Paul's Passing Thoughts

The Antinomian Gospel According to Francis Chan

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on May 20, 2014

Another Gospel pp. 61-68

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Calvinist Gospel Sexy Time is a Longstanding Reformed Tradition

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on May 20, 2014

“Let me add one to the pile: Francis Chan has noted that Christ was his grandmother’s ‘lover.’ What did he mean by that? Well, he is paid millions to be a communicator—you be the judge. Is he overpaid or did he mean what he said?”  

Unrivaled by the Marxist masters of propaganda, the Protestant Reformers of old and new have effectively sold the historic motif that they are the antithesis of mysticism. This is the biggest hoax ever perpetrated on mankind in all of human history. The results speak volumes: the Calvinist camp exemplifies steroidal confusion and weirdness dressed up in scholarly garb. A good example is John MacArthur Jr. who is the personification of religious academia, but in fact is the King of Confusion. Never in the history of the church has confusion been so well-articulated since the other religious John—Calvin.

You can only dignify mystical despotism for so long before remnants of it start showing; it is the proverbial Freudian slip at the formal dinner party. In regard to “intimacy” with God versus the dreaded “O” word (obedience), or the even more dreaded “D” word (duty), it starts with Jesus is my boyfriend music, and progresses to Jesus is my boyfriend theology, and culminates into including children in the wonderful intimacy with the more dignified covering for them. Admittedly, that is a bit snarky, but one wonders since intimacy is in the eye of the beholder. That’s the problem with going to the Bible with a prism, the results are always unpredictable.

It all starts with the idea that man’s fall was a total fall into madness and chaos. In fact, some in the Reformed tradition assert that man was fallen before the fall by virtue of the fact that he was material. Before the fall, man had some integrity, but lost all of it at the fall. That’s why he was fallible in the first place; his fallibility was predetermined for God’s glory. This was John Calvin’s position, also known as supralapsarianism.

In the scheme of determinism, God also predetermines chosen ones to save humanity from chaos and madness. Almost every leader in human history until the American Revolution, whether secular or religious, claimed determinism as the premise of their authority via the Universe, Mother Nature, or God. In Reformed circles, the practical application for that is reality being a narrative written by God. The elect, who get it, see life as a prewritten redemptive-historical meta-narrative (metaphysical narrative) where everything is predetermined for God’s glory including the good, bad, ugly, and mundane. Leaders that rule in God’s stead and save the masses from chaos are predetermined characters in God’s metaphysical narrative. And characters they are.

This is the premise of Pilgrims Progress written by the Puritan John Bunyan. Like the Bible, it is the “story of every believer” and for that matter, every unbeliever as well. Books like How People Change by Calvinist Paul David Tripp supply an interpretive prism for mentally processing life according to God’s gospel meta-narrative. It rivals any mysticism that a shaman from an obscure rain forest could muster up, but again, the traditional Reformed ability to present it as intellectualism is uncanny.

So, if the narrative is all about what God has done in redemption, and not about anything we do, of course, books like The Song of Solomon must be representative of man’s relationship to God. In this narrative of prewritten reality, everything must be vertical; any horizontal consideration is another story, specifically, man’s story. Martin Luther contended that all reality was interpreted through the cross story, and man’s story was darkness and insanity, what he referred to as the glory story. Anything at all to do with man was a contra reality of insanity—only the cross story was real. Luther asserted that only a theologian of the cross story was a true theologian.

Therefore, sex must have a vertical identity. Sex should reveal more about the gospel. Sex CANNOT be separated from the gospel narrative. Sex cannot be separated from its “gospel context.” So, when we have sex with our spouse, it’s not about us, it’s about the gospel. When you have sex with your spouse, or for the YRR crowd, your girlfriend, don’t you dare forget John Piper, John Calvin, or Charles Spurgeon. But fear not for you who are less able to worship, Viagra is sold at a retail outlet near you.

So, when Dort damsel Ann Voskamp wrote of her gospel sexy time with G __ __, was she able to defend herself from the rest of the Reformed, Oh crap! You can’t just come right out and say it plainly like that crowd? Absolutely. Note this post here:, along with the soft music in the background, where she shows decisively that gospel sexy time is a longstanding Reformed tradition. Let me add one to the pile: Francis Chan has noted that Christ was his grandmother’s “lover.” What did he mean by that? Well, he is paid millions to be a communicator—you be the judge. Is he overpaid or did he mean what he said?

True, at times, the apostle Paul used marriage as an idiom to make a theological point. But this goes far beyond that. This is the idea that sex enhances our actual experiential intimacy with G __ __. Paul used marriage as a metaphor to distinguish the differences between law and gospel. The goal was understanding law and gospel, not a means of experiencing part of our future glorification.

This is a segway into the vital union aspect of the Reformed gospel that keeps us saved by faith alone in our Christian life. The idea of the church being the bride of Christ, oneness with Christ like a married couple become one, and the Reformed doctrine of the vital union are closely related here. We remain one with Christ by faith alone by believing that we can do no work pleasing to God; we are merely playing the part he wrote for us in the gospel narrative. We have all said it: I didn’t do that good thing, it was the Spirit! lest we do a good work and make “the fruits of sanctification the root of justification.”

Hence, all spiritual disciplines merely enhance the gospel experience of grace in our lives resulting in a transformation from “glory to glory” as far as what we experience, see, or perceive, not anything we do. This is an increased experience of the actual full glory that we are to experience at the resurrection and a source of our present assurance. Experiencing more and more of the future full glory is evidence that we are abiding in the vital union. Church fellowship, the Lord’s Table, baptism as the initial experience, trials, John Piper’s exultation style of worship, and yes, sex, all contribute to the experiential future glory found in the gospel narrative. Otherwise known as the “means of grace (salvation).”

Justin Taylor, VP of Editorial at Crossway:

“I think Peter Kreeft is on the right track in his analysis:

For we are designed for something beyond morality, something in which morality will be transformed. Mystical union with God. Sex is a sign and appetizer of that.”

Mysticism is no less mysticism though dignified with credentials.


Notes from aforementioned citation:

The Language and Analogy of Scripture & Historical Protestant Christianity:

John Piper:

Hosea 2:14-23 is one of the tenderest and most beautiful love songs in the Bible…

In the context of a broken marriage being renewed with the fresh vows of betrothal must not the words, “and you shall know the Lord,” (v. 20) mean, you shall enjoy an intimacy like that of sexual intercourse.

~ John Piper The entire sermon is available here.

Timothy Keller:

“Sex is for fully committed relationships because it is to be a foretaste of the joy that comes from being in complete union with God. The most rapturous love between a man and woman is only a hint of God’s love for us (Rom. 7:1–6; Eph. 5:21–33). …

Positively, we are called to experience the spousal love of Jesus.”

J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible Radio:

“When a man and a woman give themselves to each other in an act of marital love, they can know the love of Christ as no one else can know it.”

Jonathan Edwards in the Excellency of Christ:

“So again, we being united to a divine person, as his members –

can have a more intimate union and intercourse with God the Father.”

~ John Calvin:

“The strong affection which a husband ought to cherish towards his wife is exemplified by Christ, and an instance of that unity which belongs to marriage is declared to exist between himself and the Church. This is a remarkable passage on the mysterious intercourse which we have with Christ.”

~John Calvin’s Commentary on Ephesians 5

“…a loving soul wants fresh food every day from the table of Christ.

And you who have once had the kisses of His mouth, though you remember the past kisses with delight, yet want daily fresh tokens of His love.”

–Charles Spurgeon’s sermon on “The Church’s Love To Her Loving Lord

And his goal in creating human beings with personhood and passion was to make sure that there would be sexual language and sexual images that would point to the promises and the pleasures of God’s relationship to his people and our relationship to him.
In other words, the ultimate reason (not the only one) why we are sexual is to make God more deeply knowable.”
John Piper ~ Sex and the Supremacy of Christ
Thomas Shepard, whose writings profoundly mentored and shaped Jonathan Edwards and who was quoted by Jonathan Edwards more often than anyone else, preached,

Consider he makes love to thee. Not one soul that hears me this day but the Lord Jesus is a suitor unto, that now ye would be espoused to him; “He came unto his own, and they received him not.” Whatever the secret purpose of Christ is, I regard not.

In this evangelical dispensation of grace, he makes love to all.…

‘Tis fervent, vehement, earnest love… The Lord longs for this… pleads for this,… mourns when he has not this… Take thy soul to the Bride-chamber, there to be with him forever and ever….” ~ Read the rest of the sermon at Puritan and Reformed Sermons

Peter Leithart, Reformed Pastor:Sex is allegory… and as allegory it is …theology. For Christians, sexual difference and union is a type of Christ and the church… Only as allegory can the Song play its central role in healing our sexual imaginations.”

A.W. Tozer: The Pursuit of God … to read the entire compelling excerpt, click here …

“We have almost forgotten that God is a Person

The continuous and unembarrassed interchange of love and thought between God and the soul of the redeemed man is the throbbing heart of New Testament religion.

This intercourse between God and the soul is known to us in conscious personal awareness.

It is personal: that is, it does not come through the body of believers, as such, but is known to the individual…

And to the body through the individuals which compose it. And it is conscious: that is, it does not stay below the threshold of consciousness and work there unknown to the soul (as, for instance, infant baptism is thought by some to do), but comes within the field of awareness where the man can ‘know’ it as he knows any other fact of experience.

From the hymn: The Church is One Foundation

The Church’s one foundation
Is Jesus Christ her Lord,
She is His new creation
By water and the Word.
From heaven He came and sought her
To be His holy bride;
With His own blood He bought her
And for her life He died….

’Mid toil and tribulation,
And tumult of her war,
She waits the consummation
Of peace forevermore;
Till, with the vision glorious,
Her longing eyes are blest,
And the great Church victorious
Shall be the Church at rest.

Yet she on earth hath union
With God the Three in One
And mystic sweet communion
With those whose rest is won,
With all her sons and daughters
Who, by the Master’s hand
Led through the deathly waters,
Repose in Eden land.

C.H. Spurgeon: Morning and Evening
Song of Solomon 1:2

Let Him kiss me with the kisses of His mouth.

For several days we have been dwelling upon the Saviour’s passion, and for some little time to come we shall linger there…. let us seek the same desires after our Lord as those which glowed in the heart of the elect spouse.

How bold is her love! …

Esther trembled in the presence of Ahasuerus, but the spouse in joyful liberty of perfect love knows no fear. If we have received the same free spirit, we also may ask the like.

By kisses we suppose to be intended those varied manifestations of affection by which the believer is made to enjoy the love of Jesus.

The kiss of reconciliation we enjoyed at our conversion, and it was sweet as honey dropping from the comb.

The kiss of acceptance is still warm on our brow, as we know that He hath accepted our persons and our works through rich grace.

The kiss of daily, present communion, is that which we pant after to be repeated day after day, till it is changed into the kiss of reception, which removes the soul from earth, and the kiss of consummation which fills it with the joy of heaven.

Faith is our walk, but fellowship sensibly felt is our rest.

Faith is the road, but communion with Jesus is the well from which the pilgrim drinks.

O lover of our souls, be not strange to us; let the lips of Thy blessing meet the lips of our asking; let the lips of Thy fulness touch the lips of our need, and straightway the kiss will be effected.

This Evening’s Meditation
C. H. Spurgeon

Art thou, beloved one, with Christ Jesus? Does a vital union knit thee to Him?

… Come, my soul, if thou art indeed His own beloved, thou canst not be far from Him.

If His friends and His neighbours are called together to see His glory, what thinkest thou if thou art married to Him? Shalt thou be distant?

Though it be a day of judgment, yet thou canst not be far from that heart which, having admitted angels into intimacy, has admitted thee into union.

Has He not said to thee, O my soul, “I will betroth thee unto Me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness”?

Have not His own lips said it, “I am married unto thee, and My delight is in thee”? If the angels, who are but friends and neighbours, shall be with Him, it is abundantly certain that His own beloved Hephzibah, in whom is all His delight, shall be near to Him, and sit at His right hand.

Here is a morning star of hope for thee, of such exceeding brilliance, that it may well light up the darkest and most desolate experience.

~ Thomas Watson, Puritan (1620-1686):

There is a closer union in this holy marriage than there can be in any other.

In other marriages, two make one flesh, but Christ and the believer make one spirit: “But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.” (I Cor. 6:17).

Now as the soul is more excellent than the body, and admits of far greater joy, so this spiritual union brings in more astonishing delights and ravishments than any other marriage relationship is capable of.

The joy that flows from the mystic union is unspeakable and full of glory (I Peter 1:8).

To read his entire sermon: Mystic Union of Christ and the Saints

Ezekiel 16:8-10, 32

“Yet you were naked and bare.

Then I passed by you and saw you, and behold, you were at the time for love;

so I spread My skirt over you and covered your nakedness I also swore to you and entered into a covenant with you so that you became Mine,”

declares the Lord GOD.

Then I bathed you with water, washed off your blood from you and anointed you with oil…

32″You adulteress wife, who takes strangers instead of her husband!

God very commonly takes on the character of a husband to us. Indeed, the union by which he binds us to himself when he receives us into the bosom of the church is like sacred wedlock…

“Therefore that joining together of head and members, that indwelling of Christ in our hearts—in short that mystical union—are accorded by us the highest degree of importance.”

John Calvin ~ Institutes of Christian Religion

Hosea 2:14-20 (ESV)

14″Therefore, behold, I will allure her,
and bring her into the wilderness,
and speak tenderly to her…

16″And in that day, declares the LORD, you will call me ‘My Husband,’ and no longer will you call me ‘My Baal.’…

19And I will betroth you to me foreverI will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy.

20 I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the LORD.

Edward Fisher in his 1650 book The Marrow of Modern Divinity (Christian Focus, 2009):

I tell you from Christ,
and under the hand of the Spirit,
that your person is accepted,
your sins are done away,
and you shall be saved;
and if an angel from heaven should tell you otherwise,
let him be accursed.

Therefore, you may (without doubt) conclude
that you are a happy man;
for by means of this your matching with Christ,
you are become one with him,
and one in him,
you ‘dwell in him, and he in you’ (1 John 4:13).

He is ‘your well beloved, and you are his’ (S. of S. 2:16).

So that the marriage union betwixt Christ and you
is more than a bare notion or apprehension of your mind;
for it is a
spiritual, and
real union:
it is an union betwixt the nature of Christ,
God and man,
and you;
it is a knitting and closing,
not only of your apprehension with a Saviour,
but also of your soul with a Saviour.

Whence it must needs follow that you cannot be condemned,
except Christ be condemned with you;
neither can Christ be saved,
except you be saved with him.

And as by means of corporeal marriage all things become common betwixt man and wife;
even so, by means of this spiritual marriage,
all things become common betwixt Christ and you;
for when Christ hath married his spouse unto himself,
he passeth over all his estate unto her;
so that whatsoever Christ is or hath,
you may boldly challenge as your own.

‘He is made unto you, of God,
and redemption’ (1 Cor. 1:30).

And surely,
by virtue of this near union it is,
that as Christ is called ‘the Lord our righteousness’ (Jer. 23:6),
even so is the church called, ‘the Lord our righteousness’ (33:16).

… Read the entire moving excerpt here to understand what the true Gospel of Grace is and what it really means


He leans on Christ his beloved and lives by communications of grace from him.

“His life is hid with Christ in God;” and “the life which he now lives in the flesh, he lives by faith on the Son of God.”

This is the vital or real union; the union of affection between Christ and believers. Faith has be some been called the hand or instrument by which believers lay hold on and receive Christ.

But with more propriety may it be called the act of unition itself, or the uniting actby which Christ and the believer
become one.

~ Jonathan EdwardsThe Works of Jonathan Edwards

And would you have him nearer to you than to be in the same nature, united to you by a spiritual union, so close as to be fitly represented by the union of the wife to the husband, of the branch to the vine, of the member to the head; yea, so as to be one spirit?

For so he will be united to you, if you accept of him.

~ Jonathan Edwards: the Excellency of Christ

There he is, for “he feeds among the lilies.” The spouse sees him of whom she speaks; he may be a mere myth to others but he is a substantial, lovable, lovely, and actually beloved person to her.

He stands before her, and she perceives his character so clearly that she has a comparison ready for him, and likens him to a gazelle feeding on the tender grass among the lilies. This is a very delightful state of heart. Some of us know what it is to enjoy it from year to year.

Christ is ours, and we know it. Jesus is present, and by faith we see him.

Our marriage union with husband or wife cannot be more clear, more sure, more matter of fact, than our oneness with Christ and our enjoyment of that oneness.

Joy! joy! joy! He whom we love is ours!




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.


Jason Gray’s Anthem for Chan’s “Crazy Love”

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on August 30, 2010

“This half gospel that excludes Christ as Lord also begs the question: when we get to heaven, can we call Christ ‘sweety-pie’? Or how about, ‘honey-bunch’?”

I wrote a review the other day on Francis Chan’s book, “Crazy Love.” In the review I state my case concerning the book’s overall antinomian theme. Basically, Chan attempts to make the same case echoed by Paul David Tripp in “How People Change”; namely, that a relationship with Christ isn’t about biblical imperatives being applied to life, but rather a relationship with Him based on “intimate” knowledge derived from creation and seeing Jesus in every verse of the Bible. After all, according to Tripp, “Christ is a person, not a cognitive concept.” This also apes the Postmodern notion that the Bible is a grand narrative and not a book of propositional truths. Supposedly, this deeper knowledge then leads to increased faith, which allows the Holy Spirit to do everything for us. John Piper calls this “beholding as a way of becoming.”

As I also stated, Chan’s book synthesizes Justification and sanctification, narrowing our role in the sanctification process to little more than faith only. Since our limited role in sanctification needs to be embellished, one of the weird concepts that has emerged from this contemporary antinomian doctrine is the idea that our relationship with Christ should be an intimate love affair, resulting in a mushy exuberance of love towards Christ and others. Hence, Chan’s book is replete with what I called “Jesus is my boyfriend” theology.

Well, just this morning I was coming home from being kept out too late by my girlfriend (this comment is just a test to see if she reads my articles; that’s my story and I’m sticking to it), and thinking to myself: “did I go too far in the article?” I kid you not, at that moment, a song by Jason Gray came on the radio entitled “More Like Falling in Love.” The words blew me away; the song is a perfect anthem for Chan’s book. When I got home, I googled the song and found the lyrics on a post by a girl named Christy ( In a shocking display of discernment, she said the following in regard to the song: “….when I heard this new song, something gnawed at me. Perhaps I was being cynical, but I felt like the lyrics were emphasizing an antinomian “Jesus is my adorable boyfriend!” (By the way, I was in a church this morning where a praise song referred to Christ as the “Darling” of heaven). Christy then posted the lyrics:

“More Like Falling in Love” lyrics by Jason Gray

Give me rules, I will break them
Show me lines, I will cross them
I need more than a truth to believe
I need a truth that lives, moves, and breathes
To sweep me off my feet

Its gotta be
More like falling in love
Than something to believe in
More like losing my heart
Than giving my allegiance
Caught up, called out
Come take a look at me now
Its like I’m falling, Ohhhh
Its like I’m falling in love

Give me words, I’ll misuse them
Obligations, I’ll missplace them
Cuz all religion ever made of me
Was just a sinner with a stone tied to my feet
It never set me free

Its gotta be
More like falling in love
Than something to believe in
More like losing my heart
Than giving my allegiance
Caught up, called out
Come take a look at me now
Its like I’m falling
Its like I’m falling in love

Love, Love
Deeper and deeper
It was love that made me a believer
In more than a name, a faith, a creed
Falling in love with Jesus brought the change in me

Its gotta be
More like falling in love
Than something to believe in
More like losing my heart
Than giving my allegiance
Caught up, called out
Come take a look at me now
Its like I’m falling, Ohhhh
Its like I’m falling in love
I’m falling in love

Hey Christy: “ya think?” Lately, this contemporary antinomian doctrine sometimes known as “Gospel Sanctification” is the gift that just keeps on giving; this has to be the easiest post I have ever done on the subject. This half gospel that excludes Christ as Lord also begs the question: when we get to heaven, can we call Christ “sweety-pie”? Or how about, “honey-bunch”?

Francis Chan’s “Crazy Love” is Really Antinomian Puppy-Love

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on August 29, 2010

“He is clearly saying that when we love we are free from the Law; in fact, we don’t have to worry about….’commands.’ In other words, love is measured by some other standard than biblical imperatives, presumably, good feelings. Do you think that is unfair of me to say? Well then, look at how he wants you to determine if you are loving or not: ‘Do you feel free in your Christian life?'”

Before I comment on “Crazy Love” by Francis Chan (2008), let me set the table. There is a “let go and let God” theology sweeping through Christianity which is sometimes referred to as “Gospel Sanctification.” Hereafter, I will refer to it as “GS.” Let go and let God theology, for all practical purposes, is antinomianism because it either advocates an inability to uphold the Law by Christians or the view that Christians are not obligated to uphold it in God’s eyes. Either way, use of the Law in the life of a Christian is denied.

Basically, GS teaches that we are sanctified in the exact same way that we are justified, by faith and repentance alone. Therefore, if the Law (by this term “Law” I mean the Scriptures in general and imperatives in particular) can’t save us, neither can it be used or recognized in sanctification either. They use Galatians 3:2,3 as a proof text for this position.

Secondly, it teaches that Christ came to not only die for our sins, but to fulfill the law by obeying it perfectly with His life. In essence, it teaches that Christ obeyed the Law for us, and His perfect obedience and fulfillment of the Law is imputed to us in the same way righteousness is imputed to us in salvation by faith alone. Therefore, we are not obligated to the Law. This is sometimes referred to as “the imputed active obedience of Christ.”

Thirdly, It teaches that Christ not only fulfilled the Law, but replaced it with a new Law that only has one command: love God and others. Furthermore, in only being obligated by this one Law, our proper fulfillment of this one Law is judged by our intentions and conscience, not necessarily biblical imperatives. They use Matthew 22: 36-40 as a proof text for this position.

Fourthly, according to advocates, acts of true love will always be accompanied by a willing spirit and joy. Nothing should ever be done out of mere duty. The old Christian adage “obey God whether you feel like it or not” is considered to be anathema. Acts of true love are often described as a “mere natural flow.”

Fifthly, GS propagates the idea that Christians are still spiritually dead, and the only life in us is Christ working through the Holy Spirit. That’s why true love can always be expected to be a mere natural flow, because it is really Christ doing the work through us. They use Galatians 2:20 as a proof text for this position. This text is also used to advocate sanctification by faith alone.

Sixthly, sanctification is only accomplished through faith and deep introspection for purposes of repentance, which empties our soul of sin, and results in Christ living through us.

Seventh, the Bible’s sole purpose is to aid us in faith and repentance. As we see “pictures of Jesus” in the Bible, we learn more about who He is, and see Him more clearly. Our faith is then increased and we are changed from “glory to glory” (2 Corinthians 3:18 is the proof text for that). The Bible also aids us in looking deep within our souls to see sin that we need to repent of. In addition, all of the vast imperatives we see in the Bible makes us more thankful for Christ, knowing that we could never uphold all of those commands and He has done it for us. Thank goodness they (commands) have all been abrogated by the love of Christ working through us, according to them, that is.

Eighth, since the primary goal is to know more of who Christ is (as opposed to learning what He has said for the purpose of applying it to our lives), which increases our faith and love for Him, we don’t necessarily limit that knowledge to Scripture. General revelation is seen as being almost as valuable, because the idea is to get to know Christ as a person, “not a cognitive concept that we apply to life” (Paul David Tripp). This is eerily similar to Postmodern thinking.

Obviously, I wouldn’t have gone through all of the trouble to explain the above if I didn’t think “Crazy Love” (hereafter “CL”) propagated Gospel Sanctification. Per the usual, advocates of GS partake in careful word-craft; it goes without saying that my before-stated description would be rejected out of hand by most Evangelicals. Though there are hints of GS in the first half of the book, the doctrine is not prevalent until page 101, thats when elements of the doctrine start becoming obvious.

Somewhat unique in CL is the heavy dose of “Jesus is my boyfriend” theology. Chan pours this on really thick, even by John Piper’s standard, who is also an advocate of GS. Piper, who likens true saving faith to a deep, romantic-like love for Christ, is quoted at least once in CL. Let’s face it, if we can’t love our Lord by obeying “everything I have commanded,” (as in most GS based books, the Lordship of Christ is conspicuously missing) then something else has to fill the gap; such as, a “sincere,” syrupy like romantic love similar to teenage puppy-love. In fact, according to Chan, regarding the account of his grandmother’s relationship with Christ: He was her “lover” (p. 100).

Throughout the book, Chan draws conclusions about how we should experience our relationship with Christ from horizontal relationships; namely, romantic ones. Hence, “Because when you’re wildly in love with someone, it changes everything.” This is indicative of the eighth element, which puts general revelation on the same par with specific revelation (The Bible). There is a very heavy dose of this in the beginning of the book as Chan emphasizes the study of creation in order to understand Christ as a “person.” Chan also uses the GS phrase “word pictures” to describe the Bible throughout CL. On pages 34 and 35, Chan categorizes general revelation and the Bible together as two ways of knowing God as set against what we can’t know about Him: “So far we have talked about things we can see with our own eyes, things we know about creation, and some of the attributes of God as revealed in the Bible. But many facets of God expand beyond our comprehension.”

Besides an overemphasis on general revelation as a matching bookend with specific revelation, there is only a hint of the GS doctrine in the first 100 pages. The first thing I began to notice was the dissing of practical application and obedience, which are both antithetical to GS doctrine. In regard to our supposed paramount goal of knowing Christ as a person rather than what he demands of us (number eight), Chan says the following on page 30: “If the ‘gravest question’ before us really is what God Himself is like, how do we learn to know Him?” Is the “gravest” question before Christians that of who God is? Or, is what God wants us to do of equal importance? I think we know the answer to that, and a balanced perspective by Chan is conspicuously missing throughout the book.

Then on page 101, Chan takes a hard left turn and launches into full-blown GS doctrine. After denying throughout the book (in nuanced fashion) that we are slaves obligated to obey Christ (because that doesn’t fit the gushy *Jesus as boyfriend* prism), and that God would use fear, guilt, or reward to motivate us, he says that Galatians 5:13-14 teaches the following: “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. Do you feel free in your Christian life?”

Just please stop and think about what he is saying. Words mean things. He is clearly saying that when we love we are free from the Law; in fact, we don’t have to worry about….”commands.” In other words, love is measured by some other standard than biblical imperatives, presumably, good feelings. Do you think that is unfair of me to say? Well then, look at how he wants you to determine if you are loving or not: “Do you feel free in your Christian life?” And: When we work for Christ out of obligation, it feels like work. But when we truly love Christ, our work is a manifestation of that love, and it feels like love” (page 110). Is that true? Does obedience to Christ always “feel (s) like love”?

The whole line of thought here clearly falls under element number three of GS doctrine. Furthermore, let’s be good Bereans and take a look at Galatians 5:13-14, the biblical text Chan cites to make his point:

“You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”

Paul is talking about our freedom from the Law in regard to being saved, and then using it as an excuse to live any way we want to: “Hey, I’m saved anyway, and the Law can’t get me into heaven, so why not live any way I want to?” Because it’s self-focused and the antithesis of love, that’s why. But Paul is not saying that love has no standard other than itself because it replaced the Law. That is a classic antinomian misrepresentation of that passage. In the same statement, Chan even comforts his readers by assuring them that they are not sinning by loving apart from biblical imperatives / guidelines: “….because when we are loving, we can’t sin” [that’s why we supposedly don’t need to worry about “burdensome commands”].

Chan reiterates his point by quoting the apostle in verse 6 of the same chapter: “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love” This doesn’t mean, as Chan implies, that love interprets itself because it comes from an undefined realization of who Christ is via a personal, nebulous, and supposedly intimate relationship. Do you think that is unfair as well? Here is what Chan says on page 104: “Something mysterious, even supernatural must happen in order for genuine love for God to grow in our hearts. The Holy Spirit has to move in our lives. It is a remarkable cycle: Our prayers for more love result in love, which naturally causes us to pray more, which results in more love….” The “cycle” that Chan describes here is nowhere to be found in the Scriptures, but rather, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” Or, “Peter, do you love me? …. [then] feed my sheep.” At the very least, Chan is propagating a love that always comes naturally through a cycle of prayer only. In the best case that can be surmised, he is clearly in serious error.

Also, Chan forgets to mention that the apostle Paul also said: “Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping God’s commands is what counts” (1Corinthians 7:19). About a year ago, I counseled a fellow who was having trouble with a church leadership that propagates the GS doctrine. He was utterly perplexed as to why they seemed to completely ignore clear biblical directives regarding his situation. The answer is simple: if their motive was love, they did not deem themselves as obligated to biblical imperatives. Throughout the rest of the book, Chan seems to make strong statements regarding the need to obey, but what he is talking about is obedience to the one single Law of love, not biblical imperatives. This is the type of double-speaking deception that I have come to expect from propagators of the GS doctrine.

Throughout the rest of the book after page 101, Chan draws a tight GS line that propagates spiritual growth by a narrow, passive concept of meditation and prayer only (p. 104, 148, 170, to cite a few), and acts of love always experienced as a mere natural flow accompanied by joy (p. 110, 120, 129, to name a few). It is fair to say that the second half of the book is saturated with GS doctrine in its usual nuanced form. But page 203 is worth mentioning before I close. Chan presents Galatians 3:3 as a Pauline contention against effort in the sanctification process which is also supposedly a false gospel. This is a typical GS stance. Concerning this passage, Chan says the following:

“I think each of us has a strong tendency to attempt to wrestle control from the Spirit and “do” this life on our own. Each of us tends to switch from living the gospel of grace to trusting in a system of works. That’s why Paul brings up this issue with the churches in Galatia.”

So, effort on our part (Christians) to “’do’ this life” is supposedly denying the gospel that originally saved us. This is the most basic element of GS which is the synthesizing of justification and sanctification. Obviously, if we can’t do anything to be saved, neither can we participate in sanctification either except for the same role we play in justification, faith and repentance only. However, Paul is not talking about sanctification in Galatians 3:3. He was talking about the Galatians possibly denying the gospel that saved them by faith alone, and doing so by returning to a salvation by works. Apparently, they were being tempted to consummate this decision by being circumcised, and therefore denying the true gospel by proclaiming a false one. This is absolutely clear by the way Paul summarizes his argument:

“Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace” (Galatians 5:2-4).

Paul makes it clear that he was talking about justification (“ You who are trying to be justified by law”) and not sanctification. Besides, specifically, Paul is talking about their ultimate goal of being completely transformed (glorification) in 3:3, not sanctification, or their role in the growing process. Paul discuses that in the second part of the book, the first part deals with justification. This can be clearly seen by the fact that Paul uses the word “justification” at least ten times in the book while “sanctification” is not used once, even though it is a biblical word in the same way justification is (1 Corinthians 1:30 and 6:11; both are listed together with glorification).

It is no different than someone who is saved by the true gospel , but then leaves an orthodox community of believers for a community that professes a false gospel. Like Paul, we would “stand in doubt” of them. Besides, specifically, Paul is talking about their ultimate goal of being completely transformed (glorification) in 3:3, not sanctification, or their role in the growing process. I believe the Young’s Literal Translation demonstrates this well:

“so thoughtless are ye! having begun in the Spirit, now in the flesh do ye end? “

In the final analysis, CL adorns GS with some challenges that the church needs to hear, but Chan’s solution is a false doctrine. The first hundred passages were subtle enough to keep me in denial while eating red herrings and ignoring straw men used to diss the conventional hearing of God’s word and the proper application to life thereof. Which is very annoying.