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John Cooper has something to say, and thinks you do too

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (BP) — As the founder and decades-long frontman for the rock band Skillet, John Cooper’s straightforward opinions mirror the musical style that has brought numerous awards and nominations over the years.

Around 2013, Cooper, by his own description, was an “average, Christian layperson who loved God, loved my church, and loved my Bible.” He had a successful music career, and doing anything outside of that – like speaking his mind – could potentially endanger the comfort he enjoyed.

However, he deemed it a price worth paying.

“I had seen many of my peers, Christian artists, get very political and vocal. But the interesting thing was that they weren’t political on my side,” he said. “I see now that I was naive on [thinking we would agree] on issues such as absolute truth and the sanctity of life.”

It led to his first book, “Awake & Alive to Truth,” which he wrote during the COVID shutdown and released on Dec. 1, 2020. Cooper delved deeper in his second book, “Wimpy, Weak, and Woke,” which became available in late 2023.

Cooper talked with Baptist Press about how his faith directs him to speak out on cultural issues.

“If Jesus is the truth, then that means He has something to say about culture, politics, abortion and sexuality,” said Cooper, who also addresses such topics on his Cooper Stuff Podcast. “The Bible has something to say about these things.”

Plans did not include writing a second book. However, “a lot of topics started appearing during 2021,” he said.

“I thought, ‘Oh man I have a lot more to say and I think this is going to go deeper. We’re going to have to delve into these things much more to kind of expose what I see happening in our culture.”

With eight Dove awards and a Billboard Music Award among their honors, Skillet is currently the closest thing in Christian music to being Petra-esque in terms of longevity, recognition and influence. What may be different is the current cultural moment with a number of issues that Cooper believes demand a biblical and Gospel representation.

At the heart of Wimpy, Weak and Woke is the subject of truth. Namely, it posits that there are philosophies actively seeking to reshape and redefine the truth of Scripture.

The deconstruction of personal Christian faith he has seen among CCM contemporaries as well as Christian authors leads Cooper to see a connection with harmful secular philosophies.

“So, you have Christian deconstruction at the same time you have secular postmodern deconstruction,” he explains. “Some will say those are not connected. I’m saying that about 99 percent of the time they are. Deconstruction on the Christian side, in my view, is inextricably linked to postmodern deconstructionism.”

Those points may be conveyed with an angry tone. However, this isn’t the overall message Cooper wants to send.

“It’s easy to get angry, but that’s not gonna change anything. We need to put a positive vision forward,” Cooper said.

However, “I am trying to understand why my fellow brothers in Christ are not more bothered about these things.”

“These things” include instances such as drag queens reading in local schools and concepts such as gender fluidity being taught to children.

“I don’t understand how Christians aren’t flipping their lids,” Cooper said. “I say to them, ‘Brother, you were born for such a time as this.’”

In 2021 Cooper made waves with his criticism of the performance of Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion at the Grammys.

Popular music containing elements of sexuality and even hedonism was nothing new. But something else stood out to him. The performance was celebrated and even honored as being a different kind of virtuous.

“We’re being told this is celebrating their sexuality and it is woman power. That’s gross and dangerous for society,” Cooper said.

“I think we are at a point where we need to warn the culture of the imminent destruction [it brings]. I believe that it’s going to be bad, and not just for Christians. It’s going to be bad for everybody.”

Unfortunately, churches can be part of the problem when they teach a version of Jesus-lite, where the Bible isn’t seen as an authority on such issues.

Those with a biblical worldview should see it differently.

“What I hope people understand is that wokeness, social justice, postmodernism, deconstructionism and Christian deconstructionism are all wrapped up in a worldview that cannot exist and sets itself up against the worldview of the Bible,” Cooper said. “You cannot bring these things together; it will not work.”

Those who trust in Scripture and the Gospel, he added, can “be more confident that the Bible has the answers for every piece of life.

“Christ is Lord of everything, not just heaven, not just when you die, not just of your soul. He is Lord of your marriage, of the way you parent, of politics, of sexuality and gender, of how we raise our children.

“Every single thing will bow before the Lord Jesus Christ. And we should have confidence in the Bible to believe that.”