Skillet’s John Cooper on Apostasy Among Young Christian Leaders

by George Brahm

John Cooper, lead singer for the rock band Skillet, responded to the litany of recent apostasies among young Christian leaders. In a Facebook post titled ‘What in God’s Name is Happening in Christianity?’ put up on Tuesday, August 13, Cooper directly addressed the reasons given by Hillsong songwriter Marty Sampson for renouncing his Christian faith, before highlighting the need for Christians to stay grounded in a truth-driven faith over an emotion-driven one. Here is the text of the post in its entirety (not corrected for spelling or punctuation):

“Ok I’m saying it. Because it’s too important not to. 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. I’ll state my conclusion, then I’ll state some rebuttals to statements I’ve read by some of them. Firstly, I never judge people outside of my faith. Even if they hate religion or Christianity. That is not my place and I have many friends who disagree with my religion and that is 100% fine with me. However, when it comes to people within my faith, there must be a measure of loyalty and friendship and accountability to each other and the Word of God.

“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)”

I am glad to see one of these ‘influencers’ come out in defense of the authority of Scripture and the importance of a robust faith that can outlast even the harshest of challenges.

A popular rock band for over two decades, Skillet recently came out with their latest album ‘Victorious’, available on their website.


The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of other authors at Cogent Christianity.

250 thoughts on “Skillet’s John Cooper on Apostasy Among Young Christian Leaders

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  1. Interesting. Lots to digest. I am not sure though that I completely followed the main line of thought of the speaker.

    But, here is what I see: American churches embracing “inclusiveness”, which is a candy-coated term for welcoming sin into the congregation. I see some pastors reluctant to talk about Hell. I heard one here in southern California tell his congregation how ridiculous it was to believe in the literal account of Genesis. I guess God needs to put this man on His throne for a while. I know of a pastor not far from me who gets his sermons online, and apparently not by seeking God for the specific message He may want that congregation to hear.

    All of these kinds of things are plaguing the American church (I cannot speak to the church in other countries).

    The Word of God must be our standard, period. It’s either HIS word, or it’s not. Make up your minds. Also, to quote a Jewish radio host I adore, we must make certain that we fear God more than man.

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  2. A person cannot lose their Salvation. So the people commenting say they “left the faith” they were actually never of the faith to begin with! When I see someone supposedly ‘lose the faith’ I think of the parable os the seeds falling on differnt soil….the plant starts to grow and dies…..not rooted in Christ….

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  3. Many on here have replied that the problem with Christianity is that it isn’t real, that it doesn’t explain reality and real circumstances. Most are millennials and this is a generation that is REAL, and seeking the real truth not something we are just told to believe. I want to honor that and present some wisdom. What you really have left is Religion, not God. You don’t really know him yet. You can’t leave someone you’ve never really met. Religion is a man-made thing. The current church is not at all remotely what God has in mind, or what it was when Jesus was on earth. So, many of you are actually a step closer than those that blindly follow. God appreciates that. I feel you also need to be told that the conflict you have with “church truth doesn’t work in the real world” is because the church has seriously dropped the ball on revealing hard hitting genuine truth and history, instead giving you bible verses on bookmarks. It’s taken years, but I have learned the answers to those questions that resolve the conflict. Things like, how can God be love if he ordered his people to wipe out nations? Or, why is lgbt wrong? Or, how could there really be a Hell? There really is an answer to all of these and more, and the answer makes logical and loving sense. The key in this is to know that while everything is true in the bible, the bible doesn’t explain everything in history and life. Even some of the most loyal Christians can’t get this through their skull. But the Spirit of God DOES reveal all truth, it’s just people in religion are closed minded and don’t listen. But prophets do, wink. Look me up on FB.

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  4. I recently reread the tiny book of Jude in my Bible. The author warns the disciples of Christ that certain men, whose condemnation has been written about, have secretly slipped in among believers in the church. He warns believers that these men are godless and change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord. It goes on to say that these dreamers pollute their own bodies, reject authority and slander celestial beings. These men speak abusively against whatever they do not understand and what things they do understand by instinct, like unreasoning animals- these are the very things that destroy them. This short book in the Bible is so powerful and speaks of what is going on in our country right now. Our Lord Jesus Christi’s coming with thousands of his holy ones to judge the godless and all the ungodly things they have done. Jude also goes on to say that the Lord’s apostles foretold that in the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires and will try to divide the body of Christ as they follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit. We, the body of Christ, need to stand strong and persevere in God’s love as we wait for the mercy of Jesus to bring us to eternal life. Our country is full of these people who hate and have no love for anyone or anything. We as believers must help anyone we can who doubts their faith or believes the lies being spewed by the evil ones of this world. The book of Jude describes our country and our world today. I will be praying for those who now have lost their faith and will also be praying for you leaders who have very tough jobs in this world where the godless voices are so loud,

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    1. This is why I love the Orthodox Church. Church is not meant to make us “feel good “ and have emotional highs. It is a house, God’s house, where we come to glorify Him, hear his word, and gather the strength to live in the world in a holy fashion, as we head toward eternity in Heaven. Amen to what you have said.

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      1. Yes! I wrote in one of the comments earlier that it seems like he is talking about the Orthodox Church!

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  5. While I don’t believe God wants his children to relate to him out of fear, there is much in the scriptures that tells to choose to believe Christs words above all else. Here are a few relevant scriptures for all to consider on this matter:

    Jude 1:3-7 NIV
    Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ. But I want to remind you, though you once knew this, that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day; as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.

    2 Peter 2:1-3 NIV
    But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber.

    2 Peter 3:16-17 NIV
    as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures. You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked;

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