||The Fish Files|
Samples of my correspondence regarding Darwin Fish and the "a true church" cult.
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"All you have to do is lift up your Bible and say show me where I'm wrong"Darwin Fish, 18 September 1994.
arwin Fish, Al Soto, and their followers often complain that Darwin's critics will not refute his errors biblically. (Actually, the claim usually sounds more like braggadocio than a complaint.) I'm posting this collection of messages to expose that lie. Following are samples of communiques I have written and posted over the years to Mr. Soto and others associated with Darwin Fish's cult.
Readers will note that my arguments include several references to church history and logic as well as Scripture. It is typical for Fishites to ignore the biblical arguments completely and seize on the fact that I have referred to the church's creedal history, as if that were wrong. That is because they have rejected the universal testimony of the people of God through the ages. If they took time to study the creeds and the history of their development (as I have repeatedly urged them to do) they would discover that there is a massive amount of biblical support for the doctrines defended by the major historic ecumenical and Trinitarian creeds through the fifth century (the Apostles' Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed). Those creeds are universally accepted by all branches of historic Christianity, precisely because they distill biblical truth so accurately and so biblically. The fact that so many earthly organizations claiming to represent "the true church" (the Papacy, Eastern Orthodoxy, Coptic churches, etc.) have abandoned the simplicity of biblical Christianity is no argument against the biblical truths affirmed in the early creeds.
Still, the references to historic creeds neither trump nor nullify the biblical arguments. I urge anyone who may be confused by the teaching of Mr. Fish to note and consider very carefully the biblical case set forth in the messages below. And if you have not already concluded that every Christian for the past two thousand years has been in gross error, you will also profit greatly in your biblical understanding by simply studying the basic Trinitarian creeds and learning the biblical basis for the orthodox Trintarian formulae.
One of Darwin Fish's more serious errors is his notion that sound doctrine can be drawn from Scripture by mere proof-texting apart from the rule of analogia Scripturathe principle of allowing Scripture to interpret Scripture. We ought to allow the clear passages of the Bible to shed light on the difficult ones, instead of twisting difficult texts into strange and novel doctrines (cf. 2 Peter 3:16). Good logic is necessarily involved in this process, and a valid logical deduction based on biblical propositions is as true as an explicit statement of Scripture (cf. Matthew 22:29-32).
But Darwin Fish apparently believes logic has no legitimate role in the process of formulating our understanding of Bible doctrine. That is why he treats every dialogue about doctrine as a war of proof-texts. By rejecting sound logic, he has embraced a theology that is self-consciously irrational. So in his view, an argument that includes any reference to history or logicor virtually any kind of claim that is not merely a proof textis not really a biblical argument.
Nonetheless, the following excerpts should suffice to prove to objective readers that Darwin is lying when he claims I have refused to offer biblical refutations of his errors.
Correspondence with Brian Young:
This first series of letters is excerpted from correspondence that took place in the first half of 1998 with Brian Young, who subsequently entered the cult. Brian originally wrote to thank me for posting my letters to Darwin, because, he confessed, "There is spiritual pride, bitterness and factiousness raging inside of me." And he said my letters to Darwin had helped "raise the mirror in front of [his] face" so that he could see himself for what he really was.
Sadly, however, Brian later gave in to the very things he once confessed as sin, joined Darwin's cult, moved his wife and children to Southern California, and began accompanying Darwin when the sect picketed other churches. During the weeks when he was being drawn under Darwin's influence, I wrote the following messages to Brian. I am posting excerpts only from my messages, not Brian's. But the gist of our full exchange, and the biblical basis of my arguments, may be discerned from these extracts. (Snippets of Brian's responses are quoted in these excerpts from me. His words appear in red):
From: Phil Johnson
To: Brian Young
Subject: Re: Really need some substantiated answers.
Date: Tue, 24 Feb 1998 23:25:42
I just returned Monday afternoon from two weeks in Australia
and New Zealand. While I was away I received more than 2000
e-mails, so I am hopelessly behind in replying to them.
> what false things do you believe Mr. Fish is teaching?
> Please give me documentation and Scriptural proof.
Fish's false teachings which concern me most are 1. his denial
of Trinitarianism, which puts him in the category of a cult;
and 2. his assertion that all points of truth are fundamental
to Christianity, and of equal import. In Fish's system, gnats
are the same as camels. I have outlined my view on why Fish's
position cannot be biblically substantiated in my letters to
. . . As to "documentation and Scriptural proof," if you could
be specific about what troubles you, I'll try to give you an
answer. But in no way do I feel obligated to answer all the
railings of Darwin Fish point by point.
From: Phillip Johnson
To: Brian young
Subject: Re: Really need some substantiated answers.
Date: Thu, 9 Apr 1998 23:04:38 -800
> You asked if I "could be specific about what troubles you
> [regarding Darwin Fish]," and said that "[you'd] try to give
> [me] an answer." I have several questions about his
> doctrinal stand and your refutation of it. Please understand
> that I am a seeker of the truth and I don't want to run ahead
> with my facts misplaced and muddled. I want to know WHERE
> people stand as well as WHY they stand where they stand
> doctrinally and practically. And if on some point someone
> disagrees, I want to know the reason for that as well.
OK, but you're not going to get to the truth of these issues by
trying to pit me against Darwin Fish via e-mail. These are
matters men of God have had a uniform consensus on for
centuries. If you decide to discard the historic creedal
formulations of Christianity and take your cues from Darwin
Fish's inept creed instead, you'll be making a terrible
mistake. You need to study the history of how these views were
hammered out in the early church, and you need to immerse
yourself in Scripture and expose yourself to sound teachers of
the Word, not a self-proclaimed authority like Darwin Fish.
> 1.) My first question would be, "where is the "denial of
> Trinitarianism" to be found in Mr. Fish's teachings?" He seems
> to believe in the existence of the Father, the Son and the Holy
> Spirit as the Bible reveals them.
No, he does not. He teaches that the Holy Spirit has multiple
personalities, which is tantamount to having nine "persons" in
the Godhead. That is not Trinitarianism, even though Darwin
tells you he believes in Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Like
every false teacher, he is hiding the real truth of his view
behind cunning words.
Darwin's blundering statement of faith says,
> There is one Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:4), but this one Holy
> Spirit is plural in who He is (as God is plural in who He is).
> Zechariah 4:1-10, Revelation 1:4-5, 4:5, and 5:6 describe this
> one Holy Spirit to be seven ("the seven Spirits of God")."
Why anyone would reject the historic creedal formulae of Nicea
and Chalcedon for a statement like that baffles me.
1. There is substantial, unassailable evidence in the Scriptures
for the three Persons of the Trinity (see any systematic
theology textbook for a thorough discussion with biblical
support). And the personality of the Holy Spirit is one of the
key issues historic Trinitarianism has insisted on (again,
refer to any standard theology text that deals with the
2. Darwin is teaching that the Holy Spirit has MULTIPLE
personalities, based on a misinterpretation of three verses in
3. There is ZERO evidence in Scripture that the Holy Spirit has
multiple personalities. The three proof-texts Darwin cites say
nothing about multiple personhood in the Holy Spirit. You may
refer to any basic commentary to find a better interpretation of
4. Yet Darwin suggests that the Holy Spirit "is plural . . .
as God is plural"--and God's "plurality" involves three
5. Therefore what Darwin is teaching here is speculative, going
miles beyond what Scripture actually states--and that is the
very thing he professes to abhor. Thus he demonstrates his own
6. I'll go further: What Darwin is teaching there contradicts
the plain teaching of the Bible (see below).
> On which point do you believe he is to be thrown into "the
> category of a cult," based on his view of the Godhead?
I believe he is no better than the cults because of his
corruption of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit's personhood,
which fatally corrupts the whole doctrine of the Trinity, and
posits a Godhead with at least nine Persons. (BTW, Benny Hinn
also once suggested there are nine Persons in the Trinity,
though he has since recanted. Hinn did the math a little
differently, as I recall, but he also ended up with a
You asked for biblical support:
"For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body,
whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free;
and have been all made to drink into one Spirit" (1 Cor.
"For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto
the Father" (Eph. 2:18).
There is one body, and **one Spirit,** even as ye are
called in one hope of your calling; **One Lord,** one
faith, one baptism, **One God and Father of all,** who is
above all, and through all, and in you all" (Eph. 4:4-6).
Note the clear Trinitarian formula in that passage. Similarly,
"There are diversities of gifts, but **the same Spirit.**
And there are differences of administrations, but **the
same Lord.** And there are diversities of operations, but
it is **the same God** which worketh all in all" (1 Cor.
> 2.) Concerning his "assertion that all points of truth are
> fundamental to Christianity, and of equal import," (from the
> information I've gathered) here is the crux of his teaching on
> Nowhere does Scripture teach that there are essential or
> fundamental doctrines that stand as a test or standard of
> orthodoxy (or a test or standard to determine whether someone
> is in the faith).
This is manifestly false.
1. It is evident from verses Fish himself cites that there are
at least some points of doctrine on which error is spiritually
fatal (Gal. 1; Rom. 4:4-5; 2 John 7-11). On that I think we
2. We disagree, however, on the question of whether all
error is of equal import. Fish suggests that it is, and that
all error of every degree is damnable. This is doctrinal
perfectionism, and it keeps him from showing any degree of
brotherly charity to anyone who deliberately disagrees with
3. And yet the Apostle Paul himself commanded the Romans to
receive charitably people who held differing views on the
question of whether to eat meat offered to idols. Note that in 1
Cor., the apostle taught that there is nothing wrong with
eating meat offered to idols. But he instructed the Romans not
to despise a brother who disagreed, and Paul expressly stated,
"God hath received him" (Rom. 14:3).
4. The whole message of Romans 14 is a command to live
charitably with brethren whom we disagree with over secondary
or questionable matters. (Notice that the issues Paul deals
with--the eating of foods and the observing of days--ARE
matters dealt with in Scripture. See Gal. 4:10-11; Col. 2:16-17;
1 Cor. 8:8.) But if Darwin Fish is right, there is no room
whatsoever for disagreement on these or any other matters
treated in Scripture, and therefore Fish himself cannot obey the
clear command of Romans 14. ("Let every man be fully persuaded
in his own mind . . . Every one of us shall give account of
himself to God"--Rom. 14:5, 12). Beware of a man whose teaching
makes it impossible for him to be obedient to Scripture. Darwin
is clearly in error on this point.
> On what Scriptural point do you disagree with what is written
> above concerning the "essentials" or "fundamentals" teaching
> of Mr. Fish?.
I hope this explains it. Also, as I have said, Fish's teaching
is a de facto denial of the implications of Christ's teaching
that some issues of doctrine and practice are like gnats and
some are like camels (Matt. 23:24); and some are "weightier"
than others (Matt. 23:23).
> Phil, Scripture tells me to "test all things." And, "Do not
> believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see if they are
> from God." Please know in advance that I am applying this to
> Mr. Fish, John MacArthur and to you. I want to know truth,
> because THE truth will set me free.
1. I have not asked you to become my disciple, nor has John
2. Neither John MacArthur nor I claim infallibility, nor do we
see infallibility as a requirement for salvation. We do not
speak with any apostolic authority.
3. I have heard Darwin himself disclaim infallibility with his
lips, but by his behavior he actually asserts a de facto
infallibility, because of his refusal to keep fellowship with
anyone who willfully disagrees with him on matters of biblical
4. Darwin's notions have also caused him to reject the wisdom of
all the godly men of the past. He really believes that all of
Christianity--both historic and modern--is utterly apostate, and
he alone has the truth.
5. We would urge you to exercise biblical discernment, rather
than looking for any earthly teacher in whom you can place
6. Darwin is certainly not the kind of man who is worthy of such
trust. He claims on the one hand that he believes in absolute
faithfulness to every point of Scripture, and nothing is
secondary. He suggests that such commitment is so essential to
Christianity, that he will not fellowship with anyone who in
Darwin's estimation is in "error" on any point, no matter how
insignificant the "error." Yet Darwin himself willfully broke
a public vow and shunned the rebuke of elders who confronted him
about it, rebelling to the point where he had to be
excommunicated from his church. That is wanton disobedience to
a clear command of Scripture ("If a man vow a vow unto the
LORD, or swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond; he shall
not break his word, he shall do according to all that
proceedeth out of his mouth"--Numbers 30:2).
I pray that the Lord will give you discernment.
From: Phil Johnson
To: Brian Young
Subject: Re: Needing a response if you're not too busy
Date: Wed, 29 Apr 1998 21:33:47
> Thank you for your reply. I'm eager to know the truth of the
> Word of God...and be changed by it. Are you frustrated that
> I haven't yet been able to resolve this dilemma?
Not if you're sincerely seeking the truth of the Word. But I
admit I have trouble fathoming why you would expose yourself to
teaching from Darwin Fish if you are confused on these matters.
He's not going to resolve your confusion. The more you imbibe
his teaching, the more your confusion will increase. The fruit
of Darwin's teaching has been nothing but factiousness and
It's true that the gospel may set a person against his father
and mother, but Darwin's version of "truth" has alienated him
from all but a handful of devoted, obsequious, non-critical
followers. Darwin is certain everyone else is lost. He has left
a host of wounded former friends and followers in his
wake--including his former mentor, Rick Miesel--and Darwin's
shrinking cadre of followers has all the earmarks of a cult.
> I am simply trying to understand why God mentions the Holy
> Spirit as the "seven Spirits before his throne." (Rev.1:4).
> And why no one seems to want to address this wording of the
Remember that these references all appear in Revelation (and
perhaps Zechariah), all of which is apocalyptic literature,
filled with symbols, word-pictures, and mysterious numerology.
> Doesn't the seven there mean....well, seven? And isn't the
> number "seven" plural?
It is. But as I pointed out before, there is no basis for
making it speak of plural persons. And when we speak of
plurality in the Trinity, we are speaking of three Persons, with
distinct, albeit harmonious, wills (cf. Luke 22:42, 1 Cor.
12:11). So when Darwin says "It is true that God is plural in
person hood [sic]," then, "this one Holy Spirit is plural in who
He is (as God is plural in who He is)," he is suggesting that
the Holy Spirit has multiple personalities. This goes beyond
what is clearly revealed in Scripture and is a de facto
denial of the orthodox view of the Godhead accepted by the
people of God since the earliest church councils.
Do these "seven spirits" have seven distinct wills? If so, show
biblical evidence of that. If not, then the Spirit is not
plural in who He is "as God is plural in who He is," and Darwin
is teaching error that corrupts the biblical concept of God.
> In addition, I am trying to understand why God would
> put non-essential (debatable, secondary, unimportant) issues in
> His Book.??
No doctrine is "non-essential" in the sense that it is
"unimportant," unnecessary, or useless. "Essential" means "of
the essence," primary, or, if you like a biblical expression,
"of first importance" (1 Cor. 15:3, NASB). It's clear that not
every difference of opinion means essential truth is at stake.
As you yourself note,
> I know that God specifically addresses "doubtful
> things" or "disputable matters," but non-essential or
Fine. Call them "doubtful" or "disputable" if you like. It's
very clear that some of the matters deemed "doubtful" in Romans
14 are clearly addressed by other Scriptures elsewhere (cf.
Rom. 14:2-3 with Genesis 9:3-4 and 1 Tim. 4:3-5). Yet Paul
expressly forbade the Romans to despise or reject weaker
brethren who held erroneous ideas on these matters. The issues
under debate were "doubtful" only to those whose knowledge of
Scripture was incomplete or confused. Clearly Paul did not
regard all points of truth as equal in importance the way Darwin
> Is not ALL the Word of God (from Genesis to Revelation) to be
> considered the teaching of Christ??
Not in the sense spoken of in 2 John 9-10, or else Paul is in
conflict with John, for Paul specifically said to receive people
who were weak in the faith with regard to the question of what
is OK to eat. If Genesis 9:3-4 is included in the apostle John's
meaning when he uses the phrase "the doctrine of Christ," then
obedience to 2 John 10 would require that we NOT receive people
who fall short of the biblical teaching on dietary matters.
From: Phil Johnson
To: Brian Young
Subject: Re: Needing a response if you're not too busy
Date: Mon, 8 Jun 1998 20:37:21
> I read all your emails VERY carefully.
Well, please read them again, beacause you don't seem to
understand the real gist of anything I have said. You twist
everything in order to argue against it. Perhaps you really
believe you are sincerely seeking the truth. But remember that
the heart is deceitful above all and desperately wicked. You
clearly are not as teachable as you claim you are. I think you
have convinced yourself that you are being objective when in
reality, you are resistant to being taught anything that opposes
what Darwin says. You claim to be seeking truth when in fact it
seems you are in the process of abandoning truth altogether.
Just like Darwin.
Why do I doubt that you have read my e-mails very carefully?
For one thing, I pointed out that if Darwin Fish is correct and
the Holy Spirit is "plural in who He is (as God is plural in who
He is)" then He is plural in person, because that is how God is
plural. If the "plurality" in the Spirit parallels the plurality
in the Godhead, then it is by definition a plurality of Persons.
That is a plain and inescapable fact.
Yet in your reply you hardly acknowledged this very important
point and quoted verses about the mystery that surrounds God--as
if the existence of mystery absolves Darwin from the need to
explain his unbiblical assertion equating the "seven Spirits"
with the plural Personhood of the Godhead.
In fact, at first you seemed to doubt that Darwin even teaches a
plurality of Persons in the Holy Spirit ("You say that Fish
teaches that "the Holy Spirit has multiple personalities." Where
has he said this?"). But you ended up actually arguing in favor
of the multiple-personality of the Spirit by suggesting that the
supposed ninefold "holy" in Revelation 4:8 hints at a nine-person-
So let me ask you plainly: Are you saying you now believe there
are more than three Persons in the Trinity? If not, how can you
defend Darwin's assertion that the "Holy Spirit is plural in who
He is (as God is plural in who He is)"? Unless the Holy Spirit
has multiple personalities, then His "plurality" is nothing at
all like the plurality in the Godhead. Darwin's assertion that
the two are the same is sheer extrabiblical speculation,
destructive to the doctrine of the Trinity. You should be
challenging him to defend his novel view, not challenging the
faith of virtually every Christian who has ever lived.
> I am concerned because the bulk of your reasoning seems to rest
> on the authority of "church history" and "creedal formulae" and
> the "orthodox view of the Godhead accepted by the people of God
> since the earliest church councils" in addition to the bible.
"The bulk" of my reasoning does not rest there. My whole point
is that Darwin has gone beyond Scripture by claiming multiple
personalities for the Holy Spirit. End of point.
But I also referred to the creeds and the history of
Christianity for one reason: Apart from a crystal-clear
statement of Scripture that refutes the creeds, there's never
any valid reason to reject creeds and doctrines that have been
drawn from Scripture and universally affirmed by the
people of God for centuries--unless you buy Darwin Fish's
ridiculous opinion that he is the first person in the history
of the church to discover real truth. I'm not talking about
obscure opinions by church Fathers who certainly did believe
some wacko doctrines. Of course they were all fallible too.
But the unanimous consensus of the Church for 19 centuries
on the Christological and Trinitarian doctrines has never been
challenged, except by cultists.
This, I'm pointing out, is how Christians as a group have always
understood what Scripture teaches about God. The God all
Christians have worshiped for 1900 years is a Trinity. Now,
either Darwin is right and every other Christian is wrong
(highly unlikely), or (patently obvious, from my perspective)
Darwin has misunderstood the Bible, gone beyond what the Bible
says, and invented his own god.
That should certainly be a matter of deep concern for you, Brian.
It's easy to blow off 19 centuries of biblical consensus by
dismissing it all as a mere human creed, but once you have
dismissed those foundational creeds you are left with the
reality that not one man or woman of God in two millennia of
Christianity has ever understood the Scriptures the way Darwin
Fish does. Not one legitimate theologian or student of
Scripture in 1900 years has ever come to the conclusion that
this is what the Bible teaches. Do you seriously think Darwin
Fish (a man who scoffs at the seriousness of breaking his own
oath) might be the Prophet through whom God has finally revealed
I'll stand with both Scripture and the 1900-year consensus
of God's people. I do think there's something to be said for
the testimony of such unbroken unanimity among the people of God,
as they have sought to understand the Word of God.
However, forget the creeds if you like. My criticism of Darwin
stands: He has gone beyond Scripture in teaching that the Holy
Spirit is "plural" in the same way the Godhead is plural.
Scripture teaches nothing of the sort. Darwin has based this
doctrine on some obscure and unclear statements of Scripture,
and he has allowed his own speculation to skew the way he
understands the very being of God.
He's wrong to speculate on such matters (2 Tim. 2:23). And he
is doubly wrong to anathematize those who refuse to accept his
speculations. Put that all together with his censorious spirit,
his pride, his refusal of all authority, his insistance that
others obey his teaching authority, and his contempt for the
truth--and you have a classic false teacher in the tradition of
Korah and Balaam (cf. Jude 11).
> Do you see the validity of my concern?
No. And I marvel that you cannot see the validity of mine, while
inisisting that you are seeking the truth with all your heart.
> Why don't systematic theology text books believe
> God when He says "Seven Spirits?" Please provide some answers
I did. I referred you to resources on this issue. Did you read
them? You could find many more if you'd take a trip to the
library or actually read some commentaries or theology texts.
What research have you actually done on the matter? There is no
shortage of material treating the expression "seven Spirits."
But you've already rejected all of that as "mere human opinion,"
so what is the point in your doing any real research?
You apparently reject the teachings of all others. Does this
mean you regard Darwin's speculations as something more than
mere opinion? Have you accepted him as some sort of prophet?
Why does his opinion carry more weight with you than the uniform
consensus of 19 centuries of Christians? Unless you have
already decided to reject Christianity in favor of Darwin's home-
brew religion, your stance is very hard to understand.
Now to your specific questions:
> You say of the truths I'm asking about that these are "matters
> men of God have had a uniform consensus on for centuries." I ask
> you, what if these "men of God" were wrong? Should we not then
> abandon their teachings and cling to the Word of God?
Certainly. If clear statements of Scripture disprove them, then
by all means, reject what they taught. But:
1. You should not do this flippantly or without actually reading
what they wrote, and especially not without knowing how they
addressed the Scriptures you think refute them.
2. You should be very slow to conclude that ALL CHRISTIANS OF
ALL TIME have been in error on such a crucial point and the true
light has finally now dawned on your adolescent brow. There's
such a fearsome arrogance inherent in that kind of thinking that
it should make you tremble. It's the very spirit of Darwin Fish.
3. To reject Trinitarianism based on a few months' study under
Darwin would be an especially tragic error. He's not worthy to
lick the boots of many of the men whom he has pronounced his
anathemas against (Jude 8-10).
4. You especially owe it to yourself to read the biblical
arguments of the Church Fathers on these issues related to the
Persons of the Trinity. Most of them are on the Web. If you
reject Trinitarianism without reading these, you are a fool.
5. You have suggested no biblical argument whatsoever that
warrants a rejection of historic Trinitarianism. What you're
flirting with is extra-biblical speculation, extrapolated by
Darwin Fish from a few obscure references in Revelation. Nothing
in the Bible ever says that the Holy Spirit is plural in the
same sense the Trinity is plural.
> And what of " historic credal formulations of Christianity?"
> What if THEY are found to be in error of the clear teaching of
> the BIBLE?
Then reject them. But you have shown me no sound biblical
rationale for doing so. You're following a man, not the Word of
God. That's the very thing you say you do not want to do.
> Should they not be the first things to be discarded?
No. The creeds that represent the unanimous understanding of
God's people through the ages should be the last things to be
discarded. You should have extremely clear and decisive
Scriptures before you reinvent the Christian concept of God
(which is what you're doing). I don't think you realize the
importance of these issues or the seriousness of Darwin's
departure from them.
> Granted, we ARE exhorted by the word of
> God to "godly teaching" (1Tim.6:3) and God did give "some to be
> teachers" (Eph.4:11), but isn't the Word of God all we need
> (Mt.4:4; Jn.4:34)? Is Christ Himself sufficient enough?
Does one contradict the other? You seem to be suggesting that it
does. The doctrine of biblical sufficiency certainly means that
Scripture is our sole and sufficient authority. It means that
no man's teaching (esp. someone like Darwin Fish) is more
authoritative than Scripture. Yet God gave us teachers. And
teachers who are subject to the Word (Darwin clearly does not
qualify here) have a certain legitimate authority (Heb. 13:17).
So biblical sufficiency does not strip human teachers of their
In other words, Scripture is the final arbiter of truth, but
that does not mean we're entitled to scorn the legitimate
authority of godly, biblical teachers. You are wrong, and on
dangerous ground, to set one against the other.
Also, do you imagine that you alone have sought to understand
these truths? Why is your personal opinion so weighty that you
can so easily dismiss so many men of God and their understanding
of what these verses teach? Can you assume that they did not
also sincerely seek a true understanding of God's Word? If so,
forgive me for my bluntness, but that is an arrogant assumption.
> Didn't the Bereans see it this way (Acts17:11)? True, they
> listened to the godly teaching of Paul, but they were in NO WAY
> going to "believe every spirit" (1Jn.4:1). They were going to
> "test everything" (1Thes.5:21). And so, that is what I am doing.
> I'm testing EVERYTHING, every spirit.
Well, Brian, I'll believe that when I see evidence that you are
capable of critically evaluating **anything** Darwin Fish
teaches. Here's a man who has never submitted himself to anyone
else's spiritual authority. Indeed, he was disciplined from the
very church whose elders he vowed to submit to, and he is still
under their discipline, unrepentant about having broken a vow he
made before the whole congregation. He has also repeatedly lied
to people about the nature of his interaction with me. He knows
it, and I know it.
And yet I have never seen you seriously question anything he
> You also call Mr. Fish a "self-proclaimed authority."
That's exactly what he is.
> Couldn't we really attach that label on ANYONE who
> stands behind a pulpit and accumulates a "following?"
No. Every legitimate pastor I know was first submissive to other
elders, ministered under their oversight, and was acknowledged
or ordained by them. This is the biblical pattern (2 Tim. 2:2;
1 Tim. 3:10; 5:22). Darwin rebelled against the elders whom he
vowed to submit to, learn under, and support. There is no
biblical justification whatsoever for what he has done.
The sad truth is that he could not submit himself to any group
of elders anywhere, because he arrogantly believes he is the
only one who is truly faithful to the Word, so he has nothing
but contempt for everyone else in church leadership.
He has, in essence, rejected Christianity. He hates the church
for which Christ died. Now he is trying to garner his own cadre
of followers and claim that they are the *true* church. What
> You say that Fish teaches that "the Holy Spirit has multiple
> personalities." Where has he said this? As far as I've seen he
> simply says "There is one Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:4), but this
> one Holy Spirit is plural in who He is (as God is plural in who
> He is).
See above, Brian. This is not that difficult: How is God
"plural"? He is plural in His personhood. Is the Holy Spirit
really plural in that same sense? Nothing in Scripture would
indicate that this is the case. I could give you many biblical
arguments for the personality of the Holy Spirit, the
personality of the Father, and the personality of the Son. Can
you give me one biblical reason to regard the Holy Spirit as
plural in that same sense? Can you show one proof that the
"seven spirits" are seven persons? Yet that is quite clearly
what Darwin is teaching.
So I can support a Trinity of persons in the Godhead with
Scripture (and I'll do so if you like, or you can read a list of
such proofs in Berkhof's Sys. Theo). Can you show from
Scripture that there are more than 3 Persons in the Godhead?
> So, if the Word of God reveals the Holy Spirit as "the SEVEN
> Spirits before the throne" (Rev. 1:4), and "the SEVEN Spirits of
> God" (Rev. 4:8), and "the SEVEN Spirits of God sent out into all
> the earth" (Rev.5:6); and when the Majority text reveals God, not
> as THRICE holy but NINE TIMES HOLY (Rev. 4:8); are we to abandon
> that CLEAR word in Scripture for the sake of our historic credal
> formulations of Christianity?
I frankly don't consider any of that "clear" evidence of nine
persons in the Godhead. If you do, then you too are guilty of
speculating on an issue about which you have no business
> How can anyone feel safe taking
> away from what the Word so plainly reveals about the nature of
> the Holy Spirit of God Himself????
Who has taken anything away? I do not deny that the Spirit is
spoken of as "seven spirits." I **do,** however, deny that this
means "seven personalities," and I deny your desperate appeal to
the Majority Text and your assertion of "nine times holy"
suggests that there are nine Persons in the Godhead. (Note, BTW,
that the beings in Rev. 4:8 unceasingly say "Holy, holy, holy."
That doesn't suggest that there are infinite Persons in the
> You say, "The three proof-texts Darwin cites say nothing about
> multiple person hood in the Holy Spirit." What do they speak of
They speak of the Spirit's utter perfection. There is much
symbolic and numerological langauge in Revelation. Christ
Himself is spoken of in Rev. 4:5-6 as both a lamb and a lion.
These are not two different Christs, but two aspects of this one
Person. There's also a beast with seven heads (Rev. 17:3). Do
you regard those as seven literal heads?
The fact that the Spirit is spoken of as a sevenfold Spirit does
not prove multiple personalities, either. We must be careful
not to exceed what is written. Darwin has done so when he
likens the sevenfold "plurality" of the Spirit to the threefold
plurality of God. In fact, he destroys the threefold nature of
the Trinity by making the seven spirits seven persons.
> You say, " Darwin suggests that the Holy Spirit "is plural . . .
> as God is plural"--and God's "plurality" involves three
> distinguishable persons. What does "SEVEN Spirits" suggest
> then, if not a plurality of person hood?
I have told you what I believe. There are other possible
interpretations of what this means, short of importing extra
Persons into the Trinity. You should investigate all those
options before you deny the Trinity with this speculative
Are you willing to actually do such reading (as I have advised
before), or are you in fact only carrying on this exchange with
me to be argumentative? I see plenty of evidence that you want
to argue; no evidence whatsoever that you are truly willing to
study these issues in earnest.
> You said that Darwin goes "miles beyond what Scripture actually
> states." How did he do this?
I have shown you.
> Phil, that there is "one Spirit," "One Lord," and "One God and
> Father of all" is NOT being disputed.
Oh, but it is. Note what you yourself say:
> But, just as the Old
> Testament reveals that "the LORD is One" (Dt. 6:4) He is ALSO
> revealed to be plural in His person hood (as seen by the name
> Elohim as well as numerous passages in the Bible (ie, Gen. 1:26;
> 11:7 etc.).
There again, you're making this a plurality of persons,
destroying the doctrine of the Trinity and setting up a god of
your own making. That **is** a denial of the "One Spirit" Paul
> The Holy Spirit is ALSO revealed to be "the SEVEN
> Spirits of God" (Rev. 4:8). In other words, PLURAL. Are you
> suggesting that we should accept one teaching of Scripture and
> explain the other away just because it doesn't fit what "historic
> creedal formulas" dictate?
No, I'm saying that many, many Scriptures can be adduced to
prove the plurality of persons in the Trinity, and the
personality (not "personalities") of the "one Spirit." I know
of not one single text that gives evidence that there is more
than one person in the Holy Spirit. Do you have biblical
evidence of the seven personalities of the "seven spirits"?
That's the bottom-line question. If you cannot prove they are
seven persons, then you need to recant and reject Darwin's
> Briefly, in dealing with the issue of "essential doctrine," you
> use Romans 14 for support. I have questions about this. (Again,
> understand that I'm seeking truth here and I have many things I'd
> like to sort out before I start nailing anything down, so please,
> bear with me.)
> From the outset, Paul openly declares that what he is about to
> deal with in Romans 14 are "disputable matters." He is specific
> as to what these matters are. They are matters concerning
> Christian liberty -- things that Scripture neither condemns nor
> condones -- like eating meat or vegetables; observing special
> days or not observing them.
Here's another example of where you have not paid careful
attention to what I wrote. I already pointed out to you that
these are issues that Scripture does deal with elsewhere in the
plainest possible language. Scripture expressly gives us
permission to eat meat (Gen. 9:3; 1 Tim. 4:3-4; 1 Cor. 10:23-
25). The matter of holidays is dealt with in Colossians 2, and
Christians are not to be bound by the OT ceremonial days. So
how can you say "Scripture neither condemns nor condones" such
> You say that Fish is advocating "doctrinal perfectionism," and
> that "it keeps him from showing any degree of brotherly charity
> to anyone who deliberately disagrees with Darwin Fish." Isn't
> Paul telling Timothy to keep his doctrine pure -- free from ANY
> contaminate? (Titus 1:9; 2:1) If Timothy is to devote himself to
> "the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching"
> (1Tim.4:13), isn't he to do it with the aim of doctrinal
We should all strive for perfection in all things. But we have
no right to reject **others** for their every imperfection (Rom.
14:4). Some matters do warrant rejection of a so-called
brother: gospel-corrupting error (Gal. 1; 2 John 7-11), or gross
and scandalous sin (1 Cor. 5:1-5). But we are not entitled to
reject brothers and sisters in Christ for every imperfection or
wrong opinion, are we?
> For example, (I
> want to pick something SEEMINGLY, rediculously secondary or
> NON-essential) someone comes along today and says that Hymenaeus
> and Philetus, of 2Timothy 2:17,18, were NOT teaching that the
> resurrection had already taken place. Is that, in your
> estimation, a damnable heresy or not? Most, I'm sure, would say
> as long as the person who is saying such things about the Bible
> believes that Jesus is God, that He was born of a virgin, died
> for our sins was buried and rose again on the third day and is
> now seated at the right hand of God the Father, it doesn't matter
> what he believes about what Hymenaeus and Philetus taught.
I don't think you understand the point about primary and
secondary issues. You needn't concoct ridiculous hypotheticals
to deal with it. Just answer the question of why Paul did not
insist that the vegetarians be excommunicated in Rome, since
their doctrine was in clear conflict with Genesis 9:3! If your
notions were true, the apostle had no right to deal with
vegetarianism as a "doubtful" matter.
> You say, " the Apostle Paul himself commanded the Romans to
> receive charitably people who held differing views on the
> question of whether to eat meat offered to idols." And then you
> say, "The whole message of Romans 14 is a command to live
> charitably with brethren whom we disagree with over secondary or
> questionable matters." I agree.
No, you don't. Because you do not really believe there is any
such thing as a secondary matter. If **you** believe Scripture
speaks clearly on an issue, you think you're not entitled to
fellowship with someone who believes otherwise. Whether the
doctrine under question is related to the gospel or not is
irrelevant; you will reject the person you disagree with.
> However, Scripture itself
> DEFINES exactly what those disputable matters are. We are not to
> make such a call unless it is dealt with in the pages of the Word
> of God.
Well, my position would be the opposite. I say Scripture defines
what the essentials are (again, essential means, "of the
essence"), by pronouncing anathemas against people who reject
those doctrines which constitute the essence of Christianity.
And the Bible forbids us to go beyond what is written (Deut.
4:2; 12:32; 1 Cor 4:6). Yet you've made rules Scripture does not
make. Where does Scripture authorize you to reject a brother
for holding a different interpretation on any and every point of
doctrine? Do you see that sort of divisiveness exemplified in
the NT? I certainly don't. (If you disagree, show me where
anyone in the NT was excommunicated or anathematized for
doctrinal issues not directly related to the gospel or the
> We cannot pick and choose which writings
> are "more important" (essential) or "less important"
I agree that we cannot pick and choose on our own. Scripture
identifies for us the doctrines that are essential. But the
distinction between "more important" and "less important" must
be made. Otherwise, why did Christ Himself chasten the Pharisees
for straining at gnats and swallowing camels? What you're
saying is that every gnat is a camel, and it's unlawful to make
any distinction between them.
> We can only call things "doubtful" if the
> Scripture identifies them as "doubtful" or "disputable."
This is patently absurd. It is manifestly obvious that if
Scripture says nothing whatsoever about a thing--e.g., card-
playing--then those things are by definition doubtful. How
would YOU classify them?
> Furthermore, to call something "not doubtful" that the Scripture
> calls "doublful" is to set oneself against the Word of God. But,
> again, it is God Himself who outlines the doubtful thing...not
I didn't call it "not doubtful." I simply pointed out that
elsewhere Scripture plainly authorizes the eating of meat. So it
doesn't fit your definition of "doubtful."
Here's what I said, precisely:
Fine. Call them "doubtful" or "disputable" if you like.
It's very clear that some of the matters deemed "doubtful"
in Romans 14 are clearly addressed by other Scriptures
elsewhere (cf. Rom. 14:2-3 with Genesis 9:3-4 and 1 Tim.
4:3-5). Yet Paul expressly forbade the Romans to despise
or reject weaker brethren who held erroneous ideas on
these matters. The issues under debate were "doubtful"
only to those whose knowledge of Scripture was incomplete
or confused. Clearly Paul did not regard all points of
truth as equal in importance the way Darwin Fish does.
Yet you never answered that point with any cogent reply.
Instead, you forced me to reiterate it again. That's why I have
a hard time swallowing your claim that you are "diligently"
seeking truth on these matters.
> Please respond as I'm trying diligently to sort these
> things out.
Really? What I hear is a man who regards Darwin Fish as
authoritative, and who is perfectly willing to write off every
church leader who ever lived, in order to follow this 20th-
century crank. You've rejected every bit of advice I have ever
offered you, and you have closed your ears to every argument I
have set forth before you--or else twisted it out of shape so
that you could argue against it. It sounds very much to me like
your mind and heart are already in bondage to Darwin. I'm very
sorry for you.
If you intend to write me back with another long letter
rejecting every point I have ever made, I'll read your reply,
but I cannot continue to respond like this. I just don't have
time to continue that sort of dialogue if its going to be so
unfruitful. If you are truly open to the truth, that will
eventually be made manifest. If not, I'm too busy to carry on
this sort of e-mail debate.
I'll be in Indonesia and India From June 25 through the end of
July. For the most part I'll be out of touch with my e-mail.
Posts from On-line forums:
This second series of messages is taken from various e-mail lists and Web-based forums. In most cases, these were forums where Al Soto was present. At no time did he engage me with biblical arguments or respond in any depth to the biblical arguments I posted. His typical approach has been to anathematize the whole forum and leave almost as soon as I have posted. So much for their pretense of wanting to be corrected with Scripture!
Date: Fri, 25 Aug 1995 09:48:06 -800
From: Phil Johnson
Subject: Secondary issues?
To: Multiple recipients of list REFORMED <REFORMED@LISTSERV.SYR.EDU>
On 25 Aug 95 at 9:15, T___ M_______ wrote:
> I'm afraid I simply cannot concur, however, that _all_ points
> of doctrine are worth sacrificing Christian unity over. . . .
> I simply cannot fathom the notion of breaking unity over
> eschatology. This is not the spirit of unity, IMHO, that is
> taught in the scriptures. . . .I am afraid that to put all
> truth (_our_ concept of truth ie: eschatology) above unity is
I agree completely with T___ here. Since I've argued as
passionately as anyone for breaking fellowship with those who
deny fundamental doctrines, I'm happy to argue with equal
passion that we should not break fellowship over secondary
issues. And to deny that any point of truth can be secondary
seems to set a highly dangerous course.
A couple of years ago we disciplined a factious man out of our
church. He held the view that since all truth is by
definition non-negotiable and all error is inherently harmful,
no error should be tolerated, and no truth should be treated as
secondary. He went even further, maintaining that if he could
demonstrate any biblical error in what someone teaches, he
could declare that person a heretic and an unbeliever. He now
pastors a small, renegade house church nearby and occasionally
sends me tapes of his messages. He has repeatedly declared not
only me and my pastor hell-bound heretics, but also Charles
Spurgeon, all the Puritans, all who hold to an a-mill or
post-mill position. (You had to know he'd be pre-mil, right?)
This guy (his name is "Darwin Fish"--no, really!) sees all
doctrine under the rubric "the doctrine of Christ" (2 Jn.
9-10), and claims we're commanded to shun anyone who denies a
single point of it. He once challenged me to prove to him from
Scripture that we are ever authorized to treat a truth as
So I did a little research and found a dearth of sources that
address this question biblically. (Probably this is because
most people see as a matter of common sense that not all points
of truth are equally crucial. It's unusual to hear someone say
that all truth is equally crucial.)
Anyway, it seemed to me that Pete de Boer was asking for
biblical arguments on this same question, so I wanted to give a
few thoughts on it and invite others who have thought it through
to add my list.
Here, then, are five biblical arguments for distinguishing
between primary and secondary doctrines:
1) Paul speaks of truths that are "of first importance" (1 Cor.
15:3)--clearly indicating that there is a hierarchy of
importance in the doctrine we believe.
2) Certain issues are plainly identified by Scripture as
fundamental or essential doctrines. These include:
a) doctrines that Scripture makes essential to saving faith
(e.g., justification by faith--Rom. 4:4-5; knowledge of the
true God--Jn. 17:3; the bodily resurrection--1 Cor. 15:4;
and several others).
b) doctrines that Scripture forbids us to deny under threat of
condemnation (e.g., 1 Jn. 1:6, 8, 10; 1 Cor. 16:22; 1 Jn.
Since these doctrines are explicitly said to make a difference
between heaven and hell while others are not assigned that level
of importance, the distinction between fundamental and secondary
truths is established.
3) Jesus Himself distinguished between "gnats" and "camels"
(Matt. 23:24). He said some issues are "weightier" than others
4) Paul distinguished between the foundation and that which is
built on the foundation (1 Cor. 3:11-13). The foundation is
established in Christ, and "no other foundation" may be laid.
Paul suggests, however, that the edifice itself will be built
with some wood, hay, and stubble. Again, this seems to suggest
that while there is no tolerance for error in the foundation,
the edifice itself is a different matter.
5) I agree with the suggestion made earlier by someone (T___
M______?) to the effect that the principle in Roman 14 is
applicable in this question. There were some differences of
opinion in the early church which Paul declined to make into
hard-and-fast matters of truth vs. heresy. In Rom. 14:5, he
writes, "One man esteemeth one day above another: another
esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in
his own mind." That clearly allows a measure of tolerance for
two differing opinions on what is undeniably a point of
As an apostle, Paul could simply have handed down a ruling that
would have settled the controversy. In fact, elsewhere he did
give principles that speak to the very doctrine under discussion
(cf. Col. 2:16-17). Yet in writing to the Romans, he was more
interested in teaching them the principle of tolerance for
differing views. Surely this is something we should weigh very
heavily before we make any point of truth a matter over which
we break fellowship.
Well, that's my list. (I should add that Darwin Fish was not
convinced by those arguments, and he's still labeling everyone
who disagrees with him reprobate. If you're on AOL you may
encounter him or his partner, Al Soto. I hear they started a
newsgroup there to propagate their ideas.)
My hope is that this will generate some more discussion here.
I've stated before that I am as eager to see evangelical unity
as I am to attack ecumenical compromise. Perhaps this will
help to clarify what it is I have been trying to say, and
hopefully someone else will be able to add to the list I have
Also, if anyone knows of any solid Reformed sources where this
question is addressed, I'd be interested in hearing about them.
The only two sources I found that gave any consideration to the
issue at all were Turretin (Elenctic Theology), and Witsius
(The Apostles' Creed).
Phillip R. Johnson
From: "Phillip R. Johnson"
Date: Wed, 6 Dec 2000 21:41:11
Subject: Re: [sound] Still waiting
Al Soto wrote:
> Please someone blow off the dust of your Bibles and try to give
> me at least one verse to support yourself as to why this issue
> of naming a true teacher is a reason to reject someone?
Isaiah 5:21: "Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and
prudent in their own sight!"
It is also a reason to reject you because:
1. If you are arrogant enough to claim that you and Darwin Fish
are the first people on record since the apostle Paul to discover
true Christianity, anyone with half a brain will have nothing to
do with you.
2. If you can't name a single author or teacher in the history of
the church who agrees with Darwin Fish, then my assessment of
Darwin is shown to be correct: You and Darwin do not really
believe anyone but Darwin Fish is faithfully teaching the truth of
Phillip R. Johnson
|From the FACTNet message board:|
Thursday, January 09, 2003 - 08:17 pm
I came across this forum while udating my FAQ on Darwin Fish. The address of the FAQ is:
I am astonished after reading the replies from Al Soto and the anonymous Fishites who have posted here. How could ANYONE who loves Christ be so undiscerning as to follow Darwin Fish's cult?
Al Soto regularly misuses Scripture. So does Darwin, for that matter. Darwin's little screed "proving" that God is "a man" is as inept as it is blasphemous. It is a typical example of how these men are twisting Scripture to their own destruction.
Furthermore, both Al and Darwin simply ignore whatever parts of the Bible they don't like. And that seems to be a characteristic of the whole cult. Apparently some or most of the "men" who are following Darwin are living in a state of chronic disobedience to 1 Peter 3:7-11.
Darwin and Al are so devoted to walking in darkness that they won't answer simple questions that have been put forth in this forum. I have a couple to add: Do they, or do they not believe men ought to physically "discipline" their wives? Why won't they unashamedly tell the facts and answer the questions that have been raised about their advocacy of beating infants as young as 7 months?
Those who may be genuinely confused about whether this group really is or is not "a true church" ought to consider the fact that they hate all other Christians outside their tiny sect (cf. 1 John 3:14-15). Al's posts here are exactly like virtually every communication I have ever received from anyone associated with Darwin Fish: abusive and insulting, in direct disobedience to Luke 6:27-28, Romans 13:14-21; 1 Peter 2:21-23and lots of other passages. Again, Darwin and Al just ignore whatever they don't like in Scripture.
To Mr. Fish and Al Soto: God may hate the wicked with a righteous hatred, but He is not hateful. By extolling hatred over love and modeling your own carnal hatred as if that were how God hates, you are proclaiming a false christ and worshiping a false god. Your god is not the God presented in Scripture whose tender mercies are over all His works (Psalm 145:9).
I saw you at the Tournament of Roses Parade and was embarrassed for you. Your posters all misrepresented the true character of God by portraying Him as someone who is filled only with hate, a killer, and the effectual Cause of human atrocity. Someone seated near me saw your signs and thought you were atheists deliberately blaspheming. She wondered aloud, "Why do they hate God so much?" I realized she had correctly heard the message of your hearts: you do hate the God of Scripture. That explains everything people need to know about your cult.
I beseech you once again to repent and beg God's forgiveness for the way you have mistreated His people, mishandled His Word, and sullied His reputation before the world.
Al, you of all people know that Darwin is not a righteous man. If you had a shred of integrity, you would lead the people who are under his oppressive yoke out from under his sinister influence. You ought to do it for your own family's sake.
BTW, Whatever happened to Brian? Is he still "in"?
|From the FACTNet message board:|
Friday, January 10, 2003 - 01:21 am
Al Soto writes:
> I will attempt to answer the questions that were
I doubt it. Shall we see?
> 1st- Yes, we believe God is a Man as Christ is a Man.
But that's not an answer to any question I asked. I'm already well aware of your cult's heretical position on this.
> Phil do us the favor and cast it down Biblically.
OK: Numbers 23:19: "GOD IS NOT A MAN, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent." First Samuel 15:29: "And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent: for HE IS NOT A MAN, that he should repent." Of course, I am well aware of Darwin's fatuous attempt to explain away the clear meaning of those verses. He fails miserably. The verses don't say "God is not the kind of man who lies." They say HE IS NOT A MAN. He is not beset by any human flaws or limitations (including the non-sinful ones like fatigue or hunger that are intrinsic to true humanity--as seen even in Christ's incarnation). He neither slumbers nor sleeps (Psalm 121:4). Therefore He is perfectly and constantly faithful to His Word.
Furthermore, "God is a Spirit" (John 4:24), and "a spirit hath not flesh and bones" (Luke 24:39). Again, Darwin's laughable attempts to explain away the clear meaning of those verses fail, especially in light of Philippians 2:5-9, which says Christ deemed equality with God nothing to be grasped and took on the form of a man. If God were already a man, what was the point of the incarnation? Why did the Father need to "prepare" a human body for Christ (Hebrews 10:5) if He already eternally had one?
Darwin's attempt to humanize and materialize God is similar toand probably worse thanOpen Theism's brand of humanist theology. I don't expect you to concede the truth, Al, because you now apparently regard Darwin as magisterial, but that is nonetheless a simple, biblical refutataion of Darwin's error. To argue on the basis of the expression "man of war" that God has a human body is so patently absurd that if you weren't blinded by your slavish devotion to Darwin, you would see instantly that it is a demonic lie that attempts to diminish the glory and majesty of our eternal, immortal, invisible God who alone is wise (1 Tim. 1:17).
Is God a literal rock (Ps. 18:31)? If you say no, how do you justify interpreting one expression with wooden literalness and not the other?
> 2nd- We do not teach nor do we advocate abuse of infants
> and wives.
Again, that doesn't answer the question that I asked. I am well aware that you don't regard physical beatings (even when they leave bruises) as "abuse." That is why the question I asked was, "Do [you], or do [you] not believe men ought to physically 'discipline' their wives?"
How about an answer to that question, without equivocating?
> Let us deal with issues that are clear, supported and not
> just based on rumors. This is where Phil Johnson's web
> site falls. Much of it is based on rumors, instead of
> doctrinal issues that we clearly believe and advocate.
Eyewitness accounts are not rumors. In the mouth of two or three witnesses, a matter is established (Matthew 18:16). These are therefore legitimate questions. I understand your desire to evade them, but your oblique answers clearly demonstrate that your self-proclaimed love of "truth" is a lie. You are only condemning yourself. The wise who monitor this forum will see that clearly.
I'll skip over your diversion about Calvinism and the atonement, except to acknowledge without shame that I am a 5-point Calvinist. I believe in *substitutionary atonement.* Do you? By the way, you could have read about my Calvinism at any time on my Web page since I first posted the site in 1995. I've always been straightforward about what I believe. You are the one being evasive, remember? Your lame attempt to shift the subject is just one more example of how you routinely dodge the truth.
> 4th- If I have been insulting in anything I have written
> I do repent of that and apologize, but I do not
> apologize for speaking the truth.
"IF?" Is that the way Fishites typically confess their faults to one another? The record of your insults and arrogance is right here in the forum archive. If you want to "repent" and "apologize," then do it. The pretence of a conditional apology is just another form of truth-evasion.
> 5th- God's hatred. OK, I miss your point here. God
> hates....right? That's what Scripture teaches. If God
> hates then.....uh....He is hateful. God is full of hate
> for the wicked and full of love for them as well. Are we
> missing the obvious?
Yes, you are. Nothing in the Bible ever says "God is full of hate." And nothing in your Rose-Parade posters and broadsides even tacitly acknowledged that God is love (John 4:8. BTW, He is not merely "full of love" in the same sense you claim He is "full of hate.") Indeed, nothing in any of the public Fishite demonstrations I have ever witnessed even gives lip-service to the truth of God's love, much less any evidence of it (cf. John 13:35; 1 John 4:8).
You are not proclaiming the whole counsel of God. The fact that you love to proclaim hate so loudly (and to the exclusion of any emphasis on love) is just another form of Scripture-twisting, and it clearly reveals what is really in your heart (Matthew 12:34).
> 6th- We don't based our message on how an unbeliever may
> respond. Just because people misunderstand or are
> offended does not in of itself prove the message to be
> wrong. Even your own man, MacArthur would concur Phil,
So? Where did I state otherwise? On the other hand, love, not merely offensiveness, is crucial to the testimony of a true believer (see again John 13:35; 1 John 4:8). Someone who is deliberately and personally offensive all the time--and who makes God's hate the sum and substance of his public message to the world--cannot rightfully claim to represent the Christ of Scripture.
Yes, the gospel IS an offense to those who are perishing. But your sect's message of hate is not the gospel. Darwin Fish rarely even tries to preach the gospel. When I personally challenged him on this, he couldn't produce more than one paragraph in all his sermons where he even made a passing reference to justification by faith. When I have heard him pretend to preach the gospel, he muddles it by placing so much stress on the redeemed person's righteousness and making virtually no mention whatsoever of the perfect righteousness of *Christ,* which is the only ground on which we can be justified before God (Romans 4:4-5). In that regard, Darwin has gone further astray than the Council of Trent. His gospel is an abominable different gospel (Galatians 1:7-9).
> 7th- "Al, you of all people KNOW that Darwin is not a
> righteous man." Do you read minds Phil?
No. I was just trying to assume the best. I have heard from people who know you that you have occasionally given evidence of conscience-pangs, and that you seem frustrated at times with your role of having to defend all of Darwin's whims and absurdities while he allows you to take the heat in a forum like this and hasn't the courage to answer direct questions that are put to him. My remark reflected an attempt to assume better of you than you have evidenced.
Which reminds me. You began by promising to answer my direct questions. But I asked only two vital questions, and you tried to circumvent one and ignored the other. What's up with that? Just to remind you, the other question was this: "Why won't [you] unashamedly tell the facts and answer the questions that have been raised about [Darwin's] advocacy of beating infants as young as 7 months?" To put it in other words, do you think (or does Darwin teach) that it is OK to use an instrument of physical discipline on a child who is not even a year old?
Oh, and I also asked you about Brian. Is he still part of your group?
|From the FACTNet message board:|
Friday, January 10, 2003 - 01:20 pm
Al Soto "tries" again:
> We do not advocate beating infants as young as 7 months
> old nor beating wives. As I said. This is ridiculous.
> The slander on this site just proves to us how wicked
> you people are in your evil speaking (Titus 3:1).
Why don't you send me tapes of Darwin's teaching about how to use "the rod" in disciplining children, so I can hear for myself? Because I have talked to former members of your sect, and one thing they invariably bring up is the issue of how brutal Darwin is with his own children, and how that sort of thing seems to be expected of all cult members. Casey Bryant's wife claims Casey was prepared to--and threatened to--beat their infant after sitting at Darwin's feet for a while. Are you saying that absolutely did not happen, and that Darwin absolutely does not bruise his own kids?
> Here's a good example of Phil's presumptuous character:
> He writes, "You BEGAN by promising to answer my direct
> questions . . ." I never promised any such thing.
Well, you did begin your first reply by saying:
> I will attempt to answer the questions that were
But I forgot: you people are taught that being "wise as serpents" means you can play games with the boundaries of truth. So your yes doesn't really mean yes. Your "I will try" doesn't really mean you will make an honest try. Your word isn't a "promise." Forgive me for my "presumption" in assuming otherwise.
> You will always believe whom you wish to believe and
> nothing I say will change whom you believe. I must laugh
> at how you have swallowed so many half-truths about us,
> but so be it.
Well, actually, you don't really have any grounds to know if I "swallowed" anything or not, do you? I merely asked you some questions. And by being deliberately evasive with your answers to mine and others' direct questions, you only encourage people to believe the many disturbing reports about what goes on inside your cult. Since your group's public behavior is so deplorable as well, there's really little reason for anyone to give you the benefit of the doubt. I am certainly under no biblical obligation to regard you as true Christians and brethren, because you give every evidence that you are not--with your words, your actions, and the twisted message of hate you proclaim in place of the gospel.
Regarding Christ's taking on the form of a man, you say:
> Yes, that is a true statement but we also know that He
> took on the form of man many times before that, which is
> also true.
Precisely. Bingo. Why would He need to take on such a form if He exists eternally in human form?
> Yes I believe God is our Rock (1 Cor 10:4)
Since what I asked was whether you believe He is literally an inanimate stone, I hope no one misses the significance and the utter absurdity of your "yes."
> Yes skip over the Limited Atonement lie, because you
> HAVE TO IGNORE countless verses.
Of course, you know that I don't ignore those verses. I have taught at one time or another on virtually all of them. And I know, of course, that you would disagree with my interpretation of those verses. So you could easily sidetrack this whole discussion into a long drawn-out debate over those issues. No doubt that is what you were trying to do in the first place. It isn't going to work, and your bringing up such a red herring only further diminishes your own credibility. So let's just skip that and stay with the issues of this forum, OK?
> Once again you show your folly by putting so much trust
> in what you "hear".
As I have shown already, what I have heard directly from you is sufficient to dispel your claim that you love the truth. So I don't see where I have any obligation to take your whitewashing of Darwin's errors and idiosyncasies at face value. You're a pretty good spin doctor, Al, but even you cannot cover the cultic nature of "a.t.c." and Darwin Fish.
> I have responded to hopefully dispel some of the
> slander. I believe this forum to be a bunch of scoffers,
> therefore I do not plan to continue to post (Proverbs
It kills me how you guys taunt people to refute you, but when someone actually does, you label him a scoffer, make a big show of brushing the dust off your feet, and slink away to regroup until your next blitzkrieg against another public forum or large gathering of people. Some "ministry" you people have! All you are doing is preying on dysfunctional minds.
|From the FACTNet message board:|
Friday, January 10, 2003 - 02:13 pm
Soto pokes his head back in to lob a final challenge: "PS. One question for your Phil. Do you still like eating blood soup?"
Should I get all pompous and indignant about how "Here's a good example of Al's presumptuous character"? Because I never said I liked eating blood soup. I said I ate it once in the Philippines. It was much too vinegary for my tastes.
Of course, you are going to argue that Acts 15:29 makes Kosher-style laws binding on all Christians for all time. But Acts 15:29 also says the Gentiles in the early church were to abstain from "things offered to idols." Those food restrictions were obviously a matter of courtesy to the Jews, in harmony with 1 Cor. 10:32. Because Paul later wrote to the Corinthians that they were free to eat things offered to idols if they did it in contexts where no offense would be taken by others, and if their own consciences didn't accuse them for it (1 Cor. 10:25, 27).
I'm well aware of the interpretive questions about Acts 15:20, 29, and I realize many fine Christians disagree on whether those restrictions were meant to be binding on all Christians in perpetuity. So we don't need a debate on that issue. (Unlike the Fishites, I realize someone can be a true Christian and yet disagree with me on how this or that verse ought to be interpreted. But I don't think any genuine Christian would suggest what you eat determines whether you go to heaven or hell. Jesus certainly taught otherwise. Mark 7:18.)
Paul said this specifically about supposedly "unclean" foods: "I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean" (Romans 14:14). He wrote, "For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving" (1 Tim. 4:4).
So when my hosts in the Philippines offered me pig-blood soup for lunch one day, I thanked God for His provision, then ate, asking no questions for conscience' sake.
I do like my steak rare, however. And from the perspective of OT ceremonial law and Acts 15:29, that's just as bad as pig-blood soup.
I know you would damn a Christian to hell for that. That only further reveals how far you have strayed from the glorious freedom of the gospel to become entangled in Darwin's yoke of bondage (Gal. 5:1).
|From the FACTNet message board:|
Friday, January 10, 2003 - 05:08 pm
Al Soto: "Point me to a forum where we can debate our position on doctrine great, but I will not continue taking questions that just seek to defame our characters."
You COULD have debated your "position on doctrine" here, if you hadn't chosen instead to cut and run. The problem for you is that your twisted doctrine is the very thing that defiles and debases your character (Titus 1:15; Jude 8-19; 2 Peter 2:21-22).
I realize I came here late. I'm sorry. I did not learn of this forum until yesterday. But I DID read the archives before posting. And I saw that in addition to hurling your typical arrogant insults, you've been taunting people for weeks, daring someone to refute Darwin biblically. But as soon as I did, you cut and run like a cheap schoolyard bully with a black eye. I don't think many here will miss the significance of that.
|From the FACTNet message board:|
Saturday, January 11, 2003 - 04:45 pm
To Casey Bryant:
"If any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel" (1 Timothy 5:8).
|From the FACTNet message board:|
Saturday, January 11, 2003 - 05:26 pm
To Al and Darwin:
On your list of tapes you no longer distribute:
you wrote, "Now, the first year (1993) of tapes (and unedited written material) up until the exposure of John MacArthur as a false teacher (February, 1994), have been discarded. Although we were in the process of exposing falsehood within the prevailing false Christian world during that first year (e.g. the evil of Christmas; Dobson as a false teacher), best we can tell [emphasis added], we were still on this broad way (Matthew 7:13-14). Therefore, we decided to discard the first year of tapes."
And judging from the number of your own tapes you keep having to censor since 1994, your theology is still in flux. You are reeds shaken with the wind (Matt. 11:7), double-minded men who are unstable in all your ways (James 1:8).
There are now 50 tapes on your reject list. That's at least a year's worth of tapes in the past nine years! And if you include the entire 1993 catalog, it means you have had to censor at least one in every five of your own tapes over the past decade! That is not a very good percentage for someone who believes every error is damnable.
By your own testimony you cannot identify when you were saved. What makes you think you ever found the exit ramp to the narrow way? If you don't know for sure when you left the broad way, you can't really say with certainty that you are not still on it, can you?
After all, if every point of truth is equally essential, then you have, by your own admission, been corrupting essential truth and teaching damnable lies about once a month for the past ten years. Therefore you have no ground whatsoever, according to your own twisted perspective of "truth," for any certainty that you are even now on the true "narrow way." So on what grounds can you possibly hold yourselves up as teachers other people should follow?
I suggest you close up the cult and stop teaching completely until you can resolve this rather glaring dilemma in your theology.
You should have heeded the warnings of 1 Timothy 3:6 and James 3:1 years ago, when I pleaded with you on the basis of those verses.
|From the FACTNet message board:|
Tuesday, January 14, 2003 - 02:12 am
The Fishite Web site is back up. I notice there are now 75 of Darwin's tapes on their "reject" list. Last week there were only 50.
Of course, the only truly infallible source of teaching is the inspired text of Scripture. Since Darwin insists on utter perfection, he really ought to censor the whole lot, stop teaching, and disband the cult. But clearly he has no intention of abiding by the standard he holds others to.
|From the FACTNet message board:|
Wednesday, January 15, 2003 - 06:32 pm
I watched the videos at Al Soto's Web site this afternoon for the first time. It was interesting to observe the Fishites' methods of browbeating casual passersby at these events as they try to taunt people into a war of proof-texts.
And it struck me as bitterly ironic that the Fishites routinely condemn people to hell if they are unwilling to stop and listen or try to refute their handful of favorite proof-texts on the spot. I lost count of how many people they condemned to hell for failing to "examine all things" in the forum the Fishites' chose (the sidewalk next to Edison Field).
Ironic? yes, because (even though several Fishites on the videos claimed they would "love" to be corrected from Scripture if they are wrong), we know they are lying. We have already seen--right here on this forum in a different kind of environment, where people can respond more thoughtfully and carefully to the Fishite lies; where people have actually taken time to read and challenge and refute the most cherished Fishite beliefs with the Bible--how the Fishites ran and hid instead of answering the plethora of hard questions and biblical challenges that were raised.
Darwin Fish's disciples are the grossest kind of hypocrites, and it is obvious that a fierce hatred for the truth underlies everything they do, despite their pretense that they are the only ones who really love the truth (cf. 2 Thess. 2:10).
It's pretty easy to win a war of proof-texts against a naive Valley Girl when you follow a canned script. But notice that the Fishites will not stay long in ANY forum where they have to go up against people who actually know how to handle the Word of God and give well-reasoned biblical arguments instead of just slinging proof texts. That's because the tripe the Fishites are peddling is simply not capable of standing up under that kind of biblical examination.
|From the FACTNet message board:|
Tuesday, January 21, 2003 - 01:36 am
I just returned from several days' ministry out of town. When I checked the Fishites' Web site tonight, I noticed that the list of rejected tapes has been changed rather dramatically once more:
It's now back to the shorter list of 50 censored tapes. Darwin apparently decided to trim the list to include "only those tapes (or written material) that have been discarded because of doctrinal issues."
The Fishites' Web site tells this lie: "In an attempt to keep this list as short as possible, tapes that have been discarded for any other reason (e.g. it was replaced with a more recent tape or written source) have not been documented."
Actually, those tapes were documented, as were several more tapes that were removed because Darwin was embarrassed by them. (e.g., "Darwin felt this message was poorly prepared and thus poorly delivered"; another tape that "was discarded" "Because of an error regarding someone's dream mentioned on the tape, and the difficulty of editing"; and another tape was removed because it "contained too much discussion and argumentation.") At least two tapes that were removed because of a doctrinal error ("Debt and My Error [11-30-98] & Another Look At Debt [12-18-97]") are now missing from the list. The reason previously given for the removal of these tapes was that "At the time these tapes were taught, Romans 13:8 was not understood."
So it is not true that these censored tapes "have not been documented." Rather, the documentation was removed. Apparently, Darwin was ashamed of his own high flub rate, and he is doing what he can to make his errors seem fewer.
For anyone wanting to compare the full 75-tape list with the current one, see:
Also gone from the current list is the tape Darwin withdrew because he "felt he could have dealt with the subject of flatulence in a more mature manner."
To Darwin and Al: I don't blame you for wanting to obscure the evidence of your frivolous double-mindedness, but my earlier remark still applies: for someone who insists on the kind of doctrinal perfectionism Darwin teaches, your error rate seems a tad high.
|From the FACTNet message board:|
Wednesday, January 22, 2003 - 08:56 pm
The weak defense offered by Al Soto here (before cult members lapsed into embarrassed silence) and on the Fish cult's Web site reminds me of the "Heaven's Gate" cult, which also maintained a slick-looking Web site, complete with a document in which they claimed to be against suicide:
Watch out for anyone who thinks Jesus' command to be "wise as serpents" gives us permission to shade the truth with the purpose of deceiving people. Satan, the old serpent (Rev. 12:9; 20:2), the father of lies (John 8:44), is not our model in any sense. When Jesus taught us to be wise as serpents (Matt. 10:16), He was not advocating dishonesty of any kind.
The Fishites have revealed their true character by repeatedly playing fast and loose with the truth. Don't take anything you read from them at face value. Al Soto's insistence that they "do not advocate beating infants as young as 7 months old nor beating wives" contradicts the testimony of several eyewitnesses, including former cult members and several close relatives of current cult members. If it is a fact that Fishite men are guilty of such abuse, I echo the sentiment of whoever expressed hope that they "go down hard" for those crimes.
If you have friends or relatives in the cult who have injured their wives or little ones under Darwin Fish's twisted notion of headship, I hope you will report them to the authorities without delay and without compunction. You may help save your loved ones from worse abuse yet to come.
|From the FACTNet message board:|
Saturday, May 17, 2003 - 05:54 pm
Darwin Fish has posted an article declaring that J. Vernon McGee is in hell:
Fish writes, "If the material found in the book Questions and Answers, is truly what he taught, then McGee 'fell asleep in his chair and quietly passed into the presence of his Savior' (www.ttb.org/DrMcGee.htm) in hell."
Yet IN THE VERY SAME ARTICLE, Fish attacks McGee for teaching that the unsaved dead receive no "second chance" to receive the gospel after death. Fish declares, "the concept of 'the unsaved dead will be given a second chance' can be found in the Word of God."
Now, if Fish's notion of a "second chance" is true, how can he be so certain that all who have died in disagreement with Fishite doctrines are in hell? Who's to say McGee didn't get a post-mortem "second chance" and receive the truth as perfectly as Darwin Fish and his followers believe they have it?
Can anyone explain this apparent contradiction in Darwin Fish's dogmatic pronouncements?
BTW, Fish's notion of a "second chance" is patently unbiblical. It contradicts Hebrews 9:27: "It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment." And Proverbs 11:7: "When a wicked man dies, his expectation will perish, And the hope of the unjust perishes." See also Luke 16:26. So Darwin himself is guilty of "lewdness" by teaching the doctrine of a second chance.
On another matter, it is no surprise whatsoever that Darwin seeks to justify masturbation. His theology, his lifestyle, his insatiable thirst for preeminence, the way he manages his family and followers--virtually every aspect of his character and his behavior--is driven by an intemperate quest for self-gratification. With a world-view like that, auto-eroticism would practically be a sacrament.
How ironic it is that this guy labels everyone else "lewd"!
|From The Dialogue Box:|
5/19/03 2:52:20 pm
Al Soto writes: "So, what verses do we like to ignore, Ron? Anyone else like to point out our error, I think Ron needs some help."
I'll give it a go:
Al, you have ignored the true meaning of virtually every biblical text I have ever confronted you with, beginning with Titus 3:10.
I have posted several pages full of mostly unanswered correspondence with you and your fellow Fishites, where you demonstrate again and again your inability and unwillingness to deal with any biblical argument against you:
The Fish Files
Note especially the arguments from Num. 30:2; 2 Pet. 3:16; 1 Cor. 12:4-6, 13; Eph. 2:18; 4:4-6; Rom. 14:3-12; Gal. 4:10-11; Col. 2:16-17; 1 Cor. 8:8; Matt. 23:23-24--etc., etc. None of these has ever been answered by you or anyone in the Fish cult.
Now, Al, it's true that you, Darwin, and the rest of your cult are very expert when it comes to quoting your favorite proof texts and twisting those selected verses so that they can be employed as weapons against Christians. Satan showed the very same expertise in his temptation of Christ (Matt. 4:6). But quoting the Bible is not the same as understanding its true meaning.
Moreover, videotaping arguments with unlearned people and teenagers whom you accost at large public events is not a valid apologetic defense of your "ministry." Your tactics are the modus operandi of wolves, thieves, and robbers--not true shepherds of the flock.
You clearly do not even understand the Word of God. You regularly misuse the Bible and have shown no willingness to submit to it. Apparently, your only hermeneutical rule is Darwin Fish. He interprets the Bible for you by the whims of his own imagination, and all you cult members dutifully follow suit. When shown a text that contradicts something Darwin has taught, you will spare no energy to twist or explain away the clear meaning of God's Word. (Example: Numbers 23:19 and 1 Samuel 15:29 plainly say "God is not a man." Yet Darwin insists that God is a man, and that those verses merely mean that He is not the kind of man who lies or changes His mind.)
In other words, your approach to the Bible is patently dishonest, and so is your lame attempt to deny that you are guilty of ignoring the plain teaching of Scripture in favor of Darwin Fish's opinions.
You, Al Soto, refuse to stand and answer anyone who answers you with Scripture. Instead, you resort to insults, threats, lies, curses, and evasions. In every case where I have challenged you in a public forum, you have run away rather than answer me. Thus you flit from forum to forum on the Internet and nearly always leave shortly after someone challenges you--as soon as you exhaust your supply of favorite insults and curses. It's easy to post Darwin's prefabricated cant, but it's not so easy to answer for Darwin's errors biblically, is it?
The hypocrisy that enables you to deny that you are guilty of avoiding Scripture is so monstrous that if the issues weren't so serious, it would be laughable. But the fact that you take yourself so seriously makes it just profoundly sad.
|From The Dialogue Box:|
5/20/03 4:42:48 pm
Al Soto writes: "Mr Johnson's wants you to believe in the theory that if you tell a lie enough times ultimately it becomes true. How dare anyone go contrary to 1900 years of church tradition (lies). Yes, we at 'a true church' have dared."
The problem is, Al, you have never demonstrated from Scripture that the doctrine of the Trinity is "a lie." I can prove the doctrine of the Trinity from the Bible, and have done so. I can also point you to any number of sound, biblical expositions of the doctrine of the Trinity by men of God from virtually every generation of believers going back hundreds and hundreds of years. They all understood Scripture as most of us do when it comes to the nature of the Godhead. But no one in 2000 years of redemptive history has ever twisted Scripture to make it mean what you and Darwin Fish now insist it means. And yet the only argument Darwin has given to support his notion of the sevenfold personhood of the Holy Spirit is a puerile misunderstanding of Revelation 1:4 and its cross references. NEWSFLASH: Darwin's botched interpretation of "the seven Spirits which are before [God's] throne" doesn't make the doctrine of the Trinity "a lie."
You seem to believe that if a doctrine has any historical pedigree at all, by that fact alone it is proved to be "a lie." Scripture teaches no such thing. Longevity doesn't automatically turn a biblical doctrine into a "human tradition." But what we are warned to be on guard against is any tradition, or philosophy, or worldly opinion, or heretic's rantingsor any form of doctrinethat is not in accord with Christ. You quoted Colossians 2:8, but you utterly missed its significance: "Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ." You have allowed Darwin Fish to defraud you in precisely the sense that verse warns against.
Christ taught the triune personhood of God (Matt. 28:19). He knew nothing of Darwin Fish's bizarre nine-Person Godhead. So I'll stand with Christ, and Scriptureand the church through the centuriesagainst Darwin Fish's unbiblical doctrines. The fact that the people of God have understood and embraced the doctrine of the Trinity since ancient times doesn't make the doctrine a "human tradition." It is the clear teaching of the Bible. You are a fool to trade the God of our fathers for the novel musings of a madman and spiritual megalomaniac like Darwin Fish.
Moreover, notice that in the process of arguing against the value of church history, Al says, "Mr. Johson's view and argument against us is not new but was used against Martin Luther himself."
It's curious that you reject church history so vehemently but can't resist an argument from history. Here you have violated the very principle you yourself are arguing against. Yet you are oblivious, as usual, to your own hypocrisy.
Al says, "We do not need anyone to teach us, especially church tradition.
Ah, but you did need Darwin Fish to teach you the doctrines you spend most of your time spamming the Internet with. You did not come up with those doctrines yourself, through your own study of the Bible. Darwin wrote your position papers; you posted them at the Web site; and everyone in the group toes whatever line Darwin draws in the sandfor fear of being "damned" if they depart from what he teaches.
You all should understand that when the Bible says, "God is not a man," it means God is not a man. Scripture is as plain as it can be. But Darwin tells you those verses really mean that God is not a certain kind of manand you believe his lies rather than the clear meaning of the Bible. You are the one who has abandoned the authority of Scripture and set human opinion in its place.
And another ironic thing for you, Al, is that the verse you quoted, 1 John 2:27, actually speaks against your dependance on a man like Darwin: "The anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you." That was written, of course, to genuine Christians, who have the Holy Spirit and therefore are able to understand the clear meaning of the Bible. John was confronting incipient gnosticism that was springing up in little cults like yours, where people followed human teachers who claimed to have special, unique, or secret insight into the meaning of Scripture and claimed no one else but them had the truth. The apostle John was assuring believers that the meaning of Scripture is not hidden or arcane, but so simple that anyone who has the Holy Spirit can understand. "The wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein" (Isa. 35:8).
John was not suggesting that we should ignore men who are gifted to teach, or that we should trash the biblical wisdom passed down to us by previous generations of believers. Paul wrote, "O Timothy! Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge."
You and your fellow cult members are convinced that truth was utterly hidden from the church over the centuries until the light finally broke on the pointy head of Darwin Fish. That is nonsense. And that's my point.
You twist my words and lie when you suggest I place history over Scripture. I didn't say that. I merely said that history is full of godly men who understood Scripture better than Darwin Fish does. And I'll say again: anyone tempted to believe Mr. Fish's twisted doctrines ought to study the biblical basis for the historic views Darwin is so eager to eliminate.
Finally, Al, I did not miss the fact that you still have not addressed any of the biblical arguments I have given you. Accuse me of setting history over Scripture all you like. Your lie is manifest to anyone who reads my Web site. You are the one who avoids dealing with Scripture.
Darwin has written and posted his own version of the events that led to his discipline from Grace Community Church. Every now and then, I'll hear from someone who finds Darwin's self-defense persuasive. Here is my reply to some questions raised by one such person:
From: Phil Johnson
To: [An inquirer]
Subject: Re: Reply
Date: Wed, 18 Jun 2003 20:00:12 -0700
Many thanks for your message. You wrote:
> My husband & I studied your letter & Darwin's post of what happened.
> We both felt it was sad that in three different attempts that he
> lists that he was either told that JM was a busy man & not able to
> go over his material, not responded to, or told that he would reply
> & did'nt.
Well, that's not quite what happened, even by Darwin's own
account. Note the facts again:
1. MacArthur replied personally to Darwin's first letter,
responding graciously to the false accusation that MacArthur had
snubbed the unregistered churches in the former Soviet Union. In that
same letter, Darwin had enclosed his jeremiad against Christmas, asking
MacArthur to review it. (Darwin's screed was a dogmatic pronouncement.
He wasn't asking questions or seeking clarification. It was clear that
he would have been satisfied only if MacArthur capitulated to his
MacArthur gets dozens of requests every month to review book
manuscripts, amateur theological treatises, and sometimes just the
ramblings of deluded people. He could not possibly review all of them,
even if that were all he ever did. (I review some, and others on staff
review some of the others. But there is no way we can reply to
everything in depth, so we respond to as many as possible, giving
priority to those that are most substantial and most credible.
Darwin's was neither.)
In this case, however, since Christmas was an issue MacArthur had
already written about, he simply sent Darwin a copy of his book, which
was effectively an answer containing a rebuttal to Darwin's position
on Christmas. MacArthur was trying not to be argumentative. And since
he doesn't share (and at the time wasn't even aware of) Darwin Fish's
conviction that all points of truth are equally fundamental, the
Christmas issue was not something he was willing to get into a
prolonged debate with an over-zealous young man who seemed only to be
looking for an argument.
2. Darwin's second letter was a rambling accusation against
MacArthur because of three things: 1) he was upset about a fund-
raising letter The Master's College had sent to alumni. He
expressed his belief that Christians should not raise money for
buildings or colleges. He cited three "proof texts," none of which had
anything to do with giving. In other words, there was no biblical
substance to the complaint. 2) He was not happy that a biblical
counseling degree was being offered at The Master's College. His only
"proof text" in that section of his letter was 2 Timothy 3:16-17,
which says Scripture is profitable for reproof, rebuke, and
exhortation--the very issues the biblical counseling major stresses.
So that complaint had no substance, either. 3) He claimed he had
written to MacArthur "several times" and heard back "rarely." However,
by Darwin's own chronology posted at his Web site, he had written to
MacArthur only once, and MacArthur did reply. In other words, the
accusation was false, and Darwin knew it before he sent his letter,
because he added a P.S. acknowledging receipt of MacArthur's reply and
the book on Christmas. Darwin included the false accusation in his
letter anyway. Since the letter contained no substantive issues and
Darwin's second false accusation in as many letters, it did not
warrant a reply.
3. Darwin's third communication with MacArthur was a face-to-face
conversation in which Darwin rebuked him for not naming James Dobson
by name as a false teacher. By Darwin's own account, MacArthur
listened to him and thanked him for the exhortation--which showed a
lot more grace and patience to Darwin than I would have (cf. Titus
One rather obvious characteristic of Darwin Fish noted by all who know
him (excepting, perhaps, a handful of his loyal cult members) is his
hyper-critical censorious attitude. If he had been raising signicant
issues of doctrine, ethics, or biblical principles, his concerns would
have been heard and addressed. But if you read the sample letter he
you will see that (as noted above), his complaints were without
substance and at least two were totally false. And even when
MacArthur explained that he had not snubbed the unregistered
churches of Russia, and Darwin realized "no evidence could be
produced" by the man who had made the false accusation, Darwin did not
reply to MacArthur with any apology or acknowledgement of the truth;
instead, he wrote with a new set of accusations. He was clearly bent
only on discrediting MacArthur.
By the time Darwin came to my attention, he was already
distributing a tape labeling MacArthur a false teacher and
proselytizing a woman who had just joined our church. Moreover, he was
doing this while consciously maintaining his membership in Grace
Church. (One of the first things Darwin told me when I contacted him
to confront him was that he was a member of Grace Church.) So our
discipline against him was fully justified.
> If JM was really concerned about Darwin as he stated, would he not
> then have met with him personally? We would think as his shepherd he
> would feel that need & more so in a case where someone _so_ deeply
> believes that he would be going against God's word because of what
> was being taught.
By Darwin's own testimony, MacArthur did listen to and thank him for
his exhortation. There are lots of other shepherds at Grace Church,
and several of us also met with Darwin at different times. All of us
found him argumentative and utterly unteachable. Darwin's response to
all who met with him to hear his complaints was as devoid of biblical
substance and as improper as his original accusations. Yet he
persisted in condemning us, in more and more public ways. He is a
classic example of someone who has imitated the gainsaying of Korah
In all honesty, I do not understand your willingness to listen to and
be sympathetic with such a divisive man and heretic. I'm sorry you
think the treatment he received from Grace Church is "sad." It seems
to me that we had no other alternative biblically (Titus 3:10). And I
think what is truly sad is the spiritual abuse, the evil testimony,
and the unbiblical and ungodly doctrines he and his little cult are
guilty of promoting.