Alice Cooper and the Death of Discernment

Alice Cooper, noted heavy metal shock performer, is a Christian… or so Christians keep telling me. He has a Christian testimony. He’s written songs about God and salvation. He goes to a church that preaches the gospel. He’s gone to Bible conferences, and even played golf with R.C. Sproul. So why doubt him?

Perhaps the reader might wonder why this question matters, or why I care to address it.

The simple answer is that I didn’t care. Not until I witnessed Christians discussing this several times over the last year as a hard-to-believe but amazing testimony to the breadth of God’s grace. I had only a vague impression in my mind of who Alice Cooper was, but it was enough to pique my interest.

So I did a little research. Very little, actually. Probably about 5 seconds worth. That’s all it took of watching one of his recent concerts to make me very upset. Not at Alice Cooper in particular. Rather, at any Christian who would dare associate such behavior with their Savior.

I’m not motivated to go on a rant about some random metal musician for its own sake. However, the case study of Alice Cooper does serve as a prime example to expose a serious problem affecting the church.

Death Metal Christianity

Alice Cooper (formerly Vincent Furnier) supposedly got saved somewhere in the late 80’s or early 90’s. Allegedly, the lyrics of his songs began to reflect this change, somewhere around 1994’s album “The Last Temptation”. He has claimed that he is now much more selective of the songs he continues to perform in his concerts, leaving the more egregious offenders behind. A self-described prodigal son, Cooper claims that God began to draw him out of his carnal lifestyle, and although he still makes many mistakes, he tries to live in a way that is honoring to Christ.

This all sounds reasonably good, without any further context. However, you don’t have to look very far to find shocking concerns. And I say “shocking”, because that has been his calling card throughout his career as “rock’s ultimate villain”. This meant saying, doing, and singing the most outrageous and wicked things imaginable. Breaking all the boundaries of accepted behavior was the entire point.

What does this lifestyle look like when moderated by the Holy Spirit? What does this look like some two or three decades after conversion? Evidently, not much different, in spite of claims to the contrary. I could give many explicit examples to make my point. However, I cannot allow my kids to be anywhere near me while I’m doing research, because I don’t want their eyes to get a glimpse of the perversity involved. Most of the content I would not suffer my wife to see, nor does she desire to see it. It’s that bad. Cooper continues to write and sing profusely about Satan, hell, gore, death, violent eroticism, and necrophilia.

I have regrettably found it necessary to read and view significant amounts of perversity in trying to confirm, and subsequently refute, the ridiculous claims made by Christians seeking to defend his profession of faith. I’m not going to go into detail or touch on the depths of this man’s evil work and actions. I will (as broadly and gently as possible) give a few basic descriptions to put this issue into context. So, if you don’t wish to read this, please skip ahead to the next paragraph. In pretty much every recent concert, Cooper performs a song which ends with a drawn-out simulation of his own beheading. Cooper’s latest albums, Along Came a Spider and Welcome 2 my Nightmare have centered around the themes of a serial killer mutilating women and a dream involving dying and having a personal tour of hell by a seductive female devil. Song titles include such gems as “Wake the Dead”, “I Am the Spider”, “I’ll Bite Your Face Off”, and “Ghouls Gone Wild”. The track “When Hell Comes Home” details the abuses of a drunken father from the perspective of a young boy intent on murder: “Daddy’s gonna get a big surprise / I’ll put one right between his eyes…” (and it only gets worse from there). Keep in mind that Cooper, according to his own assertion, is careful to no longer write or perform songs which cross the line of acceptability!

Sandwiched between all these songs (and numerous others which reveal an obsession with violence, death and hell) are a very few tracks like “Salvation”, which is lauded as a public testimony of his conversion. Even in this, there is an overall tone of uncertainty or apathy as the song ends with the repeated (seeming) question:

Any chance of salvation
Any chance for me
Any chance of salvation for eternity
Any chance of salvation
Any chance for me
Any chance of salvation for eternity
Any chance of salvation
Any chance for me
Any chance of salvation for eternity
Sal-va-tion
Sal-va-tion
Sal-va-tion
Sal-va-tion

That is about as good as it gets, even among the so-called “Christian” songs. Most of these type of tracks speak in the first person about either ending up in hell, the fear of ending up in hell, or trying to avoid ending up in hell. Notice where the focus is? Others speak in the same way about immoral relations, describing the temptations of the evil seductress, etc. You can claim that these songs are evidence of a changed heart, but when the songs merely describe in graphic detail the sins to avoid, it becomes rather telling.

The Deceit of Vain Words

What does a life transformed by the Holy Spirit look like? How much sin is allowable, or how little sanctification, before we can confidently dismiss a profession of faith? There are many cases where the line is difficult or impossible to draw. This is not one of them.

Ephesians 5 speaks of the life lived as a “new man” (Eph. 4:24). Ephesians 5:3-4 lists things that should not be named as sins among followers of God. While we realize that true Christians continue to be guilty of such sins, a lifestyle defined and dominated by such behavior is sure evidence of a soul headed for damnation (Eph. 5:5). Even so, some will talk a good talk, and seek to “deceive with vain words” (Eph. 5:6).

I John 1:6 informs us that if we claim to have the light of Christ, while we are walking in darkness, we are liars. If we are truly Christs, we will “walk in the light” (I John 1:7). The darkness of Cooper’s lyrics and performances is palpable. It is oppressive.

I John 3:6-10 lays out the litmus test for exposing false converts. A life dominated by continual unrepentant sin is a life dominated by the devil. No child of God acts this way. No exceptions.

James 4:4 tells us that to be enamored with the world is to be an enemy of God. How one could be a new creature in Christ and continue exhibiting himself publicly as a child of Satan is an inscrutable mystery.

You see, there are some things that Christians just will not do. A Christian will continue to sin, yes. A Christian can and may commit grievous sins. Yet the more grievous the sin, the greater the sorrow, which will lead that transformed heart to repentance (II Cor. 7:10). The Christian will not revel in his sin, but rather be ashamed of it (Rom. 6:21). Furthermore, the Christian will no longer be blind to recognize obvious sins because of the Holy Spirit’s indwelling (I John 2:27). Claiming to be a follower of Jesus and doing some “good” things is not enough (Matt. 7:21-23)!

Discernment is Dead

Incredibly, as straightforward as Cooper’s testimony is to falsify, many Christians categorically refuse to do so. Instead, they will either defend it vigorously or claim that certainty of such a profession is unknowable, and therefore insist that the benefit of the doubt be given.

Many Christians confuse discernment with condemnation, and take up the familiar rhetoric against judging one another. Coming to a sound conclusion based upon evidence is required of Christians (Rom. 16:17-18; I Thess 5:21; Eph. 5:11, 17). This is not the same as passing a judicial sentence on someone based upon that conclusion. The fact that vengeance belongs to God does not prohibit the Christian from identifying sin and exposing it. As a Christian grows in maturity, he will practice this type of “judging” more, not less (Heb. 5:14)!

Others are motivated to avoid discernment by their own conscience. Diminishing the acuteness of others’ sin allows the acuteness of our own to remain hidden. Hard as it may be, we must examine ourselves as honestly as possible in light of God’s Word (II Cor. 13:5), working out our salvation with fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12).

Still others are not capable of accurately discerning Spiritual matters, because the Holy Spirit is not actually indwelling them. They may outwardly appear to act like Christians, and be convinced of their own salvation. Scripture constantly warns of the danger of deceiving ourselves into believing we are followers of God (Jer. 17:9-10; Matt. 3:7-10; Jas. 1:21-22). Only a genuine Christian can accurately recognize the hallmarks of true wickedness and righteousness (Mal. 3:17-18; I Cor. 2:13-16).

For the Glory of His Name

As Christians intent upon serving and worshiping God according to His holiness, we must seek to reclaim a discerning spirit. The Holy Scriptures command it. Furthermore, refusing to expose a serious pattern of sin in the lives of others claiming to be Christian is to allow them to possess a false security. It is not loving to allow a neighbor to waltz confidently off the precipice of hell. Most importantly, we must honor the pure name of our Lord and Savior.

When we bear the title of “Christian”, we bear the title of Christ Himself. When Christians allow immoral persons to claim this title unchallenged, we affirm before the world that our Lord has fellowship with such acts. We encourage Christ’s name to be dragged through the manure pile. It is painfully obvious that Alice Cooper continues to regularly have intimate fellowship with evil. Not only the common everyday evils, but truly wicked, demonic acts. This not only proves that he cannot be of God (I John 3:7-9), but it demands that we defend the holy name of Jesus Christ by condemning any association of this pattern of behavior with our Lord and Savior!

We must stop cross-labeling good and evil (Isa. 5:20). We must stop trying to associate the Light of Christ (John 1:5) with the darkness of Satan (II Cor. 6:14-15). We must do so out of love for the pure, spotless Lamb of God. We must do it for the glory of His name.

4 Comments

  1. May 12, 2015

    Wow, perhaps you can do that for me? Can you look at a few things I say and do to determine if I am saved or not? I would like to know and perhaps an expert on who God will have mercy on such as yourself could shed some light on my life. Do my Biblical tattoos prove unregenerate behavior. I certainly don’t want the same damnation Alice Cooper is clearly destined for? What must I do to be saved if not repent and place my trust in Jesus? Anyhow, perhaps you could rightly judge me too so I may know what else in my life needs to change before I am eligible to recieve God’s grace, if i still have a chance.

  2. Johnny
    May 12, 2015

    The Rich and the Kingdom of God
    16 Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”

    17 “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”

    18 “Which ones?” he inquired.

    Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, 19 honor your father and mother,’[c] and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’[d]”

    20 “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”

    21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

    22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

    25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”

    26 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

    27 Peter answered him, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?”

    28 Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife[e] or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.

  3. S Cary
    May 13, 2015

    Pastor Jeff, (if you really are a pastor)

    Well, I guess all of the Apostles of Jesus Christ (e.g. Paul, Peter, John, eyc.) were just stupid idiots for writing all of those epistle letters that make up the majority of our New Testament Bible and tell the Churches on how to live as a Christian.

    Apparently, since we are not God, we can’t have any standards to live by. Nothing that can instruct a Christian on how they should behave….

    Oh, wait a minute, we DO!

    It’s called “The Bible”, inspired by God. Maybe you should consider reading it.

  4. Missionary to Mexico
    July 18, 2016

    If you read 1st John and many other epistles you will see that we are not allowed to call ourselves Christians while living ungodly lives. Those who think that we can really do not know the Lord!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *