We rejoice at the conversion of a Kanye or any celebrity because it is a particular manifestation of God’s mercy. Hollywood seems impregnable to the gospel. These conversions remind us that it isn’t.
Kanye West says he’s a born again Christian. He says he’s going to be spreading the gospel. His Sunday Service concerts feature gospel music, reading the Bible, and a sermon from Adam Tyson—a non-celebrity pastor of a normal church in California and a Master’s Seminary alum.
Kanye and Tyson got connected by someone simply inviting Kanye to their church. He came. He listened. They setup a meeting. Kanye shared his testimony, Tyson unpacked different aspects of Christianity to him, and Kanye said he believes and he’s ready to live it out.
Everyone has thoughts about celebrity conversions. Kanye’s profession of faith in Christ is no different in that regard. What I find so encouraging about Kanye’s pursuit of Christ is that he’s being discipled by Tyson, they are having Bible studies, and Tyson says he has seen fruits of repentance and encouraging signs from Kanye.
Augustine would be excited too.
While reading Augustine’s Confessions, it struck me that Augustine would be encouraged to hear of Kanye’s conversion. Augustine would praise God for the news of a celebrity trusting Christ alone.
In Book 8 of Confessions (8.3–9), Augustine tells the conversion story of Victorinus, a “celebrity” teacher. Victorinus was highly regarded in Roman culture. He tutored Senators and other Roman nobility. He used to worship the idols and took part in the cult of Osiris—he was even a defender of them. (Listen to Kanye describe the idols of our culture he used to worship.)
One day, Victorinus told a friend, another Christian, that he believed in Christ. His friend didn’t believe him. “I haven’t seen you at church.” Victorinus said that going to church doesn’t make you a Christian. True enough. But Victorinus wasn’t joining the fellowship of believers because he didn’t want to offend his idol-worshipping friends. But then, days later, Victorinus told his friend, “Let’s go to church. I’m ready to be a Christian (to believe it rightly, to live it faithfully).” He went. Professed his faith publicly and got baptized. Victorinus was taught how to live the Christian life and began to live it out. Their friend was “unable to contain himself for joy.” Rome was amazed at what happened. The church responded in joy.