Skillet Frontman Asks, ‘What in God’s Name Is Happening to Christianity?’

skillet John Cooper

Sometimes the truth hurts. It hurts because we’re forced to confront something about life or about ourselves that’s uncomfortable, maybe even painful. That doesn’t feel good.

Increasingly, though, mainstream culture is veering away from telling hard truths. Especially those that make anyone feel uncomfortable. And for many, emotions have become the path to their subjective, individual understanding of what is true, instead of the other way around.

This trend has increasingly permeated the church, too.

But Skillet frontman John Cooper is having none of it. In a Facebook post on Tuesday that’s since gone viral, Cooper boldly challenges the church to recognize where it, too, is letting feelings interfere with embracing biblical truth.

The impetus for the post, according to CBN News, was the recent announcements of author Joshua Harris (I Kissed Dating Goodbye) and Hillsong worship leader Marty Sampson announcing their movements away from the Christian faith.

Cooper’s lengthy post confronts this trend in the church: “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.” He goes on not only to rebuke those who’ve recently made such announcements, but to dig deeper into the core issue here: the conflict between emotions and truth:

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.

Near the end of his emotional post, he exhorts:

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’m sure that Cooper’s strong, unapologetic words here may step on some toes. In fact, that probably explains why this post (which is worth reading in its entirety) has generated so much response in the last several days. But Cooper’s call for believers to reprioritize truth in our emotional age offers a much-needed corrective.

Reading Cooper’s post, I recalled what the Gospel of John says of Jesus’ incarnation, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We observed his glory, the glory as the one and only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

Jesus came full of grace and truth. How desperately we need both, a truth that John Cooper has powerfully reminded us of here.

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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"God" is NOT a name, it's a title!  "YAH" is HIS name (Isaiah 52:6 'Therefore MY people shall know MY name'), "Extol HIM who rides upon the clouds by HIS name, "YAH...For YAH, the ADONAI (Hebrew - "Lord") is my strength and song and HE has become my salvation...You shall keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on YAH, because HE trusts in YOU. Trust in the ADONAI forever, for in YAH, the ADONAI, is everlasting strength." Psalm 68:4; Isaiah 12:2 & 26:3, NKJV. "The truth - the entirety of YOUR Word is truth...YOUR Word stands forever...YOUR Word has grown mightily and prevailed," Psalm 119:160; Isaiah 40 & Acts 19:20, and the survivors of the womb have not been taught the Law and the Prophets, discounted by "replacement theology," that the covenant of grace" has done away with the Law & the Prophets, in BLATANT violation of Matthew 5:17-20, bringing "Woe to the shepherds who destroy & scatter the sheep of MY pasture," Jeremiah 23 & 30, bringing down "JUDGMENT from on high...violent whirlwinds...continuing whirlwinds," AS IT IS WRITTEN, "For when a land sins against ME by persistent unfaithfulness, I will stretch out MY hand against it," Ezekiel 14:13; "But MY people do not know MY judgments; MY people perish for lack of knowledge," Hosea 4, a CRITICAL verse, the school shootings (& ALL THE OTHERS) are contained in Hosea 4, as I've been telling former Columbine principal De'Angelis & former Jeffo D.A. Dave Thomas SINCE IT HAPPENED, that THIS is the direct result of taking prayer out of school, "the fear of the ADONAI is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of HIS holy One, YAHSHUA, is understanding." Proverbs. As "YAHSHUA OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE YEHUDI," John 19:19, "sets HIS hand again the second time to recover the remnant f HIS people who are left," Isaiah 11, HE will regain "the glory due HIS name," which has "been given to another, (since) the NAZARENE disciples went to Antioch where they were first called Christians," Acts 11:26, converting our HEBREW MESSHIACH ('OUR ADONAI, WHO DOES NOT CHANGE" Malachi 3:6) to "Christianity" WITHOUT HIS PERMISSION! I am Rabbah Tabe "Teacher of good things," Evelyn Cone, on LinkedIn, "proclaiming this good news from the mountains, to the ends of the earth"! My email is - [email protected], (303) 505-8453. Feel free to contact me. YAHSHUA ADONAI BARACH RAB EMET, bless you all HUGELY, & guide you into all truth!
Anonymous 12 months ago
The name for God in English is God. Most people pray to him by that name or another English name for God such as Lord or Father. Also in Hebrew God has many titles/names and the one translated as God is elohim and the one translated as LORD is YHVH or YHWH depending on your pronunciation of vav or waw. We have added vowels in so we can pronounce it but the Hebrew Bible was originally without vowels and they held God's name with high respect. So high that they never were to pronounce the personal name of God and when they were reading they said adonai (lord) instead. So they lost the pronunciation of his name because they never were to pronounce it. But we can't call God by his personal name simply because we don't know how to pronounce it. So we should still hold the name we have for God in high respect. 

I don't disagree that יהוה‎ is the personal name of God but I think we need to give the English name of God high respect as well

Do you disagree

Disclaimer: I am just starting to learn Hebrew but I've done some pretty extensive studies on the name of God. So I'm not claiming to be an expert on Hebrew. 

Anonymous 12 months ago
Oh, and isn't Yah just short for the full name of Yahveh (or Yehovah or Yahweh)?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
God-awful is no worse than saying God-forsaken or Goodness Gracious. The only true curse word with God in it is "GD". I'm sorry you guys can't see that, and for why I mentioned it in the first place is all because First Comment Guy had to bring it up. If he had stuck his nose out of it I wouldn't have felt the need to reply. Same for Hannah Cole. She seems as confused as First Comment Guy about what does and what does not constitute a curse word. The only true curse words are the f, d, a, gd, and s words. Everything else like God-awful and freaking have been blown way out of proportion. Maybe people on here should take a cursing class, so they know exactly what a curse word is and is not.
Hannah Cole More than 1 year ago
I never said God-awful was a curse word. I said it was taking God's name in vain, which it is, because it's flippant and disrespectful. I personally think it's a sin, and if I were to use God's name that way I would feel like I was sinning. You evidently don't feel convicted over it and I won't try to force you to feel otherwise; I'm just explaining my perspective.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Posted by First Comment Guy 

I usually mind my own business and don’t try to be too nitpicking of anyone, but when someone misuses God’s name, then the matter becomes my business to politely correct the person.

Also, when it comes to people
on here who need to take a cursing class, you might want to consider yourself, because you clearly don’t feel bad about misusing God’s name. After all, why do you think that your comment using that phrase got deleted?
Anonymous 12 months ago
I talked about this in-depth in the comments section of this article

I personally don't like people using "freaking" just because it's too close to the real one for me. But it isn't a curse word. I won't accuse you of cussing when you say it, but I won't use it and feel uncomfortable when it's used. Neither is misusing God's name. But it is that- taking his name in vain, which is a sin, like it or not. I will correct Christians for this because as Christians we should hold his name with respect

Anonymous More than 1 year ago
TRUTH is more important than Love. But is must be given with God's loving kindness and we must continue to give that kind of Love so the TRUTH can grow in that individual. If we do not show Love folks will refuse to hear God's TRUTH. So we must be bold with both. But we can't help anyone without giving 1st TRUTH.
Gary M More than 1 year ago
Truth matters.  Investigate.  Look at the evidence.  Read the books of leading Christian apologists and leading skeptics.  If Christianity is true, it will withstand the scrutiny.
Gary M More than 1 year ago

I would encourage everyone to read the following books in their investigation of the truth claims of Christianity:

Christian authors:
–“The Resurrection of the Son of God” by NT Wright
–“The Death of the Messiah” by Raymond Brown
–“Evidence that Demands a Verdict” by Josh and Sean McDowell

Skeptic authors:
–“Misquoting Jesus” by Bart Ehrman
–“The Outsider Test for Faith” by John Loftus
–“Why I Believed, Reflections of a Former Missionary” by Kenneth W. Daniels

Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What do you think about the lion king movie and little ones? Is it too scary for them?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hey, good job John Cooper! As a Skillet fan, I am always inspired when my favorite artists make a stand for the truth. We need to stand on the Word of God, with no exceptions. 
 (As a side note anybody hear Skillet's new song legendary? it slaps! Talk about a band that stands on truth of God while making totally awesome music!!)
-Emma the Bibliophile
Tom Sessler More than 1 year ago
Daniel Simpson More than 1 year ago
It is easy to speak of conviction, but different to be the example. Skillet tours with secular bands and profits from that fan base, without a word of acknowledgement to our lord and savior. Instead of empty words start the revival with a Christian tour. Then again it's not as profitable as the current projects.
Anita Beasley More than 1 year ago
Sounds like something a Pharisee would say. Jesus went to the sinners. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
amen ma'am. Skillet goes to the hard-rock audiences and preaches the Gospel with their songs, and that is what God wants us to do: Go out into the world and preach the Gospel. 
-Emma Bibliophile
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hey, Skillet is vocal about their faith through their music and message. Isn't it good that a christian band is reaching out to a non-christian fanbase? Music has the power to show the world truth. If christian bands stick to christian audiences, how will they share the Gospel? 
 -Emma the Bibliophile
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Just a reminder to everyone on here. Don't say freaking or God-awful. In this backwards place those are curse words.
Hannah Cole More than 1 year ago
I believe that saying God-awful is taking God's name in vain because it uses it in a flippant and offhand way. Maybe if you're starting to dislike PI so much, it might not be the place for you.

I also just wanted to say that I really enjoyed reading everyone's comments on this post. Some very well-thought out and interesting points that made me think.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Yes, to me this conversation seems more meaningful than a lot of things I see in the PI comments section!
[removed] More than 1 year ago
This comment has been deleted
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Posted by First Comment Guy

First off, I never said freaking was a curse word. I don't have a problem with it, and most people don't. Second, as for whether or not you misused God's name, Hannah has pretty much summed up why I think you did. Third, if you want people to focus on what this article is talking about, why are you going off topic by reminding us not to swear to begin with?
Isaiah Thacker More than 1 year ago
I certainly agree with Cooper that we shouldn't be removing parts of God's word because they feel uncomfortable or we're afraid people will get upset. However, I'd like to add that the reverse is true, too. We shouldn't be adding our own prejudices and dogma to God's word.

I've encountered way too many people (be they preachers, article writers, or just everyday Christians) who take some preexisting viewpoint, then cherry-pick out-of-context Bible verses to support their stance. Rather than reading the Bible and molding their viewpoints around it, they start with their own views and make the Bible "support" them. Yes, many do this to "soften up" God's word to be more convenient, but I find that many others do it to advocate their dogma.

Of course, I don't think most of them are doing it consciously, let alone maliciously. I think they genuinely believe that they're correct and are unaware of how flawed their approach to scriptural interpretation is. However, good intentions don't change the damage this sort of thing does.

I grew up being saddled with a lot of non-biblical dogma (from various sources) in this way, and some of it had some pretty significant, negative effects on my life. Moreover, I've encountered others who went through similar experiences. I've even met a lot of former Christians online (and even some in person) who actually left Christ because of such dogma. Tragically, many of them believe that such dogma is actually part of the biblical canon, and they find Christianity silly, oppressive, or otherwise repulsive as a result. I believe this sort of dogma also contributes to why many non-Christians view God as an angry judge, rather than a loving Creator.

My point is that we need to be careful to make sure our views are shaped by scripture, rather than molding scripture to fit our prejudices (or conveniences, for that matter). This is both for the sake of not saddling people with nonsensical, non-biblical dogma and for not driving people away with, well, the same nonsense. And, of course, we should do so for the sake of staying true to God.

"Do not add to His words,
Lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar."
Proverbs 30:6
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
AMEN, AMEN!!! Preach it Thacker!
 -Emma the Bibliophile
Julienne Dy More than 1 year ago
Faith is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted in spite of your changing moods.----C.S. Lewis
The Kenosha Kid More than 1 year ago
I don't agree with Cooper's framing. Drifting away from a religion isn't a matter of emotions taking precedence over truth -- quite the contrary in many cases. People's religious beliefs often evolve because of the dissonance between what they've been taught is true and moral and holy and what their conscience and life experience tells them is true and moral and healthy.

Truth is based on observable, verifiable facts. Religion is based on faith. Let's not confuse the two. That way madness lies.

Religious doubts should be embraced with a Christian spirit of compassion and empathy, not categorically rejected. That's the sort of attitude that pushes people away from religion.
Isaiah Thacker More than 1 year ago
You should take time to reread the article, because you seem to have misunderstood what Cooper was saying. He was blaming people drifting away on the church valuing emotions over truth, not on the "drifters" valuing emotions over truth.

Additionally, the issue at hand here isn't that people's beliefs are evolving. Rather, it's that they're abandoning them entirely, with former Christians such as Joshua Harris outright renouncing Christianity. That is something that we, as Christians, should most emphatically not be "embracing."

"Truth is based on observable, verifiable facts."

This is incorrect. What is observable and verifiable is dependent upon what is true, not the other way around. Truth "exists" (for lack of a better word) regardless of whether we can observe it or verify it. For example, we have no way of verifying the true number of times Alexander the Great stubbed his toe, but such a number still exists.

"Religion is based on faith."

This is true, but your apparent implication that faith is wholly separate from "observable facts" is incorrect. While there are indeed people whose religious faith is essentially blind, there are many of us who have faith only because that faith is supported by available evidence. I'll expand on that in a minute, but for the sake of readability, I'll save it for a second post and move on.

Christianity holds that God exists, that the Bible is His word, and that His word is entirely true. Whether we trust this through blind faith or because we believe the evidence supports it varies based on the individual, but this is the common belief in Christianity. It is what we believe to be the truth.

Cooper is admonishing the church for straying from the truth in favor of that which sounds nice/convenient/politically correct, and blaming the departure of former Christian leaders on such a wishy-washy form of faith. Personally, think there are other (more significant) reasons for people leaving, but I agree with him that we should be more faithful to God's word.

That said, we should always be open to question our own understanding of the Bible. We are, after all, fallible.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wow, that's a very good point about truth. Have you ever delved into philosophy at all?

Isaiah Thacker More than 1 year ago
(Optional supplement to my previous post)

In my previous post, I mentioned that many Christians (myself included) don't rely on raw, blind faith. Instead, we have faith because the evidence before us supports that faith. We believe not because we can systematically prove that the Christian faith is true, but because we have good reason to suspect that it's true.

I'd like to go on to add that such faith - the belief in something that the evidence supports, but that you haven't proven irrefutably - is far from unique to theology. For example, I believe (i.e. have faith) that I was born on the date listed on my birth certificate. I have no way of irrefutably proving that, but I still believe it. Why? Because people have told me as much, and I see no reason why they'd lie about it. I'm perfectly comfortable saying that the statement "I was born on [date withheld]" is true, even if I can't prove it.

The vast majority of what people hold to be "true" are things they haven't gone out of their way to prove beyond the shadow of a doubt - and, often, things that nobody can prove beyond the shadow of a doubt. Even the findings of science aren't 100% certain, as the ones performing it (humans) are fallible.

Uncertainty is an unavoidable fact of reality. We cannot systematically prove that the truth is what we think it is. And honestly, I don't think there's anything wrong with that.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Yes, I remember reading More than a carpenter by Josh Mcdowell ans and realizing that the claims of Christianity were not just claims. they were fact. 
-Emma the Bibliophile
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I disagree with you here. I think Cooper was saying that these people's falling away from Christianity was proof of their emotionality. E.g. Marty Sampson claimed that the Bible is full of contradictions and "no one talks about it," yet the fact that he says this shows that he hasn't done much searching to learn about these supposed contradictions. If he did, he'd easily find people like the philosopher William Lane Craig, for example, founder of Reasonable Faith, who addresses these concerns in logical and factual ways that show there are no actual contradictions. The answers are out there, for those interested in actually seeking them.  
If you would like to check out WLC's site:

To me, this shows that Sampson clearly had no desire to seek the truth by actively seeking for answers to these questions. His unwillingness to interact with these answers tells me he was never interested in hearing them out; I'd say that's at least emotional, and definitely irrational. 

Note: I don't necessarily deny that some who drift away from religion don't feel they have good reason for doing so or believe that they are seeking the truth. I just disagree here because the people in question (Sampson in particular) don't fit your description IMO. 

I also disagree that religion is purely based on "faith" and totally apart from facts. For example, we believe in Jesus in large part because of His resurrection. His resurrection is a fact we can point to (and His resurrection, or at least the empty tomb, is a fact attested to by even atheistic historians), as well as His existence, the disciples continued belief in the face of death, historical accuracy and authenticity of the Bible, eyewitness accounts who were used to write the Gospels, and so on. These are all facts which directly support Jesus's claims, and which can be major factors in someone believing in Jesus as the Son of God and their Savior.

Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Way to go, John Cooper!  All Christians should explore our faith.  Dig deep, folks.  The answers are all there!  We have an intellect and soul.  Faith and reason.  Use both.  The Catholic Church holds the fullness of Christianity.  Truly, the pearl of great price.  If you are Protestant,  please don't  think or assume you know what Catholicism teaches.  Explore for yourself!   Begin with Surprised by Truth by Patrick Madrid.  Read the Catechism and the early Church fathers.  Check out Relevant Radio.  Come home to Rome!