SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — Speaker and author Francis Chan has responded to concerns surrounding photographs that recently surfaced of Chan with Todd White and Benny Hinn at “The Send,” whose practices and teachings are at odds with biblical orthodoxy. Chan advised that he will still attend “certain events” with the intention of being the “most effective” in bringing Bible teaching where it is lacking, but now with prior research and safeguards. However, Chan did not specify exactly how he plans to “warn and separate from” false teachers as noted in his response, or to “mark and avoid” them in accordance with the Scriptures, and what impact it will have, if any, on speaking at events where others preach another Christ and another gospel.
“This current experience has caused me to consider exercising more caution and to develop a team to help me research,” he said in a blog post published to We Are Church on Saturday.
As previously reported, some expressed concern last month after Todd White posted a photo of Chan embracing White in prayer at “The Send,” an event organized by Lou Engle (who knelt to kiss a Catholic leader’s shoe at Azusa 2016 as an act of “reconciliation”), and featuring speakers such as Benny Hinn, Bill Johnson of Bethel, and Mike Bickle of the International House of Prayer (IHOP).
The event was described on its website as a “collaborative gathering,” and seemed to have the goal of bringing together those with differing views, as it stated, “We believe the only way to see nation-wide impact is through uncommon collaboration.”
“A lover of God and devoted son. Francis Chan is an incredible man of God—loved his prayer over me at The Send,” White, who endorses Kenneth Copeland and the prosperity gospel, as well as uniting with the Roman Catholic Church (view videos here and here), wrote in part in sharing the photograph on social media.
Another photo soon surfaced of Chan in a selfie with Benny Hinn.
While Chan preached to the crowd that they can’t expect to be sent to the ends of the earth if they are not faithful with reaching the lost in their own neighborhood, some of the others who spoke delivered unorthodox messages.
During one segment, White told those gathered that since Jesus had forgiven their sin, the diseases of the body from one’s poor choices before salvation—and the physical marks of the past—cannot remain as their removal is included in Christ’s redemption.
He declared that—for those who had once engaged in cutting or drug use—God was going to literally make the scars on their arm disappear during the event as he screamed “Jesus.”
“He removes blood disorders, He removes STDs and everything that came from a stain from a life that you wish you’d never lived,” White said. “Redemption means that God wants to [also] redeem your body. It’s for your spirit, soul and body.”
“Jesus forgave you. Therefore, if He forgave you, the mark and stain of sin must be removed now,” he asserted. “On the count of three, we’re going to yell Jesus, and I want you to look at the cuts on your arms and they’ll be history.”
Nearing the end of the event, Hinn, who was accompanied by his son-in-law Michael Koulianos, had those present yell “fire” at the count of three, at which point some in the stadium fell backward.
Some consequently became concerned when they saw photos emerging of Chan with White and Hinn and asked, “What is happening?”
On Saturday, Chan released a post simply entitled “A Response to Some Concerns.” In his message, Chan made several points: 1) that it hasn’t been his practice to research the other speakers attending the events 2) that he finds himself in a predicament when approached by others to take photos 3) but that he purposefully attends events where he disagrees with others so as to provide biblical teaching to attendees who might not obtain it otherwise.
“It has not been my practice to ask who will share the platform with me and to research the other speakers. While some may be dear friends, there are many that I know little about,” he wrote.
Chan also said that it is sometimes difficult to separate fact from fiction regarding spiritual figures when there are so many opinions online. Therefore, he has asked others to help him to arrive at the truth going forward. Where there is genuine concern, Chan said that he will personally address such teachers and call them to repentance.
“We live in a time when it is hard to discover the truth about any one person because there are a slew of voices quick to state their opinions as fact. So, I now have a team of people researching to try and differentiate between rumors and truth,” he wrote. “As I gather that information, I will seek out the teachers and address the issues in a biblical manner (Matthew 18). I will pray for and seek their repentance in love. If there is not repentance, I believe it is right to warn against false teachers and separate from them.”
Simultaneously, Chan noted that while he declines approximately 90 percent of the 500 speaking invitations he receives each year, he purposefully selects events where others might have different beliefs as he wants to provide Bible teaching to the attendees who might not obtain it otherwise.
“Often times, I decline because other speakers will be at the event who believe almost exactly what I believe. My reasoning is that it may be a waste of Kingdom resources for all of us to be there, speaking largely to people who already agree with us. It seems more effective to speak where there is less Bible teaching,” he wrote.
“I realize that many will not agree with my decision to speak at certain events. I hope you will at least consider the burden of trying to weigh potential outcomes good and bad,” Chan said. “Over the past few years, I have seen many people come to truly follow Jesus, have a deeper love for the Scriptures, and a deeper commitment to the great commission. There are millions of souls that sit under weak or unorthodox teachings. It thrills me to think about what the Spirit might do through His Word in those situations.”
He advised that unless the elders of his church direct him otherwise, he will “continue to be found preaching in venues with those I disagree.”
“I will preach in just about any kind of setting if I’m given freedom to preach from any passage of Scripture,” Chan stated. “The elders and I are trying to come up with more safeguards for future events to hopefully prevent misunderstandings. Pray for us.”
One of those misunderstandings is being seen in photographs with concerning teachers. He said that when such persons approach him and ask for a selfie, he obliges so as not to be unkind, but at the same time, he does not want others to assume that he somehow supports the individual.
“I have struggled over the years with whether it is wrong to sign books or take pictures with people. I would be perfectly happy to never take another picture or sign another book. It just feels rude and discouraging to say no,” Chan stated. “My intention was never to show allegiance with those who request selfies.”
He stated that he does not want to spend too much energy on researching false teachers, but acknowledges that it had not been a practice of his and that he will try to do more.
“Having said all of that, I refuse to slow down in my preaching to the lost, caring for the local church, sending missionaries to unreached people groups, collecting and distributing aid to the needy, in order to research false teachers,” Chan stated. “It is important. I admit that I have not done enough research and will do more without neglecting the other responsibilities I have before the Lord.”
Others have disagreed with Chan’s strategy to speak at events where attendees might not otherwise hear sound teaching, including Benny Hinn’s nephew, Costi Hinn.
“Don’t kid yourself. We don’t rescue people from false teaching by partnering with false teachers,” Hinn, pastor of Mission Bible Church in Tustin, California, wrote to social media on March 9. “It’s the power of the gospel that transforms lives, not clever human strategies to infiltrate from the inside. Romans 1:16 is real. 2 Peter 2 is also.”
As previously reported, when asked why Chan chose to be a part of “Together 2016”, an event where the organizer had flown to Rome to meet with Jorge Bergoglio, also known as pope “Francis,” and obtain his support for the effort, Chan’s office advised Christian News Network that he “prays through the request before committing to the event” and “when he decides, he doesn’t look into many details surrounding the event, so knows very little of the event itself.”
Christian News Network again reached out to Crazy Love Ministries recently to inquire about his practices in light of concerns expressed by Christians, including how he views Biblical separation and the call to mark and avoid false prophets, whether he sees those following Roman Catholicism or the prosperity gospel as brothers in Christ, and why he does not first look into the details of the events he attends. His office advised that a public response to the concerns would be forthcoming.
In his post on Saturday, Chan did specifically reaffirm his opposition to the prosperity gospel, and also stated that he believes “[i]f there is not repentance, I believe it is right to warn against false teachers and separate from them.” However, it is still not known where Chan stands on Roman Catholicism, or whether he considers those who promote unity between Christians and Catholics to be brothers, or what he specifically thinks of White and Hinn.