As former pastors and worship leaders are making very public departures from their Christian faith, one Christian musician has made a very public response which has quickly gone viral.
John Cooper, lead singer and bassist from the band Skillet, made a post on social media Tuesday, August 13, entitles 'What in God's name is happening in Christianity?' Last month former pastor and celebrated author Joshua Harris publicly declared that he is no longer a Christian. Then over the weekend Hillsong songwriter and musician Marty Sampson made a public post saying "I'm genuinely losing my faith and it doesn't bother me." Sampson clarified later that he hasn't renounced his faith, but that it is on "shaky ground."
"What is happening in Christianity? More and more of our outspoken leaders or influencers who were once 'faces' of the faith are falling away. And at the same time, they are being very vocal and bold about it. Shockingly they still want to influence others (for what purpose?) as they announce that they are leaving the faith," Cooper says.
"It is time for the church to rediscover the preeminence of the Word. And to value the teaching of the Word. We need to value truth over feeling. Truth over emotion."
Cooper says that first of all he strongly believes "We must STOP making worship leaders and thought leaders or influencers or cool people or 'relevant' people the most influential people in Christendom. (And yes that includes people like me!) I’ve been saying for 20 years (and seemed probably quite judgmental to some of my peers) that we are in a dangerous place when the church is looking to 20-year-old worship singers as our source of truth."
There is now "church culture that learns who God is from singing modern praise songs rather than from the teachings of the Word." Cooper says musicians are "good at communicating emotion and feeling," but they aren't always the best theologians.
"I’m amazed that so many Christians want the benefits of the kingdom of God, but with the caveat that they themselves will be the King."
The recent public departures are very confusing for Cooper. "First of all, I am stunned that the seemingly most important thing for these leaders who have lost their faith is to make such a bold new stance. Basically saying, 'I’ve been living and preaching boldly something for 20 years and led generations of people with my teachings and now I no longer believe it ... therefore I’m going to boldly and loudly tell people it was all wrong while I boldly and loudly lead people into my next truth.' I’m perplexed why they aren’t embarrassed? Humbled? Ashamed, fearful, confused? Why be so eager to continue leading people when you clearly don’t know where you are headed?"
For his part, Harris has denied interview requests saying that "I need to avoid audiences and the pressure of becoming a spokesperson for anyone or any cause. That has gotten me into trouble in the past."
Back to the Word
"It is time for the church to rediscover the preeminence of the Word," Cooper says. "And to value the teaching of the Word. We need to value truth over feeling. Truth over emotion. And what we are seeing now is the result of the church raising up influencers who did not supremely value truth who have led a generation who also do not believe in the supremacy of truth. And now those disavowed leaders are proudly still leading and influencing boldly AWAY from the truth."
"Is it any wonder that some of our disavowed Christian leaders are letting go of the absolute truth of the Bible and subsequently their lives are falling apart? Further and further they are sinking in the sea all the while shouting 'now I’ve found the truth! Follow me!!'"
Cooper says that preachers, musicians, and authors need to resist the urge to "find creative ways to shape Gods word into the image of our culture by stifling inconvenient truths." Instead, he says, "let us hold on even tighter to the anchor of the living Word of God. For He changes NOT."
In just over 12 hours of being put online, the post has received 12,000 responses and over 8,000 shares.