On Morons and Middle Fingers

Brannon Howse seems to hold a grudge. This is shocking, I know.

During the Interfaith Dialogue (IFD) Kefuffle of 2017, in which James White took part in an IFD, I kept mostly silent. I went on record at the Judge Not Conference during a Q&A, in which I disagreed with White and with the entire premise of IFD, along with the ill-advised use of the word, “fellowship,” to describe such a thing. I also spoke with Howse and Steve Camp (who was also on the war-path regarding the subject) for hours on the phone regarding the issue. However, I took exception with Howse’s bizarre demand of his podcast associates to unilaterally condemn James White. Howse grossly mistreated broadcasters like Justin Peters and Mike Abendroth who wouldn’t jump into Howse’s lynch mob, and I specified that my disagreement with White didn’t amount to anathematization. For Howse, that’s enough to earn said anathematization. Nonetheless, I’ve refused to be at war with someone else just because someone else is at war with me, and have from time to time complimented Howse when he gets things right (which is not uncommon).

However, I did take stronger exception with “Jeff the GK,” who was chosen as a replacement for the broadcasters who Howse booted (and those who left of their own accord in disgust). I once broadcasted with Howse (doing a podcast was Howse’s idea, actually), but left quietly after his gross and unethical treatment of Dr. John MacArthur (I did go on record with Brannon privately in regard to the reason for my departure).

Jeff Dornik (who I have written about here) was a more obnoxious pesterer of Howse’s enemies than most, and he repeatedly took shots at men who – like myself – didn’t wholeheartedly agree with White but weren’t willing to cast him off to hell. And so, I took Jeff down a peg or two from time to time over the course of 2017 (and maybe 2018, I don’t recall).

And so, demonstrating that there will always be ceaseless civil unrest among evangelicals and there’s no faction so small it can’t be fractured by pointless infighting, Jeff “the Gatekeeper” posted an invective against me on Howse’s website. The subject matter of that article is a few seconds of a cellphone video taken at Gay Pride Atlanta as I was there preaching in the Fall of 2017.

After the regular resuscitation of years-old controversies (which have had books written about them already), absent any opposing views or context, Jeff the GK got to the complaint:

Recently, JD was out performing street evangelism. As happens with many self-promoting street evangelists, he had someone filming his preaching. During this “Gospel proclamation,” he spent his time talking down to his audience. This is the kind of attitude that comes across as “I’m better than you.” But even this isn’t my main critique.

By “recently, “Jeff means, “about a year ago.” He probably confused that particular clip with my recent preaching at Big Sky Pride in Montana, just a few weeks ago. Bless his heart, but due diligence in research is not for everybody, I suppose.

Regarding his accusation of being a “self-promoting street evangelist,” I’d just like to point out that the vast majority of my open-air evangelism you’ll never hear about. I’ve often said, “If a tree falls in a forest, does it make a sound? And if an open-air preacher preaches without putting it on YouTube, did it really happen?” Putting every encounter online is obnoxious, and I’ve never done it. I do have a few clips I’ve been meaning to get up for learning opportunities, but I digress. That particular video was posted by Reformation Charlotte, who created it.

Next, I’ll address his use of scare quotes around “Gospel presentation.” I would encourage anyone with a thimble-worth of personal integrity and intellectual honesty to listen to the whole or bulk of that video. What I presented with stone-cold Gospel, with no “scare quotes” necessary. I preached the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (explicitly) as God’s means of salvation for sinners, after proclaiming God’s law (which I specified was designed to teach us our duty and make clear our need of salvation), prior to proclaiming the proper response to the Gospel in faith, which is repentance. In fact, I consider the use of “scare quotes” around “Gospel presentation” to be the most offensive part of this fellow’s trite post.

Regarding “talking down to my audience,” I literally was…in a sense. What you couldn’t see is about a thousand or so homosexuals in front of me, down in the line near the famous Coca-Cola museum, waiting to get into the venue. They were literally down from us, which was of necessity because we had to remain on public property. However, I think what Jeff is referring to is the preaching of God’s law. Again, I would encourage anyone who is seriously interested (all three of you) to listen to the full clip. It only makes sense that someone using “scare quotes” around “Gospel presentation” would confuse preaching God’s perfect law with “talking down” to someone or the attitude of “I’m better than you.” I think you’ll see that I included myself repeatedly in the swath of humanity fallen in Adam. But again, facts seem too far and away for Jeff the GK or Brannon Howse to grasp.

My main critique is when he told someone in the audience that on judgment day, “God will lift His middle finger to you.” Here’s that clip (Scroll ahead to about the 6 minute mark for the lead up the actual statement):

Yes, yes. Someone walked by and gave me the bird. What I said in response is what I said. Regarding that comment, which was made after a full day of being surrounded by God-hating BDSM-dressed, thong-wearing homosexuals, I did look at the guys I was with afterward and said, “I probably shouldn’t have said that” (which they can attest to). Providentially, I happened to mention this at a church Bible study at some point in the last month or so. I used this particular incident to demonstrate how easy it is to get caught up in responses that are instinctual rather than thoughtful. It is certainly beneficial for an open-air evangelist to take time for a breather every few hours before the darkness overwhelms your thinking capacity and you begin to operate on auto-pilot. To be clear, I regret having said it, and I said that at the time and since then.

I have constantly strived to be above coarseness or crassness, especially in any public venue and especially when the fairer sex is present, in keeping with Biblical admonitions against crassness (Ephesians 5:4). Of course, these were not preschoolers or ladies (in the conventional sense) present, but sodomites simulating cunnilingus and fellatio, making obscene gestures (I did not return the favor, by the way), and calling Jesus a “fag.” Nonetheless, I’d take it back if I could. For the record, however, I’m losing zero sleep over it. Preaching in Sodom isn’t easy, but forgiveness is.

My point was simple; you’re telling God “go to hell” today. And he will tell you “go to hell” tomorrow. I recognize there’s another interpretation of what the middle finger means, which is significantly more crass than just sentencing someone to eternal perdition. But in yeoman’s terms, we typically mean it to say, “forget you” or “away with you.” The origin of the middle finger gesture, by the way, goes back to 1415AD, in which the French army would cut the middle finger off of English prisoners of war, rendering them unable as archers, should they ever be released. When seeing their French opponents, the English would display their middle finger as a way of saying, “You haven’t captured us yet.” Again, I digress.

This is utterly blasphemous! The fact that this came out of the mouth of a pastor that many within the Reformed camp looks up to and are friends with us even more shocking. Not only is this factually untrue, but this is slanderous to God and an attack on the character of God.

First of all, God is a spirit. So if we are going to get technical with it, God will not physically life [sic] His middle finger.

To which I say, “No kidding.” God the Father is Spirit. Clearly, I wasn’t making an ontological argument. The Bible often speaks of God anthropomorphically, without being self-blasphemous. Crass, my comment was. An argument of ontology, my comment was not.

Secondly, and more importantly, God is not a God of vulgarity.  Raising your middle finger towards someone is a sexually explicit insult which, literally means “f*** you.” I’m sorry that I had to even write that bleeped out, but it’s important that you understand the definition in order to see why this made me so upset to hear this coming from a pastor. Why would a pastor believe that God would ever say that to someone? That is not only vulgar, but it is sexually explicit vulgarity that has no place coming from a Christian and will never come from God.

I think Jeff must have redefined “sexually explicit” and neglected to tell anyone. Something that is “sexually explicit” is sexually explicit (those words define themselves). Saying the word, “middle finger” is not sexual and neither is it explicit. He also redefined the word “literally,” an annoying but not uncommon thing. A gesture “literally” means nothing “literally.”

Here’s the thing; I really have little regard for the accusations of some random podcast host whose article appears on a website with an Alexa rank of 220k. Neither do I take seriously any call to “step down from ministry” from a man whose chief theological credential is operating a podcast on a network run by a man who – he himself – is not a member of a local church. The fact is, far more people will see this now that I have written about it than would otherwise. Furthermore, I also weigh into consideration that the point of the article, which I will not link lest it moves up to 219k on Alexa, is designed to take potshots at others who happen to have been declared enemies by Brannon Howse. However, as I said at the time and afterward, I wish I wouldn’t have given that remark, should not have given that remark, and (hopefully) wouldn’t do it again. 

What do you want, blood? Give me a break (or don’t, I don’t care).

One of the reasons I don’t ordinarily post my open air videos (the videos themselves are for protection against false accusations and potential litigation because homosexuals will make all sorts of false complaints against Gospel preachers) is because it lifts you to the scorn of men who wouldn’t know evangelism from E-Harmony. I’ve often watched (and by God’s grace, have never taken part) men ridicule open-air evangelists for their perceived lack of articulation (you try preaching ‘from the hip’ to a hostile audience for 48 hours straight), a phrase they fumbled, words they’ve gotten backwards, or their instinctual response to getting literally hit over the head. I saw abolitionists get skewered for not being “loving” enough when a man accosted them, beat them, and pounded their Go-Pro into dust outside the abortion clinic. My thoughts were, and remain, “you try it.”

I’m writing this to demonstrate how you handle accusations of wrong. You acknowledge them, even if you think the accuser is a random moron who happens to have a podcast. Then, if there’s a degree of truth in their accusation, you acknowledge that, too. If you happened to have been wrong, say so. And then, move along.

In the meantime, there’s a whole lost world out there who is marching in leather thongs and waving rainbow-colored flags. They’re marching to hell and don’t know it. What strikes you when you do open-air evangelism at such events is that you’re (most of the time) the only ones doing it. Where are all of the other Christians? I don’t know, but if they have to worry about other Christians playing armchair quarterback, I totally get why they don’t.

When we gathered recently at Big Sky Pride, we gathered in prayer after the first evening and reminded ourselves that we don’t do this to make people mad, but to show them God’s love. I reminded them that our words should be direct and clear, but that we shouldn’t neglect the Good News along with the bad. I reminded them that our hearts should be right before the Lord. And so, correction to where it is due and when it is due.

In the meantime, even if I wanted to critique videos of Jeff the GK sharing the Gospel, I couldn’t…because there aren’t any.

– JD

[Editor’s note: The video has since been removed by Facebook, probably for anti-gay “hate speech,” which is now their default position for all open-air preaching to homosexuals. It was not removed by Reformation Charlotte]


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