Saturday, January 13, 2007

Chan, White, Pyro’s and the Like

I have left a few comments on various blogs regarding my old college friend Francis Chan and an evangelistic video he put on the web.

One thing this event has taught me is that knowing the person that is getting critiqued changes everything. On the one hand, it made me much more sympathetic to Francis (whether or not he even remembers me!) since I knew him in the past and have kept up on his life through mutual friends. I know something of the guy’s heart. It made me feel a little defensive for him – willing to give the benefit of the doubt.

I also learned that I had better watch out.

What I mean is this.

I put sermons on the web every week. You know, sometimes I preach things and think, “Boy, I wish I could go back and say that differently, or add this and that, or subtract this...” In fact, rarely a week goes by where that is not the case. But I still let our guys stick them on the web, where we average 247 downloads per week. I know that I could go through any one of those sermons and find fault, imbalance, and omission.... especially if I played it back section by section.

If I thought about that too much I would stop doing everything.

Look. I am a simple guy. I barely made it through High School (praise the Lord for summer school!). I managed to pass college and seminary and I work as hard as I can week by week to unfold the Truth of His Word. But I’m telling you – listen to some of my sermons from 10 years ago and you could have a field day with me! You probably could with my sermon from last Sunday, for that matter.

When I watch Francis’ video get picked apart, I just have to wonder if we aren’t going too far.

You might argue that it was an edited and produced piece and could have been corrected and so in that vein is different from a “live” sermon. There is some truth to that, yet if you watch the video it is clear it was not scripted. Maybe that was a bad decision... but in the age of infomercials and “reality” TV I thought part of the appeal of the piece was its very “live” feel. Script it and you lose that.

For an opposing view to mine you should read D.R.’s blog – especially the comments. Darrin is very good at expressing himself and I think he does so with charity and clarity. (I have to warn you though that he is a Buffalo Sabres fan... that could make his entire blog suspect!)

“What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.”


  1. Paul, while I can agree with what you said, because I know I would often love to go back and change my sermons, not to mention those times when you mis-speak and say exactly what you don't want to say (I hope I'm not the only one who does that), I cannot agree that the video was not carefully scripted. Part of what makes it such high quality is that it doesn't seem scripted, but I cannot imagine not scripting it in the least, much less knowing you want to be clear, scripting the whole thing. Every time there is an edit one has to realize you need a way to connect the previous shot with the following shot. Not script makes that very difficult. I know once I had one of our church television broadcasts that I needed to shorten, and wondered if I could edit my sermon a little, after struggling to do that for quite a while, I found it almost impossible to do without losing the flow.

    I am not against Chan's video. I actually think it is something that will make people stop and think, which is what I believe it was meant to do. Was it meant to be a full orbed presentation of the gospel? I have no idea. If it was, it missed some very important points. I think that is where this discussion seems to lead me. I think this was meant to make people stop and think, so perhaps they would read the other resources out there.

    So, in a way I agree with both Cent and Camp. :)

  2. Ya know, in all the arguments over Chan's video, I've yet to see a refutation of the verse you closed with.

    Wonder why? ;-)

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.

    Which Christ is proclaimed in Mr. Chan's video? The Biblical Christ, The LORD Jesus Christ, The Alpha and The Omega, The LORD of all that is? Or another Christ? I do not rejoice in the version of the Christ that Mr. Chan has proclaimed in that video. It seems to me that the Christ Mr. Chan proclaims is virtually powerless to save people. It is as if it is up to people to make the choice, their decision? Is that biblical? God won't save people until they accept His offer and they say "I DO?" Is that biblical? Are these concepts taught in the Bible? If they are, show me by plain proof of Scripture. Please.

    I am only a simple man, I left school when I was fourteen and have been trying to catch up ever since. My cognitive skills have been set back a tad by being chopped on the back of the head with an axe, resulting in a fractured skull, a whisker away from killing me, a solid half full 40oz Bourbon bottle smashed into by forehead, leaving a scar much like Harry Potter's, over indulgence in drugs, including LSD, and booze, a couple of years of my life in prison so on and so forth and now on the invalids pension for the time being, unable to work full-time, yet I can still study God's Word, pray, love my wife, plant some veggies, love my fellow brothers and sisters in the LORD and love even my enemies and discern between truth and error, with God's help of course. Also, I can use the Internet. Great! Access to the Information Super-Highway, but I do have to watch out for all the porn and stuff, an ever present evil on the Net.

    Anyway, Sir,

    respectfully and as nicely and as lovingly as I can say this,

    the 15- minute message by your friend France Chan, glitzy and fancy and nice (oooppps! I nearly said gorgeous) looking as it is, will not change anyone’s life forever. There is no real Gospel in it. It contains a terrible distortion and misrepresentation of the nature and character of the God who is and who is thrice times holy and who is absolutely AWESOME and is to be FEARED. True? God is not even remotely like how Chan describes God, as if God is down on "bended knee, begging, proposing, handing out a ring" etc. What utter sloppy wishy washy nonsense. Shivers. God is not like that at all, even remotely. Chan's idea of God is altogether far too human. An idol he has set up in his mind? If you truly are his friend, and love him, you need to give him a tingle on the phone and reprove him before he deceives any more people around the world with videos like that. I saw this sort of stuff in the Pentecostal Churches here in New Zealand in the early 1980's and it is getting worse. Worldwide. The leaven of false teaching is leavening the whole loaf. It happens slowly, over a long period of time that one hardly even notices it happening. Much of this false teaching is coming out from America.

    If no one was punished on our behalf, God would NOT have been unfair, He would have been perfectly just to cast us all into the lake of fire, the punishment every single human being deserves. Francis Chan has by-passed this frightening truth. It is a wonder of wonders that anyone is saved by God alone, that Jesus Christ was crucified, His blood shed for remission, that he died and that he arose again from the dead.

    "The marvel of marvels is not that God, in his infinite love, has not elected all this guilty race to be saved, but that he has elected any." -- B. B.WARFIELD

    "....God's provided one way to escape His wrath and enjoy friendship with Him forever."

    Yes, His way and not our way. His way is also that we repent, truly repent, and believe, gifts from God alone, the fruit of regeneration, the new birth. If one is not born again, one cannot even see the kingdom of God let alone enter into it. John 3 Repentance and belief are not something the dead can conjure up in themselves. They need to be "born of above by the Holy Spirit of God," first. The Christian life is a life of repenting always.

    The Unrepenting Repenter
    By Jim Elliff

    The believer in Christ is a lifelong repenter. He begins with repentance and continues in repentance. (Rom. 8:12-13) David sinned giant sins but fell without a stone at the mere finger of the prophet because he was a repenter at heart (2 Sam. 12:7-13). Peter denied Christ three times but suffered three times the remorse until he repented with bitter tears (Mt. 26:75). Every Christian is called a repenter, but he must be a repenting repenter. The Bible assumes the repentant nature of all true believers in its instruction on church discipline. A man unwilling to repent at the loving rebuke of the church can be considered nothing more than "a heathen and a tax collector." (Mt. 18:15-17)

    "Repentance is a grace, and must have its daily operation, as well as other graces. A true penitent must go on from faith to faith, from strength to strength; he must never stand still or turn back. True repentance is a continued spring, where the waters of godly sorrow are always flowing. 'My sin is ever before me'." ~ Thomas Brooks

    "The God of the universe is crazy about you and screaming out for your attention."

    The God who is "I AM," is NOT crazy about anyone nor is He screaming out for anyone’s attention.

    This video is riddled with error. In my opinion, if it were possible, even to deceive the very Elect! I could write a book critiquing the blatant deceptive errors contained in the video. God saves us from this sort of stuff. Sincerity is NO excuse.

    A fifteen- minute film that may change your life forever

    A mentor of mine once warned me not to get so busy in life that I just kinda rush through everything and not think. I have a tendency to, to just kind of wake up in the morning then go on in my tasks, kind of rush from one thing to the next without really stopping to think about what I am doing, you know, whether I actually should be doing what I’m doing or whether I want to be doing what I’m doing, I just kind of do it, you know, you just get into the day. Man, like every once in a while I need just kinda to get away from my own little world and just pull away and escape and think for a moment, I mean stop and think about life right now. Stop and think about the fact that right now, you and I are standing on a giant ball that's spinning at a thousand miles an hour, and we want to think this weird? See, the fact that we’re flying around this ball of fire that like is a million times our size, we're flying around this thing at 67,000 miles an hour and we just go; 'yeah, just another day, just another day,' there's nothing normal about it. This place is amazing. It’s gorgeous. Don’t miss it. Think about these bodies we’re living in right now, I mean the way we were created to feel, do you know the feelings you get when you first fall in love and you just want to scream to someone, you feel like something inside you is welling up or, or the feelings you get in relationships, like, for me it’s with my daughters and I tell ya, when I hug 'em, you know, it’s, it's like I, I got all this emotion inside where I just want to squeeze them to death and scream out how much I love them, I’m just crazy about them, what is that and, and even, even things like laughter, ok, I, I just want to say some people never even think about laughter but to me it’s like, you know when you laugh, whether you’re a person that just, you know just laughs your head off or you’re one of those people that who kinda goes, ghimmhhh, himmmm, himmmh, you know, you’re trying to hold it in, I mean what is that, I mean, what something for me, that points to God, that makes me think, you know what, that is amazing that God would create something like laughter. The Bible says; 'there is no way you can experience those, feel all this and see all this then go, ‘arrr, I think this is all just an accident, I think it just came from nowhere. There's no way. The Bible says; ‘that you have no excuse, no excuse, for not believing in God, because you can see God in everything.’

    And I know when I talk about the Bible people cringe because it seems just like every time you hear someone talk about the Bible you get this feeling like they’re trying to take something from you, you know and some will flat out say yeah yeah we want your money but you’ve got to understand it’s the whole message of the Bible is not about this God in heaven who wants to take from you, it’s about this God who wants to give to you, I mean the fact that the Creator is the one who made all this actually loves us and wants to give to us and, and if you miss out on that you are going to miss the whole point of your life.

    The message of the Bible isn’t about how there is this awful beating up in heaven, He’s given us these harsh commands that, that he just forces us upon us, I mean even His commands, people talk about them like they are a bad thing, when his commands are a gift to us, they are a necessary thing, when He says; ‘thou shalt not murder’ he’s just saying; ‘Look, you know I think your life on earth would be better if you don’t kill each other.’ When He says don’t steal, don’t rip each other off , He’s saying o this will be such a better place to live if you guys didn’t rip each other off, you didn’t lie to each other, you just kinda were honest with each other and then, then He says; "you know if you could love each other as much as you love yourself this place would be amazing." But when we look at these commands like they’re an awful thing when in reality we know in our hearts that these are good laws. They’re necessary. That’s, that's when we get annoyed, we get angry when, when someone violates these laws because it is a violation of us, it's, it’s hurting us, it’s hurting someone else, we get angry, we, we don't want to see justice (we want to see justice?). You know, there are times when you just want, you almost want to see the wrath of God poured out on someone for, for violating these laws, because, it's destructive and God's saying; "no, these laws are for you,' I, I think where it gets tough is when we start looking at ourselves and we start thinking ok, what about me, like when I think about my self I know I have broken these commands, I've, I've broken a lot of the commands and honestly there is a side of me that freaks out thinking, you know, what would it feel like to stand before this, this awesome, amazing God one day and, and have Him question me. I, I used to not think about it a whole lot because I used to feel like I was a pretty good person, I said like, you know, compared to a lot of other people I'm good.

    You know, it's kinda like when you're in high school and ya remember when arh, when you get in a classroom and the teacher would say I'm going to grade the class on a curve, and you, and you look around the class you see some people that, you know, just kinda sharpens you and ya kinda breath a sigh of relief because you know that compared to them you're totally fine. I feel like we do the same thing with governments. It's like we, we look around and we try to find the most evil people we can find in the world and we'll think, gosh they're so wicked God's gonna judge them and what it does it makes us feel ok about ourselves because compared to them we look pretty good. The problem with this though is that, God is not going to grade us on a curve, it's not like God's gonna line us all up and say; 'You know what, you guys are more wicked than those guys so you guys are the bad people, you're gonna go to hell and you guys are the good people you're gonna go to heaven, that's not what God's judgment's all about, it's about Him lining us up to His law and as He goes through His law, it's really not gonna take a whole lot of time before you realize that you’re guilty.

    So think about this, God created you and I, He gives us these laws, we break His laws, so at the end of our lives, He has every right to punish as severely as he sees fit, He is the creator, and so if our lives ended that way with His punishment, that would be perfectly fair, perfectly just.

    I am going to tell you the most amazing truth in the world and ya gotta get this.

    Listen, if you haven't heard a single thing I've said this whole time you've gotta hear this, despite everything you've done in your life God still loves you and he doesn't want to punish you, in fact in the greatest act of love ever, God Himself had His Son come down on the earth, take the form of a man and be nailed to a cross, because you see Jesus was taking the punishment for our sins, if no one was punished God would have been unfair because a crime was committed but the crazy thing is, is that you and I are guilty, we're the ones that messed up and then God has His own son punished for us. Why? The Bibles says it is because He loves us that much, because, this is the most amazing truth in the world, the God of the universe loves you. I used to think that I understood the love of God, I used to think that I, I believed this stuff and then I, and then I had kids and one day the thought crossed my mind, what would it feel like if I saw one of my daughters nailed to a cross, it absolutely drov, it made me sick, it drove me crazy, I mean try to think about the person that you love the most on this earth and think about them being nailed, being crucified on a cross. It's horrifying and to think that God, God the creator, went through that for me, It, it's amazing, think about it, what else in life even compares to this, seriously. I, I mean it feels so good just to be loved by anyone but to think that the creator of all of this loves me that intensely because that's what makes life worth living. This is awesome.

    So you have to make a choice, see God right now wants to have a relationship with you, he wants to forgive you, regardless of anything you've done in your life He wants you, but you've got to choose to accept Him. Now there's a lot of people who think that they're good, think that they, are quote unquote, "good people," the problem is that we're not gonna get to judge ourselves, doesn't matter what you think about yourselves, it is a matter of what does God think about us, it's not it's like there's this little old man at the end of your life that's gonna, just stand on this, you know, this little pedestal and go 'hey what do you think of yourselves?' and you go arggh I thought I did a pretty good job. No. But when the Bible talks about God and what we face up to at the end it says there's, there's this massive God on this throne, and even the angels are covering themselves up with their wings and screaming out how holy He is, we stand before that God and it's that God that's gonna look at you, look at his law and I'm telling ya, you're not gonna come out innocent, it's not, not this partially guilty, no, it's either guilty or innocent and we are all gonna be found guilty. It's that same God that's saying I don't want to punish you, I want to forgive you, I want a relationship with you.

    What I am talking about isn't a religion, it's not about joining some cult, or, really it's just talking to your Creator, having a relationship with him and in fact, God says, we become His bride, He gives that picture of a bride, it's a picture of intimacy, it's a picture of love, it's a picture of a relationship that's, that's greater than any relationship that we can experience as human beings. It's intimacy with our Creator. It's almost as if though the God of the universe is proposing to you right now, saying; "look I love you, I want to forgive you, I want to spend eternity with you, man, I'll wipe out everything, you just look, to forgive you as far as the east is from west, all the way to the depths of the ocean because that where all the garbage from the past is , we'll just put it behind us and lets start this new relationship." God's begging you, it's like He's on a knee, you know, handing you this ring and saying; "will you take me and will you enter into a relationship with me, Almighty God," and you have to say; "I do," that's it, saying; "Yes God, I do." If you hear anything I'm saying, don't go running to some minister or this and that, just, just get on your knees, or just go, get alone with God and just say to your creator; "you know what, I love you, I know that I've messed up but now I understand you're son paid for that, that blows my mind, I want to spend eternity with you, I wanna begin this relationship, I wanna follow you." But don't just say it, don't just say; "OK God, I'll follow you," because I tell you, there are people all across America right now that say; "Yeah I believe in God, yeah I follow Him" and then you look at their lives and it doesn't show. Jesus said; "If you really knew me, you would obey my commands." I mean its, it's, it's this idea of trust, saying you know what, I trust this guy, he's done everything for my good, He's given me life, He's given me His laws, He's given me forgiveness and so I believe His commands are gonna be for my good. See that 'ill show by your lifestyle.

    Look, this isn't my message, this is the message of the Bible, it's God's love letter to you. You see these just aren't random thoughts that you can casually give or take, your whole eternal destiny rides on this, you can know today for sure that you're going to heaven . It's not Jesus plus good works, it's not Jesus plus rituals, it's just Jesus alone, it's not Jesus or something else, God's provided one way to escape His wrath and enjoy friendship with Him forever. The God of the universe is crazy about you and screaming out for your attention. But don't just walk away and go back to your routine, this could be the greatest day of your life, stop and think.

    There may be a damaged seed or two in this presentation, and someone else may water it and nurture it but it will be God and God alone that germinates it/them and causes it/them to grow. Let's hope so. In the meantime, I am praying Francis diligently works upon his theology, urgently, eh?