John L. Cooper performing with Skillet in San Antonio, Texas in 2017.
Photo Credit: Ralph Arvesen (CC-By-NC 2.0)

Two prominent evangelical figures announced they had left the Christian faith this summer.

First, Joshua Harris, author of I Kissed Dating Goodbye, announced that he could no longer consider himself a Christian. Then, three weeks later, Hillsong United worship leader and songwriter Marty Sampson declared he is “genuinely losing his faith.”

John L. Cooper, the lead singer for Skillet, had some potent words in response to this trend on a Facebook post on Tuesday. He directed some of his response to Sampson, but also the church at large.

It is powerful and I wanted to share it with our readers in its entirety:

My conclusion for the church(all of us Christians): 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. We now have a church culture that learns who God is from singing modern praise songs rather than from the teachings of the Word. I’m not being rude to my worship leader friends (many who would agree with me) in saying that singers and musicians are good at communicating emotion and feeling. We create a moment and a vehicle for God to speak. However, singers are not always the best people to write solid bible truth and doctrine. Sometimes we are too young, too ignorant of scripture, too unaware, or too unconcerned about the purity of scripture and the holiness of the God we are singing to. Have you ever considered the disrespect of singing songs to God that are untrue of His character? 

I have a few specific thoughts and rebuttals to statements made by recently disavowed church influencers…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 in to 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?

My second thought is, why do people act like “being real” covers a multitude of sins? As if someone is courageous simply for sharing virally every thought or dark place. That’s not courageous. It’s cavalier. Have they considered the ramifications? As if they are the harbingers of truth, saying “I used to think one way and practice it and preach it, but now I’ve learned all the new truth and will start practicing and preaching it.” So the influencers become the voice for truth in whatever stage of life and whatever evolution takes place in their thinking. 

Thirdly, there is a common thread running through these leaders/influencers that basically says that “no one else is talking about the REAL stuff.” This is just flatly false. I just read today in a renown worship leader’s statement, “How could a God of love send people to hell? No one talks about it.” As if he is the first person to ask this? Brother, you are not that unique. The church has wrestled with this for 1500 years. Literally. Everybody talks about it. Children talk about it in Sunday school. There’s like a billion books written on the topic. Just because you don’t get the answer you want doesn’t mean that we are unwilling to wrestle with it. We wrestle with scripture until we are transformed by the renewing of our minds.

And lastly, and most shocking imo, as these influencers disavow their faith, they always end their statements with their “new insight/new truth” that is basically a regurgitation of Jesus’s words?! It’s truly bizarre and ironic. They’ll say “I’m disavowing my faith but remember, love people, be generous, forgive others”. Ummm, why? That is actually not human nature. No child is ever born and says “I just want to love others before loving myself. I want to turn the other cheek. I want to give my money away to others in need”. Those are bible principles taught by a prophet/Priest/king of kings who wants us to live by a higher standard which is not an earthly standard, but rather the ‘Kingdom of God’ standard. Therefore if Jesus is not the truth and if the Word of God is not absolute, then by preaching Jesus’s teachings you are endorsing the words of a madman. A lunatic who said “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the father except through me.” He also said that he was alive before Abraham, and to see him was to see God because he was one with God. So why then would a disavowed christian leader promote that “generosity is good”? How would you know “what is good” without Jesus’s teachings? And will your ideas of what is “good” be different from year to year based on your experience, culture trends, poplular opinion etc and furthermore will you continue year by year to lead others into your idea of goodness even though it is not absolute? 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.

 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. 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!!” Brothers and sisters in the faith all around the world, pastors, teachers, worship leaders, influencers…I implore you, please please in your search for relevancy for the gospel, let us NOT find creative ways to shape Gods word into the image of our culture by stifling inconvenient truths. But rather let us hold on even tighter to the anchor of the living Word of God. For He changes NOT. “The grass withers and the flowers fade away, but the word of our God stands forever” (Isaiah 40:8)

HT: Cognent Christianity

10 comments
  1. Awesome article. So very true. Another thing is when artist come up using God as their (foundation) but then say I’m not a Christian artist. You can’t have it both ways. You can be a secular artist who is a Christian that’s fine, but you can’t make nothing but Christian music then make it big and say I’m not a Christian artist. If they aren’t, then they need to stop using God for their fame. Great job @JohnLCooper, I agree with you 100%

    1. Correct Sam. Our relationship with the Lord And Savior Jesus Christ is preeminent above all other relationships. Christianity is a life style, not a passing fad. It’s a commitment and must be taken for a life time. Jesus said ” In this world you will have tribulation. Cheer up , for I have overcome the world.”

  2. The blood of the generations of young disciples will be on the hands of those “influencers” ( which by the way is a tech word used in the insane facebook/youtube world and not in the Word Of God ) when you , the worship leaders, pastors, teachers, administrators, prophets,and elders , begin to preach the doctrines of demons in your churches . When you don’t hold fast to your “FAITH” and you renounce your beliefs and turn away from the truth, you crush the belief and faith of those in need of not a new worship song , but strong leaders to set examples of endurance, strength and courage in the trials we ALL face every day in our Christianity.
    Do you some how think Marty Sampson that you’re some how justified in renouncing your faith when going through trials of your faith ? Does tribulation pick and choose only the leaders of mega churches such as Hillsong ? In your world you think you’re above testing of your faith ? Why were you chosen as a worship leader? Due to your talent ? Due to your BMOC popularity ? Your Knowledge and education? Were you FAVORED more highly by your Pastor ? The answer to these questions should be a resounding NO !
    You’re blessed by God to be placed in a position as a worship leader and to Praise your Heavenly Father with humble reverence. It seems to me (as one of the little people ) that you have become all about you and as John Cooper pointed out , Your own relevance. No one should believe you’re faithful to God when you question his principals and his judgement of sin. A loving God does not send people to hell. Sinners who do not repent send themselves to hell.
    Finally, my advice to you Mr. Sampson is to stop writing new hit songs for your church, and get yourself deeper into the Word Of God. This will strengthen and reassure you in your faith. Submit your self to God, Resist the Devil and he must flee. Don’t be INFLUENCED by the Father of all lies. Satan knows his time is short and he wants to take as many as he can away from the faith and cause them to renounce the True and Living God.

  3. GREAT! GREAT! GREAT! GREAT! GREAT! GREAT! GREAT! GREAT! GREAT! GREAT! GREAT! GREAT! GREAT! GREAT! GREAT! GREAT! GREAT! GREAT! GREAT! GREAT! GREAT! GREAT! GREAT! GREAT! GREAT! GREAT! GREAT! GREAT! GREAT! GREAT! GREAT! GREAT! GREAT! GREAT! GREAT! GREAT! GREAT! GREAT! GREAT JOB STANDING UP FOR GOD’S UNCHANGING WORD JOHN! GOD IS EXTREMELY PROUD PROUD PROUD OF YOU! I THANK GOD WITH ALL MY HEART THAT THERE ARE STILL A FEW PEOPLE LEFT IN THIS WORLD WHO WILL BE GOD PLEASERS AND “SPEAK THE TRUTH IN LOVE.” [Eph.4:15]. BECAUSE JESUS SAID, “THE TRUTH SETS PEOPLE FREE.” [John 8:32]. ONLY THE TRUTH SETS THIS STUPID WORLD FREE! SO SPEAK ON AND SHOUT ON AND INCREASE IN BOLDNESS! YES INCREASE IN BOLDNESS SPEAKING THE TRUTH! WELL DONE GOOD AND FAITHFUL SERVANT!

  4. we should talk – I have information that would be helpful in understanding what is going on – just a guy who studies scripture and human behavior among other things – investigated for over 30 years all the big issues regarding some 30,000 plus groups all claiming to have the truth – finally solved along with other important matters

    38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark,

    39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

  5. The Word is very clear how leaders/teachers will be judged. As I support pastors in their very difficult role and life, I also teach parishioners to remember who the pastor for themselves and for the pastor. As a counselor and teacher, I certainly don’t aspire to the role of pastor. I don’t want the job and I don’t want the responsibility.

    All that said, the point for me is that if we are looking to worship leaders or “stars”, then we are looking to those that have not necessarily been called to the job of caring for the sheep. If that’s not their God given job, then neither they nor we should be elevating them to that post. It’s not fair to any of us!

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