HOUSTON, Texas — Rapper-turned-gospel artist Kanye West is scheduled to take the stage at Joel Osteen‘s Lakewood Church this Sunday, speaking and performing at the Texas megachurch known for its self-help motivational messages. West and Osteen are friends, and West had been “wanting to come out for some time.”
The Houston Chronicle reports that West will speak about his faith with Osteen for 15-20 minutes during the 11 a.m. service and will return to perform with his choir during the 7 p.m. service.
“Kanye and Joel are friends. He’s been wanting to come out for some time and it just worked out for this weekend,” Donald Iloff, a spokesman for the 45,000 member megachurch and brother to Victoria Osteen, told the outlet.
Christian News Network confirmed the report with Iloff.
As previously reported, Iloff likewise recently affirmed to Christian News that West has been conversing with Osteen and that he had been invited to attend a service. He explained that Osteen has never met West in person, but that they have been in communication with one another, and that West has shared some deep personal issues with the prosperity preacher.
Osteen has been a controversial figure among evangelicals as his positive thinking, self-help messages are devoid of preaching on sin, repentance and eternal judgment. His books have included “Your Best Life Now,” “Become a Better You,” “You Can, You Will, ” “It’s Your Time” and “The Power of I Am.”
“You’ve been criticized for church-lite or a cotton candy message. Do you feel like you’re cheating people by not telling them about the Hell part? Or repentance part?” CBS asked the megachurch speaker and author in 2016.
“No, I really don’t, because it’s a different approach,” Osteen replied. “You know, it’s not Hellfire and brimstone. But I say most people are beaten down enough by life. They already feel guilty enough. … So I want [people] to come to Lakewood or our meetings and be lifted up, to say, ‘You know what? I may not be perfect, but I’m moving forward. I’m doing better.’ And I think that motivates you to do better.”
In 2013, during an interview with the Huffington Post, Osteen also explained his preaching philosophy, stating that Christians should exemplify kindness to the world rather than “pushing people down” by telling them about their sins.
“Again, the Scripture teaches the way people are going to know His disciples is for our love for one another, and so, I’m not preaching hate [or] pushing people down,” he stated. “I’m not here to tell everybody what they’re doing wrong.”
Osteen had apologized in 2005 after he told talk show host Larry King that he doesn’t judge whether unbelievers such as Jews or atheists go to Heaven or Hell.
“I can’t judge somebody’s heart. Only God can look at somebody’s heart. To me, it’s not my business to say, ‘This one is or this one isn’t.’ I just say, ‘Here’s what the Bible teaches and I’m going to put my faith in Christ.’ I think it’s wrong when you go around saying, ‘You’re not going. You’re not going. You’re not going,’” he said. “I would present my way, but I’m just gonna let God be the judge of that (who goes to Heaven or Hell). I don’t know.”
However, in 2013, Osteen provided a similar response when asked by the Huffington Post if those who believe in the “monkey god” will not enter Heaven.
“I don’t claim to understand who’s all going to Heaven,” he replied. “I just believe and I teach in all my messages that when you have a relationship with Christ — that’s the reason why He came, to have a relationship with him that is the guarantee from Heaven.”
“People don’t all believe like me; they see it bigger,” Osteen added. “I believe God’s mercy is very big. I thank God I’m not the judge of who gets to come. Only He can, but that’s the way I see it.”
Iloff told Christian News Network this week that “of course” Osteen believes in Heaven and Hell and that “Joel gives more altar calls to accept Jesus Christ than any minister in the entire world.”
When asked where Osteen speaks of sin, repentance and the wrath to come in his messages — as that is what has raised concern among many — Iloff recommended listening to Lakewood’s broadcasts and that “if you can’t find it, you believe what you want.” He said that he personally doesn’t interpret the Scripture to state that Jesus took the wrath of God on the cross, but rather that He came to earth to prove the worth of man against the assertions of the devil.
“If [Joel] doesn’t preach the wrath that you believe in, well, I gotta tell you, if I was a preacher, I wouldn’t be preaching it either,” Iloff opined. “Why would you preach about the wrath to come? … It’s kind of all the way you look at everything. You want to perceive God to be wrathful and hateful and that He had to have His Son torn to pieces so that His anger would be quelled. … Jesus came to defend His creation. Jesus came to defend the worthiness of His creation.”
He also implied that he is not certain what Hell is like.
West, who recently declared that he had been born again and started a weekly “Sunday Service” gathering, is previously known for profane songs “Homecoming,” “All Falls Down,” “Stronger,” “Jesus Walks” and the blasphemous “I Am a God.” His new record, “Jesus Is King,” includes songs “Follow God,” “God Is,” “Use This Gospel” and “Jesus is Lord.”
West has stated that he is through with secular music and wants to use his life to serve God.
However, West also boasted during an interview last week at the Fast Company Innovation Festival that he is a billionaire and that he might change his name for a time to reflect his financial status.
“When people say it’s crass to call yourself a billionaire, I say I might legally change my name to Christian Genius Billionaire Kanye West for a year until y’all understand exactly what it is,” he stated. “It will be on the license plate.”