|16 June 2017|
With all due respect Phil,
1) Don't you think what Dr. James White has done warrants concern? Instead of focusing on calling out Brannon (which may or may not be warranted?), would you please talk about why/to what extent you support White's decision?
2) Also, did MacArthur ever call out Brannon over trashing him or refuse to do anything with WVW?
3) You made a comment to someone that WVW is a bad tree that bears rotten fruit. MacArthur would agree that all should stay away from WVW, right? I'm trying to understand that comment; are you rebuking all those that associate with WVW?
Those are good and valid questions. I'll reply in the order you asked them.
1. It has been a long-standing policy of mine that I don't do formal debates with heretics and skeptics. I also would not participate in a public friendly dialogue with any gospel-denying religious leader. I don't want to give equal time to false teachers or provide a platform that a purveyor of false religion might use with the aim of proselytizing if there's a risk I might not be able to answer definitively in the moment, or that people might be confused by it.
I have, however, attended several of James White's debates (and listened to the recordings of many more of them) and in my judgment the debates he has engaged in are quite profitable because of his unique ability to answer and refute whatever error he tackles. Every time I have ever heard him debate, he has capably defended the gospel with supreme skill and clarity. His debates have been exceptionally instructive for me personally, going back at least to the early 1990s. He has an uncanny ability to make the line of demarcation between truth and error distinct and intelligible, and he is thorough and biblical in his defense of the truth.
With regard to "dialogues," in all candor, I'm not really a fan of the a softer, gentler style that dominates the typical friendly public confab between spokespeople for diverse religions. A friendly parley sacrifices the stark clarity you get in a vigorous debate.
James White's conviction is that doing this makes for a better evangelistic opportunity. We might quibble about whose perspective is right. But it's foolish and sinfully divisive to think a difference like that over methodology is sufficient reason to anathematize someone with whom we agree on practically every vital doctrinal issue.
Besides, it IS true that in one-on-one evangelistic encounters, a cordial exchange is generally better and more effective than an argumentative approach. Dr. White's opinion on the validity of public dialogues with Muslims is not, in and of itself, enough to validate the charge that he is guilty of compromising or abandoning the gospel. The only question that concerns me is whether he actually used the opportunity to proclaim the gospel clearly. If he did proclaim the gospel—and in the case that has been criticized most recently, he certainly did—then it's an absolute slander (i.e., a deliberate lie) to equate what he is doing with the philosophy that has been advocated by the defenders of "Chrislam" or ecumenical interfaith dialogues.
As I said in answer to a question raised elsewhere, we would not sanction a public dialogue with a Muslim Imam (or any other person with an agenda to teach false religion) at Grace community Church. But neither are we sympathetic to the lynch-mob mentality that seems determined to use a disagreement such as this to discredit years of faithful ministry by Dr. White.
2. John MacArthur did not respond to Brannon Howse's attack on him in 2008. And I'm certain if Brannon sent an apology to John MacArthur, John would indeed have been gracious and forgiving. I'm not privy to John MacArthur's personal correspondence, so I don't know what transpired between the two of them. I do know how my own interaction with Brannon went. He phoned me at that time to say he had had a change of heart and intended to change the style of his daily broadcasts. He said he wanted to focus more on biblical instruction and edification and lose the fiery, sensationalized politics and polemics.
I'd had a series of interactions with Mr. Howse prior to this, most of them prompted by disturbing things he had said or done, so my reply to him was that if he was serious, I hoped to see the fruit of his heart-change. But what followed was a succession of conflicts reminiscent of the old-style approach.(His unnecessary public attacks on Christine Pack and Todd Friel are two examples that others have already mentioned here. I don't need to go into more detail unless Brannon himself disputes the facts, but the reality is that I haven't seen the change in style he told me he intended to make.)
A year or two (maybe more) after Brannon's "conversion," Dr. MacArthur graciously agreed to speak via video at a WorldView weekend event. John's involvement in that event was very nearly canceled because of Brannon's on-air shenanigans. I won't go into the details of that episode unless Brannon himself thinks it necessary. My point here is that although Brannon has implied that John MacArthur's participation in a WVW event proves everything was settled and he has had no conflicts with the ministry I serve since his turnabout—that's quite a misleading claim, and he knows it.
3. I cited Luke 6:44-45 to make the point that a pattern of bad behavior doesn't arise from good motives. It wasn't a comment about the WVW network, consigning them to the realm cults and false religions. As a matter of fact, I have numerous friends whose broadcasts are featured on Brannon's network. I've never told any of them they need to sever that relationship, nor would I. As I said elsewhere earlier today, it's not my practice to tell my friends whom they are allowed to be friendly with. I'm actually quite glad there are good and edifying broadcasters on Brannon's network. His listeners need these teachers' instruction, and I'm glad some sound, biblical voices have found an audience there.