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    Francis Chan:  Called in a “different direction”

    Francis Chan:  Called in a “different direction”

    This from CatalystSpace:  After 16 years of serving as senior pastor for Cornerstone Church Francis is sensing the Lord leading him in a different direction.  Despite not having complete clarity on what this means or exactly what is next Francis is stepping out in faith, something he has done for so much of his life.  He announced this decision to the church yesterday no doubt solidifying the start of a huge transition for both the Chan family AND the Cornerstone Church family.  The beauty of this announcement is that it comes in unified peace and hopeful harmony.

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    1. CS on Mon, April 26, 2010

      I thought Dan Philips had some great thoughts about this decision by Chan over at his blog.  Namely, he focuses on the quote from Chan of, “God is calling us to take a step of faith.”  I’d recommend giving it a read. 

      http://bibchr.blogspot.com/2010/04/taking-step-of-faith-few-thoughts.html


      CS

    2. Leonard on Mon, April 26, 2010

      I really appreciated the following.  I am also getting this from his message he preached at his own church.

      He wants to step from the lime lite and life other leaders up…
      He wants to go live in a third world and work in liberating people caught in sex trafficking.
      He wants to start another work and not sure of the details but sure of the one who called him.

      After years of seeing and hearing this man do his work, I am excited.  He certainly has earned the respect by his faith and life to move into a new direction without the microscope of bloggers and those just looking for problems.

    3. Brian on Mon, April 26, 2010

      CS,

      I think Dan’s comments on his blog that you reference are way off.  I find it funny, too ,that so many of those who comment there (who probably don’t know Chan at all personally) can give Dan the “atta boy” stuff for what he’s written.

      Chan is praised for his preaching, teaching and knowledge of God, Scripture etc. but can’t be trusted to discern God’s leading in his life? Really?  (I find it hard to believe that Chan would make this decision in isolation…I’m guessing he talked with trusted mentors.)

      Honestly, Dan’s post struck me as being exhibit A when someone talks about “bibliolatry”.  Did Jesus say the Bible will lead us into all truth? 

      I dunno, I don’t find it hard to believe that God would call Chan to do something unpopular with “the crowd.”

      And for the record, I’m not particularly big on Chan.  I read “Crazy Love” and there was a lot I didn’t like about it…(a lot I did like too.)  Anyway, all that to say I’m not blindly defending him because I think he’s the greatest thing since sliced bread.

    4. CS on Mon, April 26, 2010

      Brian:

      “Honestly, Dan’s post struck me as being exhibit A when someone talks about “bibliolatry”.  Did Jesus say the Bible will lead us into all truth?

      I dunno, I don’t find it hard to believe that God would call Chan to do something unpopular with “the crowd.””

      But that’s the point of Dan’s article.  Was what Chan saying a form of extrabiblical revelation?  How do we know God called him out in that way?  It’s in the same vein of, “God gave me a vision for…”


      CS

    5. Brian on Mon, April 26, 2010

      CS,

      And that’s what I mean…of course there is extra-biblical revelation! I mean, unless you want to suggest that the Holy Spirit cannot speak to us and lead us today, which I don’t think any Christ follower would suggest.  That’s why I suggested that Dan’s view is one that makes an idol of the bible.  (Perhaps I’m wrong, or being overly harsh with Dan, but I took him to say that God can only speak to us through scripture….anything else is untrustworthy.)

      I would suggest that scripture teaches us that God leads his people- often in surprising ways.  The question then isn’t “how can we be sure” but rather, “is this leading person x (in this case Chan) in a direction that is counter to Christ or unbiblical.”  I don’t think anyone can argue that it is.

      Therefore, it is not for us to judge or answer the question, “Is God leading him?”  He is known as a godly man who is feeling called in a new direction that will further the kingdom. We should trust the work of the Spirit in his life and trust Chan- a godly leader- to be able to hear and respond to the Spirit. Many don’t LIKE this leading because they LIKE where Chan is at now, but that is no reason to suggest “God isn’t calling him.”

      Now if Chan said, “God is calling me to leave my wife…” well, then we’d have reason to question him. 

      I hope that clears up what may have been unclear in my previous post.

    6. Doug on Mon, April 26, 2010

      Brian,
      Thank you for saying so eloquently what I have been thinking.  I was uncomfortable with Dan Phillips blog post but couldn’t put my finger on it.  I think you have hit the nail on the head.  amen.

    7. CS on Mon, April 26, 2010

      Brian:

      “And that’s what I mean…of course there is extra-biblical revelation!”

      To use the concept from Dan’s article, with a yes or no question, would you say that this revelation to Chan is, “an inerrant, verbal, prophetic, morally-binding revelation directly from God, apart from Scripture, telling him that he needed to walk away from his pastoral commitment abruptly and go off doing other unspecified things?” 

      “The question then isn’t “how can we be sure” but rather, “is this leading person x (in this case Chan) in a direction that is counter to Christ or unbiblical.”  I don’t think anyone can argue that it is.”

      The challenge here for me is that I see no biblical precedence for a pastor leaving his flock in this sort of manner.  And although something may not be anti-Christ or blatantly unbiblical still does not make it right.

      “Therefore, it is not for us to judge or answer the question, “Is God leading him?”  “

      I disagree with that.  Otherwise, it becomes a trump card, such as, “Who are you to judge?  God gave me a vision and is leading me.”


      CS

    8. Fred Butler on Mon, April 26, 2010

      I agree with Dan whole heartedly.  I say that as someone who knows Chan, graduated from the same seminary, and knows many folks who attend Cornerstone Community in Simi.  Chan really has no idea what he is going to do.  Just that he is “restless” and wants a change.  It sounds more like he is bored where he is at rather than being directed by the spirit.

      Now listen.  No one is faulting him for making “unpopular” ministry choices.  God speed to the man who wants to work with orphan children in Thailand.  However, If you think Dan is reacting to his “unpopular choice”, you’re not paying attention.  The issue is how he has gone about making this decision, and the way Chan presented it is irresponsible and if he is modeling how we are to make major, life-changing decisions, there will be many Christians led into ruinous consequences by following his example and responding to a “feeling” and “being restless.”  Is he ready to be held accountable for such influence upon impressionable young believers?

      Brian wrote,

      That’s why I suggested that Dan’s view is one that makes an idol of the bible.

      What exactly does that mean?  Seeing that the Bible itself is a direct revelation from God, how can you make it an idol?  That is like saying you’re making an idol out of God.  Care to expand on that comment a bit?

      Fred

    9. Brian on Mon, April 26, 2010

      @Fred:  You make the bible into an idol when you equate it with God.  God is triune, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  He is not a quad-inity (if you will)  with the 4th member being Scripture. Scripture teaches us about God, it helps us know Him more fully, but it is not the fullest expression of who He is (that would be Jesus, imho.)  And scripture TEACHES us that we are to rely on the Holy Spirit.  I’m suggesting that’s what Chan is doing and even though you went to seminary with him, I don’t think you are in a place to reliably suggest that he hasn’t.  Contrary to CS’s opinion, I don’t the bible prohibits pastors from moving on to new or other calls.  I hope that helps you understand what I mean in my comments above.

      @CS
      We may end up going round and round on this, but I would suggest that Paul left his “flock” quite a bit.  He did not leave them leaderless and I don’t think Chan has left his church leaderless either.  ( I don’t know Chan and am not familiar with his church, if he has left them leaderless, feel free to correct me.)

      Let’s say for the sake of argument, Chan ends up working in a foreign country fighting sex trafficking.  Your logic, it seems to me, would suggest that they only way we could be sure that God is definitely leading him is if we saw a biblical example of a pastor fighting sex trafficking. Am I missing something?  (No sarcasm intended.)

      Oh, (almost forgot!) no, I can’t say it’s an “innerrant…etc.” call from God that Chan has received.  But, neither can you say it’s definitely NOT a call from God, innerrant or otherwise, right? So, I’m left with this question, “Is Chan a godly man with godly people in his life such that we can trust that there is reason enough to believe God is leading him in this direction.”  From the little I know of him, I say “yes.”

      (And this gets me thinking…are any of our “calls” innerrant? )

      Finally, It (still) seems to me that those calling him into question are not in his “inner circle” so to speak or have current regular contact with the man (which is what I meant by “know him.”)

      I just don’t understand why we are so quick to condemn the guy. 

      Blessings.

    10. Brian on Mon, April 26, 2010

      Uh,  “condemn the guy”  might not be the best choice of words…not sure why some are so quick to say God isn’t leading him in this direction.  (There. That’s better.)

    11. Fred Butler on Mon, April 26, 2010

      Brian,
      I am stunned at how easily you marginalize the significance of scripture in shaping a person’s decisions.  The Bible declares in many places that God has magnify His Word above his name (Psalm 138:2, for example) meaning that scripture authentically stamped by God as His certain, infallible revelation.  Additionally, Peter says a more sure word of prophecy, or revelation, that is more certain than even his personal encounters with Jesus, is God’s Word (2 Peter 1:19).  In other words, the Bible is God’s mind as revealed to us.  You can’t separate the Bible from who God is in some quasi-spiritual category as if the Bible is only slightly relevant to being “led” by the Spirit.  We are not told to rely solely upon the spirit apart from being filled with the Word of God.  Such is charismatic mumbo-jumbo.  God’s truth (His Word) is what sanctifies us as it is applied to our lives by the spirit. 

      You suggest,
      I don’t think you are in a place to reliably suggest that he hasn’t. 

      I am much closer to the situation than you know, so I am not just speaking out against his decision because I have it in for the guy.  Again, I am not arguing a pastor is forbidden to leave a church to pursue other ministry.  Dan wasn’t saying that either if you had read his original post carefully.  The issue at stake is the model of decision making Chan invokes that is sub-spiritual and ultimately fleshly in nature and I believe will lead to certain disaster for unwise believers following his mystical thinking.

    12. Brian on Tue, April 27, 2010

      Fred, I could just as easily turn around and say “I’m stunned at how easily you dismiss the significance of the Holy Spirit in shaping a person’s decisions.”  I don’t think that would be fair, just as I think it is unfair for you characterize what I’ve said in the manner you have.

      I’ve not once suggested that the Bible “is slightly relevant” nor have I suggested we rely solely on the Spirit.  I agree the two go hand and hand. What I have said is that God is God and Scripture is NOT.  That’s a pretty darn orthodox statement.  I don’t know of any genuine believer who prays to Father, Son, Holy Spirit and Scripture. I do find it a bit arrogant for some to suggest that Chan is NOT following the leading of the Spirit when what he is doing has in *no way* violated scripture. 

      I do think you’re on potentially dangerous ground when you say “the Bible is God’s mind revealed to us”.  I don’t believe there is any book, inspired or otherwise, that can contain the mind of God.  Again, I’ll suggest that Jesus is the fullest expression of God that we have, that He is the Word and the Way and the Truth and the Life and scripture, while inspired by God Himself, is not God nor is it above God.  (This is what I mean by making an idol of the bible. )

      (As for 1 Peter 1:19, I think the best way to read that is, “Jesus makes our trust in the prophets all the more certain”  I don’t think it is proper to suggest that Peter is suggesting that the Scripture (OT for Peter) is above God.)

      Finally, you can look at Chan’s decision and think, “Wow, he’s really teaching people to make unwise, fleshly decisions” or you can look at it and say, “Wow, he’s really setting a great example for being willing to step out in faith.”

      I choose the latter.

      I’m not sure there’s much more I can say on the issue.

    13. Fred Butler on Tue, April 27, 2010

      Fred, I could just as easily turn around and say “I’m stunned at how easily you dismiss the significance of the Holy Spirit in shaping a person’s decisions.”

      But I am not dismissing the Holy Spirit.  The means by which the Holy Spirit directs is through Scripture rightly interpreted and applied.  The Bible (and the Holy Spirit) know nothing of a taking “steps of faith” and making life altering decisions based upon restless feelings.

      I’ve not once suggested that the Bible “is slightly relevant” nor have I suggested we rely solely on the Spirit.

      You stated in another comment:  “And that’s what I mean…of course there is extra-biblical revelation! I mean, unless you want to suggest that the Holy Spirit cannot speak to us and lead us today, which I don’t think any Christ follower would suggest.”

      Extra biblical revelation?  What is that exactly?  The Holy Spirit leads someone apart from the principles of Scripture?  The fact that you employ emergent lingo like “Christ follower” pretty much reveals to me you have a marginal opinion of the authority of scripture. 

      What I have said is that God is God and Scripture is NOT.

      No, it isn’t an orthodox statement, because like I have stated a couple of times now, scripture is the voice of God that reveals His mind.  Scripture declares who God is and cannot be divorced from Him.  There isn’t God in one box over here, and the Bible in another box over there. 

      I do find it a bit arrogant for some to suggest that Chan is NOT following the leading of the Spirit when what he is doing has in *no way* violated scripture.

      He “violates” scripture by testing God.  He has stated himself he has no idea what he is going to do.  It doesn’t matter how much he has talked with elders or trusted men or felt restless, he is obligating God to meet his demands when God has no where promised his success in this move.  Like I said before - like Dan stated - it is not that Chan is changing the focus of his ministry, it is the means by which he is going about changing his ministry. 

      I don’t believe there is any book, inspired or otherwise, that can contain the mind of God.

      So what exactly does Paul mean when he says all scripture is God breathed?  Why was God telling Israel repeatedly to keep his commands?  What was that all about?

      Again, I’ll suggest that Jesus is the fullest expression of God that we have, that He is the Word and the Way and the Truth and the Life and scripture, while inspired by God Himself, is not God nor is it above God.

      Okay.  How exactly do we know about Jesus then?  Burning bosom?  Hot flashes? Where is contained all the knowledge we need to know about the person and work of Jesus? How exactly do we know what he demands of us “Christ followers?”

      (As for 1 Peter 1:19, I think the best way to read that is, “Jesus makes our trust in the prophets all the more certain” I don’t think it is proper to suggest that Peter is suggesting that the Scripture (OT for Peter) is above God.)

      No, Peter was suggesting Scripture is equated with God.  Hence, the idea one can make an idol out of the Bible is fallacious. 

      Finally, you can look at Chan’s decision and think, “Wow, he’s really teaching people to make unwise, fleshly decisions” or you can look at it and say, “Wow, he’s really setting a great example for being willing to step out in faith.”

      I choose the latter.

      Then you two can pick up the pieces of people’s shipwreck faith and lives when they act upon such foolish decision making and make a disaster of their lives.  I hope you are ready for it.

    14. Brian on Tue, April 27, 2010

      Fred, it’s pretty clear to me that you are either willingly or unwillingly mis-reading what I’ve written, re-interpreting it and putting words in my mouth, or I am not able to communicate in writing to you in a way that you can understand.  I don’t know which of those options is the case, but at this point I think it would be rather fruitless to continue the discussion.  I simply don’t have time to reclarify over and over again what I’ve already said.  (For example I was pretty darn explicit when I said it WOULD BE UNFAIR to say that you discount the work of the Holy Spirit, yet you seem to have missed that entirely in your response.)

      My final thought to you (and me): Phil 2:3

      Blessings on you brother.

    15. CindyK on Tue, April 27, 2010

      Why does he have to explain anything to anyone not directly involved?  If there are other leaders ready to step in, what’s the big deal? 

      If he is such a ‘rock star’ that his brick and mortar church fails without him then something was terribly wrong to begin with.

      I don’t think it will, I think that church will continue to thrive.

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