Francis Chan inspires fierce loyalty among his readers, viewers, and congregants—and strong reactions from his detractors. Me, I only know him by reputation. I never read Crazy Love when it came out. In retrospect, I should have read it for the same reason I read Heaven Is for Real—because so many church people were reading it. Maybe I’d love it, but when Chan says things like this—as he did, apparently, at last night’s “Catalyst” conference—it makes me wonder.
I understand Chan’s sentiment. By all means, our credibility as disciple-makers hinges, in large part, on the extent to which we ourselves are being made into disciples. I’ve preached the same myself. But Chan doesn’t leave much room for the Holy Spirit. The good news is that ultimately it isn’t up to us to “multiply” God’s kingdom; that job belongs to the Spirit. The Body of Christ doesn’t grow like a human body: Christians don’t duplicate in the same way that cells do, such that if a cell has defective DNA code, that code will get passed on to the next one.
Chan seems to be saying that we need to get our act together before we can begin doing the work of the kingdom. To which I would say that doing the work of God’s kingdom, by God’s grace, often helps us to get our act together. Besides, how sufficiently does Chan believe that he has his act together? Apart from grace, we’re all hopeless sinners. And we’re all in need of God’s grace at every moment.
Picky, picky, I know. But what can I say? This blog exists in part to be picky about theology, because it matters a great deal to me.
Someone might accuse me of taking Chan’s words out of context. To which I say, of course I’m taking them out of context! It’s Facebook! The words were posted without context. Were the many people who chimed in their agreement with his words sitting in the conference, hearing Chan speak them in context? Who knows? All I have to go on is this Facebook post. A pastor friend who was there, however, tells me that I fairly represented what Chan was saying.