John Cooper talks pain of losing friendships over biblical views, defending faith in public sphere


Multi-platinum rock band Skillet released their 11th studio album this month titled Dominion, and frontman John Cooper is encouraging Christians to embrace their freedom in Christ despite the cost.

“I have a real love of Puritans and that theology of sphere sovereignty. It’s the way that under the Lordship of Christ, He has given authority to me as an individual (you as an individual) over my mind and my body. That I am supposed to rule, of course, under the Lordship of Christ, and then me over my family, and the Church has its sphere of authority, and the government has a sphere of authority,” Cooper said, defining what dominion means to him during an interview with The Christian Post.

Upon its release, the 12-song LP immediately hit No. 1 on iTunes Top Albums. Cooper said the inspirational record is really a celebration of Jesus Christ, who is the owner of the nations, the world and the universe.

“The reason that this [Dominion] is so meaningful to me is that we’re living in a time that the government is trying to act like God, and that has become an idolatrous, statist philosophy,” he continued. “When the government is trying to be, ‘We’re the God, we’re the Father, we’re going to tell you what is righteous. In fact, Christians, we’re going to shut you up because we know what’s righteous, and you Christians are wicked.’ Now, that is an absolute, idolatrous government.”

“I don’t get to talk about that a lot. But that is part of what I’m really passionate about, is this idea of dominion, celebration of freedom. But true freedom is only found in the Lordship of Jesus Christ,” the Awake and Alive to Truth author declared.

Cooper also has a popular YouTube series and uses that platform to speak about his faith and regularly shares his thoughts about current events. Since its inception, the musician has faced a lot of backlash for biblical stances.

“I’ve been a Christian musician now for 25 years,” he noted. “A lot of people said, ‘John, why have you become so outspoken in the last few years?’ I’ve always been quite outspoken about my faith in shows, but something has changed in culture that has made it all the sudden where I’m like, ‘Oh, my gosh, it’s now or never.’”

Perhaps the old ways of reaching the lost are no longer what’s needed, Cooper surmised. He reasoned that the fire and brimstone type of repent or perish evangelism is no longer effective, and neither is appeasing the secular world and its anti-biblical ideology.

“I don’t think that’s working. I think we had a wrong definition of what being loving was, and being polite,” Cooper maintained.

The rocker, who’s also a graphic novelist and video game creator, noted that atheists and LGBT activists often aren’t shy about sharing their beliefs and protesting against traditional marriage and Christianity. Christians, he said, should be more outspoken too.

“They’ll tell you what they think about everything, and they’re not shy about it at all. Why should we be shy about what we believe?” he posited. “It’s the truth. We celebrate freedom in Christ no matter what happens. And if the worst ever happens, then we celebrate Jesus Christ in the gulag, and the Holy Spirit will do an incredible work, I believe, just like He did in the New Testament.

“You cannot stop the move of the Holy Spirit, and you cannot stop the Gospel of the Kingdom from invading people who do not expect it because they see it. So we celebrate that freedom in Christ, even if the extreme worst happens. And I don’t think that’s going to happen, by the way, I’m just saying, no matter what happens, the Gospel cannot be quenched.”

Cooper charged Christians to be vocal about their faith and unashamed, not out of pride but because of the great privilege Westerners have to freely worship their God.

“I think we got to get loud about our faith. Some Christians think that people like me are boasting about your freedom. I believe that we need to fight for these individual rights in our country because it makes it the most viable to share the Gospel. We are still free to talk about our faith. I don’t know why we would be so quick to give up those individual freedoms,” he said.

“It’s not about boasting,” he explained. “It’s not about praising America. It’s about recognizing one of the great things that our Founding Fathers did do, which was very unusual in that they recognized a higher power over the authority of the state. That is an incredible, unique thing that our Founding Fathers did and we should celebrate that. Because that, in my view, is the way a godly government should be. I’m not saying that America did everything right. I’m only saying that to recognize Christ as Lord or even that there is a God over the state and the state may not intrude into personal rights, that is a really wonderful thing. We should not be quick to give that up, in my opinion.”

Although Dominion is loaded with anthems and inspiring songs to encourage others, the lead vocalist hasn’t had it easy in recent years. Cooper has faced his own set of repercussions for speaking out for his faith. The world has changed so much since Skillet first started, and although Cooper has always preached at concerts, not everyone is as tolerant now that he’s preaching on social media as well.

“All of a sudden, I just realized if I’m going to make a difference in this younger generation, I need to begin to do this more, and I didn’t really know how,” he told CP. “I knew it’d be a cost, but I’ll tell you, honestly, what I did not expect. I knew there’d be a cost with some amount of fans that don’t dig it, but that was OK. What I didn’t know is there would be a personal cost, like in my friends. Some of my best friends that I didn’t know that we even disagreed about stuff.”

Cooper revealed that some of his closest Christian friends love God, but they no longer love him.

“Twenty years ago, 10 years ago, I had an assumption that if I come on your podcast and me and you were talking about living and obeying the commands of Jesus Christ, we both kind of assume what that means,” he continued. “The commands of Jesus Christ are clear because they’re in the Bible. Well, what gets really weird is if all of a sudden, after knowing you for 10 years, I find out that when you say the commands of Jesus Christ, you’re not talking about the Bible because you don’t believe that the Bible is actually inerrant. You don’t believe the Bible is actually the Word of God, that it’s just written by men.”

The journey hasn’t been easy, the rocker admitted.

“That is the cost that has been painful, to be honest,” he said. “But that’s OK. Because at least you’re getting to the truth, I’d rather have the truth with the pain than to live in some sort of a lie.

“For me, it has cost me something on the business side, but that’s OK because it’s done something greater, which I think is giving people a lot of hope. It’s giving a lot of Christians that feeling of, ‘I knew I wasn’t crazy.’ It’s so wonderful to know that there are other people also in the battle.”

Although Cooper is very serious about his faith and maintaining freedom as a believer, he wants Skillet’s new music to be a source of enjoyment and fun for the listener.

“There is no music for the gym like rock music,” he said.

Cooper recently spoke to blogger and podcaster Alisa Childers and maintained that rock ‘n’ roll music does not belong to the devil because, he said, “Arts belong to God. Music belongs to God!”

In his interview with CP, he added that he wanted Christians to know that they aren’t alone in the spiritual battles being waged in the world today. “You’re not the only one noticing that there’s a spiritual war going on. There’s a lot of people in this fight, and I hope that this record reminds people of that.”


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