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April 16, 2019

An Open Letter to Shane Idleman Regarding the Francis Chan Controversy

By Anthony Wade

A detailed response to a recent podcast from Pastor Shane Idleman about false teaching...


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I did a devotional yesterday about a recent article from Pastor Shane Idleman regarding some flack he had received for posing in a picture with Francis Chan. While correctly critical of some of the defenses he used I did indicate that I was a bit torn because Pastor Idleman gets so much right when it comes to the Gospel and sin and repentance. It just seemed that lately he has desired to become more viable within the upper echelon of Charismania and that has led to some suspect positions regarding what is clearly false teaching and heresy. The link above is to his recent podcast of his about these matters and again there is so much right in here and I want him to get all the credit in the world for that because true Gospel preaching is so lacking today. There still remains a solid disconnect however that I do hope he gives consideration to and at the very least addressing it here will help clear up some confusion for Christians following the story. So let us reason again together beloved as I try to respond to Pastor Idleman in hopefully what is considered a constructive manner.

Pastor Idleman begins with the same point he wrote about regarding a stated ignorance about what the NAR is. I will politely say that this is simply not acceptable in this information age. At some point he proclaims that he and Francis Chan are simply too busy to do the necessary research about who they might share the stage with and that to me is simply reckless as a pastor. Who we stand with is who we endorse and who we endorse is who we lead the sheep to. I am busy too yet if I am going to make it a point to support someone I better know who I am in bed with. Idleman then cites an article that outlined six hallmarks of an NAR church. Let me first say having read this article, it was certainly not exhaustive but rather a good starting point.

The second point of this article is that an NAR church believes in bringing heaven to earth. Shane reflects that he believes that this is a matter of eschatology, meaning pre-trib versus post trib, etc. That misses the point so Shane allow me to clarify. The NAR folks believe in this on a mystical level and concrete level. They believe they can usher in the literal presence of heaven to invade earth. Part of their beliefs is called the seven mountains mandate which says the church must conquer seven cultural mountains in society in order to facilitate the second coming of Christ. Now I will assume that since you clearly understand the Gospel you will agree this is rank heresy. Jesus does not need our help with anything, let alone facilitating His second coming. Your second point here was that we should make a difference in our society and would want politicians that are godly. I would disagree but not in a disagreeable manner. The real problem is that the NAR folks are not quite as subdued as this. They believe that some politicians are righteous and others are not meaning supporting them is sending you to hell. They do not aspire to make a difference but to take over society through the political process and force our beliefs upon the unsaved masses. They seek behavior modification instead of salvation for the lost. That is what we speak against. Our best way of making a difference is by being different. By being the peculiar people that show folks in the darkness that there is light in this world. That is accomplished not through carnal politics but through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The third point was regarding and emphasis on the presence and the glory which Shane correctly points out are biblical terms. Our concern is that they are taken to unbiblical lengths. They are actually wielded as a replacement for theology. Where you speak poignantly about travailing at the altar all night in prayer Mike Bickle teaches contemplative prayer, soaking prayer, eastern mysticism and visualization. These are gateways to open up the demonic into the lives of people who do not know any better and are being taught poorly and falsely.

The fourth point was about revival and again you may have just missed the actual point. No one is saying revival of the church is not a noble desire, although the bible promises and end times apostasy. The NAR seeks revival of America, which is biblically absurd. You cannot revive what was never alive to begin with. We should be praying for a harvest of souls not that people who do not know Jesus Christ as Savior start behaving better. My assumption again is you would agree.

The fifth point was that unity must not be at the expense of doctrine and the sixth was that the NAR denies the sufficiency of Scripture. Both points you insisted that you and your church stand with us in opposition to such beliefs and that is great. The point here is that the NAR does not. If people are saying you preach NAR teachings that would not be accurate from what I can tell. My issue is that you are defending those that do and thus leading people to those false teachers. There is a verse that says we are either gathering people to Christ or scattering them away. Which are we doing when we defend Todd White (more on him later)? The same is true for Dr. Michael Brown who you defended here. I have spoken with Dr. Brown and it pained me greatly to have to correctly write that he is a gatekeeper for wolves. What good does it do to write a book denouncing antinomianism and then call Joseph Prince a brother in Christ? Who are we leading the sheep of the Lord to and this is a recurring concern I have as listening to your podcast. You seem to have ample concern for the wolves but not so much for the victims. We are charged with tending to the sheep. The shepherd carries the rod for a reason and it is not to beat the sheep but to beat away those that would harm them. Next you spoke about Benny Hinn:

"Do I know who Benny Hinn is? Absolutely. Do I think he is solid? Absolutely not. He has said many controversial things. My question though is not why Francis Chan is speaking there but what is Benny Hinn doing on the stage." -- Shane Idleman

Pastor Idleman. You do not do a service to your sheep to take a velvet glove approach with an obvious wolf. Benny Hinn has not said some controversial things. He is wolf with the blood of dead sheep still dripping from his mouth. I am not even taking about the absurd prophecies like Fidel Castro's death in the 1990s. I am speaking about robbing the sheep of the Lord for millions upon millions of dollars. I am talking about the absolute stupidity of pretending to knock over waves of people with his suit jacket or orchestrating fake healings which you so correctly denounced at the end of this podcast. Benny Hinn is such low hanging fruit pastor that we simply have to do better than this. The reason why he was on the stage is the people organizing the event are wolves who invited wolves. Sure they invited some solid preachers like Chan because they want his credibility -- which is the exact reason he never should have given it. The same can be said for some others you then addressed:

"Creflo Dollar, Jesse Duplantis, Kenneth Copeland. I think they are going in a very unhealthy direction." -- Shane Idleman

No Pastor Idleman. Unless you meant hell as that unhealthy direction but we need to be very clear for the sheep. These are some of the worst false teachers on the planet -- not merely heading in an unhealthy direction. This may seem nuanced to you but I assure you it is not. By downplaying the true danger of these charlatans you still leave them open as viable for people who follow you even though I am hopeful that you have no intention of doing so and are just trying to be even handed. We do not need to be even handed with enemies of God. You then were spot on in your analysis of the problems with Joel Osteen but strayed a little with Steven Furtick. Your quote on Furtick was when he said that blessing follows obedience and you said while we can't say that to unbelievers it is technically biblical and that blessing does not always mean an expanding bank account. While there are certainly truths throughout your point the overall point is that it is presented as a quid-pro-quo. Furtick even had a "tithing challenge" where he encouraged people to tithe for 90 days to see the "blessings of God as a result." That is unbiblical on many levels and avoids the realization that we serve God for what He has already done, not what we hope He will do if we are obedient. Furtick's heresy goes far far beyond this one quote however.

Then Pastor you went back to Benny Hinn to say that he had repented or recanted his previous preaching of the prosperity gospel, saying he went too far. Followed by a reference to Todd White's "leg growing trick" during the heretical "Holy Ghost" movie and said that the video demanded an answer because it is troubling. I want you to sincerely understand the problems again with answers such as these. Benny Hinn scammed 42 million dollars from the sheep of the Lord. To say he "went too far" with prosperity is not an understatement -- it is an inaccurate statement that does a disservice to those following you. I might add, Hinn has continued the same old tired revenue generation tricks as before he said his mea culpa. The video of Todd White pretending to grow the man's leg is not troubling. It is a scam! He is lying and pretending that God is "healing" someone when He is not. You spoke so passionately about the damage from fake healers and asked why they don't visit hospitals and you are correct! Why in both Holy Ghost movies does Todd White pretend to "heal" people by walking through public parks at midnight and finding people with innocuous "pain" issues that can easily be manipulated? Do you understand that as leaders in the church once we are able to determine that these things are deceptions that it does not matter what he says? Todd White is a fake. He is a false prophet and teacher making merchandise off of the sheep of the Lord. The bible says we are to mark him, not coddle him. Our responsibility is to the sheep not the wolf. You were so right in this section about Kenneth Copeland and word faith theology that it is maddening to hear you then split the bill on people just as evil as them in White and Hinn. The next subject I hope you prayerfully consider:

"I know people close to Jesus Culture and Mike Bickle at IHOP and they say they are solid people. They are not what they are made out to be." -- Shane Idleman

This is one of the most grievous errors I see defenders of false teachers make. It is the "I know their heart" defense and it is simply not biblical. What do you expect a wolf to say? Do you expect Todd White to admit he was pulling a scam in that movie? Do you expect Benny Hinn to admit that he is a fraud? If so we need to work on your expectations. It does not matter what people close to them think about them. That is ridiculous. Now Shane I want us to seriously consider a scenario. Someone has come to you and said that they had a waking visitation from Jesus Christ who then whisked her away to the throne room of God where she met the father face to face and He ripped out a piece of His heart to mold a tiny version of her to dance for Him in a music box. Assuming she is telling the truth from her perspective, would you consider this a viable vision or a demonic visitation? To me the answer is obvious and the person in question is Kim Walker Smith, worship leader from Jesus Culture. She tells this testimony to untold thousands of youth at every event they hold. These are not solid people Shane. They are either willfully deceitful or deceived themselves and again, our responsibility is to the sheep.

Next, you opine that there are three camps within this story. The first being false teachers and the last being solid charismatic preachers and to this I say I agree. I am not a cessationist. To me the middle camp are those who have doctrinal issues but are willing to learn and listen. This is not a game of gotchya. We can all misspeak and say things that are inaccurate. Brian Houston once said in a sermon that Islam serves the same God as Christians. Some discernment ministries went bonkers but I wanted to wait to hear him answer the criticism because while he is a raving heretic on many fronts, Chrislam was never one of them. Within a week he admitted he misspoke and that's good enough for me. When Victoria Osteen said we worship God for ourselves and not for Him, I also waited until she doubled down and then I wrote about it. So I think we are on the same page except that you think the middle group are those who are "odd." You then gave three examples of middle people including, Jesus Culture, Bill Johnson and Jenn Johnson. You offered that maybe they are just deficient in doctrine and we should have more grace for them if so. Let me explain why that is problematic. If I have a brother or sister that believes what these three Bethel sources do, I might agree that they need some grace and be taught correctly. These are people however who are already in teaching and ministering positions reaching millions of people. If their doctrine is so poor, they should not be in such positions, period. They have been corrected and for the most part refuse to take that correction. You state that Jenn Johnson recanted calling the Holy Spirit a "sneaky blue genie" but that is not true. You offer up the softball interview by Dr. Michael Brown as proof but all Bill said was it was a long time ago and he has spoken to her about it because he would not have said it necessarily. That is hardly recanting especially when the video is still made available. But Jenn is the smaller of the problems here. If you seriously think that Bill Johnson is just "odd" then we have a real problem. Do you believe as Bill does that God MUST heal us? Do you believe that repentance means seeing things from God's perspective? Do you believe the gifts of the Holy Spirit can be taught to people? Do you believe everyone can prophesy? Do you believe in gold dust, gemstones, angel feather and glory cloud manifestations? Do you believe in grave sucking or operating a "dead raising team?" These are all products of Bill Johnson and Bethel Church. He is not odd Shane. He is ground zero for heretics. Bethel is a cesspool of false doctrine that poisons millions worldwide. Then you said something very interesting about Francis Chan's participation in heretical gatherings:

"How do we know Francis is not making a difference?" -- Shane Idleman

I will tell you how. Because the opposite is occurring. They are infecting him, just as Jesus warned. A little leaven will leaven the entire lump. This is like the former alcoholic thinking they will minister in bars. Francis Chan did not only speak at IHOP he gushed about how he loved Mike Bickle. He did not only preach at the Send he also took as many photo ops with false teachers as he could. He also wrote an article saying anyone who dared question the validity of people like Rick Warren, Mark Driscoll and Bickle were in danger of being sent to hell by God. That is how I know he is not making a difference but they are making a difference upon him.

Your next segment asks why you would use music from Hillsong and Jesus Culture and for example you referenced Prophesy Your Promises as a song you like. I do not doubt your sincerity but let me explain the problems here. First of all, we do not lead people to false ministries such as Bethel and Hillsong. Can they write songs that are biblically accurate? Of course! Even false teachers are not always false. As a matter of personal responsibility I would not want to expose my sheep to then by tacitly endorsing them. As for the song you reference the issue is that we cannot all prophesy -- the bible is crystal clear on that. This is part of the word faith little gods theology that you denounced in this podcast! That is what is so frustrating. We need to have faith in God's promises. We need to study them and hide them in our heart. We do not prophesy them and do not need to speak them into the atmosphere.

You then admit something that does not square with everything else you have said. You said you probably couldn't go to Bethel because they think they see angel globes or fire tunnels and to that I say amen. But how then do you place Bill Johnson and Bethel in the middle category? You are spot on here about Catholicism and Johnson's incorrect view of Jesus not being God when He performed His miracles but how then do you simply say Johnson is odd? He is heretical and wildly so. As we start to wind down, the interviewer makes a statement that is simply wrong:

"Every day that a false teacher takes a breath is another day they can come to know the true Jesus Christ."

Not according to 2Peter 2:1-3, which reads: "And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. This is speaking about false teachers. their destruction is not asleep! Their condemnation is from long ago! Wolves do not repent. Even if they could that would be in their personal walk with the Lord not their ministerial career. There is a reason why the standards were set so high by God for those who labor in teaching and preaching. You say that your heart breaks for people who discern because they have a critical spirit but then I guess the Bereans did as well. I guess Paul was having a critical spirit when he dealt with Alexander the Coppersmith or Hymenaeus and Philetus. Jesus had the most critical spirit of them all I guess with all of His rebukes of the Pharisees. Every day that a false teacher takes a breath is another we must be vigilant to protect the sheep.

It is not that we do not want Creflo Dollar or Benny Hinn to repent. It is that we do not believe they will because the bible tells us differently. It is not that we do not want to listen to Dr. Michael Brown interview Bill Johnson. I listened to all of it. The problem was he did not ask him any difficult questions about the heresies he supports because Brown supports him! It is not that we do not want to hear that Hinn has repented of prosperity it is that we know he did no such thing. The people you refer to as heresy hunters are not your enemy Shane. We are the watchmen standing in the gap. You are so sound in the Gospel and have a clear understanding of sin and repentance. I understand that as a minister it must be difficult to see other people in ministering careers be criticized but your responsibility is to the sheep. Francis Chan's fall from grace hurts the church. Not holding him responsible though cripples it even more. I seriously hope that you submit these matters into prayer. We need not agree on everything but in matters of doctrine, unity is essential and it is what actually should bind us. I hope you agree.

Reverend Anthony Wade -- April 16, 2019

Submitters Bio:
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.