John Cooper from the rock band “Skillet” wrote an interesting rant against fellow musicians who are falling away from Christianity and letting the whole world know. While I think the ultimate answer to the problems he is posing is a return to the one, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic, Orthodox Church; that is not the thrust of my response.
As for his rant, I was never into the K-Love scene nor really held moderns in very high regard. The “impact” of some of these Rob Bell fallaways from the popular-Christian subculture is not very personal to me. Though I never heard Paul Washer say, “Don’t trust a book that is not at least 200 years old,” I think there is truth to that.
Something that stands up to the test of lifetimes is worth looking into closely. Anything recent, being colored by our own culture so that it cannot be looked at objectively, should be taken with a grain of salt. It is no wonder so many great minds are only appreciated after they die.
The following three snippets from the rant jumped out at me:
Shockingly they still want to influence others (for what purpose?)as they announce that they are leaving the faith.
This speaks to their vainglory, ultimately. My brother was an atheist in college, but he never minded that Christians evangelized to him. He figured, if they really believe what they do, then what they are doing is positive. They are not cursing anyone. Yet, to preach the “Gospel” of there being no Gospel makes zero sense. Perhaps they can take the time telling the world how Zeus is not real, there is no Nirvana, and etcetera. But, in reality, they are not so concerned about epistemology or valid truth claims. They are just emoting for no good reason, because in their vainglory they think people care how they feel. This is probably a good reason not to update Facebook or Twitter every time you take a bite out of a sandwich or park your car.
We are in a dangerous place when the church is looking to 20 year old worship singers as our source of truth.
Thankfully, this is not the case in established churches. I do not think anyone in the PCA is “shattered” by a pastor falling away–this is because the PCA stands on a centuries-old faith tradition. However, are people shattered by the falling away of large faith traditions, like the ECLA or Episcopalians? Of course.
Probably half of Christians (or more) are “non-denominational,” which means, their locus of authority is ultimately themselves. Their own mind is the sole arbitrator of tradition. If Mr. Cooper’s view of the “Church” with a capital “C” is that of a continuous body of believers, led and united by the same Spirit for 2,000 years, then of course some 20 year old singer does not fill the role of an interpretative authority.
The Reformed Protestants have the Reformers and Puritans, the Lutherans have the German reformers, the Baptists borrow from both. And, of course, the Orthodox and Roman Catholics have 20 centuries of canonized saints. All of these faith traditions have something to stand upon other than the lone individual, alone in the world, interacting with Jesus Christ in a solitary fashion. To such a person, who in reality has no conception of the Church (ekklesia is “assembly” after all), is easily swayed by the pop stars because they are interacting emotionally and unbiblically.
Even those, and I have met them, that just read the Bible and think there are about a few hundred people out there that agree with them and everyone else is wrong, are essentially no different. Instead of interacting emotionally, they do so intellectually. It really does not matter which group we are talking about. The problem is personal interaction, instead of a familial interaction.
Christ laid down His life *for the Church,* not for anyone specifically. He predestines us for adoption as sons so He may reconcile us through His Body, the Church. We cannot experience our faith in isolation. This cannot work.
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?
In my honest opinion, the Reformed Protestants have held the line against universalism better than anyone. Orthodox Christians, as well as Roman Catholics, have more than a few “hopeful” Universalists in their fold (which is in reality a “code” for not saying you are theoretically not *sure* of universal salvation, but because you are so “hopeful” about it no one who shares your hope is wrong–i.e. functional Universalism.) This includes, to my own dismay, even Bishops (luckily a small minority.)
It shows that people all around do not understand the basic fundamentals of the Gospel. 1. Our wickedness. 2. God’s great graciousness. 3. The fundamental means in which God reconciles wicked people by grace. 4. The necessity of not rejecting grace, which is likewise an act of grace in of itself. Though I think most Universalists get it wrong right off the bat at “1,” it just takes just missing any of these to fundamentally misapprehend the Gospel and how salvation is attained.
In not so many words, such a person who falls away due to the doctrine of Hell may have very well never understood the Gospel to begin with–a real problem considering they are being paid to sing about it. But, this also includes the preachers and anyone of us–who are always liable to change our minds and forfeit the Gospel, and with it God’s grace.
Craig, very good article. But I would add that traditional anglicans also have 20 centuries of saints as well.