Seaborn Hall, 12/28/19

CS Evaluation: Phil Johnson Adamant That Bill Wiese Did Not Go To Hell, Wretched

CS Evaluation: There should be better challenges by the interviewer in this discussion. There are many problems with Johnson’s arguments. First, how does Phil Johnson, executive director of John McArthur’s Grace Community Church radio ministry and editor of his books, know that if you go to hell you would not come back? Where is the written rule? It is certainly not anywhere in Scripture, in fact, doesn’t tradition and Scripture hold that Jesus visited hell during the time of His death and resurrection? So, Jesus visited hell and came back and the Bible calls believers His brothers (Heb 1-4), so wouldn’t that imply that the same experience, on some level, might be open to all of us?.

And what if it wasn’t literal, but a visionary encounter? Does Johnson know what the rules of genuinely prophetic visions are or of other supernatural experiences? He seems to have little experience here so our conclusion on this point can only be that he is biased against the supernatural and has little personal experience or understanding of it. In fact, we have read McArthur’s Charismatic Chaos and Strange Fire and that is the correct view of Grace Community Church theology. It is patently anti-supernatural in approach and view.

Second, according to Johnson ‘Scripture does not authorize’ Weiss to preach this experience? Really? Where does it say that Phil? Please quote chapter and verse. According to Johnson, ‘Scripture does not tell us to exegete our own dreams.’ So, he projects onto Wiese’s experience, assuming it’s a ‘dream’ – then he disqualifies Wiese’s experience, whether a dream or something else, by attempting to disqualify it because the Bible does not explicitly – according to him – tell us to make it part of our ‘testimony.’ Yet, Peter ‘exegetes’ his own vision of the kosher foods in the book of Acts, in fact, making it part of his theology. I suppose, according to Grace theology, that he is the only one qualified to do that because he’s an Apostle. Even though the Bible itself affirms that it was written for our instruction. Come on Phil!!!

Third, Johnson maintains that we know that multiple experiences of others who claim to have been to heaven and come back are not true because ‘they don’t even agree with each other.’ Even stipulating that Johnson’s claim is true, which we don’t believe that it is, that is like saying The Gospels are all false because they don’t agree with each other. This claim has been a foundation of skeptic’s objections to the Gospels for decades, yet it has easily been explained. Just because a report shows different perspectives – or even apparently contradictory ones – does not mean that each report is inaccurate or false.

Fourth, Johnson paints all of those writing books about these experiences as ‘charlatans’ who are making ‘big money.’ He notes the recantation of one such author. The definition of charlatan is… a person falsely claiming to have a special knowledge or skill; a fraud. We have a much better idea of who that might be now –those who go on radio shows to discount and mislabel things of which they have no understanding or experience.

Fifth, note the criteria here for determining their version of the ‘truth:’ If it doesn’t align with Scripture or even if it goes ‘beyond Scripture.’ What they mean by this is if it doesn’t align with our view or version of how to interpret Scripture or if the Bible does not explicitly condone or command it. In other words, God does not speak outside of the Bible today. This is the Dispensational perspective. See elsewhere in this site/page for where the Dispensational perspective originates. It does not originate in church orthodoxy or in Scripture – ironically it originates from someone’s interpretation of a dream/vision! Paradoxically, the Dispensational theology or perspective is patently anti-supernatural in its bias!

Sixth (about 7:00), the addition of another criteria: What did you learn from the experience? And, ‘Don’t go beyond what is written.’ Both criteria are taken out of context and are not the right questions or criteria to be asking or imposing on such experiences. We come to the real objection in this segment: ‘It elevates him.’ These experiences place those having them in a position where the Phil Johnson’s can’t evaluate and have power over their ‘theology’ – so they are dangerous and to be discounted because they challenge the ‘Grace Community’ authority.

Seven, there is one other fact that Johnson fails to mention. Wiese, if we remember correctly from his book on his experience in hell, when he had this experience, was not seeking it and was a believer who came from a conservative Evangelical background with no prior experience in ‘charisma.’

This whole video is a great example of confirmation bias and how we can all begin with biases and presuppositions and false tradition and carve out a big hole of error to live in. Do not let someone else’s anti-supernatural bias prevent you from experiencing everything that God has for you.