The Popularity Gospel of Kanye West’s Sunday Service

For months now, Kanye West has rebranded his reputation as a more spiritual musician after comments about being used by Candace Owens. He has launched a series of concerts he calls Sunday Service. But the concerts contain a plethora of gospel music and a number of collaborations. The Sunday Service has been kept under wraps with leaked videos here and there but little is known about how legitimate the faith message is or wants to be. The Sunday Service has garnered criticism for the accompanying high end fashion line with overpriced merchandise. But on a recent Sunday, we got a taste of whether the Gospel is preached at these events with the release of Rich Wilkerson Jr. preached at Sunday Service.

Listening to the Sunday Service, Wilkerson was quick to argue that this was not a concert, this was an “old fashion worship service.” Rather than resembling “Sinners in the Hands of and Angry God,” it came off as a regular, easily digestible, church service. “Praises go up, blessings come down,” Wilkerson said. He goes on to say “Jesus is the anecdote to your trouble.” It was a solid few minutes before Wilkerson read from the Bible. And to my own surprise, he read from John 14.

1″Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4And you know the way to where I am going.” 5Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. ESV

Kanye West’s Sunday Service touched on the exclusivity of Jesus. That’s the Gospel right? Not quite. The theme of Rich Wilkerson’s message was “trust in God.” The result of trusting in God, according to his message was rescue from troubles and hardships. The result of trusting in God, according to Wilkerson was reaching your destination or the destination Jesus has in mind for you. Yet in saying, this he does not assert that trusting Jesus is free of hardship. So what is missing from the message? The need. The need for trusting Jesus is entirely subjective and the result is eternal life, he also read John 3:16.

There’s a great resurrection for all of us, as we put our trust in him, he promises to get us to the other side

Popularity Gospel

Rich Wilkerson Jr. leaves out that which Jesus saves us from. He also leaves out what following Jesus, trusting Jesus, looks like. The Popularity Gospel says you are right and Jesus makes you better. It’s less ambitious than its cousin the Prosperity Gospel and the more adherent to scripture than the Social Justice Gospel, also known as Liberation Theology. For instance the Social Justice Gospel would never have touched upon John 14:6 without a pantheistic premise of Jesus. Similarly the Prosperity Gospel seeks to profit from the congregants. The Popularity Gospels is a marriage of the two heresies, but maintains the main commonality between them: they do not preach about sin.

They do not answer the question: what must we do to be saved? Because there is no saving. Rick Wilkerson’s message at Sunday Service doesn’t save because his message wasn’t the actual gospel. The differences are subtle but therein is the danger of a watered down gospel message devoid of the lifesaving meaning. It’s a brand of Christianity that baptizes believers but does not make disciples. Now, the Holy Spirit is capable of saving even using a watered down Gospel, but that believer is most certainly going to have to take it upon themselves to learn the Bible above an elementary level because a church that preaches a Popularity Gospel will not teach Christianity to the masses.

 

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