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 HAVE NEVER OPERATED A PARODY ACCOUNT IN ALL OF THE FIVE YEARS THAT I HAVE BEEN ON TWITTER.

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.

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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.