Is there such a thing as a “half-Christian?” There is according to some of people commenting on Steve Camp’s Blog. There has been a furious discussion going on over there about Francis Chan’s video called “Stop and Think.”
The heart of the debate is whether or not what Mr. Chan has to say should be considered “the Gospel.”
Now, here’s what I find interesting about this whole debate. If you listen to the thoughts and arguments being presented, the general gist is that “words matter.”
That is words matter until you start to question some of the people on Mr. Camps side of the issue over the Chan video. I imagine some of them might be upset by my phrasing here, but as the saying goes about what is good for the proverbial Goose…
One of the first terms that you will find in the post itself is that a half Gospel is capable of producing only a half Christian. Really? Now, I’d like to give a pass here and say hyperbole was being used to prove a point, but the statement is re-affirmed time and time again throughout the thread. So, I’m curious. What is a “half Christian?” Is that the same as being half pregnant? As a father of three under four I hope that never happens. This doesn’t apply to salvation either. A man or woman is either saved or they are not. He is either on his way to heaven or not. She is either redeemed/regenerated or she is an enemy of God. I can hear some in the other camp (pardon the pun) saying, “Hold on, you’re taking what we said, too literally. Of course you can’t be half saved.” But as they have pointed out time and time again, what we say or don’t say matters. I’m just looking for the same standard to be applied to this webpage that is applied by that webpage to others.
In essence this phrase seems to me to border on being heretical. If we are to deny the permanent saving work of the cross and say how we present the Gospel can somehow effect the totality of someone’s salvation we are rendering the Gospel useless. If it is indeed hyperbole to make a point, then there is some level of inconsistency going on here. The entire string of posts seems dedicated to pointing out the flaws in what Mr. Chan had to say. It would seem only sporting that we apply the same vigorous standards to what is posted by those doing the examining.
It seems to me that this phrase contradicts their belief system. Most of the commenters claim to be reformed in their worldview. How can a truly reformed person believe in a situation where someone is only half saved? Besides seeming unbiblical to me it seems to not follow the belief system the profess to believe.
The second term that comes up that gives me reason to pause and consider is the term “Win.” It is God that does the work, and not me. Now, when I brought this up in the thread’s discussion. I was told to not worry too much about the term win. But doesn’t that fly in the face of the standard that they applied to Mr. Chan and his video? Shouldn’t anyone who is commenting on a teacher of God be careful because in a real sense aren’t they by questioning a teacher in essence becoming teachers themselves? Surely, this is how a Jewish person in the time of James would have understood his warning that not many should assume to be teachers.
So, applying the same rules to them one quickly finds a problem with this phrase, “win them with.”

Some more of my favorite quotes:

  1. “The people who hear this don’t have discernment, and those who are converted by the film are starting out in their faith with a serious misunderstanding of our natural relationship to God.”
  2. …this is a pastor of a church who purposely is NOT including these things…”
  3. “-I made a qualifying remark that my critique of this film is by no means an indictment against this brothers local church ministry.”

For #1. Don’t we all have to grow in our understanding of our relationship with God?

#3 seems to blatantly contradict #2.
My point here is not to pick on these people, in fact I have found that I enjoy interacting with them. They are passionate about what they believe and I respect that. I disagree with some of their conclusions but I respect the passion that they approach it with. My point is to expose the slippery slope that is critiquing someone else’s Gospel ministry. Often, when we approach evaluating someone else’s ministry we hold them to a much higher standard than we do ourselves as evidenced by the comments found on Camp’s post.
We can “camp on this”: “By whatever measure we judge others, we will be judged.” Not only is this truth human nature, it is Biblical.

“For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” —Jesus

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This entry was posted on Saturday, January 27th, 2007 at 11:24 am and is filed under Legalism, ODM Responses, ODM Writers, Original Articles, Steve Camp. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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2 Comments(+Add)

1   Chris Rosebrough    http://www.extremetheology.com
January 27th, 2007 at 10:57 pm

Joe,

I took the time to watch the video, read Camp’s blog, and read the comments section of the offending blog entry.

I thought it was an interesting discussion about what constitutes the content and message of the gospel. Like any comments/debate board the comments and commenters were all over the map.

Here are my two cents.

1. I do not know pastor Chan. This was the very first time I had even heard of him.

2. I thought pastor Chan did a FANTASTIC job of preaching God’s law. He nailed it! This is very A-Typical now-a-days. He had the guts and conviction to tell it like it is and let his viewers know that their sins have earned them God’s wrath and judgement.

3. Chan’s ‘gospel’ presentation was ’soft’ at best and confusing at worst.

4. Chan obviously has a passion for reaching the non-believers in his community. He spent a lot of money producing and distributing this video.

4b. It is too bad the gospel wasn’t done better and clearer. The Biblical call to faith involves repentance and believing the gospel. Sadly, Chan’s presentation didn’t include either.

This leads me to believe that he may not really understand the gospel that clearly. (this is a common problem in today’s American Evangelical circles). But, I believe that If Chan had the guts to call me a sinner then he would certainly have had the guts to tell me to repent and believe the gospel.

5. I think this video is a great ’snap shot’ of current evangelical thinking and evangelistic practices.

I think Pastor Chan is brave and passionate Christian brother and I believe that he needs to tighten up his presentation of the gospel.

As someone who teaches in the church sunday after sunday, I can say that I apply this same standard to myself and many times I think I come up short. Properly teaching God’s law and gospel is an EXTREMELY difficult task. It takes skill and careful study and I don’t claim to be much of an expert at it.

BUT, Those who ONLY want to sit at their computers and lob hand grenades at those who obviously messed up at it need to get out from behind their desks and try to do it themselves.

I want to know what these ‘desktop theologians’ are doing to reach 30,000+ people in their community for the gospel of Jesus Christ?

Chan has set two examples for us. The first is an example of what can be done to reach the un-saved in our communities. The second is an example of what the gospel looks like when taught poorly.

We must heed BOTH examples and learn from BOTH.

2   Johnny Laird    http://www.johnnylaird.blogspot.com
January 30th, 2007 at 5:12 pm

With all the hoo-hah about the depth of the presentation of the Gospel in Francis Chan’s video, a lot of folks seem to be forgetting he squeezed it into about 15 minutes. For me, he did a pretty good job.

Peace & Blessings

J