Paul's Passing Thoughts

Ok, Let’s Go Over This Again: Crazy Truth

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on February 26, 2011

Sigh. Everywhere I turn in Christian circles these days, there is a presentation of Francis Chan’s video that displays God’s greatness in creation (actually, he has made several different ones with this same theme). The movies are impressive and awe inspiring (one was shown at Susan’s church three or four weeks ago). Franchise Chan is also a dynamic speaker who is very interesting to listen to; I would be willing to bet anything that nobody is found dozing while observing one of his presentations.

But what are the beliefs behind these videos and his charismatic personality? And why does it matter?

What is behind these videos is Chan’s belief that people will usually respond to God when they realize how awesome He is. If people don’t respond to God’s greatness, it’s because we have failed to show how amazing He is. This was the thesis of the video by Chan that Susan and I observed at her church; it was a gospel presentation that attempted to illicit a response based on realizing how great God is in comparison to us.

Specifically, it’s the belief that people are transformed, initially and progressively, by gazing upon God’s greatness / glory. John Piper, another who is in this camp and often quoted by Chan, calls this “beholding as a way of becoming.” In correlation, Piper has based Sunday morning worship at his church on what he calls “exaltation” in which the goal is to work the congregation into an emotional frenzy (“exhilaration”) over God’s glory. I believe that the “praise and worship” format of many churches today, especially reformed churches, now have this goal in mind.

So what? The “so what” is the Corinthian problem all over again where the primary goal of true corporate worship (edification: note Paul’s primary point in 1Cor 14) is replaced with emotionalism. Therefore, it is no surprise that Chan and Piper are part of the neo-Calvinism movement which has embraced Charismatics such as Joshua Harris and CJ Mahaney. The primary thrust of Piper’s ministry is Christian Hedonism, which makes joy a prerequisite for salvation (even before saving faith), and claims that any activity that is joyless is “stripped of its moral value.” Throughout the highly acclaimed book written by Chan, “Crazy Love,” he points to feelings as the way to determine if we are walking in truth. In regard to the question of whether we have been set free from the law or not, he asks, “Do you feel free in your Christian life” (“Crazy Love.” p. 102). On page 110, he claims that we know when we are loving God’s way because it “feels like love.” Ok, so what does love feel like? Throughout the book, Chan likens his definition of love to what we feel like when we are in love with our spouse or boyfriend / girlfriend. And love is not an act, it is a feeling that leads to acts, and the feelings of love can only be acquired through prayer ( p. 104[which we apparently always feel like doing]).

What else is behind this belief? Secondly, other than creation, Scripture is the other bookend to our endeavor to see God’s glory. However, the key is to use Scripture to see and understand Christ as a person (whatever that means), not anything Christ would tell us to do. In other words, Chan doesn’t believe the Scriptures are profitable for instruction. With very few exceptions, you will not find any biblical how-to (instruction in righteousness) in his book. Like creation, the Bible only serves to wow us in regard to the personhood of Christ, leading to a willful, joyful obedience because serving those who we are in awe of—is never a struggle. Supposedly. Chan says the following on page 102: “When we love, we’re free! We don’t have to worry about a burdensome load of commands, because when we are loving, we can’t sin.” Plainly, Chan does not believe the Bible defines love, feelings do. That is why the likes of Chan and Piper have to redefine how we use Scripture—because a literal rendering of Scripture reveals their teachings for what they are: ridiculous. Point in case, Proverbs 13:24;

“ Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.”

According to this passage, applying the rod to our children is an act of love. However, this “burdensome command” is often the reminder we need to love our children God’s way because the act is very unpleasant. But according to Piper and Chan, love should never be done from “mere duty,” so the assumption is that we should be bursting with joy while applying the rod to our children. I quoted this text in a Bible study last week and the class protested, saying  it stated “spoil the child,” not “hate the child.” When we stopped and investigated, and discovered that the word was “hate,”  the looks on their faces seemed to say, “Wow, that’s crazy truth.”

So, let’s go over this again; the prophets and apostles told us that false teachers will look good, sound good, and if you ever get near enough to Piper or Chan, I’m sure they smell good also. And, they also teach loads of good stuff, but as one writer once noted, “Satan will use a whole lake of truth to hide a pint of poison.” Truth about God’s creation—good. Distorting the use of God’s law in sanctification—bad.


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