Fact Checking the Worldview Weekend Newsletter
financial solicitation letter newsletter for Worldview Weekend has made its way out to their supporters, and to a few people who are not supporters, which is why we have it. It has all the doom and gloom, Elijah-complex sensationalism that one would expect from any ministry selling survival supplies. You may not know it, but Brannon Howse is the last line of defense against the Muslim hordes invading our shores and churches in a global jihad. That’s right. He and his supporters are the last line of defense – unquote – against the imminent Islamocalypse.
To be clear, Brannon Howse’s newsletter – like his reporting on James White – has some truth to it. What he has to say about Yasir Qahdi seems to be very accurate. And to reiterate (yet again), we do not like Interfaith Dialogues (IFD), we do not promote Interfaith Dialogues, we think they are stupid, in some cases sinful, and in most cases very naive. You can read more about our views of Interfaith Dialogue in this post, here. And – again to be clear – Pulpit & Pen is as popular with James White as lamb chops are at a vegan picnic. We have absolutely no reason to stick up for James White, who has actually been quite more contentious towards us than Brannon Howse.
We do, however, desire to be impartial in our judgments. That being said, there are some factual self-contradictions – or untruths – in the solicitation mailing.
1. Worldview Weekend did not come under attack for breaking a story, because Worldview Weekend did not break a story. This may seem like a small matter of inconsistency with the facts, but it’s one that the Worldview Weekend donors need to be aware of. This was not a secret cloak and dagger meeting held in the basement of a Masonic Lodge somewhere in Memphis. It was advertised ahead of time. It was written about afterward. It was talked about by James White on his program, which has substantial listenership. And, a number of blogs and opinion givers complained about it when it happened – which was nearly half a year before Howse “broke the story” at Worldview Weekend.
Breaking a story is what Pulpit & Pen did when we released Alex Malarkey’s Open Letter to Lifeway. It’s what we did when we released documentation showing Louisiana College paid off its Southern Baptist president’s gay assistant in exchange for a non-disclosure agreement. It’s what we did when we dropped the hammer on Clayton Jennings’ concerning the women he abused. Talking about something six months after it happened because you just happened to hear about it is not “breaking a story.” So, point of order on that.
Saying that Worldview Weekend broke the White-Qahdi dialogue story is like covering the 1969 moon landing on the front page in 1974 and saying you broke it. However, when you say that YOU broke a story, it makes it seem like – whatever the story was broke about – was a sinister and secretive affair with the audience dressed in black hoods coming in the back entrance down a dark alley.
2. While the dialogue between James White and Yasir Qahdi provided a format in which one man would speak and then another man (taking turns, similar to how a debate would work), it is categorically untrue that White never disagreed with Qahdi. The only reason they had a dialogue in the first place was the (rightful) presupposition that the two had disagreements. White vocalized his disagreements. I don’t like Interfaith Dialogues. I agree with Paisley when he said, “We don’t dialogue with heretics, we dispute with them.” But, for the love of all that is good and pure, you can’t say that White never disagreed with Qahdi. That’s simply, factually, without-a-doubt untrue. Watch the videos and see for yourself.
You can argue about whether or not White disagreed enough. You can argue about whether or not Interfaith Dialogue is Biblical. You cannot argue with the objective, historic reality that James White vocally disagreed with Yasir Qahdi during their dialogue.
3. Howse writes, “[we] are left to believe that a Christian minister agrees with the lies and blasphemy about our Lord and his work.” The only way this could be a true statement is if Howse is assuming that his audience has the intellectual acumen of a grape fruit. Anyone – and I mean anyone, no matter how much they personally dislike James White – would be foolish if not dishonest to claim that believing White agreed with Qahdi’s position on theology was reasonable. That is probably the dumbest line in the entire newsletter. It’s not, however, the most dishonest. That one’s coming.
4. The “one minister” Howse refers to, we all recognize to be Justin Peters. The conference Howse refers to was the Judge Not Conference, which I organized along with the boys from Bible Thumping Wingnut and Striving for Eternity. I was present when Peters said the things that Howse misquotes. Howse’s treatment of Peters here seems to be the most dishonest part of Howse’s financial solicitation. Let me cite the ways:
(A) Justin Peters did not say that he was giving White a pass because White was a Calvinist. That’s 100% fabricated nonsense. When Joe Aguillard was covering up his sins at Louisiana College (LC), he fired completely innocent faculty members (who happened to be Calvinist), claiming that Calvinists were trying to take over LC. In reality, this was about financial mismanagement, but by saying it had something to do with Calvinism, Aguillard secured the support of David Hankins and a legion of Arminians ready to do battle on the subject. We didn’t stand there and let Aguillard do that and we’re not going to sit here and watch Howse do that. Howse has repeatedly turned this into an issue about Calvinism, and chosen to attack Calvinism because James White and certain of his defenders are Calvinists. However, some of White’s critics, including me, Paul Flynn and others, are also Calvinists. This had nothing to do with Calvinism. And Justin Peters said nothing about Calvinism, nor was it even in the neighborhood of discussion regarding Peters. You can watch the video below. Time stamp is 1.15 for the question, 2.30 for Peters’ answer.
In fact, if you watch the video above, Justin said he was “absolutely 100% opposed” to anything ecumenical or a theological compromise. Peters also acknowledged that there was nothing wrong with debating the venue and how the White-Qahdi dialogue happened. What Peters said about Rick Warren in comparison to James White is that he would have more confidence in someone with a “theologically sound track record.” Then, I brought up Peters’ comparison between Warren and White at the 6.49 mark.
“I want to explain what Justin means, because what will happen is…people will be pulling video from this and saying that Justin gives a defense for [James White] but wouldn’t give a pass to [Rick Warren]. Here’s the thing though, when we deal with someone with an honorable track record of ministry – as does James White – it doesn’t mean that what they do is right; it means that good brothers can sometimes be in error.”
Perhaps you’ll notice Peters’ nodding his head in agreement the entire time. Howse apparently missed it.
(B) White is not a New Calvinist. He is, in my opinion, associating himself heavily with New Calvinists. But the last time I checked, he holds to the 1689 London Baptist Confession and Phoenix Reformed Baptist Church is not YRR or New Calvinist. We’ll see where he’s at in five years or ten years. But as of now, the man is not a New Calvinist. I defined New Calvinism here, by the way.
5. White does refute him. Refer again to #3. He does not refute him as aggressively as one would in a debate. It was basically show-and-tell time for their various religions, which again, I don’t like. But White does state – and clearly state – an opposing position to that of Yasir Qahdi. Furthermore, on the page below, the hyperbole that White “surrendered the spiritual battle” borders on dishonesty. And by “borders on dishonesty, I mean it’s built a refugee settlement on it and made its home there.
6. Brannon Howse’s supporters are not the last line of defense for the gospel or to battle against the “Satanic-Islamic agenda.” They are the last line of defense to keep his Worldview Weekend motor home (or did he sell that?) chugging along to the next event. They’re the last line of defense to keep Howse from going full Jim Bakker infomercial. There are lots of people defending the Gospel and lots of people defending against false religions (by the way, I’d make the same admonition to James White; he’s not the only one defending the Gospel and he’s not the only one dealing with Islam, either). This claim really isn’t as dishonest as it is a delusion of grandeur.
What does seem to be missing from this article is revealing to Worldview Weekend supporters that Susan Heck, Justin Peters, Mike Abendroth and Jesse Johnson are no longer affiliated with the network. One would think that’d make the front page.
[Contributed by: JD Hall]
[Editor’s Note: Upcoming story to include, “To What Church Does Brannon Howse Belong?”]