Let’s talk about faith

Posted in Faith

There has recently been a lot of publicity surrounding Marty Sampson, a well-known writer and band member of Hillsong Music, after he announced through a social media post (now deleted) that he was losing his faith. He later clarified that he hadn’t renounced Christianity entirely but his faith was on shaky ground.

With his comments becoming public (his Instagram followers include 14,700 fans), there has been significant response to his posts, which continues today. Paul Jones, Principal of Trinity College Queensland, and lecturer in Old Testament and Preaching reflected on the Marty Sampson publicity, our own need to talk about our faith and what it means to be part of the Uniting Church. Paul’s article can be read here.

In his article, Paul reflects on why he has found his home in the Uniting Church. He reflects on his appreciation for a place where questions can be asked from a movement that permits theological diversity.

Our own Moderator, Rev Sue Ellis commends the Uniting Church and the ways it informs faith but also encourages us to think about the role all churches play in the Body of Christ.

“We must not generalise what every Christian church should or shouldn’t do.  Every church, including Hillsong is birthed into life by the Holy Spirit and is part of the Body of Christ called to make disciples through ministries of loving action.” 

Sue reminds us that the Uniting Church Basis of Union, and in particular paragraphs 10 and 11, commends its members to study the scriptures and reformed documents so as to be reminded again and again of the grace which justifies them through faith.

The church lifts up scholarly interpretation of the scriptures and sees the inheritance of literary, historical and scientific enquiry of the modern day as means for people to have an informed faith. Why is an informed faith important?  So, we as the witnesses of the Good News for today’s world might, in our loving ministry to others, form respectful relationships that grow the trust that enables others to feel safe to ask what we believe what we do and why. 

Sue praised the work of Marty Sampson and his beautiful and sincere songs as being part of the great witness that the Holy Spirit uses to convict the hearts of others.

“Marty Sampson’s beautiful and sincere songs, are part of this great witness. I recently used 'What a Beautiful Name it is' as my core song for my nurture discipleship theme. His songs speak into nurturing discipleship.”

At his upcoming seminar, Commending the Faith, Rev Dr Chris Walker will help us to understand how best to speak about faith in Jesus Christ to others. There are still spaces available in both seminar sessions which will occur at Murray Bridge on the 22 August and the Uniting College of Leadership and Theology on the 23 August. Register for Commending the Faith online here.

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Comments (3)

  1. Andrew Hogarth 30 august 2019, 10:17(Comment was edited) Link
    Marty Sampson, Hillsong and all that.

    I think I could summarise the response from many wider non Hillsong church responders to Marty Sampson’s brief post [now removed] on the state [or non state] of his faith. I would summarise it as this:

    “We need to ask more questions and this what I have been saying for so many years. We need to [ “ask more questions” “be more theologically diverse” “be real” etc etc].”

    All well and good…. I guess.

    Has anyone considered the reason why Hillsong aren’t “coming out public” on comments like Marty Sampson made? Could it be that they love the guy to bits and have been walking with him for years with these questions? Could it be they are lovingly supporting him, irrespective of where he lands on the faith question to navigate personal health, faith and belief, relationships and seemingly irreconcilable questions in a pastoral, theological and personal way?

    And while I appreciate the concern the various responders have expressed and while I’m sure many of them are writing out of experiences with churches they believe don’t ask questions publicly in the way they think it should happen; I don’t think Hillsong is their biggest problem — if at all.

    I don’t think Marty Sampson is symptomatic of a “generation lost” and I don’t think it's a watershed moment or ‘wake up call’ or reason to validate our [insert your particular brand and thesis of evangelical, reformed or post evangelical or progressive or liberal or post Christendom tribe].

    I think there’s something pastoral, formational and deeply personal going on here that probably needs the quietness and support that Hillsong pastors, leaders and friends are offering and have been offering their friend and brother Marty for many, many years.