Sunday, November 17, 2019, Kanye West made his first appearance and public endorsement of Joel Osteen, an evangelical celebrity. On a type of “conversion tour,” Kanye made a stop at Lakewood Church in Texas. This sent many ripples through the Christian community due to the combination of fame and controversy surrounding both figures.

Osteen’s brand is one of the Prosperity Gospel, a type of Christian worldview that hinges on personal success in exchange for service to Christ. This delights some and bothers others in the evangelical sect of Christianity, and the Church in general.

Sarah Pulliam Bailey, a writer at the Washington Post, wrote an article titled, “How Kanye West put Joel Osteen’s prosperity gospel back under the spotlight.” In the article, Bailey points out that Kanye’s endorsement of Osteen has refocused a spotlight on Osteen’s controversial doctrine, preaching, and practices, as well as ignited some of Kanye’s supposed Prosperity Gospel views. She also got two quotes from some very familiar names in Christian rap regarding this topic– KB and Sho Baraka.

From KB:

Pastors need to be especially careful when featuring fame and conversion, said rap artist Kevin Burgess (better known by his stage name KB), who attended White’s Without Walls church 15 years ago but now attends a small urban church in Tampa called Living Faith Bible Fellowship.

“What I do bristle at is the tendency superstar pastors have to stake their claim in superstar converts, sort of chomping at the bit to ride this wave of attention for the sake of strengthening your brand,” he said.

From Sho Baraka:

“I’m not sure people really love Kanye,” said hip-hop artist Sho Baraka. “They love the idea of him and how they can use him for their particular wars and agenda.” In 2017, Baraka’s album was pulled from Southern Baptist retailer LifeWay Christian stores because it had the word “penis” in it. In contrast, many Southern Baptists have expressed appreciation for West’s recent album. “I think there’s more grace for artists who start in mainstream markets and find themselves moving to the Christian market,” Baraka said.

Two things can be true at once. For one, it’s truly amazing and great news that God saved another soul– no matter if it’s Kanye or your next-door neighbor. It’s also concerning to see this new life perhaps being used as a marketing tool rather than a testimony. Only time will tell.

Check out Sarah Pulliam Bailey’s full article here.