The Pen

James White and ‘Farewell Francis’

Years ahead of our time (again), polemics ministries warned you about Francis Chan many Blood Moons ago. Now, after everybody and their uncle knew that Francis Chan had been off in a different pasture for nearly a decade, Cripplegate has finally ‘farewelled’ him (by the way, Cripplegate is a fine blog). To ‘farewell’ someone is a term taken from John Piper’s famous ‘Farewell, Rob Bell’ tweet, which signified a twitter-version of anathematization (Bell had published Love Wins, which teaches Universalism, a doctrine rightfully considered heretical). Piper’s twitter anathema was a good decade late to the party, but still caused no shortage of publicity.

This time the ‘Farewells’ are coming for Francis Chan, a Masters Seminary graduate who seemed to have started on sure footing but who has been repeatedly dragged along to the charismatic fringe. While Francis’ audience is growing wildly among his huge charismatic circles, the relatively small number of orthodox evangelicals who propelled his career are glaring, with arms folded, at what he has become. Jordan Standridge expressed this sentiment in his post at Cripplegate, Farewell Francis.

He went off on a journey searching for the best way to do church that took him to the other side of the world. The journey culminated, for now, with him moving back to America to start a house church movement he learned overseas. His dissatisfaction with two thousand years of church history has led him on a path of searching that sadly has caused him to partner with increasingly questionable folks. Now, in March 2019, he is sharing the stage with false teachers who will spend eternity in Hell. And, while part of me is thankful that the thousands who attended this evil event got to hear Francis preach, it wasn’t his preaching that was of greatest concern…My greatest concern was the fact that Francis not only joined these men on stage, but he openly embraced them as brothers in Christ and commended them on their godliness (2 Cor. 6:14-17)

Truncated…read the original post, linked above, for the full context and wording

Standridge’s “Farewell” sentiment has been echoed and repeated frequently since his appearance with a few of the more notorious charismatic charlatans. Of course, Francis’ has been doing this type of thing for a very, very long time. What has perhaps got the attention of so many are recent photos like the ones below:

Francis with Benny Hinn.
Francis with Todd White.

Watching the ‘Farewell Francis’ sentiment grow exponentially in recent days, I had to wonder (genuinely) where would Dr. James White stand on the issue and more importantly, why?

And so, I ask these questions respectfully of James White, obviously in regard to his good friend, Michael Brown (a charismatic prophet who in the minds of most discerning people is every bit as radical as Benny Hinn or Todd White theologically, although certainly more respectable morally).

First, I cede the point (mentioned above) that Michael Brown is not as morally reprehensible as is Benny Hinn and Todd White (although Brown has not had public affairs revealed, as Hinn did with Paula White, I think it’s safe to say the obvious parlor trickery of his ‘miracles’ squarely puts him in the immoral category). Brown also seems more intellectually astute than Hinn or White, but I’m pretty sure that damns him more than redeems him in this case.

That said, the following questions are for James White. They are asked with no contentiousness or malice. I would genuinely like his honest opinions (which are the only kind I’ve known Dr. White to give).

First, what does Dr. White think about the ‘Farewell Francis’ mentality of so many likeminded brethren? Simply put, is it wrong or unreasonable to farewell (I’m using that as a verb) Francis Chan over his ministry partnership with Benny Hinn and Todd White? Does Dr. White feel that the farewell is valid, over-due, or overdone? Or is it unnecessary?

Second, if Francis Chan should not be farewelled for his associations with Todd White and Benny Hinn, why not? Why are so many – like Standridge in his Cripplegate post – wrong? Is it because his preaching is still good? Is it because of Chan’s attempt to reach the charismatic crowd? What would be the reason he should not be farewelled?

Third, if Francis Chan should be farewelled for his associations with Todd White and Benny Hinn, why should Michael Brown not be farewelled? Surely, we should all be in agreement that Chan’s theology, even now and as messed up as it may be, is not as bad as Michael Browns…right? I don’t think it’s really a contest as to who has better theology between Brown and Chan, although to be honest, it’s like picking the better kinds of cancer to have. So if Chan receives a farewell rightly, why would Brown not rightly receive a farewell? Is it because he’s been ‘farewelled’ from the get-go and his departure from orthodoxy isn’t new?

Standridge writes:

I think it is time to say that Francis has shifted so far that he has embraced false teachers and has disqualified himself from the benefit of the doubt. That does not mean that he is a false teacher, nor that he is beyond repentance. But it does mean that, as for me and my house, we will not only not recommend Francis Chan as a trusted resource, but I also encourage you to stay away from him. I have never written a post like this (unless you count my posts against the pope), but I felt it necessary since Francis holds a lot of sway among young people in the church.

I feel great sadness writing a post like this; I may never write one like this again, but feel like it had to be said. Benny Hinn and Todd White are some of the most despicable people on earth (2 Peter 2:1-3) as they prey upon the poor, hate upon the sick, and take your eyes off of the Creator and tell you to place it upon the creation, fully embracing the pagan mentality Paul damns in Romans 1. They hate the true Gospel and we must not only never embrace them, but fight against their lies with all our might (Jude 3-4).

I’m not baiting Dr. White in any way. I’m legitimately curious as to how he can agree with the ‘Farewell Francis’ sentiment sweeping our Reformed evangelical circles but defend Michael Brown. Or perhaps, he doesn’t agree with Farewell Francisisms out there, which I think Reformed evangelicalism needs to know.

My hunch is that Dr. White could provide a lot of distinctions between the two situations, but very little meaningful differences. It would be wonderful if White would discuss the topic, state his position on ‘farewelling’ people for Chan-level and Brown-level theological error, and then defend his position with gentleness and respect.