An Open Letter to Johnny Robertson

Hello Johnny,

I’m glad that you dropped by our humble little blog once again. I appreciate your offer for me to come over to Star News, but I must respectfully decline your invitation. It is nice to hear from you though, since it’s been a while. Remember when you called us “giggleing little girls”? If not, let me refresh your memory – click here.

Ahh… the good old days.

But hey, since I have you here now, I have a question for you. It was pointed out to me that you were recently visiting with one of your supporting congregations in Greenville, Texas, at the Johnson Street Church of Christ. How was your trip?

(Readers – you can go to the church’s website at www.jscoc.org and even listen to Johnny’s messages there on the “sermons” section.)

Well, there is something interesting about Johnson Street CofC that I wanted to see if you would address. On their website they have a notice up that they are looking for a youth minister.

And here’s my question: since you (and Norm and James) regularly criticize churches for having people in unauthorized church leadership roles, did you call Johnson Street CofC to task for trying to fill a role that isn’t authorized in Scripture?

Or, I’ll put it this way:

Can you tell us the BCV in the NT where Johnson Street CofC is authorized to hire a youth minister?

I hope to hear that you held them accountable for this – because it seems that they were not being silent where the Bible is silent, and I know you like to be consistent.

Looking forward to your response,
Nathan

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24 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Johnny Robertson

  1. In Romans 15:15-16 Paul states that he is a minister to the Gentiles. Was that the only group to which he ministered? No. However, it was a special purpose, to a special group to which he was called.

    Do modern “youth ministers” minister only to the youth? Rarely so within the churches of Christ. Just as one elder might oversee benevolence and one might oversee caring for the sick, they all work together in all areas.

    To designate one minister as one for the youth of a congregation is in no way in violation of scripture. Norm has a new entry on the bibleqna website explaining the difference between specific and generic commands which explains what I’m talking about thoroughly.

    On a side note, is the Johnson Street congregation located in China? The link in your post seems to indicate as much.

  2. Thanks, Corey, for your comment, and for your correction on the website URL.

    You wrote:

    “To designate one minister as one for the youth of a congregation is in no way in violation of scripture.”

    The question wasn’t if it was a “violation” of scripture – but a question of authorization. If we are to “speak where the Bible speaks, and be silent where the Bible is silent” then doesn’t that mean we can’t just create positions in the church? And we don’t read anywhere in the NT about anyone being a “youth minister”. So, where would JSCOC get the authorization?

    This is a very real question – especially since Johnny and company quite often condemn other churches for taking liberties with Scripture. As I wrote earlier, I am looking for consistency.

    Nathan

  3. Nathan,

    By designating a minister as a youth minister no new position has been created. Just as Paul was a minister “to the Gentiles”, he was still a just a minister, albeit with a specific calling. A youth minister is still just a minister, but one who ministers primarily to a specific group. There would be nothing wrong with a spanish-speaking minister in a highly hispanic area, since they are still just a minister.

    As long as we don’t change God’s commands we are operating by his authority. For example, Noah was told to build an ark of gopher wood. What tools he used, where he got the wood from, how he transported it…none of those things were specified, so as long as Noah used gopher wood he was being silent where God was silent and speaking where God spoke. If he had decided to also throw in some pine and oak then he would have been going beyond what was commanded.

    What most of us within the churches of Christ condemn is not using our liberties within a command (as in the example of Noah) but adding to the command or changing it in some way.

    I hope I have been clear. If not, let me know & I will attempt to explain further.

    Corey

  4. Dear Corey,

    I don’t have time to give a proper response, but I wanted to tell you that I appreciate the civility in your responses. I have had some bad experiences with people who would agree with you, with their being very uncivil, and I hope that they are taking notes when reading this exchange.

    I’ll be back…
    Nathan

  5. Nathan,

    Not to get too off topic, but I wanted to reply to what you just posted.

    I grew up in a Baptist church and my first experiences with the church of Christ were not always positive. When a preacher seems angry at people in denominations they do way more harm than good. I only know of Johnny, James & Norm through the web (I live in KY). I know that Johnny especially seems at times more interested in winning arguments than souls. The others are not like him as far as I can tell.

    I am now a member of the church of Christ and I often teach classes and sometimes do some preaching. I often give this example:

    If someone you love is overweight to the point that it endangers their health there are two ways to go about expressing your concern. The first is to say, “you are FAT and if you don’t get off your lazy butt and do something about it you’re going to die!”
    The second is to say, “I’m concerned about your health and I want to help you to lose weight so you’ll be with me for a long time”.

    Are both true…yes. But there is a right way and a wrong way to go about teaching the truth. Make no mistake, I agree almost completely with the teachings that are espoused by Johnny, but I disagree with his manner of teaching at times. I think his heart is in the right place, but he fails to present his teachings in the proper manner.

    I hope that everyone who visits this site will attempt to look beyond the man to the message. As long as I post here I will always attempt to do so in love and civility.

    Corey

  6. Nathan,

    I’m curious as to your reason for refusing to be a live guest on the show. You simply declined without specification.

    As for “namecalling”, I suppose you would have reprimanded John the Baptist as well? – Mt 3:6-8. Maybe Jesus too? Mt 23:13-33. It is justified where warranted. Nothing personal; just providing additional information for reasoning.

    Joey

  7. Joey,

    I have declined this before, and so didn’t feel a need to explain. My reason is simple – my viewing experience with Johnny’s show (and the others – possibly with the exception of Norm Fields) is that he doesn’t so much debate as he ambushes.

    He seems to enjoy skewering his opponents, and then using the skewering for months to come on his broadcast. It doesn’t matter how well his opponent handles himself (see the postings on the debate with Armando Deloa), Johnny will pull out the parts where he gets the upper hand and use them over and over again. I personally don’t wish to give him any ammunition for future fundraising endeavors.

    As to the name-calling, certainly John the Baptist and Jesus called names from time to time. But, if Johnny is trying to be “speak where the Bible speaks”, then I’d like to know the BCV where you find “giggleing little girls”. Seems like he’s acting without authorization on that one.

    Nathan

  8. Corey,

    Back to your response. Thanks again for your attitude.

    The main issue I have here is the importance that Johnny and other “hyper-conservatives” put on not speaking where the Bible is silent. I don’t mean “hypercon” as a putdown btw, but as a designation, seeing that there are people of all different persuasions who are a part of “Church of Christ” assemblies.

    According to the pattern of CENI, which “hypercons” claim to as an unofficial creed, we need to have a command, an approved example, and necessary inference.

    Do we have a command for the office of youth minister? No.
    Do we have an approved example for the office of youth minister? According to your interpretation, yes. But, it takes some liberty on your part to get to that example.
    Do we have necessary inference for the office of youth minister? Again, sort of, but it is open to interpretation.

    So, we don’t find anyone in Scripture referred to as a “youth minister”, and therefore some may argue that we have no authorization. This may seem extreme, but I am taking the arguments of Johnny and others to their logical ends. In order to be able to have a “youth minister”, you have to be able to take some liberties with Scripture.

    So you see my point here? It is not a cut and dry issue. Some people might interpret this the way you do, others might not. Who would be right? Who would be wrong? Could you agree to disagree? And if so, why? Where does one draw the line? More importantly to this blog, did Johnny agree to disagree with Johnson Street Church of Christ on this issue? If he didn’t disagree, would he accept an invitation to speak at a Church of Christ assembly that didn’t think youth ministers are authorized?

    In conclusion, couldn’t it be argued that Johnson Street CofC is acting in an unauthorized manner by seeking someone to fill that role?

    Nathan

  9. Nathan,

    …But it’s ok for you to criticize in your territory I guess. It’s his show to do as he pleases, just like this is your site to do as you please. You persist in inviting him to your territory but you wont oblige him.

    As far as visits with and support from Johnson Street: why dont you discuss something you have facts on instead of conjecturing just have to have fodder for discussion. At least we go through the pain and effort of gathering and processing facts before presenting something to the community.

  10. Nathan,

    I don’t know if you ignored my post about Noah or if you simply don’t agree with the example. Regardless, I don’t know what else I can say to show you why someone like myself, or even Mr. Robertson, would have no problem with a “youth” minister.

    You are right that this is not a “cut and dry issue” in that it isn’t specifically addressed in the Bible. However, as I have pointed out, there is a scriptural precedent set forth that would give the authority for such a position.

    Would I agree to disagree or where do I draw the line? I would agree that a congregation that chooses not to have such a position is free to do so and so is one that chooses to have such a position. As long as neither binds their decision upon another I see no problem. I draw the line at going beyond the Biblical precedent to the point of creating an entirely new position, such as a pope. Ministers are scripturally authorized; individuals as a head of the church on earth are not.

    As far as Johnny’s position on the issue, I cannot comment on it because I don’t know the man, nor do I care. I simply care about what the Bible says.

    I say again, the jscoc is not doing anything unauthorized by hiring a minister who will primarily serve the youth of their congregation. That man will still simply be a minister.

    In regards to Joey’s comments, I also find it hard to believe that you would not take the opportunity to publicly address a man that you have such strong feelings against. You have created this blog about him and have posted on at least 2 other sites about him. He may use your comments in later broadcasts, but he would have to face you head-on in a live debate. How could he “ambush” you if scripture is on your side as you believe? I would urge you to accept his invitation and post the show here.

    Corey

  11. Hi Joey,

    Just as Johnny criticizes the majority of Christians in our home area, I feel perfectly at ease about criticizing his teachings here. He is a public figure, and purchases air time each week to get those teachings out to the community, and so he shouldn’t be bothered by the fact that we do what we do here. In fact, he’s probably glad that we do what we do here – recalling the old expression, “the only bad publicity is no publicity”.

    I don’t feel any need to go onto his program. If I had felt that need, I would have called him up first thing and requested such an opportunity. This blog is my platform, and I’m perfectly content with that.

    And I need to address something Corey said – regarding having “strong feelings against” Johnny. I don’t know Johnny personally, and therefore don’t have strong feelings about him one way or the other. In fact, I’ve heard from others who do know him that he is very good to his people, that he’s very generous and helpful to those who are Church of Christ. What I have a problem with is the doctrine he presents on his TV broadcasts – and the often mean-spirited manner in which he presents it. That is what I try to address here, and although I sometimes allow my flesh to get the better of me when I say things a bit too sarcastically, I think I’ve kept things non-personal these last few weeks. I am trying.

    All that being said, who knows? Maybe one day I’ll accept the invitation to appear on the broadcast. I’ve learned a lot about the Churches of Christ hypercon doctrine in these last few months since I started this blog. But for now, I’m content to keep my modest little blog chugging along, and if Johnny wants to engage in discussion here, then he’s more than welcome. If not, that’s his decision, too.

    Nathan

  12. Hi Corey,

    I didn’t respond specifically to your example about Noah, because I understood what you were saying in that example. Again, looking for consistency, I’d ask you this – what is your opinion on not taking the Lord’s Supper each first day of the week? I realize this is getting off the subject of youth ministry, but I’m going somewhere with the question.

    I’ll await your response before I go further.

    Thanks,
    Nathan

  13. Nathan,

    First off, I believe it is somewhat dishonest to say that you don’t have strong feelings toward Johnny Robertson. If you do a google search for Johnny Robertson, most of what comes up are your writings here and on a couple of other sites. There is only one result for Johnny’s own site in the first 4 or 5 pages.

    As to your question about the Lord’s Supper, to not take the Lord’s Supper each Sunday would be changing the command/example. Where is the freedom (or generic)? In the portion size, in the way it is distributed. Where is the command (or specific)? In the elements and the date.

    I ask you this – why, with the example set forth in the Bible, would a person choose NOT to take the Lord’s Supper each Sunday? Why change that?

    I hope that you will address my statements about the “youth” minister as well. I hope you understand why it would be acceptable and how it is justifiable without changing the scriptural example.

    Corey

  14. Our church, Vandola Baptist in Danville, was visited by Norm Fields and Mark McMinnis on Wednedsay, April 16. It just so happened that this particular night was the last night of our Spring Revival with Dr. Ron Crawford, a former pastor and current President of the Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond. As you would expect there was a “discussion” with Fields and McMinnis after the service.

    Let me share with you that from the very beginning of our worship service these two representatives of the churches of Christ displayed nothing less than utter contempt for our worship and our membership. We began the service with a responsive reading that was printed in our worship bulletin. The congregation stood for the responsive reading which was followed by a hymn (accompanied by musical instruments of course). Fields and McMinnis remained seated throughout all of this as well as at the conclusion of the service when we stood and sang an invitational hymn. I, by the way, went to the pew where they were seated toward the back of the sanctuary where I greeted them and sat with them during the preaching of the message by our guest speaker. Norm diligently wrote notes and I assume points of contention throughout the message.

    As they left from the sanctuary, Norm asked Dr. Crawford if he could talk with him to inquire about some of the things he had said during the message. Dr. Crawford informed Norm that he was leaving to go back to Richmond as soon as he finished greeting folks but that he would consent to give him a few moments. Norm had already began questioned Dr. Crawford on the outside porch when I walked up. I interrupted them and asked Norm directly if he was using any audio or video devices to record the conversation and he responded that he was unable to bring either because of some malfunction with his equipment. He asked me if I was using such and I replied that I was not and if I had been I would have told him in advance that I was and that he should do the same whenever he used recording devices. (Should anyone see or hear a recording of this discussion that I am describing on any of the CoC broadcasts be sure to call on air and ask if deliberate lying is a teaching of Scripture.)

    At any rate, it didn’t take long for Dr. Crawford to detect Norm’s attempt to haggle over perceived syntax errors and so Dr. Crawford dismissed him and said he would speak no further with him. Norm, of course, began his spill about “Crawford’s refusal to speak the truth of God”. Unfortunately, at this point, one of our not so diplomatic members spoke out of turn and said that he would be glad to meet Norm out back to take care of his questions to which Norm ask if the man was threatening him. I injected that no one was going to threaten him (I did notice that Norm left from the porch area where we were rather quickly). I attempted to explain to Norm that one of the reasons folks became so upset with them was certainly because of their blatant display of contempt in our worship service. I asked Norm why he had refused to stand and/or participate in our worship to which he responded that he could not (spoken with the perceived implication that he could not because our service was not true worship approved of God). As a result I asked Norm if that was the case, then why did he come then to our worship service knowing that he “could not” out of his pure conscience participate. He said he came to learn and to give us an opportunity to explain why we did what we did and what we believed. I refuted that notion with the comment that he already knew what Baptist taught, how Baptist worshipped and what Baptist believed and that the only reason he was there was to continue to show his disdain for Baptist people as he did each week on his broadcast program. With that we parted ways.

    Can’t wait to see how this is presented on the CoC local broadcast. Should Norm be reading this blog, let me apologize to him for any perceived rude behavior on the part of any of our folks. We are not perfect people and there are still those who become easily angered and/or offended in spirited debate especially when agitated by those who know which buttons to push.

  15. I am very grateful to Norm and Johnny for their willingness to stand for the truth. It’s really hard to get people to discuss where they come up with their religious practices. Of course usually people become offended that you would even ask. And I understand that. I was the same way before when I was in the Baptist church. I want to say thankfully men like Johnny and Norm cared enough about me to question my doctrine. When I went to my pastor over and over, I was unsuccesful in backing up my baptist doctrine of how to become a Christian. It wasn’t Johnny or Norm but strong men just like them who were willing test my doctrine against scripture. Thank you all…

  16. JC, the real difficulty with these folks in our local area is the judgemental attitude in which they approach others. They come with the approach that they are the only ones who know the truth, that all others are ignorant of what the Bible teaches and that they need to force their teachings on others whether they want to hear it or not.

  17. Rick,
    Maybe they are too forceful, but the fact is that most of us are not forceful enough. We crawl in our shell and are afraid to discuss differing doctrines.

    We know there is only one true “Apostles Doctrine”.

    If we are teaching different doctrines somebody is wrong…

    I am very willing and eager to change if I find I have been teaching wrong…But how will we know?? Everytime someone stands up for what they see as the truth, we tell them to sit down and shut up.

  18. Luke 9: 1-5 reads 1.When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases,
    2.and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.
    3.He told them: “Take nothing for the journey–no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic.
    4.Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town.
    5.If people do not welcome you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave their town, as a testimony against them.”

    Our local coC boys are being more than forceful. They need to follow what the Bible says, shake off the dust and move on to people who are willing to hear their message. But they refuse to do that. IN the process they are turning away those who are not part of any church. More harm has been done to the testimony of the things of God to an unsaved and unchurched city as a result of their judgemental spirit and constant attacks on Baptists and other religious body than anything Satan could do on his own. For that they will be judged of God

  19. You are so right Rick. I use to act this way too – even trying to line up debates and did with one between Jason and Jeff Black. This debate was what got Jason to look at the issue of faith more and see that there is more to the bible than what he was preaching. Just so happen Johnny also was acting up at the same time, trying to make Jason attend the preaching school, rather than teaching. Johnny and crew fail to tell people this and even come close to lying when callers ask about Jason. Call them on air and ask that they come clean about Jason. I heard Johnny tell one caller that he didnt know and heard this from Norm once on air too….come to think about about James also. They do not want the public knowing the entire truth and are just wanting to sweep it all under the rug. Jason left them and so did others…and something else too. They claim to follow every example in the New Testament and not one of them went to Jason to tried to restore him to the faith…so much for “speak where the bible speaks”…guess Johnny, James, and Norm can ignore that example.

  20. First Tim because Johnny uses debates as a trap, he will take the information and glean it for any inconstancy and then place it on his show to play over and over again.

    While Johnny himself is inconsistent himself, however Nathan would not have a TV show or the money to waste on clipping up the debates.

    Secondly Johnny has been trained to debate, he has been taught to use the Bible as a weapon to manipulate out of context, in the 10 minute short takes unless someone has memorized all the verses in the Bible you would have a hard time picking up on some of the misuse of passages.

    Here is an example, he once gave a message on how denominations were not in the Bible. He spoke on how denominations claim their justification from Mark 9:38-41 and how they were wrong to do so. His claim and teaching was that this man they had stopped from casting out demons was actually one of the 72 that Jesus had sent out and thus the man was in fact one of them.

    Wow at first you are saying to yourself yep makes sense to me and then you start thinking it through and you realize that if this man had been sent out they were sent out 2 by 2, where was the other man. Secondly if my boss were to send me to do a job and someone came and told me to stop I think I would have the good sense to say, but Jesus told me to go and do this!

    That is something that you do not see at first and for many they will not see it at all, thus Johnny has been able to pull a fast one using the word.

    That example was the one that put me over the top, he claims to correctly divine the word but it seems that there are holes in his teachings just as there will be at times with any man who is trying to follow God.

    Tim if I gave you a opportunity to go play pro-football and you were not trained for that type of activity would you think it wise to decline the offer? I’d hope so because those trained to do that sort of work would crush you and leave you in a hospital bed for weeks on end.

    How about you go ask Johnny why he refused to debate another Church of Christ preacher on these blogs? Surely he would be able to study the teachings and give as good an account if not better since others in his body could read over what he was looking to do and perhaps give input into some small errors before he posts it and even help with the spelling if need be.

    The ground would be even at least in a blog debate with both sides having time to research and study in detail what the other says.

    I personally think he is wrong about church names in the Bible, wrong about elders stepping down because their wife dies and wrong about the thief on the cross. You see under Norm’s original teaching the thief died under the old covenant, yet the veil was torn the moment Jesus dies thus the thief died after the veil was torn that signaled the transition from the old ways to the new.

  21. “How about you go ask Johnny why he refused to debate another Church of Christ preacher on these blogs?”

    – you read my mind ! Everything you say above is true – it would be a waste of time to debate him. The biggest fault I see is them killing context to support a bias view, which is adding and taking away from the Word !

  22. debate, debate, debate! Im sick of this! We need to stop treating each other this way and start working to win the lost.

  23. I gave Johnny Robertson a chance to debate me, when he said that I wouldn’t. I thought he was serious about actually wanting a debate! We all know how THAT turned out: he turned tail and ran, ‘cuz he couldn’t figure me out. Unless he can quantify and analyze someone so as to find their weaknesses, Johnny Robertson isn’t interested in “debate”.

    The man is a parasite.

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