08 January 2007

Is Love a 4-letter word?

by Frank the Baptist

For your Monday morning reading pleasure, here is my response to our friend Steve Camp. Let me also say that it is excruciatingly long, and you ought to pack a lunch (or send out) before you start reading. Sorry 'bout that.

His text is the indented text:

| First of all, whatever my concerns were,
| were not meant to be directed to your
| article—but had to do with Chan’s movie
| presentation.
I don’t think there’s any question about that, but I appreciate you making that clear.
| Pastor Chan certainly did
| present some things well—. ...
| ... That is
| refreshing to hear and I deeply respect him
| for the uncompromising stand he brings to
| the foundation for Cornerstone
| Community Church.
I have ellipsed Steve here simply to stipulate that he hasn’t tossed Pastor Chan out as a brother in Christ, and to just make note that Steve also sees plenty of good in what Francis Chan does. It limits the scope of his criticism, and amen to that.
| Now, on to your questions:
| [1] Does God love sinners?
| Yes. I am one—the chief of sinners; and
| He did/does love me.
| Rom. 5:5 and hope does not disappoint,
| because the love of God has been poured
| out within our hearts through the Holy
| Spirit who was given to us.
| Rom. 5:6 For while we were still
| helpless, at the right time Christ died for
| the ungodly. Rom. 5:7 For one will hardly
| die for a righteous man; though perhaps
| for the good man someone would dare
| even to die. Rom. 5:8 But God
| demonstrates His own love toward us, in
| that while we were yet sinners, Christ died
| for us.
Amen. That’s exactly what I was talking about.

But let’s make sure we underscore two aspects of your answer in the blog-presbytery dock, Steve: God’s love is both general and specific. That is, God loves “sinners” as a class, but God loves “Steve Camp” as a particular individual in that class of people.

Now: that’s how Paul always talks to other believers, right? Christ died for us sinners; Christ loves us, the believers. But does Paul (or Peter) ever say, “Christ only loves the believers”?

Certainly, they both say that Christ only saves the believers – but Christ loves all men in different ways. For example, God doesn;t strike the murderer down immediately at the point of his sin; God doesn't strike centuri0n down when he cannot control is wicked tongue; God does not strike down Steve Hays when he has fantasies about Rita Hayworth. God has longsuffering. God is patient so that those sinners who will be saved can be saved.

That's love to sinners, Steve. And unless a sinner knows he's elect, or unless you know he's elect, it's right to say that God is showing that sinner love -- and it's a love in Christ even if it is not the saving love of Christ.

| [2]How do we know the answer to that
| question? That is, by what evidence do
| we know the answer to that question?
| By the authority and veracity of the
| Scriptures.
| 1Cor. 15:3 For I delivered to you as of
| first importance what I also received, that
| Christ died for our sins according to the
| Scriptures, 1Cor. 15:4 and that He was
| buried, and that He was raised on the third
| day according to the Scriptures.
I think that this answer is fine, but I think there is a better one:

1John 4 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

We know what love is because God loves. He doesn’t just command us to love: He demonstrates love so that we know what He’s talking about.

In Christ, God loves.
| [3]Is it wrong to tell sinners the answer
| to that question???I assume you mean
| the first question. No. But the answer must
| be given in the context of “for whom
| Christ died.” Otherwise it can be
| confusing to unregenerate people to hear
| what seems to be a duplicitous message of
| “God loves you, but you’re going to hell.”
| The gospel call does not begin biblically
| with telling sinners about the love of God.
| It begins with just the opposite; it begins
| by proclaiming to them the law of God,
| the reality of their sin and sinful state, and
| the certain doom that awaits them. I
| realize that “love” is the chief attribute of
| God being promoted today. I call it the
| Oprahfication of the church.

This really was the answer I expected from you, Steve, and I think it makes two mistakes. The first mistake I would point out to you is that we are pressed to deliver the Gospel – the good news of Jesus Christ, the only way to the Father, the salvation from sin – to every human being. The Good News is to everyone, even if, when the finally accounting in the Lamb’s ledger book comes up with the fact that everyone is not saved. The Good News is to everyone. But the result of the Good News is not for everyone – and if you watched the Chan video, he made that transparently clear. He said, in words to this effect, “You must believe in Him.”

Chan’s message is a beautiful message: For God so loved the world that He gave His only son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. Have we really come to the place where we can’t allow that God loved the whole World -- that He showed the way loves works to the whole World – when we deliver the Gospel?

The second mistake I think you make, Steve, is compartmentalizing what Chan says in this video. If you break it down, his presentation is really a very classic Romans Road approach to evangelism: God exists, and made this world for His glory and for us to enjoy; His law is part of that creation, and for our benefit, but we know that we cannot keep His law; we know that breaking the Law requires a punishment – but we must see that it is not just a punishment of the worst but the punishment of any who break the Law; the only relief from the judgment of the Law is the payment for sin in Jesus Christ; the only way to receive that is to believe in Him in repentance and in faith.

To take the “God loves you” statements apart from the “God will judge you – and has already started judging sin” statements simply short-changes this presentation. It takes the parts which could confuse if they were made in a vacuum and puts them in a vacuum.

You’re a reader of my blog, Steve, and let me tell you that this mistake is one of the mistakes I often put a hammer to – because what it does it takes all the sweet savor out of our salvation and our Savior. Paul said it this way: he is actually not far from each one of us, for 'In him we live and move and have our being'; as even some of your own poets have said, 'For we are indeed his offspring.' Being then God's offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man.

Think about that, Steve: Paul says here that these pagans who have a temple to an unknown God ought to know that God is not made of stone, but lives in a way in which we are His offspring. Did Paul only mean, “we are his clay pots” when he said this, or did he mean that God made us all His children?

Does God love His children?

| But in the book of Acts, the record of the
| unfolding of the early church and the
| spread of the gospel to both Jew and
| Gentile, the love of God is not mentioned
| one time. It was not the key hinge on
| which the gospel swung. In fact, the
| proclamation of the person and work of
| the Lord Jesus Christ, sola fide, and
| repentance was the key hinge of the
| gospel call (Acts 2:35-41.
That’s interesting – you’re saying it’s not even implied anywhere?

In Acts 2, what is Peter talking about in v. 25-28? And why does the coming of the Christ mean anything to Israel? Is it because God is merely faithful to a promise, or is it because God’s promise to Israel is a promise which demonstrates God’s love to Israel, the nation?

In Acts 3, what does the lame beggar ask Peter for? What is the motive of giving what the beggar asks for (hint: the motive for this act is found in the parable of the good Samaritan, which is the answer to the question, “who is my neighbor that I should love?”)

In Acts 4, Peter again makes a rather big stink out of Christ being to and for “all of Israel”? Why?

Listen: when we talk about God’s relationship to Israel, even to apostate Israel the nation, we are talking about a relationship of love. Does Peter have to go through all the verses of the Tanach which explicitly say, “Israel, I love you” in order to make the point that Christ is sent to Israel because God loves Israel? Wouldn’t you say that point – that Christ is sent by God out of Love to Israel – is somewhat obvious?

Maybe you wouldn’t. I think any Jewish person even today would say, “God will send a messiah to Israel because He loves us,” even if they are wrong because that Messiah has already come.
| Particular redemption is not at stake
| here; penal substitutionary atonement
| is not at stake here; the exclusivity of
| Christ is not at stake here. What is at
| stake is the character of God.
| What’s at stake here is the character and
| integrity of biblical evangelism.
| Pastor Chan says, “…you gotta
| understand the whole message of the Bible
| is not about this God in heaven who wants
| to take from you, it’s about this God who
| wants to give to you. The fact that this
| Creator, the one made all this actually
| loves us and wants to give to us and if you
| miss out on that you’re gonna miss the
| whole point of your life.”
| That's imbalanced and just isn't true.
Let’s go through your objections to find out how “imbalanced” Francis Chan is.
| He then makes the point: that the reason
| God gave us the Ten Commandments is
| that if we don’t steal or murder this would
| be a much better place for us to live. Is
| that really the chief purpose of the law—
| to make this world a better place? Or, is it
| to reveal that this is what pleases God and
| to measure man’s complete inability or
| depravity within himself to keep those
| laws and merit by his own righteousness
| eternal life? Sometimes while watching
| this very well made video, I felt like I
| should sing: “We are the world, we are
| the children; we are the ones who make a
| brighter day so lets start giving.” ?
I think the way we find that out is to go to Scripture and see what it says.

On the on hand, who can deny that the book of Romans makes it transparently clear that the Law proves we are sinners? Nobody here will deny that -- and Francis Chan doesn’t deny that. He makes that clear in his exposition that we can see that so many people are jacked up, but that we ourselves are also jacked up, and in that, we ourselves are not “good enough” but are instead “breakers of the law”.

And on the other hand, the very last verse of Leviticus is this:
These are the commandments that the LORD commanded Moses for the people of Israel on Mount Sinai.

And Ps 119 – the greatest exaltation of Scripture, and particularly God’s Law in the whole Bible – makes it clear that God’s law is for man’s benefit.

The question, Steve, is not “Does Chan have a consistent systematic”, but “does the Bible tell us that God’s Law is for our sakes", and it does. Is it exclusively for our sakes? Does it only create a path of self-improvement? Why no: it is not, and does not. But factually, Pastor Chan makes it clear that the benefit of the Law is not just that it gives us something therapeutic or useful, but that it convicts us of wrong-doing.
| He also makes this claim, “Listen, if you
| haven’t heard a single thing I’ve said this
| whole time you’ve gotta hear this, despite
| everything you’ve done in your life, God
| still loves you and doesn’t want to punish
| you…”
| Is that true Frank?
If I have to answer in one word, my answer is “yes”. If I have the opportunity to explain what that means, I still say, “yes”.
| God really doesn’t
| want to punish us? Of course not. This is
| the “sloppy agape” that is being presented.
| He could have said, “God does want to
| punish us, His wrath abides on us, He is
| angry with the sinner every day, and there
| is nothing we can do about it—we cannot
| save ourselves. His holiness and justice
| demands our punishment; His law
| requires it; BUT, God demonstrated His
| love for us in that while we were sinners
| Christ died for us…” Otherwise, God is
| presented as a one-attribute Deity by love
| alone – I would call this “the gospel
| according to Barry Manilow.”
You know, when I started watching Francis Chan in that video, I thought to myself, “Geez: this is going to be one of those videos where how beautiful the world is ought to make us just glad to have a beautiful day in the neighbor-wood, and Jesus is my valentine.” But Steve: Chan’s point turns out to be that the world is an uncommon place – a testimony to the Creator. And the Creator didn’t just make a nice playground: He established a Law for our benefit, but we break that Law.

That’s where he says, “God’s wrath abides on us”, Steve. He says it plain as day: “[God’s judgement] is about Him lining us up to His law, and as He goes through His law, it’s really not going to take a whole lot of time before you realize that you’re guilty.” He also says, “at the end of our life, He has every right to punish us as severely as he sees fit. He’s the creator – so if our lives eneded that way, with our punishment, that’d be perfectly fair, perfectly just.” How can you discount those statements? That’s unfair to Chan and unfair to yourself – because it says you can’t hear this message without seeing it as the Wiggles version of Jesus. I am certain you personally are more open to evangelism and the spirit of the Gospel that that; I am also sure you are smarter and more complicated than that.

It’s utterly false to say that Pastor Chan has presented a “one-attribute Deity”. Chan has said that God has given a Law which He takes seriously, which is “necessary”, so seriously that He will judge us using it – but that He also has a love which He takes seriously, as serious as Christ on the Cross.
| Again, the primary purpose and praise of
| the cross is for His sake; we are the
| secondary thought (Eph. 4:4-14).??Your
| last statement is true… if taken in
| isolation.
| Rom. 9:20 On the contrary, who are you,
| O man, who answers back to God? The
| thing molded will not say to the molder,
| “Why did you make me like this,” will it?
| Rom. 9:21 Or does not the potter have a
| right over the clay, to make from the same
| lump one vessel for honorable use and
| another for common use? Rom. 9:22 What
| if God, although willing to demonstrate
| His wrath and to make His power known,
| endured with much patience vessels of
| wrath prepared for destruction? Rom. 9:23
| And He did so to make known the riches
| of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which
| He prepared beforehand for glory, Rom.
| 9:24 even us, whom He also called, not
| from among Jews only, but also from
| among Gentiles.”
It’s funny, Steve, to hear you say these things when Spurgeon has said this:
I do not want to dilate upon a general doctrine to-night, I rather want to press home to the conscience of every man here that God loves him. You know very well that God did not love you because you loved him, for there was not—you will confess it painfully,—anything like love to God in you, but much, very much, that sprang from natural enmity and aversion to him. Why, then, did he love you? Men do not generally love those who hate them, those who spite them, those who give them ill names; and yet God loved us! Why, there are some of the Lord's people that God loved who, before conversion, used to curse him to his face! The Sabbath-day was the day they took for sensual pleasure. They were drunkards; they were unclean; they were everything that is vile; and yet he loved them! Oh, the wonder of this! When they were reeking in the kennels of sin,—when there was no sin too black and too vile for them to commit,—God loved them. Oh, never dream that he began to love you when you began to love him! Oh, no! but it was because he loved you hard and fast, when you were revelling in your sin, that his love put its arms around you, lifted you out of your sin, and made you what you are. Oh, but this is good tidings to some of you! Perhaps you are still, as all God's people once were, living in sin. You hardly know why you have strayed in here, but perhaps, while you sit and listen, you may hoar that God has loved you. Oh, that it may come to be true, that you may prove to be one of his chosen people, whom he loves even though in sin, and whom he will love till you come out of sin and turn to Christ and got pardon for it!
Spurgeon! Saying “God loves Sinners”!

There’s no question that this is true! But in saying this, Spurgeon doesn’t say, “God loves everyone and we’re all off the hook – let’s eat.” Spurgeon says, “Oh, that it may come to be true, that you may prove to be one of his chosen people, whom he loves even though in sin, and whom he will love till you come out of sin and turn to Christ and got pardon for it!”

What Chan says is, “God still loves you and He doesn’t want to punish you. In fact, in the greatest act of Love ever, God Himself had His Son come down on the Earth, take the form of a man, and be nailed to a cross ... but you’ve got to choose to accept him.” And that’s the same thing.

I know what your beef is, Steve: Chan never inserts the word “elect” in there. Listen: I don’t know who the elect are – and neither do you. In fact, Peter didn’t know who the elect were at Pentecost – and he told all the people there what? “the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself”. Aha! “everyone God calls to Himself” is “the elect”, Frank! But is that what Peter means here – “the elect”? Or does he mean, “not just you Jerusalemers, and not just you Jews – but everyone on Earth who will repent.

That is: it’s not the repentance which saves them: it is the repentance which shows who they are. (because Lou and Antonio are reading) Peter preaches the offer of the Gospel to all of these guys and then whosoever will – which, systematically, must be the elect, known from the foundation of the universe from God’s point of view, but Peter couldn’t pick them out of the crowd.

So you might want to make a high theological statement out of that, but Peter is not talking about the limits of the atonement here: he’s talking about how expansive it is. And Pastor Chan is unquestionably talking about an expansive Gospel.

The ploy or position that the Gospel isn’t the Gospel unless it’s only about the Glory of God, or primarily about the Glory of God, misses the much more immediate point that it is also for the sins of us. You can’t get a fight from me about whether the Gospel ought to be glorifying to God – it ought to be glorifying. But Pastor Chan gives all the glory to God, Steve! Think about how he positions the love of God for us: at the cost of His own son. At a cost which Chan says he cannot even conceive of – an idea (sacrificing his own child) he says he couldn’t bear. But God did it. He calls that “the most amazing truth in the world”!

Is that not glorifying to God?
| Our experience to that reality is
| secondary; it is not irrelevant—but it is
| not primary; it is only a matter of grace
| first granted to the believer in Christ as I
| know you would also believe. IOW,
| regeneration must precede faith in
| salvation. It is all of God—all of grace;
| and our response is simply the visible sign
| of His already working within those
| whom the Father has drawn, the Spirit
| regenerated and Christ has redeemed (1
| Cor. 12:3). This is precisely where his
| whole marriage analogy breaks down in
| regards to the gospel call and salvation.
Again, I knew you were going to say this, and I think this is where you do the most harm to your own position.
| Marriage between a man and a woman is a
| dual covenant. Both are equal; both must
| vow; both must say “I Do.” Scripture uses
| the marriage model to describe our life in
| Christ and relationship with Christ (Eph.
| 5:22-26) but not in the gospel call of
| salvation. We don’t bring anything to our
| salvation “accept the sin that makes it
| necessary” (Edwards). We are not dressed
| in white when we come to Christ--we are
| not spiritual, chaste virgins. We are
| sinners and by nature children of wrath.
| We are not lovely, but sinful and
| depraved.
Yes, but while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us, Steve! Chan doesn’t say we are dressed in white; he doesn’t say, “we’re just OK, and now let’s have a coffee with Jesus.” He says, “[God’s judgement] is about Him lining us up to His law, and as He goes through His law, it’s really not going to take a whole lot of time before you realize that you’re guilty ... at the end of our life, He has every right to punish us as severely as he sees fit. He’s the creator – so if our lives ended that way, with our punishment, that’d be perfectly fair, perfectly just.”

What is at issue is if God did something we can see and understand, and in understanding it we should respond. Peter in Acts 2 says, “You should know that Jesus is both Lord and Christ!” That is, Jesus has both the authority to judge and the power to save.

Now, what does Chan do with that? Does he say we are loverly? No – he says we deserve judgment and we get the testimony of the Cross – and we should know it that way. In spite of our sin, and because of our sin, God ponies up the Cross. God does. God takes the action.

I am sure it would be much more systematically-astute to say, “and now, if your lip is quivering at the idea that you are a sinner who deserves hell, but God has paid a price for sin which you see as just and loving, you must be one of the elect, so rejoice in your salvation.”

The problem, of course, is that Peter doesn’t say that at Pentecost! Peter says, “know that Jesus is Lord and Christ – now do something about it.” In our American culture, we say, “choose!” Joshua said, “choose this day whom you will serve” – not meaning that they were able but that they ought to be willing, they have an obligation.

Pastor Chan is saying, “do something about it!” He’s saying God has made a free and public offer of salvation – now do something about it. Take action. If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts.

| I know that Chan is not a semi-Pelagist or
| a closet Romanist (God does His part, we
| do our part and voila… we have a
| Christian). The whole point of the gospel
| is that “…He saved us…” There is no
| cooperation in that divine sovereign work
| between God and man in salvation.
| Sanctification is another thing
| altogether—but none in salvation.
Steve: if you know this, why treat his message as if that’s what it means? Chan isn’t asking for a synergistic thing here: he’s asking the listener to do something about what he has just heard. And he’s doing it based on God’s love. Why is that wrong – because God’s love is somehow less glorious than His wrath? I think that’s a mistake.
| I’m glad that Chan didn’t ask everyone at
| the end of the video to raise their
| surfboards and catch a wave of faith if you
| want to accept Christ as your personal
| Savior. ?
Me, too. :-)
| I almost totally agree Frank. The highest
| purpose of the cross is not only the glory
| of God, but the satisfaction of God—
| propitiation. God had to be satisfied,
| before He could save me, before He could
| really love me. The love of God is not this
| arbitrary thing; it is reserved for His own.
| It is not casual, nor general. The love of
| God is inextricably inseparable from the
| cross of Christ. BUT, as you rightly assert,
| the primacy of the cross was that Christ
| died for God (Roms. 3:24-25)—and we
| are the benefactors of the cross; not the
| primary reason for the cross.
But the Gospel to men, Steve, is the benefit of the cross! That is, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
| Chan’s video didn’t bring that tension of
| those biblical truths to light in his
| production. Again, I thought there were
| some positives to his video. I guess I
| didn’t see this short-film as instrumental,
| essential or as weighty as you did.
This wasn’t a video to extol all the nuances of some systematic view: it was a video you can show to some guy at work during coffee, or to some woman who is over for a play date with your kids.

For heaven’s sake, Steve: it’s not meant to be a church by itself! It’s meant to be a plea from the ambassadors of God: be reconciled to God.
| That is the essence of the promise of the
| call; not the complete essence of the
| atonement. I just don’t think Chan went
| far enough.
Steve: he took 15 minutes. It’s a video, not an interactive robot. He described the attributes of God as Holy and Just and Loving, and he made it clear that the only way to God is through Christ.

That’s enough for an evangelistic video. The rest is the church’s job in discipleship and discipline.
| And notice in those verses you
| quoted from, the love of God was not the
| issue nor mentioned. It was the dual
| emphasis of repentance and forgiveness. It
| would have been nice to hear him drive
| whatever audience he is directing this
| video to back to the authority of Scripture
| in his romantic surfboard appeal. Balance.
If you think that when those in Jerusalem for Pentecost did not understand what the basis for the relationship between God and Israel was – and how the Messiah, the Christ, manifests this – I think, Steve, you better go back to the OT and review what God wants to redeem and save Israel. It’s not just for His glory: it’s for love.

Any son of Abraham would tell you that.
| ...
| I think the greatest human need is not to
| be loved; but to be forgiven which is the
| greatest expression of love. That’s the
| difference. He’s leveraging the wrong
| thing biblically, but is leveraging that
| which pushes all the key buttons. He’s
| tapping into the emotional need for love,
| not the cognitive need to be forgiven of
| our sins. BTW, he referred to sin as
| “messing up.” In his quest to relate, I
| think he toned down the nomenclature
| unnecessarily. Biblical love is not
| unconditional: it is unfailing, unmerited,
| undeserved, unreciprocated, and self-
| sacrificial—but not unconditional. AND,
| it is not conditioned upon a response—it is
| not an emotion. God demonstrated His
| love for me in that Christ died for sinners.
| His love is not conditioned by my
| response, but by His sovereign action. My
| response is only generated by His grace.
| Faith is a gift—not a product of my own
| will.
You lost me when you said that God’s love is not unconditional. Election is unconditional, Steve. I think that when, in order to criticize Pastor Chan, you are willing to say that God’s election – which is how He demonstrates the highest form of His love – is not unconditional, you have fallen off the apple cart.

Total Depravity.
Unconditional Election.
Limited Atonement.
Irresistible Grace.
Perseverance of the Faithful.

The TR police might get after you, Steve, if you say things like that. ;-)
| BTW, I like some of the WOTM
| material—but I’ve never heard them
| present sola fide—justification by faith—
| once in their gospel call. I know that you
| would agree that the biblical use of the
| law is not to present pedestrians a 30
| second spiritual pop-quiz. It is to bring
| conviction upon the soul; that as sinners
| we continually fall short of God’s holy
| appraisal of our lives (Roms. 3:23) then to
| be followed by the balm of sola gratia
| found only in the sinless life, death and
| resurrection of Jesus Christ.
But if we phrase “sola gratia” in terms of “God loves you”, we have done something wrong, apparently.
| Here’s my greatest concern about this
| movie: Chan never once brought up and
| explained the bodily resurrection of the
| Lord Jesus Christ.
That’s not even in the scope of the original complaint you made, Steve. That’s chasing a rabbit – but so that no stone goes unturned, let’s think about that as you are going to expound it.
| And as you know,
| without the resurrection you have no
| gospel and all our preaching (and videos)
| are in vain. 1Cor. 15:13 But if there is no
| resurrection of the dead, not even Christ
| has been raised; 1Cor. 15:14 and if Christ
| has not been raised, then our preaching is
| vain, your faith also is vain...
If this video has any shortfalls, I agree it is that there is no mention of the resurrection. I agree! The basis of calling Jesus “Christ” and “Son of God” is the resurrection (Acts 2, Rom 1). But listen: Chan takes the identity of Christ for granted in this video. He takes it for granted that Christ is God’s Son, and is Himself God. Period.

The resurrection is not some second-shelf truth: it’s the top shelf. But Chan’s point here is that Christ – God - died for our sins, and that we ought to do something about that. Is that really “not enough” to deliver in one pass?

I said:
| Why is it wrong to leverage that if the
| message of the consequences of sin are
| clearly in view? Why is it wrong to tell
| people, "while we were yet sinners,
| Christ died for us," and God shows His
| love for us in this way?

And Steve replied:
| Because 1. he never said that and

You should re-watch the first 1/3rd of this video again, Steve – that's exactly what he said.
| 2. love
| is not the primary essence of the gospel; it
| is the primary motivation of the gospel.
That is exactly Chan’s point. Holy Moley, Campi! How can you understand that in theory and not recognize it in practice? The motive of the Gospel -- God’s motive in the Gospel -- is Love!

How can you confess that here and miss the point?
| It can, if left unbalanced and unexplained,
| muster false hope to the nonelect.
God forbid that we should ever say anything that the non-elect will find confusing – like the fact that God died on a cross, or that God is Father, Son and Spirit.
| As one
| nonbeliever told me after I proclaimed the
| gospel to 7,000 gays, lesbians,
| transsexuals and transvestites at a World
| AIDS Day concert in Oakland, CA, “if
| God already loves me, then I must be OK;
| how am I in need of anything more? How
| could God at the same time let me go to
| hell if He really loves me?” That is the
| logical conclusion that many unsaved
| people come to.
Hold it – let’s make sure we read this all the way through, because I think it utterly defeats the point you are trying to make, Steve. What happened in this event is that you presented the Gospel to a large crowd of unsaved people. Not Francis Chan. In that, I can assume you gave the “Christ died for the elect” presentation you here criticize Chan for not making.

If this person (and presumably others) could mistake your presentation for the Precious Moments Gospel, complete with collector edition pink puppy and ribbon, then how does your method avoid the problem you have presented?

It seems to me that your method is just as likely to be misunderstood as Chan’s method. So Chan should adopt your method ... why?
| I like how Jonathan
| Edwards approached this (whom I know
| you deeply appreciate as well) when he
| called his powerful sermon, “Sinners in
| the Hands of an Angry God”. Why didn’t
| Edwards simply call it: “Sinners in the
| Hands of a Loving God?”
I can answer that question: because Edwards was preaching to a different culture. Edwards was preaching to a culture which understood law and authority; Chan is not. It is also because Eqwards was preaching on a particular text in which that message is crystal clear – Deu 32:35.
| We must
| include in any gospel presentation and call
| of repentance for the forgiveness of sin
| with His holiness, justice, wrath and the
| depravity of man and make the total life
| and ministry of Jesus Christ the object of
| that call.
Chan did that, Steve. To say he didn’t is simply fudging.
| Jesus loves, Steve! And the size of Jesus'
| love is the size of the price He paid for
| sin. God is glorified to show that much
| Love -- and He doesn’t just show it in a
| museum: He shows it to us.
| No argument there and I am eternally
| grateful that He loves me for I deserve
| nothing but to be sanctioned to a living
| hell forever and ever in unmitigated fury
| and gall.
| Luke 24:46 and He said to them, “Thus it
| is written, that the Christ would suffer and
| rise again from the dead the third day,
| Luke 24:47 and that repentance for
| forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed
| in His name to all the nations, beginning
| from Jerusalem.”
| I love you man. You are always a blessing
| in my life and a challenge to my thinking,
| which I need and appreciate greatly.
| Thank you for your questions and
| thoughts and a chance to respond. I don’t
| know if my answers were as adequate as
| what you presented.
Before I post this, I’m going to check it for shrill tone because I know a couple of things Campi said here riled me – if I leave anything like that in here, it is unintentional.

Let me say one last thing: in Luke 24, when Christ makes this statement to the disciples, he also says this: “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled”. What is evident – broadly and specifically in “Moses and the Prophets” – is that God responds with love in the face of His wrath.

Scroll up a bit in Luke 24 to the road to Emmaus – what happens there? “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” That is, the prophets said that God would bring a Messiah, but the work of the Messiah was to die. Certainly: the resurrection is the sign of the finished-ness of the work – but the death of Christ was necessary.

That’s what Chan focused on, and let God be willing that some shall hear it in spite of those of us who are concerned about orthodoxy and purity in the church.


Daniel said...

Wow. That really was long. I appreciated the warning.

FX Turk said...

Yeah, but are you tired? I have this great post of Mark 2-3 I've been thinking about this weekend which is related to this issue, and I can't write it now because I'm too tired.

FX Turk said...

By the way, that last paragraph? I'm one of those. that's not a shot at Campi: it's a shot at anyone who is like that, inlcuding me.

donsands said...

Yep, I'm one of those concerned about purity in the Church.

The Father draws His elect to the Cross. He will do it, and the way He does it does have boundaries. There's so much watered down preaching today, that discussions like these are good for us all.

Good to see you and Steve exchanging thoughts. Iron sharening iron.

Lindon said...

Quote: That is: it’s not the repentance which saves them: it is the repentance which shows who they are."

Wow. There is some food for thought.

Thanks, this was something I needed to read today.

Charles Sebold said...

Frank... that was just what I needed to hear. Wow. Time to queue up a discussion on what a "free and well-meant offer" is now.

DJP said...

1. Note to self: cross Frank off the list of people who can make fun of the length of my posts. EVER.

2. I didn't even know Jackie Chan was a Christian. Cool! Kalvinist-ka-POW!

James Scott Bell said...

Gadzooks, why is this even an issue? Isn't John 3:16 clear enough? I dont' think the reference to God loving the world is referring this orb we're sitting on.
BTW, "whosoever" really does mean "whosoever."

Anyway, that was a tour de France, Frank. A piece of resistance. Your keyboard must be smoking.

Family Blogs said...

I haven't seen the 'Chan' video (although I've watched some of Jackie's in the past), but the discussion which it has generated is compelling stuff. Thanks Frank for you clarity of thought and expression.

The part which I found most affecting was your delineation of universal and particular love. One of the finest expositions of this that I've read is in Iain H. Murray's 'The Old Evangelicalism'. Having urged preachers to the presentation of the Law to the consciences of sinners, to the mystery of regeneration, and the penal nature of Christ's atonement Murray writes in chapter 4 of 'The Cross - the Pulpit of God's Love. His treatment of the preaching of God's love is humbling and astounding.

Thanks for your continued insights Frank - so helpful to someone like me...

Scott Moonen said...

See also D. A. Carson's The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God. That gets at many of the themes that Frank is covering here. Good stuff. Thank you, Frank!

SB said...

To see the Francisnot "Jackie" Chan video click here.

SB said...

SORRY I fixed the link.(can't figure out how to delete that post above)

To see the Francis not Jackie Chan video click here.

Anonymous said...

Frank, you did a stellar job on this, and while I sympathize with Camp ( I too grow tired of the Mainline Protestant message of the Love God, particularly because it was an unsuspecting methodist once who pretty much told me God loved me no matter what I did, so I put off repentance for about 6 years after that.), I think your reply was doctrinally more balanced (See Phil's recent post on balance) and in more in line with the biblical texts. Great way to discuss the "Doctrines of Grace". What a glorious God we serve.

My pastor has a pretty stellar way of illustrating a correct yet loving and graceful Calvinism as well.

My only perhaps misgiving is the possible allusion that Edwards audience could receive more preaching on Law because of the society and time. I dont't know if our society is any less worthy of hearing sermons with Law. Perhaps I misread you.

Overall, good read!

Patrick Chan said...

Hey, what's up with this:

Certainly, they both say that Christ only saves the believers – but Christ loves all men in different ways. For example, God doesn;t strike the murderer down immediately at the point of his sin; God doesn't strike centuri0n down when he cannot control is wicked tongue; God does not strike down Steve Hays when he has fantasies about Rita Hayworth. God has longsuffering. God is patient so that those sinners who will be saved can be saved.

I don't recall Steve Hays ever specifically saying he fantasized about Rita Hayworth. In fact, I don't even recall him explicitly saying or implying whether "lusting" after her (or other dead Hollywood starlets) in general was itself something that was morally fine for single Christian men to do. Rather, I recall him using her as an example of what's not "adulterous covetous lust" in the context of Matt. 5:28.

Otherwise, I thought you did a great job, Frank. Really good to read. :-)

And I loved Pastor Chan's presentation of the gospel. I've sent it on to a bunch of my friends. A real honest, down-to-earth plea, as you said, to be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ.

BTW, I'd think the surfing works especially well for us Californians. ;-)

Patrick Chan said...

Ah, okay, here is what Steve Hays said:

8. At the risk of stating the obvious, even where a sexual fantasy is involved, sexual fantasies don’t necessarily take married women or even living women as their object.

One could fantasize about a long dead movie star. Or one could fantasize about a generically beautiful woman.

If a teenage boy has a fantasy about, let us say, Rita Hayworth, it’s hard to see how that would qualify as adulterous covetous lust. He is single and she is dead. So it doesn’t involve an alienation of affection on one side or the other.

Again, I’m not saying that this is right or wrong. I’m simply discussing it within the framework of Mt 5:28.

DJP said...

And now... we know that.

FX Turk said...


Gosh, was my post really not long enough? :-)

Here's what I'm getting at: the law still has its use -- the use it has always had on the hearts of men, which is to convict them of their sins. But for Edwards, the society around him was not worried about whether God relates to them as individuals as much as it was concerned that God be the fountain of Justice. He lived in a society which was still very much part of "Christendom" even if some of the Enlightenment presuppositions about personal autonomy was creeping in.

We now live in a post-Christian society. That is: most people have presups that assume Christian thinking and foundations as false and we have moved past them. In that society, we cannot hope to reach them with a plea concerning the source of justice because they may not even believe in Justice.

But they are still human. The Law will still reach them -- if they can see that the intermediate (not eternal) goal of the Law is to show us Love. As Chan was so good to point out, if we are compared to the Law, we aren't good at all -- but God doesn't love us because we are good.

Listen: so many of us (me included) get on a riff about sacramentalism and works-based faith, but God doesn't love us because we are good. God loved us while we were still in our sins. God loves us right now when we are still in our sins. To say God loves us because we turned something around is just a tricksy blind spot in our apologetic mirror in which is a large tour bus painted black carrying the death-metal band named "MY OWN RIGHTEOUSNESS", and we're about to pull our 15-year-old Nissan Sentra into that lane as if there was nothing there.

Edwards spoke to the people he had available to him; Chan is speaking to the people he has available to him. We have to speak to the people right here.

That doesn't mean we can just say, "oh just watch Oprah and do what she does -- that close enough." It means that we find the way in which the actual Gospel can be spoken to these people. The Gospel which has the power to save the Jew first, and also the Gentile; the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Gospel.

Preach the Gospel, make disciples, baptize. Let's do that rather than try a 13-hour presentation by the end of which the only guy left is the kook with a manuscript is left, and he just wants Phil Johnson's phone number because he knows you're tight with him.

FX Turk said...


It was a throw-away. It was a fast-and-loose example. Perhaps it was a typo and I meant "Steve Hayes" with whom I went to college and not "Steve Hays" with whom I frequently agree but not always.

No harm was meant, and if it was, I apologize.

Sharad Yadav said...

Dang, I thought I had some long posts! I think your point about the Romans road is what has confused me about this whole conversation - I've seen "The Way of the Master" with Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron lauded here before without protest. Chan's message was essentially the same. Great job. Now get some ice for those phalanges.

And post on the New Perspective or the Emerging church every once and awhile, would you? Just to keep things fresh? ;-)

Patrick Chan said...


It was a throw-away. It was a fast-and-loose example. Perhaps it was a typo and I meant "Steve Hayes" with whom I went to college and not "Steve Hays" with whom I frequently agree but not always.

No harm was meant, and if it was, I apologize.

Hehe, well, speaking for myself now, maybe I gotta stop being "the quotation (or whatever) police"? In fact, I fear if I don't change right away, it may not be too long before I end up working alongside the Soup Nazi. ;-)

FX Turk said...


You're a TMC grad, aren't you? DOn't they teach the Romans' Road?

All have sinned
Sin = Death
God gives Christ out of Love
believe and be saved
Be at peace

All from the book of Romans.

FX Turk said...

BTW, Raja, I'm re-reading "What St Paul really said".

because I only blog for you, fella.


Anonymous said...

Frank, I am secretly an avid reader. That means I like long posts.

Your explanation sounds pretty good. hadn't thought of it that way.You really nailed it when you wrote

"But for Edwards, the society around him was not worried about whether God relates to them as individuals as much as it was concerned that God be the fountain of Justice."

That encroachment of the enlightenment really has bloomed into our day, which is, as you know, big on "self".

I am no theologian. I am just aspiring to be faithful to the majestic Lord we serve. Your post was pretty up there in my books in describing the Biblical position, heck, I'll say it, the Calvinist position as it should be presented.

Thanks. It was kinda pretty. Look forward to Mark 2-3.

D.R. Brooker said...

Does God love the reprobate? Does He love those who are currently in hell? Curious how you would answer those questions.

FX Turk said...

Mr. Brooker:

"Does God love the reprobate?" Are they in Hell right now, or is he treating them with patience also? It seems to me that God treats them with love right now -- forebearance and kindness in spite of their enmity toward Him. It seems to me that he loves his enemies and returns good for evil.

"Does He love those currently in Hell?"

I have no idea -- I think the Bible is silent on that, but I'd be willing to hear what you think you have read about this in the Bible.

Touchstone said...


This is an excellent post. I've already started several interesting email discussions with it today with, um, "thoroughly" Reformed friends. This issue goes deeper than you've plumbed here (even!), but I appreciate seeing someone who "gets it" on this issue speak up loud and clear from the inside. Very gratifying, kudos.


donsands said...

I have a quick thought to add with the truth that God loves people-- He also hates people. The Bible is clear on this as well.

FX Turk said...

Mr. Brooker:

I forgot to ask something after answering your questions. When you're talking to some human person today, how do you know if they are reprobate or elect?

Let me give you a specific example. When I was 19 years old, this guy came up to me because I was wearing a cross on my leather jacket and wanted to know if I loved Jesus -- and I laughed in his face. I was an atheist, and I wore that cross because I had a jesuit education. It was a tribute to those who made me what I was. He tried to deliver the Gospel to me, and I told him, "you can believe that if you want to, I guess".

About 8 years later in the basement of my parents' house, with the Bible open to the book of John, I pleaded with God to forgive me and for Christ to accept me and make me into someone worthy of His name.

Would the fellow who got laughed at when I was 19 have been able to tell if I was reprobate or elect? How would he have done that?

The issue is not if God reporbates some: it is if the Gospel must be preached to every man. How do you preach the Gospel when your first question is, "well, is he elect or not?"

Anonymous said...

I've posted once on this blog, that's why I started my own blog, but anyways it was kind of hard to understand your post about the theological standpoint of God's love.?

If you can post the meaning of what you've psoted, in one paragraph, maybe it would be easier for me to undersand what you were talking about. I kind of got confused. Is that OK?


THe stuff with presenting God's Law to sinners, it's right when you're wtinessing to people and you will never see them again, but when you are witnessing, let's say to... KIDS AT MY SCHOOL... it really doesn't work quizzing them if they lied, stolen, etc. I tried that to ten or more kids, i tried showing them God's Law, they laughed, some said they were concerned, but all of them... the next day didn't care at all what I was speaking to them about, about Christ paying for our sins by dying on the cross... it's just like nobody at my school really cares about God... about couple of people do... but that's it.

I can't go on quizzing them if they lied... I still see them every day...I mean I should develop, not a "friendship evangelism" but something that I could witness to them, and they would care about it.

It's kind of hard for me to express my thoughts on this... it's just that the only way for people to know CHrist is to look at the Law, but at school it's like Las Vegas. When i tell people about their sin and how guilty they are, some carea bout it, but most just say don't push your religion on me.

So I don't know what to do except to pray about it.

FX Turk said...

One paragraph?

The point is this: the Gospel is not just about making theological propositions line up in a straight line. It is a historical event that happened for a reason and has "doers" and "receivers". While the Glory of God is the pre-eminent truth of Scripture, God's glory is just as manifest in His love of sinners as it is in His justice and Holiness.

How's that? Now that you have the very tawdry Cliff's notes, please read the whole thing as there is much more to it.

D.R. Brooker said...


Yes...that point has been much overlooked. Some may try and lessen the impact of Paul's words in Romans 9:13 but the meaning seems quite obvious; all "Hebrew idioms" aside.


I think you have misunderstood my question and my intent in asking. It has nothing to do with us knowing elect or reprobate. We don't. We are to proclaim the gospel to all men indiscriminately as commanded.

The gospel is the instrument by which God saves men, OR hardens men. It has a dual purpose. To some it is "a savour of life unto life" and to others "a savour of death unto death." Psalm 73:16-19 hardly seems like a loving act of God. Perhaps you think God in only passive in reprobation. If so, we would differ on that and perhaps that is why some might view this differently. there is ample textual support for God's activity in reprobation.

Revelation tells us that God will sustain hell, and those in hell, for eternity. That certainly is a judicious act, but hardly what I would call a loving act; you may beg to differ.

I only asked the question because there are many texts to the contrary (as Don Sands mentioned) not addressed and I don't think it painted a complete picture.

Not that you have to address them all. :-) Just thought the point needed to be made for "balance".

Anonymous said...

Hey Centurion,

Who's Cliff?

Sorry, I don't know what notes you are talking about, and tawdry?

Also I posted about God's LAw used in school. Re-read it again if you forgot. Thanks.

God bless.

FX Turk said...

On quizzing about the Law:

I'd stop breaking out the old quizzes and ask them: is the world screwed up, or is it exactly the way it ought to be? That is -- is there a problem of evil, or not?

Any honest kid will tell you there's a problem of evil -- and while you can lecture the dishonest ones, they aren't listening.

If there is a problem of evil, what's evil about the world? That is -- is the cause of most of the evil "natural disaster" or is it "man bites man"? The honest answer is "man bites man" -- open any newspaper or read any kid's journal.

So far, so good. Now, who are these people causing all this grief? Is it strangers you haven't met yet, or is it people you know? For instance, is High School a complete horror because everyone there is so "brotherhood of man", or is it because so many people are personally jacked up?

Now here's the kicker: is it everyone else who is jacked up, or is it you who are jacked up? That is, isn't it true that the problem is not that people we have never met but only can hypothesize about are indifferent and cause the pain in others, but that each one of us causes that pain?

Sure -- that looks like a quiz -- but I'll bet that you're smart enough to use those question or the answers to them to show somebody that it's not the world which is the problem: it's you and me that are the problem, times 6.5 billion.

When we discover we are the problem -- I am the problem -- we have to seek a solution to the problem of "I". The Law spells out the problem; the solution is Jesus Christ, the one who loved us while we were jacked up and trying to kill ourselves.

FX Turk said...


I'd also not get too worked up about election in terms of what the Gospel is all about. Election is the assurance of the believer that God will do what He says He will do.

If you are really worried that you're at a school where everyone is going to hell, I can tell by your blog that you are not yet equipped to deal with that by yourself. get your pastor or Sunday School teacher to work on your personal discipleship. you belong to a church for a reason, and it's not to keep you from sleeping in on Sunday.

Anonymous said...

centuri0n said: Would the fellow who got laughed at when I was 19 have been able to tell if I was reprobate or elect? How would he have done that?

The leather. Definitely, the leather...

Morris Brooks said...

In thinking about how Jesus presented the gospel He always preached with His audience in view, and used different terms and analogies to drive home His point. His response to the rich young ruler and the woman at the well were different. Some He told to repent, others to believe, some He called, others He confronted, some He told would have to eat His flesh and drink His blood, and others He told would have to believe that "I am" or die in their sins. Since He did not give a "fully balanced" gospel presentation listing every theological point every time would He be accused of presenting a partial or incomplete gospel?

All of us who have preached or taught have had someone come to us afterwards to tell us about something that we "left out" that would have presented the balance, when that was not in the context of the section of Scripture we were expounding. In our own personal witnessing I doubt that any of us have used every theological point concerning salvation, but spoke to the person as we were led, or answered their question regarding salvation while keeping our audience in mind. It seems to me that is what Chan is doing.

Family Blogs said...

Contrary to wanting more on 'The New Perspective' or 'Emerging Church', I think that the subject of your articles is bang on! Its exactly these truths that we as evangelicals need to be grappling with.

If we become better informed about the New Perspective we might be able to refutre the Dunn/Sanders/Wright types of this world (a worthy pursuit, mind you); if we grasp the significant threat of the 'Emergent' we might be better placed to define our polity etc (again more than worthy); but if we grasp the amazing nature of God's love for sinners, who can tell what might happen to our hearts, our families, our preaching?

The post and the comments following have been a time stimulant to me in my preaching of the cross.

Family Blogs said...

Contrary to wanting more on 'The New Perspective' or 'Emerging Church', I think that the subject of your articles is bang on! Its exactly these truths that we as evangelicals need to be grappling with.

If we become better informed about the New Perspective we might be able to refute the Dunn/Sanders/Wright types of this world (a worthy pursuit, mind you); if we grasp the significant threat of the 'Emergent' we might be better placed to define our polity etc (again more than worthy); but if we grasp the amazing nature of God's love for sinners, who can tell what might happen to our hearts, our families, our preaching?

The post and the comments following have been a time stimulant to me in my preaching of the cross.

Family Blogs said...

Contrary to wanting more on 'The New Perspective' or 'Emerging Church', I think that the subject of your articles is bang on! Its exactly these truths that we as evangelicals need to be grappling with.

If we become better informed about the New Perspective we might be able to refute the Dunn/Sanders/Wright types of this world (a worthy pursuit, mind you); if we grasp the significant threat of the 'Emergent' we might be better placed to define our polity etc (again more than worthy); but if we grasp the amazing nature of God's love for sinners, who can tell what might happen to our hearts, our families, our preaching?

The post and the comments following have been a timely stimulant to me in my preaching of the cross.

Family Blogs said...

Contrary to wanting more on 'The New Perspective' or 'Emerging Church', I think that the subject of your articles is bang on! Its exactly these truths that we as evangelicals need to be grappling with.

If we become better informed about the New Perspective we might be able to refute the Dunn/Sanders/Wright types of this world (a worthy pursuit, mind you); if we grasp the significant threat of the 'Emergent' we might be better placed to define our polity etc (again more than worthy); but if we grasp the amazing nature of God's love for sinners, who can tell what might happen to our hearts, our families, our preaching?

The post and the comments following have been a timely stimulant to me in my preaching of the cross.

SJ Camp said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
SJ Camp said...


IMHO, here are the problems with this video:

1. There is no mentioning or explanation of repentance from sin (Luke 24:46-47)

2. There is no mentioning or explanation of what it means to saved by grace through faith in Christ alone - justification by faith (Romans 3:21-26)

3. There is no mentioning or explanation of the Lordship of Christ; our submission to Him as Lord; or our confession of Him as Lord unto salvation (Acts 2:36-40; Romans 10:9-10)

4. There is no mentioning or explanation of the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1 Cor. 15:3-4; 12-18)

5. There was not one mentioning of any Bible verse specifically in the entire video. A non-Christian who would watch this would have no idea where to look in a Bible to see if what Chan was saying was true. Chan used the language of "Jesus says..." or "God says..." or the "bible says..." But, he never told them where those things are said; and when he was trying to quote it himself, he usually misquoted it. (2 Tim. 4:1-5)

And remember Frank, this is a pastor of a church purposely NOT saying these things.

This video does not present a sufficient gospel that saves and it certainly is not the gospel according to Jesus, the Apostles, or the great divines of the 15th-19th centuries. By one this one thing of leaving out the bodily resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, this video presents no gospel at all.

IOW, Charles Finney would endorse, be proud of, and really love this video.

But hey, it looked great.

Sola Fide,
Romans 3:21-26

FX Turk said...

Mr. Brooker --

That's a very even-handed response. Since you act, I believe in God's active reprobation and God's active punishment of the souls in Hell.

However, that makes the matter of proclaiming the Gospel all that more urgent and necessary. It is by the proclamation of the Gospel that the elect are called -- but since you and I don't have sacramental night-vision goggles, we can't tell who these people are.

And in that, the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. The message is still in Jn 3:16, and it is still that God loves us.

Will some still see the Gospel as the savor of death? Yes, they will -- I was one of those. It seems to me that Paul was himself one of those -- he wanted to kill those preaching it. But we can't say, "Ah well: God didn't save him" when we find someone like that.

Listen: I have done internet apologetics (poorly) for the last 10 years or so, and there is one anecdote that sticks out in my mind specifically as related to this. There was a fellow in an atheist forum who was particularly skeptical about all things related to the Bible. I could answer all his questions -- argue him into a corner. But he wouldn't change his mind because he rejected all superstition, all supernatural things.

Frankly, I wrote him off as reprobate, and engaged him further only for the sake of those reading. I wasn't going to change his mind.

Then, something really bizarre happened: he started talking to a real person, a Lutheran pastor. He was a liberal Lutheran pastor, to be sure, but this man showed him that the Gospel was not an argument but an act of love perpetrated on a universe which is somewhat lacking in such a thing.

Suddenly, the "arguments" made more sense to this person -- and he stopped posting in the forum. I have no idea what happened to him, but listen: we can't demand a verbal defense of the 5 solas from someone in order to start presenting the Gospel to them.

Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. God loves His enemies now -- even if He will punish them (whoever they are) eternally when the books are opened. Get involved in that part of the Gospel.

Carla Rolfe said...

I'd like to see this video for myself, before I make a comment on all this, but being on dial up makes it really hard (if not impossible at times) to download or watch online videos.

So without actually seeing it for myself, it seems to me that this all comes down to a matter of opinion on the clarity of the gospel message IN the video in question.

I think (no, I know) this is the exact kind of discussions Christians SHOULD be having, as it pertains to the Biblical gospel and what is, and what isn't contained in it.

If our foundation and what we understand the gospel to be isn't firm, then our theology after the fact will not hold up either.

May I suggest (for those that have not yet read it) James White's Pulpit Crimes - The Criminal Mishandling of God's Word, to the readers here. It addresses some of the very things I've seen brought up in the comments, and it addresses the points much better than I ever could.
(I want to make it clear that I'm suggesting this without seeing the video myself or making any accusations about it - it's simply a general recommendation for your edification)


thearmoury said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
thearmoury said...

Brother Steve -

Our brethren were speaking about you and your ministry this past Lord's day with tender affection - It's a blessing to have men yielding God honoring music in an age of...fluff. Having read your responses on this and the earlier post, I would offer the following about the video in question:

When I first saw the video, I went to the rest of the website, which is important because it establishes a broader context for everything. In fact, let me say that the overall website must be consulted if the video is to be understood for its true value; take for example the second question in their "'I'm A GOOD PERSON' TEST":

"Question #2
You shall not make for yourself any idol.

Who is God to you? Is he only a god of love and mercy who would never judge anyone and never cast anyone into Hell? If that’s your god, then you’re right. Your god couldn’t cast anyone into Hell because he doesn’t exist. He’s a figment of your imagination. You’ve created a god in your own mind that you’re more comfortable with. You may call it your “personal belief,” but God calls it idolatry. The Bible warns that idolaters will not inherit the Kingdom of Heaven, (Ephesians 5:5)."

The language in the test is fairly direct and has good Scripture references. What is interesting about the test is that it takes the law and uses it in accordance with Galatians 3:24 - as a pedagogue which leads us to Christ. I think that part of the problem here is that if we take the video, by itself, we may miss the fact that the video is a kind of "baby step" that was designed to lead the viewer to a deeper probe into the Scriptures (found in the rest of the website). It does make me think of Paul's dealings with the Athenians in Acts 17. In that context, Paul only got so far in his preaching, but in a sense he proclaimed enough truth to destroy "speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God" (2 Cor. 10:4). Note:

Acts 17:25: "He is not served by human hands, as though He needed anything..." - In the Greek/Roman mindset the gods were somewhat needy beings, in that they were thought to be (to some extent) sustained by the temples and the sacrifices that were offered (Varro, speaking with a tone of sarcasm once said: "I am afriad that some gods may perish simply from neglect.").

Acts 17:26: "He made from one man every nation of mankind..." - The Athenians believed themselves to be superior to all other peoples, because it was Zeus who formed them from Athenian soil - and of course, Athenian soil was the best in the world. At least that's what the Athenians believed anyway.

Acts 17:29: “Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man." This Paul said amidst all of the ornate idols that were formed by the art and thought of man! That's quite a thing to say at the Areopagus!

What Paul does in Acts 17 is very different than when he preached in the synagogue in Antioch in Acts 13. Here, he quotes no OT Scriptures, but summarizes their teaching. He spends a great deal of time destroying speculations (logismous - human reason) in order to herald the Lord's singular right and authority to "judge the world in righteousness through a Man." Paul's message here is somewhat of a Gospel primer, in that he never did get to the point where he could name Jesus Christ by name, or proclaim His mission of the cross. This is so because he was interrupted mid-message, but what happened next was very important: there were some who said "We shall hear you again concerning this." This is where I would suggest that the whole website must come into play. It is designed for those who desire to hear more about this Man who will judge the world in righteousness. The conclusion of the website's test concerning our standing before God's law is (among other things) is John 3:36 - "the wrath of God abides on you..." This then sets the stage for the presentation of God's mercy and grace through Jesus Christ.

Having looked at the video a second time now, I will say that there some weak points in the video. In the context of the whole website, they are not show-stoppers, but they could stand some editing. For example, towards the end, he says that (roughly) that the Creator of the Universe is crazy about you. While I realize that this is slang, it isn't a good choice - if even considered as an anthropopathism. In the context of the video itself, he used this expression to speak of his love for his children – many of us probably use this expression too, but let's put it this way, I'm not eager to see a Bible version come out with "for God was so crazy about the world that He gave His only begotten Son.” Slang like this does not seem to comport with the beauty, glory and holiness of God's love for mankind. I wouldn’t call this a show-stopper – but if it could be changed, I believe that it would be a help to the video overall. At another point he says “…when He [God] says ‘Thou shalt not murder’ He’s just saying ‘look, ya know, I think your life on earth would be a whole lot better if you don’t kill each other.’” Again, we ought to be careful whenever we summarize the Lord’s desire and will as His ambassadors: He doesn’t merely ”think” that His will is good – He knows that it is, such that He gives it to us, not as a suggestion, but as an uncompromising command. Another issue of clarification comes concerning the extent of our guilt in view of the law’s requirement - in view of the foremost commandment (“you shall love the Lord your God…” and “you shall love your neighbor as yourself” Deut. 6:4-5 and Lev. 19:18 via Mark 12:28-31) sinners are guilty of all of the law, for the natural man has not the love of God in his heart (John 5:39-42, Gal. 3:12 & Romans 10:5). One of the greater values of the video/website is that is expresses the passion that we see expressed by Paul when he said: 2 Corinthians 5:20 “Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.” That final verb [katalagete] is an imperative, expressing greater urgency and earnestness in the Gospel call. Clearly, passion without truth is worthless - but truth proclaimed with passion is our calling - a truth that I know that you are committed to as well.

FX Turk said...


I appreciate you pointing to the balance of the website for the ministry context of the video, but let me suggest to you that people being shown this video the first time are probably not seeing it on a web site -- they are seeing it because a friend is showing to to them. In that, we might see more of the ministry in the web site, but factually if the video is as bad as Steve has made it out to be, the rest of the site actually makes the shortcomings of the video worse, not better or extraneous. If Steve is right.

But Steve is not right. And rather than go into that more here, I have posted my final response on this matter, allowing that Steve will have the final word on this matter. You can find that final response here.

God bless you all.

ChosenClay said...

Sorry Frank, but I'm with Campi on this one. The video is at best "weak" or at worst "lame" as a gospel presentation. Most new believers can articulate a better gospel than this!

Family Blogs said...

I'm so sorry for the multiple postings of the same comment earlier. I was using a computer at university and it did something weird!!

Hugely embarassed!

FX Turk said...


its the anonymous commenters that always change my mind.

ChosenClay said...

centuri0n said,
"its the anonymous commenters that always change my mind".

That was truly profound Frank!

But alas I am not as "anonymous" as you suggest. Our friend Dan "Booya" Phillips knows me and we see each other at that "Presbyterian" church most Sundays.

SB said...


DJP said...

To be very clear, I haven't talked with chosenclay or anyone but Frank (backstage) about this matter.

And thanks a lot for outing me as a PRESBYCalvidispiebaptogelical!

candy said...

The only problem I had with the video was when Chan said that God is begging for us to accept Him and screaming for our attention.

Frank said: I can answer that question: because Edwards was preaching to a different culture. Edwards was preaching to a culture which understood law and authority;

I am not so sure that Edwards presented the gospel the way he did because of a particular culture, but rather, a particular climate at the time. In 1727 there were a series of alarming earthquakes in New England. It opened the door for preachers like Cotten Mather to preach about the judgement of God. People responded. They were somewhat nervous after all. The Great Awakening started about 1730. Edwards was able to appeal to the sinful nature of man because people thought more about God's judgement partly due to circumstances. Edwards felt that it was a sure sign of repentence if a person recognized their wretchedness first.

I think that our presentation of the gospel may take on more of an urgency if we, like the people in Edwards time, were put in mind of the wrath of God due to extenuating circumstances.

Not to say that I have much of a problem with the video. I don't much. I was touched and compelled to read the Bible after watching Godspell years and years ago.

ChosenClay said...

Dan said,

"And thanks a lot for outing me as a PRESBYCalvidispiebaptogelical!"

Yeah Dan like nobody knew!


D.R. Brooker said...


I'm not trying to beat a dead horse but this point is extremely important to understand. Pastor Chan said, "God loves you and does not want to punish you."

Was that true of Pharoah? Of Esau? Of the vessels of wrath in Romans 9 "fitted for destruction?" That statement is just not true when you consider the whole of the biblical record. How do they all fit together? I'm not sure to be honest. We know that He purposed that His justice and holiness would be exalted through the condemnation of these vessels. Only by understanding this can we truly understand mercy. You said you believe God is active in reprobation. If that is so, then you maintain that God loves those He actively hardens and has made a vessel of His wrath. That hardly makes sense.

Why do we evangelize? For God's glory. If He sees fit to bless our efforts by using us as an instrument in the conversion of souls, fantastic. If He uses us to share the gospel by which sinners are further hardened, then to Him be the glory; even if we don't comprehend His purposes in it. Our "job" is to be obedient and do it. We are to go out and glorify God by proclaiming His message, in its truth and purity, and if souls are saved through the means of our proclamation, praise be to Him.

But it seems obvious that we cannot indiscriminately tell everyone God loves them giving the ample evidence in scripture (Psalm 73:16-19; Prov. 16:4; Romans 9; etc).

If Pastor Chan had said, "God loves sinners and look what He did to save them," there wouldn't be this issue over the misuse of the love of God. That aside, I thought his video was good.

A gospel proclaimed in its full truth and purity, especially when it is a premeditated presentation, should be the goal of ours as well. As you put it, "Get involved in that part of the Gospel."

Thanks for reading. I've said my peace.

The Fantastic Daughter-In-Law's Spouse said...

Did he really say, "Just go - get a room with God!"

Where was the script co-ordinator on that one?

When he hopped up on that log I seriously thought he was going to give us a Pat Morita crane technique and then break the top of some glass bottles.

Catez said...

Wow - quite a post. Thanks. Nothing to do with Steve Camp, but a reflection on some discussions I've been having which this post brings to mind - I think some folk have the idea that we are supposed to teach non-Christians theology. I mean everything from justification, sanctification, you know - the system.

Looking at the kerygma of the 1st century church that wasn't the case. You could argue that the theology wasn't all revealed - but the point is the gospel message was effective for salvation and the gospel message is what we are called to communicate. And part of that is repentance and forgiveness of sins. Not heaping condemnation on people to engender an emotional despair, which is not conviction.

Because, to be honest, some people don't hear the real message when it is about making them feel awful so that they can deserve the love, i.e. if you really feel awful emotionally then you can have grace. But you better feel real bad or you won't deserve it.

It's works when it's mans condemnation rather than the Holy Spirit's conviction.

Adam Omelianchuk said...

DR Booker:

By the logic implied in your latest comment, how do you know God loves YOU? If God's love is only consigned to his purpose in election, and no one can know who the elect are, how could you claim God's love for yourself?

Frank's point, I believe, is that using this slash-n-burn technique with God's election on God's love for the "world" (Jn. 3:16) doesn't do justice to how God reveals himself in the gospel call (right Frank?). As far as I can tell, this way of thinking calls our own salvation into question.

DarrellB said...

I truly like the sincere offer of God's forgiveness but I must admit it strikes me as easy-believism. The word "choice" would have been fine if he would have followed it up with repent and believe(trust) in Christ for salvation. I think he tried to hint at it with the whole "you will see it in their lifestyle". It is a pre-made video and I think He could have put more effort into it.


Anonymous said...

I was reading Deuteronomy and saw this

Deuteronomy 11
26 “See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse: 27 the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you today, 28 and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside from the way that I am commanding you today, to go after other gods that you have not known.

So while, yes the law is a curse if we break it, it is a blessing if we keep it (just as Chan mentioned). Thankfully, Chan followed up by saying that we have all broken it (therefore, we are cursed).