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3. No cussin'.
4. State no argument without reference to a biblical passage or passages and show a strong logical connection between your statement and the passages you cite.
5. Insults, sarcasm, name-calling, irony, derision, and humor at the expense of others aren't allowed unless they are biblical or logical, in which case they are WILDLY ENCOURAGED.
6. No aphronism.
7. Fear God, not man.

Friday, July 02, 2010


This is the article I promised on June 15 with this teaser. This means I'm two weeks late, but there was just a lot of mental gestation I had to do and the article simply wasn't ready. Sorry.

Finally, here it is:

Imagine a fellow comes into your church this Sunday. He's visibly missing lots of teeth. His nose has been severely broken so many times it's flat and bent. He can't breathe through it. He has facial scars and a misshapen body that show he's been beaten severely and often. He's dressed in a way that indicates poverty and moves in a way that tells all onlookers of a broken body.

Would his presence make you uncomfortable?

Now imagine he's the preacher.

Paul was beaten repatedly. What we may consider embarrassing or indications of people of a lower station in life Paul saw as credentials, evidence of being owned by God, the proof of the priviledge to suffer just like our Brother. "I bear on my body the brand-marks of Jesus." He was left for dead. We was whipped. He was stoned and survived. In a day without modern dentistry, orthodontics, and orthopedics, it's hard to honestly imagine Paul and at least some early Christian apostles, evangelists, and pastors didn't look a lot like what I've described. Today, a guy like that wouldn't be asked to substitute teach Sunday school just because of his looks.

You know it and I know it.

There IS a strident class system in today's Modern Evangelicalism. It's silent, but it can be seen if one cares to look at what we all know is the ugly truth. You my wish to start looking in places like these: When was the last time you had a poor person elected to the board of your church? In your denomination, who goes to Bible school and seminary? What color are they? Of what social class are they?

Let me tell you three stories of Modern Evangelical bigotry.

When I went to college to get my first degree, I was eighteen and sure I was a pretty good guy. During my second year I noticed that two fellows were hanging around in the same area that I often did. They were Native American and very much alone in a sea of pasty caucas-hood. It was a university of about 10,000 students, but in a dormitory all students eat at the same chow hall. It's easy to move with the herd and, as a result, you see all the same faces every day. You get to know each other at least by face.

So, I found that I constantly saw these two fellows. Being from two different cultures, we didn't speak. They could be in a crowd of a dozen or two dozen other men on the way to lunch, but nothing was said between the Native American men and the white students. Nothing at all. And I don't blame this on the white students anymore than on the two Native men. Either could have spoken. We didn't speak to them because we assumed, I suppose, that they didn't like to speak with us and they were likely in the same boat.

After a few weeks of watching this, I just couldn't take it. It was uncomfortable and it seemed to be wrong. So I just decided to stop following the unspoken rule. I made it my business to speak the next time I was in their proximity and in a situation that meant I would speak to a white student. No special effort. No different treatment, just speak if I'd speak to anyone else in the same conditions.

They seemed as uncomfortable as I now realize I certainly seemed to them. And they didn't speak to me like a white student would. They spoke like they spoke in their culture. One was named Jay and the other I can't remember after all these years.

Evidently, all three of us got used to each other and our culturally-determined quirks because they would soon come eat with me at the cafeteria. I took that as quite a compliment. I did the same to them. I came to enjoy their company.

Welllll...until one evening in the TV room.

Everyone who didn't bring a TV to school with them had to go to a cigarette-smoke-filled room in the basement of the dorm and sit in the dark as if in a movie theater. Back then the westerns were what we called cowboy-and-Indian shows. The plot went like this: The Indians are awful and evil and so they do something awfully evil, like capturing and torturing some white person or attacking innocent white folks trying to settle in "their" land.

Guess which genre of movie was showing the evening I was in the TV room when Jay and his friend came and sat with me?
Yepppp...that's right.

They sat next to their friend. Immediately they started quietly mocking the movie. When an Indian character spoke in broken English, they would laugh a sneering laugh and say something on the order of "All Indians talk like that, huh?" And when some of the Native characters were depicted singing some melody of only three notes, they'd moan along and say, "And all Indians sing like that, don't they?" And they chuckled when they asked, "Hey, where are all the Indians? All I see is white men with bad make-up." They particularly liked that one. It IS funny.

Before they even spoke a word, my own default-setting racism plunged in upon my consciousness like an ugly epiphany. How could I be so stupid? So blind? Such a jerk? Well, I was and suddenly I knew it. All this occurred to me the instant they sat next to me. When they started making their comments it only made it even more obvious.

I didn't apologize. It would sound all too empty. All I could do was agree with them and pray this stupid show would end. They were right. That was the last time I ever watched a cowboys-and-Indians show. Everrrrr.

Sometime ago, a good friend of mine told me of a popular Evangelical and Reformed leader and his bigotry. This trusted, intelligent leader blogs, lectures, writes, and is on youtube. Many "Christian" blogs have links to his site. I won't mention his name because, while I know it's a true story on the basis of the integrity of the man who reported it to me, I can't document it. His behavior was witnessed only by one person. Biblically, I have to leave it there.

Here's what happened: The popular leader--I'll call him "Bob"--showed up at a black church to meet a certain black Christian man--I'll call him "Stan". Stan has given up a lot for integrity and for Christ. He was well paid while employed in a large, popular ministry. When he discovered it was a dishonest ministry, Stan left it and moved to a much smaller ministry run in a godly way. When Bob showed up, he met Stan's wife. She is white and when Bob realized she was Stan's wife, he asked if she actually worshipped with "those people".
That's right--"THOSE PEOPLE".

Bob showed up at a black church pretending to meet a brother in Christ, all the while harboring thoughts of superiority, looking down his nose in his heart. Nice, Bob.

Now, why would a Christian wife not worship with her husband? In Bob's mind because her husband is black and worships with other black believers!!!!!

Are you kidding me?

Imagine a man who uses as an argument the fact that another man is from the inner city. That's right. Someone made a claim. Phil Johnson didn't like the claim and started his argument the way he often does, by belittling his opponent. All he had to do (in his mind) was mention that the one who made the claim is just an "inner city pastor" in that dismissive way we learned on the playground at grade school. "Don't listen to him. He's a boy." "Ignore her. She's not on the cheerleader squad." "Have you seen what he drives?" "He went to that other school." "Their family is from the other side of town." "He's from the ghetto."

I'd not think too much of this expression "inner city pastor", but for two things. It's part of an article that is heavy in insult and dishonesty and, with Phil Johnson, there's a pattern of using lots of subtle personal insults based on stereotypes and innuendo and even lying outright when dealing with someone he doesn't like. Check out the insults he issued in this post.

For instance, read here. Then read the Facebook thread and see Phil Johnson lie about folks who objected to Rick Warrren being invited to speak at a conference sponsored by John Piper. While many of us were upset that a heretic with post-modern leanings was invited, he implied that we were simply bigots. He claimed we disrespected Piper just because we "dislike" Warren. There is simply no other word. Lied. And if you read his appeal it's all based on the fact that we are the little people and Piper is of a higher rank. More on that particular bigotry thread later.

I would remind Johnson that, even if Piper was a prophet or apostle, he would be subject to the judgment of the congregation and it would be the obligation of the assembly to make that judgment. Deuteronomy 18:15-20 and Galatians 1:8-9.

Read Phil Johnson's "rant" (Johnsonesque, don't you think?) against John Coleman. I'm not going to defend either side here. There are problems on both sides and it's really off topic. If one assumes or concedes that both John Coleman and Bob Johnson are totally wrong, Phil lied about Coleman more than once. There isn't an exception to the ninth commandment if the subject is a jerk, a liar, or simply wrong. Don't lie. Everything said about John was aimed at belittling him, regardless of the facts. Phil called him "worthless" and a "gadfly". Here's a list of Phil's lies (only partial for brevity):

1. Claim: John E. Coleman is an inner city pastor.
Fact: John also teaches at a local college teaching philosophy classes, including logic, and has a higher education than Phil Johnson. This information is on Coleman's website, so Johnson knew better.
Conclusion: Johnson wanted us to think of Coleman as an uneducated, poor fellow that is likely not nearly as smart as he and he was willing to at least shade the truth to make the point.

2. Claim: John E. Coleman is "obsessed" with MacArthur.
Fact: While this dust up is ongoing, both Phil and John have devoted time and space to it. Look here to see John's site. Very little of it is devoted to MacArthur.
Conclusion: Johnson was demeaning a brother to gain points in an argument, which is odd, since Johnson is the first to scream "Ad hominem! Ad hominem! Ad hominem!" if there is a wiff of someone arguing on the basis of prejudice against him. When Johnson makes his case, it's fine. When Coleman makes his, it's "obsessed", just like "harsh". Phil makes his case and that's fine. Make your case and you're "harsh" and your case isn't a case. It's a "rant" or a "screed". No matter what he says or how "harsh" he or anyone on his side may be, the made-to-order rules only apply to you. They don't apply to him.

Cuz Johnson sez so, you know.

Which reminds me of the sort of rules others used to make up. Jesus mentioned it. "Woe to you lawyers as well! For you weigh men down with burdens hard to bear, while you yourselves will not even touch the burdens with one of your fingers."

3. Claim: MacArthur never falls into pragmatism, the practice of shaping ministry activities or teachings based on likely numerical success.
Fact: MacArthur is known to use powerful "Christian" publishers, television networks, and radio stations who also push Word of Faith and Emergent heresies and Phil Johnson often cites numerical success or failure to prove who is right and wrong, criticizing folks he doesn't like as those who "stand alone", working the same logic of pragmatism backwards.
Conclusion: Johnson is dishonest.

Perhaps all this is a matter of the culture in John MacArthur's organization. The Scripture says the student will become like his teacher. John Macarthur claims to be a Christian from an early age, yet he attended a "Christian" school with overtly racist policies. He attended Bob Jones University for two years as a young Christian man. It's a school that forbade interracial dating, whatever that is. Recently MacArthur let something slip. Check out this video clip. If you start listening at 4 minutes, you'll hear John MacArthur say, "Now there are some problems with The Shack that are obvious. God is not an obese African-American woman. (Waits for the crowd to laugh, but doesn't get it) That would be one problem to consider in the book." Then he waits for the second time for the crowd to laugh and...

...the crowd laughs.

I was flabbergasted. It was a laugh line and he delivered it like a laugh line, complete with a pause for laughter and a prodder line to cue the audience that it was time to laugh. It wasn't off-the-cuff and silly. MacArthur thought it through, planned it in advance, knew EXACTLY what he was saying, and said it anyway. Obviously, there are some folks who don't matter. I don't have to explain why this was considered "funny". He was mocking a whole class of people for their appearance because he doesn't care about them. They have little place in his world. If they get upset, their opinion doesn't affect his bottom line. This brings up one very cogent question:

Hey, John, which is funniest, the "African American" part, the "obese" part, or the "woman" part?

I think MacArthur should have to answer that question in front of a congregation of African American believers with their wives, sisters, aunts, mothers, and grandmothers present, the slender ones and the ones to whom MacArthur turns up his very-nicely-powdered-for-the-cameras nose.

Then he should have to stand at the exit, shaking their hands, asking their opinion of aging white fellows with receding hairlines and a train load full of conceit.

And here's another question: How do you expect any non-white person to feel welcome at any institution where the head makes this sort of crack? Does MacArthur care? Does he care enough to pretend he cares? His school, like most, is financially inaccessable to many folks who aren't surburban. But that seems to be okay. Why? * John's god, it seems, calls primarily men of a certain class.

If you think, I'm wrong about MacArthur harboring bigotry, consider this contrast. In the case of The Shack it's laughable, in his mind, to compare God to a black woman who's overweight, but he has nothing to say about Phil Johnson's identical sin. Johnson has used DaVinci's Creation of Adam on the web, in which God is depicted as an old man reaching out to touch the finger of a naked Adam. Both are equally idolatrous, but God as a black woman is funny, while God as an elderly, strangely muscular, white man with a beard isn't.


Prejudice so thick its owner can't see through it comes to mind. And then, there's the partiality theory. One idolater is mocked and another's hired to be a right hand man. Is it okay for God to be depicted as a bearded white male, but not as a black woman who may not be up to MacArthur's standard for sex appeal?

It doesn't really matter. If MacArthur gives Johnson a pass because of overt classism or because his buddies get to sin sins the rest of us don't, it's still bigotry, it's still hypocrisy, and it's still sin. And it seems so natural for them both. They don't seem ashamed. It doesn't even occur to them. Perhaps they need a moment like I had when Jay sat next to me in the TV room. On the other hand, Johnson has been confronted about the way he treats people many times. Willing to lie at the drop of a hat, especially if it deflects an effective argument, he obfuscates, shades, and prevaricates about it.

Getting back to the Facebook episode referenced above, he was confronted here. If you read the article and the Facebook thread, you'll catch Johnson making fun of a man for his appearance, the thin-skinned bully making fun of the weakest kid on the playground. (Like teacher, like student?) When confronted with his sin, he lied, saying he did it to show the physical effects of leading a life of "dissipation". And he's sure to include that the man was a criminal. So it's okay because he's mocking a sinner? Who does he think he is in God's eyes?--Oh, yeah, he's Phil Johnson. Stupid me, I forgot.

Paula Coyle (for whom I owe a lot of source material for this article) made plain Johnson's hypocrisy. She said this:

Phil rebuked me and Ingrid and Gayle here,
but everyone who is laughing at this man's appearance
... well nope, nothing to be said to them. Sure I have a
chip on my shoulder, I have a problem with ministers of
God acting like teenage boys.
(Actually, Paula, most teenage boys I know have more class than this and who's to say Johnson, in light of the fruit of his life, belongs to God at all?)

And Phil's lies are evident in the reaction of the Johnsonettes and his reaction to them. While he was lying on the fly, creating a contorted mess of illogic that this whole thing somehow wasn't juvenile meanness, his fans continued making "funny" cracks about the victim. And Johnson said nothing to stop the mocking. So, it WAS fine with him to mock the same sort of people real Christians go into prisons to evangelize. The folks for whom the God Johnson claims to serve died.

Phil, it seems, is MUCH too good for that sort of folk and, if he brushed up against one......wellll, they may soil the floral print on his Hawaiian shirt.

Jesus, not being as enlighteded as Johnson, related to criminals differently. First of all, He was more at peace in their company than in the company of upper-crust religionists. As a result, He was hated by the Phil-Johnson types because He loved them, He taught them, and He forgave them. He didn't sneer at them. He didn't make fun of their appearance like He was eight. He didn't hate them, trying to appear bigger and better Himself by making them seem small. Liars, robbers, whores, swindlers, thieves on crosses, and even overly pompous, self-important religionists like....

Johnson condemns himself when he tries to straighten Paula out. Read this arrogant "rant" (Giving a quack a dose of his own prescription is FUN!!! or maybe I should have said "screed".) from the thread:

Scripture commands us to show
"respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor
is owed" (Romans 13:7). If you can be overtly
disrespectful to someone of John Piper's stature because
you dislike his choice of conference speakers, but then
protest that it's inappropriate and cruel to post the
mug-shot of a would-be murderer who has devoted his
entire life to dissipation, I'd say your values are a little
bit skewed.

So Paula, since she's one of the little people and not a person of "stature", is wrong for loving a criminal and disrespecting a lying religious leader?

Sounds rather Christ-like to me. Hummm.....Jesus' values are "skewed", but Phil the Bigot is just fine? Is Johnson this stupid, this blinded by prejudice, or simply lying again?

I may not be able to sleep tonight wondering.....

Scripturally, Johnson and Piper aren't due any more respect than Jesus gave such folks.

This sort of bigotry seems natural to these fellows, especially Johnson. For instance, where have we read insults like "figntin' fundie" or "plowboy"? Of course, in Phil's suburban California world, other folks don't quite measure up, no matter their beliefs or their standing in Christ. Plowboys are rural (and, therefore, much less intelligent, sophisticated, and righteous than Johnson, cuz he sez so) and fightin fundies aren't hip. The prophets were almost all rural. The father of our faith was rural. And A. W. Tozer called himself a Fundamentalist as do many Reformed believers in Ireland and Scotland today. The first Fundamentalists were Presbyterians who stood up against the theological liberalism coming into American churches and schools in the late 1800's and early 1900's. Originally, they were fine people who upheld the "fundamental" doctrines of Scripture, like the resurrection and the virgin birth. They came to be hated. The "New Evangelism" movement was folks, like Carl Henry (Christianity Today), Charles Fuller (Fuller Theological Seminary), and Harold Ockenga who wanted to get rid of the stigma of "narrow-mindedness". They didn't want to be hated for Christ's sake. They didn't want scars like the Christ they pretended to love and obey. Their tack was to pretend to fundamentalist doctrine, but fellowship with liberals, attend their schools, and establish similar schools. Soon, they, like Johnson, actually joined in the chorus of hate, calling anyone of an odd religious bent (such as King James Only folks) "Fundamentalists", smearing that sort of thing on the original faithful saints fighting for the faith. (See footnote.)**

Why is it okay to disparage these people? Is Johnson wiser and better than Tozer?

I don't think so.

I've watched for some time now as more and more people are catching on to exactly what sort of fellow Johnson is. Some are non-plused by the juxtaposition of MacArthur's reputation and Johnson's unbecoming behavior.

It's easy to answer this puzzle for yourself by crystalizing it into two questions: 1. Having had Johnson at his side since 1981, if a wise spiritual leader can't get a line on his disciple in almost thirty years, how long will it take? 2. In the words of Paul, what partnership has righteousness and lawlessness? Two can't walk together if they don't agree. So....what is it these two have in common?

Lastly, while much (actually most) of what was said by Bob Johnson is a series of logical stretches to make a predetermined point, there is room to criticize MacArthur's organization and the personell in it and Phil Johnson lied about John Coleman and he did his best to discredit him based upon pure prejudice. Christians are NEVER to do such things.

Is no one in MacArthur's organization aware? Do they care?

Let me end up by reminding Phil Johnson and all other religious leaders claiming lofty stature for themselves and their buddies of something a Man said a long time ago.

The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things, and do not do them. And they tie up heavy loads, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger. But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries, and lengthen the tassels of their garments. And they love the place of honor at banquets, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called by men, Rabbi. But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. And do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ. But the greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.

--Jesus Christ, shortly before He was murdered by men of great stature.

Phil Perkins.

*There is an answer to this problem. Look for it in my upcoming series Burn the Seminary, Save the Church. It's simply a return to training within the local church and that's why I teach the biblical languages over the internet.

**This is highly over-simplified, but more of this history will be explained in the last installments of the series on The Lost Doctrine of Holiness or you may wish to read Roland McCune's Promise Unfulfilled, The Failed Strategy of Modern Evangelicalism.

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