• Foundations of Truth

(Pop)cultural Christianity



What does it mean to “be a Christian”in American culture? Likely something very different from what the Christian forefathers practiced (in fact, they would not have necessarily described themselves as “Christians”)! [1]


A recent article exploring Kanye West’s understanding of Christianity popped up on Summit Ministries’website. It concluded by saying: “We began by asking, ‘What is Kanye’s Christianity?’ because his worldview does not fit neatly into any category of Christianity. But, when we realize that every one of us holds a Christian worldview that has, to some extent, been shaped by our assumptions, perhaps we should end by asking, what is our Christianity [emphasis added]?” [2]

In essence, the article argues that, despite pointing to an objective truth, individual experiences of Christianity are highly personal. In Kanye West’s case, his experience of Christianity as a billionaire rapper is inherently distinct from the experiences of almost any other human being on the planet.


Of course, there is always a temptation to say that Christian practices ought to be fixed in stone, that they should be esoteric and almost inaccessible. However, Jesus’ death and resurrection were supposed to end the separation between humanity and God’s holiness.


Matthew 27:50-51 teaches that Jesus’death was enough to end the separation between God and humanity; this is exemplified by the tearing of the veil separating the holy of holies in the temple: “And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split.”[3]

Contrary to secular belief, Christianity is not a wooden religion that refuses to evolve with the rest of human culture. It has a rich history of dynamically responding to cultural changes and contemporary matters to spread its message.


One such example is John Wycliffe’s revolutionary translation of the Bible into English to establish a source of Christian authority that would replace the discredited Catholic Church. [4] Wycliffe’s translation was appropriate for a particular time and place in history, but it would not have been possible until people began to question the authority of Church leadership.


Ultimately, yes, the practice of Christianity is highly contextual, which means it is also highly personal. But the basic truth of Jesus’death and resurrection must always endure.

If Kanye West is able to spread a popular understanding of the basic tenets of the Christian faith through his music and celebrity, then he is merely taking part in a historically sound Christian practice of using new media to convey the truth of Jesus’ death and resurrection.


Foundations of Truth hereby waives all claim of copyright (economic and moral) in this work and immediately places it in the public domain; it may be used, published, edited, and distributed in any manner whatsoever without any attribution or notice to Foundations of Truth.

 

[1] “Where the "Christian" Name Really Came From”Relevant Magazine (April 8, 2013), https://www.relevantmagazine.com/faith/where-christian-name-really-came/.

[2] “Kanye’s Christianity,” Reflect (December 17, 2021), https://www.summit.org/resources/reflect/kanyes-christianity/?_bta_tid=01804680245476443239369041010620417565125663818312626593395575146939366932025929687890522101166827367781.

[3] “What was the significance of the temple veil being torn in two when Jesus died?”GotQuestions.org (accessed December 30, 2021), https://www.gotquestions.org/temple-veil-torn.html.

[4] “Translation of the Bible of John Wycliffe” Britannica (accessed December 30, 2021), https://www.britannica.com/biography/John-Wycliffe/Translation-of-the-Bible.

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