Jesus will build his church. Some believe we need to display signs and wonders to help him, some believe we need influential people to help him. Both parties are mistaken.
“For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
1 Cor 1:22-31
This brief post is about what transpired this morning at Lakewood’s 11am service. One could say that West’s appearance at Joel Osteen’s “church” was a litmus test of sorts, and indeed it was. Defenders of West’s ministry were hoping for something similar to Matt Chandler’s sermon at Steven Furtick’s Elevation “church” in 2012. Like Osteen’s followers, Furtick’s audience thrive on a narcissistic interpretation of scripture, and Chandler’s sermon was like a bull in a china shop, a brief excerpt: “You keep infusing yourself into the stories of the Bible like you’re the hero. Now this happens all the time. Right, so I want to be straight, I love you enough to be straight. You’re not David. Alright, your trouble in life is not Goliath. And if that’s true, you’re in a lot of trouble bro, because you miss.”
Unfortunately, Kanye West missed an opportunity to slay a Goliath in the Evangelical Industrial Complex. A gleeful Osteen stood by, as Kanye praised him –
Kanye: “There’s a lot of people in the Christian community that try to give Joel a hard time, because when you turn on the radio, he keeps on showing you how good God is. God is not the enemy, God is not the negative part, God is not just a perception of fire and brimstone, God is love, is the greatest, is the glory, God is family, God is friendship, God is prosperity”
Osteen: “When you’ve got Kanye defending you, you’ve made it man..”
Kanye: “Thank you for the anointed words and the mission that Joel has been set on, the amazing..the thousands and thousands, hundreds of thousands of people that Joel has brought to Christ.…Thank you for giving me a platform that is so vast, that no one can take it away once I’ve turned over everything to you, thank you for the opportunity to stand on this stage without judgement, next to one of the strongest voices in the Christian community.”
There have been extremes on both sides of the Kanye West story thus far. Some praising him unduly, calling this a new move of God, and even comparing him to the apostle Paul. Others are digging up his past, which is forgiven if he has repented. The fact is that the gospel is at stake, and at this point Kanye is leading people astray by endorsing one of the biggest word of faith and prosperity heretics on the planet.
Finally, an astute observation from Justin Peters:
“What I find so telling is that the same people in our theologically conservative circles that have been promoting Kanye West and his Sunday Services would not dream of doing the same if it were some unknown guy from some unknown town who professed to be a new believer and yet was openly endorsing theological heretics, false teachers and cults like Mormonism. They would be encouraging this unknown guy (sincere though he may be) to refrain from public teaching, join a good, doctrinally sound church, submit himself to the care of biblically qualified elders, and learn. That is good advice. That is advice that reflects care and concern both for the individual and the broader witness of the Gospel. So what is the difference? One word: celebrity. Kanye is a celebrity and the other guy is not. This, dear friends, should not be. I continue to pray for Kanye. I want just as much as anyone for his conversion to be real. I am not making a definitive judgment one way or the other about his conversion. I am, however, making a definitive judgment that these Sunday Services need to stop, both for his own spiritual well-being and for the broader witness of the Gospel.”