We’ve all seen this.
You notice a Facebook post or news headline about a man being gunned down by police while his hands were in the air. The testimony is that his hands were up and that he was unarmed. Of course, many will want to see video footage. And rightfully so. Not every account of police brutality is true.
And then, thankfully, iPhone footage is released. As it turns out, the original reports are confirmed by the footage. His hands were up and he was unarmed.
But maybe we should give the esteemed professionals even more benefits of a doubt. Maybe there’s a longer video that tells the whole story. Maybe something happened to justify the shooting. Maybe something happened just off camera to cause the police to “fear for their lives”. Maybe the iPhone video is cleverly edited.
So perhaps other videos may be released. Perhaps dashcam footage or other witnesses’s iPhone videos. All the videos and all the testimonies confirm what most of us already know. The shooting was unjustified. It was murder, by any Biblical and just definition.
And thousands will demand required bodycams for police. The fix is seen as only having more available evidence.
This should be a closed case. This should be really easy. But then something very peculiar happens. Although we have multiple eyewitness testimonies, and although we have video evidence, not just a few, but many, will “stand with the blue” and support the police that committed this murder. There will assuredly be talk about still not having “the full story”. There will be talk about “not having all the facts”. There will certainly be talk about how the victim wasn’t a good man with a good reputation. Perhaps the victim was truly a criminal and this will be paraded about, as if a police record justifies being executed.
Now, to be sure, the topic of police brutality is a controversial one, but I believe that most should be able to recognize the blindness that some have in regards to even the most clear cases of injustice. Certainly there are many unclear cases that can result in much debate, but those clear cases are, well, clear. What is going on? How can so many watch a video and not see what everyone else sees? How can so much evidence be ignored? How can reality be twisted so blatantly?
The reason is simple. These individuals, the sort that wear the blue colored glasses in which a man with a badge can do no wrong, have already made up their mind. When faced with contrary evidence, these otherwise rational individuals twist facts and will give an endless line of excuses. They esteem a certain class of man to the point where they are unable to see any wrong in them, even when the evidence is hard and numerous. Their presupposition is that the highly esteemed government official is above reproach and all narratives must fit that presupposition. When offered evidence that shows the contrary, you will only be asked for more evidence. Nothing is conclusive that doesn’t match the presupposition.
This is a result of sin. Bodycams won’t fix this, and this phenomenon is not at all restricted to the reality of police brutality. Wherever there are fanboys, sycophants, and man worshipers, there will be the stubborn denial of facts. Evidence be damned. This is nothing short of idolatry. Truth, which belongs to God, is sacrificed on the altar of prejudice and partiality. Whenever you esteem certain men, institutions, or ideas to the point that you are unable to see any error when that error is clearly presented, you have created an idol. You’ve been blinded.
The same concept applies when you hold certain men, institutions, or ideas in derision without due diligence and clear evidence. Sometimes you decide to see the worst in others. You simply decide that. Your presupposition is that this group of Christians, for example, can do no good. If you see them doing good works, the assumption is that their heart is impure. If you hear something negative about this group, you quickly accept the testimony. If you hear something good about this group, you dismiss the testimony. No matter what they do or say, the evidence is ran through a filter that causes you to view all evidence in accordance with the desired narrative.
These are the thoughts that ran through my mind after watching the fallout of the most recent James White and AHA controversy. Now would be a great time to check out this video.
And if you’d like to see the full Dividing Line video for context, it’s right here. AHA is discussed within the first several minutes.
In the full Dividing Line video you’ll hear James White airing his disapproval over two abolitionists and one of their families going to a movie premier. It is a Christian film and while in line on a public sidewalk they wanted to hand out flyers to an rally that is being held at the Texas capitol in support of a bill to abolish abortion. He then moves on to torching a strawman version of abolitionism in reference to several abolitionists being at the G3 conference. For more on the G3 conference, see this. It’s then that his associate, Rich Pierce, offers his testimony of his interaction with an abolitionist outside of G3.
As an aside, all James White had to say about the two abolitionists who went to the movie premier, along with the wife of one of the ornery abolitionists and their several adopted children, is “ give me a break, come on, seriously, let’s be honest”. As if it would be so incredible for abolitionists, and their families, to be doing anything at all that James White would approve up. Are we supposed to feel like these men were doing something terrible because James White simply FEELS like they’re doing something nefarious? Here is a clear example of James White’s prejudice against abolitionists. Without any evidence whatsoever, he simply concludes that they must be doing something sinful. Why? Well, they’re abolitionists.
But back to the G3 interactions. What prompted Rich Pierce to tell his tale was James White’s painting of this caricature. This is following his complaining about abolitionists and their children wanting to go see a Christian film. The caricature is as follows.
“Same thing at G3. Why were they there? It’s part of the Church Repent thing. It’s saying that you’re focused on the wrong stuff. The only thing is our cause. Our cause. There can be no balance in the Church anymore. You can’t teach the Gospel, you can’t talk about Church History, you can’t deal with other worldview issues. This is the one thing, and if you don’t agree with us we will stand outside your church and we’ll protest you. That’s the reality, and if you can’t see it, wow, that’s self deception. That’s all there is to it.”
Strange. According to James White, abolitionists believe that you can’t teach the Gospel. Here are just a few examples, out of hundreds and hundreds, of abolitionists preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ and teaching on the Gospel.
Also strange that James White believes that abolitionists can’t talk about church history. According to who? Who has ever said that? How many books on history and church history must I study before James White will think I care about church history? Perhaps Mr. White does not know that my friend and a co-founder of the modern abolitionist movement, T. Russell Hunter, is a trained historian. Here’s one talk he has given on history.
I wonder how many James White books must I have on my shelf before I can be seen as “balanced” by Mr. White? Or how many books and articles on Mormonism, Islam, Jehovah Witnesses, and various cults must abolitionists read before we can “deal with other worldview issues”? How much must I study on the application of a consistent Biblical worldview before I can be seen by James White as caring about more than one thing?
Suffice it to say, not one abolitionist has ever said, to the best of my knowledge, in person, on video, on facebook, or in a blog, that one must not teach the Gospel, learn history, or learn how to counter differing worldviews. If anyone claiming abolitionism HAS made that sort of claim, they are acting inconsistently with the ideology they profess to hold. I’d love to correct them. However, I believe this outrageous strawman that James White has set up is pure fiction and he offers no evidence whatsoever to back up his empty assertions. We are just supposed to believe him, and sadly, many will. Let me be very clear. It is within the realm of possibility that James White is very confused and that he does not understand abolitionism or abolitionists. He certainly does not understand immediatism, which is alarming considering that he is close friends with Jeff Durbin, an immediatist. When James White mocks and plainly shows disdain for immediatism, he’s showing disdain for a view held by far more than the few we desires to oppose. I do not know if he’s villainously sitting in his recording studio trying to make up lies about abolitionism and abolitionists. I don’t believe that’s very likely. What I do think, however, is that a man with a good bit of influence has not done his homework, has not been correctable, and has been very content with his very limited knowledge on a specific issue. He is a man that has believed false testimony, and in turn, repeated false testimony; becoming complicit in that sin. He is a man that is repeating falsehoods, slander, and lies, even if he’s not the one malevolently making up the lies.
At this point it would be useful to examine what the Westminster Larger Catechism says about the Ninth Commandment.
Q. What are the sins forbidden in the ninth commandment
A. The sins forbidden in the ninth commandment are, all prejudicing the truth, and the good name of our neighbours, as well as our own, especially in public judicature; giving false evidence, suborning false witnesses, wittingly appearing and pleading for an evil cause, outfacing and overbearing the truth; passing unjust sentence, calling evil good, and good evil; rewarding the wicked according to the work of the righteous, and the righteous according to the work of the wicked; forgery, concealing the truth, undue silence in a just cause, and holding our peace when iniquity calleth for either a reproof from ourselves, or complaint to others; speaking the truth unseasonably, or maliciously to a wrong end, or perverting it to a wrong meaning, or in doubtful and equivocal expressions, to the prejudice of truth or justice; speaking untruth, lying, slandering, backbiting, detracting, tale bearing, whispering, scoffing, reviling, rash, harsh, and partial censuring; misconstructing intentions, words, and actions; flattering, vain-glorious boasting; thinking or speaking too highly or too meanly of ourselves or others; denying the gifts and graces of God; aggravating smaller faults; hiding, excusing, or extenuating of sins, when called to a free confession; unnecessary discovering of infirmities; raising false rumors, receiving and countenancing evil reports, and stopping our ears against just defense; evil suspicion; envying or grieving at the deserved credit of any, endeavoring or desiring to impair it, rejoicing in their disgrace and infamy; scornful contempt, fond admiration; breach of lawful promises; neglecting such things as are of good report, and practicing, or not avoiding ourselves, or not hindering what we can in others, such things as procure an ill name.
That is quite the list, and it SHOULD be a sobering one. While reading it and thinking on it, it led me to examine my own heart and examine even my own words in this article. I may have made some edits. Sure, it’s certainly not Scripture, but I believe even the Baptists among the brethren should be able to agree with this answer the Westminster Larger Catechism provides, with of course, some qualifications. What is clear according to the WLC and according to Scripture is that speaking untruth, slandering, tale bearing, scoffing, raising false rumors and other categories of sin are applicable in this case. To pull my punches and not speak plainly on this would be sin. James White has repeatedly sinned against fellow believers and against God in a public and influential way. We should pray for his repentance while we examine our own words and motives.
During this episode of the Dividing Line, and after James White makes his sensational claims, his associate, Rich Pierce, speaks up. After some, I’m sure, joking banter about how Rich Pierce isn’t very mature, Rich gives his eyewitness testimony. A few things to take note of. He describes what he says is his first encounter. He specifically says that it’s his first encounter. We can tell by comparing the podcast and the video that this first encounter is the same encounter shown in the video. As you can see, not all the facts line up, but enough incidental details add up to verify that the video is, in fact, the interaction that Rich Pierce is describing. He says that he, to simplify, merely asked to be allowed to continue on his way. He describes himself as a meek man merely walking along trying to get to the event. Rich Pierce reports that he simply asks to be allowed to go on his way. He describes the abolitionist as blocking his path, and asking questions such as “well if you’ve talked to us before you shouldn’t be afraid to talk to me now”. This causes James White to scoff. At this point Rich decides to switch gears from trying to “free” himself from the abolitionist who’s apparently restraining him from moving along, to intentionally baiting the abolitionist into an argument over incrementalism. This was done purposely to “trigger” the abolitionist. This sort of desire to intentionally cause a brother to be “triggered” into wrath isn’t something to brag about, yet he readily admits his strategy to “trigger” his brother. I can’t help but agree with Rich’s self assessment of his maturity level.
Now, that is the story from Rich Pierce’s own mouth.
But what does the video show? First, it shows that Rich Pierce was immediately combative. He claims that abolitionists have condemned him to hell for his refusal to equate abortion with Molech worship. This claim is so out of left field that the abolitionist can only agree with Rich Pierce in that they both believe that it would be ridiculous for an abolitionist to cast Rich into “the pit of Hell” simply for not wanting to use the exact terminology relating to child sacrifice. This outlandish claim is so strange to the abolitionist that he wants to know where it came from so that he could go to his brother and correct him. The only answer given was that it was Oklahoma abolitionists. Unnamed, of course. Interestingly enough, Rich DOES believe that there are similarities and parallels between abortion and ancient child sacrifice. I am not equivocating when I say that abolitionists and Rich Pierce agree on this issue, or, at the very least, it seems like we are on the same page. No one believes that abortion minded women are just like, in every way, ancient people that self-consciously sacrificed their children to a pagan false god. I am very familiar with the abolitionist community, and I have never heard of anyone condemning another for the reasons that Rich Pierce claimed. In fact, I am an abolitionist from Oklahoma (yes, THAT abolitionist society) and I can say with certainty that this claim is total hogwash. Not only hogwash, but a bizarre accusation that I have never heard before. Personally, I believe Rich has severely misunderstood something. I want to be clear that I am extending charity to Rich in this. His claim is so odd that I have a difficult time thinking that he would maliciously make it up out of thin air. He misunderstood something, and instead of asking for clarification or doing more research into what abolitionists believe, he was content in believing that abolitionists would condemn him to hell for this silly reason. This also is clearly a Ninth Commandment violation.
Keep in mind that this first exchange of words, which includes all that I have already mentioned, happens before Rich brings up incrementalism in his attempt to “trigger” the abolitionist. And what has not happened? Rich Pierce has not once politely asked to be on his way or to be “allowed” to pass. Nothing even remotely similar to that happens. The story that Rich tells of himself innocently trying to walk along while an abolitionist, like some sort of ruffian, accosts him and accuses him of being afraid, never happened. It never happened. After five minutes and after kooky claims about abolitionists throwing him in hell because of some use of terminology, and after intentionally trying to “trigger” the abolitionist by bringing up incrementalism, Rich finally says he has to go. And, of course, like a normal human being and not some sort of demonized villain, the abolitionist hands him a booklet and Rich go on his merry way. Rich’s story is a fabrication. It’s a story. A rich tale, but just that. Biblically speaking, this is called bearing false witness. And it’s very clearly a Ninth Commandment violation.
I do not know how to extend any more charity to Rich. He said that “A” happened, and “A” happens to reflect very well on him and very poorly on the abolitionist. Yet the evidence presented shows that “A” never happened, but rather “B” happened. Not only that, but “B” does not reflect well on Rich and it does reflect well on the abolitionist. This isn’t confusion or negligence. This is lying to make yourself look good and others look bad. It’s shameful. Perhaps by the time Rich Pierce delivered his rich tale he believed his own lies. Perhaps he had by this point convinced himself of certain details and facts. But he wasn’t repeating someone else’s slander, he was repeating his own.
Although this video is quite sad and startling so, what is truly disturbing was the fallout on social media following the posting of the bodycam footage. One would think that Christians would carefully weigh the evidence. Although most saw the truth as the truth, many gave numerous excuses in support of their favourite podcaster.
Some have claimed the Rich must have been flustered and he simply forgot some details. He wasn’t bearing false witness, he was just mistaken. Or so the line goes. I find this to be a rather fantastical explanation. Somehow he was just “mistaken” when he leaves out details that cast him in a combative and not so mature light. Somehow, in his flustered state of mind (while broadcasting to thousands of listeners), he is “mistaken” when he somehow remembers parts of the conversation that never happened. The very same parts of the conversation that cast the abolitionist as a rude and aggressive bully. It’s interesting how he innocently misremembered things in the perfect way to cast him as a gentle man and the abolitionist as some kind of sidewalk bully. Weird how that works.
I believe we have all done this. We can all remember events in slightly different ways for our own sinful self-gain. We tend to easily forget details that are inconvenient and remember all that is self-serving. It’s like a game of telephone that’s been injected with all sorts of incentives to bend events, leave details out, or think of apocryphal details. It is certainly true that our memories are imperfect, however, it’s astonishing to me that so many FaceBook fans of James White will talk about this video as if Rich simply forgot what he had for breakfast. This is very much like a police officer shooting an innocent man and the crowd of good ol’ boys shrugging and saying “well, we all make mistakes”.
Another sidestep that some are claiming for Rich Pierce is that he was talking about a different interaction. This is why abolitionists included both interactions they had with Rich. Neither add up to his story. Not even if he mixed up details and thought one thing was said in the first interaction that was actually said in the second. Some have even suggested that Rich Pierce is talking about engaging with abolitionists at the movie premiere although that excuse just seems like wishful thinking. Enough of the story lines up with the G3 interactions to confirm that he’s talking about G3, even if it wasn’t clear enough from the Dividing Line episode. By the time Rich tells his story, James White had already shifted to G3. It’s abundantly clear to any honest Christian that Rich isn’t being truthful.
And perhaps the worst excuse given in defense of the various Ninth Commandment violations of James White and Rich Pierce is that they’re James White and Rich Pierce. Astonishingly, more than a few simply emoted their unwavering support of these men. They enthusiastically rebuked all who would have the audacity to criticize these podcast celebrities in any way. With much gumption they denounce all who would dare disagree, correct, or rebuke their Youtube elders. It’s unclear if these zealots have watched the video.
And the excuses went on and on. While reading the Facebook and Youtube comments, it immediately reminded me of other times many ignored evidence. This reminded me of the statism of the radical police supporters. Not just those that choose to give the benefit of the doubt to the badge, but those that will never see proof of abuse as proof. This realization was alarming, sad, and frankly disgusting.
As is the case with clear police brutality, the infinite list of excuses is a result of sin. Whether it’s police officers, politicians, pastors, or podcasters, when these men are esteemed to this degree of blind loyalty, an idol has been created. Truth is thrown to the side in order to maintain the good reputations of those that are highly esteemed. Not only are these men given a benefit of a doubt, they are given an endless stream of them. The excuses range from silly and unlikely to downright bizarre. They never end.
Why write this?
This bit of a scuffle should serve as at least two warnings. First, don’t esteem your friends to a level where you are unwilling to see error in them. This can be hard to do, but understand that it is not hate to correct even James White. It’s love. What is truly hateful is to be a friend and supporter of James White and not correct his sin. Same goes for Rich Pierce. Or myself. The greatest act of love my friends have ever shown me is when they sat me down and very plainly and firmly told me that I was being sinful. It hurt, but it was love that was being shown. I know for a fact that it was not comfortable or easy for anyone. If you are a fan of James White and Rich Pierce, if you have a profile picture of a selfie with you and James White, if you have all of his books on your bookshelf, if you financially support their ministry, if you pray for him, also have the courage and moral dignity to see his sin and correct that sin. Love them enough to see the error. Making up wild excuses for them is not love. It’s hate. Perhaps one of the most spiritually dangerous things that can happen to a man is gaining popularity and having many make an idol out of you. The blindness to error clearly shows this idolatry. Tear those idols down and love your brother, for aren’t we brothers?
Second, this video and the various sorts of reactions many have offered show the power of slander. More on slander here. It shows the power of assuming the worst in others and refusing to ever give them a benefit of a doubt. It’s a real possibility that many did not ignore the truth because they idolize James White, but rather they ignored the truth because they will believe absolutely anything negative they hear about abolitionism. It’s very easy for them to accept false testimony against abolitionism because they have already made up their mind, regardless of evidence. No matter the accusation, no matter the tall tale, no matter the video evidence, the narrative is that abolitionists are horrible. This is part of the power of slander. This isn’t the first time James White has slandered abolitionists, and this isn’t the first time that notable Christian personalities have slandered abolitionists. This happens enough that no amount of video evidence will suffice for those who have believed the lies. The evidence doesn’t fit the narrative. To those that desire abolitionists to be wicked, there are always be more facts to gather. There’s always more excuses. There’s always more to the story. Like the African American wearing the wrong kind of clothes, he’s assumed guilty until proven innocent. And sometimes, as we’ve seen, not even after proven innocent.
GoPro’s are helpful. Police bodycams can help. Evidence in general is helpful. But it doesn’t fix sin. It doesn’t fix sycophantically ignoring error. It doesn’t fix twisting facts to help your stated position. It doesn’t fix assuming the very worst in others. The creative imaginations of sinful human beings knows no bounds. We can see people and events through a number of different highly tinted lenses. Be very careful to not fall into this trap. Do not be blind to error and do not desire to think ill of your brother. No matter if the error is in James White or an abolitionist, be willing to discern things properly and correct where needed. Be an ambassador of truth and our King, Jesus Christ. Not an ambassador of James White or AHA. Even though it can be easy to assume the very worst in some of these men, give them charity while not blinding yourself to facts. And remember that charity is undeserved, but that doesn’t mean you ignore truth and make yourself to be a fool. Give grace, but don’t blind yourself.
It has been a few days and Mr. Pierce has responded to the video that was posted above. It was many things, sadly however, it was not repentance. Before I jump into his Facebook note, I want to make a few points. A few points that I should have clarified in the main text. Before the above posted video was made public, Mike Gulley (an abolitionist who was at G3), privately approached Rich Pierce about the allegations made in the Dividing Line episode. To be very clear, if this was all just an unfortunate misunderstanding, it could have been resolved like mature Christians before the video was ever made public. If Rich’s below explanation is true, it would have simply taken him being upfront with Mike to show that. It would have taken Rich not assuming the worst of Mike and it would have required a bit more patience. If Rich’s tale is in fact true, it’s a real shame that he was unwilling or unable to answer some simple questions in order to clear this up. Mike went to the trouble of going to a brother privately about a public accusation, which is more than Scripture requires. As has been the pattern, Rich responded to Mike’s concern and questions with hostility and then a Facebook block. In fact, Mr. Pierce baited all abolitionists to “out” themselves so that he can block them. Even stranger, it seems that Rich Pierce sought out abolitionists to block. Not only did he block every abolitionist who privately messaged him or publically outed themselves, he also went about blocking abolitionists he never had talked to before. Myself, for example, was blocked before I had even published this article. Besides acting like a man caught red handed, Rich did, as you will see, say that there were multiple conversations, and when Mike attempted to get a clear answer, that was when the teeth came out. Mike has been transparent enough to supply these screenshots. Although I hate to share any private messages, for the sake of truth and for the sake of the Bride of Christ, I want to clearly demonstrate the sort of attitude that Mr. Pierce has shown men who attempted to reconcile with him BEFORE any video was made public. In addition, these screenshots are not being posted for self-serving gain, but rather for transparency and truth. This is shown in that some of these screenshots HELP Rich’s claims, not hurt them. All things come to the light in time, and I will do my very best to ensure that nothing is kept in the dark in regards to this.
Responding to AHA
A response to the charges being leveled my way from adherents of AHA is in order. On the Dividing Line last week and the week before I recounted from memory a brief encounter with a young man from their group. During that program with James I referred to this encounter as my first conversation. I also pointed out on both shows that there was more than one encounter with them. As I related the story I had an area of the property in mind for where the young man approached me. Since the second program a controversy has erupted that requires me to correct what I said on those programs.
AHA members Wayne Groover and Mike Gulley, ( I hope that I have that right), have produced videos of two of my encounters with their group. I have viewed the videos repeatedly as well as my own remarks on the Dividing Line. It is clear to me now that in the process of relating the story I made factual errors.
Error #1 The conversation in question was NOT my first one:
I have yet to see video of the conversation that I was actually referring to on the DL. However, as soon as I saw Wayne Groover’s video I realized that his was my first conversation as I dropped the “sacrificing to Molech” topic after that first encounter. Clearly, Wayne, (a seemingly reasonable man), was at a complete loss regarding the topic and I concluded that AHA had dropped the topic altogether somewhere along the way. For a sample of the “molech” argument see here. As you can deduce from my discussion with Wayne, some have taken the argument to the next level as I encountered them last summer.
As for “where” that conversation occurred you can see the area that I had in mind in the above picture. As you can see, the sidewalk has narrowed a good bit when compared to the area in Wayne’s video. As I recall, the sign was there but I don’t know if the young man in the picture was holding it, was the one approaching me or was there at all. Someone was but I have no idea if it was him
Error #2 – “In my path” and “ Let me pass”
There is a good tracting technique where you can walk along side someone while engaging them in conversation. The idea is to get eye contact and keep talking. It is actually an old sales technique and I have done it myself many times while tracting. You see, people don’t want to be rude so if you keep talking to them they won’t want to just walk away from you before finding a polite end to the discussion. Let me be clear, while the man had walked up to me at the sidewalk he WAS NOT blocking my path and I used a poor choice of words to describe this. I should have explained the issue better as it was more of a matter of looking for a way past him while pointing out that he was NOT physically in my way. Also, a more accurate phrase would have been: “I need to go” rather than “let me pass.” In Wayne’s video you actually hear a similar dialogue toward the end as I twice tell him that I have people waiting for me in hopes of finding a polite end to the conversation.
If it isn’t clear by now, let me say it plainly; these statements were wrong and I apologize for them. With that said, I clearly need to order a bottle of Prevagen today.
There is probably more
There is no doubt in my mind that if I were to press my memory I could discover further errors in my recollection. However, the picture above shows the area that I had in mind and shows AHA working that area. So while even the best of memories can “drift” when it comes to certain details one would hopefully be able to depend on them enough to get the matter right.
What I should have done
James said it well on the program. I should have just walked by and resisted the urge to engage. As such the resultant firestorm should have been something that I saw coming and avoided. I have a weakness with confrontation. I always have. You heard James tease me about it on the program when he asked me the “go for it” question. You see many years ago when I started out with A&O James had to pull me aside more than once and confront my “in your face” witnessing method. On one occasion he actually had to tell me that “we can’t be getting in fist fights while trying to witness to people.” It is my hope that the Lord has mellowed me over the years but the old man rears his ugly head every now and then and I need to be better at keeping him in check.
“Every idle word”
Having suddenly found my conversations being recorded, this concept has hit home. One day each of us will have to give an account before God for every idle word. The problem here and now is that we don’t actually communicate that way. No one that I know has the ability to recount previous events moment by moment and word by word. If you doubt me on this, I challenge you to put one of those cameras on and wear it around the house for a day or two. Then, when you have a disagreement with your spouse, play it back. While you may be the victor in the memory game, I assure you that you won’t retain every vital detail. You might also find yourself sleeping with the dog.
A live program
My comments were on a live program and were not prepared remarks. Neither were they a commentary based on a scriptural point. They were indeed “off the cuff” remarks that each of us engage in every day. Imagine your speech patterns if you knew that an unseen person nearby you was recording you and waiting for an opportunity to impugn your character.
Why am I responding?
I have received advice on just about every conceivable level. Some say “hit with both barrels” and others say “don’t say anything at all” while others have said to reply but do so in a measured fashion. The problem with not replying at all is that my reputation isn’t just mine. When men and women set out to smear my good name they aren’t really going after me. I am a nobody. But this nobody is a part of something much bigger than himself and when my reputation is smeared that reflects on the ministry that I am a part of. With that said, I hope that this has achieved the “measured fashion” approach and that those that truly care will see that.
Anyone who has been around the abolitionist movement will gladly testify that we are quick to correct one another whenever someone is acting sinfully, ungraciously, or generally out of line. For example, if an abolitionist is taunting someone, effectively calling him a coward, I would personally have a chat with him. And the truth is, not every conversation is perfect. We fumble, we get frustrated, we become angry too quick. That’s just the truth. Mike came to Rich privately in order to determine the truth. He was met with multiple personal insults and then summarily blocked. Keep in mind that Mike was treated this way before any video or any accusation was made public. Is going to Rich privately and asking for some sort of explanation for the behavior of a man just attempting to “smear” and act like “MSN [sic]”? I think not. However, if the man has already been demonized in Rich’s eyes, I understand the attitude he takes. I understand it, though the attitude is nevertheless demonstrably unjustifiable. If a young man in the group acted the way that Rich describes, Mike Gulley is the sort of man that would desire to correct that young man and offer apologies to Rich Pierce. Young men will be young men, and sometimes old men will play that part as well.
With that said, not everything in these posted messages “helps” the case I am making. It is true, although unlikely, that Rich’s story is possible. These messages do appear to line up, at least roughly, with his recently released statement. So why not just believe Rich? For two primary reasons.
First, before Mike ever made his video, he and others spoke with each individual abolitionist at G3, including all of the young men. According to the testimony of seven abolitionists, not one abolitionist talked to Rich except the two who were on video talking to Rich. Furthermore, not one abolitionist recalls a conversation even remotely similar to the one Rich describes. Unfortunately, all Rich has said was that it was a young man. Rich has been sent photographs of all the abolitionists at G3 in an attempt to get to the bottom of this and correct the out of line abolitionist. However, all the young men were very plainly spoken to in order to confirm that they did not have the sort of conversation that Rich described. Again, this is before any video was released. Furthermore, the young men were not unaccompanied. If an encounter like the one Rich described took place with a young man, an older man would have been present. A young man may lie in order to sidestep embarrassment (as older men will also do), but no young men were alone. A small detail is that Rich, in the original Dividing Line episode in question, refers to the abolitionist as “the gentleman”, and now the abolitionist in question is a “young man”. In his note in regards to AHA, Rich Pierce says
“As I recall, the sign was there but I don’t know if the young man in the picture was holding it, was the one approaching me or was there at all. Someone was but I have no idea if it was him”.
Note that the oldest of the young men at G3 is sixteen years old, and a particularly gentle young man. He’s the one shown in the picture that Rich posted. Now, perhaps Rich is saying that one of the bearded men was a “young man”, i.e., in comparison to, let’s say, Gary North or RC Sproul. So I don’t know. If he was talking about one of the teenagers, it’s remarkable to me that Rich Pierce would use an encounter with a sixteen or thirteen year old as anecdotal evidence against abolitionism. If it was a young man that looked even remotely similar to the young man pictured, then Rich Pierce’s confrontation was with a sixteen year old or even a younger boy.
Second, and this is the endgame, as is often the case during these sorts of controversies, the damning evidence is exactly the evidence that’s missing. The violent threats made by the murdered “thug” are the threats that happened right before the bodycams were turned on. The alleged weapon is just off camera. The reaching for the officer’s sidearm was JUST missed by the iPhone video. You see how this works. Obviously Mike, myself, and other abolitionists, can not prove the absence of evidence, as we do not have exhaustive knowledge of every last minute of the G3 conference. An apologist understands this. If Mike supplies video footage of three encounters instead of the two, the claim could be that the “bad” encounter was the fourth encounter. And if Mike supplies evidence of four encounters, the claim would be that the “bad” encounter was the fifth encounter. If Mike releases a fifteen hour mini-series documentary on his time at G3, the damning evidence could always still be left out. And so on. While I cannot prove with certainty that Rich did not have the encounter that he claimed to have, can Rich prove that there’s no gold in China? Of course not. Likewise, Rich will always be able to assert that there is a mysterious and unknown teenaged abolitionist that harassed him and taunted him, thus legitimizing his claims.
This is important to understand. While Rich is online claiming to have been slandered, it is HE that brought the condemning testimony. It is HE that has the onus to prove his own claims. It is HE that should have more than his unsubstantiated claims before he publically maligns individuals. The personal testimony of but one man is meaningless without corroboration. Truth is established by two or three witnesses (Num. 35:30; Deut 17:6; 19:15; Matt. 18:16; John 8:17; Heb. 10:28). What he is asking when he demands proof of his own slander is that abolitionists prove their innocence. It’s a guilty till proven innocent scam. That is the opposite of Biblical ethics, and men like James White and Rich Piece should know better. Be aware, Christians, and don’t fall for the con-game.
To further illustrate my meaning, consider what would happen if I claimed that Rich Pierce wears women’s underwear. Perhaps I claim that I personally saw the dreadful sight. Of course, he would not be too pleased. He may even, to his embarrassment, provide evidence that he does not have women’s underwear. How easy is it for me to simply maintain that Rich Pierce isn’t showing ALL of his underwear drawers? In this situation, and according to rather basic Biblical ethics, it is I, not Rich, that must prove my testimony. Rich does not have to prove his innocence, rather I have to prove that Rich is guilty.
The same applies to the much esteemed Mr. White. James White makes several sensational and patently false claims about abolitionism, and when abolitionists call him on his slander, it is the abolitionists that are called on to prove our innocence. We are held guilty, in the courts of Facebook and private message backbiting, of doing nothing but maintaining that we believe what we say we believe, as opposed to what a famous podcaster tells people we believe. No matter the claim, James White and Rich Pierce are not held to account for their claims, but rather, abolitionists are left to prove their innocence. No one bats an eye when James White, in this realm of social media sycophantic fan-boyism, smears abolitionists as “jihadists”. No one thinks that it’s a big deal when James White claims that abolitionists believe that no one can “preach the Gospel”. When abolitionists have the audacity to reject these accusations, it is not James White that must prove the guilt of another (as God’s Law mandates) it is abolitionists that must prove their own innocence. This is blatant partiality. God’s Law is sacrificed on the altar of celebrity worship. The idolatry is palpable.
I should quickly address the comments that Rich made in regards to Molech Worship in the video. During that conversation Rich made the accusation (again, it’s Rich making the accusation and Rich being slippery about any evidence) that abolitionists condemned him to “the pit of hell” because of not agreeing on some usage of terminology. In Rich Pierce’s explanation of events, he links to this facebook post from 2013 as evidence for his contention regarding Molech Worship.
As is clear by the image, this Facebook post in no way substantiates his claims. Furthermore, it appears that a simple Google search for “abolish human abortion molech” reveals the top two hits being this Facebook post that DOES NOT say what Rich is suggesting and an article that says the opposite that Rich is suggesting. To breifly quote the article, it’s clear that we are saying nothing even close to what Rich is accusing us of saying.
“While no one may explicitly offer a child in sacrifice to Moloch, women who abort their unborn children effectively sacrifice them to the modern-day idols of personal peace and affluence. Ancient peoples gave their children in sacrifice to secure the favor of certain fictitious deities, in the hope that such favor would result in material blessings, such as a favorable harvest. Likewise, many women today kill their unborn children in the hope that their death will result in material blessings, such as a college education or a lucrative professional career. In cases both ancient and modern, the life of the child is seen as something of far lesser worth than the temporal well-being of the parent. And in both cases, the parents callously murder their own children in cold blood, with the goal of making their own lives better.”
What gives? It appears that Rich Pierce’s search for evidence is about as meaningful as an atheist Googling “bible contradictions”. The ol’ argumentation by thirty second Google search tactic. Not impressed.
What we have here is a turning of Biblical ethics on its head. Within the fraternity of Reformed Evangelical Elites and their Acolytes, it is Rich Pierce and James White that are left unaccountable for their words. Yes, Rich corrected a few details, yet never substantiated his original claims. In fact, he doubled down with an appearance of humility while remaining fully unaccountable for the substance of his accusations. Rich Pierce is able to, encouraged to, and even applauded for making unfounded and unsubstantiated claims against abolitionists, while abolitionists are condemned as “hateful, divisive, slanderers” for simply defending themselves and the ideals that they hold to. No evidence is required from White and Company to condemn others, while no evidence is sufficient to vindicate their targets.
Much like other socially maligned peoples, both in modern society and history, abolitionists must again and again attempt to prove their own innocence. The men in the faux-chief seats must prove nothing. Guilty till proven innocent.
“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”
It’s also easy to ignore abolitionism because it’s a harder way, it’s not cushy, etc. And, on top of it all, what about chemical abortions? How many attack it all at the root?
Agreed John, about it not being easy. Are you asking me about chemical abortions?
This is really well written. Thanks for writing it. The Westminster reflections in particular stirred in me a love for the truth. I’m a big James White fan but I totally agree with your assessment of his actions.