Hillsong writer Marty Sampson penned an open letter Monday expressing his appreciation for the “kindness” and “goodness” he's received from Christians in the weeks after he announced his faith is on “incredibly shaky ground."
In an Instagram post titled “Dear Christianity,” Sampson, who is known for writing and co-writing songs for Hillsong Worship, Hillsong United, Delirious and Young & Free, wrote: “My message to you is one of love. Love your enemies. Do good to those who persecute you. By this will all men know that you are my disciples, by the love you have for each other. No judgment. No condemnation. We are all humans, all cut from the same cloth.”
Sampson said even though Christians “don’t all agree on many different doctrines,” they can all “love,” adding: “Love covers a multitude of sins. Love keeps no record of wrongs. Love never fails.”
In the weeks after announcing he was struggling with his faith, Sampson said he’s been reminded of the “goodness” of Christians.
“The kindness that has been shown to me is overwhelming,” he continued. “I see it, I feel it, and I hear it. Regardless of how you see me, as an apostate or as a brother, I never wanted to make anyone doubt their own faith, nor convince them to take another path than the one they are on. We each have our story. We are all living together on this beautiful planet. When we leave it, our children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren will still be here. May we teach them, above all else, to love each other and to be kind to each other, as they figure this thing out called ‘life.’”
Sampson said he doesn’t “hold any ill will toward anyone” or harbor any “sadness, bitterness, or sorrow” in his heart.
“I am only me,” he wrote. “One person. Standing on the earth. I think, and I feel. I can choose my response, no matter what, any response is my choice. If I have one choice, of how to react to you Christianity, I choose this: to LOVE you. I love you Christians, no matter what. All of you. I forgive any of you that have hurt me. I am free. I am alive. I love you.”
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The prolific songwriter sent shockwaves through the Christian community after announcing in a since-deleted social media post that he was losing his faith. He subsequently clarified that he had not renounced Christianity entirely but that his faith was on shaky ground.
His announcement sparked a series of reactions, including one from Skillet frontman John Cooper, who in a viral Instagram post urged Christians to "STOP making worship leaders and thought leaders or influencers or cool people or ‘relevant’ people the most influential people in Christendom.”
Responding to Cooper, Sampson wrote, “To think that I am trying to influence others, without even asking me if that is my intention is offensive,” adding he simply wanted to “wrestle and to learn and to grow, and to present my current state of mind/heart to explain to people why I am not 'coming back to Hillsong.’”
Sampson later deleted the post, replacing his initial comments with, “@johnlcooper I changed my mind. Love you bro.”
In a separate Instagram post, Sampson hit back at evangelist Franklin Graham, who in a Fox News interview accused the singer of seeking “publicity” with his announcement. He wrote: “I have never done what I do for publicity regardless of what anyone thinks or says. Irrespective of what you think of me @franklin_graham I only feel one way about you. I love you. My journey continues.”
Sampson’s announcement comes just weeks after I Kissed Dating Goodbye author Joshua Harris revealed he is no longer a Christian.
In an interview with The Christian Post, Gospel Coalition founder and theologian Don Carson cautioned against passing judgment on those who question their faith, challenging the assumption that those who doubt "were never Christians to begin with."
“They don't have labels on their foreheads,” he said. “So it might be that they need listening to and praying over, praying with, and so on. They might come back. I could tell you some remarkable stories of people who wandered away and what we would call backsliding, who nevertheless returned to the Lord a couple of decades later. So you want to allow that as a possibility and not, in any case, be supercilious or condescending or forget that, ‘But for the grace of God, so should I.’ That should constrain a lot of what we say.”
“Just as it's possible to stereotype those who have fallen away as losers, so it's possible to stereotype those who are saying that they're losers,” Carson continued. “It's all ‘good guys and bad guys ‘without discernment and recognition that the Bible pictures falling away and inconsistency in many, many different categories.”
“At the end of the day, apart from the grace of God, we're all dead,” he added.