Every Wind of Doctrine: A Biblical Response to Kanye West 

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Kanye West was in the news a lot when I was in youth group. He was coming out with albums which would become classics in the hip-hop space like Graduation, Homecoming, and Watch The Throne. He’d also produced classics like Jay-Z’s The Blueprint and Kid Cudi’s The Man on the Moon just to name a few. His musical talent was, and still is, undeniable, and he had the critical acclaim to go along with it.

Kanye West is in the news again, but this time it has nothing to do with music. Kanye’s name is sliding across your lock screen because of antisemitic comments he made on Revolt TV’s “Drink Champs” and on Chris Cuomo’s NewsNation show. According to the Anti-Defamation League, Kanye “repeatedly blamed ‘Jewish media’ and ‘Jewish Zionists’ for numerous alleged misdeeds, stating that ‘Jewish people have owned the Black voice’ and that ‘the Jewish community, especially in the music industry…they’ll take us and milk us till we die.’”[1]

His comments have been seized upon by representatives of the Nation of Islam and the Black Hebrew Israelites. Seeming to embrace Black Hebrew Israelism himself, Kanye on both shows “repeated his previous defense that Black people cannot be antisemitic, stating that ‘we are Semite, we Jew, so I can’t be antisemite.’”[2]

A deep dive into the problematic elements of Kanye’s comments would require a lengthy piece in and of itself. It’ll have to suffice for the time being to say that the Kanye’s comments are generally untrue and certainly xenophobic. Additionally, they’re unbiblical and against the principles of the gospel, which welcomes members of every tribe, tongue, and nation into God’s presence if they will be united to Christ by faith. We must be careful to keep this in mind as we speak to our students, for any embrace of Kanye’s comments looks a lot more like being tossed about by every wind of doctrine (Eph. 4:14) than it does anything resembling biblical fidelity.

Given Kanye’s prominent place in our culture as not only a musical talent but as someone who’s involved in conversations about politics, religion, criminal justice, and mental health, it’s important for youth ministers to be able to dialogue with their students about Kanye himself and what he’s said.

Identifying Injustice

As you or your students bring up Kanye West and his recent comments, it will probably be necessary to point out that disparaging remarks about a group of people are not funny, amusing, or something to be made light of. One thinks of, say, a middle or high school boy who, wonderful as he is, has a tendency to parrot anything he finds amusing or novel regardless of its worth in order to chase laughs and social acceptance.

The God of the Bible is a God of justice, and he is not pleased or glorified by false and unjust comments like these. God’s character is to care for the orphan, the widow, and victims of injustice. The gospel of Jesus Christ is for all who will believe in him—people from every tribe, tongue, and nation, including Jewish people and African-American people. As we walk with the Lord Jesus, may we also acknowledge the inherent worth and dignity of all humans by virtue of their being made in God’s image.

Wisdom and Restraint

Kanye’s comments are a lesson in wisdom and restraint, or the lack thereof. At worst, Kanye’s comments are xenophobic, as they reveal a blatant and prejudicial dislike of an ethnic group or nationality. We read in Proverbs that “the heart of the righteous weighs its answers, but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil” (Prov. 15:28). Racist remarks are certainly evil, and they’re especially problematic because they reveal a deeper heart-level issue which must be excavated like a cavity by the Holy Spirit.

At the absolute least, Kanye’s comments are incredibly unwise. Paul tells us in Ephesians that we should keep a tight leash on our tongues, not letting any unwholesome talk emerge from them (Eph. 4:29). Wherever Kanye’s heart was or wasn’t when he made these comments, one thing we can say for sure is that they are unwholesome and unwise.

This situation provides both for us and for our students an object lesson on the importance of the words we speak. Our words reflect our thoughts and our hearts, as Jesus himself said (see Luke 6:45).

We are not defined by our words, to be sure, but our words are tightly connected to who we are. Therefore, if we want to be followers of Christ, glorifying God and experiencing communion with him, our manners of speaking should come more and more in line with that identity over the course of time. Kanye’s comments show us yet again how important it is that our words not be stumbling blocks, but that they be seasoned with salt.

Kanye’s Conversion

Perhaps the most pressing question we had when we saw the clips of Kanye’s remarks online were, “What does this say about Kanye’s very public conversion a few years ago?”

My sense is that’s the question at the forefront of the minds of many of our students who pay attention to Kanye. I’ll confess that I myself don’t exactly know how Kanye’s comments track with his spiritual development over the last few years. I don’t know that even he will until some time has passed. Here’s what I do know, though—the grace of Christ is deep and wide enough to cover all manner of sins, be they murder, racism, theft, or anything else. If we will only come to Christ and admit our sin and need, he is faithful and just to forgive us, including Kanye

Hope for Kanye and Our Students

There are several takeaways from Kanye’s recent comments for our students, but I’ll mention two here. First, our words matter. All of them. We should be careful and wise with them, and when we’re not, we should seek the Holy Spirit’s help in identifying why we’re not careful with them. Second, this situation pushes us to remind our students that they will sin, they will do so seriously, and sometimes they will do so publicly. And yet, even then, if they seek Christ in forgiveness, he will not turn them away but welcome them with open arms.

[1]Unpacking Kanye Wests Antisemitic Remarks,” Anti-Defamation League, last modified October 31, 2022, https://www.adl.org/resources/blog/unpacking-kanye-wests-antisemitic-remarks.

[2] Anti-Defamation League, Unpacking Kanye Wests Antisemitic Remarks.”

Tucker Fleming was raised in the Atlanta area and attended both Mississippi State University and Beeson Divinity School. He's lived and worked throughout the country in schools and non-profit organizations, and has worked with students for a decade, with over half of that time being in the local church.

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