Saturday, January 20, 2007

Just stop and ... think? (Updated)

OK, where to start? We have a controversial video in our sights produced by Pastor Francis Chan of Cornerstone Communict Church in Southern California. First, we have this post by the iMonk, Michael Spencer. Then, we have a comment on it by Frank Turk at the Teampyro blog, here. Almost at the same time, Dr. James R. White reviewed it in the second half of his Dividing Line program, followed by noting Michael Spencer's selective hearing capacity with regards to this issue. In response to Steve Camp's initial objection to the video in the comment section, Frank Turk posted this in defence of it. Dan Philips then joined in the 'fun' here and here. Steve Camp joined in on the issue here and then here, and then followed up with a series on the cross of Christ. Dr. James White posted his last take on the issue here, which I mostly concur, if I would add. The disagreement got too heated at the Teampyro blog that Phil. Johnson suspended all discussion on the topic for a while, under threat of 'excommunication' from his blog. Following which, after 5 days, he posted his take on the issue, which I generally concur (with some slight disagreement). Dan Philips then sarcastically posted another blog post here on the topic, while Steve Camp posted this, which analyzed the reason given by Francis Chan himself and the producers for producing this video.

I am a late comer to this controversy since I came to knew about it via Dr. James White's blog at, and only after it has developed to the point where I commented briefly on it. To put it bluntly, when I first saw the video, I was bored to death by it, and thus did not notice the objectionable parts until after others have pointed them out. After looking through the various posts and comments on the issue, especially since I do not frequent some of these blogs for lack of time, I am disgusted by the sheer amount of ad hominem attacks, innuendo, and a total lack of charity in most of the comments and some of the posts. I normally do not post on such videos because it is honestly a complete waste of time. Likewise, I do not comment in other blogs etc. unless I feel that there really is a need to do so. Obviously, some of these commenters have nothing better to do with their time! It is also disturbing to see so much energy being poured over this issue by certain people who act as though they have some axe to grind against Pst. Francis Chan personally.

There are two issues which I would like to concentrate on here.

First, for all involved in the controversy, STOP it! OK, so what if you are correct? Go and do something constructive! For those who have the same conviction as Steve Camp and me, since you know the exact proper way to proclaim the Gospel, what are you doing about it? Go and evangelize. Teach others how to do the same. Walk your talk, or forever hold your peace! If you really want to talk about the issue, do it without all of these attacks. Try talking about the fundamental issues raised WITHOUT mentioning Francis Chan or the video, for once.

Secondly, I think that the deeper issue before us is ultimately linked to the 'free offer of the Gospel' and 'God's desire to save everyone', which is very much linked with John Piper's soteriological system as I have mentioned a bit on in my earlier post. Piper's 'Two Wills of God' theory allows him and his 'followers' to make the sort of statements that Francis Chan (who is linked to Piper) makes in his video. As there isn't a name yet for Piper's soteriological theory that I am aware of, let's just arbitrarily named it 'pseudo-Amyraldism', since practically, Piper's theory functions the same manner as Amyraldism. As in Amyraldism, God desires to pay the sins for all men but did not actually do so since Man are born sinful (and thus only choose the elect for salvation), so in Piper's view, God desires the salvation of all men but He has another will which operate sometimes at variance with his first will. This is achieved by having the first will desiring the salvation of all while the other will only have some in mind and thus only bring to pass the salvation of the these people, the elect.

IMO, this is the fundamental problem with Piper, Chan and people who subscribe to such a theory. The effeminate degradation of an otherwise reasonable (not excellent) gospel appeal in Francis Chan's short video stems from such a flawed theology. I sincerely do not believe that Francis Chan intended to paint God as a desperate lover, especially looking at his background and his association with John Piper. Think about it, if you believe in Piper's theology, it would be entirely possible to tell a person that 'God loves you and have a wonderful plan for your life', without a regard to the idea that that may not be true since that person may not be of the elect. From this to the idea that God is crazy over you is just mere window dressing compared to the initial compromise. Given's Piper emphasis on Christian hedonism (which I think has a few problems), it doesn't surprise me that people like Chan would add unwarented emotive expression when describing the love of God so as to produce the 'God is crazy over you' statement in his video.

(Oh ya, this really shows the reason why theology matters, even for minor points such as the Infralapsarianism/ Supralapsarianism/ Amyraldism debate)

Addenum (May 17th 2009): An article which I have written relating to this topic can be found here.


Coram Deo said...

Well said Daniel, and thanks for the copious links.

I just stumbled across this old argument because Sam Guzman posted the Chan video at Slice. I watched and frankly thought it was a terribly synergistic and man centered appeal to emotionalism and manipulative guilt.

Sam graciously linked to Frank Turk's original Pyro post, which led me to other posts, including James White's treatments and finally here to your blog. It does appear that this thing became a bit of an in-house tempest-in-a-teapot when it was fresh, but the same issues are clearly before us today, given that the video has been resurrected of all places at SLICE!

I should think that Ingrid would be horrified by this development.

In Christ,

6 days ago

PuritanReformed said...


I am very surprised that Sam Guzman posted the Chan video at Slice, especially more than two years after the tempest caused by the video in the calvinist blogosphere. Let's see what will come out of this.

5 days ago