"Kanye West October 2013" by U2soul / CC BY-SA 2.0

How Kanye West put Joel Osteen’s prosperity gospel back under the spotlight

Nov 20, 2019

By Sarah Pulliam Bailey

A performance by artist Kanye West at Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church in Houston on Sunday has launched a debate among Christians over controversial prosperity gospel teachings and the role of race in conservative evangelical Christianity.

“Kanye West and Joel Osteen are a match made in market-driven heaven,” said Jonathan L. Walton, dean of Wake Forest Divinity School, who noted how West sold $170 “Jesus Is King” sweatshirts with his new album.

“Both have baptized their commercial notoriety and their financial gains in Jesus’ name,” Walton said. “The communion table has become a merch table.”

West’s recent album “Jesus Is King” has earned praise in unusual corners of conservative Christianity, but his comments have raised eyebrows over their association with Osteen’s prosperity gospel teachings, the idea that God grants health and wealth to his followers. Some Christians are also questioning whether black hip-hop artists are being used by white evangelical preachers to boost their own brand and falsely signal progressive racial attitudes.

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