Another celebrity from the world of ‘Christianity’ has just taken to social media to announce their possible apostasy or rejection of the Christian faith, though this man may be known more by what we sing than his name.
Marty Sampson, contemporary worship music leader for Hillsong United, etc., author and singer of the widely performed if not already classic song, “Oceans”, has followed along the footsteps of former pastor and author Joshua Harris (I Kissed Dating Goodbye), in making a public statement to send a message that disparages the biblical faith while at the same time not so humbly extolling the personal virtue of self-discovery and awareness.
Sampson’s telling and tragic Instagram post this week read like a manifesto on his redefinition of truth and what he implied are Christian controversies:
I’m genuinely losing my faith…and it doesn’t bother me…like, what bothers me now is nothing…I am so happy now, so at peace with the world…it’s crazy/this is a soapbox moment so here I go how many xx preachers fall? Many. No one talks about it. How many miracles happen. Not many. No one talks about it. Why is the Bible full of contradictions? No one talks about it. How can God be love yet send 4 billion people to a place, all coz they don’t believe? No one talks about it. Christians can be the most judgmental people on the planet-they can also be some of the most beautiful and loving people…but it’s not for me.
Note for starters that Sampson in the above paragraph, failed to acknowledge at least two glaring errors in his thinking: (1) Christians sin as believers struggling with their flesh as he has in a sin-cursed and fallen world. That should have been a given as we think of our churches as spiritual hospitals filled with spiritually sick patients (2) Sampson does a whole lot of judging of others while condemning judgmentalism itself.
Ironically as to truth, the man who wrote, “All I Need Is You” said he’s “not in” anymore and desires “genuine truth.” Sampson posted, “Not the ‘I just believe it’ kind of truth. Science keeps piercing the truth of every religion. Lots of things help people change their lives, not just one version of God. Got so much more to say, but for me, I keeping it real.”
Sampson unfortunately, had more to say when he added, “All I know is what’s true to me right now, and Christianity just seems to me like another religion at this point.” The illuminating and philosophical phrase in that comment that has been echoed throughout our morally relativistic society for well more than a generation now, is, ‘All I know is what’s true to me right now.’
Marty Sampson just confirmed a central tenet of moral relativism when saying in essence to God and legitimately born-again Christians, “Your truth is your truth- true for you, and my truth is my truth and is true for me, and never the twain shall meet.”
As I read of Sampson’s fall from grace, I couldn’t help but think of the passage of scripture I preached at church this past Sunday from Romans 12:1-2, describing what has long been a problem for professing and even true, confessing Christians that the apostle Paul described as struggling with “being conformed to this world.”
It is there in the context of writing the church at Rome and us by extension today, that Paul calls Christians to do more than sing songs of worship, but to live lives of worship 24/7 and 365 as living sacrifices “by the tender mercies of God” (Romans12:1), meaning out of service and gratitude to the one who has given and means so much to us.
In verse two of that chapter, Paul gives both a present-tense negative and positive command to disciples of Jesus Christ in order to give themselves over as living sacrifices of worship to God. The first is negative, do not be conformed to this world or better yet, present age, in its thinking and worldview, or in other words, be “squeezed into its mold”, as an older paraphrase translation tells us.
The second command is the positive, “but be transformed by the renewal of your mind,” which is literally a mental metamorphosis that one must be undergoing as a believer- constantly and diligently, through the regular intake of God’s primary means of grace in the word, prayer and the local church, in order to discern or prove the will of God for our lives.
If I may be so bold as to presume that Marty Sampson has been failing to ‘renew his mind’ but like Josh Harris, has been conformed to or being molded into the mind of this world, which is of course so dominated by the ‘prince of this world’, and who is ‘the prince of the power of the air.’
I would bring to mind two realities to both exhort and edify readers of this post who long to think rightly about these defections from the faith:
Christian Apostasy is not an Epidemic
Two cases pf public, social media driven confessions of apostasy do not an epidemic make. The church and evangelicalism in more modern times, has always seen its fair share of apostates, or those that backslide into sin for a season, simply due to the nature of the flesh – including that of the redeemed and due to the flesh of the deceitful and wicked hearts of the unredeemed.
Much has been made in mainstream and liberal media about the growth of “un-Christians” as in ex-believers, a theological misnomer in America, or the increase of “nones,” describing those that feel or sense some sort of spiritual connection to God perhaps, but who will not affiliate with organized religion in any way.
All that has been affirmed by these recent polls and apostasies revealed much more publicly and quickly in our 24 hour news and media cycles, is the very true, unsettling, biblical and theological reality which even Marty Sampson implicitly acknowledged, being that the gate or door leading to salvation- redemption, is quite “narrow” and the gate or door which leads to destruction or final damnation is “broad” or wide (Luke 13:23-24).
All of that is to say that relatively few of the more than seven and a half billion inhabitants of this world will ever enter into heaven or paradise with Jesus, and that relatively many or most, will unfortunately due to their impenitent sin and hardened hearts enter into hell at the final judgment.
The words of Jesus on this could not be more clear or arguable, when the above truth, came in a reply to the question, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” That truth must then energize and inform our evangelistic efforts.
Offer Real Worship to God
As I said to our church this past Sunday from Romans 12, the worship of God is not intrinsically musical. Rather, worship music – all of that which we sing in church or the popular praise songs we sing in our cars or at home from Hillsong, Bethel or Elevation ministries, should be an outgrowth or manifestation of hearts already devoted to lives of worship to Jesus Christ.
Interestingly enough, music is not even mentioned in New Testament language as a means or form of Christian worship. That’s a new and tough pill to swallow for some of us who love music, including the contemporary worship we hear so much of on our phones today, written and performed by those like Marty Sampson, who if they have not altogether “renounced” their ‘Christianity’, are at least on “incredibly shaky ground.”
Ultimately, true Christians must be educated as to what their faith is grounded upon, not be preoccupied with the personal lives of sin-struggling celebrities in Christianity, whether they be nationally renowned preachers or singers, and understand as the reformers did, that perseverance or persistence in the faith, “once delivered to all the saints (Jude 3)”, offers encouragement and assurance of salvation for that believe and persevere.
Moreover, believers need to prayerfully be ready as the opportunities arise, to ‘have mercy on those who doubt; and save others by snatching them out of the fire’ of judgment (Jude 22-23) with the preaching of ‘truth in love.’ I pray someone will do that for Marty Sampson and Joshua Harris.