Celebrity Christianity // Kanye West & the African ‘Man of God’

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Celebrity Christianity // Kanye West & the African ‘Man of God’

Transcript

Lindi: “Let’s allow him the opportunity to discover himself as a Christian. The same way I was allowed. You know? To not be defined on everything that I had done to make this decision. Now I feel like if he says he is Christian, as a Christian I shouldn’t discourage anyone. Even in my small voice. In my small section of the world. I shouldn’t be even thinking that there is no way he can be Christian. I want people to become Christian. Because if he is a Christian, then I think that this is incredible! you know?”

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Introducing Lindiwe Mlalazi

Blaque: “Hello welcome again to another Gospel Coalition Africa Podcast. My name is Blaque Nubon, and I have another special guest today, Linds! Lindiwe. Can you please us tell who you are, what you do for a living? And welcome to the podcast. First and foremost, you can just introduce yourself. Tell us who you are and what you do for a living, yeah.”

Lindi: “Perfect! So I am Lindiwe Mlalazi and I’m a digital strategist at an agency. So yeah, I spend most of my life online and I get paid to do it! I’m not wasting my time!”

Blaque: “You’re a twitter ninja?”

Lindi: “More instagram – instagram ninja. That’s me.”

Blaque: “That’s cool man. So, when did you meet Jesus?”

From Sunday Christian to Christian for Real

Lindi: “So, I’ve known Jesus my whole life, I think. For at least like 20 years. So about 20 years I started coming to… 20 years ago I started coming to Christ Church with my mom. And I think… like I thought I was a Christian, back then. But I was just like, you know, a  Sunday Christian. So, I came to church with her, went to all the camps, we did all of these things. So I always thought I was a Christian. And then just before I went to varsity, I think life got hectic, and then I stopped coming to church. I still thought I was a Christian. So I was like, “I’m good, I don’t need to come to church, it’s fine.” I went away for varsity and then I just stopped completely. I stopped going to church. Stopped praying. I stopped for a very long time. But I still had Christian presences in my life. So one of my friends was a Christian, but for me… it wasn’t for me.

It was only when I came back to Joburg when I was trying to look for work. You know, trying to adult, that like every Sunday there would just be this thing. You know I was like “something is missing.” And for almost 5 years there was nothing missing on a Sunday. And then the more I thought about it, I was like “Ah maybe I should go to church? You know?” So this was like maybe 2014. So I would say I became a Christian 2015. Where I had started doing, like, the steps, you know, that I was doing before. But it hit different this time. I didn’t feel like I was just doing it to do it. I wasn’t just a Sunday Christian, I actually wanted to be a Christian when I left church.

it hit different this time.
I didn’t feel like I was just doing it to do it. I wasn’t just a Sunday Christian, I actually wanted to be a Christian when I left church.

I started thinking of things like a Christian would think. So, things that I had done previously, I wasn’t able to do. Because I had that voice. So I would say by like 2015, that’s when I properly believed that… you know, I became a Christian. And ever since then its been a constant question of “am I Christian? Am I Christian? Am I Christian?” Which, weirdly, leads me to believe, that I am Christian! You know? So it’s like that weird cycle where you are like constantly, not doubting – coz I know I am Christian, I know what I believe. So, I would with in earnest say that I became a Christian in 2015.”

Blaque: “Yeah that’s cool man. 20 years, then another 5 years, and then Christ hit you. Like smack in between your eyes, like yo!”

Lindi:”He was knocking! Like knocking, knocking, knocking. And it was was crazy, because it was one of those things where you can ignore a lot of things, but you can’t ignore this. I couldn’t ignore it and I sometimes wonder had I ignored it, how different my life would be? And I believe that it would be a complete 180 different from what it is now.”

Blaque: “That actually makes you appreciate God’s grace. I mean I was actually chatting to friends of mine last night and we were like “imagine if we weren’t followers of Jesus – how our lives would be?”

Lindi: “It’s sad to think about.”

Blaque: “Its rough! Speaking of processes, because that is what we actually wanna chat about – part of what we’re gonna chat about today.

As Christians in Africa… Does Kanye West becoming a Christian Impact us?

So, for those who don’t know, there’s a big musician in the States. A famous rapper by the name of Kanye West, who has been making waves, like everywhere. Like everyone is talking about this. And so we wanted to talk about it as well – as Christians who are in Africa. How does what’s happening with Kanye West, as an influential artist that he is, how does that impact us, as African Christians? Because obviously what’s going on with him is very closely related to Christianity – if not directly impacting what we know as Christianity.

So, he is apparently in a process. And I use the word ‘apparent’ because I don’t know him! But I’m just getting snippets of what he’s saying. What other people around him are saying. What other podcasts, what other news platforms are saying. And obviously, you’re an internet ninja. So you are like following this stuff proper. But Kanye West is in a process of becoming a Christian, if hasn’t become one already.

Lessons from the “Man of God” syndrome in Africa…

We wanted to chat about how him becoming a Christian should be interpreted by us as young African Christians who listen to his music. Who have been impacted by what he’s doing. But not only that, how do we see a correlation between him and this “Man of God” syndrome that we have in Africa. Where you go to one church and there’s basically a celebrity pastor. The guy who is elevated above all the congregants. He has a meeting with Jesus basically like every two seconds. And the rest of us don’t have that kind of access. His anointing is above everyone else’s anointing. And we all empty our pockets to give him money to make him more rich. And so we wanted to kinda speak about that from that angle.

There is a “Man of God” syndrome that we have in Africa…. Where you go to one church and there’s basically a celebrity pastor. The guy who is elevated above all the congregants.

How do we see whats happening to Kanye as a positive thing that we can pray for as Africans? But at the same time what are some of the dangers we can see from “Celebrity Christianity” that is already plaguing Africa. How can we warn people and navigate those dangers ourselves as young Christians? That’s a long setup! But, it’s a big topic.”

Lindi: “Just rewind. if you didn’t get it – replay!”

Blaque: “We will put the time codes in the description below! What have you heard, about whats happening to Kanye? Somebody who’s watching this for the first time in their life. Yassy! that was a mouthful. Break it down for us. What is going on?

So What’s Happening with Kanye West?

Lindi: “So what I’ve heard, is Kanye West, the Kanye that we grew up on, started… I think for a very long time he’s had some gospel influences in his music. You know, I don’t think he’s ever shied away from the idea of Christianity. But now he’s starting to anchor himself in his Christian gospel music. So, he… first, what he started to do, was look at his old catalogue and pull from the different songs that he did that he felt were very Christian or very Gospel. And then he started to basically perform those songs almost exclusively to his, at the time, friends and family. So it was like an open studio. Just like him singing. He had a band. He had some of the old people that he featured, so like Kid Cudi. People would come and they would just absorb themselves in old Kanye music. Right? That’s where he started. So we are cool! At that point we were good. And then he called it the Sunday Service. Oh my goodness! Like, It was catchy.”

The Sunday Service

Blaque: “So now these sessions were happening on Sunday or they’d been happening on a Sunday?”

Lindi: “So they started I think on a Sunday. Or maybe they started during the week. But then, the ones where his wife would then like publicise were happening on Sundays. When people are going to church. So they called it Sunday Service. Very catchy name, you know, very current, nothing mind-blowing. But I thought it was clever. And then he… that started to cultivate somewhat of a following, because we want to watch it online. And there was that exclusivity part of it, where its just his people: “what can we do to be a part of it?” So we wanted more of it. And then what I think is that transformed into him wanting to make Christian music, which he then started to snippet a bit. Then that evolved into his Coachella take-over on a Sunday. The same Sunday Service structure.”

Blaque: “What is Coachella? Sorry, for those that don’t know?”

Lindi: “It the, like one of the biggest, I think, music festivals in the world. I think. But it’s got that cult following. Its one of the biggest, I mean last year Beyonce headlined it. She based her doc on Netflix around that performance. I don’t know who headlined it this year. But it’s one of the biggest stages I think for any musician.”

Blaque: “So Kanye was there this year?”

Lindi: “Yeah, he was there this year. On Sunday. Which was quite different from when people usually headline because its usually I think on a Friday or Saturday. But I’m not too sure about how things run. But he did the Sunday morning service. You know, Sunday Morning service. You know, Sunday morning show? Sold merchandise, did everything there. So I think that was how it kind of manifested. And then after that, it became, okay cool, Kanye is going to drop an album and the title is, Jesus is King.”

Jesus is King

Blaque: “Jesus is King”

Lindi: “Yes. Which is where we are now. We are still waiting for said album. Which was supposed to drop I think three weeks ago? But we are still waiting. So, I think… Does that properly explain I think, you know, where we… like how we’ve got into this discussion?”

Blaque: “Yeah! Exactly! And I think just even from that title alone! Because thats what we would say makes us Christian.”

Lindi: “That’s what we believe.”

Jesus is King… He is the Lord of Lords. He runs the show. And for somebody to utter that, or for even somebody put that in their album is a massive thing.

Blaque: “Believing that Jesus is King. And there is no other King above him. In fact, he is the King of Kings. He is the Lord of Lords. He runs the show. And for somebody to utter that, or for even somebody put that in their album is a massive thing.”

Lindi: “Huge!”

Two Christian Responses to Kanye West’s Christian Professions

Blaque: “Yeah yeah. So now there were I mean probably a lot of camps, but we could probably like boil them down to two camps. So one camp says: “well we know Kanye West. We know the kind of stuff he’s done before, and we don’t think he is a Christian. We think this is just a gimmick to sell the album. We think he’s just doing all of this to like just gain hype so that when the album drops, he can push numbers. He is the same guy who made ‘Jesus Walks‘ many years ago. And then between ‘Jesus Walks’ and ‘Jesus is King’, there’s been him calling himself god! And every other weird thing that he’s done.” So one camp says “no, he can’t be Christian.”

Another camp is like “yo, we should actually give space for grace to do its work. Coz when we became Christians we had the privilege of not being on public platforms. So nobody saw all our backsliding. All our failures. Us basically living as though we’re not Christians, as much as at that point we would have professed to be Christians. So we should give space for grace and allow God by His Holy Spirit to do what he would do for any human, celebrity or non celebrity.” Right? And so thats, I think, where we’re at right now.
What are your thoughts on that? Where do you fall?”

Reacting to Kanye as an African Christian

Lindi: “So I think I began in the first camp, where I was like, “Nah. Nah! This is… I am not buying this.” And I think it was not so much a… I don’t think that like… it’s hard being a Christian. So I think that I don’t ever… I never thought that like he was doing this to push sales – per se. Because how… what better way to alienate people by being Christian?! You know? I don’t think it was necessarily sales. I just didn’t think it was genuine. I thought it was Kanye trying to have a new thing. You know?

I think he has always been the one who wants to set himself apart. So I thought it was more from that. Like this is his new thing. You know? The same way, a couple of years ago, he was the guy who was calling himself god. Or  you know, a couple of years back where he was, you know, he did Yeezy. His whole fashion line. He wanted it to look like the anti-fashion. I thought he was just doing this to be… it’s his new thing! You know? Now I find myself on the “let’s wait and see.” So the… let’s allow him the opportunity to discover himself as a Christian. You know? The same way I was allowed. You know, to not be defined on everything that I had done to make this decision.

As a Christian I shouldn’t discourage anyone. Even in like my small voice, and my small section of the world.

Now I feel like, if he says he’s Christian, as a Christian I shouldn’t discourage anyone. Even in like my small voice, and my small section of the world. You know? I shouldn’t be even thinking that there is no way he can a Christian. If I want people to become Christian. Because if he is a Christian, then I think that this is incredible! That especially because we’ve seen someone’s life in different stages, and this is where they have come. This is where we want people to be. So I am on the camp, that says like “we shouldn’t judge him, because by judging him, we are discouraging him to be Christian.” And we are talking about one person who could influence millions. Then in a sense we are kind of discouraging a lot of other people, to not become Christian.”

Blaque: “Yeah sure. That’s actually good. Coz like you said in the beginning, you had 20 years of making mistakes and nobody was like ‘suddenly now you are Christian?'”

Lindi: “How dare you?!”

We should Pray for Kanye West

Blaque: “So again I think a lot of people have been saying – well at least that second camp – “lets pray.” More than sitting on our keyboards and posting up stuff and saying “wow, nah, it can’t be.” Whatever, whatever, whatever. But let’s pray where we see glimpses of grace. Lets pray where we see fruits of the holy spirit working. Coz as much as Kanye is declaring to be Christian, we know that he is not gonna be Christian by his own works.”

Lets pray… as much as Kanye is declaring to be Christian, we know that he is not gonna be Christian by his own works

Lindi: “100%”

Blaque: “But its all entirely on God. And God is doing something in the world and he will save whoever he wants to save. And so we should celebrate God saving people. We should pray for Kanye. If he is finding his feet and his new faith. So, I think that’s pretty dope. And that’s a shout out to anybody who’s watching. Pray! Get off your keyboard.”

Lindi: “Pray for Kanye! The same way you would pray for anyone else. You know? Like I said, I think being a Christian is so hard.”

Blaque: “It is hard.”

Lindi: “It is worthwhile. But it is so hard that I am able to recognise how difficult it is for me, for you, for anyone else. So…”

Blaque: “And you don’t have cameras 24/7”

Lindi: “Yeah 100%! You know, so I can, for him… I want people to be able to pray for him and just help him on this journey.”

Blaque: “That’s dope. So I think the takeaway from that point… Just pray. For anyone. Right?

Celebrity Christianity is not a Different Category of Christianity

Let this be a reminder not for us to think of a category of Christianity where we say “this is celebrity Christianity, therefore we treat it differently than anyone else who becomes a Christian.” We shouldn’t do that. I think that would be stupid of us. But this should be an opportunity for us to be reminded. Globally. Because God has raised him up. He hasn’t become as famous as he has become just coz he’s its chance or he’s a hardworking guy. No, no, no. The Bible tells us that God raised Pharaoh up so God can show off his power. And so he can raise anybody up. So he’s raised him, for this time, so that globally we can all be reminded let’s actually pray for anyone! Who is being called by God. Who is asking questions about Christianity. So I think that’s a valid point.

The Bible tells us that God raised Pharaoh up so God can show off his power. And so he can raise anybody up.

But, on the flip side, Kanye West is reminding us of our own realities in Africa, where celebrity Christianity is a thing. There’s ‘Men of God’, ‘Women of God’, alright? M-O-G’s – Men of God!”

Lindi: “Is that what they say?”

‘Man of God’ is Celebrity Christianity in Africa

Blaque: “Yeah! M-O-Gs. You know what I mean? Where, I am quoting, I’m actually – yeah – I got it… the person I am quoting apparently he got if from somebody else. So I don’t know who the original  source is! But basically the quote says that in the Bible Jesus fed 5000 people. So the one fed 5000. But what is happening in Africa is that the 5000 are feeding the one. You know what I mean? And so everyone… these guys have elevated themselves to a point where they are equal with Jesus! Or they are even above Jesus! And so now they’re getting like poor people, people who are blinded to all this, and they are giving their savings. They are giving their lives. They are giving what they don’t have to these guys who are supposedly like in the throne room with God.

in the Bible Jesus fed 5000 people. So the one fed 5000. But what is happening in Africa is that the 5000 are feeding the one.

What can we learn from what’s happening with Kanye and how we deal with our own “celebrity Christianity” in Africa?”

As Africans we Need to Normalise our Relationships with Celebrity

Lindi: “I think its about normalising our relationships with celebrity. Our relationship with influence. Our relationship with people in power. Because, if you… I’m… I can’t imagine one person who I’d genuinely be starstruck – like – you know, beyond measure…”

Blaque: “Except Jesus!”

Lindi: “Except Jesus! But I can’t imagine. And I think, and I don’t know if I have always been like that, but I think as I became Christian there aren’t a lot of things that can phase me. There aren’t a lot of people that can phase me. So I have a very normal relationship with celebrity. And I have been around celebrities. And I have been around people with influence. And I have just had to normalise it because we are just people. We are all people. Right?

So I think that what I said about Kanye is just accepting that this is just a guy who is walking the same walk that I am walking to God. We have to apply that to all of our “Man of Gods” our “Women of God.” And accept that there is nothing, there is nothing that makes them better than me. You know? And also, you can talk about the normal things I guess that people face with celebrity and stuff. Especially in Africa.

The Backlash of an Inferiority Complex

We as Africans suffer from severe inferiority complexes. Severe inferiority complexes! And it manifests… it manifested a very long time ago in our relationship with the United States and with the West and like how we always felt like we were less than. So we tried to consume their culture so that we would become like them. But now we are more inwardly focused to a degree. But now we’ve started to elevate certain people…”

Blaque: “Within our culture.”

now we look towards the wrong people. Just to try elevate ourselves because we are trying to make ourselves think that we are also better.

Lindi: “Within ourselves and within our culture. So you find that in our – I don’t even wanna call them Christian culture, because I don’t feel like those churches are Christian – but within people who are trying to find God – now we look towards the wrong people. Just to try elevate ourselves because we are trying to make ourselves think that we are also better. And I don’t think that being a Christian is about making ourselves better than anyone else. Its about making yourself better – period. That’s it. You know? So I think what…like I draw parallels to the Kanye thing of, just like, just take him down a notch. In your mind. And then see him as just another Christian brother who’s trying to, you know, walk this path.

Celebrity Christianity Pins our Belief on the Wrong Person

And he also teaches us that – with his whole journey – that these people, they will also evolve. They might also change. And that’s why you shouldn’t be pinning your everything on that one person. I would be so… I think my mind would blow if one day, if I’d pinned my entire religion and my belief on one man, and they woke up this morning and said “nah, I don’t feel like it.” The same way Kanye changed his mind and said “ah today I’m God” and the next day “no, there’s an actual God.”

Thats the same thing that this man that you are pinning everything on can do. How does that shake you? I have found a home in my church, but I can move from any sound church to another because my belief is bigger than that; it’s not in the four walls of this church. So your ‘Man of God’ your ‘Women of God’, they build this cult following within their little pockets. And you can’t subscribe to that. I just can’t imaging building something on something that is so shaky.”

Celebrity Culture Normalises Celebrity Christianity

Blaque: “And I think its easier, especially now that we are talking about Kanye, because of how celebrity culture is designed, there has to be one person at the top. Followed by a bunch of people. And obviously I think that the same mechanics that these Men of God and Women of God are using. And so it’s easy for us because we are already susceptible to celebrity culture. And we are already sucking it in. So when we see it at church, it doesn’t feel weird!”

we are already susceptible to celebrity culture. And we are already sucking it in. So when we see it at church, it doesn’t feel weird!

Lindi: “100%. It makes sense. There should be a top dog! There should be a cool crowd. There should be an inner circle that I am trying to get into. Because that’s what we think is normal. That’s what we kind of grew up with. We grew up – you know – you didn’t wanna be a nerd right? You wanted to be cool. So you see that manifest itself in churches and you are like ‘really?'”

Being A Christian Means Humbling Yourself to THE King

Blaque: “Here’s a dope thing. If Kanye is a Christian, then he by definition, he has to be humble.”

you come to the end of yourself and you realise “I’m actually not as amazing as I thought I was. Jesus is!” I’m just a man.

Lindi: “Yes.”

Blaque: “Because you become a Christian when you come to the end of yourself and you realise “I’m actually not as amazing as I thought I was. Jesus is!” I’m just a man. I’m just a mere mortal with clay feet. My glory is as good as the glory of the grass. It’s gonna wither. It’s here today, it’s gone tomorrow. You know what I mean? So the cool thing is that if he is Christian, that’s happening in his heart. And I like what you said. So we just normalise, we should normalise him in our minds. Treat him like a fellow Christian.

When you see a Christian brother, Christian sister, you don’ think “wow! Look at how amazing you are!” But instead, it’s look at how amazing God is. That he can save sinners like us. And that should apply, like you said, to the Man of God. If you go to one of those churches or if you are thinking of… or if you are in a community where that’s just a thing, I think that’s your first sign. If the dude is above what is supposed to be normal,  that is a red flag.”

Celebrity Christianity Confuses Healthy Respect with Misplaced Reverence

Lindi: “There is a healthy level of respect.”

Blaque: “Amen.”

Lindi: “I think we show each other as Christians. And then especially in a church, that you would show your pastor or your preacher.”

Blaque: “And as Africans!”

Lindi: “And as Africans, yes. That’s big. That’s big for us. But I think that like we confuse respect for reverence. And I almost think that reverence is just exclusive to God.”

Blaque: “Yeah.”

Lindi: “You know? I am not gonna lie and give you like the Oxford definition of reverence!”

Blaque: “That’s what happening in my mind right now. I’m like “what is the difference?” I get what you are saying.”

I respect my Pastor. But I don’t revere anyone. Because for me, now I am putting you a step above. And there is only one person that I think is a step above

Lindi: “For me it’s like respect x100. It’s a different level of respect. And when I think of reverence I only can equate what I feel about God to reverence. I respect you. I respect my mum. I respect my Pastor. But I don’t revere anyone. Because for me, now I am putting you a step above. And there is only one person that I think is a step above.”

Blaque: “Amen.”

Red Flags: How ‘Men of God’ are Elevated in Africa

Lindi: “You know? So that’s another sign I think when it comes to these churches where pastors are revered. And it manifests itself in small things. Everyone has to be seated, before he can walk in.”

Blaque: “People bow bro! People bow down when these guys walk in.”

Lindi: “Like! You know or you can’t make eye contact. Or you have to… you can only greet him with your right hand. Come on?”

Blaque: “God made the left as well!”

Lindi: “I’m left handed guys. Can everyone calm down? You know? That’s another huge sign! And like I said – it all comes back to normalising the way we interact with each other, with celebrity, with everyone. Especially the like… If you for a second feel like you are unworthy to be in that person’s presence – you know – that’s a huge red flag. Huge red flag. Because no-one, no-one should make you feel like that.”

Blaque: “Except God.”

Lindi: “Especially when this person is supposed to be trying to make you come closer to God.”

Celebrity Christianity Ignores Biblical Guidance around Who Should Teach

Blaque: “Yes. Supposed to be a shepherd. Supposed to lead you to the one ultimate shepherd. Sure. Yeah, just speaking about like normalising people. Taking people a notch lower than they have elevated themselves. One thing that we are seeing is happening with Kanye, we kind of spoke about this off camera, about him making himself a teacher? When the Bible is very clear that somebody who is a new convert should not be leading. He is new. He is supposed to be sitting under solid Biblical teaching. Being discipled.

somebody who is a new convert should not be leading. He is new. He is supposed to be sitting under solid Biblical teaching. Being discipled.

Paul says it to Timothy that don’t make a new convert an elder of the church. He is new. It makes logical sense. He has to learn the ropes before he can start leading other people. But what are your thoughts on that?

Sphere of Influence is not the Most Important Factor

How are we supposed to respond to that as young African Christians? When our temptation is to say “yo! Kanye West influences a million people. Therefore, yo! This guy should plant a church guys tomorrow!” How are we supposed to respond to that? And kinda take us back to our conversation about the Man of God as well. Who have done a similar thing. Guy appears from nowhere. And suddenly he has a tent. And like “who appointed you? Who called you to plant this church?” And there’s tents popping up every day. We don’t know where these guys are coming from.”

Lindi: “Every day.”

Blaque: “Yeah.”

Lindi: “So I think that like this is where I am extremely sympathetic towards Christians who want to believe in Kanye and what he is going through, but find it hard. Because until I vocalised it I actually didn’t realise that that’s what I was also struggling with. I know that, because I became a Christian yesterday, I do not have any understanding – or enough understanding rather – of what it means to be a Christian to start preaching. You know? I still battle with it and I mean if you look at the totality of my life, the Gospel hasn’t changed in 27 years. I have changed in this process! But you’d think that, OK, if you look at like the 20 years where I was coming to church, and like the last couple of years where I became a Christian, I should know enough. To start you know… it’s still something that I battle with.

Kanye is Too New to Faith to Preach

So I think that I get where there’s this Christianity-like disdain for Kanye. Because the way he’s gone about it is what we know is incorrect. So when I like did the timeline of what he was doing,  I mean it started off shaky but I think the real turning point, where I think it became a bit weird, was when he started to now preach. Where he started to like.. you know… he is doing small things that would lead anyone, Christian or non-Christian, to think that “ahh, this is a bit weird.”

it now looks like he’s becoming a man above God

So now he’s starting to preach. On what basis? I’ve never seen a Bible there. So, you know, where is this coming from? Number 2, everyone is now wearing uniforms, you know? That’s a bit odd! Again, there’s… he’s literally now gone from a smaller circle to a larger circle. The way this whole thing is evolving is very, very… we know that it’s not right.”

Blaque: “It’s like the church choir with the uniform. But it’s Yeezys!”

Lindi: “You know I mean sick uniform! But, it appears very cultish. So the way he is now, from appearance sake, it now looks like he’s becoming a man above God.”

Blaque: “Sure.”

In Africa Normal Men Elevate themselves to Preacher-status Overnight

Lindi: “You know? So I think that’s where I understand the disdain. And that’s the exact same parallel to what we face here. About seemingly normal men who now have elevated themselves and start with a small following. And because people are in desperate situations, because people are so impressionable, because people don’t know God.”

Blaque: “Sure that’s sad.”

Lindi: “They are just feeding into this. And then we end up with all of these tent churches that pop up with… that are just elevating these men. So I think that as a Christian, an African Christian, observing Kanye, you should take everything that he is doing with a handful of salt and discretion.”

Blaque: “Amen.”

Kanye’s Music is Amazing – But it Must not Replace the Scriptures

Lindi: “So I am at a position where I am willing to listen to his music. I really do wanna hear the next album. The first thing in my mind is “is he gonna swear?” That’s like the one thing that keeps like coming up is, “is he actually gonna swear?” Because then you are just going a hundred steps backwards. But I actually wanna hear, is there a message? Am I going to hear? Because the last album that he did with Kid Cudi there was a song ‘Cudi Montage.’ If you listen to the chorus of that song – beautiful! I think it’s “God shine your light on me.” So powerful. So is it going to hit me that way? But am I going to now start substituting that for the word? No. Am I going to start listening to Kanye West’s preachers? No. Because I personally don’t think that where he is right now is in a position where he can be educating people on the Gospel. You know?”

Blaque: “Hundreds. And he could be saying the right things. He could be saying the right things. But I think what we are saying is the same way these Men of God in Africa elevate themselves up to a point of authority, where they give themselves all these titles. Apostle. What, what, what. Now there is an abbreviation. You are no longer Evangelist, you are ‘Evang.'”

Lindi: “Wow!”

Blaque: “So I think the temptation with us is to think that because Kanye is at a place of influence, and we see him like you said, he’s put himself in a position of authority: Called the thing Sunday Service, he is preaching, da, da, da, something that an elder of a church or somebody who is a minister of a church is called to do with all the right qualifications, according to what the Bible has, which Kanye doesn’t have. So even though he is saying the right things, I think we should, like you are saying, never replace the scriptures for Kanye. Kanye’s music is amazing.”

the Man of God… could be saying all the right things that tickle your fancy, but if you haven’t opened your Bible – or he hasn’t opened his Bible – then you are just sharing opinions.

Lindi: “He is a really good musician.”

Blaque: “But it’s not the Bible.”

Lindi: “100%”

Blaque: “It’s not the Bible! So, what the Man of God is saying of Sunday, he could be saying all the right things that tickle your fancy, but if you haven’t opened your Bible – or he hasn’t opened his Bible – then you are just sharing opinions.
That’s what you are doing. It’s sharing opinions. You are sharing nice music. That’s all it is. So I think that’s pretty dope man!
Any last thoughts?”

Being Christian is More than a Sunday Service

Lindi: “I would say that the easiest place to be a Christian is at a church on a Sunday. It’s so easy! To be a Christian in that space. But, we have to… you know that that’s not all that it comes to being a Christian. It doesn’t end and start on a Sunday. It’s how you live your life. It’s how you interact with people. It’s how God moves you in different places. And how he changes your life in different ways. And that’s the focus. The focus should never be on the person on a Sunday or the music that you are listening to. Or all of these other things. The focus should just be on God. And in that way you are able to know what’s right and what’s wrong. So when it comes to Kanye, that’s what I know. Is that it doesn’t matter what Kanye comes out with or what he says. That should never influence my relationship with God.”

The focus should never be on the person on a Sunday or the music that you are listening to… The focus should just be on God

Blaque: “Amen!”

Lindi: “And the same thing with our Men of God and our Women of God is that whatever they do or say, should never influence my relationship with God. That’s it.”

Blaque: “Amen. Thank you so much!”

Lindi: “Thanks for having me!”

Blaque: “Pretty dope.”

Lindi: “This is fun!”

Blaque: “Yeah, yeah. It shouldn’t be the last time.”

Lindi: “It really shouldn’t, you guys should have me back!”

Blaque: “Thanks for that man. Thank you so much for watching this. Hope that encouraged you. Hopefully it gave you some things to think about. Please do comment, share you thoughts. Subscribe to our Podcast. Follow us on all the social networks. And thank you for watching all our previous episodes. More is coming. Grace and Peace. Thank you.”

 

As Christians in Africa we are no strangers to celebrity Christianity. Across the continent, in every town, city and village, there are self-proclaimed ‘Men of God’ and ‘Women of God’ who have built loyal – even fanatical – followings many thousands strong. We are also steeped in global celebrity culture through our TVs and smart phones. Celebrity culture is quite simply normal in Africa today. In light of this, Blaque and Lindi explore the connection between our local celebrity pastors and the recent dramatic declaration of faith in Jesus by American mega-star Kanye West.

Celebrity Christianity: Questions and Red Flags

Most young African Christians know of Kanye West’s music and lifestyle. The issue of Kanye’s conversion to Christianity has sparked both celebration and derision. There is a swell of debate, scepticism and calls for prayer from all quarters. The question is – can we apply this to our own examples of celebrity Christianity at home? Could a more critical approach help us avoid the many abuses committed by self-appointed pastors? There are clear warnings that the world can heed from the treatment of congregations by ‘Men of God’ in Africa.

 

Listen to The Gospel Coalition Africa Podcast here on on apple podcasts.

Click the video above for a video reel of Blaque’s discussion with Lindi.

For a lightly edited transcript of this discussion click the transcript button above.

#TGCAfricaPodcast #TGCAfrica #CelebrityChristianity #KanyeWest #ManofGod

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