Steingard’s experience with the term “deconstruction movement” is that it’s such a loose term, because it looks different for each person who is deconstructing their faith. For example, “Some people remain Christian, some do not. Some who remain Christian continue to affirm many core traditional Christian doctrines, some do not. It seems from his comments that John is largely upset with the people who choose to continue to identify as Christian, which I do not. I don’t think John appreciates the varied ways in which people might experience the process of deconstruction.”
“I have seen John speak out very publicly and sharply about the deconstruction movement, but to the best of my knowledge, I haven’t seen him actually dialogue with a single person that identifies with it,” Steingard shared. “It’s possible he has and I’m just unaware of it, but it appears as if he is not interested in approaching this topic with any desire to learn about the people he’s attacking. Given his usage of the term ‘declaring war’, I don’t think calling it attacking is inappropriate.”
Steingard expressed he was also concerned for those attending Winter Jam who are doubting their faith, saying, “My heart goes out to the kids at Winter Jam who might HAVE questions about their faith. They might have doubts. They might be LGBTQ+, afraid to come out. Most of the thoughtful Christians I know would want to draw those kids in, let them know that they’re loved, and welcome the dialogue and questions.”
Because of how Cooper talks to the audience, Steingard fears certain people will hear that they don’t belong in the church.
“John is taking the opposite approach, and whether he knows it or not, he’s communicating to those kids ‘You don’t belong,’” the former Christian said.
“John is under no obligation to dialogue with me,” Steingard concluded, saying that he respects Cooper’s right to voice is own opinion. “I just think it is worth actually understanding a group of people before attacking them, if one is trying to be genuine, authentic and honest. I would also hope that other Christians and also the Christian music community and media would hold John to a higher standard than what’s reflected in his ‘declare war’ comments.”
John Cooper Responds to Steingard’s Tweet
ChurchLeaders reached out to Cooper and asked him how he’d respond to Christians and ex-Christians questioning his “declare war against this deconstruction Christian movement” statement made at Winter Jam.
Cooper also graciously provided ChurchLeaders answers and shared why he hasn’t responded to Steingard and others on social media.
CL – How would you respond to Jon Steingrad’s (Hawk Nelson) two Twitter posts towards you?
John Cooper: I love Jon and have nothing but positive memories of playing shows together. I never called out Jon by name in that video. I did not quote him or even paraphrase him. So, I find it interesting that he’d go to social media to have this discussion. If he is looking to talk to me personally on this issue, we have dozens of mutual friends that could connect us via cell, including my guitar player who has Jon’s contact information. All he had to do is send a text if he was looking to actually discuss this with me, as I have spoken to many people about their Deconstruction. It has saddened me incredibly. They are my friends, and I love them. Each story is personal, but all of the stories are quite similar. I have not made those conversations public because I see no point. Understanding someone’s feelings is very important for a friendship, but does not supersede truth. However, Jon has appeared on dozens of platforms as he has worked to promote his podcast, YouTube channel, and lift the voices of other deconstructionists, therefore, it seems to me that Jon wants a public conversation.