2012 StandPoint Conference Session 1: A Bridge Too Far

Speaker: Phil Johnson
Companion paper here.

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Larry's picture


No Biblical correction has been offered to me.
I don't want to dive back in here but I will simply point out that this is not exactly true since I have quoted both secular dictionaries and biblical scholars offering correction to you on the definition of divination, and you have "failed to heed it and remain obstinate in your inaccurate, unsubstantiated" definition. My correction was both biblical in content (since it was both true and used biblical examples) and, to the best of my knowledge and intent, biblical in spirit. If you maintain that divination is always connected to witchcraft, then you have to say that things like choosing priests or replacement apostles were acts of witchcraft, and I doubt you want to go that far. I could be wrong, though. I have been before and will be again, I am sure.

Which brings up a bit of a strange irony--you want to argue for the exact written definition of pornography while rejecting the exact written definition of divination. It seems to me that you can't have it both ways.

But your last couple of posts here presents an interesting study in hermeneutics: A guy comes and tells us what he means, and then you stand up and say, "No, he doesn't know what he is talking about. He thinks he means one thing but he actually means what I say he means." I suppose it is easier to win an argument when you get to tell your opponent what they mean by what they say. But it doesn't make a lot of sense. The truth is that Phil means whatever he says he means. He may be a poor communicator, and choose words that are confusing (or that aren't confusing to most), but he still means what he says, not what you say.

JCarpenter's picture

Hi Chip,

The quote you give from Lambert is more carefully crafted than is Johnson's inflammatory accusation of "pornographic divination" and possibly true. But I don't think this is the thread for discussing the Driscolls. This thread is about Johnson and so can include his problems with rhetoical bomb throwing.

Pastor K, I do understand. Please review my statement.

Hi Larry, Again, if you're continuing to say that Johnson was using the word "divination" in a morally neutral way, you're just not being honest. And by not being honest, your "correction" is not Biblical. Please get serious. Johnson's use of terms fail by the very definitions he posted himself.

Larry's picture


Again, if you're continuing to say that Johnson was using the word "divination" in a morally neutral way, you're just not being honest.
I don't want to take this off track again, but let me again be clear: I never said that Johnson used "divination" in a morally neutral way. So I obviously can't continue to be saying something I never said to begin with. (I just went back and reread everything I said to make sure.) Please at least be clear about what I actually said, even if you choose not to accept the quoted definitions.

And this relates to the topic here because you want to say that whatever Johnson says in this presentation (and elsewhere) can't or shouldn't be trusted because of (1) his rhetoric, and (2) his inaccurate charges based on definitions. Yet you participate in inflammatory rhetoric (defended by claiming you are accurate) and you make inaccurate charges based on definitions. So why should we trust your evaluation of Johnson? You are not accurately relating what is said right on this page and the page before which can be plainly seen. I don't know if that is because you don't understand it, don't read it closely, or what. But I think it undermines your point in a fairly significant way.

So whether you like Johnson or not, please be clear about what I am saying.

JCarpenter's picture

Hi Larry,
That's just false. I am accurately relating what is said and you cannot point to one inaccuracy on my part. Please review what I've posted earlier. You've now just admitted that Johnson wasn't using "divination" to refer to seeking God (therefore excluding the morally neutral possibilities in the dictionary definition that you were apparently trying to exonerate Johnson with). So you have NO basis on which to accuse me of being inaccurate based on dictionary definitions. I have a BA in English, worked as an editor, published various articles, and have Ph.D. in church history. I know what Johnson has posted and that it is wrong. Even by the very definitions that Johnson himself posted. To say that Johnson's terms are appropriately used, based on the dictionary, is wrong. Words have a range of meaning in their dictionary definition but their intended meaning in any context depends on the way they were used. We all know that Johnson was suggesting some kind of other-than-holy supernatural source when he decided to use the term "divination." (You admitted that he wasn't using the term in a morally neutral way which means that he was suggesting that his victim was involved in some kind of spiritualism.) His use of "pornographic" doesn't even meet the dictionary definition he provided (as quoted above). (Johnson's own dictionary definition of pornography supports the initial definition I provided in my first post.) Third, he has absolutely no proof of the Elephant Room being "scripted". So we have three terms: 1) divination, 2) pornographic, 3) scripted, all of which are clearly used inaccurately. These are now the proven facts. I'm sorry that you refuse to accept these facts. If you feel the inclination of falsely accusing me again of being inaccurate, please don't because you're either being ignorant or misleading.

Strong language is appropriate when it is accurate. The Bible shows us that. Johnson's problem is that he is not accurate. The Bible speaks very strongly of those who slander other people.

JCarpenter's picture

Hi Pastor K,
Yes, sorry I misidentified to whom I was responding. I was too lazy to go back and check!

Phil Johnson's picture

To all--especially those who organized the Standpoint conference:

I'm sorry this thread got derailed by JCarpenter.

A word about Mr. Carpenter: he has been spamming my Facebook page and apparently some other forums for several weeks with these same cut-and-paste accusations. Although he has been answered repeatedly by many different people, he clearly is not interested in considering any point of view other than his own--including any dictionary definition that debunks his skewed notion of "inaccuracy." In his deluded mind, his original accusations "are now the proven facts." Every answer to his accusations is immediately dismissed and thus, by his way of thinking, it all becomes more proof of how invincibly right he was in the first place.

I'm not sure why Mr. Carpenter is so desperate to defend Mark Driscoll's penchant for visualizing and describing others' private lascivious acts, but it seems an odd issue for a pastor to make into a moral crusade. That he would take up such a cause and run from forum to forum all over the Internet making railing accusations and provoking disputes about words to no profit says more about the crusader than it says about either the person he is accusing or the person he is defending. But every tree is known by its fruit.

Again, I wish we could have had a real discussion about the issues addressed in the message above. Perhaps someday we will.

Jay's picture

Final Mod Note

Anyone who posts in this thread about Mr. Carpenter or Mr. Johnson's motives in this thread - or anything in regard to Driscoll's visions - will be unpublished. Take all discussion of the pornographic divination charge or Mr. Johnson's motives to the http://sharperiron.org/filings/8-15-11/19843 ]appropriate thread .

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Pastork's picture


I finally found the place where Johnson referred to the Elephant Room as "scripted," in an article on his blog, and I had already read his article in which he referred to Mark Driscoll's "pornographic divination." Frankly, I didn't have a problem with either blog article. I understood the meaning when reading both, and I am sure it would never have occurred to me the take his terms the way that you have. I am simply too familiar with the terms not to know that they have the range of meaning with which Johnson has used them. I have also read the various posts on the matter in this "discussion," but I haven't bothered to say much up to now for two reasons: 1) In my opinion, Larry has pretty much said anything that needs to be said about it, and 2) I am quite certain that absolutely nothing I say about the points being argued will make the slightest bit of difference to you.

So I am writing this entry to let you know that I have no intention of interacting with you at all from this point on about anything whatsoever. You have demonstrated an inability to really listen to what others have to say and a pencahnt for pretty consistently questioning the motives of anyone who dares to disagree with you, accusing them of refusing to be honest, etc., despite cited proof of their points (as if disagreeing with you in itself amounts to lying). At any rate, I am saddened at the way this whole thread has developed and have no desire to be a part of it any longer. I will confine myself to reading (and sometimes interacting) with the many other truly beneficial discussions on this forum. But as long as you are participating in this thread, I won't be.


I too am truly sorry about how things have gone here, and I want you to know that I am grateful for what I have seen of your ministry thus far. I pray that God will raise up more men with your heart and courage in the churches.

In Christ,



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