Christian Rocker John Cooper ‘Declares War’ On Deconstruction, Provokes Controversy

By Josh Shepherd
John Cooper Skillet deconstruction
John Cooper, lead singer and bassist of Christian rock band Skillet, has provoked controversy by strongly criticizing the so-called “deconstruction” movement. (Photo: Winter Jam / TheMCollective)

The lead singer-songwriter of a prominent Christian rock band is strongly criticizing the so-called “deconstruction” movement.

In a video clip from a concert in January that’s gone viral, John Cooper of Skillet said, “There is no such thing as divorcing Jesus Christ from the Bible. That is not a thing.” He added, “I don’t hate those deconstructed Christians. I pray for their repentance. But listen, they have divorced themselves from God, and they want to take as many of you people as they can. And it is time for us and your generation to declare war on this idolatrous deconstruction Christian movement.”

Cooper made the comments during the multi-artist Christian music tour Winter Jam concert in Des Moines, Iowa.

A few recording artists who formerly toured alongside Cooper in the world of contemporary Christian music have criticized his recent remarks.

Derek Webb, former guitarist and songwriter for folk-rock group Caedmon’s Call, posted critically about Cooper on social media.

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“To anyone who grew up on Caedmon’s Call . . . and have since been so hurt by church culture that you found yourself in deep deconstruction, even deconversion, I am with you,” wrote Webb. “Wherever you are, you’re not alone and I, for one, am cheering you on.”

Similarly, Kevin Max of rock-rap group dc Talk added in comments on one of Webb’s posts: “Fear of someone else’s change, progression, deconstruction, etc. is truly scary.”

Last year, Max faced criticism for embracing the term ‘exvangelical’ and stating he follows “the Universal Christ.”

Others have praised the rock star, such as radio host Frank Holzhauser who broadcasts on a local Christian station in Grimes, Iowa. “John Cooper is hardcore, and I can’t say I disagree with much of what he says!” he stated online.

In an email to The Roys Report following publication of this story, Cooper clarified his widely-publicized remarks.

“At the shows, I list many forces or ideologies that are lying to young people including Hollywood, social media, influencers—and I then include some ‘formerly Christian’ pastors/influencers who have left the faith and now are trying to encourage our young people to also leave the faith,” Cooper wrote. “It’s clear at the concert that I am speaking about those particular people who are attempting to lead others astray.” 

He added, “I am not talking to people who are struggling, questioning, or doubting. My message is about the lies and the spirit of the age that claims that liberation from Christianity brings freedom.”

Christian leaders criticize ‘scornful’ approach

Carson Weitnauer, executive director of Christian apologetics ministry Uncommon Pursuit, worries Cooper’s approach in the video clip may be interpreted as scorn and accusation against people who may be honestly searching.

“It is antithetical to the message and life of Jesus to ‘declare war’ on those who have lost faith,” said Weitnauer via e-mail. “I grieve for anyone wrestling with doubt, as they might reasonably feel attacked and driven away from the church by Cooper’s critical statement.”

Bible teacher Lina Abujamra, who recently released Fractured Faith about her own journey of what she calls “deconstruction” after being harmed by church culture, echoed Weitnauer’s remarks.

Dr. Lina Abujamra
Lina Abujamra

In an e-mail, she conceded that Cooper “may have a valid point” in warning young believers against “this cultural phenomenon we’re seeing in evangelical circles.”

Yet Abujamra also found the “war-like” slant to his message unlikely to help people struggling with faith questions. “Cooper comes across as angry and preachy,” she said. “While he might appeal to those who already agree with him, he may not connect with those honestly wrestling to understand the goodness of God and slowly drifting away from the church.”

She stresses that becoming disillusioned with a particular church or ministry leader—whom one followed without question—can lead to newfound faith rather than disbelief.

“Cooper does not differentiate with the nuances of deconstruction—some of which is healthy and will lead to a purity of one’s faith,” said Abujamra. “He ends up sounding like a fundamentalist preacher (with) a no-discussion approach to peoples’ honest questions.”

Comprised of Cooper, his wife Korey, and band mates Jen Ledger, and Seth Morrison, Skillet has been touring and recording as a band since 1996.

Skillet John Cooper
Alt-metal band Skillet includes John Cooper (center), Korey Cooper (left), Seth Morrison, and Jen Ledger (Courtesy Photo)

The alt-metal band has in recent years become one of the top Christian rock bands, with their latest record Dominion debuting at #1 on iTunes Album Sales Charts across all genres. The band’s records have also won awards from Billboard Magazine, and their song “Monster” was recognized in 2010 as the biggest Christian digital single at the time—with three billion streams worldwide.

In recent years, Cooper has been increasingly vocal about his views of religious and social issues. Initially speaking out on his popular podcast, Cooper Stuff, he has lately been interviewed on Fox News, CBN’s The 700 Club, and other conservative-leaning outlets.

Christian apologist Weitnauer, who speaks often to people uncertain about their beliefs, said he hopes churches can be “safe havens” for people to express doubts.

“We need to cultivate humble, hospitable, and gentle environments where our friends can share any criticisms or questions without fear of rejection,” he said.

Featuring a half-dozen Christian recording artists headlined by Skillet and Tauren Wells, along with evangelist Shane Pruitt, the 41-city Winter Jam Tour continues through March 27.

**Four days following publication, John Cooper shared online an 1,800-word post regarding his views on deconstruction and a related admonition to Christian believers. It is reposted below:

*This story has been updated to include comments by John Cooper and to accurately state Webb’s role with Caedmon’s Call. Updated on Feb. 15 to include additional social post from Cooper.

Freelance journalist Josh Shepherd writes on faith, culture, and public policy for several media outlets. He and his wife live in the Washington, D.C. area with their two children.

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83 thoughts on “Christian Rocker John Cooper ‘Declares War’ On Deconstruction, Provokes Controversy”

    1. It appears that John Cooper has correctly assessed this heretical movement. Those who would subvert the simplicity of God’s Word and attempt to lead others into their chasm of unbelief through vain philosophy sow seeds of discord and unbelief. Their reward awaits.

      Titus 3:9-11 (KJV)
      9 But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain.
      10 A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject;
      11 Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.

  1. Neil Cameron (One Salient Oversight)

    Deconstructing your faith is sometimes very useful. Let me explain.

    We all have beliefs and attitudes that come along with our faith. But, in reality, many of these beliefs are socially constructed, not biblically constructed.

    The basic level we should deconstruct to is the belief that the Bible is the word of God, and teaches us what we need to believe about God and how to live our life. This is what is taught in 2 Timothy 3.16-17.

    So the Bible is the basis of any deconstruction of our faith, and any reconstruction that follows. This is what the Reformers, like Luther and Calvin, did. They deconstructed their received Roman Catholic faith by looking at the Bible. Protestantism was born out of a deconstruction of the faith as it was understood at the time.

    But if the Bible itself is subject to deconstruction, then the entire faith collapses. This is because doubts arise in the mind of people about the veracity and reliability of the Bible. And with no basis, a person then reconstructs their spirituality out of anything that they think is right.

    1. Alisa Childers did a great podcast with Women in Apologetics explaining how deconstruction is a newer term, specifically explaining how it is much different from what the Reformers did. Those that promote the idea of deconstruction have a particular meaning in mind when they use the word, and it would confuse a whole lot of believers if we start conflating that term with church history in the Reformation. I highly recommend checking out the podcast to learn more.

      1. Having listened to both Alisa Childers and John Cooper before, the sense I got was that they were responding to the threat of a caricature of deconstruction–ultimately invoked as an intentional excuse to undermine or turn away from their faith. Thanks for noting the podcasts, Gus. Will certainly listen to hear them.

        Thought I would comment because my own experience was almost the opposite of the caricature. Maybe that is rare. Not sure (I hope not!) I started by shelving my assumptions on the word “gospel,” respectfully examining the word, its original meaning, who used it, how it was used, etc. I worked outward from there. Still am. Really reinvigorated my Bible reading. :) To be honest there was a risk of an “if” I believed something, but really it was “how.”

        I feel like deconstruction would not seem like so much of a threat if there was more space for people to discuss their faith openly within their church community. I didn’t feel like I had that opportunity, and largely began my examination in a vacuum, which is more risky.

        In Hebrews we’re told to exhort and encourage one another. In Philippians, to esteem others as greater than ourselves. In community. If this was more common (I hope it is for all of you), even if all our beliefs differ, maybe the tension in those mixed beliefs will help us as a church to keep on track, and not leave seekers to the loudest voices of the internet to hear their beliefs or doubts amplified. Or just abandoning a tribe they no longer understand and feel they can’t belong to anymore.

        Might be naive, but I am hopeful!

        Happy to hear your own or anyone else’s thoughts. The topic is near to my heart.

        Take care,

    2. Well said!! I believe this is a sound perspective that clearly differentiates the difference between resetting one’s beliefs that are based on systems, formats, traditions, misinterpretations, etc as opposed to abandoning the Scriptural foundations of the faith, I.e. salvation through faith, repentance and confession of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

    3. “But if the Bible itself is subject to deconstruction, then the entire faith collapses.”
      +++++++++++++++++++

      as i see it, christian powerbrokers are in the business of making a name for themselves. To build their careers.

      They do this by publishing their opinions on “how to do life” with great frequency. To attract readership.

      The net result: the bible has been turned into a math textbook with prescribed formulas that must be followed. or else you’re in the out-group.

      an ancient collection of writings of many genres & poetry crossing huge spans of time, place, and people is now treated as a list of increasingly narrow black-&-white rules and more narrow rules. Based on opinions.

      what a ridiculous tragedy.

      i relish deconstructing such nonsense.

      i hope you noticed i didn’t say the bible was nonsense.

      1. An interesting comparison between Islam and Christianity: In Islam, we have a person (Mohamed) pointing to a book as the object of faith. In Christianity, we have a book pointing to a person (Jesus) as the object of faith. Of course, the NT writers are a much better source in clarifying who Jesus is and what was taught than my own speculations.

        1. hmmm….. in practice, seems to me we have christian leaders pointing to their opinions about a book. (and christians pointing to the leaders’ opinions)

  2. While I am sure there are some people whose deconstruction pushes them to divorce Jesus from the Bible, I sense that is a minority view. The bigger issue for most of those in a process of deconstruction is divorcing Jesus from the church often as a result of the church’s own waywardness.

    I can see pointing out the folly of following others into a deconstructionist/deconversionist movement BECAUSE it is the current thing all the cool kids do. However, if your own faith is being challenged and you are truly searching for answers, the last thing a person of influence should be doing is telling others to declare war on you and your journey.

  3. People who reject scriptures are turning to the only god they will submit to- themselves. They are preparing the way for the great deception. Their fate is known.

    1. This guy is yet another perfect example of pure religious arrogance, ignorance, superficially, etc. and exactly why people don’t take evangelicals seriously…including myself as a follower of Christ.

  4. I have never heard his music and my guess is that it wouldn’t be my cup of tea. As for what he said in the video linked to this article i don’t know why it would be considered controversial or why any Christian would disagree with it.

    1. I would disagree because what he is describing isn’t deconstruction for most people. For most the issue isn’t divorcing Jesus from the Bible.

      The deconstruction nearly always has to do with the wayward church that has come to look nothing like Jesus. This wayward church is the one that has subverted the Bible and the teachings of Jesus.

      1. Yes! and John Cooper is part of that waywardness… IF he’s joining the right-wing arm of the americanist ‘church’ in their crusade to keep or get cultural/political power… the article seems to imply that with this, “In recent years, Cooper has been increasingly vocal about his views of religious and social issues. Initially speaking out on his popular podcast, Cooper Stuff, he has lately been interviewed on Fox News, CBN’s The 700 Club, and other conservative-leaning outlets.”
        I don’t really follow John or listen to his material, so I’m not sure where he plants his political flag-pole, but if it’s anywhere near the neo-fundamentalist, trumpianity, then this recent rant is deeply troubling… my own doubts and wrestlings with white american evangelicalism were directly connected to the waywardness of american evangelicalism during the Bush years and I’m currently going through round 2 because of trumpianity… None of that ‘deconstruction’ is doubting Jesus or Scripture as interpreted through Jesus lens…,BUT it is an active deconstruction/questioning of the theology/interpretations of the Bible as exhibited by right-wing neo-fundamentalists that represents large portions of american evangelicalism…
        I hope John Cooper can see some of that too and have grace for the millions of us who have had the blinders ripped off and see the american conservative evangelical subculture for what it is… a very very wayward church… anomalous in its prejudices and idolatries, unlike any other part of the global evangelical world.

  5. Derek Webb was never the “frontman” for Caedmon’s Call, that was Cliff Young. Webb renounced Christianity years ago, he was on the forefront of the deconstruction movement back when it was a segment of the “emergent church.”

    Cooper has touched on a nerve though, obviously it has affected him quite a bit seeing countless numbers of his artist friends walk away from the true gospel (Webb, Kevin Maxx, Jon Steingard, Dan Haseltine from Jars of Clay, Michael Gungor, the Matt’s from Relient K, etc), instead embracing agnosticism, atheism, or the false gospel of “progressive Christianity.” Cooper did a great podcast with Jeremy Camp and Alisa Childers talking about why he thinks that is, but the short of it is that there was never a vetting process in the first place to get into the CCM world.
    No one asked any questions to confirm if you were actually a believer, and once in that world, there was no discipleship or accountability structure. The whole industry itself is run by secular labels. The disaster waiting to happen is in finally in the process of happening.

    1. Gus,
      The sentence on Derek Webb’s role with Caedmon’s Call has been updated in the story, thanks for that correction note.

    2. Thank you Gus, well said. Hope many read the book and listen to his podcast; tremendous insights and encouragement in these very dark times. Also kudos to John Cooper for thoughtfully responding to the Roys Report: instead of shrinking with no reply he instead clarified his position

  6. To openly investigate the nuances of belief, even changing one’s convictions, is a biblical concept. In practice, though, “deconstruction” almost always acts as a polite cover for “demolition.” Modern “deconstruction” usually means replacing uncomfortable tenets with culturally or personally popular ideas.

    Gotquestions.org

  7. Praise God for Cooper. Can you imagine the Apostle Paul dealing with Christians today? I think his demeanor would be quite similar to Cooper. Remember “Oh foolish Galatians?” The battle for truth is not for the faint of heart.

  8. What happened to: “test everything, hold fast to what is good”?
    If construction is building piece by piece, deconstruction is tearing down piece by piece for examination (or testing)… and, if one finds the Bible’s teachings and Jesus to be “good”- cool. But if not, life is not so dichotomous that it’s either “divorced from God” or “married to God”. People- humans- still matter. Isn’t that the point of Christianity?

    Cooper’s rant only exemplifies what is happening and wrong in evangelical fundamentalist realms where people (still) get hurt and end up isolated and ostracized.

    1. There is that tension within Christian faith. The attitude/ conviction that everything exists for God’s purposes, yet He has given us autonomy and value. There is a danger in neglecting either truth. It’s a matter of wisdom when one needs emphasis over the other, and I think grace can flow both ways between people trying figure it out.

    2. “life is not so dichotomous that it’s either “divorced from God” or “married to God”.”
      +++++++++

      Rob Scott, I appreciated your comment.

      The ‘all-or-nothing’ approach to adherence to a platform which a professional christian calls ‘biblical’ is good for their job security.

      it’s good for creating in-groups and out-groups, to shore up & consolidate power.

      it reduces human beings down to things to be used to build power and wealth for the so-called ‘leader’.

      there is no room for the marvelous variety in human beings and all that they are.

      nor is there room for the multi-faceted depth of the nature of truth and understanding.

      1. there is no room for the marvelous variety in human beings and all that they are…
        ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

        Scottie Day,
        Thank you for expounding- and I agree with your comments and sentiment. I have traveled the world and experienced a multitude of cultures and found that humans- people- at their core, when they are at their most vulnerable, afraid, and hurt- do not want or need people to “go to war” with them (regardless of race, creed, color, culture, background, sex, origin, sexual orientation, etc); they really need people to simply be humans alongside them: be compassionate, listen, and practice empathy.

        Unfortunately, the life of Jesus has been lost to the politic of evangelicalism (and even more frighteningly, right wing politics) which has only radicalized the language, the anger and sentiment of the church and the lives of the people who “live it”.

        My question to Christians comes back to: if people mattered to your deity Jesus, how can they not matter to you, because what I am hearing is alot of finger wagging and “clique”-ing…. not walking alongside….

        1. @Rob Scott

          You said,

          “My question to Christians comes back to: if people mattered to your deity Jesus, how can they not matter to you, because what I am hearing is alot of finger wagging and “clique”-ing…. not walking alongside….”

          I’m curious about what you mean when you say “If people mattered to your deity Jesus”. Are you making this observation as someone outside of Christianity? In other words, is Jesus your deity/savior? I ask because of the way you phrased the statement above. I hope my question isn’t offensive. I just want to make sure I understand your statement correctly and within its proper context.

          1. @ Peter Hays, my wife and I were in the “inner circle” of a “mega-church”- a “fastest growing churches” in America ARC churches. My wife was on staff and I was a pastoral intern, on the woship team, and led multiple “small groups”. We saw and heard things we cannot unsee or unhear- in many facets, moral, biblical, political, financial, and more. When the moral fiber of our souls led my wife to resign and me to give a statement that we needed to step away for a season to rest, spend time together, gather our thoughts and come to some better understanding- I heard from less than the number of fingers I have on my right hand (in text). We had just moved recently also to a new home pretty close to the church and its been almost 2.5 years. I still have heard from 1 person about every other month and the rest of the church is ghost. Isolation and ostracization is real.
            You ask if I ask my question as someone outside of Christianity- I answer with this statement: if the church is the “body of Christ” and the aforementioned experience is my experience in a megachurch (and not my experience alone- but many, many others- as in the hundreds of thousands)- does it matter if my deity is Jesus, when people are being hurt and led away and left “outside” by the “body of Christ” when that is the absolute opposite of the life and teachings Jesus led?

          2. @ Rob Scott

            I’ve read enough about ARC churches here to understand how you and your wife could leave and your absence go unnoticed. I’m sorry that happened to you. I do know what it’s like to be in the desert when it comes to belonging to a church.

            Through the years I’ve known many people who grew up in church who left as adults for varying reasons. One was upset because they didn’t feel they had a big enough leadership role. Others left because they enjoyed extramarital physical relations more than denying their passions. Still others decided they really didn’t like the God of the Bible. Others really had no spiritual roots to keep them in church. They attended because their family did.

            All the above to say I believe in the visible and invisible church. I understand people leaving churches for varying reasons (doctrine/abuse, etc). What I don’t understand is people leaving Jesus and the invisible church. The church in Corinth was hardly an example of a fully functioning body of believers. Paul called them out for drunkenness and sexual immorality. Then there were the foolish Galatians. Lastly, there are the letters to the churches in Revelation, all of which had some area of failure. Belonging to a body of believers has almost always been a dicey proposition.

          3. @ Rob Scott

            I also wanted to add that I’ve jettisoned quite a few beliefs over the years that cover a range of life experience. Some of those beliefs dealt with my views on the nature of salvation and what living a life rooted in Christiaity looked like in the real world outside the church walls. I’m still “working out my salvation with fear and trembling”, and the journey has been fraught with peril. I just don’t know where else to go.

            It’s like Peter’s statement to Jesus in John 6. “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

          4. @ Peter Hays

            I am still in the process of trying to understand. I have built many things in my life, barns, sheds, decks etc. I have also torn things down and, in tearing them down, have learned some things about how to build better. This is my understanding of deconstruction.
            I honestly do not have an answer to your question of whether I am someone outside of Christianity. I can answer you honestly and say I am someone isolated outside of an evangelical church and deconstructing what has taken place, my faith, my understanding of Christianity versus the life and works of Jesus and looking at things through a historical-cultural context.
            This is a process of fear and trembling.

          5. @ Rob Scott

            I can sympathize with your pain from a different area of life. It’s very isolating, and you wonder if people have any idea what you are going through or if they care. The worst place I’ve been had me believing that God really no longer cared either, and whatever I was doing spiritually was going through the motions. It was a long dark night of the soul.

            Ironically, it’s been a body of believers who’ve been the most helpful to me. Please understand, I don’t mention that to rub salt in a wound. It wasn’t something I expected, and it took me by surprise. I mention it as something that might provide some hope. I know how lonely it can be in the wilderness.

  9. Rock on, John Cooper and Skillet. Thanks for making it plain that those who reject Jesus do so at their (eternal) peril.

    There are only 2 roads, one broad and one narrow, on the way to eternity, and only 2 sides in this spiritual war.

    1. Yes, those who reject Jesus do so at their own peril.

      But most who are deconstructing they aren’t rejecting Jesus. Most are reclaiming the scriptures from an Evangelical church that has ignored and twisted the teachings of Jesus. Instead they are giving their own people what their itching ears want to hear. And hey, it sells tickets, books, and clicks on the internet.

      1. Cooper reiterates in his emailed comments he is referring to those who have not only left the faith, but are trying to lead others astray. The Bible in many places also uses strong language to refer to people like this.

        1. Does he give names? For every one Abraham Piper there are 99 grieving agnostics that aren’t trying to change anybody’s mind.

        2. I am glad for his email. However, he is not “reiterating” anything. He is appropriately backtracking when he says his comments were meant for those who have left the faith and are attempting to lure others away. To me, we should come against those voices.

          But most people who are deconstructing are not those people. Most questioners of the faith are attempting to deconstruct the trappings of modern Christianity that places political parties over holiness, that places selfishness over love of neighbor (all neighbors!), and that highlights power over servanthood.

          This is leading many to a more biblical, Jesus-centered faith.

    2. people are rejecting what ‘you’ say about Jesus.

      to put a finer point on it, people are rejecting a system whose only use for Jesus is to hoist him up as a mascot in order to build careers and revenue. mickey mouse, but christian.

      1. To put an even finer point on it, many are also rejecting Jesus the Alpha and Omega, Creator, Mighty God, Prince of Peace, Eternal Word made flesh, Good Shepherd, Way, Truth, Life, Risen Savior, Righteous Judge, King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Who do you say He is?

        1. I see you echo what most fundamentalists would also say Jesus is. I would say he was also a man that had power but did not use it but instead, humbled himself to the service of other people (whereas the evangelical church and their “chosen” political party have chosen power, mostly for their benefit.

          I believe he sees me as he sees all other humans (you know, in the “image of God”) …that’s why no race, color, creed, origin, background, image, sex, sexual origin, ethnicity, culture or other religion is seen any different (you know, that “he love the whole world thing…)

          I believe that Jesus was a man that said what we do for “our neighbor we do for him”….(you know, the people who our ancestors once were- coming over on boats, tired, hungry, poor…they and their children are now at our borders…still tired, hungry and poor….the ones that Jesus called “the least of these” but yet are often denigrated by the culturo-theological evangelical-right)

          I believe that Jesus- when asked- made it pretty clear that in his kingdom, power structures weren’t welcome and thus, were moot. (somehow that has been lost in translation in the uber-power-filled-evangelical-power-seeking stadiums and the right political sphere, which extends down to the family and to womens rights etc)

          I believe Jesus only turned over the tables in a temple where people used religion as a vain excuse for exploiting people with less power and turning the temple into a place where sanctity had become wickedness.

          I believe there are more examples that would highlight that Jesus cared more about people than his titles, but forgive me for not knowing them all.

  10. Jesus modeled grace and truth. Francis Schaeffer stated that Christianity has become “plastic.” The church is plastic I The best way to amp up authentic living in a plastic church is grace and truth. Grace and truth could be a reformation for the church. Simply reforming polity, practice and thinking to the confines of the Bible.

    The church is corrupt because it completely compromised the power of Holy Scriptures. Therapy has eclipsed Theology. Orthopraxy not orthodoxy is the driving force in the church. The study of self is emphasized, not the finished work of Christ. The Christian life is the process of becoming who we already are in Christ.

    Biblical literacy is at an all time low while publishing of Christian books is at an all time high. Maybe Skillet could spark a flame of a Reformation like Luther.

    1. “Biblical literacy is at an all time low while publishing of Christian books is at an all time high. Maybe Skillet could spark a flame of a Reformation like Luther.”

      You realize the video above ends with Cooper making a pitch for the Christian book he wrote, right?

    2. KC, this post is an excellent example of deconstruction. As the scriptures tells, take out the chaff and find the kernels. Remove the dross so you might find purity. As you show, deconstruction leads to a more authentic and firm faith.

      Thank you.

  11. All of this could be solved and our lives put in order if we would do what the essence of The Good News really is…which is:

    LOVE GOD. Never lose sight of the awe and wonder, and if you keep the kid in you, you’ll grow in leaps and bounds.

    LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.
    Meaning, at MINIMUM, treat ’em as good as you would want yourself treated.

    Focus on these 2 things and life gets broken down to the simple…where you can always find the profound. Because the profound is always in the simple. And in the process…God (Jesus Christ and The Holy Spirit)…those 3 will fill you with nudges and winks that make life, for lack of a better word, almost magical. And you’ll draw people to you, not push them away. Which opens the door to heart to heart conversations with Jesus right in the middle of it.

    Show ’em The Gospel. Way more than you tell ’em about it.

      1. I don’t think anyone really knows what that means.

        That is but one piece of information from the bible. There is much information about the great pleasure the triune God takes in his creation, human beings as God’s crowning achievement and the ‘apple of his eye’.

        It is not complicated nor formulaic (which isn’t to say God isn’t without mystery, being invisible and on the divine plane).

        We can twist ourselves into contortionist knots trying to do everything according to all the competing instructions and rules which are published all day long by those in christian culture who have a mic & a platform.

        We can’t go wrong treating others with kindness and how we would like to be treated, and choosing things like honesty & generosity & standing up for those mistreated and exploited by others. (all at our own expense at times).

  12. This article made me go to his podcast, Cooper’s Stuff. He is awesome! I long for the day when pastors speak such truth from the pulpit. Keep it up, John Cooper, you’re being used to empower
    the rest of us with boldness!

    1. Meredith Nienhuis

      Amen sister!
      Most of the deconstruction that I have seen is by once mainline denominations which have become progressive evangelical and no longer preach/teach about sin and redemption in Christ alone. Their membership has declined forty to fifty percent over the last decades – the UCC, TEC (Episcopal), CRC, RCA, PCUSA as primary examples.
      In the Jubilee year of our marriage my wife and I left the RCA.

      1. ‘Deconstruction’ is

        -intensely private and personal
        -neither progressive/liberal nor conservative
        -happens in all denominations / categories of faith
        -is happening today amongst individuals in your faith community
        -has always been happening
        -is not something to fear

        …and is far too complex and individual for sweeping generalizations and simplistic summary statements.

        1. Scottie Day,

          You are correct- it’s nothing to fear.

          I would go so far to suggest that we should be constantly deconstructing. We should be constantly examining ourselves and our churches to see if we have been adding beliefs to our faith that don’t belong there. Unfortunately, we have not always done that.

          The best shaped trees are the ones that are regularly groomed. They aren’t the ones that have grown wild for years or decades then have to be cut back.

  13. Seems to me, this is all about what is now considered the one unforgivable sin among conservative evangelicals:

    Being a liberal.

    No wonder Donald Trump found the evangelical church to be such fertile ground for his demagoguery.

    1. Good point, Mike Walker. And allow me to add to it with a little twist.

      Seems to me, this is all about what is now considered the one unforgivable sin among liberals:

      Being a conservative evangelical.

      I subscribe to neither side, yet both sides, but prob fall somewhere in the middle, or outside of the middle…or who knows where. It does not exempt me from any of this, though.

      Each and every one of us need to look at OURSELVES and see how we’re treating people.

      Lord forgive me, a sinner.

      1. @ Dean Tee

        I appreciate the humility you display in your posts. I sense your greatest concern is for people’s souls and their eternal destiny. It’s easy to get caught up in wrestling with flesh and blood because we don’t see the powers and principalities working overtime behind the scenes. Thanks for the reminder.

  14. Luke 18

    9To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

    13“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

    14“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

  15. Watching that video clip I am reminded of Ron Luce. He sounds so much like the guy who stood before such cheering audiences and carried the banner of Christian youth revolution, using subtle militaristic terms and standing against the tide of culture. Luce was ultimately bankrupted and scandalized due to the over the top abusive boot camp like discipleship he demanded. Beware Cooper, you may be treading a path of such as these.
    Christians declaring war and dictating the loss of others salvation is exactly the kind of outside the kingdom behavior that has fostered the deconstruction movement.

  16. The problem isn’t divorcing Jesus from the Bible. The problem is that American evangelicals have married Trump to the Bible. That completely discredits everything they say and stand for.

    1. @ Tom Olsen

      Are you saying that every last evangelical Christian in America has hitched their wagon to the Trump train? When Elijah was sure he was the last true believer, God told Elijah He had reserved 7 thousand for Himself who hadn’t bowed the knee to Baal.

      Do you know with certainty that there are no evangelical believers in America who haven’t bowed their knee to any political party or popular movement? Isn’t it possible that God has reserved for Himself a people just like in the days of Elijah? Isn’t it possible that there are those who have no faith in any political party to further God’s kingdom?

    2. Matthew William Michaud

      Uhhh no. Trump doesn’t believe in things like sucking your babies brains out of their heads while they are still alive so you can have all the sex you want without consequences And scores of other things, which should be absolutely obvious to any person who calls themselves a “Christian” are unacceptable. The desire to get cozy and fit in with the world around you and that entire perverse culture, is literally divorced from the Bible.
      Trump has his issues, but voting for him should be a no-brainer for 100% of Christians.

      1. Matthew,

        There is more to being prolife than being against abortion.

        Being truly prolife includes being willing, for example, as a society to provide birth prevention education and to provide for medical care for those mothers and children in crisis pregnancies, including health care for both after they are born. (Not to mention providing child care for the family that needs two incomes to survive, lowering out of pocket costs for parents who keep a baby who has severe medical issues and a small chance of survival after birth)

        One inexcusable example of prolife hypocrisy is Medicaid. The federal government has *already* provided the money to assist women/couples with health care, including crisis pregnancies. It has been over *ten years* and Republican “prolife” governors from a dozen states *are still prohibiting* poor women and families from receiving that care for the mother and the baby. https://www.kff.org/medicaid/issue-brief/status-of-state-medicaid-expansion-decisions-interactive-map/

        It is reasons like this that make the left laugh when we call ourselves “prolife.”

        1. Greg Culross, Mark Gunderson,

          Trump and Biden both profess to be Christians. One of those two has matched those claims with his actions. The other has not and indeed supports every single real or hypothetical attack on God’s church that has ever existed.

          Who should we have voted for?

          1. “indeed supports every single real or hypothetical attack on God’s church that has ever existed”

            I cannot begin to fathom what is meant by this. Every single one? Both real and hypothetical? Ever?

            Supports how?

          2. Mark Gunderson, here are some examples:

            –Taxpayer funded abortion for any reason for the full 40 weeks
            –Elimination of conscientious objection to abortion participation by healthcare staff (Church Amendment)
            –Shutdown of non-abortion crisis pregnancy clinics OR requirement that they offer abortion referrals as state of CA attempted to do
            –Mandatory “transitioning” of any minor who wants it regardless of parental consent
            –Forced accommodation of biological opposite sexes in restrooms and on teams with contact/endurance sports
            –Banning therapy for persons wishing to change their sexual orientation

            All of the above is the mainstream of one of our two political parties and is upheld by our POTUS. You get three guesses as to which one, and the first two don’t count.

          3. First of all, has Trump ever claimed to be a Christian? He has claimed that he has never asked God for forgiveness and doesn’t “bring God into those things.” “Why do I need to repent? I’m an honorable man!”

            But more to your point, how has Trump shown he is a Christian? If he has to lie and cheat to get in power, lie and cheat to stay in power and lie and cheat to attempt to overturn his loss, is a Trump presidency really God’s will?

            And if we have to accept corruption to win, are we really on God’s side?

          4. You’ll forgive me if I don’t agree those describe someone who “supports every single real or hypothetical attack on God’s church that has ever existed.”

            This level of hyperbole is typically used to shut down civil discourse, not to actually engage with people.

        2. There is no such thing as free money. When the federal government promises to share the load with states, the money they promise isn’t created out of thin air. However, government partnership isn’t really helping much anyway. States are experiencing enormous Medicaid expenditures in the billions of dollars with no extra assistance from the federal government to cover those added costs. Those added costs are always handed down to taxpayers.

          At this point, the states that didn’t decide to expand Medicaid aren’t dealing with this unfunded mandate.

          https://thefga.org/paper/ineligible-medicaid-enrollees-high-cost/

        1. @ Rob Scott

          Whether or not believers and alleged Christian leaders are slow or quick to get on the bandwagon of a movement doesn’t affect the validity of the movement. The bandwagon can be a fallacy in two directions.

          Elijah stood alone against the Baal prophets and still believed he was alone even after the display on Mr. Carmel. A redeemer was promised at the fall but didn’t happen for several thousand years. When Jesus arrived his ministry didn’t begin until he was in his thirties.

          Three hundred years later Athanasius stood virtually alone defending the doctrine of the trinity against arianism which held sway for a good many years. At one point he was accused of murder, sorcery and treason. He was a victim of the “cancel culture” of his day. After that the church added multiple layers of requirements that hid from the masses God’s simple plan of redemption.

          The reformation began small with a handful of men, notable among them Martin Luther. Then you had the audacity of William Tyndale daring to translate the Bible into English. His activities were not at all popular with the church.

          My point is to say not many moves of God are popular. Few churchmen are brave or have any sense of the times in which they live, and early evangelical support for abortion didn’t last.

          Whether the Bible reveals a staunch view of the sanctity of human life, or a serious view of the Imago Dei is more important than popular support for those views (see Athanasius above).

          1. @Peter Hays

            “My point is to say not many moves of God are popular”:
            1st: there are innumerable instances where “moves of God” were insanely barbaric (I.e. the Torah- murders of hundreds of thousands- including Isrealites) though these are usually bibliclised and glossed over so as to support the narrative that “God is always good, is always for you and has never changed”.
            Few churchmen are brave or have any sense of the times in which they live, and early evangelical support for abortion didn’t last.
            2nd: This support for abortion was purely seen as a “human welfare”element until political forces and (even more importantly to the rise [and subsequent fall of the evangelical church] of right-wing-Christian-Nationalism over a period of years) caused the people to realize the “hot-button” reality of the issue. Let’s get real. If God is concerned more with abortion than say, the rights of women forced to carry the child, the social and economic culpability of the women forced to carry the child, do tell: explain the millions more spontaneously aborted (the medical term for miscarriage) fetuses than the chosen ones. Is this a “move of God”?

          2. @Peter Hays, further for a very interesting investigation into how radio played such a dynamic part in radicalizing politics (and the church) in the US (with original recordings included) please do listen to “The Flamethrowers” podcast.

          3. @ Rob Scott

            True. God wiped out the world in the flood and commanded Israel to wipe out the inhabitants of Canaan. He also wiped out thousands of Israelites and sent them into captivity. None of those deaths occurred apart from great sin that brought judgment.

            Do you believe the death meted out by God at varying times was arbitrary or capricious? Since we all will face death because God has deemed it to be the way of all flesh, is death itself an injustice to lay at God’s feet?

            I know I have no concept of the depths of depravity of which I myself am capable. I know Jeremiah 17:9 is very clear. I don’t think we believe it though. I think we believe we are far more righteous and capable than we are.

            As someone who could have been aborted, I don’t know how to sanctify a man-made process that inflicts capital punishment on the innocent, but humanity has always sacrificed its children. What happens today is no different than babies being placed into the glowing hot arms of a statue of molech during the reign of Manasseh while the men and women engaged in an orgy.

            I look at my own children and shudder because I know there were legions upon legions who would have been more than happy to have snuffed out their lives and told us we had done a wonderful thing for humanity and the environment. Children are weeds after all as one DC cabinet member stated. They used to grow like weeds. Now they are weeds.

          4. @ Rob Scott

            Would you say the various methods used for abortion over the years are kind, civilized even genteel compared to God’s insane barbarism as you called it? We’ve made ourselves God’s death angel although I don’t believe He asked for help.

            It doesn’t really matter what either one of us think about it as we will both soon return to the dust from whence we came. In death we’ll both be thoroughly convinced one way or the other. I’m only grateful I wasn’t deemed a blob of tissue and was granted equal rights with those a few years ahead of me. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being alive even though my life has been no bed of roses either. Life is the thing we cling to the fiercest, and I confess I’m in no hurry to leave.

  17. @Peter Hays
    After many years of military service, conflict and still searching/struggling for reasons/justification for things I have done and witnessed, please forgive that I have ideological conflicts with some of the “deaths meted out by God… due to sin” and the innumerable instances of other “punishments” (to include but not limited to God mediated abortion in the instance of a man having the “spirit of jealousy” or in today’s time, just a feeling she’s cheating, hands cut off, murder and war in the name of God).
    While I understand your stance, all I ask I to try to understand someone else’s perspective… “serving” someone who is oppressed isn’t the same as being oppressed; “serving” someone who has less than isn’t the same as being socially and educationally disparaged by a political caste system arbitrarily set into place; “serving” underprivileged and homeless isn’t the same as being underprivileged and racially discriminated against. My life changed after the ARC experience. But more after my deployments and humanity was realized.

    1. @ Rob Scott

      To you I say as Wesley said to Inigo Montoya, “Please understand I hold you in the highest respect.”

      Thank you for your service. It seems that the horrors of war are like acid eating away at the souls of so many who served. My father came home from a war. At least part of him did. There was part of him that didn’t actually survive. War was the seminal event of his life. It was the touchstone or lens through which he viewed all of life and the metric that tempered all of his social interactions. War was the means whereby he gained entrance into the mysterious and frightening world of manhood.

      He was 17 when he faced a horde of faceless men who were determined to extinguish his brief existence. In a weak moment he mentioned to me a time in a foxhole where he cried hysterically. Other times he mentioned horrors in such a matter-of-fact tone it sounded like he was narrating a documentary. There were moments when he would get a certain glint in his eye, and I knew he was back there fighting again. He lived his life tilting at windmills. I was seen as the windmill on more than one occasion for no other reason than I was his son and somehow a threat to that mysterious masculine house of cards he’d constructed. He passed away before I was able to unravel all the ways his war experience fully impacted his interactions with me. The war was the death of him even though he made it out alive.

    2. @ Rob Scott
      I very much appreciate your sharing here and the depth of thought you’ve brought to the conversation. Very recently I’ve had a good friend leave the faith. Reading your posts mirrors much of what he and I have discussed. To be frank, we mostly share the same grievances over the state of the evangelical church in America. Too many churches seem to be guided by impersonal marketplace forces, and politics has made it much worse. While I oppose abortion, I too marvel how it’s recently been leveraged to benefit certain politicians in a way we haven’t seen before.

      Regarding deconstruction and hopefully reconstruction, I’ve done my own deep dive as many others have. First and most importantly, everything regarding Christian faith rests on an event. If Jesus truly rose from the dead, that has implications that trump everything. I don’t know if you’ve been getting into any scholarship surrounding the issue, but the “minimal facts argument” is definitely worth the time to investigate. How one builds their view of the world will depend heavily on that presupposition.

      To summarize where I think I’ve landed, I believe the wisest choice one can make is to trust God. He alone understands matters we have no tools to understand. I’m also fully convinced of the divinity and resurrection of Jesus. His nature is so contrary to the self-centered nature I perceive in myself and humanity in general. I recognize that I / we need to be saved from who we are, and that we are fully dependent on God for that salvation.

      Thanks again for your sharing.

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