Response to Greg Johnson, President, Standing Together Ministries
Well, things have certainly gotten a bit lively around here in my absence. For all of you who may not know Greg Johnson, he and Richard Mouw (of Let’s Celebrate Joseph Smith’s Birthday! fame) are single-handedly responsible for organizing the disaster that took place at the Mormon Tabernacle in 2004.
I thought I would answer his comments in my regular blog, since he represents the core group defending Dr. Hazen. My response is as follows (spelling errors are verbatim):
Greg: Mrs. Rische, the reason you know me is because of an historic outreach with Ravi Zacharias at the Mormon Taberancle.
Jill: Unfortunately Greg, this is true.
Greg: The reason I know of you is because you have spoken about me to others and because some of those people have told me some of the things you have said about me.
Jill: Greg, you publicly attacked The Kingdom of the Cults in the Salt Lake City press. The comments I made about you were public comments in response to your attack. I don’t know what other “comments” you mean.
Greg: You post against a fine and godly frined of mine, Dr. Craig Hazen, makes this as good a time as any for us to finally communicate directly to each other, although a more biblical model of communication might have been in order before now, don't you think?
Jill: If you had something against me personally, you are right in saying you should have come to me personally. I had nothing personally against you or against Craig.
You made negative public statements against The Kingdom of the Cults and I responded publicly to them. As a Christian teacher, you fall under this Scripture: “Let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.” James 3:1-2. You are accountable to the body of Christ for your actions. Matthew 18—read in context—refers to personal offenses.
I didn't take your criticism personally (since my father is always being criticized)--even though you refused to apologize for your comments.
Greg: Where do we begin? For some reason, I guess you feel the need to wear the mantle of your father's ministry, to take up where you feel he left off.
Jill: Yes . . . all the death threats against my father, our house being bugged, bomb threats, character attacks . . . all this would make me choose to wear his mantle.
I am doing what God called me to do. His opinion is the only one that matters.
Greg: Mrs. Rische, I knew you father, as a young man in ministry, I met him several times during my high school and college days at Westmont College. I had several personal meetings with him and even hosted him at Westmont College in 1987. It was an honor for me to attend his funeral service in 1989. Mrs. Rische, from what I have heard of you, I must share with you that you are no Walter Martin.
Jill: Belittling me is the best you can do in defense of Craig Hazen? Greg, we have you on tape slamming Walter Martin at one of your many confusing talks on Mormonism. Why you continue to claim you knew him well and he meant something to you is beyond me. You were an acquaintance of my father--that's all. He never mentioned a Greg Vettel Johnson . . . ever.
I have no wish to be Walter Martin, so your comment doesn't hurt me, Greg. I am his daughter, and that is enough.
Greg: I can recall fondly, a time with your dad at the Santa Barbara airport. I asked him how he dealt with critics but more importantly how he dealt with professing Christians who attacked him and who never tried to speak directly with him first to resolve a matter of conflict or disagreement. His words were profend then, they remain so to this day, and I will always live by them. He said to me with great focus, "Young man, it is like my old mentor, Dr. Donald Gray Barnhouse, use to say to me, 'be ye so busy with the work of the Lord that you do not have time to throw stones at the barking dogs along the path.'"
Jill: You quote my father to attack me, his daughter? You claim some kind of close relationship to a man you publicly detest, in order to give yourself a false authority? Here’s what my father has to say about your tactics, Greg.
Walter Martin: “If someone insults my wife and my children, it upsets me. If they insult my country, it upsets me. And if somebody bastardizes my Savior, I’m really upset!”
You seem upset with me, Greg, but you don’t seem very upset with the Mormons.
You and Richard Mouw are fond of using Barnhouse against Walter Martin and his family, but Barnhouse characterized men like you (compromisers) as “appalling.” You can read all about it here:
The Late Walter Martin’s Daughter Takes on Her Father’s Critic: http://www.christianworldviewnetwork.com/article.php/1271/Jill_Martin_Rische
Greg: You behavior since before the days of Ravi's address at the Mormon Tabernacle in SLC, it was not a Rich Mouw meeting by the way but a Ravi Zacharias meeting (you obviously have listened to the DVD or CD and must have noted this) has been most unimpressive.
Jill: This doesn’t make much sense to me, but I think you’re insulting me again. Not good strategy . . . please answer the charge of blasphemy.
Greg: I am confident that you have not honored your father's legacy by your unkind assertions against Christian leaders such as Drs. Mouw and Hazen.
Jill: My father would have dissected the Mouw/Hazen methodology in about 5 minutes flat. He would have called them what they are: compromisers in alliance with men who preach blasphemy.
Greg: To my knowledge you have not spoken against Ravi's message at the Tabernacle, nor have I heard you offer praise for its annointing, boldness, and proclamation of truth, and this is so very sad.
Jill: Ravi is an excellent speaker. His first three points were very bold. Jesus as “absolute truth” was relative, though, since the Mormon definition of Jesus was never discussed.
Greg: You call The Evening of Friendship a Mormon/evangelical worship service? How so?
Jill: You prayed together in a Tabernacle built for the god of Joseph Smith. Who were you praying to? Would God hear prayers offered in the house of Satan? You sang worship songs led by a Christian artist, Michael Card (who needs a thorough lesson in theology). You listened to a sermon and closed in prayer. Sounds like a worship service to me.
Greg: Do non-believers ever attend your local church? Do they sit in the pews? Might they actually sing along during the praise time? If so, are your local church services acts of blasphamy? Of course they are not!
Jill: Where do I start? First you question it was a worship service—then you say there’s nothing wrong with it if it was! You think Christians worshiping in the temple of antichrist is the same as Christians worshiping with the lost in the house of God? The Christians were guests of the Mormons–there is a difference.
Mormons hold Christian beliefs to be an abomination, so you shared a stage and worshiped with people who day in and day out work to destroy the Kingdom of God. I have a big problem with that.
Greg: The Tabernacle event was completely in the hands of evangelical leaders who offered the prayers, led the singing, and who preached the Word of God in might and power, just like D.L. Moody did in 1899.
Jill: You worshiped in the Tabernacle of a false god--an idol. “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols?” 1 Cor 6:14 Seems pretty clear to me.
Your argument is with the apostle Paul. In the world of the Roman Empire, some people in the Church compromised with pagan religions. Paul rebuked them and it applies to Hazen/Johnson/Mouw two thousand years later.
Greg: I am confident Mrs. Rische that had I been able to extend such an invitation to Walter Martin to preach a gospel message at the Mormon Tablernacle on Temple Square that he would have done it and would have done so to the glory of Jesus Christ!
Jill: My father could not even stand outside the Mormon Tabernacle. He left Salt Lake City without ever going inside of it because he couldn’t tolerate the spiritual smell of "sulphur" emanating from it. He would have turned you down flat and done everything he could to stop such a disaster from occurring.
Greg, I wouldn’t presume to tell you what your parent would do. I find it odd that you, a virtual stranger to my father, are “confident” you know him so well.
Greg: The event at the Tabernacle was a blessing from the Lord and I believe He was honored and pleased by it.
Jill: “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols?”
For you are the temple of the living God.
As God has said: "I will dwell in them And walk among them.
I will be their God, And they shall be My people."
"Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord.
Do not touch what is unclean,
And I will receive you.
"I will be a Father to you,
And you shall be My sons and daughters,
Says the LORD Almighty." 2 Cor 6:14-18
Defend your position biblically, Greg. What you believe is irrelevant if Scripture contradicts it.
Greg: So, because I see the pattern here that I have seen with others who once considered me a young crusader in the anti-mormon cause, I close skeptical that you will hear my heart in these words. I shall though take your father's grand advice to me once again and stay busy in the work that the Lord has called me to do.
Jill: “Anti-mormon cause?” I believe Christians call that evangelism. You sound like a Mormon, Greg. Perhaps you should have listened to the people who cared enough about you to tell you that you are in error.
Greg: Will you continue to bark at Dr. Hazen (even after he has sought to meet personally with you and your husband to discuss the matters of your concern?) and other good folks who are serving the Lord in our heart to reach into a community of people we love with the truth of Jesus Christ? I sure hope not.
Jill: Insulting me repeatedly doesn't help your cause, Greg. Ad hominem is a low form of argument. As to Craig Hazen, we talked to him via email and we offered to talk to him on the telephone, but he refused. He insisted we drive an hour and a half to Biola to sit down and talk face to face with him, even though we had less than 10 days before we were scheduled to move across the country.
The truth of the matter is this: MANY Christian leaders went to Craig Hazen and tried—in vain—to persuade him of his error. He refused to listen to any of them. We tried talking to him, he did not listen to us.
After refusing to speak to us on the telephone, Craig sent a nasty email behind our backs full of “unkind” comments. Again, this did not personally upset me since the ministry is not a popularity contest, and I was used to insults; I had to learn to deal with them at a very young age. However, I may just post all of our correspondence with Craig, since he broke confidentiality and seems to be portraying events inaccurately.
Yes, I suppose you will keep speaking at FAIR conferences, Greg, and having lunch with Robert Millet. Here is proof of what you’ve accomplished:
"My sister is deeply into Mormonism & went to the program in the Tabernacle. Her comments were:
'It was wonderful. Now I see that we are Christians and there is no opposition. Several people from my congregation went.'
"I commented to her that I thought her churches were called "wards" and she said, 'They call them congregations now....'"*
*Emphasis added, http://www.mormoninfo.org/index.php?id=130 (accessed March 24, 2007).
Memorable Greg Johnson Quote:
“We are trying to show the upcoming generation that we don't have to be confrontational on truth," Johnson said, "There is a lot of room for us to build on our compromise of scriptures."
Please don't say I misquoted you, Greg. The reporter stated she had it on tape.
See http://www.mormoninfo.org/index.php?id=153 (accessed March 23, 2007) emphasis added.
Jill Martin Rische
Walter Martin Ministries