Campi's Comments now included.
There has been a lot of speculation flying around the blogosphere surrounding the Just Stop and Think (really like the title) video as to its intention and message. I thought this would be helpful for you to hear from Pastor Chan and the producer of this video, Johnny Karls, without any initial post-mortem commentary from myself. My comments will appear later today or tomorrow in maroon color underneath each of their quotes.
One of the reasons for drawing your attention to their own words, is so that you can hear firsthand what the purpose and motive was in making this film directly from them. I want to be clear with everyone: I have nothing personally against these brothers; and as Christians, we should strive to be truthful and honest in how we address these kinds of issues and deal with fellow believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. Rather than stoop to needless sarcasm and flippancy, (this is an important topic because it is the gospel we are talking about) this is a step to really understand and gain clarity about this film.
Let me know your thoughts.
Pastor Chan: “I really just wanted to present the gospel to the world; just the plain simple, as I clear as I could make it gospel, but outside of a church setting. And so we got this idea to just do it along the beach and use a Hollywood crew and paid top dollar to do it right; and all that in hopes of distributing it to every person in our city. And so we did that. We made this DVD and we passed it out door to door to over 30,000 homes in our city so we could get it to everyone. Cause we thought if the Lord comes back this year, we wanted to know that we got out the gospel to everyone. And so we did that… We got bumper stickers, and we got banners and it caused quite a stir in our city both good and bad.”
(source: Passion 2007 Podcast, December 2006)
From everything I have heard about Francis Chan I understand him to be a gracious man and one of integrity (that he means what he says, and he says what he means). Therefore, I take Pastor Chan's statements above to mean what they say--that this IS the gospel to him. This video was not a partial gospel with a follow up presentation to be given. It was not to wet the appetites of people who would at some later time be presented the whole gospel. It is clear, this is the gospel according to Pastor Chan in its most plain and simple terms outside of a church setting. IOW, the content of this video in its current form IS the gospel; it proclaims the gospel; represents the gospel; and IS the gospel that man needs to hear to be saved.
This statement is very insightful: Cause we thought if the Lord comes back this year, we wanted to know that we got out the gospel to everyone. This is the urgency and passion behind this film which I do applaud. BUT, this is not just an introduction to some greater presentation--the film doesn't make that claim or give that qualifier. This is it; and that is what concerns many of us. (I must say as a qualifier that Pastor Chan's website has good information on the gospel; why it wasn't included in this video remains a mystery.)
To distill for brevity sake, the concerns are basically twofold: 1. When you purposely and explicitly exclude from the content of any gospel presentation: repentance from sin; faith alone by grace alone; the Lordship of Christ; and His bodily resurrection from the grave, etc.--then what remains is an incomplete gospel, and ergo, no gospel at all. I am stunned that this is even being debated among reformed brothers. And 2. When your video includes and depicts God as a powerless lover, a divine suitor who is crazy about you, proposing marriage to sinful man, down on one knee begging him to take the engagement ring, and then as the potential "husband" wait for sinful man to "accept and choose You...", then you have distorted the biblical view of God and His redemptive work for man.
Beloved, God the Father does not get down on an anthropomorphic knee and beg sinful men to anywhere in Scripture; He draws sinful men to the Son (John 6:35-44), He commands them to repent (Acts 17:32), He elects them before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4-5) and He grants them saving faith (Eph. 2:8-9). God the Son does not propose marriage as a nervous, uncertain husband-to-be, He redeems men (Eph. 1:6-11), He justifies men (Rom. 5:1), He propitiates the Father on behalf of the sins of the people (Heb. 2:17; 1 John 4:10). And God the Holy Spirit does not wait for anyone to accept Christ... He regenerates them (Titus 3:4-7); He seals them (Eph. 1:13-14); and He sanctifies them (1 Peter 1:2).
Depraved man is the one, beloved, who should by God's grace, be begging God for mercy and the forgiveness of sins; who in contrition, should come weeping and mourning - broken over his sins in repentance; man is the one who should bend his knee before a holy God confessing Christ as Lord... seeking salvation and waiting on God to accept him, grant him saving faith, and replacing his heart of stone with a heart of flesh.
only capable of producing "almost Christians." And that is the tragedy.
Johnny Karls, producer of the film: “Mind you, our fifteen minute movie is by no means [is] the totality of the gospel message (where did you [get] the idea that that was our intention?) This movie was meant to be an introduction to the God of the Bible. Our intention was to be brief, to be relational, and to introduce the unbeliever or the "religious" to the Righteous, Just, Loving, Holy God of the Bible. "
This statement is in clear contradiction to Pastor Chan's above. It is important to note here that Chan's statement above was said in an interview this past December before any controversy surrounding his video erupted. Karls statements is after the controversy emerged and he is backpedaling, doing damage control. That is critical in understanding both of their statements in the proper context.
“Our goal of this short movie was to introduce or wet the appetite of the viewer to get to know God, PERIOD! Where did you get that this was meant to be Peter's sermon on the day of Pentecost?”
Again, a contradiction to Pastor Chan's statement above. This video is not the first step of many in presenting the gospel; this is it.
“I am VERY aware of all those scriptures you quoted re. God's disgust with sin (I'm a conservative seminary grad and so is Francis Chan) but we are also aware of how the common American views "Christianity" and "Jesus." I have witnessed to many many people and the majority RUN when you mention the Bible, or Jesus, or the resurrection, or church. Now is that to say these things should be left out of the total conversation? Absolutely not! It just means we're dealing with cultural paradigms that are real. Though I agree with the "fire and brimstone" message, it initially chases more people away than it draws in.“
This is very a very troubling statement indeed. My overarching concern revolves around his emphasis on pragmatism as his justifying motive. "Cultural paradigms" determines his contextualization in the tone of this video. His reasoning is that "the preaching of the Bible, or Jesus, or the resurrection, or church" make people RUN. And well it should. There is an offense to the cross beloved (1 Cor. 1:18-23) and we must not soften it or try to remove it so people "won't run." Consider how many abandoned the Lord and that His words too difficult and hard for them in John 6:53-60. The gospel is offensive; it is hard to believe as Dr. MacArthur's latest tome so profoundly states. When you call people to "deny themselves, take up their cross and follow Him" they will run... When you call them to love Him more than brother, sister, father, mother, even more than their own flesh--they will run. When you call them to repent of their sins and forsake the dead idols of their lives in order to flee from the wrath to come--they will run. They will always run... that is unless the Father is drawing them, the Son redeeming, and the Spirit regenerating.
John 6:64 “But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him. John 6:65 And He was saying, “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.”“Is it the complete gospel, absolutely not! Is it bringing people to the true, authentic, message of scripture? I believe so.
This is schizophrenic. How can you not present the whole gospel and at the same time claim you represent that you are bringing people to the true, authentic message of the Scripture? The true authentic message of Scripture does not fail to proclaim the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead! Isn't this obvious? A partial presentation of the gospel can certainly be true in its part, but it will not be the authentic claim of Scripture as to what the genuine gospel actually is.
Some of my reformed brothers and friends at TeamPyro like to go to extremes to try and make the case, that those of us who are not supportive of this video are saying that every jot and tittle of reformed theology have to be presented. That is ridiculous and a juvenile assertion. No one has posited that all five solas and all the fine points of reformed theology have to be articulated in the content and call of the gospel. BUT, we are saying, when the gospel is being proclaimed, just present the whole gospel faithfully and accurately.
Question: Why would anyone want to argue to present less than the whole gospel to dying people; why would anyone want to defend a partial gospel as being completely sufficient; why would reformed brothers defend a romantic view of the character of God; and why would they in the smallest degree want to breathe new life in an ineffectual invitational "accept Christ" Finneyesque emotional appeal to "get engaged to God?" I love my brothers at TeamPyro, but this goes beyond the pale of Scripture. Beloved, why not present to dying people the whole life giving truth of the gospel? Why hold back anything of the gospel of sola fide that can bring salvation to the lost?
“If you have a means of inspiring more people to Christ then I am VERY interested to hear about it.”
(source: publicly made statements by email correspondence, January 2007)
Karls's statement says it all, “If you have a means of inspiring more people to Christ then I am VERY interested to hear about it.” This is pure pragmatism. We do not and cannot "inspire more people to Christ" beloved--ever. To suggest so is elevating man in some sort of cooperative role to actually inspire others to make "a decision for Christ" in salvation; and makes the proclamation of that kind of gospel, as the Gadfly says, "a synergistic infomercial."
But since Karls asked the question, here is the answer: the better means is to preach and proclaim the gospel wholly; for it alone is "the power of God unto salvation." Our methods and means do not add one thing to its saving power, to its efficacious effect in the lives of unregenerate men and women, to its work in the heart of man. We need to just "let it out" and see how the Lord sovereignly works in the lives of His chosen. May we have the burden Paul had to "go where Christ is not yet named." But may we have the confidence that the Lord is working; the gospel is running its course. And as we proclaim its life-giving truth, that all the results belong to the Lord. 1 Cor. 3:6 "I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. 1 Cor. 3:7 So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth."
As Nathan White so wonderfully said on this thread - this is a serious issue; this is not about winning a debate in the blogosphere... This is about the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. May we prove to be faithful and good stewards of it, for one day we will have to give an account.