Thursday, April 22, 2010

The ever-rising bar: must one know everything to assess anything?

A few years ago, NT scholar N. T. Wright said some goofy, inane thing or other — and let's face it, he's made a few — and we (particularly Phil, I think, in the first instance) called him on it, over at Pyro.

The woodworks opened, and out poured the Wright fanboys in their smoking-jackets and slippers, demanding a sworn, notarized affidavit certifying that each of us had read and understood each of the approximately 231,517 pages that Dr. Wright had written to date, before venturing to criticize any independent statement he made or wrote about anything, anywhere, ever.

Fast-forward to my post on Francis Chan's written announcement of his "step of faith." In that post, I specifically stated that I was not going to focus on Chan, nor on anything else he ever said anywhere except that one statement. My focus would be his stated rationale. I explained why I found it (at best) problematic.

My assessment resonated with many, and ticked off a few. Though again and again I said, "Now, maybe he meant this...", another blog faulted me for not giving Chan a chance, and otherwise badly misrepresented me. A couple of commenters said I really needed to watch the video.

Here's the thing: no, I really don't. Let me explain.

What's on that résumé again?
Wright, Chan, any pastor, any writer, me — we're in the "business" of communication. It is what we do. Particularly in the case of pastors (again: Wright, Chan, yr. hmble svt.), we are held accountable for our words (cf. James 3:1). We know it going in. If we don't, shame on us — but the accountability is there, regardless.

My point about the single piece of communication I identified for analysis is that there is no context that would change my analysis of it.

Well, okay, I suppose the one exception would be if, in the video, Chan says,
"Okay now, after this, I'm going to write this letter chock full of mystical mumbo-jumbo and irresponsible, potentially disastrous implications. Don't even read it! I don't mean a word of it! As I just explained for 56 minutes, what I mean is the exact opposite! I'm writing that letter just to expose people who don't listen to and read absolutely everything I write and say. Mock them."
Does Chan say that in the video? Does he? Anyone? Bueller?

Didn't think so.

Let me give an analogy, drawing on a more grave subject.

Let's suppose: a grave, Gospelly analogy
Suppose some pastor gives a 57-minute sermon, in which he preaches the Gospel. Suppose (for the sake of argument) it is Biblical, crystal-clear, and faithful. Certified 100% sound. Lig Duncan, Phil Johnson, R. C. Sproule, John MacArthur, James White... even Ingrid Schleuter — all of them get all teary, it's such great and solid preaching.

And suppose as a follow-up he writes his congregation this note:
Dear Friends,

For those who did not hear it, this past Sunday I preached the Gospel of Christ. It was a moving experience for me, as has my entire ministry here at Bogotron United Church.

It's just really neat to know that when we believe in Jesus, get baptized, take communion, join a good church, get circumcised, and obey the commandments to the best of our ability, God will judge us and our works, and will accept us if we are sincere and try our best! It's really neat to live by faith and works!

Love and kisses,
Pastor Phil Ajius
So... is it fair game to rip that note to shreds, with Biblical analysis?

But what if people say, "You have to see the video of the sermon. It gives a totally different context. It is completely sound."

Yes, well, maybe it is. In fact, in this illustration, it is! The sermon was perfect!

The problem is not that work, it is this work. And this work is totally unsound. because there is no context that will save that work from a sound and deserved drubbing.


Application
The problem isn't people who fairly and closely analyze inane things Wright says. Nor is a problem with people who fairly analyze Chan, as I tried to do.

The problem belongs to those communicators'. They own it. The problem is what they write or say. They voluntarily took the role of leadership on themselves. If they regret what they said, if it was horrid and bumbled and misleading, they should just say so, apologize, humble themselves, learn a lesson.

There isn't any excuse for what I faulted in Chan's letter. People look up to him. Taken seriously, what he says in that note has really troubling implications, as I tried to show. There isn't any "context" that will make those things OK.

Now, anyone and everyone will note that I never said that either Chan or his entire ministry should forever be banned or condemned for this one letter. The letter is a problem. The letter is a problem.

Concluding ironies
  1. Over at Pyro, we caught unholy heck because we defended Chan for a Gospel video he did a couple-few years ago. Now I fault this problematic letter he sent... and I catch a little heck. Life's funny. Someone should sell tickets.
  2. Odd that I was very cautious in analyzing Chan's letter, while some of my critics were far less cautious in analyzing my analysis.
  3. I am expected to take an hour to watch the video. Why? The problem is Chan's letter. I wonder if those same people are asking Chan to take a lot less than an hour to read my post.
  4. Why do I have to view other Chan oeuvres to criticize one letter, when my critics aren't required to read my whole corpus before criticizing one post?

45 comments:

Stan McCullars said...

Why do I have to view other Chan oeuvres to criticize one letter, when my critics aren't required to read my whole corpus before criticizing one post.

NEXT!!!

JK said...

Boy I bet you feel better now...

Dan: you are a good communicator - no - an excellent communicator.

That being said: to me, from my perspective, in terms of how I feel and think, in terms of how I feel I am being led, in terms of what I think about what you said and how I am being called...you were right on in the context and framework and spirit in which you wrote.

There: now I feel better.

Stan McCullars said...

Definitely an excellent communicator.

So good in fact I have often considered changing my blog to be nothing more than a link to your blog here and to Pyro.

coldwell said...

R. C. Sporule => R. C. Sproul

DJP said...

Thanks.

Stefan said...

Dan, you are on a roll this week.

You should just link to this post as a disclaimer, the next time you, Frank, or Phil writes pretty much anything about any popular preacher or theologian.

DJP said...

I will say: four posts in one day, counting Pyro.

Been a while (if ever) since that's happened.

Gabby said...

That was the best explanation of a critique I've ever read! I agree with the other guys - excellent communicator. I get weary of mush for breakfast, mush for lunch, and more mush for dinner. Thank you for putting some seasoned meat on the menu!

The Squirrel said...

Nail, meet Head. Bang.

Squirrel

mike said...

wait.
you write at another blog?

DJP said...

LOL

Yeah, I'll tell you about it sometime.

mikeb said...

Dan, what they meant is that you should watch the video, so that your emotions will be effected and your logical reasoning blurred. Then you will be more susceptible to feelings and emotion, thereby finding it harder to critisize his writing.

Seriously though, it is emotional, his wife crying almost made me tear up!

This all reminds me of the

Steve said...

Dan -

First, I apologize if I caused you heck, even a little heck (LOL) really don't want to give the impression that I like bringing people down, especially a fellow brother in Christ.

Second, yup, you are correct when you say that pastors with large followings are absolutely accountable for what they write. My wish would have been that instead of saying what he did in the letter, Francis simply explained that he was leaving and direct people to the sermon for more clarification. That would have been best.

Last, I would humbly and without trying to be a pest, ask you whether you feel responsible for some who post on your blog incorrect or inaccurate posts, while in agreement with you. Obviously you can't spend time to try and correct every Tom, Fred or Harry who comment here, but some of the posts that I read seemed to be taking the view that all of Francis' or therefore Cornerstone's ministry was in question as a result of a single letter. This is not your fault, but I sought to try and direct people back a bit from the hyperbole.

I probably didn't do the best at it, I merely wanted to encourage a genuine understanding of the truth of the matter. Anyway, thanks for the blog, and for the opportunity to discuss.

David said...

So, when you tag a post "merciless beatings," does that mean you're beating up Chan, or you're expecting a beating in the comments?

BTW, although I don't think I'm settled exactly where you are on this issue, having read most of your corpus on the subject has caused me to consider much more closely what I say (and believe) is from the Lord.

And I really appreciate that.

Fred Butler said...

Steve,

I am not sure where you are in relation to Chan or Cornerstone. Maybe your are member. I happen to be a lot closer to the situation because a) he is one of the more infamous graduates from my seminary, b) his church is in my neighborhood, so to speak. I believe there are unstated factors driving Chan to be hearing the "leading of God" but I won't go there.

Coming back to his "statement." My only knowledge of his mindset is that video. I watched it in it's entirety Tuesday evening. Every concern Dan faithfully addressed in his original post was present in that video. It really did nothing to put his decision in clearer context or what ever you think Dan is missing by not taking an hour of his time to watch it.

In short, what I saw there was a guy who has these grand visions of some "deeper" spiritual ministry that I reckon he thinks he can't obtain in his current position as shepherd of Cornerstone. His being "led" to move on, leaving his church basically pastorless is reminiscent of Oral Roberts' vision of "City of Faith" but without the 900 foot tall Jesus.

Maybe you think there is some, higher spiritual nobility in his move, but in my mind his actions are deplorable, and places him in the category of a "hiriling" who leaves the sheep.

Fred

DJP said...

Yeah, but David you're a touchy-feely artsy guy. No telling what you'd say or do.

Good point about the "mb"s. I just thought it was funny of Phil to use it, and finally stole it. Don't think he's ever actually given a "mb" — but then, I've not yet been the object of one, so I might think differently.

Steve said...

Hi Fred -

Yeah, I go to Cornerstone, in fact I was there when Francis made his announcement. Now, what I heard was this:

He had been thinking about, and had been burdened about a move to somewhere else for years. So, he prayed about it, he tested this in light of scripture, he then checked his motives, were they in line with scripture? He checked with his wife, she too felt this burden or calling or passion, however you want to characterize it. Finally he checked this with his council of elders.

I'm not sure how you would have a pastor make a decision, but I think that is a reasonable and correct way to approach Biblical decision making.

Now, you clearly have history with Chan, and seem to be at odds with him in general, so that is a separate issue, though you may have legitimate concerns and/or issues with this approach.

But in this case, was that approach wrong? Or was it the conclusion you disagree with? If its simply the fact that you don't like anyone to ever ever use the word "calling" maybe that's a semantics thing, I don't know. But his model of how he reached this decision seemed correct to me.

Fred Butler said...

But in this case, was that approach wrong? Or was it the conclusion you disagree with?

I'll leave the other stuff.

Yes, his approach was wrong. A stable, spirit led man does not get up and abandon his church on a whim. No matter how much he has been "praying" about it. He is utterly aimless, with no where to go at the moment. If we are to liken this to Abraham, God told him specifically what to do. Chan is just going on walk-about in three major cities and is planning on putting his family at risk by living in Thailand with orphan children as if that is some how more spiritual or something. His language portrays a man who thinks NOW he is in God's will as if somehow he wasn't before. Just like Dan stated, his whole approach is irresponsible, especially to impressionable young believers who think this is how they are to make major, life altering decisions.

VcdeChagn said...

Where on earth did you get the idea that he's at odds with Chan? He just said that teampyro defended him a couple of years ago.

And he only said oh...TWENTY or so times in the two posts that he's addressing the letter and ONLY the letter.

This reminds me of people who accuse me of not reading a book or watching a movie that I criticize.

My response, " I don't have enough time to read the GOOD stuff, much less the garbage."

Another good post to file away. Thanks Dan!

VcdeChagn said...

Oh, and Ingrid is really nice. Have you ever read her personal blog?

Esther said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Esther said...

Anybody else got their Grace to You offer for John's "Does God Still Speak" CD today? It was dated April 16, a few days BEFORE Chan's announcement, and the letter totally addresses this issue of how God speaks to us. If anyone is hearing things from God it's JMac! Totally kidding... totally kidding...

Steve said...

Actually VCDEChang, I think in this case it is YOU who have made the error of not reading. When I said someone was at "odds" with with Chan, I was speaking directly with Fred Butler. In fact I started my post with "Hi Fred"

It's okay, I make that mistake at times, have made that mistake in the past, and unfortunately will probably make that mistake in the future, but I thought it worth pointing out..

Now, I will specifically address Fred - Okay, I can understand your concern and your point is valid. Although I would say that he did not make this decision on a "whim" as you state. As Francis explained in his sermon, and as I have repeated, he has been processing through this decision for years.

Now this is important (and please, everyone reading this, I am talking to Fred, and Fred alone, I am no longer engaging with Dan. I understand Dan's point, I can agree with his purpose, this is a direct rebuttal to Fred, hopefully that is clear enough to everyone). Please know that Francis searched scripture, but still he could be wrong in his reading of the word, he has spent considerable amounts of time praying, but I could understand if you felt he was being lead by emotions, his wife and family are in total and complete alignment with him, but maybe some might say that they are just caught up with emotions as well.

But he also has the full support and backing of the entire elder body, some of THE most Godly and outstanding Christian brothers.

So, you have to know that now when you say Francis is being irresponsible and putting his family in danger, you are no longer calling out just Francis but the entire leadership, both pastors and elders of Cornerstone church. That is fine, I mean, that is definitely something that you can challenge, but just know that that is where you have drawn the line in the sand. You can not simply say this is Francis going rogue and acting alone, he has been given the blessing and approval of the staff and elder body, so you must also take them to task too. As long as you are consistent with that, than your challenge is logical.

Personally I don't agree, I see this action, the culmination of agreement as an important model for how to correctly make decisions, but if you don't agree with that, that is okay, we can agree that we don't agree until such time that we do come to agreement.

Andrew said...

Good clarification on this issue Dan, although it was patently clear from your prevoius post that Chan and his letter were just lightning conductors for the bigger issue of how we talk in quasi-prophetic language to our cost.

It strikes me - pardon the pun - that under those terms one need not have imbibed his whole corpus to say he's wrong on this issue and wording.

misty said...

Dan, thank you so much for this article and your original article on the Francis Chan decision. Each time you address a matter it seems that my Biblical knowledge goes way up! Much appreciated!

I don't know what I would do if my pastor did this. No pastor should ever abandon his flock like this - I don't care how long he's been thinking and praying about it - it's just not the mark of a good pastor.

As I understand it (correct me please if I'm wrong), God places shepherds over his church and they are responsible, not for the general, innumerable flock of sheep worldwide, but for the specific sheep God has placed under them. It's not just how Chan did this - with vague, touchy-feely, "Christianoid" language, like you said. Should a pastor ever leave? Just cuz he wants to?

Remember, he's not Joe Christian sitting in the pews who decides one day (or after years of prayer) to leave and go find a church in Borneo. Joe Christian can do that...but a pastor?

I think maybe the fame has gone to his head and he has forgotten that he is first and foremost a pastor of sheep God has placed under his care. Sheep with actual names that he will be held accountable for before God.

Just seems irresponsible and selfish. But I'm a Christian newbie so I could be wrong. I'm just glad he's not my pastor.

VcdeChagn said...

Actually VCDEChang, I think in this case it is YOU who have made the error of not reading. When I said someone was at "odds" with with Chan, I was speaking directly with Fred Butler. In fact I started my post with "Hi Fred"

DOH. My bad! Properly identifying the antecedent-FAIL!

DJP said...

Sister Misty, thanks for the encouraging words, and for reading. Now, to some of your specifics, let me agree and disagree.

Yes, a pastor is given as a shepherd of an individual congregation. He must view them as his charge, for whom he's answerable. He must love them as their undershepherd, and not as a passing hireling.

But that doesn't mean that a pastor must never move on. I did, certainly, when I realized that my first church simply would not follow leadership even if it didn't have a Biblical reason not to. (I hasten to add that I came to see and bitterly regret many mistakes and failings of my own, as well — but, sadly, only in hindsight.)

And let me just say again: my intent isn't to analyze Chan's heart. To do that, we should do everything Steve and Brian said, and a whole lot more... and even then, we'd not have God's imprimatur to judge his heart.

I'm only assessing the letter and its stated rationale, and finding it woefully inadequate, to say the least.

misty said...

Okay, Dan! Thanks so much for the clarification. It does seem to cement your point that if a pastor makes a decision like this he should state in the most clear language why he is doing so. The problem then is the letter itself (not Chan's heart or intentions or his body of admirable work) because it is so vague and because he seems to indicate that he is receiving direct revelation from God.

DJP said...

Yes. Though it was decades ago, my memory is that I said as nicely as I could, "I am trying to lead in one direction, and you're wanting to go in another," and a bit more.

Whatever else I did wrong — and there was plenty — it included no mystical God-card bunkum.

Lynda O said...

Good articles, Dan -- and it was obvious to me (and should have been obvious to those who actually read it) that the Chan incident was merely an example to springboard to the bigger issue of the words we use and what they mean. But often I'm amazed that some people will get sidetracked on some peripheral topic and miss the main thing of what someone is saying.

Fred Butler said...

Steve,
My comments follow:

Please know that Francis searched scripture, but still he could be wrong in his reading of the word,

(Fred) Honestly, “searching scripture” is irrelevant in this matter. There is no one verse telling Francis what to do. I would hope he was making decisions informed by a robust biblical worldview that is shaped by scripture properly interpreted and applied.

he has spent considerable amounts of time praying,

(Fred) Okay, that’s nice and very commendable. Praying about a thing, however, especially a major, ministry altering move that will have far reaching impact personally and publicly just because a person is "restless," is really just a small part of the picture.

his wife and family are in total and complete alignment with him, but maybe some might say that they are just caught up with emotions as well.

(Fred) In total and complete alignment about what? Leaving their church and going on a faith searching walk-about with no clear goal in view? A goal that is yet to be determined? Your comment would have more weight if Chan was telling us he was leaving to plant a church in downtown Chicago or something. He doesn’t even know what city he will be living in yet.

But he also has the full support and backing of the entire elder body, some of THE most Godly and outstanding Christian brothers.

So, you have to know that now when you say Francis is being irresponsible and putting his family in danger, you are no longer calling out just Francis but the entire leadership, both pastors and elders of Cornerstone church … You can not simply say this is Francis going rogue and acting alone, he has been given the blessing and approval of the staff and elder body, so you must also take them to task too.


(Fred) Steve, if that is the case, I am even more troubled; No. Disturbed. You are telling me a body of “godly” pastors and elders agreed to let their pastor, who is already prone to mystical spirituality, to quit his job, leave the people he has been shepherding for nearly 20 years, and go on a vision quest as to find where God wants him to serve? Unimaginable. And this doesn’t bother you in the least? This is how leadership is to function?

Lookit, I have no problem if Chan had a desire to begin a new ministry in the inner-city or whatever. That is a good thing. What is bizarre -- and I am absolutely floored Christians see this as somehow being “in step with the Spirit” – is that means by which he has communicated what really is a commitment to a non-commitment. What I saw on that video was a man who says he has no clue what he is gonna do (which knowing Chan’s propensity for grand visions of ministry I find hard to believe), he is just "restless" BUT he is going on some quest to discover what God has in store for him. That is what is irresponsible. The potential for untold scores of young believers to start rationalizing their decisions along these lines is disaster waiting to happen. Chan can get away with it because he probably has folks who are going to give to his endeavors that will at least keep his kids clothed and fed. Regular folks, people easily impressionable by such folly, don’t have such luxuries and will only be led into making foolish choices that will ruin their lives.

jmb said...

VcdeChagn:

"This reminds me of people who accuse me of not reading a book or watching a movie that I criticize.

My response, " I don't have enough time to read the GOOD stuff, much less the garbage."

So...you will sometimes criticize a book or a movie that you have not read or seen? And you think this is okay because the book you have not read or the movie you have not seen is "garbage"?

1. How do you know it's garbage if you haven't read or seen it?

2. Even if it is garbage, how can you fairly criticize something you haven't read or seen?

trogdor said...

Earlier last week there was that amazingly annoying thread on Pyro where you had the one guy claiming nobody could understand Arminian theology unless they'd read a bunch of books by Arminius. Apparently none of his disciples or anyone after them ever faithfully represented his views, oh no; unless you slogged through those specific writings, you had no idea what he taught. (And of course you didn't, otherwise you'd agree!)

Meanwhile, in the same thread, you had Bobby Grow throwing his favorite pejorative - Thomist - at everyone in sight. Doesn't matter if you've never read Thomas (or Aristotle for that matter), if you disagree with him you just be a Thomist Aristotlean slave.

So I propose these guys get put in a steel cage match. Winner gets to pick which baseless accusation survives. Either one is obnoxious enough on its own; both of them in the same thread is worse than a buddy cop flick starring Carrot Top and Urkel.

DJP said...

Now that, my friend, is a scary thought.

somewhereintime said...

Steve,

I really appreciate your comments. I have read this blog for a while and was a little disheartened by the comments made about Chan. I also read Dan Philips blog and was saddened.

Its not that I don't understand the points and that perhaps I myself wouldn't have had those same thoughts...but I've read Crazy Love, I've listened to Chan, I listened to the video and was frankly wowed by it.

I have seen Pastors abandon their churches etc., I have been in legalistic churches, fuzzy churches, bible fearing churches and quite frankly God has had to bring me down my pedestal more than once. I am not to be quick to judge and God will not be fooled.

If Chans move is being done by God, then it is of little importance whatever anyone writes about him. Quite frankly I'd rather hear from those that have actually read his work and at the very least show some mercy with whatever he has said.

After all, we will ALL be judged by whatever we say, write, or do. We better be sure God agrees with us before we go downgrading someone or "exposing" perhaps our own lack of understanding, discernment, humility and our quickness to jump at any "seekersensitivewarmfuzzy looking individual" we deem unacceptable.

DJP said...

We better be sure God agrees with us....

How?

Steve said...

Somewherehereintime -

I think I understand your heart in what you are saying, but I'm not sure what you said was quite accurate. Instead of saying "we better be sure God agrees with us" I would put it, "we should be sure we are aligned with God through the correct reading of His Word before..." I trust that is fair to what you are trying to communicate. But by all means correct me, if I am unfairly assuming on your behalf.

I understand though, your concerns with some of what has been said on this blog. But one thing I can provide clarity on, for you and for others here, is that the "letter" which was used as so much fodder to insinuate much about Chan's motives (by many on this board) should probably never have been released to the bloggers in the first place.

It wasn't meant for them, it was a personal letter for Chan's congregation, and it was not written to set a precedent about why Chan was leaving, or promote a certain theological stance. Unfortunately many took it to be a simple declaration of "I'm leaving because I got a warm fuzzy 'God callin' and so I'm outee!" type of message.

The letter was actually forwarded by a friend of mine to Justin Taylor's Blog, in pairing with the video, and we both agree that had he to do it over, he would have only sent the link to the video. Unfortunately it appears many took the letter to somehow represent the sole message and context for all of the reasons as to why Chan was leaving. I have read comments such as "abandoning" and "leaving on a whim" which of course are so far from the truth its painful.

I know many have made the point, that it doesn't matter why or who Francis sent the letter to, all that matters is that he sent it to someone and therefore he must be held accountable for every jot and tittle.

All I would say to that is that when something is written to be viewed and read within the broader context of another communication, (in this case a video) I don't think its unfair or unreasonable to have individuals explore and understand that context. I never asked anyone to search out and read the entirety of Francis' collected works, or watch every minute of every pod cast he has ever provided. I simply referred people to the fact that this letter was in direct link to, and within the larger context of, a more developed communication piece.

For some that was too much. To those individuals I would say I'm sorry for you, as you missed out on a pretty important sermon. I understand your desire to stand for truth and correct those in error, we disagree on this incident but we may soon agree on a separate point and I look forward to the Godly dialog.

DJP said...

And again I say that, unless the sermon says "I am going to release a letter that totally misrepresents what I believe and how I made this decision," there isn't a context that would erase the troubling elements of that letter.

That it was meant for anyone who might be influenced by the phrasing and thinking I critiqued is reason enough to make sure it comes under some light. People get away with those phrases because they're tolerated, their evangelilingo. They shouldn't be.

DJP said...

PSing myself: Steve, if you say you'd not come back with a never-ending list of Chan-works one must master in order to criticize any one of them, I'm inclined to take your word for it.

But (A) I have seen that very thing happen, and (B) it isn't the point.

(A) In the Wright kerfuffle, Phil would be challenged as to whether he'd read DEF. When he responded that he had, the response was, "Oh yeah? Well... did you read GHI?" And on and on.

The point was that they hated what he said, even though it was true. The objective was to find some way to neutralize it. Like the dedicated opponent we had once who wanted to undo us altogether (as I recall). I wrote something on Proverbs, and he asked "Have you done postgraduate work in Wisdom Literature?" Turned out I had, and I detailed the work. His response? poof!

(B) The point is a communicator is responsible for each piece of communication. There is a limited degree to which he can demand that one access A to explain Z.

This, to repeat myself one more time (sorry), simply can't be rescued by appeals to other sources. And I note that folks like Fred Butler, who do view the video, don't find it to have much of an impact on my critique.

Steve said...

Dan -

Yes, I would not expect you to read or view anything beyond the video, in this case. Further, if you still felt that Francis was in error after seeing the video, as Fred Butler has, then that is a separate issue, but I am okay with that criticism. Again, I would disagree, but that may be a broader issue that we don't see eye to eye on.

However if you found something you deemed un-Biblical or in error, with anything Francis wrote in one of his books, or if he blogged, or was quoted in a magazine, then I agree, it MUST stand alone, and he MUST be accountable for it.

The examples you give are fascinating, and I would be in total support of you not following some rabbit trail of documents just so someone could justify their position.

Thanks for the time, and the blog.

Steve said...

One last thought -

It was Fred who mostly seemed to characterize Francis as leaving on "a whim" and "abandoning" his post as leader. He has also been quick to label Francis' future endeavor as a mystic vision quest, and characterize it as flighty and flaky spiritual mumbo jumbo. That is too bad.

Francis has searched God's word to ensure alignment of purpose and vision. He has checked his motives against scripture to ensure he is not making this decision based upon ego or some other sinful result of pride. He has counseled with his wife, his family, and his elders.

Now, his specific plans, are to continue teaching our body through May. To finish up his speaking engagements through the summer, and then to visit several cities in question. I didn't see this as a "walk about" his name ain't John Locke. He's going to these cities to do research, to see the needs, to scout out the territory. As he is closest to LA, he does have a burden for that city and believes that may make the most sense for him, but he may choose another city after further research.

To me, that is a fairly reasonable set of actions. Prior to his final selection, he is also planning a short term mission to a third world country. He mentioned Thailand as a possibility, which wouldn't surprise me as he has a strong burden for that area, has been there before, and is concerned about the fate of many children that are victims of the sex slave trade.

None of this comes across as mystical to me, but maybe I am blind with adoration for a man I respect, I fully admit that is possible. But I believe instead what I see is passion. A man who has passion for the Word, a man who has a passion for those in need, and who feels a Biblical burden to respond to the commands of scripture to love our neighbors in a very tangible way, that may look radical to some, but is important to him.

I think I am in danger of further veering off into separate topics so I will leave it at that. Thanks all for the interesting conversation, I hope my comments have been seen as respectful and gracious, if not I do apologize.

somewhereintime said...

Steve,

I appreciate your correction. Yes, that is a better wording of what I meant. Also, I have assumed things of people before, and I see the need to pray more for people and situations before making conclusions that I would not appreciate somebody making about me.

Matt 5:7 Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy.

Dan, I have read this blog often and am thankful for things I've read. I haven't commented before, but this one hit to close to home.
I appreciate you allowing my comment to Steve to be posted.

I was wowed by Chans video because what he said is so different than many other situations that I have seen. His wife standing by him throughout everything is also so encouraging. In fact the whole process that he has taken in order to make this decision includes many advisers.

I have been in the mission field and it is not easy to take certain steps in faith. Sometimes, its lonely and its much easier and more comfortable to stay in the "known". Its quite scary to step out of ones comfort zone in a huge way...

I guess we will see what happens. If the tree is good, we will see good fruit both in the church and wherever Chan and his fam. go. It is my prayer that God will give wisdom to Chan, his family, the elders, and all involved for the good of everyone to the glory of God.

kellyH said...

You words might be right but they could be seasoned with a bit more grace.

Andrew Hughes

Terry Rayburn said...

Dan,

I forgot about this post.

Great, great point. I may link to it myself one of these days when, let's say, "the Wright fanboys in their smoking-jackets and slippers" [man, that's good!] insist I read an entire wall of books before I say anything, while the author keeps writing faster than most people can read.

DJP said...

I don't pretend fully to understand Wright or Wilson. But I do notice this: even when someone does make a concerted effort to read and try to understand everything they both write, and then speaks a word of criticism, he's waved away with "You just don't understand."

Rather discourages even making the effort, and raises the issue: if they're that difficult to understand, are they really worth the effort? Given the (by contrast) perspicuity of Scripture?