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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

I ask Johnny Robertson - the "Church of Christ" guy - a simple question and he tells me to go see Benny Hinn

This requires a bit of set-up for readers who aren't in this part of North Carolina/south-central Virginia ...

Two or three times a week on Reidsville's WGSR Star 39 television station, a group of local ministers calling themselves the "Church of Christ" do a series of live broadcasts. The shows have various names, but they're all pretty much the same: a show starts, the minister runs some old video of a Baptist or Pentecostal or preacher of some other other denomination that they don't agree with (sometimes it's video of a debate of that night's "Church of Christ" guy hashing it out with another pastor). While the video is running that night's preacher silently stands on the set giving the camera a stern gaze, then he stops the video and begin blasting whoever it is that's on the "hate list" for the evening.

So these "Church of Christ" guys believe that everyone is a hellbound sinner who is not a member of their brand of church. To them, there is no salvation outside of their "Church of Christ".

I guess that's their right to believe that (and to spend thousands of dollars a month to air their views) if they wish. Just like it's my right to believe what I do about salvation, and how it comes by the grace of God after we realize our need for forgiveness. In my Christian philosophy, that's all that we need to do to secure our destiny for eternity. Because anything else is of human effort and always doomed to fail.

If we have faith in Christ, that alone is enough. It's more than enough.

What really bothers me though is when these "Church of Christ" people display so much vitriol and outright hatred toward anyone who they perceive as "following false doctrines". If I were not a believer in Christ, and I were to come across their programming, there's no way that I could be convinced that Christ is real. It would probably just affirm for me that Christ is only something else that's meant to control us. I know better though: that a life in Christ is a free one, liberated from legalism.

But to hear it from these "Church of Christ" guys, a Christian life is about nothing other than legalism. Some of the things I've heard them say in their shows would make the Pharisees of Jesus's time seem even libertarian in comparison.

These local "Church of Christ" people don't even believe that a person can go to Heaven unless they were baptized. I suppose that according to them I'll go to Heaven anyway, because I was baptized (by immersion, in case anyone's wondering) not long after I came to Christ while in college. But it was never something that I did because I thought I had to do it to secure a place in Heaven. It had no supernatural power at all: I just did it because I wanted to publicly identify with my Lord and Savior. That's all it can do. But as it is, the adamant stance about baptism by these "Church of Christ" guys comes perilously close to outright Gnosticism.

Anyway, I've been watching them for awhile, and particularly a dude named Johnny Robertson who seems to be the ringleader. Or at least the most seeker of controversy (he was mentioned on this blog almost two years ago when the Westboro Baptist Church "God Hates Fags" gang came to town). He does a live program every Sunday night called What Does The Bible Say? (click here for show's website). He's also currently running a very ridiculous commercial for his show on WGSR, that you'll see at the beginning of this video.

I don't know if these guys are at all what could be called the "Church of Christ" as most people understand that denomination (knowing full well that Robertson and his brethren will bristle at being called a "denomination"). I've worshipped lots of times in a Church of Christ congregation, and I've never seen the bitterness and rancor that the local "Church of Christ" as represented by its ministers on WGSR every week display toward what seems like everyone imaginable. There were some members of one Church of Christ, in another part of North Carolina, that helped me through a very difficult time some years ago and I'll always be thankful for God putting them there at that moment.

I guess that it's what people like the Reidsville/Martinsville "Church of Christ" are doing every week in lashing out at those they don't like, that's one of the reasons why I'm so honked-off about this, because I do believe that Johnny Robertson and his crew are giving the sincere Church of Christ members a very bad name.

Well, for the past few weeks I had been feeling compelled to call up Robertson during his show, and ask him a question. One simple question, that I would have really enjoyed having an answer for. And it so happened that Easter night is what moved me to pick up the phone and take action.

I wanted to ask him: "How is what you guys are doing giving glory to Christ?"

So how did he respond? Here's the video ...

As you can see, Robertson could not answer such a simple question. He instead tries to gauge that I'm not a real Christian because I'm not a tough-enough opponent of "false doctrines" and then he tells me to "go listen to Benny Hinn".

Ummmm... saywhu...?

I've thought for awhile now that where Robertson and his bunch go wrong is that they refuse to see following Jesus Christ as anything but an act of corporate worship. As much as they fixate on the Baptists, the Pentecostals, attacking pastors of various denominations etc., I don't know if worshiping Christ as an act of the individual fits into their theology at all. He attacked me without knowing anything about me, assuming that I was "denominational". I've never professed to being any denomination. Oh sure, I've worshiped in various churches during my life, but not once have I called myself a "Baptist" or "Methodist".

Can't I just be a follower of Christ? Can't anybody? Not according to these "Church of Christ" people in Reidsville and Martinsville.

It's the classic case of becoming so obsessed with the enemy, that a person becomes the enemy. Robertson and his "Church of Christ" gang have so defined themselves by how they are not a "denomination", that they have not only become a denomination but they have become everything that is possibly wrong with a denomination. More than one person has even told me that they aren't anything but a bona-fide cult. I'm hard-pressed to disagree, unfortunately...

So Mr. Robertson, if you ever read this, I was wondering if you could please tell me: How is what you guys are doing serving and giving devotion to Christ, and showing His love toward others?

That's what this hinges on the most: where is the love in what you are doing?

Because if this is just a thing about works, without the real love toward others, then what you are doing is already a dead thing that God cannot possibly bless.

(For more perspective on the "Church of Christ" as represented on WGSR, check this blog out.)


Anonymous said...

Good for you. I steer clear of most fights if they don't directly involve me, but I think if that program played here, I'd have been hard pressed not to say something eventually. It's thanks to fools like that, that Christians in this country have such a bad rap.

But thanks to folks like you who make them look like prats. He never did answer the question, and if anyone thinks he did, they're just as foolish and have too much water in their ears from over-baptism.

Anonymous said...

I am quite familar with Johnny, having studied with him and his crew via email, tent meetings, and his chruch in Martinsville. Please contact me at randycraiger@yahoo.com

Great article !

Ryan Corcoran said...

Wow.. it pains me to see people like this using the name "Church of Christ".

As a member of the Church of Christ, I want to just speak up and say that this guy does not speak for the church as a whole. One of the most beneficial things about the churches of Christ is also its downfall--the lack of organized structure. This program does not spread the love of Christ, and if Jesus were here, he'd probably burst into their studio with a whip and call them a brood of vipers.

You're very right on one point, and that is that we're saved by the grace of God. However, I do take issue with one related point you make that is, "If we have faith in Christ, that alone is enough." Unfortunately, the Bible is clear that in order to be added to the church--that is, Christ's body--one must be baptized. Every example in the Bible of people being added to the church is accompanied by a baptism. For hundreds of years following the death of Christ, people were baptized to be added to the body of Christ.

But of course, that doesn't mean that Baptism alone saves, either (you'll find a lot of "Church of Christ" people preaching that too, like this guy on that TV show you talk about). If it were that easy, I'd just kidnap as many people as I could and throw 'em in an Olympic sized swimming pool. No, it is our faith--that faith you mention--that will drive us to obey our Lord and be like him. If we are to be followers of Christ and try to live our lives like him, why should we not be baptized like him as well? If you claim faith in Jesus but refuse to be baptized, you're limiting your faith and putting chains on the awesome power of God's grace.

Is everyone not in the Church of Christ going to Hell? Of course not! More importantly, is everyone in the Church of Christ going to Heaven? By no means! Just as faith without works is dead, deeds without faith is the road to destruction. All baptism is is an outward display of your innermost love and devotion to the man who gave his life for us. The very words of our savior and Lord give us this proclamation: "Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned." --Mark 16:16. You see, one must have faith and obey.

James 2:17-19--
In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds." Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

Anonymous said...

What happened to the video?

Chris Knight said...

"What happened to the video?"

It was produced :-P

Seriously though, it's working fine on this end.

Chris Knight said...


Thank you for posting. Your words reflect the Church of Christ that I do know and have enormous respect for.

I do agree with you on baptism also. It is far more than a moment that we as believers should treasure and take with us throughout our life (Martin Luther in his darkest hours would often repeat "Baptizatus sum" or "I have been baptized" to remind himself that he belonged to Christ). It is also, as you noted, a ceremony that connects us as believers in the 21st century all the way back to those in the original church.

If nothing else, baptism should be a tangible monument to how we who are in Christ are all in the church of Christ, as His bride. Our faith in Him and realizing that we need His grace is what saves us. Baptism does not "seal the deal" so far as Heaven goes but it does reflect for our own sake and that of our fellow believers that we are sealed indeed.

So far as the smaller details go, hey: why fight about those things? It'll get straightened out in the end (or as my buddy Johnny Yow once put it, "Don't worry, it'll all come out in the wash!" :-)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for letting us know about his over at the blog, Chris. I actually have visited your site before, as I share your interest in being a Christian involved in filmmaking. Great stuff! I have a similar pic of me with an Artoo mailbox in Chicago.

I look forward to your continued thoughts on Johnny and the other men.


Anonymous said...

I want to see you and Johnny Robertson debate on WGSR. You would annilate him.

Chris Knight said...

I'm not interested in a debate. We all know that to "debate" these guys would mean that they would have plenty of video of me to run on their shows from now 'til Doomsday, that they would be picking apart and taking out of context, just like they do with everyone else.

Besides, to "debate" them would imply that I am out to "win" against them. I'm not interested in that. I don't think that's the Christ-like approach at all.

Anonymous said...

That's the best response to Johnny Robertson anyone has done. If you and Robertson debated it would be the most watched show in Star News history. What you said about winning I understand but Robertson won't stand a chance.

Are you going to do something with James Oldfield too? He's almost as big a bigot.

Chris Knight said...

To "anonymous" above:
Only because it takes a LOT for me to delete a post, I'm not taking yours out. But that doesn't mean I'm not going to answer it...

I've met James Oldfield a few times (remember that I used to work at WGSR). And I can surely attest that he is NOT a "bigot". I don't think Robertson is one either (I only met him very briefly when the Phelps clan came to the station that night almost 2 years ago).

Just because we might disagree with someone, is absolutely not grounds to cast someone as a bigot. Having seen more than enough of that over the years, it's not something that I can tolerate at all.

I don't have anything personal against Robertson or Oldfield or anyone else from this "Church of Christ" camp. As Thomas Jefferson once said, "I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend." And I try to hold to that good attitude.

THAT said, however...

At this moment James Oldfield's show is on the TV behind me, and I'm listening to it (sometimes turning to watch also). And it's just more of the same that Robertson was doing the other night. This evening Oldfield is going on about baptism, using video of some other minister as a "straw man" to attack.

And once again, just as Robertson was doing the other night, there is NOTHING in Oldfield's presentation that is honoring or giving real humble devotion to Christ.

He just accused this other minister of "adding to the Bible". I fail to see how Oldfield is doing otherwise tonight.

If TV shows could be sued for faulty advertising because of their titles, then "A Word From The Lord" would be faced with a massive class-action. There's NOTHING in this show that's a real "word from the Lord".

It should be called "A Word From James Oldfield", because that would be the far more accurate moniker.

These guys are too fixated on doctrine. I'm not sorry for saying this, but we as followers of Christ will never win others to the Kingdom of God using childish tantrums and silly graphics.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if they're even interested in winning others to the Kingdom. If they were truly interested in winning those in denominations, they wouldn't be as argumentative, petty, and bickering. Because they repulse, for the most part, on their program.

If they were truly interested in winning the "unchurched" to Christ, then they would talk more about what they believe and less about what others believe and why those others are in error or teaching false doctrine.

In fact, this is the thing that has bothered me about these guys quite a bit - that they spend so much of their time arguing, debating, tearing others down, and so little of their time just sharing the Gospel. Their idea of sharing the Gospel is always tied into proving why someone else is wrong.

Maybe this is because they feel so outnumbered? Maybe it's because they have to show their supporters in other states how they're "fighting the good fight"? Maybe it's because controversy gets ratings, and just plain Bible teaching gets largely ignored in the Bible belt? Maybe a combo of all these things?


Anonymous said...

Have you heard from Johny Robertson? I'm going to be watching on Sunday night to see if he responds to you.

I think you should debate him on Star News too. Charles is crazy if he lets this op fade. Johnny Robertson from the Church of Christ meets Chris Knight the guy who destroyed a school to run for school board. Everyone would be watching.

Anonymous said...

Even if Chris agreed to debate I don't know if Robertson or Oldfield or Fields would come on tv with him. Chris would make them out to be fools and they know it.

Anonymous said...

Jason Hairston left them. He doesn't do Hammer of Truth show any more. Who would be the next to fall?

Anonymous said...

I disagree with the ones challenging Chris to go and debate these men. Chris is correct that they would splice and dice him and use the clips for the next couple of years - even if he argued his point wonderfully.

It's places like this - online - where the men have no control and where more good can be done. Make more video clips like the one you put up here! As I said before, it was brilliant.

The few remaining folks in the Martinsville Church of Christ will get the true picture sooner or later.


Anonymous said...

Chris are you watching Robertson's show right now? This man is evil.

Anonymous said...

anonymous -

what was Johnny teaching about tonight? Why was it evil?

Just interested

Chris Knight said...

Hey Nathan,
I was watching that show too and I don't know if it was "evil" per se, but the worst thing that Robertson did in my estimation was saying that God cannot take us as we are at whatever point in our life. It *seems* that Robertson was preaching that we must repent "their way" - that is, the way of the Church Of Christ In Name Only (COCINO) - before God can even consider us. Which if true that sets up an unyielding gulf between us and God, because absent God's grace first there is NO appeasing His holy nature possible at all. This reflected in Robertson's belief that people must "dress nice" before coming to church... as if the church building itself is endowed with some kind of holiness that must be appeased also.

All told, Robertson lashed out at a bunch of folks last night. Made everyone else out to be dire sinners and he and his fellow COCINOs to be the only ones justified in the eyes of God.

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