“I believe in Jesus as an icon…”


Remember when almost every urban youth pastor in America embraced Kanye West’s song “Jesus Walks” as a method for evangelizing to the youth? They argued that Kanye would bring kids into the church by making Jesus “relevant” to their everyday circumstances. Well the kids came, but they wanted to be entertained – just like their parents. Oh, and the Gospel message never resonated with them either.

For months now, I’ve been railing against the dangers of “relevant” and “seeker sensitive” church movements because they focus more on the packaging of the Gospel message than the Gospel itself.

Well, recently Kanye spoke plainly about his rejection of formal Christianity, and how Jesus doesn’t really “walk”:

*Exclusive* [Pt. 1] Kanye Discusses Religion

Bossip: So do you believe in Jesus at all?

I believe in Jesus as an icon, but I don’t feel the responsibility to put my life on Jesus. I feel I need to take responsibility for my own successes and failures. Why I say, ‘I don’t give it all up to Jesus’ is because there are a lot of people who don’t take responsibility for their lives, and always think Jesus is gonna handle it. And, that’s what I refuse to do. Christianity is embedded in who I am, so I will still say things like this is a blessing, amen, and still say prayers; things that your Grandmother embedded in you. I’m always gonna have a little Chicago in me, a little hood in me, and a little Christianity in me.

[…] People will say ‘Aw, man he wasn’t saying that Jesus thing when he made the song!’ But, when I made the song, that’s how I felt, but this is six years later.

[…] Since day one, I knew the difference between right and wrong. I could predict what was happening. I had karma and anyone who’s ever had beef with me, something happened to them, like it’s really just been in God’s hands.

So, clearly the posterchild for modern youth evangelism is 50 cents shy of a dollar. Yet another reason to point people towards the Gospel of Jesus Christ and not solely to a person (or people) who appear to be speaking or acting on His behalf.

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10 Responses to “<em>“I believe in Jesus as an icon…”</em>”

  1. 1 N'Catina February 3, 2009 at 9:55 am

    IST, this is an excellent piece. I always found it very difficult to reconcile Kanye’s mentioning of Jesus in his music with his very crude and childish antics on and off stage. Kanye gives thanks to Him in his first track “Through the Wire” from nearly dying in a terrible car accident, with recovery including having his jaw wired shut for a time. Yet, today, he carries himself with such a degree of arrogance I’ve seen in few others. That, along with Kanye’s quotes on Jesus being anything other than his savior, demonstrates he is not in Christ.

    To address the seeker-sensitive churches’ use of Kanye and others as an evangelistic tool to capture youth for the Gospel, the effort definitely falls flat. Apparently, the heads of these religious organizations (I refuse to call them churches) left their discernment at the door, being fooled into using a secular person’s material for godly work. This is more so the tail wagging the dog concerning the conformation of the Gospel towards us versus the other way around.

    Using this material did/does not guarantee re-birth and conversion of its target audience. As you said, the Gospel does not resonate with the majority of people as they were drawn into the institution. It then makes it particularly critical to have all music played in those settings to be biblically sound, not beat-driven and experience-based with Jesus thrown in for good measure (thus the “relavancy” bent). I believe God can save people IN SPITE OF THAT, yet what we are seeing is not the best practice.

    The best way to reach youth with the Gospel is the same for any other person: “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the RENEWING OF YOUR MIND, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:2 (NKJV)

    p.s. You have to show me how to use the bold, italics and strike-through features on your blog…..

  2. 2 Michael Pharr February 3, 2009 at 11:50 am

    I must admit, that the Jesus Walk song by Kanye has a hot beat to it and honestly that’s all I liked about the song. I was also upset to hear that many churchers were playing it and if I remember correctly it was initially nominated for Dove Award or some other Gospel Music award. I am also sick of this Emergent, seeker sensitive, “it’s not your fault, but the environment you grew up in” crap. As we see it’s not working…….yeah a church may be full of tithers but how many are saved.

    – Michael Pharr

  3. 3 lavrai February 3, 2009 at 12:13 pm

    I guess he just takes on a form of GODliness…

    Sad for us to think a celebrity would truly know the LORD. It seems to me, the more famous and celebrated these folks are, the less likely it is that they truly know Jesus the Christ. Fame and faith just seem to clash. It’s like trying to serve two masters — you got to give one up.

    Thanks for the post… linking to it.

  4. 4 Pamela February 3, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    Anything other than Jesus Christ presented with His presence pricking the hearts of humans is a work of the flesh.

    I never heard a thing about this one. I have to say I know very little about this artist. Is this is the fellow that said that Bush hates black people? If so this is the first time I heard of him.

    I find it really interesting how a lot of these people insist on mentioning Christ’s name while living like hell or having no idea who Jesus Christ is.

  5. 5 N'Catina February 3, 2009 at 12:57 pm

    Yes, Pamela, this is the same Kanye West that stood beside Mike Myers on the NBC network during the Katrina coverage and made that ridiculous statement.

  6. 6 hiscrivener February 4, 2009 at 4:01 am

    Kanye is a microcosm of what is wrong with Hollywood and entertainment. It’s cool to be “spiritual” but out of line to be “real about Jesus.”

    So, when he raps about “Jesus Walks” and cusses while throwing the “N” bomb in the same song, it’s hypocrisy. When that fool imitates our Savior in a stage-prop Crown O’Thorns, it’s art – not tomfoolery or sacrilege.

    What’s sad is I think this dolt really thinks he can continue to do whatever he wants and still reach people for Christ. The delusional, the dumb… the celebrity.

    You want a lyric? How about, “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world but lose his soul?” I don’t know. Maybe we should ask Kanye. Look at the pictures, I think he thinks he has the answer.

  7. 7 Michael Pharr February 4, 2009 at 10:48 am


    First I read your blog often, great writing technique. As you may know, Kanye wasn’t the first rapper to act like he was Jesus. Remember Nas & Puffy (P-diddy, Puff Daddy, His mama named him Sean so I’m gonna call his Sean) Combs did a song title: You Can Hate Me Now. Where it showed both of them being crucified like Jesus. And how Puffy went alone with the scene but later wanted it edited out of the final cut. (Which begs the question why did he do it to begin with?)

    I found this on songfacts.com as I did a google search on: You Can Hate Me Now:

    “This song created a great deal of controversy for Diddy (known at the time as Puff Daddy) when he appeared in the video on a cross. Diddy ordered the scene removed before the video aired, but the wrong edit was sent to MTV, and it aired with his crucifixion scene in place. Diddy reacted by going to the office of Nas’ manager Steve Stoute and hitting him over the head with a champagne bottle. Stoute sued, and the incident provided another example of real-life violence in the Rap community.”

    I guess being black and ‘hated’ on synonomous with being crucified. But on an ending note: I can’t stand when people testify in church that they are being persecuted on their job……..just because someone talked bad about them or got a bad review (when they deserved it anyway).

    – Michael Pharr

  8. 8 speaking truth February 4, 2009 at 5:10 pm

    p.s. You have to show me how to use the bold, italics and strike-through features on your blog…..

    I was trying to keep all of my secrets to myself, N’Catina, but it is simple HTML language. You can go here to print out the “how to’s”, then come back and give it a try 🙂

  9. 9 N'Catina February 6, 2009 at 10:12 am

    Thanks for the tip, ISP. I do graphic designing work that is also going to morph into eventual web work, so this is very helpful.

    I also purchased a new laptop yesterday, so that also provides a better foundtion from which to test these HTML codes.

  10. 10 hiscrivener February 7, 2009 at 12:05 am


    Thanks for the love, and Amen on your post!


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