A recent YouTube video that has been viewed over 50,000 times thus far* of highly prolific and popular Christian author and speaker Francis Chan creates a very disturbing scenario of how the Body of Christ should operate. Speaking to a group at Bethel Church, he strongly implied that God will destroy (kill) anyone who questions or opposes the teachings of Christian leaders. Using fear to motivate his audience, he used for his basic text: “If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are” (1 Corinthians 3:17).
Without giving specific names, Chan spoke of those who present any negative criticism of leaders (naming Rick Warren, Mark Driscoll, and John Piper as examples of leaders who should not be criticized). Chan took it a step further and described incidents in the Bible where God took people’s lives as in the case of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:10) to predict that God will take the lives of those who have negative things to say about the teachings of today’s spiritual leaders.
We found his reasoning both very troubling and perplexing. And the question that came to our minds is this: The discernment ministries, and even those who question confusing theologies, are clearly under attack here, but how is it that God would want to slay us? We thought further: Doesn’t Scripture say, “the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet I have no need of you” (1 Corinthians 12:21)? But Chan is saying that God has no need of people like us (who are a part of God’s temple) and will destroy us.
One of the sad things about all of this is that years ago, when we first started our publishing ministry, we sent a copy of our first book (A Time of Departing) to Rick Warren because we naively saw him as a Christian leader who would see the apostasy the book describes and share our concerns. Warren even sent us a personal reply that sounded very affirming. But in time, we came to realize that Rick Warren had joined the ranks of those who opposed our exposure of the error and dangers of contemplative prayer and the emerging church.
We have, as a ministry, always tried to share the truth in love (even though at times that was a challenge because of the anger coming at us). And in all these years, we have never suggested or even hinted that God wanted to kill or destroy those whom we have critiqued or of those who opposed our ministry (and in some cases attempted to destroy it).
But here, Francis Chan is prescribing a death sentence on ministries like ours (and of the people in them). In addition, he is conditioning believers who are following him to not question things they are being taught or “try the spirits” to see whether they are from God. A pastor or teacher should always encourage his congregation to “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). While, of course, idle gossip and cruel slander have no place in the life of a Christian and should always be discouraged and corrected, this is much different than testing all things with Scripture to see “whether those things were [are] so” (Acts 17:11).
For the Body of Christ to be healthy, it must operate in genuine repentance—but that can not happen where serious doctrinal error is covered up and apostasy runs wild. It is irresponsible, self-serving, and highly manipulative for a public figure to suggest that God is going to kill anyone who challenges or criticizes a Christian leader.
Please take the time to read the passage below from Roger Oakland’s book, The Good Shepherd Calls. It further expresses our concern for churches and ministries that are not willing to test all things with Scripture. Much of what is happening in the church at large today does not stand up to the test of Scripture, and it is not right to pretend that it does; nor is it right to threaten those who are challenging leaders and to liken them to branches that God will prune and destroy.
“Test the Spirits”
By Roger Oakland
[T]here is a . . . scenario where church members are led to believe that if they follow the leader, then they are under an umbrella of protection where God is pleased when the congregation shows strict obedience to the shepherd. Oftentimes, this cultish mentality is compounded by the idea that the members of the church should trust the pastor’s discernment more than their own because the pastor is more mature and in tune with the things of God. Again, the reality is that we should be like the citizens of Berea who “searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11). Jesus never taught unquestioning obedience to a pastor or leader but rather said, “[I]f the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch” (Matthew 15:14). In other words, we are all accountable for our own actions, and the pastor was never meant to be a “covering” where we are permitted to do things that violate our own conscience.
This is not to say that we should challenge a good pastor on every decision he makes, but if we are under a pastor who is a false teacher, Jesus’ instruction is to “Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind” (Matthew 15:14).
Sometimes, if not usually, the above scenario [causes] havoc, all in a single church. This is a very sour formula for discernment as few have the courage to speak up, and those who do are usually exited from the church.
It is very possible for genuine sincere Christians who follow this kind of teaching to be led astray. If we are not willing to be consistent about what we believe, then we will be inconsistent in practice. Inconsistency can easily lead to apostasy. And as Paul warned, apostasy is a key factor in preparing the way for the Antichrist.
A spiritual delusion is presently underway in the name of Christ, and the church is being prepared to embrace it. The apostle Paul stated this would happen, and the current trend indicates this is exactly what is happening. And according to the Bible, if Christians are being deluded now, we can expect the delusion to intensify.
Bible doctrine is based on the idea that a tenet of faith must be established by the support of the whole counsel of God. Scripture must always provide the basis for biblical doctrine. The Bible teaches that all Scripture has been given by the inspiration of God.
Today, a growing number of church leaders are saying Bible doctrine is not as important as it was once thought to be. Holding firm to biblical doctrine can divide the body and hold back revival, some are saying.
Link to Chan’s YouTube talk titled “Are You Destroying the Church?”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UHuue9ZXzmM&t=126s
*This video is posted on various YouTube channels. In just three channels we looked at, the total views was over 50,000.