me/Please, pray for me/Somebody pray for me.”

Join me in prayer.

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