A Response to Wretched Radio & Phil Johnson
Look at that picture again. What do you see? You see a group of speakers, sure enough, but what do they all have in common? To anyone who has been a christian for any length of time (and even to most unbelievers) the one thing they all have in common is their purported Christianity. Every speaker on the list claims to be and is presented as a Christian. Roma Downey and Mark Burnett portray and present themselves as Christians. Greg Laurie is a pastor of a massive mega church. Joni Eareckson Tada is a recognized and purported Christian author and speaker. John MacArthur has been a pastor for 50 years. Rick Warren is a pastor of Saddleback Church in California. Yes, it is blatantly obvious to any and everyone that all the listed speakers are purported to be Christians. They are therefore in visible solidarity even on the poster as their common bond is their Christianity. But, is this really a bible conference? Are MacArthur and Warren partnering? Some would have you believe not. Is this merely some “trade show” for “broadcasters” only; some random platform where people in broadcasting come to give talks? Wretched Radio’s Todd Friel and Grace to You’s Phil Johnson have responded as anticipated and this is precisely their defense. They claim the NRB is not a Bible conference. The old Wizard of Oz defense; “pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.” Let’s examine their claim about Proclaim 2019, shall we?
“Proclaim” is an annual convention and/or conference put on by the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) and certainly (as the “B” implies) has a focus on the area of broadcasting. Does this mean they are just some generic group of people who love radio? The “R” in the title would indicate otherwise. But just what kind of “Religious” things does this group promote?
According to Phill Jonson of Grace to You the Proclaim Conference is simply a “trade show” for a “guild of broadcasters” but that it is “not a spiritual fraternity pushing a doctrinal agenda.” Given that Phil Johnson is to John MacArthur what Thomas Huxley was to Charles Darwin, it comes as no surprise that he would have to defend him by any means necessary. After all, Phil is the editor of MacArthur’s books and an “elder” at his church.
While it is true that this organization is geared toward those in broadcasting (again, as the “B” implies), and Phil clearly says this is “…not a spiritual fraternity” let’s explore the “R” a bit more. What “Religious” doctrine are they pushing? What religious decrees do they make, if any? Is this for every religion; Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, etc?
According to the NRB website, “[our] unity… is founded in the bond we share in the Person and work of Jesus Christ.” This is quite a specific claim and narrows it down for us. This is not merely some amorphous group that champions the generally religious rights to free speech, but one that emphatically declares itself to be of the Christian persuasion. We know this not only by their own words but by their actions.
All of the speakers invited to fellowship with them under the banner of scripture are not merely some “guild of broadcasters” as Phil Johnson would have you believe but unequivocally purport themselves to be part of evangelicalism. The board of directors includes Bob Lepine, Tony Evans and Ken Ham. This is without question a “spiritual fraternity” though the sycophants at Wretched Radio and Grace to You like to change the rules as they go. So well defined is this “spiritual fraternity” that they have a Statement of Faith. As you will see in points 3, 4 and 7 of this statement of faith (in the link or below), they again assert their unwavering claim to Christianity and the Lord Jesus Christ. This is by definition a “spiritual fraternity” despite Phil Johnson’s claims to the contrary. This man is either abysmally ignorant of who and what the NRB is, or he is lying deliberately.
Phil Johnson says in his statement that Grace to You has been a member of NRB for decades. But what does membership entail? Does merely having a radio station qualify one for membership with the NRB? In addition to a well defined Statement of Faith, NRB also has an 8 part Code of Ethics. All NRB members are required to submit to this code of ethics. Gee, this sounds an awful lot like a “spiritual fraternity” and less like some “trade show” doesn’t it? In EVERY one of the 8 points of their Code of Ethics there is a corresponding passage of Scripture to substantiate it, again showing their proclaimed and perceived dedication to the Bible and the Christian faith. They even state that the “Bible [is] the standard by which we must evaluate all beliefs, instruction, policies and practices.” If one didn’t know better they might think this was a church, and according to the definition of Ekklesia that’s precisely what this is; those who anywhere, in a city, village, constitute such a company and are united into one body; an assembly of the people convened at the public place of the council for the purpose of deliberating. They all claim to be “brethren.”
The president and CEO of the NRB says, “the mission of the NRB is to advance Biblical truth…. expanding opportunities for the Gospel.”Which Gospel is that? The Gospel of Jesus Christ as well defined in both their Statement of Faith and their Code of Ethics. As Phil Johnson equivocates in a desperate attempt to protect his master and likely his paycheck, reality stands strong. This sort of political tactic from both Phil Johnson and Todd Friel is precisely what is seen from the liberal left in politics today. They will invent new standards as they go, contradicting themselves at every turn, because truth is not the objective but rather a targeted agenda. These men are in the business of business and as such they must protect their interests. The inevitable result is what appears to be insanity. They will boldly claim opposing views from day to day if need be to toe the party line. The similarities between the duo of Phil Jonson and Todd Friel and Hillary Clinton are staggering. Let’s explore this.
Todd and Phil have been outspokenly critical of Michael Brown for his “participation” in conferences with heretics; I fully agree with their assessment of Michael Brown. Their friend Justin Peters has also recently taken Michael Brown to task, not for what he says, per se, but for what he refuses to say. Again, I also agree. They are willing to charge Michael Brown with the sin of silence for his involvement with other groups of professed Christians even stating that he is tacitly endorsing them merely by appearing with them. WHOA, COWBOY!!!! (A Friel-ism). How is John MacArthur not tacitly endorsing these heretics by his involvement? We see the double standard clearly; ever unbalanced weights and measures. Hillary and the deranged left use these tactics on a minute by minute basis. One minute all women must be believed, the next minute all of Bill Clinton’s accusers are liars. The similarities are startlingly similar. A headline yesterday (October 9, 2018) read, “Hillary: Allegations Against Bill Different Than Ones Against Trump, Kavanaugh.” This is precisely the bizarre double-mindedness being implemented by Wretched Radio, Grace to You and anyone who agrees with them. The allegations are identical.
One of Phil Johnson’s good buddies, filled with the spirit of Diotrephes, and the heart of a salesman (he sells John Calvin T-shirts on his website) is JD Hall from the popular “polemics blog” Pulpit & Pen. All of these men run in the same reformed circle and in the same illogical circle as well which has produced for them all the same dizzying intellect. Mr. Hall, in his assessment of Ronnie Floyd’s presence at an IHOP event with Mike Bickle was as follows,
Even though when Ronnie Floyd went to the microphone he said, ‘this isn’t an endorsement.’ No one heard that… you’re there celebrating with them. No one hears you say ‘this isn’t an endorsement,’ all they see is you on stage. So it is what we call a tacit endorsement.”
Phil Jonson, Todd Friel and Justin Peters have all said nearly identical things concerning Michael Brown as well, but utterly refuse to apply this to John MacArthur. Have they been studying the Clinton Foundation handbook? JD Hall says that despite Ronnie Floyd’s clear statement that he is NOT endorsing them, that his mere presence was enough to classify it as a “tacit endorsement.” Will he ever apply this to John MacArthur? NO! Why? Because he, like the rest of the court jesters running with “Doctrines of Grace” in hand, are consummate hypocrites; little Clinton-esque party loyalists who will do nothing to jeopardize their standing with the party and “will invent theories by which such compromises are justified; even commended.” (Charles Spurgeon quote there)
Fellowship vs Evangelism
What constitutes Biblical fellowship? What is the difference between fellowship and evangelism? Many will often appeal to Jesus eating with certain of the Pharisees as a justification for participation in certain ecumenical gatherings, but are these things the same? Did Jesus ever stand in solidarity with the Pharisees giving the impression that he was one with them? No. On the occasions where he ate, it was not in the context of religious worship, but was in their private homes. In Luke 7 a Pharisee named Simon invited Jesus to eat with him. What happened? Anyone remember? Jesus rebuked Simon in his own home. Jesus never stood in solidarity with the Pharisees lest you have forgotten Matthew 23 altogether, but rather rebuked them and warned of their hypocritical leaven. In the times that he interacted with them it was evangelistic in nature or that of scathing rebuke, not the appearance of religious fellowship or commonality. They will say that MacArthur can do more good if he goes there than if he did not. I offer another poignant quote from Charles Spurgeon:
there are many that are deceived by this method of reasoning. They remain where their conscience tells them they ought not to be, because, they say, they are more useful than they would be if they went ‘without the camp.’ This doing evil that good may come, can never be tolerated by an enlightened conscience. If an act of sin would increase my usefulness tenfold, I have no right to do it; and if an act of righteousness would appear likely to destroy all my apparent usefulness, I am yet to do it. It is yours and mine to do the right though the heavens fall, and follow the command of Christ whatever the consequences may be. ‘That is strong meat,’ do you say? Be strong men, then, and feed thereon.” — C.H.S., Sermons, 37, p. 426.
The great difference between evangelism and fellowship is the very appearance itself which is directly tied to the actions. There was no question that Paul was distinct from those he was evangelizing on Mars Hill. There is no question that Peter was distinct from those he was evangelizing on the day of Pentecost. There is no question that Steven was distinct from those he was disputing with in Jerusalem both of the Synagogue of the Freedmen and the council. There is no question that it is impossible to distinguish men as distinct from one another when they are members of the same organization, have submitted to the same Statement of Faith, Code of Ethics and Declaration of Unity, and have their faces plastered next to each other on a promotion of a Christian event in which they are both presumed to be Christians speaking under the banner of Scripture. It is impossible to distinguish John MacArthur as distinct from Rick Warren when he will be partaking with him at a WORSHIP SERVICE among a group of exclusively named Christians. This is fellowship.
A Word On Joshua Chavez and Jacob Prasch
In a desperate attempt to deflect from the issues, Todd and Phil offered their usual speculative nonsense; the art of misdirection. This is the business of con-artistry and magicians. Phil and Todd don’t have a leg to stand on between the two so they throw glitter into the air instead of engaging with reality. They implied that nobody knows my name and that I’m some anonymous character. Just because I don’t stamp my name on study bibles like their idol, Mr. MacArthur doesn’t mean I’m anonymous in any sense. My name is Joshua Chavez; it has always been Joshua Chavez. They know this is my name and it is readily available on this blog and in videos on the YouTube channel.
As for Jacob Prasch; he can defend himself and likely will, but I do find it curious that Phil Johnson refers to him as a “theological pugilist” when his own friend and ministry partner, JD Hall had to apologize for his role in the eventual suicide of the late Braxton Caner. Hall relentlessly bullied this 15 year old kid who eventually killed himself. Quite frankly, JD Hall is a little boy with an idolatry problem. While he apologized after the fact and said he was “broken” Hall’s antics haven’t changed at all. Janet Mefford confronted JD Hall in a November 2017 article that she had taken down 2 years prior. Here’s what she said:
Hall returned to Twitter after a long online hiatus and began insulting and abusing more Christians in a manner similar to that which my husband and I experienced. I informed him that if he did not stop insulting and abusing other Christians online, I would repost this article. Because Hall continued his attacks, I am following through on my promise. It is unconscionable that a pastor would treat anybody — much less other Christians — in such a despicable manner.”
For Phil Johhson to accuse anyone of theological pugilism while maintaining company with the likes of JD Hall who was proven to be a double-minded liar by this author, is comical. He and JD Hall are good buddies. Bad company corrupts good morals, but in this case I’m not sure who corrupted who. Never mind the fact that Todd Friel attempts to resurrect his failed stand-up comedy career every day on air to entertain the masses while making jokes out of issues that demand sobriety. On that note, Phil’s other friend Chris Rosebrough made a video response using excrement and fart noises to cover for the fact that he’s about as empty headed as his comrades. Every episode of Rosebrough’s “fighting for the faith” he does his best to entertain with jokes (like Todd).
Moriel Ministries and Jacob Prasch do significant work with AIDS babies in Arica and orphans in the third world. He primarily engages in teaching Christians all over the world (quite literally), and he is proficient in Hebrew and reads Greek as well. I can’t say the same for any of the aforementioned jokers who look more like they’re vying for a spot on the hit show “Last Comic Standing.”
Why is Phil mad at Jacob? Because Jacob confronted his idol John MacArthur on his heretical teaching that people can take the mark of the beast and still be saved. Phil never responds with substance; he wouldn’t know where to find it.
A COMPARISON OF OTHER CONFERENCES
Now back to the Christian Proclaim conference. The claim is that NRB is not a bible conference and that it is some unique gathering merely of a “guild of broadcasters” so let’s compare Proclaim to some other well known conferences that are undisputed as Christian gatherings.
TOGETHER FOR THE GOSPEL – John MacArthur has been a member of the Together for the Gospel conference for the past 12 years. This is hosted by Al Mohler (also a friend of Rick Warren) and includes men such as Mark Dever, David Platt and John Piper. What is the defining mission of T4G? According to their website they have a list of 18 “Affirmations and Denials” that could rightly be classed as a Statement of Faith. If you recall NRB has 8 points on their statement of faith and 8 points on their code of conduct.
They also state that they are “committed to standing together for the main thing-the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
NRB says, “[we] declare our unity of purpose in fulfilling the Great Commission given by our Savior and King.”
G3 CONFERENCE – Organized by Josh Buice regularly hosting men like Phil Johnson, Todd Friel, John Piper and David Platt, they affirm on their website, “The mission of the G3 Conference is to educate, encourage, and equip for the work of ministry and for the glory of God. Our mission is built upon the foundation of the holy Scriptures and upheld by three pillars – gospel, grace, and glory.”
NRB says, “The NRB International Christian Media Convention is a jam-packed, four-day event that connects, equips, and edifies thousands of Christian communicators.” and “National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) is a unique gathering of people, united by purpose and message: to proclaim the Good News of eternal life through Jesus Christ; to transform culture through the application of sound biblical teaching.”
SHEPHERD’S CONFERENCE – Hosted by John MacArthur himself and Grace Community Church, let’s view their mission statement:
“The mission of the Shepherds’ Conference is to provide the opportunity for men in church leadership to be challenged in their commitment to biblical ministry and to find encouragement together as servants of the chief Shepherd.”
NRB says, “Christian communicators coming together to spread the life-changing Truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ through every electronic medium available.” and “We must never lose sight of the fact that our first priority as ambassadors for Christ is to speak about Him – to clearly articulate the Gospel message of redemption and reconciliation.”
Now we’ll take a look at the conference Michael Brown and Ronnie Floyd were critiqued for attending;
IHOP “One Thing” CONFERENCE – Hosted by Mike Bickle and regularly including people like Todd White, Francis Chan and Jesus Culture (from Bill Johnson’s Bethel Church) they say, “In the midst of our schedule, we are intentionally asking God for divine interruptions, and we are not publishing speakers or worship teams. Rather than exalting human personalities and celebrity voices, we are deliberately re-centering around the consuming reality of Jesus—His agenda for planet Earth and His ownership of those four days in December.”
What is of interest here is the very clear lack of definition. There is NO Statement of Faith; NO Code of Ethics; NO Declaration of Unity; NO defined Mission Statement and yet, everyone is well aware of the very clear appearance and purporting to be a Christian organization within the evangelical spectrum.
If this conference is less defined than the Proclaim Conference then why did Friel, Johnson, Peters et. al. criticize Michael Brown and Ronnie Floyd for attending but ignore MacArthurs involvement in NRB? NRB’s definition in Christian affirmations is on par with most of the churches affiliated with these men.
What do we have in the NRB? We have a very well defined Christian organization that has its own Statement of Faith (which members must adhere to), its own Code of Ethics (which member must adhere to) and even a Declaration of Unity. We’ll look at that shortly. This is not simply some “trade show” or “guild of broadcasters” but a group of people united in their declaration of Jesus and therefore their solidarity with one another. Among those MacArthur will be partaking with during this assembly of purported “christian” brothers and sisters are Rick Warren and Devon Franklin; an ecumenical pope-loving heretic and a friend and partner of Joel Osteen, not to mention Roma Downey and Mark Burnett who are Catholic mystics. WHOA COWBOY!!! (the Friel-ism), you mean to tell me that Rick Warren and John MacArthur have professed unity? YES! According to the NRB’s own Declaration of Unity that is EXACTLY what they must do to maintain membership with the NRB:
“We, the members of the National Religious Broadcasters, acknowledging that our mutual relationships are rooted in the bond we share in Jesus Christ… And in the strength of that unity, we commit ourselves to the declarations that follow.”
“We remember our responsibility to refrain from overly dwelling on secondary matters – those that tend to divide even the household of faith – focusing rather on the message of redemption wrought by Christ Jesus on the cross.“
The verbiage of “we” and “our” is enough to bring charges of solidarity, but the verbiage of “unity” and “bond” are the nail in the coffin. This is without question a Christian organization that is united in one thing; the belief in and promotion of the Bible and Jesus. Given this, we must now evaluate the soundness of the organization for “what have [we] to do with judging those outside?” (1 Corinthians 5:12). All the members of the organization have declared a “bond” and “unity” with Rick Warren (a pope-loving ecumenical heretic), Roma Downey (A Catholic mystic) and Devon Franklin (buddy of Joel Osteen). To say that John MacArthur isn’t partnering with Rick Warren would be to reinvent the affirmation of the organization itself which nobody has the prerogative to do and which would be false witness.
By their own declarations, they are united. Just read Joni Eareckson Tada’s statement about NRB. According to her the members of NRB are “like-minded” people. This is far from anomalous but rather axiomatic to anyone with a pulse. This organization is for “Christians” by “Christians” and more well defined that most other conferences that purport to be Christian. They are united together for the cause of advancing the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which means they are all gathered in His name under the banner of Scripture which would make this fellowship and nothing short of it. As we ought to know the “unity” spoken of in Ephesians chapter 4 is a unity that is rooted in The Holy Spirit and in truth. Any unity that does not have truth and spirit as the basis of it is a false unity and a “unity” that even the mentors of these men like Martyn Lloyd Jones and Charles Spurgeon would decry. In fact, not only would they; they have.
Whatever this unity is we can say this about it; it must be theological; it must be doctrinal; it must be based upon an understanding of the truth.” (Martyn Lloyd-Jones)
According to Lloyd-Jones (and rightly) there is no biblical unity which is not rooted in theology, doctrine and truth. But, according to the NRB all of its members have unity and and bond together, which would include John MacArthur and Rick Warren. The visible showing of unity and solidarity in Christ’s name with those in error, whether doctrinal or moral is expressly forbidden per 1 Corinthians 5:11, 2 John 11, Ephesians 5:11, etc. Not only is it forbidden in scripture but was condemned by the MacArthur Camp’s own hero of the faith, Charles Spurgeon:
It is our solemn conviction that where there can be no real spiritual communion there should be no pretense of fellowship. Fellowship with known and vital error is participation in sin.” (C.H.S., November 1887, The Sword and the Trowel.)
That I might not stultify my testimony, I have cut myself clear of those who error from the faith, and even from those who associate with them.” — C.H.S., October 1888.
Spurgeon even cut himself clear from those who associated with those who erred from the faith, but John MacArthur joins them directly. He is a member of an organization with Rick Warren, the same Rick Warren who in March of 2018 at the proclaim conference called for unity with Catholics as well. This is nothing new for the man who says, “If you love Pope Francis, you’ll love Jesus.” MacArthur is preaching at the WORSHIP SERVICE. Whatever the sequence of events may be, know that those who are invited are presumed to be united with each other and moving with one accord. Todd Friel himself says of Michael Brown,
“…he participates in conferences with these folks… it seems to me, Michael is these people.”
“he’s right next to Randy Clark… look, if I do a conference I know who’s in the green room. I know what’s going on out there. I know what these folks are about…. When you do things like this it’s because you group them together because they’re in the same vein.”
Todd said this about the conference poster. Now when John MacArthur is right next to Rick Warren he attempts to divert from the problem by appealing to court jester joking tactics. This scenario is identical to that of Michael Brown. If Brown is indictable for appearing next to Randy Clark on a poster and being lumped in because he “participates in conferences” with them, then so too is John MacArthur indictable for appearing with Rick Warren on a poster and “participating” in a conference with him. There is simply no escaping this.
To put it bluntly, if NRB is not a bible conference, there is nothing on earth that can be rightly called by that name. It is a gathering of named Christians who have submitted themselves to a Statement of Faith and a Code of Ethics as well as a Delcaration of Unity an as such are part of a body of fellowship together. They are publicly declaring their unity and solidarity in Jesus’ name for the advancement of the Gospel and the very clear message is that they are united together.
Even if this weren’t the case, according to Peters and Hall, mere presence would be enough to qualify as a tacit endorsement. What is NRB all about? According to Kay Arthur and the NRB itself, it’s all about the Bible. This would make Phil Jonson a liar. The central theme and focus of the organization and conference is the Bible and the advancement of Biblical truth. This makes John MacArthur a partner with Rick Warren and by Todd Friel’s own standard, John MacArthur “Is these people.”
Todd Friel: “Rick Warren Not A Heretic”
In an attempt to defend a man (Johnny Mac) whom Todd is said to “fangirl” over (Wretched’s words, not mine) he said what is unthinkable to anyone including his honest listeners. While in damage control for Pope Johnny Mac Friel says,
Is [Rick Warren] a heretic? No… No. Go ahead and grill him. On penal substitutionary atonement; he’s there…. is he your cup of tea? Probably not. Is he a heretic? No. Whoa Cowboys.”
You can’t make this stuff up, folks.
The same Rick Warren who says, “If you love Pope Francis you’ll love Jesus” is NOT a heretic according to Todd Friel.
The same Rick Warren who says, “To go to hell you have to do almost the impossible.” is NOT a heretic according to Todd Friel.
The same Rick Warren who says, “Maher Hathout (Muslim) is a genius; he’s a dear friend of mine.” is NOT a heretic according to Todd Friel.
The same Rick Warren who says, “You can walk hand in hand without seeing eye to eye.” is NOT a heretic according to Todd Friel.
The same Rick Warren who says to Catholics, “If you love Jesus, we’re on the same team.” Is NOT a heretic according to Todd Friel.
The same Rick Warren who went to the Vatican to preach alongside an antichrist Pope and shower him with praise and adoration; the same Rick Warren who propagates his antichrist agenda P.E.A.C.E. plan.
The same Rick Warren whom Todd Friel’s own friend Justin Peters calls a false teacher? Wow, Todd. You’ve really dropped the ball this time. Just when we thought it couldn’t get any worse, Todd Friel publicly proclaims that Rick Warren is not a heretic and says he’s merely not his “cup of tea”
This is irreparably bad and the direct result of idolatry.
I leave you with this and urge you to do the same as Charles Spurgeon did here; come out from among them:
“The day will come when those who think they can repair a house which has no foundations will see the wisdom in quitting it altogether. All along we have said that to come out from association with questionable doctrines is the only possible solution of a difficulty which, however it may be denied, is not to be trifled with by those who are conscious of its terrible reality.” — C.H.S., The Sword and the Trowel, July 1889.
Below is the NRB’s own Declaration of Unity
If the NRB is not a Bible conference, then nothing is a Bible conference. If the NRB is not a perceived and purported gathering of Christians, then nothing is. If the NRB is not gathering under the guise of Christian fellowship and solidarity, then nobody is. This group is well defined and in declared unity with one another. Those who are united are partners;
1. a person who takes part in an undertaking with another or others, especially in a business or company with shared risks and profits.
John MacArthur will be undertaking with Rick Warren in a “business” with shared risks and/or profits as two who are subject to a common declaration of unity, code of ethics and statement of faith; therefore, John MacArthur IS partnering with Rick Warren until or unless he removes himself from this group and apologizes publicly.
But we now have the added dilemma of Todd Friel publicly asserting that Rick Warren is NOT a heretic. WHOA, COWBOY!