Although Skillet is one of the best-known Christian rock bands ever, I only became aware of them when John Cooper, the band’s longtime frontman, wrote a strong response to former Hillsong worship leader Marty Sampson. Since then, John and I have become close friends, often interacting about the compromised state of so much of the contemporary church. In fact, Skillet’s great song “The Resistance” is the theme music for my daily broadcast the Line of Fire.
Most recently, John has been involved in the controversy when, “Former Caedmon’s Call singer-songwriter, Derek Webb, went to the [Dove] awards in a dress, alongside openly queer Christian artist Semler, and drag queen Flamy Grant. Webb also posted a picture of the trio on social media with the caption, “54th annual dove awards, here we come.”
Webb is a former contemporary Christian music artist who turned away from the faith and has partnered with “Flamy Grant,” a drag queen (and former worship leader named Matthew Blake) whose music was #1 on iTunes for Christian music in 2022. I am not making this up.
Nor am I making up the reference to the “openly queer Christian artist Semler,” as if one could be openly queer and follow Jesus at the same time. Not a chance.
John has rightly rebuked this destructive behavior, but other leaders in the contemporary Christian music (CCM) industry, have taken issue with his comments, calling him out for his alleged lack of love. They have been joined by many social media commenters who claim that Jesus is using these “drag Christians” to help us be more tolerant and inclusive in our attitudes.
In response, John posted this comment, which is worth quoting in full.
It is so right in so many ways, both in content and in tone, that I wanted to share it widely with my readers. Oh, for more voices of clarity like this!
Yes, Love for Christ is What Drives Us. Do You Know What Love for Christ Requires?
Responding to one particular CCM leader, John wrote:
You’ve precisely hit the nail on the head, BUT FROM THE WRONG PERSPECTIVE! We agree that love for Christ and for others should be what drives us. The question is: what does it mean to love Christ and to love others?
You describe love as libertarian tolerance; an unwillingness to call out evil amongst God’s people; and that it’s impolite or off-point to warn the sheep that the wolves are coming for them; and to treat compromise in the church as if sin is a subjective standard.
Sincere question: were Christians not acting like Jesus when they spoke against slavery? Or stood for civil rights? Was Bonhoeffer a judgmental Pharisee when he was warning the church against Hitler?
More sincere questions: if people attended the Doves dressed in KKK hoods, would “love for Christ and being about the Father’s business” demand silence from Christian artists? After all, God is the judge, not us, right? “What’s a little racism in our midst?”
So, will you support folks attending in blackface? What if a section of CCM artists began promoting “shout your abortion,” and praising the killing of the unborn as an act of love. Does Jesus respond to that? Or does He just love people so much that He stays silent about calling good evil and evil good?
What if folks came to the Doves promoting segregation between blacks and whites. Or promoting the end of laws that bar minors from entering into consensual sexual relationships with adults. Spoiler alert: there’s no way that you or the other folks in the industry would stay silent if those things happened at the Doves.
You need to ask yourself — why would I be more bothered by racism than sexual immorality? Your take on what it means to love Christ and others is sentimental, not biblical. The church is to be SALT. Salt purifies, and sometimes it stings in a festering society. We are LIGHT. Light shines in darkness, and you’re suggesting that we can’t truly know what darkness is. “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.” (Eph 5:11). “If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.” (1 John 1:6).
Webb and co are attacking Christ and the church at our most vulnerable spot: the children. And you’re half defending it?!?! “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” (Matthew 18:6).
The entire OT is God calling His people to stop sinning; to purify themselves; to obey His commands. When they obey, they are blessed. When they don’t, God brings judgement. Jesus repeats that message: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15).
As if this wasn’t enough, God gives us a sobering warning that bears mentioning at this very moment. FOR THOSE WITH EARS TO HEAR, LISTEN: “But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols.” (Revelation 2:20).
I beg you to reconsider what it means to love Christ and to feed His sheep. To tolerate evil, to relativize sexual immorality, and make the gospel nothing more than treating people nicely—that ain’t it. That is a fake gospel. And it is a gospel that is ineffectual to save. “treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, BUT DENYING ITS POWER. Avoid such people.” (Emphasis mine, 2 Timothy 3:4-5) The Gospel is the power of God for salvation, not moral relativism.
Preach it, kid brother!
This is why I love John Cooper and Skillet.
Dr. Michael Brown (www.askdrbrown.org) is the host of the nationally syndicated Line of Fire radio program. His latest book is Why So Many Christians Have Left the Faith. Connect with him on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.