Skillet’s John Cooper: ‘Woke Theology’ Is Causing a ‘Civil War’ in the Church

john cooper

Lead signer for the popular band Skillet and outspoken Christian rocker John Cooper blasted critical race theory (CRT) in a recent interview with Fox News.

Not one to shy away from biblical truths and what he is learning, Cooper said in the interview that the “woke ideology” of CRT has seeped into the American church.

Civil War in the American Church

“I think we’re seeing a civil war in the American church over social justice,” Cooper said, something he believes began in 2012. He says he researched culture, philosophy, and other things that raised red flags within his personal church circles.

“I knew that I wanted to be a light to the world and I want[ed] to share the Gospel of Christ. And I believe a part of that is loving people, and helping the poor, and so on and so forth. But there were things about the social justice movement that gave me a lot of red flags,” Cooper stated.

Definitions for terms like Black Lives Matter and systemic racism are important to pin down, especially within the church, Cooper said. “It took me several years to realize that people were just changing definitions of terms. You might be talking about justice, and I might be talking about justice, but we might mean two very different things. So, I think some of it is asking for clarification of people’s terminology.”

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What Kind of Christian Isn’t Against Racism?

A Christian not against racism would be a strange thing to encounter, Cooper said. “What kind of Christian isn’t against racism?… But I need to know what you mean when you say [you oppose racism], so that I know what I am marching for or what I am standing up for. Can we have a definition of terms?” Cooper added that can only take place by having honest conversations, something that can be challenging in today’s culture.

Cooper said he believes secular terms began to seep their way into the Christian language because the Church took on a timid posture about social-justice issues.

“I do think [the terminology confusion] also happened because a lot of people [today] have, I believe, good intentions,” he said. “That means that [today’s Christians] look back at America and our history of racism in this country and the church. All of the times that the American church did not step up as I believe she should have…and [they] say, man, the church missed some big opportunities to be a light to the world — to have stood up during Jim Crow laws, and during redlining, and during all of these various things.”

Because people in the church didn’t want to be on the wrong side, Cooper said the Church is going along with “woke theology.” The danger is, he said, “They were going along with the terminology without understanding what they were going into, and now I think that’s becoming very clear.”

John Cooper Describes Critical Race Theory

Critical Race Theory has become this boogeyman term, and some people get really mad when you bring [it] up,” Cooper said. He referenced the recent Christian bestselling book by a Black Christian woman and professor of theology, Dr. Chanequa Walker-Barnes, titled A Rhythm of Prayer. Her book includes a prayer saying, “God, please help me to hate White people.”

Cooper indicated that CRT seems determined to convict people of wrongdoing, no matter what. “A conclusion of CRT is that majority-White churches that don’t have Black leadership are racist. But if they do have Black leadership, they may be racist because they’re tokenizing Blacks…CRT is the reason when Trump tapped Amy Coney Barrett to be a Supreme Court justice, Ibram Kendi tweeted, ‘You know, many White people adopt Black kids — because Amy Coney Barrett has two adopted Black children — many White people adopt Black children to use them as props. It doesn’t mean they’re not racist.’ ”

Cooper said what should be seen as a completely separate worldview from Christianity is merging as one. “People are using Bible scriptures along with that worldview, but they don’t actually go together,” he said. “They’re kind of imposing a wrong worldview with the words of Christ. So now, the words of Christ don’t mean the same thing as they historically have meant.”

Cooper: “I Want To Be a Voice for Unity”

“The problem is that if you’re not clear on the truth aspect, then you cannot have any true unity,” Cooper said. He called it painful to desire to be a voice for unity in today’s culture, but added that as a Christian, Christians must be unified on the gospel’s definitions and not mans’.

Cooper cited the recent fatal police shooting of 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant, who charged her attacker with a knife. Cooper said, “The Biden administration just says that’s systemic racism. Well, my woke pastor’s friends also think that it’s systemic racism. Now I have to go march for something because, to them, it’s a gospel issue. To me, that’s not a gospel issue and that is not systemic racism. That’s a different worldview than mine.”

He said because the “Hero” singer’s biblical worldview differs from those who believe the shooting reflects systemic racism, he said he’s labeled as a Christian who claims to know Jesus but doesn’t stand up for the “least of these.” “Even though,” he added, “I think there’s a pretty good argument to be made that the police officer saved the life of a girl, of a Black girl at that.”

Cooper offered a stark warning about what he called “faux unity.” “There is no such thing as unity outside of the truth…It’s make-believe, it’s pretend, it’s perception of unity without any actual truth behind it,” he said. “That’s what I try to hold in tension: Love and honesty with people, grace for the conversation, but unwilling to bend on truth.”

John Cooper Talks Live With Martha MacCallum

Appearing on Fox News’ The Story with Martha MacCallum, Cooper said, “Racism is anathema to the kingdom of God.” In reference to CRT, he said, “These [efforts] do not bring people together. They do not bring healing. They do not make people feel good. They are intentionally divisive because they break people up into warring tribes.”

“It’s anti-American, but more importantly, it’s anti-gospel of Jesus Christ and it is seeping into the church.”

Many religions use the same words that have different meanings. For example, Cooper said, words like salvationsin, and redemption are used within multiple religions. But within the framework of individual religions, those words have different meanings. Social justice and anti-racism are actually religions, Cooper asserted. “Church leaders are going to that false religion and taking its definitions and porting it into the gospel [into Christianity], and now it twists the words of Jesus.”

Jesse T. Jackson
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Jesse is the Content Editor/Site Manager for ChurchLeaders and ChristianNewsNow. An undeserving husband to a beautiful wife, and a father to 4 beautiful children. He serves as a deacon, a growth group leader, and is a member of University Baptist Church in Beavercreek, Ohio. Follow him on twitter here (https://twitter.com/jessetjackson)