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.

Now.

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.

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Celebrity Preachers and Secondary Separation

Cody Libolt, who helps run the Christian Intellectual website, asks some questions of the organizers of three major Reformed conferences, G3, Shepherd’s Conference, and Ligonier.

The questions pertain to the ongoing battle with social justice warriors who are injecting their social justice ideology into the blood stream of the Christian church. A few men who have been labelled supporters for the social justice viewpoint have either been, or will be, speakers at those three conferences.

The main point of contention is between anti-SJW folks who wonder if those men should be uninvited from those conference. Allowing them to speak, even if their message is not related to social justice, devalues any argument against the social justice philosophy, say for example the statement on social justice. They should not be given a platform only for the sake of maintaining unity with celebrity preachers. Cody’s questions are an attempt to flesh out the thinking of those conference organizers in light of the social justice affirmations from those men. I’ll provide my personal answers, so I do not speak for everyone.

Questions for G3, ShepCon, and Ligonier:

1. On the topic of social justice, who are the ones you know are being divisive and should be receiving direct, public correction – by name? Do they exist?

Yes, those individuals do exist. I would add that I believe they are a menace to the Christian church. (This was discussed, by the way, at the G3 pre-conference hosted by Sovereign Nations). The folks coming immediately to mind who are flagrantly promoting social justice (which really amounts to cultural Marxism) are such individuals as Tim Keller, Jamar Tisby, Thabiti Anyabwile, Russell Moore, Matt Chandler, Dwight Mckissic, Eric Mason, David Platt and lesser known personalities like Kyle Howard and Brad Mason who sow discord among the brethren on social media.

2. Do you want to be publicly associated with those divisive people? In what way? Is there a principle here or not?

No. I personally would not want to be publicly associated with those divisive individuals I named above. I would imagine they wouldn’t want to be publicly associated with me, either. However, most of those men, at least to my knowledge, have never been associated with the conferences in question. David Platt is the only person I know who preached at G3. His message was on missions, not social justice; and as far as I know, the issue was not raised with him nor did he mention it when he spoke.

3. If there is someone known for repeatedly promoting those divisive people—someone who speaks as if the divisive ones were right and does not speak as if the truth were the truth (on a matter such as social justice that you say you consider primary), would you endorse them as being a trustworthy teacher?

I believe Cody is looking for someone to say, “Oh yes, but Al Mohler promotes Russell Moore,” or “Ligon Duncan wrote the forward to Eric Mason’s book on wokeness.” The question then turns to whether or not Al Mohler or Ligon Duncan can be trusted because they promote those problematic individuals.

Here we begin crossing the border into the area of secondary separation. This one, otherwise solid guy is associated with a person who has troubling orthopraxy, (not orthodoxy, which is a key distinction). Should Christians break fellowship, or in this case, uninvite the solid guy from the Reformed conference circuit because of his association with the troubling woke person? I would say no, it is not necessary, and only comes across as petty, as I will explain momentarily.

4. Do you believe that inviting them to speak at your conference constitutes a tacit endorsement of their trustworthiness?

Of course. As it pertains to the topic of the conference and the initial reason they were invited. For example, the 2019 G3 conference was focused upon missions and the Shepherd’s Conference will focus upon faithfulness. If those men are staying true to the topic at hand and are faithful to exegete the Scriptures, they are trustworthy. We can maybe discuss their odd association with the woke social justice warriors at some other point.

The Solution:

Cody then moves to providing a solution to our fraternal dilemma. How should we treat solid guys who mess around with troubling guys? His suggestions are a worthy effort, but I disagree on the finer points.

Despite the strawmen being burnt by some, the point of all this is not to excommunicate Mohler, Duncan, Platt, Dever, etc. Who said anything about that?

Excommunicate is a rather strong term. We must exercise care when employing it. Excommunication is an action reserved for those individuals who have abandoned the Christian faith and who teach contrary to Scripture. The men in question, Mohler, Duncan, Dever, even Platt, have done nothing worthy of excommunication.

However, it is not entirely inaccurate or burning a strawman to point out that critics of those men wish to excommunicate them. While it is true that those critics are not using the terminology of excommunication as if those men are now apostate because they entertain woke ideas, they are insisting that conference organizers must now uninvite them to speak at G3, Shepherd’s Conference, or Ligoneir, or any other similar conference, or they partake in their sinful deeds of wokeness and expose countless thousands of unwashed laymen to cultural Marxism. I’m sorry, but that is ridiculously absurd.

The point is this: You ought to be thoughtful about whether you will tacitly endorse their teaching.

I am assuming by “endorsing their teaching” you mean their overall personal ministry apart from a conference. Dever’s 9 Marks material or Al Mohler’s podcast, for example. As the person’s teaching pertains to the conference at hand where he is speaking, if he stays on point, I can endorse his teaching. But like with any ministry, regardless as to who that ministry may have endorsed or partnered with in other venues, I would exercise discernment with everything they present. That is not a compromised position.

There is a good solution. You can still bring them on your stage, if that is what you want.

Simply warn viewers at the event that there are major disagreements about social justice in discussion right now, and not all people on the stage agree about the answers or even about the relative importance of the questions.

There are a couple of problems I have with this approach. First, we are underestimating the conference attendees, assuming that they are uninformed as to those men’s woke affiliations. Why tell them something they already know and have laid aside for this unrelated conference? But then secondly, and more importantly, it is petty and unnecessarily humiliating to call out individuals before the entire conference audience that you have invited to speak regarding a disagreement that is unrelated to the conference. That just tosses an awkward wet blanket over the event and not only dishonors your guests, but insults them.

While I understand the need to take a stand against the social justice movement within the church, we still need to carefully distinguish between those individuals we certainly would not associate with from those faithful men that we have called friends, but who have offered encouragement to that other group. Of course separation from compromise is vital, but what we have determined is “compromise” needs to be expertly weighed. The last thing we need to do is become so consumed with the purity of our alliances that we inflict an equal amount of damage to the church as those we are separating from.