I originally wrote this article the day after Phil Johnson deleted his Twitter account. I was being accused by his followers of forcing him to delete his Twitter, and, unsurprisingly, all of the blame was being placed on my shoulders because of what occurred. There were a lot of misrepresentations about what I did or didn’t do, so I wanted to clarify (with screenshots) what actually went down. However, after prayerful consideration, I chose not to post this in honor of his apology. I was taking his following through with deleting his Twitter account as his sign of repentance. Now that he has gone back on his word by reactivating his account, followed by an article misrepresenting what actually happened, I have decided to set the record straight and lay out exactly what led to Phil deleting his Twitter account.
I wanted to take a detour from the series of blogs I'm posting to address the Phil Johnson situation that just occurred yesterday. There have been a lot of conflicting reports as to what actually occurred, so I wanted to take the time to lay it all out. Many of Phil's followers/fans have been accusing me of wrongdoing, so I wanted to get the entire story out there.
This entire war between Pastor Phil and Brannon Howse started when Brannon used a John MacArthur sermon on 2 Corinthians 6 in which Pastor MacArthur made it clear that we should not enter into any spiritual enterprise with a non-Christian. Apparently, Phil thought that Brannon was improperly applying JMac's sermon in this situation, so he interjected himself into the debate. However, as I've laid out previously, he did not simply clarify where he believed that Brannon was wrong, but he set out to destroy Brannon and Worldview Weekend. All sorts of personal attacks were thrown out there, none of which disproved anything that Brannon has said.
Most of the time, Brannon chose to ignore the accusations and simply continue to create new content on his radio and television shows. He simply wanted to press on and focus on the real issues. However, he finally decided it was time to address the issues that Phil had raised, as there was so much misinformation out there about him, his wife and his ministry. You can read that article here.
Shortly after this article was posted, Phil had apparently been getting a lot of requests to respond to Brannon's article. He chose to ignore the majority of the issues that were raised by Brannon (does this mean that they were true or simply that Phil wants to allow confusion?), and instead chose to deal with one specific issue:
As you can see, Phil clearly stated that Brannon was lying about the fact that Phil had slandered and lied about his wife. He was so emphatic that he had never done this that he issued a challenge:
What Phil was trying to do was make his followers believe that he had never attacked Brannon's wife and that Brannon was simply lying about him. However, what he didn't realize is that some people actually read what he says.
I get messages all the time from people asking if I've seen what he says, and screenshots are sent to me constantly. I have a decent memory (though sometimes my wife says otherwise), so I had remembered seeing that he had tweeted out a slanderous statement against Mrs. Howse. I went back through some of the screenshots that someone had sent me, and found the tweet.
Now, the question I asked myself is, "What do I do with this?" My goal is not to destroy Phil. Like I’ve said in the past, I grew up in and around Grace Community Church & Grace To You. I’ve attended the Shepherds’ Conference multiple times, and Phil was always my favorite speaker. I used to be a regular follower and promoter of his while he was a blogger at Pyromaniacs. Until recently, I never had an issue with him. I also get that his Twitter feed, which had something like 25k followers, is his direct line to the public. Because he's not in front of people the same way that JMac is, this is his way of sharing his sermons, promoting speaking engagements and getting his point of view out there.
However, at the same time, he is basically calling Brannon a liar by clearly stating that he had never said anything negative about Mrs. Howse:
I decided that it was best for everyone to confront him on this issue because he made such a definitive statement that he had never gone after Mrs. Howse. I knew going into it that I would get a lot of anger directed my way from the PJ fans. But I felt that the truth was more important to get out there, as I felt that it was wrong for Brannon to be accused of lying when he wasn’t, and I hoped that Phil would retract the claim against Mrs. Howse. So I shared this screenshot of what Phil said:
Phil then responded as he should:
He then posted his apology on his website:
To Phil's credit, he followed through with his public apology and deleted his Twitter account, as promised. While I wish that he had posted publicly at the time he deleted his tweet that he never should have made this claim, when he got caught he took responsibility and followed through with his word.
However, before he deleted his Twitter account, Phil did seem to kind of walk back his apology a bit:
So now, he agrees with the statement that this shouldn't have counted because he had already deleted the tweet. But he admits that he made a promise and would stick to it. The problem with this is that he emphatically said that he had NEVER made this claim against Mrs. Howse, when he, in fact, did. While I'm giving him an out by taking him at his word that he forgot that he had tweeted this, he knew at one time that this was wrong when he deleted this tweet. This could have all been avoided if he had simply clarified that he never should have posted this and that his followers shouldn’t spread this information.
I appreciate that he apologized to Brannon via the post on his website. Do I think he should have made a phone call or, at the very least, an email and apologize directly to Mrs. Howse? Yes. However, he still admitted that what he did was wrong and that he shouldn't have done it, so I'll leave it at that.
Now, there is still much damage and division in the church that has been caused by Phil's behavior. There's been no apology or repentance for these other issues. I hope that this apology is a first step to attempting to reconcile and heal the wounds from this war between Phil and Brannon. There's still a lot that needs to be dealt with.