10 January 2007

I saw The Chan Video

by Dan Phillips

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:
  1. Man, this guy really parks far away from where he likes to surf.
  2. How does he have the energy to surf once he gets down there?
  3. It sure takes a long time to get down to the beach. In fact, he seems to keep losing ground, instead of gaining it.
  4. Boy, do I know that feeling. Sigh. Oh, anyway... what were we talking about?
  5. So, what happens to his sandals? Did he walk so long they dissolved?
  6. Isn't he pretty much going to die on those rocks? Think about that!
  7. Cute kids. Bet they'll miss their Daddy, after he dies on those rocks. Sad.
  8. Is there a wife?
  9. Does it tick her off that he didn't mention her?
  10. Maybe he was mad at her. Was he mad at her?
  11. Was she mad at him after seeing the video?
  12. More likely, would she have been mad at him if he had mentioned her?
  13. Marriage is hard.
Okay, now that doesn't get into the heavy doctrinal issues that Frank and Steve had going. So, doctrinally:
  1. He didn't say a word about the timing of the Rapture.
  2. Or about baptism.
  3. Were his girls baptized?
  4. When?
  5. How?
  6. Or if not, why not?
  7. He didn't say what Bible translation he likes. Ew, does he like the NIV? Eww!
  8. Maybe he doesn't even know Greek and Hebrew! (Ooh, in that case, he probably likes the NLB! Ewww!)
  9. He didn't say if he's supra-, infra-, or sub-, let alone pre-, post-, or a-.
  10. 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.
  11. Does Chan watch 24?
  12. Was that video in real-time?
  13. Did they have to set up a perimeter first?
And finally, on a more serious (which is to say, the first serious) note:
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. I think that's pretty doggoned good.
  6. 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.
  7. Which is one of the big things we're supposed to do, right?
  8. 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?
  9. Christ was preached, winsomely and effectively and emphatically, and in that I rejoice.
I don't think God is terribly impressed with our endlessly sitting about and working on strategy, nor our endless critiques of everyone who actually gets out there and does it. We Calvinists tend to be known for that, these days. Non-Calvinists evangelize, and Calvinists criticize. It's a caricature, but there's some basis to it.

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.

Are we?

POSTSCRIPT: boy, if my readers don't have a sense of humor today, I'm a dead man.

Dan Phillips's signature


Family Blogs said...

I don't know about anybody else, but 'Secret Rapture' guy has freaked me out for the rest of the day!

donsands said...

Is there a spiritual gift of humor? You sure have it if there is.

Excellent post.

I just started watching 24. Incredible addiction.

"Are we?" I am not much of an evangelist, but I long to be a better light for the gospel.

I believe Steve Camp is though, from what I have seen of his ministry over the years.
He's a theologacally sound Keith Green, I think the saying goes.

Brett said...

likely the best post I've ever read here, both in content and humor.

FX Turk said...

I think Charles Finney would be proud of this post.

Oh wait -- that's not what I meant to say. What I meant to say was that Jonah thinks God loves sinners.

No wait -- that was yesterday in an e-mail ...

What I meant to say was that sometimes Dan is like a pez candy. If somebody offers him to you out of the wrapper, you're like, "what? Pure sugar? No thanks." But when they offer him to you in the dispenser, when it's sticking out of the throat of a plastic head, you can't resist. And you realize how dumb you are for liking him better in the plastic dispenser, but that's the way you are.

... I'm glad Dan posted today, because there's no way I can post today and make any reasonable sense. God loves you, Dan. Anyone who abhors me saying it needs to take a day off.

slf said...

Thanks Dan for your good insight (and humor) once again. Frank, your post was very interesting and well done. So much to consider! Thanks to all.

Norman said...

15 Some indeed preach Christ even out of envy and strife, and some also out of good will.
16 The one preaches Christ out of contention and not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds;
17 but the other out of love, knowing that I am set for the defense of the Gospel.
18 What then? Notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.

Carla Rolfe said...

I tried to post a comment earlier and it wouldn't let me. Some sort of weird error message I've never seen before.

Curious - is this really not something of any significance?

It does seem curious, at least.

Just asking.

Don Fields said...

Well said. It is always easier to critique than it is to give solutions. I needed that admonition today!

Gryphonette said...

I'd really like to see critics show a superior product, and not just criticize others'.

Excellent point in an overall excellent post.

And the looooong walk with the surf board became a distraction for me after a while, as I began to wonder how heavy that thing is, and how far away had he parked, etc.

Catez said...

Good one Dan. Fits in nicely with some thoughts I've been having. We've got the message in understandable language - we need to use it - and that includes conversationally.

DJP said...

...your wisely added postscript may have dashed your chances of regaining the "Highest Number of Comments" crown.

Once again, I prove to be my own worst enemy. Or up there, anyway.

DJP said...

FWIW, a&c's reference to the "Secret Rapture Guy" is not to me, but to a spam comment since (mercifully) deleted.

James Scott Bell said...

I didn't find anything offensive in the video either. It was perhaps a bit too long for its laid back, off the cuff, let's be authentic and real ethos. I think, too, that ethos is actually fading from long term significance. Already I sense that the generation coming up wants to hear the whole counsel of God without apology.

The Searcher said...

Long time reader, first time commenter.

First off let me say a big AMEN to Norman's comment. Let's keep our doctrinal red Sharpies in our desk drawers as we watch.

My only critique was that it felt a little to touchy-feely for me, but I chalked that up to being a Hearty New Englander (tm) watching the Gospel be presented by a surfer dude from California. :-)

Great post Dan, though for a minute there I thought you weren't going to get to your point!

Hayden said...

This video reminded me of a Rob Bell NOOMA video with some doctrinal meat.
I think it was well done an directed to its intended audience.

Anonymous said...

Dan, I can always count on you to lighten my day, without even feeling guilty about it. Thanks.


Willow Walker said...

My name is Greg Withrow and I have been Pastoring the Assembly of Christians Church, Toledo Ohio for the last 28 years. I have also been the Chairman of the Toledo Reformed Theological Conferences for the last 14 years. I watched the video and found it to be well produced, in fact I wish everything that we did was this well done.I also thought Pastor Chan gave a passionate and clear presentation.However the presentation that he gave was in no way the Gospel nor was it Reformed. His arguments while compelling for a short video are actually arguments for the existence of God and are good for an apologetic with an unbeliever,but they do not present the Gospel message, they are only at best good preparation for delivering the Gospel.Pastor Chan as well presented to us a God who desires something He cannot have and is forced to beg us to listen to Him. He is a powerless Lover using everything in his arsenal to pursuade us to love Him.How in the world is this Reformed Soteriology? This is a deeply flawed Arminian presentation and could be excused by a new believer but not by a seasoned Pastor with the expressed intention of preaching God's word.Where does Total Depravity fit in, our inability to see, hear or respond to God without His Divine act upon our hearts? Pastor Chan said that God's law "Do Not Kill" was good because we should not kill each other. This makes the commandment nothing more than good sense between intelligent people. When the basis for the commandment is that we are the image of the Creator and murder is a direct assault upon that image and so a direct assault against God. The good news is only good when it is set against the reality of the bad news. We have sinned against a Holy God and death and judgment is the result.Telling people that God loves them and has a wonderful plan is not a Calvinistic view. Would Pastor Chan say that to Esau or the decendants of Eli or the inhabitants of Jericho? I do agree that Reformed people are in general not very evangelical. The answer however is not to present a PC Gospel that offends no one and has no teeth.It is not a loving act for me to withhold the truth from someone because I do not wish to offend them. The most difficult and bold things can be said to someone if the reality of our concern for their eternal soul is evident in our words and actions. Centurion has it right when he said that Charles Finney would be proud of that video. Do not let your emotions cloud your discernment. I also agree with Norman that at least Christ is preached, but why should we be content with the least and not the best. Why go to all this trouble and expence, why sit around with time to craft a good and Gospel presentation and instead do this? Why is anyone excited over this and why are we more upset with those who challenge such things than we are with those do them? I would also add that no Gospel exists that does not declare the Glory of the Resurrection as well no Gospel exists that does not call men to repentance.Great cinematography cannot replace substance. Stop and Think please.

FX Turk said...


Let me ask you something -- at some point in your life, did you receive the Gospel?

If you did, when that happened, what did you say or think or do?

Robert Fraire said...

Dan, I do agree with your points in this post and I have seen the video in question.

Two points come to my mind on this. While I'll agree that sometimes Calvinists are said to be too much into critique, I also believe that most of it is highly warranted. Both Jude and II Timothy tell us to guard the message of the gospel; to insure that a false message is not substituted for the real thing. Unfortunately, many false and half gospel messages are being put out by people who would claim to be performing evangelism. I would say that much of what is called evangelism is not true evangelism, and that Calvinists along with all believers should not acquiesce to supporting it in the name of not being a critic. I also don't suppose that I am bringing up anything that the Pyromaniacs don't already know and preach regularly. I just thought that it needed to be stated in this context.

Finally I don't suppose to speak for Steve Camp, but I will say that I have reservations about the video on this account. John MacArthur has said (paraphrased here) that you can tell where someone believes the power of the gospel lies by seeing where they place their emphasis when presenting that gospel. So with this in mind I am concerned that the words and soft sell of the video places the emphasis of the appeal on the wrong things. I agree with Frank that important elements are presented and I would not term this a false gospel message.

Willow Walker said...

The Gospel was delivered to me 33 years ago by someone who failed not to present to me the whole council of God. I clearly remember being in great agony of soul because my sins were so apparent to me and I had so offended the Holy God of all.I did not become Reformed until 1988 and that did not make me more saved. It did however help me to see just how much trouble I was in without Gods Divine election.I do not use the doctrine of election when I present the Gospel to someone, but I do not in any way attempt to lighten the load of sin that sets securly upon them and is their undoing. We are not talking about what a new believer thinks here, we are talking about what a seasoned believer delivers. I am now responsible to be as accurate as I can possibly be. I must also be as compassionate and concerned as the brother was who led me to Christ.

The Searcher said...


You're right, the film does not present the Gospel in it's fullness. (There I said it.) However, would you go so far as to say that it's dangerous, or even that it's not helpful?

I know I sure wouldn't. This isn't about whether or not the film is perfect, but more about whether it's helpful. I think a reading from Mark 9:40 is appropriate here:

"For whoever is not against us is for us."

Now Mr. Chan hasn't done any miracles (that I know about at least) like the guy Jesus was referring to there, but the purpose of the video in question was obviously to win souls to Christ. Regardless of whether or not we agree 100% with his presentation of doctrine, I think it's clear that the aim was to put forward right doctrine.

I just don't see how this video is so damaging. Having said that, I admire your goal of presenting the Gospel in it's full glory. That is the ideal. However, a lot of things that are not ideal are quite helpful.

FX Turk said...


So when you received the Gospel, you told God, (in words to this effect) "I was wrong, you are right, and now ..." what?

What did you receive from God, and why -- what motive -- did God have to give it to you?

FX Turk said...


I like the point of your question, but let's remeber something -- it is possible to want to "win souls for Christ" and in fact fool people (and even yourself) into a lie rather than the Gospel.

The question is this: is Francis Chan fooling people into a false Gospel? Does he make catastrophic doctrinal errors in this video which will lead people to some false shelter rather than the shelter of Jesus Christ -- the only shelter from the wrath of God?

The critics of this video seem to want to say that this presentation sets people up to believe in a lie. What lie would that be, I wonder?

C.T. Lillies said...

Dan I needed that laugh and the rest was good too.

I can't think of anything else nice to say about this whole episode though so I'll leave it at that.

"...the word of God is not bound."
--2 Timothy 2:9

candy said...

I had some of the same questions Dan. Good job! Very funny. I did like the scenery a lot.

Willow Walker said...

Searcher, You asked if I thought this was dangerous or not helpful. Let me say that because I am reformed I do not believe that anyone can be prevented from comeing to Christ that He has called. However if I leave someone with the false assumption that bowing to God's creative evidence is as good as being delivered from sin, then I have left them with a false hope. If that is the case then what i have done is dangerous and certainly not helpful. This is not to say that God will not use the truth that has been presented in the process of turning my heart to Him, which is helpful. We should not however short the Gospel message because God will have his way anyway and call this the Gospel. I was moved by the movie Jesus Christ Superstar prior to my conversion and even hung a picture from it in my bedroom ( read Hippie ). When I came to know Christ however that picture came down and I saw the blasphemy in it. The real question here is why do I only want to be helpful or not dangerous? Why do I not rather want to be accurate and clear and reject anything that is not. The ideal you mentioned should actually be the norm and we should always be striving to be Glorifying God not just getting by. We are to do all things with excellence unto the Lord and if we know what the truth is why would we not use it in it's fullest instead of it's least. Please let me state again that this video did not come from a rookie but from a seasoned Pastor who know the fullness of the Gospel.

FX Turk said...


Where, exactly, did Francis Chan leave the impression that "bowing to God's creative evidence is as good as being delivered from sin"?

I don't see it. I need someone to demonstrate that this is true.

Willow Walker said...

Centurion, the question about God's motive leads me to believe that you are not reformed and do not understand the Soteriology. When I agreed with you about Charles Finney I was unaware that it was sarcasm directed at Campi. I agree with Campi and the affirmation of Finney is not a good thing. However Steves points were directed at the film and yours were directed at Steve. These are diversions from the subject at hand. The Gospel is either there or it is not, there is no half Gospel message. When you opened the door to throw accolades at this film on a reformed Blog site you opened the door for us to respond. How sensitive have we become that a critique is considered bad. This is again so PC. If we agree we are the good guys if we do not we are bad and should keep our mouths shut. I would suggest that you refrain from blogging if you are not willing to dialogue without making it personal. My salvation experience is not at question here nor is it the standard for the truth. God's Word is.

Willow Walker said...

Divine Design was all he did leave them with besides the false statement the God loves them all. If the core of my message is design and I leave out repentance and resurrection , then I am claiming that alone to be sufficient to turn a heart. The emotions can be moved in a religious manner this way but my soul still languishes in sin and despair.

Lance Roberts said...

I agree that the NIV is a really bad translation.

Kim said...

Well, after I recovered from saying "God created you and I" as opposed to "God created you and me" (God is the subject, Mr. Chan, and created is a transitive verb, and the direct objects are "you" and "me.), I thought it was, well, very.... nice.

My 12 year old watched it with me and wondered what the purpose of wandering around with the surfboard was. I wonder if he had surfer dudes in mind when he made it.

Honestly, it was bad enough to be atrocious, and it wasn't all that great, either. I got a little bored.

At one point he said, "I used to think I understood the love of God." Good on him; I've never thought that.

Kim said...

Oops, I meant to say that I didn't think it was bad enough to be atrocious. I don't want to offend anyone who really enjoyed this.

FX Turk said...

Ah. Now I'm not reformed.


God spares the city of Ninevah after Jonah's half-hearted but obedient exclamation for 40 days, "God is going to destroy your city". When God spares that city, Jonah is a little put off.

In complaining to God, he says, "Please LORD, was not this what I said while I was still in my own country? Therefore in order to forestall this I fled to Tarshish, for I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity. Therefore now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for death is better to me than life." (NASB)

What God did to Ninevah was "abundant in lovingkindness", yes? You might like "mercy" better here, but it's the same word that's used for what God does in Ps 17, 25, 26, 36, 40, 42 and so on.

Will you please tell me if all of the city of Ninevah is saved unto eternal life, or if Jonah is mad just because God spared them this present destruction?

And in either case, can you tell me if Jonah is reformed in his soteriology, or is he also not understanding God's word correctly since he attributes God's motive in acting to love?

See: the point here is not to call your salvation into question or doubt. I don't doubt that you accepted Jesus as Lord and Christ. What is in question is whether you had to do anything about it. It seems to me that if someone phrases the Gospel in terms which say, "Jesus is Savior from sin, and He is saving out of love, now you have to accept His love or perish," suddenly this person is a Finneyite, a synergist, not reformed.

The call to action is part of the Gospel. We call me to repent of their sins. Francis Chan called men to confess their sin,a nd then change their lives -- obey what Christ commanded. How is that different than when Christ himself says, "no go and sin no more?"

However, it is good to know that I'm not actually reformed, and probably news to the Blogosphere. They should have given me a more thorough examination in the blogo-presbytery before I started this gig.

Phil: you should e-mail me when you get a chance. We probably need to talk.

D.R. Brooker said...

Why do I not rather want to be accurate and clear and reject anything that is not. The ideal you mentioned should actually be the norm and we should always be striving to be Glorifying God not just getting by. We are to do all things with excellence unto the Lord and if we know what the truth is why would we not use it in it's fullest instead of it's least.

Excellent point Willow and I think that is what most critics are getting at. This was not an off-the-cuff conversation with a co-worker at the water cooler, but a film that was scripted, choreographed, edited, and released in its current form to say exactly what it said.

And let's remember, people are critiquing it here because it was posted in that context. This isn't a matter of "stop criticizing and get out there evangelizing." It would have been easy to make the little insertions and deletions to ensure a more sound and pure gospel message was delivered in the 15 minutes.

FX Turk said...

Apparently John Piper is not reformed, either.

God's design is a loving design to save men from wrath? Oh boy -- back to the drawing board.

FX Turk said...

What I enjoy most about this at this point is that these are apparently "little" changes, but they make someone into a Finney or they exunge him from the company of the reformed.

I have a meeting to go to. Enjoy yourselves while I am gone.

FX Turk said...

Mr. Brooker:

The criticism has gone from "you can't say God loves sinners" to "Chan is a Finneyite".

That's hardly reasonable criticism: it's irrational.

Re-read my last comment here on Jonah and tell me: how can Jonah call what God did to Ninevah "lovingkindness"? Aren't the Ninevites all sinners who don't even wind up beimg saved?

Frank Martens said...

My only problem with the video is where Chan says that "God is crazy about you."

I think better language could have been used. Because we all know that we don't know if God is crazy about a particular person. We know that God is crazy about His elect, and angry and those who are in condemnation.


Other then that, I like the video.

Willow Walker said...

Centurion, I do not know you or anything about what you believe. What I said was that the question leads me to believe (causes me to wonder.) I did not make a statement directly about what you believe. When someone asks me about God's motive in saving me it usually comes from an unbeliever or an arminian. I did not understand your purpose in asking it and assumed something that evidently is not so, for that I apologize. I am sure that your Theology is not news to the blogosphere but it is news to me. I do not have the time at the moment to answer your question about Ninevah although I do not believe in National Salvation and there is a sorrow that does not lead to salvation. I as well do not have any clue as to what Jonah believed and whatever he attributed it to has no absolute bearing to what is true. I found my atributions to be wrong in many ways when I came to understand reformed Theology. It is the whole of Gods word that decides the truth not any single statement of Jonah's. I must work on the message for Sunday now but I will gladly get back to you later.

D.R. Brooker said...

FT wrote:

Mr. Brooker: The criticism has gone from "you can't say God loves sinners" to "Chan is a Finneyite".

a) You can say "God loves sinners," that's why He saves them. But that's completely different than saying "God loves all sinners (men)" or as Chan said, "God loves you and doesn't want to punish you." That's the "sloppy agape" as Camp puts it. I made this point in the other thread.

b) I have not said anything about a comparison to Finney.

c) I'm not speaking for any other critics so my previous comment should serve as my last. I think even you would agree that improvements could have easily been inserted.

D.R. Brooker said...

d) If you have construed anything I have said as "taking a shot", I have not. I have simply disagreed. I hope that is apparent.

FX Turk said...


As far as your apology has anything to do with what you said, I accept it.

After that, I find it funny that Jonah the prophet doesn't really know anything about the character of God. And I mean "punch line" funny, not curious.

Ms. Bleil,

I think the Chan video is spot-on. Dan and Phil might find it a little, well, beach-flavored, but Chan lives in Simi Valley. He's not talking to college professors or Pharisees or even people in church: he's talking to people who live a fairly theology-neutral life who have the vaguest possible notion about who and what God is, and he wants them to know that God loves.

Listen: we live in a part of the world where the idea that we might have physical needs unmet is practically unthinkable -- and most people don't know how to be thankful to God for that because they think that's standard issue, they deserve it. But even with all their met needs, they find themselves in this place where there is no love -- the most basic need of any human being.

I know this because I was once one of those people. I know this because I have a brother who is still one of those people. And in that, the breakthrough question for those people is not, "whence comest justice? wherefore judgment against the wicked?" It is, "is there such a thing as love? Do I imagine it? Can I know what it is?"

God answers that question. And He answers it in the context of the Cross -- because the answer to justice at the Cross is -LOVE-. Ans the offer of the cross -- the offer of Christ to be a substitution -- is made to all men. All men who hear it receive the free offer of the Gospel. In that, all men receive the free offer that Love can overcome sin and the justice due to sin.

Some people can't say the words, "hey: Jesus loves you and wants you to repent," because they see the command to repent as only sovereign and only just. But there is a flip side to repentence, which is the willingness to forgive. It may be a command to repent, but it's not an offer which says, "hey: repent and I'll just throw you in jail rather than kill you. Half of eternity inpurgatory is good enough for you."

The command to repent is paired with the blessed, loving promise to forgive and to establish peace, the promise to end all enmity.

And that, Ms. Bliel, is missing from many, many "reformed" presentations of the Gospel. All five solas, but a failure to present God as loving.

Since you asked. God bless you.

candy said...

I have a few thoughts on the matter myself in my little blog corner. Not funny like Dan though.

Phil Johnson said...

Kim: "God is the subject, Mr. Chan, and created is a transitive verb, and the direct objects are "you" and "me."

THANK YOU, KIM, for injecting a little grammatical sanity into what was becoming a very tedious conversation.

You can always count on the home-school moms to get straight to the heart of the real issues.

Kim said...


You can always count on the home-school moms to get straight to the heart of the real issues.

Well, Phil, it's more a case of when I don't have anything real to add to the conversation, a quick grammatical correction will suffice.

Unknown said...

>The command to repent is paired >with the blessed, loving promise >to forgive and to establish peace, >the promise to end all enmity.

And in the context of this conversation, leave either part of the above equation out and one has an incomplete gospel... i.e. no gospel. Which was Campi's point to begin with.

I agree with Willow Walker. The video is "a deeply flawed Arminian presentation". And yes, Calvinists and Reformed types are doomed to unendingly critique contemporary evangelism methods because too many of the evangelism methods in our Finneyan Christianity(including the "back to Acts" mentality) are unbiblical.

Patrick Chan said...

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).

Hehe, so many Chans! Too hard to keep track of. Is this the start of an Asian invasion? ;-)

Seriously, Dan, your entire post was really funny! Thanks for the laughs. :-)

Mike Messerli said...


well written! you had me laughing, and I really liked the video! I'm with you and Frank.

Willow Walker said...

Centurion, I said that I do not know what Jonah knew about God. I certainly do not believe that he know nothing, I think the text would say that he did know something. I just do not know to what extent.

Away From The Brink said...

I have a DVD of that movie. A copy was left on my front patio by Chan's ministry. It is not uncommon in the area I live to see cars with the "Juststopandthink.com" logo on them.

Eternity Bible College is near Tapo St. and Los Angeles Ave. in Simi Valley.

FX Turk said...

Ms. Bleil:

Christ died for our sins, in accordance with the Scripture; He was buried, and he was raised on the third day, in accordance with the Scripture. That's 1Cor 15:3-4. That's what people need to know.

That's the Gospel -- but it's Christianese. I mean, what's a Christ? What's Scripture -- and why does that matter? What's sin? Why does anyone have to die for it? Why did Christ die for it? What's "raised from the dead"?

My opinion is that if you asked most people -- most Christians in church -- they couldn't define the word "Christ" for you. To them, it's Jesus last name. The have no idea what it means that Paul told the Jews that Jesus whom they crucified is Lord and Christ.

So if you only have 15 minutes -- or maybe 2 minutes if you're actually talking to a real person -- should you spend yout time dedicated to the nuances of "us", or the escatological and theological implications of "Christ" -- or can you tell someone, "This is how we know what love is -- that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us"?

That's the Gospel. That is the Gospel: Christ died for sinners. If you're a sinner, listen up! This is Good News! But you have to receive it -- you have to not just hear it, but do something about it. Say yes! and "do" yes!

Thank you for asking.

FX Turk said...

For the van Impe fans, I forgot to mention that my second verse of scripture is Rom 5:8. I'm sure that changes my affirmation substantially.

SJ Camp said...

"That's the Gospel -- but it's Christianese.
No, it's Scripture--and there is power in the Word of God proclaimed and explained. One of the duties of the pastor is to "give the sense of it." Neh. 8:8 "They read from the book, from the law of God, translating to give the sense so that they understood the reading."

Whether in a pulpit, home bible study, Starbucks haivng a coffee with a discipleship group, or in a video, the pastors duty is to communicate accurately God's Word, in this case the gospel, and "give the sense of it."

Actually, your "last verse" is a combination of two verses: the first half is from part of 1 John 4:10; and the second half is from part of Romans 5:8. So no, it doesn't change your affirmation substantially. :-).

Lastly, time constraints is not what dictates truth claims. 15 minutes of video time is a good amount of time to communicate (the average sitcom is only about 21 minutes in length). You can actually say a lot in that time frame--it all depends on what you want to say.

You can spend, say... two minutes talking about how fast the earth revolves around the sun, that God created laughter, and how cool the day is going to be, etc. OR, you could explain the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the grave.


But I am grateful to hear that if you were making a video you would include the resurrection which Pastor Chan chose not to.

Alan E. Kurschner said...


A couple of weeks ago, I read some comments about Rick Warren's Christmas message on Fox News. My impression of those comments lead me to believe that given the lengthy amount of time that Warren was allotted on national television, he failed to give a robust, God-centered gospel proclamation.

Gospel proclamation is the subject of debate once again.

I watched Chan's video, and I believe that if he had 5 hours he would have still failed to give a proper Biblical proclamation because he failed in his 15 minutes of his synergistic infomerical.

Chan's gospel message is repeated thousands of times every Sunday in seeker and emergent churches, except his content here is given aesthetic aid via film.

Not to rehash the criticisms, but I do believe that Steve Camp's observations of Chan's gospel presentation were accurate and instructive.

Chan had some good things to say, but fell far from being something that I would want to present to an unbeliever.

I love you Frank. I encourage you to rethink Chan's content (and contextualization).


“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27)

Catez said...

Hi Frank,

That's the Gospel -- but it's Christianese. I mean, what's a Christ? What's Scripture -- and why does that matter? What's sin? Why does anyone have to die for it? Why did Christ die for it? What's "raised from the dead"?

My opinion is that if you asked most people -- most Christians in church -- they couldn't define the word "Christ" for you. To them, it's Jesus last name.

I'm inclined to agree with you - it can be communicated as Christianese. I think a person would say "what scriptures?" On the other hand, most people have heard of the bible - saying "the bible" would make more sense. That doesn't mean taking the translated word "scriptures" out of the bible - it means telling people what scriptures we are referring to - what "scriptures" means.

There are words which are commonly used in our culture - "justification" is one of them - but which we do need to explain the Christian meaning of. That doesn't mean we can't use the word, but we take the cultural reference point and then explain it. Being aware the Holy Spirit illuminates it.

But terms which aren't in prevalent use take more explaining/translation. And I think that's what you are saying when you refer to Christianese.

I also think it's definitely Christianese when a whole lot of words are cobbled into a sentence, even though some may be common usage words, because they have a theological meaning. i.e. I could say to a non-Christian, "Do you know that Christ is your substitutionary atonement and justification, and brings redemption, and you need experience the efficacy of regeneration and to submit to his sovreignty in repentance?"

I could say that. Or I could say it in a more understandable way, not using Christianese - and perhaps take one common word like "justification" and explain how justification as we commonly refer to it in conversation points to a much more important justification. And then explain what that is.

I think you've made a good point. What you were referring to is in the bible - but expecting non-Christians to be familiar with the context of the bible, and what some things mean or refer to is unrealistic. The letters were written to the church - Paul was distilling the message for them. It doesn't mean that anything we quote from the bible is automatically appropriate - I wouldn't quote the genealogies to people. I wouldn't quote a number of things in an eveangelistic or pre-eveangelistic conversation.

So while I think some words, such as "justification" are actually in common usage much more than we might think, I also think we need to explain how they mean something different, and spiritually life-giving, when talking to non-Christians. And I think rolling out a whole stream of words, or quotes, without translation for folks is Christianese.

The point made in this discussion (not by you) that the video doesn't give bible references for people to look up seems weak to me. While people have heard of the bible, my observation is that they don't have one, or don't read it if they do, and don't look things up. That's what we do. The Holy Spirit effectively draws and convicts - and it is not necessary to give chapter and verse all the time in conversations with non-Christians. But we do need to be understandable - which Paul and other 1st Century Christians were well aware of.

If the passage in the bible is about the gospel, but contains terms in need of explanation - then let's explain the terms.

Catez said...

I realise there's been some heat in discussion on this. I've been thinking about some of these things independently of your posts and discussing some things to do with the bible and how it is tranlsated. So my thoughts here spring from that quite a bit. Just to let you know where I'm coming from. It's helpful to look at the positions and points rather than at people, and assess the positions and points I think.