Recently, two highly visible, influential Christians announced that they were losing their faith or left Christianity. One was Marty Sampson of Hillsong Church and has written music for Hillsong Worship, Hillsong United, Delirious and Young & Free. The other is Joshua Harris, who wrote the book I Kissed Dating Goodbye.
In the World Magazine articles, you will find a good overview of the struggle that these two men are going through and responses from others urging people to seek the truth found in scripture rather than focusing on an individual who is susceptible the whims of emotion and human wisdom.
Sampson, through his association with Hillsong United, has been very influential among churches of many denominations and other religious affiliations. So when he announced via Instagram that he was losing his faith or rather that it was on very shaky ground, it brought a huge response.
There has been some criticism of the lack of spiritual and theological depth to many of the groups song lyrics. Some might attribute the deficiency of spiritual depth or theological meaning to the fact that many of them were only in their teen and twenties when the group was formed. We need to remember what Paul wrote to Timothy regarding youthful church leaders.
1Timothy 3:6 (NASB) and not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil.
The World article also notes that some of the very questions that Sampson raises have been answered by numerous apologists through the centuries. He has also said that he is studying those materials among others. I pray that his search will lead him to the foot of the cross and one Person he can rely on.
When you contrast this with the interview in Relevant magazine of Joel Houston, leader of Hillsong United, you find a very different path he took when he needed to reevaluate his spiritual state. He chose to return to worship rather than to walk away.
Joshua Harris had announced previously that he was wrong about his philosophy espoused in the now famous 20+ year old book. In his most recent announcements, he and his wife simultaneously announced that they were separating and getting a divorce. Next Harris announced that he no longer considered himself a Christian. If you read further in the article, in the extended podcast transcript from R. Albert Mohler Jr,. you learn more about Harris history and why he decided he was leaving Christianity: because he couldn’t see adjusting Christianity in order to include things that didn’t see fitting the Biblical model of sexuality.
Mohler gives a brief history of Harris’ life and how he rose to prominence as a church leader with little formal theological training. While it might not be a requirement to be an effective preacher per se, theological training certainly helps someone grow in their faith and to hold fast to what they know to be true, especially when thing arise that cause them to have questions that need answers, especially solid Biblical answers.
Now I don’t know any of the people or what their spiritual background is other than what I’ve read. I went through a time where I had to decide if I was just going through the motions of religion or if I truly believed what I knew to be true. I hope that this what Sampson and Harris are going through and I pray that they will come to the same conclusion, there is no other name under heaven by which men can be saved (Acts 4:12) and I have no other choice but to worship Him as my Savior and Lord.
In looking at both of the above items, it is important for Christians to make sure to focus on Jesus and to make sure that we don’t make idols out of individuals who are fallible and will make mistakes or even walk away from their faith.