Why “radical” Christianity is just another form of legalism

You know, it never fails that theology within Christianity always tends to go from one extreme to the other.  I see this in the “radical” movement” championed by the likes of Francis Chan, David Platt, Shane Claiborne and so on, which is really a reactionary movement to the materialistic, business-driven nature of modern churches in America today.  (Props to Rick Warren for his part in reducing salvation into a seeker-sensitive consumer good by the way.)

Being “radical” is a new spin on an old concept rooted in the social gospel, and this particular iteration weighs one’s faith based on the frugality of one’s lifestyle, how much of his assets he gives away, or how much he dedicates his life to missionary work.  There are different shades of this within the movement, but to me this is the underlying premise.  It also creates a great deal of confusion, because there’s no clear rule in how much works is sufficient enough to indicate to a believer (and the leaders of this movement) that he is truly saved.  Or regenerated, to use a calvinist term.  Do we all need to have our teeth pulled out like the missionary Francis Chan uses as an example of “crazy love”?  Chan himself says no, but you still get the impression that if you’re not giving in an equally “radical” fashion, well then, you’re probably not really saved.

Pharisee Points Accusingly

Are YOU being radical enough???

The can of worms this opens up should be obvious.  Whereas in Catholicism one does good works to GET saved, under the “radical” theology one does works to PROVE they’re saved.  And if you’re not doing “enough” of it based on some kind of arbitrary standard no one can seem to agree on, your own salvation starts to come into question, and either you’re saddled with a sense of endless guilt for not doing “enough” for the kingdom, or you’d likely have to deal with a congregation of  holier-than-thous who frown on you because you’re not living in a hut in India.

I get the sense that to support the assertions behind “radical” theology, the proponents often point to the book of James, and his repeated admonishment that faith without works is dead.  When I read James though, I believe he’s talking about something more, and by works he’s not merely talking about good deeds in particular: he’s talking about the EVIDENCE of faith.

This much is clear when he talks of Abraham and his attempted sacrifice of Isaac. (James 2:21-24)  Was any good work being performed here?  Was Abraham giving everything he had to the poor or spreading the gospel in distant lands?  No, he was about to kill his only son, believing God would raise him from the dead (otherwise it would mean the Lord’s promise to Abraham regarding his seed would turn out to be a lie – Genesis 12:7)  Abraham’s works here was OBEDIENCE based on his now immovable belief in God’s promises. (Romans 4:3-5)  His faith was tried, but it came forth as gold, because he ultimately believed the LORD would revive his son.

There seems to be a lot about the nature of salvation that calvinists like Platt/Chan/etc. don’t seem to understand.  I remember having a discussion with a friend about the sinner’s prayer, and I initially agreed with the opinion that it wasn’t a magic, superstitious prayer that could cause one to be automatically saved.  But then I reflected further on this, and I realized we were of completely different minds on this after all.  I believed that such a prayer must first be coupled with faith, as in, you have to honestly believe what you’re praying, and if you did, you became saved.  As long as that person believed, nothing more than such a prayer in faith was needed to receive the gift of salvation.  But instead my friend indicated salvation itself was a sort of “process.”  Um no, it’s not a process.  You are either saved or you’re not.  There is no process.  Salvation is a rebirth, the start of a new man in Christ, and just as it is with our physical lives, we don’t immediately become spiritually mature and perfect in faith at the moment we’re saved.  It’s the sanctification of faith that becomes a lifelong process, but in that, our salvation was already obtained at the moment we started believing.  As much as the likes of Chan would like to resist this fact, there IS such a thing as an immature believer.  (yoooooohoooooooo! *waves*)

This is why I find this whole radical, missional form of Christianity so off-putting.  It’s no longer about honoring the LORD and doing such biblically-based good works simply because it’s the right thing to do (we get nothing out of it other than the satisfaction that we made the LORD happy),  but for appearance’s sake, specifically to make a show of proof of our “regeneration.”  After all, faith without works is dead!  And yet for one thing, a significant aspect of good works (giving in particular) is supposed to be a private affair.  The LORD was in fact adamant about how secretive our good works should be, to the point that the left hand should not know what the right hand is doing.  (Matthew 6:3)  It occurred to me that just the fact of knowing the extent of how much Chan and Platt have given of their own selves is an indication that they are disobeying God’s word.  It does make you wonder.  Indeed, we sure seem to know an AWFUL lot of all the many good works these radical leaders perform.  Such holiness they exude!

I believe “radical” Christianity and “lordship salvation” introduces a new (and yet ancient) standard to faith and good works.  But how much does God himself require?  For starters, Jesus himself said a man who has faith the size of a mustard seed can move mountains.  (Matthew 17:20)  See this little “.” on your screen?  Yeah, about that size.

Think about that.  Imagine someone whose faith is only as small as a seed barely discernible to the naked eye.  Would he look like a spiritual giant to others?  Or is he more likely to appear as a backsliding Christian who shakes his fist at God for everything that’s gone wrong in his life?  And yet, there’s still a small part, a kernel of his being that cries out that Jesus is still LORD, despite all his personal failures, doubts and stingy tithes based on his net income instead of his gross.  (filthy heathen!!!)

But guess who else wavered between unshaking faith and doubt, doubt that was so embarassing at times that he allowed his wife the risk of commiting adultery because he feared for his life?  Abraham, of course.  And he does this not once, but TWICE.  Yet rather than judge Abraham, the LORD came to his rescue each time.  Imagine if you will, Abraham being a church goer and surrounded by his peers passionately pursuing the “radical” lifestyle, what they would have thought of him after those faithless blunders.  He would have been considered a backsliding, unregenerate soul, for sure.   Even worse, he had far too much sheep as well.  Why wasn’t he giving some of them away and living a more frugal lifestyle?  Clearly ungenerated, this one.

But what we see is not what God sees.  The Bible instructs us not to judge by appearance, but still, when it appears that someone is not doing a lot of good works, not giving as much as he should be, not going on missions all the time, not being RADICAL, and by all appearances looks like a materialistic, self absorbed Christian, well then by all appearances, he must not really be saved.  Right?  Right??

It creates a horrible environment that brings Christians back to the same legalistic standards by which we judge one’s holiness.  Everything old is new again.  Now you have well meaning believers who either feel needless and crushing guilt, doubting their salvation because they don’t feel like they’re doing “enough” for the kingdom, or are pressured into ministries that they are ill-equipped and ill-prepared for.

I admit, I’ve often felt this guilt too.  I don’t attend church, so I certainly don’t get involved in outreaches and ministries these churches offer.  And when I try to, I get blocked somehow, due to some of the sometimes ridiculous requirements in order to participate in relief work (such as requiring you to be a member of the church for 6 months(???)  And missionary work, OY.  The mere thought of visiting another country, especially given that I have a disability that I need to take into consideration has me less than… enthusiastic about doing any missionary work as well.

Does that mean I’m not saved?  Or hugely backslidden?  Or just all around a very bad, flesh based, self-absorbed, unregenerated weenie of a fake Christian?  Was God truly angry at my lack of good works, my lack of contributions to the church body, my utter failure to do anything meaningful for the kingdom, my unwillingess to be a RADICAL disciple?

When I pondered over that, I thought about the examples in Scripture of men who went on to become mighty men in the faith.  And I realized, a great deal of them had spent the majority of their lives doing… well, nothing.  Moses himself was a shepherd for 40 years, and was not called to lead over the Israelites until he was 80 years old (the equivalent of being 60 today.)  So many devout believers of the faith lived purely ordinary lives before they were directly called by God into his service, and often not until their later years.  One wonders what the likes of Chan and Platt would be telling Moses while he was spending all those years herding sheep and doing nothing else meaningful or “radical” for God.  Moses should have been overseeing a social program to fight hunger or SOMETHING, instead of wasting the best years of his life tending sheep.  How unradical.

Still, even as young as I am in comparison to the “mighty men of valor” from the Bible, I felt and even now still feel like a failure.  I did nothing good, nothing meaningful, nothing “radical,” and worse yet, I didn’t have the drive to do anything of the sort, nor the particular desire to part with my many toys and pursue a less materialistic lifestyle.  Was I in rampant sin just for having the latest iPhone and playing on my shiny iPad?  I thought about missionary work too, and whether I really did have an obligation to put myself out there, to travel overseas, to start reaching the lost in distant lands.  Was I failing God somehow?  Was He angry at me?  I prayerfully looked for answers.

At the same time I contemplated these things, I got this email from a believer in South Africa:

This is rather unconventional, but I just want to say thank you. I recently went through a very tough time and was at logger heads with God.
I thought he had forsaken me. Your blog post, “When God forsakes you” really gave me something to relate to. One of the comments which you replied to helped me to regain my faith in God. Apart from that, the book of Job in the Bible also helped me a ton.

Anyway, you’re my inspiration to create my own blog (something I never [thought] I’d develop the inclination to do). A blog where I can help people like myself face certain circumstances through my experiences with Christ.

So once again, thank you and God bless

When I read that, this verse immediately sprang to mind:

Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins. — James 5:19-20

I was amazed, that one blog post which consisted of a flailing rant (but afterward a repentant heart) had reached someone halfway around the world and helped her regain her faith.  I had performed a missionary’s work while hiding out in my man cave and throwing back a frosty Starbucks’ frappucino.  Behold the magnitude of God’s power, that even in my wanton excess of tasty coffee drinks and utter moments of despair, He was able to take my words and use it to edify another soul in some remote corner of the world.

It made me realize even in missionary/ministry work God requires so little: converting ONE person is enough to cover a multitude of sins.  ONE PERSON.  In an age where we esteem quantity over quality, it’s easy to forget that God’s burden truly is light in comparison.

Come unto me, all [ye] that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.  For my yoke [is] easy, and my burden is light. –  Matthew 11:28-30

Yet as men are apt to do, especially those who follow after the spirit of the Pharisees, we take God’s standards, and then introduce endless layers of legalistic requirements and burdens that only an elite few could possibly live up to.  We talk about proselytizing in distant lands as part of the “radical” lifestyle, without realizing that the Pharisees themselves were just as zealous in doing missionary work, and yet the LORD rebuked them:

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves. – Matthew 23:15

The LORD tells us to go out into the world and preach the gospel, well, isn’t where we currently live part of the world?  And yet the concept of ministry/missionary work has been redefined and polluted to the extent that too many are now doing it without seeking the LORD’s direction, and for all the wrong reasons.  It may be that God has some other thing in mind for us, or that He wants us to get more grounded in Him first, before He calls us into something more.  If we cannot learn to hear His voice, then how can we learn to be effective in any ministry He gives us?

The more I observe about what I see emanating from mainstream Christianity, especially within calvinist circles, the more I realize they are the modern day equivalent of Pharisees.  The similarities are striking, and just as the religious elite existed at the time of Christ, so will they continue to exist today, influencing and leading many astray until the time of Christ’s return.  The onus is on us not to accept the word of man and the religious ecosystem they represent over what the Bible directly tells us.  (Jeremiah 17:5)

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21 Responses to Why “radical” Christianity is just another form of legalism

  1. Fearsome Pirate June 22, 2013 at 1:55 PM #

    The “sinner’s prayer” is nowhere in the Bible. In the New Testament, baptism typically takes on the role modern evangelicals typically ascribe to the SP.

    • Frank Swift June 22, 2013 at 2:36 PM #

      The sinner’s prayer is based on a conglomerate of Bible verses that instruct us as to the declarations one must make to be saved. It provides a good structure, but I think the mistake is in repeating it ad verbatim rather than make it your own prayer, and the iterations I’ve seen appear to be too generic in tone. Even regarding the famous Lord’s prayer, Jesus said to “prayer after this manner” rather than repeat the words ad verbatim.

      Any prayer in faith must genuinely make these declarations:

      The admission that you are a sinner.

      The willingness to turn from sin. (repent)

      Believing that Jesus Christ, born of the virgin Mary, who lived on earth for over 30 years before He was crucified on the cross, rose from the dead after three days, ascended to heaven and now sits at the right hand of the Father is our Lord, Master, and Savior, that his death was a sacrifice to atone for all our sins. This sacrifice is received as a gift of God, not of works (lest any man should boast.)

      Accepting the gift of salvation and inviting Christ into our life as our personal Savior and Lord.

      When such a declaration is made in faith, that person becomes born again, and a new life in Christ begins.

  2. Dr. Illusion June 23, 2013 at 6:01 AM #

    The man who prays on the street corner has his reward on Earth. The man who prays in his prayer closet has his reward in Heaven. Just saying.

  3. Butterfly Flower June 26, 2013 at 2:39 AM #

    When I first started blogging, I often talked about how I lost faith in Christ due to continuous bad experiences with “Radical” Christians. Back when I was still a Catholic, I was often told by fellow Catholics my sacraments didn’t count or that I wasn’t “really” a Catholic because I participated in pagan Japanese holidays, like going to the summer Bon festival (the Japanese festival where people release lanterns to honor the spirits of dead relatives). The strict legalisms made me start to view Jesus as weak (merely honoring the spirit of my grandpa renders Christian sacraments void?) and to be honest that impression has never really gone away.

    I’m not saying Christians should be lackadaisical about following their faith; but the extreme emphasis on following the “Christian path” often, as you said, has little to do with being a real Christian, and more to do with “appearing Christian”.

    especially within calvinist circles, the more I realize they are the modern day equivalent of Pharisees.

    Oddly what you’re talking about appears to have stemmed from the popularity of Pentecostal doctrine. Televangelists like Oral Roberts and Jimmy Swaggart seem to have had more influence on American Christianity than the Bible :???:

    Anyway as a fellow New Yorker, I know how annoyingly rude proselytizers here can be. I once had a Baptist proselytizer ask to baptize me on the SIDEWALK for merely admitting to being a a Catholic! ’cause Catholic baptisms don’t count? Heck If I got baptized by every person who asked to baptize me because my first baptism “didn’t count”, I’d might as well sit in a dunk tank!

    • Frank Swift June 26, 2013 at 1:59 PM #

      BF, if there’s one pattern I see in Scripture, it’s the simplicity of living a Christian life. Aside from the obvious sins we should eschew and turn from, we’re granted a lot of autonomy in how we live, with the caveat that we pray and study God’s word without ceasing. I find the more you read and memorize as much of the Bible as you can, the more quickly you can discern when someone is making an assertion about Christianity that isn’t true.

      Regarding baptism, I was baptized as a Catholic as an infant. While I believe water baptism is not necessary to salvation, I got baptized again via complete immersion when I attended a Christian conference one of my favorite authors was at. The reason Christians say your first baptism didn’t count was because (assuming this is traditional infant baptism where water is sprinkled) there was no declaration of faith (which is impossible to make as an infant anyway.) You believe FIRST, then you get baptized, which is what I had to do. I had to publicly declare who my Savior was, that I accepted his salvation as a gift of God, not of works, then they immersed me in the pool.

      Even though it’s not necessary unto salvation, I’d definitely recommend it. I felt GREAT after the pool, like there’s a physical sensation that your sins were literally washed away. I think it helps us understand in a way what takes place in the spiritual realm, since it’s one thing to mentally accept in your mind that your sins were washed away, but it’s another to experience it physically. :-)

  4. a July 11, 2013 at 7:08 PM #

    Romans 10:9-10
    Confess with your mouth and believe in your heart.

    A “sinner’s prayer” is just the easy-to-follow yellow brick road to get there.
    More like “guidelines” really!

  5. ava August 29, 2013 at 3:12 PM #

    have you listened to francis chan, like EVER? please be honest. all of these things you claim that he preaches are so far from the truth, it makes me think these are just your assumptions. and based on your false assumptions you present a cotrario your own conclusions, which in reality are exactly in line with what francis teaches. yes, that’s how twisted it is :)

    1) “Do we all need to have our teeth pulled out like Francis Chan did? Chan himself says no, but you still get the impression that if you’re not giving in an equally “radical” fashion, well then, you’re probably not really saved.”
    ” It occurred to me that just the fact of knowing the extent of how much Chan and Platt have given of their own selves is an indication that they are disobeying God’s word. Why is it that I know all about Chan’s teeth pulling for example? Shouldn’t such an affair have been private in order to affirm the motivation behind this sacrifice was genuine?”

    get your facts straight before you accuse someone of being a pharisee. he never even pulled his teeth out, in one of the sermons he told this story of a missionary that was serving in the middle of nowhere and had a tooth problem so severe they had to fly him to belgium or denmark in order to treat it. the guy asked the dentist afterwards what he could possibly do to prevent that happening again in the future, to which he replied that nothing can be done. the missionary said: very well then, if that’s so, please remove all of my teeth, because i can not allow such petty things to jeopardise or interrupt my mission work again”

    2) “There is no process. Salvation is a rebirth, the start of a new man in Christ, and just as it is with our physical lives, we don’t immediately become spiritually mature and perfect in faith at the moment we’re saved. It’s the sanctification of faith that becomes a lifelong process, but in that, our salvation was already obtained at the moment we started believing. As much as the likes of Chan would like to resist this fact, there IS such a thing as an immature believer.”

    where exactly did you hear him saying anything contrary to that?

    3) “It’s no longer about honoring the LORD and doing such biblically-based good works simply because it’s the right thing to do (we get nothing out of it other than the satisfaction that we made the LORD happy), but for appearance’s sake, specifically to make a show of proof of our “regeneration.”

    or this? you put words in his mouth, when in fact he preaches exactly the contrary.

    4) “The LORD tells us to go out into the world and preach the gospel, well, isn’t where we currently live part of the world?”

    well, duuuuuuuuuuuh! isn’t that exactly what chan stresses all the time?

    you see, i think if only you listened to him, you would agree with him. i would encourage you to. i personally think he’s the best preacher alive. he’s radical and he challenges you to take the bible literally and to really put it into action, and he really does walk his talk.

    “But how much does God himself require? For starters, Jesus himself said a man who has faith the size of a mustard seed can move mountains. (Matthew 17:20) See this little “.” on your screen? Yeah, about that size.”

    such a positive verse, right? actually to me, verses like this one are the ones that i struggle with the most. i take the scripture literally, so when my faith seems not to be enough, i just don’t get it. why does the bible make it sound like god would be so active in our lives, that we can easily have access to him, that the prayers would be answered, when very often we seek, and we do not find, we bang on the door and nobody cares to open. when i read the bible and compare it to my life i sometimes think that god has overpromised and underdelivered. and yet francis’ life seems to be different, he gets to experience god. i’m just puzzled why some people do, and some don’t.

    • Frank Swift August 29, 2013 at 4:03 PM #

      Ava, I updated the post regarding the teeth pulling.

      I watched his sermon “The most important lesson I could ever teach.” He has trouble getting to the point, is repetitious and boring. I find it hard to believe he commands the following he does given the dullness of his sermons.

      where exactly did you hear him saying anything contrary to that?

      Here’s a quote from Crazy Love that exemplifies what I mean:

      My conclusion? Jesus’ call to commitment is clear: He wants all or
      nothing. The thought of a person calling himself a ‘Christian’ without being
      a devoted follower of Christ is absurd.”

      Hmm, so basically you are either a 100% devoted Christian or you are not saved. His language is consistently polarized like that, which is why so many of his followers doubt their salvation because they’re riddled with guilt from not knowing if they’re truly doing enough for the kingdom.

      …or this? you put words in his mouth, when in fact he preaches exactly the contrary.

      This is the attitude he encourages. When you set such a high bar for proving yourself a true follower of Christ you’re going to get a lot of people obsessing over good works and scrambling to go on as many missions as they can just to satiate the fear that they may not be saved.

      Read this review, then check out this blog for an idea of the kind of distress Francis Chan creates in people who listen to his message.

      Then after that I suggest reading the sermons of a man who was truly on fire for God: David Wikerson: http://www.tscpulpitseries.org/polish.html

      See, you can even read it in your natural tongue. ;-)

      As for answers to prayer, I found in my life despite my constant seeking and knocking that sometimes it’s really the refusal to accept that maybe my prayers were received, but the answer was NO. My will is not God’s will, and I can’t presume everything I pray for will always be an automatic YES just because that’s what I want. And that includes my petition for a soulmate too. :-)

    • ava August 29, 2013 at 5:19 PM #

      “His language is consistently polarized like that…”

      like you’re not guilty of that? or idk… jesus? he’s language was quite polarized if you ask me.

      “which is why so many of his followers doubt their salvation because they’re riddled with guilt from not knowing if they’re truly doing enough for the kingdom.”

      just because some people do not get him right, doesn’t mean what he says is wrong. it’s like the 7 nation army of single moms accusing you of denying them their rights to leave abusive fathers of their children, just because you refuse to date them. somebody’s faulty perception of things has nothing to do with the original message, so do not use it as an argument.

      “When you set such a high bar for proving yourself a true follower of Christ you’re going to get a lot of people obsessing over good works and scrambling to go on as many missions as they can just to satiate the fear that they may not be saved.”

      but it’s not about proving you’re a follower, and he makes it clear in his messages. christian heart should brake for what brakes god’s heart. certain things in this world should actually bother us. so are you bothered? if not, are you bothered that you’re not bothered? ;)

      i’m not exactly sure in which of his sermons he speaks about these things. listen to lukewarm (lukeworm in your case ;) ) and loving it. and also resurrection so what you might find interesting (jesus being both polarizing AND introvert)

  6. Frank Swift August 29, 2013 at 5:47 PM #

    it’s like the 7 nation army of single moms accusing you of denying them their rights to leave abusive fathers of their children, just because you refuse to date them

    Ok you get points for making me laugh. :-P

    Personally, when I consider Chan’s words I don’t merely consider the words but what’s driving them. What does he believe? What theology does he prescribe to? When interpreted in the context of “lordship salvation” which is what drives radical theology, Chan promotes an arbitrary legalistic structure that robs people of the peace in knowing they are saved, and places too much emphasis on good works in order to prove one’s salvation and legitimacy as a Christian.

    I think it’s more about motive than anything else. When I do good works I do so to be obedient and pleasing to God, not because I fear by not doing (or not having the will to do so) it puts my whole salvation into question. I take comfort in knowing salvation is given freely as a gift to me, and that lack of good works, (or doing enough good works to these dweebs’ satisfaction) does not dictate where I spent eternity, praise the LORD. Otherwise I’d really be screwed.

    • ava August 30, 2013 at 5:36 AM #

      aaaand, you’re doing it again. don’t assume that’s what he preaches just because somebody wrote so on the internet. get to the source and judge for yourself:

    • ava August 30, 2013 at 7:21 AM #

      “Personally, when I consider Chan’s words I don’t merely consider the words but what’s driving them. What does he believe? What theology does he prescribe to? When interpreted in the context of “lordship salvation” which is what drives radical theology, Chan promotes an arbitrary legalistic structure that robs people of the peace in knowing they are saved, and places too much emphasis on good works in order to prove one’s salvation and legitimacy as a Christian.”

      we’ve already established that you only listened to 1 of his sermons, which was about reading the bible. so where do you get all of these presumptions from? your sources were wrong about the teeth pulling, what makes you so certain they’re not wrong about the rest?

      “I think it’s more about motive than anything else. When I do good works I do so to be obedient and pleasing to God, not because I fear by not doing (or not having the will to do so) it puts my whole salvation into question. I take comfort in knowing salvation is given freely as a gift to me, and that lack of good works, (or doing enough good works to these dweebs’ satisfaction) does not dictate where I spent eternity”

      listen to these messages: grace, grace grace, grace grace grace, grace grace grace grace, grace and works, stop working-start receiving grace. it’s so intellectually unfair of you, to accuse him of being a pharisee based solely on someone else’s opinion. listen what he has to say about grace and works, now it’s the only fair call to make.

    • Frank Swift August 30, 2013 at 2:03 PM #

      Ava, see the problem is Chan DOES get it right at times. Same thing with David Platt, when I started reading his book “Radical” I was totally on board with his criticism of megachurches and the materialism they promote. BUT then he goes off on a tangent, as they often tend to do. It looks like you refer to those points Chan gets right, while I’m referring to where he gets it very wrong and almost seems contradictory. That’s what happens when you deal with Christian spokesmen who talk out of both sides of their mouths.

    • ava August 31, 2013 at 7:41 AM #

      let me sum it up: you accuse francis chan of being a modern day pharisee. you put words in his mouth by saying he claims that:

      1) apart from grace, you also need to prove your salvation by good works
      2) salvation is a process
      3) you say it’s wrong that some of their good deeds are public, when this should be a private affair, yet just a few paragraphs later you tell a story of this girl, whose life was changed by your blog. you see unlike you, i don’t see anything wrong with that, because neither you nor chan are bragging about what you did. instead, you see it as a grace of god, that he used you, even the small things or acts of love were not wasted. so if he’s guilty of letting others know how god used him, then so are you.
      4) you accuse him of influencing and leading many astray

      now one of the most basic rules of law and arguments is that if you claim something, then the burden of proof is on your side. not only didn’t you support anything you imputed him with quotes, or sources, but you also admitted you never even heard him speak about these things. at first i thought that maybe it was just an honest mistake, maybe you believed some lies that were written about him on the internet, but when I gave you the counterproof ( http://youtu.be/TOb4pwACcBQ among many), you decided to stick to your false accusations anyways.

      if one person claims one thing and the other one claims the opposite, at least one of them is wrong, one of them is lying. but do you even care, what’s the truth here? maybe i should just quote rocky after francis chan and tell you: you want the truth? you can’t handle the truth ;)

      the bible warns us not to be like the hypocrites, but it also has some strong statements about sowing discord. look, i don’t want to be a hypocrite myself now, cause i also am one of those people that come across as arrogant and conceited (duuuh, you might have figured that out already ;) ), i’ just saying, the ball is in your court. you claim these things about someone, you must have some ammunition, otherwise it’s just foolish.

      and one more thought. ‘narrow is the road that leads to life’, so yeah, statistically people are wrong. if you believe what everyone else believes then chances are you are wrong. it applies to almost everything. BUT. this argument doesn’t work the other way around. just because your beliefs or claims are original, doesn’t automatically mean you’re right about them. question your beliefs, challenge yourself, don’t believe everything you believe. are your beliefs different than others because you base them on the truth and not desires? or maybe, they’re just different for the sake of being different? i’ll leave you with that. ciao ciao :)

    • Frank Swift August 31, 2013 at 12:18 PM #

      Ava,

      Ok, let’s go over those 4 points:

      1) apart from grace, you also need to prove your salvation by good works

      Here’s a quote directly from Francis Chan:

      Put simply, failing to help the poor could damn you to hell.

      I know, I know, everyone wants to qualify this. We want to add all sorts of footnotes to fix Jesus’ shaky theology in Matthew 25—justification is by faith, not by works; you don’t really have to help literal poor people, etc. [3]

      On the flipside, some want to keep the stuff about helping the poor but take hell out of the picture. Sometimes, people even take Jesus out of the picture—fighting poverty, they believe, is an inherent virtue whether or not it’s rooted in the gospel.

      Let’s keep the teeth of both truths. There’s a literal hell, and helping the poor is essential. Not only did Jesus teach both of these truths, He saw them as necessary and interrelated.

      The logical conclusion I draw from this is that if I don’t help the poor, then I’m not saved. So in order to prove I’m saved, I must help the poor.

      See what I mean?

      2) salvation is a process

      Here’s another quote from his book Crazy Love:

      “As I see it, a lukewarm Christian is an oxymoron; there’s no such thing.”

      So like I said before, either you’re a 100% on fire for God, or you’re not saved. Based on that it sets up the necessity of suddenly going all out doing as many good works as you can until you can finally be assured that you’re saved, or at least reach that level where people like Chan would no longer regard you as being lukewarm. So yes, by using language like this it definitely reduces salvation to a works-based process. If that’s wrong, it’s because Chan and those like him don’t make a distinction between sanctification and justification.

      you say it’s wrong that some of their good deeds are public, when this should be a private affair…

      Right, my point here is that because of the way Chan presents the gospel, you really have no recourse but to make your good works public, otherwise how else will people know you’re saved and not merely a lukewarm faker? Maybe Chan doesn’t mean for that to happen, but it’s the natural consequence of tying good works to proof of salvation. I’ve been reading some of the blogs by people who follow Chan and their discussions usually revolve around whether they’ve given enough, such as canceling their cable service, or going on missions, or selling their homes because it was too big and moving to a dilapidated neighborhood, etc. just to prove they’re good disciples, etc. The discussion of good works is very public and often gets pretty silly. I don’t know if Chan explicitly endorses this, but this is the culture that he creates.

      4) you accuse him of influencing and leading many astray

      I don’t disagree with his premise, in that we definitely have Christians who are complacent and live a so-so spiritual life, and they definitely need a wake-up call. It’s HOW he’s going about it that I find unbiblical, using outright fear and guilt to try to shake up the masses into radical discipleship. He redefines lukewarm to mean anyone who isn’t giving 100% to the LORD, and that pretty much makes us all lukewarm, and thus the only conclusion you can draw is that NONE of us are saved. That’s why people constantly ask Chan whether they’ll still go to heaven in spite of committing certain sins. He guilt induces and condemns the masses to the extent that many of them who truly love the LORD but struggle for one reason or another start to question their salvation. Yes, I know he talks about grace, but his grace message rings hollow in light of everything else he teaches.

    • ava September 1, 2013 at 6:09 PM #

      1) “The logical conclusion I draw from this is that if I don’t help the poor, then I’m not saved.”

      well, what’s your interpretation of matthew 25:31-46? what logical conclusion do you draw from jesus’ words?

      “So in order to prove I’m saved, I must help the poor”

      it’s as if you said: “so in order to prove i’m saved, i must not murder”. it’s not about proving anything, it’s about obedience. he tells you to do it, so if you follow him you just do it. if he tells you to help the poor, but your reason tells you that is not really necessary and you don’t do it, then who’s really the master here?

      2) he says that there’s no such thing as a lukewarm christian, just like one cannot possibly be almost pregnant or half pregnant. either you are saved, or you’re not, no gradation, no holding back, no cherry picking verses. this is actually opposite of the statement that salvation is a process, which this point of the discussion regards.

      where do you draw the whole “you must do good works to be assured you’re saved” statement from? you assigned your preconceived conclusion to this sentence (“As I see it, a lukewarm Christian is an oxymoron; there’s no such thing”), but it really does not result logically from it. the good works are a natural consequence of following jesus, no basis for accusing francis of reducing salvation to a works-based process here.

      3) “Right, my point here is that because of the way Chan presents the gospel, you really have no recourse but to make your good works public, otherwise how else will people know you’re saved and not merely a lukewarm faker?”

      who cares what people think? does chan tell you that’s what you should focus on? “you can fool all the people, you can fool yourself, but… you’re not fooling anyone that matters”

      “Maybe Chan doesn’t mean for that to happen, but it’s the natural consequence of tying good works to proof of salvation.”

      again, he never said about salvation: “prove it with good works or it didn’t happen”, stop saying that unless you can support it with a quote.

      4) i get your arguments, i really do. but in my opinion, you have this false image of who he is and what he says that is based on what others write about him on the internet. and let me just say: statistically on the internet we’re all trolls, so that method of research is bound to fail. get to the source and judge for yourself.

    • Frank Swift September 1, 2013 at 6:23 PM #

      …again, he never said about salvation: “prove it with good works or it didn’t happen”, stop saying that unless you can support it with a quote.

      Yes actually he does, when he says there’s no such thing as a lukewarm Christian that’s precisely what he means. And it isn’t merely good works he demands, it’s RADICAL good works. This places a lot of pressure on his congregation, and maybe some might feel comfortable with such a message (because it caters to their egos) others though would be left guilt ridden and doubting their salvation.

      And I quoted him directly, then wrote how I personally interpreted his words, and that’s still not enough for you? Bah, I think we both said our piece, let the other readers decide which of us is closer to the truth. :-P

  7. Katmazdo January 31, 2016 at 2:01 AM #

    I just want to say thanks. This post has helped me.

    • Frank Swift January 31, 2016 at 11:53 AM #

      You’re welcome!

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