Francis Chan is trying to save his biblical bonafides but only serves to illuminate what the problem continues to be...
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel-- not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. -- Galatians 1: 6-8 (ESV)
The utter collapse of Francis Chan over the past several years has been both profoundly sad and a hard reminder from God to always walk out your salvation with fear and trembling. As he was nearing his end, the Apostle Paul referred to himself as having finished the race. Nothing is sadder than watching a former evangelical darling fall so short of the finish line. Chan was a household name for those seeking sound doctrine that did not compromise for many years. Then something funny happened on his way and he found himself at the One Thing Conference in 2013. This annual conference was held at IHOP and organized by renowned heretic and false prophet Mike Bickle. The Charismatic world went apoplectic and begged Chan to reconsider. When speaking at One Thing, Chan admitted that friends and family had advised him to not go but in the end he declared on stage that he "loved Mike Bickle." The downward slide had begun. He appeared at another One Thing Conference and through the years showed less and less discernment regarding false teachers. He openly defended some of the most voracious wolves of our time and belittled anyone who would seek to speak the truth. Then this year the straw the broke the back for many of his defenders was when he was announced as a speaker at The Send, organized by the NAR's own Lou Engle. Chan shared the stage with a gaggle of the worst false teachers and prophets on the planet, including Todd White, Heidi Baker, Bill Johnson, Shawn Bolz, and General Cindy Jacobs. Apparently enough people have become outraged because Chan has written the above linked explanation to try and extinguish this dumpster fire he has created. Within this explanation there are four questions he tries to answer. Two of them are not relevant for this examination.
The first is in relation to what Chan believes about the prosperity gospel. I encourage you to read it so you can see why so many are so disappointed in Chan. He has such a firm grasp on doctrine that it only makes it that much more disappointing to see him share his credibility with such obvious hucksters and shills. His answer on the prosperity gospel is solid but what he fails to realize is why people are asking him that. It is not because of what he preaches but whom he endorses. If you preach the solid Gospel at a conference and everyone else does not, you have endorsed the false to the point that your sliver of truth is rendered meaningless. In this defense, Chan reveals that when people ask him to take pictures with them he doesn't want to be rude but fails to see why so many of the false teachers want a photo opportunity with him! It is an instant shot of biblical credibility to be photographed with someone widely considered a solid teacher. Maybe if you were not at the singular event of the year for false teaching, you wouldn't find yourself needing to be rude to so many wolves. The fourth question in this defense is simply about why he waited so long to answer his critics. That is neither here nor there for me. I assume he waited until the outcry was too shrill and decided to try and put out the fire. I do not begrudge that but he could have done himself a bigger favor by being more open far earlier. That leaves two questions for us to examine beloved. Let us reason once again.
Why do you sometimes accept speaking engagements in places that tolerate theology that is different from yours?
"I speak at events almost every week of the year. Often times, it's more than one event a week. I don't really enjoy it--I hate the travel, but try not to complain about it. Despite the toll it can take on myself and the family, it is always an honor to preach the Word. I believe it is my calling. Some question my choice to speak so often, but my best discernment and the discernment of the elders of our church is that it is still a part of my calling in this season. I am asked to speak at approximately 500 events a year. I decline approximately 90% of the requests. It's a difficult thing to do. Often times, I decline because other speakers will be at the event who believe almost exactly what I believe. My reasoning is that it may be a waste of Kingdom resources for all of us to be there, speaking largely to people who already agree with us. It seems more effective to speak where there is less Bible teaching. It has not been my practice to ask who will share the platform with me and to research the other speakers. While some may be dear friends, there are many that I know little about. This current experience has caused me to consider exercising more caution and to develop a team to help me research. That being said, I speak in many places where I am not in alignment theologically. I actually believe that is where I can be most effective, as long as they give me freedom to address anything I believe the Lord wants me to address." -- Francis Chan
Never a good sign to try and play the victim/martyr card right out of the gate. No offense Francis but no one wants to hear how rough a life you have traveling the world to speak. No one is questioning the amount of speaking you do or the fact that you feel it is part of your calling. You are a gifted orator to be sure. The issue is what speaking venues you accept and who you seemingly do not mind to share the same stage with. Your assertion that you decline some engagements because there will be others who believe what you do is simply asinine. There is only one Gospel Francis. Read the key verses carefully. If anyone brings a different gospel let them be accursed! You should want to share the stage with people who likewise bring the true Gospel. The notion that preaching the Gospel would be a waste of kingdom resources is ludicrous. Then we come to a startling admission. Francis Chan does not bother to find out who he will be sharing the stage with and may consider being more discerning in these matters. While if true, this would be most welcome news it does not remove the following quotes from history:
"Are you gonna bash Rick Warren? Are you crazy? This is a guy who loves the Lord. You may not agree with everything he does, but man I'm telling you he loves Jesus-everything I can tell, a supernaturally spirit-filled man." - Francis Chan
"Are you gonna attack Mark Driscoll? Are you gonna attack John Piper? Are you gonna attack Mike Bickle? -- Francis Chan
"Are you gonna attack some of these expressions in the body of Christ that may look a little different? I've met these people and I see their hearts and I hang out with people from these different denominations and I'm like 'they love Jesus,' it looks different to me but I can see the spirit in them, so we better be careful." - Francis Chan
These are your words Francis Chan. No one has done more to damage the cause of Christ than Rick Warren through his purpose driven church scheme. He openly advises pastors to not preach the Gospel in Easter so visitors will "have a reason to come back." He may be supernaturally filled as he pursues a one world religion with Rome and Islam but it is not the Holy Spirit of God. Mark Driscoll stole 200,000 dollars in tithe monies to cheat the New York Times Best Seller list and you think he loves Jesus because you have seen his wickedly deceitful heart? No Francis, it does not work like that. Driscoll once mocked all of his victims, calling them a pile of dead bodies behind the Mars Hill bus he was driving. That is who you have defended. That is who you have endorsed.
"I recognize, now more than ever, that sometimes my participation can give the impression that I align with every other speaker at the event. I'm not sure what to do about that other than to tell you that I don't. Unless the elders of my church direct me differently, I will continue to be found preaching in venues with those I disagree. I will preach in just about any kind of setting if I'm given freedom to preach from any passage of scripture. The elders and I are trying to come up with more safeguards for future events to hopefully prevent misunderstandings. Pray for us. I realize that many will not agree with my decision to speak at certain events. I hope you will at least consider the burden of trying to weigh potential outcomes good and bad. Over the past few years, I have seen many people come to truly follow Jesus, have a deeper love for the scriptures, and a deeper commitment to the great commission. There are millions of souls that sit under weak or unorthodox teachings. It thrills me to think about what the Spirit might do through His Word in those situations. My personal belief is that there are 2-3 million orthodox American Christians who consume all of the same books, blogs, and podcasts. Meanwhile, there are millions who will never hear strong biblical teaching unless teachers are willing to go. I might be fooling myself, but I feel like the Spirit enables me to lovingly confront difficult issues. And I have seen repentance result from it." -- Francis Chan
It kind of sounds like Chan is trying to pass the buck here onto his elders. Now accountability is a great thing and sorely lacking but someone called to minister should have discernment themselves. The issue is not a matter of perfect alignment beloved. I can speak at a conference with someone who believes in a pre-trib rapture for example even if I do not. What I could not do is preach alongside someone who perpetrated the "growing leg trick" as a faux healing like Todd White or someone who claims God let them ride in a golden chariot like Mike Bickle. There is a reason why Paul warned Timothy to guard his life and his doctrine. Let me be clear here. This is not a "misunderstanding." Francis Chan has not only decided it is ok to lead believers into the jowls of wolves but he has openly defended those wolves and threatened those who would correct him as potentially being killed by God:
"And I'm reading this and I'm like 'God, how come more people aren't dead?' And here's what I heard from the Lord: THEY HAVEN'T BEEN WARNED."...And now He says 'you're that temple.' And if anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him. You wanna be on the right side of His protection." - Francis Chan
So I hope this does not sound harsh Francis but I will not consider the decision to share the stage with Bill Johnson a burden. He is one of the most obvious wolves on the planet. He believes in mandatory healing, prosperity, false signs and lying wonders, the NAR, gemstones, gold dust, angel feathers, and glory clouds! He operates a school where he teaches you how to fake the gifts of the spirit! For someone as well versed as you are Bill Johnson should be low hanging fruit. The fact that he is not is exactly the problem.
Now, let us reason about the defense presented here that Francis is presenting strong biblical teaching amidst weak or unorthodox teachings. First of all, we are not speaking about weak and unorthodox teachings. We are speaking about false teachings. Teachings that lead people away from Christ and straight to hell. Can a strong biblical message matter? Absolutely. I remember several years ago Matt Chandler agreed to speak at Code Orange, the annual conference for narcissist preacher Steven Furtick. Pastor Furtick is the master of narcigesis, which is to read oneself into the biblical text. Chandler was considered then as Chan once was, a solid biblical teacher. Despite the uproar, Chandler went into the conference and gave a sermon against the dangers of reading yourself into the text when preaching. It was an open rebuke of the man who was running the conference he was attending. Furtick tried to scrub the sermon from the Code Orange website until he got caught and Chandler was never invited back again. That is not what Francis Chan is doing. If Chan went to The Send and denounced Mike Bickle, Heidi Baker, Bill Johnson, Lou Engle and Todd White then this would be a congratulatory devotional and a victory for the Gospel. The issue is not just that Francis Chan goes to such egregiously false events but that he defends the wolves. He stands next to Mike Bickle at One Thing and positively gushes how much he loves him. Instead of preaching against false doctrine he writes an article threatening anyone who dares to question Rick Warren, Mark Driscoll or Mike Bickle a fiery death from heaven. He refuses to see that even at a bare minimum, those that see him endorse the wolves will think it is safe to be with the wolves and listen to what they have to say as well as if that were sound doctrine. This leads into the other area of relevance.
Why have you not publicly denounced certain preachers?
"I believe it is absolutely biblical to call out certain false teachers and beg people to run from their teachings. We see Paul do this in the scriptures. As I was growing in my faith, I was grateful for radio shows where false teachings were exposed. I have always wanted to be a person who did not shy away from controversy, boldly willing to call out false teachers. In my zeal, I often denounced teachers and denominations without having my facts in order. I was sometimes motivated by pride rather than love. I have had to repent before true brothers in the Lord that I one time slandered. As a dad, it's a terrifying thought to know that I inappropriately slandered one of God's sons or daughters. I still strive to boldly call out false teachers, but I have found it hard to collect accurate data. I am willing to do it, but I want to do it with caution. I will be judged for every careless word spoken (Matthew 12:36). Whether it is due to carelessness or a desire for fame, many Christians have fallen into the worldly practice of creating fake news. Exaggerations are made because it makes things interesting, driving more traffic to their sites, leading to greater revenue and attention. Over the years, many things have been said about me that simply are not true. I can't know the motives, but I am sure it is untrue. In the same way, friends of mine have been misrepresented and their reputations unfairly tarnished. I want to make sure that I am not guilty of the same thing." -- Francis Chan
Hard to collect accurate data? Seriously? This is the information age Francis! It has never been easier! Yes it should be done with caution and we never take the word of a single witness but YouTube alone can often carry the actual voice of the person in question. I remember once the discernment world blew up because Brian Houston was alleged to have said that we serve the same God as Islam. I scoured the Internet and found the sermon and listened intently and he did in fact say it. I realized however it was clearly not a sermon point and was said as something probably not even in his notes. I decided to wait a week and sure enough Houston came out said he misspoke. Good enough for me and to this day I defend him against that charge even though he remains one of the most dangerous false teachers alive today. As someone who operates a discernment ministry and deals with many others -- no one is in this for fame Francis. You are confusing us with the wolves you like to defend.
"We live in a time when it is hard to discover the truth about any one person because there are a slew of voices quick to state their opinions as fact. So I now have a team of people researching to try and differentiate between rumors and truth. As I gather that information, I will seek out the teachers and address the issues in a biblical manner (Matthew 18). I will pray for and seek their repentance in love. If there is not repentance, I believe it is right to warn against false teachers and separate from them. Having said all of that, I refuse to slow down in my preaching to the lost, caring for the local church, sending missionaries to unreached people groups, collecting and distributing aid to the needy, in order to research false teachers. It is important. I admit that I have not done enough research and will do more without neglecting the other responsibilities I have before the Lord." -- Francis Chan
You do not need a team Francis. You need a working computer. Secondly, you are misusing Matthew 18, which deals when a brother personally sins against you. That is not what is going on here. This is dealing with people presenting a false gospel and the key verses make it clear you are to count them accursed! The bible also says to mark them! No one is asking you to "slow down" your preaching. C'mon. You created a virtual church with no building that only meets twice a month! Surely you have the time. If you wish to consider the attendees of The Send unreached I would agree! If you go speak to them however it does no good to preach soundly and then take a selfie with Todd White. I am glad you admit that you need to do more but based on your refusal here to deal with the real problems, paint me skeptical.
"One final thought- We should all be careful to guard against false teaching of any kind. In the process of refuting false teachers, however, we can unintentionally falsely accuse good teachers. That might be equally harmful to His Kingdom. God desires unity in His body, so it is no small crime to bring division into the church.
"As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him." Titus 3:10
"Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him. For God's temple is holy, and you are that temple." 1 Corinthians 3:16-17
Jesus deeply longed for unity amongst His children. This should not come at the expense of truth. There are times when the truth will divide. Let's all humbly beg for wisdom from the Holy Spirit to know how to love our brothers without compromising truth. As we diligently confront false teaching, let's show equal fervency in defending those who are truly our brothers and equal zeal in confronting those who unnecessarily divide the body." -- Francis Chan
This paragraph would mean so much more of Chan was not already in bed with Johnson, Bickle, White, Engle, Bolz and Baker. Perhaps Francis just overlooked the verse he desperately needs to understand regarding these subjects:
I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. -- Romans 16:17 (ESV)
God does not want unity for the sake of having unity. We cannot be unified with darkness. True division comes from those who teach falsely not those who point out that it is false. It is the false teacher that stirs up division and ironically for Francis we are to have nothing to do with them -- not speak with them at a conference or approach them with their sin using Matthew 18. It is the false teacher that destroys God's temple. So in the end Francis Chan tried to deflect some of the criticism he has received but all he managed to do is highlight the problems he still has. The speed at which he responded or endorsing prosperity were never an issue. What is an issue remains an issue. It is sharing the stage with wolves and then defending them to the body of Christ. Francis warned correctly that we will be held accountable for every careless word. I pray he starts taking his own advice. Until then, he is marked and should be avoided beloved.
Reverend Anthony Wade -- March 18, 2019
Credentialed Minister of the Gospel for the Assemblies of God. Owner and founder of 828 ministries. Vice President for Goodwill Industries. Always remember that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.