Before I get into the substance of this post, I want to make a correction to something I said in a post the other day. I said that James White said that 80% of Oneness Pentecostals are ignorant of their own doctrine and therefore, it would essentially have no bearing on the genuineness of their faith. I got the number backward: White actually says that 80% are probably NOT ignorant of their doctrine and do hold to a view of the Trinity that is heretical. I issued a personal apology to Dr. White via Twitter. Does this solve the problem? Well, if you do the math, I don’t think it solves the problem. Now, I move on to the subject of this post: Michael Brown.
The apostle John wrote: For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward. Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.
John opens his second letter by affirming his love in the truth for the church and reassures the church that all those who love the truth, love the church. It is because of the truth that abides in us and will be with us forever that we love the church. John is extremely joyous to have found some of the Christians from this community who are walking in the truth. He goes on to say that loving one another is walking in the commandments. John affirms the church in the middle of its recent trial just as he affirmed the church in his first letter. Whether or not it is the same audience is not the issue here. The point is that John is concerned about the same false teachers in now as he was in 1 John. These teachers are apparently using the kindness of some within the community to gain influence and as a result, false doctrine is making its way into the community. This false teaching is like spiritual cancer to the body and John is rightly concerned to excise from their midst.
The specific error is the denial that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh. Some commentators believe this is a reference to the future coming of Christ, but I don’t believe they make their case. It seems best to think of this error as a rejection of the nature of Christ in some sense, specifically, his full humanity. Errors of this nature have littered the landscape of church history. It manifests itself in Arianism, Apollinarianism (denial that Christ had a human mind), Nestorianism (two persons in Christ), the Monophysite heresy (one nature in Christ), and even the heavenly flesh position espoused by Menno Simmons. This is the category of error that most commentators believe had captured John’s attention. Regrettably, some people were moving within the community who were giving audience to those who were espousing this error and John reacted strongly to that behavior.
John indicates that the reason he wants the community to keep walking in the truth is that many deceivers have gone out into the world. John classifies such a one, those who do not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh, as the deceiver and the antichrist. John says that everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide or remain in the teaching of Christ does not have God. Marshall notes that “There could be no stronger condemnation of error and deceit in the realm of Christian doctrine.” [Marhsall, 2 John] John calls this the teaching of Christ. And the reason for the condemnation is that the person is rejecting the actual teaching of Christ. Marshall says, “People who reject the truth about Christ no longer “have God.” This is precisely what John is teaching. If you reject the truth about Christ, you do not have God.
John says if anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him a greeting. Marshall writes, “Those who accept “the teaching” should not give any kind of practical encouragement to the false teachers.” The response to such false teachers must be meet for the occasion. They are enemies of the faith. Marshall notes: “in Christian usage, it acquired a deep significance as an expression of salvation, but here the thought is rather of fellowship and encouragement.” The command is clear and direct: do not bring them into the community, do not encourage them, and do not associate with them. This does not mean that we don’t feed them if there is a need or treat them as sub-human. It means that we should do absolutely nothing to encourage their work and everything we can to stop it. Finally, John says that those who ignore him and actually do encourage their work and offer them fellowship and show support are just as guilty. They are participating in their evil deeds. So, when a Christian encourages heretics and heresy, he is actually participating in the heresy himself. When a Christian leader encourages others who engage in blasphemy, he is participating in the blasphemy himself.
It may be argued by some that this text is specifically talking about the heresy of rejecting that Christ has come in the flesh. However, such a restriction is entirely illegitimate. The doctrine of Christ or the teaching of Christ was more than that Christ has come in the flesh. Who would dare to claim that the same principle would not apply to someone who denied the resurrection or the one who denies the future coming of Christ? The application can be made to the full-orbed clear teaching of Christ. Anyone who goes too far and does not remain in the orthodoxy of Christ does not have God.
Now, I want to get to my subject: Michael Brown. I came into possession of a link to Michael Brown’s follow up on his view that the Doctrine of the Trinity is not fundamental to the gospel. This naturally means that the Doctrine of the Trinity is not essential Christian doctrine. According to Brown and now, Dr. James White of Alpha and Omega ministries, probably 20% of Oneness Pentecostals are ignorant of the details of Oneness theology and therefore could not be ruled out as genuine believers because, for the most part, they reject the doctrine of the Trinity out of ignorance. Now, having been brought to faith in Christ in a small town in the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia, I had a lot of exposure to Oneness Pentecostals. I would say that I have been in hundreds of Oneness Pentecostal services. While I never accepted their beliefs, I had the opportunity on dozens and dozens of occasions to engage them in their theology. In short, I understand Oneness Pentecostalism at the grassroots level. Because of this, I can say this with the strongest conviction, Ignorance of Trinitarian doctrine and of their primarily modalistic views is not very common among them. It exists but it is not the norm. It is rare. They are obsessed with this doctrine. It is THE doctrine that separates them from other Pentecostals. It only stands to reason that they would make something of it. And they do, often. The notion that 20% of them are ignorant of their core teaching is somewhat naïve.
I have said that Michael Brown rejects Nicea. Of course, some of Dr. White’s supporters as well as Dr. White himself, have accused me of misrepresenting Brown. This is an important point. If you listen to Michael Brown, every criticism of the Charismatic movement is really a misrepresentation of the movement. Couple that with his anti-discernment, his hyper-anti-critical approach, and it is easy to see that Brown is attempting to shield himself from any and all criticism. Regrettably, Dr. White seems to be taking a similar trajectory as of late. And that breaks my heart. I have enjoyed A&O Ministries for a very long time. I have benefited a great deal from James White’s writings for decades now. I am not interested in fighting with James White. I do not want that. What I want is for Michael Brown to be treated properly, like a man who covers for numerous heretics, who lies about his beliefs on the prosperity gospel, and who promotes outrageous blasphemy in place of sacred worship. In short, I want to see James White take the heresy of Charismatic theology more seriously. I want him to recoil at the utter nonsense that Michael Brown claims is “divine fire” in worship services. I want James White to see Heidi Baker laying on the floor laughing and become ANGRY that such foolishness would be considered worship by anyone, including Michael Brown. I want to see James White look at Michael Brown and tell him that Heidi Baker is blaspheming God when she acts like that.
Michael Brown rejects Nicea because he rips out the anathema that accompanies the positive confession of the doctrine of the One Triune God, and replaces it with his own test for orthodoxy. I am fully justified in claiming that Brown rejects Nicea if it is true that to reject the anathema is to reject the findings. I am willing to debate that point and change my view if someone can make the case.
This brings me to the Michael Brown link sent over to me by James White yesterday, accompanied by his admission that he and Brown are in agreement on their views that Christians can be ignorant of the doctrine of the Trinity, and still have God. Somehow ignorance is an excuse for heresy now. Paul, in Galatians 5:20 contradicts such thinking in clear and direct language. Paul does not provide an ignorance caveat in Galatians. I recognize that there is a difference between this audience and our own. The audiences of the New Testament documents were just being given the truth. Still, Paul expected them to receive it. We have record of people who attempted to reject it and Paul never gave them an excuse because of ignorance clause. We have had it for 2,000 years now. We inform people they are obligated to believe it. No, you can’t refuse it. You can’t complicate it with Oneness theology. You must affirm whatever it teaches. To love is to walk in the truth.
At any rate, there is another matter that shows up in this video, which can be found HERE. If you start around the 18-minute mark, there is a question about the prosperity gospel. I am focusing on this because it is a great example of how Michael Brown engages in his deceptive practices. It is how he retains his charismatic following while at the same time inching his way into a certain level of credibility with non-Charismatics, like James White. The question is, should we depart from those who subscribe to the prosperity gospel? Brown says, sure, we should depart from them and then brags about writing about this in one of his books. Now, that’s all well and good until we get to 20:15 of the video. Brown gives us his definition of the prosperity gospel: Jesus died on the cross to make you rich; the purpose of the gospel is financial gain; the sign of spirituality is financial riches. The caller turns out to be a man of discernment. He understands precisely what Brown is doing. He is playing a little PR game. He is positioning himself so that he can claim to be opposed to the prosperity gospel while at the same time defending it. So the caller introduces the “name it, claim it” strand of the prosperity gospel which represents about 99% of those who preach it. Brown says that that could be foolishness but that isn’t the prosperity gospel. Brown then turns the table and answering a question turns into a debate. Brown moves the discussion to 2 Cor. 9:6 and Luke 6:38 and employs the standard prosperity gospel interpretation on both texts. This is how Brown works his deception. He will say I am orthodox, or I call out abuses of the charismatics out of one side of his mouth, but out of the other he is hosting the Benny Hinn program all the while claiming he has no idea what Benny Hinn believes, and people are silly enough to buy it.
Brown then paints the man as a typical critic. The man was not who Brown thought he was. Brown thought the man was Chris Rosebrough because the man’s first name was Chris. He was not. From the beginning of his apologetic ministry to defend the bizarre and blasphemous Brownsville Revival, Michael Brown has always pulled out the “anti-critic” megaphone. He shouts over the critic, focusing only on “criticism” as a subject, ignores the thing being criticized, and does so until the issue dies down and he get back to his outrageous practices. I have started to see some of this in how James White defends Michael Brown. That is very sad indeed.
Brown has a conference coming up in April at the same location where the Toronto Blessing took place. Brown believes that this movement was an incredible move of God, that it was powerful and accomplished tremendous good. It was one of the most hyper-emotional fleshly displays of blasphemy the church has ever known. Brown slanders the name of God when he attributes these practices to the power of God. James White’s apathy toward these convictions and beliefs by Brown is highly inappropriate and should not be allowed to continue. Michael Brown intends to do everything in his power to “bring the fire back.” Brown wants another wave of this nonsense to sweep the charismatic churches and if he had his way, we would all be rolling around on the floor, shaking, gyrating, stammering, staggering, and looking like we need psychiatric treatment. Such behavior should produce outrage within the leadership of Reformed Christians everywhere. We should do all we can to shut it down, to subject it to the highest degree of criticism and public scorn possible. It is blasphemy.
Only the most biased mind could miss how these men treat those with whom they disagree. As someone who is not in full or even part-time ministry as it is understood in modern vernacular, I take the Scriptures serious. I do believe tone matters. I believe it matters how we treat each other. When I read in Scripture that we are all sinners who should be holding one another accountable, I actually believe it. I don’t think we should intentionally defame one another. I think it is wrong to mislead people, to deceive them by leaving out part of the story or only telling half of it. But as I have finally decided to step into the controversy that Michael Brown has introduced into this small sliver of the Reformed world, I have learned that not everyone actually thinks the same way I do about these issues or about how we ought to treat one another. Rich Pierce outright lied when he said I was posting things on AOMIN’s facebook page and he blocked me. I have said nothing on that site. I cannot leave comments there because I was not friends or part of the group. That didn’t stop Rich from lying. He also said that my issue with Michael Brown is that I hate him. How incredibly outrageous for someone to say such a thing!!! This is not the sort of Christian charity I read about in Scripture. James White painted me as a villain twice over. He called me a troll for listening to the DL. I have listened to the DL for years. How am I a troll and everyone else isn’t? One thing is absolutely certain: my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ who know me personally, and who do not know but have respected James White over the years, will walk away from this with a very downgraded view of White. And that is unfortunate. But based on how he and Rich and Michael have treated others, deciding to slander the person rather than deal with the arguments, I think he has earned a considerable downgrade in his credibility.
James White was one of my heroes. I looked up to him. He was right there alongside John MacArthur, Phil Johnson, Al Mohler, Steve Lawson, R.C. Sproul, and others. You will no longer find a link to AOMIN on this website. It has been removed. It has not been removed because I am upset with James White. It has not been removed because I think James White is a poor theologian or apologist. It has been removed because I no longer trust James White. If he lied about me and painted me in the manner that he did, I have to ask the question, how many other people have actually been subjected to the same kind of treatment?
How should Christians deal with Oneness proponents? We share the gospel with them. God sent his SON! How does one even get saved without the gospel? Oneness theology rejects the basics of the gospel: that God the Father, a person, sent God the Son, a person to pay for our sins! This is basic. If a Oneness person refuses to accept what is right in front of him in the pages of Scripture, it is a sign that his faith is suspect. If a person rejects the Trinity, they are corrected and if they refuse the correction, they are excommunicated from the church. End of story. We don’t pity them because they just can’t see it. Heresy is spiritual cancer. Heresy and blasphemy must be taken more seriously. We are not loving people when we adopt such flipant and casual attitudes toward them.
The truth is, I have formed opinions of others in part based on James White’s comments about them. I have learned a very important lesson in all this. Don’t ever form opinions of anyone or their behavior based on what someone else says about them NO MATTER WHO THAT PERSON IS. I should have known better. JP Holding, one of the nastiest guys on the internet has several pages up about me. Even Triablogue called me a troll because I dared to challenge Steve Hays on a few points. I am not sure how the church keeps reforming if no one is allowed to disagree. At any rate, one of the people I formed bad opinions about was JD Hall. For that I am sorry. I was wrong. That doesn’t mean I agree with JD on all his methods. And I am pretty sure he doesn’t agree with me on all mine. But as men, as Christian men, as Christian brothers, I think we can agree to disagree on these things without defaming one another and embarrassing ourselves before the unbelieving world when what we should be doing to walking in, protecting, defending, and loving the truth.