The Pen

Social Justice and Conferences: Phil Johnson’s Arguments

Jordan Hall already wrote a post about this. It was personal and probably very hard for him. Here I write a more succinct piece as a follow-up to my publication from yesterday: G3, Shepcon, and Social Justice – Clarity Needed from Phil Johnson and Josh Buice. In that publication, I asked a very simple and straightforward question to Phil Johnson and Josh Buice: Are any of the men you spoke with at G3 or will speak with at ShepCon advocates of social justice or its proponents.

Today Phil Johnson responded not to me (I was not criticizing him), but those who took issue with the percieved social justice leanings of their follow conference speakers. Johnson posted the following on Twitter:

First, Phil Johnson brings up the issue of “totally severing public fellowship from brothers in Christ” over an issue (social justice) which has not been deemed “heresy.” This seems like the first leg of a straw man to be torched. Is anyone seriously arguing that John MacArthur and Josh Buice can’t be friends with Albert Mohler and David Platt (if the latter have indeed been compromised on social justice)? Amicable relationships are not a problem.

Then Johnson brings up the point that none of his fellow conference speakers have been deemed “rank apostates.” Here is the second leg of the straw man. Who is proclaiming that Mohler et al are “rank apostates?” Clearly, they are not. Neither are Johnny Hunt or Chuck Kelley. Yet, these two popular baptist preachers would never be expected to speak at G3 and ShepCon. The fact of the matter is “don’t be an apostate” is hardly a matter of consideration when it comes to booking conference speakers, orthodoxy is assumed (even if that “orthodoxy” gets a church ordinance wrong).

Finally, Johnson makes the case that the themes of the conferences in question were unrelated to social justice. This is just silly. If there was a conference on weight loss and Jared Fogle (the former Subway spokesman and convicted pedophile) was invited, would anyone who defended his prescence by saying “This conference is about weight loss, not sexual ethics” be taken seriously?

To close his argument, Johnson implies that critics of Buice and MacArthur are “stupid,” “confused,” “snarky,” and even “misanthropic.” He derides critics as rageful fundamentalists (is it bad to be a fundamentalist?). Ignorging for a moment that even truly awful people can sometimes be correct, is this line of rhetoric anything less than an ad-hominem?

And still…I have no answer to my question.

*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.

Seth Dunn

Masters of Divinity in Christian Apologetics, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary Member of the Evangelical Theological Society Certified Public Accountant