Francis Chan – Please Stop Hanging Out with Charlatans

Francis Chan – Please Stop Hanging Out with Charlatans March 8, 2019

In recent weeks, I’ve been alarmed to see Francis Chan step out in Ecumenism with those who have no other title than “wolf”. Two rather irenic photos have been shared lately, showing Francis Chan embracing heretical teachers Todd White and Benny Hinn. Both men are known to promote the prosperity gospel, among several other notable errors condemned by the early church. It isn’t a point of knowing if their doctrinal well is poisoned, but why Francis Chan is partnering with these men in any capacity. They do not bring the gospel of the Scriptures; they do not bring the teaching of Christ, therefore, he ought not even greet them.

The reason I bring this to the forefront is due to the short, yet often neglected book of 2 John. While I won’t get into the full details of the text here, I do wish to draw out the final four verses, which are most pertinent to this discussion. This is at the heart of why many are up in arms about Francis Chan embracing these men. The issue with Francis Chan then is not necessarily in the content of his teaching, but in his embrace of false teachers – which is equally as damnable to a person’s soul as the false teaching itself.

The apostle John writes in vv. 10-11, “If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting; for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds.” Notice how quickly the apostle John instructs them to utterly shun these false teachers. The plain implication is that anyone who comes to this church and does not bring the teachings of Christ is to be rejected. They are not to be received into one’s house and given water, nor are they even to be greeted. More clearly, we are not to show them any means of hospitality or kindness.

Hospitality served two very important functions within this time period:

1.) It provided foreign travelers with the care they needed, through the means of food, lodging, and protection. Hospitality was highly valued and to refuse hospitality brought shame before the community simply because you would be considered responsible for whatever happened to that person. If they died, their blood was upon your hands.

2.) Hospitality also provided a means of protecting one’s own community. Foolishly welcoming another into the community could likewise bring blood upon your hands. Those who had no place to stay and were not welcomed into the community, were those who could not be trusted. In many societies, these types of people would be murderers, thieves, and various other criminals.

Now, the church has long made practice of showing hospitality to those the culture deems inhospitable – so we clearly know John is not advocating the practice of shunning a sinner or an unbeliever. He singles out who is to be shunned: the one who does not bring this teaching, but instead, brings the teaching of the deceiver. He literally identifies the one who brings satanic teaching as opposed to the teaching of Christ mentioned in v. 9.

The apostle John also mentioned this specific teaching of Christ earlier: It is the content of what the Scriptures teach along with the practice that Scripture advocates; it is that we must walk in truth and love. This is what James calls “true religion” or what Paul refers to as “walking in a worthy manner by which you have been called.” It’s the same thing the apostle John refers to here as “the truth we have heard from the beginning”, which is directly stated in vv. 5-6 as loving the brethren and obeying God’s commands.

Instead of bringing this, the person John has in mind here is bringing the teaching of the deceiver and the Antichrist. Really think on this for a minute. Realize that what this means and what John is referring to. The work of these men is truly the work of Satan and the Antichrist. These are not mere men, but vessels. Just as the Lord calls out a people as His chosen vessel, so too does Satan. Just as God empowers genuine converts for the work of the Great Commission, so too does Satan seek to mimic this empowerment. These men are commissioned and sent out as ambassadors of evil, proclaiming news that shall bring neither joy nor life.

Think of the work our adversary does: he is the accuser of the brethren, a lion seeking whom he may devour, the one who blinds this earth in unbelief, an instigator, and a lying, murderous thief who seeks nothing but the destruction of the church and defamation of the reputation of the Lord. That same adversary is the one working in and through these false teachers. That same adversary is the one instructing them in damnable heresies so that they might creep into the church unawares and ravage the flock.

This is precisely why John tells us that we ought not welcome them into our homes or even greet them. This is a stern command. Notice how severe he is here. These false teachers are not to even be greeted. The word in the Greek for “greet” here carries with it a connotation of cheerfulness. Literally expressed, John is saying we are not to welcome them cheerfully, or as if they are welcome in our presence at all, like we would a brother or sister in the faith. There isn’t a hint of pleasantry here at all. But why?

These people are literally shepherding souls to hell. Yet also, notice what he says here: if you do these things, that is, if you welcome them into your home and if you greet them as a brother, you are participating in their evil deeds. John definitively equates welcoming the false teacher to sharing in their deeds and due to this, we share in their guilt. We are equally to blame as that false teacher is. When you don’t warn the brethren of false teachers in their midst, you do not demonstrate any love toward them. If you welcome false teachers, by any means, into your home and give them room – you share in their guilt; just as insipidly as odorless gas fills one room and moves to the next, the undiscerning ingest the same poison you just did. Effectively, John simply says you have the same blood upon your hands as the man plunging the knife of false doctrine.

In addition, consider the closing of John’s letter in vv. 12-13, which bring to mind a few brief, yet important insights. For the apostle John, the rise of these false teachers was a matter worthy of calling to their attention. He has many additional things to say – too much even for a letter, yet nonetheless he writes to them about this dire situation. The hope would be for them to be on guard against these men and to bar them from fellowship, lodging, and a space to teach.  It would seem the urgency of the situation called for John to send a letter rapidly, and by the time they got this letter, some of the false teachers may have already been in their midst.

Regardless of what else John had to say to them, we don’t have a record of this. We simply know his hope was to come to them and speak face to face, so that their joy may be made full. It is difficult to pinpoint what John means by their joy being made full, but it is likely expressing a means of genuine fellowship as those who labor together in Christ. Think back to the beginning and the introduction he offers them. Not only do they share the genuine bond of love in truth that he speaks of, but they abide in obedience to the Lord’s commands. Together, they are working toward inheriting their final reward, which is not simply the salvation afforded to them in Christ, but the very work they share in together as they labor for the sake of the Kingdom.

Finally, John closes by saying, “The children of your chosen sister greet you.” This not only brings to mind that John is writing from a church nearby, but his heart for this church as he sends his warning.  Not only is he aware of savage wolves coming upon them that they are not aware of – but those at his location know he is writing to them. It is not hard to imagine the saints of this sister-church hearing of his burden for them in this, yet also, praying for them. Yet what may slip by here is the greeting given. Remember, just a few verses earlier John warns against giving such greetings to false teachers.

The greeting here carries a significance we ought not to overlook for a couple of reasons. The first being that it is one between brothers and sisters in Christ. Again, they are co-laborers for the sake of the gospel. They are not simply friends or acquaintances, they have a unique bond due to the unifying grace of Jesus Christ, the Spirit, and the truth in love. Together they form His body and act as ambassadors for Him in opposition to those sent out by Satan. Just as that greeting is intrinsic to that bond, it stands as a testimony against the false teacher who refuses the truth because they do not love Christ. They do not walk in love, but instead, hatred.

Do not welcome false teachers into your home or greet them with a cheerful disposition, for if you do, you share in their guilt. If you do this last one, if you welcome them into your home, you’ve already neglected doing the first two. The one who abides in the teaching of Christ will have both the Father and the Son; the one who goes too far will not. For the apostle John, walking in the love involves much more than feelings. It involves a vested interest in the purity and well-being of the church. Loving God and loving the brethren involves making decisions in your life that will build up the entire covenant community.

Far too often in this type of conversation, there is one of two extreme reactions. The first is that you have the crowd who is eager to label nearly anyone and everyone a heretic, save themselves. They latch on to anyone they can find and decimate them. Sometimes they seek to destroy a man who has been faithful to the gospel, and it is a sad state of affairs because the ones claiming to have the most discernment actually show they have little, if any discernment at all. They deny the teaching of Christ because they deny the call to love the brethren.

The other extreme reaction is from the one who claims we ought not call anyone a heretic so long as they claim to be a Christian. If they can kind-of sorta tell you that Jesus is the Son of God and He died for their sins, they get a free pass. Yet there are numerous examples of men and women who claim to be Christian and get up to teach hordes of people all sorts of refuse that will land them and their hearers in hell, all because they claim to hear from God. I am convinced one of two things, If not both, keeps us from being as firm as we ought to be with false teachers: We don’t really see them for what they are because we simply don’t know our Bibles well enough. We’ve somehow cheapened the ministry of teaching – believing that God really isn’t all that serious about the content of people’s beliefs.

The amount of damage this can do to the church is incalculable. All one must do is look at the veritable body count under these men’s ministries and see how they’ve fleeced thousands upon thousands of people. Not only this, they have given these same people over to a damnable set of doctrinal beliefs. There is to be no such alliance, peace, harmony, fellowship, or whatever else you’d like to call it – with savage wolves. Instead, shepherds are to pick up their crook and deliver the deadly blow. They must strike the wolf clear in the head and cripple it, dying in the process if they must, all for the purpose of protecting Christ’s sheep.

I sincerely doubt Francis Chan would read this post, and I speak to him now if somehow his eyes stumble across it and come to this line. I beg you: stop. Do not fraternize with men who devour widow’s houses and shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces (Mk. 12:40; Matt. 23:13). These men are dogs who return unto their own vomit; they are pigs who wallow in their filth (2 Pet. 2:22; Pro. 26:11). They are ungodly people who pervert the grace of God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ, our only Sovereign and Lord (Jude 1:4). They have risen in the ranks of power – all for sordid gain (1 Pet. 5:2). Know this: they will not spare the flock (Acts 20:29).

We are not to even greet them, lest we incur their guilt (2 John 1:10). How does this bode well within the context of the local church? I know one of the reasons you stepped out of the mega church culture was that you saw it difficult to care for the local church. How is this consistent with that worthy goal? I am at a loss in understanding how embracing men like Todd White and Benny Hinn are ever going to help a rural pastor shepherd his people. I am dumfounded. I cannot comprehend how cozying up with false teachers and having a video released on TGC denouncing the Word of Faith movement does not send mixed signals to everyone involved, even if your intentions are benign. At best this is what it does. At worst, greeting them as a brother makes you complicit in their evil deeds.

How is it, when their congregant turns on Todd White, that they will find genuinely life-giving teaching which leads them to an orthodox understanding of God, which then leads them to a proper doxological response? How is it, when their congregant “sows a seed of faith”, that this local church will be blessed by their financial stewardship, so the gospel can go forth in their rural town, or they can simply keep the doors open another month to feed His sheep?

Perhaps I am a simple-minded man, with a simple-minded goal – but I cannot fathom how it is helpful to steer Christ’s sheep toward men who lie in wait, under the surface, to make a shipwreck of people’s faith. I cannot grasp how it is honorable to Christ to take His bride and defile her by the putrescence of men who cast up their own shame like the foam of the sea. No. I am not simple-minded, nor am I naïve. Brother, my aim is to snatch you from the fire. Please, for the love of God and His bride, denounce these men and stand firm. Brother, contend. Exhaust every measurable effort you can muster for the faith – that beautiful, historic faith we know of so well through the testimony of His Scriptures. Strike the wolf and be a shepherd.

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  • Salvatore Anthony Luiso

    Thank you for this article. To say that 2 John is often neglected is quite an understatement: it is in fact neglected more often than not, despite the fact that it is not only one of the shortest books of the Bible, and part of the New Testament, but written by the same man who wrote the Gospel of John, which many Christians love. I heartily agree that Christians should take false teaching very seriously, that this includes prosperity theology, that most of us do not, and that false teaching and our lack of seriousness about it are very serious problems.

    I understand the phrase “this teaching” in 2 John 10 to refer to the teaching that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh, which is mentioned in verse 7. I see this passage as related to 1 John 4:1-6. I understand the admonition against greeting to apply specifically to teachers, not merely believers.

    Regarding “I am convinced one of two things, If not both, keeps us from being as firm as we ought to be with false teachers”: One of those reasons is “We don’t really see them for what they are because we simply don’t know our Bibles well enough”. Is the other “We’ve somehow cheapened the ministry of teaching”? Regardless, I see three other reasons. One is the use of a standard of judgment other than the Bible, e.g. the appearance of miracles. Another is the thought that one isn’t smart or educated enough to discern false teaching (“I’m just an ordinary Christian, not a Bible scholar”).

    The third is: We don’t know much about the false teachers. I’ve seen Todd White on television many times, and I have read a little about him. I have heard him give his testimony, I have seen him tell people about Jesus, and I have seen him purportedly heal people. Even so, I have heard him say relatively little about his theological beliefs. Based upon his words alone (not his life and purported miracles), is there enough evidence to say he is a “false teacher” and a “wolf”? Could it be that he, and some other teachers of false doctrine, are better described as sincere yet seriously confused Christians, who, although responsible for everything they teach, are not aware that some of what they teach is false? Are any of White’s false teachings so bad that they can be correctly characterized as “all sorts of refuse that will land them and their hearers in hell”? If so, which, precisely, are they?

    I have also seen Benny Hinn on television many times, and read a little about him. I will not object if someone calls him a fraud.

    Regarding “just as insipidly as odorless gas”: Do you mean “just as insidiously as odorless gas”?

    • Jen

      Insipidly works fine in the sentence.

      • Salvatore Anthony Luiso

        Not exactly. If it were exact, then the analogy would between “odorless gas” and “poison” (false doctrine)–not between “odorless gas” and “the undiscerning” who “ingest” “poison” (false doctrine). As it reads now, both “odorless gas” and “the undiscerning” are performing an action in an insipid manner, i.e. a manner lacking flavor or taste.

        The use of the word “insidiously” in this context does not have this problem of mismatch–and, unlike “insipidly”, implies danger and harm–such as the danger and harm of false teaching. If “insidiously” were used, though, the gas should be described as dangerous or harmful, e.g. “odorless poisonous gas”.

  • Herrnhut

    “And he said unto them, Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, Physician, heal thyself: whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in thy country. And he said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country. But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land; But unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow. And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian. And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath” (Luke 4)

    So Jesus told His hometown church Elijah blessed the gentile widow with prosperity and Elisha blessed Syrian Naaman with health and the Nazarenes were filled with wrath in their pews. It was a test, Francis for you not to follow Jesus because of the self righteous Nazarenes.

  • ChildOf God

    False teachers? So…sorry which was rejects “Yeshua/Jesus came in the flesh died on the cross for the worlds sins.. was buried rose the 3rd day and is the only way to the Father”? Sorry which one? So.. you dont like you disagree with something they TEACH? So this TEACHING has more power over believing JESUS came in the flesh died on the cross.. was buried..rose 3rd day.. is the only way to the Father? If so.. then YOUR a false speaker.. teacher.. for I disagree with some things YOU teach talk about..

    Yeah dont work that way. Our PERSONAL belief does not =who is and who is not of God. People do this to almost ANYONE that think GIFTS are for today or you cast out demons..or you believe in prosperity. As if EVERYTHING YOU believe is the WHOLE REAL GOSPEL? As if your not wrong in anything you believe? WOW yet you have no FRUITS…these people have fruits.. and people come to CHRIST.. some THOUSANDS each week.. FACT! And you do what?

    You point fingers.. you find that dont care about that BEAM..get that? BEAM in your and that SPEC..get that? Spec in your bothers eyes.. no you dont care. YOUR RIGHT! Your doing GOD a favor showing the WORLD just who the REAL Christians are.. and you turn right around saying OH JESUS I REALLY LOVE YOU! I didnt have to call email go see pray with them at all! No I just watched some videos and I KNEW THEY were not of you…

    And…NO I dont follow these people.. NO I DO NOT agree with some things they teach. But when I ME ME prayed and asked the lord about a man that was YELLING at people going to a movie about how wrong evil it was.. he loved Jesus. I asked the lord.. is this man of you? He said if he is for me hes not against me. I knew in that.. what that man was doing was NOT the way Christ would do it.. but .. the GOSPEL is being preached..

    Those that are not ..are false.. please.. were talking about our FATHER.. what.. WHERE is it written GOD EVER EVER EVER needs help? Yeah careful where you walk.. some of them BELONG TO A GOD! HIS KIDS! And saying JESUS IS what? That does NOT PROTECT YOU! How you judge.. shall came back to you..this is why we JUDGE in love..we seek to HELP to bring them back.. to GOD..if in error.. pray FOR THEM if they are in error.. <—get that from reading what this guy love them pray for them and FORGIVE THEM! They never sin against YOU! You have NO POWER WHAT SO EVER over them and GOD will NEVER ask you about them how you feel NOTHING! EVER! SO get over it.. what are YOU DOING FOR HIM! See the GOOD in what they do 1st.. do you know? I DO! But you of the LIGHT saw darkness 1st? Really? Praying 24/7 are we? And in all things? Have that word before your eyes 24/7 do you? Shall I go ON on how YOU are to be living? Best get YOUR Life in order 1st