Answering Johnny Robertson – Thanksgiving Night

Johnny Robertson – November 22, 2007 

First, happy Thanksgiving!  Hasn’t God richly blessed us this year?  I’m so grateful for all of His gifts that I can hardly stand it.

But, since Johnny didn’t take the day off, I can’t either!  I’m going to respond to Thanksgiving night’s exhausting two-hour production of “What Does The Bible Say?”  I say “exhausting”, because I’m not sure how he did it!  I was wiped out by the time it was all overwith, and I was just watching.  Of course, it could have just been the turkey dinner finally catching up to me.  Now, I did think that it was interesting all of the little gremlins Johnny was having to deal with as the show went on.  It was a true Murphy’s Law night on the “What Does the Bible Say?” show. 

1.  The recording Johnny opened up with – the caller from a couple of years ago – her point seemed to be that you can meet anywhere and be the church.  I’m really surprised that Johnny made such a big deal out of this, considering one of the things I’ve heard these Church of Christ guys saying multiple times is that the building doesn’t matter, which is why James Oldfield is happy to meet at the Holiday Inn Express.  Why couldn’t a church meet in a Walmart?  I can’t think of any scriptural problems with that. 

In this case, the math works out like this:  Johnny + molehill = mountain.

2.  Johnny made an issue out of the use of the title “reverend”, but I’ve written on Norm Field’s blog a bit of the meaning of this word as a title, and how it originated as a expression of respect, as a means of showing respect.  To be fair, I was also annoyed by Joel Ostreen (or whatever his name is) “I am reverend” remark.  If he had said, “I’m a reverend”, it wouldn’t have been so strange.  And then to say that his church makes it’s own reverends does show a lack of understanding of early church authority structures.  Of course, Johnny and I probably agree on many things about Joel and his ilk.

3.  Johnny said, “The Bible says that the church is the church of Christ.”  On this, Johnny and I disagree.  The church mentioned in the Bible is not the church you are in, Johnny, not exclusively. 

This one’s been discussed so much here, but I’ll just say that I wonder when these guys are going to realize that Paul was talking about SPECIFIC churches that existed at a certain when he talked about the “churches of Christ” in Romans 16:16.  For Johnny to imagine that he is a part of what Paul was talking about in that passage is just ludicrous!  I could understand if he was saying that he and his pals are trying to reproduce what the first century church had and did.  But to say that somehow Paul was referencing the folks who do this broadcast, and those folks alone, is crazy. 

Why just “churches of Christ”?  Why not “churches of God”?  They’re mentioned in the Bible more often than “church of Christ” (which isn’t in the Bible).  Romans 16:4 mentions the “churches of the Gentiles”, so why not give your church that title?  There’s the Macedonian churches, the churches of Galatia, Judea, Philadelphia, Laodiciea, Sardis, Thyatira, Pergamum, Smyrna, Ephesus, Thessalonians, Corinth, and Jerusalem.  All of these are churches that are named.  They aren’t called “the church of Christ at Corinth”, or “the church of Christ that meets at the Holiday Inn Express in Galatia”. 

So, the name is irrelevant.  What matters is that it is a gathering of believers who represent the body of Christ, with Christ as the head (Col 1:18).  Does your church acknowledge the Lord Jesus Christ as the head of the body?  If so, you might just be able to call yourself a part of the wider body that Paul talks about.  Of course, there are other issues to examine, but Johnny’s reliance on Romans 16:16 just doesn’t add up.

Besides, any time one of these guys bring up Romans 16:16 as proof of their authority to exist, I’d ask them about the first part of that verse, where Paul tells the reader to greet one another with a holy kiss.  Why don’t they do this?  It wasn’t a cultural thing, because it was called a “holy” kiss.  And the church is commanded to do this HALF A DOZEN times in the New Testament!  C’mon, Johnny!  Be consistent!

4.  You can tell Johnny’s been at this a long time, the way he jumps down the caller’s throat when she asks a simple question.  “Do you believe that God makes miracles today?”  It’s a simple yes or no question, and Johnny won’t just answer it.  I understand that he is concerned about people trying to trip him up or trap him, but then he turns around and does the same things to his callers for refusing to answer his simple yes or no questions.  You set the standard for that, Johnny my man. 

And then when she finally starts to tell him what she means, he still doesn’t answer the question, but just asks her questions.  Now, I know why he does this – it was a method Jesus often used when he knew that people were trying to trap him.  The difference?  Johnny’s not omniscient to be able to judge people, the way Jesus was.  This caller, for example, had no intention of trying to trick him, but she felt like she had experienced a miracle and still Johnny took forever to get to the point of answering her question. 

He was too aggressive about it, too.  You’d think Johnny was needing a break rather than just coming off of one.  That whole interchange would have been a lot quicker if Johnny had just answered the question and allowed her to make her point and then been done with it.

5.  Another interesting tactic Johnny uses, when he’s avoiding answering a question is:  he tries to get the caller to agree with him on a bunch of little things along the way.  For example, he was kept talking about “the idea of the doctor setting up a… what?  A what?” trying to get the lady to say “a practice.”  And the way he always gets the caller to proof text for him, by having the callers read the passages.  Why would he do this?  Is it some sort of psychological trick to show that people are agreeing with him?  I’m not sure, but he is relentless with it.

6.  Johnny quoted “For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil”, and he said that this means that God doesn’t care about the prayers of people who aren’t in the church.  What?!?  What about John 4:46-53, where the “certain royal official” asked Jesus to heal his son.  Jesus did what he asked, and then “he and all his household believed”.    

More to come if family and holiday obligations allow…

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