John Cooper, lead singer of the Christian rock band Skillet, has been in the news over the past couple of years for his critique of “Christian” pastors who use their pulpit for money and popularity rather than preaching the Gospel. He composed a lengthy Facebook post about making “pastors uncool again.” Most of us agree with this sentiment, but apparently Christians cannot have nice things.
“Your lifestyle is sending people to hell!” shouted the prominent YouTube star whose name would be recognizable among Independent Baptists. “I don’t even believe you’re saved!”
These same sentiments were levied by the same personality against Brian “Head” Welch who famously quit the uber-successful and very offensive band, Korn, a few years back when he said he was saved. Welch took a few years away from Korn to dive into his newfound faith and managed to end his abuse of illicit drugs and lead his former bandmate Reginald “Fieldy” Arvizu to the Lord in the meantime. While Fieldy never quit the Korn, Head rejoined after several years.
Welch recently said in an interview, “But yes, I think I went too far with it. And I got obsessed with it, just like I was obsessed with the drugs,” he explained. “And I had to come out of that and find normalcy, because there’s nothing worse than a freakin’ irritating religious person just shoving it down your throat – there’s nothing worse than that.”
These comments drew out more accusations of Mr. Welch being “not even saved!” by the aforementioned YouTuber. Many fellow Christians in the comment sections continued this line of reasoning and supported the rising YouTube star.
All of this breaks my heart.
Christian Cancel Culture
Many of the same people who buck and harrumph over the “cancel culture” are Christians who attack other Christians.
Now, I am fully supportive of attacking bad theology, false doctrine, or sinful lifestyles. Jesus Christ and Paul called many religious leaders “hypocrites” and “vipers.” However, what Christians CANNOT DO is speak about the legitimacy of a person’s salvation.
We can say, “they are not acting like a Christian” or “they are not following the Bible,” be Christians DO NOT have a right to tell someone “you are not saved.”
Salvation is a matter of the heart and it is between God and man, not Christian and man.
So when this YouTuber made such statements, I had to turn it off and turn from his channel. I spoke with a friend of mine about it who agreed with the “influencer” until I said “Christians are a worse cancel culture than the world.”
My friend was taken aback, as if the truth of this statement was a shot to the gut. He had never thought of this.
Neither had I, until I said those words.
Because I am a Baptist, I will use Baptist preachers as examples, though I am sure you can think of leaders in your own branch or denomination.
Jack Hyles was a prominent preacher and evangelist. He spoke at innumerable revivals, tent meetings, camp meetings, and churches. He also founded one of the largest Baptist colleges in the United States, Hyles-Anderson College. Hyles was revered and respected. He led hundreds of people to Christ over several decades. He practically invented the “bus ministry” utilized by many Baptist churches to this day. His home church had 100,000 members with 20,000 or so in weekly attendance.
Dr. Hyles was a passionate, powerful preacher. He used humor and wit as well as a mastery of vocal dynamics in his preaching. However, his tenure was not without controversy.
In the decade before his death, Dr. Hyles and his church were sued for millions over allegations of overlooking sexual abuse toward minors by church members and inappropriate sexual misconduct by Hyles himself. None of these allegations were proved and cases were settled out of court. However, many Baptists who were heavily influenced by Dr. Hyles ceased any and all support. His name has essentially been erased and his books have been removed in most, if not all, Baptist bookstores.
Hyles has been cancelled.
Peter Ruckman is one of the most controversial Baptist preachers. As a fan of Dr. Ruckman, I often refer to him as “he who shall not be named” because of how quickly and prejudicially one can lose favor in Baptist circles by referring to his work.
“Ruckman” is a dirty word these days, and “Ruckmanite” is an insult hurled at anyone who reads behind or even appreciates Dr. Ruckman. He was one of the staunchest defenders of the King James Version of the Bible on the planet for many decades. His name is practically synonymous with “King James Only” and “double inspiration” controversies, despite the fact that he was not actually King James only and his views on double inspiration are widely misunderstood.
Ruckman is known for being brash, uncouth, and abrasive. He named names, which ruffled a lot of feathers. However, he was also extremely influential on many good, solid men of God. Ruckman, like Hyles, ran a college – Pensacola Bible Institute (PBI) – and spoke at a vast number of large events and churches. He also led hundreds of people to the Lord during his day.
His biggest downfall is that he was divorced twice. He suffered no allegations of sexual misconduct as Hyles did, but he put all of his love and effort into preaching and traveling which led to the end of his second marriage when his wife felt he was too cold and distant from the family. He and his first wife were married when they were both unbelievers and she left him once he was saved and called into ministry.
However, these divorces, his prickly personality, and many other accusations of racism (Ruckman believed that races were different because of their cultures which could be traced back to Ham, Shem, and Japeth), despite having an inner city ministry and leading many Black Americans to the Lord, have led to intense negative opinions of the man. The only place to find many of his works are in his own Bible Baptist Bookstore or via graduates of PBI.
Ruckman has been cancelled.
Worse Than the World
The reason I make a statement like “Christians are worse than the world” with regard to cancel culture, is that we have basic doctrines like grace, forgiveness, and mercy. We have the doctrines of the Church (Colossians 1:18), being all members of one body (1 Corinthians 12), and being the Bride of Christ (John 3:29).
We believe that all have sinned (Romans 3:23). We believe that we are broken, wretched sinners in need of a Savior and that sanctification can last a lifetime and almost never comes to completion until we receive our new, sinless, glorified bodies after we die or are Raptured.
We know better. Erasing decades of ministry for one indiscretion, an accusation of an indiscretion, even several provable indiscretions is anti-Biblical.
We Christians quote Biblical books written by wretched sinners like David and Solomon. In fact, not one word of the Book was written pen to paper by any man who did not have sin in their lives.
Yet the Lord called these men to be the inspired manuscript writers for the perfect author and Creator of the Final Authority in all matters of doctrine.
God also calls sinners into the ministry to preach the Gospel to all people.
God even calls you, if you are a Christian, to go into all the world and preach the Gospel. Should we judge you by your indiscretions and iniquities?
Should you be cancelled?
I know nothing of the lifestyle lived by John Cooper and Brian Welch. I do not know if they are sharing the Gospel to bandmates (though it appears Welch did at some point). I do not know if they are doing drugs and sleeping with groupies on the tour bus or witnessing to stagehands or other bands they tour with – of all of the above.
As public figures who have made public professions of faith, they deserve some scrutiny from Christians for their behavior. When they mess up, their influence is far greater than ours when we fall. They deserve no less grace.
If they have not been truly saved, then I hope that they will turn to the Lord for salvation. If they are saved sinners, they are just like me and you.
Regardless, Christians should absolutely, positively, definitely, without a shadow of a doubt, NEVER tell anyone at all that any other person that has lived, does live, or will ever live is not saved.
Judging someone’s actions and holding them accountable has Biblical basis (1 Corinthians 6:2). Judging the status of their eternal souls is for God alone (James 4:12).
We need to get out of the business of cancelling entire legacies of God-fearing preachers and ministers. We need to take the good with the bad. We need to not “throw the baby out with the bathwater” in many cases.
We must stop the Christian cancel culture, or there will be no Christian culture remaining to combat the Satanic world system behind the secular cancel culture.