The latest buzz in Christendom is Hillsong Worship leader Marty Sampson announcing on social media that he was losing his faith. Now, I typically don’t comment on things like this. People like Michael Brown and Skillet’s John Cooper have done a great job addressing the issue. However, there was something about his post that really bothered me. It wasn’t the actual objections against Christianity. They’re nothing new. It was that after every objection he raised, he said: “No one talks about it.” Sampson claimed that no one discusses the tough objections against Christianity such as Bible contradictions, hell, science and religion, and religious pluralism.
People broadcasting their doubts and deconversion stories never bothers me, but this one did. Sampson thinks no one talks about these issues? I do. FreeThinking Ministries does. I can name dozens of hardworking Christian thinkers and apologetics ministries, and the scene is growing larger by the day. But maybe I’m just in an apologetics bubble and the rest of Christianity is still clueless about apologetics. So I wondered, who does Sampson really mean when he says “No one talks about it”? I can think of three possibilities:
1) Absolutely no one is addressing objections to Christianity. At first, this is what I thought Sampson meant. And my immediate reaction was, “Really?! The Church has been discussing these things for centuries!” Thankfully, Sampson issued a follow-up statement in which he named some famous Christian thinkers, showing that he does know of people defending Christianity and answering its greatest objections. So maybe he simply meant that topics like hell, alleged Bible contradictions, and such aren’t being discussed broadly throughout Christianity, and while the apologetics community is thriving, it is still relegated to a tiny corner of Christendom. That may be true. But that also doesn’t mean we aren’t trying our hardest to break into mainstream Christianity. While there is still a lot of work to do, we apologists are here, standing our ground, defending the faith, and making a difference one person at a time.
But maybe Sampson wasn’t generalizing about all of Christianity. Maybe he just meant that no one within his local Christian community is discussing the big objections to Christianity. Maybe that’s because…
2) Individual Christians aren’t sharing their doubts. Some Christians think that having doubts means that they aren’t good Christians, and so they fear the judgment of their community. Maybe they think that there is no one that they can talk to. Maybe they think there aren’t answers to any of their questions. Or maybe they simply don’t care. Whatever the case may be, it isn’t healthy. Everyone has doubts from time to time (including myself), and they need to face them head on. Holding them in won’t solve anything.
But what is the answer to this? We can blame individuals for being afraid to speak up. We can criticize modern Christians for being anti-intellectual and accepting faith blindly without reason. But this is very insensitive, and shaming people will only prevent more people from speaking up. The true problem may instead be that…
3) Local Christian leaders aren’t discussing the big issues. If individual Christians aren’t sharing their doubts, then it’s possible that their local church hasn’t fostered an environment in which people are comfortable asking questions. If you’re in church leadership, you need to take the first step. Let people know that it’s normal to doubt. And when they do, be merciful to them (Jude 22). But more than that, you must be proactive. Provide the evidence for Christianity and address common objections without waiting for people to ask first. This gives the church confidence that there are answers to their doubts and will encourage them to voice their own. And most importantly, giving reasons for our faith is not only practical, it’s biblical (1 Pet. 3:15, 2 Cor. 10:5, Jude 1:3).
I don’t know Marty Sampson. I don’t know what his local Christian community is like. And I’m not making any assumptions, either. I can only try to understand the statements he made and to assure you that there are plenty of us talking about the tough issues of Christianity. All of Sampson’s objections can be answered, and there are good reasons to think that Christianity is true.
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No matter the issue, no matter how difficult the objection, let’s talk about it.