Twitter Empathy and Hashtag Slacktivism

Originally posted on :

More than one million people — including First Lady, Michelle Obama  — have tweeted the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls. But whether they’re helping the roughly 250 schoolgirls kidnapped in Nigeria or hopping on some kind of first-world digital bandwagon depends, frankly, on whom you ask.

These stinging words are from a May 8 article in the Washington Post. The words are harsh, but are they true? Could most public displays of empathy for the last (no doubt, important) cause be nothing but a peer-pressure induced digital bandwagon that accomplishes little more than providing a badge of empathy for those who don it? The Washington Post’s article providing Twitter screenshots from a Nigerian-American woman characterized these displays of support for the recently-kidnapped Nigerian school girls as “a recent wave of global sentimentality” that “simplifies nothing, solves nothing.”

This recent fad, the idea that awareness equals action, is defined in the Urban Dictionary

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Fahrenheit Highway 411: Matthew LeHew, Shorter University, and Ergun Caner

Originally posted on Seth Dunn:

 “It was a pleasure to burn.”Guy Montag, from Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451

Matthew LeHew Calls Out Ergun Caner

Matthew LeHew

It’s simply important for all BPC stakeholders, especially the faculty and staff that make their living at the institution, to realize how serious the situation is[1] – Matthew LeHew

On or about the 10th of July, Matthew LeHew published an article on his personal website entitled “Ergun Caner is Wrong About Brewton-Parker’s Accreditation”.  LeHew was responding to a video (see below) in which Caner assesses the ramifications of the recent decision of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) to strip Brewton-Parker College of its accreditation (Caner is the President of that school).  In the video, Caner makes a number of claims with which LeHew takes exception, most notably the claim that “(Brewton Parker) won’t lose (its) accreditation, not for a moment.”

At first blush…

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Sneak peek at audio from Reformation Montana 2014!



Hey all. So bear in mind that these sessions are all being recorded and that hi -definition audio and video will soon be available.  But. For those that can’t wait, here is one of Vodie Baucham from Reformation Montana 2014. The sound is recorded off my phone, so quality is super awful, but you get what you pay for ;)

Vodie Baucham

P.S. This one was on the story of Joseph, and it seriously blew my mind. I had never heard this take on it and I am thoroughly convinced that he is right and it will forever change the way I view the story. Just killer stuff

A Small Sampling of the Wartburg Watch Combox Regarding Al Mohler


Editors Note. This entry has existed in a previous form for several months. I have chosen to edit it because even though I believe the thrust of my concerns are legitimate, I sinfully used hyperbole and personal invectives against the two owners of the blog, as well as their commenters, in order to get my point across. A friend told me that I needed to repent and  change this and I heeded his call, so this is where I am. I could have been more gracious. I should have tried harder to “win a brother”, not provoke them to wrath. I have reached out to one of the owners and after some thought and consideration and feedback, I have decided to keep the post up, and yet edit out what I deemed sinful choice of words on my part. I’ll own my own words. I don’t believe in trying to cover any thing up, ever, and so if someone reads this and surmise I’m trying to hide what I previously have said- I’m not. If you contact me I will provide you with the original post, with this note at the top explaining the errors of my ways. 


I like Al Mohler. I don’t know him personally, but I have read most of his books, have read many of his articles, have listened to him on The Briefing, and am aware of the high esteem that the vast majority of my Christian heroes regard him with, as well as the general evangelical populace. He is considered to be a smart, thoughtful, gracious man full of integrity, conviction and Godly character, even as he is a sinful man like the rest of us.

For this reason I thought he would make an excellent candidate to demonstrate my concerns with the comment box at the Wartburg Watch– an online discernment ministry whose emphasis is topics relating to the spiritual abuse of parishioners by Christian pastors, teachers, authors and bloggers. At the Wartburg Watch, my concern is that there isn’t enough discernment applied inwardly to themselves. Often times it can feel like anyone who does not adhere to their understanding of biblical authority as it plays out in the Church and home is quickly written off, or must necessarily hold to positions that they do not hold.  This is most clearly seen in the combox, which is regulated and  moderated by the its creators who allow it to go on.

Though there have been some exceptions where people are cautioned to not go too far on some of the more extreme comments, for the most part personal attacks and insults often go unchecked and are seemingly actively encouraged. The commenters will give long, rambling detailed psychoanalysis of anyone who they feel deserve it, often by excoriating their motives and speculating and ascribing  intent heaped on with snarky and angry assertions.  In many ways it strikes me as a toxic environment, and its a shame because they often bring up something worth talking about, and address real concerns with a lot of the leaders in Christian circles, [especially the issue of spiritual abuse, which I believe needs to be given a greater voice] but the combox just kills them. Often I can’t tell if the people commenting are even Christians, because their worldview is so skewed. Perhaps there are a lot of non-Christian commenting, but it just seems to me as so much of the rhetoric is excessive and often dips into the category of sinful.

To wit, here is a small sample I’ve taken from two or three threads about Dr Al Mohler within about 10 minutes of searching which show a varied collection of slander, insults and misrepresentation of his beliefs and character. It’s important to note that these are all relatively mild compared to some of the other Christian leaders they’ve attacked [Joshua Harris, CJ Mahaney, Mark Driscoll, John Piper, Tim Challies, Anyone at TGC, Phil Johnson, RC Sproul, Any Complementarian, Any Calvinist, etc] But they serve the point that if these things are said about Al Mohler, how much worse will they say about people they really don’t like.:

[He and his friends are] “A confederacy of dunces”

[Mohler] is a despicable human being that blaspheme the name of God.”

 “They’re pathetic”

“What a false gospel and world these men promote. They fit right in with Mormons and the Taliban”

“Mohler et al are abusers of the caliber of my father. I believe this because they are doing publicly what my father did privately: deliberately insistently demeaning people at the core of their beings—in their case, women”

“Mohler only wants to indoctrinate.”

“If Mohler and Patterson lived in the South in the mid-1800′s with this same hermeneutic, they would be slave owners.”

“He doesn’t possess the ability to communicate it in any meaningful way. Read his blog, and you will see a string of superlatives (his incessant use of the words “breathtaking” and “astonishing” are nauseating), with very little actual argument or critical thinking. And his books are not written to thinkers, or even those with a reading comprehension level above maybe 4th grade”

“Mohler pretty much depicts all single adult Christians as being ‘despicable’ in explaining why he thinks it’s okay to practice discrimination in churches not hiring singles, and in blaming singles for being single (he thinks everyone should marry by 21 or 22.)”


“I do not think they are very bright. They have the same abilities as our infamous banksters: legalistically clever and savvy at turning situations to their favor. Certainly they have no wisdom, which is the best of intelligence.”

“They [Mohler et al] are false teachers”

[Mohler is the]archetype of antichrist

“I agree they are locked into teaching falsehoods and have shown no sign of openness to listening to what Christians are saying, or demonstrating any willingness to repent. Soft hearts? I’d say hardened hearts.”

“You would not know that from reading Mohler’s incredibly rude, condescending, insulting, unbiblical rhetoric against adult Christian singles.

“[Mohler et al] teach a reductionist, utilitarian view of women. They distill women (and men) down to objects that can only fill specific functions. They deny the fact that women (and men) are made in the image and likeness of God Himself. By denying this reality and truth (and yes, it’s Catholic but probably everybody here would agree to it’s truth), they deny or at least ignore Jesus’s own coming as flesh and blood which we just celebrating at Christmas (the Incarnation)”

“It just seems to me that Mohler continues to share a bed with Mahaney primarily because neither of them wants to share it with a woman.”

[Regarding Al Mohlers book] “All 25 chapters are titled with a non-biblical or twisted biblical belief Dr. Mohler has about leadership”

[Regarding Al Mohler] “That’s what I said. That’s what I call anyone who perverts the word of God to a gospel of oppression that justifies throwing people out of a job and into the street just because they lack a penis. They can twist the few verses there are out of context to try and put lipstick on their theological pig, but when Jesus says the two overriding commandments are to love God and love your neighbor and on these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets, there is no way to justify such oppression of women because that is NOT love in any sense of the word.”

“Based on how thoroughly Mohler conducted his scorched earth purges of women and ‘liberals’, I’ll bet there’s a number of books on Stalin in that stack – and few, if any, on Christian love.”

“Mohler doesn’t want to be humble servants as Jesus taught them to be they want to be powerful dictators in the guise of servant leaders.”

Again, just a small sampling of comments that get liked, applauded, laughed at, encouraged, agreed with, promoted by the other commenters and even the two blog leaders themselves.  [And these are some of the waaaaay more benign ones] For this small reason, as well as many more numerous ones which relate to public behavior and harassments, I find that they are hurting and damaging in a lot of ways the reputation they seek to cultivate, and the Christ-likeness they would seek to be known as. I would encourage them to examine this more closely and see  if they can’t do better, and be more loving, more gracious, more willing to assume the best of people even when they do act badly and even whom they disagree with.

Lobbing a few grenades into the Michael Brown/ Benny Hinn discussion

Enduring Freedom

I don’t know Dr. Michael Brown. I’ve never met him, and other than a few mentions by James White on the Dividing Line over the years, he was never really on my radar. Then the controversy over the Strange Fire conference erupted and Michael Brown emerged as one of the chief critics and ultimately in some way has become one of the representative voices of the Charismatic movement. Still though-other than reading a few articles from Dr Brown where it seemed apparent that he was not understanding the nuance of what John MacArthur and the speakers at the conference meant by “blasphemy of the Holy Spirit” I didn’t know much about him. I did write a post about him and how he quenches the spirit. Then he appeared alongside  Benny Hinn and I sat up and listened to some of the programs and podcast and commentaries.  Then I heard his recent discussion with Steve Camp, and I pretty much had enough and thought it incumbent upon me to throw a few verbal hand grenades into the mix. Some thoughts then, in no particular order;

1. Dr Brown has faced down several high-profile detractors on his program and in various interviews and podcasts and the whole time he keeps on repeating “I’m not defending him. I’m not the Benny Hinn apologist” etc. I understand the desire not to be labeled and not place himself in that position or role, but he invariably find himself there. Even he rejects that role, he finds himself filling it. Whenever someone brings forth a viable complaint or issue, he’ll acknowledge ambiguity on the veracity of the claims, and then proceed to rebuke, rebuff and defend the charges, spinning implausible explanations of why he did what he did and why he said what he said. For someone who’s not the appointed Bennny Hinn defender, he’s actually kinda good at it.

2. Where has Benny Hinn repented? Several times Dr brown has mumbled “He’s repented of that” and then quickly changed the topic and moved away from that line of questioning, particularity when we talk about the revolving door of absurdities and false prophecies and teachings that he has become infamously and globally known for.   But is this public knowledge? He has indisputably preached some vile, heretical things in the 80’s and 90’s, much of what serves for fodder for the critiques. I spent some time and I dug around and apparently he repented of these in 1993 in an article in Charisma magazine. Assuming he repented for all the weird things, prior to these,  how about the last two decades since then?  Where has he repented, and how has he demonstrated his repentance? Where do we see him rebuking the prosperity preachers and word of faith preaches for their false gospel?

It seems to me that when you teach publicly for decades to millions, and you make false teachings, you need to be as public with your repentance as with your false teaching. We all know of King Davids sin, we all know who confronted him and who was the catalyst for his response. We also all know that he repented as surely as we know what his sin was. But where is the record of all the things Benny Hinn has repented of? I’m not seeing anything and I’m certainly not seeing anything specific.

3. So far, the only thing Michael Brown has close to saying negatively about Benny Hinn is that “he has some fund-raising issues”, after which he refocused the attention on himself and tells the stories of how he hates manipulative fundraising and how he appeared on a telethon and glowered and the people who were trying to make him do it and so on and so forth- as if the two are even in the same league together! I’m glad that Dr Brown is demonstrating integrity in this respect, but that’s not the same thing.  Even though I’m not convinced Benny Hinn isn’t a word faith, prosperity-gospel preaching heretic, for the sake of argument lets say that he’s not- his so-called “fundraising issues” don’t exist in a vacuum! What does it say about a man who for decades can so twist scripture that he’s essentially committing the hermeneutical equivalent of a sexual assault on the text of scriptures? He preys on the poorest of the poor and routinely promises up and down that if they give they’ll unlock unprecedented wealth in their life, and that they’ll guarantee to double their seed offering and bless them 30,60, 90 times. This is indicative of a larger problem. This has far reaching implications.

What does it say about a man and his ability to properly understood and teach the scriptures when he is so crass in his love of money and his abuse of the text that he can so manipulate the word of God to promise the most wild, worldly, selfish and pagan promises in regards to wealth creation? Am I to suppose that this man is a good,godly teacher who only has this one small idiosyncrasy when it comes to how he understands finances and how God blesses us and this malevolent, god-damned twisting of the word doesn’t affect anything else? That he’s pure as the driven snow and rock solid spiritually except when he’s promising millions if you sow your seed?  I think this is what bothered me the most. That even when you ignore the false prophecies, false teachings, false words of knowledge, false way of reading and handling the scriptures, that his love of money is so pervasive and the means which he seeks to acquire that money is so corrupt that it cripples my brain when I hear Michael frame this multiple times as an issue of we don’t like the way he “fund raises” and how this is just him speaking on tithing principles and reaping and sowing principles. I think he knows that its not, but if he does its not coming across at all.

Has he apologized and repented of his “fundraising techniques?” When Zaccheus was confronted with his sin and his misuse of money,  he said “Behold, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.”[Luke 19:7-8] Immediately we look at that and see that the transformation showed itself up right in the realm where his sin was most dominantly manifest.  So will Benny Hinn repents of his thievery and manipulation and wealth accumulation, and will he likewise make restitution? Will he apologize for inviting to share his stage a man who promised the poorest of the poor that they would be millionaires if they gave 1000$ to him, but that they only had a two minute window to do so, so they’d better act fast. And oh- they had ATM machines and credit card machines already set up in case there was no money in the bank? How about insisting that widows and the destitute give their seed to you, not their local churches, so you can continue to collect a million dollar yearly salary and stay in hotel rooms that cost several thousand dollars a night? [Side rant, but we are never to emulate the widow with her mite who gave all she had. We ought never to give like her. There is no indication that Jesus was pleased with her. Rather, we ought to pity her, because she served as an example of what not to do] Will you repent of that?

4. One of the reasons that Dr Brown said he was unsure of whether  Hinn’s scandalous and far-reaching reputation was well deserved or not was because good, solid brothers and sisters who know Benny Hinn and traveled with him for years and decades said that that he’s legitimate and a wonderful man of God . I’m sorry, but that just proves that your friends have little to no discernment  in this area and are complicit in his false teaching and in his slaughter of the sheep. What else can you say about people who stand by and watch this happen? These friends and ministry partners listened to him the whole time manipulate the scriptures for years, making outrageous claims and promising poor people that they can be rich if they just sow their seed, much less everything he said, and he gets unqualified praise? These people traveled with Benny Hinn as he appeared onstage alongside and promoted people that even Michael Brown would consider prosperity preachers. Benny Hinn has a long laundry list of people that he thinks are the wonderful, the TBN regulars and alumni that teach insane things, and  he promotes and sells their books and comes on their shows and brings them effusive praise and calls them great men and women of God.

Dr Brown, I’m sorry, but if your friends are unable to recognize the unsoundness of this man’s teaching, the unsoundness of the way he handles scripture, the unsoundness of the way he “fund-raises” and the unsoundness of the worst scoundrels and rascals that he invited on his show to promote, then I have no reason to believe that your friends have any discernment and you ought to confront them and ask them to repent for their lack of wisdom and their tolerance for evil deeds.

In the same vein, Chris Rosebrough pointed out this quote on a program a few days ago. He quotes Hinn verbatim from a presentation Hinn gave only a few weeks ago! Here is one small recent example that shows the false teaching that Benny Hinn is spewing that is nowhere found in the Bible, no matter how badly some people seem intent on making this a “he’s just talking about reaping and sowing.”Again, this is not sound or faithful at all. Its theological strychnine and its toxic to the soul. Seed being a weapon against the devil? Giving will drive him away? What the what?

“Jesus gave us the secret. Jesus gave us the secret to prosperity. So what must you do? You must release your seed. You must sow your seed. Any farmer will tell you without sowing seed there is no harvest…you do that, and God will open the windows of heaven and pour on you blessings. There will not be enough room to receive them. Remember he said to Israel “I’m after my house. You give that my house might be blessed”. The house is the Church, this deals with the gospel of Jesus Christ. We read Malachi and we have got to be reminded that God is talking about his people and his work the gospel. So when Israel gave, he said “Ill pour out blessings on you they’re will not be room enough to receive it. I will bless the seed, I will bless the harvest, I’ll bless the fruit. He said I’ll rebuke the devourer for your sake. Satan is crippled when people give. Giving! Listen, your seed is a weapon against the devil himself. It will drive him away. How would you like for the devil to melt out of your life? How would you like for Satan to leave your finances? And where god can bless you big time. Start giving.

5. Let’s talk about Steve Munsey. Micheal Brown says  “I’ve written against the carnal prosperity gospel in the strongest possible terms. The question is…is this a matter of saying “we believe if you sow financially you’ll reap financially, give it and shall be given to you, and a host of other scriptures about finances…that as we give generously God gives to us generously, or is this a  confusion on the very essence of the gospel, that serving god as a mean of financial gain? …..Is that message damnable?.” As if that’s the extent of what Benny Hinn is teaching. In an article that Michael Brown references, he writes “In my own ministry (not to pat myself on the back but simply to respond to the endless stream of questions that has come my way), in 1989, my book The End of the American Gospel Enterprise focused largely on the compromised state of many of our American charismatic churches (since these were the circles I primarily traveled in) while my 1990 book How Saved Are We? contained an entire chapter renouncing the carnal prosperity message along with another chapter focused on carnal fundraising techniques. (For the record, these abusive techniques—honed to a science today on Christian TV by men like Mike Murdoch and Steve Munsey—have only become more pervasive since 1990.)

Would a good, godly man who is sound in the faith regularly have and actively promote men like Steve Munsey, who even Michael Brown will call out as a call false teacher?  Benny Hinn sells Munsey’s books on his website and in fact, after the show that Michael Brown taped with him, Benny had Steve Munsey on and said about him “he’s a dynamic, pastor, bible teacher, preacher, man of God.” When confronted about it by Steve Camp, Dr Brown said “I did not miss the fact, and I immediately wrote to some folks about it. It did happen, and it should be very indicative of things” Yeah, indicative that Benny Hinn doesn’t seem to have a problem with him or his message. I’m glad that it bothered him, but going back to my previous point, I wonder what these good, godly friends of yours who were ministry partners and traveled with him for years had to say about that? Because it’s not the first time he’s been on the show and it won’t be the last. But hey, I guess endorsing and giving  a platform to an actual honest-to-goodness word of faith prosperity heretic is just something that preachers who are sound in the faith do, right? And note that unlike many people, I don’t believe Dr Brown was endorsing Benny Hinn by appearing on his program. But Benny Hinn does endorse the crazies, and that is problematic to say the least.

6. To close this off, Dr Michael Brown said something interesting. When trying to discern whether someone is a true or false believer, he talked about how you can tell someone is not a true believers in they live in abiding, unrepentant sin. Well what else do you call decades of false teaching, false prophecies, false miracles, false “fundraising techniques” and giving platforms and promoting other false teachers, if not for that very thing? Right. That’s a perfect example of what unrepentant sin is. Benny Hinn has demonstrated his unrepentant sin because he refuses to stop doing  these shenanigans for 20 years. Does that not adequately and sufficiently meet all the conditions?

Clearly I’m frustrated and irritated. The more I read about the work of Michael Brown, the more I  like and admire him, and alternately find myself in abject frustration because of him. His work on homosexuality and the culture wars is stellar, and his Line Of Fire program has made it into the regular rotation on my podcast. Yet in this regard, and in this respect, I don’t find him discerning at all, nor do I find the advice he received from his friends to be helpful at all. I don’t get the defense of Benny Hinn, and I think he protests too much when charged with that claim. What a weird, bizarre, turn of events this has proven to be. I can only hope that Michael Brown will do the research and exercise discernment and that something good will come out of this, because at this point, with the way everything has come together, he has only served to muddy the water and make everything worse.