In the past couple of days, Twitter and Facebook went insane with the latest show of support (or at least moral antipathy) from Michael Brown regarding none other than infamous Word of Faith and Prosperity Gospel heretic Benny Hinn. A good article at the MennoKnight blog explains it all pretty well. Among the most amazing of Brown's responses to his critics is this:
While I’m quite aware that some of you feel he is the ultimate false teacher and charlatan while others believe him to be a wonderful man of God, I have actually not monitored his ministry over the years. [emphasis mine]Wait...excuse me?
Did Michael Brown really just pull the ignorance card the same way he did on his Line of Fire broadcast with Phil Johnson, when the latter asked about Rick Joyner and others? And did he try pulling this ignorance card in regards to Benny Hinn?
Pastor Lyndon Unger, the author of the MennoKnight blog, put it best:
Dr. Brown claims to have been a Christian for decades.Sadly, yes, really.
Dr. Brown claims to have been in Charismatic circles for decades.
Dr. Brown claims to have been in Charismatic leadership for decades.
Dr. Brown claims to not know enough about Benny Hinn to know whether or not he’s a upstanding man of God?
I mean, come on! REALLY? [emphasis in original]
On top of this, let's not forget Brown has experience in apologetics, so surely Benny Hinn's name must have popped up at least every now and then. Let's put that all aside for a moment, however, and remember something important: this is Benny Hinn we're talking about. Benny Hinn. Even secularists, atheists and non-Christians in general know that name, and are aware of his errors.
Imagine a liberal news pundit who commentates on politics, who claims to have been involved with the Democratic party for decades, who has gone to plenty of well known Democratic conventions, and who then turns around and says, "Oh, well, I haven't really studied Obama's political beliefs much."
Would anyone buy that?
There's a famous line from the original Transformers cartoon where the villain, Megatron, hears his lackey, Starscream, attempt to weasel an excuse about how his attempted betrayal was actually someone else's trickery, to which Megatron growls, "You're either lying, or you're stupid!" That's how I felt when I saw Brown was attempting to play ignorant to the crimes of Benny Hinn's so-called ministry. Below here's a video for those who want to relive some old school goodness.
A Phil Johnson tweet, in any case, put it in a better and far more gracious manner:
I have a copy of one of Michael Brown's Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus, and the thought occurred to me to throw it away or sell it. As I wrote before, it's not that I doubt Michael Brown's salvation or question his status as a brother in Christ, but I am really questioning whether or not he has any true (or at least consistent) sense of discernment. The thing is, I don't doubt Michael Brown's intelligence, nor his scholarship. I've heard the man in debates, and he can handle himself in an argument. He's not an idiot. He's not stupid. For him to be so incredibly blind - nay, willingly blind - is simply mind boggling to me. I have never before seen someone so capable of understanding the truth, and yet so willing to just ignore it.
At this point, it's become clear that Michael Brown seems to always have a pattern whenever he gets into this situation:
- Show open support for someone who is a proven false teacher.
- Assure others he has not studied their lives much, even though he knows them really well.
- Refuse to do any research on what the other side says, let alone review the arguments his critics are making.
- Accuse his critics of not being gracious and encourage them to do more research.
If his critics still aren't happy, Michael Brown might do one of the following:
- Make a pro hominem argument ("So-and-so does this one good thing", etc.).
- Make a tu quoque about someone on the other side ("Some people say So-and-so is a heretic, but others say So-and-so is a heretic too.").
- Fall back on the "Can't we all just find our similarities?" argument.
All of these are, of course, flawed arguments. That Benny Hinn doesn't kick his dog for fun or whatever pro hominem argument you want to pull out doesn't detract from criticism of his doctrine and ministry practices. That someone a critic might like is also called by some parties a heretic does not detract from legitimate objections made in regards to whoever the critic is talking about. That we are to ignore all error and just hold hands and sing kumbaya is simply an emotional argument that begs the question as to what is and isn't appropriate doctrine. As I said before, Michael Brown is not an idiot, and he's a capable debater - that's why the fact he's engaging in this fallacious thinking is all the more saddening.
In the end, you can only make the "I'm ignorant" claim so many times before people see through your antics. At some point, you're going to be like the emperor with his new clothes, marching along self-assuredly while everyone laughs at your nakedness. Some have even pointed out that people on the Hyper-Charismatic side (ie., John Crowder) are starting to notice Michael Brown's hypocrisy. Also, you can only ignore what the other side says for so long before they realize you're really not interested in the truth - and sadly, Michael Brown is in that territory. He's demonstrated on many occasions now that he's more interested in defending his Hyper-Charismatic friends than he is calling out great error.
While I maintain that I still consider Michael Brown to be a brother in the Lord, at this I think point it's terribly clear Michael Brown needs our prayers.