Worldview Fail

Conspiracy provocateur and vitamin supplement grifter, Brannon Howse, continues his personal campaign of humiliating failure. His latest attempt was a blinding pyre of self-immolation that was wildly entertaining to behold.

In his pursuit to discredit the 50 year ministry of pastor John MacArthur, Howse manufactured a fake scandal that rivals the hacks at Buzzfeed News that involves him misleading Civil Rights icon, Charles Evers, in a phone interview and then dispatching one of his social media toadies to write up a deceptive report about it that was debunked within a matter of hours.

Stay with me, this is gonna be fun!

It went down like this:

Those who are familiar with pastor John MacArthur knows that before he pastored Grace Community Church, he was involved for a few years in the 1960s with revivals and ministry crusades in the segregated south with his friend John Perkins. During the week of Martin Luther King’s assassination, March 31st to April 6th, 1968, John was with Perkins helping with some crusades in Mississippi. While in Jackson, news broke of MLK’s assassination. Listen to John recall the events surrounding that day:

John has recounted that story a number of times over the years. In that particular video, he was with Perkins when he retold it. If there were any details amiss about his version of events, Perkins could have corrected them, because he was on the front row. If not there, at some later point. Moreover, John even asked him to clarify about Evers being the first black mayor in rural Fayette, MS.

Sometime last year, Brannon Howse was able to finagle a phone interview with Charles Evers. In that interview, Howse asked Evers, who is now 96 years old, if John was with him on the night of MLK’s murder. Evers answers that he does not know John, that he was alone when he received the news of MLK, and that whoever John is he needs to stop lying to people. The interview can be heard HERE.

The audio interview was added to a larger fake news report written up by one of Brannon’s social media sycophants and posted on an ad heavy screaming eagle patriot style website. The obvious take away from the entire article is that John MacArthur is a liar who made up his involvement with those men on that night. He is essentially like Ergun Caner, creating a bogus history about his early life.

Once that article went live, all of the woker-than-thou social justice scolds, and other various MacArthur haters from the survivor blogger fever swamps, breathlessly rushed to twitter to link it and grimly shake their heads at how awful John is. The celebrity pastor who was behind that terrible Statement on Social Justice inserted himself into a fraudulent narrative with key Civil Rights era leaders to boost his credibility as to speaking against social justice. This is certainly an explosive story. One that could ruin John’s legacy, that just so happens to have come to light right on the eve of him celebrating his 50th anniversary at Grace Community Church! How convenient! Will he respond?

Now this is where it gets really good

As soon as the web article was circulating and folks were listening to the interview with Evers, a number of people wondered if the interviewer was Howse. Even though the voice didn’t sound like his, the cadence and inflections sure did sound like him. The marvel of the internet is how immediately a story like this can be truly fact checked and then blown up. One resourceful fellow downloaded the audio and then adjusted the pitch to normal.

He discovered this,

Oh boy.

Of course the most obvious question that comes to mind is why did Howse mask his voice? What was the point? Typically when a person is interviewed, it is his or her voice that may be masked for personal protection. But masking the voice of the interviewer? Odd.

A doctored interview should immediately raise suspicions of journalistic fraud, but the website hosting the article believes it represents “well-researched journalism.” Seeing how the mainstream media has so tainted actual journalism by turning lies into truth, I understand why they are naive like that.

I can only guess Howse is a coward and preferred to have his toady thrown under the bus if the story backfired on him. I mean, it could be that his toady masked his voice and he was unaware of the change. Maybe. But seeing that he dropped a now deleted Facebook comment from November 9th, 2018 claiming to have “taped interview with personal friend of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.” who essentially contradicts a “story told over & over by well-known pastor from pulpit,” the likely scenario is that he gave the writer the interview with his voice already masked.

Whatever the case, his explosive bombshell was a spectacular fail.


Rather than stepping back and acknowledging that this was a blatant hit-piece designed to smear MacArthur’s reputation, many folks were genuinely troubled by Charles Evers’ seemingly contradictory account as to where he was when he received the news of MLK’s assassination compared to where John said he was when he received the news. Evers insists in the interview he was alone, whereas John maintains that he was with Perkins and Evers in Evers’ office in Jackson.

Howse and his fake news friend, however, failed to mention that Evers has given at least three different versions of where he was when he received the news of MLK’s death. Putting aside the fact that the Watchman Wakes blog is maintained by a raging lunatic who believes Perkins, Evers, and MacArthur colluded to kill MLK on behalf of the Freemasons, if you can muscle your way through the rambling madness, he documents that there are at least three separate accounts where Evers said he was:

1) Driving highway 28 to Natchez when he heard the news on the radio,
2) Heading to a meeting in Fayette, and
3) In Indiana with Bobby Kennedy.

Now with the addition of Howse’s deceptive interview, Evers says he was in the car and received a phone call from his secretary. Weird seeing that portable phones in 1968 were rare, cost like 4,000 bucks, and would be virtually unusable in rural Mississippi, but I digress.

Fayette is on the way to Natchez so 1) and 2) are pretty much the same scenario and probably closer to what really happened. Evers saying he was in Indiana with Bobby Kennedy when he received the news is virtually impossible, and if one watches the interview in which he says that, he gives the impression that he was misremembering the details.

We do know, however, from an article in the Jackson Clarion-Ledger from April 5th, 1968, that Evers was in Jackson with a group of black leaders trying to restore peace to the black community,

We have at least four inconsistent retellings from Mr. Evers of the details surrounding the same event. I personally don’t believe he is lying. He is more than likely telescoping and conflating details from an event 51 years ago. I’ve known a number of 90 year olds in my life and their memories can be fuzzy about events from 20 years ago, let alone 50. Still, it is pathetic for the woker-than-thou scolds on social media to insist John is the only one required to give a response or clarifying statement. It’s John’s account called into question, not Evers.

This was nothing but a sleaze ball hit piece against the character of a good man. Brannon probably still has the bitters that John and GTY didn’t come to his defense when he was getting push back after his sleaze ball hit piece against James White back in the summer of 2017. The whole affair reeks of those sins Peter says we are to lay aside in 1 Peter 2:1. And shame on all the dopey woker-than-thou scolds who desperately wanted this story to be true and gleefully promoted it on social media. To my knowledge, none of them have issued one retraction for being duped by it.

One can only hope this slimy affair will marginalize Howse and his disreputable joke of a “discernment” ministry.

Tinfoil Hat Twitter

I have absolutely no desire to return to this topic. Current social media circumstances, however, have forced me to revisit it in order to defend my honor and the honor of my friends, as it were.

Just to recap the situation I have in mind:

Since the first week of June 2017 (almost FIVE months as of this writing, mind you), Brannon Howse has been waging his own personal Jihad against James White and Alpha and Omega ministries. Without having to pound the mutilated horse carcass again with all the particulars, Brannon did not like a discussion that James had with a Muslim imam in Memphis back in January 2017.

He, and two of his Worldview Weekend broadcasting partners, charged James with spiritual compromise of the highest order and they did their best to set fire to Alpha and Omega ministries. When he received a tidal wave of push back from AOMin supporters, it was like napalm was sprayed onto Brannon’s already smoldering wick. His hand turned against anyone and everyone who would defend James White, even to the point of purging from his WVW network Mike Abendroth and Justin Peters. Accelerating his obsession even more, a number of misguided individuals on social media rushed to help Brannon in his crusade, including, most notably, Steve Camp, the former CCM performer from the 80s and 90s.

Along with Brannon’s ceaseless tirades against James on his radio program, many of his network partners have also dedicated their air time to heap condemnation upon him and his defenders. Additionally, a few of Brannon’s acolytes have taken to Twitter and Facebook to defame not only James, but those associates and friends who have spoken up for him. That includes myself and a few of my co-laborers at Grace To You ministries.

I left off any serious interaction with Brannon and his hordes around labor day, after I had a lengthy Twitter row with Steve Camp on what defines the Gospel message, as well as what content is necessary to present during an evangelical encounter. Steve ended our exchange insisting that James White left out crucial components of the Gospel when he dialogued with the imam. I thought he was not only wrong, but I marveled that I could be yelled at on a media platform by a CCM guy whose albums I used to collect all the time as a young college student. He blocked me on Twitter, by the way.

Moving to the purpose of my post,

So, after a number of weeks thinking this ridiculous manufactured controversy had died down and was going away, Brannon posted a screed outlining what he calls internet bullying against him and his ministry. He concocted a fantasy narrative that his primary antagonists with the unending bullying he is receiving are staffers from Grace to You radio ministry using parody accounts on Twitter. He seems to be absolutely convinced that I personally am behind a number of them. In fact, he writes,

Many of the adjectives used on this fake account were also used by either Phil Johnson or GTY employee, Fred Butler on their real social media pages. Some of the graphics used on this fake account were also used on Phil Johnson’s social media pages. In addition, many of these vile and disgusting tweets were tweeted at Phil and Fred’s personal twitter accounts. There is reason to believe, if they were not involved in some way with this fake account, they might know who was involved. Whoever set up this account used a purchased phone number to hide behind and send harassing texts to Brannon from a California area code. The individual mocked Brannon and said he was buddies with Phil.

This is absolutely laughable, embarrassingly so, as I will show in a moment. I will state emphatically right now, in all CAPs and bold letters so I am not misunderstood,


I realize this is me saying it, so haters will insist I am lying. But hey, my conscience is clear. The one and only Twitter account I have only used has been @Fred_Butler and nothing else. I know this may come as a shock, but there actually may be other individuals annoyed enough with Brannon to ridicule him on Twitter who are utterly unrelated with GTY.

I probably would not have responded at all except to say I have no parody accounts, but then Dee over at the fever swamps of The Wartburg Watch blog posted an even lengthier article. She has completely chugged the entire Twitter parody account kool-aid. Dee is convinced beyond doubt that GTY, myself and Phil Johnson specifically, are behind the concerted efforts to bring down Brannon with parody accounts. Like we are Russians hacking an election, I suppose. The amusing thing is her attempt to defend Brannon. The two of them could not be further apart on the theological and political spectrum. It is like the magenta-haired feminists defending the right of Muslim women being made to wear a hijab.

Searching for parody accounts on Brannon Howse turned up just a handful for me. The one in question, @WVWoffline, the “Brannon House” account, no longer exists and the last tweet I saw was weeks ago before it disappeared. It has remained dormant up until recently when it looks to have been deactivated. Another one called @Brannon_Howse has been suspended by Twitter. I don’t know anything about that one because I was unaware of its existence until I ran a search on Brannon’s parody accounts claim. The last one I remember is a parody of Brannon’s dog, @delta_howse, and that one too no longer exists. Again, all I can do is reiterate that none of them were mine, nor do I have any knowledge of who the owners are.

Additionally, Jeff Dornik, who has become the Worldview Weekend knee-capper on Twitter, posted this tweet over the weekend, October 14th, 2017,

Here is a clearer shot of the graphic,

According to Jeff, those screen captures are supposed to be proof positive that I have been texting Brannon with salacious, attacking comments. The problem is that the phone number allegedly attached to me is a 714 Orange County area code. While it is true that Orange County is in California, it is south of LA county (I live in LA county) and it is at least an hour and twenty minute drive from me in normal LA traffic. Additionally, a search on the number in this text ties it to a transexual escort service. In fact, it is randomly attached to many such services. Is Jeff suggesting that Brannon was texting with a transexual? Also, I have no idea who “Fred E Butler V” is. I have no “V” in my name.

That attempt at unmasking me with inescapable proof that I am behind those parody accounts was so ineptly researched, I am left wondering if there is someone among Brannon’s so-called supporters who is intentionally trolling him to make him look foolish.

Again, I don’t know what more I could do to convince the Worldview Weekend crowd that I am not behind those parody accounts. I also do not know who is behind them. It is possible someone I know is, but everyone I know who is familiar with the James White IFD controversy is just as clueless as me. I have to take them at their word. I know none of them to be expert liars.

Now, I realize it’s me stating all of this, and I’m sure I will be called a liar, so take my word or not. But I have no interest whatsoever to create any parody account, let alone one specifically aimed at Brannon Howse.

A Howse Divided Against Itself

I want to offer up some comments on a long, ranting screed Brannon Howse recently wrote against Phil Johnson. The one ironic aspect of it is that many of Brannon’s fans will not necessarily see it because it is posted at an obscure Facebook page. I think this is intentional deceit, as I will explain in a moment.

Now. Before I begin, it may be helpful to provide a little background for those readers not up to speed on the latest evangelical kerfuffle. Earlier in June, Brannon Howse, who hosts Worldview Weekend, a daily radio show heard on the VCY America network, launched a “discernment” crusade against James White of Alpha and Omega Ministries. Brannon had two self-proclaimed Islamic experts on his program to critically discuss a dialog James had with Yasir Qadhi in Memphis this past January.

The dialog itself was two nights of informal discussion between James and Yasir as to the distinctions between Islam and Christianity. One was held at a church in the Memphis area, the second at a mosque also in the Memphis area. Both hour and a half discussions can be watched HERE and HERE.

Brannon and his two experts, however, smeared the discussions as an “interfaith dialog” of the compromising sort. They suggested that James was compromising the Christian faith in the same way one of those gummy bear evangelicals like Rick Warren embraces Roman Catholics, or any other false religion, in a Coexist fashion. Additionally, they questioned James’s motives in doing the dialog, giving the impression he was soft-peddling the Islamic agenda. They falsely labelled him a “dupe” and a “useful idiot” who was lied to by Yasir, because according to the two experts, he is really a terrorist sympathizing ISIS supporter who was playing James like a fiddle in order to make Islam more accepting among American evangelicals.

Brannon devoted three programs assailing James’s character and ministry. When he encountered strong push back from folks on social media, he spent another week of follow up episodes in which he dug in against his detractors. I’ll point readers to Phil Johnson’s public remarks summarizing the entire affair because they reflect what I think it about it as well. See HERE.

With that background in mind, let me lay down a second layer before addressing Brannon’s rant. The following week after his three programs attacking James White, Phil Johnson from Grace to You, the radio ministry of John MacArthur (and my big boss), tweeted out the following comment, “Is there any respectable Christian leader Brannon Howse HASN’T found fault with?”

Phil then followed that tweet up with another, recalling a program from 2008 on which Brannon went after John MacArthur for his views that said the Revolutionary War was biblically unjustified. On that program, Brannon had on Tim Wildmon from the AFA, and Marshall Foster from the American History Institute, to publicly scold John MacArthur and his so-called woefully ignorant position on the American Revolution.

It is at this point, after Phil’s second tweet, that Brannon’s campaign against James White becomes an even hotter dumpster fire than it was already.

The day before Phil tweeted about the radio program pillorying John MacArthur, Brannon had posted John’s opening general session from the 2010 Shepherd’s Conference on his Facebook page. The message John preached is called Separating from Unbelievers. Brannon links to the message and then adds this description, “Separating from Unbelievers by John MacArthur. Should we talk with a Muslim Imam in a church & find common ground?”

At first glance, his description gives the impression that John is going to address the idea of Christians talking with Muslim imams and finding common religious ground with them. However, the words “Muslim” or “imam” are no where mentioned in the talk. In fact, nothing John states in his message would condemn what James White did with that imam. John’s message was aimed at genuine theological compromise with unbelievers, something James never did when he spent two days interacting with Yasir.

In response to Phil’s tweet comments, Brannon left this obfuscating statement on Facebook. (He also read it on his Worldview Weekend program).

The reader will note a glaring omission. The one name he conspicuously left out of his statement: Phil Johnson. That raises an intriguing question, why?

I’ll venture an educated guess and say it is because he intentionally clouded who it was he was responding to. A lot of the folks who hear Grace to You also hear Brannon’s Worldview Weekend. It is uncomfortably awkward if the director at the ministry of the very pastor he cites in support of his position took him to task regarding his hamfisted accusations against James White.

But folks may pause here and say, “Fred, aren’t you being just a tad unfair? Maybe he wanted to protect his identity.” That brings me to Brannon’s long rant.

The weekend after Phil posted his final thoughts on Brannon’s ridiculous “James White’s Islamic Peril” (see my link above), he posted three audio files in which he interviewed Phil back in 2011 on the topic of dealing with false teachers in the church. He also wrote up his fuming tirade against Phil. He even brought up the stupid controversy he manufactured in February 2015 when he went after Todd Friel about how many people died during the Catholic Inquisitions. Without rehearsing that entire drama, I can just say that what Brannon presents is lopsided and only half-way accurate. In other words, he is intentionally misremembering what happened. I ought to know, because I was at the center of that entire storm.

So what does that all have to do with my accusation that Brannon is purposefully hiding his comments from his readers? Well, his withering screed is posted on Sam Shamoun’s Facebook page. See HERE. (Just in case it is removed, HERE’s the PDF)

Unless a person knows who Sam is, more than likely he isn’t gonna see it. Brannon’s fans are certainly not gonna see it. As of this writing, there are just 11 shares. I personally left a comment refuting Brannon’s claims, but of course Sam, probably out of ignorance of who I am, dismissed me as a buffoon. I left a second comment, but that got removed and now I am blocked from leaving any responses whatsoever. If Brannon was genuinely serious about responding to Phil, he’d do it on his website and his own personal Facebook page for all to see. He would not run to an obscure yes man who is simply using Brannon as a stick to beat James White.

Brannon’s clumsy, half-baked crusade to uncover imaginary collusion between a well-respected, rock solid Christian apologist with a 25 year track record of Gospel ministry and an accused Islamic terrorist sympathizer is bad enough. Compounding the problem is him mass blocking an entire online community of believers pleading with  him to step back and reevaluate the foolishness he has presented. Worse still is him hiding his dispute with a ministry that on the one hand he uses for his credibility, but on the other hand, disparages the men associated with that ministry. Such vacillating behavior reveals some troubling character issues that need to be addressed.

The Kirk Cameron-Catholic Interview

“People are not “proven” heretics (or anything at all) by a handful of misunderstood quotes, by not condemning everything bad the second they see it, or by speaking with a measure of situationally-aware class.” – Lyndon Unger

[Update: Make sure you see Justin Peter’s comment in the comments below as well as my follow up.]

On the Thursday, September 18th Worldview Weekend program, Brannon Howse and Justin Peters talked about Kirk Cameron doing an interview for a Catholic radio program, Busted Halo. The WVW episode can be heard HERE until it gets archived in the Situation Room. Justin talked about the interview more for the Monday, September 22nd edition of his own program, that can be heard HERE.

I’ll say up front that I have appreciated both Brannon and Justin and what they do. I have particularly liked Justin’s ministry of exposing the heresies of the Word of Faith movement. I know a lot of people who have been helped by his teaching in that area.  I had the privilege of meeting him last year at the Strange Fire conference and spent some brief time with him at the RefMont conference in June up in Montana.  And even though I have had disagreements last year with Brannon, I am supportive overall with what he is doing at Worldview Weekend, especially his efforts with pulling together the team of radio/podcast hosts that are heard on his network.

But with that said, however, I thought their critique of Kirk was grossly unfair. They accused him of giving an implicit endorsement of Catholicism because he didn’t immediately go into “sharing” the Gospel at the beginning of the interview when he and the host were making their opening pleasantries. They didn’t like certain terminology he used when he gave his testimony. And they were particularly bugged by the theme of his upcoming Christmas movie.

My honest evaluation: I think they are reading way too much into his comments given in a promotional interview for a recent DVD release and his film on Christmas.

Now, I don’t want to come off as a gushing, wide-eyed fanboy. I have had my criticisms of Kirk as well in the past. In fact, when it came to his teaming up with Glenn Beck for his film, Monumental, in a post I wrote up about it, I agreed with Brannon’s criticism of Kirk’s affiliation with Beck.  But this recent interview was in no way like his teaming up with Glenn Beck for a screening of a movie. Their critical charges against him are in my estimation, so wildly off-target to almost be considered purposefully dishonest.

Kirk, for a while, attended Grace Church with his family where I got to chat with him a few times. Through a weird occurrence of providence, my former pastor from my college days in Arkansas now lives out here in California and he and his wife have become big buds with Kirk and his wife. My family and I once attended a picnic fellowship with my old pastor, his church, and the Camerons. We had a lovely time with them all.  Kirk’s a sincere, genuine guy who loves the Lord.

So when I heard that he was cozying up to a Catholic radio host and treating him as a brother, my immediate reaction was, Really?  I downloaded the WVW podcast and gave it a listen, and when they played the suspicious clips of the interview, I was not hearing what Brannon and Justin were claiming to hear.

I went a step further. I found the September 4th, Busted Halo episode with his interview and gave it a listen. After hearing the 20 or so minute interview, I became irritated. It was like they were not just mistaken about what they heard, but they were intentionally maligning the guy’s character. For example, they got all over him for giving a weak testimony about his salvation experience. They pettily complained about his illustration he used of liking his pre-conversion life as eating a hamburger to his post-conversion life of eating a steak. Sure, maybe it was a silly comparison, but to conclude he now has compromised the Gospel in some dastardly fashion? Really?

They were also critical of him saying that his new movie about Christmas will “talk about the biblical foundations of Christmas.” Both Brannan and Justin jumped on that, saying there are no “biblical foundations” for Christmas traditions, but they all have their origins in pagan religions that were co-opted by Christians. They even played a couple of clips from John MacArthur who talked about the pagan origins of Christmas in an old Q&A session at Grace a number of years ago.

Just a side note: during the Busted Halo interview, Kirk, without naming him, recounted the advice MacArthur gave him about his interest in seminary and his desire with pursuing movies and media culture. I thought that was a bit funny in light of how John was being used to refute Kirk.

Anyhow, if you listen to Kirk’s statement, he wasn’t denying the pagan connections of many of the Christmas traditions like Christmas trees, the nativity, and of course Santa Claus. He was just saying his movie will address the biblical aspects of the holiday. Will he take David Barton like liberties with the history of Christmas and make it Christian when in fact it is a stretch to say such a thing? I hope not; but I’ll be happy to write on that if he does. However, even the world recognizes the Christian elements to CHRISTmas, because they are attempting to tone down those elements during Christmas. Come on people!

Watch the trailer for his movie. I think it looks fun,

Well. With a lot of things in our social media driven internet culture, there is a broader perspective to stories like this one. I just so happen to have a good friend who is also a good friend with Kirk. He texted back and forth with him about the criticism from WVW. Kirk lent us this insight. He stated basically that after he reheard the Busted Halo interview, he figured he could have done better, had been clearer, and maybe more direct with the Gospel. What preacher hasn’t gotten out the pulpit and thought such a thing? How many of us have had similar missed evangelistic opportunities because we weren’t “on the ball” or were just wanting to get out of the conversation and on with our chores?  A similar thing more than likely happened here, because the interview was like the 15th one he had done, and like all of us who are exhausted after a long day of talking, you want to wrap things up and get back home. Is that something we can learn from? Absolutely? Has he compromised the faith? Of course not.

Look it. If Kirk Cameron begins to frequent Roman Catholic TV shows, really becomes chummy with them, speaks at their gatherings, or whatever, believe me, I’ll be the first one calling him out on it. But just because he gave one mediocre promotional interview to a host of a Catholic radio program, I am not ready to throw him under the bus and label him an ecumenist.

BTW, one final thought before I publish my post. Were Brannon and Justin wrong for criticizing him without “contacting him privately first?” I don’t think so. Kirk is a public figure and it was a public interview, it’s fair game for criticism. But I do think Kirk has earned the respect of such a contact and I hope when those two brothers can be shown they have overreacted that they will have the courage to apologize to Kirk in front of their listening audiences.

Chris Pinto’s Disingenuous Response to His Critics

I want to offer a bit of a response to an interview Chris Pinto gave to Brannon Howse on September 16th in which he attempted to answer the critics of his documentary, Tares Among the Wheat. [The full length video can be viewed (Updated: “Could have been viewed”) on Youtube (Ironically posted by a KJVO guy, a position Pinto claims to reject)]. BTW, he did kindly send me a DVD of his documentary that I hope to write up a review about in the future.

If the mp3 of the interview goes behind the WVW pay wall before you can catch it, Pinto did write an article that outlines the basic talking points in response to another critical review of his documentary.

With that stated and for my purposes now, I want to primarily focus upon a few of the questions and comments that were covered in the interview, but before I begin, it may be helpful to provide a bit of background for those unfamiliar with the “controversy” if we can call it that.

Pinto has come under extensive criticism over the last couple of months by a number of folks who take serious issue with the egregious assertions he makes in his Tares Among the Wheat documentary regarding the history of Codex Sinaiticus, the oldest and most complete NT codex we have.

Basically, he suggests that Constantine Von Tischendorf, the textual scholar who discovered the codex at St. Catherine’s monastery, was in league with the Vatican and the Jesuit order to develop a false “Bible” for the purposes of undermining and wrecking the Protestant Christians, especially the doctrine of sola scriptura.  He erroneously identified the codex as a 4th century document (even possibly “intentionally” identifying it as such for his nefarious Jesuit purposes), when in reality, Sinaiticus had been created in the 19th century by a guy named Constantine Simonides.

After Tischendorf began to publish the codex, Simonides wrote an article for The Guardian newspaper in September 1862 in which he claimed he was the writer of the codex as a youthful teenage boy in 1839-40.  Other scholars of that day came to Tischendorf’s aid and debunked Simonides claim rather soundly and he left England in disgrace and eventually died a few years later in 1867.  That true history of the codex’s development, as presented in Pinto’s documentary, has been dismissed and largely forgotten by the modern Christian world who know virtually nothing about Sinaiticus’s true origin and Simonides’s hand in producing it.

I honestly believe Pinto blows the Simonides affair way out of proportion than what it really was and seizes upon the fact that a lot of modern day Christians are unfamiliar with the events. He presents the story in his documentary as some bombshell historical fact that is meant to change the way we should look at the history of our Bible and as a smoking gun that the Roman Catholic Jesuits were involved in corrupting our Bibles so as to supplant the Christian doctrines taught by the Protestant Reformation.

A number of bloggers — myself included — have offered our criticisms of Pinto’s claims to really no avail, for he merely doubles-down on his insistence that Simonides did indeed create Codex Sinaiticus, even though he says in his interview with Howse that he is “just asking questions about it.”

So with that in mind, I want to select a few questions that were raised in the summary of the program, because I believe Pinto, as well intentioned as he may be, is not responding to his critics honestly.

Question: First off you are not a King James Only proponent correct? 

Brannon Howse opened up the interview by asking Pinto if he was a KJV onlyist, to which he replied that he wasn’t.  He says he “prefers” the KJV because to him it is the most faithful and accurate translation we have in English. He doesn’t, however, support all the KJVO arguments because they are extreme.

That is a rather odd statement, because the so-called “featured experts” listed on the promotional material for his documentary are Dr. David Brown, Dr. Henry Hudson, Dr. Ronald Cooke, Dr. Alan O’Reilly, Les Garrett, Roger Oakland, Dr. D.A. Waite, and Dr. H.D. Williams. If you “Google” their names along with “King James Version,” practically everyone of them are featured on KJVO sites or have written books and articles defending KJVO propaganda.

In email correspondence, I have raised this discrepancy with Pinto, asking him why he says he isn’t a KJVO guy, but at the same time seeks out KJVO men as “experts” for his documentary. He claims they did not like the final conclusions of his documentary (whatever that means) and that any refusal by KJV apologists to promote his documentary is proof that he is allegedly outside the camp of KJV onlyism. Yet in spite of that, his documentary is still heavily promoted on a number of KJVO websites and blogs.

Howse also made the comment that just because someone raises scrutinizing questions about the authenticity of Codex Sinaiticus that doesn’t mean the person is a KJV onlyist. But that is not really the issue. The problem is with how Pinto is spinning the historical facts concerning the discovery of the codex and Simonides’s fraudulent claim to be its author to prop up his particular view of the Bible.  My concern is also with the honest portrayal of the facts and besides, Pinto defends his position arguing like a KJV onlyist whether he is one or not.

Question: Codex Sinaiticus seems to be surrounded in controversy and serious questions so why are people that question its authenticity attacked and called names by even some Christian?

Brannon then fields a number of questions about Codex Sinaiticus and Pinto gives the basic background to its discovery and publication. He insinuates that the codex is veiled in a sinister cloud of controversy and conspiracy and rehashes a number of KJVO talking points about it having 23,000 corrections, passages of Scripture missing, and the addition of early Christian literature like the Shepherd of Hermas. Brannon even does a “Hold on a minute! You mean the codex had non-canonical books with in its pages!?” when Pinto mentions about the Shepherd.

That brief discussion then leads to the conspiracy portion of their talk about the Codex, where Pinto implies that Sinaiticus just “appeared out of nowhere” under suspicious circumstances, that Tischendorf quietly publishing the codex had “sinister” motives attached to it, that he had “connections” to the Vatican, and the “23,000 corrections” in the Codex itself is the primary source for a lot of higher criticism that attacks the authenticity of the Bible and orthodox Christianity.

As a side note, it’s important to mention that Pinto seems to believe that higher criticism, the textual criticism that denies the infallibility, inerrancy, and authenticity of Scripture and that has given us the Anchor Bible commentary series, really had its beginnings with the Jesuits.  The Jesuits developed higher textual criticism for the sole purpose of attacking the Reformed doctrine of sola scriptura.

Now all of that leads up to Pinto laying out his story about Simonides and him claiming to have created Codex Sinaiticus. The basic gist of the story is that after Tischendorf published the codex and the scholarly world was all abuzz about it, Simonides wrote a letter to The Guardian newspaper in which he claimed to have made the codex for the Czar in Russia and that Tischendorf misidentified it.  That claim, at least according to Pinto, stirred up a raging scholarly controversy that lasted 4 years until the academic big guns who were all Tischendorf’s pals, ridiculed Simonides so that he left England in disgrace, yet going to his grave insisting that he was the author of the codex.

Pinto has put a lot of stake into the character of Simonides, even calling him a renowned paleographer and manuscript expert.  He makes a big deal out of the fact that pretty much all modern Christians who are familiar with textual criticism are unaware of who Simonides was and the claim he made about the codex.  But the reality of who Simonides was is a much different picture than the one Pinto has painted.

If you recall your history regarding the 18 and 19th centuries, the British Empire became the dominant international superpower. Their presence in the Middle East, coupled with the waning influence of the Ottoman Empire, allowed westerners access to many of the ancient places of the world. The 1800s saw an explosion in the discovery of ancient documents, both secular as well as biblical, along with a greater understanding of ancient societies and cultures like Egypt. The reason being is that people, Christian westerners to be exact, now had unfettered access to those treasures that they previously did not when those areas were under the control of the Ottomans.

Obviously, with money bag westerners coming into the land looking to spend small fortunes to acquire rare works of antiquity, including ancient manuscripts, an entire cottage industry of forgery and art counterfeiting grew up. Simonides was one of those guys — a conman who happened to be a talented calligrapher who could forge ancient documents.

Pinto doesn’t accurately explain to his supporters the back story to Simonides claim about Codex Sinaiticus.  Classic scholar and biblical paleographer, Fredrick G. Kenyon, provides a clearer picture of the story in his book, The Text of the Greek Bible.  He writes,

An ingenious Greek, Constantine Simonides, had about 1855 brought to England a number of manuscripts, among which was one which purported to be a lost history of Egypt by one Uranius. The well-known scholar, W. Dindorf, accepted it as genuine and prepared an edition for the Oxford University Press; but when a few sheets of it had been printed, another German scholar detected that the chronology was obviously taken from a modern history, and after a short controversy the fraud was exposed and the edition suppressed. Tischendorf had taken a hand in denouncing the imposture, and Simonides took his revenge by declaring that, while the Uranius was perfectly genuine, he had written another MS., viz. the Codex Sinaiticus, which he had copied from a Moscow Bible in about six months at Mt. Athos in 1840.  The story was patently absurd; for in 1840 Simonides was only 15 years old, he could not have obtained 350 large leaves of ancient vellum (modern vellum is quite different), he could not have copied it in six months, and no Moscow edition of the Bible with a similar text exists.  Moreover the codex is written by a least three different scribes, and has a large number of corrections in various hands. The story is merely one of the comedies of crime, and is only worth mentioning, because it has since been revived.  The character of Simonides is further illustrated by the fact that he subsequently claimed to have discovered among the Egyptian collections of a Liverpool gentleman a papyrus copy of St. Matthew written fifteen years after the Ascension, with fragments of first-century manuscripts of the Epistle of St. James and St. Jude and other equally surprising documents.  These ingenious forgeries may still be seen at Liverpool. [Kenyon, 80].

So basically, Simonides came to England with some fake manuscripts that he tried to pass off as authentic. One of them was exposed as fraudulent and Tischendorf just so happened to have played a roll in exposing it. That just so happened to be around the time when Codex Sinaiticus was being published and Simonides just so happened to then claim to be its creator. What an amazing coincidence.

Pinto also mentions another scholar named James Farrer, who published a work called Literary Forgeries in 1907 that discussed the Simonides affair.  According to Pinto, Farrer concluded that the whole controversy is one of the “great” mysteries of recent history and that vague conclusion supposedly lends credibility to Simonides as the creator of Sinaiticus.

But Farrer’s book is on-line at Google books and anyone can read the third chapter that goes into the whole Simonides affair.  Though Farrer was a tad more charitable to Simonides’s character than Kenyon in his analysis, he still clearly gives the reader the picture of a con artist who was trying to make a buck and a name for himself by passing off fraudulent documents. Farrer even states that the letters Simonides produced allegedly written by priests and other supporters of his stating that he was in deed the creator of the codex, were thought to also have been forged by him.

All of that to say that Simonides was certainly not the renowned, scholarly paleographer that Pinto wants to make him out to be.

Question: If reporting on the Jesuits, Masons, and Masonic statues and occult symbols and secret societies causes some discernment bloggers to call you names then why are these same bloggers not attacking John MacArthur for talking about the Masons, Jesuits, and even the secret words of Masons as he did in a sermon we have played here on our program? The answer may be these bloggers claim to like Pastor MacArthur so they have a double standard and only attack with what and when it fits their agenda.

That is an odd comment.  I imagine they may have me in mind because I happen to attend Grace Church and work for Grace to You radio ministries.  Honestly,  I can’t understand why Brannon and Chris believe there is an inconsistency or double-standard here. It is true John has preached messages on Catholicism and the Jesuits. I can’t recall if he has specifically addressed the Masonic symbolism, maybe briefly in a sermon, but I’ll take their word for it.

That said, the distinguishing difference between what John has preached about those things and what Pinto is telling us about those things is that John doesn’t take those facts and spin an alternative history that is highly speculative and flounders in the realm of conspiracy. Again, my concern — the concern with all those who have been critical of Pinto’s documentary — is the accuracy of reporting the facts and passing off ridiculous notions about the Bible to an unlearned listening audience.

Why does this all matter?

At various points during the interview, Brannon Howse raises a few questions about the motives of Pinto’s critics.  He talks about having emails from people who have not watched the documentary but are still willing to be critical of Pinto’s research. Howse asks why everyone is so upset about questioning the authenticity of just one biblical manuscript among thousands and what difference does it make if it is proven to be fraudulent.

Pinto explains that all he is doing as a documentarian is reporting the historical facts and allowing the listening audience to decide how those facts should be interpreted.  But rather than dealing with the “facts” of the documentary, Pinto’s critics are painting him as a conspiracy nut and a KJV onlyist.  I guess he means to say we are just leveling ad hominem attacks against him.

Pinto is being completely dishonest here. He is not just “reporting” the history behind the publication of Sinaiticus as if the Simonides affair was just an amusing little episode surrounding the publication of the manuscript.  Oh sure, I guess if a person wants to thoroughly cover the history of Sinaiticus, he’ll mention about how Simonides claimed to have written it in 1840 as a teenager. But if he is a honest researcher, he’ll also present the damning evidence against Simonides claim.

That is the problem people have with Pinto’s documentary. He isn’t just laying out all the facts as he claims he is. He WANTS his viewers to go away from watching his documentary doubting the authenticity of Sinaiticus. He WANTS them to go away thinking that the Jesuit order had a heavy hand in promoting Sinaiticus as a legitimate manuscript because it had such a prominent roll among textual scholars in shaping textual criticism in the 1800s onward. A roll that moved people away from the Received Text that was utilized to translate the KJV.

As Christians, we serve a God of truth. We cannot promote ourselves as “discernment” experts and hold seminars for which people spend good money to attend while being profoundly wrong in one major important area of church history.  Even worse is when people point out how profoundly wrong you are, you bristle and refuse correction.

Chris Pinto is going into David Barton territory with his Thomas Jefferson stuff.  If I recall correctly, Brannon Howse has taken David Barton to task on that subject as well as posted articles by others.  Well, here we have another guy who is spinning history to promote a particular agenda.  His errors in misrepresenting the historical facts have been documented, and yet, both men dismiss it out of hand.

I like Brannon and appreciate what he is doing at Worldview Weekend.  If he honestly doesn’t have a dog in this fight, as he says during the interview, he needs to find some person or persons who he will also interview and allow them to interact objectively with Pinto’s presentation.  That is what a genuine “Berean” would do.