Francis Chan, the Papist?

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Taylor

Puritan Board Senior
A friend recently sent me this video of a sermon clip from Francis Chan (see below). I must say, I was appalled at the gross misrepresentation both of Church history and of Protestantism. This video makes it sound as though Chan will defect to Rome before too long.


Here is my response I sent to my friend:

I watched that video you posted of Francis Chan, and I have to say, I was rather disappointed to find such a gross misrepresentation both of Church history and of Protestant doctrine. It is simply not true that for 1500 years the Church saw the Lord's Supper as the actual body and blood of Christ. There wasn't even unity on the matter. And it can, in my opinion, be strongly argued that such nonsense was not even largely developed and taught in the first few centuries of the Church, if not longer. In fact, transubstantiation was not even dogmatized until the Council of Trent in 1551 [CORRECTION EDIT: Fourth Lateran Council in 1215], after that 1500 years was over!

As to his comments about the Reformation, while it is true that SOME Protestants (not even a majority) viewed the Lord's Supper as "merely a symbol" (Calvin didn't and Luther most certainly didn't), the reason the pulpit replaced the altar is not because "talented speakers" is what the Protestant Church is now all about. That he said such I found to be frankly slanderous. No, the reasons that the pulpit replaced the altar were 1) the Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox presentation and doctrine of the Lord's Supper is both blasphemy and idolatry, and 2) the prominence of the preaching and teaching of the Word in Scripture. As William Cunningham said, "In the New Testament, certainly, the sacraments do not occupy any very prominent place." The Reformation was simply seeking to get back to that, and to eradicate the obvious witchcraft that is commonly called transubstantiation.

Lastly, it is simply a fallacy to say that just because the Lord's Supper is not at the center of the room does not mean Jesus isn't. In fact, such a statement already presupposes transubstantiation. The fact is, Jesus (at least in our church) is preached faithfully and mightily every single Lord's Day. He is there.

The problem with Chan is that his "radical" approach to Christianity has no end for him. Something is always wrong, not being done well enough, or distorted. It's almost like social justice warriors—things will never ACTUALLY be good enough for them. Otherwise, they would have no self-identified purpose for living, if they can't rail against something. That's why it hasn't ended with racism, but has moved on to economics, and then homosexuality, and now mutilating children's genitals. It has no end.

The truth is with a lot of these non-denominational evangelical types (no offense, seriously) a lot of the problems they describe in "the Church" are really just issues within their own movement; none of what they describe is a problem in more historically confessional churches. In my church, for example, we do not at all view the Lord's Supper as "merely a symbol." And if you ever sit through one of our Lord's Supper services (which are frequent), you never get the sense that what we are doing is anything but the most serious partaking of the body and blood of Jesus as a unified Body—a unity which rests upon Jesus' death as its very basis.

I pray Chan doesn't apostatize to Rome or the East, but it sounds like he is well on his way. When one's approach to Christianity is always "radical" but never rooted (ironic, because "radix" in Latin means "root") theologically and historically, this is the kind of waffling we should expect—and mourn.​
 
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BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
And for most of Roman Church history, people didn't actually celebrate the Supper. The 4th Lateran Council actually commanded that the Lord's Supper be celebrated at least once a year. Think on that. If celebrating weekly is "papist," then why did the Council have to say that? Never let anyone say that celebrating the Supper often is papist. Historically, not celebrating it would be closer to papism.

The point wasn't to eat and drink, but adore. And even today they don't drink from the Cup.
 

Pilgrim

Puritanboard Commissioner
And for most of Roman Church history, people didn't actually celebrate the Supper. The 4th Lateran Council actually commanded that the Lord's Supper be celebrated at least once a year. Think on that. If celebrating weekly is "papist," then why did the Council have to say that? Never let anyone say that celebrating the Supper often is papist. Historically, not celebrating it would be closer to papism.

The point wasn't to eat and drink, but adore. And even today they don't drink from the Cup.

Following Vatican II, some do drink from the cup in America and some other places now (communion under both kinds) but apparently not in some other parts of the world. Apparently, it is left to the discretion of the bishop.

But good points about the frequency of observance. And a lack of priests wasn't the only factor from what I understand.
 

Susan777

Puritan Board Sophomore
I pray Chan doesn't apostatize to Rome or the East, but it sounds like he is well on his way.
That video was appallingly ignorant! He really has no business talking about church history. Is he accountable to anyone? If he goes to Rome he may take a few with him but he’ll eventually have far less influence than he has now.
 

ZackF

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
That video was appallingly ignorant! He really has no business talking about church history. Is he accountable to anyone? If he goes to Rome he may take a few with him but he’ll eventually have far less influence than he has now.
Well, I dunno. Jason Stellman is now a “mentor”.
 

ZackF

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
You mean the guy who has the “Drunk ex-pastor “ podcast? That would explain a lot.
Yes. Truly a sad case. A mind adrift. I skimmed a few of his blog posts. So much discombobulated stuff. One post he titled, “Don’t Love God, Love the World Instead”. His most recent website identifies him as a Catholic but I don’t know if much Catholicism is left in him either.
 
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B.L.

Puritan Board Sophomore
Yep. I watched this clip earlier this morning after seeing James White comment on it. Real cringe worthy clip right there. Ugh.
 

Taylor

Puritan Board Senior
Yep. I watched this clip earlier this morning after seeing James White comment on it. Real cringe worthy clip right there. Ugh.

Where did he comment on it? On The Dividing Line, or on social media?
 

B.L.

Puritan Board Sophomore
Where did he comment on it? On The Dividing Line, or on social media?

He linked to it on Twitter first, but I see he just finished recording today's DL and spent a full hour discussing it. I'll have to tune in to that portion and listen in tomorrow if it's posted.
 

Regi Addictissimus

Completely sold out to the King
I don't know whether to :applause:, :up:, :(, :lol:, or :pray2: at this...
I am not sure either, brother. It was a painful listen.
To clarify. "Bull" was used in the way that is derived from the old French slang, "bole," which means trickery. Not the inappropriate American adoption of the term.
 
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W.C. Dean

Puritan Board Sophomore
This is appalling. I was surprised because some of you made it seem like he was more vague than he actually is. Not only does he declare that transubstantiation is the historical view of the church but he also makes the assumption that the Romish church was the church of Jesus Christ. It seems like he has already fled to the arms of antichrist, if you allow me to be a bit dramatic.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
He's confusing several issues. True, the fathers did use language like it *is* the body and blood of Christ. Okay, so what does *that* mean? For all of its problems, transubstantiation is a philosophically definable answer. That philosophical apparatus just wasn't around with Cyril of Jerusalem.

If Chan would have said that the proposition "It is the body and blood of Christ* was the position of the historic church, he wouldn't have been wrong. Of course, glossing that is a different matter.
 

Taylor

Puritan Board Senior
He's confusing several issues. True, the fathers did use language like it *is* the body and blood of Christ. Okay, so what does *that* mean? For all of its problems, transubstantiation is a philosophically definable answer. That philosophical apparatus just wasn't around with Cyril of Jerusalem.

If Chan would have said that the proposition "It is the body and blood of Christ* was the position of the historic church, he wouldn't have been wrong. Of course, glossing that is a different matter.

Bavinck makes the case that Augustine was decidedly against the real presence of Christ's body and blood in the Lord's Supper, and that when transubstantiation was first articulated in the early ninth century it was rather vehemently opposed on the basis of Augustine.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Bavinck makes the case that Augustine was decidedly against the real presence of Christ's body and blood in the Lord's Supper, and that when transubstantiation was first articulated in the early ninth century it was rather vehemently opposed on the basis of Augustine.

1) Depends on how "real presence" is glossed. Bavinck is reading the connotations of later views into early statements connoting a real presence, and I don't think that is accurate. Augustine was probably against a hyper-realist view. The problem with Augustine is he wasn't a systematic thinker. One has to sift through all his works to get an ordered whole.

2) Augustine wasn't the only father. In the East he had little to no influence.

3) Eastern fathers held to a real body/blood view but they didn't hold to transubstantiation. It wasn't until Peter Moghila did the East start to use transubstantiation language.

4) Ratramnus claimed Augustinian authority but he ultimately lost that debate (in terms of influence, not logic).
 

C. M. Sheffield

Puritan Board Senior
True, the fathers did use language like it *is* the body and blood of Christ. Okay, so what does *that* mean?
Exactly. Our Lord says of the bread and the cup, "This is my body... This is my blood." We do not deny it! The question is not weather it is his body and blood, but rather, IN WHAT SENSE!

And this, I believe, is how the language of the Church Fathers is used by Rome to their own perverse ends. The Fathers never even saw these errors and controversies on the horizon. They could not have known how weak and wicked minds would pervert them. Those who attempt to prove things like transubstantiation or baptismal regeneration in the writings of the church fathers often are guilty of superimposing their own theological bias onto the Patristic writer of their choice.
 

RJ Spencer

Puritan Board Freshman
I always believed that the theology of the charismatic movement is very similar to that of the Roman Catholics, they are both completely man centered. It looks like Chan views them as similar as well. First he teamed up with the Charismatics, now he is catholic. Continuationism was the gateway drug into man centered theology, and for Chan, it lead to charismania and Catholicism.
 

alexandermsmith

Puritan Board Junior
Bavinck makes the case that Augustine was decidedly against the real presence of Christ's body and blood in the Lord's Supper, and that when transubstantiation was first articulated in the early ninth century it was rather vehemently opposed on the basis of Augustine.

By "real presence" do we mean transubstantiation? Spiritual presence being different. Would the Reformed view not also say that Christ is really present in the sacrament, but in a spiritual sense?
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
By "real presence" do we mean transubstantiation? Spiritual presence being different. Would the Reformed view not also say that Christ is really present in the sacrament, but in a spiritual sense?

That's the issue. I think Bavinck is overreacting to Rome. Of course Christ is really present in the sacraments. How could he not be? The question is whether the bread and grape juice cease being bread and grape juice?
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
To be fair, though, Ignatius of Antioch around the early 2nd century did use strongly realist language about the sacraments. While we must avoid the temptation to "prove he wasn't a transubstantiationist," we must also be honest and realize that he wasn't a Southern Presbyterian, either.
 
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