In December, Sean McDowell entertained “progressive Christian” TikToker Brandan Robertson on his channel, that while disagreeing with Robertson’s views and theology, McDowell gave too much credence to Robertson’s apostacy. On March 9th, Jeff Durbin and James White of Apologia studios debuted their conversation with Robertson at Apologia Studio where they debated his interpretations of Scripture.
For an apostate, it is unsurprising that Robertson denies the authority and inerrancy of Scripture. He believes that some portions of Scripture are inspired, but not all portions, which begs the questions from Durbin and White by what standard Robertson’s framework operates. Most apostates simply either equivocate or downplay the Law of God, like Tim Keller; ignore or unhitch the Old Testament, like Andy Stanley; reduce Scripture down to the Gospels or teachings of Jesus, like the “Red Letter Christians;” or outright disregard Scripture, have a cross on the building, say Jesus, and call it church. Rather than pick a lane, Robertson’s standard ultimately falls under the logic that only the Scripture he believes personally is inspired, making him and his “experience” the authoritative standard.
Durbin and White attempt to flesh out his basis for moral standard, getting Robertson to admit a litany of heretical views on Scripture, even alluding to Apologia’s anti-abortion activism being morally reprehensible.
According to Robertson, the Old Testament never prophesied about Christ. When confronted with Jesus reading Isaiah in Luke 4, he denies that the prophecy refers to Christ or states that no first century Jew would interpret his words to mean what they explicitly mean in the passage. Robertson even asserted that it is borderline antisemitic to interpret Isaiah 53 as prophesying Christ and the author of Hebrews as problematic. White would challenge his admiration of the fringe Jesus Seminar, which neither Christians nor modern atheist scholars would affirm. The former denies the “Q hypothesis” while the “mainstream” secular consensus is that the gospels were not first century. Jesus Seminar would even claim that the gnostic Gospel of Thomas was mid-first century, which is outside most other scholarship on that text.
The discussion then would turn to their interpretation of the biblical condemnations of homosexuality in the text. Like Spencer Klavan, he reinterprets both Paul and Leviticus to not condemn consensual sodomy. The inconsistency of Robertson’s argument is that homosexuality is not sinful, but bestiality in the following verse is sinful. As James White is notorious for saying, “Inconsistency is a sign of a failed argument.”
Brandan Robertson is a gold medalist in verbal gymnastics. Where most would simply reject the church out of unbelief, he constructed an entire worldview to justify his sinful desires. Robertson revealed that he spent $100,000 over a 10 year period on an education to justify his conclusions. This is the cycle of sin manifested. Because he believes his lusts are not sin, it leads him to deny the authority on a host of other matters, including pornography being art. People who go through extreme measures to rationalize their worldview will end up expanding the initial depravity of which they began. This is why the issue of concupiscence is significant to one’s understanding of sin because it is from his inward desires, not his actions, which these further sins were born.
The other tendency of Robertson is to interpret his post-enlightenment understandings as superior to that which came before, even describing Paul as having an antiquated “patriarchal worldview.”
Brandan Robertson is one of many in this modern age deconstructing their faith to rationalize their own worldview. There is little difference between Brandan Robertson, Spencer Klavan, and Joshua Harris, only that the latter is farthest along in their apostacy journey.
Jeff Durbin and James White modeled to perfection how to approach an apostate like Robertson. Unlike Sean McDowell, they did not give credence to his faith, calling him an apostate to his face. They spoke firm and without ambiguity, allowing Robertson to reveal the inconsistencies of his own scriptural interpretation whereby his version of Jesus looks like him and believes as he does. Ultimately, like the unbeliever, Robertson is his own moral authority and Apologia did an excellent job identifying and speaking against his heresies in a fashion that provides a model for believers to follow.