Kanye West’s Conversion: Thinking Biblically

1 Timothy 2:1 (CSB) — 1 First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone…

My first thought is that I know that Kanye West has been in the prayers of many Christians for a long time. They have interceded on his behalf for his salvation and prayed that Christ might reveal himself to Kanye in a real and powerful way.

Therefore, Kanye West should remain in our prayers in the same way that Paul remained constant in his prayers for the Church in Rome (Ro. 1:9), whom he had yet not met (Ro. 1:11-13).

Galatians 6:13–15 (CSB) — 13 For even the circumcised don’t keep the law themselves, and yet they want you to be circumcised in order to boast about your flesh. 14 But as for me, I will never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. The world has been crucified to me through the cross, and I to the world. 15 For both circumcision and uncircumcision mean nothing; what matters instead is a new creation.

My second thought is that I see many people eagerly lining up to use Kanye’s profession to advance their agenda, to make Christianity more relevant, and to use Kanye as an opportunity to boast. I have no doubt that there are many who are genuinely rejoicing in Kanye’s profession of faith, but we must not be so naive that we miss the root behind some who are trying to lift Kanye up, for one reason or another, to as an opportunity to boast.

In Kanye’s case, no one is trying to bring him under the yoke of the Law by causing him to be circumcized – as was the case in Paul’s writings to the churches in Galatia – but many seem to have the same heart; a desire to boast in Kanye, not in the fruit of the new creation, but in his flesh. That is to say, much of the conversation I hear in Christian circles about Kanye is seeking an opportunity to boast in Kanye’s reputation, his influence, and his relevance. As of writing this response, I have not yet see any Christian speaker celebrate the fruit of the new creation in Kanye’s life. And, for the record, I do not consider making the profession “Lord, Lord” as fruit of the new creation because nowhere does Scripture say that this profession is evidence of regeneration. In fact, Jesus warned that many people who profess his name remain unregenerate because they do not follow him in obedience (Mt. 7:21ff)!

Matthew 13:3–9 (CSB) — 3 Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “Consider the sower who went out to sow. 4 As he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. 5 Other seed fell on rocky ground where it didn’t have much soil, and it grew up quickly since the soil wasn’t deep. 6 But when the sun came up, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns came up and choked it. 8 Still other seed fell on good ground and produced fruit: some a hundred, some sixty, and some thirty times what was sown. 9 Let anyone who has ears listen.”

My last thought is that those leaders who are trying to put Kanye on a pedestal in order to give Christianity more credibility or make it relevant are showing their naivety and are doing Kanye a real disservice. Jesus taught his disciples that there will be four broad responses to the gospel: first, there will be those who hear the gospel but do not properly understand it, and Satan is able to come in and destroy what was sown in their heart (v.19). Second, there will also be those who hear the gospel and receive it with great joy, yet their faith is too shallow for the gospel to take root and grow, so they fall away when tribulation and persecution arises because of the gospel (v.20-21). Third, there are those for whom the troubles of this world choke the gospel that is sown into their heart, and their faith shrivels up and dies (v.22). Lastly, there are those for whom the gospel puts down deep roots into their faith and bears fruit in their life (v.23). These are the ones who have victory in this world (1 Jn. 5:4).

Kanye should be received into his local church, not as a celebrity Christian leader, but as a baby Christian who needs to be nurtured, loved, and raised in a healthy Church family.

Speaking specifically about elders, Paul warns about putting too much weight on new Christians:

1 Timothy 3:6 (CSB) — 6 He must not be a new convert, or he might become conceited and incur the same condemnation as the devil.

I won’t hesitate for a moment to acknowledge that Paul is speaking about elders, and no one is trying to make Kanye an elder. What is happening to Kanye is genuinely different than what Paul is talking about here. However, I believe there is a principle that we can extrapolate from this text and carefully, gently, and lovingly use for Kanye’s benefit. And that principle is this: new converts are vulnerable to pride and we should be careful when putting too much spotlight on new believers.

Adding to this is the glaring absence of “celebrity personalities” in the early Church. Christians had many role-models and leaders that they looked up to and accepted as authorities in the Church appointed by God for their benefit, but I am unaware of anything like the “rock-start celebrity” personality cults that we have in the Church today.

Kanye needs time to grow and mature in Christ before we put the immense pressure of being a Christian role-model on him that we are eagerly casting on him. The Church risks doing long-lasting damage to Kanye’s faith (consider James 3:1) and potentially to the faith of those who might fixate on him as their Christian role-model if we shove him into the “celebrity Christian spotlight” the way we are doing now.

My Conclusions

My faith is not so fragile that I need big-name conversions to validate the trust that I have put in Christ. Instead, when I hear of anyone – famous or unknown – come to faith in Christ, I rejoice in the miracle of grace that God has accomplished and render praise to God for the mercy he has shown to the world.

I am thankful to God that Kanye West has been so exposed to the gospel that he has been able to make the profession of faith in Jesus’ name that he has made! What a wonderful blessing! He has been given a gift that untold numbers of souls have never received.

I now have even more reason to be faithful in prayer as an intercessor on Kanye West’s behalf! By professing the name of Christ, Kanye has become my brother in Christ. And although I will likely never meet him on this side of eternity, I can personally love him as Christ loves him by being faithful in prayer towards him, by not slandering him, tolerating undue criticism of him, or accepting any malicious rumors about him. And I can love him by not putting burdens on him that I know will be toxic to his spiritual health and well being.

I am neither skeptical of Kanye’s conversion, nor adamant that everyone accept his conversion without question. We should not exalt anyone’s conversion to some kind of Christian celebrity status, lest we ruin their soul with pride and push them into the same condemnation of the Devil.  Those celebrity pastors who are saying that it is wrong to look for the fruit of a new creation in Kanye are doing a real disservice to both Kanye and the Church.

And lastly, we should learn from Christ how to love Kanye West in his very difficult and challenging position as a new convert because he needs the love of his local church body if he is going to survive his first season as a Christian convert.

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