Francis Chan Claims to Have Miraculously Healed Entire Village

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C. M. Sheffield

Puritan Board Senior
Bad company corrupts good morals. One very clear example of that truth in with Francis Chan. At one time, Chan was a somewhat sound Evangelical pastor and teacher. But then he began keeping company with prosperity preaching faith-healers. And now, he sounds exactly like them. It's sad.

 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
A story:

Tribal peoples often don't know about vital signs. In severe dehydration they get unresponsive and the villagers call them dead. I've "raised the dead" 3 times by arriving on scene and pumping the person full of Ringer's Lactate and IV Quinine. After 45 minutes to 2 hours the person begins to stir. In one case after 15 minutes. The whole village declared I had raised the dead. This happened on 3 occasions over 10 years.

In Papua there is also a Charismatic preacher, however, who is not medically trained. A local man had a near-drowning episode and the missionary prayed for him. The man suddenly came around after a few minutes and spit out his water and woke up. The preacher writes it in his online bio that God performed a miracle through him and caused him to raise the dead.

Ha ha, I thought, as I read his testimony. He's only done it once! I've raised the dead 3 times, and laughed as I read the internet web-page.


Similarly I have prayed over people when I have lacked medicine. Some reported healing and some not. I believe there was a strong psycho-somatic element at work in some of the cases reporting healing, for most had the same symptoms the next day when I checked with equipment.

...But a few had truly recovered.
 

C. M. Sheffield

Puritan Board Senior
It is also sad that Moody gave him a platform to talk such nonsense. I know. I shouldn't be surprised. But it is disappointing to see how so many erstwhile bulwarks Evangelicalism have crumbled into doctrinal indifference.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Local peoples want their guests to be happy. We need not posit that Chan lied; he was probably reporting in his sermon what he was truly told by his translator and/or the people, who wanted to please him. Chan probably truly was blown away by this and happy to report it.

But within certain environments, bad theology can skew expectations. The expectation of dramatic acts done by the Holy Ghost is much like other ghost stories when we were kids. At 10 years old, you could work yourself up into such a state at 3am walking through a graveyard that you might see ghosts.

It might not even have been a deliberate ruse. A religiously charged atmosphere plus a big name guest might have created a climate where people might have even thought they were healed for a time.

A similar dynamic happens when pastors do Pastor's Conferences in India or other poor areas. An American pastor preaches 8 hours a day for 4 days and gives some books to a group of poor Indian pastors. At the end they thank him immensely and say many nice things to him. But sometimes it is unclear just how much the crowd understood or benefited from the conference. But the audience won't admit this to their honored guest. And they themselves may be convinced that such conferences are very helpful. I've talked to some of these indigenous pastors later and they admitted that they forgot or did not understand most of what was said and it had no long-term lasting effect Yet, many churches still send US pastors for 4 day conferences throughout the world. As a missions methodology, it is not getting the job done.

I think a similar dynamic is at work with Chan's trip. He seems not to mention the village name or the names of those healed and he did not follow-up with them afterwards a week or two later.

I knew an ex-Pentecostal that affirmed that when he was "speaking in tongues" when he was younger, he truly convinced Himself that it was not he, but the Holy Spirit, doing it. He truly believed he was speaking in tongues...until many years later.

Another story: I prayed over one old tribal man after a service who asked for help. He had back pain. He was so delighted after the prayer that he jumped up and practically danced out of the house and all the way home and his friends said this was instant healing. The next day when I checked on him, his back was again hurting and he was certainly not dancing anymore, but had returned to his former state of being hunched over and walking with a limp. When I explained a series of slow exercises and stretches to do daily to strengthen his back he looked very disappointed and in my follow-up visits it was clear he did not perform any of this suggested rehab. But that one night, he reported total and instant relief.

A suggestion: If we know reformed churches in Myanmar, let's track down this village and visit them to see the results for ourselves. Perhaps if the healings did not stick and the villagers returned to their former state of being sick or deaf we may be able to send them to specialists to gain them lasting healing that outlasts a religious fervor.

Does anyone have contacts in Myanmar?
 
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Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
More news:

-I heard Chan is partnering with YWAM and Antioch Church.

-It sounds like their prime methodology will be short-term trips. But if they love the people truly, they should commit long-term, and learn the language and culture and live among the villagers.

-I heard some meetings are entirely in English and without an interpreter, and a few locals who could not speak English were left clueless. This is sub-par missiology.

-If you only or mainly work in English in a very poor country, you are limiting your outreach to the wealthiest or the most socially connected who already have the best chance of hearing the Gospel and are leaving behind the poorest, most remote, and those who need missionary efforts the most.

-The best response we can give is not just to critique Chan from afar, but to send new teams of long-term missionaries to these villages.
 

C. M. Sheffield

Puritan Board Senior
The best response we can give is not just to critique Chan from afar, but to send new teams of long-term missionaries to these villages.
The concern I have here is not with how best to do missions (though I agree with everything you've said here on that subject), but with Chan's obvious departure from orthodoxy, of which this is only one example in what appears to be a clear trend.
 

C. M. Sheffield

Puritan Board Senior
Local peoples want their guests to be happy. We need not posit that Chan lied; he was probably reporting in his sermon what he was truly told by his translator and/or the people, who wanted to please him. Chan probably truly was blown away by this and happy to report it.
I think this is spot on. What is troubling, is that a man with as much learning and experience in the ministry (including experience overseas) would not be more discerning and recognize these cultural dynamics that are in play.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
I think this is spot on. What is troubling, is that a man with as much learning and experience in the ministry (including experience overseas) would not be more discerning and recognize these cultural dynamics that are in play.
The desire for "success" blinds us all. We want to see results. And we want to report good news for folk who support us.

Also, "experience" overseas on some forms of short-term trips is not really "experience" but is usually heavily managed. That is why I am reluctant to count some short-term trips as "missions experience".

Finally, the local people often ask to be prayed over. I am often asked and so I do it. What happens when they report a healing right then and there (it has happened, as I have written above).?I am happy for it. And sometimes this joy clouds the cynical part of my brain that doubts such things. Of course now, perhaps I am overly cynical...
 

Jo_Was

Puritan Board Freshman
The desire for "success" blinds us all. We want to see results. And we want to report good news for folk who support us.

Also, "experience" overseas on some forms of short-term trips is not really "experience" but is usually heavily managed. That is why I am reluctant to count some short-term trips as "missions experience".

Finally, the local people often ask to be prayed over. I am often asked and so I do it. What happens when they report a healing right then and there (it has happened, as I have written above).?I am happy for it. And sometimes this joy clouds the cynical part of my brain that doubts such things. Of course now, perhaps I am overly cynical...
I think we can often be so divorced from the sovereignty of God that we expect exuberant joy only in miracle, even though God works MIGHTILY through ordinary means and his providence is amazing and all-sustaining. But just like it is hard to hear that to lose weight or ride a bike or have an apple orchard, one must go through all those necessary (even 'small') steps beforehand, so too is it hard for many people to hear that God will work through them...through people, circumstances, ordinary events in their lives. We often want God to "show up" (and that is unfortunately a buzz term charismatics or broad evangelicalism will use), yet God is omnipresent, omniscient, and unchanging! So when there isn't dazzle, we assume God has not, therefore, 'shown up' and go about our self-dependence. It is just a different manifestation of those who call on God only in times of trial (in this case, "good" things) but then are "Self-sufficient" the rest of the time.

I will try not to be long winded, and simply share this Michael Horton quote I appreciate in this context:

""We frequently distinguish natural and supernatural causes, but this too may reflect the false choice of attributing circumstances either to God or to nature. The Scriptures know nothing of a creation or history that is at a single moment independent of God's agency. The question is not whether God is involved in every aspect of our lives but how God is involved. Therefore, with respect to providence, the question is never whether causes are exclusively natural or supernatural but whether God’s involvement in every moment is providential or miraculous....However, this simply preserves the false choice between deism and occasionalism: either nothing or everything is miraculous. Here once more [John] Calvin’s insights are helpful. ‘Nothing is more natural than for spring to follow winter; summer, spring; and fall, summer— each in turn,’ he writes. ‘Yet in this series one sees such great and uneven diversity that it readily appears each year, month, and day is governed by a new, special providence of God.’”
 

Jonathan95

Puritan Board Freshman
The only helpful thing to make use of this whole situation is to help our local congregations test a man's doctrine.

Should we ask God to heal? We should ask God for that and many things. Can it happen in a moment? Sure. And praise God when it does.

Let's remember that this type of thing is prevalent everywhere and under many differing circumstances. Many signs and wonders will be done by false believers and false prophets.

Seeing this happen and then accepting 100% of Chan's doctrine as if this proves the man is of God is the wrong move to make.

I might be mistaken but wasn't he advocating for a type of transubstantiation? Or at least confused on the matter? Hasn't he spent much time around those of the Apostalic Reformation Movement?

These are much more troublesome than a supposed healing out in the middle of nowhere. We need to train our churches to be more discerning.

Didn't Augustine mention that he believed that the discovered bones of the martyr Steven were healing whoever came into contact with them?

Test the doctrine and line it up with Scripture. I don't care if someone had their arms blown off and then grown back right in front of me. They still need to repent and believe the Gospel. Some miraculous sign does not automatically mean everything else you believe and do is fine.
 

hammondjones

Puritan Board Sophomore
Classic mistake. Heal a village, and they are healed for a day. Teach a village to heal themselves, and you heal them for a lifetime.
 
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