My friend Frank Turk, and my acquaintance Steve Camp, have had a little disagreement about this video by Jackie Chan. No, wait, he's the crazy-skilled martial arts guy. Patrick Chan. No no no, he's the single guy who invaded a comment thread with a hysterical plea. This is pastor Francis Chan (who, apparently, is going to be a "camp pastor" with Ergun Caner, among others—a fact from which I draw no significance).
Anyway. Frank really loved it; Steve really didn't. I like and respect them both (but I like Frank better; sorry Steve, but Frank's my team-mate, and he... he knows things about me). I think they both made valid points, worth considering. I think they both love the Lord, and they both love the Gospel.
And that's all I'm going to say about them. The rest is about the video, and what I thought of it.
Here's what I thought:
- Man, this guy really parks far away from where he likes to surf.
- How does he have the energy to surf once he gets down there?
- It sure takes a long time to get down to the beach. In fact, he seems to keep losing ground, instead of gaining it.
- Boy, do I know that feeling. Sigh. Oh, anyway... what were we talking about?
- So, what happens to his sandals? Did he walk so long they dissolved?
- Isn't he pretty much going to die on those rocks? Think about that!
- Cute kids. Bet they'll miss their Daddy, after he dies on those rocks. Sad.
- Is there a wife?
- Does it tick her off that he didn't mention her?
- Maybe he was mad at her. Was he mad at her?
- Was she mad at him after seeing the video?
- More likely, would she have been mad at him if he had mentioned her?
- Marriage is hard.
- He didn't say a word about the timing of the Rapture.
- Or about baptism.
- Were his girls baptized?
- Or if not, why not?
- He didn't say what Bible translation he likes. Ew, does he like the NIV? Eww!
- Maybe he doesn't even know Greek and Hebrew! (Ooh, in that case, he probably likes the NLB! Ewww!)
- He didn't say if he's supra-, infra-, or sub-, let alone pre-, post-, or a-.
- It was all in English. Does that mean he rejects tongues? Or does he really only speak Mandarin Chinese, and so the whole video actually was a tongue? Whoa.
- Does Chan watch 24?
- Was that video in real-time?
- Did they have to set up a perimeter first?
- If you learn anything from the Gospels and Acts, you learn that the one unchanging message can be adapted to different settings and different audiences, and that not even every inerrantly-inspired preacher preaches the exact same content in the exact same way in every situation.
- Judged by some standards of Gospel preaching, Jesus didn't preach the Gospel a lot of the time, and the apostles often didn't preach the Gospel.
- Having said that, I do note that the apostles never once found it necessary to say "God loves you" or "Christ died for your sins" to the lost, in an evangelistic setting, and I think that means something.
- Having said that, I do note that Chan preached (at the very least) the lostness of man, the holiness of God, the inviolability of God's Law, the penal, substitutionary death of Christ for sinners, salvation by faith alone through Christ alone by grace alone, the Sonship of Christ, the claims of discipleship, and the unique exclusivity of Jesus—all very conversationally, yet passionately, in a fifteen-minute video.
- I think that's pretty doggoned good.
- So I don't really have any major issues with the video, and think it's an effective, good-faith attempt to preach the Gospel to the lost.
- Which is one of the big things we're supposed to do, right?
- And if it isn't the way I'd do it -- so? Did Jeremiah and Ezekiel preach the same way? Peter and Apollos? Spurgeon and Piper and Edwards and Whitefield and Lloyd Jones and MacArthur? Which one was used of God, in exclusion of the other? Isn't that a silly question?
- Christ was preached, winsomely and effectively and emphatically, and in that I rejoice.
It isn't the dandies in their dainty parlors with their shiny, expensive Orvis fly rods and their shrink-wrapped fishing manuals who put meat on the table. It's the guys who go out there, wade in, get wet, and do some fishing. I see Chan as fishing here. That's a good thing.
A few more "Charge!" 's, and a few less "Planning and Critique Meetings," would probably be a good thing for us. I say the video itself is a good thing; though I still reserve the right to discuss issues of Gospel-preaching content, in a brotherly manner.
But I'd really like to see critics show a superior product, and not just criticize others'.
Modern American Calvinists are well-known for being astute critics of evangelistic methods. Is that anything to boast of?
Would that we were better-known as astute practitioners of evangelism. Paul certainly was. Whitefield certainly was. Spurgeon certainly was.
POSTSCRIPT: boy, if my readers don't have a sense of humor today, I'm a dead man.