Hillsong Worship Leader Marty Sampson and Considering Evangelical Christian Culture and Doubt

Former Hillsong worship leader Marty Sampson explained on Instagram that he is going through a faith crisis. As usual some of the vultures are circling in the sky waiting to devour their prey. This is a brief post on doubt and evangelical culture. This, along with the Josh Harris story shows that evangelicalism is not sustainable in its current context. 

“The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts.

Bertrand Russell

And you must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering.

Jude 1:22 NLT

Fourth Presbyterian in Chicago. 

These past two weeks have been filled with a couple of different stories of faith crisis and deconversions. As always the over-reactions by some evangelicals on social media has been painful to witness. First you had Josh Harris who was written about here in, “Why Josh Harris’ Deconversion From Christianity is a Positive Development, and How Evangelical Christians Are Responding to Him.” Now you have one of the well known former worship leaders at Hillsong in Sydney, Australia who made a claim on Instagram also. This is what Marty Sampson posted

“Time for some real talk… I’m genuinely losing my faith.. and it doesn’t bother me… like, what bothers me now is nothing… I am so happy now, so at peace with the world.. it’s crazy / this is a soapbox moment so here I go xx how many preachers fall? Many. No one talks about it. How many miracles happen. Not many. No one talks about it. Why is the Bible full of contradictions? No one talks about it. How can God be love yet send 4 billion people to a place, all coz they don’t believe? No one talks about it. Christians can be the most judgemental people on the planet – they can also be some of the most beautiful and loving people… but it’s not for me. I am not in any more.

I want genuine truth. Not the “I just believe it” kind of truth. Science keeps piercing the truth of every religion. Lots of things help people change their lives, not just one version of God. Got so much more to say, but for me, I keeping it real. Unfollow if you want, I’ve never been about living my life for others. All I know is what’s true to me right now, and Christianity just seems to me like another religion at this point… I could go on, but I won’t. Love and forgive absolutely. Be kind absolutely. Be generous and do good to others absolutely. Some things are good no matter what you believe. Let the rain fall, the sun will come up tomorrow.”

Many evangelicals are responding to this and in some ways quite harshly. You can read what the lead singer at Skillet said here. Plus you have Michael Brown in the Christian Post here. Ken Ham has also weighed in on this manner as well as The Friendly Atheist

For the rest of what Ken Ham has to say you can follow the thread. 


Excellent Commentary at Roll to Disbelieve

But if you were going to read one article that did a solid job on this issue I would direct you over to Captain Cassidy at Roll to Disbelieve. She addresses the problems that are raised from the fact that many issues are not discussed in evangelicalism to when Christianity is disappointing. Roll to Disbelieve is a blog I follow regularly and you can read about Marty Sampson in, “Hillsong Songwriter Marty Sampson Has Left the Jesus Building.” 


Evangelicals Are Brutal When it Comes to Doubt

This is how I look at the situation with Marty Sampson. Evangelical Christianity can be brutal to abusive on a doubter. The system is designed so that you are made to be the problem. A good evangelical reads their Bible and has all the answers wrapped nice and neat. When you fall out of that model well your days can be numbered. You can face isolation and shunning depending upon where you are at. Evangelicals also can be cannibalistic on a doubter or a person who has a moral failure. For each person it can be a different topic. For some it can be evolution and creationism or for another it can be Old Testament Genocide. My faith crisis was over the problem of evil which I am still very sensitive to. But what can happen is what Marty Sampson is experiencing. People turn on those who are doubters and they come down on them like a hammer.  The reality is that a lot of evangelicals live and operate in a bubble. They make claims that you need Jesus to love others. And yet the reality is that anyone can love anyone. There are those on the outside who can disprove some aspects of evangelical culture and many evangelicals do not know what to do with them. 


When What You Have Been Taught Does Not Work

What I think Marty could be dealing with and I have encountered this as well, but what do you do when what you were taught does not work? For example say you live a sexually pure life, were chaste and did everything you were taught and your marriage fails due to infertility or other issues? What do you do when you subject yourself to Bible studies, retreats, conferences and more and you still go through a faith crisis and your life falls apart? From my perspective trying to control faith and put it in a box is like trying to put a saddle on a tiger. Its not something that can be done. What makes these situations challenging is how subjective each one can be and the fact that right now many evangelicals are walking away from Marty Samspon. That is a tragedy that there are no words for. Part of life is about living life and walking through the issues, doubts and problems. Doubt is not the enemy of faith to the contrary it is healthy and good for faith. Its hard and painful but its necessary for life. If I could change one aspect of evangelical culture I would encourage and allow doubt. The judgmentalism needs to go and disappear. Life is not pretty and these kind of issues need to be discussed frankly. I hope this brief post will leave you with something to contemplate. 

7 thoughts on “Hillsong Worship Leader Marty Sampson and Considering Evangelical Christian Culture and Doubt

  1. Hi Eagle,

    Thanks for this. Yes, doubt should not be punished — it is simply one of the cognitive correlates of “humility.”

    I have found Andrew Perriman’s ‘blog


    to be helpful in my self-imposed “post-evangelical exile”. Part of the problem of “faith not working” may be “hermeneutical” in the sense that we simplistically apply ancient texts (or systems that we reckon are properly [plenty of room for “doubt” right there] derived form the ancient texts) to our present situation and are dismayed that the “fit” is not always as good as we expected.

    MS has been strongly criticized for holding on to a “Jesus ethic” while relinquishing the dogmatic structure that previously justified embrace of that ethic (for example, here:



    This is a good example of the “I know my system is right and you are treading air to keep any part of your old views while rejecting the system itself” genre.

    I think it’s a deeply uncharitable response.

    MS evidently still finds Jesus to be deeply beautiful. And I think he’s right to. Jesus tends to draw people toward himself. But the tensions in the systems we have erected in our attempts to understand what God was up to in Jesus can be too much to bear.

    Again, thanks for your post.


  2. Regarding science, I learned long ago that science’s truth is only truth until something else proves it wrong.

    Pluto USED TO BE a planet. Science told us so. Then, science changed their mind. The previous was just science fiction.

    Science thinks SOME of our ancestors were monkeys. Some people think that is a racist comment, so those who are offended by that word, obviously, they can’t handle the truth?

    But, in any case, Jesus told us about people losing faith in the parable about the sower who sowed seeds. The WICKED ONE has enticed this guy with the WORLD, and he took the bait.

    This is FREE WILL. God does NOT interfere with FREE WILL. Calvinists, however, will preach that this is GOD’S WILL that this guy rejects God, cuz it’s in his DNA to do so, and God wrote the play, and this guy is just acting out his part of the play, and God is enjoying the show.

    I never was a Hill-song fan to begin with. But I did see them in concert here in the Seattle area about 4 or 5 years ago along with a lot of other Christian Rock Bands, including MERCY ME.

    But this reminds me of the conversation of a few days ago. This guy states something about the bible has contradictions? I’d be willing to challenge anyone on that accusation. He states that no one talks about it, so…LET’S DO IT.

    Ed Chapman


  3. Truth matters. Investigate. Look at the evidence. Read the books of leading Christian apologists and leading skeptics. If Christianity is true, it will withstand the scrutiny.


  4. Know why you believe what you believe, guys. Truth matters. I would encourage everyone to read the following books in their investigation of the truth claims of Christianity:

    Christian authors:
    –“The Resurrection of the Son of God” by NT Wright
    –“The Death of the Messiah” by Raymond Brown
    –“Evidence that Demands a Verdict” by Josh and Sean McDowell

    Skeptic authors:
    –“Misquoting Jesus” by Bart Ehrman
    –“The Outsider Test for Faith” by John Loftus
    –“Why I Believed, Reflections of a Former Missionary” by Kenneth W. Daniels

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