Marty Sampson defended his frankness in expressing his struggles with faith and reasons for leaving Hillsong in response to Skillet's John Cooper who advised Christians to stop learning theology from modern worship songs and "influencers."
On Tuesday, Cooper said in a Facebook post titled “What in God’s Name Is Happening in Christianity?, that he was "stunned" that the most important thing for leaders who had expressed that they had lost their faith seemed to be bold proclamations about their new views in an apparent attempt to steer others in a similar direction.
"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?" Cooper posited, adding that it was not his "place" to make judgments of people who do not believe.
Sampson, who for years has written songs for and toured with the popular music group Hillsong United, recently announced on social media that he was losing his faith. He subsequently clarified that he had not renounced Christianity entirely but that his faith was on shaky ground. The original Instagram post where he said he was losing his faith has since been deleted.
Although Cooper's message was addressed to Christians in general and not directed at Sampson, the Skillet singer referenced some of the ideas Sampson used in his post explaining how his faith was falling apart. Cooper's response was geared toward the phenomenon of Christians publicly announcing they no longer believe while still appearing to want to influence others with their platforms.
In another Instagram post that was captured by Relevant magazine on Thursday before his Instagram account was taken down, the Hillsong songwriter addressed Cooper, challenging that he had no right to put words in his mouth.
"To think that I am trying to influence others, without even asking me if that is my intention is offensive. Did I write an article on myself in relevant magazine, or Christian Post quoting myself? Do I need this kind of criticism in an honest examination of what I believe from complete strangers? I have never even met you, yet you presume to know me or people like me? I only ever posted about this to explain to people (4K followers on insta I may add) where I was at in an honest and genuine way, Not to influence them and their beliefs. Not to draw attention to myself. Not to have a voice. 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' or 'when I’m going to sing on the next United song,'" Sampson said.
"Instead of people like you asking genuine questions, you jump to conclusions, when you could easily ask. Who is trying to influence whom? Why when someone is influencing others, does this cause the kind of panic in a truth so strong that it cannot be shaken? I for one don’t see this kind of shock and horror in the scientific community when a theory is usurped by a new and contradicting theory. Perhaps this is the nature of religion. Say what you will, I have no opinion on you or your life."
In his post on Facebook, Cooper also emphasized that Christians prioritize “loyalty and friendship and accountability to each other and the Word of God.”
The exchange between the two musicians has come on the heels of Joshua Harris' announcement that he is no longer a Christian. Harris was best known for his book I Kissed Dating Goodbye, a book he admitted in recent years had harmed people and was formally discontinued.