Francis Chan Explains How He Became a Bill-Johnson-Loving Charismatic
Francis Chan brought some clarity to his journey from relatively sound Master’s seminary graduate and pastor, to itinerant charismatic faith healer when he took part in an online-conference “The Unveiling” on May 15. Sharing the scene Asher Intrator, Bill Johnson, David Demian, Diane Bickle, Mike Bickle, and Tabitha Lemaire, their purpose was to “come together to share their hearts on the Kingdom.”
During a panel, Bill Johnson started by thanking all the participants, sharing how much he valued them and even telling Mike Buckle that he (Mike) was one of the most important people alive. This prompted Francis Chan to chime in with how much he, in turn, valued Bill Johnson and Mike Bickle, and shared how he came to love them and how he transitioned from opposing their beliefs to embracing much of them.
“Can I just say something in response to that? Bill, you blow me away with your words and your heart behind them. You need to know that it’s that heart that changed me. It’s that type of character and kindness that can only come from the spirit, to love like that in the midst of slander.
I mean, I was one of those guys, coming out of seminary, I was one of those guys. I’ve told Mike Bickle “I studied you in seminary”. I met him. I said yes to going to One Thing (a conference) but there was a fear in me, and you know Mike you remember, maybe, I remember just sitting him down and I just had all these questions for him, because the moment I said ‘yes’ to speaking there, there was just a barrage of criticism, and people so angry that I would even consider, and so I’m like ‘whoa’ you know? And then I remember the thing that I studied, and even one of my staff people, his mom came to our office in tears, saying “please, say it isn’t so!”
But you need to understand, I came from this world where I just…blatantly…Mike when you said that Bill had never…from his staff’s mouth… they’ve never heard him speak negatively about another minister, pastor, believer, that could not be said of me. I used to ridicule anyone who spoke in tongues, anyone who thought he had a gift of prophecy, I really did.
And the thing about it is, and this is why I’m so glad you have such a heart toward these people (the other speakers), I really thought I was doing it for God. You don’t know what you don’t know. And in my mind, when someone would say a phrase like this “this charismatic theologian” I just thought that’s an oxymoron. There’s no charismatic theologian – they don’t even study the word, they just dream and have visions. I mean that’s really what I believed, so I thought “I will protect the church from these people who are getting away from the word of God and just chasing their fantasies, and I got to save the church from them. So I don’t think I was evil…I know I was arrogant…like off the charts arrogant, but there was almost this side of me that felt “God, I’m doing this for you.”
And what changed me, was I was on this board with this guy named Jack Hayford, which I was nervous about and was uncomfortable being on there, but it was for the poor, so as I got to know him and I got to see his character, I thought “oh my gosh, the love he had for people who were attacking him…”
That’s what changed me. I apologized to him, and from that point on it was like this openness of…man…when Jack started teaching the word of God, that’s when it was so humbling. He was using the Hebrew – I mean I just thought” ok here we go what vision did you have today” – he got into the word, Greek, Hebrew, in a way that was so humbling. And that mixed with his character and love and compassion..it really changed this arrogant… “I need to fight against all these people.”
And so when I hear your heart, Bill, man I sure hope there are people listening that maybe come from the camp I came from, and I will tell you this. When I went to meet with…you, Mike, and question you on all of these things that were written about you, and you just very calm, lovingly, just showed me how they weren’t true, and I’m like “why didn’t you say anything? Why didn’t you defend yourself? And you were just like “the spirit told me not to. God told me not to, and I’m not going to disobey him.” And talking to your staff…and then when I found out how much you studied the word of God, and now you’re telling me that Asher is a teacher to you, I’m going” oh gosh,” I’m sitting here just so humbled, so embarrassed when I found out.
Because there’s a lot of people from the camp that I come from, and we really, I do see a lot of people who love, love, love the lord, But I just never thought through like “why am I so sure that I’m right?”
Even now, even before we got on the call today, I said, “God please help me,” because sometimes, when I’m with a group of people, there’s this feeling of superiority, like I need to go and fix their theology. Even when I went to One Thing. There was some of that in me. I’m just telling you. “I’m going to fix some of these things, I’m going to correct some of these this…you know, poor thinking.”
And then when I got there I was just so humbled, going… just like I was with Hayford, going”‘this guy knows the word of God better than I do.” So we have disagreements, ok? I’ll just let you guys know, even on our last two zoom calls I’ve heard something come out of each of your mouths that I disagree with. I think you’re wrong, you know?
But now, I have the wisdom to go “well, what makes me right?” Am I sure I’m more intelligent than these men, or wiser than these men, or is it because, you know, I studied the scriptures that I know it’s not all about intellect but it’s about God’s spirit of truth revealing these things, so then am I right because the spirit is closer to me and I’m more in tune with the Holy Spirit than you guys? Or then I think, “no, the bible says that God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” …oh it’s because I’m more humble than these guys that I know more than them, or I have the right interpretation and God pours his grace out on me?
No. After meeting you, and Mike, and seeing your humility, and me thinking “could I have pulled that off? Could I keep my mouth shut and not defend Francis Chan, because I love Francis so much?” No, the way you love Jesus, and say I just want his name lifted – that humility, knowing your prayer life already, of how much time you spend with him. And you saw, when you preached about the love of Christ, and I was supposed to preach after you and I tore my shirt literally and just said “I am not speaking after that, I’m getting on my knees and repenting.”
And so when I see your study of the word, your commitment to prayer, and the humility in your life, and the character, the sacrifice, I hear from all of your staff, it makes a guy like me go, “well why would I think I’m right? I almost feel safer going with whatever Mike believes.”
And so Bill, everything you shared…just, I just want to apologize even though I don’t think I slammed you directly, I know I did Mike…but I just…I still feel like it makes me sick. Some of the things that I’ve said, and I really believe…I was even praying this this afternoon, “God, please help me feel how displeased you were with that.”
I don’t want this to be like “oh, isn’t Francis humble? He just told them how he screwed up.” No. I’m going “God, I hurt you. I hurt the body by that, and I want to feel it, and not to condemn myself or anything like that, but I just don’t want this to be like “oh, what a beautiful thing he recognizes he’s wrong.”
No. I want people to understand it was damaging to the body of Christ and I thank God for men like you, that the Holy Spirit has clearly given you a grace to take that with a humility and love and accept people like me in spite of what I’ve done, and I just want to tell you guys I love you. I’ll fix your theology later…for now…just know I really do love you guys and I am thrilled to be on your team.