Paul's Passing Thoughts

Did John Chau Give His Life For a False Gospel?

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on November 23, 2018


You have probably heard about the young American adventurist and Christian missionary, John Chau, who was recently killed by natives on an isolated island near the coast of India. His first attempt to contact them for the purpose of sharing the gospel was met with a flurry of arrows which caused his retreat. Unfortunately, he made a second effort that did not turn out well.

His situation is indicative of problems I have had with church missionary endeavors for years even while I was devoted to church. As a former church pastor, I was always anti-foreign missions for a plethora of practical reasons.

First of all, as a former church pastor, it was evident that the American church didn’t have its own act together, so why would we be arrogant enough to think the rest of the world needs our brand of Christianity?

Secondly, the motives of most missionaries from my perspective was suspect at best. Most presented their mission construct from a personal interest or a lifelong dream to live in a particular region of the world.

Thirdly, vast amounts of money was spent for preparation before the mission ever started.

Fourthly, families had no break from ministry at all and no life apart from ministry. The missionary families barely knew each other. When they did get a furlough, the time was spent dragging their families all over the country to raise or keep support. Missionary children, consequently, and from my perspective, where just plain weird and maladjusted.

Fifthly, actual conversions on the missionary field were far and few in-between.

Sixthly, missionary endeavors were/are according to an institutional construct. Hence, missionary endeavors are limited to regions where the socioeconomics can support institutions, viz, “self-supporting churches,” complete with public buildings, and of course, an ability to support the missionary organization that supported the church planting effort to begin with.

Seventh, many of the missionary plans of action involved breaking foreign laws, which is problematic to begin with, but the way around that was to send the missionary over to the country under the false pretense of a special visa. I was never comfortable with that. But what made it ok? Well, but of course, church authority and the whole, “God’s law is higher than man’s law” and “We must obey God rather than man,” blah, blah, blah. On the one hand, God is all powerful and sovereign, and predetermines who is lost and saved, but on the other hand, we have to break foreign laws because though God is the author of all kinds of other evils in the world, certainly He is totally unwilling to accept laws that ban American missionaries. In elders meetings, I would actually say, “Wait a minute here, we are Calvinists. Is this not God’s way of shutting the gospel door on that country? Whatever happened to, ‘God will have mercy on whomever He will have mercy, et., etc., etc.'”

By the way, Indian law strictly forbids outsiders from visiting the island where Chau was killed, and those he paid to take him there are being prosecuted for being complicit in his murder. His endeavor was a horrible decision and a misadventure that will now have a negative effect on the lives of those who helped him. Which brings me to…

Eighth, in all of this missionary foolishness, missionaries are deemed to be a higher spiritual class among Christians and are often declared spiritual heroes for their foolishness. Stupidity is the gift of faith, and lawbreaking is fearing God more than man.

Ninth, as one who dealt with many, many missionaries, I can tell you, that for the most part, they are basically lazy and think they are spiritual elites that are above being among the working class.

Tenth, Protestant missionaries take the gospel of Justification by Faith with them which is a false gospel to begin with. That’s the only reason one needs to reject church missions to begin with.

This hits on an issue that is very close to home with me. My daughter who was a missionary to remote parts of Kenya for years is presently divorcing her missionary husband for reasons I will not get into here. Per the usual, and as illustrated by a pastor’s conference I went to in Kentucky, none of the pastors of their sending churches had a clue as to what the gospel is. This is the literal horror I lived with for years: the possibility that my daughter and grandchildren would be slaughtered in some third-world banana republic for a false gospel.

On one missionary trip to Kenya with another pastor, my son-in-law held a pastor’s conference where they taught the pastors over there how to do baptisms and the Lord’s Table. Yep, that would be the church’s “means of ordinary grace [read, salvation].” In other words, my family’s lives were being put at risk over progressive justification. Not good times. As I have shared in the past, I am not much of a prayer warrior. If I can fix something and get it done with the gifts the Lord has given me, I have a strong tendency to thank God for the gifts and not wait around to get something done. That was an exception, I did a lot of praying about that situation.

Don’t get me wrong, lots of Protestants are confused enough about Protestantism’s rejection of a literal new birth via Justification by Faith to be saved. While professing Justification by Faith according to pithy truisms, they function more according to an intuitive belief in Justification by New Birth. I trust this was the case with Chau as he seemed to be a free independent spirit though obviously cursed with deadly church ideas.

At any rate, I am sure we all agree that before we put our lives on the line, it should be for a true gospel that we thoroughly understand with our own minds. Once that is the case, missionary work is pretty simple. You go to the country as a legal citizen, you get a job, and you live among the people in a way that glorifies God. If they are drawn to your life and testimony, you break bread, pray, and share the apostle’s doctrine in someone’s home. Basically, you are making another family of God in another part of the world, not an authoritative institution that is an additional mediator other than Christ. You can point to Him alone, not some name brand.



One Response

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  1. lydia00 said, on November 23, 2018 at 7:04 PM

    I have a lot of similar thoughts about it. We always had missionaries on Furlough staying with us when I was a kid. Probably my temperament but I thought their lives were horrible and they seemed somewhat dysfunctional but they were missionaries!

    My cousin and her husband packed up and left West Africa after 18 years because the Pharisees at home demanded they sign the BFM2000 which they couldn’t due to conscience. She, an M.Div, led church while he was planting churches. When they came back, burned out, he got out of ministry and she ran an international students college program due to her Mahaney languages and proclivity for such. They were much happier but thiseyears ruined their only child.

    I have other family members in majority Muslim countries. One is raising funds for a beach front home. Sigh.


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